Posts Tagged ‘Fishermans Bend’

(P Jones)

Alec Mildren’s new, fifth-placed Cooper T43 Climax FPF 1.5 during the February 23, 1958 Gold Star weekend.

Stan Jones won the 28 lap, 50 mile ‘Victorian Trophy’ race in his Maserati 250F from Arnold Glass’ Ferrari 555 Super Squalo and Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S sportscar.

Many thanks to Melbourne enthusiast Peter Jones for sharing his photographs taken during a number of Fishos’ race meetings in the mid-fifties when he was in his mid to late teens. Thanks to Stephen Dalton for painstaking research post-publication to nail all the meeting dates.

Don’t Peter’s marvellous colour shots bring a drab airfield circuit to life? Many of the photographs were taken at this Victorian Trophy weekend, the second of nine Gold Star rounds, the title won by Stan Jones that year.

‘Patons Brake Replacements’ were omni-present at the time, a major trade supporter of our sport, they were ultimately absorbed within the Repco Ltd automotive manufacturing conglomerate. See this piece about the inner-suburban Melbourne airfield track; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/15/fishermans-bend-melbourne/

October 1957 (P Jones)

Tornado 2 Chev, the most successful form of the Lou Abrahams/Ted Gray/Jack and Bill Mayberry two racers. Bill and Lou are at far left.

Ted led the race early and was running in the top 4 when he pitted to address throttle linkage problems on lap 10. He rejoined and was third by lap 20 but the engine lost its edge, finally retiring after 26 laps.

Tornado won the Longford Trophy the following weekend. It was without doubt one of the fastest-if not the fastest car of 1958 together with Jones 250F, Ern Seeliger’s  Maybach 4 Chev and Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 when it raced. It was not the most reliable though.

October 1957 (P Jones)

As regular readers will know I am a huge fan of everything and everyone to do with the Tornados. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/ . Oh yep, a shorter one here too; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/20/teds-tornado-and-lens-cooper/

October 1956 (P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Sabina Motors entered, Reg Nutt driven Cisitalia D46 Fiat 1,100, October 1957 meeting. Bailey’s Talbot-Lago T26C alongside.

This car was imported by Melbourne’s Dale Brothers in the early fifties but seems never to have been raced ‘really intensively’ in period. I recall it appearing at Sandown in the mid-seventies in one of the historic events which supported the annual taxi-enduro. At that stage it was part of the Leech Brothers Collection in Brighton, Melbourne. Long since departed our shores.

Such significant cars. Doug Nye credits Dante Giacosa’s 1946 design for Piero Dusio as the first modern customer spaceframe. ‘The production racing car trendsetter for an entire generation of designers’. Little bit about it here at the start of this Cooper Bristol piece; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/24/the-cooper-t23-its-bristolbmw-engine-and-spaceframe-chassis/

Reg Nutt is a story himself, he was a riding mechanic in the Phillip Island twenties GP years and then a racer of note.

(P Jones)

David McKay, Aston Martin DB3S during the February 1958 meeting.

David chose not to race in the Formula Libre Gold Star round, how did he do in the sportscar races folks?

This ex-works car, chassis ‘DB3S-9’ is the second of his two Aston Martin DB3S. Perhaps its biggest Oz win, in a field of some depth was the Australian Tourist Trophy at Mount Panorama that October. The customer ‘Kangaroo Stable’ machine was ‘DB3S-102’. See here; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/31/yes-frank-i-love-it-magnificent-in-fact/

(P Jones)

Owen Bailey’s ex-works-Whiteford Talbot-Lago T26C from ace racer-engineer Otto Stone, MG K3.

The French machine won AGPs for ‘Dicer-Doug’ in 1952 and 1953 at Mount Panorama and Albert Park before it was replaced by an older and supposedly quicker machine.

Owen Bailey lined up for the start but transmission failure meant his race ended before it started. He did not have a great deal of luck racing this car.

See articles about T-Ls here; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/16/1953-australian-grand-prix-albert-park/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/09/fill-her-up-matey-lago-talbot-t26c-melbourne-1957/

(P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Bib Stillwell’s Jaguar D Type.

The car first raced at the 1956 March Moomba meetings at Albert Park. Meeting date 13/14 October 1956, Jack Davey was the next owner in early 1957. See this feature for a full history of ‘XKD520’; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/17/stillwells-d-type/

(P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Terry McGrath advises the XK120 #45 above is Murray Carter’s car.

(P Jones)

Poor Arnold Glass is stuck in the intake of his glorious ex-works-Reg Parnell Ferrari 555 Super Squalo ‘555-2’ during the ’58 Gold Star weekend. ‘It’s arrived not long ago from New Zealand, still has the NZ rego #495795 on the nose’ said Dalton.

Glass was second behind Jones’ 250F and in front of Whiteford’s 300S.

Australia’s ‘Big Red Car’ era ran from the arrival of Reg Hunt’s 2.5-litre Maserati A6GCM in 1954 and ended, say, after Stan Jones AGP win at Longford in March 1959. The little marauding Coopers were well on the march by then but not yet dominant.

The fans were excited by Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625, the 250Fs of Hunt, Jones, Bib Stillwell and Glass, the 300S of Doug Whiteford and Bob Jane and this car raced by Glass. It wasn’t the quickest thing around, he got on better with his ex-Hunt-Stillwell 250F but it was still a fast, spectacular car the very successful motor dealer drove capably.

