Posts Tagged ‘Bugatti Brescia’

(B King Collection)

Hope Bartlett and Harry Odewahn, in the practice of the day at Harold Park in the mid-twenties…

Bartlett ran a bus service in Nowra, it must have been a ripper business to fund an impressive fleet of racing cars including a pair of Bugatti Brescias, he used them on dirt speedways, concrete saucer at Maroubra as well as a GP Sunbeam and others.

‘Hope Bartlett had an exceptional racing career from the early twenties to post war years when he raced the Dixon Riley’ was Bob King’s caption when he posted these shots. Time to do a feature on Hope I think.

Hope and Harold Bernard Odewahn, his riding mechanic in Bugatti Type 13 chassis ‘1399’ probably, given the marking on the car Maroubra (B King)

 

Frank Gardner on the way to winning the 1972 New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe in his works Lola T300 Chev- one of ‘the’ great Formula 5000 cars and first in a dominant model range comprising T300-332-332C-400-430.

Gerard Richards posted this and wrote ‘Photo here by Jack Inwood graced the cover of Kiwi Motor Racing Magazine ‘Motorman’ in January 1973. Aussies had a good run in the NZGP from 1970-1973 but Kiwis ultimately won the Tasman Series for those years…’

For the record, the Tasman Cup winners in those years are easy- Graeme Lawrence aboard a Ferrari 246T in 1970 and Graham McRae from 1971-1973 in McLaren M10B, Leda GM1 and McRae GM1, all Chevrolet powered respectively.

Winners of the NZ GP at Pukekohe are more varied- Frank Matich in 1970, McLaren M10A Chev, McRae the following year in an M10B Chev, then FG in his T300, John McCormack in his somewhat long in the tooth but still quick Elfin MR5 Repco-Holden, and again the following year at Wigram and finally Warwick Brown in 1975 racing his Lola T332 Chev, ‘HU27’ the very first T332.

FG on the Warwick Farm 100 Tasman grid in 1972 and looking as ‘snug as a bug in a rug’.

Many of will realise there is a connection between the first two images in that Hope Bartlett was Frank Gardner’s uncle.

He brought FG up after the death of his parents- whilst keeping it in the family there is a more distant familial link between the next photograph of Kevin Bartlett and Hope Bartlett. Hope was KB’s grandfather’s cousin.

(B Thomas)

KB being chased hard by the equally evergreen Bob Holden at Lakeside’s Shell Corner in May 1966

The Alfa Romeo GTA is ‘LHD’ the first of the two Mildren GTAs, the second was ‘RHD’ which appeared not too long after this, Bob’s car is an immortal Morris Cooper S, one of THE competition cars of the sixties and top five for bang for buck and most versatile? Bartlett and the Mildren GTAs here; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/

(P Weaver Motorsports Photography)

Alfredo Costanzo in his Tiga FA81 Ford BDA at Torana Corner, during the September 1982 Sandown Gold Star round.

Costanzo failed to finish the race but prevailed over John Bowe and a shedload of other Ralt RT4’s in that seasons Gold Star, Alf won three races, JB two with the placegetters, Alf 41 points from Bowe on 38 and Andrew Miedecke, 25 points.

In Australia we pretty much missed the peak years of Formula Atlantic in terms of multiple competitive chassis, by the time we finally parted with F5000 the class was pretty much Formula Ralt RT4, wonderful gizmos as they are. We should be thankful to Alan Hamilton, Alfie and Jim Hardman for persevering with their Tigas by providing something different to look at.

The mighty little driver was going away from the field in the 1983 AGP only to have the crown wheel pinion shit itself in the Hewland Mk9 gearbox, I did shed a quiet tear that day.

(T Johns Collection)

Quite an historic occasion, the first timed run up Rob Roy Hillclimb, 1 February 1937- the Austin 7 driven by either Mr O’Neill or Morphet.

Rare shot from the Terdich Family Collection via an article written by Bob King in the VSCC ‘Racers and Rascals’. ‘The Austin looks like a sports body built on standard chassis. No Ulsters here’ Tony Johns observed.

