Posts Tagged ‘Brian Sampson’

Frank Matich in his new Elfin 400 Olds nee ‘Traco Olds’ at Warwick Farm during the 1966 Tasman Meeting (Russell Thorncraft)

The very best of the seasons greetings to you all, wherever you may be. May all of us get the luck we deserve in addition to a healthy, wealthy, wise and generous 2019…

It was May 2014 when I first started fiddling around with what has become somewhat of an obsession, I have promised myself I will re-commence racing my Van Diemen RF86 Formula Ford in 2019- ‘doing it’ rather than just writing about it!

I have no strategy with primotipo other than writing about what interests me, the article ideas are generated by a photograph and it is in that context that the direction of the thing has shifted much more to an Australian bias this past year.

DIY Davo: Jon Davison looking after a wheel or pressures in the Oran Park pitlane prior to the 1977 AGP. Car is his ex-Walker Matich A50 Repco. Davo become a mighty fine F5000 driver with the purchase of an ex-Teddy Yip/Alan Jones Lola T332 Chev 12 months hence. Behind Jon are the Team VDS entries of race winner, Warwick Brown, Lola T430 Chev and Peter Gethin Chevron B37 Chev (Adam Thurgar)

A limiting factor until recently has been access to lots of interesting Australian photographs. This has changed in that Bob Williamson’s ‘Old Motor Racing Photographs-Australia’ and the ‘Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania’s’ Facebook pages and meeting Bob King and Ken Devine in recent times has allowed me to explore topics I never would have contemplated without the visual stimulation of ideas provided by their archive/collections.

So special thanks to those organisations/fellows in addition to the photographers who have been very supportive right from the get-go. John Ellacott, Rod MacKenzie, Lindsay Ross, Dick Simpson, Lynton Hemer, Kevin Drage and Dale Harvey. Terry Marshall’s New Zealand work gets a regular run too.

Len Lukey’s Lukey Bristol chases Bib Stillwell, Maserati 250F, Melbourne Grand Prix, Albert Park 1958. Stirling Moss won in a Cooper T45 Climax- Len was 5th and Bib 4th (Simon Wills via Bob King Collection)

Bob King’s ‘Words from Werrangourt’ articles have been very popular, Rod MacKenzie’s and Bruce Polain’s pieces were beauties, and I have unpublished manuscripts from Peter Finlay and Ray Bell to pop up in the coming months- thanks to you all.

Ray, Stephen Dalton and Rob Bartholomaeus have been great ‘sub-editors’ in advising errors post-upload of articles which has helped the accuracy of primotipo big-time. Stephen and Rob have also provided research material which has given me ‘reach’ beyond my own collection. The collective global wisdom of The Nostalgia Forum is also an ongoing source of nuanced information which goes way beyond the books we all have.

Stan Jones and Cooper T51 Climax at Caversham, West Australia in October 1959. WA Road Racing Championships Gold Star round. Len Lukey won the race in the green Cooper T45 alongside, Stan was 2nd. He won the AGP at Longford in March aboard his Maserati 250F (Ken Devine)

The readership has increased nicely again by over 30% with the Australian readership now 30% of the total compared with 17-20% of the last two years. So, it seems you International folks aren’t turned off by the greater Australian content. The top ten countries in terms of readership in order are Australia, US, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands and Brazil. Exactly the same as last year actually, albeit the order was a smidge different.

Last, but far from least, thanks for reading it!

The balance of this piece are some randomly chosen photographs from the sources above I’ve not published before…

(Chris Robinson)

Bob Skelton contesting the Symmons Plains round of the Australian Formula 2 Championship in September 1973.

He was second to Leo Geoghegan’s works Birrana 273 Ford Hart that weekend and was third in the seven round series behind Geoghegan and Enno Buesselmann in another 273.

Skello first raced this chassis- the very first Bowin P6 built, in the 1972 Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton in the UK before returning home and ditching the Ford 711M Kent motor and Hewland Mk9 gearbox in favour of a Brian Hart built 1.6 litre Lotus-Ford, Lucas ‘416B’ injected engine and five-speed Hewland FT200 ‘box as well as wings and slicks etc.

