Posts Tagged ‘Ford Galaxie’

(DKeep/oldracephotos.com.au)

Sir Gawaine Baillie’s Ford Galaxie leads Bob Jane’s Lotus Cortina at ‘Pub Corner’, Longford in March 1965…

Four time Australian Grand Prix winner Lex Davison was a racing purist. He was very much a single-seater man having raced some classic machines to much success post-war- Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3, Ferrari 500/625, Aston Martin DBR4/250, various Coopers and Brabham BT4 Climax to name several.

While a traditionalist he was also a realist, a successful businessman who knew that flexibility was sometimes needed so as he set his plans for 1963 they were somewhat thrown up in the air by the offer to drive just retired Gold Star Champion, Len Lukey’s brand new R-Code Holman-Moody built Ford Galaxie four-door sedan.

Lukey’s choice of driver was a surprise to many but a political coup really – what better way to neutralise an opponent of touring car racing via his monthly racing magazine column than entice them into-the-fold, so to speak?

Len’s rapidly growing, profitable Lukey Mufflers business provided the means to acquire a Holman-Moody built LHD 6.7-litre V8 engined Ford Galaxie in full racing trim. Lukey imported another RHD car in less-fierce spec as a road car and mobile parts source.

Other than, perhaps, Norm Beechey’s Chev Impala, the 405bhp Galaxie was the most powerful racing car in Australia of any sort upon its debut in November 1962. The plan was for either Jack Brabham or Bruce McLaren to race the car in the November ’62 Sandown meeting just prior to the 1962 Caversham, WA, AGP, the reason for which both GP aces were in Australia.

In the end the big beast was not going to land at Port Melbourne in time for Sandown, so the intrepid Lukey unloaded the car in Brisbane and drove it – a car of full race specification – the 1100 miles south from Queensland to Victoria. As one does!

While a relative touring car novice Lex ran second to Beechey’s Chev after Bob Jane’s Jaguar Mk2 suffered a burst radiator and spun. Lex’ best lap was an impressive one second behind Norm’s new lap record. Not a bad debut.

Caversham paddock during the November 1962 AGP weekend (K Devine)

Caversham 1962 (K Devine)

Galaxie in the AGP Caversham paddock in 1962 (unattributed)

At Caversham during the AGP weekend he was third and set fastest lap. During the GP itself he was a distant eighth. with Cooper T53 Climax dramas.

Into 1963 Lex missed the opening Calder meeting with a dodgy-back, so Norm Beechey took the Galaxie’s wheel (a compare and contrast analysis with his Chev Impala would have been interesting) but Ern Abbot’s well sorted straight-six Chrysler Valiant beat the Big Henry.

Lex took the car back for Warwick Farm’s International meeting and again proved its utility as a road car, he drove it to Mass on his way to the circuit at Liverpool that morning! Perhaps prayer assisted in yielding second place behind Bob Jane’s Jag despite Bob rotating the car.

At Longford both Jane and Lex were timed on The Flying Mile at 223kmh but the Jag had the better brakes and handling. In race one Lex won the Le Mans start, spun at the Longford Pub and later needed the escape road at the end of the main straight having endured the inherently under-braked Beastie- Davison needed to train the back of his brain the car was not a Cooper! In the handicap race to end the long weekend of racing Lex gave a start to every car in the race other than Jane and pushed the car even harder – spinning into straw bales at The Viaduct and then lost his brakes completely at the end of the straight, going down the escape road 200-metres before stopping in a drainage ditch. He quipped to the Launceston Examiner that racing the Galaxie was “like driving a haystack.”

Davison and Jane at Longford, just before the off in 1963 (oldracephotos)

At Sandown during a ten-lapper he spun on the first lap, with Jane and Beechey going at it in a race long dice. Lex later spun again in the fast Dandenong Road Esses. The big Galaxie frightened the Armco with a huge thump on the outside of the track and then came back across the road to hit it on the other side. The Ford then caught fire as he sought to restart…

The Galaxie was in no condition to race again until September, no doubt Len Lukey thought that the ongoing safety of his expensive car was best served by a change in pilot.

Graham Howard wrote that “It’s (the Galaxies) absence was not greatly mourned by Diana (Davison), or by Alan Ashton, both of whom believed the big sedan did nothing to help Lex’s single-seater driving.”

Lex explained the background to the Sandown accident in a letter Lance Lowe of Peter Antill Motors, then the local Koni distributor. “Appalling rear axle tramp under braking was one of its less endearing features, and this has now been cured to such an extent that the car is un-steerable…Perhaps it (the accident) will solve the problem of me having to drive it again.”

In1964 Len threw the keys to Beechey who raced the car with the sympathy of a specialist touring car ace. Note that when Lukey’s car arrived some of its H-M goodies were removed to comply with Australia’s Appendix J touring car regs; some panels, bumpers and brakes were amongst the changes. The R-Code car was fitted with a 427 lo-riser big-block Ford side-oiler V8. Some sources have it that the car as raced by Davo was fitted with a 406 cid engine which was replaced by a 427 by the time Beechey got his hands on it in 1964 – no doubt at the time the bonnet-hump appeared. The car survives as part of the Bowden Collection in Queensland.

