Posts Tagged ‘Brabham BT11a Climax’

(A Robinson)

Andrew Robinson worked for Alec Mildren’s Pymble dealership for a number of years, starting as an apprentice motor mechanic in 1977 and was given these discarded photographs which span a decade of Alec Mildren Racing from about 1964 to 1972, many thanks to Andrew for sharing them with us, rolled gold they are too…

I have arranged them pretty much in chronological order- the cars themselves are easy enough to identify but in some cases I don’t know where they are, hopefully Kevin Bartlett or others can assist in that regard!

The first (above) is the Mildren Maserati sports-racer with Alec, long time Mildren race mechanic/engineer Glen Abbey and another dude checking out the car which appears brand new- note the XK150 and Mk2 Jaguars.

After speculating online that the locale was Glenn Abbey’s home in Avalon for a couple of days Kevin Bartlett’s memory kicked into gear ‘The penny has just dropped…its the “Railway Shed” where many of the cars were worked on. It was opposite the Mildren Pymble headquarters on the Pacific Highway alongside the Northern Railway (look closely at the top of the shot and you can see the railway track). I also remember building a pushrod Ford engine for a Brabham in the floor above the workshop. We ceased using it in 1967 when the cars were worked on behind the main building.’

The car was built by Bob Britton of Rennmax Engineering on his Lotus 19 jig around the core mechanical components of Alec’s 1960 Gold Star Championship winning Cooper T51 Maserati- suspension and brakes, Maserati T61 2.9 litre DOHC four cylinder engine and Colotti gearbox. The story of this car is told at the end of this lengthy piece on Alec; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

(A Robinson)

Beautiful shot of Alec and Marjorie Mildren, Frank Gardner, the tall Glenn Abbey, Bob Grange or Stuart Randall on the pit counter at Warwick Farm circa 1965.

Gardner’s pattern throughout the decade was to race in Europe in F1/F2/Sportscars/Touring cars and then return home in the summer time taking in the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm in December as a warm up for the Tasman Series in January, February and just into March against the best in the world before heading back to Europe.

Great work/life balance it seems to me!

(A Robinson)

Mildren Racing became outright Tasman Series contenders with the acquisition of a Brabham BT11A Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF before the 1965 series, the car is chassis number ‘IC-3-64’.

Here Alec at left, is sussing his new racer together with his son, Jeff Mildren and Glenn Abbey in late 1964, probably in the workshop over the road from Alfa Romeo Dealership at 970-980 Pacific Highway, Pymble on Sydney’s Upper North Shore.

The car was first raced in the 1965 Tasman Series opener, the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe, where he was second to Graham Hill’s identical, Scuderia Veloce machine. No doubt Frank gave it a whirl around the Farm before venturing to the Land of The Long White Cloud- he didn’t run at in the 6 December 1964 Hordern Trophy though, which means either he or the car, or both, were not in the country by then.

Note the the rear of a Hewland gearbox on the bench and rear springs missing from the Brabham at this point- no FPF either BTW. Checkout this article on the ‘Intercontinental’ Brabhams; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/20/matich-stillwell-brabhams-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1963/

The shot below is the same spaceframe chassis unclothed.

(A Robinson)

During 1965, after a very successful Tasman in which FG was equal fourth, Mildren was looking for a Tasman Series ‘Unfair Advantage’ for the coming year. ‘Everybody’ ran the Coventry Climax FPF which was becoming a bit long in the tooth, BRM planned to race their 1.5 litre F1 P261’s with the V8 taken out to about 1.9 litres and Repco announced they were to race their new 2.5 litre V8- which first fired a shot in the Doonside Street, Richmond Repco Engine Lab in March 1965 during the 1966 Tasman in advance of an assault on the F1 World Championship.

Alec found an exotic solution via his old buddies at Maserati.

He was a Maserati dealer and had impeccable connections within the racing side of the company by virtue of his successful Gold Star tilt, Maserati powered in 1960, and so it was he obtained a 2.5 litre Maserati Tipo 58 (250F T2) quad cam, two valve, six-Weber carbed, circa 310bhp V12 which had been lying around Modena since Officine Maserati tested and occasionally raced V12 versions of the 250F in 1957. Fangio won the last of his five F1 championships racing six-cylinder 250Fs that year of course.

(A Robinson)

The engine was shipped to Sydney where it was married to the team’s BT11A ‘IC-3-64’- our friend above, the frame of which was lengthened more than a smidge to suit, a bell-housing was cast to mate the engine to a Hewland HD5 gearbox and away Gardner went in practice for the 1966 Warwick Farm 100- the photo above is on that very day, 12 February 1966.

Frank and Kevin Bartlett tested the car at Oran Park early in the summer, the engine blew, the machine had plenty of power but its delivery- exactly as JM Fangio and Jean Behra experienced in their 250F’s when they tested (and raced in Behra’s case at Monza) them so equipped in 1957, was either ‘on or off’ so Frank raced his Climax engined BT11A ‘IC-2-64’ at the Farm instead, he was third behind Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax and Graham Hill’s BRM P261.

This latter BT11A was the machine Bib Stillwell used to win his final Gold Star in 1965 which was then acquired by Alec when Bib retired, for Frank to use in the NZ Tasman rounds whilst Stu Randall rebuilt the Maserati engine with bits flown in from Italy and re-fitted it to BT11A chassis ‘IC-3-64’ for Frank to use at Warwick Farm, the first Australian Tasman round.

Tested again in practice at Sandown a fortnight later, the Brabham Maserati was put away when the engine blew again and that was that, what became of the engine is uncertain.  BT11A ‘IC-3-64’ was converted back to Climax spec and raced with much success by Kevin Bartlett in 1966, 1967 and the ‘68 Tasman. Meanwhile ‘IC-2-64’ was sold to Kiwi Kerry Grant but not before Bartlett and Jackie Stewart had a ding-dong of a dice in these two BT11A’s at Surfers Paradise in mid-1966, see here;

https://primotipo.com/2015/02/13/jackie-stewart-at-surfers-paradise-speed-week-1966-brabham-bt11a-climax-and-ferrari-250lm/

There is more to the Brabham Maserati story, lots more, but you will have to wait a few weeks whilst I finish a feature…For now salivate about an amazing engineering sidebar in Tasman History- truly a great mighta-been from the little team in Sydney.

(A Robinson)

From one rare beastie to the next.

This time the Mildren Alfa Romeo, not ‘The Sub’ mind you but the first Mildren Alfa, the lesser known one.

Another Bob Britton built car, this one was constructed on Britto’s Brabham BT23 jig and fitted with an uber-rare Alfa Romeo 1.6 litre, four valve, fuel injected European F2 engine and 5-speed Hewland FT200 transmission, both of which are clear as a bell in the shot above.

The car made its race debut driven by Kevin Bartlett at Warwick Farm on 8 September 1968- it raced in Alfa engined form a miniscule number of times before the very first of Merv Waggott’s TC-4V engines was popped into the back of the chassis and raced by Max Stewart who joined the team alongside KB with effect from the start of 1969.

The tale of ‘Max’s’ car is long, successful and slightly tortuous with the appearance of a second chassis, the provenance of which is not in doubt,  in the last decade or so, but is not for now- i did write a ‘quickie’ about it a while back though; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/29/singapore-sling/

(A Robinson)

Speak of the devil, there is the man himself, Max Stewart corner-weighting the Mildren Waggott as it then was in 1969 or 1970.

You can just see the front corner of a ‘105’ Alfa at far left, the race truck out the doorway and the rear of the chassis of Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ just left of Maxxies midriff.

