Posts Tagged ‘Bowin P4X Formula Ford’

(NAA)

Jack Brabham testing the ‘Jack Brabham Ford’ Bowin P4X Formula Ford normally raced by Bob Beasley, August 1971…

I’ve rattled on a couple of times before about Jack’s last ‘in-period’ race victory being the Calder Raceway ‘Race Of Champions’ on 15 August 1971- he beat a stellar field.

Jack carried #1 on the flanks of the Bowin in the Calder race- its hard to know where this photo is taken, maybe its at Calder on the weekend of the meeting or perhaps Jack is putting in a few test miles elsewhere to get the hang of the car- its 100 bhp and Goodyear RR12 all weather tyres rather than the 440 bhp, slick shod F1 Brabham BT33 Ford he raced in 1970.

Maybe he is thinkin’- ‘i’ll just soften the rear bar a smidge and see if i can get a bit more bite from the back’…

Check out this article for heaps more on the Bowin Formula Fords;

https://primotipo.com/2018/08/30/bowin-p4a-and-oz-formula-ford-formative/

(R Beckman)

 

Front to rear, Stillwell Elfin 600, Brabham Bowin P4X and Matich Aztec- at right front Jane in the other Stillwell Racing Elfin 600 (Bennett)

The Calder race was a wonderful bit of promotion by Bob Jane- here is Tom Naughton’s ‘Racing Car News’ race report from the October issue of ‘The Monthly Bible’…

‘With all the pomp and ceremony of a Grand Prix, Calder staged a ‘Race Of Champions’ for their 15 August meeting.

Coming out of retirement were Jack Brabham and Bib Stillwell (Australian Gold Star National Champion 1962-1965) along with some of todays champions, and all mounted in borrowed Formula Fords, they turned on a most entertaining race. The ‘Master’ showed the way home, easing effortlessly away from the main scrap and showing that he had lost none of the skill after his period of retirement’. (only 8 months at the time!)

‘Brabham lined up in his own (Jack Brabham Ford, Bankstown, Sydney) FF normally steered by Bob Beasley, while Bib Stillwell took over his number one car (Elfin 600) usually driven by Larry Perkins (he won the Driver to Europe Series that year).

Allan Moffat (in fact the only driver without racing car experience) (not quite true, he had an outing or two in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco Tasman car boofing it at Sandown in 1968) took over David Green’s car (Wren).

Bob Jane hopped into Mike Stillwell’s Elfin 600, Alan Hamilton into Graeme Peart’s (Wren) and Kevin Bartlett into Murray Coombs’ car (Wren). Frank Matich took over Mike Hall’s Aztec, while Leo Geoghegan slipped into Peter Edwards’ car (Elfin 600)’.

Moffat Wren, with 3 Elfin 600’s behind him- perhaps Leo G immediately behind him and Jack ranging in, partially obscured to his outside, Jack is ranging in (autopix)

 

Frank Matich in Mike Hall’s Aztec. In August 1971 FM is up to his armpits in the build of the Matich A50 Repco F5000, so my guess he may have preferred to stay in Sydney, in which he was to win the November AGP at Warwick Farm – wonder what he thought of the Melbourne, Ould brothers built Aztec? (AMRA)

‘That was the field and at the flag Jane was first away, leading from Moffat, Brabham, Geoghegan and Hamilton. By lap 2, the front three had closed up and on the following lap both Moffat and Brabham slipped by at Repco. Geoghegan came up to challenge Jane, while Brabham took the lead on lap 4. He started to ease away from the rest, while Jane slipped Moffat at Toyota, these next three keeping close company. By lap 6, Geoghegan took Moffat, and then inherited second spot when Jane slipped wide at Repco, dropping back behind Stillwell’.

‘Oops! The same thing happened the last time I drove one of these open-wheeler thingies’. Moffat in David Greens slightly second-hand Wren (Bob Jane)

In lap 9, Stillwell started a challenge on Moffat and Hamilton, but in front Brabham was well clear. He took the flag in true champion style, with Leo second, then a scrapping duo of Hamilton and Moffat, with Stillwell hard on their heels, then came Jane, Matich and Bartlett. Leo did the fastest lap, a 48.6.’

The three Brabham sons all had stints in Australian Formula Ford before heading off to Europe, Geoff in 1973/4 aboard Bowin P4X/Elfin 620/Bowin P6F, Gary in 1982 with the Birrana F73 and David in 1986/7 with Van Diemen RF85/86. There is a neat bit of symmetry in the ‘old man’ also having a race win in Oz FF- was it his very last race win I wonder?

Credit…

‘Racing Car News’ October 1971, Laurie and Nick Bennett Collection, Bob Jane Heritage Collection, Autopix, Australian Motor Racing Annual, Jonathon Koch Collection for the program and RCN, National Archives Australia, Lynton Hemer, Russell Beckman

Etcetera…

From the Calder 15 August meeting program. Car in the photo is Jack’s last Tasman mount, the Brabham BT31 Repco at the Sandown Tasman meeting in February 1969

The race certainly had a great entry, for overseas readers, Stillwell, Bartlett, Matich and Geoghegan were all Gold Star Champions and Moffat, Jane and Hamilton national title holders on multiple occasions aboard Touring Cars and Sports Cars in Hamilton’s case. Jack probably requires no introduction…

For the sake of correctness, the car driver/combinations did not quite start as listed in the program.

Brabham was aboard the one off Bowin P4X- slightly different in the suspension to production P4A’s, Matich the Aztec, Jane a Stillwell Elfin 600, Geoghegan the Edwards Elfin 600 with Moffat, Bartlett and Hamilton aboard Wrens.