He did well in 1973, it was a shame he did not race on in the Finnie Ford supported car- without doubt the 1972 FF Driver to Europe Winner (Bowin P4A) had talent aplenty.

Ex-Lotus engineer, Bowin Designs John Joyce’s spaceframe P6 and monocoque P8 designs bristled with innovation having the Lotus 56/72 wedge shape and hip-mounted radiators and JJ’s own very clever variable or rising rate suspension front and rear. Whilst the P6F won an FF title in John Leffler’s hands in 1973, F2 and F5000 Championship success eluded these wonderful cars.

 

(Matt Liersch)

Stirling Moss and minder wander down the new Sandown pitlane with ‘Peters Corner’, the left-hander onto the Back Straight behind them. Notice the kerb, trees and lack of Armco on the outside of Pit Straight and between the circuit and pitlane.

The March 1962 ‘Sandown Park International’ was the track’s first meeting with Moss fifth his Rob Walker Lotus 21. Jack Brabham won from John Surtees and Bruce McLaren- in Coopers T55, T53, and T53- all powered by Coventry Climax 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ FPFs.

(Matt Liersch)

Jack Brabham either pulling into or out of pitlane in the Cooper T55 Climax which was then acquired by John Youl and raced by he and engineer Geoff Smedley with great success over the next couple of years.

(Matt Liersch)

Melburnian’s of a certain age will remember Channel 9 sports broadcaster Tony Charlton here getting the story from Moss and Brabham. He was more a cricket and footy kinda-guy but did a workmanlike job whatever the sport.

https://primotipo.com/2016/04/08/ole-935/

 

(Brian Caldersmith)

Maybach 3 was Charlie Dean’s Repco Research built cars definitive specification in six-cylinder Maybach engine form- Maybach 4 was this chassis modified by Ern Seeliger in various ways inclusive of fitment of a Chev 283 cid small-block V8.

Here the car is showing off its Phil Irving developed fuel injection at Gnoo Blas, Orange during the January 1956 South Pacific Championship weekend.

(Brian Caldersmith)

 

(Brian Caldersmith)

Stan Jones was running well in second position behind Reg Hunt’s new Maserati 250F, and ahead of Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol in third when the Maybach motor let go in the biggest possible way on lap 23, an errant rod broke causing the car to spin down the road.

With little in the way of spares now remaining- and the speed of Hunt’s Maseratis (A6GCM and 250F) apparent Jones ordered a 250F and Maybach 3 was put to one side until Seeliger’s mechanical magic was worked upon it.

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

(Chris O’Connor)

Cheetah as a marque all too often slips under the radar, a bit like the car’s designer, builder and driver Brian Shead- he won the 1979 Australian F2 Championship in a Cheetah Mk6 Toyota.

Shead built ANF3 and 2 cars, two Clubmans and a Formula Holden, well over forty cars in all in his small Mordialloc, outer Melbourne bayside workshop. ‘The Two Brians’ Shead and Sampson (above) dominated ANF3 in the mid-seventies, the 1975 Bathurst 1000 winner (together with Peter Brock in a Holden Torana L34) is on the downhill plunge into Dandenong Road corner at Sandown in 1973 or 1974.

The car is a Cheetah Mk4- a spaceframe chassis powered by a pushrod, OHV, ‘Motor Improvements’ modded Toyota Corolla 1.3 litre, twin-42 DCOE carbed 135 bhp engine. Motor Improvements was Sambo’s business in the Nepean Higway St Kilda, at the time ANF3 was a 1300cc OHV/SOHC category.

https://primotipo.com/2018/06/26/anf3/

(Dennis Cooper)

Clark, Amon, Hill: Lotus 49 Ford DFW by two and a lone Ferrari Dino 246T, Longford 1968.

