Posts Tagged ‘Chris Amon’

(G Fry)

Chris Amon on the downhill plunge from Sandown’s Rise into Dandy Road, Talon MR-1 Chev, Sandown 100, January 1975…

When I first became interested in motor racing Chris Amon loomed large as an ace from ‘across the ditch’, he wasn’t Australian but he was a Kiwi which was more than close enough. Surely no two countries on the planet are closer in every respect?

One of the first posters I had on my bedroom wall was of ‘that shot’-Chris tickling the throttle of his Ferrari 312 into a gorgeous slide at Oulton Park during the Gold Cup in 1968. From that point on I willed him into that championship F1 win that cruelly never came.

Chris Amon Ferrari 312 on his way to 2nd behind Jackie Stewart, Matra MS10 Ford, Oulton Park Gold Cup in August 1968 (LAT)

By the 1975 Tasman Series Chris had been in a horrid career downer with dogs of F1 cars way beneath him for a couple of years- his own AF101 rocket in 1974 and the two Tecno’s the year before, they were shit-heaps at best.

In fact he had a ‘good finish’ to his F1 career in Mo Nunn’s Ensigns in 1975/6 proving yet again his pace but one mechanical failure too many finally made him chuck it all in at the tender young age of 33- later in ’76- brief Wolf Can-Am interlude in early 1977 duly noted.

Amon, Tecno PA123,  Monaco 1973. Chris put the car 12th on the grid but DNF lap 22 with overheating. Stewart won in Tyrrell 006 Ford (P Cahier)

 

Amon, Amon AF101 Ford, Jarama 1974. Chris Q23 and out with braking problems on lap 22, Niki Lauda won in a Ferrari 312B3 (Twitter)

 

Chris, Ensign N176 Ford, British GP, Brands 1976. Stunning Q6 in the small teams car, DNF lap 8 with a water leak, James Hunt took the win in a McLaren M23 Ford (Pinterest)

But as I trundled out to Sandown in mums trusty Morris 1100 in 1975- I’d ‘conquered Sandown’ only a week or so before, a week after getting my drivers licence during a Peter Wherrett Advanced Course in that performance machine. I was keen to see how Chris handled a layout on which he had last won in 1969 when he wrapped up the final Tasman round, and series win, in his works Ferrari 246T.

Like so many really fast blokes he made it look easy.

Not much attitude on the car at all, but quick. Braking late, with a late blip of the throttle using few revs on the down-changes, he was as smooth as silk throughout. Good with feedback to his mechanics, I stalked him the whole weekend! i could hear some of it, the Jack McCormack Team were a seasoned F5000 outfit having run Sam Posey in the States for some years before.

GM ahead of Garrie Cooper’s Elfin MR5 Repco at Oran Park in 1974 (B Stratton)

Both Graham McRae and Chris made those cars- the GM2 Chev and it’s twin, the MR-1 Chev sing that summer but there were way too few finishes to threaten the three fellas who fought out that final Tasman round at Sandown- Graeme Lawrence, John Walker and Warwick Brown all in Lola T332’s- the greatest of all F5000 machines. Brown won the title and John Goss an eventful race in his Matich A53 Repco .

McRae followed up his very successful Len Terry designed Leda LT27/McRae GM1, a car Graham ‘concepted’ together with Terry, with the GM2. It was raced once in the UK- at the final 1973 Euro F5000 round at Brands on 21 October having troubles with a duff shocker- before landing in Australia in time for the November AGP held at Sandown, a race ‘Cassius’ won in his new car by two seconds from John McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco and John Walker’s unique, similarly powered Lola T330.

I spectated at the race as a teenager. In the year of the Lola T330 the GM2 was a superb looking, ‘McLaren M23-esque’ machine. With its rocker front suspension, deformable for 1974 mandated side pods and very careful attention to aerodynamics it really looked the goods.

Later in 1973 John Heynes, McRae’s business partner sold their Poole factory to the Penske Team to house their F1 effort- and the drawings and intellectual property rights of the GM2 design to Jack McCormack in California who built several cars designated Talon MR-1 and MR-1A. I will pick up this topic later in the article.

Feel The Earth Move: NZ GP Puke 1974. GM and Peter Gethin, the winner, GM2 and Chevron B24, #18 David Oxton and John McCormack- Begg FM5 Chev and Elfin MR5 Repco. The keen eyed will see the Lawrence and Walker Lolas- T332 and T330 and the rest. Tasman F5000 at its height (T Marshall)

 

GM exits Torana Corner @ Sandown 1974, check out the front rocker angles as the GM3 is booted hard in second gear for the blast up the back straight (B Keys)

In the 1974 Tasman Series Graham was prodigiously fast starting from pole in the NZ GP at Pukekohe and setting fastest lap in three of the four Kiwi rounds- Levin, Pukekohe and Teretonga but he had problems in three of the races- oil pressure, valve spring and rear aerofoil, 2nd at Teretonga was his only points yield at home.

In Australia he was 6th, 2nd and 7th at Surfers, Sandown and Adelaide and disqualified at Oran Park. The speed he had displayed in the three previous Tasmans was mainly there but the reliability was not, by then the Louis Morand Chevy’s had been replaced by another engine-builder’s products.

Peter Gethin won the championship in a VDS Chevron B24 from Max Stewart’s Lola T330 Chev and John Walker, John McCormack and Teddy Pilette- all on 21 points driving Lola T330 Repco, Elfin MR5 Repco and Chevron B24 Chev respectively.

GM, past the Wigram aircraft hangars in 1974 (T Marshall)

 

Sandown Tasman 1974 with GM seated. Rocker front suspension in an F5000 of the period unusual, rest of the car typical- and superbly finished and built, the last car built by McRae at Poole prior to the factory sale to Roger Penske. Aluminium monocoque, Melmag wheels, Hewland DG300 ‘box (R Davies)

With money tight GM didn’t contest the European Championship but took the GM2 to the US in 1974.

He started the season in a Talon MR-1, racing it at Mid Ohio and Mosport and then switched to a Lola T332, finishing 4th behind Andretti, Redman and Eppie Wietzes at Watkins Glen, DNF from Q6 at Road America and then raced the McRae GM2 at Ontario Q25 with problems and DNF, Laguna Seca Q16 and 10th. Perhaps the final Riverside round was an indicator of the cars speed against the best in the F5000 world- he was fifth behind the T332’s of Mario Andretti, Brian Redman, Warwick Brown and Al Unser from Q10.

Sam Posey and Jon Woodner also raced Talons that season with Woodner doing the best of the pair.

McRae aboard a Talon MR-1 Chev, Mid Ohio 1974 (M Windecker)

 

US F5000 Championship Riverside 1974, Graham aboard GM2 ‘001’ (A Upitis)

By the time the 1975 Tasman commenced McRae had shipped the car home to New Zealand and developed the GM2’s aerodynamics with a Ferrari inspired bladed front wing and long fences atop each sidepod.

Clearly, given the speed of GM2 against strong (Tasman) opposition the car was not as bad as has been portrayed in some texts which have not looked carefully at the cars qualifying pace but rather only the results- which are not quite so flash as the machines ultimate pace as expressed in qualifying.

Chris Amon, Talon MR-1 Chev, Wigram 1975 (T Marshall)

 

Chris taking care of the media at home in 1975 (T Marshall)

 

John Walker Lola T332 Repco from Chris and Graeme Lawrence Lola T332 Chev at Surfers Paradise in 1975 (B Thomas)

The GM2/MR-1 was on pole in McRae’s hands at Levin, Pukekohe, Wigram and Teretonga with Chris in his heavy, underpowered MR-1 second on the grid at Pukekohe, Wigram, Teretonga, Oran Park and Adelaide.

They won 2 of the races- McRae at Wigram and Amon the following weekend at Teretonga with Lola T332’s winning five rounds and John Goss in his Matich A53 Repco winning one, Sandown. The Lola T400, the Huntingdon marques new for 1975 machine was in strife with Kevin Bartlett and Max Stewart struggling to find the pace the T332 had- an update kit designed by Patrick Head would do the trick but it was no help for the two buddies from New South Wales, their Tasman was shot.

GM, McRae GM2 Chev, Wigram 1975 (T Marshall)

 

GM and Chris at Oran Park in 1975, GM2 and it’s ‘child’ the MR-1 Talon (V Hughes)

 

McRae Levin 1975, GM2 (T Marshall)

Into the US Series in 1975 the Talon MR-1A’s were not nearly as quick as the Lola T332C- awesome racing weapons driven by some of the most talented blokes on the planet at the time, and slipped down the grids.

Warwick Brown raced a works MR-1A with his Australian patron, mining magnate, Pat Burke’s support in 1975 but commented more than once that he should have taken his Tasman winning T332 Chev ‘HU27’ back for a full tilt at the title in 1975 given his immediate pace in the small team’s limited 1974 US campaign. There is no doubt in my mind that the self belief for WB to win the ’75 Tasman was a direct result of proving to himself he could do it amongst the big hitters mentioned earlier in this article in the US in late 1974.

Generally the MR-1A fell down the grid from a qualifying perspective from Pocono Q5 and Mosport Q3 early in the season. WB had a year of good reliability from the car and Peter Molloy’s powerful, trusty Chevies with third at Mosport behind the Andretti and Redman T332’s and fourth at Watkins Glen his best performances.

Warwick Brown, Talon MR-1A Chev, Mid Ohio 1975. Slinky from this angle (R Deming)

 

Brown’s Talon in the Mid Ohio paddock 1975 (R Deming)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warwick Brown in the ‘works’ Talon MR-1A Chev he raced during 1975, Long Beach GP

 

Bleedin’ the brakes, Chris, Long Beach 1975, Talon MR-1A. Poor run in qualifying belied a strong race (K Hyndman)

Chris Amon joined Warwick at the marvellous Long Beach GP won by Redman’s T332.

Their qualifying positions were a bit dreary, WB 19th and Chris 26th but both raced to sixth in their heats with Amon fourth in the feature race and Brown two slots behind in sixth. Vern Schuppan was second in Dan Gurney’s Eagle 755 Chev and Eppie Wietzes third in his Lola T400M Chev with David Hobbs fifth in a Lola T330/332 Chev to provide the top six of a race which would be run to F1 from the following year.

