Posts Tagged ‘Frank Kleinig’

kleinig rob roy

(George Thomas)

Frank Kleinig, awesome driver that he was, attacks Rob Roy Hillclimb, left front pawing the air in his self built Kleinig Hudson Spl, 1947…

He won the Australian Hillclimb championship twice, at Rob Roy in 1948 and Hawkesbury in 1949, on both occasions at the wheel of this iconic and still extant Hudson straight-8 powered special.

Frank Leonard Kleinig was born on 10 November 1911 and died on 27 May 1976- he was one of the greatest of Australian racers of the inter and early post-war period who really should have won an AGP or two but never quite pulled it off in a career which went all the way from 1936 into the dawn of the sixties.

This is far from a complete history of the man but rather a story built around the ‘Kirby-Deering Special’ aka the ‘Kleinig Hudson Special’. Please treat the article as ‘work in progress’, some of you will have records that I do not, not least David Rapley who restored the car for its Melbourne enthusiast owner Tom Roberts.

I thought, ‘i’ll chuck it up with what I have and modify from there’ rather than try for perfection before uploading.

Mind you, the work online of John Medley and Bob King have unearthed some amazing fresh photographs from the Kleinig Family Collection via Daniel Kleinig and other information in the last couple of weeks. My contact is mark@bisset.com.au. The thing is 10,000 words now, a two beer read, let’s go for another 2,000 or so of detail…

The ill-fated Buckley/Kleinig combination aboard the McIntyre Hudson at Phillip Island in November 1935 (B King Collection)

 

‘The Car’ 15 November 1935 via (B King Collection)

John Medley advises that young mechanic Kleinig’s opportunity to race came about due to the misfortune of his boss at Kirby Engineering, EJ ‘Joe’ Buckley who had established his own competition reputation as an inter-capital record setter of considerable national renown.

Kleinig, employed by Kirby’s, accompanied driver Buckley who was racing one of the two racers owned by ‘McIntyre’s Picture Circuits’ theatre owner/entrepreneur William August ‘Gus’ McIntyre at Phillip Island for the first race meeting held on the new 3.312 mile ‘triangular road course’ on the Melbourne Cup long weekend, 6 November 1935.

Gus owned both the McIntyre Hudson/Hudson Special, a modified Hudson drophead and was in the process of construction of the Kirby-Deering Special (KD) a wild, Miller supercharged straight-eight powered racer of more anon.

Phillip Island in its original rectangular, circa 6 miles form, with its narrow, undulating, fast and dangerous gravel/sand surface was deemed too hazardous to hold the Australian Grand Prix, so a shorter course was mapped and used. It seems the last meeting on the original track was the ‘Winter 100’ handicap 100 miler won by Alf Barrett’s Morris Cowley Spl on 3 June 1935.

The new layout formed a ‘traditional triangle’ and included the whole of the old Pit Straight, inclusive of ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’ corners with the apex of the triangle formed by ‘School’ corner.

Buckley, with Kleinig as riding mechanic was entered in the all-comers 116 mile handicap ‘Australian Race Drivers Cup’.

John Medley wrote that the start/finish line was opposite the School House. Buckley, who started from scratch carrying #1, crashed at School House Corner, almost but not quite completing the first lap. The car rolled, Buckley’s feet were caught in the pedals with Kleinig thrown clear, badly bruised but ok.

Spectators and officials rushed forward, rolled the hefty Hudson back onto its wheels. The badly injured Buckley- who broke his back either in the initial roll or the Good Samaritan one which followed, was hospitalised in Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital and later a Sydney facility for months, never to race again.

The Melbourne Age speculated that the accident was caused by the very dusty conditions and a bump ‘wide out’ which he is thought to have hit, ‘tripping’ the car, but the race promoters, the ARDC were having none of that- ‘It was claimed that the dust on the corner was responsible, but this is wrong, as there was not a car within two-hundred yards of School Corner at the time. It appears that he was trying to make up his handicap of over sixteen minutes, and took the corner a trifle too fast…’

Bowral’s Les Burrows, in another Hudson Terraplane won the race in 1 hour 47 minutes 21 seconds, an average of 64.83mph (see Etcetera section at this pieces end for a bit more about Les) from the G Bastow, Singer Le Mans and Harry Beith’s Chrysler.

Whilst Buckley was being looked after in hospital Kleinig repaired the car and drove it back to Sydney- and shortly thereafter was offered the drive by McIntyre.

(B King Collection)

(B King Collection)

Clive Gibson, Kleinig employee and later owner of the McIntyre Hudson, said to John Medley that FK didn’t rate Joe’s talents at the wheel ‘FK thought Joe a poor driver who looked dangerous on the first few corners and turned over on lap one.’

The McIntyre Hudson was originally a hobby/plaything for the wealthy cinema owner, who had led a remarkable life, he travelled widely, had varied sporting interests including  motorcycle racing, Kings Cup shooting, rowing, yachting and fishing before his decade long motor sport career. The McIntyre Hudson was built for serious intent though- a race across Africa in 1936, that event was abandoned after Italy invaded Abyssinia, the car was then deployed for a full life in Australia- races, hillclimbs, sprints, trials and as a fast road machine, happily it still exists.

McIntyre knew Kleinig, he ‘used to get his cylinder heads from Kirby’s, who cast and machined them, and he had his eye on Frank as a likely youngster, so, when he decided to build a special racing car (the KD)…he got Frank into the plot’ wrote Bob Pritchett in Australian Motor Sports.

Frank owned and had a tragic accident in a Bugatti Brescia in June 1933, but his competition in that car, if any, seems to have been limited- more of the Brescia later. Note that by the standards of the time the monoposto, 175 or thereabouts bhp KD was a very quick machine in which to commence ones racing career- starting in an F2 car is perhaps to put the scale of the challenge in a modern context.

Maybe, although results published on Trove (Australian digital newspaper archive) do not support it, Kleinig was blooded initially in the McIntyre?

Whatever the case, Kleinig was immediately quick in the Kirby-Deering, his first race, according to Barry Lake was at Penrith Speedway when the track was re-opened by Frank Arthur in June 1936.

It is not clear exactly when the long awaited Kirby-Deering first turned a wheel but it seems that FK’s first public drive of the car was during the Saturday 1 February 1936 annual New South Wales Light Car Club organised speed record attempts held on Canberra’s Northbourne Avenue- a straight, well surfaced stretch of road ideal for the purpose.

Only seven cars took the challenge that year, the quickest of which was Tom Peters in the ex-Bill Thompson twice AGP winning Bugatti T37A, he did the Flying Mile in 106.8mph- a bit slower than the state mark set by Thompson the year before at 112mph.

Second quickest was the Kirby-Deering at 105.8mph, the Referee reported that ‘This Sydney built hybrid has taken nearly two years to get into competition, but it shows great possibilities. It was probably “over-trained” on the morning of the contest: the driver, young Frank Kleinig, usually occupies the mechanics seat and during the runs the broken exhaust note told of plug trouble. But once the car gets going, Thompson’s mile record is in danger.’

Gus McIntyre, driving the McIntyre Hudson, proved the low end grunt of his mount by completing the first half in 108.4mph but fell away towards the end for a 103.4mph average.

The KD is fifth from the bottom in this shot #6 with Kleinig about to mount up for the 50 Mile Olympic (as in tyres) Handicap at Victor Harbor (spelling correct) during the SA Centenary meeting second day on 29 December 1936- the 1936 AGP was run on Boxing Day. Its a rare shot so indulge me despite the Kirby-Deering being a tad difficult to see. From the bottom is #1 J Fagan MG K3, then Tom Peters Bugatti T37A, then Lord Waleran and Lyster Jackson in K3’s- then #6 Kleinig. #12 is Les Burrows Hudson, #17 the Harry Beith Terraplane and the light coloured car with a dark bonnet is Jack Phillips Ford V8 Spl (R Garth)

That year Kleinig contested speedway events, hillclimbs and the blue-riband 1936 Australian Grand Prix (South Australian Centenary GP) held on the challenging, once only used, gravel, Victor Harbor-Port Elliott road circuit that December 26, he retired after 6 laps with a burst radiator having driven the McIntyre Hudson.

Kleinig practiced the Kirby-Deering and McIntyre the ‘Hudson Terraplane’ (McIntyre Hudson) that weekend.

The Adelaide News reported that Kleinig was one of the most spectacular drivers of the meeting and that he ran out of fuel at Nangawooka Hairpin and had to walk half a mile back to the pits to get replenishment. No times were taken of the sessions, it seems that McIntyre/Kleinig determined the more appropriate mount for the fast, sandy-gravel course was the McIntyre Hudson so the K-D was put to one side for the Centenary Grand Prix but was raced in the ‘Olympic 50 Mile Handicap’ event on 29 December.

Held three days after the GP, another large crowd, this time estimated at over 20,000 people watched Stanley Woods win the Junior and Senior TT events on Velocettes, ‘the most exciting race was the car event in which great great speed and superb cornering brought spectators to their feet in the stands.’

Barney Dentry won in a Riley from Lord Waleran in John Snow’s MG K3 Magnette and Les Burrows’ Hudson third- Frank was not mentioned in the Advertisers race report other than that he was twelfth of fifteen starters in the K-D.

FK taking mum for a ride I wonder? Slender body by Gough Bros, Sydney, what is the lever on this side? Road registration makes it a wild road car! (Kleinig Family)

Kirby-Deering Special design, construction and development…

Gus McIntyre clearly had his public relations machine working, expectations of the completion of his new car were being speculated upon in the press later in 1934, in time for the Victorian Centenary 300 mile Grand Prix albeit the car did not finally appear until late 1935, one report had it that initial test runs would be conducted on the Bulli Pass- now that would have been exciting for anybody in the area at the time!

The basis of the car was an MG Magna ‘L Type’ tourer owned by noted Australian racing driver, speedway promoter, businessman and later President of The Royal Automobile Club of Australia, John Sherwood.

Sherwood recalled the machine in ‘Cars and Drivers’ ‘I also owned an ‘L’ type Magna…I sold it to the late WA McIntyre who had a saloon body fitted to it. He and his wife were big people and couldn’t fit into it without great discomfort so he eventually removed the body and gave the chassis to Frank Kleinig. This became the basis of the 1.5 litre Miller engined Kirby-Deering Special and later the Kleinig Hudson.’

WA McIntyre was immaculately connected and had a couple of titans of Australian industry in James Norman Kirby (later Sir James) and Harold Hastings Deering supporting his exotic new racing car- separately both men created enormous fortunes.

In Kirby’s case, he was born in Sydney, educated in Newtown and was initially apprenticed as a motor mechanic. After the success of a small enterprise repairing motor-cycles he established James N Kirby Pty Ltd in 1924- an automotive engine rebuilding business which in time employed Buckley and Kleinig.

He later expanded into the importation and assembly of cars and the manufacture of electrical whitegoods, machine tools, ordnance, establishment of an assembly plant for cars (British Motor Corporation at Zetland) and much more. Despite his modest formal education he was involved as a leader in industry bodies and was appointed as a Director of some of Australia’s largest companies including Qantas- he was knighted in 1962.

Born in Ashfield, Sydney in 1896 Hastings travelled to the UK and was commissioned in the British Army before transferring to the the Royal Flying Corps and later the RAF during the War. He served in England and France in the same squadron as (Sir) Charles Kingsford-Smith.

After postwar employment in the UK, upon return to Australia he set up Deering Engineering Co, establishing an agency for AEC bus manufacturers in Australia. He later had what was the largest Ford Dealership in the world- the sole metropolitan distributorship for Ford in Sydney selling 7,000 new and 12,000 used cars a year! Later he obtained the Caterpillar agency- Hastings Deering still holds that and more.

The smart-arse observation is that with backers of this wealth- noting that both men were still ‘on the up’ in the mid-thirties, why not have bought a Miller car, rather than ‘just’ the engine…Then again, maybe it was about good old Aussie enterprise? The commercial arrangements between the parties would be interesting to know.

Kirby died on 30 July 1971 and Deering on 16 June 1965, both in Sydney at Vaucluse and Homebush respectively.

By 1932 the Australia Street Newtown workshops of James N Kirby Pty Ltd were too small for the 25 employees, so the move was made to a larger freehold property at 75-85 Salisbury Road Camperdown that March- it is here, 4km from central Sydney that the Kirby-Deering Special was constructed.

The Sydney Referee’s 25 October 1934 issue reported that Joe Buckley was in charge of the cars build, in more modern times the credit for the KD is attributed to Kleinig solely- period newspaper articles suggest this is incorrect whilst noting that Frank was a key part of the team which built the thing.

The Magna chassis was used fitted with the front and back axles of a four-cylinder French Mathis car. The semi-elliptic springs were a Magna-Mathis combination with the back axle located above the chassis. The huge drum brakes of the Mathis were also deployed.