To complete the summary of the Lukey cars, Len imported another Galaxie, a 1964 Holman-Moody car in parts to avoid Australian import duty but died before the car was completed. This is the car acquired by Dennis O’Brien via Harry Firth’s introduction to Lukey’s widow in the mid-seventies. O’Brien built the car up with a shell found in Canberra, a new 427 hi-riser, alloy bumpers, the right diff, gearbox, polycarbonate windows and competition roll-cage.

Bob Jane Jag Mk2, Norm Beechey Ford Galaxie and Ern Abbott Chrysler Valiant, Sandown 1964 (Bob Jane)

Turn in and hold on! Beechey exits the long, fast right-hander under the Dunlop Bridge, Sandown 1964 (unattributed)

Davison had a busy racing 1964 including providing valuable emotional and public relations support to Donald Campbell’s Bluebird LSR attempt at Lake Eyre, South Australia. Campbell was copping plenty of flak globally at the time for perceived lack of progress. Oh yes, Lex had a steer of Bluebird at a preset limit of 155 mph.

Davo started the season in his ex-McLaren 1962 AGP winning Cooper T62 Climax but bought a Brabham Intercontinental chassis – Brabham’s ’64 Tasman car – to remain competitive with Bib Stillwell and others.

But his touring car aspirations were not put to one side. Ecurie Australie mounted a professional, well prepared campaign together with Australian Motor Industries in a Triumph 2000 in that years Bathurst 500. Lex drove the car fast, consistently and sympathetically to eighth in the class despite being slowed by wheel bearing failure, and co-driver Rocky Tresise parking the car unnecessarily until Lex told him ‘to go and geddit matey’!

All the same, what was somewhat bizarre, given Lex’s experience with Len Lukey’s Galaxie was that he signed up for an even bigger Galaxie challenge, this time involving his own funds.

The Sandown promoters, the Light Car Club of Australia, planned a Six-Hour race for Group 1 cars in November 1964 and sought interest from teams and manufacturers from around the globe.

By September two British Galaxie owner/drivers had shown interest; Sir Gawaine Baillie and Alan Brown. Sandown planned to pair Baillie with three-time Australian GP winner Doug Whiteford, and Brown with Davison but when Brown withdrew Lex arranged to share Baillie’s car which the aristocrat then hoped to sell in Australia after a summers racing.

Lex, whatever his then view on touring cars, and the Lukey car, was keen to take on the challenge of driving the later model Holman-Moody Fastback. These cars were built at the request of British Ford dealer, John Willment, who wanted to take on the then dominant Jaguars in British touring car racing.

Gavin Fry’s shot of the Baillie Galaxie at Sandown in November 1964 shows the lines of the handsome big car to good effect. Note heavy steel wheels, brake duct and vestigial roll bar (G Fry)

It’s time to explore the cars build and technical specifications.

Holman-Moody were approached to produce some road racing versions of the latest 427cid Ford Galaxie factory lightweights, which had been developed for NHRA Super Stock competition on the quarter mile dragstrips throughout the US.

Except for a few early cars such as Lukey’s, these 1963½ Galaxie lightweights all emerged from the factory as white two-door Sports Hardtops with red interiors; 212 of them were made in one batch sent down the production line together.

“Some featured a Ford 300 series chassis frame made from lighter gauge steel. All body sound-deadening compounds were deleted and lightweight fiberglass replaced steel in construction of the boot lid, bonnet and front mudguards (some had fiberglass doors and inner front guards as well). They also had aluminium front and rear bumpers mounted on lightweight brackets” wrote Mark Oastler. The interiors were basic racer-specials with unpadded rubber floor mats, thin-shell bucket seats with no radio, heater or clock or other road going frills.

The engine was Ford’s 427cid side-oiler V8 from the FE big block family with 425bhp and a choice of high-riser and low-riser cast aluminium manifolds running huge dual four-barrel carbs. The high-risers ran in NHRA’s Super Stock category with the low-risers in the slightly less modified A/Stock class.

The gearbox was a butch Borg Warner T10 four-speed manual with cast-aluminium bell-housing and casing to save weight, with a set of close-ratio gears. Ford’s ultra strong, ubiquitous nine-inch rear axle was used with short 4.11:1 final drive and heavy duty leaf springs, shocks and four wheel drum brakes inside 15-inch steel wheels.

A standard 427 Galaxie Sports Hardtop tipped the scales at circa 1900kg, whereas the lightweights were a massive 290 kg less – those fitted with fibreglass doors and front inner guards dropped another 40 kg.

These Ford factory lightweights laid the foundation for the handful of cars produced by Holman-Moody for road racing overseas, one of which was the Sir Gawaine Baillie car. At around 1600kg, they were now competitive with the Jags in weight but with around 500bhp  they had a bit (!) more power! The circuit racers, like the drag cars were equipped with lightweight fibreglass front guards, bonnets and boot-lids, aluminium bumpers and stripped interiors.

H-M also developed a front disc brake kit to replace the standard 11-inch drums based on Jaguar 12-inch diameter solid rotors clamped by Girling two-spot calipers mounted on heavy-duty spindles.

