Posts Tagged ‘Elfin 600B Ford’

(P Coleby)

Ray Porteous’ JMW leads the John Fleming Austin 7 Spl at Darley, Queens Birthday weekend June 11 to 13 1960…

Darley Army Base, 8km from Bacchus Marsh is a reasonably obscure motor racing venue so Hugh Coleby’s upload of some photographs from his late  father, Peter Coleby’s collection on social media is hugely welcome. Gordon Dobies’s contribution in identifying the cars and drivers is gold too ‘one of the advantages of being old enough to have raced at those meetings and never throwing anything away’ he quipped.

The Preston Motorcycle Club conducted the meeting, whilst I have vaguely heard of the place I thought it was a ‘bikes only venue- clearly that is not so, members of the 250cc and 500cc car clubs were also invited along.

Bacchus Marsh was a tiny rural hamlet when I played in some tennis tournaments there as a kid, I still remember the wonderful lawn courts and Avenue of Honour as you drive into the town which is 60km from Melbourne on the Western Highway- the main road from Melbourne to Adelaide for you internationals.

These days its a big commuter town to Melbourne but when the 4000 members of 4th Infantry Training Brigade, the U.S Marines and others occupied the place they must have wondered what they had struck, Bacchus Marsh let alone Darley would have been microscopic!

Australian, American and Dutch (from the Dutch East Indies/Indonesia) soldiers trained at the camp located on a plateau with rolling hills in the background, before being shipped overseas many of them marryied local gals, the area was used for Citizen Military Force (remember the CMF?) training until the 1970’s.

(AIF)

 

Rifle training at Darley, trusty Lee Enfield 303’s by the look (AIF)

 

(AIF)

Robert Thompson wrote that his late grandfather, Lou Thompson built the camp in 1939- Thompson and Chalmers Pty Ltd took on Simmie & Co as an associate on the large project, Darley Military Camp had over 360 buildings including recreation huts, a Post Office and a 68 bed hospital on 160 hectares of land located at Camerons Road.

When the military moved out post-war most of the infrastructure went as well inclusive of buildings, but, critically, the roads remained, the site soon came to the attention of the Preston Motorcycle Club who were eagerly looking for a venue on which to race.

Ray Porteous, Austin 7 Spl (P Coleby)

 

Extreme narrowness of Darley evident in many of these shots, this one the start of the 1959 Junior A Grade- L>R Eric Hinton AJS 7R, #64 Owen Archibald Norton, #82 Ron Miles Norton, #1 Tom Phillis Norton, #2 Jack Ahearn Velocette. On row 2 are #25 Ray Blackett and Geoff Curley #14 (E Miller)

Working bees of club members soon filled trenches left by the removal of cabling, re-coated the road surface, cleared scrub and removed junk left behind by retreating military forces. By late 1947 the place was ship-shape with the first meeting held on 29 February 1948- the Hartwell and Kew clubs were invited along to join in the fun.

Open meetings soon followed, ‘the main straight, which had a left-hand kink in the middle, was only as wide as a two lane road, while the rest of the rack was even narrower. It made for shoulder to shoulder racing on solos and even closer encounters on outfits’ recorded Old Bike Australia.

Peeling off the Main Straight (Camerons Road) is #8 Alan Osborne, Honda and Tom Phillis Ducati in 1959 (MCN)

 

John Hartnett, Cooper Jap 497cc 1960 (P Coleby)

The Preston club guys were happy to hold a couple of well run meetings a year, fitting many races onto the card without chasing the major titles such as the Australian Tourist Trophy with all of the stars of the day racing there- Frank Mussett, Maurie Quincey, Bert Flood, Jack Ahearn, Keith Brien, Max Stephens, Rex Tilbrook, Alan Wallis, Ken Rumble, Kel Carruthers and others with Quincey the ‘local ace’ in the mid-fifties- he switched to cars later in life remember folks, an ANF2 Elfin 600B Ford twin-cam springs to mind. Max Stephens was another who tried four wheels, he owned and raced the ex-Brabham Cooper T40 Bristol, with some success out of Tasmania.

Easter Monday meetings were common early, the club then settled into a mid-year date on the Kings/Queens Birthday weekend which was usually a frosty, wet experience for both the riders and the punters. The Preston guys were also innovative in running the first one hour race for production machines during the June 1959 program.

Over the years various high profile car racers had a crack at the lap record,  Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F did a 1:14.1 in 1955 which was bested by multiple Australian Hillclimb Champion Bruce Walton aboard a Cooper Mk9 JAP 1 litre twin in 1960 with a 1:10.8. At that stage the quickest of the bikes was the 1:13.5 achieved by both Eric Hinton and Tom Phillis.