(A Robinson)

Speak of the other devil, there is KB at Warwick Farm in the ‘Yellow Submarine’ Mildren Waggott TC-4V.

With that circuit, livery, helmet and engine I wouldn’t mind betting the shot was taken during the 7 December 1969 Hordern Trophy Gold Star meeting, KB won the race upon the debut of the 2 litre Waggott engine, what say you Mr Bartlett? Max was second in the 1.6 litre Mildren Waggott and Niel Allen third in his ex-Courage McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

Both these Mildrens are iconic in the pantheon of Australian motor racing, ditto the drivers and entrant.

(A Robinson)

A couple of Mildren Waggott, Max Stewart, Warwick Farm compare and contrasts.

The shot above circuit, livery, bodywork and helmet suggests probably the 1969 Hordern Trophy meeting too whereas the one below is during 1971 by which time Max had acquired the car from Alec, still in the same livery and with support from Seiko- it was the year in which Max ‘nicked’ his first Gold Star from the F5000 fellas, brittle things that they were.

The photo below is during the September Hordern Trophy race in which Max was third behind KB’s McLaren M10B Chev and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott TC-4V.

(A Robinson)

Whilst the unreliability of Kevin Bartlett’s McLaren M10B Chev cost KB the 1971 Gold Star Max had to get with the F5000 strength and bought an Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden which he first campaigned during the 1972 Tasman Series.

Note the retention of Seiko still and the Mildren Yellow colour (take my word for it) despite the commercial relationship between Alec and Max being at an end, Alec Mildren Racing ceased after the conclusion of the 1971 Tasman Series.

(A Robinson)

Here the car is on the grid of the Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round with Teddy Pilette’s Racing Team VDS McLaren M10B Chev alongside in February 1972.

Max didn’t have a happy race, his Repco engine broke its crank after 8 laps whereas Teddy was seventh, the race was won by Frank Matich’s Matich A50 Repco from Frank Gardner, Lola T300 Chev and Kevin Bartlett, McLaren M10B Chev.

Max became an F5000 star of course in a succession of cars- the Elfin and three Lola’s are covered in this article here; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/24/maxwells-silver-hammer/

Credits…

Andrew Robinson Collection, Kevin Bartlett, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

(A Robinson)

Patron Mildren, Glenn Abbey and Don Baker (of Brabham/Dolphin and other such fame) at Warwick Farm- perhaps this shot too is over the 1969 Hordern Trophy weekend…

Finito…

(R Dalwood)

Frank Matich, Brabham BT7A Climax leads Jim Clark’s works Lotus 32B Climax into Pub Corner at Longford in March 1965. A ‘take your breath away shot’, composition and execution by Reg Dalwood is something special…

I suspect this is lap 2 with the leading trio of McLaren, Brabham and Hill further up the road. Behind Jim are Bib Stillwell and Frank Gardner in Brabham BT11A’s, Jim Palmer in a BT7A and then at the rear of the group Phil Hill, Cooper T70 Climax.

Bruce McLaren won this race, the Australian Grand Prix in his Cooper T79 Climax from Jack Brabham’s and Phil Hill in the other Bruce McLaren Motor Racing entry- the updated T70 Cooper driven by Bruce and the late Tim Mayer in 1964.

(HAGP)

Bruce wheels his Cooper T79 around Longford in 1965 hiking his inside right wheel.

These Cooper T70/79 cars are acknowledged now as the ‘first McLarens’ designed and built as they were at Coopers by Bruce and mechanic/technician Wally Willmott. The story of them is here; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/18/tim-mayer-what-might-have-been/

Ron McKinnon gives McLaren and Clark a ride in the sponsors Spitty at the end of the race (B Short)

 

Hill at left, white car McLaren with Jack and Jim in the next row of two (B Short)

McLaren started the race from pole with Brabham, Graham Hill, Clark, Gardner and Matich behind.

Very sadly, this was the race in which Rocky Tresise died after losing control of the Ecurie Australie Cooper T62 Climax. As most of you know this was a double disaster for the Davison family as Lex died of a heart attack at Sandown whilst practicing his Brabham BT4 the weekend prior. The Rocky Tresise story is here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

I’ve a feature brewing on this race so won’t go into all the detail just now, but rather make use of some of the many images of this AGP floating around on the internet- too many for one article.

In some ways Longford 1965 marked ‘the end of the beginning’ of the Tasman Series in that 1965 was the last year of the dominance of the long-lived Coventry Climax FPF engine.

The world championship winning engines of 1959-60 had pretty much ruled supreme in Australia from 1959 through to the end of Formula Libre in December 1963 and to the commencement of the Tasman 2.5 Formula from 1 January 1964.

In 1966 the BRM V8’s made their successful Tasman debut and at the end of the series- Sandown and Longford the first of the Repco ‘RB620’ 2.5 V8’s took their bow in Jack’s BT19.

(B Short)

Two nut brown Aussie summer kids and the equally well-tanned Oz Lotus works mechanic Ray Parsons push Jim Clark’s Lotus 32B Climax through the Longford paddock.

The Clark/Lotus combo were the class of 1965- Jim’s four of seven Tasman round victories was a precursor to a season which included an Indianapolis 500 win aboard a Lotus 38 Ford and his second World Title in Chapman’s Lotus 33 Climax. Not a bad year really!

Click here for an article on the 1965 Tasman Series; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

(K Drage)

Kevin Drage’s shot of the front row of the Longford grid- McLaren, Cooper T79 Climax, Brabham and Hill both in Brabham BT11A Climax’.

He has an amusing anecdote about Bib Stillwell, Matich’s big rival and his reaction to FM’s speed that weekend.

‘One story I remember from this meeting is Bib’s frustration in not being able to match Frank Matich’s lap times during practice. I was helping Gerry Brown to pit crew for Bib at this meeting and Bib was even wondering if Frank had slotted in the 2.7 engine from his (Cooper Monaco) sportscar into the Brabham just for practice to give everyone a bit of a stir up. He even asked me to see if I could “manage” to go over to the Matich pits to checkout the engine number.’

(unattributed)

Matich during the parade lap at Warwick Farm before the 1965 Tasman round.

FM started the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ from pole- in front of Hill, Clark, Brabham, McLaren and Gardner which rather puts the Sydneysiders pace into context. He led most of the first lap, ultimately finishing third behind Clark and Brabham.

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Brabham in the Longford paddock getting his BT11A race ready.

Ron and Jack’s Intercontinental Brabhams were supreme racing cars in conception, design and execution. Drivers of the BT4, BT7A and BT11A of varying ability won plenty of motor races in these cars right through towards the end of the sixties. Click here for a piece on these cars; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/20/matich-stillwell-brabhams-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1963/

Clark in the Longford paddock, Lotus 32B Climax

Credits…

Reg Dalwood on the Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania website, oldracingcars.com.au, Kevin Drage, Ben Short, HAGP- ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, Stephen Dalton Collection, Perry Drury, Ian Smith Collection

Etcetera…

(oldracephotos.com/JEllis)

Brabham, Hill and Clark enter the circuit, the crowd big enough for raceday. Looking back down the road 500 metres or so are the distinctive big pine trees of Mountford Corner. Brabham BT11A by two and Lotus 32B.

(oldracephotos.com.au)

It may not have been the latest bit of kit, but, continuously modified by Matich and his team his year old car was well and truly as quick as the latest BT11A or anything else on the grid.

Small crowd above suggests ‘IC-1-63’ is being pushed onto the track for practice or the preliminary on Saturday. Graham Matich is steering, it’s Geoff Smedley with his head down at left, who is the other fella I wonder?