Not the South Pacific Championship Tasman race mind you- that was held in the pissin’ rain and won by Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A Ford FVA. This is the dry Saturday preliminary which was won by Clark.

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

Credits…

Russell Thorncraft, Quentin Miles, Adam Thurgar, Simon Wills- Bob King Collection, Brian Caldersmith, Matt Liersch, Chris Robinson, Ken Devine Collection, Dennis Cooper, Chris O’Connor

oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece: Bob Janes and Jaguar E Type Lightweight, Lakeside circa 1965…

(Quentin Miles)

Ron Thorp’s AC Cobra is on the second row, it looks hot so perhaps its the summer Tasman meeting.

The Jag was an interesting choice, it was never going to be an outright machine in the sportscar sprint events which predominated in Australia at the time. The Bib Stillwell Cooper Monaco, Frank Gardner/Ralph Sach/Kevin Bartlett Mildren Maserati, Lotus 23’s and increasingly V8 mid-engined cars ruled the roost.

Nonetheless the E was a welcome addition to the local scene and a car Bob retained in his collection for decades- it shared garage space with a Maserati 300S, Jag D Type, Brabham BT11A Climax, McLaren M6B Repco, Ralt RT4 Ford, Chev Camaro ZL1 and various other bits of mouth-watering kit.

Finito…

(G Moulds)

Amaroo Park, Sydney May 1976, Formula 3. The Two Brians- Shead and Sampson lead Peter Macrow, all three aboard Cheetah Mk6 Toyotas from #4 Mal Brewster, Rennmax and then David Booth in a Birrana 374 Ford, Terry Finnigan, Cheetah and the rest- Elfin 600’s, 623 etcetera…

By 1972 the classes of single-seater racing in Australia comprised the following: Australian National Formula 1- F5000 at the pinnacle through ANF2- 1600, twin-cam, 2 valve, fuel injected which effectively meant the Lotus-Ford twin-cam the ultimate expression of which were Brian Hart’s alloy, injected 205 bhp’ish 416B motors. ANF3- SOHC, 2 valve, carbs with Toyota Corolla and Kent Fords the most common but there were Datsun and a smattering of other engines too. Formula Ford and Formula Vee require no explanation.

In Gold Star rounds some F2’s help bolster skinny F5000 fields, so too did F3 run with F2- which had a national championship whilst F3 did not. Combined F3 and FF races were common at State level with FF also having a national championship- ‘The Driver To Europe Series’ with FVee always racing on their lonesome but having a one-race ‘FV Nationals’ which was a de-facto national championship- very hotly contested it was too.

Sheady and Sambo ‘sambo: Shead and Sampson in Cheetah Mk4 Toyotas sandwich the F2 Birrana 273 Ford of Tony Stewart circa 1973 at Sandown. Mk4 the last of Shead’s spaceframe single-seaters- vestigial rear wing but no front. Maybe not the prettiest of Cheetahs but fast (B Jones)

Year in, year out the quickest F3 cars were the ‘works’ Cheetah Toyota’s fielded by the ‘Sheady and Sambo Show’- Shead built over fifty Cheetahs (F3, F2, F Pac, F Holden and Clubman) in a small workshop at Mordialloc and Sampson’s ‘Motor Improvements’ concern built the engines in the Nepean Highway, St Kilda, both southern bayside suburbs of Melbourne.

Both Shead’s Cheetah’s and Sampson’s circa 130 bhp Toyota Corolla motors were sold to customers but usually the two Brians had the answers with a combination of age and experience, finely set-up chassis’ and just a smidge more power than the customers got.

Shead and Sambo in the new, monocoque Cheetah Mk5 Toyota chased by Paul King’s Lew Wade owned Birrana 374 Toyota in the summer of 1975 at Hume Weir on the NSW/Victorian ‘Albury’ border. Who won this encounter Paul?? (B Jones)

For me the sexiest F3 machine of the period was the Birrana 374 Toyota with Paul King and Dean Hosking giving the two Brians something to think about particularly in 1974/5. The Elfin 700 was also a nice bit of kit but never did as well as the equally simple (spaceframe) Elfin 600 which preceded it, mind you the level of competition was stiffer in the mid-seventies than the late sixties.