GM, Lola T332 Chev, Long Beach 1975

McRae raced a Lola T332 in the US in 1975 for the following results; at Watkins Glen Q9 and DNF suspension, Elkhart Lake Q12 and 7th, Long Beach Q8 and DNF after colliding with John Gunn’s T332 on lap 1, Laguna Seca Q4 and 8th- and 2nd in his heat behind Unser’s T332, and Riverside Q13 and DNF with engine problems before completing a lap.

Back home with the Tasman Series at an end he didn’t race in the 1976 Internationals- two separate series in New Zealand and Australia, it was the first time for the best part of a decade McRae didn’t compete on home turf.

GM, Torana Corner, Sandown on the way to winning the 1978 AGP, McRae GM3 Chev 1978 (HAGP)

Graham McRae’s final car, the F5000 GM3 Chev was radical in looks with its wonderful perspex cockpit bodywork which showed the driver at work is really beyond the scope of this article, its a nice topic for another time, but here is a summary.

Apart from its looks the car was a conventional F5000 machine built by GM in Costa Mesa, California with Graham Lister lending a helping hand on a trip through Los Angeles. The cars race debut was the very last round of the US Championship in 1976 at Riverside for Q22, 6th in his heat and DNF in the final.

Teddy Pilette, Lola T430 Chev from GM’s new GM3 Chev and Peter Gethin’s one of a kind Chevron B37 Chev- all three of these cars later had successful careers in Australia in the hands of GM himself, Alf Costanzo and Bruce Allison (unattributed)

 

GM in the GM3 Chev Can-Am in 1977, Riverside Turn 6. Check out the vestigial bodywork, almost reminds one of Vern Schuppan’s first Can-Am body on his Elfin MR8? (Eric Schaal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gerry LaRue’s magic, ‘right in the cockpit’ shot of GM at Riverside in 1977 makes McRae’s design intent crystal clear! GM2 Chev Can Am- look closely at this shot and others of the car in F5000 format and you see just how minimalist the sportscar bodywork of the design is (G LaRue)

With that, Graham converted the car into a Can-Am contender with vestigial sportscar bodywork racing it at Watkins Glen, Road America, Mid Ohio and Riverside which yielded his best result, Q11 and sixth.

The Kiwi then converted the chassis back to F5000 specification and shipped it from California to Australia to contest the 1978 Rothmans International Series- Sandown Q3/DNF, Adelaide Q7/5th, Surfers Paradise Q14/7th, and Oran Park Q2/3rd. The car stayed in Australia with GM winning both the 1978 Australian Grand Prix and the three round Gold Star Series- two wins, in fact these were his last major victories.

The cars final iteration, and model name change from GM3 to GM9, then took place in New Zealand with the chassis and body substantially modified for GM’s Can-Am final races in the US in late 1980, 1981 and into 1982 and the then the cars sale. Its still extant in New Zealand.

GM, McRae GM9 Chev, Caesars Palace Can-Am October 1981 (B Thomas)

 

McRae, Sandown’s Peters Corner, on the way to victory, McLaren M10B 1971 (I Smith)

Malaya Garages, Leda Cars and Len Terry…

Let’s now go back a few steps to retrace Graham’s F5000 career from its earliest days.

McRae made his name in small bore single-seaters in NZ, demonstrating his engineering prowess- he is Engineering degree qualified with the twin-cam powered McRae 69 1.5 Ford twin-cam and its forbears giving the Tasman 2.5 machines plenty of curry each summer.

His foray into the big F5000 league was funded by Tom Clark and his Crown Lynn Potteries business which acquired the McLaren M10A Chev ‘#300-6’ GM raced in the 1970 Tasman Series. Clark knew what it was to be a racer, he contested races in both New Zealand and Australia during the 1950’s aboard a variety of cars including a Maserati 8CM and Ferrari Super Squalo 555.

GM’s self constructed McRae S2 Ford 1.5 twin-cam ahead of Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T at Levin in November 1969- GM finished 6 and 3 seconds respectively behind Graeme in two races that day (T Marshall)

McRae had his first foray in Europe in mid-1969 when he contested six Euro F2 Rounds as his NZ Driver to Europe prize in a Frank Williams run Brabham BT23C Ford FVA. His best result was 4th in the GP of Limbourg at Zolder behind Jochen Rindt, Jacky Ickx and Piers Courage in a car which by then was hardly the latest bit of kit. For the record, he also raced at Thruxton, the GP of Madrid, Hochenheim, Monza and the GP of Reims yielding DNF/DNF/9th/12th/11th.

Contesting the 1970 Tasman in a McLaren M10A he was immediately comfortable in these big demanding beasts of cars taking two of the nine rounds at Teretonga and Surfers Paradise.

That year the series was contested by a mix of F5000’s, Tasman 2.5’s and 2 litre cars with Graeme Lawrence winning in the same Ferrari Dino 246T chassis Chris Amon used to win in 1969.

Superb Terry Marshall portrait of GM on the grid at Levin in 1970, McLaren M10A Chev- he stares him down before the off. I love this shot (T Marshall)

The M10A wasn’t going to do the trick in Europe so was replaced by an M10B chassis ‘400-11S’ with which Graham achieved several seconds before taking the final Brands Hatch round in late September to ‘break through’ a long way from home. The series was won by Peter Gethin’s McLaren M10B with other hotshots that year Mike Hailwood, Howden Ganley, Frank Gardner, Trevor Taylor, Reine Wisell and others.

McRae returned home to the Antipodes and brained them with his extensively developed M10B in the ’71 Tasman. In the same chassis he used in Europe he won three rounds of the series- at Levin, Wigram and Sandown and took the first of his three Tasman titles, all of which were won on the trot. Frank Matich’s McLaren M10B Repco and Niel Allen’s McLaren M10B Chev were second and third with Frank Gardner’s works Lola T192 Chev fourth. There was plenty of depth in that field, it was a very good win.

At this point, lets pause for context again.

John Surtees approached Len Terry to design an F5000 car for him- Terry’s Leda LT17 intended for Roger Nathan was taken over by James Garner and John Surtees becoming the 1969 Surtees TS5 with which David Hobbs did so well.

David Hobbs, Team Surtees, Surtees TS5A Chev (Terry’s LT17 design) at Road America, July 1970- 2nd to John Cannon’s McLaren M10B Chev (unattributed)

Terry decided commercially it would be more profitable to build cars in volume rather than design them for a one-off fee. He entered into a commercial arrangement to do so with Malcolm Bridgelands Malaya Garages, who took over the majority interest in Leda Cars towards the end of 1969- the name was one Len had ‘on the shelf’ as an alternative name for business relationship with Dan Gurney during the Eagle phase of his career Le (Len) and Da (Dan).

The successful LT17/TS5 design was replaced by the 1970 LT20, a disaster. It was a lower, lighter version of the Surtees TS5 with totally interchangeable front and rear suspension which simply did not work. In August, one LT22 was built which was an LT20 with conventional multi-link rear suspension, it too was not a star, despite the testing efforts of Roy Pike, Frank Gardner and Graham McRae to get it working better.

Martin Lyons, who worked for Leda Cars relates GM’s Leda test and this Frank Gardner exchange with Len Terry after FG put the LT22 through its paces at Silverstone in 1970;

‘Graham tested the LT22 at Silverstone in 1970 for us.

He shared our workshops in Billingshurst, West Sussex. Graham after a few warm up laps, pitched the car into Woodcote as he would in his M10B. All we heard in the pits was tortured tyre squeals that went on forever (or so it seemed) and we all anticipated that dull crump/thump. It never happened and Graham came into the pits, as white as a sheet!

Len asked Frank Gardner to drive the car as well at Silverstone and after a few laps Frank peeled into the pits, rolled to a halt and killed the engine. Len paced briskly and knelt down next to Frank. After about 30 seconds (which seemed like 5 minutes) Frank drolly said “Congratulations Len!” Another pause, Len thinking a compliment was coming his way, leant further into the cockpit. “You’ve designed one car and made it handle like two!” Frank unbuckles, levers himself out of the car and walks away back down the pitlane. Everyone in our team heard this and are looking away stifling laughter…’

Roy Pike testing the brand new Leda LT22 Chev, Snetterton, 31 August 1970 (J Ballantyne)

The LT22 was replaced with the 1971 LT25 and achieved some top-five placings in the hands of ex-Lotus GP driver Trevor Taylor who had enjoyed some race wins with Team Surtees in F5000 before joining the Malaya Garages outfit.

When Graham McRae returned to the UK in early 1971 he figured he needed a new car so decided upon a McLaren M18- not McLaren’s finest of racing weapons as events transpired, not that the model didn’t win a race or two mind you.

The ‘Team Trojan’ entered M18 ‘500-02’ had one of the shortest of lives of any racing car when Graham boofed it bigtime in private practice at Snetterton before the second round of the European series in early April. He went off sideways at Russell, hit the bank, flew up into the air and landed upside down before the car rolled back onto its wheels. The racer was totally rooted but the hapless driver was AOK and ready to fight another day!

McRae, who had missed the opening round at Mallory Park- and then the Snetterton, Brands Hatch, Mondello Park, the Silverstone International Trophy and Castle Combe rounds, returned with a vengeance to win at Mallory Park in late May with none other than good ole M10B ‘400-11S’! It was a great reminder of who the class of the field generally was even if his car wasn’t the latest bit of kit.

In mid-summer of 1970 Graham came to the arrangement with Malaya Garage’s Malcolm Bridgeland to garage, prepare and transport his McLaren to meetings together with the Leda entries, Martin Lyons mentioned above. Inevitably McRae got to know the crew at Billingshurst pretty well.

At Monza in June he didn’t qualify the McLaren M10B but practiced Len Terry’s Leda LT25 ‘1’ to get a good feel for the car. That weekend was a good one for the team, Trevor Taylor finished second in another LT25 Chev just behind Alan Rollinson’s Surtees TS8 Chev, clearly the car had some merit.

