Posts Tagged ‘Brabham BT23D Alfa’

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(Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Andrea de Adamich hustles his McLaren M14D Alfa through the Zandvoort sand dunes and flowers, Dutch GP practice June 1970…

This is yet another of my ‘nutso’ articles in terms of flow.

It started as a quickie around some of Rainer’s (Schlegelmilch is a favourite of mine as you may have guessed) shots of the McLaren Alfa. Then I got interested in Andrea’s career, so off I went that way.

Then I thought ‘the F1 program really started in Tasman Formula single-seaters here in Australia’- that is Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D and Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ with the engines Autodelta-Alfa Romeo T33 2.5 V8’s- but I didn’t want to go too far with that as I want to do the topics justice, with Kevin Bartlett’s intimate knowledge of both the program and cars. So that aspect of this article is no more than a teaser.

Anyway, here ’tis, a bit weird, and with the ‘full job’ on the Alfa engined Mildren Brabham and Sub still to come…

The McLaren/Alfa Romeo partnership started reasonably well at Montjuic Parc in Barcelona but the grid had ten places reserved for seeded drivers and only six for the other twelve competitive cars, Andrea’s thirteenth quickest was just 0.05 seconds too slow to make the cut.

Same problem at 1970 Monaco with the same system- again he was thirteenth fastest overall but this time he fell short by 0.1 seconds.

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Andrea, Dutch GP practice June 1970. M14D Alfa DNQ (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

The team missed the Belgian Grand Prix on June 7, McLaren took the time to adapt the Alfa Romeo V8 to its latest M14 chassis, which they designated ‘M14D’, unfortunately again failing to qualify for the Dutch GP at Zandvoort by 0.01 seconds where most of these shots were taken.

Peter Gethin was the quickest of the Cosworth engined McLarens with Denny Hulme missing the meeting due to hands burned at Indianapolis. Gethin’s car qualified eleventh but retired on lap 18 after an accident, writing off Denny’s M14 in the process so the M14D was quickly converted back to Cosworth spec to give Denny a competitive car when his hands recovered.

Back in the older chassis, de Adamich qualified his M7D at Clermont-Ferrand sixteenth, a good effort but only completing 29 laps retiring after a water pipe came adrift and he lost 9 laps in the pits.

He qualified eighteenth at Brands Hatch, again in the M7D but was a non-starter with a leaking bag fuel tank.

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The bespectacled Italian lowers his lanky frame into the McLaren M14 monocoque, Dutch GP 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

 

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George Eaton’s BRM P153 passes the #21 de Adamich McLaren M14D Alfa and #20 Hulme McLaren M14A Ford, Zandvoort pitlane, Dutch GP practice June 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

The 1970 German GP was held at the fast Hockenheim circuit which places an emphasis on power/top speed, the Alfa engine lacked sufficient punch, Andrea again failing to qualify, he had complained about handling and the engine not pulling properly.

The speed of the chassis was ‘thereabouts’ though, Hulme finished third in a Cosworth DFV powered M14.

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#20 de Adamich McLaren Alfa Hockenheim, German GP practice 2 August 1970 and Donatella de Adamich in the Zeltweg pits 18 August 1970 (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Zeltweg’s 6Km layout places a similar premium on power and high speed handling too, the car qualified well in fifteenth for the Austrian GP, finishing twelfth, the decision to change the engine before the race went awry when the replacement pulled 1000rpm short of the engine used in practice giving Andrea a long race labouring down the back.

Allen Brown wrote that a lot of work was done by Autodelta in the lead up to the team’s home race at Monza with emphasis on the sumps- which had been identified as the main problem. Andrea qualified twelfth and finished eighth having run well for the first few laps in the race won by Regazzoni’s Ferrari 312B albeit seven laps in arrears. It was Regga’s first GP win. Nanni Galli, another Autodelta racer had a go in the M7D but did not qualify having experienced camshaft trouble.

In Canada Andrea again qualified twelfth of twenty, starting really well and ran as high as ninth, but he hadn’t started with full tanks knowing he had to stop for fuel but diddn’t get to that point, pitting with low oil pressure from eighth position after completing 69 laps.

At Watkins Glen he failed to qualify after big dramas gave him limited circuit time- first a fuel leak and then a behind dash fire, perhaps as a consequence the team didn’t take the Alfa powered chassis to the season ending race in Mexico City on 25 October.