See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2020/10/10/squalo-squadron/

October 1957 (P Jones)

Bib Stillwell discusses progress with a mechanic, ex-Hunt Maserati 250F chassis ‘2516’.

He ran well in the first couple of laps with Stan Jones but then pulled over at Matchless Corner with bent valves. Bib raced with his usual race number 6, these shots of the car the October 1957 Fishermans Bend meeting.

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

Stillwell’s preparation and presentation was five-star, it is intriguing why he has not re-painted Reg Hunts luvverly Rice Trailer in his own colours. Make and model of the American car folks?

Reg Hunt tested and acquired the machine at Modena in December 1955, first racing it in Australia at Gnoo Blas. He won the South Pacific Championship in it and ‘was the class of 1956’ behind it’s wood-rimmed wheel. Who can fault his choice of early retirement to focus on his growing dealership empire but our grids were robbed of a great competitor. See here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/

October 1957 (P Jones)

By this stage of his career Stillwell’s Kew Holden dealership and related enterprises were spitting off serious wads of cash, the quality of his racing cars reflected this.

An arch enthusiast, as well as an elite level racer- no driver other than Bob Jane had so many sensational racing cars ‘in period’ and later in his life when he returned to racing ‘historics’ globally.

(P Jones)

With a keen eye on the growing speed of Coopers, Bib bought the T43 Climax (above) Jack Brabham raced in the 1958 New Zealand Internationals and South Pacific Championship race at Gnoo Blas in January. Jack won the Levin International and the Soupac Championship in the 2.2-litre Climax FPF engined machine.

Bib practiced both the Cooper and Maserati at Fishos, he elected to race the 250F.

He entered the Cooper in the Bathurst Easter meeting where the 1.7-litre FPF engined car (presumably Jack took the 2.2 back to England) was very fast. In a 3 lap preliminary Bib started from pole but his new Cooper jumped out of gear. He quickly plucked it and set off amongst the mid-field bunch but touched wheels with Alec Mildren’s similar car (our opening shot machine) in the first turn- Hell Corner. The car somersaulted several times before landing back on its wheels. Bib was ok with facial cuts and abrasions but the Cooper was a tad worse for wear. After repair it was sold to Bill Patterson who raced it for the first time at Lowood in August.

Stillwell raced the 250F throughout the rest of 1958 and sold it to Arnold Glass in early 1959 after a good run to sixth in the Ardmore NZ GP. Carroll Shelby’s 250F was the best placed front-engined car that afternoon, two laps adrift of Stirling Moss winning 2-litre Cooper T45. It was very much time to sell, Arnold did very well with it in 1959-1960 all the same!

October 1956 (P Jones)

Paul England and Bill Hickey’s Ausca Holden-Repco is one of the sexiest and quickest of Australian sportscars of the period.

Ya can’t go wrong with styling nicked from the Maserati A6GCS! The ladder-frame chassis machine was built after-hours by Paul and Bill at Repco Research in Sydney Road Brunswick. It used a Holden front-end, rear axle and engine. It was the rolling test bed for the Repco Hi-Power Holden Grey-Six engine developments.

England’s skill at twiddling a wheel did the rest. Happy to have this little baby in my garage. Not sure of the meeting date.

October 1956 (P Jones)

 

October 1956 (P Jones)

Hedley Thompson’s Edelbrock Special.

Thompson, a highly skilled welder/fabricator employed by Trans-Australian Airlines operated from a workshop behind his home in Melbourne’s inner-eastern Deepdene. The car used a ladder frame chassis and Ford V8 with lots of Vic Edelbrock bits within- hence the name. The gearbox was also Ford, the rear end incorporated a quick-change Halibrand diff. A Delage donated the brake-drums which used Holden cylinders and Holden worm and roller steering.

The car made its debut sans-bodywork at Hepburn Springs in 1956 and later passed to Barry Stilo who made it sing. It exists today, a quite stunning car.

(P Jones)

Ern Seeliger’s Maybach 4 Chev in the ’58 Fishermans Bend paddock.

This thing was still quick in 1959, Stan Jones won the Port Wakefield Gold Star round in it.

Seeliger did a mighty fine job replacing the Maybach SOHC-six with a Chev Corvette V8. Additionally, considerable changes were made to the rear suspension and other refinements- Maybach 3 became Maybach 4.

Ern was like a rocket at the Bend! He hassled Stan early then passed he and Glass for the lead. The look on the face of the cars owner- Stan Jones would have been priceless! But it was not to be. Ern started the race with worn tyres, he was black-flagged when the stewards caught sight of white breaker-strips on the hard worn tyres!

See here; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/09/stan-ernie-and-maybach-4-chev/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2020/07/14/john-comber-collection/

October 1957 (P Jones)

Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S was one of the best prepared and presented racing cars- all of the work done by the three-times Australian Grand Prix winner himself.

Here is the ex-works Jean Behra 1956 Australian Tourist Trophy meeting car during the February 1958 meeting. Doug finished third in a typically speedy, reliable run. See 300S feature here; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

February 1958 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

 

October 1957 (P Jones)

Bill Patterson’s Cooper T39 Climax, wouldn’t it have made an ideal road-car.

Patterson’s outer-east Melbourne Ringwood Holden dealership was not too far from Templestowe and Rob Roy hillclimbs, close enough for a bit of lunchtime practice or failing that a romp through the Dandenongs.

