Posts Tagged ‘Formula Ford’

(NAA)

Jack Brabham testing the ‘Jack Brabham Ford’ Bowin P4X Formula Ford normally raced by Bob Beasley, August 1971…

I’ve rattled on a couple of times before about Jack’s last ‘in-period’ race victory being the Calder Raceway ‘Race Of Champions’ on 15 August 1971- he beat a stellar field.

Jack carried #1 on the flanks of the Bowin in the Calder race- its hard to know where this photo is taken, maybe its at Calder on the weekend of the meeting or perhaps Jack is putting in a few test miles elsewhere to get the hang of the car- its 100 bhp and Goodyear RR12 all weather tyres rather than the 440 bhp, slick shod F1 Brabham BT33 Ford he raced in 1970.

Maybe he is thinkin’- ‘i’ll just soften the rear bar a smidge and see if i can get a bit more bite from the back’…

Check out this article for heaps more on the Bowin Formula Fords;

https://primotipo.com/2018/08/30/bowin-p4a-and-oz-formula-ford-formative/

Front to rear, Stillwell Elfin 600, Brabham Bowin P4X and Matich Aztec- at right front Jane in the other Stillwell Racing Elfin 600 (Bennett)

The Calder race was a wonderful bit of promotion by Bob Jane- here is Tom Naughton’s ‘Racing Car News’ race report from the October issue of ‘The Monthly Bible’…

‘With all the pomp and ceremony of a Grand Prix, Calder staged a ‘Race Of Champions’ for their 15 August meeting.

Coming out of retirement were Jack Brabham and Bib Stillwell (Australian Gold Star National Champion 1962-1965) along with some of todays champions, and all mounted in borrowed Formula Fords, they turned on a most entertaining race. The ‘Master’ showed the way home, easing effortlessly away from the main scrap and showing that he had lost none of the skill after his period of retirement’. (only 8 months at the time!)

‘Brabham lined up in his own (Jack Brabham Ford, Bankstown, Sydney) FF normally steered by Bob Beasley, while Bib Stillwell took over his number one car (Elfin 600) usually driven by Larry Perkins (he won the Driver to Europe Series that year).

Allan Moffat (in fact the only driver without racing car experience) (not quite true, he had an outing or two in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco Tasman car boofing it at Sandown in 1968) took over David Green’s car (Wren).

Bob Jane hopped into Mike Stillwell’s Elfin 600, Alan Hamilton into Graeme Peart’s (Wren) and Kevin Bartlett into Murray Coombs’ car (Wren). Frank Matich took over Mike Hall’s Aztec, while Leo Geoghegan slipped into Peter Edwards’ car (Elfin 600)’.

Moffat Wren, with 3 Elfin 600’s behind him- perhaps Leo G immediately behind him and Jack ranging in, partially obscured to his outside, Jack is ranging in (autopix)

 

Frank Matich in Mike Hall’s Aztec. In August 1971 FM is up to his armpits in the build of the Matich A50 Repco F5000, so my guess he may have preferred to stay in Sydney, in which he was to win the November AGP at Warwick Farm – wonder what he thought of the Melbourne, Ould brothers built Aztec? (AMRA)

‘That was the field and at the flag Jane was first away, leading from Moffat, Brabham, Geoghegan and Hamilton. By lap 2, the front three had closed up and on the following lap both Moffat and Brabham slipped by at Repco. Geoghegan came up to challenge Jane, while Brabham took the lead on lap 4. He started to ease away from the rest, while Jane slipped Moffat at Toyota, these next three keeping close company. By lap 6, Geoghegan took Moffat, and then inherited second spot when Jane slipped wide at Repco, dropping back behind Stillwell’.

‘Oops! The same thing happened the last time I drove one of these open-wheeler thingies’. Moffat in David Greens slightly second-hand Wren (Bob Jane)

In lap 9, Stillwell started a challenge on Moffat and Hamilton, but in front Brabham was well clear. He took the flag in true champion style, with Leo second, then a scrapping duo of Hamilton and Moffat, with Stillwell hard on their heels, then came Jane, Matich and Bartlett. Leo did the fastest lap, a 48.6.’

The three Brabham sons all had stints in Australian Formula Ford before heading off to Europe, Geoff in 1973/4 aboard Bowin P4X/Elfin 620/Bowin P6F, Gary in 1982 with the Birrana F73 and David in 1986/7 with Van Diemen RF85/86. There is a neat bit of symmetry in the ‘old man’ also having a race win in Oz FF- was it his very last race win I wonder?