Chassis of the F3 cars by that stage were aluminium monocoques pretty much universally with the Hewland Mk9 or Peter Holinger 5 speed ‘boxes the transmissions of choice.

I’ve no idea who won that Amaroo race but I’ve my money on one of the two Brians despite being away from home…

Credits…

Glenn Moulds, Brendan Jones Collection, Bruce Keys

Tailpiece: Sports Car World Birrana 374 track test…

If memory serves, always dangerous, Richard Steigler’s 374 (above) was the ex-John Blanden Adelaide owned Dean Hosking driven chassis. A fellow by the name of Adrian Van Loon useter to drive and write these SCW track test articles. Mighty fine bits of communication they were to a budding teenage enthusiast too, well and truly wetted the appetite he did. Died of cancer many years ago way too young sadly.

Finito…

 

 

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(Spencer Lambert)

Now that’s a ‘Wing Car’! Garrie Cooper awaits clearance for takeoff at Adelaide International, ‘Elfin 792 Cessna’ in 1979…

When I originally saw this shot on the wonderful ‘Elfin Monocoque Aficionados’ Facebook Group page I thought it a promotional pisstake, the additional wings added to get some column inches for Elfin’s sponsor, Ansett Airlines of Australia. Ansett was an Australian icon, our ‘other’ domestic airline until its corporate failure in 2001. Reg Ansett would have turned in his grave that day.

Whilst it was John Bowe’s car the helmet was Cooper’s, JB confirmed it was the Elfin chief at the wheel; ‘Garrie kept and prepared the car in Adelaide, he was always fiddling around with new ideas and this is one of them. I met the car and raced it at meetings but GC did all of the development work on the chassis’.

Elfin boss Cooper and mechanic/engineer John Porter were experimenting to understand the forces their new ‘ground effect’ designs would be subjected to by trying to create the downforce of GE tunnels by the addition of the side mounted wings.

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Gunnar Nilsson, Lotus 78 Ford, Japanese GP 1977 (unattributed)

In 1978 Colin Chapman, Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson ‘swept the boards’ with their dominant ground-effects Lotus 79, Mario took the drivers and Lotus the manufacturers titles that year.

The complexities of aerodynamics, what a ‘black art’ it was then with the technology of the day was such that the dominant team of 1978 didn’t win a race in 1979!

Chapman pushed the envelope ‘too far’ with the ‘wingless’ Lotus 80 despite all of the knowledge Peter Wright, Tony Rudd, Chapman and the rest had acquired during 1976/8. The best ‘Lotus 79 copy’, the Williams FW07 was the fastest car of 1979 albeit Ferrari ‘nicked’ the title with its T4 design as Patrick Head and Frank Williams didn’t get their new car onto the grid early enough which allowed the ultra reliable, just fast enough Fazz Flat-12 to win for Jody Scheckter.

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The technical challenges manufacturers of production racing cars like Elfin faced in 1979 were the aerodynamic forces unleashed on their structures. They both needed to understand how to create the downforce Lotus harnessed and then strengthen their structures to cope with the download and cornering forces applied to the cars chassis and suspension componentry as unheard levels of grip were created.

The difficulty for people like Cooper at the ‘far flung ends of the planet’ was not being able to see how things were evolving directly week by week at race meetings in Europe, get the ‘goss from suppliers and the press etc.

The Elfin 792 VW Golf was Cooper’s 1978 ANF2 car (1.6 litres, SOHC, carburettor formula, engines gave circa 185bhp) but it arrived late so took the 792 appellation. GC had a huge F5000 shunt in 1978 at the Sandown Gold Star round from which he was lucky to escape, a story for another time, an impact was the delay of a swag of Elfin projects including the F2 car until Garrie was back on his feet.

