Posts Tagged ‘Bowin P4A’

Allan Moffat, Brabham BT16 Ford from John Grames, Woodward DKW at Waterford Hills in July 1967- AM set both the class and outright lap record on that day (B Gordon)

Allan Moffat and John Smailes in ‘Climbing The Mountain’ provided the snippet…

‘Barry Nelson and Peter Thorn helped me conduct a fire sale of the Cortinas as well as a Brabham BT15 open wheeler in which i’d had one run and one win at Waterford Hills using a Cortina engine, and then they returned to Australia’.

Hmm, I thought, that’s interesting (to someone with a small mind like mine anyway), so Moff had a crack at Formula B in the US- bugger me, i’d not heard of that one.

I tried hard to find a photo of the car but had no luck other than the cockpit shot below before uploading my ‘Moffat Epic’, have a look here; https://primotipo.com/2020/03/06/moffats-shelby-brabham-elfin-and-trans-am/ but the Brabham topic was ‘unfinished business’ until this week when American enthusiast/racer Bob Gordon uploaded some of the photos in this article and some results- research gold.

Bob and his father, Hugh Gordon were both racers who competed against Moffat in Cortinas in the day at Waterford.

It gets better though.

Gordon’s photographs show that not only did Moff compete in Formula B in 1967 but also the season before, 1966. Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com race results support Gordon’s photos, the Canadian raced a Lotus 35 Ford in 1966 and a Brabham BT16 Ford in 1967. No wonder my BT15 internet searches were fruitless, I punched the wrong details into Google.

Barry Nelson with Allan Moffat and Brabham BT16 Ford at Road America on (B Nelson)

 

Allan Moffat leads Bob Gordon at Waterford from the July 1965 ‘Waterford Digest’- both in Lotus Cortinas (B Gordon)

 

Moffat, mechanic Vince Woodford, Jim McKeown and Cortina at Daytona in early 1967, Jim’s engine went ka-boomba causing un unplanned change of direction for AM in 1967- all of which turned out ok (CTM)

The engine failure of the Moffat/McKeown Lotus Cortina Trans-Am class challenger at Daytona early in 1967 basically put an end to any prospect of Ford support of another Lotus Cortina under 2 litre campaign. Ford’s Peter Quenet threw Allan a lifeline though, giving him the remnants of the Alan Mann Racing Lotus Cortina team to use that year with a guaranteed $300 for each race start per car.

Allan therefore ran ‘start money Lotus Cortina specials’ for renta-drivers as well as running a car himself. With a few engines to spare, he did a deal with Fred Opert, the US Brabham importer to acquire the BT16 inclusive of part exchange of one of his powerful Lotus-Ford twin-cams.

Barry Nelson recalls collecting the car from Opert’s on Interstate 78, Newark, New Jersey, a journey of 2050 kilometres there and back from Moffat’s base in Detroit- ‘Holiday Cars’ was a small second hand dealer/workshop in Telegraph Road, Southfield, a Detroit suburb where Moffat rented space.

‘I don’t remember Allan racing the Lotus 35 at all. But with the BT16 we dry-sumped one of our engines, fitted it all up and used it only three times- once at Road America and twice at Waterford Hills. I drove the car in a test session at Waterford as well as a Scot, John Addison, who had raced one of the Cortinas at Sebring and another guy.’

Formula B, a bit like the introduction of Australian National 1.5 (which evolved into Australian Formula 2 later) was in part born to find somewhere to put suddenly homeless Formula Juniors and as a ‘next-level’ up single seater category below ‘elite level’. The release of the Lotus Elan provided the engine de jour- the class was a production based, two-valve, twin-cam on carbs category. For the usual English car builders, this was money-for-jam, FBs were adapted F3 designs- the Brabham BT16 was a dual purpose F2/FB version of the F3 BT15 for example.

The class boomed from its creation in 1965, in 1967 for example, there was a five race ‘Continental Championship’, the national title if you will, run from mid-May to 1 October which was won by Gus Hutchinson’s Lotus 41C Ford t/c, in addition there were seven divisions of regionally based competitions across the length and breadth of the ‘States all of which had big, healthy grids.

