Posts Tagged ‘Bruce McLaren’

(Fistonic)

Jim Clark takes in a few rays and a touring car race from his grandstand atop a Ford Zodiac, Levin, New Zealand Tasman, January 1965. In the distance are the Tararua Ranges, alongside the Team Lotus mechanics are fettling Jim’s Lotus 32B Climax.

The champions relaxed nature and the scene itself epitomises all that was great about the Tasman Series. We had the best drivers on the planet visit us every summer and whilst the racing was ‘take no prisoners’ the atmosphere off track was relaxed- the parties, water skiing, golf and annual cricket matches at the Amon family beachhouse are stories told many times over.

Jim Clark cruising through the Lakeside paddock during the 7 March 1965 weekend. The ‘Lakeside 99’ wasn’t a Tasman Round in 1965 but Internationals Clark, Gardner and Grant contested the event- Jim won from Gardner and Spencer Martin in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A just vacated by Graham Hill’s return to Europe (Mellor)

Few racing drivers have had a season like Jim Clark did in 1965, surely?

He started the year in Australasia and took the Tasman series with four wins in a Lotus 32B Climax FPF, won the F1 Drivers Championship in a Lotus 33 Climax with 6 wins and topped it all off with victory at Indy aboard a Lotus 38 Ford. In between times he contested the usual sprinkling of F2 events and some Touring Car races in a Lotus Cortina. Lets not forget a few longer sportscar races in the Lotus 40 Ford Group 7 car in the US. Not to mention other races as well. Amazing really.

 We were lucky enough to have the immensely likable Scot in the Southern Hemisphere at the seasons commencement though.

Colin Chapman had the Lotus Components lads build up a Tasman Special for Clark which was a mix of an F2 Lotus 32 chassis, 2.5 litre Coventry Climax 4 cylinder FPF engine and ZF gearbox. The combination was very successful taking race wins at Wigram, Teretonga, Warwick Farm and here at Levin on 16 January 1965. 

Kiwi international journalist and early member of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, Eoin Young providing direction to the Lotus mechanics looking after Clark’s Lotus 32B. Technical specs as per text but note rocker/inboard front suspension and filler for twin tanks contained in each side of the monocoque chassis pontoons.Lola Mk1 Climax in the distance? (Fistonic)

Twelve Lotus 32 chassis were built plus Clark’s Tasman one-off car which was built around chassis or tub number 32/7. Unlike the 1 litre Cosworth SCA powered F2’s which used a full-monocoque chassis the 32B used a monocoque front section with the rear section removed and replaced by a tubular steel subframe to which the 235bhp, 2495cc, 4 cylinder Coventry Climax FPF engine was mounted. Otherwise the cars suspension, inboard at the front by top rocker and lower wishbone and outboard at the rear was the same as the F2 32. The gearbox was a ZF rather than the Hewland Mk6 of the F2 car. The car chassis plate was tagged ’32-FL-8′ where ‘FL’ was Formula Libre.

This car still exists and is owned and raced by Classic Team Lotus, a shame really as its entire racing history was in Australasia.

Clark won the Tasman in it, the car was then bought by the Palmer family, Jim raced it to NZ Gold Star victory and very competitively in the ’66 Tasman before selling it to Australian Greg Cusack. The car was also raced by South Australian Mel McEwin in period, albeit it was becoming uncompetitive amongst the multi-cylinder Repco’s and the like by then.

Eventually it passed into the very best of Lotus hands- the late John Dawson-Damer acquired it and restored it, eventually doing a part exchange with CTL to allow them to have a Clark Tasman car in their collection. John received a Lotus 79 Ford DFV as part of the deal, he already had Clark’s ’66 Tasman car in his wonderful collection, the Lotus 39 Climax, so it was a good mutual exchange.

Local boy McLaren surrounded by admirers in the Levin paddock. Cooper T79, alongside is the green and yellow of Clark’s Lotus 32B (Fistonic)

Clark won the ’65 Tasman title 9 points clear of 1964 champion Bruce McLaren aboard his self constructed Cooper T79 Climax and Jack Brabham’s BT11A Climax. Given the speed of the BT11A, it was a pity Jack contested only the three Australian Tasman rounds. Frank Gardner also BT11A mounted and Phil Hill were equal fourth with Phil aboard McLarens updated ’64 Tasman car, a Cooper T70 Climax.

Graham Hill was 7th in David McKay’s Brabham BT11A Climax with other strong contenders Frank Matich Brabham BT7A Climax, Kiwi Jim Palmer similarly mounted, Bib Stillwell in a BT11A, Lex Davison in a BT4 Brabham. In addition there were a host of 1.5 litre Lotus Ford twin-cam powered cars snapping at the heels of the 2.5 FPF’s and set to pounce as the bigger cars failed.

In this article I focus on one round, the Levin event held on 14-16 January 1965.

Kiwi enthusiast Milan Fistonic took some marvellous photos at the event which are posted on Steve Holmes ‘The Roaring Season’ website, check it out if you have not, it’s a favourite of mine. They are paddock shots which ooze atmosphere- Milan focuses mainly on local boy Bruce McLaren and Clark, they are magic shots which I hope you enjoy. This account of the weekend draws heavily on the sergent.com race report. It is another ripper site I always use as my Kiwi reference source.

Start of the 1965 NZ GP at Pukekohe, winner Hill on the outside, Clark in the middle and Lex Davison on the inside- Brabham BT11A, Lotus 32B and Brabham BT4 all Coventry Climax FPF powered (unattributed)

The 1965 Tasman series commenced the week before Levin with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe. Graham Hill took a great win in David McKay’s new BT11A, straight out of the box, from the equally new Alec Mildren BT11A driven by Frank Gardner and Jim Palmer’s year old BT7A. How about that, Brabham Intercontinental cars from first to third places, with Jack not driving any of them!

Ron Tauranac’s first in a series of three very successful Coventry Climax engined cars, Tauranac tagged them as ‘IC’ for ‘Intercontinental’, was the 1962 BT4, based on that years BT3 F1 FWMV Coventry Climax 1.5 litre V8 engined car.

Jack raced the first of these in the 1962 Australian Grand Prix at Caversham, Western Australia, having a great dice with Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 until a back-marker took him out late in the race. This was followed by the 1964 BT7A and the 1965 BT11A.

Frank Gardner’s Mildren Brabham BT11A Climax being pushed onto the grid. The lanky chap at the back is Glenn Abbey, long time Mildren and Kevin Bartlett mechanic (Fistonic)

The BT11A’s were phenomenally successful in both Australasia and South Africa, winning lots of races and championships not least the 1966/7 Australian Gold Star Championship for Spencer Martin in the very same chassis raced by Graham Hill to victory at Pukekohe.

The cars were utterly conventional, simple and oh-so-fast spaceframe chassis cars with outboard wishbone suspension out the front and outboard multi-link at the rear- single top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and coil springs with Armstrong shocks. Like all customer Brabhams they went like the clappers straight out of the box as the base suspension setup was done on circuit by Jack’s ‘highly tuned arse’. Many championships were won by Brabham customers not straying too far from factory suspension settings!

After the NZ GP the Tasman circus upped sticks from Pukekohe and drove the 500 km from the North of New Zealand’s North Island to its South, not too far from Wellington. Levin is now a town of about 20,000 people, then it would have been less than half that, and services the local rural and light manufacturing sectors.

Bruce, Ray Stone in blue and Wally Willmott? Cooper T79 (Fistonic)

Jim Clark quickly got dialled in to his new Lotus 32B and down to business, opening his Tasman account by winning the Levin Motor Racing Club’s 30.8-mile ‘Gold Leaf International Trophy’ at fractionally more than 76.6 mph.

The Flying Scotsman cut out the twenty-eight laps in fine style in 24 min. 5.9 sec and put in his seventh lap in 49.9 sec. In 1964 Denny Hulme (2.5 Brabham-Climax) had set records of 24 min 36.8 sec and 50.3 sec in this event. Repeating their NZGP form, Brabham-Climax conductors Frank Gardner and Jim Palmer, filled second and third spots, while next in line were the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team 2.5 Cooper-Climaxes of Phil Hill, T70 and McLaren, T79.