The plucky racer was one of the very fastest of his day, a Cooper man throughput after his formative MG stage. See here; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/02/patto-and-his-coopers/ Stephen reckons the side view of the car alongside the T39 above is Brian Sampson’s Morris Special- ‘Sambo’, was very close to the start of a long, diverse and successful career which was only finished by a road accident not so long ago.

He won the Gold Star in 1961 aboard a Cooper T51 Climax, the machine below is the T43 Climax FPF ex-Brabham-Stillwell #5 referred to above, perhaps in 1959.

(P Jones)

Note John Roxburgh standing at right and what looks a bit like Bib Stillwell in the cream jumper? Holden Ute and wonderful colour gives us a perspective on male fashion of the coolish day- October 1958 or February 1959 meeting.

(P Jones)

Len Lukey’s Cooper T23 Bristol, probably, ace Cooper historian Stephen Dalton thinks, during the October 1957 Fishos meeting where the car carried #33.

He surmises, based on AMS magazine reports, that Len’s team fitted the longer nose in an attempt to make the car more slippery before the Commonwealth Oil Refinery (C.O.R. later BP) sponsored speed-trials held at Coonabarabran, New South Wales in September 1957.

Two years hence Len would be aboard an ex-Brabham Cooper T45 Climax at the start of the longest Gold Star season. A successful one too, he won the Gold Star; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/26/len-lukey-australian-gold-star-champion/

Reg Hunt’s Maserati 250F below, it is chassis #2516 featured above, bodied as it was when Reg first imported it in early 1956, this probably the October 1956 meeting.

(P Jones)

 

Peter with a modern Yamaha, above leading Eric Debenham and Eric Hindle at Oran Park on the TR500 in 1970. With ‘mo’ after a win on the TR500 in 1970 (Old Bike Australasia)

After completing the piece to this point via to-and-fro emails I gave photographer Peter Jones a call to thank him and find out a bit about him. To my pleasant surprise I learned he was an Australian champion motor-cyclist in the sixties and seventies, so lets have a look at his career! What a fascinating journey Peter’s has been.

Born in 1942, he was raised in Melbourne’s Kew and then Beaumaris. Qualified as a fitter and turner he commenced his racing career aboard a a Yamaha YDS2 jumping in right at the deep end- his first meeting was at Bathurst in Easter 1964, third in the 250cc Production race was a good start on this most daunting of circuits!

He progressed through an Aermacchi Ala d’Oro 250 pushrod single as below. ‘Built 1963 or 1964, I bought it second hand from the distributor. It was a toss-up between this and a Yamaha TD1-A and I went with this. Great handling and brakes but in my ownership it was lacking in reliability, which in hindsight was a combination of me and the bike.’

‘The battery has a Yamaha logo on it, I knew the Yamahah importers well and had owned two Yamaha 250cc road bikes so when I needed batteries I went there. Back of the photo says Calder February 1965. That’s my Holden FC Ute behind.’

(P Jones)

 

(P Jones)

Peter then bought a Yamaha TD1-B which allowed him to demonstrate his talent and progress to B-Grade, the bike is shown exiting Griffins Bend at Mount Panorama in 1966 above.

‘I enjoyed this bike a lot, had some success with it while still learning my way. I had a very experienced racing mechanic, Les Gates of Murrumbeena, looking after me so reliability was not a problem. A great weekend was 4 or 5 riders working on our bikes in his backyard with us doing the simple things and Les the more complex. The machine was painted in standard Yamaha colours of white with a red stripe. My Cromwell jet-helmet was white, I painted it blue on each side. The emblem on the front of the helmet is the Sandringham Motorcycle Club- spoked wheel with wings, the club still exists today.’

Graham Laing at Melbourne Motorcycles invited him to assemble a batch of Suzukis which had arrived in December 1965. This led to a full-time gig and the offer to race a Suzuki TR250 production-racer in 1966, I looked after this bike. After a lot of work to improve the performance of the bike Peter hit the big time at the Bathurst  Easter meeting. He finished second to Bryan Hindle’s Yamaha TDC-1 in the B-Grade Junior and then second to Eric Debenham’s big Vincent in the B-Grade Unlimited. He was second behind Ron Toombs’ Yamaha in the Junior GP. Better still, a slow-starting Toombs gave Jones the break he needed to win the Lightweight GP in 1969.

The Auto Cycle Union of Victoria provided a grant for Peter to represent the state in the Australian Championships at Surfers Paradise- he was nominated in the 250, 350, and 500 races, all aboard the TR250. The young rider won the 250 and 350, and then the 500 as well. Ron Toombs led on the latter aboard his Matchless but then DNF’d.

(P Jones)

‘The shot above is my first meeting aboard the Suzuki TR250 at Mallala in January 1966. It must be during practice as the engine mounts cracked so I didn’t start. It’s the left-hander after the hairpin, the bike in front is a Kawasaki 250 production racer.’

Peter built up a 500 from a road-going T500 on which he won the Jack Ahearn Trophy at Amaroo Park. A promised TR500 which was due for early in 1970 finally arrived late in the year but without the rear wheel assembly including Ceriani rear brake. Suzuki sent it anyway! and Peter completed it with road parts.

Determined to race in Europe in 1971, Graham Laing agreed that Jones could take the TR500 with him. En-route to the UK Jones ordered and bought a TR250 from Ron Grant (which turned out to be a very poor replica which brings a twitch to my left eye when i think about it!) who was racing at Daytona. He also took his T20 roadie on which he learned the Isle of Man course in the week before the race!