McLaren had no incentive to continue with development of the Alfa engined car given the competitiveness of its Ford Cosworth DFV engined machines, a purpose built F1 engine- Alfa’s engine stated life as a more robust long distance unit, and was never, without the commitment of sufficient money and engineering resources going to approach or eclipse the dominant DFV.

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de Adamich at the wheel of his Alfa 33TT3 , Targa 1972. He was 3rd in the car shared with Toine Hezemans (velocetoday.com)

Andrea de Adamich…

Tall, scholastic and patrician, the bespectacled Italian began racing whilst still a law student, making his name driving a works Autodelta Alfa Romeo in the European Touring Car Championship, which he won in 1966 at the wheel of a GTA.

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Andrea de Adamich corners the Alfa Ti Super he shared with Carlo Scarambone in the Tour de France 20 September 1964 . Nouveau Monde Hairpin, Rouen (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

He attracted Ferrari’s attention with some promising runs in Alfa T33 sports cars (which he continued to race whilst pursuing a single-seater career) and was recruited to the Scuderia for the non-championship 1967 Spanish GP, at Jarama north of Madrid.

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Traga 1967 in the 2 litre Alfa T33. DNF suspension failure in the car shared with Jean Rolland. Race won by the Hawkins/Maglioli Porsche 910 (Getty)

In 1968 Andrea was scheduled to drive full-time for Ferrari alongside Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx, but he crashed during practice for the Brands Hatch ‘Race of Champions’ and suffered neck injuries which took a long time to heal fully.

He returned to racing, winning the Argentine Temporada series the following winter with the powerful F2, works Ferrari Dino 166. de Adamich’ Ferrari 166 F2 Season was covered in this article on that car; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/09/temporada-f2-series-argentina-san-juan-1968/

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de Adamich’s Ferrari 166 winning in front of F2 king Jochen Rindt’s Brabham BT23 Ford FVA, San Juan Argentina, Temporada Series 1968 (Andrew Marriott)

‘In 1970 McLaren was offered the opportunity of experimenting with an Alfa V8, a possibly tempting alternative to the then-ubiquitous Cosworth DFV, and one of the Italian engines was installed first in an M7D chassis and latterly an M14D for de Adamich to drive’, wrote McLaren.

‘To say this technical combo achieved modest results would be a dramatic understatement. The McLaren Alfa generally failed to qualify and when it did, could only muster twelfth in the Austrian GP followed by a distant eighth place in front of the Alfa top brass at Monza. McLaren, still reeling from Bruce’s death that summer, reckoned that the Anglo-Italian alliance was all a bit of a waste of effort and called time on the partnership at the end of the season’.

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de Adamich at the wheel of the T33/3 he shared with Gijs van Lennep in the 1971 Targa, 2nd to teammates Vaccarella/Hezemans (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

De Adamich took his Alfa engines off to March in 1971, with no significant improvement in their performance.

Andrea was thirteenth at Kyalami and eleventh at Watkins Glen whilst Nanni Galli was fifth in the non-championship Jochen Rindt Trophy at Hockenheim in July gaining the best ever F1 result for these engines.

Nanni was eleventh, twelfth and twelfth at Silverstone, the Nürburgring and the Osterreichring in a good run of finishes at least in July/August but then had three downers to end his season at Monza, Mosport and the Glen.

The engine was again unreliable with DNF’s for Andrea at Montjuic, Paul Ricard, the Nurburgring and Monza. He was unclassified at Silverstone.

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De Adamich, March 711 Alfa, German GP Nurburgring Q20 DNF  fuel injection lap 2. Stewart won in a Tyrrell 003 Ford (unattributed)

 

The business end of the De Adamich March 711 Alfa in the 1971 Nürburgring paddock

March team leader, and one of the fastest guys on the planet at the time, Ronnie Peterson used the Alfa engines in chassis ‘711-6’ at Hockenheim, Zandvoort and at Paul Ricard, where he raced that chassis from grid 12.

He only lasted 19 laps before engine failure, Andrea started from grid 20 which provides some measure of how much more improved the performance of the car/engine could have been with an ace behind the wheel- whilst putting reliability to one side

The Italian driver switched to Team Surtees in 1972 which got him back behind the wheel of a Cosworth-engined car, a step in the right direction.

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French GP, Clermont Ferrand July 1972. de Adamich Surtees TS9B Ford Q12 P14, ahead of Derek Bell who was a race non-starter in his Tecno PA123 V12. Jackie Stewart won the race in Tyrrell 003 Ford.  (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

For 1973 de Adamich switched to the Bernie Ecclestone owned Brabham team after driving for Surtees in the season opener at Kyalami. His Brabham BT42 fell victim to Jody Scheckter’s first lap McLaren M23 Ford multiple car shunt at the end of the opening lap of the British GP at Silverstone, Andrea suffered serious injuries which brought an end to his career.