He continued ‘It is a good photo as it shows the track surface and also that the Austin was not travelling fast enough to to extinguish the cigarette’ to which Bob King responded, ‘It must have been a quick climb for an A7 or there would have been longer ash.’ LOL etc.

An important piece of Australian hillclimb history my friends.

Those with an interest in Austin 7 racing should look at this ‘Nostalgia Forum’ thread being progressively created by Tony Johns and Stephen Dalton on the history of these wonderful little cars in Australia; https://forums.autosport.com/topic/215085-austin-seven-racing-in-australia-from-1928/

(Neil Stratton)

Peter Geoghegan up front of the Rothmans in Laurie O’Neil’s Porsche 935 at Oran Park in 1978, Rothmans F5000 round.

From memory the first 935 in the country, I did see the big fella race it at Phillip Island, but the car wasn’t raced that much from memory, is it still in Australia?

Graham McRae’s McRae GM3 Chev is front and centre amongst the black 911SCs with Warwick Brown hidden also on the front row. Warwick Brown won the Oran Park 100 from Bruce Allison and Graham- Lola T332, Chevron B37 and the GM3. A bit about McRae’s cars here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/06/amons-talon-mcraes-gm2/

(unattributed)

Aussies Abroad.

Its all too easy after all these years to forget about gruff, tough and oh-so-fast Paul Hawkins.

I bracket him with Frank Gardner as an engineer/mechanic/driver entrepreneur who parlayed his talent as a works driver for Ford, Lola and here Porsche but who also ran his own team, racing cars for start and prizemoney.

Here he is winning the 1967 Targa Florio in a works Porsche 910 he shared with Rolf Stommelen. Paul is an intensely interesting character, click here for a short piece; https://primotipo.com/2020/09/25/hawkeye/

(unattributed)

 

(unattributed)

This pair of photographs is all about the snapper, whose details I have managed to lose in the Facebook vortex- do get in touch if you can help me credit the man.

Its Oran Park, circa 1967- Fred Gibson in the Lotus Elan 26R whilst the smart sports-racer is I think Ted Proctor’s Manx, wonderful shots of a different time and place aren’t they?

 

BRM used the 1968 Tasman Cup as an opportunity to win the prestigious series and failing that test its P126/133 V12 machines.

The Bourne outfit raced these Len Terry designed cars in F1 in 1968 and gave them a Tasman run with 2.5 litre variants of the new V12 in addition to 2.1 litre V8 engined versions of the ‘old faithful’ P261s. Click here for a feature on these machines; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/25/richard-attwood-brm-p126-longford-1968/

 

(J Lemm)

Barry Randall, Rennmax Repco 830 V8 from Bill O’Gorman, Matich SR5 Waggott TC-4V during the 1974 Australian Sportscar Championship round at Adelaide International

The cars initially caught my attention but the magic in the shot is in some ways the backdrop- the spectators doing different versions of Oz ‘chillin.

Randall again below in a car now loved to death by Jay Bondini, a favourite car of mine since it’s Gibson family days.

(J Lemm)

 

(N Stratton)

Graham McRae on a day for the ducks- the Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round in 1973.

The car is his self-built McRae GM1 Chev- one of THE F5000s of 1972 with Graham himself winning the Tasman Cup

And below hs is togging up before the off with plenty of his own tweaks to the setup of his Bell Star to give some semblance of vision in the race won by Steve Thompson’s Chevron B24 Chev- GM was a distant third behind Thompson and Frank Matich.

(autopics.com)

 

 Michael Robinson (thanks Dick Willis) in the ex-Whiteford/Bailey/Collerson Talbot-Lago T26C in 1969

A famous car in Australia courtesy of back to back AGP win for Doug Whiteford at Bathurst in 1952 and Albert Park in 1953. See here; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/16/1953-australian-grand-prix-albert-park/

 

(L Morgan)

Love this Bakers Beach, Tasmania run in the early fifties.