(B Short)

The Touring Car grid ready to start- Le Mans style with the ignition key handed from mechanic to driver- can anybody help with car/driver ID.

Check out the crowd above the pits, access bridge and all the fun of the fair.

(I Smith Collection)

The intense concentration is there but otherwise Jack looks relaxed in the cockpit- key to feel what the BT11A is doing of course.

Shot is taken from atop The Viaduct- a classic shot from this locale, this one has been executed beautifully and shows both Brabham’s ‘form’ as well as the lines and simple, period typical suspension of this oh-so-successful series of ‘Intercontinental’ Brabhams.

All of the shots of this car in the article are a different hue of green, i wonder which is closest to the real McCoy?

Tailpiece…

It’s a butt shot isn’t it.

From the left is the beautifully formed derrière of the lady, such a shame to miss out on the rest of her with a thoughtless crop. Then there is the rear of the FC Holden Wagon and the old bloke standing behind it.

The racer is Jack’s Brabham BT11A Climax ‘IC-5-64’ resting in the paddock after it’s hard won second place.

And finally the rear of an EJ Holden Panel Van.

Atmospheric isn’t it?

(P Drury)

Same scene, same time, same place- whilst Perry Drury was taking this shot Ben Short was standing opposite him taking the one above. Jack’s Brabham and Jim’s Lotus and the EJ Wagon…

Finito…

(W Byers)

Bob Jane, Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 entering KLG Corner, racer Ross Burbidge tells us, 12 February 1967…

It’s a very early race for Bob in his brand new Elfin, this car notable in several ways not least for the fact that it was the first to be fitted with a customer Repco Brabham engine V8- I’ve written a feature on it so let’s not repeat ourselves;

https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/

What struck me about William Byers’s photo and the unusual angle and locale in which it is taken is the degree of difficulty in sighting these big Group 7 sportscars through the corners. Admittedly Bob was a ‘short-arse’- mind you there was plenty of bounce in every ounce- but I bet the problem was the same for tall fellas like Dan Gurney.

Who won the sportscar races that day- had Matich debuted the SR3 at this point?, it certainly raced at the Farm and Sandown Tasman rounds that summer- Frank would certainly have given Bob a run for his money if present.

(W Byers)

The top-guns of the meeting were the Tasman 2.5’s of course.

We have photos of second placed Jack Brabham, Brabham BT23A Repco ‘640’, (above and below) Denny Hulme’s similarly engined fourth placed Brabham BT22, sixth placed John Harvey in the 1.65 litre Ford twin-cam powered ex-Stillwell Brabham BT14, and Spencer Martin’s Bob Jane owned Brabham BT11A Climax but not Jim Clark’s victorious Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8- he won five of the eight Tasman rounds that year. A pity, but hey, let’s be thankful for some marvellous photos.

(W Byers)

 

(B Thomas)

1967 was the Tasman Series Repco had a red-hot go to win, two cars, one each for Denny and Jack with both drivers contesting all eight rounds- but the might of the F1 World Championship winning team did not triumph over Jim Clark and the very reliable, fast, special 2 litre FWMV Coventry Climax engined Lotus 33 of the Scottish ace.

In 1966, 1968 and 1969 Repco had limited Tasman campaigns, 1967 was the one they should have won, you might say, I’ve covered this series before, so no point repeating the many problems which cost the Maidstone outfit dearly.

Arguably the most important aspect of the Tasman for Repco was to blood their new for 1967 F1 engine- the 740 Series V8- in advance of the GP season, than win the series itself. In the event Repco’s Norm Wilson designed 700 Series block was not quite ready so Jack and Denny raced with ‘640 Series’ motors- the new 40 Series exhaust between the Vee two-valve heads and 600 Series (Oldsmobile F85 modified) blocks.

(W Byers)

Denny had a rather successful 1967 season didn’t he!, taking the F1 drivers title and finishing second to Bruce in the Can-Am Championship aboard one of McLaren’s M6A Chev papaya coloured machines.

The car above, a BT22, is essentially a BT11 frame fitted with BT19 suspension- Allen Brown writes that ‘F1-1-64’ was used by BRO until Denny’s F1 car for 1966 BT20 was ready. Fitted with a Repco-Brabham V8, it was raced by Denny in the Tasman and then sold to Rorstan Racing, who fitted a Coventry Climax FPF 2.5 and ran Aussie Paul Bolton in it, it’s present whereabouts is unknown.

Jack’s BT23A was built on the redoubtable BT23 F2 jig/frame.

BT23A has never left Australia thank goodness, and been very much in the news in the last twelve months with its acquisition by the National Motor Museum from Peter Simms who restored and then raced the car for decades.

It’s post Brabham race record was with Scuderia Veloce, the car driven by Greg Cusack and Phil West before being sold to Brian Page.

(W Byers)

John Harvey (above) drove the wheels off this ex-Bib Stillwell car, the first BT14 raced ‘FL-1-65’, then owned by Sydney car dealer Ron Phillips in 1966.

Prepared by Peter Molloy, the Brabham BT14’s Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine progressively got bigger and not too long after this shot the car was given ‘a birthday’, it was the recipient of a Repco-Brabham 640 Series 2.5 litre V8 fitted with the assistance of Rennmax’s Bob Britton, allowing Harves to run with the ‘big boys’.

In fact the combination is sorta related to Spencer Martin’s Brabham BT11A shown below.

(W Byers)

The very gifted Sydneysider won both the 1966 and 1967 Gold Stars aboard this Bob Jane owned Brabham BT11A ‘IC-4-64’ Coventry Climax FPF- his dices with the similarly mounted Kevin Bartlett in Alec Mildren’s car were highlights of racing for enthusiasts of the period.

When Spencer decided to retire at the end of the 1967 Gold Star campaign Jane offered Harves the ride, and acquired the Brabham BT14 from Phillips. It’s 640 engine was fitted into the BT11A- like the BT14 it was not designed for a V8 motor, and raced by John in the 1968 Australian Tasman rounds.

Harvey in the Bob Jane Racing Brabham BT11A Repco during the 1968 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round (unattributed)

 

Nice overhead shot from the Longford pits of the Repco 640 or 740 Series V8 installation in the BT11A

Jane then bought Jack’s 1968 Tasman mount, the BT23E at the series end for John to race in ’68 with Harvey very lucky to survive a huge shunt at Easter Bathurst in that car after a rear upright failure.

Harvey and Molloy had largely sorted the BT14 Repco by the end of the ’67 Gold Star, he had won a feature race in it at Oran Park. It does make you wonder why Bob didn’t race that car as it was rather than do the engine swap they did and develop the BT11A afresh- no doubt it all made sense at the time?!

The Jane Estate owns BT11A, the BT14, re-engined with a Ford/Lotus twin-cam is i think still in Peter Harburg’s hands in Australia.

William’s camera also captured some other interesting cars during that meeting.

(W Byers)

Bill Gates superb Lotus Elan 26R, Ross Burbidge tells us Gates raced both this car and an Elan Series 1, both of which are still alive and well in Australia. Ex-Geoghegan car originally?

Queenslanders will know the story better than I but its said that race promoter Bill Goode had the Bee Gees, the Gibbs brothers, performing between events at his Redcliffe Speedway and introduced them to Bill who promoted them on his radio show on 4BH Brisbane thereby assisting them in their climb to global success.

(W Byers)

Ross Burbidge says this is the last time Pete Geoghegan ran his first Mustang at Lakeside.

He won the 1967 one-race Australian Touring Car Championship in the Australian, John Sheppard built, Mustang ‘GTA’ back at Lakeside on 30 July 1967 from the Brian Foley and Peter Manton Cooper S’s after various of the other V8’s fell by the wayside with mechanical dramas. The shot above is on the entry to ‘Hungry’ or then KLG corner.