Brabham doing a parade lap in the P4X at Oran Park on 26 March 1972 (L Hemer)

 

 

 

Tailpiece: ‘It feels a bit like the ‘Stang, gearchange is on the right anyway’…

Moff saddles up in David Green’s Wren Formula Ford, these cars (not to forget his ‘Mk2’s constructed in the later 1970’s) were built in reasonable numbers by Bill Reynolds in his Carlisle Street, St Kilda workshop, not too far away from Calder.

Finito…

(Bennett)

It’s an exciting time for Formula Fordsters in Australia, the fiftieth anniversary of the first FF race in Australia, at Sandown on 25 November 1969, takes place in 2019…

The shot above is of Paul Harrington keeping an eye on a journalist about to have a spin aboard a Bowin P4A at Calder, date and drivers name folks? John Joyce built twelve P4’s, one of which was acquired by Ford for promotional purposes, perhaps that car, chassis ‘P4A-108-70’ is this one? Whereizzit now I wonder.

LCCA Sandown program entry for the first FF race in Australia in November 1969 (A Mann)

Harrington came to Australia from the UK in the late sixties and was initially employed as General Manager of the Queens Road, Melbourne based Light Car Club of Australia, well known to Australian enthusiasts as the promoters of Sandown and Lakeland Hillclimb in its latter days and venues such as Albert Park earlier on. Being an entrepreneurial type Harrington established Auto Action in 1971, a magazine which exists to this day, although Paul died some years back.

He is at Calder given the role the LCCA had in providing administrative support for the FF category which continued until the clubs demise as a result of the fiscal disasters which occurred due to running two poorly attended World Sportscar Championship races in the mid-eighties. Jon Davison saved the sports bacon by picking up the circuit lease but that central LCCA gathering place and watering hole on the corner of Roy Street and Queens Road for Victorian racing folks has never been replaced.

That first Australian FF race at Sandown on 25 November 1969 was contested by a mix of bespoke FF’s and converted Formula 3 cars. The race was won by Richard Knight’s Bib Stillwell owned Elfin 600 from Murray Coombs’ Lynx and Allan Ould’s Aztec AR8 driven by Bob Minogue- many years later a fast F5000 competitor in the ex-Brown/Hamilton/Costanzo Lola T430 Chev. The Elfin 600 is still about with Allan Ould looking for a Hewland Mk4 or 5 gearbox to complete the car in time for the Sandown fifty year celebration meeting. The Lynx, I’m not so sure about.

Bowin Clan Meeting in early 1975 at Oran Park: Track day attended by John Joyce on the lectern’s left with John Leffler in dark Grace Bros clobber standing on the start line addressing the troops. Sitting down on the tyre opposite Leffo is Paul Bernasconi, shortly off to Ralt and European F3. Cars are a mix of front radiator P4A’s and chisel nosed P6F’s- front and centre is Leffler’s P8 Chev F5000. The day was reported at length by Barry Lake in Sports Car World magazine- drivers and their fettlers were coached on car preparation, set-up, with on-circuit suspension adjustments made throughout the day inclusive of reasons for the changes recommended (SCW)

When John Joyce- I’ve another article on Bowin half-cooked which provides the background to the marque, returned from his long stint with Lotus in the mid-sixties he initially built three monocoque F2 cars.

These machines designated ‘P3’ (Project 3) were raced initially by Glynn Scott, Ian Fergusson and Barrie Garner. Glynn’s was the first built and was fitted with an ex-Piers Courage Ford FVA engine, Ian’s with a Lotus/Ford twin-cam whilst Barrie’s was a hillclimb machine powered by a Holden ‘Red’ six cylinder motor.

Joyce’s 1959 ‘P1’ and 1962 ‘P2’ were both Formula Juniors- one was Cooper based and the second was named ‘Koala’, both cars raced by John.

Barrie Garner in his Bowin P3 Holden at King Edward Park Hillclimb, Newcastle, NSW in 1971 (D Harvey)

Glynn Scott’s Bowin P3 Ford FVA and Lotus 23B Ford in the Lakeside paddock in October 1968. The 911 T/R is Alan Hamilton’s, just arrived and so impactful in the 1969 ATCC (G Ruckert)

With the advent of FF in Oz, Joycey adapted the P3 design’s conventional upper and lower wishbone and coil spring/shock front- and single top link, inverted lower wishbone and twin radius rod, coil spring/shock rear suspension design to a (mandated) spaceframe chassis to suit FF.

Power was of course the class issue cast iron, four cylinder, Ford 711M Cortina/Escort/Capri pushrod, OHV, twin-choke Weber fed 105bhp’ish motor. Hewland Mk8 or Mk9 4-speed transaxles completed the key mechanical elements of the package.

Mike Stillwell in Graham North’s Wren- the first FF Wren built by Bill Reynolds, Graham Gilbert’s self built Corsair FF and Brian Beasy’s self built Beasy FF at Calder in 1970. These days, since 1972! Ian Mayberry owns the Wren with the Corsair and Beasy still extant (A Clifford)

Richard Carter in the Tony Simmons built Hustler FF, Warwick Farm circa 1972. Tyres are Goodyear RR12’s (N McDonald)

One of the neat things about the class in its early Australian days were the number of one or two off cars encouraged by rules which initially excluded foreign designs. So, in those early years Corsair, Aztec, Hustler, Fielding, Beasy, Nota and others chased race wins together with ‘factory’ built Wrens, Bowins, Elfins and a little later Birranas.

The WA built Fielding FF driven by future quick Bob Creasy during the 1971 Warwick Farm Tasman meeting (L Hemer)

 

Garrie Cooper’s highly adaptable Elfin 600 design (variants of which won in FF, ANF3, ANF2 and ANF1!) ‘dominated’ early on with Richard Knight, who made his name in an Improved Production Cooper S the winner of that first Sandown race in 1969 and victor in the Bib Stillwell owned 600 of the first national FF Championship in 1970.

