Posts Tagged ‘Bud Luke’

(B Daley)

A Bill Daley photograph of Hawkesbury hill climb, circa 1948.

How many of these cars ran in an Australian Grand Prix, is the question which pops into my mind?

In the absence of a programme for the event, this classic study of racing cars taken at Hawkesbury Hillclimb has left the experts unable to identify all the cars; we call on our readers to fill the gaps.

The photograph came from the VSCCA (NSW) collection, per favore of Richard Walton. Note the spectating ladies with their handbags; they look as though they may have come straight from church.

Surprisingly, the owner of the Jowett Bradford van has been identified. John Medley says it belonged to Bob Pritchett – familiar to many of us as the ‘RBP’ of ‘Spotlight’ in Australian Motor Sports (R. Beal Pritchett). Kent Patrick describes the van as: “The bronchial Jowett Bradford – (which will) roll over with its engine stopped”. Within coughing distance to the right of the van is the unmistakeable shape of the Sulman Singer (#32) as it appeared pre-war in Tom Sulman’s hands. Kent speculates that the Riley, next in line (#28), might be Len Masser’s Lynx Sprite. I guess the next is a ubiquitous Ford A ute.

The nearest line of cars, backed up to the fence, pose some real problems. The car to the left of the tree is a mystery; the one to the right has an external exhaust on the left side – what is it? We then have the ex-Bill Thompson K3 MG (with bonnet open) – Kent suggests it might have been owned by Ken Tubman around this time. Ken was a graduate of Fort St School, a pharmacist, and is best remembered for winning the first Redex Round Australia Trial in a Peugeot 203. He still had the K3 in the sixties; we recall him bringing it to the Geelong Speed Trials as a spectator.

The first Grand Prix Bugatti with the folded full width windscreen is probably the Type 37 of Frank Lyell, chassis number 37160. This car had been discovered abandoned in a shed behind the Federal Hotel in Narromine a few short years before – it changed hands for 10 pounds! To its right is Type 37, chassis number 37209 owned by Irwin ‘Bud’ Luke, who was very competitive in the car; he finished seventh in the Australian Grand Prix at Leyburn in 1947. Kent thinks it might be Bud attending to the front wheel with his partner Ida at the rear of the car.

The touring bodied Bugatti bears elegant coachwork by Carrosserie Profilée and is chassis number 4264. It was probably owned by Doug Helsham and likely powered by a Chrysler Six. ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray’s Day Special is next (second car from the right), a Ford V8 powered Type 39 Bugatti, chassis number 4607, which won the 1931 Australian Grand Prix driven by Carl Junker. The last parked car appears to be an Austin ‘7’ special, possibly Frank Lyell’s car. Of course, the car leaving the starting line (partially obscured at the bottom) is Frank Kleinig in his eponymous special.

Since writing this, Cummins Archive (Paul Cummins) have posted on Facebook a 1948 programme for Hawkesbury hillclimb. It is not ‘our event’ as the numbers on recognizable cars differ – viz. Sulman Singer 32 in the photo and 44 in the published programme. This programme might help with the identification of some of the other cars – could Riley number 28 be the Rizzo Riley and the last car, which appears to be an Austin ‘7’ special be that of Ted Ansell? The list of competitors, which is a virtual Who’s Who of immediately post-war NSW racing drivers, appears to confirm Kent Patrick’s suggestion that the K3 MG is that of Tubman – see his listing under ‘Additional Entries’.

(Cummins Archive)
(Cummins Archive)
(Cummins Archive)
(Cummins Archive)

Credits…

Bob King Collection, Cummins Archive via Paul Cummins

Finito…

(B King)

Many European and American engines were used to replace the tired original in racing Bugattis in Australia – notably Ford’s V8 and Hudson’s side valve straight eight – ‘there’s no substitute for litres’…

However, it was Australia’s own cast iron, pushrod-OHV ‘grey’ Holden six that was as effective as any.

We will take a look at two important examples where a ‘grey’ successfully replaced the sophisticated mid-nineteen twenties single overhead cam, three valves per cylinder, 1500cc, Bugatti unit.

Bob Baker of coachbuilding fame, powers through Tin Shed corner at Rob Roy. This body would not have been the best example of his art (B King)

Type 37 Bugatti, chassis no. 37209…

This is the Bugatti that multiple Australian Grand Prix winner Bill Thompson made his Phillip Island debut with in 1929.

