Posts Tagged ‘Frank Gardner’


Robin Pare, Pete Geoghegan in Ford Mustangs, Bruno Carosi Jag Mk2, Frank Gardner Alfa GTA and Robin Bessant Lotus Cortina on the downhill plunge towards The Viaduct, Longford Improved Production Touring Car race 1967 (

Pete Geoghegan did so many times too! The Sydneysider is here doing his stuff aboard the first of his two Ford Mustangs at Longford during the Tasman round in February 1967…

The Brothers Geoghegan, Leo and Ian or ‘Pete’ were stars of Australian Motor Racing from the late-fifties into the mid-seventies, Leo in single-seaters and Pete in ‘taxis’, touring cars of all pursuations. When he was a youth Pete was quick in a brief career in single seaters and a Lotus 23 Ford but he became a ‘big unit’ so his girth meant he was best suited to cars with a roof.

Geoghegan , Gardner and Carosi off the front row, no sign of Pare- perhaps not the same race grid as above ? (

A supreme natural, Geoghegan made a car sing with flair and feel blessed to some from above. Every car he drove. His band-width extended from GT’s to Sports Cars, Production Tourers and very highly modified Sports Sedans- sedans of considerable power and performance.

His CV included some of the most iconic cars raced in Australia over the decades above including a Lotus 7 , 22, 23, the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM, Holden ‘Humpy’, Jaguar 3.4, Morris 850, the two Mustangs, Cortinas- both GT and Lotus variants, Falcon GT’s, Falcon GTHO’s, Valiant Charger E49, highly modified Porsche 911’s, his iconic, Ford factory built and later Bowin Cars modified Ford Falcon GTHO ‘Super Falcon’ and the superb John Sheppard built Holden Monaro GTS350 Sports Sedan.

That car was as conceptually clever, beautifully built and presented sedan racer as any ever constructed in Oz. Lets not forget his late career drives in Laurie O’Neill’s Porsche 935, a notoriously tricky device to master. Much earlier on he drove O’Neills Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, every bit as exotic as the 935.

Big Pete finesses the Mustang into The Viaduct (

Geoghegan, five times Australian Touring Car Champion 1965-69 was an immensely popular racer with the fans, his bulk, manner and ‘stutter’ part of his appeal. He was not without his issues mind you. Touring Car racing is a religion in Australia, our sedan racing has been the equal of the best in the world for decades and arguably for the last 20 years our V8 Supercar category has been consistently one of the Top 5 sedan racing contests on the planet.

A touch of the opposites on the exit to Newry (

So, the pantheon of talented touring car aces is large, and membership of the Top 10 a subject of much informed pub chatter, tough. Most knowledgeable touring car observers would have Geoghegan in their Top 10, if not Top 5, along with the likes of Norm Beechey, Peter Brock, Allan Moffat, Dick Johnson, Jim Richards (a Kiwi but we take him as our own) Mark Skaife, Glenn Seton, Craig Lowndes, Garth Tander, Jamie Whincup and others.


Photo Credits… Harrison and David Keep

Tailpiece: Came, Saw, Conquered and then returned to Sydney…

Other Reading…

Pete Geoghegan and his Falcon GTHO ‘Super Falcon’

Pete’s 1965 Mustang notchback



Gavin Youl in the new MRD Ford making a sensational championship debut in Ron Tauranac and Jack Brabham’s Formula Junior at Goodwood on 19 August 1961…

The young Taswegian arrived in England with sportscar and touring car experience in Australia and made a huge impact in finishing 4th in his heat, and 2nd in the final of the BARC FJ Championship in what was only his fourth outing in single-seaters.

Alan Rees won the race in a Lotus 20 Ford. To give perspective on the level of competition, there were 19 non-qualifiers and a field of 24 which included future champions Mike Spence, Richard Attwood, David Piper, John Rhodes, Frank Gardner and Hugh Dibley.

Gavin made a huge splash, and so too did the nascent ‘Brabham’ marque, the MRD was their first car, the established production racing car paradigm was given a shake that day. Arguably Brabham were the most consistent, competitive, cost-effective customer proposition for  most of the sixties and early seventies in FJ, F3, F2 and F1.

The story of Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac’s partnership in forming Motor Racing Developments Ltd in England, the company which built Brabham cars is well known. So too is the decision by the two partners to change the name of the cars from ‘MRD’ to Brabham upon the advice of prominent Paris based Swiss journalist Jabby Crombac. He told Jack that MRD was pronounced ‘merde’ in French the literal translation of which is ‘shit’! And Brabham’s were very rarely, if ever, shit cars!

The MRD was retrospectively given the model name BT1, there was only one built, thankfully the car is still in Australia where it has raced all of its life other than the seven race meetings in England Youl contested between late July and late September 1961.

It’s intriguing to contemplate the look on Frank Gardner’s face at the speed of the MRD at Goodwood as the multi-talented Aussie- who raced a Jim Russell Race Drivers School Lotus 20 that year, was one of a small team who built Tauranac’s new car being peddled so quickly by novice Youl!

Gavin was sold the car by Ron during a Brabham plane trip. Jack took several friends to see the Tourist Trophy bike races at the Isle of Man. It appears there was no great process of choosing the driver of their first car, the commercial imperative was someone who could pay for it! Mind you, no doubt Gavin was aboard the plane with that commercial end in mind as well as his potential as a driver.


Ron Tauranac’s MRD Ford Holbay was a pretty, effective, competitive car. RT had built numerous Ralts in Australia prior to the design and build of the MRD which was his first ‘water cooled engine’ design! The ‘Brabham’ was competitive from the start, here at Goodwood in Youl’s hands, very much indicative of the amazing run of strong, reliable, fast cars built through until Ron’s sale of the MRD business to Bernie Ecclestone at the end of the 1971 F1 season (Getty)

In the MRD’s initial outings (see listing below) not much notice had been taken of it, their were plenty of specials in FJ at the time. But at Goodwood, a circuit on which he had not raced before Youl caused a sensation by popping the car on pole for his heat, 0.8 second under the lap record. Tauranac recalls things were looking good but then the car caught fire, RT rebuilt it in time for the race on the Bank Holiday Monday. Youl was 4th in his heat, it may have been higher but he overcooked it on a corner, but in the final kept it all together to finish 2nd to Rees, then very much a rising star.

Jack’s connection to the car had been kept very secret. The MRD was built in a room at the back of a garage on the Esher bypass with all of the specialist purchases needed to construct the car being made very discretely. The Goodwood meeting was a national event, the FJ events were supports to the RAC Tourist Trophy sportscar race with plenty of press presence. ‘The paddock buzzed with speculation and some people were adding two and two to make four’ wrote Mike Lawrence in ‘The Ron Tauranac Story’. Soon of course the connection was known as were Jack’s plans to leave Cooper at the years end.

Tauranac arrived in the UK in April 1960, whilst he occupied himself with Climax engined Triumph Heralds and other projects for Jack Brabham Motors in Chessington, his main task was to design the MRD in the bedroom of the flat the Tauranac’s rented above a shop in Surbiton.

Sensibly, the car was a conventional multi-tubular spaceframe chassis design fitted with an attractive, fully enveloping aluminium body. Suspension at the front comprised a single upper link and Y-shaped radius rods and lower wishbone with coil spring/Armstrong dampers. At the rear broad based upper wishbones, lower links and twin radius rods were used again with coil spring/dampers. The car was reputedly the first to be fitted with adjustable roll bars.

Alford and Alder uprights were fitted at the front to which were attached 13 inch Brabham alloy wheels, unique to BT1,  front and rear. Rear uprights were cast magnesium. The car used 9inch drum brakes at the front and inboard mounted 8 inch drums at the rear.

The gearbox was a modified VW Beetle 4 speed with Jack Knight cutting gears to give RT the ratios he wanted. The steering rack was also made by Jack Knight to a pattern and drawings RT brought to England from Australia. A Morris Oxford pinion was used with a specially cut rack. Initially a 1000cc Ford engine was fitted with an 1100cc Holbay Ford used from the Goodwood meeting.

Jack was still racing for Cooper as noted above but he found time to help build the car together with Ron, Frank and Peter Wilkins who had assisted Tauranac build the chassis frames of his ‘first series’ Ralts in Australia and was asked to come over to the UK to help build the MRD.

Gavin Youl contesting the FJ race in the MRD at the Warwick Farm international meeting on February 4 1962. He was 3rd behind Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 22 Ford and Glynn Scott’s Lotus 20 Ford (John Ellacott)

In October 1961 the MRD was shipped to Australia where Gavin raced it to some success. He contested some of the support events for that years international meetings in the summer finishing 2nd at Lakeside, 3rd at Warwick Farm and then winning the FJ race at the 1962 Longford international meeting. There, the little car was timed at 132mph on the ‘Flying Mile’. He took a win at Calder in late February and then made the long trip to New South Wales in March- he won the NSW FJ Championship at Catalina Park beating Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 20 Ford. Gavin then returned to the UK to race a new BT2 FJ in selected British and European events.

Victorian Wally Mitchell was the lucky purchaser of the MRD which over the years passed through many owners hands. The car is a much admired part of the local historic scene and together with Jack’s 1966 F1 championship winning BT19 Repco would be the most significant Brabham in Oz.

Works Brabham FJ Campaign in 1962…

The factory assisted drivers in 1962 were Gardner and Youl with Frank initially racing BT2 ‘FJ-3-62’, a car he built. When Gavin arrived in the UK he raced this car with Frank racing ‘FJ-8-62’, both of these cars went to Australia after the initial season of racing in the UK/Europe.