When laid down the little single-seater was designed as a neat, conventional aluminium monocoque with outboard suspension. It was a replacement of his Type 700, originally built as an ANF3 (1300cc) car but evolved into an F2 car by many racers when fitted with a Ford Twin-cam or various pushrod/SOHC 4 cylinder engines as the class evolved from a 1.6 twin-cam to a 1.6 SOHC formula with effect from 1978.

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Garrie Cooper did ‘a million miles’ at Adelaide International and Mallala testing his Adelaide built cars over the decades, here the 792 is running a high airbox, with which it did race (Spencer Lambert)

Later Australian Gold Star and Touring Car Champion, John Bowe raced both the factory MR8 Chev F5000 and 792 and with more luck could have won both the Gold Star and the 1979 F2 Championship.

Bowe may not be known to all overseas readers, he is one of Australia’s pro-driver greats over 4 decades. He had a great career in single-seaters before turning to ‘the dark side’, touring cars where he was and still is, an ace. He won 6 Australian Championships in four categories including the then prestigious ‘Gold Star’ for our champion driver, 2 Bathurst 1000’s and the Australian Touring Car Championship.

bowe elfin

JB in his Elfin 500 F Vee #132 during his 1971, debut racing year in which he won the Tasmanian FV Championship, aged 16 (oldracephotos.com)

‘I grew up surrounded by cars in Tasmania, my dad had a dealership and raced, I went to lots of local meetings at Symmons Plains, Baskerville and Longford. I raced an Elfin Formula Vee when I first started and an Elfin 600 after that, and it was Garrie who gave me the chance to race on the mainland, which is something I really wanted to do’.

‘He was great to me by giving me the opportunity and also the guidance. The Elfin drives were the big boost my career got, everything that happened later was a function of the success I had in the F2 Elfins and especially the F5000 MR8 drives I had, which established my big-car credibility’.

elf dick

Dick Johnson left and John Bowe in their 1993 Ford ‘EB’ Falcon V8 Supercar heyday, JB won the Australian Touring Car Championship, for the last 30 years really the ‘Australian Drivers Championship’ in 1995 in a Falcon (Shell)

‘The 1.6 single-cam F2 formula was really good at the time, it had some young, fast guys involved; Sheady and Sambo in the Celica powered Cheetah’s, John Smith in his Ralt RT1, Davo in the Hardman, Norden in the March copy and others. The fields had depth, the racing was hard, that (younger not Shead and Sambo!) group of us were young guys pushing up so we gave the class a real shake’, said John.

‘The 792 was a good car, it was quick but it wasn’t too long before it got a bit floppy at the back. The weakness or lack of stiffness was in the mounting of the frame to the tub, in the end Garrie said we should sell it. Cooper built three of the cars and they are now all in the hands of the one guy, although none of them are running’ in historic racing.

The chassis was an honeycomb aluminium monocoque with conventional outboard wishbone suspension at the front and single top link, twin lower links and radius rods for fore and aft location at the rear. New uprights were used as well as Elfins own steering rack. Hewland’s Mk9 5 speed ‘box with slippery diff was fitted and 190’ish bhp claimed for the VW Golf engine which was built in-house at Elfins using the best Super Vee bits from the ‘States. The suspension was finished in cadminium plating, the superbly presented car glistened in the Benalla sunlight as I shared the scrutineering bay with it in at Winton in late August 1979, my Venom F Vee feeling very ‘povvo’ in comparison!

elfin mr8

John Bowe ahead of Kevin Bartlett in the ill-fated Brabham BT43 Chev and John Walkers Lola T332 Chev, Chas Talbot and Rob Butcher both in T332’s then Graham McRae McRae GM3 Chev Sandown Gold Star 1979. KB crashed the BT43 destroying the car and badly injuring himself when a wheel broke in the very quick Causeway/Dunlop Bridge section of the circuit  (Ian Smith)

The class of the 1979 F2 field was John Smith’s Ralt RT1. He raced this as an F Pac with a Cosworth BDD fitted and an AN2 with a pushrod Ford ‘Kent’ 711M, which was pretty neat. The ‘Kent’ is the same block used in Cosworth’s BDD, in pushrod form modified with lots of Cosworth bits. The car was heavy as an F2 but Smithy’s skills more than made up for any weight disadvantage the package had. He was fast but he didn’t have reliability on his side that year.

