Posts Tagged ‘Cooper T51 Climax’

(R Lambert)

‘It goes just like a bought one Bib!’…

Jack Brabham about to give Bib Stillwell’s newish Cooper T51 Climax ‘F2-18-59’ a whirl during practice for the Longford Trophy in February 1960. Bib and his mechanic Gerry Brown are giving the car a shove.

Nobody knew those little babies like Jack of course. There was nothing wrong with the car a 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF would not fix, but neither love nor money would get you one of those in Australia at the time.

Jack and Bib swapping notes @ Longford in 1960. ‘What ratio did you say again mate’. These fellas had much in common-racing, business and aviation. Bib bought a heap of stuff off Jack- Coopers, Brabhams and planes! (K Drage)

Stillwell’s new car was shipped from Surbiton to Australia in July 1959. Fitted with a 2.2 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine, Bib first raced it in the 1960 NZGP at Ardmore where he finished 3rd behind the Brabham and McLaren 2.5 litre T51’s.

Back home, he won the Victorian Trophy Gold Star round at Fishermans Bend in February before the Longford International where was 2nd to Jack. He contested the Repco Trophy at Phillip Island in March where he was 3rd behind Brabham and Bill Patterson, Patto’s car 2 litre FPF powered like Bib’s that weekend.

Bib oversees Gerry Brown’s fettling of his Cooper in the 1960 Longford paddock. Near new car superbly prepared and presented as the racer/businessmans cars were right thru to the end of his historic racing career in the nineties (R Lambert)

The naughty corner bit came as a result of an accident Stillwell had at Easter in 1960.

He had won his Bathurst 100 heat but had an indiscretion with the fence at the bottom of Conrod Straight in the final, damaging the front of the car. Alec Mildren’s Maserati 250S engined T51 was victorious that weekend at the start of a very successful season for the veteran racer/motor dealer- he carted away the AGP and Gold Star.

Repaired, Bib’s machine was fitted with a 1.9 litre FPF and became his spare car  parked in the corner of his workshop. He focussed his affections on the just acquired ‘Victa’ T51- David McKay’s car ‘F2-14-59’ which was carefully assembled by Victa’s factory Foreman, Jim Roberts at Coopers before shipment to Sydney. The car, of similar leaf spring rear suspension specification to ‘F2-18-59’, was on the market after ‘Victa Consolidated Industries’, manufacturers of iconic Australian lawnmowers, decided to sell it rather than have David continue racing it after only 2 events.

The interesting part of the story, you knew I would get there eventually didn’t you?, is that in a quirk of fate and fortune the spare car in The Naughty Corner of Stillwells Cotham Road, Kew workshop won the 1961 Australian Grand Prix at Mallala, South Australia.

The sequence of events goes like this.

Lex Davison raced his Aston Martin DBR4/250 3 litre GP car to 2nd by a bees-dick to Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati in the 1960 AGP at Lowood in June. He raced the car again at Lowood and Warwick Farm in 1960 and the Farm, Ballarat Airfield and Longford in early 1961 before shipping it to the UK.

Lex Davison’s Aston DBR4/250 outside Gino Munaron’s Cooper T51 Maserati during the Guards Trophy Intercontinental race at Brands Hatch in August 1961. There were 17 starters with Brabham’s Cooper winning a race of attrition, the only other finishers Salvadori, Davo and Bandini. With the new 1.5 litre F1 ‘taking off’ this was the last Intercontinental race (Getty)

He raced it throughout 1961 in the Intercontinental Formula races prevalent that year during an extended family trip and racing holiday. He also contested some sportscar races and Le Mans with Stillwell in an Aston DB4GT Zagato, click on the link below for some information on that adventure.

https://primotipo.com/2015/09/22/aston-martin-db4gt-zagato-2vev-lex-davison-and-bib-stillwell/

When it became clear the Aston DBR4 would not arrive back in Oz in time for the 9 October Mallala race he sought an alternative and immediately thought of his Melbourne competitor, friend and fellow Holden Dealer, Stillwell, who had five Coopers at the time according to Graham Howard! (4 single-seaters and a Cooper Monaco sports-racer I think)

Melbourne Holden Dealers meeting? Stillwell, Davison and Patterson cluster around Lex’s renta-drive soon to be AGP winning Cooper at Mallala in the lead up to the ’61 race. They had Holden dealerships in Kew, Richmond and Ringwood respectively until Bib jumped ship ‘sensationally’ from Holden to Ford circa 1965 (Davison)

Bib kindly agreed to rent Lex one of these, his Naughty Corner spare ‘F2-18-59’, fitted with a 2.2 litre FPF.

By that stage Bib’s frontline tool of choice was a T53 ‘Lowline’ Cooper fitted with a 2.5 FPF. Whilst he wanted Lex in the field Bib did not figure the ‘Crafty Cobbler’- Davison’s primary family business was in shoe manufacture and distribution- three time AGP winner would present too much of a problem to he and the T53 who, together with Bill Patterson’s T51 were the quickest combination in Oz at the time.

A quarter page agreement between the two racers dated 5 October- four days before the race provided for a hiring fee of £100 with the car to be returned in a condition satisfactory to the owner. If the racer was written off, Bib was to be paid £3000.

Stillwell T53, David McKay T51 and the nose of Jones T51 before the start of a Mallala heat. Stan DNS the GP itself with mechanical mayhem- a great shame. Gerry Brown is behind Bib’s car in the top shot with Kevin Drage leaning on the cars tail (K Drage)

 

 

In a race full of irony, David McKay, by then aboard his Scuderia Veloce ex-works T51 which Brabham raced in Australia that summer of 1960/61, was adjudged by the Race Stewards to have jumped the start. This is still a controversial decision in the view of objective observers all these years later- he was punished a minute for his alleged misdemeanour.

Bill Patterson dominated the race from the start in another T51 before fuel vaporisation problems caused multiple stops.

Bib was never a threat as his team managed to fit the wrong tyres to his T53. Accounts of this vary, but Graham Howard’s ‘History of The AGP’ version is that the team erroneously had a Dunlop R5 D12 and a D9 fitted to the rear of the car with a matched set of D12 R5’s at the front. The result was difficult handling and a ZF slippery diff which was worn out by the races end.

Lex took the win behind McKay on the road but ahead after application of McKay’s penalty. The Naughty Corner Car had been beautifully prepared by Stillwell’s Kew based team led by Gerry Brown before handover to Davison’ s crew led by Alan Ashton’s AF Hollins boys in Armadale not too far away from Stillwell’s Kew Holden Dealership and race workshop in Melbourne’s inner east.

Davison’s Cooper rolled to a stop several hundred yards after the finish of the race- a fuel union attachment on one of the cars fuel tanks had cracked when he hit a straw-bale after a spin at Woodrofe Corner, the borrowed Cooper was out of fuel, it could not have raced any further! Lex’s luck extended to the start of the race too when his crew noticed a gearbox leak which they plugged with a rag soaked in gasket goo.

Sometimes things are just meant to be!

Many say Lex was lucky with all of his four AGP wins, he was too. But he made his own luck in that his cars were always beautifully prepared and driven very fast with mechanical sympathy- he finished races where others did not. Was 1961 his luckiest win?, only he can say.

Ecurie Australie onto the grid. Peter Ward, Lex in his usual cloth cap, Alan Ashton, Warwick Cumming with T51 ‘F2-18-59’.  McKay’s car behind with then, I think then the amazing, fast, radical Eldred Norman built Zephyr Spl driven by Keith Rilstone (Davison)

Lex may have been a dark horse before the start of the weekend, his disdain of the ‘Anti-Climaxes’ as he called the Coopers a matter of record- then he won the AGP in his first race of a water-cooled Cooper, amazing really.

But he was hardly a Surbiton novice having raced air-cooled Coopers for years in hillclimbs and shorter circuit events, the Cooper Irving/Vincent s/c was a very potent device. He knew the probable handling characteristics of the T51 prior to commencement of Fridays practice in a car beautifully prepared by Gerry Brown but cared for by Lex’s mob- Alan Ashton and Warwick Cumming over the race weekend.

Further, like Patterson and Stillwell, he was razor sharp. Whilst Bill and Bib were the form drivers locally, Lex had been sharpening his skills in the UK in the DBR4 and some drives in a DB4 Zagato. He arrived home very much ‘ready to boogie’- the Cooper may not have been instantly familiar but he was in the zone from the moment he arrived in South Australia. Another factor to Lex’ advantage is that the 2.5’s were having trouble getting their power to the road. Mallala was a brand new facility, the bitumen was slippery, his 2.2 litres in the circumstances were enough to do the job that weekend.

Finally, the ‘rear-leaf sprung’ T51’s (later series T51’s had coil spring rear suspension) were very chuckable, forgiving devices. The Mallala layout then is the same as it is now with many tight corners- the circuit is a delight if your open-wheeler has good front end bite and a tad of oversteer on exit- the Naughty Corner Car was just the right spec T51 for that circuit on that particular weekend.

Last word on Mallala to Graham Howard in his biography of Lex; ‘On lap 31 Patterson pitted…Lex…in his first race with an “anti-Climax”- was leading an Australian Grand Prix. It was an odd situation, but even odder were Lex’s repeated attempts to overtake McKay (with a minute penalty applied): Lex only had to follow him over the line to win. Lex’s needless repeated attacks and waved fists spelled it out: he drove most of this race with almost red-mist passion.’

Back to the history of the AGP winning Cooper.

In late 1961 after occasional use by Stillwell and three-time Australian GP winner Doug Whiteford, the naughty Cooper was sold to Tom Wilson, then to Frank Coad who raced it on the Victorian country circuits. Barry Stilo was up next in 1965, then Ray Deighton in 1967 and later Michael Robinson.

For many years the car was owned and used in the early days of historic racing in Australia by Stan Rumble. I recall seeing it race a few times in that period. It was sold by him in 1996 to Sydney’s Peter Landan who completely restored it. I’m not sure who owns it these days.