‘For better cornering the chassis is crab-tracked being several inches wider in the front than in the back.’

The streamlined steel body was built by Gough Brothers who had also created the body of the Stewart Enterprise land speed record car- lets leave that particular tangent well alone.

Doug Ramsay, FK’s apprentice, Jack Stevens of Silex Mufflers, FK and WA McIntyre- date and place unknown (C Gibson)

 

Kleinig, Kirby-Deering Spl, Penrith 1937 (Kleinig Family)

 

Harry Arminius Miller with one of his centrifugally supercharged 1.5 litre straight-8’s (unattributed)

 

Kirby-Deering Miller Spl, rare shot of the 1.5 litre s-8 centrifugal supercharged engine. Chassis MG Magna, brakes and front axle Mathis. Of the Olympic Air Ride tyres racer/engineer/restorer Greg Smith wrote ‘…we called them ‘Slippery Sams’ as they had no grip at all. Beaurepaire’s were the owners of Olympic Tyres, so called because Sir Frank Beaurepaire was an Olympic swimmer (3 silver and 3 bronze medals in the London, Antwerp and Paris games and 15 world records). Question- Is the small cog wheel and worm used as a rack drive accelerator by pushing the worm axle or a rotary motion for mixture?’ Greg concludes ‘The engine has the uber expensive Robert Bosch 8 cylinder racing magneto, in todays money GB pound 10,000 for a second hand one’ (Kleinig Family)

‘The Referee’ recorded that the motor ‘…is the supercharged 8-cylinder Miller engine, which was in the car that came second in the Indianapolis 500 four years ago…’ Shorty Cantlon was second in 1930 aboard the ‘Miller Schofield’, a Stevens Miller engine/chassis combination which was also raced by that years winner, Billy Arnold.

The quoted power of these 91.5cid engines was initially 154bhp @ 7000rpm but that rose with refinement to both the engine itself and it’s intercoolers.

The motor was cast in two blocks of four cylinders, the crank having four main white metal bearings. Two valves per cylinder were driven by twin-overhead camshafts, ‘the centrifugal blower revs at five times engine speed and is driven off a big ring gear in front of the flywheel. Normal revs are 7000.’

The KD’s gearbox was a Mathis three speed attached to a Mathis differential via a short, strong driveshaft two feet six inches in length.

The complete car was expected to weigh 13 1/2 cwt and had an estimated top speed of 130mph- at that time the KD was anticipated to race in the upcoming Phillip Island meeting on 27 October and then at Maroubra in Sydney’s southern beachside suburbs on 24 November 1934.

Frank and his team surrounded by admirers in Canberra after the May 1937 Speed Trials- note the discs on the wheels and special guards at the front to reduce air resistance- car very handsome in this specification- Kirby Deering Miller Spl (A Collingridge)

 

Sydney ‘Referee’ 29 April 1937

The Referee’s 3 January 1935 article reported on the frantic work being carried out to have the car ready for the New Years Day Victorian Centenary meeting at Phillip Island reflecting upon five months work to get to that point, ‘The streamlined body was a thing of beauty and…loving craftsmanship put into the job’. The plan was to complete the machine, truck the car to the Island and test it there.

Problems immediately arose when the exotic engine was started, despite a ‘satisfying clamour water oozed through the plugs, the defect was traced to metal inserts holding the blocks- apparently the rubber grommets had perished’. The towel was thrown in after attempts at soldering failed.

The car was weighed- with Buckley, who was to drive at the Island aboard, 28 gallons of fuel and 5 gallons of oil the racer weighed 17cwt ‘quite Grand Prix-ish’.

‘When the trouble has been cleared up it is likely the Kirby-Deering will attempt the mile records, standing and flying’…albeit that would be twelve months hence!

Bob Pritchett picks up the challenges of the cars early development in AMS.

‘At first, the car whilst extremely fast, was also extremely hard to handle, and it was only by a painstaking process of trial and error and experiments with weight distribution, steering geometry and ratios, shock absorbers, spring rates and so on (at one time the car carried 2 cwt of lead ballast aft so that the rear springs would work), that it was brought to the stage that it could be driven up to its potential performance.’

‘Even then the final drive ratio was too high; the Miller engine didn’t get really cracking until it was spinning at over 6200rpm and Frank says that by the time he had wound it up to this pitch the car was starting to take off properly- he had usually reached the stage where he was running out of straight and he had to begin all over again…at the Canberra Speed Trial he entered the flying mile in second gear and covered the distance at an average of 117mph, crossing the line at something over 135, he thinks that, given sufficient breathing space, she could have been worked up to about 145 or more mph. Not bad for a home-made 1 1/2 litre special. The supercharger was geared to about five and a bit times engine speed, which means that at times it was turning at 42000rpm, which is a bit staggering when you come to think of it.’

With the development of the car ongoing, it was almost unbeatable in Frank’s hands at Penrith in 1936 and 1937, he had become almost a household name in Sydney, until a spectacular rollover there on Monday 26 April 1937.

He was lucky to escape injury from the accident- having strayed to the edge of the track, the car tripped flinging him free, then rolled several times and ‘crashed down a foot of where he lay stunned’ bruised and battered but otherwise ok.

In the best racing tradition FK worked all week to repair the damage and carry complete some detailed streamlining of the KD inclusive of discs on the wheels to allow him to run at the annual Canberra Speed Trials in May 1937.

Frank did 116.9mph over the measured quarter of a mile besting Bill Thompson’s Bugatti T37A’s 112mph. His standing quarter mile time was also quickest of the day at 16.6 seconds from Jack Saywell’s Railton 4.1 litre.

Kleinig at speed on Northbourne Avenue on one of the KD’s runs in 1937. Even tho it’s not sharp note the largely covered radiator, with only a small hole for air and the fairings over the front wheels. Marvellous (Kleinig Collection)

 

Kirby-Deering, a bit of a mystery shot as to location and driver, perhaps Tom Peters, Tim Shellshear thinks (T Shellshear)

 

Another cracker of a shot from Daniel Kleinig this time of the exhaust side of the KD which appears, with vestigial rear guards, set up for a trial- the actual venue a hillclimb coz there is a hill present…venue anyone? Love the heart shaped grille (Kleinig Family)

 

Kleinig in the McIntyre Hudson from KR McDonald, Standard Spl during the Interstate GP, Wirlinga, Albury in March 1938, DNF. Jack Phillips won in a Ford V8 Spl

Kirby-Deering Special evolves into the Hudson Special…

During 1937 Kleinig continued to race the McIntyre Hudson as well as the KD amongst other things setting hillclimb records at Cessnock (Mount View), Waterfall Gully and Broughton Pass, all in New South Wales.

The Kirby-Deering proved itself a great sprint car but was dogged by unreliability in longer distance events and so ‘The pale blue Kirby Deering Spl was rebuilt into the royal blue Kleinig Spl with 4168cc Hudson 8 power for the 1938 Bathurst AGP (and was beaten only once at Penrith in this form)’ wrote John Medley.

‘While the Miller 8 motor was superb and effective for the rolling starts of Penrith Speedway, the torquey Hudson 8 was considered better equipment for the swoops and dives of Bathurst. Right idea- but the strengthened chassis and MG brakes were found to be deficient. The development of the Kleinig Hudson proceeded over the next 15 years’.

The exotic Miller engine was put to one side of the Kirby workshop- lets come back to it later on.

Kleinig’s AGP on the new Mount Panorama tourist road only lasted 5 laps, he was out with a broken fan belt, the race won in dominant style by the visiting Peter Whitehead in his ERA B Type ‘R10B’. Some compensation for Frank was a win in a short handicap preliminary earlier in the day.

Legend has it that ‘Conrod Straight’ at Bathurst acquired its name as a consequence of a big blow up of FK’s Hudson engine during the second Easter meeting in 1939, the rod punched a big hole in the block. The 1940 Bathurst program named the straight ‘Conrod’ and FK had the errant component chrome plated as a keepsake!

1939 started well with Frank’s first visit to Rob Roy during the New Years weekend- he had the big Hudson running beautifully and became the first driver to go under 30 seconds, setting a new record at 29.72 seconds.

The great form transferred to Aspendale Speedway when FK unofficially broke the lap record set by Peter Whitehead’s ERA B Type during his long successful tour of Australia the year before.

During 1939 McIntyre sold (or gave?) the Hudson Special to Kleinig which henceforth became the Kleinig Hudson Special. In the lead up to the 1939 Easter meeting the car had been lightened and its MG Magna brakes replaced by more powerful Minerva ones with Perrot operation, and the cars wheels modified to accommodate the big brakes.

Gus also sold the McIntyre Hudson to a Mrs Dixon, a divorced lady friend of her chosen driver, Kevin Salmon, at the same time- the car was entered as the ‘Salmon Motors Special’ during this period.

Medley wrote ‘Unfortunately Mrs Dixon surprised Salmon in bed with her daughter (testing the sponsors product, as it were) and she promptly sold the car to Frank Kleinig, who occasionally raced it post-war.’ Medley notes by that stage the car had been raced, hillclimbed and sprinted by McIntyre, Les Burrows, Joe Buckley and Frank Kleinig.

Despite the loss of his sponsor, Salmon continued his racing career into the sixties in an MG.

Kleinig’s speed and the effectiveness of the cars ongoing development as noted above, was amply demonstrated that Easter when he seemed assured of victory only to hear the death rattle of failed bearings end his race, victory going to John Sherwood’s  MG NE.

Better luck was in the offing during the October meeting when the car, painted red was second in the 150 mile race behind John Snow’s Delahaye 135CS and ahead of Bob Lea-Wright’s Hudson.

(JO Sherwood)

Two views of FK during the Easter, April meeting in 1939- the shot above shows Kleinig being closely watched by spectators as he apexes Hell Corner to head up Mountain Straight- with the pits and Pit Straight behind him.

The one below shows him exiting Murrays, at the bottom of Conrod Straight, entering Pit Straight. Its not the most beautiful of cars but brutally purposeful, distinctive and attractive if not seductive.

Mount Panorama 1939 (unattributed)

 

(JO Sherwood)

The way it was, Bathurst again, this time the line up for the 150 Mile Race, October 1939 meeting.

Up front is Alf Barrett’s Alfa Romeo Monza, then Colin Dunne’s MG K3 Magnette and beyond that John Snow’s slinky #14 Delahaye 135CS. #9 is the John Snow owned ex-Phil Garlick Alvis of 1920’s Maroubra fame- the machine that weekend driven by John Barraclough.

#3 is the McKellar Ford V8 Spl- this car famous as the ex-Bill Thompson twice AGP winning Bugatti Type 37A and infamous as the car, driven by Wal James, went into the crowd at Penrith in June 1938 killing three people- and then #2 Frank’s by then Kleinig Hudson Spl and then alongside the McIntyre Hudson, by then Salmon Special, driven by Kevin Salmon but owned by our Mrs Dixon.

The photograph is interesting in no shortage of ways not least to show the ‘competitive set’ in that immediate pre-War, and post-War period for that matter. The balance of the 150 Mile field was made up of MG T Series, Hudson/Terraplane Specials and Ford V8 Specials- and others with the only ‘Top Gun’ cars missing from this line-up Allan Tomlinson’s 1939 AGP winning MG TA Spl s/c, John Crouch’s Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Le Mans and Jack Saywell’s Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3.

The interesting story about Saywell’s aristocratic Grand Prix Alfa Romeo is that the engine was damaged in a workshop cock-up by the cars imported British mechanic- he goofed the engine’s timing and when turned over valves and pistons made contact in a manner not intended by Vittorio Jano.

Saywell, not confident the engine could be rebuilt in Australia despatched it by ship back to Italy whereupon ’twas never seen again- perhaps the exotic aluminium 2.9 litre supercharged straight-8 ended up somewhere between Jones Bay Wharf and Genoa. It raced on post-War with ‘black-iron’ engines fitted but was not reunited with an engine of original specification until restored in the early-sixties.

Superb shot of FK in the KH Spl heading into Quarry from Mountain Straight during the October 1939 Bathurst meeting (J Shepherd)

 

Kleinig whistling thru Lobethal township at speed during the 1939 AGP weekend at (N Howard)

The 1939 AGP was held on the fast, daunting, Lobethal Adelaide Hills bitumen road circuit.

Like all of the big cars Frank fried his tyres in the incredibly hot conditions. He and John Snow were the backmarkers, off 4 minutes 15 seconds, Frank only lasted 3 laps, the race was won by the vary fast, canny West Australian, Allan Tomlinson in a lithe, nimble, beautifully set up and prepared supercharged MG TA Spl off 11 minutes 30 seconds- one of the great AGP wins and a wonderful story (written) for another time.

The last Bathurst meeting pre-War was in 1940 by which time the Mathis gearbox casing was fitted with four close ratios, Frank was sixth plagued by carburettor troubles the race won by Alf Barrett’s Alfa Romeo Monza- he, like so many other young Australian racers was soon off to War.