Moffat competed in the ‘Central Division’. In 1966 he was fourth in the standings with 9 points, ‘Allan Moffat, prior to moving (back) to Australia, had a surprisingly new Lotus 35’ Allen Brown wrote. There were nine rounds in the Central Division Championship that year, what is unclear is how many meetings Moffat contested in the Lotus 35.

In the 1967 pointscore, Allan was seventh despite contesting only one of the seven rounds, at Road America on 17 June, the first round in fact.

Waterford Hills was (and still is) a local Detroit track near Moffat’s base, the two meetings he ran there were not on the ‘Central Division’ championship tour but were local meetings. Brown wrote in his 1967 Central Division summary ‘…An interesting name further down (the points table) is that of Allan Moffat, a future Australian touring car legend but then just a 27 year old Canadian-born budding racing driver…’

Allan made quite an impression on the local scene in his ‘two years as a local’ with online fans of the era describing him as ‘bad-ass’, as in a full on aggressive racer, Carl Zahler, a Waterford marshall observed that ‘when Allan was there, we knew we would see some good racing.’

Bob Gordon- Allan in a Lotus 35 at Waterford in July 1966 (B Gordon)

 

(Instagram)

A couple of young ‘Australian’ roosters going for it at Riverside in September 1966- Horst Kwech in the Alfa Romeo GTA and Moffat in one of his Cortinas.

Moff would say he had the inside line- he does, and Horst would say his nose was in front- hmm, maybe, but not a second before…For sure these two had a high degree of respect for each others abilities by the time they shared the Shelby Trans-Am at Daytona and Sebring in early 1968.

Jerry Titus’ Mustang won at Riverside with Horst sixth and Allan seventh.

The question which then occurs to we anoraks is ‘ok, cool, so which particular Lotus and Brabham did he use?’- the answer is, despite ‘pokin around, ‘I dunno!’

Brown gives us a hint though, ‘Steve Griswold, who would drive this ex-Moffat Brabham (BT16) a year or so later, believes Moffat brought it with him from Australia’, but we know from Barry Nelson now that is not the case- he got it from Opert. Griswold was both a racer and a dealer- a lot of cars passed through his hands, whilst his name pops up a lot in online searches I can’t get a sniff of a chassis number- ditto the Lotus 35- no mention on any of the online forums. Help required please?

So, what became of AM’s single-seater aspirations?

It may well be that after the Brabham race meetings Moffat’s focus changed from his first very impressive Mustang drive in mid-August, which segued, in Moffat’s view with some assistance from Peter Quenet, into the Mercury Trans-Am works drive from the Modesto round on 10 September, the first of four drives in the series final rounds. In essence he had no time for the Brabham when his future pro-career hinged on these critical races- Barry agrees with this theory, ‘We simply put the Brabham to one side in the Southfield shop’.

Nelson, ‘The last race we did was in the Cougar in Washington, after that we closed things down, transported the Cortinas and spares back to Ford and sold the Brabham back to Opert. I returned to Australia in the new year and freelanced with Maurie Quincey for a while but that turned to crap- a very difficult guy to work with.’

‘My dad, Lionel Nelson knew Bob Jane very well, they were mates, so via that connection I did some engine work for Bob. Later in the year Allan joined Jane doing some promotional work and raced a couple of the cars’- the Elfin 400 Repco sportscar and an abortive attempt to race the Brabham at Sandown, a wheel came off the car.

‘My dad was the Technical Service Manager of motor sport of S Smith & Sons in Australia who sold ‘Smiths’ automotive gauges and KLG sparkplugs- that’s how I met Allan, he knocked on my dads door looking for sponsorship for the Cortina he brought back from the States and dad made the introduction when he found out he needed help with the car’s preparation.’

‘After he left Jane’s he let me know he had got something happening, when the Trans-Am arrived we got together again, I was there until the end of 1972. I love the guy to this day and still see him- I come down from Shepparton where I’m retired and catch up with him usually at Romeos or Duttons. Sometimes he is gruff “What do you want?” and others you can’t shut him up- like the last time I saw him two months ago.’

‘His health is not bad, you can still have a great conversation with him, sometimes his memory lapses a bit- a combination of Andrew Moffat, Phil Grant and Larry Perkins look after him.’