Jones was awarded a Bronze Replica for his performance on the 250 and a Silver on the 500 but admitted, ‘for me, the races were sort of fast touring’. He also rode a Suzuki GB entered T350 in the Production Race.

Later in the season Peter and very-good British rider Keith Martin, aided by Australian mechanic Dave Hall rode the same machine to seventh in the 24 Hour classic at Montjuich Park, Barcelona. ‘Dave Hall was touring the UK and Europe on his BMW. We first met up at the IOM but he assisted in the meetings I raced including manning our Barcelona pit for the full 24-hours, an amazing effort. He later worked for the Suzuki GP team and sponsored riders on a 250cc production bike when he returned to Australia.’ Other non-championship internationals were at Hengalo, Holland and the Southern 100 at Brands Hatch.

In 500s ‘The only works team at the time was Ago and the MV’s, but even that was just a van and some mechanics. The biggest team was the Dutch Van Kreidler team in the 50cc class.’

‘On the 500’s the guys chasing Ago were Keith Turner, Robert Brom and Jack Findlay on his TR500 engined bike. I did the TT, the Swedish GP in torrential rain and the Spanish GP at Jarama where i got seventh in the 500 GP for four world-championship points. The shot below is at the Isle of Man in 1971 aboard my 1970 Suzuki TR500, it was a great bike, easy to ride, I enjoyed it a lot.’

(P Jones)

Back at home with new wife Lyn early in 1972 with the overseas racing bug out of the system, the TR250 and 500 were converted to run on methanol in an attempt to keep them competitive. Later a water-cooled TR500 was little better.

Peter contested the Amaroo Park Castrol 6-Hours in 1970 and 1972 but lap scoring which left a lot to be desired was no incentive to maintain his interest. Peter won the 1973 ‘King of The Weir’ at, you guessed it, Hume Weir.

Peter’s waning interest was piqued with the purchase of a fabulous Suzuki RG500 square-four in time for the infamous Laverton RAAF base February 1976 Australian Tourist Trophy meeting. This was headlined by Giacomo Agostini’s works MV Agusta 500-four.

Jones qualified second behind Ken Blake’s RG500, ahead of Ago on the 5.3km circuit. In the race he muffed the start and finished fourth behind the victorious Blake, then Agostini with Greg Johnson on another RG500 in third.

‘Below is the RG500, now that was a racing bike! Square-four, great power delivery and handling, everything you could ask for. Here braking for Laverton’s far-hairpin, we did a U-turn around the hay-bales and then back up the other side. My last racing motorcycle as I retired during 1976.’

(P Jones)

It was time to hang up the helmet for the Service Manager role at Melbourne Motorcycles. Senior executive roles followed at Suzuki Australia, Yamaha’s Milledge Brothers and Yamaha Motor Australia where Jones had a support role in the early 2000’s with the companies’ Australian Superbike and Moto GP rounds.

Retired in Sidmouth, Tasmania, Peter has his TR250 and air-cooled TR500 to restore and in more recent times has been carefully sorting rather a nice collection of his photographs…

Photo and other Credits…

Peter Jones- many thanks for sharing your story and photographs with us

Peter Jones Old Bike Australasia article by Jim Scaysbrook, Stephen Dalton, Terry McGrath

Tailpiece…

(P Jones)

‘I obviously like the colour of it’ Peter quipped, there were quite a few shots of the same car. N Ronalds, MGA, during the October 1956 meeting.

Finito…

(B Young)

Huge excitement was created by Geoff Duke’s visit to Australia in 1954, here his Gilera 500/4 is shown at rest in the Longford paddock…

The Brit was a ‘rock star’, he has just won back to back 500cc world titles aboard Gileras in 1953 and 1954 having won his first on Nortons in 1951. In total Duke won six 350cc and 500cc world championships between 1951 and 1955 and six TT races between 1949 and 1955.

But his fame extended beyond bikes given his film star looks and ability to communicate, as such he was a wonderful ambassador for the sport globally and in late 1954 he was poised to spread a bit of his angel dust throughout Australia.

I wrote an article about Geoff four years ago with a focus on his racing in cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/08/geoff-duke-norton-dutch-gp-assen-1952/

Longford (B Young)

 

In a whirlwind tour commencing on 7 January 1955 he raced in four states commencing in Western Australia at Mooliabeenie, a wartime airstrip near Perth on 16 January before a crowd of 15,000 people and then another airstrip at Gawler in South Australia, no doubt wheelspin in top gear was impressive to the 16,000 punters who experienced trying conditions in sweltering heat.

His main opposition in the west was from local all-rounder Peter Nichol on a G45 Matchless and from George Scott’s GP Triumph, at Gawler Keith Campbell and Roger Barker impressed.

Then it was off to the Bandiana Army Base near Albury, the Victoria/New South Wales border town on 30 January- the first half decent venue for the plucky gentleman in his tour to that point, the track comprised 4.5km of perimeter roads.

There, having carefully won the Senior Clubmans event in the slowest possible time, Eric Hinton’s handicap just gave him the edge over Duke to allow him to win the Unlimited Handicap in fading light, this was the only occasion on which the champ was beaten on the tour.