“Other H-M tweaks included steel wheels with immensely strong double-thickness centres developed for Grand National (NASCAR) stock car racing. The booming exhaust system was also NASCAR inspired, featuring huge three-inch diameter open pipes neatly routed through the chassis rails that exited in front of the rear wheels. Shock absorber mounting positions were altered with most equipped with two shocks per wheel. Some of the export cars, including Baillie’s, were equipped with an additional shock absorber on the rear axle which through suspension movement pumped diff oil through a remote oil cooler to control rear axle temperatures during races held in warmer climates.”

“The Holman-Moody Galaxie lightweights (with either low-riser or medium-riser 427 engines) were very successful. John Willment’s car soon shook Jaguar out of its complacency in the BTCC, proving dominant in 1960s UK tin-top racing where it was prepared by John Wyer (of Gulf GT40 fame) and driven by Jack Sears and Graham Hill.  Another 427 Galaxie campaigned by Alan Brown Racing in the UK also proved highly competitive, driven by such luminaries as Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Sir Jack Brabham. Baillie had his share of success in the UK…”

Bouyed with the success of the cars in the UK, and convinced the latest lightweight would be a better car than Lukey’s machine, Lex threw himself into the task of dealing with the arrangements to bring the car to Australia, together with a long list of spare parts including a new engine direct from H-M. A separate shipment from the UK comprised extra wheels and racing tyres.

The car was already on the boat when Sandown race organiser Max Newbold realised that the car was modified to Group 2 specs. Borrowing parts from the then dormant Lukey Galaxie would still not have brought the Baillie car within Group 1 so Newbold simply altered the race regulations to include a Group 2 class.

Pre race Sandown PR shot- Lex and Baillie’s Galaxie at Port Melbourne alongside the ship which brought it from Southampton (Davison)

Davison with suit, tie and hat about to have some fun! A road trip in his racer from Port Melbourne to Armadale, 10 km or so on built up inner urban Melbourne roads (Davison)

When the car arrived at Port Melbourne in mid-November, Lex and Alan Ashton, Davison’s longtime engineer/mechanic boarded the vessel to see the car in the hold. Newbold was caught out when the huge trailer he organised to collect the beast was not large enough. So, the likely lads fired up the 500bhp racer, Lex jumped aboard complete with suit and tie and rumbled off in the direction of AF Hollins workshop in twee High Street, Armadale 10 km away. I wonder if Lex had a bit of a flurb along the new South Eastern Freeway to see ‘whaddl she do?!

While Lex’ new engine had reached Sydney, shipping difficulties meant it was struggling to go any further, the wheels and tyres hadn’t arrived from the UK either.

On the Saturday before the race Ashton and Lou Russo took the car to Sandown where Lex did about 30 laps, checking fuel consumption, getting the feel of the car, establishing tyre pressures. As part of the pre-event publicity build up he gave a couple of eventful laps to a Melbourne Herald reporter including a demo of the Galaxie’s loss of braking power on the drop down through the Dandenong Road Esses!

Lex got down to 1:24, Beechey’s lap record in Lukey’s Galaxie was 1:23.5. Davo reported seeing 5500 rpm in top gear, 217kmh and reported signs of brake fade after 10 laps circulating in the 1:26 mark; it was a portent of things to come.

The new spare engine reached Melbourne on the Friday and was installed overnight, but the car was still on its old tyres. Baillie jumped aboard and circulated in 1:28’s, then Lex did a 1:24.9.  Baillie did 1:25.3 and finally Lex did a 1:23.7. The car completed about 50 laps all up with the crew practicing wheel and driver changes.

Allan Moffat’s Grp 2 Lotus Cortina, just acquired from Team Lotus – of which he had been a member – arrived from the US after practice had finished, while Bob Jane’s Grp 1 Lotus Cortina three-wheeled around in characteristic style in 1:30.1. During practice the Galaxie’s wheels and tyres arrived air freight from the UK- so, all was prepared with the Galaxie demonstrably the fastest car on the circuit.

Davison’s Galaxie alongside the Studebaker Lark at the start, Sandown 6 Hour 1964 (unattributed)

Race morning was fine and sunny. 27,000 Melburnians rocked-up to enjoy what promised to be an interesting, spectacular race.

Lex was on pole amongst the Studebaker Larks, and took the first stint at Baillie’s request. At the drop of the flag Lex spectacularly bagged-’em-up and simply disappeared into the distance. He was 200 metres ahead of the second placed car at the end of the first lap and lapping the tail-enders prior to the end of lap two; lapping in the 1:24s literally in a class of his own.

The team planned a driver change at the end of lap 61, with a strategy to build up a big enough lead to be able to change all four tyres and replenish the beasts 155 litre fuel tank.

By lap 40 Lex had a three lap lead over Moffat’s second placed Lotus Cortina – at that stage he needed six-pumps of the brakes to get a useful pedal. Then, as he started his 47th lap he could get no pedal on the 170 kmh run along Pit Straight before the second gear, slow Peters left hander. “I managed to change down to second, then to first, and tried to spin the big car in this very tight corner. I managed to pull off this manoeuvre once before when driving Len Lukey’s car, but this time I did not manage it quite so cleanly and the tail whacked the fence.”