Gavin’s campaign was set back from the start after a testing accident at Brands Hatch made a mess of both the car and his collar bone which was broken. He recovered whilst the car was repaired.

The BT2’s differed from MRD ‘FJ-1-61’ in that outboard disc bakes were used front and rear and Specialised Mouldings built fibreglass bodies replaced the one-off ally body of MRD. A Hewland Mk5 gearbox replaced Ron’s modified VW unit whilst noting the Maidenhead built ‘box also used a VW case.

11 BT2’s were built, the first 2 or 3 by Gardner and Wilkins, the balance by Buckler Cars. Buckler are credited in the Tauranac and Brabham biographies as the constructor of the sole MRD frame, to Tauranac’s drawings, a claim denied by Frank Gardner. In conversations with Australian Brabham owner/historian Denis Lupton, Gardner said the MRD frame was built by Gardner, Wilkins, Tauranac and Brabham.

Buckler built at least 5 BT2 chassis. Of course Arch Motors, the unsung engineering concern, were soon thereafter to become the builder of both Brabham and Ralt ‘production chassis’, in addition to their many other clients!

Peter Arundell’s works Lotus 22 Ford leads Youl’s Brabham BT2 Ford and Denny Hulme’s Cooper T59 BMC through the Nouveau Monde hairpin during the 8 July 1962 Rouen GP for FJ. They were 1st, 12th and 10th overall with Youl crashing in the first heat, he was 9th in the second heat (Sutton)

The BT2 proved to be a competitive car but the FJ combination to beat in 1962 was Peter Arundell in his works Lotus 22 Ford Cosworth. BMC engines were not prominent and the Holbays used by Brabhams were not the ‘ducks guts’ either. When Gardner and Youl’s cars finished they were often the best of the Holbays, that is, best of the non-Cosworth engined cars.

Youl’s results are in the table below, his first meeting after recovery from his injuries was at Silverstone in May, his last at Albi in September. His best results were a pair of 5ths at Albi and Goodwood, the latter event was the BARC Express and Star British Championship, where he was the best placed Holbay car.

Gardner’s 7th on the Monaco FJ grid was indicative of his place (that is fast!) in the pantheon of FJ drivers that year, a race he failed to finish with clutch failure. Arundell won still the most prestigious international junior event from Mike Spence and Bob Anderson, all three aboard Lotus 22 Ford Cosworths. It would have been very interesting to have seen how the Gardner/Youl combo would have gone with Cosworths behind their shoulders in ’62. Right up there for sure.

Gavin shipped his car to Oz after the European races he had competed in with Gardner’s ‘FJ-8-62’ accompanying Frank back to Australia at the end of the year. The lanky Sydneysider raced the car in two of the Formula Libre Australian Internationals in early 1963- Lakeside and Longford with the car being sold to Len Deaton later in 1963.

The history of the 11 BT2 chassis built for those interested can be seen, in all of its intricate glory, on and Ten Tenths, just Google away.


John Youl, with his engineer, Geoff Smedley beside their ex-works/Jack Brabham F1 Cooper T55 Coventry Climax FPF on the Longford grid prior to the ‘South Pacific Trophy’ on 2 March 1964. He was 5th in the race behind Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren, Frank Matich and Bib Stillwell in his 3 year old car (Smedley)

The Youl Family Story…

The story of Gavin and his older brother John, a racer of Cooper T51/55 Coventry Climax engined cars (second in the 1962 AGP to Bruce McLaren at Caversham and twice second in the Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship) is an interesting one for another time. So too is the history of the family, the patriarch of which was an early clergyman in Tasmania and with a land grant made on the South Esk River in 1818 commenced a very successful grazing concern which continues to this day.

Unfortunately Gavin’s promise, his raw speed, was never realised. He raced the BT2 at a few meetings at home, including the 1962 Australian FJ Championship, at Catalina Park in late October. He was 2nd to Frank Matich’s works Elfin Ford with Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 22 Ford 3rd, but decided to retire to focus on the family grazing properties and his other interests which included aviation, both he and John were talented pilots.

The apocryphal Youl/Brabham aviation story involves Gavin being asked by Jack to deliver his single engined Cessna 180 from the UK to a farmer in Tasmania to make way for the Cessna 310 twin to which he was upgrading. Youl needed to get home for Christmas 1961/2, so too did Eoin Young the renowned Kiwi racing journalist and key figure in Bruce McLaren Racing in its early days, as well as Roger Tregaskis, a mate of Youls.

Gavin was the pilot, Roger was in the co-pilots seat and could steer if necessary and Young sat in the back ‘with maps, the five man liferaft and forty pounds of emergency rations. To eliminate customs difficulties we were given the honorary ranks of co-pilot and navigator.’ So off they set with Gavin’s intention to fly over as much land as possible keeping sea crossings to a minimum. ‘The Timor Sea between Indonesia and Australia was our biggest worry. We comforted ourselves in the fact that, as a high winged tail-dragger the Cessna could be landed on the Ocean without tipping over’ Young wrote.

Eoin was later to admit that he was better not to know that the plane was not a new one as he thought, but rather a ’54 model which Jack bought from Lance Reventlow of Scarab fame. All was well on this adventure though, the 7.7 litre, 225bhp, 4 cylinder Continental engined aircraft didn’t miss a beat on the month long trip- 98 flying hours, 30 stops in 18 countries, 13000 miles in total at an average speed of 151 mph chewing through 950 gallons of Shell fuel to do so. What an amazing experience- last word to Eoin Young.

‘It wasn’t until we delivered the plane to its eager new owner that we discovered it had been refused a Certificate of Airworthiness because there was so much corrosion in the fuselage that the wings were about to fall off!’ Boys Own Adventures and exploits indeed.

The Youls were never far from the sport, indeed they were major supporters, Symmons Plains circuit is built on land they owned. Very sadly, Gavin, an important figure in the earliest Motor Racing Developments years died in 1992 at 45, way too young, after a brief battle with a very aggressive cancer.

1962 Australian FJ Championship grid before the off at catalina park, Katoomba on 28 October 1962. #8 Leo Geoghegan Lotus 22 Ford, #2 Youl Brabham BT2 Ford and #4 Frank Matich Elfin FJ Ford. #16 is Clive Nolan Lotus 20 Ford. Matich won from Youl and Geoghegan, Nolan was 5th (Ed Holly)

Etcetera: G Youl European Race Results…

1961 British FJ Results: Gavin Youl MRD Holbay/ Brabham BT1. I have also listed the winner of each race

23/7/61 Mallory 2nd. Jack Pearce won in a Lotus 20 Ford

29/7/61 Silverstone 5th , holed fuel tank, pitted to top up with fuel. Mike Spence Emeryson Mk2 Ford

7/8/61 Aintree 17th, forced out of final with blown head gasket. Peter Proctor Lotus 18 Ford

19/8/61 Goodwood 2nd, great effort of 4th in the heat, team had a pit fire during practice. Ian Rees Lotus 20 Ford

2/9/61 Crystal Palace DNQ. Trevor Taylor Lotus 20 Ford

23/9/61 Oulton Park 13th. Tony Maggs Cooper T56 BMC

30/9/61 Snetterton 31st. Mike Parkes Gemini Mk3A Ford

1962 British and European FJ Results: Gavin Youl  Brabham BT2 Holbay

12/5/62 Silverstone  DNF oil pressure. Peter Arundell Lotus 22 Ford

1/7/62 Reims DNF lap 1. Arundell  as above

8/7/62 Rouen 12th. Arundell as above

14/7/62 Silverstone 12th. John Fenning Lotus 20 Ford

6/8/62 Brands 7th. Tony Maggs Cooper T59 BMC

18/8/62 Goodwood 5th. Arundell as above

21/9/62 Zandvoort DNF. Arundell as above

9/9/62 Albi 5th. Arundell as above

Random but sorta sixties related; Aussies Abroad in Europe…

I was flicking through the ‘F2 Index’ database to research the FJ/F3 race results of David Walker (article coming together very slowly) and Gavin Youl and it occurred to me just how many Australian’s ‘had a crack’ in England/Europe in the 1960’s.

It was a long way away then, 12000 miles- it still is the same distance I expect! but the cost and means of making the journey, then mainly by ship, as flying was so expensive, made it seem further and harder than now. What follows is a quickie list of guys, tracking them through the Junior Formulae. I don’t pretend its complete, do let me know if there are fellows I have missed. The period researched is 1960-1970 in the UK- where the racing was outside the UK I have clearly stated so.

1960 FJ

Steve Ouvaroff Lotus 18 Ford, Frank Gardner Cooper Ford

1961 FJ

Frank Gardner JRRDS Lotus 18 Ford- FG famously straightened cars at the Jim Russell School and was allowed to race them on weekends! Gavin Youl works MRD Ford

1962 FJ

Frank Gardner and Gavin Youl works Brabham BT2 Ford, Steve Ouvaroff Alexis Mk4 Ford, John Ampt Ausper T4 Ford- now there is a story to be written- about Geelong racer, Tom Hawkes’ Ausper project

1963 FJ

Paul Hawkins and Frank Gardner Brabham BT6 Ford- both guys careers took off into F1 within 12 months, Gardner raced big ‘Tasman’ 2.5 litre cars in the ’63 Australian summer as well as BT2, a go home and race summer trend he continued until his permanent return to Australia during 1974. John Ampt Alexis Mk5 Ford, Martin Davies Lotus 20 Ford

1964 F3

Martin Davies Lotus 20 Ford (running top 10)

1965 F3

Jim Sullivan Brabham BT15 Ford (he won some kind of Driver to Europe award didn’t he?) (ran top 10)

1966 F3

Jim Sullivan and Wal Donnelly Brabham BT18 Ford, Dave Walker Brabham BT10 Ford- all 3 ran under the ‘Team Promecom’ banner racing in Europe

1967 F3

Tim Schenken Lotus 22 Ford- made an immediate splash in this self prepared ‘ole clunker, having learned many of the Pommie circuits in 1966 aboard a Ford Anglia twin-cam.