JB debuted the 792 successfully in Baskerville’s end of February meeting, he won the F2 race and set a new outright lap record. Still in Tasmania on 14 March he won 3 races and again set an F2 lap record, besting the Birrana 274 F2 twin-cam mark set by Leo Geoghegan.

At Sandown on 8 April Bowe again set an F2 lap record besting Leo’s time again but was 2nd in the race between the Cheetah twins; Brian’s Shead and Sampson in Cheetah Mk6 Toyota’s. At Oran Park 6 weeks later he was 3rd.

bowe 792

JB all cocked up at Sandown’s Shell corner, turn 1 in April 1979 chasing Brian Sampson’s Cheetah Mk6 Toyota. Note the ‘Tyrrell’ bluff nose on the 792 early in the season, both sweet little cars, Mk5/6 Cheetah a very successful series of cars (unattributed)

In the Gold Star chase Bowe was 2nd in the AGP at Wanneroo Park in WA, the winner John Walker in a Lola T332 Chev, for a change JW was the lucky beneficiary of others misfortunes. John followed this up with a flag to flag win in the first Gold Star round at Oran Park on 29 July, a great drive for an F5000 relative novice.

JB on the speed of the Elfin MR8; ‘When I stepped up into F5000 I was a young driver and by that stage the Elfin MR8 Chev was well sorted, GC built the first one around 1976. Garrie, Vern, (Schuppan) James Hunt and others had raced the things so they were developed by guys who knew these big cars, I didn’t have a yardstick but I reckon the Elfin was every bit as good as the T332 Lolas and other contemporary cars of the day’.

Bowe took the first F2 Championship round at Calder in early August beating Brian Shead over the line by less than a second, both drivers did the same fastest lap and became joint holders of the F2 lap record.

Later in August Bowe was knocked off the track at Winton whilst lapping a competitor, breaking an upright and spinning into the infield in the second AF2 championship round. John Smith was the quickest car that weekend, but went off in the wet, the winner was Graham Engel in a Cheetah Mk6 Ford.

elf smit

Late 70’s to mid ’80’s Oz single-seater aces John Smith and the forever beardly! Bowe, circa 1979/80 (Ian Smith)

On September 9 Bowe contested the last round of the Gold Star at Sandown and was convincingly in the lead after the brakes on Alf Costanzo’s Lola T430 wouldn’t release but a left rear tyre deflated. In trying to get back to the pits John damaged the rear suspension cradle. John Walker took 2nd, the series and promptly retired from the sport he loved. Costanzo won the race.

John then travelled back to Winton for the ‘Rose City 10000’ F5000 race contested by both 5 litre cars and Formula Pacific cars which were incredibly fast around twisty Winton with its multiple changes of direction. JB qualified on row 2 but was in the lead leaving behind the scrapping Costanzo Lola T430 and Smith Ralt RT1 BDD. With 8 laps to go John spun, broke the Elfin’s nose and was black-flagged, Alf won the race from Smithy by less than a half a second.

At Symmons for the final round of the AF2 championship on 11 November Ian Richards set fastest practice time in a Golf powered car called a Tudor, but Bowe was only a tenth slower with Brian Shead 3rd on the grid. JB won the first heat from Shead and had the title within his grasp but in the final, in the wet, a plug lead came loose whilst in the lead giving the round win and championship to the evergreen, muti-talented Cheetah constructor, Brian Shead.

JB’s F2 season ended at Calder’s sportscar championship round in late November with a win over Ian Richards Cheetah Golf, Ian having won the preliminary race and giving intent of his increasing competitiveness as a driver which would be fully exploited in his own, beautiful ground-effect Richards 201 Golf with which he took the 1981 AF2 Championship.