Just how large a number of Australian racers took up the challenge of defending our freedoms from 1939-1945 is explored in a whole chapter devoted to the topic of John Medley’s ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’. In that context this snippet on the owner/sponsor of the McIntyre Hudson and Kirby-Deering Spl/Kleinig Hudson Spl is amazing and sobering.

’The Australian (war death) toll was no less (to that of the Europeans)- particularly in proportion to overall population. Even old hands were not spared: Walter Augustus McIntyre had been Frank Kleinig’s patron in the late 1930’s, had run in the typical trials of the day during and before that time, and been the man behind the McIntyre Hudson, built strong for the trans-Africa race of 1936 that did not happen because of Italy’s attack on Abyssinia. He was not a young man and was not in good health. He chose to do his bit in the war by carrying out private patrols of the NSW coast in his own boat, looking for submarines and any other enemy force. On one night patrol he became soaked in the very wet conditions, contracted pneumonia, and died’ in a Sydney private hospital about 27 June 1944 aged 59.

Post war the Kleinig Hudson was still competitive, winning the first event held at Bathurst, a hillclimb in January 1946.

Handicap meetings continued as standard fare across Australia for a while yet, Frank took a last lap win over the John Crouch MG in the ‘Victory Trophy’ at Strathpine, Queensland in August 1946.

Together with Crouch’s Delahaye 135CS he was off scratch in the Bathurst, 1946 New South Wales Grand Prix but clutch problems outed him early in the 150 mile race won by Alf Najar’s MG TB Monoposto Special.

Stunning clear photograph by a ‘Pix’ snapper. Mathis beam front axle, big mechanical drum brakes all around, ‘up and over’ exhaust for the side-valve straight-8 at this stage fed by a single carb, make? Note also the steering box and drag link (SLNSW)

The photo above is in the Mount Panorama pits, October 1946 during the New South Wales Grand Prix weekend. Kleinig was the limit man together with John Crouch’ Delahaye 135CS, DNF after completing only five laps, Alf Najar was the winner as noted above.

Note FK with kidney-belt on about to address the mechanicals- see the single carburettor being run at this meeting/stage of development in contrast with what was to come as below!

In 1947 Frank returned to Rob Roy with the Kleinig Hudson but Arthur Wylie triumphed that day, winning the Australian Hillclimb Championship with a time of 29.18 seconds in his ‘Wyliecar’ Ford A Model Special.

Undeterred, he returned to the Christmas Hills, outer Melbourne venue the following year and took the title doing a 28.72 seconds run- his ‘supertweak’ that year was using 7200rpm- that poor side-valve motor, and therefore using second gear for most of the journey. His good form carried over to his home turf when he took the 1948 title as well at the Hawkesbury climb that April.

The 1947 AGP was run at Bathurst with FK suffering a major engine failure on lap 27- the winner, Bill Murray’s MG TC.

Stunning shot of the KH straight-8 Hudson side valve engine in 1947 or 1948 at Rob Roy. Have you ever seen so many gee-gaws, bell cranks and levers in your life?! Four Amal carbs feeding eight cylinders, head- still side-valve cast by FK and his water injection system- the rail above the carb bell mouths carries water not fuel. Chromium plated exhausts are ‘up and over’ to get them away from induction side apparatus (E Davey-Milne)

 

Racer Earl Davey-Milne inspects the engineering marvel which is the KH straight-8 (E Davey-Milne)

In 1949 Kleinig was the favourite to win the AGP at the Leyburn, Queensland airfield track after a political dispute over the location of the race resulted in the Victorian drivers declining to enter- Barrett, Gaze, Davison, Dean and Whiteford included.

Putting that to one side, Kleinig’s pace was demonstrated at Bathurst that Easter with a win in the 25 lap over 1500cc Handicap and third in the All Powers 25 lap Handicap- and fastest times in both races, there was life in the old dog yet, over short distances at least.

Graham Howard’s account of the Leyburn event in the ‘History of the AGP’ records that ‘Kleinig’s continual development of the straight 8 side-valve Hudson engine had resulted in a car which could run a standing start quarter mile in under 15 secs and exceed more than 125mph’.

‘Among Kleinig’s modifications were a supplementary oil system which used an external pump driven from the nose of the crank by a chain, and a form of water injection direct into the special Kleinig cast cylinder head, with pressure from the water supply coming-ingeniously-from a line tapped into the exhaust system. Pre-race testing showed this gave much more pressure than was needed so a blow-off was fitted. The red Hudson was an intensely developed fiery style of car-which perfectly matched Kleinig’s driving. Probably at the time only Alf Barrett was faster, and plenty of people would argue about that too.’

In the race Kleinig started from pole position, it was the first time the grid of an AGP was based on practice times- a scratch rather than a handicap race, he led from the off but was in the pits by lap 9 as the water injection blow-off valve was discharging water onto the plugs.

He rejoined the race a lap behind the John Crouch driven Delahaye 135CS and soon after the car threw its water pump as a consequence of lots of loose road metal after completing 21 of the 35 laps, John Crouch won in the ex-John Snow Delahaye 135CS- some small compensation for Frank was sharing the fastest lap of the race with Crouch.

1949 AGP grid, Leyburn Qld, Dick Bland in George Reed Ford V8 Spl, #15 Keith Thallon, Jaguar SS100 #4 Crouch in the winning Delahaye 135CS, #8 Arthur Rizzo, Riley Spl and then Kleinig. Second row from this side, Alan Larsen, Regal Cadillac Spl, Snow Sefton Strathpine Ford V8 Spl and Rex Law Buick Spl. #3 is Arthur Bowes Hudson Spl #25 Doug McDonald Bugatti Dodge and #18 Garry Coglan MG TC Spl (unattributed)

 

FK in the Kleinig Hudson, Hell Corner, Mount Panorama 1951 (C Gibson)

 

Missing from the Mount Panorama grids in 1950 he returned in Easter 1951 but was out of luck in the over 1500cc handicap, having missed practice, with points which had closed up, but he was second in the 3 lap scratch behind Jack Saywell’s Cooper- the crowd roared approval of the two old warriors- FK and the car when Kleinig had the race won from the back of the grid only to have momentary fuel starvation gift Saywell’s new-fangled Cooper JAP 1100 the win out of Murrays on the last lap.

In October he was third in the Championship Scratch behind Whiteford’s Talbot-Lago T26C and Lex Davison’s Alfa Romeo P3, in the Redex 50 Mile feature he retired shortly after encountering brake troubles- Whiteford the winner of the scratch section of the race.

Into 1952 the car could still attract headlines, a Sydney Morning Herald banner in February proclaimed the cars top speed of 123mph at Mount Druitt.

Frank entered his faithful steed in the 1952 AGP at Bathurst but there were plenty of new kids on the block in the form of Whitefords Talbot Lago T26C, Jones Maybach and Coopers- the poor Kleinig Hudson was simply too old in the brave new world of scratch racing and the growing number of cars acquired to win outright- the big straight-8 cried enough after completing four laps and Doug Whiteford won the second of his three AGP’s- he would triumph again in the same car at Albert Park in 1953- his Ford V8 Special ‘Black Bess’ provided his first win at Nuriootpa in 1950.

Finally, and for the only time, Kleinig finished an AGP, in seventh place with one plug lead missing and only first and top gear in use towards the end- incredibly so, despite the advancing years of car and driver- with Frank pushing with all of his fire and brimstone he was third behind Jones and Whiteford at the end of the first Albert Park lap and still third by the end of lap 14 behind Jones- another fiery press-on character and Whiteford- not bad in this company in a car which dated to 1936 and was an amalgam, a clever one admittedly, of production derived parts.

For the 1954 AGP at Southport the car arrived with Kleinig’s major revision of the car incomplete but still considerably changed. The new car kept the old chassis side rails but used central seating, Peugeot 203 independent front suspension and an offset Hudson rear axle.

Additionally, the car was re-bodied with panels from the ex-Johnny Wakefield 6CM Maserati (#’1546′-the car now owned by Tom Roberts and has been reunited with its body in the restoration by David Rapley), the new car was much more slender, lower and lighter, 12cwt as against the 16cwt of the original car.

Part of the weight saving process included the use of a special, small ‘Lion’ battery which shorted before the event preventing Kleinig’s eighth and final attempt at the race ended almost unrecorded, wrote Graham Howard- such a sad end to the old chariots AGP career.

 

 

 

FK with the final iteration of the Kleinig Hudson Spl with Peugeot 203 front suspension, Maserati body and the rest (Modern Motor via S Dalton)

 

 

 

 

photo (3)

 

Kleinig and Beetle 1200 during the 1955 REDeX- 3 September en route to Fitzroy Crossing in WA- he hit a rock culvert, wrecking the car (HWT)

REDeX Round Australia Trials…

Like all of the aces of the day Kleinig was versatile and adaptable contesting a number of the round Australia trials which were hugely popular with the Australian public at the time buoyed by car ownership which was becoming more widespread.

FK’s was eighty-fourth in 1953 in a Morris Minor and twenty-seventh in a Peugeot 203 in 1954 but he made the papers anyway, for a speeding offence- he was found guilty of driving through Goulburn at 50mph, the prosecutor noting traffic convictions going back to 1928 and lost his licence for three months. Naughty boy.

More spectacular was the coverage he received as far away as France where their weekly magazine ‘Rampage’ reported that Frank Kleinig and another competitor, George Green ‘were attacked by savages’.

Kleinig was driving his Peugeot 203 between Katherine and Darwin, trying to get past George Green when a ‘blackfellow appeared by the side of the road…wearing only a bit of canvas in front of him, carrying an axe and a spear…’

In the delicate, politically correct language of the day Kleinig observed that ‘As Green’s car passed, the blackfellow rushed out on the road and tried to stop him but Green was going too fast. When I slowed up the blackfellow rushed towards my car and I stopped. He had some sort of root he had been smoking and he asked for “chew-back” (tobacco). I told him I had none, then he pointed to my watch…I said you don’t get that sport…I picked up a camera off the seat and took a picture of him as I started to drive away…as I did so…he took a swing at the back of the car with his axe…he made a mark but that’s all’ FK concluded.

By the time the French press got hold of this the artist concerned had ‘blackfellas’ all over the car, sadly the image, which is more ‘Jungle Jim’ in Africa than Australian Outback, is too poor to reproduce as it is a bit of a giggle…

FK pictured with Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder, and trophies (C Gibson)

Where does Kleinig fit in the pantheon of Australian drivers?…

Norman Hamilton, the importer of Porsche into Australia invited Frank to drive his 550 Spyder in the NZGP at Ardmore, FK finished ninth in the sportscar, a great drive, Stirling Moss won the race in a Maserati 250F- and drove the Porker to victory in a sportscar support event. Kleinig also raced the car in Australia and prepared it for a time in his Sydney HQ.

A ‘works drive’ such as that offered by Hamilton late in his career (FK was born 1911 remember) makes one wonder what Frank could have achieved with better equipment- mind you he was incredibly lucky to have a Patron such as Gus McIntyre to give him his start.

Amongst good pub chatter topics over a blurry Carlton Draught is a list of ‘the greatest Australian drivers never to win an Australian Grand Prix’ before the F1 era commenced in 1985.

Names that come up include Alf Barrett, Reg Hunt (mind you he wasn’t around that long) Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett, John Bowe, John Smith, Alfredo Costanzo…and Frank Kleinig.

In period comparisons put him thereabouts with Barrett whose primary tool was a beautifully prepared (Allan Ashton at AF Hollins who later looked after Lex Davo’s machines) Alfa Romeo Monza which the well heeled Armadale businessman raced with considerable success and perhaps too often big-event failures. Kleinig’s machine was as far from a factory built racer as it could possibly be, an amazingly fast ‘Bitza’ with the production based Hudson engine always pushed beyond limits hard to endure.

John Medley wrote about an AMS experts review of drivers at the time ‘A 1948 Australian Motor Sports magazine placing had John Snow just behind Alf Barrett in the “Best Australian Driver” category, but ahead of John Barraclough and Frank Kleinig, with John Crouch and Doug Whiteford in equal fifth place (although it should be noted that AMS editor Arthur Wylie ((a driver of the front rank himself)) was smart enough and knowledgable enough to restrict the poll to just New South Wales and Victoria: because he, like John Snow and all the other Eastern States hotshots all knew they had been out-thought, out-prepared, and remarkably out-driven by the almost unknown Allan Tomlinson from Western Australia when his supercharged MG TA Special won the 1939 Australian Grand Prix at the sobering high speed South Australian circuit at Lobethal’ wrote Medley providing valuable in-period context and opinion- far more valuable than any thoughts of mine decades hence using third-hand information to make interpretations of ‘what was’.