In more recent times he has built an impressive business career.

In 1990 he bought the circuit at Varano and created a highly specialised  driving school for the owners of Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Abarth cars. He also puts on special days for Philip Morris, a legacy of his longstanding relationship dating back to the days when he and Giacomo Agostini were the first Italian contracted Marlboro drivers/riders.

Kevin Bartlett setting off to test the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo just vacated by Frank Gardner after the 1968 Tasman Series at Oran Park before the Gold Star series- she grew wings as the year progressed. Bob Grange at right (P Garrad)

The 1960’s Alfa Romeo Engined Single Seater V8’s…

Alfa’s Tipo 33 V8 was first used in elite single seater racing by Australia’s Alec Mildren Racing Team.

Mildren, a Sydney Alfa Romeo dealer, former Australian Gold Star Champion and AGP winner ran one of the most professional teams in Australia. He had impeccable Alfa Romeo/Autodelta connections having acquired and raced two GTA’s and a TZ2 in the early to mid-sixties and in the process ‘polished’ Alfa’s Australian brand, one of the greatest of the Grand Marques but then relatively new to the ‘Oz market.

Click on this link for an article about the Mildren Autodelta Alfa’s;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/

and on Alec Mildren; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

Mildren’s 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engined Tasman Brabhams were being given a very hard time by the Repco Brabham and BRM V8’s amongst others circa 1966, so he sought an appropriate response- a sprint variant of the Tipo 33 engine was the obvious choice given his Alfa connections.

Mildren ordered three 2.5 Tipo 33 V8’s which were initially fitted to a bespoke Brabham BT23D chassis, a variant of Ron Tauranac’s new for 1967 Ford FVA powered BT23 F2 car.

The machine was first raced in the 1967 Hordern Trophy Gold Star round at Warwick Farm, Frank Gardner won, which was a portent of the cars 1968 Tasman Series speed- he was fourth in the championship against stiff opposition including two works Lotus 49 Ford DFW’s in the hands of Messrs Clark and Hill, Chris Amons Ferrari Dino 246T, works BRM’s and the rest. The engines were then fitted to the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, a monocoque car built for the team by Alan Mann Racing, designed by Len Bailey, for the 1969 Tasman Series where again Frank was ‘best of the rest’ behind the Lotuses, Ferraris and Piers Courage in a Frank Williams Brabham BT24 Ford.

After both cars were raced by Frank Gardner in the Tasman they were ‘handed over’ to Kevin Bartlett for the Gold Star Championship when Gardner returned to the UK at the end of each Australasian summer.

Bartlett won the Gold Star in 1968 and 1969 with each chassis respectively, for the sake of completness, in 1969 the ‘Sub’ was also powered by Merv Waggotts’s TC-4V 2 litre DOHC 4 valve 275 bhp engine for part of the season and into 1970 and beyond.

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(Ian Peak/The Roaring Season)

The 2.5 litre, 2 valve, 4 cam Lucas fuel injected, twin-plug Alfa Tipo 33 V8 installed in Alec Mildren’s Gardner driven Brabham BT23D at Teretonga during the 1968 Tasman.

Gardner was equal fourth with Graham Hill in the series behind Clark, Amon and Courage in Lotus 49 Ford DFW, Ferrari Dino 246T and F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA respectively.

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(Dick Simpson)

What a beautifully integrated bit of kit the Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa was?

Here just before it progressively grew wings. Kevin Bartlett drove the wheels off the thing, here at Hell Corner Bathurst during the 1968 Easter Gold Star round. KB was on pole by 9! seconds but DNF with a broken rear upright, Phil West took the win in David McKay’s ex-JB Brabham BT23A Repco.

Bartlett won the 1968 Gold Star in this car and was equal ninth in the 1969 Tasman in winged form.

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(Wirra)

Frank Gardner in the Mildren Alfa ‘Yellow Submarine’ in the Warwich Farm pitlane during the ’69 Tasman round on 9 February. The Aussie international was third behind Rindt’s Lotus 49 DFW and Derek Bell’s Ferrari Dino 246T. Gardner was sixth in the 1969 Tasman behind Amon, Rindt, Courage, Bell and Hill in Ferrari Dino 246, Lotus 49B DFW, Brabham BT24 DFW, Ferrari Dino 246 and Lotus 49B DFW respectively.