His race lasted but two laps before he exited with a blown-up motor – youthful over-enthusiasm perhaps? This was far from the end of the cars participation in the AGP, with the next owner Ernie Nichols contesting the 1934 and 1935 GPs at the same venue.

After a succession of well known drivers, it returned to Sydney where it was prominent in the early post war racing scene, first with Roy Murray and then Irwin ‘Bud’ Luke. The latter finished a splendid seventh in the 1949 AGP at Leyburn the ageing car winning the handicap and averaging 73 mph for the 150 miles. At Easter Bathurst, 1951, it was a victim of the well named Conrod Straight after having achieved almost 98 mph.

Fishermans Bend did not provide the most exciting background for photographers to display their wares. This is John Hall at the wheel, possibly on the way to a podium in the B Grade Scratch Race (B King-Spencer Wills)

 

Paddock shot at Phillip Island (B King)

It was back at Bathurst for the AGP in 1952, but now Holden engined. It was said to be the first Holden engined racing car – do our readers know of an earlier Holden powered special? The car today is little changed from when it was last raced seriously in the nineteen sixties and is still in regular use.

In terms of the articles opening photograph.

The Holden Bugatti was still an effective racing car into the sixties in the hands of a number of drivers – the 3 inlet trumpets are a give-away that this is no ordinary Bugatti. Who is the driver entering Repco Corner at Phillip Island, probably in the late nineteen-fifties though folks? We can confidently rule out Valery Gerrard. John Hall was rotund, as was John Marston. Therefore it is likely to be Barry Elkins or John Pyers?

(B King)

The old girl (above), still with unsupercharged Bugatti engine, was  still able to hold a bevy of stripped TC’s up the mountain at Bathurst.

(P Coleby)

‘37209’ again, and still in action at Calder circa 1962 when owned by the Watson brothers, driver unknown.

 

John Cummins in ‘37332’ keeps Bill Sherwill honest on the dirt at Tarrawingee, near Wangaratta, Northern Victoria. This is a good illustration of Cummo’s flamboyant style (B King)

Type 37(A) Bugatti, chassis no. 37332…

John (Cummo) Cummins, grand prix driver, raconteur, racing commentator and all round good fellow will be familiar to many readers as the driver of this Holden engined Bugatti special.

And it was a very special car. New in 1928, it gained fame as the feature car of TP Cholmondeley Tapper’s “Amateur Racing Driver” (Foulis). The car was owned by New Zealander Tapper’s partner, Eileen Ellison, and they campaigned it extensively in England, Europe and South Africa.

TP Cholmondeley-Tapper frightens a sapling in the unmodified Type 37 at a Bugatti Owners Club hillclimb at Chalfont-St Peter 25 May 1935. Presumably when the car was owned by Eileen Ellison (Bill Brunell Collection-MPL)

In the early thirties they had it supercharged at Bugatti’s Molsheim factory. In the mid-thirties it was modified by Leslie Bellamy; he fitted his eponymous independent front end which was detrimental to the cars appearance, and probably also to its handling, as it shortened the wheelbase.

(B King)

Cummo found the engineless car in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1952 and brought it to Australia where Len Sydney fitted a hot Holden engine.

Here above is the down-at-heel Bellamy. No engine, no problem- fit a ‘grey’. This was possibly the third racing car so fitted with Lou Molina and Silvio Massola splitting the two Bugattis in the precedence stakes with their ‘MM Special’.

John’s position as an engineer at Chamberlain’s gave him access to a veritable Who’s Who of tuning experts – this resulted in a standing ¼ mile time of 14.4 seconds and 135mph on Conrod Straight. In recent times the car has been returned to the standard configuration of a supercharged Type 37A Bugatti.

Bibliography and Photo Credits…

‘Bugattis in Australia and New Zealand, 1920 – 2012’. Bob King & Peter McGann. (Self published 2012), ‘Amateur Racing Driver’ TP Cholmondeley-Tapper (Foulis, undated), Bill Brunell Collection in the Motoring Picture Library

Bob King Collection, Kees Jansen, Spencer Wills, Peter Coleby Collection

Tailpiece: John Cummins, ‘The Wall’, Templestowe Hillclimb, in Melbourne’s then outer, now inner east…

(B King)

 

Finito…