Contemporary reports have it that Frank was a sprinter, not one who could really stroke the car home- despite the fact he built and maintained his cars. You can see the fizz, brio, energy and sparkle characteristic of FK’s driving in some of the photographs within this piece.

We need to keep in mind the handicappers role in this period too of course. But the adage ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’ is one to bare in mind and perhaps one Frank’s Driver Coach could have mentioned to him once or twice along his journey.

Barry Lake wrote of Kleinig in his book ‘Half a Century of Speed’. ‘I asked John Crouch (1949 AGP winner and contemporary of FK for much of his career) what he thought of Frank Kleinig as a driver. He told me: ‘Kleinig was one of our best sprint drivers ever, but he wasn’t any good in a long race. He’d drive it as if it was a sprint. He was a top mechanic but the machinery still could never stand up to him. On the dirt or in a sprint hillclimb there’s probably never been anybody as good or better.’

Looking more broadly than just at his on-track performances Kleinig is very much in the rich tradition of elite level Australian racer/mechanic/engineer/entrepreneur/businessman types- think Brabham, Gardner, Garrie Cooper, Matich and Perkins, a pretty special breed I believe.

It’s hard to say who was quickest in an era when ‘everyone’ wasn’t racing a similar Maserati 250F, Cooper or Brabham Climax, Lola T332 or Ralt RT4 but it does seem the evidence suggests Kleinig was one of the fastest of his era, a different thing to the best mind you- which spans the mid-thirties to the mid-fifties in whatever he drove.

And my guess is he may have, may have, squeezed a tad more outta that Alfa Monza than Mr Barrett did over one or two laps if not an entire race.

Bill Thompson was winding back his activities in the mid-thirties as FK was winding up- Thompson died during the War too so i have not attempted to draw comparisons there- and this ramble started with arguments about those who didn’t win an AGP whereas Bill won three of course.

For the sake of completeness Thompson and Barrett are generally the pair at the tip of the pyramid of best ever Australian resident drivers with debate more or less equally drawn on which of these two fellas stand alone.

Kleinig’s factory/workshop on Parramatta Road, Burwood, Sydney in 1947. Kleinig Hudson on the trailer, the other racer is Bill Ford’s Hudson 6 Spl. Kleinig retained the 1.5 litre Miller engine after it was removed from the KD- many enthusiasts recall it being on display in the window of this workshop for decades (C Gibson)

Commercial Activities…

Whilst involved in the motor trade all of his life Kleinig was also an inventor and innovator.

He developed the ‘Mist Master’ water injection system for the Kleinig Hudson and also sold kits for road cars to combat the pinging or detonation caused at the time as a consequence of the low octane and quality of fuels commercially available.

He also made and marketed a range of speed equipment including exhaust system, inlet manifolds, air cleaners and the ‘Spark Booster’ device which increased the intensity of the spark.

The workshop above, established after Frank’s departure from Kirby Engineering in 1938 at 404 Parramatta Road was well known to home mechanics by the 1950’s and it was not unusual for a long queue of folks on Saturday mornings wanting to buy parts.

In addition, the Frank Kleinig Rubber Company recycled old tyres- he developed a technique for shredding the tyres in which the steel belt material was removed by magnets and the rubber melted and injected under pressure to make new products, the most popular of which were bath plugs. Misfortune occurred in May 1947 with in excess of five thousand pounds worth of damage done to the premises, equipment and stock by fire.

Kleinig held patents for some of these inventions, that he was innovative and creative is not in doubt.

kleinig rr 1939 h vince photographer

Frank Kleinig Rob Roy 1947. To set the record there in 1948 he pulled second gear all the way over the line, it spun to 7000rpm on plain bearings, a 5 inch stroke  and with ‘splash’ lubrication (FH Hince)

Kleinig continued to race into the late 1950’s, for the fun of it in a Morris Minor, his last race Barry Lake believes to be a shared drive with his son, Frank Kleinig Jnr in a Morris Mini 850 for a class win in the Bathurst Six Hour Classic in September 1962- Kleinig Jnr became a Formula Vee ace.

When Frank ceased racing he never sold the car which had been such an important part of his life. He died in 1976, the family retained the Kleinig Hudson until 1992 when it was purchased by the current owner Tom Roberts.

He commissioned its rebuild by David Rapley who also restored the Maserati 6CM ‘1546’ which donated its body to the Kleinig Hudson way back in 1954- and is also owned by Roberts.

The Kleinig Hudson below with Tom Roberts at the wheel in Melbourne, August 2004- the KH would be right up there with ‘most raced car in Australia’, bested only by the Sulman Singer?

 

kleinig 2

Frank Kleinig 14th Rob Roy 1947 (George Thomas)

Etcetera…

Bugatti Brescia Tragedy..

Misfortune befell Frank, two young friends and the Bugatti Brescia Kleinig was driving to a wedding in Strathfield, inner-Sydney on June 26 1933.

Travelling along Parramatta Road, on the corner of Crane Street Homebush, Frank collided with and glanced off another car into a telegraph pole, the small French car rolled spilling the occupants onto the road- very sadly for the hapless 21 year old driver, his male companions, twenty and twenty-one years old later died.

The District Coroner, sitting in Burwood, H Richardson-Clark ‘…was satisfied (having heard the differing testimony of several witnesses as to Kleinig’s speed) that the young men in the racing car were going like the wind, with time on their hands and the temptation of a concrete road. There was…clear evidence of failure to observe traffic regulations. The racing car…should have given way to the other car’, the Coroner said.

Kleinig’s counsel, Mr Simpson, remonstrated with the Coroner who he said ‘was biased against motorists’. Simpson said that ‘in the last three cases you have sent men to trial they have not had to face juries’.

And so it was that despite finding the two men had been ‘feloniously slayed’- and committing Kleinig for trial on a charge of manslaughter and FK being released on bail of one-hundred pounds, the young man did not face court.

Whatever the facts, and they died with the three occupants of the car, to overcome this tragedy says much of Kleinig’s ability to pick himself up and refocus his life on racing, building several businesses and a family in a manner typical of ‘racers’- a special breed.

The incident was an horrific one for all concerned, not least Kleinig who lived with the incident and terrible outcomes for the rest of his long life.

(JO Sherwood)

EJ ‘Joe’ Buckley…

The photograph above shows Joe Buckley and Lewis L ‘Hope’ Bartlett in Sydney, Monday 20 November 1927 aboard a Hudson Super Six.

They set a time of 11 hours 54 minutes to become the first crew to go under ‘the magic 12 hours’ between Melbourne and Sydney, undercutting the previous best by 39 minutes 30 seconds despite crashing through a fence at Breadalbane and breaking a wheel.

The Sydney ‘Arrow’ reported that the same duo did a time of 10 hours 51 minutes in early January 1928. ‘The Hudson…used was almost a standard job, except that an extra petrol tank and an electric pump were installed and the springs were strengthened…The speedsters averaged 53 miles an hour over the 575 miles and had an uninterrupted run throughout. This is the first time that the journey between the two capitals has been done in under 11 hours, except by aeroplane’ the Arrow concluded.

Harry Beith held the record to that point in a Chrysler, he was the first to beat the time set by the late AV Turner who had done 12 hours 34 minutes, a record which stood for over four years set in February 1924

In a tit-for-tat period of constant changes in the record Harry Beith and his mechanic A Dolphin in a Chrysler did 10 hours and 12 minutes in December 1929 beating Buckley’s 10 hours 24 minutes…

And so it went on until the legislators brought an activity which was becoming increasingly dangerous to an end.

The intercapital record breaking efforts were big news, often front page news, as here with Buckley and a fellow aspirant Perry Donnelly (Overland Whippet) ‘betting their cars’ in the event one could not set a better time than the other for the Sydney-Cowra run- 27 November 1927

Buckley’s chosen marque, Hudson (Hudson, Essex and Terraplane) popular in Australia, were built from 1909 to 1954 by the Hudson Motor Car Co in Detroit and then for three years more by American Motors Corp before production stopped.

‘Speedster Buckley set speed records in that summer of 1928 between Sydney-Melbourne, Adelaide-Melbourne and Sydney-Cowra (his home town).

Whilst the manufacturers of the successful makes of car proclaimed their success in the usual way- newspaper advertisements, Hudson sent Buckley on a tour of Northern NSW (if not elsewhere) doing speed and economy demonstrations ‘with four or five passengers up’ of the Hudson Super-Six supervised by the local newspaper and/or motoring authority.

The Coffs Harbour Advocate reported the results; Walcha 21mpg, Tamworth 70mph and Moombi Range climbed ‘in top’, Armidale’s Hiscox Hill was ascended ‘in top’ whilst at Glen Innes 23mpg and 75mph was achieved.

The results of Glen Innes were repeated in Tenterfield but Big Hill was done ‘in top’- Lismore’s triumphs were 22.8mpg and 0-30mph in 4 seconds.

Proving that advertorial is nothing new the Advocate’s reporter concluded that ‘these figures are convincing proof of the Hudson makes claim that in spite of greatly improved performance, the latest Hudsons are 20mpg cars.’

What became of Joe Buckley folks?

 

(SLNSW)

Les Burrows..

Usual thing, you see a new name, sniff around and all of a sudden learn something about a fella yer didn’t know anything about.

What an ace on the tar and dirt the Bowral garage owner and Hudson dealer was aboard both this car and midgets at places like Penrith.

You may recall at the article’s outset that Les won the Phillip Island event during which Bailey and Kleinig came to grief, he is pictured in that car out front of his business in Bowral’s main street in May 1937 above.

Clive Gibson wrote that Burrow’s car was a one-off with a special body by Properts Body Works of Camperdown, Sydney. Said body was originally fitted to Burrow’s 1935 Terraplane and transferred to a new Hudson 8 in 1936, it was light- 20 cwt compared with a four door at 24 cwt. He also raced a 1933 Terraplane in the 1938 AGP at Bathurst, finishing second behind Peter Whitehead’s ERA B Type.

The car contested the 26 December South Australian Centenary Grand Prix aka 1936 AGP at Victor Harbor, DNF. He won the Ten Mile Championship at Penrith on Anzac Day in 1937 and in its first form as a 1935 Terraplane won the November 1935 Phillip Island race referred to above. The Terraplane was green and the Hudson bright red.

Clive Gibson owned the car in the sixties, then the machine changed hands in Sydney several times and disappeared, presumed lost. Les’ last competition event was the 1954 REDeX in a Vanguard.

Love this piece about the commitment of a racer, it’s from the Sydney Morning Herald 12 November 1935 report of his Phillip Island win.

‘…on the preceding Saturday he drove the car from Bowral to Sydney and competed in the New South Wales Light Car Club’s Mountain Trial over Kurrajong to Mount Victoria. Returning to Sydney the same evening, he drove his racing Midget at the Wentworth Oval Speedway and then left Sydney at midnight, towing the Midget home to Bowral. He then left in the Terraplane to Melbourne at 4.30am on the Sunday, arriving there the same afternoon about 4 o’clock. The car was then stripped of its mudguards, hood and windscreen, and taken to Phillip Island on Monday November 4. No additional tuning was found to be necessary, and the car went straight into practice for the big race.’

Les ‘…lapped the circuit at 64mph’ and ‘drove with great skill, cornering in a fast and safe manner’ to win the race.

Then, with all the road equipment installed back onto the car Burrows drove the 900km from Cowes back to Bowral, in New South Wales beautiful Southern Highlands.

You don’t have to be mad but it helps!

(unattributed)

McIntyre Hudson…

This amazing old warrior is shown above in ‘more recent times’ at Warwick Farm in 1971.

Some snippets about Kevin Salmon’s period with the car by Barry Lake, ‘Salmons car was owned by a Mrs Dixon, who sold it later to Frank Kleinig. John Crouch said of it: The McIntyre Hudson? That big roadster…it was a horrible thing to drive’.

Lake continued, ‘Kev Salmon was the son of Leo Salmon who was killed at Maroubra Speedway in 1925. John Crouch remembers Kevin for a used car showroom he had at the top of William Street (Sydney) where he “sold some wonderful cars”. I remember Salmon from when he raced again in the early 1960’s when he drove an MG Special and I had a Cooper Norton Mark V. At that time Kevin had a used car yard right at the Parramatta end of Parramatta Road.’

Kevin Salmon in the McIntyre Hudson/Salmon Spl from Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson Spl at Bathurst in October 1939 (C Gibson)

Salmons Motors were the Sydney Citroen and Jewett agents and were involved in record-breaking.

Albert Vaughan, an employee of Leo Salmon’s enterprise and L McKenzie drove a Citroen to set the Sydney-Melbourne record at 15 hours 20 minutes in 1924.

Leo Salmon had a Jewett shortened and lightened to create a machine suited to Maroubra Speedway, the enormous concrete saucer built in the Sydney inner beachside suburb which opened on 5 December 1925.