Great Scots: Lakeside 1967, winner Clark Lotus 33 Climax chases Stewart BRM P261 (Tasman Book)

Hulme, Clark and Stewart, Tasman 1967…

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/24/1967-hulme-stewart-and-clark-levin-new-zealand-tasman-and-beyond/

Photo Credits…

William Byers, oldracephotos.com.au, ‘Tasman Cup’ Tony Loxley and Others, Brier Thomas

References…

Ross Burbidge, oldracingcars.com.au

Tailpiece: Bob Holden, Improved Touring Morris Cooper S…

(W Byers)

Bob Holden won the 1966 Bathurst 500 in a Series Production Cooper S, co-driving the works BMC Australia car with rally-ace Rauno Aaltonen.

In a year of dominance the Cooper S took the first nine placings in the race! This car, not the same machine, is built to Improved Touring rules, the category to which the Australian Touring Car Championship was held at the time- mind you Bob didn’t return that July to contest the title race. He is still racing…

In the background Denny’s Brabham BT22 is being pushed past with perhaps the light coloured car Frank Gardner’s Mildren Racing Brabham BT16 Climax?

Finito…

image

Frank Matich, Brabham BT7A Climax tries to outbrake Bib Stillwell #6, Brabham BT4 Climax, December 1963…

Photographer John Ellacott upon posting this shot online described it as ‘the two great rivals on Hume Straight’…Matich braking down the outside on the run into the slow second gear ‘Creek Corner’. Frank’s car was brand new, just unpacked, it had only turned a wheel for the first time several days before the 1 December ‘Hordern Trophy’, the final round of that years Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship.

Frank’s car was fitted with 2.5 litre ‘Climax FPF, Bib’s older chassis had an ‘Indy’ 2.7- a fair duel, one guy with the edge in chassis perhaps and one with a bit more power?

Stillwell led from the start of the 34 lap race and then FM began to reel him in finally catching the Victorian on lap 20, the pair tangling in ‘The Esses’. The collision was enough to put Matich out of the race but Stillwell finished 4th, the race was won by John Youl in his Cooper T55 Climax 2.5 from David McKay’s ex-Brabham BT4.

frank and bib wf discussion

Frank left and Bib- looking very natty is his BRDC blazer and developing his listening and empathy skills by the look of it after the ‘Hordern Trophy’. Great rivals with a lot of respect for one anothers abilities (Sports Car World)

In the 1964 Tasman Series which followed the month after this race Youl was the most successful of the locals. Stillwell only contested three Australian races gaining a strong second in the AGP at Sandown whilst Matich was prodigiously fast but had woeful reliability, we shall pick up the Tasman shortly.

I described the rivalry between Frank and Bib in a post about the Stillwell Cooper Monaco.

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/10/bib-stillwell-cooper-t49-monaco-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1961/

It’s fair to say Stillwell, born 31 July 1927 took a while to mature as a driver. He started racing MG’s in the late 1940’s and as his motor dealerships became more successful throughout the 1950’s he acquired and raced some expensive, fast cars- D Type Jag and Maser 250F included. By the time he commenced racing Coopers he had well over 10 years of experience and was ready to take on anybody winning his first Gold Star in 1962 and the last in 1965- four on the trot.

Matich, born 25 January 1935 was a more precocious talent who first competed in an MG TC at Foley’s Hillclimb circa 1954 and raced seriously from later in the decade after selling his Austin Healey and purchasing the ex-Frank Gardner Jaguar XKC- he soon drove cars for Leaton Motors who employed him as Sales Manager. Bib was more the ‘silver spoon special’ born on the right side of the tracks and funded into his first dealership with family money. Mind you, whatever Bib started with he multiplied many times over, he was an extremely successful businessman in Australia and then became an executive of global calibre inclusive of being President of the Gates Learjet Corporation in the US.

Frank, the young pro, was cut from totally different cloth. He was educated at De La Salle College, Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west and was apprenticed as a fifteen year old Diesel Engineer at Sydney’s Kurnell Oil Refinery before progressing through Butlers Air Transport and in 1954 to Selected Sportscars where he first came into contact with the Englishman who owned the MG TC Frank prepared and both men raced.

FM’s ability and ‘gift of the gab’ attracted patrons and commercial support from very early on in his career, Matich too was shortly to do well out of the business of motor racing with Australian franchises for Firestone and later Goodyear racing tyres and Bell helmets apart from the sale of some of the Matich sports and F5000 cars he built.

Matich and Stillwell were intensely competitive, driven, successful men- they had far more in common i suspect than not, especially in terms of mindset and will to win.

The battles between the pair were absorbing, Matich very quickly got on the pace of the big 2.5 Climax Formula Libre cars (the 2.5 Tasman Formula started in 1964, Australia’s national F1 ‘ANF1’ was F Libre till then), having come out of powerful sportscars- Jags C and D Types, Lotus 15, 19, 19B and small bore single seaters- ‘works’ Elfin FJ Ford and Elfin Catalina Ford 1.5.

At the time these 2.5/2.7 litre F Libre/Tasman cars were the fastest road racing cars in the world, F1 having changed from a 2.5 to 1.5 litre formula from 1 January 1961. Given his experience it was not a surprise when Frank was on the pace straight away as he jumped out of his Lotus 19B sporty and into the new Brabham acquired with the French Oil Company, Total’s, support.

Well before the Tasman Series commenced in 1964, we had a strong International Series of races in Australasia in January/February, with enough of the best in the world to test the locals in equal cars Matich was more than a match for any of them. So was Bib on his day.

matich wf private practice brabham

Matich mounted up and ready for his first test of the naked BT7A, devoid of all signwriting and in ‘civvies’ at Warwick Farm the week before the ‘Hordern Trophy’ above. Brian Darby, at the rear, picked the car up from the Port Melbourne wharves the week before, Bruce Richardson is the other mechanic in shot. Note reinforced wide based top front wishbone and rubber mounted ball joint, inverted wishbone at the top and single lower link in the rear suspension. The later BT11A had the opposite rear set up- single top link and inverted lower wishbone (John Ellacott)

Matich was very quick in the Brabham throughout that ’64 Tasman Series and the short period in which he raced the BT7A, its interesting to look back at his time in the car.

The late 1963 pre-international events in New Zealand are covered in this article here;

https://primotipo.com/2017/09/08/bay-of-plenty-road-race-and-the-frank-matich-lotus-19s/

The first 1964 international was at Levin, which Frank missed, at Pukekohe, the NZ GP on 11 January, he ran strongly behind Brabham, McLaren, Tim Mayer and Hulme- he passed Mayer for third only to pop his engine on lap 26, McLaren won the race in a Cooper T70. After Puke he shipped the car home to Australia and re-joined the circus at Sandown on February 9. There he ran ahead of the locals before suffering crown wheel and pinion failure on lap 4.

At the Farm, Matich’s home turf, he started from pole, followed Jack away, then passed him but muffed his braking at Creek and ran off the road. Off to Queensland, at Lakeside, he was driving away from everybody before the engine let go- a Weber ingested a stone and the expensive motor went ka-boom on lap 8. After the long tow to Tasmania he finished third in the race won by Graham Hill’s BT4 and was first of the locals despite a misfire and a revolution amongst his mechanics who pushed the car onto the grid but left his employ after the race.

Ray Bell wrote that ‘He had a mixed bag of results in shorter races during the middle part of the year, taking a number of outright lap records, then came the Gold Star closing events. Lakeside…pole and the lead before an oil line came adrift; Mallala he didn’t turn up (Stillwell basically could not be beaten for the Gold Star by this stage) and he led the Hordern Trophy till half distance before yet another engine failure’.

