Posts Tagged ‘Frank Matich’

(Wheels)

Whilst Darwin’s ‘Northern Standard’ reported that the attempt on the Darwin to Alice Springs record by Brisbane racer/motorcycle dealer Les Taylor and his salesman, ex-Spitfire pilot Dick Rendle’s Jaguar XK120 was a ‘well kept secret’, news of it soon spread.

So much so that when the duo arrived in the Alice 10 hours and 32 minutes after leaving Darwin they were greeted by the local ‘Wallopers’ who slapped Taylor in the local nick and charged him with four offences.

The pair set off at 6.30 am on Thursday 2 August 1951, arriving at 5.02 pm after covering 954 miles- an average of 90.5 mph. Plentiful telegrams of the interested enroute made the job for the police easy!

Excitement along the way was provided by cattle on the road between Pine Creek and Katherine, and a horse close to Barrow Creek, fortunately the svelte lines of Coventry’s finest remained intact. See the full story in Wheels here; https://www.whichcar.com.au/features/classic-wheels/vanishing-point

(Wheels)

 

(unattributed)

Our earliest motoring heroes, household names, were the drivers who set innumerable north, south, east and west intercity records between all sorts of weird and wonderful places, but that all became a bit dangerous so the practice was made illegal in 1930, hence the intervention of the gendarmes above. See here for a piece on these pioneers;

It begs the question as to who was first to cross the country by car, that honour, from north to south goes to Horace Aunger and Henry Dutton aboard a Talbot in 1908 above.

The pair left Adelaide in Dutton’s Talbot on 25 November 1907 travelling through country which could only be tackled by a modern 4WD but the cars crown wheel pinion failed south of Tennant Creek, with the wet season moving in  the intrepid duo travelled by horse to the railway line at Oodnadatta and made their way home.

The second bite at the cherry commenced on 30 June 1908, with a more powerful Talbot. Ern Allchurch joined them at Alice Springs, after repairing the damaged car at Tennant Creek the two cars drove in convoy to Pine Creek where the ‘disgraced’ Talbot was sent by train to Darwin, the trio reached Darwin on 20 August.

This car is at Birdwood in the Adelaide Hills- another reason to visit this great museum. A piece on Transcontinental competition here; https://primotipo.com/2018/12/21/city-to-city-record-breaking-and-car-trials/

 

(Driving & Life)

What a thrill it was to see Alan Jones win the 1980 Australian Grand Prix at Calder in his Williams FW07 Ford and match his fathers similar feat achieved aboard a Maserati 250F at Longford in 1959.

The Calder event was for F5000 and F1 cars- specifically Jones’ machine and the sensational Alfa Romeo 179 3 litre V12, my abiding memory of that weekend forty years on is the sound of the Alfa as Bruno Giacomelli worked the fabulous screaming twelve up- and particularly down the six speed ‘box.

(unattributed)

 

(An1images.com)

Peter Brock exits Dandenong Road during the September 1977 Sandown 400K.

Brock won from Allan Grice’s similar Holden Torana A9X in a year of slim pickings for the Fisherman’s Bend mob- it was twelve months of Carroll Smith/Moffat/Bond domination of Group C touring car sprint and endurance racing- a welcome change of fortunes for those of us with no marque based bias.

 

(unattributed)

Tom Bradey and Charlie Sheppard, Singer 9 Bantam on the way to winning the first Australian Touring Car Championship aka the ‘Australian Stock Car Championship’ at Lobethal in 1939.

Rewrite the record book folks, the first ATCC was run and won at Lobethal in 1939, not Gnoo Blas in 1960, see here; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/04/first-australian-touring-car-championship-lobethal-1939/

 

(J Ellacott)

One of John Ellacott’s signature Homestead Corner shots at Warwick Farm, circa 1963.

Its Charlie Smith in the ex-works/Frank Matich works Elfin WR275 ‘Catalina’ Cosworth Ford 1.5, he looks pretty relaxed in his short-sleeved shirt too.

Matich had a pair of these cars at his disposal in Sydney in addition to a Clubman and did much to enhance the Elfin name in the important Sydney market. See here; https://primotipo.com/2019/04/12/elfin-fj-catalina-250-275-375-wr/

 

(VW)

The Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia VW Polo WRC successfully defended their driver/co-driver titles in Spain having already retained the manufacturers title in Australia in 2015- for the third time on the trot.