With Leo at the wheel and Albert Vaughan as riding mechanic they were circulating the fast, challenging track on 30 December, preparing for the venue’s third meeting on New Years Day 1926 when Leo lost control and crashed over the top of the unguarded banking killing the poor unfortunate occupants who became the circuits first victims.

(C Gibson)

FK in the McIntyre Hudson at the Waterfall Valley Hillclimb in July 1938.

Doug Ramset in the white overalls and Clive Gibson in open neck jumper. Clive owned this car later in his life as a fast roadie, see a photograph of the car in more recent times at the end of this article.

In more recent times the McIntyre has fallen into good hands, that of the National Motor Museum at Birdwood In the Adelaide Hills, do pay the historic old jigger a visit!

Matthew Lombard is researching the full history of the car, please get in touch with him if you can add to the McIntyre story or any of those who drove, owned or prepared it- copy me in so I may update this piece too. Matt’s email is mlombard@history.sa.gov.au

Sydney ‘Referee’ 1 April 1937

Its interesting that the reporter in the April 1937 piece above comments upon the improvement in Kleinig’s driving ‘over his previous exhibitions and with the car going at its best…’, this suggests, perhaps, that the Kirby-Deering Miller Spl was by then reasonably well sorted and that FK was handling it with aplomb.

 

(E Davey-Milne)

Hillclimbs were a big deal yonks ago in Australia- look at the admiring Rob Roy crowd in 1947 or 1948 watching the KHS being warmed up- wonderfully, it still competes there seventy years after its first appearance.

 

(The Referee)

Interesting comparison of the two McIntyre owned racers in profile in November 1936.

At left is the Kirby-Deering Miller Spl with Frank at the wheel and at right Gus McIntyre aboard the McIntyre Hudson- he competed until health reasons forced relinquishment of the drivers seat.

(JO Sherwood)

Superb panorama of FK in the Kleinig Hudson Special- ‘Dirt Track Charlie’ doing his thing, Barry Lake believes, circa 1939/40.

I’ve written about Penrith before- it first opened in 1921, then closed in 1930 and was re-opened by Frank Arthur in June 1936 until its final closure, well into the War, after a meeting held on 14 April 1941.

Special research thanks…

Bob King, John Medley, Nathan Taska and Daniel Kleinig for photographs from the family collection

Bibliography…

Graham Howard & Others ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’, George Thomas ‘Cars and Drivers’ #3 1977, Nathan Taska, John Medley, Motorsport January 1936, Referee (Sydney) 25 October 1934, The Referee 5 November 1936, State Library of NSW note by Clive Gibson accompanying the photograph of the Burrows Hudson at Bowral, The Canberra Times 27 April 1937, Sydney Morning Herald 12 November 1935, Bob Pritchett in Australian Motor Sports 15 November 1946, Sunday Times, Perth 22 August 1954, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney Morning Herald 7 July 1933, Sydney The Sun 6 July 1933, Articles by Tim Shellshear in VSCC newsletter, Bob King Collection, ‘The Car’ 15 November 1935, ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley, ‘Half a Century of Speed’ Barry Lake via Tony Davis Collection- this publication incorporates the photographs of the John O Sherwood Collection, The Arrow Sydney 13 January 1928, Coffs Harbour Advocate 24 July 1928, The Advertiser 30 December 1936, Australian Dictionary of Biography- Sir JN Kirby and H Hastings Deering, article on the Kleinig-Hudson by David White and Graeme Jackson

Lobethal perhaps, 1939 Kleinig Hudson (unattributed)

Photo Credits…

George Thomas, Bob King Collection, Norman Howard, Alex Collingridge, Herald and Weekly Times, Tim Shellshear Collection, Bob King Collection, Russell Garth, Jim Shepherd, Kleinig Family Collection, Stephen Dalton Collection

Tailpiece: Kleinig, Kirby-Deering, date and place unknown, circa 1937…

(T Shellshear)

The Kirby Deering Miller Spl, a bit of a mouthful really, with Kleinig at the wheel, probably a hillclimb, if any of you can pick the venue do get in touch.

What about that Miller engine?

One story emanating, Bob King thinks from Kent Patrick- a racer/writer of note, is that the Miller engine was bought for Frank as a gift for saving a young person from drowning. It’s an interesting one. That does not accord with the newspaper accounts or Daniel Kleinig’s recollection of his grandfather saying he ‘was allowed to set the valve clearances of the engine whilst an apprentice.’ It it were your motor you wouldn’t have been askin’, would yer?

Perhaps this story has become confused with one involving (later Sir) Frank Beaurepaire who was awarded a Gold Medal and 550 pounds by the Royal Humane Society in 1922 for helping save a shark attack victim in the Coogee surf- he used this money to start Beaurepaires, a nationally significant (still) tyre, wheels and battery business.

In any event the Miller engine sat in Frank’s Parramatta Road workshop front window ‘forever’- Barry Lake records that Tom Wheatcroft bought the engine for his Donington Collection circa 1994.

Bob King recalls Wheatcroft as a regular visitor to Australia in the Adelaide GP and early Albert Park GP days. He was close to John ‘Jumbo’ Goddard, Sydney car collector, Bob’s suspicion is that Jumbo probably said to Tom on one of these trips ‘You really should grab that motor champ’, I wonder which particular bonnet below which it was inserted back in the UK? Or perhaps it became a swap?

Finito…

 

Kleinig, not Klienig by the way…

Many of you know I love the language of yesteryear racing reports, so the ‘National Advocate’ Bathurst 8 October report of the 7 October New South Wales Grand Prix is reproduced in full. In the manner of the day the reporters name is not identified, which is a shame as he or she has done a mighty fine job- its all ‘as was’ other than car descriptions where I have been a bit more fulsome with model designations.

The article is a fluke in that I was researching a piece on Frank Kleinig and came upon a batch of staggering photographs recently uploaded by the State Library of New South Wales- they are truly wonderful.

Taken by the staff of ‘Pix’ magazine, a weekly some of you may remember, it’s the first time the photos have been used in high resolution, when published way back they would have been in ‘half-tones’. The racing shots are great but in addition there are ‘people pictures’ of the type important to a magazine such as ‘Pix’ but which a racing snapper generally would not take, these are amazing in terms of conveying the overall vibe and feel of the meeting and times more generally.

Digital scoreboard linked to yer iPhone via the Internet thingy (SLNSW)

 

Najar and Nind at the start, MacLachlan is looking pretty relaxed sans helmet, they were off the same handicap of either 7 or 15 minutes depending upon the source (SLNSW)

Here goes, and remember this event is run to Formula Libre and as a Handicap…

‘Fortunately the racing was not marred by any serious accidents. The only accident occurred during the running of the first race, the under 1500cc Handicap when the young Victorian driver, Wal Feltham crashed at ‘The Quarry’. He was thrown heavily and sustained a fractured collarbone. His car, an MG P Type was badly damaged and he had a miraculous escape. He just managed to jump from the car a few yards before it hurtled over a hillside to crash about 80 feet to be completely wrecked. Feltham was admitted to the district hospital for treament.

It was certainly an afternoon of thrilling races and the scene will long be remembered. The racing circuit throughout the whole length was packed with struggling humanity. All sorts of motor vehicles were there from the first model Ford to the post-war type. As a matter of fact the aggregation of cars was perhaps the greatest ever seen locally and every inch of parking space was taken up.

There were 23 starters in the classic race and it was remarkably free from anything in the nature of a serious accident. Skids there were plenty on the hairpin and ‘S’ bends and though at times the situation looked both ugly and dangerous, the drivers always managed to gain control on their cars at the moment when the wide eyed spectators expected them to overturn.’

Mount Panorama Grandstand 1946 style (SLNSW)

 

Bill MacLachlan’s MG TB Monoposto- twin SU fed Xpag, three bearing four cylinder 1355cc engine (SLNSW)

‘It was on the famous ‘S’ bend, which had been especially noted as one of the most dangerous spots and at which the trials over the weekend that several drivers came to grief, that DA MacLachlan of Sydney had a thrilling experience. His car went into a skid and struck the sandbags on the side with such force that it was hurled across the track to strike the other side and narrowly miss the legs of two girls who were seated on top of the ledge. The car narrowly missed being hurled over the side overlooking a long drop of many feet.

Speaking after the race, the winner, Alf Najar, said that it was a hard race and that fortunately he had a good passage and his car travelled smoothly all the way. He mentioned that the last four winners of the Grand Prix at Bathurst had been tuned and prepared by Rex Marshall of Sydney and to whom he owed much for his success.

He also praised the Bathurst Council for the attention and care given to the track and added that it was because of the work done on the ‘S’ bend during yesterday morning that the drivers were able to negotiate with comparitive safety. The track, he said, was in good order even though it was not capable of holding cars travelling at over 100 miles an hour for any distance.

Speaking generally, yesterday’s race was one of the best of its kind ever run on any Australian circuit. The cars used were all pre-war models and consequently could not be regarded as fast and durable as the later models. In these circumstances the speed attained by the cars was right up to standard.’

A couple of chargers coming down the mountain. Ted Gray in the ex-Mrs JAS Jones Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Zagato by then flathead Ford V8 powered from Kleinigs Hudson Special. Ted Gray was quick from his earliest outings on Victorian Speedways and evolved into one of Australia’s elite drivers in Tornados 1 and 2- with  a little more luck he could have won the 1958 AGP at Bathurst aboard the big, booming Tornado 2 Chev (SLNSW)

 

John Crouch, Delahaye 135CS ahead of Alby Johnson’s MG TC. Crouch won the 1948 AGP at Leyburn aboard the beautiful Delahaye, perhaps one of John Snow’s most astute racing car purchases in terms of suitability for Australian racing of the day if not in outright pace but reliability (SLNSW)

‘High speeds were witnessed in the ‘Con-Rod Straight’ from the bottom of the S-bend to the left-angle turn (Murrays) into the starting straight (Pit Straight).

The officials had chosen a section of the straight solely for the purpose of checking high speeds and this was known as the Flying Quarter. The fastest speed attained was 119mph by John Crouch in the French Delahaye 135CS. His time was taken during three runs and each time he got progressively better. His speeds were 105, 108 and 119mph.

Jack Murray with the powerful Ford-Bugatti was second with 109mph. This car was exceedingly fast but the driver did not seem inclined to take risks. Rather than that he let it out at top speed while climbing the hills and this made up a considerable amount of ground.

Frank Kleinig also attained 109mph over the distance and brought gasps from the crowd by his masterly handling of the car which is really unique in Australian motoring history. It is made up of parts from several other cars. It takes off with a great leaping surge forward and picks up very fast. It travels like a rocket with no spluttering or back-firing usually associated with high powered racing cars.

The weather was almost perfect with no wind to carry the dust high into the air and into the crowd.

Sunglasses seem to have come into fashion for the summer and a number of girls who tend to forget to bring their sunglasses and hats were noticed wearing mens heavy glasses and sun helmets, while the poor boyfriend stood in the sun and sweltered.’

Pre race pit straight scene with Frank Kleinig’s Hudson Eight Special front and centre, Delahaye alongside? (SLNSW)

Grand Prix…

‘Racing keenly for 25 laps during which time they presented many thrills to the public, Alf Najar (NSW) defeated John Nind (NSW) for major honours in the NSW Grand Prix yesterday. AV Johnson gained third place and defeated FW Gray of Victoria for that position.

Najar and Nind were both driving MG Series TB of 1250cc and 1268cc respectively, started off the 15 minute mark, with DA MacLachlan in a MG Series TA of 1355cc. There has been a friendly rivalry between these three men for many years because of each others good driving and yesterday’s performance demonstated just how good these men are. MacLachlan came only ninth in the race, being handicapped by a faulty cooling system. He was forced to continually call at the pits for water.

At times Najar and Nind fought for minutes at a time trying to wrestle the lead from one another. However, Najar seemed to have the better of the going, for he finished about 600 yards in front of Nind. A remarkable point in the clash between them at the end of the distance- 100 miles is that Najar gained one second in every 3.84 miles.

One of the first to greet Najar after his win of the Grand Prix was his sister, who dashed over to the car as it stopped, threw her arms around him, kissed him and being so elated with the victory, burst into tears.’

Good boy! Alf Najar being congratulated by his mother and sisters after his big win. Looks like a beer to me (SLNSW)

 

Najar returns to the paddock after his win, MG TB Monoposto (SLNSW)

‘Johnson, who gained third place took the lead from L Phillips of Victoria, driving a 747cc Austin, when the latter stopped during lap seven owing to engine trouble. Johnson fought grimly to hold his lead, and did so until the 16th lap when Najar took it from him.

During the next time around he lost second place to Nind, but managed to hold off Gray, of Wangaratta, in a Ford V8 Alfa Romeo, long enough to finish the course. It was a remarkable feat on Johnson’s part, considering that the MG TC he was driving was an almost completely standard machine. He was equipped with lights, mudguards and all equipment to make it roadworthy.

