Posts Tagged ‘Brabham BT4 Climax’

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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!

 

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‘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…

 

 

 

 

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(Gasking)

Repco workshop customer point of sale ‘take-away’ from 1962/3…

Given the sophistication of todays online marketing driven by complex algorithms using the reams of data we all hand over, unknowingly, in our daily routines its interesting to look at how it was once done, and still is to an extent I guess.

This quite eye-catching piece, with its complex die cut is sophisticated for its day and was no doubt scooped up in large numbers by the trade customers who frequented the various outlets of Repco’ burgeoning global empire. Repco’s retail outlets, well known to Aussies as a weekend DIY supply destination came later.

Former Repco engineer Michael Gasking has given me access to his extensive archive to share with you, this is the first of many more interesting Repco timepieces from Michael. Many thanks to him!

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(Gasking)

It’s a few years before the Repco-Brabham ‘RB620’ V8 program but Ron and Jack’s cars were called and badged ‘Repco-Brabham’ and the technical relationship was just extending to the maintenance and parts back up of the Coventry Climax FPF engine by whom Repco were licensed to make parts.

So the link between R&D, testing and racing is well travelled but neatly done I reckon, to see and hold this marketing timepiece is a joy so I thought it worth sharing.

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Brabham’s BT4 awaits its Climax engine during the ‘1963 Internationals in Australia, at the Repco Richmond facility. Its a nice ‘reveal’ of Ron Tauranac’s spaceframe chassis of the day. BT4 is the Intercontinental variant of the 1962 F1 Coventry Cliamx FWMV V8 engined BT3 (Repco/Gasking)

Brabham chassis ‘F1-3-62’…

Inevitably my eyes were drawn to the cars chassis number. Its to the left and under the steering wheel on the dash, its with this stuff where my anal side kicks in. Wonder which car it is, thought i…

Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com is one of my favourite bibles for such important minutae. No joy there, there was only one BT3 built, Jack’s first MRD built F1 weapon and that’s chassis ‘F1-1-62’ . The subsequent 1962 built BT4’s all have ‘IC’, Intercontinental in Brabham lore, chassis prefixes so it’s a bit of a mystery that I am sure one of you can solve.

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Roy Billington and Jack Brabham fettle the 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ Coventry Climax FPF of Brabham’s BT4 ‘IC-2-62’ prior to the start of the 1963 AGP at Warwick Farm. He won from Surtees Lola Mk4A Climax and McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax, all three of them using CC’s of 2.7 litres in capacity (SMH/Tait)

It doesn’t follow that the cockpit shot at the articles outset is one of Jack’s cars of course. He sold three BT4’s in Australia to Messrs Davison, McKay and Stillwell. Lex’s ex-Brabham ’62 AGP winning car and Bib’s were based in Melbourne’s Armadale and Kew, both pretty close to Repco’s HQ in St Kilda Road so seem likely subjects for their PR Department or Ad Agency’s photographers. But neither of the chassis numbers work. Mind you Bibs BT4 was ‘IC-3-62’ I wonder if a bit of sixties ‘photoshop’ made it ‘F1-3-62’. Anyway, that’s a theory until one of you can blow it out of the water!…

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Brabham, Brabham BT4 Climax, Warwick Farm, 10 February 1963. En-route to winning the AGP (Aussie Homestead)

Credits…

Michael Gasking Collection, Nigel Tait Collection, Repco, Sydney Morning Herald, oldraingcars.com, Aussie Homestead, LAT, Colin Galloway

Etcetera…

Another shot of Jack with BT4 2.7 FPF in the Warwick Farm paddock (C Galloway)

Team Shell at the WF AGP: David McKay, Tony Maggs, Graham Hill, John Surtees, Jim Palmer and Chris Amon (C Galloway)

Tailpiece: To the victor the ’63 AGP spoils, Moss, in the long process of recovering from his 1962 Lotus accident was a hugely popular visitor to Australia that summer, and Jack…

(LAT)

Finito…

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(John Ellacott)

Lex Davison #4 lights up his Dunlops with Bib Stillwell and David McKay on the front row of the ‘Victorian Trophy’ grid, Calder Raceway on 13 March 1963…

They finished in this order, Lex’ ex-McLaren Cooper T62 the winner from the Stillwell and McKay Brabham BT4 Climaxes. David’s was a ‘little’ 2.5 litre FPF, the other two were toting big ‘Indy’ 2.7 litre engines.

In a season of consistency Stillwell won his second Gold Star, Taswegian John Youl won at Warwick Farm and Mallala, Davo won at Calder, Bathurst and Sandown but only Sandown was a championship round so the Melbourne motor dealer took the second of 4 Gold Stars on the trot, 1962-1965.

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Calder Victorian Trophy grid 1963 from the front, Davo, Stillwell and McKay (John Ellacott)

Tale of the Cooper T62 #’CTA/BM/2’…

It’s a sad tale too. This car was successful, winning races in the hands of both Bruce Mclaren for whom it was built and for Lex Davison who raced it next. But for those around the car there was much tragedy, so its an interesting tale if not a happy one. Rocky Tresise died at its wheel, not much has been written about the young Melburnian, Davo’s protégé. The point of the article is largely to right that a little, if you can add more to Rocky’s story I am interested to hear from you to flesh it out further.

Perth hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1962, the Lord Mayor, like so many before and after him globally saw the games as a way of putting his city on the map and expediting the development of much needed infrastructure.

The event was tiny by the standards of Commonwealth and Olympic games today; 35 countries sent 863 athletes to compete in 9 sports but the event was huge in the context of the cities small population of around 500,000 people.

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The games were the first to have an athletes village, till then competitors had been housed in hotels and billeted in private homes. As a fan of Perth’s City Beach I was astounded to learn the area was largely bushland until 65 acres were developed for the village in advance of the games. Now it’s a great place to live beachside and an easy train ride into town.

At the time the Australian Grand Prix didn’t have a permanent home, the event was rotated around the countries six states. This was good and bad.

Good in the sense that spectators/competitors had a chance to see/participate in their home race every few years but bad in the sense that no one circuit owner/promoter could set up ‘infrastructure’ knowing they had one or two big events they could plan their revenues and therefore capital outlays around. This ‘sharing arrangement’ applied until the first F1 AGP in Adelaide in 1985, which became Albert Park when the nasty Victorians ‘nicked the race’ from SA.

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Perth circa 1964 (unattributed)

It made good sense to have the AGP in Perth at the time of the games to get along a decent crowd of locals and overseas visitors.

The ‘Games, held from 22 November-1 December were noted for ‘heat, dust and glory’. The opening ceremony was 105 degrees fahrenheit, (40.5 centigrade) the heat continued throughout the competition. The army were pressed into service ferrying constant supplies of water to parched competitors.

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The 18 November 1962 AGP was held at Caversham, an ex-military airfield circuit in Perth’s Swan Valley, 20 km north-east of the city centre and was also scorching hot.

The circuit hosted two AGP’s in 1962 and 1957, that race was won somewhat controversially by Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625, co-driven by Bill Patterson, again in scorching heat. To this day many pundits believe the race was won by Stan Jones Maser 250F who took the chequered flag but subsequently the win was given to his great friend and Melbourne rival after ‘lap countbacks’ and protests

In order to secure some world class competitors Brabham and McLaren were paid to attend, both brought cars intended to compete in the Antipodean summer internationals which traditionally commenced in New Zealand early in the new year.

The Brabham BT4 and Cooper T62 were variants of the respective marques 1962 F1 cars, the BT3 and T60, both powered in that application by the Coventry Climax 1.5 litre FWMV V8.

For ‘Tasman’ use, actually Formula Libre at the time, both cars were fitted with 2.7 litre Coventry Climax FPF 4 cylinder engines, CC’s 2.5 litre very successful 1959/60 World Championship winning engine taken out to 2.7 litres. These ‘Indy’ engines were originally developed for Jack’s first Cooper mounted Indianapolis appearance in the Memorial Day classic.

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Brabham and Stillwell take to the Caversham track, AGP weekend 1962. Brabham BT4 and Cooper T53 (Terry Walker)

‘The History of The Australian Grand Prix’ relevant chapter was written by Graham Howard. He records that Jack and Bruce started the race very evenly matched; Jack ‘popped’ his 2.7 Climax in practice, Bruce lent him his 2.5 spare, indicative of the great friendship between two guys who were also fierce competitors particularly on ‘their home turf’ during the annual Tasman races.

For McLaren’s part, Bruce had his Cooper handling beautifully having tested the car at Goodwood prior to his trip but then John Cooper grabbed the springs fitted to it for Monza F1 use leaving Bruce with a skittish, twitchier chassis than was his optimum.

So, Bruce had a bit more ‘puff’ than Jack, the alcohol fuelled 2.7 FPF giving around 260bhp to Jack’s 230 but Jack had the sweeter handling car- the scene was set for a fascinating contest.

Whilst the entry was ‘skinny’ the race promised to be a close one and so it was.

Other entries included the Coopers of Davison T53, John Youl T55, Bib Stillwell T53 and Bill Patterson, the latter somewhat hamstrung by driving an older T51.

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Stillwells Cooper T53 cruising the Caversham paddock (oldracephotos.com)

Local enthusiasts who raced were Syd Negus’ Cooper T23 Holden, E Edwards TS Spl and Jeff Dunkerton’s Lotus 7.

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Small field shown in this start shot, fortunately the torrid duel between Brabham and McLaren made up for the paucity of competitors. Brabham then dark green Coopers, Patterson’s white one, Davo’s red Cooper and similar colored BRM P48 Olds of Arnold Glass, then the front engined Cooper T23 Holden of Negus, green TS Spl of Ted Edwards and finally the green Lotus Super 7 of Jeff Dunkerton, the last sports car to start an AGP. Note the State Governor’s Roller in the foreground (Lyn Morgan/Terry Walker)

The race only had 10 starters, Perth is a long way from the east coast where most of the Gold Star contenders were based. The balance of the field was made up of WA competitors. Indicative of the change in the nature of AGP fields is that this race was the last for a front engined car (the appearance of the Ferguson in 1963 excepted), the last for an air-cooled and Holden engined cars.

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Brabham’s brand new BT4 Climax at Caversham, this car the first of many very successful ‘Intercontinental’ Brabhams; the Coventry Climax powered BT4/7A/11A won a lot of races in Australasia (Milton McCutcheon)

Even though the field was small the race settled into an absorbing battle between McLaren and Brabham at the front. The thrust and parry continued for over 40 laps, the gap varying between 2 and 8 seconds as attack and counter-attack was staged.

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Lex with a big smile for the cameras! Cooper T53 Climax 2.7 ‘Lowline’ . The T53 was the works only ’60 GP car and sold to customers for ’61 (oldracephotos.com)

The race went on with Jack unable to get past Bruce but opportunity arose when Bruce ran wide lapping Arnold Glass for the second time.

Jack focused on Bruce, Glass took his line for the next corner, he and Brabhamcollided, the latter racing an ex-Scarab aluminium Buick V8 powered BRM P48. Arnold finished but JB was out on lap 50 leaving Bruce to take a popular win.