Graham Hill, Lex Davison and Arnold Glass shipped their cars to Australia after the NZ Grand Prix. Wanganui driver, and later multiple Kiwi Champion, 1970 Tasman Champion and winner of many Asian Grands Prix, Graeme Lawrence had at last got hold of his Brabham BT6 which was making its first appearance at Levin. As noted above Brabham was having a Christmas break and did not join the series until the first Australian round at Sydney’s Warwick Farm in mid-February.

Levin is a tight, twisty and bumpy circuit. Newcomers Clark and Hill quickly had the 1.1-mile track sorted. Clark’s qualifying lap was a 49.4 whilst Phil Hill managed 50 sec, the same time as his team leader McLaren.

Phil Hill aboard the updated Cooper T70 Climax raced by Tim Mayer and Bruce McLaren in 1964. Compare and contrast with the ’65 model T79 below (Fistonic)

Bruce had a bitter-sweet 1964 Tasman Series. He won the championship in one of two Cooper T70’s he and his Kiwi mechanic Wally Willmott built at the Cooper Surbiton works.

These cars, raced by Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, are generally acknowledged as the first McLarens, built as they were in a corner of the Cooper factory to McLaren’s design. The second car was raced by American ‘coming man’ Tim Mayer with great speed and skill until he made a mistake on the daunting, fast, unforgiving Longford road circuit in Tasmania which took the young drivers life.

The undamaged T70 was updated during the winter to be raced by 1961 F1 World Champion Phil Hill with Bruce racing a new chassis, an evolved T70 designated T79, a spaceframe chassis was again used. The main difference between the cars were inboard front suspension on the T79 whereas the older T70 was outboard. The T79 used a nice, reliable but then new Hewland gearbox whereas the T70’s used a Colotti in one chassis and a Cooper/Citroen CS5 in the other. I wrote an article about Tim Mayer a while back, read it by following the link at the bottom of the page for details of the T70 design rather than repeat it all again here.

Hill P had a terrific Tasman which was a tonic for him as his single-seater career had stalled somewhat since his F1 title winning year. 1962 was a shocker for him with Ferrari who had failed to develop the 156,1963 in an ATS was far worse and his drives for Cooper reflected the fact that design wise, their cars were becoming outdated. If there was any doubt about Hills single-seater speed, he proved he ‘cut the mustard’ aboard a competitive year old car in the ’65 Tasman.

Bruce McLaren aboard his Cooper T79 Climax in the Levin paddock (Fistonic)

The Mayer/McLaren/Hill Cooper T70 Climax raced by all three drivers, originally carrying chassis plate ‘FL-1-64’, re-plated by McLaren prior to the ’65 Tasman to ‘FL-2-64’ passed through the hands of Bill Patterson for driver John McDonald, Don O’Sullivan and others before being acquired by Richard Berryman in 1974. The car was eventually beautifully restored by his son Adam in Melbourne, who retains and races it. The T79 was sold after the Tasman to John Love in South Africa who won many races in it before it later returned to the UK, it too still exists.

Back to Levin practice and qualifying…

Levis with the 1.5 Brabham BT6 Ford was in the groove with a brilliant 51.1 sec, his time put all the 2.5 drivers to shame. Palmer could only manage 51.7 sec in his Brabham BT7A, Grant 51.9 sec in his BT4, Abernethy did 52.2 in his Cooper T66 and Gardner was credited with 53.5 sec in Alec Mildren’s BT11A. Grant was a late arrival. His Brabham-Climax had undergone a major engine rebuild since the discovery of a cracked crankshaft on the eve of the Grand Prix. Second quickest 1.5 was Buchanan’s Brabham BT6 Ford with 52.0 sec. Qualifying times were academic in the sense that grid positions for the feature race were decided on heat results.

Jim Clark again chillin at Levin ’65 (Fistonic)

The eight-lap heat on raceday morning contained all overseas drivers and favoured locals.

‘Clark, sharing the front row with McLaren and Hill, jumped into the lead from the start and remained there to the finish. Hill, McLaren, Palmer and Grant settled into the next four spots after Gardner had dropped out with distributor trouble. The contest was enlivened a little by Palmer catching Grant napping on the seventh lap and assuming fourth place. Clark won in 6 min 49.8 sec and set a new lap record of 49.9 sec’ sergent.com reports.

Council of war- Phil Hill in the pristine white race suit with Bruce front and centre, his allegiance to Firestone clear. Who are the other dudes? (Fistonic)

Levis had things all his own way in the second heat, winning in 7 min 13.5 sec, with Andy Buchanan, also in a 1.5 Brabham BT6 Ford, next. Third and fourth were Red Dawson Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 and John Riley in a Lotus 18/21 Climax 2.5. The situation was confused by Gardner who, anxious to make sure all was well with his car, was permitted to use the heat as a test run and took the lead in the last two laps.

Before the title race there was some feverish work in the Palmer pit to replace a cracked universal joint in his Brabham BT7A Climax. In a drama filled day for the team, an hour before the race was due to start, another close inspection revealed a hairline crack in a half-shaft. A replacement was found and fitted minutes before the cars were gridded.

Dummy grid or form up area prior to the Levin International- Clark on pole then McLaren and Hill, the yellow of Gardner on row 2 (Fistonic)

Clark, Lotus 32B had pole position in the main event with Hill, Cooper T70 and McLaren, Cooper T79 outside him.

In rows of three, the rest of the field comprised Palmer, Brabham BT7A, Grant, Brabham BT4, Gardner, Brabham BT11A; Levis, Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5, Buchanan, Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5, Abernethy  Cooper T66; Dawson, Cooper T53, Thomasen, Brabham BT4, Brabham BT4 Riley; Flowers, Lola Mk4A, Smith, Lotus 22 Ford 1.5 Lawrence, Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5; and at the back Hollier, Lotus 20B Ford 1.5. As the cars were forming on the grid, Abernethy could not select a gear and he had to abort the start’.

‘Clark made a good start with Grant, Hill and McLaren right with him. To the elation of the partisan crowd, Grant proceeded to take McLaren and Hill on braking into the hairpin. When they came round the first time the leaders were Clark, Grant, Phil Hill, McLaren, Palmer, Gardner and Levis

A 51.6 sec second lap gave Clark a 3 sec lead over Grant. In his fourth lap Palmer took McLaren and in another two laps had moved to third place ahead of Hill. Clark held on to his lead over Grant. There was then a gap of 3 sec to Palmer, with Hill and Gardner next in line. McLaren, probably to his embarrassment, had the 1.5 drivers Levis and Buchanan looming large in his mirrors.

Clark on the way to Levin International victory 1965, Lotus 32B Climax (sergent.com)

The pattern changed dramatically during the tenth lap. Grant tried to correct a slide at Cabbage-Tree Bend, dropped a rear wheel into the rough and spun off the course to lose all chance in such a short race. Palmer took second spot, but not for long. Gardner in the next three laps bridged the gap to take over second place just 5 sec behind Clark. Next in line were Hill, McLaren and Levis. Flowers was out with transmission failure in the troublesome Lola on lap 14.

Those opening laps had been fast and furious. In their sixth lap Grant and Gardner had returned 50.6 sec in the midst of heavy traffic. A lap later Clark equaled his morning record of 49.9 sec.

As the race reached the last stages, Clark continued to circulate in a steady 51 sec. Gardner in two laps reduced Clark’s advantage from 11 sec to 9 sec while Palmer closed up to be 2 sec behind the Australian, but Clark was given the ‘hurry’ signal and moved out again with effortless ease to come home 11.3 sec ahead of Gardner with Palmer 4.7 sec further back. Thomasen retired with only a handful of laps remaining.’

BP all the way, Bruce and Ray Stone in blue fuelling up the T79. Front on shot shows the top rocker/inboard front suspension of the car (Fistonic)

Bibliography…

sergent.com, oldracingcars.com

Cooper T70/Tim Mayer Article Link…

https://primotipo.com/?s=tim+mayer

Photo Credits…

Milan Fistonic, Peter Mellor, The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Winners are grinners, the first of many such occasions for Jim Clark in 1965 at Levin…

(Fistonic)

Finito…

 

 

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Mike Barney prepares Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T53 Climax’, French GP Reims, 3 July 1960…

That racing drivers shouldn’t have too much imagination is shown by this shot!

#16 is Brabham’s winning chassis, #18 McLaren’s third placed car. Olivier Gendebien was second and Henry Taylor fourth in T51’s making it a Cooper 1-4!