Hit 1: Lex backwards into the Peters corner fence (autopics)

Slightly second hand Galaxie post hit 1, entry to Peters from Pit Straight (autopics)

Davo completed the lap – effectively a full lap – but still had trouble pulling the car up at the AF Hollins pit, so much smoke was coming from the offside brake it appeared to be on fire. The offside front brake had worm through both pads but also one of the backing plates allowing a piston to contact the disc, damaging both it and the caliper! It took 22 minutes to replace the caliper, then Baillie rejoined in 30th place, 8 laps behind the leader – still with the damaged disc- while a spare was tracked down.

Moffat’s Cortina had clobbered the fence too so the race was a duel between Jane’s Cortina and Alec Mildren’s Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Super driven by Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach.

Baillie was not comfortable with the car and brought it after 20 laps, Lex took over, his first flying lap was an amazing 1:24.6, he pitted after 7 laps and then pitted on his 75th lap for the car to have the disc replaced, and then took off again at undiminished pace.

And then, as they say in the classics, it happened.

On lap 91 he had the same problem at the same place as earlier but this time had total brake failure. Davison lost some speed by jamming the car into second gear but muffed the change into first – and thereby lost the opportunity to lock the rear wheels and spin the car – so, utterly a passenger, ploughed headlong into the thick planks intended to arrest cars before a 20-foot plunge into the Dam below.

The Galaxie, brakeless and in neutral at about 120 kmh smote the timbers head on an amazing impact, smashing through the planks with all the physics of a 1600kg car. He displaced a 12 inch diameter fence post which drove the right front wheel back against the firewall. “The car stopped halfway through the fence, nose down on the edge of the 20 foot drop into the reservoir, only escaping the fall because the front of the car was resting on the hefty fence post.” Lex’s door was jammed, the right hand door was locked but eventually he got out, severely shaken but otherwise amazingly ok.

Things look innocuous enough from this angle for Lex as the Studebaker Lark passes (autopics)

Not so good from this angle though- and it does not show the water 15 feet or so further down (G Edney)

The Ecurie Australie team, on Pit Straight, ran to Lex’s aid with all immensely relieved “Lex being supported by Gawaine Baillie and Rocky Tresise, then, with one arm holding Diana, still supported by Baillie, trying to explain the accident to Alan Ashton and Lou Russo…The big bitch nearly killed me…” Lex told Baillie.

Graham Howard notes in his Davison biography that for the 40 odd minutes it lasted, his drive after taking over from Baillie was “…another of his never give up drives from the back of the field…but this time he knew he was driving a car which he knew was suspect.”

The race goes on around the stranded, mortally wounded Ford Galaxie- not the hay bales behind the car (G Edney)

“Common sense said to put the car away; so why did he keep racing? The Galaxie was a sedan car, an American made one at that, and a clumsy compromise as a racing car, and these were all the things Lex disliked about the touring car push. But at the same tine it was a big, noisy, heavy car to manage, racing car virtues Lex could never resist. Even before it reached Australia the Galaxie had excited him, and from the first drive of the car Lex was exploring its limits. Gawaine Baillie was no playboy- he had been racing since the 1950’s, had been racing the Galaxie for two European seasons, and had led the Brands Hatch 6-Hour race in June with it, setting fastest race lap – but Lex in the Galaxie was always faster. At Sandown Lex was responding to one of the primal challenges of motor racing: to show the machine the driver was in charge. But finally, provoked beyond endurance, the big bitch showed empathetically he was not.”

Howard continued “Lex had also been shown in no uncertain terms, that continuing to drive hard in a car with a known mechanical problem had been an error of judgement which went to the very heart of his personal approach to racing. So while he had big accidents before, they had not been in circumstances like this. The accident brought home to both Lex and Diana how much was at risk when he went racing: he was the valued head of a large and lively family with children aged from 5 to 17, and the leader of a minor business empire which by then extended beyond footwear manufacture and retailing and into property development and car sales. He was a few months short of his 42nd birthday, he had been racing since 1946, and now, Lex decided, it was time to stop. He would just run a few more races, he told Diana and then he would retire.”

As many of you would know the great irony and sadness of all of this is that Lex died at Sandown of a heart attack aboard his Brabham only several months later- an event which rocked his family, the sport and Melbourne to the core. But I don’t want to dwell on that fateful day, which is covered here; Bruce’, Lex’ and Rocky’s Cooper T62 Climax… | primotipo…

As Lex gathered himself up to prepare for the 1965 Tasman Series- and proved at Pukekohe during the NZ GP that he had not lost a yard, but had in fact gained several, started the race from the front row alongside Clark J, and Hill G before retiring with overheating problems.

The Galaxie returned to AF Hollins for repair, there were Tasman support races to run in Australia in January/February to prepare for.

Baillie ahead of Brian Muir’s Holden S4 during the Warwck Farm International meeting in February 1965 (B Wells)

Warwick Farm again across The Causeway (autopics)

Baillie raced the car at Warwick Farm, but not Sandown out of respect for Lex, and also the tragic Longford weekend in which Ecurie Australie’s plucky young driver, Rocky Tresise perished in an accident aboard the teams Cooper T62 Climax, a race Rocky insisted he start out of respect for Lex – his neighbour, friend and mentor.