David Walker Merlyn Mk10 Ford with his racing the on the road ‘gypsy existence’ in Europe going from race to race living on start and prize money. Kurt Keller, Barry Collerson and Wal Donnelly all raced Merlyn Mk10 Fords (Donnelly occasionally his BT18) throughout Europe that summer no doubt offering each other lots of support. All four were Sydneysiders, mind you they did not all do the same meetings by the look of it

1968 FF&F3

Tim Schenken won both the British FF and F3 championships in the same year, a feat never achieved before or since, and took the Grovewood Award. He raced a Merlyn and Chevron B9 Ford respectively.

Walker also ‘stepped back’ to FF that season to successfully re-launch his career. John Gillmeister Lotus 32 Ford- F3, Wal Donnelly Brabham BT18 & BT21 Ford F3 in Europe

1969 FF&F3

Tim Schenken Brabham BT28 Ford F3, John Gillmeister Lotus 35 Ford.

Dave Walker won the Les Leston FF C’ship in a Lotus 61 and joined the works Lotus F3 Team later in the season- Lotus 59 Ford and was immediately in the leading group (with his dominant Lotus 69 F3 season in 1971, the same year he made his F1 debut)

Jim Hardman raced a Brabham BT21B Ford in F3. He returned to Oz in 1975, after a stint running the Bob Jane/Frank Gardner Racing Drivers School at Calder he prepared cars for others, designed and built 3 ANF2 cars- one of these Hardman JH2 Fords won the ANF2 title in Richard Davison’s hands. He prepared championship winning cars for several drivers/team owners and is still in the business in outer Melbourne.

Buzz Buzaglo Merlyn Mk11 FF, I wrote a feature about Buzz a while back, click on the links at the end of the article to read it.

Vern Schuppan Makon MR7 FF

1970 FF&F3

Tim Schenken broke into F1 in sad circumstances- he joined Frank Williams and raced the De Tomaso after Piers Courage death.

Dave Walker GLT Lotus Lotus 59 Ford- 2nd in BRSCC F3 C’ship, John Gillmeister Brabham BT28 Ford.

Alan Jones, a couple of races in a Lotus 41 Ford and then late in the season in a Brabham BT28 Ford running down the back at this early stage (Jones F3 breakthrough and breakout of F3 season was in 1973)

Buzz Buzaglo Merlyn Mk11 FF (Buzaglo raced in F3 in 1973/4) Vern Schuppan works Palliser FF (Vern’s ascension was in ’71 when he won the first British F Atlantic series in a Palliser and was picked up by BRM in F1)

As to others, Aussie touring car ace Brian Muir carved a great career for himself in the sixties and seventies racing tourers and occasionally sports-racers in the UK and Europe.

Speaking of ‘Taxis’, Shepparton’s Bryan Thomson sold his truck business and took his ex-Beechey Mustang to the UK and raced it for 2 seasons in the mid-sixties before coming back to Oz and being a force in racing as either a driver or entrant for a couple of decades.

John Raeburn raced a Ford GT40 and a Porsche in endurance events in 1966-8 with Tim Schenken an occasional co-driver in the longer events.

As I say, it’s a quickie list- let me know who I have forgotten in that 1960-1970 period, it would be great to assemble a complete list. I’ll attack other decades another time after the going ‘cross-eyed’ exercise in creating the list above abates.

I’m also interested in what became of each of these guys and am keen to hear from any of you who can help flesh out the stories other than for the ‘stars’ of course, the histories of whom are well known.


Ten Tenths Forum especially Denis Lupton, Ron Tauranac website, F2 Index, ‘Brabham, Ralt, Honda: The Ron Tauranac Story’ Mike Lawrence, ‘The Jack Brabham Story’ Jack Brabham with Doug Nye, Eoin Young article in MotorSport August 2011

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, John Ellacott, Sutton Photographics, Ed Holly Collection

Tailpiece: Beautiful portrait of  25 year old works Brabham FJ pilot, Gavin Youl at Rouen on 8 July 1962…





(Mr Reithmaier)

I love the build up and tension before the start of a big race; here it’s the grid prior to the start of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe, in the north of NZ’s North Island on 6 January 1968…

Chris Amon readies himself and his Ferrari Dino 246T before the first round of the 1968 Tasman Series, a race in which he wonderfully and deservedly triumphed. Missing on the front row is Jim Clark’s Lotus 49T Ford DFW. Car #2 is Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P261, the Mexican is bent over the cockpit of his car but failed to finish with clutch problems. Car #7 is Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo T33 2.5 V8 with chief mechanic Glenn Abbey warming up the one-off car. Lanky Franky Gardner is adjusting his helmet beside the car, it was a good day for Frank, the car was second.

Look closely and you can see a camera crew behind the Brabham which is focusing on 1967 reigning world champion Denny Hulme and his #3 Brabham BT23 Ford FVA F2 car- Denny’s head is obscured by Frank’s body. Hume boofed the ex-Rindt BT23 during the race badly enough for a replacement chassis to be shipped out from the UK.

I’ve always thought these F2/Tasman Ferrari’s amongst the sexiest of sixties single-seaters. The 166 F2 car was not especially successful amongst the hordes of Ford Cosworth Ford FVA engined cars in Euro F2 racing. However, the car formed the basis of a very competitive Tasman 2.5 litre Formula car when fitted with updated variants of the Vittorio Jano designed V6 which first raced in F2 form and then owered the late fifties Grand Prix racing front-engined Ferrari Dino 246. It was in one of these cars that Mike Hawthorn won the 1958 World Drivers Championship.

Amon won the Tasman Series in 1969 with Ferrari Dino 246T chassis #0008 with fellow Kiwi Champion Graeme Lawrence winning in the same car in 1970 against vastly more powerful, if far less developed Formula 5000 cars. The story of those championships is for another time, this article is about Chris’ 1968 Tasman mount and campaign.

Amon hooking his gorgeous Ferrari Dino 246T ‘0004’ into The Viaduct in the dry at Longford 1968. Early ’68, we are in the immediate pre-wing era, and don’t the cars look all the better for it! ( Keep)

In many ways Chris was stiff not to win the ’68 Tasman, a title, the last, won by the late, great Jim Clark…

Ferrari entered only one car that year with chassis #0004 assembled in Maranello by longtime Amon personal mechanic Roger Bailey and tested at Modena in November 1967. It was then freighted by plane to New Zealand where it was assembled by Bruce Wilson in his Hunterville workshop in the south of the North Island.

The cars chassis was Ferrari’s period typical ‘aero monocoque’, a ‘scaled down’ version of the contemporary F1 Ferrari with aluminium sheet riveted to a tubular steel frame forming a very stiff structure. The 166 was launched to the adoring Italian public at the Turin Motor Show in February 1967.

In F2 form the 1596cc, quad cam, chain driven, 18 valve, Lucas injected engine developed circa 200bhp at an ear-splitting 10000 rpm. It is important to note that this F2 engine, designed by Franco Rocchi, and in production form powering the Fiat Dino, Ferrari Dino 206 and 246GT and Lancia Stratos is a different engine family to the Jano designed engines, evolved by Rocchi, used on the Tasman Dino’s.

The F2 166 made its race debut in Jonathon Williams hands at Rouen in July 1967, and whilst it handled and braked well it was around 15bhp down on the Cosworth engined opposition. Whilst the car was tested extensively at Modena, including 24 valve variants, it was not raced again that year.

Amon, who had not raced in the Tasman Series since 1964, could immediately see the potential of the car, suitably re-engined, as a Tasman contender given the success of the small, ex-F1 BRM P261 1.9-2.1 litre V8’s in the 1966 and 1967 Tasman Series. The same approach which worked for the boys from Bourne could also work in Maranello Chris figured. A parts-bin special is way too crass, but you get my drift of a very clever amalgam of existing, proven hardware as a potential winning car.

In fact Ferrari went down this path in 1965 when a Tasman hybrid of a then current F1 chassis was married to a 2417cc variant of the Jano 65 degree V6 for John Surtees to race in the 1966 Tasman. John had Tasman experience in Coventry Climax FPF engined Coopers and Lola’s at the dawn of the sixties and could see the potential of a small Ferrari.

That plan come to nothing when Surtees was very badly injured in a Mosport Can Am accident in his self run Lola T70 Chev in late 1965. This car, Ferrari Aero chassis ‘0006’ played the valuable role of proving Surtees rehabilitation when he completed 50 laps in the car at Modena. It was in the same chassis that Lorenzo Bandini finished 2nd in the 1966 Syracuse and Monaco GP’s as Ferrari sought to get the new 3 litre V12 F1 312 up to speed, Bandini electing to race the Dino on both occasions. He also finished 3rd aboard the car at Spa. The allocation of this more competitive car to Bandini rather than team-leader Surtees was amongst the many issues which lead to the confrontation between John Surtees and team manager Eugenio Dragoni during Le Mans practice and Surtees departure from the team.