Yer ‘fancy-schmancy’ high tech relatively, I say it again, relatively safe 2017 carbon fibre GP machine is another world away, 55 years or so to be precise. Mind you, one would hope we would progress.

Owen Maddock’s curvy spaceframe chassis is typical of the day, the spaceframe anyway if not the imperfect in an engineering sense bent tubes! At the front the water radiator and oil tank are the ‘deformable structures’ ahead of the drivers ankles and lower legs. The fuel tanks are neatly and very practically ‘bungee’ strapped to the chassis and prone to leakage as the ‘ally tanks chafe on the steel chassis tubes. The ‘deformable side structures’ are the tanks, no bag bladders in those days so the risk of fire was great, prevalent and occasionally fatal.

The 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF powered T53 ‘Lowline’ was the 1960 successor to the race-winning and built in vast numbers 1958/9 T51. That car in both F2 and F1 spec has to be one of the greatest customer racing cars ever? T53 was the design work of Jack, John Cooper and Maddock.  The Lotus 18, Chapmans first mid-engined car was the quickest bolide of 1960. Moss took wins in Rob Walker’s car at Monaco and in the season ending US GP at Riverside but it was not the most reliable, something Jack was happy to capitalise upon.

McLaren won the Argentinian GP at the seasons outset, then Jack had an amazing mid-season run winning the Dutch GP on 6 June and the Portuguese GP on 14 August. In between Zandvoort and Oporto he won the Belgian, French and British GP’s thereby setting up his and Cooper’s second world titles on the trot.

Its good to look at these cars in the ‘nuddy’ every now and again to remind oneself of just how close to the elements and how brave the drivers of yore were. Yep, the piloti are no more exposed than they had been in the past but the cornering speeds of a 1960 2.5 litre Cooper or Lotus were a good deal quicker than a 1954 2.5 litre Maser 250F, the road circuits in particular just as hazardous…

Cooper T53 Climax cutaway by Brian Hatton

Credits…

GP Library, Brian Hatton

 

 

 

 

 

le mans 1966

(Roger Blanchard)

Bruce McLaren’s Ford GT40 MkII leads the Jo Siffert/Colin Davis 4th placed Porsche 906LE during his winning drive shared with Chris Amon…

The Kiwis’ took the chequered flag in the infamous, Ford executive determined ‘form finish’ which arguably deprived Ken Miles the victory he deserved.

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Bruce McLaren in the winning GT40 passes the ‘Maranello Concessionaires’ Richard Attwood/David Piper Ferrari 365P2, DNF lap 33 with water pump failure (Getty)

Credits…

Roger Blanchard, Getty Images

mayer goodwood

Bruce McLaren tested the first of these Cooper T70 chassis at Goodwood in October 1963, lapping in 1:20.5 seconds with an engine well past its best, fiddling with tyre pressures and spring rates. The date of Tim’s test is unclear. Note the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing logo/sticker attached to the cockpit (Getty)

Tim Mayer sizes up the cockpit of  his new Tasman Cooper T70, full of optimism having just tested the car at Goodwood, October 1963…

Tim Mayer is one of motor racing’s many ‘might-have-beens’, cut down in his prime in a Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd Tasman Cooper T70 Climax at Longford, Tasmania on 28 February 1964.

The young American made a huge impact in Australasia during his 1964 tour and is remembered in very fond terms by enthusiasts fortunate enough to see him race the big GP Cooper here.

This article was inspired by John Ellacott’s color shot at Warwick Farm in the body of this article and some Getty Archive photos I tripped over researching something else. Other layers of personal interest are a growing obsession with Longford and that one of my mates, Adam Berryman, restored and owns one of the two Cooper T70 chassis.

I hadn’t intended to explore each chassis in this article but the level of interest created online makes it important to provide this summary of each of the two chassis and their destiny, the details are courtesy of oldracingcars.com and Adam Berryman. Here goes…

Tim raced ‘FL-1-64’ at Levin, Pukekohe, Wigram, Teretonga and Sandown. Bruce decided to swap cars with Tim at Warwick Farm, racing ‘FL-1-64’ at Warwick Farm, Lakeside and Longford.

McLaren raced ‘FL-2-64’ from the Tasman’s commencement at Levin, Pukekohe 1st NZ GP, Wigram 1st, Teretonga 1st and Sandown. Tim raced ‘FL-2-64’ at Warwick Farm, Lakeside and at Longford when it was destroyed in practice.

For his 1965 Tasman campaign Bruce returned with a new Cooper T79 for himself, only one was built, it was tagged ‘FL-1-65’.

‘FL-1-64’, the surviving 1964 chassis raced as above was updated and used very competitively in the ’65 Tasman by 1961 World Champion, Phil Hill. In fact the series was his last in single-seaters. When updated the perfectly good, ‘FL-1-64’ tagged frame was re-tagged with the ‘FL-2-64’ plate off the frame destroyed by Mayer at Longford. This was done at Coopers with the consent of all concerned; John Cooper, McLaren, Teddy Mayer.

It is this chassis, ‘FL-1-64’ now tagged ‘FL-2-64’ which raced on in Australia ‘in period’ by John McDonald and was later acquired by Richard Berryman, and upon his untimely death passed to his son Adam.

Simple isn’t it!

Far from it in fact. The details were only unravelled when Adam Berryman met Wally Willmott, who built the T70’s with Bruce at Coopers, all those years ago. As part of the rigorous process of Berryman getting the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport historic ‘Certificate of Description’ to race the car, the history of  the two chassis was clarified as a result of information shared and debated between Berryman, Doug Nye, (who wrote ‘Cooper Cars’) Willmott and Bryan Miller, the CAMS Historic Eligibility Commission Chairman.

Further detail on each chassis i will cover in an article on the T70’s.

cooper mc laren puke

Bruce in #47 and Tim in the Pukekohe paddock 1964, wonderful shot captures the relaxed atmosphere of this demanding circuit (Getty)

Bruce went on to win the inaugural, 1964 Tasman Series with a fighting second place behind Graham Hill’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT4 Climax at Longford, the series final round He won by 6 points from Jack Brabham’s BT7A and Denny Hulme’s Brabham BT4.

Tim’s accident took place during the Friday afternoon practice session. He was keen to do well of course, racing amongst F1 champions Hill and Brabham, GP winner McLaren as well as host of aspirants; Frank Matich, John Youl, Tony Shelly, Jim Palmer, Greg Cusack, Frank Gardner, Dave Walker and others.

Longford’s 4.5 high-speed miles of undulating, tree and telephone pole lined roads with culverts was completed with a railway crossing, two bridges, a railway viaduct and more. Its blend of Tasmanian roads and topography was unforgiving to say the least. It had many nuances, younger drivers needed miles there to appreciate them. Neither Mayer or fellow Cooper pilot Rocky Tresise, a year later, learned the subtleties of the place and paid the ultimate price as a consequence. Undoubtedly it was a circuit to attack only after deep familiarity.

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Bruce in front of Tim in the Puke paddock, the other Cooper #8 is the very fast and reliable, several years old T55 of Taswegian John Youl. McLaren won the NZGP from Brabham’s BT7A, Ron and Jack’s latest ‘Intercontinental’ tool, and Mayer who was 26 seconds adrift of his team-leader. Cockpit very tight especially for the lanky American, note Bruce’s mini-dashboard to which the essential three Smiths instruments are affixed; tach, oil press, and oil and water temps (Getty)

I asked multiple Australian Gold Star Champion, Taswegian John McCormack if he raced his ex-Brabham BT4 Climax there, ‘I drove there, I wouldn’t say that I raced that first time though’ was John’s typically candid response.

Needless to say these cars were far from ‘safe’; they were of multi-tubular spaceframe construction and had no deformable structures other than the aluminium saddle tanks carrying plenty of Avgas…The 2.5 Coventry Climax 4 potter gave 235 powerful horses, the cars did better than 160mph on ‘The Flying Mile’, more than quick at a place like this. A ‘big one’ was all too often the drivers last in cars of this ilk.

Mayer was on the ‘back section of the track, on the fateful lap. He had completed pit straight, then headed down hill, traversed the left-hand, blind entry left, right Viaduct and crossed the River Esk on Kings Bridge. He was on Union Straight which leads to Longford/Pub Corner, a 90 degree right hander. Tim was using a tall top gear doing better than 160.