McRae won in the old-nail McLaren again at Thruxton on the August day the F5000 world changed- the Lola T300 prototype made its race debut in Frank Gardner’s hands. The man who concepted the T300 knew a thing or two about engineering racing cars, it would take a couple of rounds before FG took the T300’s first race win but McRae knew he needed something pretty special to be competitive in 1972 given Gardner’s pace in Lola’s existing T192 let alone Huntingdon’s new weapon.

And so it was that Graham explored his ideas about what he wanted in his next car with Terry- thoughts strongly influenced by his McLaren experiences, the Leda LT25 and the Lola T300. He was also mindful of the very competitive ‘pregnant belly’ F1 designs of the time- the BRM P153/160, McLaren M19 and Tyrrell 001-002.

Leda LT27/GM1 ‘001’ 1972 (T Matthews)

Trevor Lister recalls ‘Graham was determined to set his engine as low in the chassis as physically possible so he redesigned the engine sump so there was the minimum possible clearance between the crankshaft and the bottom of the sump. This enabled the engine to be installed lower and reduced ground clearance.’

Perhaps a fair description of the LT27’s design is that conceptually it was largely McRae’s with the detail design and drawing all Terry’s. Along the way they decided to use some McLaren hardware, notably the suspension uprights, which suggests the Leda bits were regarded as inferior to McLaren’s or simply that was what GM wanted- a known quantity which would work straight away.

Lister also recalls ‘At one stage we encountered continual cracking of the brake discs and Graham decided he would drill holes to improve the cooling by dissipating the heat build-up. I remember him standing at the drill-press for hours one day drilling dozens of holes in all the discs, I believe he was the first to do this in F5000 and it was copied by some teams even in F1? He also grooved the discs from inside to outside to improve the clearance of brake dust. Again, other teams copied very quickly but some had the grooves running the wrong way’.

Leda Cars were based in the Malaya Garages premises along with Alan McCall’s (another very talented Kiwi) Tui Super Vee project and a project to build a Morgan like road car. The F5000 plan for 1972 was for McRae and Taylor to race two LT27’s in the 1972 Euro F5000 Championship, but Graham first had his Tasman title to defend.

Ampol ad proclaiming McRae’s 1973 Tasman Series win. Pic is of GM Leda LT27/GM1 Chev ahead of Kevin Bartlett’s McLaren M10B Chev at Adelaide International in 1972- David Hobb’s McLaren M22 Chev won that day

Frank Matich figured he had the goods to win the ’72 Tasman, his new Matich A50 Repco had won right out of the box at Warwick Farm, taking the 1971 AGP from John Surtees amongst others.

The 1972 Tasman line-up was particularly strong with works Surtees, Lola and Trojan Cars entries for Mike Hailwood, Frank Gardner and David Hobbs. In addition there was strong competition from Kevin Bartlett, Max Stewart and the Ansett Team Elfin duo of John McCormack and Garrie Cooper.

It isn’t clear how much testing McRae had completed in his new Leda LT27/GM1 Chev but the neat, squat, STP sponsored machine was fast right from the off complete with powerful, reliable, Weber carbed Morand Chevys.

McRae won at Levin, Wigram, Surfers Paradise and Sandown and took pole at Pukekohe, Levin and Wigram- notable was that the car was quick on a variety of circuits. Clearly Leda had a competitive customer car to compete with the Lola T300 and Chevron B24 which promised to be the marques available in quantity that season.

Yay team, Malaya Garages Auosport ad, March 1972 (M Lyons)

McRae returned to Europe and raced the same chassis in the Brands, Mallory Park, Snetterton rounds with dramas in all three races before breaking through for his first win of the championship that year in the April Brands round- a car for Taylor finally appeared at the April Silvertone meeting.

After the first three or four races the Malaya Garages people decided to withdraw their support for the race team with the drivers looking likely to be left high and dry- arguably Taylor already was. A London insurance broker and wealthy motor racing enthusiast, John Heynes came to the rescue and acquired premises in Poole, Dorset installing McRae in charge. Terry resigned his directorship of Leda Cars Ltd and relocated his own business ‘Design Auto’ to his home in Dorset. A contemporary Autosport report has it that Len’s only relationship at that point was as a shareholder of Leda Cars.

With the takeover complete, from 1 July 1972 the LT27 design became known as the McRae GM1 with 14 cars built and sold in 1972/1973. To that point the cover of Leda’s own sales brochure described the car as ‘Leda Type 27/GM’, which should put to an end any conjecture as to what the car’s model designation was formally prior to 1 July 1972.

Whilst all these corporate manoeuvrings were going on McRae had races to contest, his season being set up by STP- who had backed the new car during the successful 1972 Tasman campaign and decided to continue their sponsorship to forays in both the US and Europe.

GM and crew, Leda GM1 Chev, Laguna Seca practice 1972 (R Rodgers)

 

Brainerd Donnybrooke July 1972. Sam Posey Surtees TS11 Chev, John Cannon McLaren M10B Chev, McRae in GM1 (A Upitis)

McRae won the US L&M Championship and surely would have taken the Euro one too were it not for conflicting rounds which precluded him contesting sufficient races to do so- as it was he won the Nivelles, Silverstone, Brands (July) and Oulton Park rounds and finished third in the title chase behind Gijs van Lennep and Brian Redman in Surtees TS11/McLaren M18 and McLaren M10B/Chevron B24 respectively.

In the US McRae faced strong opposition from Brian Redman (also contesting both the European and US titles), David Hobbs, Derek Bell, Peter Gethin and Aussies Bob Muir, Kevin Bartlett- not all these fellas did the whole series mind you.

Despite that and being new to the circuits and having all the logistical challenges of a different country he won the Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen and Road America events of the eight round series taking the ‘SCCA L&M Continental 5000 Championship’ title with 87 points from Sam Posey, Surtees TS11 Chev and Brett Lunger’s Lola T300 Chev.

McRae, GM1, Warwick Farm 1973 (B Stratton)

Into 1973 McRae easily again won the Tasman Series, the combination of the GM1 design, Morand engines and McRae’s preparation and driving talent saw off fields of great depth. The GM1 took five of the eight rounds, McRae won four and Alan Rollinson one.

But it was to be a different thing in the US with a double-whammy of plenty of Lola T330’s on the grids and Jody Scheckter aboard a Trojan T101- whatever Ron Tauranac’s design may have lacked in pace relative to the Lola was more than compensated by Jody’s prowess behind the wheel.

During the year McRae’s versatility was demonstrated with a drive at Indianapolis via the relationship he had with the Granatelli’s, there STP company was also the sponsor of the three car Patrick Racing Team. In a superb effort, GM popped the Patrick Eagle Offy 16th on the grid completing 91 of the 133 laps with a header problem- in the process he was awarded the Rookie of The Year trophy.

It was a bitter/sweet weekend for Pat Patrick and the team- whilst Gordon Johncock won the race in another Eagle the teams other car driven by Swede Savage crashed very badly with the hapless young thruster succumbing to his injuries, or more particularly post-surgery complications, five weeks after the race.

The obligatory Indy qualifying shot- GM in the Patrick Racing Eagle Offy, 1973 (unattributed)

 

McRae in Frank Williams Iso IR Ford in the Silverstone British GP pitlane in 1973. The eagle eyed will spot Jackie Stewart aboard Derek Gardner’s experimental chisel-nosed Tyrrell 005 Ford behind. This was the chassis Chris Amon was to race in the North American away races- in the end he only raced the car in Canada, Francois Cevert’s death during Watkins Glen practice resulted in the team’s withdrawal from the meeting- which was JYS last GP (LAT)

Needless to say McRae was a ‘man of the moment’ at the time- then like now you need to grab and hold the spotlight with your results to get F1 opportunities. Unfortunately Ken Tyrrell’s offers of a race or two were declined as a result of prior contractual commitments. Unfortunately when the planets did align GM’s F1 career became one of the shortest on record.

Frank Williams was well aware of McRae’s record in the Tasman Series when FW ran a car for Piers Courage in 1969, and of course the Kiwi’s F2 drives with him in early ’69. And so it was that GM raced FW’s Iso IR Ford in the 1973 Silverstone British GP- a race made famous by the huge Woodcote lose of Jody Scheckter which then took out the best part of half the field. McRae’s car was not destroyed unlike many but the Iso’s Lucas injection throttle slides were jammed with sand, so he didn’t take the restart of the race won by Peter Revson’s McLaren M23 Ford.

McRae needed a new F5000- the GM2 was the result drawing upon ideas absorbed from the contemporary racers of the day and built in the Poole workshop. It wasn’t the last racing car built there, Penskes would follow but one can only surmise that John Heynes worked out that the only way to make a lot of money out of motor racing was to start with even more. And so McRae Cars in that incarnation ended, the facility was sold, as were the GM2 design rights and drawings to Jack McCormack.

And that folks, is about where we came in…

Sam Posey’s, yes the very same! Talon MR-1 drawing

After-thought: Formula 5000 Needed a Production McRae GM2 in 1973/4…

Formula 5000 was dead and buried by the Americans at the end of 1976, the knock-on effect went around the planet other than good-ole Australia who hung on to the class for way toooo long- love the category as I did/do.

The causes of F5000’s demise were multi-faceted but primarily was due to the dastardly Lola T330/332/332C which simply rolled over the top of everything its path including the Lolas designed to replace them- the 1975 T400 and 1976 T430!

The punters were getting bored with ‘Formula Lola’ in F5000 so the nuffies in the SCCA and the circuit promoters created single-seat Can-Am- and preserved Formula Lola as the T332CS/T333CS simply preserved the status quo- a non T332 derivative did not win the Can-Am until the Lola T530 did so in 1980.

And so, my thesis goes the class needed another strong make/model to give drivers another competitive mount and the punters another shape to look at. There is no reason why McRae’s development capabilities could not have turned the GM2 into a winning car built by his Poole factory in numbers exactly as the GM1 was. No doubt John Heynes business decision to sell made perfect sense to him- he saw the books and could no doubt assess the commerciality of the arrangements of a company led by a man at the time who could have been seduced to F1. His main asset could have disappeared from the scene for all manner of reasons- think of Chevron in terms of the impact of Derek Bennett’s death or closer to home Garrie Cooper’s at Elfin Sports Cars.