Maurie Quincey and Matchless G80 (C or CS?) on the Darley grid, rider of #1 more interested in the babe behind than the race start!

And below is Quincey aboard an Elfin 600B Ford twin-cam during the 1971 Sandown Tasman meeting, it was after some involuntary aerobatics in this car at Sandown at about this time that he called it quits on his competition career.

By then Maurie was in his late thirties, well after his international bike racing career, inclusive  Isle of Man appearances and running a successful Honda dealership in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne. He died on July 19, 2019 six months ago- see a very interesting article about Maurie here; https://www.oldbikemag.com.au/maurie-quincey-victorian-dominator/

(L Hemer)

 

Maurie Quincey on Bray Hill during the 1955 IOM Junior TT- a splendid fifth aboard a spare works Norton Manx 350. He was offered the bike after going so well on his ‘customer’ 350 and 500 during practice (unattributed)

Back to Darley.

Kel Carruthers appearance on the Honda 250/4 in 1961 would have been really something to see and hear- i bet he frightened the kookaburras flying above the citrus trees in the valley below the track bigtime!  Kel won the Harvey Wiltshire Trophy Lightweight race slicing four seconds off the lap record in the process.

The final meeting took place in 1962, in a thriller of a race Trevor Pound and Ken Rumble passed and re-passed for the whole 15 laps with Pound winning by a bike length, both being credited with a new outright lap record of 1:12.8. Trevor Pound raced in the Manx classic too and never lost his passion for competition, he raced Formula Vees in his dotage.

Whilst plans were being made to race in 1963, on 10 June the farm owner withdrew his permission saying the continued rain in the region had flooded the pit and spectator areas and damaged sections of the track- at late notice the meeting was held at Calder, 30km away.

‘Racing never returned to Darley. A combination of primitive facilities, the narrow and uneven road surface and the remorseless march of civilisation spelled the end of the happy little track. Despite its shortcomings, the circuit had an enviable record for safety and a reputation for slick organisation. With nary a backward glance, the infield area was soon subdivided into building lots and small farms.’

To see the place, drive up Camerons Road, at the top of the hill you are on the plateau, about 100 metres on the right are the remnants of the final corner named ‘St Kilda Junction’ poking at you from a vineyard. At this point you are on the Main Straight with the former pit area- still dotted with concrete slabs from the place’s military past on your left. The straight is about 600 metres long- halfway along is a kink, and opposite that is a monument to Darley Military Camp.

Old Bike Australia concluded a great article with this ‘It takes a little imagination if you weren’t there…but if you stand on the kink and close your eyes, you can still hear the sound of a hundred motorcycles and a dozen or so cars from the 250cc and 500cc Racing Clubs, most with open exhausts warming up.’

‘Wafting through the air is the fragrant  mix of Castrol R and methanol, mingled with the aroma of Hines “Kerosene” pies. The pointed tents of the Hines Catering Company…appear in many of the period photos of Darley, and those who sampled the wares will tell you the kerosene stove that heated the pies produced a pastry of unique taste. A section of canvas behind the servery contained a special nook where the course announcer Frank “Farmac” McDonald and selected others could lubricate their tonsils with a cold ale between races.’

‘Fortunately, on the run back to Melbourne, you won’t have to cope with “Cunningham The Camera Cop”- the notorious plod who used to hide his Thunderbird beside the old stone bridge out of Bacchus Marsh and photograph any who transgressed by crossing the double centre-lines.’

Hasn’t the Old Bike Australia writer painted a wonderful, evocative picture of times long gone?

‘Moe’s Nose’ approach June 1960. South Aussies Ian Hogg and Peter Morgan

 

(C Rice)

Roger Barker leading Ron Miles, note the hay bales and beautiful Darley bush setting.

Barker is on a bike with a ‘Rimond’ fibreglass fairing, a product he helped develop in tests at Ballarat and Darley- these were made in Melbourne by former top clubman racer, Charlie Rice and Bob Edmonds, ‘Rimond’ a combination of their names, about 30 fairings were built. Barker was quoted in the English press as saying they were good for about 12mph or 200rpm using tall gearing. The bike could be a Norton.

The Mudgee born rider, having scored points at the Isle of Man and Assen on Nortons in June, died at Schleiz, Thuringia, East Germany in July 1957 having blacked out in the intense heat of the 500cc race whilst leading aboard a Matchless G45, the conditions were made worse by the engine heat the Rimond fairing trapped. He slid off the bike, hit a tree and died instantly from the impact.

Etcetera…

What to look for on your visit, Camerons Road, Darley 3340.