With the season ended Bowe sold the 792 putting pressure on Cooper to finish the GE225 F2 car for 1980, a story for another time. It was an amazing 1979 for Bowe, he didn’t win either title, both of which seemed a strong possibility at one point but he had absolutely established himself as one of the top drivers in the country.

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Cooper in the AIR pitlane, 792 shorn of its wings in some ‘back to back’ tests on the same day the side winglets were tried in 1979 (Spencer Lambert)

If the Elfin looks familiar to some of you its probably its March 792’esque nose. That BMW engined car won the 1979 Euro F2 Championship for Marc Surer. The Elfin also raced with a ‘Tyrrell’ bluff nose but Bowe’s definitive spec was with this nose and an airbox fitted atop the downdraft Weber carbs.

In 1980 John Bowe contested the ANF2 title again, this time in Cooper’s GE Two-25, his first completed ground effect design, no doubt the research found on this 1979 test day was instructive in that cars design!

In the UK Ron Tauranac was struggling to get his first G-E car, the F3 Ralt RT3 to go quicker than the old RT1 (he succeeded bigtime!) whilst Cooper and Porter were simulating the sort of forces they would encounter in designing their new car by running Bowe’s 792 with this wing amidships. No way could it have legally raced with an additional wings mounted where these were.

The GE Two-25 was an F2 race winner for Bowe in 1980 but Richard Davison won the title in a Hardman JH1 Ford in an interesting and competitive ANF2 Championship, a ‘wing-car’ story for another time and one with a potentially better Elfin outcome had Cooper finished the car in time for Bowe to contest the full championship…

bowe ralt

JB is his Ralt RT4 Ford BDD at Oran Park during his successful Gold Star tilt in 1985, he won the title in 1984 as well, by 1985 the ‘aero’ of these cars well and truly resolved! The Ralt RT3/4/5 F3/Pac/S Vee series of cars one of the greatest series of production racing cars ever built (unattributed)

Bibliography…

Special thanks to John Bowe for his time and insights

Elfin Monocoque Aficionados’ Facebook Group, Barry Catford and John Blanden ‘Elfin Racing Cars’

Photo Credits…

Stephen Lambert, Ian Smith, oldracephotos.com, Peter Brennan

Tailpieces: Cooper quickly got the hang of the design of ground effect cars; John Bowe in his only Elfin MR9 Chev drive at Sandown on 22 February 1981 after Cooper was a ‘bit spooked’ by the car in Gold Star practice…

elfin mr9

(Peter Brennan)

Alfie Costanzo’s Allan Hamilton owned, Tiga converted ground-effects ex-F1 McLaren M26 Chev was the class of the field that weekend but JB drove very well to 2nd after a big fright in practice when the MR9’s left rear rocker bent after underestimation of the down force created. The components on all four corners were strengthened overnight at Porsche Cars Australia’s workshop just up the road from the circuit in Dandenong.

John; ‘I was at Sandown racing my Elfin GE225 F2 car and Bryan Thomson’s Mercedes sports sedan when Garrie asked me to have a drive of the MR9 on the Friday. He said he was a bit ‘spooked’ by the car and wasn’t sure whether it was him, he’d had a big accident at Sandown a couple of years before, or the car. It was the early ground effect days, the Elfin MR9 was a great design but the forces weren’t fully understood by many designers’.

‘One of the many wonderful memories I have of GC was being in restaurants with him all over the country and him scribbling notes or diagrams of ideas on paper napkins! What was happening was the chassis was flexing a bit, the front wheels losing alignment and any semblance of castor so the car was very unpredictable under brakes in particular, you had to stop the thing by braking down the middle of the road. And then the upright broke which was very exciting! He strengthened the car in various areas and got it sorted later on but I only drove it the once at Sandown’.

The MR9 is a story for another time…

elf cooper

Garrie Cooper testing one of his great masterpieces, the world’s only purpose built F5000, the Elfin MR9 Chev (Spencer Lambert)

Finito…