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McLaren takes the plaudits of the crowd on his victory lap, Caversham 1962 (Terry Walker)

Youl was 2nd after an interesting battle with Stillwell 3rd, 4 seconds behind, Patterson 4th, then Glass in the BRM and Negus the first of the locals in the Cooper T23 Holden.

cav gov

McLaren takes the plaudits of the crowd and the Governor, McLaren manager/journalist Eoin Young is the ‘blood nut’ in glasses behind the governor (Terry Walker)

With that Bruce and Jack returned to Europe for the finish of the season and then returned in January to race the cars in the annual Australasian summer series of races.

t 62 front

Bruce McLaren shows racer/journo/team owner David McKay his new T62 toy, McKay could not race having damaged his ex-McLaren Cooper T55, famously demolishing a marshalls ‘dunny’ after an off into Warwick Farm’s infield. Front wishbone suspension, Alford & Alder uprights, big oil reservoir for the CC FPF and aluminium side fuel tanks all clear (Peter Longley/Terry Walker)

Cooper T62 Climax…

The Cooper was conventional for its day the T60 F1 chassis was laid out by Owen Maddocks after discussion with Bruce and John Cooper.

The T62 was built on the T60 jig by Tommy Atkins team at his Chessington ‘shop, Harry Pearce and Wally Willmott did the work. The rear frame was designed to take a P56 BRM 1.5 litre V8, the plan was for Bruce to drive it in non-championship F1 races Cooper themselves were not interested to contest.

When the engine was late, Atkins shelved the project and instead modified its frame to accept a 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ Coventry Climax FPF engine and Colotti T32 5 speed transaxle for ‘Tasman’ use.

t62 rear

Bruce and David again, rear frame detail and big 58DCO Weber fed 2.7 litre CC FPF engine, circa 260bhp on alcohol (Terry Walker)

Suspension was upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/shocks at the front and rear. There were adjustable roll bars front and rear, rack and pinion steering and disc brakes all round clamped by Girling BR/AR calipers front/rear. Wheel diameter was 15 inches.

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#10 McLaren Cooper T62, Tony Maggs Lola Mk4 and Davison Cooper T53 on the ’63 Longford grid preliminary race (Ellis French)

McLaren raced the car that summer in the Antipodean Internationals taking Kiwi wins at Wigram and Teretonga in January and then Sandown and Longford in Oz. He was 3rd at Warwick Farm and retired at Pukekohe, Levin and Lakeside. Bruce then sold the car, which had won 5 of its 9 starts to Lex and headed back to Europe.

coop agp

1963 AGP at Warwick Farm 10 February 1963; #2 Surtees Lola Mk4a 2nd #5 David McKay Brabham BT4 4th #10 McLaren Cooper T62 3rd, Brabham won the race in his BT4 (Howard)

1963 Internationals and Gold Star…

As stated in the first paragraphs of this article, Bib Stillwell won the second of his four Gold Stars with consistent performances in his Brabham BT4 all year. Lex showed plenty of speed in the T62 winning the Victorian Trophy at Calder and Bathurst 100 but neither were Gold Star rounds that year. Sandown was another T62 win, a hometown one and a championship round in September.

Jack Brabham won the AGP at Warwick Farm, the race held on 10 February whilst the ‘Tasman’ drivers were in the country, a pattern which continued for years, making the race much harder, and prized, to win by locals. Bruce was 3rd in the T62 with John Surtees 2nd in his Lola Mk4A.

McLaren won, as stated in the T62 at Longford and Sandown before selling the car to Lex and John Youl took two great wins in his Geoff Smedley fettled Cooper T55 at Mallala and Warwick Farm, the final 2 races of the Gold Star championship.

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Davison with ‘Bathurst 100’ victory laurels 15 April 1963, the Cooper T62 looks superb, his cars always beautifully presented and prepared by Alan Ashton and the rest of the crew (John Ellacott)

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Lex T62 ahead of Stillwell’s Brabham BT4 during the Victorian Trophy, Calder 11 April 1963 (‘stan patterson’)

Lex had 1963 Gold Star speed if not reliability. In the ’64 Tasman Series, he contested  the Sandown, Warwick Farm and Longford rounds for DNF/8th/6th  in the T62.

Bruce returned to the Antipodes with a 2 car team in 1964, the so-called ‘first McLarens’ were Cooper T70’s designed by Bruce, albeit built in the Cooper ‘shop. Bruce took 3 wins, Brabham 3 as well in his new BT7A but greater consistency gave Bruce the title.

Denny Hulme was Jack’s teammate in the Brabham BT4 Jack used the previous year, the car Davison would later purchase at the series conclusion.Tim Mayer showed great speed and promise in the other T70 but sadly lost his life in an accident at Longford.

davo sandown

oopsie! Lex having a moment in the T62 at Sandowns turn 1 or Shell Corner, in front is Frank Matich  and behind Jack Brabham both in Brabham BT7A Climaxes. AGP which Brabham won, 9 February 1964, the other two both DNF (Howard)

Lex joined the ‘circus’ for his home race, the AGP at Sandown on 9 February but was out with piston failure in the T62 on lap 29, Jack won the race.

Davo was 8th and 2nd local home behind Stillwell at Warwick Farm, Brabham again taking the win.

He didn’t contest the ‘Lakeside 99’ in Queensland but was 6th a little closer to home at Longford in early March, this time Graham Hill won in a Brabham, David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce BT4.

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Longford ‘South Pacific Trophy’ grid 2 March 1964; #2 Brabham BT7A, Hill in the red winning BT4 and Matich in the pale BT7A, then Stillwell on row 2 in the dark BT4 with Lex alongside in the red T62 and the rest (Geoff Smedley)

Lex started the ’64 Gold Star series in the Cooper but soon ‘got with the strength’ and bought one of Ron Tauranac’s ‘Intercontinental’ Brabhams, the marque pretty much had a strangle-hold on the domestic competition from this point for the next few years. From 1963-68 to be precise.

coop and brab

Cooper T62 (right) and new Brabham BT4 with Davison team engineer Alan Ashton’s Ford Mainline ute towcar. ‘The BT4 was JB’s works car then Denny Hulme’s winning the AGP and Tasman Champs then to Davo and later John McCormack’s first ANF1 car. This is the BT4’s first run at Calder by Davison still in factory colors, after this meeting ’twas painted red (Terry Walker/Denis Lupton)

Stillwell again won the Gold Star, his well developed and beautifully prepared Brabham BT4, the national championship now run to the Tasman 2.5 litre formula.

He was more than quick enough to take the title with a win at Lakeside and strong placings elsewhere including an excellent 2nd to Brabham at Sandown in the AGP contested by the internationals on 4 February.

Lex won at Mallala in his new Brabham BT4 with Rocky Tresise finishing third at Warwick Farm in Lex’ Cooper T62, the nearly 1 hour race great preparation for the internationals Tresise was to contest that summer. The quicker 2.5’s of Matich and Stillwell didn’t finish the race but Rocky finished in front of Lex who was 4th. Leo Geoghegan and Greg Cusack were 1st and 2nd in Ford/Lotus 1.5 powered Lotus 32 and Elfin FJ respectively

Rocky Tresise…

Davo raced the Brabham from the 13 September Lakeside round giving Rocky Tresise, an up-and-comer and neighbour some races in the now second-string T62 during 1964.

Rocky’s first exposure to motor racing was as a 15 year old Melbourne Grammar schoolboy attending a Fishermans Bend meeting in 1958 with a mate whose family knew David McKay. The Scuderia Veloce chief was racing his Aston DB3S at the meeting.

Tresise was hooked ‘the noise, the smell and the excitement really got me in and from then on I bought every motor magazine I could get to try to learn more about motor racing’ he said in an AMS article about him in June 1964.

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Rocky Tresise in 1964 aged 21 (AMS)

Rocky worked as a ‘servo’ pump attendant and on a farm in his school holidays to get together sufficient money to buy a car when he turned 18, his MGA contested 52 races at Sandown and Calder in 1962 having started in sprints and hillclimbs.

In 1961 the Davisons moved to Clendon Road, Toorak, one of the best streets in Melbourne, the Tresise family were the neighbours.

Chris Davison, Lex’ son and a racer himself recalls; ‘We grew up at Killara Park, the farm at Lilydale my grandfather established, dad used to commute into Collingwood each day where the shoe factory was. (Paragon Shoes) As we got older and needed to be closer to Burke Hall (Xavier Junior School) in Kew dad bought a house at 81 Clendon Road, Toorak just over the road from St Johns Toorak’.

‘Rocky had obviously heard via the grapevine we were moving in and on the very first night, the first night as we sat down to dinner there was a helluva racket, an engine being blipped and revved next door. Dad said ‘what the hell is that?’ and went next door to investigate, so they literally met the first night we moved into Clendon Road! Rocky’s furious blipping and revving of the engine was to let dad know there was a racer next door’

‘Rocky was a terrific bloke, i was 13/14 and liked him a lot. I often travelled with he and his girlfriend Robyn Atherton between race meetings. Rocky’s dad died some years back and Lex quickly became someone Rocky looked up to. A bit of a father figure and as time went on dad spoke of Rocky as his protege. Dad was famous for his Dame Nellie Melba (Australian opera singer) like retirements and comebacks but he knew his time to retire wasn’t too far off. The one of these i remember most was during one of the Albert Park meetings when we had Stirling Moss staying with us, we spent the whole weekend on a boat in the middle of Albert Park Lake so dad wouldn’t be tempted to get involved!’.

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Tresise scoots thru The Esses in the Triumph 2000 Mk1 he shared with Lex at Bathurst in 1964 (autopics)

Rocky, having gained useful experience, but not winning any races in his stock car, realised he would not be competitive without extensive and expensive modifications to the MGA.

RT had met Jack Hunnam racing a Morris 850 in the same team during the 1962 Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island, Hunnam sold Rocky his Lotus 18 Ford FJ, Hunnam was moving up to an Elfin.

The MG was sold, his road car an A Model Ford, his goal of an open-wheeler the important next step was a choice made with Davo’s advice. Rocky’s first race in the car was at Calder in January 1963, he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory touching wheels with another and having it aviate over the top of his Lotus.

In another race a rear suspension failure resulted in a spin, these mechanical problems were typical of his 1963 but he worked hard at night at Hunnams to better prepare the car whilst Lex assisted with advice on race craft, lines and so on. His first success, a 3rd in the 1963 Australian FJ championship. Tim Schenken later bought the Lotus which was an important part of his ascension.

After that success Rocky managed 4 wins and a 2nd from 5 starts in FJ events. By this stage he was working fulltime as a hardware salesman for the family business. Chris Davison did some research and identified WP Tresise & Co Pty. Ltd. with outlets in Flinders Lane, Melbourne and Lower Malvern Road, East Malvern as the family company.

On April 9 1964 Tresise (real name Rodney) was given the ultimate 21st birthday present when Lex gave him an Ecurie Australie pocket emblem as a welcome to the team, he was to drive the Cooper T62 at the 19 April Victorian Trophy Sandown meeting.