Rally Australia was run from September 10 to 13 out of Coffs Harbour, the champs finished ahead of teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Anttila Miika and then the Citroen DS3 WRC crewed by Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle.

(VW)

 

(D Foster)

The Prad Healey at Lakeside in 1961, surely it’s the best looking Healey 100/6 ever built?

This unique car was modified not long after it was acquired new by Queenslander, Doug Cavill in January 1958.

The engine was modified extensively so by racer/engineer Bill Reynolds and the body by the vastly experienced and talented Sydney ‘Prad’ boys, Barry PRyor and Clive ADams in Sydney. A fast, stunning machine was the result, the car still exists but the beauty has been stripped of her party clothes, almost criminal really, see here; https://primotipo.com/?s=prad+healey

 

(An1images.com)

Scott Dixon, Reynard 92D Holden leads the 1998 Sandown Gold Star round at Sandown.

He won four of the twelve races on the way to the title, including this one. In a season of great consistency he finished every race and placed second on five occasions, winning the title from Todd Kelly also aboard a 92D by 43 points with Mark Noske a further 8 points adrift in a Reynard 95D.

 

(D Williams)

This bunch of shots by David Williams took my eye- they were taken at Hume Weir long after the last meeting had been held at the hugely popular Albury-Wodonga border-town circuit.

Club sprints and the like were held long after the final open meeting, see here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/06/hume-weir/

David’s camera caught some wonderful Lukey Mufflers signage, the 1959 Gold Star Champion was always a friend of motor racing throughout his life, most notably as the owner of Phillip Island for a couple of decades

(D Williams )

 

(unattributed)

Max Patterson’s ex-Mal Ramsay Elfin 300C chassis ‘SS67-6’ Ford during the 1973 Macau Grand Prix.

Amongst the sweetest of all of Garrie Cooper’s cars.

The Melbourne car dealer qualified the car on the second last row amongst the other sportscars but was out early in the race won by The Monaco King of the era- John Macdonald’s Brabham BT40 Ford. Piece on the Macau GP here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/20/macau-grand-prix/

 

(B Williamson Collection)

A couple of Caversham shots.

Look at the crowd above- I suspect it’s after the 1957 AGP won by Lex Davison and Bill Patterson aboard Lex’ Ferrari 500/625.

The shot of the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM could only be in Australia- superb bush backdrop to a sensational car being driven to a win of the ‘Six Hour Le Mans’ by Spencer Martin and David McKay on 7 June 1965. Feature on the car here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

(K Devine Collection)

 

One of the most ambitious and audacious acts in Australian motor racing was Harold Clisby’s design and construction of a 1.5 litre V6 F1 engine.

At the time the engine was designed and built from 1960 to its first run on the test bench in 1964 the headcount of Clisby Industries was seventeen people. And they built almost all of it in-house. They being Harold, Project Engineer, Kevin Drage and Machinist, Alec Bailey.

I cheated with the chassis plate by the way- its ‘orf a Clisby air-compressor.

(D Lupton)

The 1.5 litre 120 degree, DOHC, two-valve, twin-Clisby triple-choke carb fed V6 was tested at Mallala for the first time, fitted to an Elfin Type 100 ‘Mono’ in March 1965.

It raced only four times before being put to one side whilst Clisby made hovercraft, steam trains, a castle and much, much more. Surely our countries greatest mighta-been? See here; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/22/elfin-mono-clisby-mallala-april-1965/

(K Drage)

 

(HTSA)

Bill Patterson enters Penrice Road, Nuriootpa during the Barossa Vintage Festival meeting in April 1949.

His MG TC Spl s/c is almost brand new and took two wins that weekend including the feature  event. Here it is below on its competition debut weekend at Rob Roy in January 1949. See here for the Nuriootpa weekend; https://primotipo.com/2020/08/27/barossa-vintage-festival-meeting-nuriootpa-1949/

(R Townley Collection)

 

(D Lupton)

Bob Jane’s Equipe was pretty impressive right from his earliest days.

Here at Calder in 1963 are the two Jaguars- Mk2 and Lightweight E Type, the interloper is a Fiat 2300.