Knight moved to the UK, racing a ‘Palliser WDF3 FF at the head of the UK/Euro fields against Scheckter et al until funds ran out. After several attempts in other categories including F5000 he set up Richard Knight Cars and became a highly successful Mazda and Lancia dealer in the UK’ wrote FF and Hillclimb ace Peter Finlay.

Larry Perkins in another of Bib’s 600’s won the title in 1971 and took his Trans Australia Airlines sponsored ‘Driver to Europe’ prize in late 1972 contesting the inaugural Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton in the first Elfin 620 FF.

John Leffler in his P4A at Hume Weir in early 1973. TAA (later absorbed into Qantas) were the then government owned domestic airline carrier and provided great support sponsoring the ‘TAA Driver to Europe Series’ for well over a decade, inclusive of providing some ‘hosties’ at some of the rounds. These days from amongst the old gay blokes and boilers you couldn’t put any eye candy on a grid from inside a Qantas cabin…(Bennett)

1972 Bowin P4A DTE champion with his new P6F- the very first one built, chassis ‘P6F-119-72’ alongside Larry Perkins equally new Elfin 620 far, far from home in the Snetterton paddock during the Formula Ford Festival weekend. Rising or progressive rate suspension linkages of the P6 clear. This chassis returned to Oz, and fitted with Hart/Ford twincam, Hewland FT200 box, appropriate wings, wheels, tyres and brakes contested the 1973 ANF2 Championship. Larry stayed in England and did rather well, the 620 came home (Bennett)

Fellow Aussies John Leffler and Bob Skelton also made the trip and raced Bowin P4A and brand new P6F respectively. I wonder how Skello would have gone had he raced the known quantity P4A in England in which he won the 1972 DTE rather than the radical, chisel shaped, side radiator, rising-rate suspended and ultimately very successful P6F?

Leffler and Skelton finished fourth in their respective heats but did not make the final in which Perkins was third behind Ian Taylor and Derek Lawrence. Aussies Buzz Buzaglo ran in third early and then faded when his distributor shifted and Peter Finlay was tenth in his Palliser in a field which included later F1 drivers Danny Sullivan, Patrick Neve and Tiff Needell in addition to Larry.

Skelton, Leffler (who won the 1973 DTE title in a P6F) Bob Beasley and speedway star Garry Rush- who Joyce rated very highly in a conversation I had with him in the early nineties, were early very fast P4 exponents.

Garry Rush Bowin P4A leads Phil Webber Elfin 600, another Elfin then David Green Wren and Richard Knight, Elfin 600 in the November 1970 DTE round at Warwick Farm (L Hemer)

 

Perhaps the best credentialed of all Bowin P4 pilots was Australian triple world champion Jack Brabham in car #1!, the P4X raced that year with Jack Brabham Ford sponsorship by Bob Beasley. Jack won this 1971 Calder Park ‘Race of Champions’, his last event ‘in period’- he retired at the end of 1970 of course but could not resist appearing at this meeting- I wonder how much practice he did at Oran Park in this car?! Calder was not new to him- he tested his BT31 Repco Tasman machine at Calder on the day it’s assembly was completed in January 1969. The field for the ROC included Bib Stillwell #6, and Bob Jane #7, both in Stillwell Elfin 600’s raced that year by Larry Perkins and Mike Stillwell in the DTE Series, Frank Matich is alongside Jack with Allan Moffat, Kevin Bartlett and Alan Hamilton the other starters (Bennett)

The P4 design had a second wind in the mid-seventies with the sudden 1975 mid-season change in Australian FF regulations back to road tyres.

Australian FF evolved from mandated road tyres from the classes introduction, to the Goodyear RR12 ‘all weather’ race tyre and then to a Goodyear slick- shortages of that tyre forced a mid-season change to the Bridgstone RD102 during 1975- a great road-going radial of the time, I had a set on my uni-student special (read rooted) burnt orange Capri.

After cutting his teeth in Australian Formula Vee Peter Finlay left Australia and lived the life of a racing gypsy with his wife in the UK, doing so very successfully for several years, finishing third in the EFDA/European FF Championship in 1973. Peter recalls ‘coming back from the UK to Australia at the end of 1973, my Palliser WDF2 arrived early in 1974 and I fitted Goodyear slicks straight away. The ‘wets’ were Goodyear ‘RR12’s. In 1975 I joined the Grace Bros team and we ran the Goodyear slicks and a different type of Goodyear wets until Matich (Frank Matich was the Goodyear Race Tyre importer) was unable to continue supply from about mid-year. I was on the Formula Ford Australia Committee and used my car to test the Bridgestone RD102 radials…They were as cheap as chips but the car(s) handled poorly…Having driven the Palliser on Goodyear slicks I can’t say that the Bridgestones were any fun at all’.

It soon became clear that the good-ole P4 and its suspension geometry suited the tyres very well so the sight of the old-school, front-radiator Bowins knocking off the vary latest of FF designs from both Australia and Europe- imports by then were allowed, became the usual sight in mid-later seventies Oz FF.