The tricky bit of the circuit here, important for lap times was to fly the hump before Longford Corner; critical was landing square and braking almost immediately upon landing but not being too savage on the brakes to avoid giving the car a big fright whilst it was relatively unstable.

The landing was the problem in this case. Perhaps the car landed badly due to wind or being lined up poorly, or perhaps Tim braked too hard before the Cooper had settled enough back onto its springs, either way it was all over in the blink of an eye. ‘The Cooper slewed sideways into a 15ft plane tree. The car split into two; Tim was thrown 50 yards to the other side of the road, instantly breaking his neck’ recounts Barry Green in ‘Longford: The Fast Track Back’.

Eoin Young in his report in the April 1964 ‘Motor Racing’ said ‘…Mayers Cooper landed slightly offline just before the right-angled right-hander at the hotel, and slewed sideways into a a tree…’

‘Sports Car World’ reported that ‘Apparently (always a worry when a report says this!) Mayer became airborne off the hump after Kings Bridge. The car landed slightly sideways, Mayer caught it, but the two left hand wheels had got into the dirt. The car then slid into a plane tree and disintegrated throwing Mayer out’. I don’t wish to labour the point but rather use three contemporary reports to look at their similarity and differences, it does not change the result but the actual cause will never precisely be known.

Tim’s death directly lead, as most of you know, to his manager brother Teddy Mayer’s involvement as a shareholder/director of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. Tyler Alexander was part of Mayer’s Tasman crew too, both he and Teddy were huge contributors to the phenomenal McLaren success which followed over the ensuing decade. In that sense, something positive became of the terrible events all those years ago, without in any way trying to make light of Tim’s demise.

Long Weekend at Longford…

Checkout this amazing short documentary on the ’64 Longford carnival. There is some in car footage which superbly illustrates the difficulties of the track, inclusive of the area where Tim came to grief.

 

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Mayer in the Goodwood paddock. The T70 was built in Coopers workshops but was Bruce’ project and conceptual design, designed for 100 mile Tasman events, rather than the GP cars he had previously taken home to the Antipodes. Its now said to be ‘the first McLaren’. The T70 was entirely conventional with spaceframe chassis albeit very narrow for the time, 25 inches wide cockpit, to slip through the air nicely. Front suspension was by upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units with anti-dive geometry, and single top link, lower wishbone with a single top radius rod for fore and aft location. The Coventry Climax FPF 4 potter was at its 2.5 litre GP capacity, down from the 2.7’s widely used during the pre-Tasman F Libre years, output circa 235bhp. The gearbox was a Colotti Type 21 5 speed in ‘FL-2-64’ and Cooper 6 speed in Tim’s ‘FL-1-64’ . This Colotti T21 was famous at McLaren/Cooper’s as the most used gearbox ever having started life in Tommy Atkins Cooper, was then used in the T70 and then later in the Cooper/Zerex Oldsmobile. Fuel tankage comprised 8 gallons under the seat and smaller side tanks either side of the drivers knees holding a total of 7 gallons (Getty)

The editor of New Zealand’s ‘Motorman’ magazine, Donn Anderson wrote this tribute to Tim Mayer soon after his death. This contemporary piece has a wonderful intimacy and familiarity about it written by a journalist upon whom Tim Mayer clearly made a big impact as both a young racer and as a man. It has far more validity than anything any of us can pen ‘from 50 years afar’…

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Mayer, Sandown 1964, ‘FL-1-64’. He was 2nd to Brabham when he started to have fuel feed problems and was overhauled in the last stages by Stillwell and Youl to finish 4th, Brabham won (autopics)

‘Scholar Journalist and Sportsman…Tim Mayer’…

‘It is so very hard to write an appreciation of one who was more than just another racing driver to us. Tim Mayer was a newcomer to international racing and although we knew him for only five weeks in New Zealand, it was not difficult to make an accurate appraisal of the 26-year-old American.

His death during a practice session for the final round of the Tasman Championship at the Longford circuit in Tasmania on February 28 was a sudden shock to many. Twelve months ago he was practically unknown and even of late his appearance to some was much of a novelty.

Tim was not the ‘boy’s book’ ideal of a racing driver. He looked more the university or law student figure and, indeed, he did have a very sound education. Tall and slender – 6 foot and 145 lbs – Timmy was married in 1961 to charming Garril.

He was born to a wealthy family in Pennsylvania, and it soon became obvious that he was talented in both studying and athletic fields. Some six years ago he went to his first motor race at Sebring with a cousin and was immediately taken in with the sport. He entered his first race in an Austin Healey in 1959. ‘It was wet and I was very much a newcomer to motor racing,’ Tim told The Motorman recently. ‘I spun trying to change gears down a straight!’ The young driver competed in 5 of 13 national races that initial year with the Healey and finished fourth in the national class standings

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Mayer Pukekohe, small size of the car accentuated by the way Tim sits out of it! T70 chassis # FL-1-64 (Getty)

Even then Timmy was backed and assisted by his brother, Teddy, who has accompanied him throughout his career with cars. Of his early racing he says it was mostly ‘crash, burn and try to learn.’ For 1960 Tim had a new Lotus 18 junior and in eight races he was second five times. The car was wrecked when Timmy ran into a horse barn at Louisville, thus bringing the year’s racing to an end. At that meeting he met Dr Frank Falkner, Cooper’s agent in the U.S., who was to help the young American. By the age of 22 Tim had a degree in English literature from Yale University but it was time for the two-year army stint.

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The Long and The Short of It: Tim in the shades at rear and Teddy in between the well nourished lads at Cumberland in 1962. Teddy’s flair for team management was clear early on; ‘Revem Racing’ ran Tim, Peter Revson and Bill Smith in FJ in ’62. Tim WAS fast and Teddy managed his brother well (unattributed)

Of his first run in a single-seater Tim said: ‘I had overturned the Lotus 18 within 10 minutes of driving the thing and finished hanging upside down strapped in with my seat belt. Everyone uses belts, even for open cars, in the States, so when I went to Europe it took a while to become used to not being tied in.’

Tim was able to continue pursuing his desire to become a top-line driver in the army, however, as the officers appreciated the value of a quick corporal at motor race meetings. He used an FJ Cooper and while based in Puerto Rico was able to race almost every weekend in many parts of the country.

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Tim Mayer Cooper T59 Ford from Peter Revson in a similar car, first and second. #106 Bill Smith Lotus 20 Ford. ‘Jaycees Cup’ Cumberland Airport, Maryland 13 May 1962.Tim won the US FJ Championship in 1962 from Floyd Aaskov and Walt Hansgen, Revvie was 5th, Augie Pabst 6th and Mark Donohue and Roger Penske equal 9th In 1963 Teddy (and Bruce?) introduced Tim to Ken Tyrrell who ran him in a handful of European and British BARC FJ Championship rounds in a Cooper T67 BMC, not the engine of choice at all. Even tho the season was well over, the contenders dialled into their cars, to say the least, Tim was in amongst the top 6 Cosworth engine cars.  Mayer’s European FJ campaign comprised a fast blast through France in mid-year, he contested the GP de Rouen, Coupe International de Vitesse des Juniors, the FJ support race during the French GP weekend at Reims and Trophee d’Auvergne at Clermont Ferrand on June 23, 30 and July7 respectively. At each meeting he was ‘first in the BMC Class’ in 7th,8th and 4th in his Tyrrell Cooper T67, the races won by the Ford powered Brabham BT6’s of Paul Hawkins, Denny Hulme and Jo Schlesser. The BARC British championship leader board that year included amongst its Top 13 Peter Arundell, Denny Hulme, Frank Gardner, Richard Attwood, David Hobbs, Paul Hawkins, Mike Spence, Alan Rees, Peter Procter, John Rhodes and Brian Hart amongst others, Tim was 13th with a point. That he shone through in a tiny number of races amongst this lot says a lot! (unattributed)

The big break came in 1962 when he was acclaimed the most improved and outstanding driver of the year. With a brand new Cooper junior he won the United States SCCA Formula Junior Championship. These results landed him an entry in the US Grand Prix with a third car owned by the Cooper works. He was the fastest of the privateers in practice but the gear lever came unstuck during the race.