T51’s to the fore, bucolic Bathurst ‘Craven A’ Gold Star race Easter 1961. Stan Jones from David McKay and Bill Patterson on the run to Forrests Elbow- Patterson won the 19 lap race from Jones and Stillwell- T51 2.5’s, 2.3 in Stan’s case (J Ellacott)

The Cooper T51 is one of the great customer Grand Prix cars. Its up there with the Bugatti T35 and Maserati 250F as the best of competitive tools for the privateer which could be acquired off-the-shelf.

Eleven factory built T51’s were resident in Australia ‘in period’, an amazing number given the size of the country and the racing scene at the time. The previous sentence was easy to write, but the research carried out to come up with the number was robustly tested and discussed by a group of very knowledgeable Cooper enthusiasts on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ between January and March 2010. Click here to read the thread, don’t do so unless you have 90 minutes though!

http://forums.autosport.com/topic/122950-how-many-cooper-t51s-came-to-australia/?hl=%20cooper%20%20t51

So, many thanks to Dick Willis, Stephen Dalton, the late David McKinney, Jim Bradshaw, David Shaw, Eldougo, Ken Devine and Ray Bell for their painstaking research through old records, race accounts and results, photographs and car sale advertisements.

The list is as follows, the fellows above were smart enough not to apply chassis numbers, I have done so using Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com to assist but any additions to the experts narrative or errors of interpretation are all mine…

‘F2-20-59’: Bib Stillwell’s red and yellow new car. Delivered to Stan Jones and transferred to Bib Stillwell, then to Austin Miller incl Chev Corvette V8 fitment and Australian LSR (extant)

‘F2-18-59’ Bib Stillwell’s darker red car, Davison’s ’61 AGP winner, Whiteford, Wilson, Rumble et al as story above (extant)

‘F2-4-59?’: Bib Stillwell’s ex-works 2.5, Sternbergs in Tasmania (extant)

‘F2/14/59’: Victa Consolidated Industries/David McKay new car, Stillwell, Bryan Thomson (extant)

‘F2-15-59’: Bill Patterson’s new, first car crashed at Lakeside 1961, to John Brindley (unknown)

‘F2-2-57 or F2-5-57’: Bill Patterson’s replacement car, 1961 Gold Star winner, apparently ex-works via either Atkins or Tuck team (extant)

‘F2-16-59’: Noel Hall’s new car, destroyed in 1961 but parts used in the build of his Rennmax Climax 2.2 FPF (extant)

‘F2-22-59’: Alec Mildren’s new car, Maserati 250S and later T61 engine, 1960 AGP and Gold Star winner, dismantled and parts used to construct the Rennmax built Mildren Maserati sports-racer. Replica or reconstruction later built for Paul Moxham by Gary Simkin and Ivan Glasby (extant)

‘F2-7-60’: Stan Jones light blue new car 1960, later Sternbergs Tasmania (unknown)

‘F2-9-60’: John Youls 1960 car, stayed in Tasmania (Hobden, Curran) (extant)

‘F2-5-57 or F2-7-59’: Scuderia Veloce ex-works car, McKay, Cusack, Amon driven (extant)

Note that the Arnold Glass raced T51 Maserati 250S engined car ‘CTA/59/F1’ is excluded from the list as a machine built ‘offsite’ by Harry Pearce at Tommy Atkins workshop rather than at Cooper’s Surbiton factory.

Stillwell, T51 , Forrests Elbow, Easter Bathurst 1961, Gold Star round- this car the ex-works ‘F2-4-59?’ (J Ellacott)

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, The Nostalgia Forum, ‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, ‘History of The Australian GP’ Graham Howard and Ors, oldracingcars.com, The Nostalgia Forum

Photo Credits…

Ron Lambert Collection, John Ellacott, Kevin Drage, National Motor Racing Museum, Davison Family Collection, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Like ‘r-soles really, everybody has one! A plague of Cooper T51’s, ‘Craven A International’ Bathurst 2 October 1960…

Jones in blue, Mildren, Brabham up front, then John Leighton Cooper T45 FPF and Bib Stillwell in red, front engined car on row 3 is Arnold Glass Maser 250F, Noel Hall and Austin Miller in yellow. Then John Youl beside Bill Patterson’s white car- the other yellow machine is Doug Kelley’s ex-Miller Cooper T41 Climax FWB. The cars are all T51’s except where specified otherwise (NMRM)

Finito…

 

(J Richardson)

Roy Salvadori all set to go in the Longford paddock before winning the 5 March 1961 ‘Longford Trophy’ aboard his ‘Ecurie Vitesse’ (Jack Brabham) Cooper T51 Climax…

These wonderful photos at Longford during the long, languid, hot Tasmanian summer of 1961 were taken by John Richardson who was a Shell Representative for Northern Tasmania and therefore had the ability to prowl the pits and form-up area. His son Greg recalls the meeting ‘I was only 6 at the time and memories get a little hazy. But I will never forget sitting on a 44 gallon drum in the pits and that wonderful almondy smell of the racing fuel and the noise, it was pretty amazing stuff for a little kid’.

The sort of experience which hooks you on the sport for life…

Jack on the front row beside John Youl, Coopers T53 and T51 Climax- behind is the unmistakeable yellow T51 of Austin Miller- alongside Aussies right-rear you can only just see a bit of Lex Davo’s Aston Martin DBR4 (J Richardson)

Very Black Jack- look at the ‘tache and beard- has not shaved for 24 hours. Cooper T53 ‘Lowline’ (J Richardson)

Roy had better luck in Australia than he did in New Zealand- there he raced a Yeoman Credit Lotus 18 Climax at Ardmore, Levin, Wigram and Teretonga, his best a second place at Teretonga. He had gearbox problems twice and a leaking radiator in the other events.

He then crossed the Tasman Sea to Australia and raced the Cooper used by Ron Flockhart that Australasian season- in Tasmania and two International races a day apart at the new Hume Weir circuit outside Albury on the New South Wales/Victoria border. He was fourth in one, DNF the other, both races were won by Brabham’s Cooper T53 ‘Lowline’, the car photographed above.

During my formative years of interest in motor racing, devouring all of the books we all did on the history of the sport Roy Salvadori was ominpresent in publications on the British scene- where he seemed to race anything which had wheels in multiple events at the same national meeting, and also competing in International events.

Maserati 4CM, Jersey 29 April 1948, 7th in the race won by Bob Gerard’s ERA B Type (unattributed)

Whilst his surname is decidedly Italian exotic Roy was very much a Brit, born in Essex of Italian parents…

Well known as the winner at Le Mans aboard an Aston DBR1 together with Carroll Shelby in 1959 he was also very handy aboard single-seaters and is rightfully on the list of those talented enough, but unfortunate not to win a championship Grand Prix.

The highly skilled all-rounders best F1 season was in 1958, when he was second in the German Grand Prix, third in the British and fourth in the drivers’ championship aboard a Cooper T45, the title won that year by another quintessential British driver of the fifties, Mike Hawthorn in Ferrari Dino 246’s. Cooper were not of course using Coventry Climax FPF engines of 2.5 litres that season, making the performance even more meritorious.

Roy Francesco Salvadori was born on 12 May 1922  in Dovercourt, Essex. After leaving school he joined his father’s refrigeration business before starting to trade in cars, running his own garage in Tolworth, Surrey by the age of seventeen. The War put paid to early plans to race but as soon as the war was over he responded to an advertisement for an MG sportscar only to find that the car in question was the R Type pre-war single-seater- a deal was quickly done.

Jack #24 and Roy, Pescara GP 18 August 1957. Cooper T43 Climax, 7th and DNF in 2 litre cars in the race won by the Moss Vanwall VW57 (Cahier)

The R Type MG was entered in the very first race meeting post-war at RAF Gransden (Gransden Lodge) on 15 June 1946 with Roy the second of two finishers in a three car race! He progressed quickly to a Riley Special and then a 50% share in a 2.9 litre Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 said to have been owned by Tazio Nuvolari.

In May 1947 he entered it in the Grand Prix des Frontières at Chimay, Belgium, and, though the car was stuck in top gear from the first lap, finished fifth. Prince Bira won the race in a Maser 4CL.

He soon sold the P3 and bought a Maserati 4CM finishing 7th in the Jersey Road Race in April, contested the British Empire Trophy in May, DNF and later the 1948 British GP at Silverstone finishing 8th in the race won by Gigi Villoresi’s Maserati 4CLT.

In 1949, he again raced in the British GP, Q23, DNF . He was 5th in his heat and 17th in the final of the August International Trophy at Silverstone and wrote off a Maserati 4CL at the Curragh track in Ireland during the September Wakefield Trophy. 1950 was a year of rebuilding the finances and finding a competitive tool- the plucky motor-trader settled on a Frazer-Nash Le Mans sportscar.

Roy ahead of a group of XK120’s, date and circuit unknown, 1951 probably (unattributed)

Salvadori’s first meeting in the ‘Nash was the Daily Express International meeting at Silverstone.

Interviewed in MotorSport in 2008 Salvadori said ‘I was leading, a big thing for me then, ahead of Bob Gerard, Tony Crook and the other Frazer-Nashes. So I was feeling pretty good about life…We came up to lap a group of slower cars which were having their own battle. I tried to overtake them all, but it couldn’t be done’. He ran wide, hit the marker barrels- oil filled drums and cartwheeled down the road, his foot was stuck in the steering wheel spokes, as a consequence he was flung about like a rag doll as the car overturned. Roy suffered a triple fracture of his head- wearing no helmet and had severe brain haemorrhaging. ‘At Northhampton Hospital they decided they could do nothing for me, and pushed me into a corner. They rang my parents and told them I was unlikely to be alive by the time they got there’. A priest was summoned and gave him the last rites.

Salvadori was back in a car three months later. His only permanent legacy of the monster shunt was deafness in one ear.

Roy acquired the 1950 model Jag XK120 (above) and first raced it at Boreham in August 1951. He had much success in the car over the next 12 months racing it against the similar machines of people like Duncan Hamilton and of course many other marques. A more serious machine was the Grand Prix Alta 1.5 s/c of H Webb with which he contested the Boreham Mail Trophy race in July for a DNF.

