Posts Tagged ‘Frank Gardner’

(Telegraph)

The highest paid Dunlop tyre fitter in the world attends to the needs of his Lotus 32B Climax, Warwick Farm, 1965…

Its practice prior to the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ so Jim Clark assists Ray Parsons in between on-circuit sessions on the Friday or Saturday before the race.

Its Frank Matich zipping by in his Brabham BT7A Climax, he was quick too, off pole and led Clark and Graham Hill for much of the first lap. He was 3rd, five seconds behind Brabham in 2nd with Jim a minute up the road from Jack in an emphatic victory.

Roy Billington, Brabham’s chief mechanic is the black clad dude to the left of Jim. In the white helmet is the tall, lanky frame of Frank Gardner and beside him his Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT11A Climax. A DNF for Frank that weekend with Coventry Climax engine dramas on lap 25.

(Telegraph)

In the photo above Roy Billington is tending Jack’s BT11A, its Jim’s Lotus behind. The tall fellow to the right, in the cloth cap is, I think Lex Davison- Lex retired on lap 3 with a busted steering wheel in his Brabham BT4, an odd failure for a driver of considerable deftness and touch.

‘Topless’ behind Lex is Jim Clark talking to Warwick Farm boss, Geoff Sykes- to the left near the pit counter is again Frank Gardner.

Its all happening, as I say…the first six home were Clark, Brabham and Matich, then Bib Stillwell, Brabham BT11A, Graham Hill similarly mounted in the Scuderia Veloce entered machine and then Kiwi Jim Palmer in his BT7A.

Credits…

Daily Telegraph, oldracingcars.com, Bruce Wells on The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Jim and Lotus 32B Climax on the hop…

(Bruce Wells/TRS)

He is entering The Esses and has clearly given someone or something a ‘tap’, the nose of the Lotus is slightly bruised. I’ve written about this car, click here for the link; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

Finito…

 

(Fistonic)

Jim Clark takes in a few rays and a touring car race from his grandstand atop a Ford Zodiac, Levin, New Zealand Tasman, January 1965. In the distance are the Tararua Ranges, alongside the Team Lotus mechanics are fettling Jim’s Lotus 32B Climax.

The champions relaxed nature and the scene itself epitomises all that was great about the Tasman Series. We had the best drivers on the planet visit us every summer and whilst the racing was ‘take no prisoners’ the atmosphere off track was relaxed- the parties, water skiing, golf and annual cricket matches at the Amon family beachhouse are stories told many times over.

Jim Clark cruising through the Lakeside paddock during the 7 March 1965 weekend. The ‘Lakeside 99’ wasn’t a Tasman Round in 1965 but Internationals Clark, Gardner and Grant contested the event- Jim won from Gardner and Spencer Martin in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A just vacated by Graham Hill’s return to Europe (Mellor)

Few racing drivers have had a season like Jim Clark did in 1965, surely?

He started the year in Australasia and took the Tasman series with four wins in a Lotus 32B Climax FPF, won the F1 Drivers Championship in a Lotus 33 Climax with 6 wins and topped it all off with victory at Indy aboard a Lotus 38 Ford. In between times he contested the usual sprinkling of F2 events and some Touring Car races in a Lotus Cortina. Lets not forget a few longer sportscar races in the Lotus 40 Ford Group 7 car in the US. Not to mention other races as well. Amazing really.

 We were lucky enough to have the immensely likable Scot in the Southern Hemisphere at the seasons commencement though.

Colin Chapman had the Lotus Components lads build up a Tasman Special for Clark which was a mix of an F2 Lotus 32 chassis, 2.5 litre Coventry Climax 4 cylinder FPF engine and ZF gearbox. The combination was very successful taking race wins at Wigram, Teretonga, Warwick Farm and here at Levin on 16 January 1965. 