Stephen Dalton suggests its probably the weekend of the December 8 Australian GT Championship meeting. Click here for a piece on Bob’s cars; https://primotipo.com/2020/01/03/jano/

(D Lupton)

 

(I Smith)

JM Fangio and Jack Brabham aboard Lance Dixon’s 8C Alfa Romeo during the ‘Fangio Meeting’ at Sandown in 1978.

What a meeting that was! It was pinch yourself all weekend, it is such a treasured motor racing moment for all of us that saw it, let alone had a chance to be on the bill. Not that i remember the AGP or the taxi race!

 

(I Smith)

Magic moments- as clear now in my mind as then was JMF teasing the big booming 3 litre straight-eight (SLR engine fitted) out of third gear Shell Corner, into a big slide and holding it, with the whole of the pitlane and those perched on the pit counter roaring in approval. And delight. He did it again and again too.

Marvellous it was. See here; https://primotipo.com/2018/08/21/juan-manuel-fangios-sandown-park/

(I Smith)

Some beautiful shots by Ian Smith here.

Jack telling the press or assembled masses at the Light Car Club how hard he had driven BT19 Repco ‘620’ his 1966 F1 Championship winning tool to stay in front of the 1954/5 Mercedes W196. That’s Kerry Luckins, LCCA President at rear.

(I Smith)

 

(P Townsend)

John Leffler being tended by Paul and Steve Knott at Oran Park during June 1974, Bowin P8 Hart-Ford 416-B ANF2 car.

John Joyce’s Bowin P8s were amongst the most sophisticated, advanced racing cars ever built in Australia. With wedge shape, hip radiators and variable or ‘rising’ rate suspension the car picked up some of the Lotus 72’s design cues.

Leffler was the only driver to really take the fight to the tussling Birrana pilots Leo Geoghegan and Bob Muir in the 1974 Australian F2 Championship, had the car’s suspension been sorted by Leffler and Joyce earlier in the season perhaps Leffo’s yield would have been greater than one win!

This was a seriously fast racing car, John raced it everywhere in 1974 including some Gold Star rounds where he made the tail of the 5 litre cars look decidedly average. I’ll have this car in my collection please. A bit about the car here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/20/brabs-gets-the-jump/

 

Leffo and Bob Muir collided at Lakeside in December causing them both to retire- that left front is punctured

 

Peter Brennan Collection

Repco luminaries Nigel Tait, Rodway Wolfe and Aaron Lewis were musing a couple of weeks ago about how many Repco-Brabham ‘760’ 4.2 litre, quad cam, 32 valve ‘Indy’ V8s were built for Brabham Racing Organisation’s 1968 and 1969 Indy 500 assaults. The answer is three.

My Repco history has not yet given the 3 litre 860 and 4.2/4.8/5 litre 760 a real go, but i did wonder who paid for the Indy engines. Repco’s ad in the 1968 Longford program provides the answer- Goodyear. I’d love to know how much they paid?

Peter Revson got the best results out of the 760 engined Brabham BT25s in drives which changed the direction of his driving career. He finished a great fifth at Indy in 1969 and won the two heat Indy Racing Park 200 against a field a great depth that July and proved there was nothing wrong with Repco’s quad-cam, four-valver that development could not solve.

There is some information about the four-can engines in this ridiculously long epic; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/22/rbe-by-the-numbers/

Repco-Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. ‘RBE’ ‘760 Series’ 4.2 litre, gear-driven four cam, four valve, Lucas fuel injected V8 (Repco)

 

(oldracephotos.com/King)

Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 906 Spyder on the hop at at Longford in March 1967.

In the feature race he finished third behind the Matich and Jane Elfin 400s, the new car having made its race debut at Sandown the week before. See here for a piece on Hammos’ 906s, i had a looong wonderful chat to him a couple on months ago which i really must turn into words, note to self! See here in the meantime; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

Bibliography…

TwistedHistory.net.au, Wheels magazine

Photo Credits…

Wheels, Russell Garth, John Ellacott, Darren Foster, David Williams, AN1images.com, Bob Williamson Collection, Ken Devine Collection, Denis Lupton, Kevin Drage, Richard Townley Collection, Ian Smith, Chris Griffiths, ‘Driving and Life’, Peter Townsend, Repco, Yogi Weller, oldracephotos.com

Tailpiece…

(autopics.com.au)

Spencer Martin aboard the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A Coventry Climax during the 1966 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman Cup meeting.