Lesley Morgan said of the shot ‘Mum filling in for Geoff Quon, Dads normal passenger with me present as a very small foetus’ ! ‘The 7R AJS outfit clocked 89.1mph even with an inexperienced woman passenger.’

 

Rally Australia 2016

Aerobatics of the Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul Hyundai i20 WRC on the first day of the event at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales on 18 November.

The due finished third in the testing event won by the Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger VW Polo R WRC and the similar car of Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia.

 

Aussies Abroad

I think we should claim Selwyn Francis Edge even if he was really only born here- the pioneering motorist’s career was entirely in the UK, but let’s claim him all the same.

A topic for another time.

 

(N Stratton)

John Walker from Chris Amon and John Goss during the 1975 Oran Park Tasman Cup International

Lola T332 Repco Holden, Talon MR1 Chev and Matich A53 Repco Holden- they finished third, fourth and DNF that day, the race won by Warwick Brown, Lola T332 Chev from Graeme Lawrence’s similar T332.

I witnessed a cracker of a tustle for the series win that February at Sandown when the championship went down to the wire three weeks later. It was decided in that final race between Lola drivers Walker, Brown and Lawrence- click here to read about JW’s lucky, unlucky day; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/12/the-mother-and-father-of-lucky-escapes-john-walker-sandown-tasman-1975/

Brown, Walker and Lawrence on the front row of the grid at Surfers in 1975- Lola T332 times three. Walker won from Ken Smith and John Goss that weekend (N Laracy)

 

(Getty)

Donald Campbell, Bluebird Proteous CN7, Lake Eyre 10 May 1963

‘Returns after an attempt to break the Land Speed Record’, read all about this wonderful, extravagant ‘Boys Own’ adventure and ultimately successful enterprise, here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/16/50-years-ago-today-17-july-1964-donald-campbell-broke-the-world-land-speed-record-in-bluebird-at-lake-eyre-south-australia-a-speed-of-403-10-mph/

The shot below is Bluebird K7 on its way to a water LSR setting run at Lake Dumbleyung, Western Australia in December 1964. Details of the NSW registered Commer? truck folks?

(F Bathgate)

 

Daniel Ricciardo leads the chasing Oulton Park F3 pack in 2009.

His weapon of war is a Carlin Motorsport run Dallara F309 Volkswagen- it is the first round of the British F3 Championship on Easter Monday 13 April.

Ricciardo won both races/rounds that weekend and 6 of the competitions 20 races. He took the title with two races to spare from Walter Grubmuller and Renger van der Zande both aboard Hitech Racing Dallara F309 Merecedes.

He progressed to Formula Renault 3.5 in 2010, finishing second in that title in a race to the wire in the final round with Mikhail Aleshin by 2 points. Into F1 with Hispania Racing in 2011.

 

It’s loose champ! And worn.

Jack Brabham ponders the Trokart allocated him for some type of curtain/fund raiser- Innes Ireland by the look at that helmet is behind him which promises mayhem at the first corner!

Jack’s lid makes me think it’s 1960 but i’m happy for a definitive date and place if any of you have it?

 

(oldracephotos.com)

Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR9 Chev from Bruno Giacomelli, Alfa Romeo 179 at Calder during the ‘F Libre’ 1980 Australian Grand Prix.

They were seventh and second in the race won by Alan Jones’ Williams FW07B Ford. GC had a shocker of a debut weekend in the worlds only bespoke ground-effects F5000 car, battling structural shortcomings induced by the grip caused.

A story in itself, we never saw this car fully developed and at its best, here Garrie is at Calder again, this time in March 1982 not long before the great Australian’s untimely death by heart failure. Bob Minogue’s ex-Brown/Costanzo Lola T430 Chev is under brakes on the back straight behind.

I’ve lost track of the ownership of this car and it’s proximity to a race some day?

(oldracephotos.com/NHammond)

 

(unattributed)

Lex Davison and Bib Stillwell contested the Le Mans 24 Hour classic in 1961 in John Ogier’s Essex Wire Racing Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, ‘2VEV’ car #3 here.