Kiwi international journalist and early member of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, Eoin Young providing direction to the Lotus mechanics looking after Clark’s Lotus 32B. Technical specs as per text but note rocker/inboard front suspension and filler for twin tanks contained in each side of the monocoque chassis pontoons.Lola Mk1 Climax in the distance? (Fistonic)

Twelve Lotus 32 chassis were built plus Clark’s Tasman one-off car which was built around chassis or tub number 32/7. Unlike the 1 litre Cosworth SCA powered F2’s which used a full-monocoque chassis the 32B used a monocoque front section with the rear section removed and replaced by a tubular steel subframe to which the 235bhp, 2495cc, 4 cylinder Coventry Climax FPF engine was mounted. Otherwise the cars suspension, inboard at the front by top rocker and lower wishbone and outboard at the rear was the same as the F2 32. The gearbox was a ZF rather than the Hewland Mk6 of the F2 car. The car chassis plate was tagged ’32-FL-8′ where ‘FL’ was Formula Libre.

This car still exists and is owned and raced by Classic Team Lotus, a shame really as its entire racing history was in Australasia.

Clark won the Tasman in it, the car was then bought by the Palmer family, Jim raced it to NZ Gold Star victory and very competitively in the ’66 Tasman before selling it to Australian Greg Cusack. The car was also raced by South Australian Mel McEwin in period, albeit it was becoming uncompetitive amongst the multi-cylinder Repco’s and the like by then.

Eventually it passed into the very best of Lotus hands- the late John Dawson-Damer acquired it and restored it, eventually doing a part exchange with CTL to allow them to have a Clark Tasman car in their collection. John received a Lotus 79 Ford DFV as part of the deal, he already had Clark’s ’66 Tasman car in his wonderful collection, the Lotus 39 Climax, so it was a good mutual exchange.

Local boy McLaren surrounded by admirers in the Levin paddock. Cooper T79, alongside is the green and yellow of Clark’s Lotus 32B (Fistonic)

Clark won the ’65 Tasman title 9 points clear of 1964 champion Bruce McLaren aboard his self constructed Cooper T79 Climax and Jack Brabham’s BT11A Climax. Given the speed of the BT11A, it was a pity Jack contested only the three Australian Tasman rounds. Frank Gardner also BT11A mounted and Phil Hill were equal fourth with Phil aboard McLarens updated ’64 Tasman car, a Cooper T70 Climax.

Graham Hill was 7th in David McKay’s Brabham BT11A Climax with other strong contenders Frank Matich Brabham BT7A Climax, Kiwi Jim Palmer similarly mounted, Bib Stillwell in a BT11A, Lex Davison in a BT4 Brabham. In addition there were a host of 1.5 litre Lotus Ford twin-cam powered cars snapping at the heels of the 2.5 FPF’s and set to pounce as the bigger cars failed.

In this article I focus on one round, the Levin event held on 14-16 January 1965.

Kiwi enthusiast Milan Fistonic took some marvellous photos at the event which are posted on Steve Holmes ‘The Roaring Season’ website, check it out if you have not, it’s a favourite of mine. They are paddock shots which ooze atmosphere- Milan focuses mainly on local boy Bruce McLaren and Clark, they are magic shots which I hope you enjoy. This account of the weekend draws heavily on the sergent.com race report. It is another ripper site I always use as my Kiwi reference source.

Start of the 1965 NZ GP at Pukekohe, winner Hill on the outside, Clark in the middle and Lex Davison on the inside- Brabham BT11A, Lotus 32B and Brabham BT4 all Coventry Climax FPF powered (unattributed)

The 1965 Tasman series commenced the week before Levin with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe. Graham Hill took a great win in David McKay’s new BT11A, straight out of the box, from the equally new Alec Mildren BT11A driven by Frank Gardner and Jim Palmer’s year old BT7A. How about that, Brabham Intercontinental cars from first to third places, with Jack not driving any of them!

Ron Tauranac’s first in a series of three very successful Coventry Climax engined cars, Tauranac tagged them as ‘IC’ for ‘Intercontinental’, was the 1962 BT4, based on that years BT3 F1 FWMV Coventry Climax 1.5 litre V8 engined car.

Jack raced the first of these in the 1962 Australian Grand Prix at Caversham, Western Australia, having a great dice with Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 until a back-marker took him out late in the race. This was followed by the 1964 BT7A and the 1965 BT11A.