His battles in this car, by then owned by Bob Jane, with Kevin Bartlett’s matching Alec Mildren owned car were the toast of racing in 1966-1967, the two mates and young professionals racing hard, fast and fair.

Martin won two Gold Stars in those years and then retired, too early in the minds of many but at precisely the right time for the man himself. See here; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/30/spencer-martin-australian-gold-star-champion-19667/

Finito…

(R MacKenzie)

Pedro Rogriguez BRM P126 V12 howling its way around Surfers Paradise in the summer of 1968, behind is Dick Atwood’s sister car…

This shot is by Rod MacKenzie, loved his work, especially the more creative stuff of which there is heaps- he died last year sadly, see here for some of his work; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/27/oz-racing-books/ and here for the BRM P126; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/25/richard-attwood-brm-p126-longford-1968/

 

(oldracephotos.com.au/King)

Bob Jane from Allan Moffat in Lotus Cortinas at Mountford Corner, Longford in March 1965.

Didn’t these two characters go at with considerable ferocity for a couple of decades, who won the encounters on this weekend? Click here for the Lotus Cortina; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/16/jim-clark-lotus-cortina-sebring-1964/ and here for Moff’s more formative career years; https://primotipo.com/2020/03/06/moffats-shelby-brabham-elfin-and-trans-am/

 

(I Smith)

Feel the earth move under your feet- Formula 5000 at Sandown was what hooked me into the sport.

McRae, McRae GM3 Chev, Costanzo, Lola T332C Chev and Kevin Bartlett’s partially obscured Brabham BT43 Chev, another three T332s and the rest on the run down from The Rise down into Dandy Road- Sandown Park Cup, Rothmans International Series, February 1978.

Warwick Brown won from Garrie Cooper and John Cannon- Lola T333/T332C Chev, Elfin MR8-C Chev and March 73A/751 Chev, McRae, Costanzo and Bartlett were all DNFs.

Piece on Graham McRae here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/06/amons-talon-mcraes-gm2/

 

(S Jek)

Stan Jones, Maserati 250F during the 1956 Australian Grand Prix.

Taken from the spectator foot bridge on Pit Straight, Stan was fifth in the race won by Moss’ works 250F, see here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/16/james-linehams-1956-agp-albert-park/

 

(unattributed)

The Corkscrew, Laguna Seca Can-Am 15 October 1967.

Skip Scott, McLaren M1C Chev from Frank Matich, Matich SR3 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 and Chris Amon, Ferrari 350 Can-Am V12 with a Lola T70 up top.

Bruce McLaren won that day in his M6A Chev- the first of the long series of dominant orange Can-Am Big Macs.

For Matich, his 1967 tour was a toe in the water exercise, but he never did go back with a sportscar, the SR4 chassis and Repco 5 litre 760 engine were both hopelessly late, in the event he used a sledge hammer to crack a nut in torching the local opposition in the 1969 Australian Sportscar Championship- see here; https://primotipo.com/2016/07/15/matich-sr4-repco-by-nigel-tait-and-mark-bisset/

 

(Peter Weaver Motorsports Photography)

John Smith, Ralt RT21 Holden, Formula Holden, Phillip Island during the opening 1990 Gold Star round in March 1990.

Schmiddy put Dave Mawer’s immaculate car second on the grid but had a mother and father of a prang during the pre-race morning warm up comprehensively destroying the car after a high speed off at Lukey Heights.

I became a Smith devotee in his Bowin P4A Formula Ford days where his dazzling car control was Bartlett-esque, he carried that pace into the Galloway ANF2 and then the ex-Scuderia Veloce/Larry Perkins Ralt RT1 he raced with both pushrod Ford and BDA Ford engines in both ANF2 and Formula Pacific- nifty that, I always thought.

The thinking drivers of that F Pac period were Alf Costanzo and John Bowe- the ‘maddies’ perhaps Andrew Miedecke, Lucio Cesario and Smith- with the latter two probably or possibly the quickest of the five over a given lap and Costanzo and JB more often victorious. Alan Jones duly noted of course.