Last year Tim was off to Europe to join the Ken Tyrrell racing team. Although the Cooper Juniors were down on power compared with the Lotus Fords, he was able to gain much experience all over England and Europe. ‘There is much more competition in Europe compared with the States. Formula Junior racing in Europe is like Russian roulette. The BMC engines were outdated and if we finished fourth or fifth we were doing well. The Cooper had little power but fantastic cornering – superior to the Lotus.’

He crashed during the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in 1963 after a brake caliper broke and suffered a badly twisted neck, and he also had a bad shunt at Silverstone. Driving his own 2.7-litre Cooper Monaco, Tim was third to Penske and Salvadori at the international Brands Hatch meeting last year. He also had a number of races with Cooper’s Minis. “I had a lot of fun with Sir John Whitmore – he must be the second best known driver in the U.S. next to Clark

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Tim Mayer Pukekohe (Getty)

At Riverside last year he led the 2-litre class with a new Lotus 23B until heat forced his retirement, but he won his class and finished 5th overall at Laguna Seca.

He was made two Christmas presents – a drive with one of the McLaren Coopers in the Australasian series, and number two man in the Cooper works formula one team for 1964.

When Tim first drove the 2.5 he found it a different kettle of fish to the juniors. ‘With the little cars you have no power to get out of trouble.’ So Tim, Garril, Teddy and mechanic Tyler Alexander came south to New Zealand with the McLaren team – and they won many friends. He was second at Levin, took third place at Pukekohe, but had trouble at Wigram and couldn’t do any better than 8th position. At Invercargill he finished second to his team-mate and was fourth in the Australian GP after losing second position with fuel trouble. He was third at Warwick Farm.

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Mayer, ‘Warwick Farm 100’ 16 February 1964, Homestead Corner, T70 ‘FL-2-64’ : Tim qualified just behind Bruce at The Farm, his first time at the highly technical circuit. Peter Windsor on his blog ‘…clearly remembers Timmy biffing the back of Bruce’s Cooper…on the opening lap at Creek Corner. Team leader nudged by his number 2! Both raced on though and finished 2nd and 3rd (Jack won in his BT7A by 4 tenths of a second from Bruce with Tim 10 seconds adrift-not bad in this company on that track, familiar turf to the other two blokes)…I watched them all afternoon. Timmy was always fast, always aggressive punching the throttle out of Creek (corner, a hairpin), applying the opposite lock with crisp precision. Bruce by comparison, was only slightly more fluid. Timmy, clearly was fast’ was Windsor’s conclusion (John Ellacott)

Consistent placings resulted in the American driver finishing third on points in the New Zealand races for the Tasman Championship, behind McLaren and Hulme, with 16 points.

Timmy – the nephew of Governor Scranton of Pennsylvania – had a real American outlook to motor racing: he wanted to go to the top. He was perhaps fortunate in having financial means to purchase the best machinery during his early career, but he also developed the ability to handle same. Money cannot buy driving skill.

From his ‘varsity days when he worked as a disc jockey on radio stations he was a keen journalist and wrote for a number of publications.

Not only was Timmy a fine driver and scholar: he was also an enthusiastic athlete. Water skiing, squash and other activities were the order of the day in New Zealand when other business was cleared.

He was genuinely interested in motor racing, no matter where. He spoke to me at length on the unfortunate situation of import duty and restrictions in this country and said it must stifle the sport here. ‘An FJ Cooper can be imported into the States for less than 1200 pounds, whereas it costs more than twice that here.’

Wherever the Mayers went in this country they gained respect. Tim, with his broad accent, was a fine ambassador for his country and a true enthusiast. There was always time to talk to anyone – no matter how small they were on the circuit, or how insignificant their name might be.

Quiet, unassuming, and not likely to be noticed in a crowd of drivers, Timmy Mayer left his mark in this country. It would seem very cruel that we should lose a fine driver who had come so far in such a short time. We pay tribute to Tim Mayer and his kin, Garril and Teddy who helped him so much in the sport he loved’.

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Garril and Tim Mayer at Warwick Farm 1964, T70 ‘FL-2-64’ (autopics)

 

McLaren himself spoke of Mayer in the Autosport column he wrote together with journalist Eoin Young;

‘Intelligent and charming, Timmy had made dozens of friends during his career.  As often occurs, to look at him you wouldn’t take him for a racing driver.  You had to know him, to realize his desire to compete, to do things better than the next man, be it swimming, water-skiing or racing.

So when, during second practice at Longford, he crashed at high speed and we knew immediately that it was bad, in our hearts we felt that he had been enjoying himself and ‘having a go’.

The news that he died instantly was a terrible shock to all of us.  But who is to say that he had not seen more, done more and learned more in his 26 years than many people do in a lifetime?

It is tragic, particularly for those left.  Plans half-made must now be forgotten and the hopes must be rekindled.  Without men like Tim, plans and hopes mean nothing.To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy.  I can’t say these things well, but I know this is what I feel to be true.  It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one’s ability.  Life is measured in terms of achievement, not in years alone.’

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Love this casual shot on the Teretonga grid, T70 ‘FL-1-64’. Famously the most southern circuit on the planet. Tyler Alexander and Tim await the off. It was a great race for ‘Team McLaren’ with Bruce over the line by a tenth of a second from Tim with Kiwi Jim Palmer 3rd in a Cooper T53. That Tim was quick was undeniable, his pace in these big, fast GP cars was immediate (Alexander)

Bibliography…

Article by Donn Anderson in the April 1964 issue of New Zealand’s ‘Motorman’ magazine, oldracingcars.com, The Nostalgia Forum, Stephen Dalton, Ray Bell, Bryan Miller

Credits…

John Ellacott, Getty Images, oldracingcars.com, Tyler Alexander, autopics.com, Stephen Dalton Collection, Euan Sarginson

Etcetera…

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Tim Mayer chats to some young enthusiasts/admirers at Levin (Sarginson/Dalton)

 

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Tim all loaded up in the T70, chatting with Kiwi international, Tony Shelly ‘adopted’ by the Davison’s as Ray Bell put it, complete with one of Lex Davison’s ‘Ecurie Australie’ tops Pukekohe 1964 (Getty)

 

Tim and Bruce during the Lakeside 99- third for Bruce and DNF for his lanky teammate- Brabham won in his BT7A (unattributed)

 Tailpiece

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Tim Mayer Goodwood, October 1963. Trying to jam his lanky frame into the confines of a car designed around Bruce’ more compact dimensions! Which chassis?, i’m not game to guess! (Getty)

 Finito…

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9200 rpm and breathing very heavily thru it’s oversized for GP racing ports…

Bruce McLaren at rest and considering setup changes to his first GP car, Robin Herd’s Ford Indy V8 powered, ‘Mallite’ chassis, M2B at Watkins Glen in 1966.

These shots are from the Dave Friedman Archive; the tachometer snaps are at the US GP, the balance of photos from the following, final 1966 Championship round in Mexico City.

This article is another of my ‘nutso’ ones in terms of its order…

I found a swag of photos in Friedman’s archive a while back and planned a pictorial of Bruce and his first McLaren GP car at the 1966 US and Mexican Grands’ Prix, the events where Friedman snapped away prodigiously. I put it to one side and largely forgot about it. Subsequently I decided on something more substantive; so the first bit is the original pictorial, the second is about Bruce’ progress in his first two years as an F1 marque jumping from engine to engine until the DFV provided the definitive McLaren F1 moteur from 1968-1983.

And boy, wasn’t there a lot of water that passed under the bridge between 1968 when the design for the Cosworth powered McLaren M7 was laid down to John Barnard providing both the dimensions of the DFV and its means of attachment to the chassis amongst his ‘mandatories’ of design specifications to Hans Metzger at Porsche in 1983. The TAG/Porsche 1.5 litre twin-turbo V6 was the result, the McLaren MP4/1E TAG-Porsche first raced at the 28 August 1983 Dutch Grand Prix. Back to 1965/6 though!

Remember, the tachometer snaps are at the US GP, the balance of photos from the following round in Mexico City, there are no captions in the first part of the article.