‘Dad wasn’t an easy bloke, he was a stickler and a tough disciplinarian so he would have had Rocky under a tight rein and insisting on him doing as he was asked. The famous occasion was when Rocky ran off at the bottom of Conrod at Bathurst during the 500 and arrived back at the pits…’what about getting the car son!’ was dads response!’

lex

During lunchtime on the Friday before the April Victorian Trophy meeting Lex drove the circuit with Rocky in his DB4 Aston. They stopped at various points to discuss lines, gear change and braking points and then played ‘follow the leader’, Lex in the Brabham, Rocky the Cooper.

Tresise got his times down to mid 14’s, the lap record then was Brabham/McLaren’s 1:8.1. Tresise  ‘I thought I’d be frightened of the car, but I wasn’t. Even when it’s sitting still you know it’s tremendously fast, everything is so functional but the biggest thing about it is it’s fantastic acceleration’ he quipped.

Spencer Martin was having his second start in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham Climax both of the young drivers performed well albeit Rocky fluffed a gear off the grid causing engine failure later in the race.

In the 15 lap feature he was last into Shell Corner, having botched a change but got his times down to the mid 12’s, up to 5th by lap 4 and on lap 10 3rd behind Stillwell and Lex after Frank Matich retired from the lead. On lap 13 the engine popped but 1:12.3 was good after only half an hour behind the wheel of what was one of the fastest single-seaters on the planet at the time. These 2.7 litre FPF Climax engined cars were quicker than the 1.5 litre F1’s of the day.

Lex Davison had this to say of Tresise in his AMS column; ‘…he has had over 60 starts. This is more than Bib Stillwell, Bill Patterson, Doug Whiteford, Stan Jones or myself had in our first 10 years of racing. His driving has improved gradually and after the usual errors of youth, over-confidence and inexperience he has developed a businesslike and earnest approach to driving racing cars’.

During 1964 Davison and Tresise shared a Triumph 2000 in the Bathurst 500 finishing 8th in class D, the race was won by the Bob Jane/Harry Firth Ford Cortina Mk1 GT.

In November 1964 Tresise borrowed Ian Kaufman’s ex-works Frank Matich driven Elfin for the Victorian 1500cc Championship, the final of five rounds of the Lucas/Davison Trophy Series. Rocky was 4th outright and won the 1100cc class in the race taking out the 1100cc championship, the car prepared by Lou Russo ‘in such good shape that some of the 1500cc cars couldn’t get near it’, the Australian Motor Sports race report said.

Hunnam won the series from Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 27, Tresise was 5th in the pitscore and Lex presented Geoghegan and Rocky their trophies. Interestingly AMS records Alan Jones racing Stan’s Cooper T51 Climax in a special handicap race ‘Alan handled the big car well to come 2nd’ to Bib Stillwell’s Cooper Monaco Buick.

Ecurie Australie December 1964

Ecurie Australie in the Warwick Farm paddock during the Hordern Trophy weekend, December 1964. L>R Jon Davo, Lou Russo, Lex, Alan Ashton, Rocky, Peter Davo and Warwick Cumming, Brabham BT4 left and Cooper T62 right (Chris Davison Collection)

As stated earlier Tresise contested the ‘Hordern Trophy’ at Warwick Farm over the weekend of 5/6 December 1964.

Rocky finished third in the Cooper T62, the nearly 1 hour race great preparation for the internationals Tresise was to contest that summer. The quicker 2.5’s of Matich and Stillwell didn’t finish the race but Rocky finished in front of Lex who was 4th. Leo Geoghegan and Greg Cusack were 1st and 2nd in Ford/Lotus 1.5 powered Lotus 32 and Elfin FJ respectively.

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Rocky in the T62 at Warwick Farm during the ‘Hordern Trophy’ 1964 (Bruce Wells)

davo nz

He may not have been the youngest driver in the field but Davo could still make a car dance; here left on the front row in Brabham BT4 alongside Clark’s Lotus 32B and Hills Brabham BT11A, NZGP Pukekohe 1965 (Jack Brabham with Doug Nye)

1965 Tasman Series…

The ’65 Tasman was won convincingly by Jim Clark’s Lotus 32B Climax, who started his amazing 1965 season with a bang. That year he won the Tasman, Indy and his second F1 World Championship.

Lex raced his Brabham BT4 in the season opening NZ GP at Pukekohe starting off the front row and proving their was very much still ‘life in the old dog’ starting alongside Hill and Clark and ahead of all the rest including Brabham, Gardner, McLaren, Phil Hill and others. It was an amazing performance which deserved better than a DNF with overheating on lap 33.

He chose not to race the remaining Kiwi rounds, shipping the car back to Oz, direct to Sydney where Ecurie Australie, Lex in BT4 and Rocky in T62 contested the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ on 14 February.

wf roc

Rocky has the Cooper T62 on tippy-toes as he finesses the big,powerful car around the technically challenging ‘Farm circuit 14 February 1965 (Bruce Wells)

Clark won the race, Rocky was 9th, 3 laps behind Clark with Lex withdrawing on lap 3 with a broken steering wheel, not the first time that had happened to him! Rocky’s was a good performance, he was behind the 1.5’s of Roly Levis and Leo Geoghegan but he still lacked miles in the car.

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Tresise ahead of Bib Stillwell during the Tasman ‘Warwick Farm 100’, Cooper T62 and Brabham BT11A, Bib first resident local home in 4th 14 Feb 1965 (Bruce Wells)

Racing in this company and finishing was a fillip to his confidence. It was only his third meeting in the car. The top 6 were Clark, Brabham, Matich, Stillwell, Hill G and Jim Palmer, drivers of vast experience and calibre…

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Lex in the Brabham BT4 at Warwick Farm during his last race, a broken steering wheel the cause. Thats the Ecurie Australie badge to the right of the mirror. He died at Sandown 6 days later (Bruce Wells)

Sandown Tasman Meeting, 20 February 1965…

The teams then pointed their trucks south down the Hume Highway, from Sydneys western outskirts horse racing venue to Melbournes eastern outskirts horse racing facility, Sandown Park.

During that tragic weekend Lex Davison died when his Brabham left the circuit on a Saturday practice session in an undemanding part of the track, the gentle right hand kink on the back straight, he went over a culvert and hit the horse racing perimeter fence coming to rest some distance further on in the circuit infield.

Chris Davison, a racer himself; ‘Dad had done a few ‘Nellie Melba’s’, retired and come back. He’d had some warnings about his heart from the doctor. What is probable is that something happened to his heart, maybe not an attack as such but he may have momentarily blacked out, the car following him, Glynn Scott, said the car turned inexplicably left and we lost him as a consequence of the collision itself. Days later his badly damaged helmet was delivered home to Clendon Road by a couple of policemen, I’m still not sure where it is now after all these years’.

I don’t propose to go into this further, the salient facts above are sufficient.

The result was that one of Australian motor racings greatest, a titan since the 1940’s was lost.

Rocky’s Cooper was of course, withdrawn from the meeting.

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Chris Davison; ‘I really like this photo with all the Davo clan and a young Rocky. Taken at the Vic Trophy Race at Calder in 1963. That’s me wearing Dad’s cap and Richard with Rocky at the back wheel’ Cooper T62 (autopics)

The impact of Davison’s death cannot be overstated in Melbourne at the time…

Lex was a four time AGP and the inaugural Gold Star title winner, a well known sportsman in a city obsessed with sport. He was a successful, respected businessman, Paragon Shoes, the business his father started was an employer of a large number of people. A good looking athletic bloke, his wife Diana was an attractive woman so they cut a fine figure as a couple in Melbourne at a time it was small. It was big, very sad news for the broader populace let alone the Davison family and extended network.

Enthusiasts of a particular age remember what they were doing when they heard the news on 20 February 1965, it was one of ‘those’ events in ones lifetime.

Aussie GP driver Tim Schenken, a Melburnian provided a personal perspective in a MotorSport interview ‘…in 1964 Rocky Tresise was selling his Lotus 18 because he was joining Lex Davison’s team. I borrowed the money from my dad to get it. Now I was in a proper racing car started attracting a bit of attention at Calder, Winton, Tarrawingee and Sandown…’

‘Then out of the blue Lex Davison called. He was a major figure of course and a real hero of mine. He told me he was going to retire and Rocky Tresise was going to take over his big single-seaters. He’d watched me in the Lotus 18 and wanted to put me in his Elfin. (Lex had paid a deposit on a new Elfin 100 ‘Mono’ 1.5 Ford) It was unbelievable for me’. Barely a week after Lex’ conversation with Tim, Lex died at Sandown and then Rocky the weekend after that at Longford.

‘Because of Lex’s status in Australia, there were hundreds of people at his funeral in Melbourne’s St Patricks Cathedral including Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren. I’d never been to a funeral before and it was dreadful. On the coffin was a chequered flag his helmet and gloves. I didn’t know anyone, I just hung around on the edge of it, very muddled about it all’.

‘It was terrible, Lex and Rocky dying on consecutive weekends. It just stunned everybody. The thing was the weekend after Rocky’s crash I was due to run for the first time under the Ecurie Australie banner at Calder in my Lotus 18. The newspapers got hold of it and were speculating about whether it would be three fatal crashes in 3 weekends. I went to see Diana Davison and she pleaded with me not to race at Calder. I was under a lot of pressure not to drive; I felt I couldn’t talk to my parents about it but all I wanted to do was to go racing. I was a very confused boy’, Tim raced the Lotus at Calder entered in his own name, the transmission broke on the startline.

Matich Rocky Tresize Warwick farm 1964

Frank Matich, left and Rocky at Warwick Farm during the Hordern Trophy meeting in December 1964 (autopics)

Australian Grand Prix, Longford 1 March 1965…

Chris Davison ‘Longford was usually one of ‘my’ races as a kid so i knew the place well. A few days after dads funeral which was huge, it was like a State funeral so many people attended, the city was brought to a standstill, i was still numb just trying as a kid to absorb what had happened. It was like looking outside watching people going about their daily lives and wondering why they didn’t see what you are going through, that things weren’t the same at all’.

‘Rocky and dads team; Alan Ashton, Lou Russo and Warwick Cumming came to the house to see the family and find out if they should race the car the following weekend at Longford. To go or not to go was the call we had to make. Over all these years when this question comes up i ask people what you would do, what would you have decided was the right thing? Most say ‘race on in Lex’s honor’ which is of course what we decided’.

And so the scene was set. Ecurie Australie crossed Bass Straight on the overnight ‘Princess of Tasmania’ voyage. After berthing in Devonport the team took the short drive to Longford, a picturesque village 25km from Launceston, Tasmania’s ‘northern capital’ in the Apple Isles northern midlands.

The race was always held on a long weekend and was well supported by non-motor racing type Taswegians as a major sporting event on their calendar, over 30000 attended the ’65 event.