Credits…

Hugh Coleby, the late Peter Coleby, Gordon Dobie, ‘Old Bike Australasia’ 5 February 2018, Eric Miller, Lynton Hemer, Motor Cycle News, Jim Scaysbrook article on Roger Barker in ‘Old Bike Australasia’, John Wynne Collection

Tailpiece…

(P Coleby)

John Fleming, Austin 7 Spl leading followed by Mel Mason with a couple of unidentified JMW’s in the mix, June 1960. There was a big field of at least eleven cars on this narrow track- intrigued to know the full grid if any of you have a record of the race.

JMW’s were built by John Wynne and his father to fuel John’s passion for racing, click here for an interesting site about the cars; http://members.optusnet.com.au/~pwstone/jmw/jwstory/jmwstory.htm

John Wynne below at Tarrawingee in 1960, the other final shot is of the car at Phillip Island circa 1962.

 

Finito…

(SLWA)

Garrie Cooper aboard his Elfin 600D Repco V8 in the Wanneroo Park, Western Australia pitlane in May 1970…

 ‘Motor Racing Royalty’ in Australia are any Australian cars powered by Repco Brabham V8’s in my book. There are only four single-seater road-racing cars so built- 3 Elfin 600’s and the Rennmax/Bob Britton built Jane Repco. Of all the Australian built Repco Brabham V8 engined cars- single-seaters and sportscars, to me the most desirable is this particular car, Garrie Cooper’s 1970 works machine, Elfin 600D chassis ‘7012′. There is a spot for it in my garage.

Few racing car designs have won success in Formula Ford, F3, F2 and F1- well, ok, Australian National Formula 1- the Elfin 600 variants 600, 600B, C, D and E are such cars. If Cooper and his band of merry artisans in Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown, South Australia had built a Formula Vee 600 (his FV of the day was the Elfin 500) he literally would have had covered all Australian single-seater categories with variants of the one spaceframe chassis design!

I have an article half-finished on the Elfin 600. I was going to pop these wonderful shots of GC and ‘7012’ taken during the WA Road Racing Championship meeting at Wanneroo on 3 May 1970 into it but they are too good to lose in a longer feature. Elfin and Garrie Cooper bias hereby declared, not that I am alone in that regard.

The final Tasman 2.5 ANF1 year was 1970, Cooper built the car for his own use that season but didn’t take a Gold Star round win in it. Leo Geoghegan won the coveted title in a 2 litre Waggott powered European F2/Formula B chassis Lotus 59 taking two wins, there is a certain amount of irony in that as Leo had raced the ex-Jim Clark Lotus 39 powered by various Repco engines since 1967. If anybody deserved a Repco powered Gold Star championship victory it was the popular Sydneysider!

Max Stewart won another two ‘Star races in his similarly Waggott 275 bhp powered Mildren and John Harvey also took a couple in the other new for 1970 Repco Brabham engined car, the Jane Repco.

Cooper’s Elfin 600D Repco beside John Walker’s Elfin 600B Ford ANF2- ANF2 then was a 1.6 litre, production twin-cam, 2 valve formula which effectively meant the use of the Ford/Lotus twincam engine. That’s GC standing up and JW sitting on the Armco next to him (SLWA)

The Jane, like Cooper’s Elfin was powered by Repco Brabham ‘830 Series’ V8’s, RBE’s ultimate spec Tasman 2.5 engine.

These babies made their race debut in the back of Jack Brabham’s BT23E in the 1968 Sandown Tasman round- the specifications included the ‘short’ 800 block (’68 F1 issue) SOHC, crossflow, 2 valve ’30 Series’ heads as well as Lucas fuel injection and all the usual Repco goodies. The engines have a bore/stroke of 3.34/2.16 inches and produced 295 bhp @ 9000 rpm with a big fat, Repco mid-range band of torque. They weighed 330 pounds and hit the road via Hewland FT200 gearboxes.

Cooper was a fine driver, he won an Australian 1.5 Championship together with Max Stewart and an Australian Sportscar Championship as well as a Gold Star round at Mallala in 1969 aboard a 600C Repco, but he wasn’t an ace. ‘7012’ in the hands of Kevin Bartlett, Stewart, Geoghegan or Harvey was a Gold Star winning car, make that 1970 Tasman Championship winning car in Bartlett’s hands if a dose of Repco reliability was thrown into the mix.

The Wanneroo Park meeting was not a Gold Star round but Garrie and another South Australian Elfin 600 ace and future AGP and Gold Star winner John Walker made the trip across the Nullarbor from Adelaide and took first and second places in the WA Racing Car Championship ‘Carbon Brakes 500’ with ex-Brabham employee Bob Ilich third in his Brabham BT21B Cosworth SCB.

The meeting had an eight race card, the ten lap Touring Car and Sportscar Championship events were won by Peter Briggs in the ex-Norm Beechey Holden Monaro GTS327 and Howie Sangster aboard Don O’Sullivan’s Lola T70 Mk2 Chev respectively.