Duke, Bandiana

 

Maurie Quincey, Norton ahead of Duke at Bandiana

Gilera saw the commercial opportunity of a tour to promote their brand sending two current 500/4 bikes and works mechanic Giovanni Fumagalli to look after the machines.

The two bikes brought to Australia derived from a 250cc four designed by Engineer Piero Remor under Piero Taruffi in the early 1940’s. After Taruffi left Gilera to concentrate on car racing Remor and company founder Giuseppe Gilera began work on a 500cc bike whose origins lay in the earlier 250, in 1947.

The new racer was unveiled in 1948 with 1949 its shakedown season. After Remor’s departure to MV Agusta Taruffi was re-hired, together with engineers Colombo and Passoni changes were made to the cylinder head and rear suspension which allowed Umberto Masetti to win the 500cc world championship in 1950.

The bike was redesigned over the winter of 1950/51 adopting a new tubular frame with telescopic forks, pivoting rear suspension and hydraulic shocks. In 1951 Gilera won three GP’s but Duke took the title on a Norton, in 1952 Masetti again won the championship.

Fumagalli and Duke warming up the bike at Gawler (D Voss)

 

Gilera 500-4 1954 (unattributed)

When Duke joined the Milanese firm for 1953 he brought with him strong knowledge of the great Rex Candless designed ‘Featherbed’ frame Norton’s handling, upon his suggestions the Gilera frame was lowered and strengthened to bring better handling with the engine left untouched.

In 1953/54 Passoni redesigned the motor by increasing its stroke, changing the valve angle and elongating the sump to allow the unit to be lowered in the frame by three inches, by this stage the engine produced circa 65bhp @ 10,000rpm.

The frame was of double cradle design made of tubular steel with telescopic suspension at the front and pivoting rear suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers at the rear. The four cylinder, four stroke, air-cooled engine displaced 402.7cc and was undersquare having a bore and stroke of 52mm x 58.8mm. With two valves per cylinder operated by two overhead camshafts and fed by four carburettors the engine gave circa 65bhp as stated above.

1954 Gilera 500 with the dustbin fairing they commenced to experiment with in 1954 (G Cavara)

 

Back to Dukes Tour of Oz. From Albury it was then off to Sydney and a round of public appearances and a visit to Mount Panorama before the next race meeting at the permanent Mount Druitt circuit west of Sydney.

The surface was poor though due to damage from recent car meetings but Duke dominated as he did everywhere else, Keith Stewart impressive in second on a new Matchless G45 twin in the Senior GP.

Mount Druitt

 

Mount Druitt after one of his wins with Keith Stewart on a Matchless G45 behind

Duke’s final two meetings of the tour were down south, at Fishermans Bend in inner Melbourne and majestic Longford in northern Tasmania, which must surely have impressed.

At Fishermans Bend Maurie Quincey led the 500cc race on his Norton for a while before clutch slip set in and Duke pounced in the second Gilera having put the first to one side, it had lost its edge.

Longford was held over two days- with racing on the Saturday and Monday, in the opening race the engine began to lose power with what was diagnosed as magneto problems. The other bike, in Melbourne awaiting shipment back to Italy was stripped of the part which was despatched overnight to the Apple Isle. With the machine back in fine fettle Duke won and set a new lap record in the Unlimited race of 152km/h. Oh to have heard that Gilera screaming its way along The Flying Mile @ 10,000rpm!

Ready for the off at Longford, Duke at right (S Scholes)

Jim Scaysbrook summarised the impact of Dukes tour in ‘Old Bike Australasia’; ‘His whirlwind tour had taken him to every state except Queensland and his charming and eloquent manner did incalculable good for motorcycling. The unprecedented publicity generated helped to dispel the popularly held, media fuelled belief that motorcycle racers were a bunch of halfwits with a death wish. It also had a profound effect on the local riders, serving as a stark reminder of the gap between our rather primitive scene and the European big-time.’

‘A number of up and coming stars impressed him, including Keith Campbell, Roger Barker and particularly Bob Brown, who had just gained selection as Australian representative to the 1955 IOM TT races. “This young man is a joy to watch, uses his head, and should figure very well in the IoM and on the continent” he said in his report to the British Press. When Duke was injured at the start of the 1957 season, he recommended Brown to take his place in the Gilera team for the TT, resulting in two excellent third places. For 1958, Duke personally sponsored Bob on a pair of Nortons’ Jim wrote.

Etcetera…

(D Tongs)

The second of the two Gileras at rest in Longford.

The contribution and significance of this series of Gileras is recognised in a wonderful, highly technical and thoroughly researched scholarly paper titled ‘Grand Prix Motorcycle Engine Development 1949-2008’ written by David Piggott and Derek Taulbut.

Click to access Grand_Prix_Motorcycle_Engine_Development.pdf

The authors recognise ‘Piero Remor’s contribution to Grand Prix engine design’ as follows;

‘The defeat of the original MV 4 in early 1966 had brought to a close after two successful decades the career of the 1947 basic 500cc design of Phil Remor. Initially for Gilera, this introduced the Naturally Aspirated aircooled transverse 4-cylinder with double overhead camshafts and 2 wide angle valves per cylinder, bore-stroke ratio around 1. Remor’s concept, although changed in detail development by others in Gilera and MV, is worth remembering. There had also been successful 350cc versions. Remor had actually been associated with transverse 4’s since 1925 when it was the layout of the Italian GRB (Gianini-Remor-Bonmartini) which ultimately had been transformed into the water supercharged Gilera which powered Dorino Serafini to the European Championship in 1939.’