JE Murray, who finished fifth in a 3622cc Ford Bugatti, gained the honour of fastest time by clocking 1hr.26min.24sec. for the entire trip of 100 miles. He drove brilliantly throughout and the car gave him the minimum of trouble. Apart from winning fastest time, the car was also one of the best looking on the track.’

Murray in the ex-Bill Thomson Bugatti T37A AGP winner, chassis ‘37358’ now Ford sidevalve V8 powered. This car and its adventures over its long racing life is a story in itself- still extant and in the process of restoration (SLNSW)

 

Alec Mildren, Mildren Ford V8 Spl and Jack Nind MG TB Spl. Mildren of course became a champion driver, winner of the 1960 Gold Star and AGP at  Lowood aboard his Cooper T51 Maserati. Alec was off 13.36 minutes and DNF (SLNSW)

‘A number of drivers were forced to pull out owing to mechanical trouble. Warwick Pratley, of Peel, one of Bathurst’s hopes, was forced to stop in the fourth lap of the second event- the over 1500cc handicap- after he had held the lead for two laps and looked to possess a chance of winning. Big-end trouble caused his withdrawal.

Norman Tipping, also of Bathurst in a Terraplane Six Special, was driving a most spectacular race, and was actually overhauling the leaders when the gear handle came loose in his hand as he was changing gear in the pit straight. The car pulled up some 100 yards beyond the pits. Tipping was proving a great crowd-pleaser with his spectacular cornering.

Tipping’s car had exceeded all expectations as he had been in difficulty with his engine over the past week or so and there was some doubt as to whether he would start. The final tuning of the locally manufactured Terraplane was not complete until midnight on Sunday night.  However, the car was on the track in time and with his clean, confident driving raised the hopes of Bathurstians each time he passed, being the only local representative left in the race.’

The great Frank Kleinig wearing a kidney belt working, as always, on his steed. This car started life as Wal McIntyre’s Miller 1.5 litre straight-8 engined Kirby Deering Special in 1936- an amalgam of MG Magna chassis, Mathis suspension and gearbox and much more. Fitted with a Hudson straight-8 prior to the 1938 AGP it was then named the Hudson Special or Kleinig Hudson Special, here in single carb format in a formidable machine the development of which never stopped. It’s still extant in Melbourne. Story on Kleinig completed and ready to upload soon (SLNSW)

 

Ron Ewing, Buick Spl. Built by Ewing and first raced at Bathurst in 1940, the clever car was a combination of Buick 8/40 straight-8 engine, Terraplane chassis and Lancia gearbox. Does it survive? (SLNSW)

‘Frank Kleinig, who was driving his own Hudson Eight Special, completed five laps and had to pull up halfway around the track with smoke pouring from his engine. For a moment, it was thought his car was on fire, but the trouble was in the clutch.

Ron Ewing, who was expected to do well in his Buick Special only completed one lap in very poor time and stopped for the same reason as Kleinig. His mechanics had been working vigorously on the car and just made the starting line in time for the start of the big race.

Ron Edgerton had only done four laps when he took his car, a Lycoming Special, powered by a Continental Beacon engine- out of the race with ignition trouble. It had been backfiring for a couple of laps and it was not surprising when his withdrawal was announced.

One of the mystery cars of the race, a monoposto Jeep Special, driven by NJT Andrews, of NSW, did not do as well as expected, and finished in lap five with the engine emitting eruptive noises. Others who did not finish the race included RS Ward’s MG Series TA and W Conoulty’s Austin Comet, both cars were from NSW.’

Bill Conoulty makes final adjustments to his Austin 7 Comet before the off. The ex-motor cycle racer, the first to do 100mph on a bike in NSW it’s said, used this car as a test bed for many of the engines he developed, inclusive of an OHV design. At one stage his Sydney business employed over 40 people (SLNSW)

 

John Crouch and his helpers ready the beautiful Delahaye 135CS sportscar, it’s chassis #47190. The car was famously barbequed in a trailer fire whilst Dick Bland and his guys were towing it back to Bathurst upon their return from the 1951 AGP meeting at Narrogin in Western Australia- it was rebuilt/reconstructed a couple of decades ago by Ian Polson and lives in splendid retirement in an American museum. I must get around to writing about John Crouch- a great driver, racing entrepreneur and administrator (SLNSW)

Results

Support Races

The Under 1500cc Handicap was won by John Barraclough’s Bill Nunn owned MG TB 1250cc, the over 1500cc Handicap was taken by Kleinig’s Hudson Spl who ‘drove with such determination and daring that he had overtaken seven cars and was rapidly overhauling the leaders…during one of the Flying Quarters he was clocked at 108mph…Murray’s Ford Bugatti did one better and clocked 109mph over the same distance’.

Grand Prix

Alf S Najar MG TB Monoposto 1250cc first in 1 hour 33 minutes 19 seconds, Jack P Nind MG TB Spl 1268cc second, Alby V Johnson MG TC 1250cc third, Ted Gray Ford V8 Alfa Romeo 3924cc fourth, J Murray MacKellar Special s/c (Bugatti T37A Ford) 3622cc fifth, Walter I Mathieson Jaguar SS100 2663cc sixth, John F Crouch Delahaye 135CS 3555cc seventh, Chas W Whatmore Ford V8 Spl 3917cc eighth and D ‘Bill’ A MacLachlan MG TA 1355cc. Fastest time, J Murray 1.26.24

Belf Jones, Buick Special from MacLachlan’s MG TA Monoposto- does anybody know about the Buick Spl? (SLNSW)

 

Bill Murray, Hudson Spl, DNF after 23 laps, car prepared by Frank Kleinig, not sure if he built it? Alf Najar is credited with renaming Pit Corner ‘Murrays Corner’ after Bill collided with the hay bales. Came back and won the 1947 AGP here at Bathurst in a stripped MG TC (SLNSW)

Alfred Najar…

Alf Najar arrived in Australia aged 8 years old with his parents and four sisters, the family hailed from Tripoli, Lebanon where his father had established a successful tailoring business.

They settled in Sydney and soon established tailoring and dressmaking enterprises in Kingsford and Auburn, this evolved into a small manufacturing business when Alf joined his parents in 1936. Clearly they were profitable, Alf having the income to build and race a car.

The factory was taken over by the government during the war years to produce clothing for the military.

Apart from his NSW GP win Alf was sixth and second in the 1947 and 1948 AGP’s respectively and was the holder of many sprint and hillclimb records inclusive of the 1946 Australian Hillclimb Championship at Bathurst.

He is also credited with starting the sport of water skiing in Australia together with ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray, in 1948 becoming a foundation member of the Australian Water Ski Association. In a lifetime of involvement in sport he was a member of the All Australian Five-Man Skeet Team for 16 years and held Australian and New Zealand titles in clay target shooting.

For many years he ran the family tailoring business including the acquisition of ‘Najar House’ in Campbell Street, Surry Hills- he and his wife retired in 1978 then trading and building property successfully. He died in 2015.

A couple of the Najar girls keeping an eye on big brother (SLNSW)

Etcetera…

(S Dalton Collection)

 

(S Dalton Collection)

 

AMS December 1946 (S Dalton Collection)

 

(B Williamson)

Cars pictured in the bucolic, rural, relaxed Mount Panorama paddock include #23, a mystery car!, with Hope Bartlett’s #10 MG TA Spl closeby. #31 is WD Feltham, MG P Type, #22 is Jack Nind’s MG TB Spl, the second #23 in the rear of the shot is Bill McLachlan’s MG TA Monoposto.

‘Monoposto Jeep’ or ‘The Andrews Special’…

The Monoposto Jeep Special our intrepid reporter mentioned piqued my interest, and as he often does, my mate Stephen Dalton came to the rescue with this April 1947 AMS article which explains all about the car- it is an attractive machine, does it still exist?

Its a bit tricky to read- I can manage by blowing it up with my trusty iPad, there is a precis of the salient bits below if you have insurmountable dramas.

(S Dalton Collection)

The car was designed and built by Gordon Stewart for Norman Andrews using many Lea Francis components as a base- chassis, front and rear axles and the gearbox.

The racers first meeting was the 1946 Bathurst event in which it was powered by a 2195cc Willys-Jeep engine which was immediately replaced by a circa 3.5 litre Austin OHV six which was modified in all the usual ways and fed by triple-Amal carbs to give over 130bhp. The Leaf gearbox was replaced by a Wilson pre-selector ‘box when the engine was swapped.

Semi elliptic springs were used front and back and Hartford shock absorbers, wheels were Rudge Whitworth wires and the body was formed in steel sheet.

I am intrigued to know how it performed in the ensuing years- and its fate.

(S Dalton Collection)

Credits…

National Advocate Bathurst Tuesday 8 October 1946, State Library of New South Wales, article by Brian Caldersmith in the HSRCA magazine 16 December 2015, Stephen Dalton Collection- Australian Motor Sports, Bob Williamson Collection

Tailpiece…

(SLNSW)

‘Flaggie’ 1946 Mount Panorama style, complete with suit, bowler hat and fag to calm the nerves…

Isn’t it a cracker of a shot? Somehow I doubt he has the athleticism of Glen Dix, Australia’s most celebrated practitioner of the flag waving art.

Finito…

 

 

 

 

 

1953 AGP grid. Front row L>R Davison HWM Jag, Jones Maybach 1, Whiteford Talbot-Lago T26C, car 11 on row 2 is Ted Gray Alta Ford V8 (Dacre Stubbs)

The allocation of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix to Albert Park was the result of over two decades of work by the Light Car Club of Australia…

I live 800 metres from Albert Park Lake, I awoke this morning to F1 music at 7.05 AM- the sound of two-seater Minardi V10 engined cars ferrying their lucky cargo around gods motor racing country at high speed. The dawn of the 2019 race seems an apt time to upload this article on the 1953 event- the first Albert Park AGP.

Barry Green in his wonderful book ‘Glory Days’, writes that there was a strong push to race at Albert Park in 1934. The Light Car Club of Australia, (LCCA) the promoter of race meetings at Phillip Island were aware of the ‘Islands growing unsuitability given its loose gravel surface as speeds increased.’ Extensive negotiations secured Albert Park as the venue for a race meeting to celebrate the Centenary of Victoria in 1935.

The ‘Sun News Pictorial’ one of the Melbourne daily tabloids, and then as now a good thing in which to wrap ones fish n’ chips, announced the event on June 4 1934.

In doing so the ‘paper lit the fuse of naysayers who brought about the events cancellation, but not before racers Arthur Terdich, Bill Lowe, Barney Dentry, and Cyril Dickason in Bugatti, Lombard, and Austins respectively, lapped the track with mufflers fitted to prove noise wasn’t the issue.’

Stan Jones at speed in Maybach 1, Albert Park 1953, DNF. Stan made this series of cars sing, Maybach 1 won the ’54 NZ GP at Ardmore but none of the Maybachs- 1,2,3 or 4 won an AGP, such a shame! If the Chamberlain 8 is Australia’s most brilliant and innovative special surely the Maybachs are the greatest? Hopeless bias declared! (R Fulford /SLV)

Post war things were little different, but a partnership between the LCCA, the Australian Army- who had a facility at Albert Park, and Victorian Labor Senator Pat Kennelly was more successful.

The three groups/people provided the combination of race organisation, promotional ability, logistical capability- the Army being able to ‘man’ Albert Park, a site of some 570 acres, and political power and influence.

For all, the ability to raise funds in the aftermath of World War 2 was important. For the army, it was money for war widows and orphans, for Kennelly to finance much needed improvements to the park for to upgrade the local amenity, and for the LCCA, the betterment of motor racing.

The parties all were aware they needed to be very careful with the use of the facility so the event was a one day affair, with practice in the morning, racing in the afternoon with the roads open to the public in between. Total time absorbed by the racing activities was less than seven hours!

And so, the 1953 Australian Grand Prix, held at Albert Park over 64 laps, 200 miles in total, on Saturday 21 November, was won by Doug Whiteford in a Lago-Talbot, the last AGP win for ‘French Racing Blue’.

Doug Whiteford’s Talbot Lago T26C passes the abandoned MG Spl of Jack O’Dea on the way to victory. Writing on the side of the car is a list of race wins. Whiteford owned two TL26C’s- this one, 1948-ex Louis Chiron chassis ‘110007’ and later, an earlier but higher spec car, chassis ‘110002’. Vern Schuppan is the current owner of ‘110002’. Crowd right to the edge of the track (R Fulford/SLV)

Entry…

The entry list was headed by local Melbourne businessmen Doug Whiteford, Stan Jones and Lex Davison.

Whiteford was perhaps the form driver, he won the AGP at Mount Panorama the year before in the same Talbot-Lago T26C. Doug was a tough grafter who owned an automotive repair and sales business a drop kick from the shores of Albert Park Lake in Carlisle Street, St Kilda.