The 1965 Tasman Series was won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 32B Climax, despite not contesting the four Kiwi rounds Matich was right on the pace at Warwick Farm, the first Australian round, starting from pole and leading to Creek corner, he then raced with Brabham behind Hill and Clark up front. ‘Both Hill and Matich had troubles in this race with cement dust getting into the steering, Hill spinning on the last lap because of it and failing to finish. Matich was third behind Clark and Brabham’s BT11A, Stillwell (BT11A) was thirty seconds behind him’ wrote Bell.

matich bt7a lakeside 1964

Matich in his ‘semi-nude’ BT7A in the hot 1964 Lakeside summer sun, puddle notwithstanding! He is trying to stay cool in the searing Queensland summer heat, lower side panels removed…shot shows the proximity of the aluminium side fuel tanks containing lots of Avgas…no rubber bag tanks prior to circa 1970 (Peter Mellor)

Down south at Sandown he ran just behind the internationals ahead of Stillwell only to retire with ignition failure- a rotor button on lap 10. During the AGP at Longford he pitted with suspension problems on lap 5 whilst best of the locals having run in sixth place. At Lakeside he contested the non-championship ‘Lakeside 99’ and made it a real race dicing with Clark on this high speed, demanding circuit for most of the race. ‘They traded places many times, but Matich did have a pitstop and lost some laps before rejoining the battle’. It was a race FM rated as one of his best.

Into the domestic season Stillwell won the Victorian Road Racing Championship Gold Star round in April after a couple of Matich spins, albeit FM was second despite a failing engine- and started from pole a half-second clear of Bib.

That was all the racing he ever did in that car. At Lakeside’s Gold Star round in late July, he crashed his Lotus 19B Climax- he took the sportscar to the meeting to test it in advance of the Australian Tourist Trophy which was held at the circuit later in the year, was burned and hospitalised and in the aftermath Total took the decision to cease their racing program and sold the cars and parts.

The story of the next phase of Frank Matich’s career in sportscars, initially with the Elfin 400 aka ‘Traco Olds’ is told in links within this article.

Frank Matich was one of Australia’s many F1 mighta-beens, to me the most likely to succeed of all, but with a young family and business ties in Oz it never happened despite offers being made to him on more than one occasion to go to Europe.

As noted, Matich didn’t race single seaters for long at this stage of his career- from 1963 to 1965, racing sports cars very successfully until 1969 when he came back to open wheelers with the advent of F5000- where he was a star as both a driver and constructor. Click here for an article on this phase of his career;

https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

It’s a shame he didn’t drive Tasman 2.5 cars throughout this golden-era of single-seater racing in Australasia, his battles against the internationals as well as the local hotshots in both Tasman races and domestic Gold Star competition would have been sensational, Matich mixing it with Bartlett, Martin, Geoghegan, Harvey and the rest would have added depth to Gold Star fields which were increasingly  ‘skinny’ as the decade wore on.

Stillwell retired at the end of 1965, he was certainly as quick as anybody on his day and arguably had not quite peaked when he did retire. No less an observer of the local scene than journalist/racer/Scuderia Veloce owner David Mckay believed that by 1965 Stillwell had reached F1 standard, not least for his ability to drive fast without mistakes or destroy the equipment.

brabhams longford 1965

Intercontinental Brabhams at Longford, AGP 1965. Stillwell’s dark blue #6 BT11A (6th), Matich BT7A (DNF) and Frank Gardner in Alec Mildrens yellow BT11A (8th), the race won by Bruce McLarens’ Cooper T79 from Brabhams’ BT11A (Kevin Drage)

The Intercontinental Brabhams…

brabham caversham bt4

The first of the Intercontinental Brabhams. Jack in BT4 ‘IC-1-62’ on its debut at the Australian Grand Prix, Caversham, WA on 18 November 1962. He retired after colliding with another car whilst lapping him, Bruce McLaren won in a Cooper T62 Climax (Milton McCutcheon)

When Jack started his climb to the top in Europe he returned and raced in Australia each summer, bringing a Cooper with him and racing it successfully, then selling the car to one of the locals before returning to Europe. It was a nice little earner and helped fund his way in Europe as he fought to gain a toehold in international competition.

Cooper sold a lot of cars in Australia, Jacks business brain was as sharp as his cockpit skills so it was natural that some of the earliest Brabham production racing cars were for Australasian Formula Libre and from 1964, the 2.5 Tasman Formula- which in effect meant cars built for Coventry Climax FPF ex-F1 engines- 2.5 litres but increasingly 2.7’s after Jacks successful Indy 500 run in 1961 in the Cooper T54 with its 2751cc FPF engine. The Tasman Formula mandated 2.5’s of course.

Soon Repco were making Climax parts and eventually building the engines in totality under licence in Australia. The bits were plentiful which was just as well as the level of competition was such that the long stroke donks were being pushed well beyond their limits with spectacular blow-ups fairly common.

stillwell lakeside 1963

Bib Stillwell in his BT4 Climax ‘Lakeside International’ 1963, 2.7 FPF powered. 3rd in the race won by John Surtees Lola Mk4A Climax 2.7 (Bruce Wells/The Roaring Season)

The first Intercontinental Brabham, i use that descriptor as that was the chassis prefix for each car (‘IC’), the design intended for the shortlived Intercontinental Formula created in response to the new 1.5 litre F1- was the BT4 based on the first Brabham GP machine, the 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FWMV V8 powered BT3.

The first Brabham, retrospectively referred to as ‘Brabham BT1’, was the MRD, an FJ machine first raced by Gavin Youl with the BT2 an evolution of the MRD/BT1. The Intercontinental cars which followed the BT4 were the BT7A in 1963 and BT11A in 1964, both F1 cars adapted for Climax FPF engines.

Some incredibly talented guys raced the ‘IC’ Brabhams- Internationals such as Brabham, Hulme, Gardner, Hill and Stewart as well as Australian champions including David McKay, Lex Davison, Stillwell, Matich, Spencer Martin, Kevin Bartlett, John Harvey, John McCormack and other drivers in New Zealand and South Africa.

hill and stillwell longford brabhams

Graham Hill ahead of Bib Stillwell, BT4 Climaxes, 1st and 4th. ‘South Pacific Trophy’, Longford March 1964. (Rod MacKenzie)

Jack Brabham won Australian Grands’ Prix in a BT4 and BT7A in 1963 and 1964 respectively. The cars won the Australian Drivers Championship, the ‘Gold Star’ for Stillwell in 1963 and 1964 aboard his BT4, in 1965 with a BT11A and for Spencer Martin, again BT11A mounted in 1966 and 1967.

bib stillwell wf 1965 bt11

Bib Stillwell in his final and successful Gold Star year 1965. BT11A at Warwick Farm. His final year of racing, he had a top year in the car at WF, finishing 4th in the Tasman race albeit behind Matichs’ BT7A in 3rd and 1st in the Hordern Trophy at the end of the year (John Partridge Collection)

The ‘Brabham IC Australian party’ ended in 1968 when Kevin Bartlett won the Gold Star in BT23D/1, a one off car built for Alec Mildren’s Team around Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 V8’s he secured to add a bit of Italian flavour to the local scene, Mildren was an Alfa Romeo dealer.

The Intercontinental cars were typically fast Tauranac designs of the period. They had rugged spaceframe chassis, suspension by upper and lower wishbones at the front with Armstrong shocks and coil springs. At the rear there was a single upper link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and coil spring damper units with adjustable sway bars fitted front and rear. With Jack doing all of the initial chassis setup work the cars were quick and chuckable ‘straight out of the box’.