1VEV was raced by Jack Fairman and Bernard Consten, but both cars were out early due to incorrectly tensioned head studs which caused popped head gaskets. A bumma.

I wouldn’t mind betting the gent in the blazer and cap almost at far right is Lex Davison talking to the punters, perhaps one of the Davos can set me straight?

See here for a piece on the Victorian’s 1961 Euro Tour; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/22/aston-martin-db4gt-zagato-2vev-lex-davison-and-bib-stillwell/

 

(H Dennison)

Albert Park, Moomba Tourist Trophy, March 1956

Tony Parkinson quotes AMS April 1956 in his wonderful auslinhealey100s.com.au. ‘Came the patter of running feet, the whirring of starter motors, the roar as the motor burst into life, an occasional  crunch as the over eager hurriedly select first gear: the cars surged forward into now what seemed to be a never ending melee as they sorted themselves out and streamed off towards Melbourne Corner.’

The shots are not of the front of the grid, where some more potent Jaguar engined machines resided, note Bib Stillwell’s new #44 D Type- Tony Gaze won in his HWM Jag from Stillwell’s D Type and then Ron Phillip’s Austin Healey 100S third. Hard luck story of the race was Stan Jones run in his new ex-Whitehead Cooper T38 Jaguar. He built a commanding lead having started well behind the field when the big-six failed to fire on command, but the machine over-heated with a radiator inlet clogged with Albert Park leaves.

(H Dennison)

 

(A Patterson Collection)

Marvellous shot of Nina Jones (below) aboard her Alfa Romeo 6C1750 Zagato at Bondi in June 1930, wonder who her co-pilot was?

About as good a ‘customer’ racing Alfa as there was, this car raced on in Australia continuously into the sixties in Ford V8 engined form before restoration for another lady racer, Diana Gaze in the eighties.

Jones did FTD of 18 2/5 seconds on the tricky, wet, slippery-concrete flat but slightly curved Bondi main-drag. Obstacles included an errant dog on one run, Jones thankfully missed the dog and crowd in avoidance. 10,000 spectators were estimated to have attended the winter gig.

64 cars entered, they raced in pairs over a quarter-mile course in a knock-out series of contests, ‘the first time races of this sort had been held in Australia’ the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Bill Thompson’s 1930 AGP winning Bugatti T37A was second quickest in 19 1/5 seconds. See here for a feature on this car; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/15/mrs-jas-jones-alfa-6c-1750-ss-zagato/

(A Patterson Collection)

Credits…

Bob King Collection, Jack Inwood, Brier Thomas, Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography, Neil Stratton, Vittorio Del Basso, Terdich Family Collection via Tony Johns, Lesley Morgan, Neil Stratton, Neil Laracy, Adrian Patterson Collection, Sydney Morning Herald 30 June 1930, austinhealey100s.com.au, Tony Johns

Tailpiece…

(A Patterson Collection)

Stunning 1926 Maroubra shot which captures the atmosphere of the place in a way most photographs of the challenging concrete saucer rarely do.

Hope Bartlett’s GP Sunbeam is the scratch car, car ‘B’ is Don Harkness in ‘Whitey 2’ an Overland. Tony Johns tells us the smokey starter is the NA Palmer, V Spurgeon entered Gordon England ‘Brooklands’ model Austin 7, the meeting date June 19, 1926.

Finito…

(Fairfax)

Marie Jenkins, Bugatti Brescia, circa 1925, circuit unknown, but probably Maroubra, Sydney…

Jenkins first sprang to prominence with a win over Maroubra Speedway fast-men- Phil Garlick, Alvis and Hope Bartlett, Bugatti Brescia in a January 1926 Five Mile Handicap at the demanding dangerous Sydney venue.

Jenkins delighted the crowd by winning both her heat and the final ‘though she owed her victory to the generous way she had been treated by the handicappers. She is the first woman to win an event at the Speedway, and she received a great ovation from the spectators, particularly the fair sex’ The Newcastle Morning Herald reported.