Frank Gardner’s Mildren Brabham BT11A Climax being pushed onto the grid. The lanky chap at the back is Glenn Abbey, long time Mildren and Kevin Bartlett mechanic (Fistonic)

The BT11A’s were phenomenally successful in both Australasia and South Africa, winning lots of races and championships not least the 1966/7 Australian Gold Star Championship for Spencer Martin in the very same chassis raced by Graham Hill to victory at Pukekohe.

The cars were utterly conventional, simple and oh-so-fast spaceframe chassis cars with outboard wishbone suspension out the front and outboard multi-link at the rear- single top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and coil springs with Armstrong shocks. Like all customer Brabhams they went like the clappers straight out of the box as the base suspension setup was done on circuit by Jack’s ‘highly tuned arse’. Many championships were won by Brabham customers not straying too far from factory suspension settings!

After the NZ GP the Tasman circus upped sticks from Pukekohe and drove the 500 km from the North of New Zealand’s North Island to its South, not too far from Wellington. Levin is now a town of about 20,000 people, then it would have been less than half that, and services the local rural and light manufacturing sectors.

Bruce, Ray Stone in blue and Wally Willmott? Cooper T79 (Fistonic)

Jim Clark quickly got dialled in to his new Lotus 32B and down to business, opening his Tasman account by winning the Levin Motor Racing Club’s 30.8-mile ‘Gold Leaf International Trophy’ at fractionally more than 76.6 mph.

The Flying Scotsman cut out the twenty-eight laps in fine style in 24 min. 5.9 sec and put in his seventh lap in 49.9 sec. In 1964 Denny Hulme (2.5 Brabham-Climax) had set records of 24 min 36.8 sec and 50.3 sec in this event. Repeating their NZGP form, Brabham-Climax conductors Frank Gardner and Jim Palmer, filled second and third spots, while next in line were the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team 2.5 Cooper-Climaxes of Phil Hill, T70 and McLaren, T79.

Graham Hill, Lex Davison and Arnold Glass shipped their cars to Australia after the NZ Grand Prix. Wanganui driver, and later multiple Kiwi Champion, 1970 Tasman Champion and winner of many Asian Grands Prix, Graeme Lawrence had at last got hold of his Brabham BT6 which was making its first appearance at Levin. As noted above Brabham was having a Christmas break and did not join the series until the first Australian round at Sydney’s Warwick Farm in mid-February.

Levin is a tight, twisty and bumpy circuit. Newcomers Clark and Hill quickly had the 1.1-mile track sorted. Clark’s qualifying lap was a 49.4 whilst Phil Hill managed 50 sec, the same time as his team leader McLaren.

Phil Hill aboard the updated Cooper T70 Climax raced by Tim Mayer and Bruce McLaren in 1964. Compare and contrast with the ’65 model T79 below (Fistonic)

Bruce had a bitter-sweet 1964 Tasman Series. He won the championship in one of two Cooper T70’s he and his Kiwi mechanic Wally Willmott built at the Cooper Surbiton works.

These cars, raced by Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, are generally acknowledged as the first McLarens, built as they were in a corner of the Cooper factory to McLaren’s design. The second car was raced by American ‘coming man’ Tim Mayer with great speed and skill until he made a mistake on the daunting, fast, unforgiving Longford road circuit in Tasmania which took the young drivers life.

The undamaged T70 was updated during the winter to be raced by 1961 F1 World Champion Phil Hill with Bruce racing a new chassis, an evolved T70 designated T79, a spaceframe chassis was again used. The main difference between the cars were inboard front suspension on the T79 whereas the older T70 was outboard. The T79 used a nice, reliable but then new Hewland gearbox whereas the T70’s used a Colotti in one chassis and a Cooper/Citroen CS5 in the other. I wrote an article about Tim Mayer a while back, read it by following the link at the bottom of the page for details of the T70 design rather than repeat it all again here.