This piece is based on a wonderful article by Jim Scaysbrook titled ‘Geoff Duke- The Duke’s Crusade’, do have a read, it’s terrific.

Geoff Duke – The Duke’s Crusade

Bibliography and Photo Credits…

Bob Young Collection, Des Tongs, Stephen Scholes, Doug Voss, ‘Geoff Duke- The Duke’s Crusade’ article by Jim Scaysbrook in Old Bike Australia issue 13 May/June 2009, ‘Gilera Motorcycles and Racing History’ by Lucien C Ducret, ‘Grand Prix Motorcycle Engine Development 1949-2008’ by David Piggott and Derek Taulbut.

Tailpiece…

Finito…

(B Williamson)

The drivers of the 20 March 1954, Fishermans Bend, Melbourne, Sports Car Race make for their cars…

Event Four on the program was of 12 laps, the journey started at 1.45 pm and was won by Melbourne transport businessman, Kevin Neal- the dude in the sports-jacket aboard the number 61 Jaguar XK120, his main competition according to Terry McGrath, was Harry Firth is his supercharged MG TC Spl.

From the front is the #66 GC Newton XK120, #61 car of Neal, the 3 litre Meadows engined Lea Francis of J Robinson, then the big 3 litre Bentley owned by Haig Hurst- you can just see car #55, the RH Reynolds Morgan Plus 4.

Other notables entered include Graeme Hoinville, MG TC (which he still owns), John  Sawyer, of later Bob Jane Racing fame in a K3 MG, Earl Davey-Milne in a Fraser Nash (which he still owns), Frank Porter, a later prominent touring car racer well into the late seventies, and P McKenna in the 1948 AGP winning BMW 328- you can see that light coloured car second in line behind the dark Jag, both still not off the start-line.

(T McGrath)

Its Neal away with a blinder of a start in his supercharged Jag from the Reynolds Morgan whereas the bulk of the field seems afflicted with problems caused by the ‘Prince of Darkness’- Lucas Electrics, or is that a tad unfair?

The light coloured car behind the Morgan is the RG Davis MG TC and the dark coloured one at the very back of the cars on-circuit is the Hoinville TC.

Click here for an article on Fishermans Bend; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/15/fishermans-bend-melbourne/

Neal progressed into some pretty serious motor cars including a Cooper T23 Bristol and the ex-Reg Hunt Maserati A6GCM with which he contested the 1956 AGP held not too far away in Albert Park. Click here; https://primotipo.com/2017/12/12/hunts-gp-maser-a6gcm-2038/

Credits…

Bob Williamson and Terry McGrath Collections, Stephen Dalton for the car identifications

Finito…

 

image001

Looks of wonderment and amazement at the voluptuous lines of the Aston’s Frank Feeley penned body.  The ‘Wow Factor’ of contemporary racing cars never changes whatever the era does it?!…

Here it’s a Melbourne crowd on February 28 1958. Its the end of the long hot Australian summer but the crowd are well rugged up, Melbourne is notoriously ‘four seasons in one day’ sometimes and Fishermans Bend is an exposed windswept place at the best of times. At the wheel of the road-registered, ex-works Aston Martin DB3S chassis DB3S/9 is a youthful David McKay.

McKay aboard DB3S/9 at Fishermans Bend in February 1958. Nose of the car showing minor scars of battle, perspex headlight covers fitted to this car from its birth. First race the ’56 Rouen GP in May, then 2nd @ Le Mans ’56 driven by Moss/Collins, Salvadori was 2nd at Goodwood in September- car retained by Astons into 1957, the DBR1 the front line weapon that year with Brooks racing DBS3/9 at Easter Goodwood for 3rd. It was then used by the works for the last occasions as a practice car at Silverstone for the British Empire Trophy and for the Nurburgring 1000Km before sold by John Wyer to McKay with funds provided by Ampol (Westaway)

At the time he was ascending the driving ranks having cut his racing teeth in MG’s. He made it into the elite group too- let’s not forget were it not for a ropey jumped start call he would have won the 1961 Australian Grand Prix at Mallala aboard a Cooper T51 Climax. David would soon be known as much as a journalist, successful businessman and entrant-entrepreneur via his business ‘Scuderia Veloce’ as a driver though.

McKay raced this car to wins in the sportscar races that Fishermans Bend weekend, and was very successful in it throughout the country, taking 8 wins from 9 starts.

His only defeat, 2nd place was at the hands of Doug Whiteford’s ex-works Maser 300S in the Tasmanian Tourist Trophy at Longford in early 1958 during the Gold Star meeting.

McKay and passenger, Baskerville 1958 (HRCCT)

After Longford McKay and his crew took the car south to Hobart racing it at the new Baskerville circuit (above) in April and taking a comfortable win, and setting a new outright circuit record from Lyn Archer’s Cooper 1100 but churning through more of his diminishing stock of racing Avons due to the abrasive nature of the surface.

An amusing side-story is that the officer in charge of the old SS Taroona ship between Devonport and Port Melbourne took exception to the oversized trailer and refused to load it until David made representations to the Captain who graciously allowed the equipe aboard ensuring that important commitments to sponsors could be met.

db 3 s engine

Engine of the ex-works/McKay DB3S/9, raced at Albert Park, November 1958 by Stan Jones. 6 cylinder 2922cc DOHC 2 valve, twin plug all alloy engine fed by 45DCO Weber carburettors. Circa 225bhp @ 6000 rpm (Kevin Drage)

His last race in the car was successful, he took an Australian Tourist Trophy victory at Mount Panorama, Bathurst in October 1958 in what McKay described as ‘the faithful old ex-works Aston’s…greatest Antipodean win’.