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As a GP engine the Ford Quad-Cam Indy V8 engine was a huge, beefy, heavy and notoriously raucous unit. Visually it was a ‘big busty blonde’ as well with its whopping Hilborn injection trumpets and huge ‘between the vee exhausts’, it looked ‘the goods’…

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The Ford Indy quad cam V8 in its earliest form fitted to a Lotus 34 at Indy in 1964. Jim Clark and Dan Gurney contested the race, this is Clark’s chassis. Engine 4195cc DOHC, 4 valve, Hilborn injected, methanol fuelled giving circa 425bhp @ 8000rpm and useful power from 6000-9000rpm. ZF 2DS 20 ‘box (TEN)

McLaren developed and tested the engine during the winter of 1965/6, notably at Riverside, California but missed the European non-championship F1 events with which the season commenced. In a portent of the season to come John Surtees won the 1 April Syracuse GP in his Ferrari 312 whilst ‘Black-Jack’ won the BRDC International Trophy in his Brabham BT19 Repco at Silverstone on May 14.

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McLaren looking pretty chilled at this stage of the ’66 Monaco weekend upon his teams GP debut, color of the car a function of doing a deal with John Frankenheimer’s crew as part of  filming of ‘Grand Prix’ . Inboard rocker front suspension and outboard loacation of spring/shock at the rear. Checkout the prostrate ‘snapper behind the car (unattributed)

McLaren made its debut as an F1 marque in the May 22, 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, the first championship round that year. Bruce raced the car he concepted together with Robin Herd, the brilliant young designer specified ‘Mallite’ as the primary material for M2B’s monocoque chassis. (noting the M1 series of car are CanAm machines)

Mallite is a composite sheet aerospace sandwich material comprising end grain balsa material filling between thin sheets of aluminium. The resultant chassis was incredibly stiff for its day at around 11000 lb/ft per degree of deflection compared with a good conventional ‘ally tub which came in the range of 4000-5000 lb/ft per degree.

The Indy Ford 4-cam V8 was reduced from its USAC mandated 4.2 litres to the 3 litre F1 limit (95.3mmX52.4mm bore/stroke-2999cc) which prevailed from 1 January 1966. For F1 use the engine was first modified by Klaus von Rucker in England, then later Bruce involved Traco Engineering in Los Angeles.

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All hands to the pump! Bruce, Tyler Alexander and Wally Willmott hard at it, Monaco 1966. The Indy Ford V8’s Hilborn fuel injection, between the Vee exhausts, full monocoque chassis, ZF 5 DS25 gearbox and conventional rear suspension; inverted lower wishbones, single top link, coil spring/dampers, twin radius rods and adjustable sway bar all clear in this shot (unattributed)

Click on this article for a brief history of the Ford Indy V8 amongst the Lola T90 stuff which is the main substance of this piece; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/12/graham-hills-american-red-ball-spl-lola-t90-ford-indy-winner-1966-2/

At Monaco the new McLaren qualified 12th, Bruce withdrew with mechanical ailments on lap 9, the race was won by Jackie Stewart’s 2.1 litre ‘Tasman’ P56 V8 engined BRM P261. This car was his 1965 1.5 litre F1 mount with a bigger version of the P56 V8 with which he won the 1965 Tasman Series.

Bruce and his small Colnbrook team, (near Heathrow an area in the midst of the motor racing industry of subcontractors 3 miles from Slough and 18 miles West of London) crew quickly realised the engines massive ports and valves didn’t give the sort of gas flow speed needed to produce competitive power at 3 litres. Mind you, its 300 horsepower was the sort of output the World Championship winning ‘RB620’ Repco V8 developed in 1966. It was enough to win Jack’s ’66 title albeit the Repco engine was light, very torquey and reliable. By contrast, Bruce’s Ford was heavy and gave its punch over a narrow rev band, the deficiencies of which were exacerbated by the 4 speed ZF ‘box they used which ‘left lots of gaps’ in the power band.

The team had much work to do on the Ford, in the meantime Count Volpi’s new Serenissima V8, designed by Ing. Alberto Massimino, who was part of the Lancia-Ferrari and Maserati 250F 1950’s design teams provided another ‘ready made’ alternative engine to try.

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Serenissima ATS Spider, Sauer/de Mortemart. Le Mans 1966. DNF with gearbox failure on lap 43. It raced in the prototype class, the race won by the McLaren/Amon Ford GT Mk2 (Smuckatelli)

This project is a story in itself but suffice to say Bruce tried the engine whilst simultaneously developing the Indy Ford V8 in an attempt to get it to where it needed to be. Most of you will be aware that Bruce’ Ford connections were immaculate at the time as both a development and race driver of the GT40 program, those cars developed by teams on both sides of the Atlantic. It was Bruce’ hope that he may have been able to get FoMoCo’s backing for his F1 variant of their Indy V8. In the end, via Ford UK’s Walter Hayes, Ford supported the Cosworth developed DFV of course.

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Weber 48IDA fed Serenissima all alloy V8 in the back of Bruce’ M2B during the Belgian GP weekend, 1966 (unattributed)

The Serenissima engine was designed as a sports car unit and gave little power. The ‘M166’ engine was an aluminium, chain driven, quad cam, 2 valve V8 displacing 2996cc (91.5X57.0 mm bore/stroke) 350 bhp was claimed for it but most of the horses seemed to have jumped ship between Italy and the UK, the actual output was more like 260bhp.

M2B was modified to take the side exhaust Italian V8 in time for the Belgian GP, at Spa. The team had great trouble just getting the thing to start, then run and to add insult to injury it ran its bearings after its first exploratory laps having qualified 16th. With no spare engine Bruce was a non-starter.

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Bruce in the winning Ford Mk2 he shared with Chris Amon at Le Mans 1966. The Ferrari is the Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 365 P2 driven by Richard Attwood and David Piper (GP Library)

Bruce and his young intended McLaren F1 team-mate Chris Amon (who raced M1B Chev CanAm cars for Bruce in 1966) then departed England for France and returned as Le Mans winners in a factory Ford GT Mk2. That contentious win or perhaps ‘first over the line’ is still the subject of discussion and debate amongst enthusiasts and historians alike even all these decades later.

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1966 British GP, Brands Hatch, M2B Serenissima V8. Bruce was 6th, scoring a championship point, the teams first. Jack Brabham won in BT19 Repco from pole, he was 2 laps up the road to give the gap some perspective. Bruce in his ‘Pete Aron’ Grand Prix filming helmet (unattributed)

Jack Brabham won both the French Grand Prix at Reims and the British at Brands Hatch in BT19 Repco. The M2B-Serenissima contested the Brands race with more success, the engine was reliable. Bruce started superbly on a damp track on wets running in the top six. As the road dried he dropped back but inherited 6th scoring McLaren’s first World Championship point. A significant day in Grand Prix history indeed.

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Bruce, Serenissima engined M2B in practice ahead of Jo Siffert Cooper T81 Maser DNF and Dan Gurney Eagle T1G Weslake DNF, Zandvoort 1966. He didn’t start the race (unattributed)

At the Dutch GP the Serenissima engine again failed, the McLaren F1 program was set aside pending development of the Indy Ford V8. Amongst other changes the engine was fitted with Chrysler Hemi inspired induction tracts which lifted its output to around 312bhp at 9500rpm.

The beast re-appeared in the United States GP at Watkins Glen, Bruce finished 5th by surviving a race of mechanical mayhem but in the final race of ’66, won by John Surtees’ Cooper T81 Maserati, the Mexican GP, the engine blew after 70 laps having qualified 14th.

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McLarens interim 1967 contender, the 2.1 litre P56 BRM V8 engined M4B makes it’s debut during the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch on 12 March 1967 (Getty)

Bruce cast around for a better alternative engine for 1967 and was a happy customer of BRM’s prospective 4 cam, 2 valve V12 which was designed as both an F1 and sportscar unit. The prototype (Group 6) capacity limit at the time was 3 litres so it made good commercial sense for BRM to build customer engines to replace the P56 V8’s which raced in endurance events as well as Grands Prix. BRM’s complex H16 was their factory F1 unit at the time but it was problematic to say the least…not available to customers (post Lotus) and probably not wanted by Bruce in any event!

A new one-off M5A monocoque chassis was designed for this engine designated ‘P101’, but the BRM V12 was running late, the M5A didn’t appear until the Canadian GP at Mosport in August.