RS aboard Bobby Baird’s Ferrari 500 F2/GP machine at Castle Combe in 1952. Lampredi 4 cylinder, 2 valve, DOHC Weber fed dual World Championship winning engine front and centre (Simon Lewis)

With his speed and enthusiasm undiminished he was soon in demand to drive other peoples cars, he raced the Jag on into mid-1952 before selling it to Peter Blond. The Frazer-Nash was repaired and raced at Ibsley in April, the car again crashed.

A significant breakthrough were a series of drives in Irish press-baron heir Bobby Baird’s Ferrari 500 2 litre F2/GP car. In an impressive performance he was Q19 and 8th in a field of 31 cars at the Silverstone British GP.

In August he raced a Ferrari 166 (Baird’s?) in the Daily Mail Trophy at Boreham but withdrew after 21 laps. Back in the Ferrari 500, at  the Daily Graphic Goodwood Trophy in September, he was 6th and a month later he drove the car to victory in the Joe Fry Memorial Trophy at Castle Combe.

In mid September Roy contested the GP di Modena in a Cooper T20 Bristol, crashing the car in the race won by Villoresi’s Ferrari 500.

Salvo’s speed in a variety of cars- his versatility clear even then and ability to handle the demanding GP Ferrari lead to an invitation to join the Connaught team for 1953 to contest GP events in the Lea-Francis four-cylinder engined cars.

Camp Connaught, French GP Reims 1953. #42 Bira DNF diff, #50 Salvadori DNF ignition, #48 Johnny Claes 12th. Look carefully and you can see the Prince speaking to Alfred Neubauer in the background. Mike Hawthorn won this famous race after a titanic long dice with Fangio, Ferrari 500 and Maser A6GCM respectively (G Phillips)

The Connaught A Type was a very competitive tool in British national events, Roy’s best results second placings in the Lavant Cup Goodwood, BRDC International Trophy Silverstone, Crystal Palace Trophy and Newcastle Journal Trophy at Charterhall. In September he won the Madgwick Cup at Goodwood from Stirling Moss’ Cooper Alta.

In championship Grands Prix the pickings were much slimmer- he failed to finish all of the events he contested, the Dutch, French, British, German and Italian GP’s. The problem was the cars reliability not Roy’s speed- he qualified 11th, 13th and 14th at Zandvoort, the Nurburgring and Monza respectively for example.

In 1953 he joined Aston Martin in sportscars- although the focus of this article is single-seaters not his two-seater programs.

For 1954 he made the sensible decision to drive a Maserati 250F for Sid Greene’s Gilby Engineering team, the very best 2.5 litre customer GP car of the period. With it he won the Curtis Trophy at Snetterton, was second in the Lavant Cup, BARC F1 race and third in the Goodwood Trophy (all at Goodwood). The Gilby lads took the Maser across the channel to contest the French GP at Reims where Roy was Q10 but had a half-shaft failure. Back at Silverstone for the British GP he was a wonderful Q7 of 28 on a circuit at which he always excelled but had a transmission failure on lap 7.

Roy aboard the Gilby Engineering Maser 250F ‘2507’ at Silverstone in 1954. Too funny finding this shot- when I first became interested in racing someone gave me this very shot as a postcard without identification. I knew enough to know it was a 250F- and the driver looked ‘Eyetalian’ but I could never work out who it was back then! (Tom March)

Still in the first flush of youth, he raced the Gilby Maser ‘2507’ on into 1955 with wins in the Glover Trophy and Curtis Trophy at Goodwood and Snetterton respectively. He qualified first and finished second behind the Collins 250F at the International Trophy, Silverstone.

The 11 April Goodwood meeting says everything about Salvadori’s speed, versatility and work ethic- he contested six of eight events! He won the Lavant Cup in a Connaught A Type, was second in the Chichester Cup, first in the Richmond Trophy and second in the Easter Handicap all in the 250F. He won the ‘B Sportscar’ race in an Aston DB3S and was fourth in the ‘C Sportscar’ race in a Cooper-Maserati. Wow!

Lavant Cup Meeting Goodwood 11 April 1955. Roy on the way to winning the 7 lap F2 race at Madgwick. Connaught A Type and Cooper Bristol (P Redman)

The team again entered the British GP at Silverstone this time yielding Q20 and DNF due to a gearbox failure.

Into 1956 Roy again raced the Gilby 250F which was getting a little long in the tooth compared to the latest spec works-cars but was still a good thing in national events- he was first in the Vanwall Trophy and Sussex Trophy at Snetterton and Goodwood respectively. Moss won the Glover Trophy at Goodwood in a works 250F ‘2522’ with Roy behind him.

In International events the 250F was 3rd in the GP de Caen and had DNF’s at both Silverstone and the Nurburgring- the British and German GP’s but qualified 7 and 9 to remind everyone of his speed in the old jigger. He was Q14 and 11th- last at Monza.

Success also came in mid-engined F2 Cooper T41 Climaxes with wins in the British GP support event, at Brands in the Bank Holiday meeting and at Oulton in the International Gold Cup F2 race.

Roy awaits the off aboard a Vanwall VW57 before the start of the French GP @ Rouen in 1957. Q6, DNF engine on lap 25- and qualified well clear of the two BRM’s! (unattributed)

A man in demand he signed with BRM for 1957, but after his cars brakes locked solid, causing his retirement from his BRM debut race and then failing to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix, he walked away from the team.

Raymond Mays failed to intervene satisfactorily to improve the P25’s notoriously poor brakes. The P25 became a race winner- it won BRM’s first GP in Jo Bonnier’s hands at Zandvoort in 1959 of course but in 1956/early 1957 it was a problem child. No less than Alex Moulton and Alec Issigonis, Colin Chapman and Piero Taruffi- the latter two track testing the car applied their talents to dealing with the racers many handling, roadholding and braking problems. Leaving BRM at the time was as good an F1 Salvadori decision as being part of Aston’s F1 program in 1959 was a bad one!

Roy continued racing Aston sportscars throughout 1957 and was invited by David Yorke to drive a Vanwall VW57 in the Reims GP in early July, for 5th and in the French GP at Rouen a week later- Q6 and DNF engine. Chapman had of course applied his magic touch in Acton too a year earlier!

German GP paddock 1957: Yep, I can give these barges a run for their money! RS musing about the benefits of his nimble Cooper @ the Nurburgring if not its power. #1 & 2 Maser 250F’s of JMF and Jean Behra. Roys F2 Cooper T43 Climax Q15 and DNF engine in the famous ‘greatest GP of all time’ won by Fangio from the Lancia-Ferrari 801 twins Hawthorn and Collins (Getty)

 

Salvadori chasing Olivier Gendebien’s Ferrari 246 Dino during the 1958 Belgian GP, the Belgian was 6th and Roy 8th in his Cooper T45 Climax. Stirlings’s watches look good! (GP Library)

For the balance of 1957 Roy joined Cooper beside Jack Brabham, the pair racing Cooper T43/45 Climaxes in F2/F1 events. Cooper ran Coventry Climax FPF’s of just under 2 litres in F1 that season, the class capacity limit 2.5 litres from 1954-1960 inclusive. He was 2nd in the GP de Caen and failed to finish the German GP having qualified 14th running a 1475cc FPF as an F2 car within the F1 grid.

Generally Jack did better than Roy in F2 but he won the Woodcote Cup at  Goodwood, and the F2 class of the Daily Express International Trophy, was 2nd in the London Trophy at Crystal Palace and 4th in the Coupe de Vitesse at Reims.

For 1958 Roy stayed with Coopers and had his best season in GP racing as detailed early in this article. In addition to Championship GP events he was also quick in British Internationals taking 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone, Glover Trophy at Goodwood and the BARC 200 at Aintree.

Beautiful shot (reader David Fox points out Getty have it ‘the wrong way around’) of Roy’s Aston DBR4/250 at Zandvoort in 1959. Q13 and DNF overheating in the race won by the more modern and developed front-engine BRM P25 of Jo Bonnier- first GP win for them both. The Aston was maybe a potentially winning car in 1957- too late she cried (Getty)

Aston Martin finally got their DBR4 race ready- it was to Roy’s credit that he felt bound to drive it and did so but his first steer of the front-engined bolide would have been enough to indicate that AM had missed the boat relative to the Coopers with which he was now very familiar and had done so well.

It was a backward step indeed. To stay with Coopers would have been the go in 1959 fitted as they were with Coventry Climax FPF’s of 2.5 litres- they won the drivers and constructors titles of course. Roy did more than enough to stay with Cooper in 1959- in ’58 the qualifying record was fairly evenly split between Jack and Roy with the Brit getting far better race results. Oh to have stayed put at Surbiton!

In a fullish GP season he raced Tommy Atkins Cooper T45 Maserati at Monaco and Reims and the Aston DBR4/250 at Zandvoort, Aintree, Monsanto Portugal and at Monza- his best placings 6th in the Monaco, British and Portuguese GP’s. Sixth at Monsanto was 3 laps behind the Moss winning Cooper to give some idea of the relative pace of the new and old paradigms.

In non-championship races he won the London Trophy, was 2nd in the Lavant Cup in a Cooper T43 Climax F2 and frustratingly got a good, long, hard look at the back of Brabham’s Cooper T51 Climax finishing 2nd behind him at Silverstone in the Daily Express International Trophy aboard the Aston.

Roy gets into the Essex Racing Stable #4 Aston DBR1 he shared with Tony Maggs at Le Mans in 1961. The Border Reivers #5 the Jim Clark (jumping in) and Ron Flockhart DBR1 is alongside, both cars DNF (unattributed)

Following his 1959 success at Le Mans, in 1960 Salvadori returned to the 24 hour race in another Aston Martin DBR1 beside a very young Jim Clark, finishing a good 3rd behind two Ferraris.

His Grand Prix program in 1960 was limited to the Dutch and British GP’s in Astons for a DNS and DNF- and at Monaco and Riverside in an Atkins Cooper T51 Climax for a DNF and 8th. In Cooper mounted non-championship events he was 3rd in the Oulton Park Trophy and Lavant Cup at Goodwood and 4th in Snetterton’s Lombank Trophy. He won the Lancashire & Cheshire Car Club F2 race at Oulton Park.