GC accepts the spoils of victory in his ‘Fastman’ nomex suit (SLWA)

Etcetera…

John Walker 600B and GC 600D Repco, Wanneroo 1970 (SLWA)

Walker’s 600B @ Wanneroo, same weekend. JW developed into an awesome F5000 steerer, took the ’79 AGP and Gold Star aboard a Lola T332 Chev (SLWA)

Credits/References…

State Library of WA, Terry Walkers Place, oldracingcars.com, Brian Caldersmith

Postscript & Statistics…

Brabhams are excluded from the list of Australian cars fitted with 2.5 Repco V8’s, they are Pommie cars however much some of us Aussies like to claim them as ours. Sure Motor Racing Developments was owned by Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac, an Australian domiciled Brit, but the cars were designed and built in the UK- so lets be fair folks!

7 Brabhams (BT11A, BT14, BT19, BT22, BT23A, BT23E, BT31) were built with or modified to accommodate RB 2.5 litre V8’s as was 1 Lotus- the ex-works 39, the stillborn Flat 16 Coventry Climax FWMW chassis converted to Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF engined form for use as Clark’s 1966 Tasman car.

To the list of 4 Oz built Repco 2.5 powered single-seaters should be added ex-RBE engineer, Peter Holinger’s 2 hillclimb cars, ‘Holinger Repco’, have I forgotten any others?

Before digressing further from the story I started with, all three of the Elfin 600 Repco’s built still exist- 600C ‘6908, ‘7011′ and 600D ‘7012’ with two of them ‘runners’ and one (7012) in the process of being rebuilt/restored. The Jane Repco chassis still exists in a WA Museum but is no longer Repco powered.

GC in ‘7012’ at Oran Park in 1970. Ain’t she sweet (unattributed)

As to the Australian built Repco engined sportscars, I think there were 10.

They are as follows- shown are build years, car type, number built, Repco engine originally fitted and first owner.

1966/8- 1 x Elfin 400 4.4 620/720 (Jane), 3 x Matich SR3 4.4 620/720 (Matich). 1968/9 1 x Matich SR4 5 litre 760 (Matich/Repco), 1 x Bob Britton/Rennmax built MRC Repco 5 litre 740 (Ayers). 1971- 2 x Elfin 360 2.5 730/830 (Moore, Michell). 1970/2- Rennmax- 1 x 2.5 740 (McArthur) and 1 x 5 litre 740 (Ayers)

To get a complete list, the following non-Australian built sportscars should be added- 4.

1966- 1 x Brabham BT17 4.3 620. 1968- 1 x Chevron B8/12 3 litre 720 (John Woolfe) 1969/70- 1 x Healey XR37 3 litre, 1 x McLaren M6B 5 litre 740 (Jane)

The sportscar list is dangerous as it is pulled out of my head, that will trouble some of you! but do help me with the research as there is no such list currently. Let me know cars I have forgotten and we can update the schedule.

So, to summarise.

There were 12 single-seaters to which Tasman 2.5 V8’s were fitted- 3 Elfins, 1 Jane, 7 Brabhams and 1 Lotus.

Lets not forget Peter Holinger’s 2 4.4 litre 620/720 engined hillclimbers. There may have been some ‘climbers in the UK?

There were 14 sportscars to which a range of Repco Brabham V8’s were fitted as above.

For the absence of doubt, as the lawyers are inclined to say, this list does not include cars powered by Redco Pty. Ltd. built Repco Holden F5000 V8’s just the Repco Brabham Engines Pty Ltd built motors, the list above also excludes RBE F1 and Indy V8 chassis lists.

Frank Matich in his SR3 Repco ‘720’ 4.4 V8 Warwick Farm Tasman meeting 1968 (B Caldersmith)

To nail my colours completely to the mast, the most lustworthy of the Repco engined sportscars to occupy my garage alongside Elfin 600D ‘7012’ is, probably, a Matich SR3. I’ll have the second of two chassis fitted with RBE 4.4 620/720 V8’s with which FM contested some ’67 Can Am rounds and then returned home to dust up Chris Amon’s ex-works Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can Am V12 in the ’68 Australian Tasman round sportscar support events.

Mind you I’ve always dribbled over the two Elfin 360 Repco 2.5’s from the first time I saw them in 1972, Elfin 600 component based jewels of things that they are, to finish about where I started…

Tailpiece: ‘7012’ at rest Wanneroo May 1970…

(SLWA)

Matich SR4 & SR3…

https://primotipo.com/2016/07/15/matich-sr4-repco-by-nigel-tait-and-mark-bisset/

 Finito…