Hill P had a terrific Tasman which was a tonic for him as his single-seater career had stalled somewhat since his F1 title winning year. 1962 was a shocker for him with Ferrari who had failed to develop the 156,1963 in an ATS was far worse and his drives for Cooper reflected the fact that design wise, their cars were becoming outdated. If there was any doubt about Hills single-seater speed, he proved he ‘cut the mustard’ aboard a competitive year old car in the ’65 Tasman.

Bruce McLaren aboard his Cooper T79 Climax in the Levin paddock (Fistonic)

The Mayer/McLaren/Hill Cooper T70 Climax raced by all three drivers, originally carrying chassis plate ‘FL-1-64’, re-plated by McLaren prior to the ’65 Tasman to ‘FL-2-64’ passed through the hands of Bill Patterson for driver John McDonald, Don O’Sullivan and others before being acquired by Richard Berryman in 1974. The car was eventually beautifully restored by his son Adam in Melbourne, who retains and races it. The T79 was sold after the Tasman to John Love in South Africa who won many races in it before it later returned to the UK, it too still exists.

Back to Levin practice and qualifying…

Levis with the 1.5 Brabham BT6 Ford was in the groove with a brilliant 51.1 sec, his time put all the 2.5 drivers to shame. Palmer could only manage 51.7 sec in his Brabham BT7A, Grant 51.9 sec in his BT4, Abernethy did 52.2 in his Cooper T66 and Gardner was credited with 53.5 sec in Alec Mildren’s BT11A. Grant was a late arrival. His Brabham-Climax had undergone a major engine rebuild since the discovery of a cracked crankshaft on the eve of the Grand Prix. Second quickest 1.5 was Buchanan’s Brabham BT6 Ford with 52.0 sec. Qualifying times were academic in the sense that grid positions for the feature race were decided on heat results.

Jim Clark again chillin at Levin ’65 (Fistonic)

The eight-lap heat on raceday morning contained all overseas drivers and favoured locals.

‘Clark, sharing the front row with McLaren and Hill, jumped into the lead from the start and remained there to the finish. Hill, McLaren, Palmer and Grant settled into the next four spots after Gardner had dropped out with distributor trouble. The contest was enlivened a little by Palmer catching Grant napping on the seventh lap and assuming fourth place. Clark won in 6 min 49.8 sec and set a new lap record of 49.9 sec’ sergent.com reports.

Council of war- Phil Hill in the pristine white race suit with Bruce front and centre, his allegiance to Firestone clear. Who are the other dudes? (Fistonic)

Levis had things all his own way in the second heat, winning in 7 min 13.5 sec, with Andy Buchanan, also in a 1.5 Brabham BT6 Ford, next. Third and fourth were Red Dawson Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 and John Riley in a Lotus 18/21 Climax 2.5. The situation was confused by Gardner who, anxious to make sure all was well with his car, was permitted to use the heat as a test run and took the lead in the last two laps.

Before the title race there was some feverish work in the Palmer pit to replace a cracked universal joint in his Brabham BT7A Climax. In a drama filled day for the team, an hour before the race was due to start, another close inspection revealed a hairline crack in a half-shaft. A replacement was found and fitted minutes before the cars were gridded.

Dummy grid or form up area prior to the Levin International- Clark on pole then McLaren and Hill, the yellow of Gardner on row 2 (Fistonic)

Clark, Lotus 32B had pole position in the main event with Hill, Cooper T70 and McLaren, Cooper T79 outside him.

In rows of three, the rest of the field comprised Palmer, Brabham BT7A, Grant, Brabham BT4, Gardner, Brabham BT11A; Levis, Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5, Buchanan, Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5, Abernethy  Cooper T66; Dawson, Cooper T53, Thomasen, Brabham BT4, Brabham BT4 Riley; Flowers, Lola Mk4A, Smith, Lotus 22 Ford 1.5 Lawrence, Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5; and at the back Hollier, Lotus 20B Ford 1.5. As the cars were forming on the grid, Abernethy could not select a gear and he had to abort the start’.