Hewland HD5 gearboxes were used in the main (Colotti in the BT4) and rack and pinion steering completed the package with the cars clad in a slippery fibreglass body.

brabham bt 4 from rear

Bib Stillwells’ Brabham BT4 Lakeside February 1963. 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ 2751cc Coventry Climax FPF engine, 58mm Webers, Colotti T32 5 speed ‘box. Rear of the spaceframe chassis apparent. Suspension- inverted upper wishbone, single lower link and twin radius rods for location, coil spring damper units, no rear roll bar here. Stillwell’s cars famously immaculate in preparation and presentation (Peter Mellor/The Roaring Season)

After Repco’s 2.5 litre Tasman V8 engine made its debut in BT19, Jacks victorious 1966 F1 winning chassis, in 1966 the Tasman Brabhams were variants of the BT23 frame (BT23A and BT23E) with the exception of the very last BT31 for the 1969 series. See Rodway Wolfe’s article about BT31 which he owned for many years; https://primotipo.com/?s=brabham+bt31

Once the 1.5 litre F1 ended in 1965 BRM quickly realised a stretched variant of their P56 V8 in a P261 chassis would be a Tasman winner and ‘their endeth the locals’ in Climax engined cars taking on the Internationals similarly mounted on more or less equal terms.

The Repco Tasman V8’s provided a supply of competitive customer engines for locals so the Tasman Formula continued into 1970 with engines capable of matching the internationals when the ever expanding F1 season and more restrictive driver contracts made eight weeks in January/February in Australasia no longer a proposition for the best in the world. With it went a wonderful decade or so of intense but sporting summer global competition in our backyard.

Those Intercontinental Brabhams were gems though and gave both the international aces and local hot-shots very effective tools with which to strut their stuff, not least Messrs Stillwell and Matich…

matich longford grid 1964

The Matich BT7A being pushed onto the Tasman grid, Longford 1964. Steering is Graham Matich, looking down at the rear is Geoff Smedley. Matich finished 3rd, just in front of Stillwell, Graham Hill won the race in a BT4 (oldracephotos.com)

Tailpiece: Wanna buy a car matey, or a plane?…

bib and jack and bedford

Stillwell and Brabham, rivals and friends in the Longford paddock 1965. They are sitting on Bibs’ Bedford truck, BT11A up above…i doubt Jack sold anyone more cars over the years than he did Bib?! Bib put them to very good use mind you (Kevin Drage)

Frank Matich on dealing with ‘Wily’ Jack Brabham…

http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/halloffame/jack-brabham/frank-matich-on-jack-brabham/

(P Stephenson)

As nice a posed portrait of Jack and his BT11A ‘IC-5-64’ as you will ever see.

The combination are in the old Sandown pitlane in February 1965 before he went out and won the Sandown Cup from Jim Clark, Lotus 32B and Phil Hill, Cooper T70, all Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF powered of course.

Etcetera…

matich hordern trophy 1964

Matich in his BT7A contesting the ‘Hordern Trophy’ at Warwick Farm in 1964. DNF in the race won by Leo Geoghegan in a Lotus 32 Ford 1.5, a great win for Leo, he and his brother Sydney Lotus dealers, Leo graduated to the ex-Clark Lotus 39 Climax at the end of the 1966 Tasman series (John Ellacott)

 

matich bt7 longford 1965

The Matich BT7A sitting in the Longford paddock in 1965. DNF with suspension failure in the race won by McLarens’ Cooper T79 Climax. Rear suspension by this stage to BT11A spec (Kevin Drage)

 

matich magazine

Front page spread in ‘Australian Motor Sports’, no advertising allowed on racing cars in Australia in those days but the colors on the nose of Franks’ Brabham (Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus alongside) are those of ‘Total’ the French oil company who were prominent in Australia at the time, the spread no doubt a ‘cross promotion’ as the modern marketers would call it!

 

stillwell rcn

‘Racing Car News’ and Stillwell’s Gold Star win in 1964. Brabham BT4 Climax.

Photo and Other Credits…

John Ellacott, Milton McCutcheon, The Roaring Season/Peter Mellor/Bruce Wells, Kevin Drage, Rod MacKenzie, The Nostalgia Forum, Australian Motor Sports, Racing Car News, Peter Stephenson

theroaringseason.com, oldracephotos.com, Ray Bell on The Nostalgia Forum

Tailpiece: Matich, Brabham BT7A, and Graham Hill, red BT11A and Clark, Lotus 32B, ‘Warwick Farm 100’ 1965…

(J Ellacott)

Finito…

 

 

 

 

Kevin Bartlett from Spencer Martin and Greg Cusack on the plunge down the mountain, Bathurst March 1967…

David Atkinson’s depiction of Kevin Bartlett’s dice and achievement of the first over 100 mph lap of Mount Panorama shows the Brabham BT11A Climaxes of  KB and Spencer from Greg’s Brabham BT23A Repco V8.

Bartlett first raced a Morris Minor at Bathurst in the late fifties, he knew the place as well as anyone- the sense of achievement was great. ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ is the title John Medley gave his wonderful ‘biography of Bathurst’ and goes a long way to making clear the significance of this wonderful place and it’s importance in the continuing pantheon of Australian motor racing.

Only Lobethal and Longford match it for its majesty and Warwick Farm, Phillip Island and Albert Park it’s importance.

During a couple of torrid dices in a preliminary race and in the NSW Road Racing Championship round Bartlett and Martin both broke the lap record and 100mph mark repeatedly but Kevin was the first to do so.

Frank Gardner casts a paternal eye over his younger teammate and his old BT11A in the Longford paddock in 1968. It’s not wet so it’s not raceday! (oldracephotos)

In many ways I see Kevin and Spencer as the Australian ‘Bobsy Twins’ of the time…

Both Sydney boys, both born in 1940, both motor mechanics by profession, both drove for one of the best teams of the day in Alec Mildren Racing and Bob Jane Racing- both raced Brabham BT11A’s powered by 2.5 litre Coventry Climax four cylinder ‘thumpers’ and both were sublime practitioners of the single-seater driving art. Driver’s-Drivers if you will.

Spencer had greater experience of these powerful single-seaters than Kevin but the Curl-Curl Kid was learning fast, a classicist with god-given intuitive feel and car control that thrilled the crowds and record books for decades.

Oopsie. Spencer post WF Tasman contretemps with The Causeway, 1967- late in the race won by Jackie Stewart’s BRM P261 from Jim Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax (B Wells)

 

Bartlett from Martin during the WF 100 race, Tasman Series 1967. KB was 6th, Spencer’s shown in the shot above. Both cars Brabham BT11A Climax (B Wells)

Bartlett declared his intent in practice with an over 100 mph lap of  2:18.6 with KB setting a time of 2:17.7 in a 6 Lapper for Racing and Sports Cars in a fierce battle with Spencer- in the process Martin matched KB’s 2:18.4 he had set on lap 3, only for Bartlett to do a 2:17.7 late in the race.

In an amazing weekend for Bartlett he contested four races winning three- two single-seater events in the Brabham and a touring car race in Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo GTA- he was second to Bob Jane ‘s Mustang in the other race. But the thriller of the four was the feature race.

Peter Wherrett, then racer and later immensely gifted automotive TV broadcaster covered the meeting for Max Stahl’s monthly Australian motor racing bible ‘Racing Car News’, his account brings the thrilling weekends racing to life.