Kevin Bartlett had this to say about the Alfa Romeo 2.5 litre Tasman V8 and Waggott DOHC 4 valve engines.

‘My memory tells me the Alfa had around 350lbs (of torque) and the Waggott about 230lbs. Usable power range was quite different with the Alfa workable between 4500-8800 rpm and Waggott 6800-8750rpm. Not perfectly accurate as i work from  memory but around that kind of difference’.

‘The driving difference was the main change, as the power to weight felt little different behind the wheel, mainly due i suppose to the fact full throttle was used much sooner with the 4 cyl 2000cc Waggott. The turn in changed to a marked degree with the lighter power plant (Waggott) having less moment of inertia allowing the car to be literally flung into a turn. As it happens i am the only driver to experience both configurations.’ (Gardner having raced only the Alfa variant)

‘Len Bailey was the (Mildren’s) designer of the tub, which flexed a little at the rear with the Alfa’s torque, less so when the Waggott went in, with suspension being a (Brabham designer) Ron Tauranac adaption’.

Alfa Romeo claimed 315bhp at 8800 rpm for the 2.5 litre variant of the V8 engine. Click here for a short piece on the Sub; https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m14d/

Bartlett doing his thing aboard the Mildren ‘Sub’ Alfa at Oran Park. Its an interesting photo in that this car was winged by the end of the 1969 Tasman- and KB is driving it after that- perhaps a day of back to back testing? The car, like all such machines globally, lost its big wings after the 1969 Monaco GP weekend where such aero was banned. Superb machine superbly driven by KB- Oz Gold Star and Macao GP winner in 1969 (D Simpson)

 

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Alfa Romeo 3 litre 4 valve F1 engine in a McLaren chassis in 1970 (unattributed)

A similar 3 litre 4 valve per cylinder, 32 valve engine- the Mildren V8’s were all chain driven 2 valvers, was developed for Cooper in F1 but wasn’t used before the teams demise.

Lucien Bianchi tested an Alfa Romeo engined T86C (T86C-F1-3-68) once but was unimpressed given its lack of power. Two further, more powerful motors were built but didn’t survive the bench tests, Alfa then withdrew their engines from that proposed program.

The 1970 variant of the engine was all aluminium with a bore/stroke of 86mm x 64.4mm for a total of 2998cc. Five main and camshaft bearings were used. The four valves were inclined at 30 degrees, the inlets were 32mm and exhausts 27mm in size, Alfa claimed an output of 400bhp @ 9000rpm in sportscar form.

With gear driven cams for F1 use Autodelta claimed 430bhp @ 10500 rpm at a time the Ford Cosworth DFV gave circa 440, the Matra V12 445-450 and Flat-12 Ferrari 460bhp @ 12000 rpm. It wasn’t enough really but Alfa had put their toes back into F1 water and would return soon with works Brabhams, as they had started with a Mildren Brabham a decade before…

Cutaway of the first 2 litre variant of the Tipo 33 V8 with detailed specifications as per text but chain driven DOHC, two valve, twin plug and Lucas fuel injected with engine a non-load bearing member of the car.

Etcetera…

The seven or eight race Tasman Cup was conducted over eight or nine weeks with a ‘hop across the ditch’- the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia, put great pressure on team logistics and repaid a mixture of speed and, critically, reliability and consistency.

Major chassis damage and engine unreliability were severely punished and it was the latter which meant that Mildren/Gardner’s campaigns in the Brabham BT23D and Mildren did not fare better, FG only finished half the races in each year.

Both cars were mighty fine machines but the Lotus 49 was the F1 car of the era and the F2 based Ferrari Dino 246 was far from shabby. In addition, Frank, whilst the equal of most on his best days, was not of the same level as Clark, Rindt, Hill, Amon, Brabham, McLaren or Rodriguez, to rattle off some of the competition in 1968 and 1969.

Was the Mildren Yellow Submarine a race winner in 1969?- yes, if the planets were aligned- and it were ‘winged’ from the start of the series. Quite how FG, having had a front row seat racing in Europe in ‘the year of the wing’ in 1968, arrived in Australia without said appendages on the Sub is an interesting question.

By Lakeside- at the halfway mark of the series the car was winged- they grew again at Warwick Farm as below where FG is leading Graeme Lawrence’ McLaren M4A Ford FVA but it was all a bit late. They were third and eighth in the sodden race won by the dominant Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49B Ford DFW. Derek Bell’s Dino 246 was second.