An unidentified fellow, Jim Clark, Ferrari engineer Gianni Marelli, Chris Amon and Roger Bailey share a joke during the 1968 Longford weekend. Chassis ‘0004’ is fitted with the 24 valve V6 covered in the text. Note the quality of castings, fabrication and finish, inboard discs, sliding spline driveshafts and single plug heads of this very powerful- but less than entirely reliable engine in 1968 form, it’s shortcoming cylinder head seals (

The engine of the 166/246T was carried in a tubular subframe attached to the rear of the monocoque which terminated at the drivers bulkhead. The car was fitted with a 5 speed transaxle designed by Ingenere Salvarani and Girling disc brakes.

Suspension was also similar to the contemporary F1 cars in having an front upper rocker and lower wishbone with inboard mounted spring/shocks and conventional outboard suspension at the rear- single top link, inverted lower wishbone, two radius rods and coil spring/shocks.

For the 1968 NZ races- Chris won at Pukekohe after Clark retired and at Levin, leading from flag to flag, was 2nd to Clark at Wigram and 4th at Teretonga- a 3 valve variant (2 inlet, 1 exhaust) of the 65 degree fuel injected V6 was fitted which was said to develop around 285bhp @ 8900rpm from its 2404cc.

Chris crossed the Tasman Sea with a 9 point lead in the Series from Clark and the might of Team Lotus. It was a wonderful effort, whilst Ferrari provided the car free of charge, and took a share of the prize money, the logistics were of Chris’ own small equipe. And here they were serving it up to Gold Leaf Team Lotus with a couple of World Champions on the strength, plenty of spares and support crew.

For the four Australian races a 24 valve version of the engine was shipped from Maranello. Its Lucas injection was located between the engines Vee rather than between the camshafts and had one, rather than two plugs per cylinder. This engine developed 20 bhp more than the 18 valver with Chris promptly putting the car on pole at Surfers Paradise, a power circuit. He won the preliminary race and had a head seal fail whilst challenging Clark in the championship race.

At Warwick Farm he qualified with the 18 valve engine and raced the 24 valver having rebuilt it- they only had one of the motors. He was challenging both Clark and Hill in the race and then spun in avoidance of Hill who was having his own moment…he was 4th on the tight technical Sydney circuit.

At Sandown during the AGP, the pace of the car, and Amon, was proved in an absolute thriller of a race in which he finished 2nd to Clark- let’s not forget the best driver in the world driving the best F1 car of the era powered by the Tasman variant of the greatest GP engine ever- and took fastest lap.

As the team crossed Bass Straight from Port Melbourne on the ‘Princess of Tasmania’ Chris knew he had to win the Longford ‘South Pacific Championship’, with Clark finishing no better than 5th to win the Tasman title.

At Longford, still fitted with the 24 valve engine, which must have been getting a little tired, he qualified a second adrift of Clark and Hill. He finished 7th in a race run in atrocious conditions on the most unforgiving of Australian circuits having initially run 2nd to Clark but then went up the Newry Corner escape road and suffered ignition problems from lap 10.

Piers Courage won in an heroic drive aboard his little McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 car that streaming day, in a series which re-ignited his career.

Chris was a busy boy during the Australian Tasman leg as he also drove David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 350 CanAm/P4 in sports car support events at each round in addition to the little Dino.

These races were outstanding as they all involved close dices between Chris and Frank Matich in his self designed and built Matich SR3 powered by 4.4 litre Repco Brabham ‘RB740’ V8’s- with Frank getting the better of him in each of these races. The speed of the Matich was no surprise to Chris though, both had contested rounds of the Can Am Championship only months before the Tasman in the US.

Click here for my article on the Ferrari P4/CanAm 350 #’0858’ Chris raced in Australia;

Amon lines David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can Am up for Longford’s The Viaduct during the 1968 Longford Tasman meeting. Matich didn’t take the SR4 to Longford so Chris had an easy time of it that weekend. The sight and sound of that car at full song on the Flying Mile at circa 180mph would have been really something! ( Keep)

For the ’69 Tasman Chris applied all he learned in 1968 returning with two cars, the other driven by Derek Bell, four well developed 300bhp 24 valve engines with the logistics taken care of by David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce.

He promptly lifted the Tasman Cup in a very successful campaign from Jochen Rindt, Graham Hill and others. With a little more luck, or greater factory commitment in 1968 it may have been two Tasman’s on the trot for the Maranello team and Chris…

Bibliography…,, ‘Dino: The Little Ferrari’ Doug Nye

Photo Credits…

Mr Riethmaier,, Rod MacKenzie

Tailpiece: Love this moody, foreboding Longford shot by Roderick MacKenzie. Chris has just entered the long ‘Flying Mile’ in the streaming wet conditions during Monday’s ‘South Pacific Trophy’ famously won by Piers Courage little McLaren M4 Ford FVA F2 car. 4 March 1968…

(Rod MacKenzie)



frank gardner

(John Ellacott)

Frank Gardner beside his Jaguar D Type ‘XKD 520’ at Mount Druitt on 23 May 1958, looking fairly relaxed, photographer John Ellacott recalls FG achieved a 14.57 standing quarter mile in the big, powerful car…

Its right at the end of Mount Druitt’s decade long life as a race circuit in Sydney’s western suburbs. FG took FTD in one of the sprint events after the circuit was ‘mortally wounded’ by circuit owner Belf Jones after a spat with its operator the ‘Australian Racing Drivers Club’ in 1958.

mt druitt 1


These wonderful Mount Druitt, 1955 Sydney, New South Wales colour shots (the one above and below) were posted on ‘the Nostalgia Forum’ which, for those of you who haven’t discovered it is something you should do, but be warned you will be lost in interesting motor racing ‘threads’ for years…

Ace researcher/historian and primotipo contributor Stephen Dalton dates the shots as probably the 4 September 1955 meeting with the Healeys’ driven by #93 C Kennedy and #98 K Bennett. In the background Stephen thinks the #53 tail is an important Australian MG Spl, the ex/Dick Cobden/David McKay/Curly Brydon car.

The red car surrounded by mechanics is perhaps the ex Jack Saywell Alfa Romeo P3 then Alvis powered and driven by Gordon Greig. The covered #4 single seater is Stan Coffey’s Cooper Bristol ‘Dowidat Spl’ and #14 Jack Robinson’s Jaguar Special.

mt druitt 2


All ‘The Fun of The Fair’ or ‘Mount Druitt Motor Racing’ as the case may be…

This article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 August 1954, it captures the atmosphere of the place and the day and ignorance of the public of motor racing;

THIRTY thousand picnicking spectators in 8,000 cars make a phenomenon in Australian sport and entertainment at Sydney’s monthly motor races at Mt. Druitt.

Cars park two to four deep the whole length of the two and a quarter miles racing track. Spectators drive between races from one vantage point to another over ‘horror stretches’ in the seemingly endless acres of paddocks around the track.

Vendors sell hot water, hot dogs, all the usual provendor of picnics. Children play rounders or football between races.

By the standards of Britain’s famous Brooklands, the informality is extreme for the spectators, but it is typically Australian; sunshine, open air, gum trees.

The Australian Racing Drivers’ Club, however, applies the strictest international rules of competition to its 12 or 14 race program.

Officials on motor cycles patrol the boundary fences. White uniformed officials with international motor racing flags signal the drivers safely through the races-a blue flag waved – ‘a competitor is trying to overtake you’; a yellow flag waved ‘great danger, be prepared to stop’; yellow, with vertical red stripes-‘take care, oil has been spilt on the track.’

A public address system links the whole of the two and a quarter miles of track with the finishing line.

A truck tows breakdowns off the course, often two at a time, ignominiously, like a defeated bull dragged from the ring.

At the end of the day 8,000 cars crowd the Great Western Highway in a colossal traffic jam, in which the ‘hot rodders,’ after a few imitative accelerations, lose their ardour for speed on frustrating miles of bumper-to bumper driving.

What attracts this crowd to a venue nearly 40 miles from the city is the excitement of speeds up to 140 miles an hour and skid turns on hairpin and right-angle bends. The straight of the bitumen track is a wartime airstrip.

The club conducts events for racing, sports, and stock cars and has 60 to 70 competitors at a meeting.

Most of the competitors are owner-drivers-fanatical seekers of perfection in the assembling and tuning of motors. They acquire a car, according to their means and choice. If it is a stock model they remachine and reassemble parts of the motor, and fit new parts, two carburettors, and a ‘blower’ (a supercharger), which gives the ultimate ‘kick.’

In all types of cars running and maintenance costs are high. A set of tyres is good for only 500 racing miles. A car may run half a mile and burn the top out of a piston. An owner may spend £250 on a new cylinder head and find it does not fit satisfactorily.


Jack Brabham in the Cooper ‘Redex Spl’ Bristol referred to in the text. On the outside is Bill Hudson, Hudson Spl at Mount Druitt in 1955. Jack was later to say he should have taken this highly self developed car to the UK rather than purchase the Cooper Alta he bought in the UK…still it didn’t hold him back in the end! (unattributed)

THE glamour driver of the moment is a 26-year-old motor engineer, Jack Brabham, with his British £4,000 six cylinder Cooper (frame)-Bristol (motor).

He is a former Australian midget car champion, whom some club officials put in ‘world class.’

In the lingo of the fans, he ‘lashes the loud pedal-(accelerator) down to the boards’ and scorns the ‘anchors’ (brakes).

His driving is, indeed, a spectacle as he relentlessly mows down a field, flashes past car after car, and changes gears at 85 to 90 miles an hour.

But the fans are watching a £7,000 Italian Ferrari, with a 12-cylinder two litre engine having a power output of 250 b.h.p. and a top speed around 150 m.p.h. Owner Dick Cobden, a fine driver, has had the car only a few months and is still familiarising himself with its tuning and driving.