After Aston’s withdrawal from GP racing he drove Reg Parnell’s Yeoman Credit Cooper T53 Climax FPF 1.5 litre engine cars in the first year of the new GP formula.

In a great mighta-been drive in the 1961 US GP at Watkins Glen he charged his Cooper T53 Climax FPF from eighth place up to second- closing on Innes Ireland’s leading works Lotus 18 when with five laps to go his engine failed. He was 6th at Aintree and Monza in a season dominated by the squadron of V6 Ferrari 156’s and notable for the brilliance of Stirling Moss in the under-powered Rob Walker Lotuses at Monaco and the Nurburgring.

German GP, Nurburgring 1962. Q9 and DNF suspension in Lola Mk4 Climax V8, winner Hill’s BRM P57 (unattributed)

Roy commenced the 1962 season with a trip to Australasia to race a Bowmaker Cooper T53 Climax with ‘…our first two races cut short because of rain storms and I took a 4th in the NZ GP and 5th in the Hudson Memorial Trophy. In contrast the following weekends Lady Wigram Trophy was held in stiflingly hot conditions and i again finished 5th’ Roy recounts in his biography.

But his tour was cut short with a practice crash at over 130 mph during practice at Warwick Farm on 4 February, the first Australian leg of the tour.

‘At Warwick Farm we were using an improved Dunlop tyre and although Surtees and I had a set each for the race, we had to share a set in practice. Surtees came back into the pits near the end of practice and the mechanics had a frantic rush to transfer the wheels from his car…I charged off from the pits, joined the long (Hume) straight and was approaching the hairpin (Creek Corner) that followed very quickly. As to what happened next I have to rely on what I was told, as I remember nothing of the accident. As I braked for the hairpin the car turned sharp right into a flag marshalling area protected by the sleepers and hit this at about 100 mph. I suffered head injuries, a broken cheekbone and severe facial cuts, the car was a write-off and two marshalls were injured (with broken legs). I was unconscious until the following day…I was later flown back to the UK for further medical treatment…My theory as to the cause of the accident is that we failed to pump up the brakes (a procedure peculiar to the Cooper after a wheel change) and then as I pumped them up quickly for the corner, the right front brake locked’.

Roy in a CT Atkins Cooper T53P Climax at Crystal Palace during the 1961 London Trophy meeting- a race he won. It was a car of this type he crashed at Warwick Farm albeit 2.6 FPF rather than 1.5 FPF as powered here (PA Images)

Roy flew back to Australia for the Sandown Park Trophy on March 11/12- the circuits opening meeting and drove a Lex Davison Cooper, ‘I was far from fit and it was a very stupid thing to do, although it seemed like a good idea at the time! I was slow in practice and in the race retired because of mechanical trouble’.

Warwick Farm and its fallout was hardly a good start to what would be Roy’s final GP season with a Bowmaker Lola alongside John Surtees.

They drove Eric Broadley’s Lola Mk4 Coventry Climax FWMV V8’s with Surtees consistently outpacing the veteran Salvadori who was terribly cramped in the cockpit of the car more suited to the shorter ‘Big John’. He carried this off with dignity with Surtees remarking after Salvadori’s death ‘Roy had always been serious about his motor racing and in my view, never quite realised his full potential as a grand prix driver, mainly because he was waiting in the wings while Aston Martin were being so slow in developing their DBR4 in 1959’.

Roy had shocking luck with unreliability whereas Surtees had a much better time of it and seconds at Aintree and the Nurburgring. There was nothing too wrong with the basic design, Roy’s best qualifying performance was in Germany with Q9.

Roy blasts away from the Goodwood 1960 TT start, Aston DB4GT in pursuit of Stirling Moss who is already outta picture- and won the race in Ferrari 250SWB (LAT)

The time had come though, Roy was 40, it was right to retire from Formula 1 at the seasons end. But he continued to race sports and touring cars with great success, often for his lifelong friend, John Coombs until 1965, when he retired from racing but not before another couple of big accidents- flipping into the lake at Oulton Park after a puncture to his Jaguar Saloon and at Le Mans in 1963 when his E Type Lwt spun on oil dropped by Bruce McLaren’s Aston Martin. He crashed, then Bino Heins was burned to death in his Alpine, Bino  having sought to avoid Jean-Pierre Manzon who was unconscious in the middle of the track having also crashed after losing control on the oil.

Motor racing is and very much was dangerous!

Testing a very early Ford GT40 at Le Mans in 1964- Colotti ‘box, wire wheels all in evidence (unattributed)

Salvadori was also involved in the original Ford GT40 campaign via John Wyer, his friend/Team Manager from Aston Martin. In fact his last race was in a GT40 at Goodwood in 1965 finishing second overall and winning his class.

In 1966 and 1967 he managed the Cooper F1 team, but was still not averse to a steer, doing some of the early test and development work on the new for ’66 3 litre V12 Cooper T81 Maserati at Goodwood. The driving strength included Pedro Rodriguez, John Surtees and Jochen Rindt.

Testing the very first Cooper T81 Maserati in early 1966 at Goodwood. A race winning car and potentially the ’66 champion with an ace behind the wheel from the start of the season. Surtees joined mid-way thru the season after his spat with Ferrari- losing he and the Scuderia a probable championship to canny Jack (Getty)

c’mon Roy, gimme Pedro’s car! Salvo and Jochen Rindt during 1967 (unattributed)

Meanwhile the garage business which funded his racing in the early days had flourished into major BMW and Alfa Romeo dealerships- they were sold to a public company providing the means and tax necessity perhaps for he and his wife Sue to move to Monaco.

His flat overlooking the Grand Prix finishing line became famous for its parties during GP weekends. He died on 3 June 2012 a familiar figure at historic racing gatherings down the decades.

Etcetera…

Wharton and Salvadori, BRM and Maser, Madgwick, Goodwood, Easter Monday 1954…

I was researching the photo above, its before an infamous high speed contretemps between the two Brits and found this piece Doug Nye wrote in his ‘Goodwood Road and Racing’ column in November 2016- here it is in all of its wonderful glory…

‘One of the great personal rivalries that used to be played out – in part – at Goodwood, was the personal antipathy between Roy Salvadori and Ken Wharton. Roy was a supremely self-confident, stylish, charming, debonair, soft-hearted, philanthropic south-London used-car dealer. His race driving philosophy was pretty much no holds barred, and he was always prepared to stick his elbows out and push and shove, or to position his car in such a way on track – as in a braking area or turn-in point for a corner – in which a close-quarters rival would be embarrassed (or intimidated) into giving way, fearing the consequences of contact – which in that period could be utterly horrendous.

Ken Wharton was evidently an almost equally charming, friendly kind of chap out of a racing car’s cockpit. But the Smethwick garage proprietor – who was in the 1950s one of the most versatile of all competition drivers – having been a front-runner in everything from mud-plugging trials to rallying and road racing in cars ranging from tin-top saloons to 500s, Grand Prix cars and the centrifugally-supercharged Formule 1 and Libre V16-cylinder BRMs, had a less armour-plated personality. He was never quite confident that he was really as good as he earnestly wanted, and tried, to be. In the car – especially at BRM when he found himself teamed with Fangio and Gonzalez (two hopes, no hope and Bob Hope) – he could only play second or third fiddle to the true stars of the day. But he plainly felt that Salvadori was not quite from the top drawer either – not a Moss, and most certainly no Fangio, nor Gonzalez. And so should Salvo attempt to assert himself on track against Ken Wharton, than Smethwick Ken would push back.

This became a pretty explosive situation in that era when drivers were not belted into the cockpits of their racing cars, when wire wheels were narrow and racing tyres slim, heavily treaded and easily intertwined should cars clash side-to-side. Competing cars were also quite tall, quite hefty, relatively unstable, and easy to overturn. On the back of the admission ticket or pass were printed the words ‘Motor racing is dangerous’ and in the ’50s that was absolutely and often painfully self-evident.

There was a history between Salvadori and Wharton before the Easter Monday Goodwood race meeting in 1954. The feature Glover Trophy race was run over 21 laps, for Formule Libre cars which set Roy Salvadori’s new Sid Greene-entered Maserati 250F against the V16 BRMs of Ron Flockhart – in the latest short-chassis Mark II variant – and Ken Wharton in the full Grand Prix-spec long-wheelbase V16 Mark I.

Roy squeezing all there was from the little Cooper T45 Climax during the 1958 British GP @ Silverstone. 3rd in the race won by Collins Ferrari Dino 246 (J Ross)

 

Roy alongside Mike Hawthorn and Jean Behra on the front row of the Glover Trophy at Goodwood, Easter 1958. Cooper T45 Climax, Ferrari Dino 246 and BRM P25. In the row behind is Scell’s BRM and Brabham’s #18 Cooper. Mike won from Jack and Roy (J Ross)

 

Reg Parnell, Roy and Carroll Shelby, Le Mans 1959 (unattributed)

 

Roy shared this Aston DBR1 with Jim Clark @ Le Mans in 1960, the Border Reivers entered car was 3rd in the race won by the Ferrari 250TR of Paul Frere and Olivier Gendebien (unattributed)

 

Roy and Les Leston shared this DBR1 @ Le Mans in 1957, DNF oil pipe. Ron Flockhart and Ivor Bueb won in a Jag D (unattributed)

 

Roy from Graham Hill, Oulton Park GT race in 1961, Hill won with Roy 3rd (unattributed)

 

You can sense the mutual trust and respect between photographer Bernard Cahier and RS in this Monza 1962 shot. Lola Mk4 Climax, Q13 and DNF engine in the race won by Hill’s BRM P57. The Lotus 25 Climax behind is Trevor Taylor’s works machine  (B Cahier)

 

 

Bibliography…

MotorSport article by Simon Taylor in August 2012, ‘The Guardian’ obituary, ‘Goodwood Road and Racing’ column Doug Nye, ‘Goodwood Remembered’ Peter Redman, Stephen Dalton Collection, oldracingcars.com, ‘Roy Salvadori Racing Driver’  Roy Salvadori & Anthony Pritchard, David Fox

Photo Credits…

John Richardson, John Ross Motor Racing Archive, B Cahier, Getty Images- GP Library/PA Images, Pinterest, Simon Lewis Transport Books, LAT, Tom March, George Phillips

Tailpiece: Roy, Aston DBR4, Zandvoort 1959…

Finito…

(K Drage)

Falls mainly on Warwick Farm, at least at its first open meeting it did, 18 December 1960…

Sydneysiders heap plenty of shite on Melburnians given our ‘four seasons in one day’ weather which does present its challenges to the ladies every now and again. Whilst I am a Mexican (Victorian) I am a Sydneysider by inclination having lived ‘in the guts’ of the place for nine wonderful years, in Observatory Hill/Millers Point. As a local when it does rain up there it can be sub-tropical in its intensity, it absolutely chucks it down in Cairns like fashion, as it did during the ‘Farms opening meeting- all of it.