Baillie left Australia but the Galaxie remained, contesting the one-race 1965 Australian Touring Car Championship in the hands of John Raeburn at Sandown in April 1965. Run to Group C Improved Touring Car regulations, Bob Jane started from pole in his Mustang with Raeburn alongside him – the cars pace at Sandown was now rather well known. Norm Beechey aboard his new Ford Mustang from Pete Geoghegan’s Lotus Cortina and Brian Muir’s EH Holden S4- Raeburn was fifth, a lap behind.

With the Mustang making rather clear the future for outright touring cars – smaller lightweight V8 engined machines, there was little interest in the car in Australia so it was loaded up and returned to the UK by ship, it’s destiny and whereabouts unclear to this day.

While the Galaxie touring car phase of racing in Australia was short it was certainly sweet, if a 1600kg, 500bhp, big, lumbering beastie could ever be described thus!

Great shot of Baillie convincing the Galaxie off Long Bridge, Longford 1965 (oldracephotos)

Bibiography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, various online forums, Mark Oastler on Shannons.com

Photo Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Bob Jane Collection, Graham Edney Collection, Bruce Wells, autopics.com.au, Gavin Fry

Tailpiece…Finish where we started- Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit…

(oldracephotos)

Finish where we started – Baillie ahead of Jane, Longford 1965, this lap is on the entry to Pub Corner rather than its exit.

Finito…

(unattributed)

Stunning shot of a group of cars charging down Conrod Straight at Mount Panorama during Bathurst’s race in October 1939…

John Snow leads in his Delahaye 135CS from the John Crouch, Alfa Romeo 8C2300 and Bob Appleton in the MacKellar Ford V8 Spl- Snow won the race from Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Spl and Bob Lea Wright.

There would be one more pre-war Bathurst meeting during the Easter of 1940 until the lights went out until 1946, that pre-war race was won by Alf Barrett’s Alfa Romeo Monza from the Snow Delahaye and Charlie Whatmore’s Ford V8 Spl.

(L Hemer)

Let’s just jump four decades from the erotic pre-war Delahaye’s curves to the hard but seventies edgy-wedgy Lola T300 Chev F5000 of Bob Muir

Lynton Hemer has captured one of my favourite cars on the run down Hume Straight towards Creek Corner at Warwick Farm. As he notes, ‘he raced T300 ‘HU4′ in four L&M Series races in the US in 1972, here he is during wet practice for the 1972 Tasman race at Warwick Farm.’

My ode to the seminal defining ‘smaller F5000’ and ‘underpinner’ of Lola profits for the better part of a decade is here; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/18/my-first-race-meeting-sandown-tasman-f5000-1972-bartlett-lola-and-raquel/ oh, yes, and ode to Bob here; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/09/bob-muir/

 

(T Johns)

Derek Jolly, Austin 7 Special, Templetowe 1953

Tony Johns’ notes record that the photo above was taken at the Fifth Templestowe Hillclimb on 9 March 1953. The results and report in the March Australian Motor Sports record Derek with a time of 70.6 seconds in second place to Otto Stone driving Stan Jones MG Q type to 67.41 seconds, a new class record.

The shot below shows it in later form with the bodywork removed and it was then a sprint chassis, to save weight the radiator was mounted up above the gearbox- also a two piece alloy head and hydraulic brakes are fitted.

‘I ended up owning the very close ratio gearbox from the Jolly Austin and it is still in my first racing car which is now owned by peter Mathews. When Peter Holinger built our special four speeds in a three speed gearbox for the 1981 (UK) Raid cars we used the very same ratios. Max Foster was the last owner of the Jolly Austin before it was sold to the UK.’

Click here for a feature on Derek Jolly and the various cars he built and raced; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

(T Johns)

 

Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss swap notes during their abortive 1976 Bathurst assault 

‘In 1976 the Formula One world champion again made his way to Bathurst (having won there most recently in 1960- and during Easter 1969) with English legend Stirling Moss, whipping the sleeping country town and international press into a frenzy’ wrote the Western Advocate’ of the great duo’s assault on The Great Race.

‘Most of you will recall their Holden Torana SLR5000/L34 Torana V8 being hit up the clacker on the start line (from Q10) when Jack had a jammed gearbox- Brabham was so busy trying to find a gear his arm was not out the window, not that that would necessarily have saved the day…They eventually got underway to keep faith the fans and commercial supporters but the engine cried enough with Moss at the wheel after they had completed only 37 laps. The deserving Bob Morris partnered by John Fitzpatrick won in another L34- wasn’t Ron Hodgson a wonderful long time supporter of motor racing in general and Morris in particular.

Team matching tops (up above) but different ‘sponsors’ for Jack and Stirling above, the big tall lanky blonde at right rear is longtime much respected ‘The Australian’ motoring writer Mike Kable.

(Brabham Family)

 

The shot above is of Jack doing some pre-race practice and press footage at Oran Park, any idea of the date folks?