Marie Jenkins at Maroubra on 5 December 1925, Brescia T13 (23) chassis ‘2135’ (C Anicet)

She raced at Maroubra’s opening meeting, the track was a daunting, dangerous venue. Jenkins second race there was only days after the deaths of two competitors killed practising at the track on the Wednesday prior, 30 December 1925.

Leo Salmon and riding mechanic Albert Vaughan, partners in Salmon Motors Ltd crashed to their deaths in a 35 HP Jowett after a fractured Kingpin failed at around 90 miles per hour. Seven fatalities occurred at the circuit between 1925 and 1936, the photograph below, taken on 2 January 1926, is of Jenkins wearing a black arm-band in memory of the two competitors.

Marie Jenkins- in front is Sam Knaggs, former Austin 7 racer of Melbourne

The Melbourne racer, ‘who lives near the Yarra’ was coming off the back of a rollover in the first Aspendale Motordrome meeting of the year at the Melbourne, bayside venue in November 1925.

I can find little written about this driver- am keen to know more if any of you have particular insights. Click here for an article on the Bugatti Brescia; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/27/country-spin/

Etcetera…

The image below is the narrative by Victor Hall about his above photograph- wonderful isn’t it, to see the unfettered observations of the man at the time in the context of the day.

Credits…

Fairfax, Christian Anicet for the photo of the car and details, AMHF Archive via Brian Caldersmith

Tailpiece…

 

 

 

 

 

Finito…

(Thomas)

These two blokes are aboard a Bugatti Brescia Type 23 out front of The George Hotel in Lydiard Street, Ballarat, Victoria between 1945 and 1950…

The shot is from the archive of the State Library of Victoria, it was taken by George Thomas who was a prolific ‘snapper at motorsport events throughout Victoria at the time. Ballarat, 120 kilometres west of Melbourne is a ‘Gold Rush’ town. Over 600,000 people came to Australia from all over the globe in the 1850’s to chase their fortune with Ballarat one of the main destinations of the optimistic. It’s a beautiful place with many of the stately buildings of the period still standing- including the George Hotel.

The interesting thing of course is which particular chassis it is and who the fellows are. My recently acquired copy of ‘Bugattis In Australasia’ (details in credits below) personally delivered by the very knowledgable, youthful, spritely 81 year old author Bob King suggests it is either Bill Fleming or Neil Barter assuming the photo date range is accurate.

The car is a long-chassis ‘Modifie’, without going into all of King’s detail, the chassis number of the car cannot be positively confirmed but it came from New South Wales to Victoria in 1938 when owned by Fred Betts who never registered it but raced it at Phillip Island pre-war.

After the conflict it was raced by John ‘Bill’ Fleming at Hurstbridge and Rob Roy Hillclimbs in Victoria in 1948 before being sold to Barter that October. At this stage, as shown in the opening photograph, the car was registered in Victoria ‘JT441’ and was fitted with engine number ‘2566’.

Fleming on the startline at Hurstbridge Hillclimb in Melbourne’s outer north-east (King)

The Fleming Brescia at Rob Roy Hillclimb in Melbourne’s Christmas Hills, ‘eighteen litres of Semmering Mercedes in the background’ (King)

Barter recounts in King’s book ‘By January we were driving it around as much as petrol rationing would allow. After correcting a dismally retarded camshaft timing, we found the performance astonishing- 40 mph first gear, 60 in second, 4300 rpm etc- we were never short of superlatives. Alas youthful exuberance led to disaster and injury when…April 1939…the car overturned at the corner of Dendy Street and The Esplanade, Brighton’ a bayside Melbourne suburb not too far from Albert Park Lake, a place all you global GP fans will be familiar with.