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Bruce testing M4B BRM in the UK before the ’67 season started, circuit and date uncertain. The exposed monocoque chassis is that of an M4A Ford FVA F2 car upon which M4B was based (unattributed)

So a gorgeous little car was used in the interim; the McLaren M4B BRM V8 was based on Bruce’ M4A F2 car but instead of Ford’s little 1.6 litre FVA the engine bay carried a 2.1 litre version of BRM’s venerable, powerful, small and reliable P56 V8 which had won Graham Hill’s 1962 World Championship, countless GP’s and Tasman Series events. This Tasman BRM V8 engine gave circa 280bhp. ‘Belly’ fuel tanks gave the F2 derived F1 car sufficient fuel for 200 miles.

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The business end of M4B BRM at Monaco 1967. P56/60 V8 one of the great GP engines, 2.1 litres, 2 valve, Lucas injected, circa 245 bhp. ‘box is a Hewland DG300, beefy and under-stressed for this application, rear suspension period typical (unattributed)

M4B BRM made its debut in Bruce’ hands in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch on 13 March. It finished 4/6th in heats one/two but then its engine blew after 1 lap of the final after Bruce muffed a change in heat two. 5th places followed in the two heats and final of the Daily Express Spring Cup at Oulton Park and in the International Trophy at Silverstone on 15 April where Bruce was again, you guessed it, 5th!

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Bruce contesting the Oulton Park Spring Cup, 15 April ’67 M4B BRM, 5th. Brabham won the final in a BT20 Repco (Watson)

So, the little car had plenty of race miles on it as the team transporter headed to Monaco, the little M4B was tailor-made for the tight street circuit, but Jim Clark and Graham Hill were in similar hybrids; 1.5 F1 Lotus 33’s with stretched Tasman V8 Coventry Climax and BRM engines respectively.

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Bruce rests on his M4B armchair before the off, Monaco 1967. Its ‘done the rounds’ this shot but its such an atmospheric beauty i popped it in, this cars best view is its arse! where everything is very pert, taut and tightly packaged (unattributed)

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Bruce in M4B with truncated ‘Monaco’ nose ’67 (unattributed)

‘But Bruces’ battery was running flat – forcing a dramatic pit stop – Bruce could well have finished second behind fellow Kiwi Denny Hulme’s victorious Repco Brabham. Some of the spirit of Formula One in those days is typified by the pit stop as Bruce believed his misfire was fuel pressure and bawled as much at his crew. But Jack Brabham, friend and rival had come into the pits and was shouting ‘it’s your battery – it’s your battery!’ As Bruce wrote: Good old Jack. It was the battery and we quickly whipped another one on. He rejoined and finished fourth – three further championship points … thanks in part to a rival team chief!’ records the Bruce McLaren Trust.

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Dutch GP, Zandvoort 1967. Bruce in M4B BRM ahead of Pedro Rodriguez’ Cooper T81 Maserati, it was the debut of the Lotus 49 Ford, Clark won the race in Chapman’s jewel. Note the different nose compared with the earlier shots especially the ducts to ease the flow of air after its passed thru the radiator, reducing front lift in the process (Watson)

The M4B was then badly damaged on lap two of the Dutch GP at Zandvoort as Bruce went off on spilled oil in the fast Huzaren Viak corner. After repair he was testing it at Goodwood when it caught fire out on the circuit, he then watched it burn to death! The ’67 Dutch is also remembered of course for the debut of the Lotus 49 and more importantly the Ford Cosworth DFV V8 which powered it.

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McLaren assists with a plug change on his Eagle’s Weslake V12. French GP, Circuit Bugatti, LeMans 1967 (Getty)

Without a car, Bruce did a deal with Dan Gurney to drive the lanky Californian’s V12 Eagle T1G Weslake, Dan was in sparkling form in an All-American dream week having won two significant races in the Le Mans 24 Hour classic (Ford Mk4 with AJ Foyt co-driving) and at the Belgian GP in the Eagle thereby following the footsteps of Brabham as a GP winning driver of a car he built. It was a path Bruce would also traverse in the 1968 Belgian GP in his Cosworth powered M7A. Bruce was quick in Dan’s car, at the Circuit Bugatti Le Mans he qualified the big car 5th to Dans 3rd but they were both outed in the race, Bruce with ignition problems and Dan with a fuel line issue.

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The unfamiliar sight of GP cars at Le Mans, fortunately the Circuit Bugatti was only used once, the French having a wonderful selection of road circuits at the time to choose from. Eagle T1G surely the best looking F1 car of the sixties!? Bruce sets off for some laps in his unfamiliar mount (Cahier)

Two weeks later at Silverstone Jim Clark was in sparkling form and convincingly won the British GP. Bruce and Dan qualified 10th and 5th with Bruce this time outed with engine problems and Dan a failing clutch. Consistency in build and preparation of the Weslake V12 were amongst its issues, its fair to say the demands of two ‘Number Ones’ perhaps placed much more pressure on the resources of Gurney’s small team, than getting one machine ready to a high standard. I’ve never read anything about what Bruce, like Dan, one of the supreme engineer/tester/drivers thought of the T1G or its engine. I’m intrigued to know if any of you have something of that nature published ‘in period’ in your collections.

The supreme test of the Nurburgring followed on August 6 where again both drivers qualified well, 5th and 4th for Bruce and Dan respectively but again both failed to finish; Bruce with unspecified mechanical mayhem and Gurney’s superb bolide with driveshaft failure.

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Bruce and M6A Chev, Mosport CanAm 23 September 1967, Denny won with Bruce 35 seconds behind (Friedman)

Later in 1967 was a busy time for McLaren. Whilst the F1 program was still formative its CanAm challenge was very mature. Bruce and Robins Chev V8 engined M6A was the result of learnings of the previous years, in both Bruce’ M1’s and other cars he raced. The ’67 Can Am commenced on September 3 at Road America and finished in Las Vegas two months later, the ‘papaya cars’ took 5 of the 6 rounds and Bruce the title, a remarkably well deserved one at that.

The Colnbrook build team had the Can Am cars well clear of the workshop by the time they mated the late arriving BRM V12 to the M5A chassis. Bruce was ‘razor sharp’, his driving buoyed by both the competitiveness of the team ‘Stateside and his individual performances in these oh-so-beautifully designed, engineered and executed sports-racers.

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Bruce at Monza in M5A BRM V12 1967. Q3 and DNF with an engine failure, Surtees the Italian GP winner in a Honda RA300 V12 (unattributed)

The M5A monocoque chassis abandoned Mallite which was considered too complex to shape and heavy in favour of aluminium sheet, the car having a fully stressed section enclosing the drivers legs, the area above his kness left open for maintenance access. The gearbox was the DG300 Hewland also used in the smaller BRM V8 engined car.

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The BRM P101 V12 in the back of M5A at Monza in 1966. Lots of ‘Aeroquip’ lines, Lucas injection, Hewland DG300 transaxle, ‘Fram’ oil filter below the oil rad popped up in the breeze. Engine, non-stress bearing,  is 4 chain driven cams but 2 valves. Engine evolved over time into the 4 valve engine which gave competitive service especially in 1970/71 in the back of BRM’s P153 and P160 (Schlegelmilch)

BRM’s 24 valve P101 V12 was originally designed for sports-prototype use by Geoff Johnson. The engines bore/stroke were 73.8X57.2mm for a capacity of 2998cc with a compression ratio of 12:1. The Lucas injected, chain driven 4 cam, 2 valve engine produced 369bhp at 9750rpm on 14 August, engine ‘P101-003’ put to good use by Bruce during the Canadian Grand Prix.

During the race the hot oil tank cooked the battery, Bruce gained on the leaders till spinning in the greasy conditions.

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Bruce in M5A BRM fighting Jack Brabham for 3rd, before retirement. Brabham won the Canadian GP, in his Brabham BT24 Repco (Laymon)

At Monza the combination showed just how competitive they were; Bruce popped the thing on the front row, with 20 laps to go he and Surtees were racing wheel to wheel for a dash to the flag when a BRM cylinder liner dropped, the car withdrew on lap 4 with Surtees and Braham running to the line, Jack was outfoxed by John on the last corner of the race.

The M5A retired in both the US and Mexico and was used by the reigning World Champion, Denny Hulme in the first race of 1968, the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami.

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Bruce in M5A BRM at Mexico City 1967. Q8 and DNF lap 45 with engine failure. Clark won in a Lotus 49 Ford from Brabham and Hulme, the latter took the ’67 drivers title Brabham Repco mounted (Cahier)

But the F1 world had changed late in 1967, by Walter Hayes decision to make the Ford DFV available to customers; he convinced Colin Chapaman to waive the exclusivity agreement Lotus had to use the engine which allowed Bruce and Robin Herd (and Ken Tyrrell in 1968 as well as Lotus) to design a bespoke chassis to suit the 408bhp DFV.