And in any event the reliability wasn’t there…

Would, say, Rindt have made the Sub sing? Absolutely- but he didn’t have Frank’s mechanical sympathy so he would rarely have finished I suspect.

So, perhaps the Alfa Romeo engined cars under-delivered in the Tasman Cup but Bartlett’s 1968 and 1969 Australian Gold Star wins were glorious and enhanced the Alfa Romeo brand for a generation of impressionable youth, me included…

(B McInerney)

Photo and other credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, velocetoday.com, mclaren.com, Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car’, Dick Simpson, Wirra, Kevin Bartlett, Peter Garrad, LAT, Brian McInerney

oldracingcars.com. See Allen Brown’s M7D and M14D detailed chassis records;

https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m7d/  and https://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m14d/

Tailpiece…

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de Adamich/Vaccarella  Targa 4 May 1969. DNF lap 6 with engine failure. Alfa T33 2.5 V8 Spider (Schlegelmilch)

Finito…

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Rod MacKenzie’s moody, foreboding, evocative image of Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 at Longford in 1968 is one of my favourites…

Clark is exiting Newry Corner on the run towards the ‘Flying Mile’. He started from pole, winning 100 bottles of champagne in the process and finished second in the Saturday preliminary race in beautiful weather but the clouds opened on Monday morning for the Tasman Championship event, ‘The South Pacific Trophy’.

Star of the show was Piers Courage who drove a gutsy, skilful race in the most challenging, treacherous conditions to win the event in his little F2 McLaren M4A FVA ahead of the big Tasman 2.5’s of his close competitors. Pier’s car was self run, his performances in it that summer reignited his career.

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Piers Courage in his McLaren M4A F2 car, Newry Corner, Longford 1968. Power was not all on this fast circuit in such wet conditions, but the plucky Brit was giving away at least 130bhp to his 2.5 litre V8 powered opponents (R MacKenzie)

Pedro Rodriguez and Frank Gardner were second and third in BRM P261 2.1 V8 and Brabham BT23D Alfa 2.5 V8 respectively. Clark was fifth in his Ford Cosworth DFW engined Lotus 49, the 2.5 litre variant of the epochal 3 litre DFV GP engine.

Jim Clark chewing the fat with BRM’s Tim Parnell- all the fun of the fair, Longford 1968, Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW ready for action (oldracephotos/Harrisson)

 

Clark and the boys with Denny Hulme’s Brabham BT23 FVA behind (HRCCT)

Lets go back to the start of the meeting, marvellous from the Tasmanian’s perspective as the series went down to the wire, Chris Amon was still a potential series victor with only six points between he and Jim Clark with Piers Courage’s third place within Graham Hill’s grasp depending upon how he fared.

Chris Amon blew the sealing rings in the Ferrari’s little V6 keeping his crew busy for the evening whilst Pedro Rodriguez popped an engine too- the BRM mechanics therefore readied the P261 V8 for the race rather than the P126 V12 the Mexican raced in the Saturday preliminary. Piers Courage tapped the nose of his pristine McLaren M4A when the flaggies got so enamoured of the cars they forgot to signal oil on the track! All was well at Gold Leaf Team Lotus.

Lap 1 of the preliminary on Saturday, Geoff Smedley’s amazing colour shot- Clark from Hill, Amon, Gardner and one of the BRM’s- Lotus 49 by two, Ferrari 246T, Brabham BT23D Alfa and BRM P261 0r P126 (G Smedley)

Practice times didn’t mean too much as the teams were focused on race setup for the twelve lap Saturday preliminary race ‘The Examiner Racing Car Scratch’ which also counted for grid positions. In the second session of practice Clark did a 2:12.8, Hill 2:13.6 and Amon 2:13.8. Clark was under Jack Brabham’s record set on the way to his win the year before in his BT23A Repco, Jim won 100 bottles of champagne for pole as stated earlier.

In the preliminary on Saturday the grid formed up with Clark on pole. Hill comfortably won the event run in fine, dry weather from Clark and Amon. Both Lotuses were timed on the Flying Mile at 172 mph but Amon’s 182 mph in David McKay’s ex-works Ferrari P4/Can Am 350 sportscar rather put the single-seaters in the shade! Lets not digress about that car now, follow the link at the end of this article for a long piece about the P4 which Chris raced in the sportscar support events in each of the Australian Tasman rounds.