Making like a duck in Kevin Drage’s opening shot is Derek Jolly, the wealthy Penfolds Wines heir’s equipe of Jaguar XK 140 Coupe and ex-works Lotus 15 Climax is behind him. Not sure how he fared in the Sportscar events, click hear for a feature I wrote about him and the Lotus a little while back;

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

(K Drage)

The photo above in the form-up area is #9 Bill Patterson’s Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.2, #21 Doug Whiteford’s Bib Stillwell owned Cooper T51 FPF 2 litre, then Stillwell’s red Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.5 and Austin Miller’s yellow Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.2. Bill didn’t start the ‘Warwick Farm Trophy’ feature race so this is the lineup for the preliminary or before the Victorian Holden dealer pulled the pin.

The ‘Warwick Farm Trophy’ was watched by 12,020 soggy spectators and was won by Bib Stillwell’s T51 2.5 from John Youl’s 2.2 litre variant, then Austin Miller and Lex Davison’s big-bellowing six-cylinder Aston Martin DBR4/250 3 litre. In the following four years, when held in glorious weather, Warwick Farm attracted between 23,000 and 36,021 (1962) to its annual International Meetings- strong numbers to see the F1 stars of the day. It was most unfortunate to have such poor weather for the circuits first big meeting but it was not at all a portent of what was to come for ‘Gods Little Acre of Motor Racing’ for the next thirteen years.

Stillwell’s Rice Trailer behind Lex, the ‘Ringwood’ Rice is Patto’s (K Drage)

Lex’ Aston, chassis DBR4/250 number ‘4’ was powered by a 3 litre Aston DBR1 sportscar engine- Astons won the 1959 Le Mans and Manufacturers Championship with these wonderful cars.

Lex popped the front-engined car on pole- he came sooo close to winning the 1960 Australian Grand Prix at Lowood in it from Alec Mildren’s terribly clever Cooper T51 Maserati in June. Then Davo ‘crossed the fence to the dark side’ and raced a Cooper T51 to a somewhat lucky win in the ’61 AGP at Mallala.

Must get around to doing an article about these Aston’s in Australia, were there two or three?…

(J Ellacott)

John Ellacott’s grid shot above comprises Patterson, Davison and Whiteford (red), then Miller and Stillwell (red) . On row three is John Youl Cooper T51 FPF 2.2, Stan Jones blue Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.3 and Jon Leighton Cooper T45 Climax FPF 2 litre (this side) A row further back Arnold Glass sits on his lonesome in a Cooper T51 Maserati 250S 2.5 then there is John Roxburgh Cooper T45 Climax FPF 2 litre, Noel Hall Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.2 and Jack Robinson’s Jaguar Spl XK120 3.4 litre and at the rear Alwyn Rose in the Dalro Jaguar 2 XK120 3.4 litre. As I said earlier the results I have say Patterson did not start so perhaps we lost him on the warm-up lap

David McKay’s Morgan Plus 4 #71 in the Sportscar race which he wins…

(J Ellacott)

Love this anecdote sent to me by journalist Ray Bell- ‘The first race ever at Warwick Farm was for sportscars and you have that pic of the Austin Healey leading McKay in the Morgan off the grid.

McKay dogged the Healey driven by Bob Cutler, until Cutler spun. McKay won, Cutler came in second. Later in the pits McKay went up to him and said, “You were never going to win that race, boy!”. And Cutler asked why.

“See his here” McKay said, pointing to the tiny service sticker on the window of the Healey (you know the ones, oil change due at x miles, with the oil brand or the servo name on it), “That’s advertising, I would have protested!”

Some people’.

For international readers, advertising as it also was in Europe, was banned on racing cars at the time.

Photo Credits…

Kevin Drage, John Ellacott

Special Thanks…

Ray Bell

Tailpiece…I don’t wanna get my feet wet! Derek Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax and ‘plug box contemplating a day for the ducks, and a damp practice session…

(K Drage)

Finito…

 

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Tony Brooks powers his Ferrari Dino 246 out of the Avus hairpin during his victorious German Grand Prix drive, 2 August 1959…

The 1959 event was held at the ‘Automobil Verkehrs und Ubungs-Strasse’ (AVUS) track in Berlin rather than its Nurburgring ‘home’. The vastly quick, banked track was tailor made for the Ferrari Dino 246 which had more power than the Cooper brigade, but considerably less handling. The recent partitioning of Berlin meant that a new south loop was added to the facility which dated back to the 1920’s.

Brooks arrived full of optimism, he had won on the super fast Reims road course on 5 July several weeks before. The Ferrari’s were right on the pace with Brooks taking pole from Moss’ Cooper T51 with Dan Gurney 3rd  in another Dino. Due to fears of tyre wear the race was run in two heats, Brooks won both of them. The minor placings also went Ferrari’s way to Gurney and Phil Hill.

The weekend is also famous as a consequence of Hans Hermanns survival of one of the most spectacular GP accidents ever. His BRM P25’s brakes failed on lap 35 of 70, the car hit hay bales and was launched into a series of somersaults with Hans thrown clear and escaping serious injury. He was a very lucky boy.

avus 2

Tony Brooks Dino ahead of Masten Gregory’s Cooper T51 Climax, the much under-rated Kansas driver qualified 5th but was out on lap 23 with engine failure (unattributed)

The meeting was overshadowed by Jean Behra’s death in a supporting sportscar race, the little Frenchman died instantly after spinning his Porsche RSK and hitting a flagpole in mid-air. Jean’s 1959 season I covered in an article, click on the link at the end of this piece to read it.

Portugal…

brooks

Tony Brooks pre practice at Monsanto Park, Portugal, Tony 9th (Klemantaski)

Brooks looking relaxed before the Portuguese GP at Monsanto, Lisbon. The 23 August race was won by Moss from Masten Gregory, both in Cooper T51 Climaxes, Gurney was the best placed Ferrari in 3rd with Brooks 9th- about where a good front engined car could expect to finish as the mid-engined paradigm shift gathered pace.

Credit…

Louis Klemantasi

Tailpiece: Three Ferrari 246’s in a Monsanto Park row- Dan Gurney, Phil Hill and Tony Brooks steeds await their intrepid pilots…

brooks 2

(Klemantaski)

 

 

image

(Heritage Images)

I’m constantly in awe of the talents of the photographers whose work is displayed in this ‘masterpiece’ of mine…

Take a careful look at the composition and execution of this shot of Phil Hill’s Dino at Monaco in 1959; the use of light, the way the shadows of the palm tree and building architecture frame the shot of the snub-Monaco nosed Ferrari 246 and the expression on the American drivers face. The shadow of the photographer gives a sense of involvement.

image

(Klemantaski)

Things were pretty tough for the front engined brigade by ’59 of course, Jack’s first Cooper title was bagged that year. In the process of trying to keep up, Enzo’s brigade created quite the most beautiful cars in these later Dino’s. The snub nosed car not so much but checkout Tony Brooks slinky, curvaceous chassis above during the BARC 200 at Aintree on 19 April ’59. Jean Behra took the win that day in a sister car, the Scuderia may have been lulled into a sense of false security by this non-championship event result.

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Brabham on the way to his first GP win at Monaco in 1959, Cooper T51 Climax (Cahier)

It was very much a Cooper T51 Climax year; they won three of the five non-championship events (Moss took 2, Brabham 1) with Ferrari and BRM taking one apiece (Behra and Flockhart). Ignoring the Indy 500 which was part of the world championship back then, there were eight GP events. Cooper won five (Brabham-Monaco, British and Moss-Portugal and Italy 2 races each for the Aussie and the Brit and McLaren-US 1 win). Ferrari won two (Brooks-French, German) and BRM won one, the break-through first win for the Bourne marque and Jo Bonnier aboard a P25 at Zandvoort.

image

(unattributed)

Its front is a little ‘fugly’, the looks only a mother could love, ‘snub nosed’ Dino, Hill rounding the Gasworks Hairpin, Quay in the background. Oooh, la, la from the rear tho. All things Italian look great from the back!? Hill hustling his Dino, thru the Mirabeau right hander.

image

(LAT)

Have a look at Phil’s car below in August on the hugely picturesque and dangerous Monsanto road course during the Portuguese GP, DNF when Lotus 16 mounted Hill G spun in his path taking out both cars. Moss won in a T51 Cooper Climax from Masten Gregory similarly mounted, Gurney the best placed Ferrari in 3rd.

I guess by definition these Dino’s are the ultimate expression of the front engine GP car given Enzo persevered at least a year longer than he should have…

image

(LAT)

Credits…

Heritage Images, Klemantaski Collection, LAT, Cahier Archive

Tailpiece: And what a tail. I’m cheating really, this is the butt of Phil’s ’58 Dino, this pictorial article is about the ’59 cars…

image

’58 Moroccan GP; Moss won in a Vanwall VW57 from Mike Hawthorn and Phil, both Dino mounted, Mike won the ’58 World Title at this race (LAT)

Photo is another masterpiece of composition and high-speed shutter work during the Moroccan GP at Ain-Diab, Casablanca Morocco on 19 October 1958. Check out the different tail treatment from the later cars earlier in the article and ‘three piece’ fabrication of the Ferrari’s rear tail section comprising from driver back; the fuel tank, then oil tank and finally small curvaceous endplate, Italian panel bashing at its best.