Alf should have gone to Europe in 1969 (or did he? and returned), Smith in 1979 and Bowe and Cesario in 1981- man there was talent aplenty amongst that lot.

John boofed a few cars mind you- the RT1 was retubbed at least once, ditto one of the RT4s, ditto this RT21 but he was always ‘on it’ in a very European kinda way as was Lucio, and let’s not forget the latter was a Lancia LC2 Ferrari Group C works driver for a season or so- I really must write that story.

John’s Ralt RT4 looking a tad second hand after a difference of opinion with the Adelaide International real estate before the first Gold Star round in 1982 (SLSA)

 

(T Parkinson)

Bunbury ‘Round The Houses’ down south as the Perthies refer to Margs (Margaret River) and its surrounds.

The real 100S Austin Healey deal ‘AHS3909’ which Tony Parkinson identifies as driven by Perth disc-jockey Mike O’Rourke during the 1963 New Year weekend.

See here for more about these West Australian town venues; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/23/bunbury-flying-50-allan-tomlinson-ferrari-500-et-al/

 

(Govt Singapore)

John Walker’s Elfin 600B Ford twin-cam leads winner Graeme Lawrence, Brabham BT29 Ford FVC through the tropical jungle alongside the Thompson Road track, Singapore GP 1971.

This piece is about the Singapore GP generally but with a focus on the 1972 event; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/24/singapore-sling-with-an-elfin-twist/

 

(J Ellacott)

Beautiful John Ellacott shot at Mount Druitt in July 1957.

The two Johns, Ellacott and Medley identify the entrants as the #81 George Websdale MG TC, #9 Howard Hunt MG TA/TC Spl s/c, Jim Johnson MG TC Spl, #20 Don Wright, Citroen Spl and Gordon Stewart in the mid-engined Wheeler MG Spl s/c, and on the second row Ray Walmsley, Alfa Romeo P3 Alvis, unknown, the George Pearse Cooper MG and maybe Ken Bennett’s Austin Healey 100-4, Medley notes in the background the red Jack Robinson Jaguar in the background.

A piece on Mount Druitt is here; https://primotipo.com/?s=mount+druitt

 

(A Doney)

Soap Box Derby in Bendigo.

Nineteen-forties d’yer reckon? All of us with a billy-cart or three in our past can relate to this wonderful shot. More on billy-carts; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/10/spitty/

 

Poignant.

The I’ll-fated Rocky Tresise Ecurie Australie Cooper T62 Climax is pushed onto the grid at Longford in March 1965.

Warwick Cumming at the rear, Lou Russo up front- two of the AF Hollins crew who always looked after Lex Davison’s cars.

A rather sad story, a ‘Greek Tragedy’ as some have described it, here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

 

(Peter Weaver Motor Sport Photography)

Bap Romano, Kaditcha Ford Cosworth DFL, Winton, 1983.

Bap won both heats of the Australian Sportscar Championship that day- I was there and still remember the raucous, sharp exhaust note of Barry Lock’s marvellous car.

It needed a bit of work from ex-Alan Jones Williams mechanic, Wayne Eckersley to get the structure and aero right but it was a jet once they got the thing sorted.

I went to several meetings just to see and hear this car.

 

(I Nicholls)

Tiger In Your Tank indeed.

Ray Parsons and Jim Clark watched by a fascinated Sandown Park crowd during the 1966 Tasman meeting.

Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax was the least competitive of all of his Tasman mounts, the two BRM P261s were the class of the field that year with Jackie Stewart taking the title convincingly.

See here for an epic on this car which was driven so well for so long after acquired by Leo Geoghegan after the Longford round which followed this Sandown event; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/12/jim-clark-and-leo-geoghegans-lotus-39/

 

(N Macleod)

Aussie Abroad.

Warwick Brown in Jack McCormack’s Talon MR1A Chev at Mosport during the 1975 US F5000 Championship.

He gave Mario Andretti a surprise that weekend pushing him hard in the heat, in the final he was third behind Mario and Brian Redman’s Lola T332 Chevs.

A bit about Warwick here; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/09/wb-for-73/

 

(D Simpson)

The old and the new.