Credit…

‘Racing Car News’ October 1971, Laurie and Nick Bennett Collection, Bob Jane Heritage Collection, Autopix, Australian Motor Racing Annual, Jonathon Koch Collection for the program and RCN, National Archives Australia, Lynton Hemer

Etcetera…

From the Calder 15 August meeting program. Car in the photo is Jack’s last Tasman mount, the Brabham BT31 Repco at the Sandown Tasman meeting in February 1969

The race certainly had a great entry, for overseas readers, Stillwell, Bartlett, Matich and Geoghegan were all Gold Star Champions and Moffat, Jane and Hamilton national title holders on multiple occasions aboard Touring Cars and Sports Cars in Hamilton’s case. Jack probably requires no introduction…

For the sake of correctness, the car driver/combinations did not quite start as listed in the program.

Brabham was aboard the one off Bowin P4X- slightly different in the suspension to production P4A’s, Matich the Aztec, Jane a Stillwell Elfin 600, Geoghegan the Edwards Elfin 600 with Moffat, Bartlett and Hamilton aboard Wrens.

Brabham doing a parade lap in the P4X at Oran Park on 26 March 1972 (L Hemer)

 

 

 

Tailpiece: ‘It feels a bit like the ‘Stang, gearchange is on the right anyway’…

Moff saddles up in David Green’s Wren Formula Ford, these cars (not to forget his ‘Mk2’s constructed in the later 1970’s) were built in reasonable numbers by Bill Reynolds in his Carlisle Street, St Kilda workshop, not too far away from Calder.

Finito…

Who is pretty-boy then!? 21 years old James Hunt aboard his brand-new Merlyn Mk11A Formula Ford on 2 December 1968…

Gowrings of Reading have gone to some considerable expense to capitalise on their new signing for 1969- they had bought one of the best Formula Fords of the era and Hunt was to do it justice bigtime. A news brief in the 15 November issue of Autosport announced that Hunt would drive the new car pictured to be fitted with a ‘Gowrings tweaked unit’ with Gowrings able to ‘undertake all types of race preparation’.

James Hunt’s last 1967 race in his first racer, a Mini at Brands Hatch coincided with his appreciation of the potential of the new Formula Ford class for F1 aspirants like himself. Soon a new Russell Alexis Mk14 was acquired, largely funded by a 100 pound twenty-first birthday gift from his parents which helped a down-payment on the car financed on the ‘never-never’.

His speed throughout 1968 gradually increased as he grew in confidence and also ‘let himself off the leash’ keen as he was initially to avoid repair bills- a cost he could not afford. A monumental accident not of his making at Oulton Park later in the season resulted in the Alexis flying off the road after vaulting a car which had spun depositing car and driver into the lake- James separated from the racer mid-flight due to the lack of a budget to buy seat-belts which at the time weren’t mandatory.

Gowrings, a Reading Ford dealer, liked the cut of James jib and agreed to sponsor him for 1969 inclusive of the purchase of the Merlyn which replaced the drowned Alexis in the last few races of 1968- he achieved a third at Brands and a win at Lydden Hill which convinced Gowrings further of Hunts competitiveness.

Mallory Park March 1969, Hunt’s Merlyn is car no 11 on row 3. Two Lotus 61’s on the right first and second row, a Frank Williams car mid front row – happy to know the names of the other cars/drivers from 1969 FF fans! (unattributed)

During 1969 Hunt was one of the stars of Formula Ford with plenty of heat wins and top three finishes. Later in the season James stood in for one of the MRE (Motor Racing Enterprises) FF drivers at Lydden Hill winning the race- that team, having seen enough, gave him his first F3 start in their Brabham BT21 Ford. The car was a couple of years old but Hunt did well enough to win a Grovewood Award.

James impressed the right people thanks to an outstanding performance at Cadwell Park on 28 September. In a handful of full international F3 races in the UK in 1969 Hunt raced wheel to wheel with Ronnie Peterson- the Swede was shortly to break through into F1, in the prototype March 693 Ford…’Many observers, including the astute Max Mosley, took note when Hunt raced wheel to wheel with Peterson as they raced for third place, the brand new March edging the ancient Brabham by a whisker as they crossed the line side by side’ Maurice Hamilton wrote in his biography ‘James Hunt’.

JSW Hunt was on his way, the rest is history…

Credits…

Getty Images, ‘James Hunt’ Maurice Hamilton

Finito…