John Smith in his Grace Bros sponsored P4A at Oran Park in very Smithy- and very Bridgestone RD102 radial tyre slide. Not necessarily what the drivers preferred (in terms of a tyre) but very crowd pleasing (Bennett)

1976 DTE round at Amaroo Park. Richard Carter Birrana F73 on pole- unseen on the front row is his Grace Bros teammate John Davis in the P4X, in blue is John Smith and yellow Mike Quinn, both P4As. The red car is Birrana F71/1 with Terry Shiel at the wheel- the very first Birrana initially raced by John Goss. Carter won the 1976 DTE with the P4’s of Smith, Davis and Quinn second to fourth (Bennett)

Gerry Witenden Birrana F71/1 (same car above albeit modified by Elwyn Bickley) ahead of 1978 DTE Champ John Wright P4A and Richard Davison, Hawke DL17 getting a helping hand from a P6F, Amaroo Park 1978 (C Davison)

Great P4 exponents in this later renaissance era for the older chassis were John Davis, Mike Quinn, Warren Smith, Graham Smith, John Wright and John Smith (none of the Smiths related)- the latter one of the high-priests of Australian FF and a bit later Formula Pacific. Smithy and John Wright won the DTE in 1977 and 1978 respectively. Wright was also an awesome racer who jumped straight from FF to the ex-Leffler F5000 Lola T400 Chev, and made the thing look as easy to drive as the FF he had just stepped from.

Who is that man in a P4? Surfers circa 1978. Meanwhile Ron Barnacle, later DTE winner in a Royale RP31 in 1984 makes up ground having done some lawn-mowing for circuit owner Keith Williams, Elfin 620B (C Davison)

Oran Park 1976 DTE Bowins as far as the eye can see! John Davis, John Smith and Mike Quinn all in P4s, then Richard Carter Birrana F73- Carter still prodigiously fast in historic racing to this day (Bennett)

1976 Oran park P4A butt-shot, Quinn chasing Smith. Mk9 Hewland box, single top link, lower inverted wishbone, coil spring-/shocks and mechanic adjustable roll bar all period typical albeit by this stage a few rockers were starting to appear on cars such as the Royales and Lolas in Oz (Bennett)

These days Bowins are not the familiar sight they should be in very healthy Australian Historic Formula Ford despite classes which should encourage all to compete. A number of us, me included, pushed hard to admit cars built up to 31 December 1989 into historic FF which has had the knock-on effect of drivers buying cars of this later period- owners of the pre-1977 and pre-1983 classes these days stay away in droves. Come back folks!- please bring your Elfin 600, 620B, Birrana F71-3, Lolas, Royales, Hawkes, and especially your P4 Bowins along…

Smithy made it look so easy- rest assured folks it is not! Here the maestro leads Grant Walker, the Kiwi aboard a Tiitan at Amaroo in 1977. A year later I was lookin’ after me mate Alan Bisset’s ex-Brabham/Davis Bowin P4X at Amaroo and witnessed some almighty ANF2 racing between ex-FFers Smith and Larner in the Ford pushrod powered Galloway HG1 and Elfin 700 respectively on this late, lamented outer Sydney circuit (Bennett)

By the late-seventies the going was getting tough for the old P4 with a swag of English cars adapted locally to suit the needs of the Bridgestones and some newer local designs on the scene. The Richard Davison Hawke DL17 developed by Bill Reynolds, the ‘everybody raced’ ex-Arnel Lola T440, several Royale RP21’s and Van Diemen RF77’s, David Earle’s Elfin Aero and Elwyn Bickley’s superb Elwyn 02 all spring to mind.

Warren Smith (no relation) still made Smithy’s old jigger sing well enough to finish second in the 1980 DTE with one win, but time for a car first built in late 1969 had finally arrived…

We have lift off- Sandown DTE 1978. Elwyn Bickley Elwyn 02, obscured Peter Krefel Royale RP21, Richard Davison #5 Hawke DL17, to the right near the fence Lyndon Arnel Lola T440- look down on the fence side of the grid and you can see the distinctive P4 nose of that years champ- John Wright’s car (C Davison)

Etcetera…

Bowin…

 

The Bowin P4A- PR shot of John Wright’s chassis. 12 cars built between 1969 and 1972 (Bennett)

 

The Bowin P6F, John Leffler at Amaroo Park in his 1973 DTE winning mount ‘P6F-120-72’. Geoff Brabham also raced this chassis doing his first full year of FF in 1974- he won the 1975 ANF2 Championship in a Birrana 274 Ford/Hart and then left for European F3. 26 cars built between 1972 and 1976. Leffo perhaps the greatest of all the Bowin racers?- winner in the P4 and P6 in FF, in the P8 ANF2 car and a ‘coulda been’ 1975 AGP winner aboard the much maligned P8 Chev F5000 machine had the planets been aligned and the cars ignition not drowned in the latter stages of the Surfers Paradise race, won in the end by Max Stewart’s Lola T400 Chev (Bennett)

 

Sandown November 1969…

Brian Beasy, Beasy FF exiting Dandenong Road with a gaggle of cars including a winged F3 or F2 car. Decades later Historic Formula Ford in Australia would not have happened without the late Brian’s influence and guidance in the CAMS Historic Commission on all things related to FF inclusive of car eligibility (Beasy Family)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allan Ould’s Aztec AR8 was raced to 3rd as in this photo in the November 1969 first Oz FF race

 

FFA membership list as at the end of 1970

 

Current historic Van Diemen RF86 racer Anthony Mann dreaming of his own Formula Ford as a 9 year old kid aboard the FF ‘display car’ a Wren FF in Shepparton 1969 (Mann)

Arcane and Irrelevant…

Australian Formula Ford tyres- strictly for FF anoraks only! List developed during some Facebook banter mainly between me, Peter Finlay and Nick Bennett

1969-1971 Road tyres of drivers choice. In the UK Finlay notes the Firestone Torino ‘wide ovals’ were a road crossply with a racing compound

1972-1973 Goodyear RR12 all weather

1974-1975 mid-year Goodyear slick with RR12 wets and very expensive but superior G10 winter treads for sopping wet races