There are not too many shots of Bob Jane’s second and third Mustangs together on track together as here during the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship round at Mallala.

Bob in the 1968 Shelby built Trans-Am leads John Harvey in the GT390 with Terry Allen’s Chev Camaro in shot too.

Pete Geoghegan won the race in his Mustang from Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 911, Bob retired mid-race, not sure about Harves and Terry Allan, I don’t have my ATCC book to hand- folks?

1969 ATCC article here; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/01/1969-australian-touring-car-championship/

 

(J Ellacott)

Stunning John Ellacott work- look closely, there is so much going on in this magnificent photograph taken during the 1962 Warwick Farm 100 weekend.

Moss practiced this Lotus 21 Climax but preferred Rob Walker’s Cooper T53 so won in that from Bruce McLaren and Bib Stillwell in similar cars.

Read about the Lotus 21 here; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/08/ole-935/

 

(M Terry)

Aspendale Park 1929.

James Crooke built a race track inside his horse racing course in 1905, the first race meeting was held on 29 January 1906 making it the ‘world’s first purpose built racing circuit.’

I am intrigued as to the cars and drivers above identification folks?

See here a great piece on this Melbourne bayside motorsport 1905 to 1951 race venue, Melburnians who want to check the location should pop Albany Crescent, Aspendale into Google Maps and drive along it- it once was the track’s back-straight.

See here; https://www.hyperracer.com/history

 

(R Lambert or D Mills)

Surely Garrie Cooper was the most multi-talented man in Australian motor racing apart from Jack Brabham?

Designer, engineer, constructor of production racing cars in some scale for a couple of decades and a bit, small business owner and employer and elite level racing driver- not at the  apex of the latter of course.

Nobody has a bad thing to see about the bloke either, he was a decent, honest man of his word in a sea filled with no shortage of white-pointers.

Here he is aboard his superb Elfin 600C Repco ‘830’ 2.5 V8 during the JAF Japanese Grand Prix weekend in 1969 in this race won by

Per head of population the Elfin 600 was one of the most successful production racing cars ever built- the only model missing from the Edwardstown concerns line up was a Formula Vee variant!

Craig Sparks, Elfin 792 VW inside Bob Prendergast’s Cheetah Mk7 , Winton March 1981

 

Winton ANF2 championship round in March 1981. John Bowe, Elfin GE225 VW from Ricahed Davison’s Hardman Ford, Russell Norden’s March ‘Aryben’ 793 VW and Peter Macrow, Cheetah Mk7 Toyota. JB wrote of this car ‘Loved that car, would have liked to run it for a bit longer but my sponsor wanted to go Atlantic racing straight away which meant Ralt. I’m sure Garrie could have built an awesome Atlantic car but the time frame was crucial’

I remember looking at John Bowe’s works Elfin 792 VW car at the Winton ANF2 championship round in 1979 and going simultaneously ‘woweee’ and ‘ya missed the boat Gazza’ when first glimpsing the gleaming Ansett sponsored car, it was the year ‘all’ the production racing car manufacturers had a crack at a ground-effect car, ‘black art’ that it was at the time.

The 792 wasn’t a GE car but the GE225 VW F2 which followed it was- and was a quick machine, John Bowe rated it and then Chris Leach, his sponsor, wanted to go Formula Pacific so the car was sold sooner than ideal, so too was the MR9 Chev F5000 but it’s developmental opportunities were not at an end when Garrie died suddenly in early 1982.

I’ve often wondered what he would have achieved had he continued on, for sure the historic restoration work he had commenced would have provided valuable cash-flow as the market for production racing cars got tougher especially as the carbon-fibre era began.

The cars designed and built by Don Elliot, Tony Edmondson and Jon Porter were the real Elfin deal mind you, god bless ‘em for taking the torch forward as they did.

R.IP. GC Cooper- see here for the 792; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/10/elfin-light-aircraft/

 

Bib Stillwell at Mount Panorama aboard his Cooper T51 Climax in October 1960.

Bib owned and raced more cars than you and I have had hot dinners- the Coopers he had in this period alone takes a bit of reckoning.