‘The feature event in the nine race program was the 1967 NSW Championship for Racing Cars…it was a thriller but disappointing as well…Geoghegan and Harvey were installing new engines and were indisposed…Then right there on the grid…poor Greg Cusack and his team pushed and shoved the Brabham all over the place, but the big Repco V8 refused to start’.

‘Bartlett had pole after his fabulous practice time, but there was determination written clearly all over Spencer Martin’s face. When the flag dropped they raced neck and neck for Hell Corner. Since Bartlett had the inside running he also had the advantage and was first out but accelerating away up Mountain Straight Martin again drew alongside. Up and over the mountain they raced with Bartlett leading Martin by the depth of his tread.’

‘Down Conrod and into the braking area it was still Bartlett, now by a car’s length , as they crossed the line after a standing lap of 2:21.3, already 4.4 seconds inside the lap record. Martin again caught up going up the hill but once more it was Bartlett who led down Conrod.’

‘Those who saw them said none have ever gone down the Esses like this pair. Bartlett, particularly was breathtaking!’

‘It seemed he simply twitched the car from one corner to the next, setting the booming Brabham up in the middle of one corner so that it was as near as possible to be spot on line for the one following, and then upsetting the whole thing in the middle of the corner so that he would be right for the next one and so on.’

‘Already way back in the field Max Stewart led the 1500’s…F2 Rennmax…Phil West 1100 Brabham running in close company with Alton Boddenberg in the Lotus 32’.

Start of the championship race- not quite because Greg Cusack’s red Brabham BT23A Repco is on row 2 and he didn’t start so its a preliminary. KB on pole, Spencer alongside- Brabham BT11A’s times 2, Niel Allen, Elfin 400 Chev at left, behind him is Bob Jane, Elfin 400 Repco, then Cusack alongside and the Rennmax Ford with the driver well into the airstream is Big Max- Stewart, and the rest (unattributed)

 

(P Maslen)

 

Brian Caldersmith’s wonderful painting of the battle

‘But it was the Bartlett-Martin duel which was drawing the attention of the masses. Bartlett’s second lap put him 30 yards in front and this was not surprising when it was announced that the lap record was now  2:17.4. Too much!’.

‘Spencer was right in there though, and on the third he picked up a bit. Into the fourth they went and again Spencer seemed to catch Kevin going up the hill and Kevin seemed to gain it all back again on the straight.

On the fifth of thirteen, people began to doubt they could both withstand the pace. Again Bartlett was in the 17’s but this time Martin joined him with a personal best of 2:17.8 and then…it was just too good to last.

We crazy money-paying enthusiasts are just not deserving of such joy. Going up to XL Bend for the sixth time Spencer slowed and with oil pressure failing withdrew the ailing Brabham. Bartlett slowed (?) to the low 20’s and could not be beaten. Stewart took second place, mad with glee, and Phil West gained a creditable third from Boddenberg, Barry Lake and Peter Cohen, who was in and out of the pits and only completed three laps’.

‘All but one of Bartlett’s laps were under the old lap record, and six of them were under the magic 100 mph lap (2:19.5)’.

Warwick Farm 100 1968, The Causeway, KB Brabham BT11A Climax DNF halfshaft in the race won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford (oldracephotos)

Its interesting to look at the speeds recorded through the flying 1/8th of a mile that Easter long weekend. Cusack’s Repco V8 powered Brabham was the quickest open-wheeler at 162.45 mph, a time he recorded in practice with Bartlett and Martin doing identical times in their identical cars during the NSW Championship race- 159.57 mph. The quickest car over the weekend in a straight line was Bob Jane aboard his 4.4 litre Repco RB620 V8 engined Elfin 400 sporty, with 163.63 mph.

‘Ron Hodgson, who probably thought he was on a good thing with his offer, had to part with 100 bottles of bubbly for the first 100 mph lap, and these were added to Kevin’s 25 bottles scored on Sunday for fastest practice lap’ Wherrett wrote.

Martin inside Bartlett at Murray’s Corner

Bartlett’s recollections are recorded in Alec Mildren’s biography-

‘…We were at it hammer and tongs. We were both pretty gung-ho. I was probably a bit more aggressive…Alec was really on the ball…I wouldn’t have attempted what I did otherwise. I came in after first practice and he said “Where do you reckon you can get the laptime” He knew the circuit, look, he knew it…”What if you short shift here, leave it that gear there, what revs are you using? He was at me’.

‘I was the train (engine) and Spencer was the guards van. He broke the 100 mph mark, too don’t forget. Always remember that. But because I was leading and crossed the line first, I got the credit. And when it came to the run of the race. I out braked him by outbraving him- it was one of those do or die things. I said to Alec later “Spencer and I got pretty close, Alec”. “We nearly lost the lot”. He said “Yeah, but you outbraved him didn’t you?” That was the way he talked’.

Later ‘When  Alec asked me what I was going to do with the champers, I said I don’t want it, you have it, and he said “Good, I’m going to throw a party”. Anyone and everyone in motor racing was invited to the splash-out at the Mildren Newport (Sydney North Shore ocean beach suburb) residence…Alec was never a boozer- he was an orange juice man. But I’m sure he had a champers or two that night’ Bartlett recalled.

Bartlett amongst the Repcos in 1967: Leo G Lotus 39, KB Brabham BT11A and John Harvey Brabham BT14, ‘Angus & Coote Trophy’ Oran Park (Rod MacKenzie)

Whilst Bartlett was the hero of the day at Bathurst, Martin again won the 1967 Gold Star, as he did in 1966 with two wins (Surfers Paradise, Mallala) to Cusack and Bartlett’s one apiece (Symmons Plains and Lakeside).

The two BT11A’s would have been the most highly developed cars of their type in the world with Martin and Bartlett both having, just, the legs of the Repco V8 engined cars of Cusack, Leo Geoghegan and John Harvey- Brabham BT23A, Lotus 39 and Brabham BT14 respectively. Spencer’s Bob Jane Brabham was more reliable than KB’s however, Spencer took the title with a points haul of 30 from Cusack 23, and Bartlett 16.

Formative KB single-seater years, 17 December 1961 Warwick Farm in the Lynx BMC FJ. Race won by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 20 (J Ellacott)

Another Big Bathurst Moment…

Bartlett and John Goss in the Bell cap (Greg Bartlett is the kiddo with his back to us) on the Bathurst 1000 victory dais in 1974.

What a sweet win for them both- especially KB who had a bad accident at Pukekohe at the seasons outset during the Tasman Series, he became a ‘Lola Limper’, breaking a leg when his T330 Chev came to grief, a lengthy recovery period followed.

That’s a walking stick in the young veteran’s left hand, quite a few of his fans shed a tear watching his gritty performance that day and this presentation on the telly, me included.

(autopics)

Etcetera: Spencer Martin HDT Holden Monaro GTS 350 alongside Allan Moffat’s works Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 1, warm up lap, Sandown 3 H0ur, September 1969…

There are plenty of Fords behind- Moffat/John French won from Tom Roddy/Murray Carter and Fred Gibson/Bo Seton all in HO’s.

Spencer had been retired for a year or so when he took a call from new Holden Dealer Team team manager Harry Firth to share a Monaro with KB during the HDT’s first event, the 1969 Sandown Datsun 3 Hour.

Ex-Ford racer/engineer/team manager, now Holden new boy Harry Firth was prevailed upon to hire a couple of single-seater drivers to race his new toy, Firth more of a believer in taxi drivers racing taxis, so to speak.

In a story for another time Martin had a massive brake failure at about the 45 minute mark of the endurance classic at the end of Sandown’s main straight, he skilfully backed the car into the Shell Corner armco minimising the damage to his good self but the car caught fire. The accident is variously attributed to boiled fluid, ‘brake booster system’ or standard brake pads being mistakenly fitted to the car prior to the race.