 

(TR0003)

Lovely colour photograph of a group of cars at Mount Druitt, perhaps Jack Carter in the lead coming out Tyresoles Corner

This one dates back to a ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ post in May 2017- so can we crack the nut- who is it, what car and what date are the questions folks. See this piece on Mount Druitt here; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/01/mount-druitt-1955-brabham-gardner-and-others/

 

(unattributed)

Little known circuits department

A Jaguar XK150 (?) and Allard (?) at Wangaratta Airfield in the mid-fifties- drivers and a date anyone?

More often than not I’ve stayed in Wangaratta when I have raced at Winton, I’ve been there many times over the years but didn’t realise Wang Airfield was a shortlived race venue until tripping over the photograph above by accident.

 

(T Stevens)

A rather famous Australian racing car- the ex-JAS Jones/Ted Gray Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Zagato

Or 8C really, fitted as it was with a flathead Ford V8 engine by previous owner Ted Gray.

The shot is of Ian Virgo ahead of Tom Stevens MG during the period when Rob Jervies owned the Alfa, which makes it circa , oh Port Wakefield, South Australia by the way.

Click here for a detailed feature on this car; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/15/mrs-jas-jones-alfa-6c-1750-ss-zagato/

and here for stories about a car with an amazing continuous racing history since its birth; https://primotipo.com/2020/05/04/ted-gray-alfa-romeo-ford-v8-wangaratta-to-melbourne-record/

 

(Denis Lupton)

Into the Templestowe shadows…

‘My beautiful picture’ as Denis Lupton wrote, as indeed it is- Walton-Cooper JAP.

The mighty shirt-sleeved Bruce Walton at Melbourne’s Templestowe Hillclimb in the late fifties- there is a bit about the multiple Australian Hillclimb Championship here; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/28/hamiltons-porsche-550-spyder/

And a club ‘Gunter-Wagen’ at the same venue below- these wonderful ‘PBR Brake-Drum components’ which formed the startline were eventually moved from Templestowe just up the road 15km or so to the Christmas Hills matching the sad occasion of the final demise of Templestowe with the happy occasion of the reopening of Rob Roy.

(unattributed)

 

(Peter Weaver Motorports Photography)

Aussies Abroad

Bruce Allison’s mighty Chevron B37 Chev F5000 ahead of Brian McGuire’s McGuire BM1 Ford aka Williams FW04 Ford F1 car at Brands Hatch during the 26 June 1977 Shellsport International season.

Bruce had a fantastic season, his performances resulted in him being awarded the top Grovewood Award at the seasons end although he didn’t have a great weekend at Brands- his pole position was followed by a loose wheel-nut induced DNF come raceday.

Poor Brian, close friend of Alan Jones- they made money together buying and selling camper-vans and running F3 cars together, died at the wheel of this car at Brands during the 29 August weekend having fallen short in qualifying for the British GP at Silverstone in July.

 

(Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography)

Ooopsie bigtime

Wayne Negus/Bob Forbes Holden Torana SLR5000 L34 resting neatly in one of Sandown Parks dams on the evening after the September 1975 Sandown 250 Manchamps enduro.

Ron Simmonds recalls ‘I was first on the scene, Wayne was in the dam soaking wet. When the Torana went through the railing it opened up like a piece of tin, he hit it so hard, arriving at the corner with no brakes, the Toranas were having trouble with their brakes at this meeting. It made page 2 in The Age the next day, with photos and the story’. Negus jumped into the water to wash off battery acid he thought had spilled on him.

The mishap occurred on lap 69 of the 130 lap race won by Peter Brock in a Holden Dealer L34- the first seven cars were L34s!

 

(P D’Abbs)

Formula Ford grid butt-shot at Sandown in 1977

The shot is interesting and different in its own right but is chosen to show the drivers eye view Wayne Negus had as he charged towards Torana Corner in third (of four) gear in his high powered but brakeless and rather weighty L34 Holden.

Peters or Torana corner has never changed, but of course the approach now is slower and therefore safer.

I well recall Formula Ford racer Stephen Finn, who I knew a bit, ploughing his just rebuilt and updated by Garrie Cooper Elfin 620B Formula Ford into the fence there and badly breaking both his legs in a career ending prang- the cause was a big hole in the bottom of his right foot racing boot- which became stuck on the slender throttle at a most critical moment.

Worse was much loved and respected Melbourne Alfista Bob Gardiner’s fatal accident when the brakes of his Alfa Romeo 1600GTV failed in, I think the early eighties. For some years the MSCA promoted Victorian State Round was named the Bob Gardiner Memorial meeting in his honour.

Simple corner in some ways but it required respect given the lack of runoff.

 

(unattributed)

Brabham’s Phillip Island win, 1960, Cooper T51 Climax.

Look at the narrow track and modest ‘Control Tower’, reading Phil Irving’s autobiography at the moment reinforced just how much a hands-on club-member maintained circuit the Island was- Phillip Island Auto Racing Club the club of course.

Jack’s weekend is covered in this short piece; https://primotipo.com/2018/08/12/jacks-donut/

(B Simpson)

Brian Simpson’s shot captures Jack on the same day, the Cooper has just exited MG and is on the short rise, and short shift into third before the succeeding left hander.

(Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography)

Lovely shot taken in 1976 showing the circuit as it then was and still is albeit Repco/Honda is a tad shorter than now.

 

(unattributed)

‘No worries, a turret and a ‘couple of spot’ around the body and she’ll be jake matey’…

Was probably the response Gold Star winner Len Lukey got from his panel beater after this high speed Ford Customline rollover at Phillip Island in late 1957- a lucky escape, I wonder if he goofed or something broke? It is a one photograph justification for the need for roll bars, mind you it was still some wee-while until they were mandated.

I’ve written about Len at length before, here; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/26/len-lukey-australian-gold-star-champion/

Many of you know he was the Knight In Shining Armour who bought the track in its hour of need. He simultaneously farmed there and allowed PIARC to continue racing saving one of Australia’s best ever race tracks in the process.

 

(R&S Abrahall)

 

(R&S Abrahall)

 

(R&S Abrahall)

Love this sequence of shots of Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Climax sans wheel on Hume Straight towards the Creek Corner braking area

Its the first official practice session for the February 1967 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round, it was the first time the great Sydneysider had this errant wheel problem with this Lotus but it wasn’t the last, he lost a wheel in practice at Longford a couple of years later.

Leo had a great weekend though, no harm was done to the car, he qualified fourth and finished fifth- first resident Australian home in the race won by Jackie Stewart in a BRM P261 from Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax V8 and Gardner’s Brabham BT16 Climax FPF.

 

Catalina Park, at Katoomba in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains June 1961

How close was Catalina to downtown Katoomba!?

#111 is John Martin’s Lotus 11 BMC, Austin Healey of Messrs Holland or Miller, Buchanan MG, G Dummer, MG TC of Lance Hill and to the far right the Swallow Doretti of Lorraine Hill- competitor IDs thanks to Bob Williamson and Chris Cole.

 

Two other Catalina pit scenes, happy to take advice on whom is whom and what is what in the one immediately above whilst the one above shows a very youthful Norm Beechey sits atop the bonnet of his Humpy Holden- date folks?

 

(autopics.com.au)

Geoff Brabham, Elfin 620 Formula Ford at Warwick Farm in 1973

I recall him testing the Jack Brabham Ford Bowin P4X FF before very successfully racing John Leffler’s 1973 Driver To Europe winning Bowin P6F in the 1974 TAA Australian FF ‘Driver to Europe Series’ but I don’t recall his stint in the Elfin at all.

Which chassis and how’d he do folks? This series of cars-620 and 620B were successful little jiggers winning lots of races and two Australian Formula Ford Championships (Driver to Europe Series) for Terry Perkins in 1973 and Geoff Summers in 1982, way after the 620Bs build date mind you, it was a mighty fine effort for a driver who got quicker as he got older and he was no youth when he started in FF!

This piece is not a bad summary of Geoff’s career; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/31/geoff-and-jack-brabham-monza-1966/

 

(T McGrath)

Parramatta Park action, I wonder it it all ended in tears, what year folks!?

It’s Bill MacLachlan in the MacKellar Bugatti Ford V8 from the ex-Saywell Alfa Romeo P3 Alvis driven by Bill Murray rounding Rotunda Hairpin-see here for Parramatta Park; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/27/parramatta-park-circuit/

Me mate Bob King’s book tells me the MacKellar started life as an ex-Bill Thompson Bugatti T37A, the equally aristocratic ex- Jack Saywell Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 was restored and sadly left our shores forever ago- when i get home i will cycle back and pop in some chassis numbers, no access to books right now.

 

(D Williams)

Sir Gawaine Baillie, Ford Galaxie, Warwick Farm pitlane in early 1965

Dennis Williams related that ‘He used to stay in a hotel opposite the Warwick Farm circuit. After the meeting he drove onto the Hume Highway with the car in race trim. He got busted by the cops for being unregistered and uninsured.’

Naughty British nobleman. Racing these things really would have been like trying to race yer lounge-room, they are such large lumps of real estate in relative and absolute terms.

There is a connection between this big lump and the L34 Torana which ended up in one of Sandown’s dams ten or so shots ago.

The Galaxie first came to Australia in 1964 to contest the first Sandown enduro, the 1964 Six Hour at the behest of Lex Davison who organised the entry and financial aspects and co-drovethe car with Baillie.

During the race Lex, having run at the front and smitten the armco one almighty but non-fatal blow with the Galaxie’s more than ample hind-quarters already, had brake failure and he punched a big hole in Sandown’s Peters orner armco although he didn’t ‘dive as deep’ as Wayne Negus- no scuba gear was required although Lex, very much a gentleman of the old school, uttered the lines which have become immortal ‘The big bitch tried to kill me’.

(G Edney)

The big Ford was repaired and then raced by Baillie (and John Raeburn later) in the 1965 Australian Tasman rounds touring car support races, doubtless he was sorry he made that trip given the Ecurie Australie deaths of Davo and Rocky Tresise in successive weekends at Sandown and Longford.

I’ve a feature on the Australian Galaxies, i must do the final 5% and pop it up.