The race was not an easy one. Initially Bill Pitt’s Jaguar XKD led and then Doug Whiteford, the formidable, forceful three-time AGP winner took the lead from McKay with Pitt 3rd. On lap 10 Doug had an enormous accident when the Maser was caught by a sudden gust of wind after coming over the second Conrod Straight hump threw the car out of control with the Maser spinning and hitting the right hand fence three times. Whiteford was almost flung from the car as it skidded backwards down the escape road and into another fence. Fortunately the St Kilda racer was only bruised by the wild ride.

McKay then led with an intermittent engine miss from Derek Jolly’s Lotus 15 Climax, a light rain shower adding to the degree of difficulty towards the end of the race. McKay won from Jolly, Ron Phillips and Frank Matich- Aston DB3S, Lotus 15 Climax, Cooper Jaguar and Jaguar XKC.

The weekend was a brilliant one for the Sydneysider as his new Jaguar Mk1 3.4, just imported for him by Ampol trounced the hitherto dominant Repco headed Holden sedans of John French and Leo Geoghegan in the sedan car handicap, to start the ‘Jaguar Era’ of Australian Touring Car racing.

After the Tourist Trophy win Stan Jones bought the racer but wasn’t really happy with it. The wonderful Le Mans second placed 1956 car then passed into Ray Barfield’s hands in Western Australia where its contemporary racing history ended in the early sixties. A summary of the cars history is in this article, rather than repeat myself;

https://primotipo.com/2017/03/23/bunbury-flying-50-allan-tomlinson-ferrari-500-et-al/

McKay’s first Aston, a production DB3S chassis #102 in the Carrathool paddock during its Australian LSR record breaking weekend in February 1957. Interesting to know who crafted the aero pod beneath which McKay sat and cooked! (Jek)

McKay was a very dab hand at the wheel of Aston’s by the time he bought his ex-Moss car…

He was part of the trio of privately run DB3S,  ‘Kangaroo Stable’ of cars raced by Australians Tony Gaze, Jack Brabham, Les Cosh, Dick Cobden, Tom Sulman and McKay in Europe in 1955.

McKays car, initially delivered to Tony Gaze, chassis DB3S/102 took the best result of the tour cut short by the cancellation of many sportscar races in Europe after the Le Mans disaster- McKay and Gaze were second in the 29 May Hyeres 12 Hour behind the winning Ferrari 750 Monza driven by Canonica/Munaron

At the end of the European Safari which included Oporto (Gaze 8th) and Goodwood (McKay/Gaze DNF distributor drive) David shipped the car straight to New Zealand for a number of races there including the Formula Libre NZ GP in January 1956,he retired from the Ardmore event won convincingly by Stirling Moss in a Maserati 250F.

The engine of the car was shipped back to the UK for a rebuild after a major failure during a race at Invercargill. From May 1956 production DB3S’ were fitted with twin-plug 210 bhp engines, it was in this form the engine was rebuilt and delivered from Feltham back to Sydney. The beautiful car was again race ready by early 1957.

Tony Gaze about to rejoin the May 1955 Hyeres 12 Hour, he shared the car with David McKay- car #20 behind is the Graham and Peter Whitehead DB3S DNF (CAMS)

The stunning colour photographs were taken of ‘102’ in February 1957 at Carrathool a tiny village 680 Km west of Sydney between Narrandera and Hay in New South Wale western Riverina.

The main automotive attribute of the town was a long, straight stretch of road between Carrathool and Gunbar which was ideal for record setting, and so it was that various Ampol sponsored cars sought to break some Australian speed records. The then current Australian LSR was the 136.4 mph set by Jack Saywell’s 2.9 litre Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 at South Australia’s Coorong in 1939.

After plenty of careful preparation inclusive of incorporating the beautifully made perspex fairing onto his Aston, McKay broke the record setting a time over the Flying Kilometre of 143.19 mph on the morning of 19 February 1957. The ‘Canberra Times’ reported that McKay made two full speed runs on the course, ‘during one run he skidded on a patch of loose dirt at 140 mph’.

This speed was soon eclipsed by other cars but the DB3S held the class record for some years.

David McKay at speed during the Ampol sponsored record-breaking weekend in early 1957. Carrathool a tiny hamlet with now around 300 inhabitants. A straight, flat road with a decent surface a long way from major population centres was ideal record breaking territory! (Jek)

The car was first raced in Australia at Easter Bathurst in April 1957, he was 2nd in the sportscar handicap and won the sedan and sportcar handicap from Paul England’s Repco headed Ausca, passing the very fast special built at Repco Research by England ‘running up to 139.3 mph to do so and clocking fastest quater mile time for the day’.

But the car saw little further use as the quicker ex-works machine arrived in Sydney in September 1957. DBS/9’s first race was the October 1957 13 lap NSW Sportscar Championship at Bathurst, an event the combination won comfortably with McKay taking the lap record despite using only 5200 of the Aston’s available 6000 rpm. Bill Pitt’s Jaguar D Type was timed at 144 mph on Conrod Straight with McKay at 136 mph using his self imposed rev limit.