Hill G leads the pack off Long Bridge on lap 1 of the Saturday preliminary. Hill, Clark, Amon, Gardner, Leo Geoghegan Lotus 39 Repco, a BRM and perhaps Kevin Bartlett Brabham BT11A Climax (R MacKenzie)

 

Exit from Newry, lap 1 of the preliminary- Hill, Clark, Amon, Gardner, Geoghegan’s Lotus flirting with the tracks edge, and Attwood. Great shot shows how the circuit rises at this point into the right hand kink up the road (S Geoghegan)

Only a couple of supporting races had been run on the Monday raceday when light rain started to fall at about 10am, this soon became heavy. As the rain got harder and the clouds more threatening it was obvious that it was not likely to abate before the 2.15 pm race start time

The track was almost under water at some points where hay bales had broken up and straw was blocking the drains. Efforts by track officials soon had most of the drainage system under control.

A large crowd was of course present on the Labour Day long-weekend. Crews brought the cars out onto the circuit in front of the pit counter and stood together under umbrellas as the drivers went into a huddle with the promoters of the meeting and the CAMS stewards to determine if the race should go on.

Leo Geoghegan and Lotus 39 Repco return to the Longford pits after some exploratory laps. DNS with unsuitable tyres. Its the Courage McLaren by the pit counter (oldracephotos)

Sergent.com report that first it was decided that the cars should do a couple of exploratory laps then report their findings.

Geoghegan, Amon, Clark, Hill, Attwood, Gardner, Bartlett and others went out and after looking like motor boats ploughing through the water delivered their thoughts to the meeting. The conditions were so bad various drivers with unsuitable tyres elected not to start having driven some ‘sighting laps’.

Kevin Bartlett recounted his experience in the Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT11A Climax; ‘I did two exploratory laps and the old BT11 couldn’t find traction anywhere. I had an absolutely terrifying 4th gear 720 degree spin across the short Kings Bridge, the one after the Viaduct, missing all the obstacles at the tracks edge. After exiting Pub and in a straight line i did a 360 degree loop. She nearly escaped me over the rail line on the way to Long Bridge. Out of Newry and up the hill to the straight slithering along with no touch felt between me and the bitumen, so i suppose I thought at that moment to do another lap at a very reduced speed then pit’.

Packed car park: Amon’s Dino, the BRM’s of Attwood and Rodriguez, Pedro’s P261 fully covered, the two Lotus 49’s, Piers McLaren, then Leo G’s Lotus 39 and John Harvey’s Brabham BT11A (oldracephotos)

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‘What are we going to do boys?!’ Drivers considering their options before the race, the pouring rain exacerbated by drains beside the track which couldn’t cope with the deluge; Clark facing us, Hill’s distinctive helmet clear. Courage with his back to us in helmet, Gardner’s lanky frame partly in shot to the right. Amon in the ‘Firestone’ suit, Harvey? at left with head down (oldracephotos)

‘Once back in the tent Alec, Frank (Gardner) Denny (Hulme Brabham BT23 FVA F2) and i had a talk about the tyres that Denny and i had and after trying to come up with a better tread pattern, such as the ones fitted to Franks car (Brabham BT23D Alfa) but with no result. It was agreed that Denny and i shouldn’t risk a start. I was happy with the call and Leo (Geoghegan Lotus 39 Repco) followed suit. Most of the top guys had the latest Firestone, Dunlop or Goodyear wets but none were available to suit the BT11’s. I consoled myself with the fact that if the new world champion (Hulme) didn’t like the risk i certainly shouldn’t!’

Longford, wonderful circuit that it was, provides no runoff area for a driver to go in the wet (or dry!) should a driver lose control or suffer a bad attack of aquaplaning, and this was the main point in contention.

The ill fated Brabham BT23A Repco ‘740’ of Greg Cusack on Friday or Saturday (oldracephotos)

Greg Cusack in David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT23A Repco (Brabham’s victorious Longford mount from 1967) had left the road that morning. He lost the car on the greasy road as he went over the hump/bump on the approach to The Viaduct. The car left the road, hit a bank, somersaulted and crashed into a ditch, he was then pinned under the it before being quickly released by officials.

The 37 year old Canberra motor dealer, who had intended Longford to be his last race meeting, was taken to Launceston Hospital with chipped bones to both knees, stretched ligaments and a fractured left wrist. He was lucky it was not a good deal worse. Bib Stillwell organised for one of his planes to fly Cusack and his wife home to Canberra on the Tuesday where he was admitted to hospital.

