Posts Tagged ‘Don Elliott’

The white TR, is heading in the correct direction- the blue Healey has overshot his braking point (B Young)

Motorsport venues in Tasmania were a tad skinny in number prior to the opening of Baskerville near Hobart, and Launceston’s Symmons Plains circa 1960. Longford was great but it was a once a year deal over the March Labour Day long weekend.

So Quorn Hall, an ex-World War 2 airfield located on TC Clarke’s sheep grazing property was pressed into service. The 7,300 hectares, farmed by the same family since 1846 is on Lake Leake Road, Campbell Town 15km south of Launceston.

1952 (V Gee)

 

Jock Walkem’s #6 Norton or Vincent powered special going bush suspects Garry Simkin (B Young)

The ever interesting Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania Facebook page notes that ‘Quorn Hall Airfield was developed during WW2 to house the huge American bombers if the need to fall back to Tasmania occurred during an invasion of the mainland’, or the ‘North Island’ as the Tassies like to call the rest of us!

‘The runway is several kilometres long and about 50 metres wide. After the war (from November 1952) it was used for motorsport, essentially putting 44 gallon drums out and racing around them. The runway and access roads were used. Usage dropped off after the purpose made circuits opened, but it was still used for club events – standing quarter-miles etc until the end of the 1960s.’

It seems, as usual, the entrepreneurial motorcyclists beat us car dudes to the punch. The Tasmanian Motor Cycle Club organised a picnic ride to Quorn Hall in 1946 during which some races were run. ‘While the straw bales down the middle of the runway and use of oiled gravel access roads in a J-pattern may have been basic, unlike beach racing, you didn’t have to wait for the tide to go out and most of the 1 1/2 miles was sealed’ recorded Bike Australia.

2,000 people attended a combined car and bike meeting in 1951 organised by the Southern Motor Cycle Club and the Light Car Club. It was the first occasion on which ‘racing was officially noted.’

The Tasmanian Tourist Trophy was held there for the first time November 1952 with most of the national ‘bike stars of the day’ competing. The car racing was more club than national level, those honours went quite rightly to Longford.

Start of the Senior TT in 1952. Col #49 and Max #74 Stephens getting away smartly (Bike Australia)

 

Tasmanian Aero Club, Western Junction, date unknown (unattributed)

In fact the history of the site is a significant one in Tasmanian aviation.

The Tasmanian Aero Club was formed there site in 1927, the Western Junction Aerodrome (now Launceston Airport) was officially opened in 1929. The first passenger facility on the Apple Isle operated from there until August 1940 when the Royal Australian Air Force took over the place to house the ‘7 Elementary Flying Training School. Extra local ‘strips were built at Nile, Annandale, Valleyfield and Quorn Hall.

As the name suggests, 7 Elementary Flying Training School provided an introductory twelve-week flying course to those who had graduated from one of the RAAF’s initial training schools. It was the only RAAF base in Tasmania then. Flying ceased there in December 1944 with the school disbanded in August 1945.

Etcetera…

Western Junction Aerodrome in 1933.

These colour photographs are wonderful, unique. If any of you can help identifying cars/drivers please give me a yell and i will update the captions accordingly.

(HRCCT)

Bruce Gowans and John McCormack during a Historic Racing Car Club day out to Quorn Hall and Valleyfield (at Epping Forest) in 2016. They are standing on the Quorn Hall runway-circuit.

(HRCCT)

 

 

VW and Fiat 1100 (B Young)

 

Mick Watt competing in the first ‘Half-Hour’ race at QH in 1953 in Ford Anglia. This little car, nicknamed the ‘Magic Goat’ won 64 races.

 

(B Young)

What a magic panorama. Brian Higgins believes the competitors are Jack Petts and Geoff Smedley in Triumph TRs, Boyce Youl in the Jaguar XK and Mick Watt’s Ford Anglia.

 

 

(B Young)

 

MG. Love the dudes in the background  (V Gee)

 

(B Young)

 

(D Elliott)

Don Elliott, Holden Special at QH in the late-fifties.

This attractive little car was a mix of Skoda and Holden components, the engine used a Repco Hi-Power hhead fed by a side-draft twin-choke Weber.

Our friend in the Fiat again (B Young)

 

A couple of RAAF cub ‘flyboys’ with their Tiger Moths at Western Junction circa-1940.

 

(M Watt)

This shot is of Stan Jones in Maybach 1.

It is from Mick Watt’s Collection, no doubt taken on a day he was also competing. Stephen Dalton thinks the shot is probably closeby to QH at Valleyfield, one of the four airstrips mentioned above. He and fellow Victorian, John Nind (Cooper) raced there on November 4 and 5 1951. It’s only a short time after Jones acquired the car from it’s builder, the great Charlie Dean. The pair and sponsor Repco would have much success together in the ensuing years.

 

(T McGrath)

Alan Stephenson, Cooper Mk5 JAP Cooper misjudgement and consequences, not too bad.

(T McGrath)

Etcetera…

 

 

The above are scans from ‘Country Houses of Tasmania’.