The Ferrari is a Grand Prix car, which famous English driver, Peter Whitehead, drove in the Lady Wigram trophy at Christchurch, New Zealand, early this year’.


Dick Cobden’s ex-Whitehead Ferrari 125 at Mount Druitt, date uncertain. (G & L Liebrand Collection)

Circuit Map…

druitt circuit


Mount Druitt Aerodrome, 45 Km west of Sydney was built for the Royal Australian Air Force during World War 2. The facility comprised 2 hangars, workshops and a runway 1,524 metres long and 48 metres wide, perfect as the basis of a racetrack postwar.

The first race meeting was held on October 4 1948 on a short track based on the runway established by the Australian Sporting Car Club.

In 1952 Belf Jones built a full circuit, 2.25 miles long using some adjoining land owned by a Mr McMahon, a Sydney businessman. The circuits’ first meeting was on 30 November 1952 organised by the Australian Racing Drivers Club, the main event, a 50 Mile Handicap won by future Australian champion, David McKay’s MG Spl. (one of the cars obscured in the first photo above).

Over the following 5 years over 25 meetings were run with crowd attendances often over 15,000, given the circuits proximity to Sydney. Mt Druitt’s last meeting was on 10 November 1957.

Commercial agreement for the circuits future use could not be reached between the ARDC and Jones, who did irreparable damage to the circuit; Jones cut a trench around the circuit with a digger!

gardner 2

Another shot of Frank Gardner’s D Type at Mount Druitt on 23 May 1958. (John Ellacott)

The last hurrah for the venue was a number of sprint meetings run in 1958. Victories resulted for Gardner’s D Type Jag, Arnold Glass’ HWM Jaguar and Len Lukey’s Cooper Bristol.

The ‘NSW Speedway Act’ in 1959 and consequent required investment in the facility to meet new safety standards was the final death-knell for this fondly remembered circuit.

The parts of the track added in 1952 remain but the airstrip section is long gone, the area is now known as the Whalan Reserve, it comprises the Mount Druitt industrial estate and Madong Avenue Primary School.

druitt circuit 2

Current google earth aerial shot of the circuit area. (


The Nostalgia Forum Mount Druitt thread, particularly the contributions of Stephen Dalton and ‘wirra’. Sydney Morning Herald 14 August 1954,


John Ellacott, TR0003, G & L Liebrand Collection




Few drivers knew Warwick Farm like Frank Matich and Kevin Bartlett…

They raced at the track from its earliest days, it’s first meeting in 1960 I wonder?, and certainly the last international meeting, sadly the 1973 Tasman round run 12 months after the photos here were taken, Steve Thomson won that very wet race in a Chevron B24 Chev.

Here the two Sydneysiders are attacking The Esses during the 1972 F5000 Tasman round, the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ on 13 February. Matich was 1st in his Matich A50 Repco and KB 3rd in his McLaren M10B Chev, not really a front-line tool by that stage but still quick enough in Kevin’s highly skilled hands to win at Teretonga, the final ’72 Kiwi round, a fortnight before.


Bartlett and original owner Niel Allen had a lot of success in this McLaren M10B ‘400-02’, car now in the tender, loving hands of Alan Hamilton, also a former Australian champion .KB here during the ’72 Tasman race. A Lola T300 would replace the car in time for the domestic Gold Star Series (unattributed)

Matich didn’t have a good Tasman, the A50 was quick enough to win the series but FM didn’t have a lot of luck, the championship was convincingly won by Kiwi arch driver/constructor rival Graham McRae in the Leda/McRae GM1 Chev penned by Len Terry.

Click here for an article on the Matich F5000 cars including the 1972 Tasman Series:

Credits…, Bob Williamson Collection

Tailpiece: The Lola T300 was ‘a chick’ with a great arse and hips, visually arresting…


Frank Gardner and Lola T300 Chev ahead of Frank Matich in the ’72 WF pitlane for tweaks. FG won the ’72 NZ GP in this T300 at Pukekohe, his last single-seater win, I think (Bob Williamson)


Frank Gardner split Matich and Bartlett, he was second at Warwick Farm in the factory T300. Frank was not exactly unfamiliar with WF either, mind you no-one would have done more laps around it than Matich, Frank tested tyres for Firestone, and later Goodyear and his cars a lot!

Between Gardner and Bob Marston they concepted a small F5000 based on Lola’s F2 tub. By placing the big water radiators, you needed plenty of coolant to look after the needs of a big Chev, at the cars hips they gave the car, and the T330/332 which followed it their most distinctive and attractive feature. Effective too in terms of aerodynamics and centralising weight, an article on the T300 is one for another time…


charger 1

(Robert Davies)

John McCormack wrestles his big, powerful but relatively nimble Valiant Charger Repco around the tight Calder, Melbourne confines in 1974…

Robert Davies shots have inspired two other articles, this is the third about a car which set a new paradigm in local Oz Sports Sedan racing in the mid-seventies.

In 1970 Touring Car Racing in Australia comprised ‘Series Production’ for essentially standard cars, contesting the Bathurst 500 and the like. ‘Improved Touring’ were more highly modified cars, the Australian Touring Car Championship was run to these regs, and ‘Sports Racing Closed’ or ‘Sports Sedans’ was an ‘anything goes’ type of category.

Sports Sedans were often the province of the more impecunious, owner driver, engineering types who created some incredibly quick Minis, Holdens of all descriptions and the occasional bit of ‘heavy metal’ V8’s from Oz or the US.


The Spirit of Sports Sedans in 1971; full spectator mounds, here at Sydney’s Oran Park. Barry Sharp’s Jag Mk2 Ford V8 ahead of an ‘LC’ Holden Torana GTR XU1, old and new. (Vic Hughes)

Australian race fans liked Sedans, they were easier to understand and more spectacular to watch than most open-wheelers and the punters could relate to cars they either drove or saw on the road.

Other than during the Tasman Series, in most years our domestic single seater championship, the prestigious ‘Gold Star’ fields were thinnish. Scarce sponsorship dollars progressively found its way to Touring Cars fanning the open wheeler problem. Promoters were keen to give spectators what they wanted to fill their venues, and so, over time the dominance of Touring Cars in Australia occurred. And continues today. Sadly for open-wheeler nutters like me.

Castrol, for example, sponsors of Bob Jane Racing, one of our bigger teams encouraged Jane to get out of racers and more into touring cars in 1971. The Brabham and Bowin single seaters and McLaren sporty were progressively put to one side, replaced by a Holden Monaro Improved Tourer and Holden Torana Repco V8 Sports Sedan.


Bob Jane’s Holden Torana ‘LC’ GTR XU1 Repco. Hume Weir, Boxing Day 1971. John Sheppard built and prepared superb cars, this is one of his best, its first iteration here was not that highly modified, engine and Borg Warner ‘box excepted. Phase 2 in its life was when Frank Gardner returned to Oz and raced the car for Jane in 1975; an F5000 Chev replaced the Repco, the suspension also modified substantially in addition to the car being lightened considerably. Jane reputedly said to Gardner when he saw it ‘What have you done to my beautiful car…?’. Car still exists. (Dick Simpson)

There had been other ‘clever’ Sports Sedans, Harry Lefoe’s Hillman Imp Ford V8, an example but Bob Jane’s John Sheppard built Torana, which married a lightweight but still fully trimmed LC Torana with the Repco 4.4 Litre ‘620 Series’ V8 Bob had sitting in his Brunswick Race HQ took things to another level.

The alloy Repco developed 400 bhp but at 360 pounds weighed less than the cast iron 3 litre ‘186cid’ straight 6 fitted to the car in production form. Bob and John Harvey won many races in this car.

The ‘professionalisation’ of Sports Sedans was underway.


Harry Lefoe in his Hillman Imp Ford at Hume Weir, Albury, NSW on Boxing Day 1971, Dick Simpson took this shot and the one above of Bob Jane in the same race. Car had a 450bhp plus Ford ‘Windsor’ shoved in the back seat, Lefoe had balls of steel to drive the thing, twas usually sideways, considerably so! Its life ended with a big accident at Sandown in the late 70’s. Extremely short wheelbase clear, big wing, engine put out slightly more power and was slightly heavier than the 1 litre alloy standard engine…(Dick Simpson)

Another trend setting Sports Sedan was the Valiant Charger Repco built by Elfin and John McCormack’s team in 1973. Macs background is covered in the article about his McLaren M23 I wrote 12 months ago, you can read it here, I won’t repeat it.

John was an open-wheeler man, he won the Gold Star in 1973 in his Elfin MR5 Repco F5000, but he was also a professional driver who needed to chase dollars. Oran Park promoter Allan Horsley agreed appearance money with McCormack if he ran a Sports Sedan in his ‘Toby Lee (shirts) Series’ in 1974, that was the impetus McCormack needed.

McCormack and Elfin boss Garrie Cooper (who ran 2 Elfin MR5 F5000 cars as Ansett Team Elfin in the Gold Star and Tasman Series at the time) toyed with the idea of a mid-engined Chev Corvair but commercially a deal with Chrysler made more sense.

In those far away days Ford, GM (Holden), Chrysler (Valiant) and British Motor Corporation all made cars in Australia, with others VW included assembling them here. Now only Ford, Holden and Toyota (who changed from assembly to construction of their cars progressively after 1970) remain but have announced plans to withdraw as manufacturers.