If the Chevron B28 were quicker, if the Chevron B37 were quicker in 1976, if the Lola T400 and T430 were quicker in 1975/6, if the McRae GM2 were built in numbers- and were quick maybe the variety we spectators like would have been provided and F5000 would have survived a little longer at least.

If yer aunty had balls she’d be yer uncle too, I know…

GM at Oran Park, Rothmans International Series 1978, McRae GM3 Chev- soon to be significantly modified in NZ into the Can-Am GM9 (N Stratton)

Etcetera…

Leda LT27/GM1 in the US early in the 1972 campaign. Ken Stepney steering, Joe Wright pushing with GM sharing a joke. Overhead shot shows the lines of the car and it’s complex, compound curvature to good effect- and its Leda badge on the nose which Martin Lyons dates the shot as pre-July

 

Sam Posey with his Talon MR-1 Chev prior to the start of the 1974 US season (J McCormack)

 

The man in 1978, Sandown or outside the Light Car Club perhaps (I Smith)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Lyons on ‘Living The Dream’ as a young member of the Malaya Garages Team…

‘My first test day with the team was on Wednesday June 9th 1971 at Snetterton race circuit in Norfolk.

I was picked up by Stan, the other race mechanic who had joined us that winter from Rob Walker’s disbanded F1 team. We left Billingshurst at 6.45am in our race-car transporter, which had been owned by the American Eagle F1 team from 1966 to 1968. It still had the AAR badge on the dashboard.

We arrived at the circuit by 10am having emerged from a grey overcast sky to unbroken sunshine only a few miles from Snetterton. The car was unloaded, I filled up the fuel drums with 5-star fuel via handpump.

The car was fuelled and Trevor Taylor, our driver, had arrived in a blue Ferrari Daytona and got changed into his race kit in the transporter. We shared the track with three motorbikes that day (!) and one of them fell off in fright when our car passed him on a corner (or that’s what Trevor speculated!). We were testing a flat plate just above the carburettors and when the car went past the pits you could see a mist of fuel lapping around the plate. It never appeared on the car again. We packed up at about 4.30pm and began the journey home, arriving back in Billingshurst some 4 hours later.

Stan then gave me a lift home in his Mini Traveller (the Mini estate with wooden trims on the body). It had been a day of days. Through my Boots polaroid sunglasses, styled like Jackie Stewart’s the sky looked bluer, the grass looked greener and I was living a dream!!!’

McRae and the curvaceous, wild GM9 Chev Can-Am in 1981/2 (unattributed)

Further information on individual chassis, see Allen Brown’s Oldracingcars…

On McRae http://www.oldracingcars.com/f5000/mcrae/

On Leda http://www.oldracingcars.com/f5000/leda/

Photo Credits…

Special thanks to Terry Marshall for his marvellous evocative work, Gavin Fry, Brian and Neil Stratton, Gerard Richards, Brier Thomas,  oldracingcars.com, LAT, Sam Posey, Tony Matthews, R Deming, Mark Windecker, Roger Rodgers, Ian Smith, Bruce Keys, Gerry LaRue, Eric Schaal, Ken Hyndman

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com, Martin Lyons and his collection

Tailpiece: Finish as we started, Chris, Talon MR-1 Chev, here at Wigram 1975…

(T Marshall)

Finito…

Bruce McLaren awaits his crew making changes to the setup of his new McLaren M7A Ford, chassis M7A-1, Silverstone 25 April 1968…

Its a day or so before the BRDC International Trophy, one of three non-championship F1 races run in Europe that season. Bruce is to have another good weekend, off the back of his Brands Hatch ‘Race Of Champions’ win in March, his teammate and Kiwi buddy Denny Hulme won the prestigious Silverstone race in an emphatic demonstration of the quality of Bruce McLaren and Robin Herd’s F1 design and construction capabilities.

McLaren in the M7A, from pole, Brands Race of Champions in 1968- he won. Alongside is Mike Spence BRM P126, Jackie Stewart Matra MS10 Ford and on row 2 Chris Amon Ferrari 312 and Denny in his M7A. That’s Jo Bonnier in last years McLaren M5A BRM V12 with his hand up on the second last row. Bruce won from Pedro Rodriguez BRM P133 and Denny LAT)

That season Bruce McLaren famously became one of the very few to win a championship GP in a car of his own name and construction when he won the Belgian GP. Denny Hulme took another three GP victories and challenged for the 1968 World Championship ultimately won by Graham Hill’s Lotus 49B Ford, the car for which the Ford Cosworth DFV was designed.

At the end of 1967 Ford’s Walter Hayes implored Colin Chapman to allow him to offer the DFV to other teams ‘for the good of Grand Prix racing’ such was his fear of Team Lotus dominance. Chapman, to his credit, waived his contractual entitlement to exclusivity- Lotus, Matra and McLaren raced the Ford engine in GP events in 1968.

McLaren M7A Ford cutaway (Dick Ellis)

The duo concepted a car which typified the ‘Cosworth Kit Car’ era. A short monocoque chassis ended aft of the driver’s seat and consisted of three steel bulkheads- one at the back, one at the front, and one open bulkhead at the dashboard which was then skinned with aluminium panels to form a full monocoque over the driver’s legs. It was an immensely torsionally rigid and strong structure compared with the very best spaceframes of only a few years before.

The M7A used glued and riveted skins of L72 aluminium alloy, a British standard for the aviation industry in a thickness of 22 gauge and in a few places 20 guage magnesium sheet. 40 gallons of fuel were distributed between four rubber bag-tanks- one either side of the driver in the tub, another behind his seat and the fourth in the scuttle. The Cosworth DFV engine was bolted directly to the rear bulkhead and at that stage of its development produced circa 420 bhp @ 9500 rpm.

Early test of the M7A at Silverstone on 5 April 1968. Denny up, Bruce by front wheel. Notice the McLaren wheels, ‘nostril’ ducted radiator outlets and top and bottom front suspension radius rods which mount to the bulkhead in the dash area of the tub (R Dumont)

The suspension, of conventional outboard design was derived from the very successful 1967 Can-Am Championship winning M6A Chev. It comprised outboard coil spring/damper units at both ends and single lateral links and trailing arms at the front- and single lateral top links, reversed lower wishbones and twin radius rods at the rear. Uprights were cast magnesium with of course adjustable roll bars front and rear. Steering was McLaren rack and pinion, brakes Lockheed discs all round and the transmission the ubiquitous Hewland DG 300 transaxle five-speed.

The radiator was conventionally mounted at the front, with a sleek fibreglass body topping the whole visually arresting package- hot air vented McLaren style out of ‘nostrils’ in the nose with an oil radiator at the rear above the ‘box and clear in the opening shot.

‘Pop’ McLaren and Alastair Caldwell supervise the McLaren pit in the French GP paddock, Rouen 1968. Note general car layout as per text, suspension, rad duct in lower shot- quality of design, execution and presentation a treat. #8 Denny 5th, #10 Bruce 8th. Shocker of a wet race with Jo Schlesser dead on lap 2 in the experimental Honda RA302 (unattributed)

Allen Brown reports in oldracingcars.com of the M7A’s 1968 season; ‘The first two cars were finished in March 1968, and both debuted at the 1968 Race of Champions, where Bruce McLaren dominated the race, winning from pole position, with his new teammate Denny Hulme finishing third. At the next race, the Silverstone International Trophy, Hulme took pole position and won, with Bruce content to take second place. It was not quite so easy at the first GP, the Spanish, but the M7As were third and fourth on the grid and Hulme finished second.’

‘After a poor weekend in Monaco, Bruce McLaren took his team’s first GP victory in the Belgian GP at Spa in June after Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS10 retired on the last lap. Results were mixed over the next few races, but Hulme won in Italy and in Canada to equal Graham Hill’s score at the top of the World Championship standings. A crash at Watkins Glen and retirement in Mexico ended his challenge, but had been a wonderful season for McLaren’s F1 team’.

McLaren M7A from Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P133- 1st and 2nd, Spa 1968 (unattributed)

McLaren and M7A at Watkins Glen 1968. Note the mount and location of the rear wing in the context of the text below (A Upitis)

In terms of the ebbs and flows of the season, in ‘The Year of Wings’, Matra and Ferrari- on Firestone and Dunlop tyres respectively won races later in the season and Lotus set the aerodynamic standard with high-wings after their initial appearance on the Ferrari 312 and Brabham BT26 Repco at Spa. McLaren lost some of their edge- the cars wings were less effective than Lotuses, when they remained attached to their cars, mounted in the middle of the M7A on the cars sprung mass, rather than Lotus 49 style at the rear on the unsprung suspension uprights, and Goodyear too lost their edge. Remember when there was competition between the tyre manufacturers?!

Goodyear’s new G9 boots gave Denny the kicker he needed to win at Monza and then at St Jovite, Canada but Graham Hill and Lotus deserved the title in a year during which Hill held the team together and picked everybody up after Jim Clark’s tragic death at Hockenheim in April.

Looking at the M7 design from a commercial perspective, whilst McLaren by this stage were well funded by the standards of the day- the M7 design worked hard in contributing to the companies success by providing the basis of the M14 F1 car and the phenomenally successful M10A and M10B F5000 designs which were the ‘class standard’ from 1969-1971- constructed as they were under licence by Trojan Cars in Croydon.

Bruce, M7A Silverstone (V Blackman)

Lets get back to the photo which inspired this piece though, here is none other than DC Nye’s race report of the BRDC International Trophy, in full, from the June 1968 issue of MotorSport, the photographs are all my editorial selections…

‘For the 20th B.R.D.C. International Daily Express Trophy race at Silverstone, the Club amassed a small but fairly representative field of Formula One cars. Heading the entry were Hulme and McLaren in the two impeccably-prepared McLaren M7A-Cosworth V8s, which finished first and third in the Race of Champions, and Ferrari sent over two cars, one a new, slightly sleeker-chassised V12 with the engine lower-mounted than hitherto, and the other the car which Amon normally races. Drivers were the young Belgian, Ickx, and Amon, and though the New Zealander tried both cars he decided he preferred his own, and Ickx raced the new one.