Finito…

image

(oldracephotos.com/Ellis)

The ‘Longford Trophy’ race start in Tasmania, 5 March 1960 with Jack Brabham and Bib Stillwell in Cooper T51 Climaxes on the front row…

Jack is on the far left, in yellow is Austin Miller’s Cooper T51 Climax then Bib’s red Cooper and far right in red, Arnold Glass’ 4th placed Maser 250F, the beach umbrella atop the starters stand is a nice Oz summer touch, meanwhile the man in the white cap surveys it all and snaps away. Glorious!

I wrote an article about this event a while back, Lindsay Ross recently published the evocative photo above of  a wonderful summers day of a time and place so long ago, too good not to feature.

https://primotipo.com/2015/01/20/jack-brabham-cooper-t51-climax-pub-corner-longford-tasmania-australia-1960/

Brabham won the 17 lap race from Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati, Alec and his car were to be Australia’s Gold Star champions that year, and Stillwell 3rd.

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Brabham with Stillwell alongside, then Aussie Miller in yellow beside the Glass Maser. Almost ready for the off (John Ellacott)

Here is publican, crop-duster pilot and racer Austin Miller’s immaculate Cooper T51, 2.2 litre Climax powered, in the Longford paddock amongst the sportscars, he retired on lap 3. How sweet it is. This car, chassis ‘F2-20-59’, driven by the intrepid Austin, later set an Australian Land Speed Record, which then Chevy 283cid V8 powered makes it Australia’s first ‘F5000’, and is a fascinating story for another time…

image

(John Ellacott)

Credit…

oldracephotos.com/Ellis, John Ellacott, oldracingcars.com

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Bill Patterson getting all he can from the 1000cc JAP engine in his little, lithe, light and nimble Cooper MkV. He is on his way to Australian Hillclimb Championship glory on 19 April 1954 at Collingrove, Angaston in South Australia’s Barossa Valley…

Patterson was an immensely fast driver, look closely and you can see his left hand proud of the wheel as he gently corrects the powerful little cars slide on the testing, wonderful Collingrove Hill.

I wrote a short article about this Cooper, chassis # MkV/41/51 a while ago, that article was inspired by a photo, as is this one which covers the history of the car and of Bill Patterson, an Australian champion driver. Click here for the earlier article which provides information about air-cooled Coopers generally, and the MkV specifically.

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/08/cooper-mk-v-jap-penguin-hillclimb-tasmania-australia-1958/

patta brands

(500race.org)

The car was bought by Melbourne’s Bill Patterson and Geelong’s Tom Hawkes in the UK and raced by them in 1951 before they brought it back to Australia…

The wealthy Victorians arrived in mid 1951 with the intention of having a racing holiday. Tom was to buy and prepare the car and Bill was to drive it. John Crouch, the Australian Cooper Distributor arranged for delivery of a newly released Cooper MkV to the duo but it was fitted with a JAP 500cc engine rather than the more reliable Norton ‘double knocker’ which was simply unobtainable. The car was specced with long range tanks with longer races in Australia in mind.

The 500 Club 500race.org has this to say about Patto’s performances in it ‘Patterson travelled to England in 1951 and bought a Cooper MkV JAP which he raced in England and Europe. Given the competitiveness of the British scene, and the dominance of the Manx Norton engine, Patterson achieved some creditable results including a 2nd in the Commander Yorke Trophy in August…In September he took a trip to Grenzlandring, Germany, 3rd to the Ecurie Richmond cars of Brown and Brandon…he managed a 2nd and 4th in heats at Brands but failed in the final.’

He arrived razor-sharp back in Australia after the intense competition of F3 in the UK and Europe first racing in Australia at Parramatta Park, Sydney in January 1952. Stan Jones then bought the Cooper in a deal in which Tom Hawkes acquired Stan’s Allard J2. But Patterson shared the racing with Stan before eventually buying the car in 1954.

dodge

Bill Patterson’s Cooper MkV chasing the big ex-Bill Wilcox Phil Harrison Metallurgique/Dodge Special at Port Wakefield, South Australia’s opening meeting, in January 1953. Classic battle of big and small/old and modern technology, the chassis of the Metallurgique/Dodge dating back to the 1920’s. Harrison won the race, the car based on a chassis found in a wreckers yard with a body built by Bob Baker in Melbourne. Patto retired with a broken throttle cable on lap 4 (State Library of SA)

A JAP 998cc engine was fitted, the car  first raced in this form at Rob Roy Hillclimb in outer Melbourne on 28 February 1954, Patto won the 1954 AHCC in it as detailed earlier, as well as the 1955 South Australian Hillclimb Championship, also at Collingrove.

The little car contested the 1955 AGP at Port Wakefield with Patterson at the wheel with a JAP 500 fitted, he retired. In fact the mates Jones (Maybach), Hawkes (Cooper T23 Bristol) and Patterson all retired from the AGP, won by Jack Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol, Jack having made his F1 Championship GP debut in that car at Aintree several months before.

stan

Stan Jones, Collingrove, Cooper MkV, Easter 1955  (State Library of SA)

paddock

Stan Jones, Cooper MkV in the Collingrove paddock, probably Easter Monday 1955. He set a new outright record of 38.02 seconds during this meeting (State Library of SA)

The car passed into Ken Wylie’s hands who raced it with both Norton 500 and JAP 1000 engines before crossing Bass Straight to Jock Walkem in Tasmania, he fitted a JAP 1000. The car came back to the mainland, Victorian John Hartnett raced it with both JAP 500 and 1000cc lumps. It then went back to Tassie, raced by both Dave Powell senior and junior powered by JAP 500, 1000 and 1100 motors as well as a BSA 500 engine. The car was then sold to Peter Dobson and passed to Brian ‘Brique’ Reed who restored it in the 1970’s. After many years of ownership it was bought by Peter Harburg.

patto race

#12 D Harvey MG TC s/c from #8 Bill Patterson or is it Stan Jones? Cooper MkV, #11 D Tillett MG TC, Port Wakefield, Easter 1955 perhaps (State Library of SA)

Bill Patterson…

Patterson, was born on 30 August 1923 into a family of considerable wealth. He was the son of Wimbledon tennis champ Gerald Patterson and a nephew of famous Australian opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba.

Gerald Patterson was the Wimbledon singles champion in 1919 and 1922. He represented Australia in the Davis Cup from 1919-1928 and in 1927 won the first Australian singles title at Kooyong until the modern era, the home of Australian tennis. Patterson fought in the Great War and was decorated for his bravery, being awarded the Military Cross as a member of the Royal Field Artillery at Messines in 1917.

By the time his tennis career was over he had embarked on a very successful business career initially with sporting goods manufacturer AG Spalding Bros, by 1935 he was its CEO and went on to become a director of some other well known companies of the time.

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France’s Suzanne Lenglen and Gerald Patterson, mixed doubles champions at Wimbledon in 1920 (Bob Thomas)

Bill was born into a life of privilege, initially growing up at 15 Barry Street in Kew, the scene of many society parties and events including tennis matches on the home’s grass court. The family soon moved to nearby Toorak, Melbourne’s suburb of the ‘great and the good’.

He attended Scotch College in nearby Hawthorn, leaving in 1934 to attend Geelong Grammar, his sporting intent and prowess apparent as a member of the school’s rowing First VIII in 1938. Born into such circumstances is a double-edged sword of course, being the son of an elite sportsman-and businessman is seldom an easy thing given the expectations foisted upon the child.

patto-mg-rob-roy

Bill Patterson is his stripped MG TC, approaching The Spillway, at the 16th Rob Roy Hillclimb, 2 May 1948 (George Thomas)

I am intrigued to know what Bill did when he initially left school, he first came to motor racing prominence driving one of the first MG TC’s delivered to Melbourne post-war. His first event appears to be the 11th Rob Roy Hillclimb on 24 November 1946. This car was soon replaced by a second TC which was stripped and tuned.

He contested the 1948 Australian Grand Prix at Point Cook in outer Melbourne in this TC, which was fettled by Reg Nutt. The race is famous for the intense heat of the meeting which forced many of the top runners to retire from the impacts of the heat on either their mount or themselves. By lap 13 Patterson led the race, aided by a pretty good handicap. The car retired from the race, boiled dry on lap 24. The event was won by Frank Pratt’s BMW 328, which like Patterson, was aided and abetted by a good handicap.

Soon after the AGP Patterson and later Australian Grand Prix three times winner Doug Whiteford built a stripped, lightweight, two seater TC Special which had a curvaceous aluminium body made by Bob Baker in Melbourne. The engine was fitted with all the trick bits of the day and was supercharged, a Marshall blower was fed by a 1 3/8 inch SU carburettor at a boost of 10psi. The car was powerful, finned drum brakes were fitted as well as adjustable shock absorbers.

This famous little car, which still exists, first appeared at Rob Roy in January 1949, it’s first race was at Fishermans Bend in March. The car was fast from the start but Patto’s nemesis in under 1500cc events was Ken Wylie’s Austin A40 Spl. The MG first won at Nuriootpa in April 1949.

Back in the Barossa Valley, Patterson contested the 1950 AGP at Nuriootpa in South Australia and was on hand to see his friend Whiteford win in ‘Black Bess’ Doug’s Ford V8 Ute based, amazing, special. Patto’s TC blew a head gasket on lap 6 having had a torrid dice with Stan Jones HRG in a preliminary race, Stan did not start the race.

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Patterson and his MG TC Spl at Hell Corner, Bathurst, Easter 1950. Pretty, fast, well driven car (George Reed)

At Bathurst in Easter 1950 he did a lap of  3:17 seconds, the fastest a 1500cc car had been around the demanding mountain circuit. John Medley observed in his ‘Bathurst Bible’ ‘The lightweight green car had an impressive collection of wins to its credit and was probably then Australias fastest MG…the driver was to become one of Australia’s fastest’.