The economic and social policy as well as wider societal implications of this are beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say the death of the Automotive Industry in Australia is sad, wrong and was avoidable with a mix of better management, cooperation from the global headquarters of Ford, GM and Toyota and politicians who are not fuckwits. An oxymoron i grant you.

mc cormack

McCormack during his NZ Tour with the Charger in 1975, circuit unknown. Beautifully proportioned racing car, the external appearance matched the unseen clever and well executed engineering. Elfin 10 inch wide wheels, that width mandated then, not much to put 495 energetic ponies to the road. But spectacular! (The Roaring Season)

Elfin were based in Edwardstown, a southern Adelaide suburb, the Valiant factory was at Tonsley Park, not so far down the road. Valiant lost the promotional value of motor racing when they ceased building and racing their performance ‘Chargers’ and were receptive to the idea of a Sports Sedan Charger to go some way to matching Ford and GM who were still actively involved in racing and exploiting its promotional benefits in the competitive local market.

In one day McCormack and Ansett Elfin’s John Lanyon negotiated a deal which gave them cash, a truck to transport the racer, support and a Charger which made its debut after much surgery and modification in early 1974.

Cooper’s Conmurra Avenue shop was ‘chockers’ building Elfins so McCormack set up a workshop just around the corner in Coongie Road where the Charger was built. He took two Elfin employees in the process, Dale Koenneke and Harry Aust which did not go down well with Cooper, way too decent a man to be mixed up in professional motor racing…

The Charger was the result of the design ideas of McCormack and Cooper but was always Macs project, Garries priorities were production racing cars and his own racing program which was always fitted in around his customers needs. Elfin built 11 cars in 1973, 14 in 1974, a lot from the small facility.

McCormack and his team ran and prepared the car with the income derived going to Mac, but Ansett and Ansett Team Elfin received the promotional value of winning races in a growing part of the sport.

charger 2

Rare cockpit shot of the McCormack Charger. Clearly cylinder head or valve gear problems during this Calder meeting in 1974. Mid-mounted Repco F5000 engine sans Lucas injection in this shot. Standard Valiant style steering wheel and column a nod to the donor car. Smiths chronometric tach, instruments and Hewland DG300 ‘box, the alloy case of which you can see aft of the engine all ‘standard F5000’ kit. RH gearchange outta sight, the pedal box was off the Elfin shelf as well, Mac felt right at home. (Robert Davies)

The trend setting bit referred to above was the decision to use as many F5000 bits as possible and to locate the 495 BHP Repco Holden F5000 engine amidships beside the driver, the car was in essence mid-engined albeit the engine was in front of the centre-line of the car rather than to its rear.

The car was completely gutted of all interior trim and surplus metal, an integral roll cage designed by Cooper adding considerable torsional rigidity to the standard sheet metal shell.

Elfin uprights and wheels were used front and rear, upper and lower wishbone’s and coil spring damper units were used at the front and single top link, twin parallel lower links, coil spring dampers, radius rods providing fore and aft location at the rear. Roll bars were of course adjustable. An Elfin steering rack was used as were Lockheed brake calipers.

The transmission was standard F5000 issue, a 5 speed Hewland DG300 transaxle, located aft of the engine. There were two though, the front one contained the gears and the rear DG300 case the differential. Mac placed the gearchange lever to the right of the very low mounted drivers seat so he would feel pretty much at home, the driving position akin to the single-seaters from whence he came.

repco F5000

Phil Irving’s adaptation of General Motors’ Holdens then new ‘308’ V8 as an F5000 engine in 1970 created a very effective racing engine. Lucas fuel injection was one of the few non-Repco manufactured parts. 495bhp@7500 rpm is the quoted figure but the few flat-plane crank engines of 1973/4 produced closer to 525. It didn’t matter, the engine had greater mid-range punch than most Chevs, the blend of power/torque won it championships. (Repco)

The Charger had its first race at Adelaide International in early 1974, the Elfin MR6 Leyland F5000 made its debut on the same day, by the end of it the Chrysler executives present were far happier than the Leyland guys, the race variant of that engine always somewhat of a ‘hand grenade’ as covered in the McLaren article referred to above…the Charger cantered away and won its races.

The intelligent beast was immediately successful, Mac getting $2500 appearance money each time he ran in the ‘Toby Lee Series’ at Oran Park and carted away a good share of the prize money in 1974, he won the series from Jim McKeown’s Porsche and Frank Ure’s Holden Torana V8.

The car was also raced around the country with similar success.

He raced the car into 1975 selling it eventually to Tony Edmonson who was also successful in it.

McCormack re-focussed on single seaters with his ultimately successful McLaren M23 Leyland program and was just coming back into sports sedans, having built a Jaguar XJS at the time of the untimely road accident in which he was a passenger, ended his racing career.

Their were many very clever Sports Sedans which followed the McCormack/Cooper Charger but arguably it was the first…


Bryan Thomson VW Fastback being chased by John McCormack’ Charger at Sandown’s, you guessed it, Torana Corner in November 1974. They are about to unleash 500’ish Chev and Repco Holden horses up Sandowns’ long back straight. Great circuit for these cars. Two clever cars from 1974; both F5000 based, both ‘mid-engined’ the VW at the mid-rear and Charger in the mid-front. (Paul Van Den Akker)


Frank Gardner got around to building a Chev Corvair, the car well engineered (see etcetera below) as you would expect and largely built around Lola F5000 componentry. He essentially ‘killed the category’ such was the dominance of the car until the regs were changed to effectively ban it (the Corvairs engine and gearbox in standard form, were located Porsche 911 style, with the engine behind the gearbox, the legislators would allow a Corvair to race in that format but not the layout Gardner had with the classic ‘box behind the engine layout).


Frank Gardner in the Chev Corvair ahead of Red Dawson’s Chev Monza, Bay Park, NZ 1976. (The Roaring Season)



Other ‘Class of ’74 Cars’; Bryan Thomson’s ‘Volksrolet’ was a marriage of VW Fastback and an ex-Hamilton/Brown McLaren M10B F5000, but it never worked as well as Frank Gardner’s Corvair variation on the same theme despite the prowess of Thommo and his engineer Peter Fowler. But a massive crowd-pleaser. Behind is Peter Brock in the Holden Dealer Teams ‘Beast’. From memory an ex-rallycross LC Torana chassis into which was shoehorned a Repco Holden F5000 engine mated to a Borg Warner T10 ‘box. Ok in ’73 but the game had moved on by 1974, let alone the cars to come. Sandown Park November 1974. (Robert Davies)


Baskerville, Tasmania 1975. McCormack ahead of Jim Richard’s Kiwi built, old tech but superbly driven Ford Mustang 351 and Allan Moffat’s Ford RS3100 ‘Cologne Capri’. Moffat won the Australian Sports Sedan Championship in 1976 using this car and a Chev Monza. ( Stephens)


Frank Gardner’s Corvair as raced by Allan Grice after Gardner stepped outta the driving seat. Circa 1977. Nose of Grice’ Group A Commodore to the right. FG raised the Sports Sedan bar  again with the Corvair, the bottom shot clearly shows the car for what it was conceptually; a Lola T332 F5000 albeit with a spaceframe chassis and a roof! Brilliant device, even the 6 litre cars couldn’t keep up with it, put its power down so well. (The Nostalgia Forum)

Bibliography and Photo Credits…

‘Australia’s Elfin Sports and Racing Cars’ John Blanden and Barry Catford, ‘Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston

Robert Davies, Dick Simpson, Vic Hughes, Dick Simpson, Paul Van Den Akker, The Roaring Season, The Nostalgia Forum, Stephens


Le Mans start 1969

#14 Stommelen/Ahrens Porsche 917LH, #20 Siffert/Redman Porsche 908/2, #22 Lins/Kauhsen Porsche 908LH, #23 Schutz/Mitter Porsche 908LH, #2 Bonnier/Gregory LolaT70 Mk3b Chev, #7Hobbs/Hailwood Ford GT40…and the rest (unattributed)

Spectacular start of the tragic Le Mans 24 Hour Race June 1969, the last with the traditonal driver sprint to the cars…

The Porsche 917 was a tricky, somewhat under-developed beast in its original specification even for experienced professionals, British privateer John Woolfe lost control of his on the first lap of the ’69 race perishing in the subsequent accident.

Despite that, a 917 took pole and lead Le Mans for 20 Hours, maybe its been somewhat maligned in its formative year?

Groups 5 and 6…

917 homologation CSI

By 1967 the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI) were concerned about the growing speeds of the unlimited ‘pushrod production’ 7 litre Ford GT Mk4 and Chaparral 2F and 4 litre ‘racing engine’ Ferrari P4 and banned them by increasing the homologation numbers and the lowering engine capacity limits for homologation, or admission of cars into both classes.

For 1969 there were no minimum limits to qualify in Group 6 ‘3 litre Prototypes’ and a minimum of 25 cars built for homologation into Group 5 ‘5 litre Sports Cars’. Effectively this allowed the existing Mark 1 Ford GT40 and LolaT70 Mk3b cars eligible to keep grid sizes up but with the hope or intent that 3 litre prototypes would be built in large numbers, Formula 1 having the same capacity limit at the time.

Porsche would not have had the 908 ready to race in 1968 had they not anticipated the rule changes for 1968 which were only announced by the CSI in October 1967.

50 cars were required to be built to qualify in Group 5 in 1968, but that was reduced, as stated above for 1969, which left the door ajar for Porsche…

The FIA, as the governing body then was, had another crack at rewriting the rules to encourage 3 Litre prototypes with effect 1 January 1972 given the speed of the 5 litre Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S in 1970 and 1971 but that is another story…lets not get ahead of ourselves.

Porsche had come close to Le Mans victory with their ‘class cars’ and wanted to win outright, to do so they audaciously built 25 4.5 litre air-cooled Flat 12 engined cars, the 917 in 1969.