1975-1980 Bridgestone RD102 road radial

1981-1983 Dunlop slick ‘592’ compound

1984-1994 Dunlop CR82 all weather

1995-2015 Avon ACB10 all weather

2016 on Yokohama A048 all weather

Peter Finlay, Palliser WDF2 from Peter Larner, Elfin 620B, Calder early 1975 just before the Goodyear slick- check out the tyre distortion folks, were changed due to supply problems to the Bridgestone RD102 radial. Finlay won 3 rounds that year and Larner 1 with both tied for second in the title chase won by Paul Bernasconi in a Mawer 004. Finlay later owned and ran Peter Wherrett Advanced Driving and was a hillclimb ace- Larner still is a great engine builder and raced an AGP or two in the Formula Pacific era (Finlay)

Photo and Other Credits…

Laurie and Nick Bennett Collection, Chris Davison, Nick McDonald, Oz Classic FF Facebood site, Lynton Hemer, Dale Harvey, Anthony Mann, Sports Car World, Peter Finlay, Graham Ruckert, Beasy Family Collection, A Clifford

Tailpiece: In Search of An Apex…

(SCW)

John Leffler, Australian Gold Star Champion in a Lola T400 Chev in 1977 and kneeling John Joyce trying to get their Bowin charges to apex correctly during the Oran Park Bowin test day in early 1975.

Harry Macklin aboard the ex-Leffler P4A John raced in the early 1973 DTE rounds before switching to his new P6F.

Finito…

image

Jack Brabham willingly takes his go-faster pill from the lovely Goodyear fräulein…

It’s just before the 1966 German Grand Prix, Jack won the race in his Brabham BT19 Repco on 7 August from John Surtees and Jochen Rindt aboard Cooper T81 Masers.

Jack was right in the middle of the mid-season purple patch which gave him the title; from 3 July to 7 August he won the French, British, Dutch and German GP’s on the trot.

Goodyear were a very important part of Brabham Repco’s win that year. Jack was in F1 with them from their start in F1, 1965, and was still winning races with them in 1971.

Brabham’s last race win was aboard a Goodyear RR12 shod Bowin P4X Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ victory at Calder, Australia…

image

Bob Jane was always a clever promoter, the champion racer/entrepreneur and Calder circuit owner decided upon a ‘Race of Champions’ amongst the Australian aces of the day to get a few more bums on seats at his 15 August 1971, cold and chilly winter meeting. Look at the crowd!

The just retired, for a while anyway, Jack Brabham was happy to accept the invitation to compete. It just so happened his Ford Dealership in Sydney sponsored Bob Beasley in a Bowin P4 in that years ‘TAA Driver to Europe Series’, the national Formula Ford championship.

The field included Kevin Bartlett, Alan Hamilton, Allan Moffat. Pictured here is Bib Stillwell in the car in which Larry Perkins won the 1971 Driver to Europe title, then Jack and Frank Matich in Elfin 600, Bowin P4X and Aztec FF respectively.

Whether or not Jack did a few laps in the Bowin at Warwick Farm in Sydney before the car was popped onto the trailer for Melbourne is unclear, ditto Bib, the owner of the Perkins Elfin 600! It was a fun race but their were plenty of guys keen to win, Jack prevailed in the short scrap, Goodyear shod of course…

Credits…

ullstein Bild, Classic FF FB page

Ps: ‘Drink it Freddy!’…

Was the catchy slogan or tagline of a popular sweet drink called ‘Quik’, the notion being that the additive made cows milk more drinkable at a time such milk was a good thing. I think it still is, but who knows? Anyway, the line was stuck in the back of my head, which is full of useless shite and popped out when i saw Jack and his Goodyear friend…

Pps: Love the neato Repco Brabham sticker on the cockpit screen of Jack’s car!

 

 

 

 

 

 

bathurst

Max Stewart, Niel Allen & Leo Geoghegan (L>R) , Easter Bathurst, 1969 (Wayne McKay)

Start of the ‘Gold Star’ race Mount Panorama, Easter 1969…

In the Good ‘Ole Days there used to be 2 meetings a year at Mount Panorama, Easter when the Gold Star race was the feature and of course the ‘Taxi’ classic  later in the year.

In those days the Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship meant something. A lot in fact, it was won down the decades by some great, World Class drivers including Lex Davison, Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell, Spencer Martin, Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, John McCormack, Max Stewart, Alfredo Costanzo and many others.These days it does not have the same cachet and ‘Taxis’ dominate in Australia. Sadly.

This photo was posted on Facebook recently by Wayne McKay and shows the grid of the ’69 Gold Star event.

Leo Geoghegan is on pole in his evergreen, white, ex-Clark Lotus 39 Repco, alongside is Niel Allen in his ex-Piers Courage McLaren M4a Ford FVA (a European F2 car) Max Stewart having joined Alec Mildrens team that year is at the wheel of the yellow Mildren Waggott in which he would have so much success over the following 3 years. The Mildren was a car built by Rennmax’ Bob Britton on his Brabham BT23 jig.

The red car on the second row is John Harvey in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco, repaired after his huge Bathurst prang the year before. The light blue car is Queenslander Glynn Scott in his Bowin P3 Ford FVA, a wonderful monocoque built by John Joyce in Sydney, Joyce not long before having returned from a longish stint as an Engineer at Lotus.

The red car towards the rear of the grid, on the fence side of the track is Jack Brabham in his Brabham BT31 Repco. Jack was making a rare Gold Star appearance in the F3 based car built for his 1969 Tasman Series campaign, but which could not be unloaded because of a ‘Wharfies’ strike, and only raced in the final Sandown Tasman round.