Of great interest to Patterson was the appearance at Bathurst of the first two Coopers in Australia. The cars, MkIV’s, were raced by Keith Martin/Arthur Wylie and Jack Saywell. These ‘very light, 600lbs dry and with 82bhp 995cc JAP motors, all independently sprung MkIV Coopers, were, for their competitors, a taste of tomorrow’ said Medley.

Patterson had a very successful meeting with the TC at Balcombe on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in June 1950 with two wins and two seconds. Not long thereafter the car was sold to Sydney’s Curly Brydon who also did well with the car, developing it further.

For Bill Patterson though, the path was clear, he was off to the UK to race a Cooper in British 500cc F3, the toughest training ground of all at the time. Patto contested the Round Australia Trial in a Holden and a Peugeot, and other than a brief Ferrari flirtation which fell into his lap, he was pretty much a Cooper Man for the rest of his racing career.

After his 1951 season and the continuation of his career with the MkV in Australia covered above, he finally sold the little air-cooled bolide and bought his first Coventry Climax engined Cooper. This mid-fifties period coincided with the commencement of his Holden dealership, let’s spend a moment on that before picking up Patterson’s next Cooper.

The Australian economy boomed in the 1950’s buoyed by the pent up demand of wartime austerity, global demand for our products, wool, wheat and goods produced behind high tariff walls, high levels of migration from war-torn Europe and greater availability of consumer credit. The ‘great Australian dream’ of owning a home and a car were now within reach of larger numbers of people than ever before.

It was in this environment that Bill Patterson and his father (Gerald’s biographical notes make it clear he was a director of Bill Patterson Holden) chose Holden as the marque they would sell and Ringwood as the centre of their ‘Prime Market Area’ they secured from General Motors Holdens. It was an astute choice of location. No doubt Holden were well pleased to have Patterson as a dealer given his and his families profile. Fellow elite Melbourne racers Reg Hunt, Lex Davison, Stan Jones and Bib Stillwell also had, or would have Holden franchises

In 1955 (Bill Patterson Motors Ltd was incorporated on 3 October 1955) Ringwood was very much on the eastern urban fringe of Melbourne (30Km) as the city marched, for the reasons outlined above rapidly in every direction other than into Port Phillip Bay! Surrounding suburbs of Mitcham, Heathmont, Vermont and Croydon were served by better roads into Melbourne and train lines. The middle class were Holdens target market, Bill chose his location wisely. As the local populace and their incomes grew so too did Holdens range of cars, Patterson added BMW to the mix in the 1970’s, another great choice of a marque not well known in Oz, and on the rise.

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Patterson’s dealership at 55 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood in 1959. Holdens are ‘FC’ models, Cooper is the T43 Climax. It might not look so special now but the architect designed showroom was schmick at the time (Wolfgang Seivers)

Patterson’s Ringwood premises were initially modest but by 1959 he had built a state of the art dealership at 55 Maroondah Highway, just at the bottom of the downhill drop below Heatherdale Road, designed by Hassell McConnell Architects, Hassells are still one of Australia’s best architectural outfits, a global one at that. I can well remember as a kid visiting my aunt in Mitcham ‘out in the sticks’ as my father described it, and the impact of Patterson’s big site whenever we were in the area.

The point here is that Patterson, did things well and thoroughly. It helped that he had access to, probably, family working capital but he invested wisely and ran a very strong operation for decades.

In a previous life I worked as a consulting accounting/financial advisor to motor dealers for 7 years or so and worked with over 20 dealers across many franchises, not Patto I hasten to add. They are complex businesses; effectively 5 enterprises under one roof-new cars, used cars, service, parts, plus finance and insurance. Add to that the property aspects.

Lots of people think dealerships are ‘money for jam’. They are not, the space is incredibly competitive and the profit margins thin. The investment in infrastructure is significant. They need to be very well run with great, ongoing vigilance around daily detail to make good money. Patterson was one of Holden’s best dealers for decades, consistently in their Top 15 nationally and the figures were distributed monthly by GM, the peer pressure relentless and ongoing! At the top of the GMH tree, by the way, was often fellow Victorian, former champion racer Reg Hunt, his huge site on the Nepean Highway in Elsternwick well known to many Australian race fans.

Back to the racing. In 1956 Patterson imported a Cooper T39 Climax, #CS/12/56 a sportscar powered by a Coventry Climax SOHC 1500cc engine. The car first raced at the Albert Park Olympic AGP Meeting in November 1956, he managed to roll it at the end of the straight during the Australian Tourist Trophy won by Moss’ works Maserati 300S! Damage was superficial. Quickly repaired the pretty little car won its class and was 3rd outright in the Argus Trophy in the second weekend of the two part meeting.

The car was pretty much unbeatable in its class, Bill took it to Caversham for the 1957 Australian Grand Prix held in WA, Caversham is 16 kilometres from Perth. He stripped a gear in the first heat and, unable to race the car, became relief driver for Lex Davison’s ex-Ascari/Gaze Ferrari 500/625  winning the race with Davo in searing heat. Bill did some laps whilst Davison was treated for the effects of heat before returning to the event.

The win was in somewhat controversial lap scoring circumstances from Stan Jones, who raced solo in his Maser 250F. Patterson was 10th in the 1957 Gold Star Championship, the first year in which this for many years prestigious championship was run. Davison won the award in his Ferrari.

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Patterson in his Cooper T53 Climax, Longford 2 March 1964. The car is painted in his usual subtle but distinctive livery of white with a light blue stripe. He only completed 13 laps of the race won by Graham Hill’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT4 Climax (oldracephotos.com)

Patterson raced a succession of Cooper single-seaters and was always regarded as one of the fastest local drivers…

The Cooper T39 sports was sold when Bill bought the ex-works Jack Brabham Cooper T43 Climax #F2/9/57 which Jack brought to Australia to race at Gnoo Blas, Orange in January 1958. Jack sold the car to Bib Stillwell, the first of many cars Jack sold to Bib! Bib sold the car shortly thereafter to fellow Melbourne motor trader Patterson after Stillwell repaired it; he rolled the car at its second meeting in his hands at Bathurst, Easter 1958.

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Patterson’s Cooper T43 Climax chasing Arnold Glass’ Maserati 250F through the Longford Viaduct during the first heat of the 1959 AGP carnival. Whiteford’s Maser 300S won from Glass and Patto. Stan Jones won the GP in his 250F, Glass 3rd and Patto DNS the GP itself having lost a tooth off third gear in this heat (oldracingcars.com)

Bill first raced it at Lowood, Queensland in 1958, and later in the year at Bathurst in the Australian Grand Prix, a great race won by Davison’s evergreen Ferrari 500/625. Bill qualified the 1760cc Climax engined car well, on row 4 amongst much more powerful machinery. But he was out of luck again, this time not taking the start with a blown head gasket.

He retired again at the Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park in November 1958 and did not take the start of the Longford 1959 Australian Grand Prix, that race won by Stan Jones’ Maser 250F. Bill was 3rd in his heat but knocked a tooth off 3rd gear preventing a start in the GP itself. Again.

Bill put the car to one side and kept it as a spare which was occasionally raced by Doug Whiteford when he bought a T51 GP Cooper, #F2/15/59, a car supplied less engine in mid-1959. The car was built up in Patterson’s Ringwood dealership by his mechanic, Trevor Hill and made its debut at Port Wakefield in October 1959.

He was 4th in the 1959 Gold Star, using the T43 and new T51 which was fitted with a 2 litre Coventry Climax FPF DOHC engine winning 2 rounds at Port Wakefield and Phillip Island, both in the T51.

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Patterson leads Austin Miller’s Cooper T51 Climax during the 11 December 1960 ‘Lukey Trophy’ at Phillip Island, in his first T51 ‘F2-15-59’. Bill is diving into MG Corner during his winning run (AMS)

He went one better, 3rd in the 1960 Gold Star in the Cooper T51 Climax, the car at one stage won 9 times in a row, not at championship level mind you. The FPF’s capacity was increased to 2.4 litres by Doug Whiteford by the time of the October 1960 Bathurst International meeting. Despite greater consistency Patto won only the Lukey Trophy at Phillip Island in December. He took seconds at the Island in March, Bathurst in October and thirds at Fishermans Bend and Easter Bathurst.

The second place at Bathurst was behind Brabham’s current 2.5 litre T51, Patto was racing his earlier 2.4 litre engined, leaf sprung T51; the drive was talked about for years for its fighting brilliance on this most demanding of road circuits.

Into 1961 the car was fitted with a full, factory 2.5 litre FPF Patto acquired on a trip to the UK, in this spec he set lap records at all of his Gold Star races.

At Lakeside on 16 July 1961 Bill had a huge accident on this very fast circuit, rolling the car, having taken 4 seconds off the lap record earlier in the day and dicing with Stan Jones at the time of the crash. He was badly hurt, the car rooted, albeit the bits which were usable were retained as spares for the replacement, new, T51 Bill bought from Coopers. By then he was well and truly a long-standing ultra-loyal customer!

The replacement car, chassis #F2/5/57 (probably the plate of an old car attached to what was certainly a T51 of current specification) won the national title in 1961…

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A bit less BP and a bit more Cooper would have enhanced this shot! Patto and his victorious 1961 Cooper T51 Climax at Caversham in 1961, a successful weekend with a win in the WA Road Racing Championship (unattributed)

Early in the season Patto was 3rd at Longford in March, a week later going one better with a 2nd to Jack Brabham in a T53 Cooper ‘Lowline’ at Hume Weir circuit at Albury/Wodonga on the NSW/Victorian border. At the following round at the Bathurst Easter meeting Patterson took a great win from Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell, Arnold Glass, Alec Mildren, David McKay and Noel Hall all in Cooper T51’s. The only other finisher, Queenslander Glynn Scott was 8th in a Cooper T43!

Patterson won again at Lowood in June, winning the Queensland Centenary Road Race Championship from Mildren and Jones.

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Aren’t these Cooper T51’s the prettiest of things. The F1 champion of 1959 is such a contrast with the champion car of 1958, the Ferrari Dino 246! Here Patterson is practising his car at Caversham in August 1959, he practised carrying his usual #9 and raced as #19 (Ken Devine)

Patterson’s boys towed the new Cooper across the continent to Caversham, Western Australia, the effort rewarded with a win in the 1961 WA Road Racing Championship on August 12. The victory also gave him the ’61 Gold Star.