Barry, when asked about his driving said ‘If the car was great he was awesome- no-one could get near him but sometimes we would struggle to understand the changes he wanted because he couldn’t tell you what he wanted. He had huge self-belief but could also have a negative mindset so getting him in that zone- “all fixed, off you go” was important. But wow, when things were perfect…’

‘After I left Allan, Ron Harrop and I built Kingsley Hibbard’s GTHO-  we both went to the states and sourced some parts from Bud Moore similar to the Trans-Am and then got the engine bits from Falconer and Dunn in California but that was a disaster as he wasn’t paying his bills- I got paid and left.’

‘I then raced a Torana GTR-XU1 for a while and occasionally tried bits and pieces on my car for Harry Firth, who was close to my father. When my kids grew up they both raced- Warren ran in the Sprintcar World Series for five or six years with the younger bloke, Brooke having some fun in Midgets’

Barry Nelson’s Holden Torana GTR-XU1 leads Bernie McLure, Holden Torana SLR5000 L34 Improved touring cars at Calder’s ‘Tin Shed’ during 1974 (unattributed)

 

Allan contemplates the ex-Brabham 1968 Tasman tool- a Brabham BT23E Repco ‘740’ 2.5 V8 on the day of his run at Sandown, which ended early when a wheel parted company with the just rebuilt car. He is in the back lane aft of the Bob Jane Racing workshops at the rear of the Chrysler/Valiant dealership fronting 740 Sydney Road, Brunswick. Barry Nelson notes the facility housed the dyno, Finance Department ‘Blackwood Investments’ and was the first home of Bob Jane T-Marts (B Nelson)

 

Moffat extricates himself from David Green’s Wren Formula Ford after the Calder 1971 Formula Ford Race of Champions. Allan recalled in ‘Climbing The Mountain’ ‘…after I ran up the back of Jack Brabham’s Formula Ford and retired hurt’. This car still exists in Queensland, owned by racer/enthusiast/official Ian Mayberry (CTM)

 

AMR team members at 711 Malvern Road, Toorak very early 1969- the Trans-Am still lacks its red paint of war. Barry Nelson, AM and Peter Thorn were all blooded together in the US- and Brian Fellows at right (CTM)

Postscript…

So, it seems thus far on the evidence we have, that Allan Moffat’s single-seater career comprises a race in the Lotus 35 at Waterford Hills in July 1966, three races in the Brabham BT16 in 1967, an ill-fated attempt to race Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco Tasman 2.5 Formula machine in the Sandown Gold Star round in late 1968 and one Formula Ford event/meeting- the ‘Race of Champions’ won by Jack Brabham at Calder in 1971.

Did Allan test an Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden F5000 car ‘in the day’, or is my imagination getting the better of me yet again?- mouth watering thought that, Moffat in a Boss 302 powered F5000 during the peak period of his long career…

As originally completed this was where i left off the story as it relates to Moff’s single-seater career and then David Hassall and Glenn Moulds got in touch as below.

David confirmed that Elfin’s Garrie Cooper ran a test day at Calder on Monday 13 September, the day after the 1971 Gold Star ‘Victorian Trophy’ round at Sandown won by Kevin Bartlett’s McLaren M10 B Chev- John McCormack was second in the first completed Elfin MR5 Repco, chassis ‘5711’ in its first race.

From its inception Elfin were supported by BP, a production run of four high value F5000 cars was a big investment for the small Edwardstown concern so it is no surprise that the drivers who tested the car on that day were mainly supported by BP- Moffat, Elfin 600E F2 driver and 1971 ANF2 Champion Henk Woelders, speedway star and then Elfin/Bowin Formula Ford driver Garry Rush with the interlopers being Castrol sponsored John Harvey and Scuderia Veloce owner/journalist and ex-racer David McKay.

By that stage Bob Jane Racing’s Bowin P8 F5000 would have been very close to delivery so Harves’ drive is interesting. Sadly, whilst Kevin Bartlett was there, he didn’t have a run in the MR5- his opinion would have been fascinating given he was peddling one of the two quickest F5000s in Australia at the time- the class of the field was KB’s ex’Allen McLaren M10B and Frank Matich’ Repco-Holden engined M10B- both fellas were Shell drivers with FM’s Matich A50 Repco only a couple of months away from its 1971 Australian AGP debut and win.