Amon’s Ferrari 312’s, Ickx car in the foreground, Silverstone 1968. Amon Q5 and Ickx Q7 with Chris proving the pace of the Ferrari, despite the Cosworth onslaught with a fastest lap and 3rd place, Jacky 4th (unattributed)

Graham Hill had a solitary Lotus 49-Cosworth V8 which was entered by Gold Leaf Team Lotus, and B.R.M. were well represented with Rodriguez in the Bourne-built, Terry-designed P133 V12 and Spence in the similar, T.A.C.-built P126. Also in a P126 was Courage, having his first F1 race this season for Parnell, and Hobbs had Bernard White’s relatively unsorted Tasman 2-litre B.R.M. P261 chassis, specially lengthened by the works to accommodate the new V12 engine. Also B.R.M.-powered was the lone works Cooper T86B, with Gardner driving, as Scarfiotti was away practicing for the Targa Florio and Redman was reputedly testing F2 Dino Ferraris in Modena. Rob Walker had acquired a new Tasman Lotus 49 chassis to replace the one lost recently in a fire at his Dorking headquarters, Siffert driving as usual; Bonnier was in his 1967 McLaren M5A-B.R.M. V12, and the Swiss Moser had the ex-Hulme, ex-Ligier Brabham BT20-Repco V8. Lanfranchi completed the field in a 2.7-litre Climax 4-cylinder powered Brabham BT23.

Withdrawn entries included a second Parnell B.R.M. for Attwood and Sheppard’s Mallite McLaren fitted with a 3-litre version of the original Climax Godiva V8 for Taylor. Two works Brabhams were listed, but were not complete.

Last year’s G.P. practice record of 1 min. 25.3 sec. by Clark in the Lotus 49 looked a little sick compared with this year’s speeds, Hulme taking pole position with 1 min. 24.3 sec. to Spence’s 1 min. 24.9 sec., McLaren’s 1 min. 25.1 sec. and Rodriguez’s 1 min. 25.3 sec. Behind these four on the front row came Amon at 1 min. 25.5 sec., Hill 1 min. 25.6 sec., Ickx 1 min. 26.4 sec., and Siffert 1 min. 27.6 sec.

One minutes silence in memory of Jim Clark before the off. Hulme at far left on pole, then Spence BRM P126, McLaren M7A and the other BRM P133 of Pedro Rodriguez. Amon, Hill and Ickx on row 2 (Getty)

After a poignant silence in memory of the late Jim Clark, the field were given a maximum of three warming-up laps, and from the start McLaren took an immediate lead ahead of Spence, Hulme, Rodriguez, Ickx, Hill, Amon, Courage, Bonnier and Gardner. Lap 2 and the leading bunch were all scratching hard to draw out some sort of advantage; Courage was briefly ahead of Amon at Copse and Siffert and Gardner were both by Bonnier, who was being harried by Hobbs.

The leading McLarens, B.R.M.s, the lone Lotus and the two Ferraris soon towed each other away from the rest of the field, with Hulme slotting by Spence into second place on lap 4, then being repassed by the B.R.M. Lanfranchi had already stopped for a plug change on his 4-cylinder, and at the start of lap 6 Spence led McLaren into Copse, and was re-passed on the way out to Maggotts to remain the meat in an orange McLaren sandwich for a short distance before chopping by again and leading the bunch on lap 7 from Hulme, McLaren, Rodriguez and Hill, all nose-to-tail. Amon and Ickx had become slightly detached in the works Ferraris, but as they sped down Hangar Straight on that lap a stone was thrown up from Spence’s B.R.M., smashing Hulme’s goggles and giving him a nasty moment which dropped him back to seventh.

Hill and Amon in 3rd and 4th- Ferrari 312 and Lotus 49 Ford (LAT)

Almost immediately Rodriguez’s B.R.M. V12 began to misfire, an ignition lead dropping off, and he stopped before Maggotts, replaced the wire and drove on to the pits, where a more lasting repair was made. By lap 9, with Spence leading narrowly from McLaren, Hill was third in the lone Lotus, Amon was a close fourth and Hulme, whose eyes had stopped watering, was already on his tail and looking for a way by. Positions remained unchanged until lap 14, when the Lotus’ V8 engine died, and, seeing a lot of fluid resting in the vee, Hill thought the engine had suffered a serious breakage and had thrown water. In fact, a fuel pipe had split, and the fluid was petrol, but he was out anyway, and walked back to the pits. Hulme had nipped by Amon on this lap, and was going out after Spence, who had been re-passed by McLaren. lckx was falling back in fifth place with the very new and understeering Ferrari, with Siffert some distance behind, followed by Courage, Gardner, Hobbs, Moser, Lanfranchi and then an unhappy Rodriguez in the misfiring B.R.M., last.

Next lap Hulme was up into second place, and on lap 20 he passed McLaren after getting round in 1 min. 25.3 sec. to take the lead narrowly from his “number one”, Spence and Amon, and these four were still driving in very close company. But Lanfranchi had retired with bad oil surge, and Siffert’s sixth place evaporated on lap 26 when the clutch broke in the Tasman-chassised Lotus, and two laps previously Gardner had gone out in a trail of smoke and steam when the B.R.M. engine broke a liner.

Lap 28, and Spence slotted his slim B.R.M. past McLaren into second place, and as they lapped the tail-enders the leading group began to space out. But Amon closed on McLaren noticeably on lap 36 and was looking for a way by, but then lost time lapping Moser at Copse and dropped back, letting McLaren get away and latch on to Spence’s tail in second place. These two then drove very hard, entering corners side-by-side occasionally until lap 41 when the B.R.M.’s engine stopped suddenly at Club with a timing chain breakage, letting McLaren up into second place, but delaying him sufficiently to let Amon catch up in the Ferrari. Rodriguez had finally retired his sick B.R.M., Ickx was running a lonely fourth, with Courage fifth and about to be lapped, while the only other cars still running were Hobbs’ B.R.M. and Moser’s Brabham-Repco.

Hulme on his way to the first of four M7A wins in 1968, Silverstone, April 1968 (LAT)

Amon was trying hard to wrest second place from McLaren, setting a new outright circuit record on lap 44 of 1 min. 25.1 sec., 123.82 m.p.h., but Bruce was trying equally hard to stay ahead, doing 1 min. 25.2 sec. on the same lap, and, although the two of them were very close together on lap 45, Amon’s luck was running out and his goggles strap broke. Shielding his eyes from the airstream with one hand he drove for two laps before managing to haul his stand-by pair into position on his face, and this dropped him well back from McLaren, and although closing the gap slightly before the finish he came home in third place. Hulme was battered but triumphant, Bruce McLaren had a lot to smile about with his cars’ first one-two victory, and B.R.M. were well pleased with their turn of speed and not too worried about the frailty their cars had shown since they are still at an early stage in their development. The Ferraris had been rather outpaced from the start, but on a clear track and with McLaren as his target Amon had proved that he is one of the quickest drivers around.’—D. C. N.

Denny on his way to a win at St Jovite, Canadian GP 1968 (unattributed)

Etcetera: M7A Chassis by Chassis courtesy Allen Brown at oldracingcars.com…

‘The first two cars were finished in March 1968, and both debuted at the 1968 Race of Champions, where Bruce McLaren dominated the race, winning from pole position, with his new teammate Denny Hulme finishing third. At the next race, the Silverstone International Trophy, Hulme took pole position and won, with Bruce content to take second place. It was not quite so easy at the first GP, the Spanish, but the M7As were third and fourth on the grid and Hulme finished second. After a poor weekend in Monaco, Bruce McLaren took his team’s first GP victory in the Belgian GP at Spa in June after Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS10 retired on the last lap. Results were mixed over the next few races, but Hulme won in Italy and in Canada to equal Graham Hill’s score at the top of the World Championship standings. A crash at Watkins Glen and retirement in Mexico ended his challenge, but had been a wonderful season for McLaren’s F1 team

Bruce 8th, with Tyler Alexander and Alastair Caldwell and M7A at Rouen, Chris Amon 10th Ferrari 312 just heading out (unattributed)

Denny and Bruce at Jarama prior to the 1968 Spanish GP, M7A’s fitted with pannier side tanks. Denny 2nd and Bruce retired in the race won by Hill’s Lotus 49 Ford (unattributed)

Bruce on the way to that historic win aboard his M7A at Spa in 1968 (unattributed)

Hulme’s M7As was retained for 1969 for the Kiwi to drive, and the latest car, M7A/3, was modified to M7B specification with pannier tanks.  When that did not work, both the M7B and the prototype M7A were sold to privateers; both were crashed later in 1969 and both cars scrapped. Bruce drove a new McLaren M7C for the rest of 1969, and a huge amount of effort was wasted on the four-wheel-drive McLaren M9A. It didn’t help that Goodyear, McLaren’s tyre supplier, were well behind Firestone and Dunlop until the end of the season, when the latest rubber helped Hulme win the Mexican GP in his well-used sole surviving M7A. That last M7A was bought by Tony Dean for Formula 5000, and was then sold to a French Museum where it remains, the museum owners having turned down all McLaren International’s offers for the car.’

McLaren, Brands, M7A British GP 1968 (M Hayward)

More on the M7A’s…

Check out Allen Brown’s article which I have referenced and filched from extensively in this article

http://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m7a/

Credits…

Getty Images, Victor Blackman, Ronald Dumont, Alvis Upitis, MotorSport June 1968 article by Doug Nye, Dick Ellis, LAT, Mike Hayward, Allen Brown-oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

Finito…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

John Goss’ Tornado Ford leads a gaggle of sportscars on the drop between the Water Tower and The Viaduct, Longford, Saturday 2 March 1968…

I wrote this piece a while back and now seems a good time to post it given one of Tasmania’s finest, Gossy himself was awarded an Order of Australia for services to motor sports in last weekend-and-a-bit’s Queens Birthday Honours announcements. Off the back of that achievement Terry Sullivan started a The Nostalgia Forum thread which now contains some marvellous Goss photos, many from Lindsay Ross’ oldracephotos.com.au archive which have never seen the light of day before- check TNF out;

https://forums.autosport.com/topic/209938-john-goss-on-queens-honours-list/

Back to Longford- it’s the Saturday race day, the Monday Labour Day holiday was Tasman Cup day, that year the feature race was won by Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A FVA F2 car in a notoriously wet, perilous day of motor-racing. Sadly it was the last in Longford’s relatively short but very sweet period as a road racing track. Click here for my article on the 1968 Longford Tasman;

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

Goss, future Bathurst and Australian Grand Prix winner is leading Kerry Cox’s Paramount Jaguar, three-times Australian Grand Prix winner Doug Whiteford’s works Datsun Fairlady, Bert Howard’s Lola Mk1 Climax, the partially obscured Lotus 23 Ford of Alan Ling and then Peter Mawdesley in a Lotus Super 7. Out front out of shot is the ex-works Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can Am driven by Chris Amon from Ian Cook’s Bob Jane Racing Elfin 400 Repco, Peter Macrow in the Argo Chev, Lionel Ayers MRC Ford and Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23 Ford. The opening shot shown is the second group of cars.