This 1964 documentary footage captures the essence of the place and its inherent dangers in a modestly powered sedan, let alone a GP car, click here to see and enjoy it;

Overseas visitors to Oz doing a ‘motor racing tour’ should include Longford amongst your ‘must visit’ circuits. Other circuits/ex-circuits whilst itinerary planning are Phillip Island and Albert Park in Victoria, Mount Panorama at Bathurst NSW, and the Lobethal and Nuriootpa road courses in SA’s Barossa Valley. Lobethal is amazing. Checkout the Adelaide GP street circuit whilst you are in town of course.

longford rocky

Middle of the grid before the ‘Examiner Trophy’ preliminary race. Stillwell #6 Brabham BT11A, Matich BT7A and Frank Gardner in the yellow Mildren BT11A with Rocky in the red Cooper T62 in the row behind (Stephen Dalton)

Rocky hadn’t raced on the demanding, dangerous, fast, over 100mph average speed and technical road circuit before. Lex wasn’t there to guide him. Its intriguing to know who looked after him in terms of getting his head around the circuit and his approach to it that weekend with all of the tragedy of the week before at the forefront of his mind. He was a very brave young fella of great character to race.

He practiced and started the preliminary race ‘The Examiner Road Racing Championship’ without incident. Bruce won from Jack and Graham Hill, Rocky was 10th.

He had misgivings about contesting the main race ‘The South Pacific Trophy’ on the Monday though.

‘Racing Car News’ and ‘History of The Australian GP’ journalist Ray Bell recalled on The Nostalgia Forum in 2015 ‘Rocky did have some serious misgivings about driving in the race. He’d been talking to (Tasmanian racer) Lynn Archer earlier in the day. Lynn told him if he didn’t feel like driving he should tell the team and pack the car away, but it was his decision and nobody else could make it for him’.

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The Ecurie Australie Cooper T62 is pushed onto the grid for its last fateful race in Rocky’s hands 1 March 1965 (oldracephotos.com)

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Start of the AGP Longford 1965. Graham Hill BT11A on the right gets away well with Brabham BT11A in the middle and winner McLaren Cooper T79 at left. #8 is Clark’s Lotus 32B, #7 Gardner’s Brabham BT11A, #11 is Phil Hills Cooper T70, #3 Matich BT7A and Stillwell alongside Frank in the dark BT11A, Tresise in #12 T62 is to Bibs left with Bob Jane in the light colored Elfin Mono Ford 1.5 beside and behind Rocky #15 is Jack Hobden’s Cooper T51 and #9 Bill Patterson’s light coloured Cooper T51 (Howard)

In terms of the Grand Prix itself, Bell summarised it thus; ‘ It was a stinking hot day, we saw the greatest race I ever saw. A contest that had four World Champions (Phil and Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, Jim Clark) and a multi-times second placegetter (not to mention Tasman Champion, Bruce McLaren) at each others throats for the whole distance…Phil Hill had his last open-wheeler race, it was more than that to him. It was the best race he ever drove in his opinion and when I reflect on what I saw that day it certainly was a great drive’.

longford map

The road narrows beyond Mountford Corner as the cars pass the end of the pits which is where the accident ocurred. You can see from the start shot above how wide the circuit is in that start/finish/pits area of the track

Rocky‘…had trouble all weekend getting first gear out of Mountford. The first time he got it right (that is selected and used 1st gear from the tight corner) was at the end of that first lap, then he came boiling out of the hairpin passing 1.5 cars one after the other. Tragically that’s why he ran out of room (where the circuit narrows). I’d met Robin d’ Abrera just a few weeks earlier, he was with Peter Bakalor whom I’d known for a year or two. He was really enjoying being with the other photographers and following this important series for Autosport.’

‘So for Anthony Davison, the family representative that day, a young man, (17)  after running across to the crash site and learning of Rocky’s death, he had that to deal with before, an hour or so later, having to present the new trophy named in his fathers honour to Bruce McLaren’ the race winner in his Cooper T79. Jack was next, 3 seconds behind in his BT11A and Phil Hill a further second back in Bruce’ Cooper T70.

longford bruce

Bruce McLaren won the tragic ’65 AGP in a great drive, Cooper T79 Climax. Two motorcyclists also perished at Longford that weekend, an incredibly black one for the sport (Howard)

The Davison family ordeal was far from over though, Bell; ‘The night of the race Anthony, Peter and Jon (Davison) flew back to Essendon Airport, Melbourne and went straight to the Tresise home. There Rocky’s older brother and sister were waiting to hear what happened to their brother. The older brother asked Jon (a decade later a leading F5000 racer) ‘He kept his foot down when he should have backed off’ said Jon. It was that simple. The road has narrowed as he ranged alongside Glynn Scott (Lotus 27 Ford 1.5), with two wheels in the dirt the car lost traction, skewed sideways and started the crazy flight that took the lives of Rocky and Robin d’Abrera’.

Chris Davison; ‘I didnt go to Tasmania that year in all the circumstances of course but i can still recall arriving home from rowing practice on the Monday evening (of the South Pacific Trophy in which Tresise died) and a friend of the family giving me the news about Rocky’s accident. I was devastated, the team, dad, Rocky dead. It was just too much for a kid to absorb, tragic on so many levels. Rocky had two other brothers, one was an army officer, David, Ian the other brother was at the races decades later when David Purley raced here in the LEC sponsored Lola T330 F5000, he had some sort of connection with that company. Rocky was special, he was kind and generous to me, gave me space that was sometimes hard to get with my older brothers dominating the space’.

As to the future of the Tresise family little is known, Chris; ‘Rocky’s mother was Val Tresise, she married some years after Rocky was killed…a man from Western Victoria, or Penola in South Australia, i think his name was Arch de Garris. Rocky’s fiancé was Robyn Atherton and sadly I have no idea what happened to Robyn after Rocky was killed. I guess I was too young to really understand what was happening in those difficult years after both Lex and Rocky were killed, and by the time I was 17, I just wanted to get on with my own life, so I went bush as a jackaroo at Hay and lost contact with many people. The person who was all knowledgeable on these matters was my mother and sadly she has taken all this knowledge with her’.

Anything i say at this point would be trite or superfluous. I am very thankful to Chris for discussing and sharing his recollections of this quite extraordinary fortnight in the lives of the Davison and  Tresise families.

The remains of the Ecurie Australie Brabham and Cooper were advertised and bought by Victorian racer Wally Mitchell who used some of the components to build the ‘RM1 Climax’ sportscar. Mitchell crashed the car at Symmons Plains on 12 March 1967 suffering burns which claimed him, he died on 18 April, to make the story even more macabre.

Prior to his demise historian Stephen Dalton advises his uncle, John Dalton had done a deal with Mitchell to acquire the T62 bits, these components passed to John after delicate discussions with his distraught widow.

Dalton; ‘I remember it under my uncles house at Olinda during the September school holidays of 1978, I was earning some money tidying things up to put more MG stuff under there! I was 13 and didn’t know the sad history of the car at the time’.

‘The car remained a crumpled wreck until the mid to late eighties when a new chassis was built by Charlie Singleton, the car was displayed in chassis form at one of Paul Sabine’s Classic Car Shows in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Things went pear shaped financially and John sold it in the early 1990’s. By the time it was displayed Roger James had ownership and perhaps Richard Bendell was involved. I think Gary Dubois built the body for it’.

The car was sold to the ‘States in the early 1990’s and has been sold a couple of times since when I saw it at Sandown Historics in 2014, but I’m not sure who owns it’, but it seems the car is now owned by an American enthusiast.

bruce

Bruce McLaren winning the 1962 AGP at Caversham in the Cooper T62 Climax (oldracephotos.com)

The Cursed Car?…

Its a fact that a whole swag of people closely associated with the Cooper T62 died before their time, not just the obvious four; McLaren, Davison, Tresise and Wally Mitchell. Later owners or part owners John Dalton and Roger James died early, so too Paul Higgins a respected Melbourne journalist ‘attached’ to the Davison team who was murdered along with his wife in gruesome circumstances twenty years ago.

The above are facts not the stuff of a fictional thriller. For those of us a little superstitious the reality is that some cars shouldn’t be rebuilt, but buried. Perhaps this is one such car…

Etcetera…

coop fac

Cooper T62 upon completion at an early Goodwood test in late 1962 prior to shipment to Fremantle, WA (Mike Lawrence)

coop mallala

Alan Ashton aboard Lex’ T62 at Mallala, Gold Star round 14 October 1963. Behind is Stillwell’s Cooper Monaco and Pat Hawthorn’s Aston Martin DBR4, blue #16 is Mel McEwin’s Elfin FJ Ford. John Youl won this race in a Cooper T55 (Kevin Drage)

cav ad

Credits and Bibliography…

Chris Davison who was very generous with his time and insights into a very difficult part of his life as a young teenager

‘History of The AGP’ by Graham Howard and Ors in particular the 1962 and 1965 chapters written by Howard and Des White

‘The Nostalgia Forum’ threads in relation to Lex and Rocky in particular the contributions/insights of Ray Bell and Stephen Dalton

‘Australian Motor Sports’ June 1964 issue, the Melbourne ‘Age’ newspaper 20 February 1965

‘MotorSport’ interview with Tim Schenken

Stephen Dalton Collection, Chris Davison Collection John Ellacott, Terry Walker, oldracephotos.com, Milton McCutcheon, Peter Longley, Ellis French, Geoff Smedley, Ron Lambert Collection, Denis Lupton, Geoff Smedley, autopics.com.au, Murray Lord

Tailpiece: Davo in the best of company: Graham Hill’s Brabham BT4, Davison’s Cooper T62 and the white nose of Jim Palmer’s Cooper T53 Climax, Longford 1964

coop lex

(Ron Lambert Collection)

jack monaco

Jack Brabham starts the plunge from the Casino Square to Mirabeau in his factory Lotus 25 Climax ‘R3’ during the 1963 Monaco Grand Prix…

Brabham was joined at ‘Brabham Racing Organisation’ by Dan Gurney in 1963, the lanky Californian left Porsche at the end of their F1 program. In 1962 BRO ran a car for Jack only in the teams first F1 season.

For 1963 both were driving the latest Brabham BT7’s powered by short stroke, fuel injected Coventry Climax V8’s. In first Monaco practice Jack’s Climax munched a valve, Jack flew the engine back to the UK in his Cessna to have it rebuilt it in time for Sundays race. The F1 racer of 1963 was a DIY kinda guy, if his name was Brabham anyway!

gurney

Dan Gurney’s brand new Brabham BT7 Climax, Monaco 1963, he was mighty fast if lacking in reliability and luck in that car that year! Famously the driver Clark came to respect the most. (unattributed)

In final practice Gurney lost the head off a valve, as had Trintignants Lotus 24, Roy Billington gave Jack the sad news when The Guvnor returned with his rebuilt FWMV from Coventry.

Brabham decided to start Gurney and withdraw from the race. The following morning having heard of Jack’s predicament Colin Chapman sportingly offered Jack a drive in the Team Lotus spare, ‘R3’ fitted with last years Weber carb Coventry Climax V8. Clark did a 1:35:2 in this car ‘just for fun’ only 9/10 of a second slower than his pole time in his race chassis towards the end of qualifying.