‘A regular trick was to drive it as quickly as you could along Beach Road at Brighton Beach and, instead of taking the right hand corner…we would hurl it into the gravel car park opposite the monument, put it into a 180 degree slide and then drive straight out again, heading back towards Hampton. The prize for the night went to the driver who travelled the quickest and made the cleanest 180 degree slide!’ What a great thing to do after a few bevvies on a Friday or Saturday night?!

‘This all came to a halt when, one night, with four up, I rolled it when turning from the beach road into Dendy Street…a very sobering experience for all and particularly me’ Neil Barter wrote. Looking at the young blokes in the car at Ballarat my guess is that it’s Barter and one of his ‘Brighton Grand Prix’ accomplices!

Bob King records a bewildering nineteen owners of this car, the last, Wolf Zeuner in the United Kingdom whilst noting the book’s publication date of 1992. The name ‘Brescia’ was applied to these cars (T13 2 metre chassis, T22 2.4 metre, T23 2.55 metre) after the cars placed first to fourth in the 1921 Italian Voiturette Grand Prix.

Piero Marco, Brescia T22, Brescia before the off Gran Premio delle Vetturette, 1921 (Bugatti)

de Vizcaya, Brescia T13, GP Penya Rhin 1921- is the descriptor for this Barcelona event but my race results don’t accord with this car/driver combo that year (unattributed)

This event, the ‘1 Gran Premio delle Vetturette’, held on 8 September 1921 on the Circuito di Brescia involved 20 laps of a 17 km course, a total of 346 km. Thirteen cars contested the race, the winning Bugatti T22 of Ernest Friderich completed the distance in 2 hours 59 minutes 18.6 seconds. He was followed home by teammates Pierre de Vizcaya, Michele Baccoli and Piero Marco all in Bugatti 22’s, they were chased home by a group of four OM465’s.

Manufactured from 1919 to 1926, 2000 Brescias were built, more than any other type of Bugatti. ‘Being the first Bugatti made in any numbers, it was the Bescia that established Bugatti’s reputation as a builder of sports and racing cars. They were imported into Australia and New Zealand in considerable numbers…’ King wrote.

Original period sales brochure with Brescia at centre stage, the rest of the document is below

Bob continues ‘The Brescia, of 1496cc capacity, has a cylinder block with non-detachable head and four valves per cylinder operated from a single overhead camshaft via ‘banana’ tappets. In Europe the standard touring model had a four sparking plug cylinder block with ignition from a magneto mounted transversely at the front the engine. These cars had a cast aluminium firewall and were known at the factory as the ‘Modifie’. Racing versions had eight plug cylinder blocks with two magnetos mounted in the dashboard driven (noisily) by spur gears. These latter were known as ‘Full Brescias’. Surprisingly, regardless of chassis length and whether fitted with racing, sports, or touring bodywork, the majority of new imports to Australia were ‘Full Brescias’. Perhaps it was thought to have the security of two magnetos in our relatively primitive motoring environment.’

Superb Brescia 16 valve engine cutaway, technical details as below (Griggs)

In the early twenties Bugatti didn’t build the bodies of their cars with the exception of minimalist T13 racing coachwork, so all of the new cars imported to Australia via the London agent, Sorel, were shipped in most cases in bare chassis form. A tax or tariff was imposed on imported coachwork to help stimulate the local industry with ‘Many of the local bodies fitted to Brescias appear to have been of poor quality. This, coupled with the harsh ride of the Brescia and the poor roads on which they were driven, ensured that the coach work had a short life. With the need for light bodies for competition work, the discarded original bodywork was usually followed by a succession of amateur built bodies.’ King wrote.

Bugatti played a very important part in the formative years of Australian motor racing as the weapon of choice for many sportsmen on road circuits, hillclimbs, the concrete saucer at Maroubra, gravel speedways and the beaches of Gerringong and the like.