This car was the lowest mileage Brabham ever built, it raced at Sandown and then Bathurst, the 2.5 litre ANF1 was in its dying days, Repco were unable to sell it. Years later, after being a Repco display car Rodway Wolfe acquired it, eventually it commenced its second career as an historic racer in Bib Stillwells’ hands.

jack

Jack Brabham Brabham BT31 Repco , Bathurst Easter 1969 between ‘Skyline’ and ‘The Dipper’. He tried the car both bi-winged and with rear wing only during practice , racing the car as shown. BT31 a one off car based on the F3 BT28. Repco 2.5 litre ‘830 Series’ SOHC, 2 valve V8, circa 295 BHP @ 9000 RPM (D Simpson)

The Tasman 2.5 Formula…

The grid shows just how poor fields had become as the 2.5 litre formula came towards its end.

The Tasman 2.5 litre Tasman Formula commenced in 1964 in Australia and New Zealand. The Tasman Series, 8 events initially, 4 in both Australia and NZ over two months in the Southern Summer was well attended by works or semi works cars from BRM, Lotus, and Ferrari running 2.5 litre variants (bored versions of their 1.5 litre F1 engines out to about 2 or 2.1 litres, or ‘de-stroked’ versions of their 3 litre F1 engines) of their F1 engines.

Local competitors could, on more or less equal terms, compete with the internationals using cars in the early Tasman years powered by the Coventry Climax 4 cylinder FPF engine, dominant in the final years of the 2.5 Litre F1 and later on Repco’s Tasman V8’s, which were available to anyone with the cash.

As the 60’s went on it became harder to attract the European teams to the Tasman Series as the F1 season became longer, and local competitors, other than a small number of teams struggled with budgets to run a Repco.

Mind you, budgets in open-wheeler racing in Australia, whatever the era have always been a problem. It was time, in all the circumstances to consider a new ANF1. CAMS were vacillating between 2 litre F2, to commence in Europe in 1972, and Formula A or Formula 5000, which used ‘stock block’ American V8’s and which had commenced in the US, but ‘taken off’ in Europe in 1969.

CAMS announced the change to 2 Litres, which made sense as Merv Waggotts’ engine had already proved competitive. Under pressure from Ford, Holden and Repco, all of whom had commercial interests in the V8’s introduced into Australian road cars in preceding years, ultimately and controversially in some quarters, F5000 became the new ANF1 from 1971, with the 2.5 Litre cars legal in the 1970 Tasman, F5000’s first Tasman Season.

Presumably Jack came to Australia to fulfil commitments to Repco, as a non-resident he was ineligible for Gold Star points, either way he was a welcome addition to the thinning Gold Star grid.

He was a busy boy in April and May. He was at Bathurst in April, raced in the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix in Barcelona and Monte Carlo on May 4 and 18, also practising, qualifying and then racing at Indianapolis on May 30. Indianapolis itself occupied a big chunk of May.

indy

Jacks car for the Indianapolis 500 in 1969 was the BT25 built the year before. In 1968 they (2 cars bult by MRD) were raced throughout the season by Jack, Jochen Rindt, and Masten Gregory. Repco ‘760 Series’ 4.2 litre normally aspirated, alcohol fuelled V8, circa 500BHP @ 8500RPM. Hewland GB300 gearbox, chassis using sheet aluminium as a stressed member for the first time in a Brabham.

Jack engaged Peter Revson to drive the other BT25, the cars powered by big 4.2 litre normally aspirated, alcohol fuelled ‘760 series’ Repco V8’s, close cousins of the F1 ‘860 Series’ engines which had given so much grief in 1968.

AJ Foyt was on pole at 170.568 MPH, with Jack on 163.875MPH, Revvie squeaking into the field slowest qualifier at 160.851MPH. Revson showed his class in the race won by Andrettis’ Hawk Ford, finishing fifth whilst Jack had ignition failure.

The cars were competitive that season Revson winning a race at Indianapolis Raceway Park later in the season.

jack and pete

Jack Brabham and Peter Revson at Indianapolis 1969

High Wings…

Looking at the Bathurst cars the high-wings stand out, pun intended.

They had grown larger and higher over the previous 12 months, developments in F1 emulating the wings used first by Chaparral on their Cam Am and World Sports Car Championship cars.

Things were about to change though after numerous failures to wings and their mounts- Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill both experienced near catastrophic failures of the wing mounts on their Lotus 49’s in Barcelona on May 4. The FIA acted decisively at Monaco, banning high wings in all classes globally after Monaco GP practice. There on Saturday, gone on Sunday.

Jack experimented with bi-wings in Bathurst practice, had fuel feed problems problems so he qualified well back, but settled for a wing on the rear, and went sans aero-assistance on the front for the race. The fuel delivery problems were alleviated with the installation of the electric fuel pump from Repco Director, Charlie Deans’ Lancia and an on/off switch to avoid flattening the cars battery.

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Rodway Wolfes’ shot of Jack in practice, here with both front and rear high-wings, Mount Panorama Easter 1969. (Rodway Wolfe)

The skinny grid looked even thinner by the time the cars appeared out of ‘Murrays’ and onto pit straight at the end of lap 1- Stewart and Allen had a territorial dispute going into the Dipper tangling and neatly parking nose to nose high above the Bathurst Plains below.

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Niel Allen #2 and Max Stewart neatly parked high on the mount…’The Dipper’. McLaren M4a and Mildren Waggott respectively, Max extricating all 6’4” from the Mildren. Superb shot shows both the height and elevation of Mount Panorama. (John Arkwright)

Jack cantered way and won the Bathurst Gold Star race, his last win in Australia, but one?…

Brabham retired from F1 at the end of 1970, but let’s come back to that in a little bit.

In 1971 Bob Jane promoted a Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ at Calder in August pitting some of the stars of the past and present against each other.

Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, Bib Stillwell, Alan Hamilton and Alan Moffat were amongst the drivers who took on Jack in his Bowin P4x. Jack Brabham Ford sponsored Bob Beasley who raced ‘Jacks’ car in the ‘Driver to Europe Series’, the Australian Formula Ford Championship that year, Jack taking the car to victory to much public acclaim…no way were one of the locals going to beat him having just retired!