Chapman knew Jack was well familiar with the handling characteristics of the car as Jack acquired a Lotus 24 in early 1962, the spaceframe variant of the epochal, monocoque 25 whilst Ron Tauranac completed the build of Jacks 1962 and first GP contender, the Brabham BT3.

And so it was that Jack had the opportunity to drive a car he had wondered a lot about since driving his own Lotus 24 Climax for much of 1962. ‘That was a great gesture by Colin and i was delighted not to miss the race, but i can’t say i liked his car. If i thought my tube chassis Lotus 24 had been cramped, this Lotus 25 redefined the term. Its German ZF gearbox had a weird ‘upside down’ change pattern, and whilst i thought Dans feet were big, Jimmy’s must have been microscopic! The 25 seemed to have terrific traction and cornered well, but the gearbox got stuck in 5th twice and i had to stop to have it fixed and finished way back’ said Jack in Doug Nye’s biography of him. Click here for an article on this race and the Lotus 25;

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/03/lotus-25-jim-clark-monaco-1963/

monaco 1963

’63 Monaco GP lap 1, the field led by Hill’s BRM P57 1st and Clark’s Lotus 25 cl 8th exiting the Station Hairpin. Next is Ginthers BRM P57 2nd, Surtees’ Ferrari T56 4th, #7 is a flash of McLaren’s Cooper T66 Climax 3rd, #4 Gurney’s Brabham BT7 Climax DNF ‘box and the rest. (unattributed)

MRD, BRO and the 1962 Season…

Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac formed ‘MRD’ Motor Racing Developments Ltd to build racing cars in 1961, their first car, the FJ MRD was raced by Aussie Gavin Youl that year.

The main games were both production racing cars and F1, ‘Motor Racing Developments’ jointly owned by Brabham and Tauranac built the cars and ‘Brabham Racing Organisation’ owned by Jack (at that stage) ran the F1 program; prepared and entered the cars and contracted commercial agreements to fund the program.

sandown

Brabham being pushed to the Sandown grid, March 1962. Brabham sold this Cooper T55 to John Youl who raced it very successfully over the next couple of years the car continually developed by engineer Geoff Smedley including fitment of a twin-plug 2.5 FPF built by Smedley, an interesting story in itself. (autopics.com.au)

Jack raced in the International Series of races in the Australasian summer in early 1962 in a Cooper T55 under his own ‘Ecurie Vitesse’ banner.

The car was his factory Cooper 1961 F1 chassis ‘F1-10-61’ the little 1.5 litre FPF used in GP events replaced by its big FPF brother, an ‘Indy’ 2.7 for the Antipodean F Libre races. He won at Levin in NZ and Lakeside Queensland, i reckon his last Cooper win was his victory in the ‘Sandown Park International’ on 12 March 1962 from Surtees and McLaren both Cooper T53 mounted.

jack caversham

Jack Brabham in his F1 BT3 derived BT4 ‘Intercontinental’ Formula Brabham powered by a Coventry Climax 2.7 litre FPF ‘Indy’ engine. BT4 used smaller tanks than BT3 and 15 inch wheels all round. Australian national F1 was F Libre at this time. AGP, Caversham, WA, November 1962. Bruce Mclaren won the race in a Cooper T62 Climax, Jack collided with another competitor. (Milton McCutcheon)

By the end of the year he was racing his own BT4, 2.7 FPF powered in the Australian Grand Prix at Caversham WA in November.

But first there was a season of Grand Prix racing to contest, BT3 wouldn’t be ready until mid year as the customer FJ program had priority; MRD built 11 BT2 FJ’s, BT3 and 3 BT4’s in 1962, not bad for a new concern!

‘Brabham Racing Organisation’ needed a car for Jack to race in both championship and non championship 1962 events in the interim.

Colin Chapman was more than happy to oblige, selling Jack Lotus 21 chassis ‘936’ and 24 ‘947’ to enable the Aussie to chase the prizemoney and championship points on offer.

The 21 was the factory 1961 F1 design, a beautiful chassis only let down by the lack of a suitable, modern engine, the old 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF even in updated Mk2 form was too long in the tooth to keep up with the Ferrari Dino V6’s in 1961. Mind you, the brilliance of Moss in Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 took two wins at Monaco and the Nurburgring and Innes Ireland one in his factory 21 at the season ending Watkins Glen round.

Chapman updated the Lotus 21 design into the 24 for 1962, adapting the chassis to take the new 1.5 litre V8 Coventry Climax FWMV engine and the suspension of his ‘experimental’ masterstroke, the Lotus 25, the first modern, monocoque single seater from which all such racing cars right through to the present owe their parental lineage.

24 chassis

Lotus 24 cutaway drawing. Multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, front suspension by top rocker and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units. Rear suspension by reversed lower wishbone, single top link and 2 radius rods for lateral location, coil spring/damper units. Girling disc brakes. Wheelbase 91 inches, front track 51 1/2 and rear 51 3/4 inches. Weight 1036 lb dry. Fuel tank capacity 27 gallons. Engines Coventry Climax V8 or BRM V8, gear boxes 5 speed ZF or 5/6 speed Colotti Francis. A good Coventry Climax FWMV V8 developed around 181bhp@8200rpm in 1962. (unattributed)

Mind you, the customers of the 24 thought they were buying Cols latest design…

As is well known, the conceptual inspiration for the Lotus 25 was Chapman’s Elan road car and it’s backbone chassis; why not widen the ‘backbone’ to accommodate the driver, pop the fuel into the structure so created either side of him and get enhanced torsional rigidity for less weight, the primary objectives of the exercise?

Chapman sketched his ideas, the 25 was drawn by draftsman Alan Styman, the prototype ‘R1’ put together in the early months of 1962 in a partitioned part of Team Lotus workshop at Cheshunt by mechanics Dick Scammell and Ted Woodley working with Mike Costin, Lotus Engineering Director (and shortly the ‘Cos’ of Cosworth) and Chapman himself . Doug Nye; ‘Chapman suspected the concept might not work out, but would in fact revolutionise racing car design’

The 1961 Lotus 21 chassis frames torsional stiffness was only 700lb/ft per degree of deflection, the 24 frame was 10 pounds lighter bare weight (before brackets and aluminium fuel tanks) and had similar rigidity to the 21. The 25 weighed in at 65 pounds bare, ‘yet offered 1000 lb/ft per degree rigidity rising to what was at that time a staggering 2400 lb/ft per degree when the new Coventry Climax V8 was installed in its rear bay’ said Nye.

clrak tub

Clark all snuggled into his brand new Lotus 25 ‘R1’, Belgian GP 1962. Monocoque structure by rivetted D Shaped light alloy longerons with fabricated steel bulkheads to support suspension, steering and engine. Suspension, wheelbase and track as per Lotus 24. Engine Coventry Climax FWMV V8 and ZF 5 speed ‘box. Fuel capacity 32 gallons. Weight 990lb dry. (Yves Debraine)

Chapman justified the new type 24 customer design as against offering them the 25 saying ‘just in case the monocoque idea didn’t work out’. Many customers had ordered 24’s unsuspecting the works was going to be running something quite different and superior. From Chapman’s perspective it was simple; he could build and sell plenty of 24’s then, off the back of the speed of the 21 in 1961, the 25 was unproven and it would take months to fulfil the orders even if he could talk his customers into embracing what was a new concept. Better to ‘take the bird in hand’, Lotus Components could build the 24’s quickly allowing Chapman to focus on the new 25 and deal with the flack later!

Lotus 24 customers in 1962 included UDT Laystall 4 chassis, Rob Walker 2 chassis, Wolfgang Seidel, Team Lotus themselves and Brabham.

maurice

Maurice Trintignant in one of Rob Walkers Lotus 24 during the 1962 French GP. He was 7th and highest placed Lotus in the race won by Dan Gurney’s Porsche 804. (unattributed)

It’s interesting to reflect on Jack’s thoughts when the 25 was announced but he probably had more than a sneaking admiration for Chapmans ‘guile’, Jack and Chapman both ‘wheeler-dealers’ par excellence, one needed to get up pretty early in the day to get the better of them; if anyone ever did!

In any event, Jack was a racer, he needed to work with what he had knowing the BT3 was coming along later in the season and in any event the 25 might not work.

Jack’s 21 ‘936’ was first tested at Goodwood ‘I found one needed a shoehorn to fit into it-Colin Chapman seemed to build cars for midgets. But its ride was softer than any Cooper, its steering lighter and its handling good’ said Jack.

Only a few days later the car was destroyed in a workshop fire at the Repco facility in Surbiton where Tim Wall was preparing the car. Whilst fitting the battery a spanner shorted against one of the fuel tanks, making a small hole which then gushed burning fuel! Brabham and Wall ran out of fire extinguishers trying to control the fire and the fire brigade were unable to save the uninsured 21.

Chapman lent Jack the parts to build up another car which was ‘flung together’ in time for the Pau GP on 23 April. Jack qualified well in 4th but the car ran its bearings on lap 4.

The team rushed to make the ‘Aintree 200’, the following weekend but they missed practice, the car stripped its gears in the race which was won by Clark’s Lotus 24. Chapman and Clark let Jack drive the 24 for the first time in practice ‘Again i found it as tight as a sardine can’ quipped Brabham. Tight but fast!

By early May Jack’s 24 was ready, Roy Billington and Jacks team worked feverishly on the car to finish it at Lotus in Cheshunt in time for the ‘BRDC International Trophy’ at Silverstone on May 12. He was 13th on the grid and  finished 6th, the race won by Hill’s BRM P578. It was a good result, final chassis set-up was done by guesswork/the eye and the tacho drive failed.

dutch gp 1962

Brabham raced his Lotus 24 competitively in Holland before running into the spinning Rodriguez Ferrari 156. Q4, DNF on lap 4 upon Clark’s debut of the Lotus 25. (unattributed)

On 20 May the Lotus 25 made its race debut in Jim Clark’s hands at Zandvoort, Holland. The racing world drooled over ‘R1’ which Clark qualified 2nd and lead the race until clutch problems intervened.

clark zandvoort 25

Jim Clark debuts one of the most influential GP cars of all time; Lotus 25 Climax chassis ‘R1’ Zandvoort 1962. (unattributed)

24’s were entered for Trevor Taylor, Innes Ireland and Jack, the competitiveness of the chassis shown by Taylor’s 2nd place, Jack qualified very well 4th, but was punted out of the race by Ricardo Rodriguez’ Ferrari 156. The Mexican spun across his path as Jack lined him up for a fast downhill pass. The race was won by Hills BRM P57.

jack monaco

Jack blasts up Beau Rivage, Ste Devote in the background, Monaco 1962. Behind his Lotus 24 is Clark’s Lotus 25. Jim Q1 DNF with clutch dramas, Jack classified 8th. In the distance is one of the Ferrari 156’s. (unattributed)

At Monte Carlo Jack had ‘947’ flying, he qualified 6th and raced in 3rd until until a prang forced his withdrawal. He was classified 8th and quipped ‘I had a wishbone break-after i hit the barricade’ avoiding Phil Hill’s spun Ferrari 156 in Casino Square. Bruce McLaren won in a Cooper T60 Climax.

brabham 24 monaco

Brabham Lotus 24 Climax ‘947’ Monaco 1962. (unattributed)

Back in the UK a week later for the ‘International 200 Guineas’ at Mallory Park on June 11 he finished 2nd from 3rd on the grid and continued to get good experience of the new Climax V8 in the 24. Surtees was victorious in his Lola Mk4 Climax.