Whilst Cusack lay in hospital the other drivers were trying to explain the difficulties of Longford which were exacerbated hugely in the wet. ‘Motoring News’ reports at length about the cordial discussions between the drivers and officialdom and all of the competing issues of safety, providing a show and running a race to determine the winner of the Tasman Cup.

The Stewards finally ruled that the race should go ahead but be shortened to 15 laps of the 4.5 mile circuit, (128 miles to 68 miles) and put the starting time back to 4pm hoping the rain would ease and the situation be safer as a consequence. At 4.15pm the sodden cars and their game, uncomplaining drivers were facing the soggiest start ever seen at Longford, one of the most challenging road circuits in the world.

Front row- Amon Ferrari 246T and the two Lotus 49 DFW’s of Hill and Clark, that’s Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT23D Alfa nose (oldracephotos)

 

Soggy start: L>R Amon Ferrari Dino 246T, Hill Lotus 49 and unsighted to the right Clark. Then Rodriguez BRM P261 #11 and alongside Gardner in the light coloured Brabham BT23D, #12 behind him Attwood BRM P126 and alongside him the winner Courage McLaren M4A. L>R in the back row John Harvey’s Brabham BT11A, John McCormack Brabham BT4 and Mel McEwin Lotus 32B (oldracephotos)

Clark’s Lotus 49 got away well, somehow finding traction with the wide Firestones, and he was followed into the right-hander before The Viaduct by Amon and Hill. The drivers took the opening laps cautiously under race conditions and each car was leaving a gap to the other so they could see through the flying spray.

At the end of lap one the order was Clark, Rodriguez BRM P261 V8 on Dunlops, Gardner Brabham BT23D Alfa on Goodyears, Courage Mclaren M4A Ford FVA using new narrow-section 970s, Hill Lotus 49 Ford DFW on Firestones, Attwood BRM P126 V12 on Dunlop, Amon Ferrari 246T back in seventh owing to a run down the escape road at Newry Corner, then John Harvey Brabham BT11A Repco John McCormack Brabham BT4 Coventry Climax FPF and Mel McEwin Lotus 32B Coventry Climax FPF, this car the ex-Clark/Palmer 1965 Tasman Championship winning chassis.

Richard Attwood, a very good 4th in the big BRM P126 V12 on Pit Straight. BRM was testing, by way of eight Tasman race weekends in a row, this new F1 design in 2.5 litre capacity in advance of the ’68 GP season (oldracephotos/DKeep)

‘Attwood found he had more traction on Dunlops than Hill had with the wide Firestones and he slipped under the Lotus for fifth place on lap 2. Both Attwood and Rodriguez had hand-cut drainage grooves in their tyres. A lap later Courage really got his foot in it to take Gardner on lap 3. He then jumped past both Rodriguez and Clark on the next lap while Gardner followed him through and waited for another lap behind Clark before taking the plunge and heading for second. Amon had taken Hill and now, on lap 5, the order was Courage 9.6 secs ahead of Gardner, Clark, Rodriguez, Attwood, Amon, Hill and Harvey. McEwin and McCormack were already in danger of being lapped by the flying Courage.

Hill from Gardner, not sure who and one of the BRM’s, Long Bridge (R MacKenzie)

Courage, driving like a young Stirling Moss in the blinding rain, somehow gained another 9.5 secs on lap 6, putting him 16 secs ahead of second man Gardner in the Brabham-Alfa. Rodriguez had pulled past Clark and on the next lap Attwood whizzed past Clark to take fourth. On lap 9 Courage was 32 secs ahead of Gardner and having a ball out on his own, right foot hard in it. Gardner was 3.5 secs ahead of Rodriguez who was followed by Attwood, Clark, Amon, Hill and Harvey losing a lot of ground’.

Pedro raced the little 2.1 litre BRM P261 V8 having raced the new P126 V12 in the preliminary and had engine failure. 2nd a minute behind Courage just sneaking past Gardner in the final stages (oldracephotos/DKeep)

‘Rodriguez started to close up on Gardner in the closing laps, but nothing could touch Courage. This was his day, it was he who had the best gear on his car and he was darned sure he was going to make it a race to remember. He had pulled 45.5 secs on Gardner by lap 12 while Rodriguez had got within 2.5 secs of Gardner. Hill challenged Amon on the same lap and finally squeezed past in a daring effort on the greasy track to make the Lotus-Fords fifth and sixth’.