So that little known FF event, I think, was JB’s last ever race win?

stillwell

Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’. Calder August 15 1971. # 6 Bib Stillwell Elfin 600, in his old helmet!, #1 Jack Brabham Bowin P4x, # 7 Unknown Elfin 600, and the obscured car alogside Jack is Frank Matich in, i think an Aztec. Trivia is that car # 6 is the Elfin 600 raced by Larry Perkins to win the FF Championship in 1971, Mike Stillwell raced the sister BS Stillwell Ford # 7 entry in the same Championship. (Unattributed)

Jack ‘came back’ and did some touring car events in the mid 70’s,including the Bathurst 1000 several times and even shared a Porsche 956 in the World Sports Car Championship race at Sandown in 1984, but I reckon that FF win was his last.

l34

In a promotional coup, Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss shared a Holden Torana L34 in the 1976 Bathurst 1000. Unfortunately the car had a driveline failure and was hit up the ar$e badly damaging the car. Patched together, the pair put on a show for the crowd but the car did not finish (autopics)

porker

# 56 Porsche 956 driven by Jack Brabham and Johnny Dumfries in the Sandown 1000 round of the World Endurance Championship in 1984. The car was a camera vehicle, and again a promotional coup but still competing, although suffered rear suspension failure so was a DNF. Brabham and Alan Jones careers did not overlap in F1 but both Australian World Champs competed in this race Jones sharing another Rothmans Porsche with Vern Schuppan, also DNF. It was Jacks first experience of a ground effect car, at 58, quite different to the last ‘serious car’ he drove, the Brabham BT33 Ford in which he finished the Mexican GP in 1970, he acquitted himself well. (Pinterest)

jack 1

Whats it like out there Jack? It was a hot weekend, the challenge of the powerful ground-effects Porsche must have been considerable but Jack drove for over 2 hours in total, the car eventually failing. Whilst in works Rothmans colours it was a Richard Lloyd Racing 956

F1 in 1970…

These days F1 is all about youth, drivers start in Karts, some are in F1 by 20. Jack was 44 when he commenced his last season and was incredibly competitive at an age F1 drivers these days are long since retired. It was to be a very full season for Jack in a large number of different categories.

He won the season opening South African GP, made a last lap mistake at Monaco under pressure from Jochen Rindt whilst leading and came second. He also finished second to Rindt in the British GP at Brands Hatch as well having passed him and was pulling away before running short of fuel on the last lap, an error made by then Brabham mechanic, and now McLaren chief, Ron Dennis.

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Brabham leading a gaggle of cars early in the Monaco GP 1970. Brabham BT33 Ford, Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra MS120, Jacky Ickx Ferrari 312B, Denny Hulme McLaren M14a and one of the Lotuses…Jack lead the race but Rindt gave the Lotus 49 its last victory in a phenomenal chase of Brabham, pressuring him into a last lap error into second place. Had Rindt re-joined Brabham for 1970, he enjoyed 1968 with them despite the foibles of the Repco ‘860 Series’ DOHC V8, instead of staying at Lotus Jack would have retired at the end of ’69 and Rindt, who knows?…(Pinterest)

He could have won the World Title in 1970 with a little more luck. Mind you luck was in short supply that year, friends and former teammates, Bruce McLaren and Jochen Rindt as well as Piers Courage  perished in 1970.

Grand Prix racing is the pinnacle but 1970 was a year of great depth. The grid comprised the established aces- Stewart, Rindt, Hill, Ickx, Hulme and Rodriguez, as well as young chargers in their first F1 year including Regazzoni, Peterson, Fittipaldi and our own Tim Schenken. Ferrari, Lotus, BRM, Brabham and March all won races in 1970 as well.

Ron Tauranac designed Jack a ‘pearler’ of a car for 1970. The team had been successful with space-frame chassis’ since it was formed. Chapman popularised the monocoque with his 1962 Lotus 25 but Brabham won championships in all formulae with their simple, user friendly, easy to repair and forgiving cars. The latter was both a design feature and a function of Jack doing the final chassis settings before ‘sign-off’.

For 1970 monocoques had effectively been mandated by the FIA, new regulations demanding bag fuel tanks to improve the safety of the cars. Tauranacs’ first stressed-skin chassis was the BT25 ‘Indycar’ pictured above. The BT33 could be said to be standard ‘Cosworth powered kit-car’- an aluminium monocoque, Ford DFV engine and Hewland gearbox were its essential elements, but it was a very good one, and was still very competitive in Tim Schenkens hands in 1971.

bt33

This shot is at Hockenheim 1970, Stommelens’ car in front (5th), Jacks (DNF) at rear. Essential elements the ‘bathtub’ aluminium monocoque chassis. Front suspension by top rocker and lower wishbone operating inboard mounted coil spring/damper unit. Gearbox and rear suspension ass’y rolls away for the engine change minimising time spent especially on time consuming wheel alignment in the field..mechanics will still align the car mind you..but not as big a job! The more you look, the more you see…(Pinterest)

Matra…1970

Jack had decided to retire due to family pressure at the end of 1969 when he agreed terms verbally with Jochen Rindt to rejoin the team for 1970. Jochen enjoyed his Brabham season in 1968 despite the problems with the ‘860 Repco’ engine but ultimately asked Jack to release him from his undertaking as a consequence of an offer from Lotus which was too good to refuse. Had that course of events transpired history would of course been quite different…Rindt dying at the wheel of a Lotus 72 at Monza and winning the 1970 World Championship posthumously.

Jack told his wife Betty he would compete for one more year, putting everything into that last season, and not just F1.