 

2000

Brabham, Lotus 24, ‘2000 Guineas’ Mallory Park. June 1962. (unattributed)

A week later at Spa on 17 June he qualified 15th having arrived late and had little practice but raced well finishing 6th. Clark took his and the 25’s first championship win.

There the handling of the Lotus ‘was simply evil-demanding the full road width at 150mph…the boys straightened out the bent chassis (damaged in the Monaco prang) in time for Reims’.

innes

Innes Ireland’s BRP/UDT Laystall Lotus 24 Climax being loaded at the 1962 French GP at Rouen. Innes Q8 DNF puncture on lap 1. Fine carefully faired rump on display, as is the rear suspension, typical layout of the day described in the text earlier. (unattributed)

At Reims for the non-championship GP he was 4th from grid 5 on 1 July, McLaren again winning in a T60 Cooper. Jack enjoyed a long high speed slip-streaming dice with Bruce and Graham Hill’s BRM and in the process forgot to switch to the reserve fuel tank late in the race.

Then a week later Jack contested the French Grand Prix at Rouen-Les Essarts qualifying 4th but failed to finish with a suspension breakage, a rear shocker mount had broken. Dan Gurney took a popular win in the Porsche 804 from Tony Maggs Cooper T60, a wonderful result for the young South African. Hill and Clark both had troubles.

jack aintree

Brabham firing up the Coventry Climax FMWV 1.5 litre V8 engine of his Brabham Racing Organisation Lotus 24 under the watchful eye of chief mechanic Roy Billington, Aintree, British GP paddock 1962. This shot shows the svelte lines of the car to good effect. (unattributed)

Back home for the British GP, that year held at Liverpool’s Aintree on 21 July he qualified 9th and raced to 5th. The new BT3 was nearly completed only difficulties finishing the complex ‘crossover’ exhaust system required by the early series Climax engines prevented its debut.

aintree 2

Brabham, Aintree British GP 1962. Lotus 24 Climax. (unattributed)

The BT3 ‘F1-1-62’ was completed the week after Aintree and run briefly at Goodwood before Coventry Climax dramas intervened…

The engine out of the 24 was slotted in and then tested at Brands ‘here at last was a modern F1 car into which i actually fitted. Its cockpit wasn’t too hot and most critically it handled beautifully. Ron really knew his stuff’ said Jack.

brands

Brands BT3 test in late July at Brands Hatch. Tauranac at left, Harry Speirs of Climax fettling the engine and Jack. (Jack Brabham Story)

The BT3 was taken straight to the Nurburgring for its GP debut.

jack umbrella

Brabham awaits the start of the very sodden German GP, the Nurburgring awash. He looks calm but it had been a fraught practice with the new car, the Climax V8 ran a bearing. (unattributed)

On the 5th of August BT3 finally made its GP debut at the Nurburgring, Jack was taking the new car gently but it still ran the bearings in his Climax engine.

The team built an engine from the bottom end of a Team Lotus unit and top end of the one in BT3, which was rough but allowed him to qualify. Jack’s spare was flown in that night to Cologne and fitted in the morning.

He qualified 24th but failed to finish with a throttle linkage which had been lashed up with extra springs to ensure it would close safely, throttle balance in the corners a real challenge, so he retired. This thrilling race in awful wet conditions, watched by over 350000 fans was won by Graham Hill, a supreme drive in his BRM P57 by 2.5 seconds from Surtees’ Lola Mk4 Climax and Gurney’s Porsche 804.

bt3 cutaway

Brabham BT3 cutaway. Muti-tubular spaceframe chassis. Front suspension by unequal length upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/Armstrong damper units. Rear by reversed top wishbones, wide based lower wishbones coil spring/Armstrong damper units. Girling disc brakes. Fuel capacity 26 gallons. Wheelbase, as for the Lotus 24 and 25 was 91 inches. Front track 52 and rear track 50 1/2 inches. Weight 1045 lb dry. Engine Coventry Climax FWMV V8 circa 180bhp@8600rpm, 6 speed Colotti-Francis gearbox. (unattributed)

brabham bt3 germany

Brabham’s first GP car, the BT3 Climax makes its debut at the Nurburgring 1963. (unattributed)

Whilst testing of BT3 continued Jack raced the Lotus 24 ‘947’ one last time in the 3rd Danish GP at Roskildering on 25 August winning all 3 heats in a real carve-up with Masten Gregory in a similar Lotus 24, and the event as a consequence.

jack portrait

Nice portrait of Brabham in his Lotus 24 Climax in the Aintree paddock 1962. Cars behind are the Lola Mk4 Climaxes of John Surtees and Roy Salvadori. (unattributed)

Back in the UK Jack contested the ‘9th Gold Cup’ at Oulton Park on 1 September, Clark won the race in his Lotus 25, he seemed to have more luck in the non-championship than title rounds in 1962, Jack was 3rd in BT3 having qualified 5th. The race was held over a full GP distance so provided valuable mileage for the new car.

A critical learning was that the brake pads had worn after only 40 laps of a total of 73, the discs were increased in size from 9 to 10.5 inches and spring rates stiffened, the body was also ‘tidied up’ post Oulton.

gold cup

Brabhams BT3, Oulton Park ‘Gold Cup’ September 1962. (unattributed)

Jack elected to miss the Italian Grand Prix on September 16 in order to better prepare for the ‘away races’ at the end of the season; the non-championship Mexican GP and final championship rounds at Watkins Glen and Kyalami. Graham Hill won at Monza from teammate Richie Ginthers BRM P57, Clark started from pole but this time gearbox dramas caused a lap 12 DNF.

jack US

Brabham BT3, US GP. (George Phillips)

The US Grand Prix was held at Watkins Glen on October 7, Clark won the race from Hill and in so doing kept his championship hopes alive, the title was decided in the final round in South Africa.

Jack had a competitive run finishing 4th, having a big dice with Gurney and McLaren, despite his Colotti box jumping out of gear and qualifying 5th, the ‘Automobile Year’ report stating Jack ‘created a sensation in qualifying’ with what was still a new car.

The non-championship Mexican Grand Prix was contested by many of the GP teams on 4 November as it was close to the US Grand Prix in both time and proximity. The event was a tragic one; Ferrari had not entered but local star Ricardo Rodriguez, a Ferrari driver that year was keen to strut his stuff in front of his home crowd at the Magdalena Mixhuca circuit at Mexico City.

He approached Rob Walker who entered the 20 year old in his Lotus 24 Climax.

Jack’s Lotus 24 ‘947’ was lent to John Surtees for this race and was a ‘bit player’ in the sequence of events which lead to Ricardos death.

Rodriguez had fastest time, which Surtees then pipped in ‘947’. Rodriguez kissed his father on the hand from the cockpit of the Lotus and went out to attempt to retake pole to keep the faith with the thousands of his countrymen who had turned up to see him.

ricardo

Poignant and sad shot. Ricardo Rodriguez kisses his fathers hand, youngest brother Alejandro looks on and drives the Rob Walker owned Lotus 24 Climax to his death. Mexico 1962. (unattributed)

The poor driver had a massive, fatal accident on the dauntingly fast Peraltada corner.

Some reports say their was a right rear suspension failure on the Lotus, others that he was simply going too fast in a car he wasn’t familiar with. Innes Ireland’s account in his autobiography of the differences in handling of the Lotus 24 and Ferrari 156, he raced both in 1962, is that they were considerably different. Its possible given his limited time in the Lotus that Rodriguez made an error as a result of the differences in handling characteristics of the different chassis’. Whatever the case the young driver was dead.

Clark and Trevor Taylor shared the winning Lotus 25 from Jack’s BT3 and Ireland’s Lotus 24.

mexico

Jacks BT3 2nd leads good mate Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T60 Climax DNF engine in the 1962 Mexican GP. 4 November. (Dave Friedman Collection)

John Surtees, in Jack’s Lotus 24 qualified 4th in front of Jack in 7th but had ignition failure in the race and failed to complete a lap. ‘947 was then sold to Syd van der Vyver in South Africa. It was subsequently destroyed in a workshop fire there, it and Jack’s Lotus 21 ‘936’ have been ‘reconstructed/rebuilt/rebirthed’ and run in Historic Events to this day.

At Kyalami on December 29 Jack had another competitive points winning run again finishing 4th, despite a gearbox jumping out of 3rd and 4th gears. Jack experimented with the first Hewland gearbox in BT7 in 1963 and in so doing ended the gearbox unreliability for the non-BRM British teams of the era, Mike Hewland’s transmissions amazingly robust.

All of the South African GP drama was centred on the battle for the championship between rivals and friends, Clark and Hill.

Clark led from pole and had the race ‘in the bag’ but as was so often the case in 1962, whilst the Lotus 25 was easily the fastest car it was not the most reliable. Races were lost due to engine, gearbox, clutch and other component failures, and so it was that Jim retired on lap 61 of the 82 lap event with an engine losing oil, a liquid which cannot be replenished during a race.

Hill took a popular race and drivers championship win, and BRM’s only one as a manufacturer.

solitude

Brabham races to victory in BT3, the first GP win for Brabham as a marque, at Solitude, Stuttgart 28 July 1963.  (unattributed)

BT3 raced on into 1963 and GP Success…

Ron Tauranac developed a new car for 1963, the BT7 which was a lighter and cleaned-up BT3, Gurneys car 2 inches longer in the wheelbase than Jack’s in an effort to keep the lanky Californian comfier than Jack had been in Chapman’s Lotus 24!

Jacks BT7 was not ready until later in the season, he ran BT3 at Monaco before the Climax engine failure, racing the Team Lotus 25 and at Spa before using BT7 in the championship events from the Dutch GP in June.

Fittingly BT3 won Brabham’s first GP as a manufacturer when Jack won the Solitude GP, near Stuttgart, Germany on 28 July 1963 from Peter Arundell’s works Lotus 25 and Innes Ireland’s BRP BRM. The circuit was majestic, 7.1 miles long with many fast corners through pine forests with average speeds of over 105 mph, it was a fitting place to take such a win.

solitude turner

Solitude GP 1963. Brabham’s #1 BT3 1st from #30 Jo Bonnier’s Cooper T60 Climax 9th, #16 Trevor Taylor’s Lotus 25 Climax ‘R3’ DNF, the car Jack drove at Monaco that May, the red nosed Lola T4A Climax of Chris Amon DNF #2 Innes Ireland BRP BRM 3rd, #17 Peter Arundell’s Lotus 25 Climax and the red Lotus 24 BRM of Jo Siffert DNF. (Michael Turner)

solitude article

‘Autosport’ 1963 Solitude GP report

Solitude was truly an amazing feat for a newish marque. Jack famously became the first man to win a championship GP in  a car of his own name and manufacture at the French GP in 1966, when BT19 Repco took the chequered flag.