A straight-8 Bugatti T30 driven by Geoff Meredith won what is now acknowledged as the first Australian Grand Prix at Goulburn, New South Wales in 1927-Goulburn, 200 km south of Sydney was also a Gold Rush town. In fact Bugatti won five of the first six AGP’s creating huge brand awareness by the standards of the time. Four cylinder Bugatti T37A’s, the supercharged variant of the T37 were victorious in the Phillip Island AGP’s of 1929- Arthur Terdich the driver and in 1930 and 1932 when driven by the ace of the period, the great Bill Thompson. Carl Junker won in 1937 in a straight-8 1.5 litre T39.

Drake-Richmond’s T37 goes thru Heaven Corner ahead of the Mert Wreford Riley Brooklands during the 1 January 1935 Centenary 300 at Phillip Island. This is the cover photo of Bob King’s book (King)

The Phillip Island AGP’s were handicap events so there is no reason a Brescia could not have won a race with the right mix of speed, reliability and luck from the handicapper but such was not ever the case. The best Brescia results in our premier event were Merton Wreford’s fourth in 1932 and John Bernadou’s fifth in 1929.

Mert raced chassis ‘2133’ ex-Arthur Terdich and ‘In practice Wreford’s straight line speed was bettered by very few cars and he was actually faster than Drake-Richmond’s Type 37. In the race Mert was given a 15 minute start by the blown Type 37A’s of Terdich and Thompson and he finished a creditable fourth place on handicap, averaging almost 65 mph for the 200 miles with his old two-wheel brake Brescia in spite of losing four valuable minutes with clutch trouble’ Bob King wrote.

John Bernadou raced his father Albert’s ‘2536’ in the 1929 AGP, with both father and son competing extensively in Victoria in the mid-twenties, despite being delayed by a hole in the cars fuel tank John was third in the Under 1500 cc class and fifth overall.

Bill McLachlan at Quarry Bend, Bathurst 1952. Bug T37A Ford V8 ‘37358’ aka MacKellar Spl (B Gunther)

Some (not a huge number mind you) quite exotic racing cars came to Australia pre-War including several Vittorio Jano designed Alfa’s but the faster Bugatti racing straight-8 T35 and T51’s didn’t make the trip until post-War, when they were of course beyond the first flush of youth. In our racing, which comprised many events run to handicaps the cars were competitive but none won a post-War AGP- all played an important role in bolstering grid sizes throughout the long ‘Era of The Australian Special’ which in the main were often MG based or Ford side-valve V8 powered. In many cases once the original Bugatti (or Alfa or Ferrari or Bristol) motor ‘blew’ Ford V8’s or a bit later a small block Chev or Holden ‘Grey’ six-cylinder engine was inserted under said car’s shapely aluminium bonnets.

To reframe my shallow comment a moment ago about ‘Australian Specials’ the wonderful breed included ‘tool room quality’ machines such as the Charlie Dean/Repco Research built Maybachs, the Lou Abrahams/Ted Gray Tornados and Chamberlain brothers Chamberlain 8- ‘outrageous in brilliant original conception’ cars such as, again, the Chamberlain 8 and two of Eldred Norman’s masterpieces, the ‘Double 8’ and Eclipse/Zephyr Spl and ‘the rest’ which includes anything and everything from mild to wild MG’s and Ford V8 engine specials not to forget the Hudson straight-8 engined machines pre-War. The ‘high point’ of those is, perhaps, the still extant (Frank) Kleinig Spl- MG chassis, monoposto, Hudson-8 and much, much more. There was no lack of creativity amongst this countries mechanics and engineers however basic the underpinnings of the machines they started with!

A ‘game changer’ was the move in AGP regulations from handicap to outright events from the 1949, Leyburn Queensland AGP  which was won by John Crouch’s Delahaye 135S. Mind you that did not stop the organisers of the 1950 Lobethal South Australia and 1951 Narrogin, West Australia AGP having an each way bet placing as much emphasis on the handicap winner as the outright or scratch winner, something which comes through very strongly in the contemporary newspaper accounts of the day.

1951 was the last ‘handicap AGP’ (in part) and the last won by an Australian built car (the Warwick Pratley driven George Reed built, Ford V8 engined George Reed Special) until Frank Matich won the 1971 AGP at Warwick Farm a couple of decades later in his several days old F5000 Matich A50 Repco Holden.