Having thrown down the gauntlet, Ferrari, with his coffers full of Fiat money, having sold his road car division to them in 1969, built 25 5 litre V12 512S to go head to head with Porsche in perhaps the two best years of sports car racing ever; 1970 and 1971.

On 12 March 1969 a 917 was displayed at the Geneva Motor show with a price tag of DM140,000 a fraction of the cars development costs. The cars above were displayed for inspection at the factory to the CSI on 20 April, Ferdinand Piech cheekily offering the CSI inspectors the opportunity to drive any of the cars to prove they were complete and running, the offer was declined.

917 at Geneva Show

917 homologation

25 917’s lined up at Zuffenhausen awaiting the CSI chassis count for homologation into Group 5…22 April 1969. (Porsche AG)

Design and Construction…

917 brochure

Sales brochure for the 917, a snip at DM140,000 in 1969

Eng Ferry Piech said that Porsche would not have built the 3 litre 908 had they known the CSI intent in relation to the 5 litre Group. At the time they built the 908, a Group 6 car, the minimum production number for homologation into Group 5 was 50 cars not 25, so he can be somewhat forgiven for not being able to read the minds of the rule-makers, then as now unpredictable.

The regime of rules was not about encouraging 5 litre cars with ‘racing’ as against ‘production’ based engines.

Porsche surprised everyone, until then they had built class contenders rather than outright cars, and even then it was not thought possible to build a 5 litre air-cooled engine, to that time a Porsche specialty. Water cooled Porsches’ were not to appear for nearly a decade.

Work started on the design of the 917 in July 1968, Porsche convinced they could build a car down to the class minimum weight limit of 800Kg based on the 908 which was 300lbs lighter than their Alfa, Matra and Ferrari 3 litre rivals.

917 engine cutaway

Cutaway shot by Vic Berris of the aircooled, flat-12, SOHC 2 valve, fuel injected engine. Capacities/power  1969 4494cc/580bhp@8400rpm, 1970 4907cc/600bhp@8400rpm, 1971 4998cc/630bhp@8300rpm. Torque 376/415/425 lb ft. More than enough to see off the 512S/M Ferraris’…cooling fan absorbed around 17bhp@ maximum revs, far less than that absorbed by a water radiator @ equivalent speeds.(Vic Berris)

To speed up the development of the 917 engine the same reciprocating parts, bore, stroke, valve and port sizes of the 908 engine were usedgiving a cubic capacity of 4494cc with a bore and stroke of 85X66mm. Porsche belived initially at least it wouldn’t be necessary to build a car to the full allowable 5 litre limit to dominate.

All the fuel injection and valve timing settings were taken over albeit the valve angle differed to allow cooling air passages between the valves. Four valves per cylinder was never an option for this reason.

Apart from the above the flat 12 is an entirely different engine to the 3 litre flat 8.

A long crankshaft did not allow anything other than a central power take off to avoid catastrophic torsional vibrations. The long crank hence became effectively two shorter cranks joined together at their flywheels, which were just a gear in mesh with another on the output shaft running parallel to and under the crankshaft which ran on 8 main bearings.


917 engine on the dyno in 1969 (GP Library)

The power output shaft drives the triple gear type oil pump with 4 additional small oil pumps driven by the exhaust camshafts.

Another shaft running symmetrically with the crank drives the 2 distributors of the electronic ignition, the Bosch fuel injection pump being driven off the left hand exhaust camshaft.

The engine had few steel or iron parts; the crankcase, cam covers and timing gear case were magnesium. The heads and cylinders were aluminium and titanium was used for conrods, auxiliary drive shafts, the main output shaft and later in the engines development valves and valve springs.

The cooling blower and most of the air ducts were plastic.

The 4.5 litre engine weighed 528lb in original form and developed 542bhp on its first dyno run, this rose to 580bhp@8400 by the time the car arrived at Le Mans in 1969.

A new gearbox was built to take 376lb ft of torque, the case was magnesium, used Porsche synchromesh, a wet sump and incorporated a ZF ‘slippery diff’ with 75% locking factor.

917 engine cross section

Cross section of the incredibly complex 917 engine, 200 hours to assemble. Magnesium crankcase split along its centreline. Power takeoff by pinion between the 2 middle main bearings, 8 main bearings. DOHC per bank, 2 VPC sodium filled. 2 plugs per cylinder. Not winning was not an option! (Porsche AG)

917 assembly

All hands on deck…homologation and timeline pressures created surely one of the most amazing production lines ever!? (Porsche AG)

The chassis was largely that of the 908…suitably reinforced, the spaceframe was welded aluminium tube. Note that later in the program three chassis’ were built of magnesium.

The wheelbase was 90 inches and track in 1969 58.8 inches front and 60.4 inches rear with 15 inch wide rear wheels.

As with all Porsche racing cars the frame had to withstand 600 miles of hard driving on the Weissach ‘Destruction Course’ but even so a tyre valve was incorporated into the 103lb frame to allow it to be ‘inflated’, a loss of pressure indicative of chassis cracks…sub-optimal in a car of this performance!

Again, magnesium, aluminium and titanium parts were widely used for the running gear; titanium for spherical joints, hubs, springs, gear lever and steering column. Magnesium for uprights and wheels and aluminium for the steering rack, this obsessive approach to weight ensured the car tipped the scales at less than 800kg.

917 spaceframe

Porsches’ obsession with weight extended to the chassis which was welded aluminium tube. Total weight 103lbs. The one on the right is unfinished. Strong and light…both 917 and 512S Ferrari were spaceframe chassis’, hardly state of the art in 1969/70 but effective all the same. Porsche did not build an aluminium monocoque racing car till the 956 in 1983. (Porsche AG)

The suspension geometry was the same as the 908but incorporated anti dive geometry by angling the upper and lower wishbone pivots to each other.

Wishbones were used at the front with coil spring/damper units and an adjustable sway bar. At the rear a single top link and lower inverted wishbone was used. Radius rods provided fore and aft location, and again coil spring/damper units were used and an adjustable sway bar. Bilstein provided the shock absorbers.

Initially 9×15 front, and 12×15 inch magnesium alloy wheels were used, with a single centre aluminium lock nut, the same as the 908.

The suspension was largely set up at the Nurburgring, long suspension travel, plenty of camber change and tyres of a rounded tread section necessary for performance there. This did not translate at other circuits where the car was ‘under-tyred’ and the geometry unsuitable as well. More of this later in the article.

Brakes in 1969 were ATE aluminium calipers operating on cast iron ventilated rotors/discs.

917 rear suspension drawing

Factory rear suspension drawing. Upper top link, inverted lower wishbone & progressive rate coil spring & damper unit. Titanium driveshafts with ‘rubber donut’. Magnesium uprights, titanium hubs. ATE aluminium brake calipers clamped ventilated iron discs. Wheels in mag alloy with aluminium lock nut. (Porsche AG)

The bodies were developed in the wind tunnel…

917 cutway 1969 LH

Both short and long tails and were interchangeable, with the latter 236mph on the Mulsanne Straight was reached in 1969. The ’69 bodies were fibreglass which was bonded to the chassis and incorporated two seats and doors.

Stability of the cars were critical, front spoilers were fitted and a ingenious setup of mobile rear flaps connected with the rear suspension in such a way that if the suspension was compressed the flaps would create an aerodynamic force to raise the tail whilst if the suspension was extended, the flaps would angle up to push the tail down.

In 1969 these appendages caused major dramas as only two weeks before Le Mans the FIA banned movable aerodynamic devices on all racing cars, a consequence of many wing failures in F1.

As the 917 was almost undrivable without the flaps, with which it was designed and homologated, the cars were allowed to race at Le Mans but the devices had to removed thereafter. 25 sets had been made to comply with homologation requirements but only 2 or 3 used!

917 Wing flaps

Porsche factory drawing showing how suspension deflections actuated the rear wing flaps, from full to no downforce. Movable aero devices banned by the FIA from the end of Le Mans ’69. Changes to bodywork design obviated the need for the flaps in both short and longtailed forms in 1970/71. (Porsche AG)

porsche 917 tail

’69 spec long and short tail comparisons. (Porsche AG)

Racing the 917…

The traditional Le Mans test weekend took place on the weekend of April 4, the 917 making its public circuit debut. Rolf Stommelen drove the car and achieved a speed quicker then the 908LH,(LH is ‘Langheck’ or Long Tail) on paper the car had potential but the handling and levels of stability were frightening.

917 Le Mans test weekend

The first public on circuit appearnace of the 917 was at the Le Mans test weekend in early April 1969. (unattributed)

Le Mans test weekend 917 in Paddock

Fettling the 917 at Le Mans test weekend. No amount of ‘at the track fettling’ would deal with the high speed instability the drivers were experiencing at the time. Body is fibre glass, bonded to aluminium chassis. (unattributed)

Spa 1969 917

First race apperance for the 917, Spa 1969. Gerhard Mitter and Udo Schutz shared the car but an engine failure early in the race meant only Mitter got a race drive. (unattributed)

After little testing testing two cars were entered for the Spa 1000Km in May. Jo Siffert and Brian Redman tested their 917 but chose to race a 908 and won the event from Pedro Rodriguez/Chri Amon in a Ferrari 312P and Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens in another 908.

Gerhard Mitter started his 917, having qualified 8th but retired with engine failure on lap 1 having possibly over-revving the engine at the start. The 917’s were experiencing high speed instability, the reason Siffert electing to race a 908LH.