I wrote an article a while back about John Goss including a bit on the Tornado, click on the link to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/07/03/john-goss-bathurst-1000-and-australian-grand-prix-winner/

The following shot is of Gossy losing Tornado on his turn-in to The Viaduct, I wonder if its the same lap! I think not, the track looks wet, which makes it the Monday. Amon’s Ferrari was pushed off the grid with a flat battery- he started the 10 lapper with 2 laps down and finished third- and did 178 mph in the wet conditions on The Flying Mile. Peter Macrow won in Tony Osborne’s Argo Chev from Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23 Ford.

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

Credits…

David Keep/oldracephotos.com, Lindsay Ross Collection, Rob Bartholomaeus

Etcetera: Autosportsman article on the Tornado Ford, courtesy Lindsay Ross’ Collection…

Tailpiece: Amon’s 480bhp Ferrari P4/Can-Am 350 monstering Gossy’s 200bhp Tornado Ford out of Newry, Longford 1968…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

During the dry Sports Car Scratch race on the Saturday Chris won from Ian Cook in Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 Repco V8 and Peter Macrow in the Argo Chev.

Amon, awfully comfortable in the P4/CanAm 350- in addition to his Ferrari F1 commitments he raced the cars in both the 1967 endurance races and some Can Am rounds, set an all-time Longford lap record of 2:16.2 undercutting Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW time of 2:13.0 earlier in the day. Mighty quick. Mind you, that summer Frank Matich beat Chris’ Ferrari in the Matich SR3 Repco in the other Australian Tasman round sportscar support events. But FM did not cross Bass Straight to do Longford- sad! Those battles on that circuit would really have been something to see!

Finito…

Chris Amon on the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ grid, 9 February 1969. DNF lap 1 after a tangle with Piers Courage. Rindt won by 45 seconds from Bell’s 246T. Checkout the wing mount detail (B McInerney)

Amongst the most jewel like Ferraris of the late sixties are the F2 Dino 166 and Tasman Formula 246T’s…

Just yummy they are. The 246T had enough of everything to do the job, but not too much of it, including its wings.

Amon didn’t race so equipped in 1968, his first Tasman Dino year, but wings exploded in F1 that season so he did return with these small aerodynamic aids in 1969, together with four 300 bhp V6’s to power the cars raced by he and Derek Bell that summer.

They were works entries with logistics on the ground taken care of by David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce, Sydney based outfit. David and Chris went way back to 1962/3 when McKay’s support of him in a Cooper T53, and Chris’ speed in it that summer brought him to the attention of Reg Parnell- and off to Europe he went.

Amon’s 246T wing in the Pukekohe paddock, Jan 2-4 1969. He won the NZ GP that weekend in ‘0008’- his ’69 Tasman mount, Bell raced ‘0010’ to 4th (M Feisst)

But its the 246T wings which interest me…

Chapman’s Lotuses returned to Australasia with World Champ Hill and World Champ Aspirant Rindt at the wheel in 1969. Colin’s Lotus 49 DFW ‘aero-phalluses’ were notable for their size and the regularity with which they parted company with the chassis to which they were, usually temporarily, attached.

It was these component failures on both Lotuses at Montjuic Parc, Barcelona several months after the Tasman that caused the FIA to act, constraining the size of wings from the ’69 Monaco GP. Click here for an article in relation to those events.

https://primotipo.com/2015/07/12/wings-clipped-lotus-49-monaco-grand-prix-1969/

Graham Hill’s Lotus 49B Ford DFW with its big, hi-mounted wing in the Pukekohe paddock, 1969. Its high in the airstream to catch ‘clean air’, not a problem- the mounts themselves were under-engineered bigtime though. Hill, Oliver and Rindt all had failures, in the case of Oliver and Rindt huge accidents which could easily have been fatal (M Feisst)

I am a complete Lotus nutbag but joisus Chappers should have been shot for the death and destruction caused to his drivers/customers by component failure over the years? The Latin term ‘caveat emptor’ could have been designed with Lotus purchase in mind. On the other hand, butch though the engineering sometimes was, the 1961/2 156 springs to mind- shite didn’t and doesn’t tend to fall off Ferraris.

Look at (in the Pukekohe paddock photo above) the spidery, small, multi tube structure which supports the little wing. The mounts are triangulated and supported forward to the roll bar. The adjustment mechanism to alter the angle of incidence is simple and neat. The chord of the wing is shallow with endplates, not so common at the time, to ‘capture’ airflow.

Note the throttle linkage, water and oil fillers and breathers, also the Willans harness attached to the roll bar.

Amon at Teretonga, I think, in 1969. Courage won in Frank Williams Brabham BT24 Ford DFW- a portent of the success they would have in GP racing that season with an FW run Brabham BT26 Ford DFV. Again, check out the Dino wing and its mounts. Chris was 3rd behind Hill (unattributed)

Chris took a great win in the ’69 Tasman, he won the first two rounds at Pukekohe and Levin after Rindt spun away the lead, before Jochen won on the Wigram airfield circuit. Piers Courage won at Teretonga in his bi-winged Brabham BT24 Ford DFW before the circus crossed the Tasman Sea to Australia.

Chris won well at Lakeside, the Australian Grand Prix was run in very hot conditions- with both Lotuses suffering wing failure that weekend. Jochen drove away from the field at Warwick Farm in streaming rain after Amon and Courage tangled early on. Chris won again at Sandown by 7 seconds from Rindt and took the series with 44 points from Rindt and Courage on 30 and 22 points respectively.

Graham Hill suffers what would not be the last Lotus 49 wing failure during the 1969 Australian Grand Prix at Lakeside. He pitted, a mechanic hack-sawed the wing mounts and removed the offending items allowing GH to rejoin and finish 4th behind Amon and Bell both aboard Dino 246T’s and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco (G Ruckert)

Amon’s 1968 Tasman Dino Season…

https://primotipo.com/2017/07/21/amons-tasman-dino/

The Ferrari 166 Dino…

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/09/temporada-f2-series-argentina-san-juan-1968/

Amon after his Lakeside AGP win (J Stanley)

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

Mike Feisst/The Roaring Season, Brian McInerney, John Stanley, Graham Ruckert

Tailpiece: Amon on his way to AGP victory at Lakeside on 2 February 1969, Ferrari 246T ‘0008’…

(J Stanley)

 

(B Pottinger)

I wish I had the soundtrack of the howling 300 bhp 24 valve, injected Vee-Six to go with the visual…

 Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T chassis # ‘0008’ being warmed up prior to the start of the Teretonga International on 25 January 1969.

 Chris was third in the race behind Piers Courage in Frank Williams Brabham BT24 Ford DFW and Graham Hill’s Gold Leaf TL Lotus 49 Ford DFW- and won the ’69 Series with wins at Pukekohe, Levin, Lakeside and Sandown.

 Just so ‘Ferrari in period’ this shot ‘innit?

 Veglia Borletti- Giri, Olio, Acqua and Benzina instruments and MoMo steering wheel- wouldn’t we all have loved to sit right here looking at this lot. Note the small fire extinguisher sitting above the dash and Lucas electrical fuel pump off-switch beside the fuel guage.

 I’ve done a few articles about Chris and the Dino, just pop the names into the primo site search engine on the home page for more ‘on topic’.

 Photo Credits…

 Bill Pottinger on ‘The Roaring Season’, LAT

Tailpiece: Amon and Rindt on the front row, NZGP Pukekohe, 4 January 1969, Chris won from Jochen…

(LAT)

image

(T Watts Collection)

A favourite car, favourite marque, favourite colour. Bert Howard’s Lola Mk1 Climax at Symmons Plains, Tasmania in April 1968…

It’s a simple enough shot I suppose, a well executed pan with classic blurred background, but too good not to share.

The colour is so clear it could be 2017, but the low roll bar, helmet and background devoid of advertising hoardings gives it away a bit, its 1968. The small, lithe little machine looks like a ‘big banger’ doesn’t it?, but the 1098cc Coventry Climax FWA engined car is anything but that.

The Lola Mk1 was seminal in Eric Broadley’s early commercial success. The story of the car itself, it’s development and specifications is so well told on Lola Heritage, just click on the link here to read about these magic cars;

http://www.lolaheritage.co.uk/history/types/mk1/mk1.htm

Bert’s car, Lola Mk1 chassis ‘BR15’  first came to Australia to the order of ‘Scuderia Veloce’ supremo, David McKay in late 1960…

By the time David McKay landed the sporty and Formula Junior Lola Ford ‘BRJ18’ the former World War 2 veteran, racer and motoring journalist had already been competing since the late forties. He had second place in the 1955 Hyeres 12 Hours in southern France together with Tony Gaze aboard a ‘customer’ Aston DB3S and the 1958 Australian Tourist Trophy, Bathurst, victory as career highlights to that point, the latter aboard his ex-works Aston Martin DB3S.

Most international readers would be by now familiar with McKay from various of my articles. He was a racer at elite level who founded ‘Scuderia Veloce’ to race his own cars circa 1959. The team very shortly thereafter morphed into an enterprise which entered cars for others including internationals, Chris Amon, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart- and into a retail motor dealership on Sydney’s North Shore which sold Ferrari, later Volvo and from 1969 Porsche cars.

McKay also aided and abetted the careers of many drivers from the early days- most notably Amon, Spencer Martin, Greg Cusack and right through into the 1970’s Larry Perkins and open-wheeler Formula Pacific ace John Smith in the latter period.