He participated in the World Sports Car Championship for Matra competing at Le Mans in an MS650, a spaceframed car using an endurance version of the compnay’s F1 3 litre, 48 valve V12. He shared the car at Le Mans with Francois Cevert, the car not finishing with engine failure.

He also did the lead up events to Le Mans including Daytona, 10th with Francois Cevert, Cevert breaking into F1 that year. He shared a car with Jean-Pierre Beltoise at Brands and Monza finishing 12th and 5th respectively.

1970 and 1971 were the years of the ‘5 litre monsters’ the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S, it was tough for 3 litre prototypes, Matra steadily evolved their cars to be the class of the field in 1973/4/5, but Jack enjoyed the season and having simply to drive the car, not do literally everything else.

brands

In search of downforce…Brabham in the Matra MS650, Brands Hatch 1000Km, April 1970, 12th sharing the car with Beltiose (Pinterest)

And Indy…1970

Ron Tauranac built a new monocoque car for  the race using  a 2.65 litre turbo-charged 4 cylinder ‘Offy engine and Weisman gearbox. Jack was classified 13th but had piston failure which carved the block in half. The race was won that year by Al Unser in a Colt Offy ‘Johnny Lightning Special’.

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Formula 2 in a Brabham BT30…1970

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Pau GP 1970 front row L>R : Jochen Rindt on pole Lotus 69, Francois Mazet & Jack Brabham both in Brabham BT30’s. Green helmet in the secong row is Henri Pescarolo in another Barbham BT30, and alongside Clay Regazzoni, Tecno 69. All Ford FVA powered. Rindt won from Pescarolo and Tim Schenken, also in a BT30…(DPPI)

John ‘Nuggett’ Coombs was a longtime privateer entrant running Brabhams and in 1970 had a ‘dream team’ of Jackie Stewart and Jack sharing a Brabham BT30. Jack competed at Pau, Rouen and Tulln-Langenlebarn (Vienna), his best result second in the latter meeting to the Ickx BMW 270.

jack

Brabham ahead of Jochen Rindt at Pau, France 1970. Jack DNF, Rindt winning the race in his Lotus 69 Ford FVA. The European F2 Championship was won in 1970 by Clay Regazzoni in a Tecno Ford FVA. Brabham is driving a Brabham BT30 FVA owned by John Coombs. (Pinterest)

Tasman Series 1970 and Retirement…

The only series he didn’t do that he usually did was the Tasman Series in our Summer, his Matra campaign commenced on January 31 at Daytona, but it was the first year of the F5000 Tasman series, albeit the 2.5 Litre cars were still eligible, maybe he figured it wasn’t worth the effort as MRD didn’t build an F5000 car at the time? Either way he spent February in Australia.

Graham Lawrence won the Tasman series that year with his ex-Amon Ferrari 246T, consistently running with and beating the more powerful but less nimble F5000’s.

If only Jack had dusted off the BT31 which won at Bathurst the previous April, fitted current tyres and wings maybe he would have won the Tasman Series, a cup missing from his mantelpiece.

Jack said in later years that he felt he had another 3 or 4 competitive years in him. He recounts to Doug Nye in his biography that his father, who had always been his strongest supporter within the family and reinforced his decisions to continue racing, advised him not to reconsider his retirement during 1970 given the deaths which occurred that season.

At the end 0f 1970 Jack returned to Australia to a farm near Wagga, Jack Brabham Ford in Sydney and his aviation interests in addition to investments in the UK.

What can you say about this remarkable Australian which hasn’t already been said? To my way of thinking he is Australias greatest sportsman ever. No other individual performed at the same level for so long, was as innovative as he was, and took on the best in the world and won, both in terms of his driving and in the deployment of Australian technology.

RIP Jack Brabham and thank goodness you did retire at the end of 1970.

bt 31

Jack Brabham, sans wings, Sandown Tasman practice 1969…surely a competitive mount in Tasman 1970 had he entered…?(Flickr unattributed)

 

jacks

Deep in set-up thought. Jack in his BT33 F1 car during 1970. ‘Jet Jackson’ fighter pilots helmet that he, Jackie Stewart and Piers Courage tried that year. Skiers goggles. No nomex gloves, leather, nice Rolex watch. Lovely shot which captures the essence of the guy i think!? (Getty Images)

 


 

Etcetera: Bathurst 1969…

bathurst

bathurst

Jack Brabham , Bathurst practice Easter 1969. Brabham BT31 Repco ‘bi-winged’ in practice (Facebook)

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Brabham in the race which he won, sans front wing. Bathurst Easter 1969. (Facebook)

 

Etcetera: Calder FF Race 1971…

 

calder

 

calder

Brabham takes the spoils of victory…’Race of Champions’ Calder, Australia August 1971. Car is a Formula Ford Bowin P4x (Facebook)

 

Etcetera: F1 1970 and Brabham BT33…

 

bt 33 cutaway

Drawing of Ron Tauranacs’ 1970 Brabham BT33 Ford, Motor Racing Developments first ‘real’ monocoque chassis car

spain

Jarama, Spanish GP 1970. Avoiding the fire as a result of the Ickx/Oliver collision, both the Ferrari and BRM were destroyed but the drivers escaped an accident caused by a stub axle failure of the BRM (Pinterest)

monaco

Jack Brabham, Monaco 1970 . BT33 from above, wet Saturday practice (Pinterest)

rolf

Jack trying teammate Rolf Stommelens BT33 in Spain practice, both DNF in the race won by the March 701 Ford of Jackie Stewart (Pinterest)

Etcetera Matra…

daytona

daytona

Jack Brabham, Matra MS 650, Daytona 1970 (Nigel Smuckatelli)

Photo and Other Credits…

oldracingcars.com, Pinterest, Getty Images, ‘Jack Brabhan with Doug Nye’, Nigel Smuckatelli

The End…