Both of these extremely valuable cars still exist but sadly left Australia many years ago. Those of you with collections of Australian ‘Sports Car World’ magazine should have a fossick through them as McKay wrote two sensational articles about the ownership of his two Aston’s in the seventies, or maybe the eighties!..

Technical specifications as per text (Tony Matthews)

Aston DB3S Technical Specifications…

The Aston Martin DB3S was built from 1953 to 1957, 32 were constructed excluding the single-seater variant ‘DP155/1′ raced by Reg Parnell in New Zealand in 1956.

Fundamentally Willie Watson’s design was a shorter, lighter and stiffer car than Eberan Eborhorst’s Aston DB3. The car evolved over just four months making its debut in Reg Parnell’s hands at Charterhall on 23 May 1953.

The cars were designed around a period typical ladder frame chassis which was 7 feet 3 inches long- 6 inches shorter than DB3. The frame comprised twin tubular members of 4 inch 16 gauge chrome molybdenum steel and three 14 gauge four, and five inch cross-members. The shorter chassis made the car nimbler than its predecessor if somewhat skittish on bumpy surfaces. The track was reduced from 4′ 3″ to 4’ 1″.

Frank Feeley designed the very stylish body, as sexy as the DB3 was dowdy. More than a nod had been given in the direction of the contemporary Maserati A6GCS it seemed. Overall the car was shorter, narrower and lighter than the DB3 and importantly it ‘looked right’ straight out of the box.

Front suspension was independent by trailing links, torsion bars, piston type dampers and a roll bar. A De-Dion rear axle was used sprung by a torsion bar and located by trailing links and a Panhard rod, again with piston type shocks.

Naturally a David Brown gearbox was fitted, the S430 ‘box a 4 speeder with reverse, final drive was by spiral bevel in a light alloy casing with a ZF slippery diff usually fitted. Brakes initially were two-leading shoe Alfin drums- 13 inches in diameter at the front and 12 inches at the rear. From 1955 Girling disc bakes were specified, the rotors were 11.5 inches in diameter front and rear. Precise rack and pinion steering was fitted, two turns were required lock to lock.

A 2922cc all alloy DOHC, 2 valve, 6 cylinder engine provided the cars heart. It had 4 main bearings and wet cylinder liners with the valves disposed at an included angle of 60 degrees. Initially fitted with 35DCO Weber carburettors the engine gave 182 bhp @ 5500 rpm and 182 lb/ft of torque at 3800 rpm on a compression ration of 8.5:1.

The cars were of course developed extensively throughout their racing life with the works cars fitted with twin-plug heads and 45DCO Webers from May 1954 giving 225bhp @ 6000 rpm.

The ‘Kangaroo Stable Cars’ (DB3S/102 Gaze-McKay, DB3S/103 Sulman, DB3S/104 Cosh) delivered in early 1955 all had the 200 bhp Weber 40 DCO engine- when announced at Earls Court in October 1954 the production cars had a feeble and uncompetitive 180 bhp on triple SU’s.

For the sake of completeness special works engines included a supercharged 240 bhp car raced at Le Mans in 1954 and a 2992cc normally aspirated variant raced at Dundrod in 1955.

In an era of unlimited sportscars the production based 3 litre DB3S was rarely an outright contender, the big guns, depending upon the year were the Benz 300SLR, XKD Jags and Ferrari V12’s of varying capacity. But with a change to 3 litres for the manufacturers championship and a more uncompromising approach the DB3S’ younger brother triumphed at Le Mans in 1959 and won the manufacturers title to boot. The path to that success was in part via the DB3S journey…

David McKay and passenger doing some camera work at the then new Baskerville circuit, Tasmania in early 1958 (HRCCT)

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

McKay on the left and Doug Whiteford, Maserati 300S with Bill Patterson’s Cooper Climax Bobtail behind?

Its Longford before the startline was moved from here- towards the end of The Flying Mile, before Mountford Corner to what became Pit Straight- the stretch after Mountford.

(unattributed)

Perhaps an Ampol publicity shot- ‘Rice’ trailer? Nice rig.

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce’ David McKay, ‘Aston Martin: A Racing History’ Anthony Pritchard, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘The Canberra Times’ 20 February 1957

Photo Credits…

Don Westaway, Kevin Drage, Ampol, Sharaz Jek, Tony Matthews, HRCCT- Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, CAMS

Tailpiece: McKay at high speed in DB3S/102 during a practice run at Carrathool, in New South Wales western Riverina in April 1957…

(Ampol)

Finito…

 

lex davo

Who What Where and When?…its Lex Davison in his Alfa Romeo P3 ‘50003’…the where is a little more interesting?…

My writer/historian friend Stephen Dalton thinks its Fishermans Bend, Victoria at the 13 March 1949 meeting…the background looks bucolic to me so it may be Ballarat Airfield in 1950? All correspondence will be entered into.

The shot itself is by George Thomas, i tripped over it…ripper shot which catches the essence of these airfield circuits.

I will get around to writing about this wonderful Alfa in due course, on the basis that it is Fishermans Bend Davo won the 12 lap, 25 mile scratch race from Charlie Dean in Maybach 1, those of you who have read my Stan Jones article will be familiar with this car, Arthur Wylie in a Ford V8 Spl was 3rd.

Credits…

George Thomas, Stephen Dalton, ‘Australian Motor Sports’ 14 April 1949