‘Clark made a good start with Grant, Hill and McLaren right with him. To the elation of the partisan crowd, Grant proceeded to take McLaren and Hill on braking into the hairpin. When they came round the first time the leaders were Clark, Grant, Phil Hill, McLaren, Palmer, Gardner and Levis

A 51.6 sec second lap gave Clark a 3 sec lead over Grant. In his fourth lap Palmer took McLaren and in another two laps had moved to third place ahead of Hill. Clark held on to his lead over Grant. There was then a gap of 3 sec to Palmer, with Hill and Gardner next in line. McLaren, probably to his embarrassment, had the 1.5 drivers Levis and Buchanan looming large in his mirrors.

Clark on the way to Levin International victory 1965, Lotus 32B Climax (sergent.com)

The pattern changed dramatically during the tenth lap. Grant tried to correct a slide at Cabbage-Tree Bend, dropped a rear wheel into the rough and spun off the course to lose all chance in such a short race. Palmer took second spot, but not for long. Gardner in the next three laps bridged the gap to take over second place just 5 sec behind Clark. Next in line were Hill, McLaren and Levis. Flowers was out with transmission failure in the troublesome Lola on lap 14.

Those opening laps had been fast and furious. In their sixth lap Grant and Gardner had returned 50.6 sec in the midst of heavy traffic. A lap later Clark equaled his morning record of 49.9 sec.

As the race reached the last stages, Clark continued to circulate in a steady 51 sec. Gardner in two laps reduced Clark’s advantage from 11 sec to 9 sec while Palmer closed up to be 2 sec behind the Australian, but Clark was given the ‘hurry’ signal and moved out again with effortless ease to come home 11.3 sec ahead of Gardner with Palmer 4.7 sec further back. Thomasen retired with only a handful of laps remaining.’

BP all the way, Bruce and Ray Stone in blue fuelling up the T79. Front on shot shows the top rocker/inboard front suspension of the car (Fistonic)

Bibliography…

sergent.com, oldracingcars.com

Cooper T70/Tim Mayer Article Link…

https://primotipo.com/?s=tim+mayer

Photo Credits…

Milan Fistonic, Peter Mellor, The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Winners are grinners, the first of many such occasions for Jim Clark in 1965 at Levin…

(Fistonic)

Finito…

 

 

(Feisst)

Max Stewart looks pretty happy aboard his pristine, new Elfin MR5 Repco, New Zealand Grand Prix, Pukekohe 1972…

He is talking to Elfin works mechanic Dale Koenneke, well known in Australia for his work with Elfins, John McCormack and later K&A Engineering, an enduring partnership in Adelaide he formed with Harry Aust.

Max took to F5000 like a duck to water. His speed in 2 litre cars- he won the 1971 Australian Gold Star series in his trusty Mildren Waggott 2 litre was immediately transferred across to the more demanding 5 litre, 480bhp MR5. The Elfin wasn’t the ‘ducks guts’ of cars albeit John McCormack developed his car to a fine race, and championship winning pitch. But in 1972 Max was the fastest guy aboard an MR5- a quicker driver than Garrie Cooper, McCormack and John Walker. Very soon McCormack and Walker developed ultimate speed whereas Garrie- quick in a Tasman 2.5 car was never more than a journeyman in 5 litre single-seaters.

Stewart booting the MR5 around Warwick Farm during the 1972 ‘Hordern Trophy’ Gold Star round- 3rd behind Frank Matich’s Matich A50 Repco and Kevin Bartlett’s Lola T300 Chev (Aust Motor Racing Annual)

The MR5 looked superb. Even though Alec Mildren abandoned his race team at the end of 1970 Max kept the Mildren yellow team colour on his own cars- both the Mildren Waggott in 1971 and MR5 in 1972. He retained the Seiko and BP sponsorships too. What a sad day for Australian motor-racing it was when Alec finally pulled the pin. He was such a wonderful benefactor/entrant of Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett and Max Stewart and others, but those fellas in particular.

The MR5 wasn’t the ‘Silver Hammer’ at all for Max though. That car was undoubtedly the racer which followed, his ex-works Frank Gardner driven development prototype Lola T330 Chev ‘HU1’. It was the very first of that ‘category destroying’! series of dominant T330/332 Lolas. Max made HU1 sing for years and was always competitive with the T332’s. Both the T330 and MR5 ’5722’ are still in Australia, restored and exercised regularly.