The preparation and presentation of all of his racers was legendary. His career stretched back well pre-war to motor cycles circa 1932. He raced Norman Hamilton’s blown Ford. V8 Spl at Phillip Island circa 1935, an MG Magnette and a supercharged Ford Roadster before building the Ford Ute based ‘Black Bess’ his 1950 AGP winner.

A racer to the core, he competed all the way through into the early to mid seventies, after his long time at elite level, as a works driver for the Datsun Racing Team in small sedans and sportscars.

What a shot! Not at Albert Park I hasten to add, Fishermans Bend is my guess. Whiteford changing plugs on his TL T26C. A mechanic by trade, he toiled on his own cars, his race record, standard of preparation and presentation legendary. Date unknown (R Fulford/SLV)

On the up was Stanley Jones, another tough nugget from Warrandyte, rapidly building an automotive retailing empire which would fund an impressive array of racers over the decade to come- all of which would come tumbling down in the credit squeeze of 1961. Jones had thrown in his lot with Charlie Dean and Repco a year or so before- Jones bought Maybach from Dean with Charlie and his team at Repco Research in Brunswick continuing to maintain and develop it. Jones was as forceful as Whiteford was stylish- both were impressively fast.

Also on the rise was Lex Davison, native of St Kilda but then a resident of Lilydale and fast building the shoe manufacture, importing and retailing business he inherited from his father.

Lex by this stage had learned his craft on a varied mix of cars, most recently an Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 GP car. He had just bought an ex-Moss/Gaze F2 HWM to which he fitted a Jaguar 3.4 litre six-cylinder DOHC engine to ‘C Type’ specs and gearbox, this clever combination took his first AGP win at Southport, Queensland in 1954- a race Jones had a mortgage on until the chassis failure of Maybach 2 at very high speed.

Elite Racers All: L>R Jack Brabham Cooper T23 Bristo, third in this group, #3 Lex Davison HWM Jag and #8 Ted Gray Alta Ford V8. Shot included to show the HWM and Alta- Victoria Trophy Fishermans Bend 22 March 1954. Lex is soon to win the ’54 AGP, Jack is soon to travel to the UK and Gray is soon to get a competitive mount in Tornado 1 Ford! (VHRR)

Lex was an urbane man of considerable wit, bearing and charm- but he could and did go toe to toe with racers of Whiteford and Jones ilk and beat them. His career, which had far from peaked in 1953 stretched all the way to early 1965 when he shared the front row of the NZ GP grid with Clark and Hill, a couple of fellas ‘still in short pants’ in 1953.

Frank Kleinig and his Kleinig-Hudson straight-8 Spl could not be discounted nor could the Ted Gray driven Alta Ford V8 Spl- much more would be seen of this outstanding pre-war driver who cut his teeth on the country speedways of Victoria in the years to 1960 with the Lou Abrahams owned Tornados 1 and 2.

Oh to have seen this bloke drive at his best!- as here at Rob Roy Hillclimb, 2 November 1947. Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson 8 Spl, a remarkable marriage of MG chassis, Hudson mechanicals and various other donor parts continuously developed over a couple of decades. A car which shoulda won at least one AGP. Kleinig another driver/mechanic ace (G Thomas)

Kleinig should have won an AGP or two, or three.

The Sydney driver was one of the very quickest immediately pre and post war but times had changed. The AGP was now a scratch race, not a handicap and Frank’s machine, development of which never stopped simply wasn’t quick enough to win outright whatever the undoubted skills of the bloke behind the wheel.

Ted and Frank both needed the ‘guns’ up front to retire and have a dose of reliability themselves for the long 200 mile race to win.

The Reg Nutt, Talbot Darracq 700, DNF dropped valve on lap 14 (Dacre Stubbs)

The balance of the entry was a swag of MG Specials, pre-war GP cars, sports cars and a sprinkling of Coopers including several new fangled JAP mid-engined cars.

Above and below. Davison, Jones and Whiteford. Further back #11 Gray, his Ford V8 creating the smokescreen, #7 Kleinig, #10 Hayes Ford V8 Spl #6 Vennermark/Warren Maser 4CL (unattributed)

Practice and the Race…

Practice commenced early at 8.30 AM and before too long their was drama aplenty amongst the topliners.

Davison’s HWM suffered bearing problems in practice, the session started at 8.30am, the team linished them as best they could prior to the race start at 2.30 pm, but the same affliction stopped the car during the race.

Another top driver I didn’t mention above was Sydney ex-speedway star Jack Brabham but his new Cooper T23 Bristol succumbed in the morning session, like Davison, to bearing problems. The ace engineer/mechanic did of course turn this car into rather a formidable weapon- one which inspired him to try his hand in England a year or so hence.

Also having practice dramas was Whiteford, who had a lose, the car was quickly loaded up and trailered back to Doug’s ‘shop closeby ‘…where the front suspension was stripped. Jim Hawker used the table of a mill as a surface plate and found a bent stub axle he straightened in a press. The Lago also needed a new flexible hose; without a word Whiteford took a pair of side-cutters, walked across to the pre-War Triumph his nephew Doug McLean was rebuilding and liberated precisely the correct hose. This was fitted, the brakes were bled…’ wrote Graham Howard.

The Jones Maybach in for the pitstop which changed the race, albeit the car retired in any event. Passing is the Jag XK120 of Frank Lobb (Dacre Stubbs)

From atop a double-decker bus race officials and a crowd estimated by local newspapers variously at between 50,000 and 70,000 people saw Whiteford, Jones and Davison form the front row with Lex’ HWM leading into the first corner under heavy, muggy skies.

The start was fraught and chaotic as several crews were still with their driver and car as the flag dropped!

Davo’s lead was shortlived, Stanley passed him on the first lap and then drew away. McKinnon was a lap 1 casualty when he nosed the hay-bales but got going again, Arthur Wylie spun the Jowett Javelin Spl at Jaguar Corner but he too got going.

Early in the race Jones led Whiteford, Davison, Arthur Wylie’s Jowett powered Wylie Javelin and Curley Brydon’s  ex-Bill Patterson MG TC Spl.

Davo was out on lap 3, he watched the balance of the event from Stan’s pit.

Bob Pritchett in Australian Motor Sports (AMS) wrote that ‘The trouble with the HWM was that the oil pressure relief valve was cockeyed on its seat allowing all the oil to rush right back into the sump through bypass: most surprisingly, the XK120 oil pressure gauge is so hooked in that, under such circumstances, full pressure was still indicated. Lex’s boys did their best with emery strip and managed to have the car on the line for the GP, but it was of no avail.’

Same scene as above from a different angle- Charlie Dean at bottom right (unattributed)

By half distance Stan still had a good lead over Whiteford, but on lap 40 he pitted for fuel and with his Maybach straight-six engine overheating- the car also needed a water pump drive belt.

His crew were not expecting him and in the confusion Stan was bathed in methanol fuel which necessitated a speedy dismount and then being doused in water before returning to the fray.

Whiteford could not believe his luck.

He perhaps lacked the pace to win, although Pritchett observed on the other hand that he didn’t think ‘Doug was unduly worried…Every few laps he would come up from his half-minute or so back and have a a look at the Maybach and then fall back into line again, so he must have had something up his sleeve’? Stan always pushed hard and was said to lack mechanical sympathy, something Doug had in spades. Jones retired Maybach on lap 56 with clutch failure.

Whiteford’s right rear separates from the Talbot Lago on the exit of Dunlop Corner (AMS)

It was not an easy win though.

Melbourne weather is capricious, the skies darkened and rain tumbled down and cars spun- Wal Gillespie’s HRG (shared with Thompson) amongst others. Spectators added to the challenge with ‘suicidal disregard for their own safety…John Calvert rammed a strawbale…when he had to take avoiding action. I suppose they just can’t understand that towards the end of the straight, the quick drivers are covering the best part of fifty yards each second…’ Pritchett mused.

Whiteford slows the TL 26C at the pits to change wheels having lost his right rear tyre. Fortunately the separation happened close to the pits and his efficient crew (Fairfax)

Two laps from home the right-rear tyre of the T26C came off its rim, fortunately only 300 metres from the pits.

After a stop of 30 seconds to change the wheel, with a huge gap to his pursuers, the local lad was on his way to win the race ‘in a Largo Talbot by 5 laps at an average speed of 82 mph for the 200 miles’ The Melbourne Sun, with its characteristic great attention to motor racing reporting detail, recorded in its 22 November account of the race.

Curley Brydon, a member of the RAAF’s crack 78 fighter squadron during the war, was second in his MG TC Spl 5 laps adrift and South Australian Andy Brown third in an MG K3 Magnette. Then came former AGP winner Les Murphy, MG Q Type and Lou Molina in the MM Holden Spl sportscar

Third placed Andy Brown’s very pre-war MG K3 in for a pitstop. K3 ‘030’ still in Oz- ex-Bira/Snow/Dunne/Davison/Brown and many others! (Dacre Stubbs)

Graham Howard in his ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ (HAGP) account of the race reports on some post race controversy which reader and owner of the Curley Brydon TC, Richard Townley develops further in his note below this article.

Howard wrote ‘…Curley Brydon, who had provisionally been placed third, protested that too many people had assisted with Whiteford’s tyre change, and indeed it was suggested one of the helpers was no more than a gate-crashing spectator; but it was agreed that Whiteford could have changed the wheel single-handed and still had time to win, and Brydon’s protest was withdrawn.

Curley Brydon, in the 2nd placed MG TC Spl s/c leads the 16th placed John Nind MG TB Spl (K Wheeler)

Whiteford is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) as saying ‘Our pit was very congested and there were more spectators around than mechanics. Evidently someone we didn’t know tried to help.’ Note that the SMH report states the protests were heard on Sunday 22 November, the day after the race.

As Richard Townley relates in his comments post publication of this article, Phil Irving wrote in his autobiography that Whiteford ‘…was not immediately declared the winner, through an unofficial report that he had been helped by a bystander to get the Talbot back on course after over-shooting a corner. Not having the use of a telephone, the marshal on the corner concerned wrote out a report to be delivered to the Clerk of The Course, who did not receive it until long after after the race had ended.’

‘Doug, who knew the rule book by heart was aware that the official report of the incident had not been lodged within the stipulated half-hour of the race finish, and shrewdly claimed that it was ultra vires and could not form the basis of a protest. This view being upheld by the stewards, Doug was awarded his third AGP, but it was not a very popular victory’ Irving wrote.

Let’s come back to this after dealing with the balance of the protests.

Howard continues ‘However, he (Brydon) also protested Andy Brown’s second placing, and after investigation it was agreed Brydon was second: Murphy protested Brown as well, claiming to have passed him on the last lap, but this was not upheld.’

‘Fifth was Lou Molina first time out in the neat little Holden-engined MM Special, and the first AGP finish for a Holden engine, Sixth was Jim Leech, a nice reward for his part in securing Albert Park for the race.’

‘Seventh, with a plug lead off, with only first and fourth gears useable and with his seat belt broken, was Frank Kleinig; from six AGP starts, going back 15 years to 1938, it was the cars first finish, and very popular. Nonetheless, the days of 15-year old AGP cars could not last much longer’ Howard concluded.

No doubt Kleinig was well pleased with the result as Pritchett wrote that he left Sydney very late for the meeting with trade-plates affixed to the racer to run it in on the Hume Highway!- when that process was complete the car took its place on the trailer for the balance of the trip south.

So what do we make of Phil Irving’s claims of Whiteford receiving outside assistance?

I can find no record of this in any of the published information I have access to.

It is not mentioned in any of the contemporary newspaper reports of the meeting- not in Howard’s AGP account in HAGP, Howard’s ‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’, Barry Green’s superb long piece on the meeting in ‘Albert Park Glory Days’ or in the November or December 1953 issues of Australian Motor Sports.

Lets not forget that the protests were heard and decided, according to the SMH, on the day after the race- Sunday 22 November.

The Stewards of the meeting, given all of the circumstances, and I have in mind the logistics of communication at the meeting, could choose to admit as evidence what they saw as appropriate- and call witnesses.

By that i mean the Marshal concerned could have been called, and no doubt others who were stationed on the corner at the time to give their account of what Irving wrote occurred, to the Stewards, and for them to then make a determination accordingly.

So, on balance, and in the absence of other accounts which agree with Irving’s I don’t believe his version of events to be the correct one. I am happy to alter that position if other proof, a photograph or first-hand spectators recollection, for example can be made available.

I wonder if Phil, writing his book years later- it was published after his death in 1992, is somehow linking DW’s Saturday morning practice spin with the Saturday post-event protests? Irving makes no mention in his book of the other protests addressed by Howard, Green and the SMH in their reports.

Intriguing isn’t it?

(Fairfax)

Winners are Grinners: ‘Dicer Doug’ has won his third and last AGP.

His birthdate is a bit of a mystery but a consensus seems to be during 1914, so it makes him 39, still a young man albeit a racing veteran of not far short of 20 years then.