BT3 was also used by Jack to win the Austrian GP at Zeltweg on 1 September from Tony Settember’s Scirocco BRM and Carel de Beaufort’s Porsche. Raced by Denny Hulme to 3rd in the Kanonloppet at Karlskoga, Sweden behind Clark and Taylor’s Lotus 25’s on 1 August, BT3 was retained as BRO spare car for the balance of 1963.

Sold to Ian Raby for the 1964 season and a life in British Hillclimbing after that before being restored by Tom Wheatcroft in 1971 and an exhibit of his fantastic Donington Museum. In more recent times BT3 has been sold and is ‘historic raced’ which seems fitting for a car so significant in laying the foundations of success for Tauranac and Brabham all those years ago…

goodwood

BT3 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2012. (oldracingcars.com)

Team Lotus sorted the 25 over the ’62/3 winter into a more consistent, reliable package, Doug Nye credits Len Terry for his role in finessing and fettling the car and Coventry Climax also developed the engines further.

Not only was the Lotus 25 and its successor 33 the best package of the 1.5 Litre F1 but one of the ten most important GP designs ever…no doubt Ron Tauranac had a good, long, hard look at Jacks sister Lotus 24 as he finalised the design elements of BT3 in the early months of ’62.

ickx

Victorious spaceframe amongst the monocoques; #6 Jacky Ickx in his winning Brabham BT26A Ford, #7 Stewart Matra MS80 2nd, Rindt Lotus 49B DNF and Hulme McLaren M7C DNF, all Ford powered. German GP 1969. Tauranac evolved his Repco powered 1968 BT26 into the Cosworth powered BT26A for ’69, Ickx also won at Mosport, Canada. Ron was using aluminium to provide some additional structural stiffness to his multi-tubulat masterpieces by then. (unattributed)

One of the bits of history which amuses me, small things amuse small minds, granted! is that despite the undoubted technical advantages of a monocoque chassis over a good-ole spaceframe, Tauranac’s Brabhams won GP’s with spaceframes right to the end of the sixties; his 1968 design BT26, won 2 Grands Prix for Jacky Ickx in 1969, let alone the titles Ron and Jack took in ’66 and ’67! So theory and practice sometimes diverge.

Tauranac’s first monocoque GP Brabham, the 1970 BT33, a change forced by regulations demanding ‘bag’ fuel tanks (his 1968 BT25 Indycar was his first monocoque) was a ripper car, one of the seasons best, it should have won at least 3 GP’s (South Africa, Monaco and British) instead of the one it did and Jack with luck, could have taken a title in his final, 1970 F1 year.

clermont

Brabhams BT33 3rd ahead of Hulme’s McLaren M14D 4th and Peterson’s March 701DNF a Ferrari 312B in the distance. Rindt’s Lotus 72 Ford won. French GP, Clermont Ferrand 1970. BT33 took a win for Jack in South Africa in 1970, Tauranac’s first GP monocoque. (unattributed)

Back to the period at hand; 1962’s BT3 evolved into 1963’s BT7, a very competitive package in the hands of both Jack and particularly Dan Gurney who became the driver the era’s undoubted star, Jim Clark feared the most.

There would be Brabham wins in the 1963-65 period but not as many as there should have been with a series of problems/preparation errors and bad luck of the type Team Lotus experienced in 1962, a story for another time…

Etectera…

Lotus 24.

24 outline

Lotus 24 outline. (unattributed)

dutch

Brabham, Lotus 24 Climax, Dutch GP 1962. (unattributed)

monaco 62

Jack Brabham Lotus 24 Climax Monaco 1962 (John Hendy)

Brabham BT3.

bt3 outline

Brabham BT3 outline. (unattributed)

The photos below by George Phillips were taken of BT3 on 29 July 1962 at MRD’s New Haw Lock factory beside the River Wey navigation canal adjacent to the old Brooklands circuit.

brabham 1

Profile of BT3 (George Phillips)

brabham 2

Cockpit shot of BT3 also shows the spaceframe chassis and unusual front suspension, beefy upper wishbone and single lower link (George Phillips)

brabham 3

BT3 Rear wishbone upper and lower suspension, Weber carbed Coventry Climax FWMV engine in 1962, Colotti-Francis 6 speed ‘box. (George Phillips)

brabham 4

BT3 CC FWMV engine layout, spaceframe chassis, vestigial roll bar!, 2 radius rods. (George Phillips)

brabham 5

BT3 butt shot. Nicely faired engine, inverted upper wishbones. (George Phillips)

brabham 6

BT3 front detail. Spaceframe of 18 guage steel construction, Smiths instruments, LH change for Colotti ‘box, front suspension detail including odd top wishbone. (George Phillips)

BT7 1963 Future.

jack nurburgring

Brabham’s own spaceframe 1963 vintage. Jack in the Nurburgring paddock in a BT7 Climax, an evolution of BT3, 1963. (unattributed)

Bibliography…

Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car 1965-85’, ‘Automobile Year’ # 10 and 11, Doug Nye ‘The Jack Brabham Story’, silhouet.com, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

The Cahier Archive, Dave Friedman Collection, Milton McCutcheon, Yves Debraine, John Hendy, George Phillips, autopics.com.au

Tailpiece: Brabham debuts BT3 Nurburgring 1962…

What a sense of achievement and anticipation Brabham must have felt as he set off on his first laps of The ‘Ring in BT3, in his wildest dreams i doubt he would have imagined the success of the following years?!

jack ring

(The Jack Brabham Story)

Finito…

martin 250 lm wf 1965

(John Ellacott)

Spencer Martin tips his Ferrari 250LM into the fast ‘Homestead Corner’ at Warwick Farm before unleashing the cars 3.3 litre V12 on the long Hume Straight, what a sound it must have made! August 1965…

Spencer Martin was one of Australia’s champion drivers of the 1960’s winning the Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship in 1966 and 1967 in a Brabham BT11A Climax.

His career could be summarised thus; he saw, he came, he conquered from 1960-1966, retired to marry and have a family, focus on business and then returned many years later…

martin portrait

Spencer Martin in his racing heyday, Lakeside 1965. (Bruce Wells)

I don’t cover Spencer’s career in detail but rather introduce an interesting article i discovered in a rally guide for an event held in memory of David McKay. Martin outlines his experiences as a driver/mechanic with McKay and Scuderia Veloce, if not the first, then certainly one of the first of Australia’s professional racing teams formed in 1959…

A brief background of McKay and SV is contained in these articles i posted a while back. One is predominantly about McKay’s Ferrari 250LM, one of the most evocative cars ever raced in Australia, https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/ , the other about his Ferrari P4/Can Am 350, an equally stunning car https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/  .

Martin commenced racing at Gnoo Blas, Orange NSW in 1960 in a Nota, he built from a kit himself, then progressed through the Prad Holden, a very successful sportscar and into ‘Appendix J’ sedans. He beat some of the heroes of the day in his ’48-215′ or FX Holden and was  approached by McKay to join SV. Martin picks up the story…

martin 48 215

Spencer in the ‘Boomerang Service Station’ Holden FX, Catalina Park, Katoomba 1963. It was consistent ‘giant killing’ performances against Norm Beechey and the like which attracted McKay to Martin. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

‘Work on the racing cars was carried out in a garage at the rear of his (McKay) house in Wahroonga on Sydney’s upper North Shore. We later moved to new premises beneath the Shell Service Station on the Pacific Highway at Wahroonga.

At this time I was driving the ‘Boomerang Service Station Holden’ for Joel Wakely and was keeping Norm Beechey very busy around Catalina Park, Warwick Farm and Sandown Park. In 1963 David brought Brian Muir back from the UK to drive in the Hardie Ferodo at Bathurst and I was to be Brian’s co-driver. Brian had been driving a Ford Galaxie in the UK and had won the British Touring Car Championship

David was, thankfully very impressed by my driving with Brian and told me he was about to retire and would I like to take over driving his Brabham. (Ex Jack Brabham BT4 Climax) Well you may imagine how I felt getting out of an EH Holden into an F1 Repco Brabham! We took the car to the short circuit at Warwick Farm for a few familiarisation laps where I was shocked by how much power the car had, especially how the far the nose lifted when you put the ‘pedal to the metal’.

It was not long before David entered the car at Bathurst. It was now 2.7 litres and running on methanol. He told me to keep it under 4500rpm down the straight for a few laps and be careful over the hump. I ‘pulled the string’ on the third lap and was doing 172mph over the hump. The car became completely airborne with a very much nose up attitude. I was wearing a Les Leston helmet with a small peaked visor to help keep the sun out of your eyes. Well the wind at this speed would catch under the visor which gave the effect of lifting you out of the car. It didn’t take long for me to remove the peak!’

martin longford tasman

Its 1967 as the painted date on the Longford Viaduct says. Martin eases his Bob Jane Racing Brabham BT11A Climax ‘IC-4-64’ into the right hander to exit the turn, ’67 Tasman ‘South Pacific Trophy’ 5 March 1967. He only lasted a lap of the race, his Climax FPF suffering ring failure. Jack Brabham won the race in his Brabham BT23A Repco. Clark took the series win in his Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8. Love the local ‘topography’, sturdy stone viaduct!, hay bales, painted, slippery white ‘no passing’ lines on the public roads. (oldracephotos.com/David Keep)

martin wf brabham 1967

Spencer Martin exercising all of his Coventry Climax’ lusty 235 horses through Leger Corner, Warwick Farm, December 1966. ‘Hordern Trophy’ Gold Star round won by Frank Gardners’ Brabham BT16 Climax from Kevin Bartletts’ Brabham BT11A and Martins’ similar car in 3rd. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

‘The biggest difference in driving the cars of David’s and my time was the safety aspect. No seat belts, no fuel cells, no on-board fire extinguishers, no roll cages, no fireproof clothing. I was driving the Tasman Series in New Zealand and was wearing a polo-shirt made of nylon. When Jim Clark saw me in this he explained how dangerous nylon was in the event of a fire. Jim gave me a pair of his Dunlop Racing overalls. Boy, did I think I was smart wearing these and they were fireproof so I could go faster! Actually they gave you about 5 extra seconds in the event of a fire. They were made of cotton and soaked in a fire retardant. Rather different from today’s suits.

Another extremely dangerous factor was the aluminium fuel tanks which were placed either side of the drivers seat. We needed to have over 18 gallons of Avgas for a long race, so we packed dry ice around the tank prior to the race on hot days.’