From then on those who wanted to win the race needed to have the readies to acquire a car with the speed, endurance on our rough road circuits and reliability to do so. The balance of the fifties started the ‘Factory Car Era’- a Talbot Lago T26C won in 1952/3 (Doug Whiteford), HWM Jaguar in 1954 (Lex Davison), Ferrari 500/625 won in 1957/8 (Davison), mid-engined Cooper T40 Bristol in 1955 (Brabham) and Maserati 250F’s in 1956/9 (Moss/Stan Jones).

John Cummins raced his T37A Holden ‘37332’ complete with Bellamy IFS until very late in the piece- here the eternal racer/raconteur is at Bathurst in 1961 (unattributed)

In amongst all of this the pre-War Bugatti’s whether Bugatti or ‘black iron’ powered still played an important role. The last AGP grid of ‘substantial’ Bugatti numbers was the 1952 Mount Panorama contest in which three entered- the Bill McLachlan T37A Ford V8 finished 13th whilst the T35B/51 shared by Phil Catlin and Peter Menere was 15th, the P Lowe T37 Holden failed to finish. In fact the placings by McLachlan and Catlin/Menere were the last in an AGP for Bugattis- albeit one was Ford V8 powered, the other with a motor from Molsheim.

For the record the very last start by a Bugatti in an AGP was the David Van Dal/John Cummins T57 which failed to finish the 1957 Caversham race won by Davison’s ex-Ascari Ferrari 500/625- and there ended a very rich contribution by the marque to Australian motor racing which commenced with substantial numbers of Brescias and Geoff Meredith’s first AGP win aboard his T30 at Goulburn in 1927, thirty years from start to finish!

Duncan Ord in the ex-Howe/Levegh T57 ‘57264’ 3.3 s-8 in the Perth suburbs- the Patriotic GP at Applecross, WA on 11 November 1940. He is turning out of Tweedale Road (Terry McGrath))

Bibliography…

‘Bugattis in Australasia’ Bob King- Bob still has a couple of copies of this book and plenty of ‘The Brescia Bugatti’- contact rking4450@gmail.com

‘A History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ John Blanden, MotorSport July 1942, The Bugatti Trust

Photo Credits…

George Thomas, Bob King Collection, Byron Gunther, Bob Shepherd, Terry McGrath, Griggs, automobiles.narod.ru

Etcetera: Brescia/Brescia Modifie Technical Specifications…

Chassis: period typical girder, H-section front axle, weight circa 610 kg

Engine: Four-cylinder, SOHC by front bevel drive, 4 valve with bore/stroke of 66, 68, 69 x 100 mm for capacities of 1368, 1453 and 1496 cc. Carburettor(s) 1 or 2 Zenith. Ignition 1 or 2 magnetos, usually SEV. Plugs 1 or 2 per cylimder. 30 plus bhp with an RPM limit of (‘prudent’) 4000 ‘or even 4500 on a good Brescia’

Gearbox: located centrally, 4-speed and reverse with right-hand location, clutch is wet multi plate

Brakes: Location and type- foot, transmission and right-hand for the rear. Four wheel brakes fitted from 1926

Wire wheels with original size 710 x 90

Dimensions: T13, wheelbase 2 metres or 1967 mm, T22 2.4 metres or 2417 mm and T23 2.55 metres all with a track of 1.15 metres

Drawing of Brescia ‘2566’ engine showing the oil drain tubes from cambox to crankcase (B Shepherd)

Notes on The Brescia Bugatti: MotorSport July 1942…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brescia T13 drawing (automobiles.narod.ru)

Related Articles…

1927 Australian Grand Prix, Goulburn

https://primotipo.com/2017/04/14/1936-australian-grand-prix-victor-harbour/

Tailpiece: O’Rourke Brescia, Cooper Ballot and Bartlett Sunbeam, Maroubra, Sydney, late twenties?…

(unattributed)

Finito…