 

Didn’t David Mckay create the dream and live it!

Look at all them SV cars- Cooper T51, Lola Mk1 and 2, Ferrari 250GT, Fiat 1800 not to forget he Morgan, Ford Zephyr or Consul and the Rice Trailer which these days is probably worth more than one or two of the cars- gotta be 1961 or 1962 on Warwick Farm’s Pit Straight.

See here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/12/bert-and-davids-lola-mk1-climax/ and maybe here too; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

 

(B Thomas)

Lionel Ayers in his MRC Lotus 23 Ford from Frank Demuth (or John Harvey in Frank’s car) Lotus 23 Ford at Lakeside in July 1966

Lionel was another ‘racer to the core’ who competed all of his life and then did us all a favour before he died by restoring, beautifully the ex-Mildren Racing/Gardner/Bartlett Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Waggott.

I only ever saw him race his big, lovely Rennmax Repco sportscar, which after thirty years in hibernation has just been acquired by Bruce Ayers- in time it will be a marvellous addition to the historic ranks, click here; https://primotipo.com/2017/12/21/sportscar-stalwarts/

 

(G Bull)

Ash Marshall launches Chrysler powered ‘The Vandal’ off the line at Castlereagh in April 1966

He did a 166 mph pass during the day- 12,000 people attended the meeting during which American racer Bobby Mayer achieved 187.88 mph.

I did a piece on Bib Stillwell’s Jaguar D Type a short time back which had a bit in it about Ash, who at one time owned the D Type amongst the many cars he owned or traded- see here; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/17/stillwells-d-type/

 

Whilst Jim Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax initially caught my eye in this ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ cover- he won the February 1966 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round the day before

My personal flashback was being a school kid, 9 years of age at the time and remembering the advertising jingle for the change of Australian currency from pounds, shillings and pence to dollars and cents- those of a certain age will remember this, it was such a big deal at the time, here is the jingle i remember! https://youtu.be/5ZTeWLA1LAs

More interestingly, here is the Clark/Geoghegan Lotus 39; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/12/jim-clark-and-leo-geoghegans-lotus-39/

 

(Nissan)

Sticking with the mid-sixties for a bit, the local motor industry change in process was the rise and rise of Japanese cars in our local market.

Machines like the Mazda 1500, Datsun 1600 and Toyota Corolla were revelations compared with their equivalents made here or in The Old Dart.

These two photographs show the class winning Datsun 1300 at Bathurst in 1966- the car was driven by Moto Kitano and Kunimitsu Takahashi, a la further back was the Australian duo of John Roxburgh and Doug Whiteford. The cars were 22nd and 23rd outright but first and second in Class A, up front nine! Morris Cooper S’ led the field, Rauno Aaltonen and Bob Holden the victors.

The rise and rise of the Japanese Motor Industry was well underway, that is tangentially covered in this piece on the Nissan R380 sports-racer; https://primotipo.com/2017/12/08/prince-datsun-make-that-nissan-r380/

(Nissan)

 

(Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography)

Despite the modern cars the photograph has a delightful period feel given the lack of signage and bucolic backdrop given by the trees- Phillip Island, September 2015

Peter Weaver’s artistry.

He commented that ‘Tim Macrow rejoined the Formula 3 field with another guest appearance and showed his class with three apparently easy wins despite driving an older car (Dallara F307 Mercedes Benz). Here he leads championship contenders Jon Collins, Dallara F311 Mercedes Benz and Ricky Capo, Dallara F311 Mugen-Honda early in Sunday morning’s race’ on the rise out of MG into the succeeding left-hander.

The championship was won that year by Collins, only a point clear of Capo after seven rounds and then Trent Shirvington  well back in third aboard a Mygale M11 Mercedes Benz.

 

(B Errington)

Nui Dat Go-Kart Grand Prix, Vietnam, 21 August 1968

Not a race any of you are likely to have heard of unless your ‘number came up’ and you were an Australian Army Vietnam War conscript!

I got a chuckle out of seeing these photographs of young fellas a decade older than me then who were (mainly) forced into an involvement in a war we never should have been a part of- as usual if our American buddies think its a good idea we blindly follow. There is nothing an Australian Prime Minister loves more than to be a ‘Wartime PM’, so many photo ops with battle fatigues on and nice fast planes etc…

Anyway.

No doubt this was one of many activities to take the minds of the troops off the perils in the jungle, that’s Sapper Brian McMahon from Newcastle sitting aboard the 21st Engineer Support Troop’s kart- no technical specifications  of the karts ‘made from spare parts and salvaged military equipment’ to hand sadly!

Credits…

Tony Johns Collection, Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography, Peter D’Abbs, Denis Lupton, Tom Stevens Collection via Tony Parkinson, Robyn & Steve Abrahall, Viv Ireland, Brian Simpson, autopics.com.au, Terry McGrath, Dennis Williams, Brier Thomas, Geoff Bull, Nissan, Bill Errington, Sydney Morning Herald

Tailpiece…

Don Fraser’s Vincent Special about to be addressed by its crew in time honoured practical fashion…

Mallala, date folks?

Finito…