001MartinAllenGibsonwm

Spencer Martins’ Ferrari 250LM ‘6321’  leads the ‘Country Club GT Race’ at Warwick Farm September 19 1965. The chasing Lotus Elan 26R’s are Niel Allen and Fred Gibson. (Heinz Federbusch)

‘Graham Hill was driving our new Brabham (BT11A Climax) at Warwick Farm in 1965. When we fuelled the car, an hour before the race, one tank was leaking through a crack in its top edge. I went into panic mode, Graham, however, asked me to go to the toilet and bring him back a bar of soap. He made this into a putty mixture and plastered it into the crack. As he explained, the leak was on the top of the tank, so after a few laps the fuel would be below the problem area. I used this fix a few times over the years. Can you imagine this sort of thing happening to an F1 Ferrari or McLaren?!

One of the biggest events to materialise at SV was when David talked Archie White, the Shell Racing Manager, into buying the 250LM Ferrari. I was not allowed to go to the wharf to bring it home as I had work to do on the Brabham. However I’ll never forget seeing it for the first time and David saying it was mine to drive!’

‘David was the best motoring journalist at this time. Not only was he able to write about cars, he could also drive them. David was at the front of the grid for the 1963 Australian Grand Prix at Warwick Farm alongside Surtees and McLaren. He was the first Aussie home and all this on a 40 degrees Celsius day when many of the younger drivers stopped due to heat exhaustion. The temperature inside his car was measured at over 50 degrees.

agp 1963 front row

Front row of the AGP grid, Warwick Farm February 1963. Surtees on pole, Lola Mk4a Climax, McLaren Cooper T62 Climax and McKay Brabham BT4 Climax. Jack won in his BT4 Climax from Surtees, McLaren and McKay.(Autopics.com.au Collection)

David, in his motoring column, was very critical of the cars which Ford, GMH and Chrysler were building at that time. Sir Frank Packer allowed David to continue his reports in the Sydney Telegraph because his column was selling newspapers. When News Ltd took over the Tele, they would not allow him such a full hand as they explained they needed the advertisers money from the motoring industry so David left.’

martin bathurst 20lm 65

Spencer Martin in one of his early drives of the SV Ferrari 250LM at Murrays Corner, Bathurst, Easter 1965. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

martin

‘Australian Autosportsman’ magazine July 1965. Shell ‘Advertorial’! Martin on the cover in the SV Fazz 250LM, picture taken probably on the same day as the one above, but this time, i think, ‘Hell Corner’, which leads onto the uphill ‘Mountain Straight’ having gone past the pits. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

‘The first race for the 250LM was the Sandown Park Tasman round sports car race in February 1965…Graham Hill was to drive the Brabham in the Tasman race, however he put it on David to allow him to also drive the LM. David kept his word to me and told Graham that ‘the boy’ was going to drive it. Well, Frank Matich was leading (in Elfin 400/ Traco Olds) then suddenly we did a ‘Stephen Bradbury’ as Matich blew up and we went on to win it’s very first race. In reality it was no match for the more powerful Elfins and Lola’s. It did however win every long distance race in which it was entered.

The ‘Old Red Lady’ as David affectionately called the LM, was a fantastic car to race. With the V12 very low slung in the engine bay behind the driver, and with 8000rpm, the noise inside and out was certainly something to remember for driver and spectator alike.

David was a vary hard taskmaster. He expected me to work on customer road cars during the day and maintain the Brabham and Ferrari after hours. I was made an offer by Bob Jane which I decided was better for my future so I moved on. Years later David wrote me a letter saying he was sorry for being so hard on me. This lead to a rekindled friendship where we travelled overseas together to many of the F1 races.

I really miss ‘The Old Man’. He was a true Ferrari-ist, and gave us all the true pleasure of seeing the two best cars ever to race in this country, the 250LM and P4 Ferraris!’

rcn martin lakeside

This ‘RCN’ cover David Atkinson painting depicts Spencer winning the 10 July Gold Star race at Lakeside, Queensland 1966 ahead of Kevin Bartlett #14 Brabham BT11A Climax and John Harvey Brabham BT14 Ford 1.5…1-3rd in the race en route to Martins 1966 Gold Star title. (Racing Car News)

David McKay had this to say about Spencers’ departure and career in his wonderful autobiography, ‘David McKays Scuderia Veloce’…‘I was both surprised and disappointed but in retrospect I had expected too much and had been too hard on the young man. I had treated him as I would a son and no doubt Martin thought ‘the son’ had had a lucky escape. Sadly I had planned to take Martin to Maranello where I was sure Mike Parkes would have got him a drive at Le Mans and he would eventually have graduated to F1.

However, instead of telling me he’d been waiting for this chance and had his bags packed, Martin said he didn’t fancy Le Mans with its dangerous mix of cars and drivers and thank you but no thanks. I still consider to this day Martin would have achieved a successful career with Ferrari and we have often joked about what might have been. Martin argues that he has all his arms and legs in place and that his successive Australian Championships in 1966 and 1967 fulfilled his motor racing ambitions. It was twelve years before we were to speak again and it was the LM which brought us together’.

symmons grid 1966

Front row of the Symmons Plains, Tas 1966 ‘Gold Star’ grid. #7 the winning ex-Clark Lotus 32B Climax of Greg Cusack, #5 Brabham BT11A Climax of Kevin Bartlett and on the near side Spencer in his Brabham BT11A Climax. The nose of John Harveys’ Brabham BT14 Lotus/Ford TC is on row 2. Cusack won from Harvey and John McCormack, Brabham BT4 Climax. (oldracephotos/David Keep)

martin WF

Martin on the way to 6th place in the SV Brabham BT11A ‘Warwick Farm 100′ Tasman race 13 February 1966 won by Clarks’ Lotus 39 Climax. This is not long before Martin left SV for Bob Jane Racing, this same chassis ‘IC-4-64’ won his 1966/7 Gold Star titles. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

As Spencer says he left SV and Sydney to join Bob Jane Racing in Melbourne, both Shell sponsored teams at the time and a controversial move albeit a very successful one for both driver and team…Jane acquired the Brabham BT11A Climax Spencer had been racing for SV, it was this car in which he won the Gold Star in 1966 and 1967. His toughest competitor was Kevin Bartlett in a similar car entered by Alec Mildren, the pair having many close dices with Bartlett famously setting the first over 100mph lap of Bathurst during their Gold Star encounter at Mt Panorama in 1967.

spencer

A touch of understeer for Spencer in his Bob Jane Brabham BT11, ‘Hordern Trophy’, Warwick Farm in December 1966. Race won by Frank Gardner from Kevin Bartlett. This shot is from a ‘period’ Shell magazine ad. (Spencer Lambert Collection)

In 1967 Repco’s 2.5 litre Tasman ‘740 Series’ V8’s powered the cars of Greg Cusack (SV Brabham BT23A), Leo Geoghegan (Lotus 39) and John Harvey (Brabham BT14 ) even though these cars were all competitive they lacked the consistent reliability which prevented Repco ever achieving a Gold Star Series win…Martins’ Climax engined Brabham won 2 rounds, winning his second title by 7 points from Cusack, his replacement at Scuderia Veloce and promptly retired.

Years later he re-established his relationship with McKay as he outlined above, he owned a share in McKays’ LM for a while and raced a range of exotic racing cars in historic racing in both the US and Europe. He still lives in Australia and is in happy retirement with a large extended family to keep him busy…and the occasional competition drive.

martin and mckay

Spencer Martin and David McKay pictured on 27 October 2004. Chris Haigh took this shot having just taken David for a lap of Wakefield Park, Goulburn, NSW in McKay’s original Jaguar Mk1 ‘The Grey Pussy’. David died on December 26 2004 at 83 of cancer. (Chris Haigh)

Etcetera…

longford grid lm

Spencer Martin stands by the front ‘guard of the SV 250LM, his second meeting in the car, Longford Tasman meeting February 1965. Yellow car is the Mildren Maserati, driven by Ralph Sach (built by Rennmax’ Bob Britton on his Lotus 19 jig) the yellow shirted Mildren mechanics are (L) Stewart Randall and (R) Glen Abbey, the latter behind many Mildren/Gardner/Bartlett/Stewart victories. Driver behind the Fazz perhaps Les Howard. (oldracephotos.com/David Keep)

martin brabham surfers

Martin leading and winning the Surfers Paradise Gold Star round in 1966. Shot taken below Repco Hill, Brabham BT11A Climax. (John Stanley)

Jackie Stewart contested the above, Surfers’ Gold Star 1966 race, this article may be of interest to some in his ‘one-off’ Brabham BT11A Climax drive…https://primotipo.com/2015/02/13/jackie-stewart-at-surfers-paradise-speed-week-1966-brabham-bt11a-climax-and-ferrari-250lm/

mc kay lm longford 1965

The ‘Guvnor David McKay steers his 250LM through the Longford paddock in March 1965, the second meeting for the Ferrari driven by Martin. Graham Hill drove the SV Brabham BT11A Climax in the final ’65 Tasman race, the AGP, to 4th place, Bruce McLaren won in a Cooper T79 Climax. (Ellis French)

symmons grid 67 martin brabham

Martin being congratulated before the start of the Gold Star race at Symmons in November 1967. DNF with cam follower failure, race won by Greg Cusack, his replacement at Scuderia Veloce, in a Brabham BT23 A Repco. #2 is Garrie Coopers’ Elfin Mono Ford TC. Its Martins’ final race of ‘his serious career’, he had wrapped up the Gold Star for the 2nd time in succession and retired, the car driven by John Harvey for Bob Jane Racing from then. (oldracephotos.com/David Keep)

martin lakeside barbham 65

Martin in the SV Brabham BT11A ahead of Leo Geoghegans’ Lotus 32 Ford 1.5 TC, Lakeside ‘Gold Star’ race July 1965. Martin won from Leo and John McDonalds’ Cooper T70 Climax. (The Roaring Season/Bruce Wells)

martin tassie brabham

Car owner, the stocky, strong Bob Jane tests the rear spring rates…whilst driver Martin does his best to ignore the chief. Symmons Plains Gold Star round November 1966. Brabham BT11A Climax, ‘box is Hewland HD5. (Ellis French)

Spencer Martin 2006 Tasman Revival

Spencer pictured beside the Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo raced by Frank Gardner in the ’68 Tasman and then Kevin Bartlett to Gold Star success in 1968. Car restored by Paul Moxham and driven by Spencer here at the Eastern Creek, NSW Tasman Revival Meeting in December 2006. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Spencer Martin Catalina

Spencer Martin signed program of the Catalina Park cover on which his Holden starred! (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Bibliography…

‘David McKay Memorial Rally 2012: Rally Guide’, ‘ David McKays’ Scuderia Veloce’ David McKay, The Nostalgia Forum

Photo and Other Credits…

John Ellacott, Bruce Wells, autopics/Richard Austin, The Roaring Season, Chris Haigh Collection, Racing Car News, Heinz Federbusch, Ellis French, John Stanley, Racing Car News, Chris Haigh

Lindsay Ross of Oldracephotos http://www.oldracephotos.com/content/home/ for the use of the shots by David Keep

David Blanch of Autopics Collection  http://autopics.com.au/

Stephen Dalton Collection, Spencer Lambert Collection

Finito…