Another long tow to South Australia for the October Australian Grand Prix, at the Mallala airfield circuit, 60Km from Adelaide.

Bib Stillwell had imported a T53 Lowline providing Bill with strong competition. Patterson won his heat in a good start to the weekend and started the race from pole, there was a good deal of ill-feeling amongst the drivers as to time-keeping. McKay got the jump at the start-too much so according to the officials! By the end of lap 1 Patto was in the lead from McKay, Davison, Youl and Stillwell.

Patto pulled away at a rate of 1.5 seconds per lap, McKay was penalised a minute on lap 20, 5 laps later Pattersons Cooper was misfiring. Patterson stopped twice, but returned after the problem, vapour lock, was solved. McKay led Davison on the road but was effectively 3rd with his penalty.

Patto rejoined the race a lap behind, finished 4th and set fastest lap…

Davison again took a contentious AGP win, in a Cooper T51 borrowed from Stillwell, this time the controversy over an alleged jump start by McKay, the resultant penalty cost him the race. The shame though was Bill’s retirement, it was a race which was ‘his’, by that stage Patto was also very much a master of his craft, a driver of great experience, speed, and ‘tiger’. He was a man who was ‘high born’ but boy he drove with hunger!

With his two wins at Bathurst and Lowood, Patto won the Gold Star title by 36 points from Lex Davison’s Cooper T51 and Bib Stillwell’s T51 and T53.

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Patterson and his boys after winning the WA Road Racing Championship at Caversham in August 1961, Cooper T51 ‘F2-2-57’ or ‘F2-5-57′(Ken Devine)

Into 1962 he raced on but the T51’s raced by Patto and others were becoming less competitive as chassis design rapidly advanced, the Brabham BT4 probably the pick of the ‘Intercontinental’ cars at the time. 3rd was therefore a good result in the Gold Star in a season in which he raced sporadically.

He was first Australian resident in the Sandown International, the circuits opening meeting in March 1962, was 3rd in the Bathurst 100 at Easter not racing again until the Victorian Road Race Championship, at Sandown his home circuit in September where he was 3rd behind Davison and Stillwell’s later Cooper T53’s.

Patterson contested the AGP at Caversham in November, 4th a good result behind the latest equipment but the T51 was three laps behind McLaren’s winning Cooper T62, the car Bruce used to good effect in the 1963 NZ and Australian Internationals.

Patterson was 6th in the Gold Star in 1963 but only raced his ‘Lowline’ Cooper T53 Climax sporadically. He bought this car from Bib Stillwell, #F1/5/61, the car probably a chassis used by Brabham and Surtees in Intercontinental events in the UK in mid 1961. Bib raced it in 1962, a win in the Mallala Gold Star round in October his best result.

Bill’s first race in the T53 was the Sandown International in March where he was a DNF with gearbox failure. He raced it again at Sandown in September, very close to home for Bill, the circuit was only 10 km from his Ringwood Holden Dealership, and retired again from the Victorian Road Racing Championships. The speed was still there though, he was 3rd in the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm in December.

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Patterson in the Cooper T51 Climaxes, the double rear wishbone chassis. He is in the Caversham form up area in the August 1961 WA Road racing Championship weekend, a race he won. Syd Negus Cooper Repco Holden and Plymouth Spl in the background (Ken Devine)

Patterson raced on into 1964, he was 41 and dealing with a growing business and it’s attendant pressures. There was a credit squeeze in 1961 caused by the federal governments responses to the growth of inflation at the time; it knocked the socks out of the economy and many highly geared motor traders, not least his friend Stan Jones, so perhaps that was a factor. Mind you, the Patterson family wealth meant that Bill’s access to working capital would have been greater than most.

In any event, he contested the Sandown and Longford rounds of the inaugural Tasman Series in 1964, in fact Longford was his last championship drive. For one who had raced so long, his was a relatively quiet retirement.

I well remember one drive when Bill raced/demonstrated one of his Coopers in the ‘Tribute To Fangio’ meeting at Sandown in 1978, the YouTube footage of that ‘race’ between Brabham’s Brabham BT19, his 1966 championship winning chassis and Fangio in a Benz W196 well worth a look.

Longford was the end of a long career which commenced way back in ’46 at 23 years of age.

Patterson focused on his growing business starting a long period as the sponsor or supporter of other drivers by acquiring the ex-McLaren/Mayer Cooper T70 Climax which was raced by John McDonald for a couple of seasons before its sale to Don O’Sullivan in 1967. This is the car now owned by Adam Berryman in Melbourne, it’s history chronicled not so long ago in my article about Tim Mayer.

Cooper historian Stephen Dalton observes that Bill Patterson ‘had the longest run of anyone using Cooper chassis, starting in 1951 in England/Europe through to 1966 when he was running McDonald’. Patterson’s business interests centred around his large Ringwood, outer eastern Melbourne, car and truck dealerships ‘Patterson Holden’ / ‘Patterson Cheney’ and later ‘Bill Patterson BMW’, as covered earlier in this article.

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Henk Woelders in the first of two Elfin 600 Ford F2 cars he raced with Patterson’s support. This is the first, a 600B at Calder in 1969 not too long before the ban which outlawed clever wings like this. Very much a movable aerodynamic device, the wing could be feathered on the straights to minimise unwanted drag (Bob Mills Collection)

Drivers Patterson supported included Henk Woelders who won an Australian F2 Championship in an Elfin 600E Ford and Peter Brock’s Holden and BMW Le Mans Touring Car campaigns. He also sponsored Alan Jones 1977 Rothmans F5000 Series assault in Teddy Yip’s Lola T332 Chev. Patterson was a mainstay of support for the Holden Dealer Team in its various incarnations, the performance of that team in production or production based touring car races important brand positioning for The General over the years.

Many elite drivers have also been motor traders across the globe, in Australia there are quite a few who put more back into the sport than they took out, Patto was one of those. Bob Jane, Alec Mildren, David McKay and Ron Hodgson are others who spring to mind, not the only ones mind you.

Even though his businesses had been highly profitable down the decades, in his later years his fortunes changed. He sold out of his dealerships and invested in an air transport business which serviced the islands in Bass Strait between the Victorian mainland and Tasmania. Unfortunately the business was unprofitable and sustained considerable losses.

Bill lived comfortably with his wife albeit on a different level than that to which he was accustomed, he died on 10 January 2010 at Karinya Grove aged care facility, in the well to do Melbourne bayside suburb of Sandringham aged 86.

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Where Does Bill Patterson Fit in The Pantheon of Australian Champion Drivers?…

‘Australian Motor Racing Annual 1964’ rated the Top 20 as Frank Matich, Bib Stilwell, John Martin and Leo Geoghegan and then in no particular order Lex Davison, Bill Patterson, Bob Jane, Ian Geoghegan, John Youl, Greg Cusack, John French, Brian Muir, Norm Beechey, Peter Manton, Brian Foley, Harry Firth, Bruce McPhee, Keith Rilstone, Jack Hunnam and Glynn Scott. Depressing is that about 70% of this lot are Taxi Drivers, that is Touring Car racers.

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Bill Patterson, Cooper T39 Climax, Fishermans Bend, Victoria probably in February 1958. Car is registered and would have made a quick road car! (Bradbury West)

Of Patterson the annual said ‘Ah Patterson. Still the most spectacularly fast of all Australians, Bill Patterson races when he feels like it and always uses all the road and part of the verge. In the past he has been renowned for some fiery displays on the grid and past it; in a competitive car  he is on his day, always the man to beat’.

Lex Davison in his Australian Motorsports magazine column wrote of Patto in relation to the 1963 Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm ‘…meanwhile our fastest driver, Bill Patterson, lacking recent activity, was rough and unpolished’.

David McKay, racer, team owner and journalist always described Bill in his columns as ‘The Hare’ to indicate his outright pace.

Patterson proved he could ‘cut it’ in his brief F3 stint in UK/Europe in 1951, in many ways it’s a pity, given his growing wealth that he didn’t acquire an outright contending car when he returned to Oz then. To have seen Patto go toe to toe in the mid-fifties in equivalent machinery to Davison, Jones, Hunt, Stillwell, Mildren, Whiteford, Gray, McKay and others would have been really something.

Whatever the considerations Patterson always got more than the best from his cars and without doubt was ‘Top 3’ in Australia for a season or three in an era, late fifties to early sixties, when there was increasing depth amongst the front rank drivers and greater equipment parity than had been the case in the decades before. And ran a very successful business whilst doing it…

Etcetera: London to Moscow tow…

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(Ken Devine)

I chucled when i saw this fine shot by Ken Devine of Bill’s Cooper T51 and its ‘Rice’ Trailer in the Caversham paddock, Western Australia in August 1961.

From Patterson’s Ringwood base to Caversham trip is about 3440 Km, from Australia’s East to West Coast, London to Moscow is only 2870Km. The road then was a shocker too, the Eyre Highway was not much more than a track in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the West Australian section was sealed in 1969 but the South Aussies didn’t do their bit until 1976.

It would have been a long, painful, difficult drive for the mechanics, the driver of course flew by Vickers Viscount or some such…

Bibliography…

Rob Saward The Nostalgia Forum, oldracephotos.com, State Library of South Australia, John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, John Medley ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’, Graham Howard and Ors ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’

Special thanks to ace researcher and Cooper historian Stephen Dalton for his assistance in identifying or confirming venues, dates of race meetings and which Cooper is which! Any errors are mine.

Photo Credits…

State Library of South Australia, Bob Thomas, George Thomas, Ken Devine, George Reed, oldracephotos.com, Bradbury West, Wolfgang Seivers, Bob Mills Collection, Australian Motorsports magazine

Tailpiece: Patterson’s Cooper T51 6th leads Bib Stillwell T53 3rd and Angus Hyslop T53 4th into Longford Corner during the South Pacific Championship at Longford won by John Surtees T53 in 1962…

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(oldracephotos.com)