Photo Credits…

Mike Feisst Collection on The Roaring Season, Neil Stratton, Australian Motor Racing Annual 1973, Tony Glenn

Tailpiece: Stewart swallowed by his Lola’s schnorkel, Pukekohe paddock 1973…

(Feisst)

Whilst Frank Gardner ‘retired’ from single-seater racing towards the end of the 1972 Tasman Series he continued to test openwheelers in his capacity as Lola’s development engineer/tester. He also raced this chassis, T330 ‘HU1’ once or twice in some end of season European F5000 Championship rounds in 1972 as he developed the production spec 1973 T330 for Eric Broadley.

HU1 was then sold to Max to run in the ’73 Tasman with Gardner on hand to advise the lanky Aussie on how to extract the best from the car, which he most certainly did. Here the car is in the Pukekohe paddock twelve months after the shot at this articles outset, both photos taken by the same photographer, Mike Feisst.

Max 5th aboard T330 HU1 during the final, sodden Warwick Farm Tasman in 1973. Steve Thompson won in a Chevron B24 Chev (Tony Glenn)

Postscript: The choice of Elfin/Repco/Lola/Chev…

Stewart didn’t have great reliability from the MR5 in either the ’72 Tasman or the Gold Star- his best results were a 5th and 4th at Pukekohe and Levin in the Tasman and two 3rd places in the Gold Star at his home NSW tracks of Oran Park and Warwick Farm.

The decision to go with Lola was an easy one. He had witnessed at first hand the speed of the T300’s driven by his mate Kevin Bartlett, Bob Muir and others and no doubt Frank Gardner was able to impress upon him the speed of the coming T330. Frank Matich was at the front of the Repco queue- FM was their works driver after all, with perhaps McCormack and Cooper getting the next best customer engines.

Lola Chev was an eminently sensible move which paid off in spades for Max albeit not initially! The story of Stewarts’ success in his Lola’s is one for another time, suffice it to say aboard T330 ‘HU1’ he won the 1974 Teretonga and Oran Park Tasman rounds, the Australian Gold Star Series winning five of the six rounds including the Australian Grand Prix at Oran Park. Quite a season for the popular boy from Orange.

Max Stewart ahead of great friend and rival Kevin Bartlett during the 1974 Gold Star round at Oran Park won by Max. Lola T330 from T332 . KB DNF, Max won from the T332’s of Warwick Brown and Graeme Lawrence (Stratton)

Finito…

 

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 (oldracephotos.com)

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 ? (oldracephotos.com)

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 (oldracephotos.com)

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 (oldracephotos.com)

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.

(oldracephotos.com)

Photo Credits…

Oldracephotos.com- Harrison and David Keep

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

Other Reading…

Pete Geoghegan and his Falcon GTHO ‘Super Falcon’

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/15/greatest-ever-australian-touring-car-championship-race-bathurst-easter-1972/

Pete’s 1965 Mustang notchback

http://www.bowdensown.com.au/collection/ian-pete-geoghegans-1965-mustang

Finito…

image

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.

image

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 oldracingcars.com and Ten Tenths, just Google away.

image

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.

Bibliography…

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…

(Sutton)

 

 

 

(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! (oldracephotos.com/D 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 (oldracephotos.com/Harrison)

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;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

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! (oldracephotos.com/D 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…

oldracingcars.com, sergent.com.au, ‘Dino: The Little Ferrari’ Doug Nye

Photo Credits…

Mr Riethmaier, oldracephotos.com, 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

(TR0003)

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…

http://forums.autosport.com/forum/10-the-nostalgia-forum/

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

(TR0003)

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.

brabham

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’.

cobden

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

Circuit Map…

druitt circuit

(unattributed)

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. (speedwayandroadracehistory.com)

Bibliography…

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

Photos…

John Ellacott, TR0003, G & L Liebrand Collection

Finito…