917 Spa 1969

Mitter wrestles his 917 around Spas’ La Source hairpin, early aero with adjustable wings at rear and no winglets at front…compare front of the 917 at the Osterreichring below. ’69 cars exhausts exited from both the rear and aft of the doors. (unattributed)

Mitter and Udo Schutz won the next event, Targa in a 908, their were no 917’s entered on a circuit totally unsuited to them.

Frank Gardner 917 Nurburgring 1969

Frank Gardner and David Piper brought the 917 home for its first race finish at the Nurburgring 1000Km .(unattributed)

For Porsches’ home event, the Nurburgring 1000Km on 1 June they hired two hardened sports car professionals in Frank Gardner and David Piper to ‘bring the thing home, that they did in 8th place having wrestled the unruly beast around 44 laps of the ‘Green Hell’ Nurburgring.

Gardner was a noted test and development driver, Porsche were keen to get his views on changes to make the car competitive. The race was won by Siffert/Redman in a 908 ahead of two other 908’s.


Gardner/Piper 917 ahead of the Hobbs/Hailwood Mirage M2/300 BRM DNF and Ortner/van Lennep Abarth 2000SP NC (Schelgelmilch)


Le mans start 1969 Siffert in lead

’69 LeMans start. Jo Siffert #20 908/2, Elford #12 917LH, Schutz 908LH, #7 Hobbs Ford GT40, #2 Bonnier Lola T70Mk3b Chev, #64 Hermann 908LH, #22 Lins 908LH…and the rest. (Porsche AG)

Le Mans 1969…

Other than more power, 580bhp and with the anti-dive geometry of the suspension reduced from 50% to 5% the 917 arrived at Le Mans as designed, fortunately, as described above the cars were able to race with their adjustable rear wings. Commonsense prevailed from a safety perspective.

At Le Mans Porsche famously, narrowly lost the race, the Herrmann/Larrouse 908LH being just beaten by the Ford GT40 of the ‘two Jackys’, Ickx and Oliver, winning in chassis ‘1075’ the same JW Automotive GT40 which was victorious the year before.

Elford retires 1969

The pole winning Stommelen/Ahrens 917LH retires on lap 148 with an oil leak, the car was hard driven, the teams hare. (unattributed)

Rolf Stommelen put his 917 on pole, outlining the cars potential but the car failed on lap 148 with an oil leak. Vic Elford qualified his car second, co-driven by Richard Attwood, the car lead the race for 20 hours and did 327 laps, enough for 9th place the car was not running at the finish having withdrawn with a cracked bellhousing.

John Woolfes’ car was destroyed in his fatal lap 1 accident, the car having qualified 9th in factory driver Herbert Linges’ hands. Car owner Woolfe started the race rather than the far better credentialled Linge…

elford 917 le mans 1969

Vic Elford in the car he qualified 2nd. He shared the car with Richard Attwood, they lead the race for 20 hours, DNF after 327 laps with a cracked gearbox bellhousing.(unattributed)

Le Mans finish 1969

Ickx wins from Hermann…the GT40 margin from the 908LH, 2 seconds after 24 hours despite losing 20 minutes in a long pitstop for the 908 to replace a front wheel bearing. (unattributed)

The First Win, Osterreichring 1000Km 1969..

Porsche did not take the 917 to Watkins Glen but were victorious again, Siffert and Redman winning in a 908 from another 2 908’s.

Osterreichring start 1969

Starting grid Osterreichring 1000Km 1969. #29 Siffert/Ahrens winning 917, #33 Bonnier/Muller Lola T70 Mk3b Chev (2nd) #9Ickx/Oliver MirageM3 Ford (DNF). The 3rd placed Attwood/Redman 917 in white is behind Siffert. #42 Matra is Servoz-Gavin/Rodriguez (DNF)…and the rest. (unattributed)

The Osterreichring was the last round of the Manufacturers Championship in 1969 and a fast track, 130 mph average, well suited to the 917’s qualities, and so it was that a factory 917 driven by Siffert/Ahrens beat Jo Bonnier/Herbie Muller in a Lola T70Mk3b Chev from Richard Attwood and Brian Redman in David Pipers 917K with Masten Gregory and Richard Brostrom 4th in the first ofthe 908’s.

It wasn’t the strongest round in terms of depth of entry of the 1969 championship but a win all the same.

Porsche 917 Spa Siffert 1969

1969 Osterreichring 1000Km winning Porsche 917K of Jo Siffert and Kurt Ahrens, the first of many victories for these fabulous cars. 4.5 litre Flat 12 at this stage. Early rear aero treatment clear in this Shell promo shot, in its first 2 races (Spa & Nurburgring) the car raced with a small fixed rear spoiler. Compare with the shot in ‘Etcetera’ below of the 1970 tail. (unattributed)

Siffert and Ickx Austria 1969 1000km

Jo Siffert leads Jacky Ickx, 4.5 litre Porsche 917 ahead of the 3 litre Mirage M3 Ford Cosworth. Osterreichring 1969. JW Engineering, the entrant of the Mirage would be contracted by Porsche to race and develop the 917’s in 1970 and 1971, becoming the dominant team…Le Mans excepted! (Unattributed)

Race Development, Testing and the 917PA…

Jo Siffert Porsche 917PA Bridgehampton 1969

Jo Siffert Porsche 917PA, Bridgehampton CanAm 1969. The race was won by Denny Hulme, McLaren M8B Chev , Jo finished 3rd. (Unattributed)

Whilst a short tail 917K won the Austrian 1000Km race against weak opposition, other than at Le Mans the cars were still uncompetitive, a mix of track, skid pad and wind-tunnel tests improving the car.

The team stayed on in Austria to test improvements to the car after its victory.

The 917 was modified in its aerodynamics by having the waistline of its doors raised and raising the tail to give the car more of a wedge shape, the changes increased drag but critically improved downforce and stability, the rear flaps now long gone. The aero changes were partially attributable to JW Automotive, who were to race the car on behalf of the factory the following year, the aero changes alone improving lap times by 4 seconds per lap at the Osterreichring.

Testing showed that wider wheels and tyres were quicker, as were stiffer springs however the suspension geometry itself was unchanged.

The engine was largely unchanged albeit the exhausts now exited at the rear whereas the front cylinders gasses had exited via the doors. The Fichtel and Sachs clutch was replaced by a triple plate Borg and Beck item and the gearbox and clutch housing was reinforced to avoid the failures experienced at Le Mans.

To further test some of the changes made an open car was built, designated the 917PA (PA ‘Porsche Audi’ the US importer of Porsche) for Jo Siffert to drive in the 1969 CanAm series, late that year.

The 917PA competed in 6 races with best results a second and a third, the car was ‘blown away’ by the 7 and 8 litre Chevs, Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme dominant in their McLaren M8B Chevs. Valuable experience was gained for the 1970 Manufacturers Championship as well as a tilt at the Can Am series and information which would prove useful for Porsches’ successful assault on the CanAm championship in 1972 and 1973 with the awesome, turbo-charged 917/10 and 917/30.

Porsche had a fantastic season winning all but Le Mans..the Manufacturers’ Championship, the GT Trophy and the Endurance Triple Crown despite not winning the most important race of the three…

For 1970/1971 Porsche changed their approach to racing the cars, the factory continued to develop them but the race organisation was contracted to JW Automotive and Porsche-Salzburg, but those seasons of success are another story…the seeds of dominance were sown in 1969.

Porsche 917PA and 917K late 1969

Porsche media day late in 1969, the Porsche 917PA CanAm car and 917K in shot…Brian Redman, Jo Siffert and Pedro Rodriguez in attendance. You can see the refinements to the rear bodywork of the 917K, reputedly ‘cribbed’ off the Lola T70Mk3b in shot, and also on the #23 1970 Le Mans winning car below…(unattributed)


Porsche kaleidescope le mans 1969

Porsche kaleidescope of 908 and 917 wings Le Mans 1969. See the text for the operation of these rear wing flaps, 25 sets made for homologation but only 3 or so actually used!. Flaps banned post Le Mans. (unattributed)

Porsche 917 at Le Mans

The original 1969 917 body in all its glory. #15 Linge/Redman/Lins car which tested but did not race at LeMans. Its a 917LH spec note front trim wings but lack of adjustable wing flaps @ rear. (unattributed)

917 cockpit

Porshce racing cockpits have always been about function…Momo steering wheel, lever for 5 speed synchro (sometimes 4) ‘box. Ally tube frames on floor visible. 6 point harness, minimalist instrumentation. (Geoff Goddard)

Jo Siffert Porsche 917PA Laguna Seca 1969

Jo Siffert being chased at Laguna Seca CanAm by Denny Hulmes’ McLaren M8B Chev, the dominant car of 1969. Porsche 917PA. Bruce McLaren won the race from Hulme, Jo 5th.(unattributed)

Hermann 917 1970

Quintessential 917K (short tail) 1970 spec car. Here the Porsche Salzburg Le Mans winning Hermann/Attwood car. Shot included to show the changes made to the cars body work very late in 1969; different door line, no exhaust exits aft of the doors, wedge shape and Lola inspired rear deck. (unattributed)

Larrousse Porsche 917L Le Mans 1970

For the sake of completeness the 917LH evolved into this bodywork in 1970…here the Martini Racing Team ‘Hippy Car’ of Larrousse/Kauhsen, 2nd at Le Mans 1970, compare and contrast the swoopy, curvaceous long tail body with the 1970 917K above. (unattributed)

Le Mans poster 1969


Vic Berris cutaway drawing, Porsche AG, ‘Cars in Profile Collection 1’ Paul Frere, Geoff Goddard, Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: No time to admire the scenery for Gardner! 917/004 during Nurburgring 1000 Km practice in June…