The bathtub aluminium monocoque M7A made a splendid debut winning the ’69 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch with the boss taking the win from pole and jagging the fastest lap to boot!

A new chapter in McLaren history was underway, DFV powered McLarens won World Titles for Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974 and James Hunt in 1976, stories for another time…

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Bruce in the papaya M7A Ford DFV winning the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch upon the models race debut (Ed Lacey)

Bibliography…

The Bruce McLaren Trust, ‘History of The GP Car’ Doug Nye, The GP Encyclopaedia

Credits…

Dave Friedman Archive, Cahier Archive, Ron Laymon, Ed Lacey, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Ron Laymon, Getty Images, Brian Watson, GP Library, Nigel Smuckatelli, The Enthusiast Network

Etcetera-Engines…

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Bruce, Teddy Mayer, Monaco, 1966 McLaren M2B Ford Indy V8, both above and below shots (Schlegelmilch)

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M2B Serenissima at Spa 12 June 1966. Compare and contrast the Ford Indy V8 installation in the shots above, the car designed for that engine and then adapted to suit the Italian V8, ZF 5 DS25 box used in both cases (Schlegelmilch)

Tailpiece: ‘BRDC Intl Trophy’, Silverstone, 29 April 1967. From small acorns do big things grow. Bruce, Teddy and the boys, a few passers by. Perhaps it’s Friday, and M4B/1 BRM P56/60 V8…

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Teddy Mayer and Bruce McLaren, McLaren M7C Ford 5th, at Monaco on 18 May 1969, the hi-wings disappeared overnight. Hill G won in a Lotus 49B Ford (Schlegelmilch)

 

McLaren ‘owned’ the color papaya and having created brand recognition many marketers can only dream about walked away from the distinctive orange hue…

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Bruce and his M14A Ford before the ‘Race of Champions’ at Brands Hatch, 22 March 1970, DNF after an accident, Jackie Stewart won in a March 701 Ford (Fox)

Bruce McLaren Motor Racing ‘broke through’ in the 1967 CanAm Series, Bruce and Denny crushed the opposition with the fabulous M6A Chev, a joint Bruce and Robin Herd design collaboration.

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Bruce McLaren at Las Vegas 1967, McLaren M6A Chev, it may be a blur but you knew what it was because of the colour, right!  John Surtees won in a Lola T70 Mk3B Chev, both McLaren’s DNF with engine failure (Getty)

 

Modern marketing started in the US. In trying to create ‘cut thru’ or ‘pop’ on then new colour telly the McLaren hierarchy, Teddy Mayer is credited for choosing the distinctive shade which defined the marque until the Yardley McLaren era of 1972.

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Denny Hulme, Kyalami 1972, on the way to a South African GP win in the ‘Yardley’ McLaren M19A Ford (unattributed)

The M6A gave its sponsors a ‘fair crack of the whip’, the ’67 colour stuck, being adopted on the factory CanAm, F1,2,5000 and Indycars until the early seventies.

The photo below is of more significance than i realised when i first saw it on the internet, my friend Derek Kneller recalls; ‘I joined McLaren’s a fabricator having worked at the experimental department of Hawker Siddeley working on the P1127 (Hawker Harrier vertical take off fighter) on 26 March 1968. One of my first tasks was to prepare this car for its first tests with the ‘ally big block 7 litre Chev. I worked through the weekend with Wally Willmott and and Gary Knutson to get the car ready. We essentially ‘hacked’ the back off the M6 and grafted the rear of the proposed ’68 M8 onto the car.’

‘The photo is L>R Denny, Gary Knutson partially obscured, Teddy Mayer, Phil Kerr and Bruce. Wally is in the blue shirt and Jo Marquhart to the right in the suit with overcoat. They are supervising the ‘mule’ M6A/2 at Goodwood on 24 April 1968′. Gary Knutson and Colin Beanland built the engine at Al Bartz’ shop in Los Angeles, its losing oil which is the reason for the concerned faces. George Begg, McLaren confidante and Kiwi racer/car builder took the photo. The papaya M6 rather contrasts with the dull, rolling Sussex hills in the background and the flash pit-counter in the foreground!

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(George Begg)

David Hodges records in his ‘Profile Publications’ article on the McLaren M8 that after this chassis was used in this series of tests, and later aerodynamic work it was returned to M6 specification and then sold.

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Jody Scheckter’s works McLaren M21 Ford BDF F2 car during the ‘BARC 200’ Euro F2 Championship round at Thruxton, 3 April 1972. Jody DNF with overheating, race won by Ronnie Peterson’s March 722 Ford BDF (M Hewitt)

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Andrea De Adamich’s McLaren M14D Alfa Romeo, Mont Tremblant, Canada 1970. DNF engine, race won by Ickx’ Ferrari 312B (Schlegelmilch)

Until Yardley’s arrival on the side of the M19 a swag of sponsors logos sat comfortably on McLarens against the gorgeous, distinctive from afar, shade.

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#5 Denny Hulme and Peter Revson’s McLaren M20 Chevs at Donnybrooke, Minnesota , 17 September 1972 (Upitis)

Lotus, the leader in so many aspects of racing showed the power of wholistic F1 branding of a racing car with the ‘fag packet’ Gold Leaf Team Lotus, Lotus 49’s which first appeared in the Wigram, New Zealand round of the Tasman Series 0n 20 January 1968. Jim Clark raced, just, in the early months of the year in the ‘modern advertising era’.

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Jim Clark in the Teretonga paddock, Lotus 49 DFW, his GLTL Lotus freshly painted car finished 2nd to Bruce’ works BRM P126, painted traditional green! 27  January 1968 (Ian Peak)

Of course the Americans had refined the art (advertising on racing cars) for 50 years before the rest of the world caught up, or regressed depending upon your view of it. You cannot imagine Cadbury abandoning purple yet McLaren walked away from a signature colour which defined their cars in a most distinctive way. I’m not suggesting Bruce and the boys had as much brand equity in papaya as Cadbury in purple but you get my drift.

Ferrari of course are the prime example of a marque who ‘own red’. Their sponsors have always obtained the coverage sought against a red background rather than Ferrari adopting the ‘packaging’ of their corporate partner of the season or decade!

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Denny Hulme on his way to winning the 1968 Canadian GP at Mont Tremblant, Bruce was 2nd in a great day for the team. McLaren M7A Ford (unattributed)

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Peter Revson, Indy qualifying 17 May 1972, McLaren M16B Offy. Peter started from grid 2 but DNF with ‘box failure after 5 laps. Mark Donohue won in Roger Penske’s customer M16B (Bob D’Olivo)

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Hulme’s McLaren M20 Chev at Donnybrooke in 1972, Francois Cevert won in an ex-works M8F, both McLarens DNF with popped Chevys (Upitis)

In more recent times papaya has staged a comeback appearing on the McLaren F1 GTR LeMans car, occasionally as an F1 testing colour and as a favoured choice on its exotic road cars…

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Pedro de la Rosa and Mika Hakkinen in early 1997 testing of their McLaren MP4/12 Mercedes at Jerez, they raced in boring silver of course (reddit.com)

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McLaren M20 Chev in 1972, almost a CanAm signature, the staggered injection trumpets used from 1970 (Getty)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, Alvis Upitis, Getty Images, Fox Photos, Bob D’Olivo, Michael Cooper, reddit.com, George Begg, Ian Peak Collection/The Roaring Season, Duncan Fox, Derek Kneller, David Hodges ‘The McLaren M8 Series’

Tailpieces: McLaren F1 GTR set against the Dunlop Bridge 16 June  1996, Le Mans 24 Hour…

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(Michael Cooper)

Victorious Papaya Blur…

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Bruce on his way to a win at Spa in 1968, M7A Ford (Schlegelmilch)

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 stranglehold on the domestic competition from this point for the next few years. From 1963-68 to be precise.

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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!’

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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

 

McLaren in the Lakeside paddock in early 1963, Tony Shelly behind (B Williamson)

 

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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)

 

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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, Bob Williamson

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

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(Ron Lambert Collection)

Finito…