Throughout this era of the mid-fifties to the mid-seventies McKay was the most influential Oz motoring journalist as motoring editor of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph newspapers.

image

David McKay, Lola Mk1 Climax, Forrests Elbow, Bathurst, Easter 1961. Won the 3 lap under 1500 scratch and was 4th outright and 1st in class in the 10 lap main sportscar event won by the Matich Lotus 15 Climax (J Ellacott)

A mate of McKay’s, dentist David Lewin based in London had written to the Sydneysider and extolled him of the virtues of both Lolas and McKay soon did a deal with Graham Broadley, Eric’s brother to acquire ‘BR15’, which was a works car raced by Peter Ashdown.

The FJ was a new car built for a category which was exploding globally. The shadows of the War by then had to a large extent diminished, globally the worlds economy was performing well and consumer credit was becoming more widely available- many young men could afford to go motor racing and FJ was very much a class of choice.

In Australia, finally some permanent venues were being built- Warwick Farm, Catalina Park, Lakeside, Sandown Park, Calder and others were all opened in the early years of the sixties. In fact McKay was keen to land both Lolas in time for the first Warwick Farm opening meeting in December 1960. ‘BR15’ was not available until the end of the British racing season however.

Between the purchase of the cars and their arrival in Australia the Australian Federal Government had increased sales tax on imported cars to 40%. Much to McKay’s chagrin the changes applied to both road cars AND racing cars including those ‘on the water’! His landed price having increased hugely, McKay quickly did a deal to relieve the financial pressure so created to sell the FJ to Sydney insurance broker Tom Corcoran who had been racing a Lotus 11. Corcoran raced the car under the SV banner thereby getting some support at race meetings and fuel and oil provided by Castrol who had about then done a deal with McKay. David of course raced the Mk1.

image

Scuderia Veloce on Warwick Farm’s pit straight in 1962. Morgan Distributors Morgan Plus 4, Tony Loxley’s Ferrari 250 GT, Fiat Importers Fiat 1800, ‘Old Nail’ Cooper T51 Climax, Lola Mk1 Climax (J Fullarton)

Scuderia Veloce at the time included the little Lola, a Nardi modified Fiat 1800 taken out to 2 litres owned by Fiat Australia which David raced in the burgeoning Appendix J touring car class and his Jaguar.

By early 1960 his first Jaguar Mk1 3.4 ‘Grey Pussy’, the dominant touring car in Australia at the time had been sold to Ron Hodgson. David bought a second Jag, a 3.4 litre Mk1, like the first built by the Jaguar Competition Department, which was co-owned with Australian Jaguar importer Bryson Industries. He won the very first Australian Touring Car Championship, a one race event, at Gnoo Blas, Orange in the red Jag in early 1960 beating Bill Pitt’s 3.4 litre Mk1 and Hodgson’s car which by then was 3.8 litres in capacity.

He also occasionally raced Sydney businessman/yachtsman Tony Loxley’s Ferrari 250GT coupe in GT races.

In single-seaters, for a short time in 1959 McKay raced a new (Victa Industries owned) Cooper T51 Climax FPF 1.9 and after the 1961 Australasian International season- the Victa owned car having been sold to Bib Stillwell he acquired a Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.2 from Jack Brabham. McKay realised, approaching forty that his time at the top was limited and he ‘needed to get on with it’ in single-seaters!

image

Mallala AGP weekend 1961, this will be a heat as Bill Patterson started from pole after acrimony over qualifying times and Stan Jones DNS the GP itself after mechanical mayhem intruded. #6 Bib Stillwell in his new Cooper T53 Climax, #14 McKay in ‘Old Nail’ Cooper T51 Climax and #2 Stan Jones Cooper T51 Climax. That’s Gerry Brown tending to Bib and Kevin Drage with his hand on the tail of the car (K Drage)

The ‘Old Nail’ Cooper Jack Brabham had for sale was raced by Ron Flockhart and Roy Salvadori that summer as part of ‘Jack’s team (‘Ecurie Vitesse’) was none other than Bruce McLaren’s ex-works machine (chassis number either ‘F2-5-57’ or ‘F2-7-59’), the chassis in which Bruce took his first world championship GP victory at Sebring in late 1959 and another win at Buenos Aires in February 1960.

It wasn’t in the full flush of youth as a ’59 (or was it 1957!?) car with transverse leaf, as against coil sprung rear end but was still a pretty good thing to go head to head with Cooper mounted Stan Jones, Bill Patterson, Lex Davison, (noting Lex’ interludes in Aston Martin DBR4’s) Bib Stillwell, (ditto!) Alec Mildren and the rest of the local heroes in Australia.

Indeed, the difference between an Australian Grand Prix ‘Old Nail’ win for McKay and 3rd place at Mallala in October 1961 was a jumped start and 60 second penalty in the opinion of the race stewards…but not in the opinion of many informed onlookers! A story for another time. Lex Davison won the ’61 AGP, his fourth and last AGP victory aboard a Cooper T51 borrowed from Bib Stillwell (the ex-Victa Industries car raced briefly by McKay) and Bibs later, quicker!, Cooper T53 with McKay’s T51 third. As I say, that meeting is very much a story in itself for another time.

image

Start of the Australian Touring Car Championship race at Gnoo Blas, Orange, NSW 1 February 1960. Ron Hodgson in Jag Mk1 3.8 ‘Grey Pussy’ at left, McKay in his new Mk1 3.4 right, Bill Pitt behind in another Mk1 3.4 then the Holdens led by Pete Geoghegan’s black 48-215. McKay won from Pitt and Hodgson (unattributed)

So, McKay was a busy boy and Lola was only one of his toys! McKay was well aware of the cars speed which was both demonstrated by the performance of the cars in the UK and Derek Jolly’s Coventry Climax FWA powered Decca’s which raced in Australia from the mid-fifties- and which McKay was well familiar with on-and off circuit.

The dominant sportscars in Australia at the time were Ron Phillips’ Cooper Jaguar, Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S, Derek Jolly’s 2 litre FPF powered ex-works Lotus 15 and then Frank Matich’s Leaton Motors owned ex-works 2.5 litre FPF powered Lotus 15 from the time it arrived in Australia in 1960. Matich then transferred his raw pace to a Lotus 19 Climax which further accentuated his dominance (which segued to Lotus 19B, Elfin 400 Olds aka ‘Traco Olds’, Matich SR3 Repco and Matich SR4 Repco- a decade of sportscar wins for FM in Australia)

image

‘BR15’ at Symmons Plains 1968: spaceframe chassis, wishbone upper and lower front suspension with coil spring/shocks, 1098cc originally but by now probably 1220cc Coventry Climax Weber fed FWA engine and rubber bungee attached fuel tank all clear (oldracephotos.com)

The Lola was a famously light, beautiful handling car but it was not an outright contender toting only 1100cc so its place in the local order was to win the 1100 or under 1500 class and punch above its weight in outright competition.

McKay’s cars finally arrived from the UK in October 1960, their first outing a test day at Warwick Farm in October before the inaugural Warwick Farm open meeting on 18 December 1960. Bob Atkin had by then been engaged by McKay to look after the Lolas, Atkin formed a career with SV’s and was still Dealer Principal of Scuderia Veloce Motors when it was sold to Laurie Sutton a decade or so hence.

McKay won his class in the famously very wet meeting whilst finishing 2nd outright behind Matich’ Lotus 15 and ahead of Derek Jolly’s 15, Bob Jane’s Maser 300S, Doug Chivas’ Jag D Type and others. In a great day for McKay, he won a sportscar race in the Morgan Plus 4, was 4th in the Appendix J touring car race in the Fiat and took fastest lap as well as winning the 1500 class in the Lola Mk1. A great day at the office!

Over the next 12 months the car was unbeatable in its class with successes at Ballarat Airfield, Hume Weir, Longford and Bathurst.

image

McKay’s Lola ‘BR15’ in very ugly Appendix K GT guise in 1961, circuit unknown. Gives new meaning to ‘slab sided’ ‘dunnit (M Schagen)

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport adopted Appendix K for GT cars for the 1960 season which made sense in terms of attracting people to buy and race closed coupes such as the Lotus Elite and Porsche Carrera being sold at the time. It left large numbers of sportscars out on a limb in the sense that promoters now chose between running races for the two categories-that is between Appendix C Sportscars and Appendix K GT’s.

CAMS oddly, but sensibly allowed open cars to compete as long as they had ‘a lid’. As a consequence all manner of cars including such exotica as D Type Jags, Maser 300S…and McKays Lola Mk1 were ‘converted’ from open sportscars to closed coupes.

The conversions were usually as ugly as sin, Bob Jane’s Maser 300S arguably the exception, with David’s Lola definitely in the ‘fugly’ category as the photo above proves! The work was done by Clive Adams North Sydney panel shop, ‘ there a master of aluminium work, one Stan Brown, had a small corner where he worked his magic’ as McKay so eloquently put it. ‘That it turned out an ugly duckling there is no doubt’. To make matters worse the increase in weight of the car and ‘top heaviness’ ruined the beautiful balance of Broadley’s original design.

image

1961 GT Racing shot: Bob Jane, Maser 300S Coupe, Leo Geoghegan Lotus Elite, Frank Matich Jaguar D Type Hardtop and the red car is Keith Malcolm’s Skoden, Bathurst October 1961 (MK1220)

McKay in his autobiography describes the silver lining in the GT conversion work as the introduction to him of Spencer Martin, who worked at Adams shop and had started racing in a self built sportscar. Later they would achieve much together with Spencer driving both the SV Brabham BT11A Climax after Graham Hill had finished with it at the end of the 1964 Tasman Series and McKay’s famous, glorious ‘Red Lady’- his Ferrari 250LM.

The Lola ‘GT’ cannot have been too bad mind you, McKay was 2nd in the 50 mile, one race 1961 Australian GT Championship held at Warwick Farm in July 1961. Frank Matich won in a Jag XKD ‘GT’ from Brian Foley’s Austin Healey Sprite Hardtop and Bob Jane’s Maser 300S Coupe.

As McKay focussed on other cars he sold the Lola to Greg Cusack, the young motor-trader and rally-driver from Canberra was a man on-the-rise. Cusack raced the car for the first time, still under the SV banner, at Warwick Farm in December 1961. He achieved the same levels of success with it in the following twelve months as McKay.