Photo and other Credits…

Bob Young Collection via the Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Vicki Gee, Don Elliott Collection, Mick Watt Collection, Terry McGrath from the Graham Howard Collection, Garry Simkin

Bibliography…

speedwayroadracehistory, ‘Tracks In Time: Quorn Hall’ Bike Australia July 2018, Terry Walker, Bike Australia, ‘Country Houses of Tasmania’ Alice Bennett and Georgia Warner

Tailpiece…

(B Young)

‘Holy ‘snappin rissoles’. That’s the swing-axle shit the motor magazines are rabbiting on about.

Finito…

(HRCCT)

Michael ‘Moose’ Warner, Holden 48-215 leads Tony Edmondson, BMW 1602 Repco at Symmons Plains circa 1974…

Touring Cars (a ‘Sports Sedan’ in this case) are not my thing but that BMW is powered by a Repco Brabham 4.4 litre ‘620 Series’ V8 so by definition it’s of interest!

The Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania continues to post wonderful photographs on its Facebook page- just pop the name into the FB search engine and have a look. Grab a beer before you do so, you cannot do the job properly in less than two or three hours.

(B Smart)

 

(B Smart)

Edmondson, who started racing a Ford Cortina GT with a good deal of pace in his native Tasmania circa 1970 was the latest in a long list of drivers whose career was aided and abetted by Tasmanian businessman Don Elliott- others include Robin Pare, John Walker and Mark McLaughlin.

The pair raced this BMW, then the ex-McCormack Valiant Charger Repco-Holden F5000 V8 and later still the two K&A Engineering built Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Chev V8’s- he had a really nasty accident in the first of these at Surfers Paradise.

Later still, in the mid-eighties, they acquired Elfin Sportscars, bless ’em- after Garrie Cooper’s untimely death and built some fantastic FV, ANF2 and one Formula Holden before the economic realities finally caught up with them and the business changed hands to become a builder of road/race cars rather than racing cars. (i’m truncating)

Edmondson and Grice top of The Esses at Baskerville in 1978 looking as though it could turn to tears at any moment’ indeed Grant Twining, but did it!? (K Midgley)

I always admired Edmondson’s aggression, pace and mechanical ability- another guy wasted on Sports Sedans I thought, if he handles 5 litres so well why not jump aboard the ‘real F5000 deal’…

I do recall the BMW, not that I ever saw it race in Victoria- did it ever race on the ‘Big Island’ i wonder? No doubt it did.

The Baskerville photos, circa 1973, are great, particularly Tony’s cavalier disregard for his racegear- perhaps he was ‘just tootling around’ on a day of testing.

Bruce Smart, the photographer advises that is exactly what the team were doing ‘I took the photos in mid-1973 on the main straight at Baskerville. It was a private test day and they were the only ones there. The Repco BMW was still being developed and they were having issues with cooling. It had a boot mounted radiator, you can see the hastily cut vents in the rear guards which were made to enhance airflow.’

‘Tony was only driving slowly, hence no helmet, in fact it was barely fast enough to get a speeding ticket in the Hobart CBD. They would do a couple of laps, return to the pits and scratch their heads, then do a few more laps. Eventually the cooling was sorted.’

I’m very interested to know who did the engine installation- presumably a Borg Warner four-speeder is attached to the back of the RBE V8 but i’m just guessing. Which particular RBE 620 izzit, where did it come from and where is it now? Where is the BMW shell too I guess, although that is of less interest. The Holden ‘was one of the best Humpy’s going around, unfortunately it fell over one day and was binned’ wrote the HRCCT’s Grant Twining.

Lindsay Ross advises Don Elliott is about 90 years old and that Tony Edmondson still works for his ‘Elliots Self Storage’ business in Hobart. He also recalls the ‘Repco 4.4 gave them so much grief with cracking blocks.’

Correspondence welcome!

Don Elliott supervises proceedings at Baskerville, hungry Lucas mouths atop RBE620 (B Smart)

 

oldracephotos.com.au/Harrisson)

Top shot above is of Edmondson a few months later with the car now complete at Baskerville, 1973.

Credits…

Bruce Smart via Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Keith Midgely

Etcetera…

 

(B Smart)

‘Its not too noisy, no cops about, how bout we swing past mums on the way back to Hobart’, or some such. As I say, very interested to find out and publish the fullest technical specifications of this car we can come up with.

Social media suggests the car ended up in Western Australia at some point?

(HRCCT)

That’s not Edmondson in the ‘Fastman’ race suit- he is almost fully obscured by blue-cardigan man- who is the other racer?

Tailpiece: Turn-in is real noice…

(B Smart)

‘Hmm, maybe time to put my fire-proofs on’ is perhaps the drivers thoughts. And ‘Shit! This thing gets up and boogies.’

Note the Mawer Engineering wheels and ‘well back’ location of the engine. Intriguing to know the difference in weight between the cast iron block, alloy head BMW four and all alloy Repco V8.

This conversion is a ‘well-travelled path’ in the sense that the 1970 similarly engined Bob Jane Racing, John Sheppard built, Holden Torana GTR-XU1 ‘620’ 4.4 V8 showed just how quick this combination of compact car and very light ‘racing’ V8 could be.

Click here for a piece in part about this car, the Charger Repco and Corvair Chev; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/30/hey-charger-mccormacks-valiant-charger-repco/

Finito…