(Auto Action 17 September 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Motoring News 1 Oct 1971- D Hassall)

As you can see from David’s Auto Action and Australian Motoring News magazine collection Moffat did a good number of laps in a car which was as it finished Sandown fitted with too tall gearing, well used tyres and full tanks doing a best of 44 seconds dead.

Cooper’s run of four cars were raced by he and McCormack as works ‘Ansett Team Elfin’ entries and sold to John Walker and Max Stewart, both of whom were BP supported and fitted with Repco Holden engines.

There seems little doubt that BP’s John Pryce was keen to get one of his star drivers into F5000, the snippets show the media ponderings at the time about the potential support of Moffat’s then core sponsors Ford, BP and Coca-Cola- as Australian enthusiasts well know the Coke dollars applied to his Trans-Am Mustang racing not his Ford factory GTHO Falcon Series Production program.

The dollars had to make sense to Allan as a pro-driver.

Interestingly the car Moffat appears to have been considering and ordered was John Surtees’ 1972 F5000- the TS11 which did end up a competitive car albeit the ‘Class of 1972’ was the Lola T300.

Moffat’s car had to be Ford powered which was not a huge deal even if the Chev was de-riguer in the US and Europe. There were a smattering of Ford 302 Boss engines in use with Falconer & Dunn probably the logical choice of engine builder- Allan’s boys obviously knew their way around these motors pretty well in terms of maintenance.

(Motoring News 5 November 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Motoring News 17 November 1971- D Hassall)

As the 1972 Tasman got closer the speculation continued about the Surtees until Auto Action reported in January that the order for the car had been cancelled ‘following pressure from his chief sponsor, Coca Cola, not to get involved in open-wheeler racing.’

For the record the ’72 Tasman was a ripper series won by Kiwi Graham McRae’s Leda GM1 Chev.

So that seemed to be that, no single-seaters for Moffat, at least preferably not on Coke’s watch.

(Motoring News 31 December 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Auto Action Allan Moffat column 24 December 1971- D Hassall)

 

(Auto Action 7 January 1972- D Hassall)

But then, perhaps with his appetite whetted by the ‘Race of Champions’ at Calder in 1971 Allan had a drive of BP sponsored Bob Skelton’s Bowin P4A Formula Ford in a BS Stillwell Trophy Series (FF and ANF3) round at Calder on 15 May 1972- Skello raced his Bowin to victory in the Driver to Europe Series that year but there was no DTE round at that meeting.

Skelton was Sydney based, doubtless it was in his interest to get in some practice at Calder, which he did in a 5 lap preliminary but Moffat did the Stillwell Series race but had an off at Repco and retired after only a few laps.

Moffat didn’t race the Mustang at that meeting but had wins aboard the works HO Phase 3 in the 10 lap heat and 20 lap final- but i bet the races which held the most interest for him were the ‘Repco Birthday Series’ F5000 events both of which were won by Matich’s A50…

It seems he really was keen to keep his open-wheeler hand in and perhaps harboured thoughts of a Gold Star or Tasman run in 1973…

Bob Skelton’s Bowin P4A in front of Enno Buesselmann’s (?) Elfin 600 during a Warwick Farm Formula Ford DTE round in 1972- do get in touch if you have a photo of AM driving this car at Calder (FFA)

Waterford Hills…

Waterford Hills is a 1.5 mile long road-racing circuit located just north of Detroit, the circuit map below gives us the picture of a circuit many of us are unfamiliar with.

Allan is a much respected Waterford racer/graduate with a large number of followers amongst their community who can be followed by a very active Facebook page- just key Waterford Hills into the FB search engine.

Moffat has had a couple of visits back there, most recently in July 2018 when he caught up with old friends and made acquaintance with younger folks who are only aware of his racing exploits from afar.

(Instagram-unattributed)

Moffat pushes his Lotus Cortina hard at Waterford Hills in 1965- lets avoid the tangential dissertation on early Lotus Cortina rear suspension Mark, stay on point man…

(Official Allan Moffat)

Lapping Waterford in July 2018 in an open car if not an open-wheeler- how’s it handle Moff- soften the front bar or what!