The Monaro was repaired after the race and sold by tender, it still exists. Spencer retired from a meeting he only entered after agreement with his new wife that a race in a touring car was relatively safe! His comeback to racing in the historic scene was a couple of decades hence.

In 1969 Bartlett had many successes in front of him including the second of his two Gold Stars aboard the Mildren Alfa/Waggott, in Asia and the US with much Formula 5000 and plenty of touring car wins including a Bathurst crown…

Slightly singed but not fatally damaged Monaro in the slip road on the outside of the Sandown track on pit straight, scene of Spencer’s high speed handbrake turn into the fence. KB did not get a drive during the race (unattributed)

Photo & Other Credits…

Racing Car News May 1967, Rod MacKenzie, autopics.com.au, Brian Caldersmith, oldracephotos.com.au, Bruce Wells, John Ellacott, Bob Jane Collection, ‘Driven To Succeed: The Alec Mildren Story’ Barry Green, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Peter Maslen Collection

Tailpiece: Bartlett at the wheel of the McLeod Ford / John Goss Ford Falcon GT during the Bathurst 1000 in 1973- they won in the same car in 1974 but I like the look of the big yella beastie the year before…

Finito…

 

 

(Jack Inwood)

Three-time Kiwi Gold Star champion Jim Palmer leads John Riley during the 1964 running of the ‘Renwick 50’ held each November in the township of Renwick…

Palmer’s car is the ex-Jack Brabham works 1964 Tasman Series  Brabham BT7A Climax FPF ‘IC-2-63’, Riley’s the ex-Tony Shelly Lotus 18/21 Climax FPF.

When I initially saw this shot I imagined the cars were returning to the paddock but in fact they are entering what was in effect a single car at a time part of the track, a right-hander, the course was essentially rectangular in layout through the roads of Renwick.

The Marlborough region is a stunning part of New Zealand, its the countries largest wine growing area, in the far north of the South Island and famous the world over for some marvellous Sauvignon Blanc whites.

Palmer’s ex-Clark Lotus 32B Climax during the January 1966 Levin Tasman round, he was 5th in the race won by Richard Attwood’s BRM P261. Jim Clark won the ’65 Tasman in this car, chassis ’32-FL-8′ with 4 wins and then sold it to the Palmer family. Superbly prepared and driven, Palmer won the 1965/6 NZ Gold Star in it and then finished 4th in the ’66 Tasman with a mix of speed and reliability- only Stewart, Hill and Clark were in front of the plucky Kiwi. The car then raced in Oz in the hands of Greg Cusack and Mel McEwin. Ultimately restored by John Dawson-Damer in Sydney and sold/part exchanged for a Lotus 79 to Classic Team Lotus 20 years ago. 2.5 CC FPF and ZF 5 speed box clear in shot as is very beefy rear chassis diaphragm (TRS)

Click here for an article about the Lotus 32B and the Levin International won by Jim Clark in 1965;

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

The Renwick event was run from 1961 to 1967 with Palmer having a bit of a mortgage on it- he won in 1964, 1965 and 1966 in Cooper T53, Brabham BT7A and Lotus 32B, the latter the car Jim Clark won the Tasman Series with in 1965. All of these cars were powered by the venerable 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF 4 cylinder engine- the World Championship winning engine of 1959-60. Palmer won the New Zealand Gold Star, the NZ drivers championship in 1964/5, 1965/6 and 1967/8 in the Brabham, Lotus and a McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 respectively.

Jim Palmer aboard the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A Climax, not so long before vacated by Spencer Martin, at Bathurst, Easter 1966. The shot is taken near the crest at Reid Park Gate. Palmer drove well, albeit against no other 2.5 litre competition, to win the racing car feature ‘Mt Panorama Gold Cup’. It was about this time he failed his CAMS licence due to some vision issues, a great shame as the speedy Kiwi would have been a welcome addition to our Gold Star grids, skinny as they were (John Ellacott)

A top driver he retired too early in my book, partially due to being unable to get an Australian CAMS racing licence, he was ‘long sighted’ in one eye. He also married and decided to focus on his business interests in the retail motor trade and commercial property, which centred on Hamilton where he still lives.

Jim Palmer in the ex-Clark Lotus 32B Climax on the way to 6th place in the 1966 Warwick Farm 100 on 13 February. Clark won from Hill and Gardner (Bruce Wells)

The 1964 Renwick 50 was run over 20 laps of the 2.414 km course (three variants of Renwick roads were used over the years) on 14 November, a smidge under 50 km in total. Palmer won and took the lap record at 1: 17.0 with Morrie Stanton, Stanton Corvette 2nd and Red Dawson in a Cooper T53 Climax 3rd.

Check out this YouTube footage which shows the undulating, narrow nature of the circuit. Whilst the caption says 1965, the footage is from several of the Renwick meetings including 1964.

Bibliography…

sergent.com, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

Jack Inwood/The Roaring Season, John Ellacott, Bruce Wells, Marlborough Car Club

Tailpiece: Chris Amon, Maser 250F, Renwick 50 November 1962…

Chris Amon, Maser 250F just ahead of Bob Eade’s similar car with John Histed’s Lola Mk2 Ford behind. Angus Hyslop Cooper T53 Climax won from Amon and Barry Cottle, Lola Mk1 Climax. This race on 10 November 1962 was Chris’ last race in the Maser (Marlborough Car Club)

Postscript: Next stage of Chris Amon’s career…

Click here for an article on the next critical months in Amon’s career after the Maserati was put to one side and Chris drove David McKay’s Cooper T53 Climax in the 1963 Australasian Internationals; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/06/chris-amon-cooper-t53-and-the-australian-grand-prix-1963/

Finito…

(Telegraph)

The highest paid Dunlop tyre fitter in the world attends to the needs of his Lotus 32B Climax, Warwick Farm, 1965…

Its practice prior to the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ so Jim Clark assists Ray Parsons in between on-circuit sessions on the Friday or Saturday before the race.

Its Frank Matich zipping by in his Brabham BT7A Climax, he was quick too, off pole and led Clark and Graham Hill for much of the first lap. He was 3rd, five seconds behind Brabham in 2nd with Jim a minute up the road from Jack in an emphatic victory.

Roy Billington, Brabham’s chief mechanic is the black clad dude to the left of Jim. In the white helmet is the tall, lanky frame of Frank Gardner and beside him his Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT11A Climax. A DNF for Frank that weekend with Coventry Climax engine dramas on lap 25.

(Telegraph)

In the photo above Roy Billington is tending Jack’s BT11A, its Jim’s Lotus behind. The tall fellow to the right, in the cloth cap is, I think Lex Davison- Lex retired on lap 3 with a busted steering wheel in his Brabham BT4, an odd failure for a driver of considerable deftness and touch.

‘Topless’ behind Lex is Jim Clark talking to Warwick Farm boss, Geoff Sykes- to the left near the pit counter is again Frank Gardner.

Its all happening, as I say…the first six home were Clark, Brabham and Matich, then Bib Stillwell, Brabham BT11A, Graham Hill similarly mounted in the Scuderia Veloce entered machine and then Kiwi Jim Palmer in his BT7A.

Credits…

Daily Telegraph, oldracingcars.com, Bruce Wells on The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Jim and Lotus 32B Climax on the hop…

(Bruce Wells/TRS)

He is entering The Esses and has clearly given someone or something a ‘tap’, the nose of the Lotus is slightly bruised. I’ve written about this car, click here for the link; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

Finito…