Cusack also had an occasional race in the ‘Old Nail’ Cooper T51 Climax during 1962 including a very solid 4th in the ‘Bathurst 100’ Gold Star event on demanding Mount Panorama.

McKay played an important role in Chris Amon’s nascent career, running the young Kiwi in the Australasian International season aboard his Cooper T53 Climax in 1963- it was during that summer that Reg Parnell spotted Chris’ talent and spirited him off to Europe.

Chris had a few drives of McKay’s Coopers (Old Nail T51 and T53) in Australia in the second half of 1962 at Sandown and Mallala during practice and at the Gold Star season ending round at Warwick Farm in mid-October where he raced the T51 to 3rd place in the ‘Hordern Trophy’ behind Bib Stillwell and John Youl. The talented young Kiwi also raced the Lola Mk1 at Sandown in September to a class win in the Victorian Sportscar Championship.

The Lotus 23’s then beginning to appear gave the Lola a taste of competition for the first time. Cusack could see the writing on the wall so acquired two Elfins, a Catalina single-seater and Mallala mid-engined sportscar with which to take his career forward.

Cusack remained close to McKay, he would several years hence drive the teams Brabham BT23A Repco after Spencer Martin’s departure from Scuderia Veloce.

Lola was offered for sale and sold to to another very quick young driver, John Martin of Katoomba in Sydney’s Blue Mountains who had been competing in a Lotus 15. He first raced the car in January 1963 and achieved much success despite the more competitive grids in which the Lola now competed.

image

Pete Geoghegan in ‘BR15’ giving Niel Allen’s new Elan heaps at the ’66 Warwick Farm Tasman meeting in February. It was a very effective ‘demo’ of the little cars pace despite advancing years and race miles. Geoghegan was doing as many laps in little lithe Lotuses at the time as the Touring Cars for which he was famous- he would have found Lola very much to his liking I suspect (B Wells)

Frank Demuth, a Sydney accountant was the next owner having bought the car in early 1964. He gradually got the hang of it, as a newcomer to racing, but soon traded it in after 12 months on the Lotus 23B Ford raced by Pete Geoghegan, the Geoghegan brothers were Australia’s Lotus importers.

Rather than leave the car sitting on the Parramatta Road used car lot, Pete decided to have a run in it to remind everyone Lola was about and for sale. He had the car painted the wonderful shade of yellow and added 8 inch wheels to get a bit more grip. By now the car’s Climax FWA was said to be 1220cc in capacity.

Geoghegan entered it in the 1966 Warwick Farm Tasman meeting sportscar races and gave Niel Allen’s ex-Leo Geoghegan Lotus Élan 26R and Demuth plenty of curry in the 23 he has just acquired! Still, Pete was a rather handy steerer whatever the theoretical superiority of the 1.6 litre mid-engined, Lotus/Ford twin-cam powered Lotus 23! The feature race, for the record was won by Greg Cusack in a Lotus 23B from Demuth, Geoghegan and Bob Jane’s E Type Lwt.

It was at this point that Bert Howard responded to the Geoghegan’s March 1966 ‘Racing Car News’ advertisement, asking price $A3400- read it and weep! It was a long drive from Hobart to Sydney and back but no doubt Bert had a big smile as his car towed ‘BR15’ onto the ‘Princess of Tasmania’ at Port Melbourne for the final leg of the 1600 Km trip home.

image

Longford 1968: Bert Howard’s Lola in front of Doug Whiteford, works Datsun Fairlady, John Roxburgh Lotus 23C Ford and Ian Maudsley, Lotus Super 7 (oldracephotos)

There the car was beautifully prepared and presented for years at Longford, Symmons Plains and Baskerville, if increasingly outdated as the mid-engined hordes grew exponentially throughout the 1960’s. In the smaller capacity classes these cars included the Lotus 23, various local 23 ‘clones’, the Elfin Mallala, Elfin 300 and others.

Bert sold the car in the early seventies to Kent Patrick who raced it in various historic events before selling it to Kerry Luckins, well known in motorsport as the General Manager of Paul England Engineering in Melbourne, a Light Car Club stalwart and the ‘on-circuit’ Sandown commentator.

Kerry stripped the car and rebuilt it fully with the assistance of  Jim Shepherd. It is in this period in the earlyish days of historic racing that I remember the Melbourne based car and later when raced by Ian and his son Nick McDonald, the car always looked ‘a million bucks’ and was very fast as the McDonald cars always are.

The car left Australia circa 2000 when sold to Tony Moy of Page and Moy, the specialist UK motor racing travel agency. Forty years had elapsed between the cars departure from and return to the UK- a great pity as the lovely little car had been an enduring and ever-present part of the Oz racing scene and a ‘belle of the ball’ wherever it appeared.

It never looked better than in its yellow phase in Bert Howard’s hands mind you…

Etcetera: David, Graham and Friends…

image

Warwick Farm function during the Tasman, guessing 1964, the year Graham Hill drove McKay’s Brabham BT11A but its a guess only. L>R unknown, McKay, unknown, Geoff Sykes Warwick Farm promoter and manager, GH and Mike Kable, motoring journalist (Warwick Farm)

Bibliography…

‘David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce’ David McKay, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Lola Heritage, oldracingcars.com, Terry Sullivan and Ray Bell on ‘The Roaring Season’, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley

Photo Credits…

T Watts Collection via Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Geoff Harrisson/oldracephotos.com, John Ellacott, Kevin Drage, Marc Schagen via Aussieroadracing, J Fullarton, MK1220, Bruce Wells/The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: David McKay at Catalina Park, Blue Mountains, NSW, Lola Mk1 Climax, date unknown, beautiful isn’t it…

image

(M Schagen)

 

(Jack Inwood)

Three-time Kiwi Gold Star champion Jim Palmer leads John Riley during the 1964 running of the ‘Renwick 50’ held each November in the township of Renwick…

Palmer’s car is the ex-Jack Brabham works 1964 Tasman Series  Brabham BT7A Climax FPF ‘IC-2-63’, Riley’s the ex-Tony Shelly Lotus 18/21 Climax FPF.

When I initially saw this shot I imagined the cars were returning to the paddock but in fact they are entering what was in effect a single car at a time part of the track, a right-hander, the course was essentially rectangular in layout through the roads of Renwick.

The Marlborough region is a stunning part of New Zealand, its the countries largest wine growing area, in the far north of the South Island and famous the world over for some marvellous Sauvignon Blanc whites.

Palmer’s ex-Clark Lotus 32B Climax during the January 1966 Levin Tasman round, he was 5th in the race won by Richard Attwood’s BRM P261. Jim Clark won the ’65 Tasman in this car, chassis ’32-FL-8′ with 4 wins and then sold it to the Palmer family. Superbly prepared and driven, Palmer won the 1965/6 NZ Gold Star in it and then finished 4th in the ’66 Tasman with a mix of speed and reliability- only Stewart, Hill and Clark were in front of the plucky Kiwi. The car then raced in Oz in the hands of Greg Cusack and Mel McEwin. Ultimately restored by John Dawson-Damer in Sydney and sold/part exchanged for a Lotus 79 to Classic Team Lotus 20 years ago. 2.5 CC FPF and ZF 5 speed box clear in shot as is very beefy rear chassis diaphragm (TRS)

Click here for an article about the Lotus 32B and the Levin International won by Jim Clark in 1965;

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

The Renwick event was run from 1961 to 1967 with Palmer having a bit of a mortgage on it- he won in 1964, 1965 and 1966 in Cooper T53, Brabham BT7A and Lotus 32B, the latter the car Jim Clark won the Tasman Series with in 1965. All of these cars were powered by the venerable 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF 4 cylinder engine- the World Championship winning engine of 1959-60. Palmer won the New Zealand Gold Star, the NZ drivers championship in 1964/5, 1965/6 and 1967/8 in the Brabham, Lotus and a McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 respectively.

Jim Palmer aboard the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A Climax, not so long before vacated by Spencer Martin, at Bathurst, Easter 1966. The shot is taken near the crest at Reid Park Gate. Palmer drove well, albeit against no other 2.5 litre competition, to win the racing car feature ‘Mt Panorama Gold Cup’. It was about this time he failed his CAMS licence due to some vision issues, a great shame as the speedy Kiwi would have been a welcome addition to our Gold Star grids, skinny as they were (John Ellacott)

A top driver he retired too early in my book, partially due to being unable to get an Australian CAMS racing licence, he was ‘long sighted’ in one eye. He also married and decided to focus on his business interests in the retail motor trade and commercial property, which centred on Hamilton where he still lives.

Jim Palmer in the ex-Clark Lotus 32B Climax on the way to 6th place in the 1966 Warwick Farm 100 on 13 February. Clark won from Hill and Gardner (Bruce Wells)

The 1964 Renwick 50 was run over 20 laps of the 2.414 km course (three variants of Renwick roads were used over the years) on 14 November, a smidge under 50 km in total. Palmer won and took the lap record at 1: 17.0 with Morrie Stanton, Stanton Corvette 2nd and Red Dawson in a Cooper T53 Climax 3rd.

Check out this YouTube footage which shows the undulating, narrow nature of the circuit. Whilst the caption says 1965, the footage is from several of the Renwick meetings including 1964.

Bibliography…

sergent.com, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

Jack Inwood/The Roaring Season, John Ellacott, Bruce Wells, Marlborough Car Club

Tailpiece: Chris Amon, Maser 250F, Renwick 50 November 1962…

Chris Amon, Maser 250F just ahead of Bob Eade’s similar car with John Histed’s Lola Mk2 Ford behind. Angus Hyslop Cooper T53 Climax won from Amon and Barry Cottle, Lola Mk1 Climax. This race on 10 November 1962 was Chris’ last race in the Maser (Marlborough Car Club)

Postscript: Next stage of Chris Amon’s career…

Click here for an article on the next critical months in Amon’s career after the Maserati was put to one side and Chris drove David McKay’s Cooper T53 Climax in the 1963 Australasian Internationals; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/06/chris-amon-cooper-t53-and-the-australian-grand-prix-1963/

Finito…