A great shame to me was his purchase of a 300S Maserati when the factory lobbed with five cars- three 250F’s and two 300S for the 1956 AGP right here at Albert Park- those machines were driven by Messrs Moss and Behra.

I mean it’s a shame in that, if he had bought and raced a 250F he would have been right in amongst Jones, Davison, Reg Hunt and Ted Gray with an equal car. He made the 300S sing but a 250F would have been a more appropriate car methinks

Things go better with Melbourne Bitter- Coke in this case for ‘Dicer Doug’ (Fairfax)

’53 AGP Australian Motor Racing Context…

This excerpt from the 1953-54 LCCA Annual Report is self explanatory and whilst it is self-serving does provided valuable information about the positive impact of the event in terms of the public’s perception of motor racing.

‘When your committee finally obtained permission to conduct the Australian Grand Prix on Albert Park circuit the victory was only half won.

To overcome public prejudice has been the major bugbear of organised racing on public roads and any incompetent handling of this delicate situation could easily have touched off an explosion of indignation.

That we did not receive even one complaint can be attributed to good fortune and untiring organisation of directors and officials. As it can be said that enthusiasts will make the best of the most adverse conditions, our achievements at Albert Park was the greater in having gratified both the general public and the competitors.

In justifying the faith which the Albert Park Trust, inexperienced in motor racing, was prepared to place in our ability, we have broken down one of the few remaining barriers to a more general acceptance of motor racing as one of the national sports.’

Etcetera…

Whereizzit?! Whiteford sneaks a peek at what he already knows- his pit is close and he has 5 laps in hand, but still a heart in the mouth moment.

Bob King recalls the moment ‘My memory says I saw Doug on the bare rim at Melford Corner, but this must be wrong. This photo is probably taken on the way from Jaguar Corner (which is still there if you look for it) and the pits. After all, I was only 15 and it was my first motor race: A life changing event.’

(S Wills)

Ted McKinnon’s 15th placed Maserati 6CM1500. An ex-works car, this machine first raced in Australia at the 1951 AGP at Narrogin, WA, raced by visiting Englishman Colin Murray.

Car #57 alongside is not entered in the AGP (Dacre Stubbs)

(Dacre Stubbs)

 

(D Elms)

Lou Molina’s fifth placed Molina Monza Holden Special and then Les Murphy, MG Q Type fourth, about to be rounded up at speed by Stan Jones in Maybach 1- an unusual angle of Albert Park at its south end.

(R Townley)

Bibliography…

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and ors, ‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, ‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’, ‘Glory Days’ Barry Green, Australian Motor Sports December 1953,

Melbourne Sun 22 November 1953, Sydney Morning Herald 23 November 1953

Photo Credits…

Dacre Stubbs Collection-Martin Stubbs, R Fulford Collection, State Library of Victoria, VHRR Collection, Fairfax Media, Ken Wheeler via Richard Townley Collection, Spencer Wills via Bob King Collection

Tailpiece: Whiteford on the way to victory, Talbot-Lago T26C…

(R Fulford/SLV)

Finito…

 

(Walkem)

Bruce Walton aboard Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder at Longford in March 1958…

The 1958 ‘Longford Trophy’ was the first Gold Star round held at what became the legendary Tasmanian road circuit that March long-weekend. Ted Gray was victorious in Lou Abrahams Tornado 2 Chev. Bruce Walton shared the beautiful Porsche 550 Spyder with its owner, Norman Hamilton. Here he is parked beside ‘The Flying Mile’ near the old startline towards the end of the ‘mile. In 1959 the start/finish line and pits were moved to a safer spot around the corner between Mountford and the Water Tower.

Porsche Spyder 550 chassis ‘550-0056’ was ordered on 2 June 1955 and arrived on the MV Sumbawa in October 1955. One of 91 cars built, it was the only 550 imported to Australia by Norman Hamilton, famously one of the first people awarded commercial rights to the then nascent marque way back in 1951.

The story of Norman’s ‘Porsche introduction’ is a well known in Australia, its an amusing one. The Melbourne pump manufacturer was rumbling up the Glossglockner Pass on the way from Austria to Switzerland to check out the latest in pump technology in an American beast- an Oldsmobile 88 when he was ’rounded up’ by a low slung, snarling silver bullet.

In a village further up the valley he came upon German racer and Porsche tester Richard von Frankenberg partaking of a refreshing beverage in an Inn. He interrupted his break from the arduous task of refining the cars chassis and showed Norman the weird little car. In a burst of entrepreneurial zeal Hamilton followed the German and the car back to the Porsche factory and on a handshake secured the Australian commercial rights- in so doing he became the second agent outside Europe after Max Hoffman in the US.

Looks nothing like my Aston old boy?! South Melbourne Town Hall 1 November 1951 (PCA)

Months later, on 1 November 1951 Hamilton held a cocktail party for Melbourne’s ‘great and good’ at South Melbourne Town Hall, not far from Albert Park, to launch the marque in Oz.

On show were a maroon coupe and a silver cabriolet- forty months after the first 356 Porsche received its road permit in Austria, the cars looked like ‘flying saucers’ compared with the British and American cars with which we were so familiar.

Shortly thereafter selected local motorsport people were invited to test the cars- around Albert Park Lake of course! Very soon after that the Porsche Australian motorsport debut took place with Hamilton family friend and experienced racer/constructor Ken Wylie running the coupe up the dusty Hurstbridge Hillclimb, northeast of Melbourne on 28 January 1952.

Ken Harper and Norman Hamilton with Porsche 356 before the 1953 Redex Round Oz (PCA)

Porsche had fallen into the very best of motorsport friendly hands in Australia. In the following decades Norman, and particularly his son Alan Hamilton, raced exotic Porsches in Australia and aided and abetted the careers of drivers such as Colin Bond, Alan Jones and especially Alfredo Costanzo in Porkers and F5000 and Formula Pacific single-seaters. That story is well covered here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

(Clarence La Tourette)

The 550-1500 RS Spyder was first exhibited at the 1953 Paris Salon, the sexy body hid Dr Ernst Fuhrmann’s ‘Type 547’ DOHC, 2 valve, air-cooled, 1498 cc (85X66 mm bore/stroke) horizontally opposed, twin-Solex fed four cylinder circa 110 bhp @ 6200 rpm engine. This motor provided the basis, as it was progressively modified, for the motive power of successive Porsche racers until 1961. Built from 1954-1955 the 550 design had ‘an integral body-frame with floor frame…the flat frame consisted of welded tubing’. The transaxle was 4 speed with a ‘slippery’ diff, drum brakes were fitted front and rear. With the machine weighing a feather-light 590 Kg, a top-speed of about 137 mph was achieved with levels of endurance and reliability which became key brand values.

When the 550 first arrived at Port Melbourne it was delivered the short distance to the Southern Cross Service Station on St Kilda Road, Melbourne where it was uncrated and checked over by engineer/mechanic/racer Otto Stone. Pronounced fit, veteran AGP winner Les Murphy gave the car it’s competition debut at Rob Roy on Melbourne Cup Day in November 1955.

Delivered to New Zealand for Stirling Moss to drive in the 1956 New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Ardmore, the great Brit won the ‘Ardmore Handicap’ in the 550 and then jumped into his works Maserati 250F to win the NZ GP. The Spyder also participated in that Formula Libre GP- to ninth place driven by New South Wales ace Frank Kleinig.

One of the great shames of Australian Motor Racing is that Kleinig didn’t win an AGP in his wonderful (and still extant) Kleinig Hudson straight-8 Spl. It was apt that Hamilton gave Frank this ‘works’ drive. I’ve mused more than once about how many ‘big races’ Kleinig could have won had he raced a car equal to that of Bill Thompson, Alf Barrett and Lex Davison to name some drivers of equal calibre who spanned ‘the Kleinig decades’ but had much better rides.

Frank Kleinig and the 550 outside his Parrmatta Rd, Burwood, Sydney workshop in early 1956 (C Gibson)

The car was shipped back from New Zealand to Sydney in time for the South Pacific Championship meeting at Gnoo Blas, Orange on 30 January. Kleinig was to drive the Porsche but was barred from competing by CAMS, then a new organisation- the controlling body of motorsport in Australia. Frank had taken part in the ‘unofficial’, as in not sanctioned by CAMS, Mobilgas Economy Run and was punished for his crime by not being allowed to race.

Jack Brabham, who that weekend raced the Cooper T40 Bristol he drove to victory in the 1955 AGP at Port Wakefied to second in the Sou Pac feature race behind Reg Hunt’s Maser 250F- then drove the heavily handicapped Porsche to sixth in the last event of the day, a five lap racing car handicap.

Ron Phillips AH 100S approaches the looped Otto Stone in the 550 Spyder at Jaguar Corner during the Moomba TT, Albert Park in March 1956 (unattributed)

Otto Stone had a few steers of the 550 including meetings at Fishermans Bend and the 1956 Moomba TT in March (4th) and the November Australian TT both at Albert Park- the latter race famously won by Stirling Moss’ works Maserati 300S from Jean Behra’s similar car, both of which stayed in Australia and were then raced successfully by Doug Whiteford and Bob Jane. Otto failed to finish the race.

Into 1957 Stone contested a 15 lap club trophy race at Fishermans Bend (below) running with the quick guys including Paul England’s Ausca Holden Hi-Power and Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S- following Stone is Ron Phillip’s Austin Healey 100S.

(unattributed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norman Hamilton, Fishermans Bend, June 1957 (autopics)

Walton won the Australian Hillclimb Championship from 1958 to 1963 at a diversity of venues across the country aboard his Walton Cooper in an era when the title ‘really mattered’ and attracted both large crowds and the best of the circuit racers, some of whom like Stan Jones and Lex Davison had cars in their equipes acquired and developed to suit the particular rigours of the ‘hill discipline.

Bruce Walton fettles his modified Cooper Mk8 in John Hartnett’s Melbourne workshop, date folks? (L Sims)

 

Bruce Walton does his thing at Rob Roy in Melbourne’s Christmas Hills, 1953. Walton Jap Spl (unattributed)

Whilst Bruce also circuit raced, he did not contest as many events as many enthusiasts would have liked- had he done so he was the calibre of racer who could have won a Gold Star or at least won a Gold Star round- he was that good.

Not much has been written about the great Bruce Walton who died not so long ago in 2017, this article in ‘Loose Fillings’ is a nice comprehensive piece about his hillclimb exploits. Click here to read Terry Wright’s work; https://loosefillings.com/2017/06/10/climbed-your-last-hill/

Walton, 550 mounted at Fishermans Bend in Feb 1958 (autopics)

 

Bruce Walton passes the Newry Pumphouse, Flying Mile, Longford, Porsche 550, Longford 1958

Walton raced the Porsche at Fishermans Bend in February 1958 which was a good means of getting the feel of the car before attacking the formidable Longford road circuit over the Labour Day long-weekend in March 1958.

In the 5 lapper on Saturday Norman Hamilton drove to second behind Bill Patterson and ahead of John Youl’s Porsche 356. In the feature sportscar race, the Tasmanian Tourist Trophy, Bruce drove to third behind Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and Royce Fullard.

The Marsh owned 550 Spyder at Templestowe Hillclimb in Melbourne’s east circa 1962 (unattributed)

In November 1959 the car was sold to Reg Smith, and sold again after the unfortunate motor dealer lost his life at Bathurst driving a 356 Coupe. Acquired by Victorian Lionel Marsh, it was raced extensively with great class success in Australian and Victorian Hillclimb Championships. Marsh raced it up until 1964 inclusive of hitting an earth bank at Lakeland Hillclimb to Melbourne’s outer east.

After changing hands on several occasions over the following twenty years, including into and out of Alan Hamilton’s hands once or twice, prominent Melbourne businessman Lindsay Fox acquired ‘0056’ in 1992. He tasked Brian Tanti to restore it, a job which took three years to complete.

The RS550 Spyder now resides in considerable comfort at the Fox Collection in Melbourne’s Docklands and is exercised every now and again attracting all the attention it deserves for a car with a roll call of prominent to great drivers including Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Les Murphy, Otto Stone, Frank Kleinig, Bruce Walton, Allan Williams, Ted Gray, Austin Miller, Ern Tadgell, Lionel Marsh and of course Norman Hamilton…

Albert Park paddock, 1958 Victorian Tourist Trophy, Ern Tadgell up that weekend (unattributed)

Credits…

porsche.com, oldracephotos.com.au, Walkem Family Collection, autopics.com.au, Clive Gibson, Porsche Cars Australia, Paul Geard Collection, Clarence La Tourette, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

Etcetera…

£1500, oh dear! Give Lionel a call, not far from my mums place actually!

 Tailpiece: Walton using all the road exiting Mountford Corner for the run up Pit Straight, Longford 1958…

(P Geard)

Finito…