(B Gordon)

I really like this photo as it shows Ford’s Peter Quenet’s Ford Anglia racing with Allan Moffat (front) and Hugh Gordon- Bruce’ father in Lotus Cortina’s at Waterford in the summer of 1966.

What comes through strongly in Moffat’s book are the pivotal roles a relatively small number of people made in advancing Allan’s career at key points in time, Quenet is one of those.

(J Melton)

A couple more shots of Peter Quenet, who was a very good racer in addition to his Ford executive responsibilities.

Whilst running with the ‘FB’ grid, the car is a Lotus 51 Formula Ford, no doubt Peter is doing his bit to get the class off the ground in the US in 1968.

We get a bit better look at his face in the photo below- this self built Anglia still exists, in ultimate spec Peter created a ‘spaceframe’ type of chassis, this shot is circa 1968 at a guess, Waterford?

(Instagram)


Etcetera…

 

Bruce Jennings, Plymouth Barracuda, two Mustangs, then Kwech, Alfa Romeo GTA, the red Alan Mann Lotus Cortina of Frank Gardner, Bob Tullius’ blue Dodge Dart- Allan Moffat at the back of this lap 1 pack and the rest- assistance welcome (Instagram)

Moffat’s outright Trans-Am win in the 1.6 litre Lotus Cortina of the 1966 Bryar Motor Sport Park 250 Trans-Am in London-Laconia, New Hampshire, July 1966 really was a big deal.

The scale of the achievement is given some context from the photo above- the ‘yellow speck’ at the back of this group of cars just after the start is Moffat’s winning car.

The win ‘earned him the title of the only outright winner of a Trans-Am in a Cortina. He quite often out qualified and finished ahead of the factory Alan Mann Racing cars in the ’66 series, which compared to other AMR’s other campaigns, was a failure. It isn’t even mentioned in the Alan Mann biography’ Gramho posted on Instagram.

Moffat won from Bruce Jennings, Plymouth Barrcuda, Horst Kwech, Alfa GTA and the Yeager Ford Mustang, only Moffat and Jennings finished the full 156 laps of the tight 1.6 mile course, the third and fourth placed cars were 2 laps further adrift.

Moffat takes the chequered flag at Bryar- that is a pond in the background (auslot.com)

 

(auslot.com)

All smiles from AM and the Miss New Hampshire contestants. Doesn’t he look young!- note Goodyear support at this early stage- an enduring business relationship all through Moffat’s career.

Lotus Ford Twin-Cam…

Always follow the money is a business basic and so it was that the tuners of the Lotus Ford ‘twinc’ saw the natural advantage the engine had in Formula B, a buoyant economy and plenty of young racers keen to compete.

Cosworth, BRM, Vegantune and others in the UK and US produced engines with power outputs progressively rising from the Cosworth’s Mark 12’s 140bhp @6000 rpm up through 170/180bhp to around 205bhp of the early seventies Brian Hart prepped 1.6 litre, injected ‘416B’ common in Australian National F2 from 1972 onwards.

Of interest to Lotus-Ford twin-cam nutters are the ‘data-sheets’ of the Cosworth built Marks 12-15 variants.


 

Research and Photo Credits…

Special thanks to Bob Gordon for the material which stimulated this piece and Barry Nelson for his photographs and time by phone- he is happy to assist with a ‘Racing the Lotus Cortinas’ piece in the future which promises to be good.

Thanks too to Glenn Moulds and David Hassall for their contributions and access to David’s extensive magazine collection. oldracingcars.com, Cosworth Engineering

Bob Gordon Collection, Barry Nelson, Waterford Hills Facebook page, ‘CTM’- ‘Climbing The Mountain’ Allan Moffat and John Smailes, ‘AMC’- Allan Moffat Collection on Official Allan Moffat Facebook page, Gramho on Instagram, auslot.com, racecarsdirect.com, Jerry Melton on etceterini.com

Tailpiece…

Formula B lap record in the Brabham BT16 Ford and ‘Sedan 4’ mark in one of the Lotus Cortinas.

Finito…