Frank Gardner on the exit of Newry, Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Tipo 33 2.5 V8. 3rd a minute behind Courage (R MacKenzie)

‘As Courage screamed down the straight heading for the flag he was over 55 secs ahead of Gardner and he came past the pits jubilantly waving his hand. Gardner by this time, heading for the braking area at Mountford, had Rodriguez looking right at the Alfa V8 pipes. There seemed no way that Rodriguez could slip past, but suddenly a gap appeared as Gardner went a shade wide on Mountford and Rodriguez poured on the power into the short straight and took the flag about 25 yards ahead of the Alec Mildren car. Attwood finished his race fourth after a very steady drive, followed by Clark, Hill and Amon’.

John Harvey coming off Long Bridge in Bob Janes Brabham BT11A Repco ‘740’ V8. This is the car in which Spencer Martin won the ’66/7 Australian Gold Star. Converted to Repco power just prior to the Tasman (R MacKenzie)

Hill, Lotus 49 DFW, 5th on the Flying Mile (R MacKenzie)

‘Courage had the rubber, just the right amount of power for the job and the ability to keep the car straight on a very dicey and greasy circuit. He finished the Tasman Cup Series in a wonderful third place behind Clark and Chris Amon. Then came Hill and Gardner 17, McLaren 11, Rodriguez and Hulme 8, Jim Palmer 7, Attwood 4, Roly Levis and Leo Geoghegan 3, Paul Bolton, Red Dawson and Kevin Bartlett 2, Graeme Lawrence and Ross Stone 1 each’.

Like a duck to water- Courage, right tyres, set up, enough power, precision and bravery. McLaren M4A FVA F2 machine (R MacKenzie)

It was very much the end of an era, the last Longford, the speed of the cars and advancing track safety rules caught up with the place and an inability of the club/government to make the requisite investment. Most importantly Jim Clark, a very popular visitor to Australasia since the early sixties and twice winner of the series in 1965 and 1968 died at Hockenheim in an F2 Lotus 48 in April.

Lotus returned in 1969 but it was not quite the same without the magic and personality of the great Scot.

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A very happy but cold and soggy Piers Courage, with wife Sally after his Longford ’68 win. It was a might fine drive which is still remembered by those fortunate enough to see it. (oldracephotos)

Etcetera…

Practice and Saturday Preliminary

Richard Attwood, BRM P126, The Viaduct (oldracephotos/Keep)

 

Lap 1 bunch behind the lead group- Gardner Brabham BT23D, Geoghegan Lotus 39, Attwood BRM P126, Bartlett Brabham BT11A, Rodriguez BRM P126 into The Viaduct (oldracephotos)

 

Leo Geoghegan, Lotus 39 Repco 740. Leo frightened the internationals in his ‘old bus’ more than once that summer- Clark’s ’66 Tasman mount Coventry Climax FPF engined. Non starter on Monday tho (R MacKenzie)

 

Chris Amon, Ferrari 246T. Chris learned a lot from his ’68 tour, and applied those learnings well in 1969 winning the title in an updated, four valve, winged  Dino (oldracephotos

 

Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P126. The V12 engine in this car failed during the race so Pedro raced the ‘backup’ P261 V8 in the championship event- cars which had become wonderful Tasman machines from 1966-8. Winner in ’66 in Stewart’s hands (oldracephotos/Keep)

 

Graham Hill, Lotus 49 Ford DFW. Perhaps not the best of Tasmans- 2nd at Surfers and Warwick Farm his best results (R MacKenzie)

 

Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P261 V8 during practice (oldracephotos/Keep)

 

Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P126, The Viaduct (oldracephotos/Keep)

 

Richard Attwood, BRM P126. Drove the Oz rounds in the car vacated by McLaren- 4th at Longford deserved, DNF’s @ Surfers and Sandown, overall the P126’s were not blessed with great reliability in the ’68 Tasman (R MacKenzie)

Photo and Other Credits…

Roderick MacKenzie Collection;  http://www.racephotoaustralia.com/

oldracephotos.com;  http://www.oldracephotos.com/content/home/

The Nostalgia Forum/Ellis French/Rod MacKenzie and Kevin Bartlett.  Sergent.com race report. Geoff Smedley. ‘Canberra Times’ 6 March 1968

Ellis French Collection/Archive

Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/Can Am 350…

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

Tailpiece: Practice- Rodriguez BRM P261 from Courage McLaren M4A Ford FVA and Kevin Bartlett Brabham BT11A Climax FPF. Variety is the spice, braking into The Viaduct…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

Finito…