This one ‘F2-18-59’ is the car he leased to Lex Davison and in which, despite its 2.2 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine, compared to the oppositions 2.5s, Lex won the 1961 Australian Grand Prix at Mallala, click here for that story; https://primotipo.com/2018/03/29/the-naughty-corner-renta-gp-winner/

 

(HRCCTas)

Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 904 leads a gaggle of cars into the Viaduct at Longford during the 1966 Australian Tourist Trophy.

Behind him is Lionel Ayers, MRC Lotus 23B Ford, Spencer Martin in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM- Frank Matich is up front in his new Elfin 400 Olds and took the win.

Here is a piece on Hamilton’s sportsracer Porsches of this period; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

 

(Brabham Automotive)

‘Orf with his head!’

Arise Sir Jack, Sir Zelman Cowen, Australia’s Governor General completes the Knighthood ritual in Canberra, 1979.

And rather well deserved too.

 

(unattributed)

Aussies Abroad, for quite a while the case of these blokes…

Brian Muir, BMW 3 litre CSL chases Frank Gardner, Chev Camaro ZL-1 7 litre at Brands Hatch during a British Saloon Car Championship round in 1973.

Frank left Australia as a sportscar pilot and forged a great career in those things as well as single-seaters and tourers whilst Brian left Sydney as a touring car driver and mixed that in Europe with sportscar drives.

Frank returned to Oz in late 1974 whilst Brian died suddenly in England on 11 September 1983.

 

(unattributed)

The raucous bellow of the XK Jaguar engine bellows and echoes off the surrounding gums as Ron Phillips’ Cooper T38 exits Kings Bridge during the 1959 Australian Grand Prix at Longford…

Phillips, son of Wangaratta between the wars top racer Jack Phillips didn’t win that day but he won the event at Lowood in 1959.

I’ve an article largely completed on that ex-Whitehead/Jones car and tangentially the driver, I really must get on with it Ian McDonald!

 

(Castrol)

Bathurst 1000, 2019: Lee Holdsworth, Tickford Racing Ford Mustang GT…

The Mustangs brought a great new shape to V8 Supercars in 2019 with the DJR Scott McLaughlin car taking the title from Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup.

Holdsworth was ninth at Mount Panorama sharing with Thomas Randle and finished tenth in the overall seasons point score with a best placing for the year third at Sandown.

 

(P Cross)

Phil West at the wheel of the Scuderia Veloce ex-Gardner Ferrari 275GTB during the 1968 Surfers Paradise 12 Hours.

He finished ninth sharing the car with George Reynolds and – the race was won by the SV Ferrari 250LM driven by the Brothers Geoghegan.

Whilst the 275GTB are somewhat iconic Phil wasn’t impressed at all, his thoughts about it are here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/24/franks-fazz/

 

(R Watson)

Bob Jane at Calder aboard his Brabham BT23E Repco circa 1968.

Janey raced single-seaters regularly circa 1964-1966, he had an Elfin Mono Ford ANF1.5 and at that stage more or less switched to touring cars but not exclusively so, when he felt like it he had a whirl in his Elfin 400 Repco, and here aboard his ex-Jack 1968 Tasman machine usually piloted by John Harvey.

This car is covered in this piece here; https://primotipo.com/2015/12/22/jack-brabham-brabham-bt23e-oran-park-1968/

Bob Jane, Elfin Type 100 Ford twin-cam ANF 1.5, Warwick Farm Tasman meeting 1966 (autopics.com)

Photo and other Credits…

Roderick MacKenzie, Sharaz Jek, oldracephotos.com, Peter Weaver Motorsport Photography, Tony Parkinson, John Ellacott, Allan Doney, Ian Nicholls, Norm Macleod, Dick Simpson, Michael Terry, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Brabham Automotive, Castrol, Richard Watson, hyperracer.com, autopics.com, S5000 Facebook

Tailpiece: Surfs Up…

(S5000 FB)

Tim Macrow testing the prototype S5000 Ligier at Phillip Island on 19 September 2019.

Lovely shot by Peter Weaver, who said all modern circuits are ugly? Weaver is the master at the Island, his work there is exceptional.

This was one of several test days at the circuit before the new categories first race at Sandown several weeks hence, click here for a feature on the class; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/26/progress/

Finito…

‘Yerd reckon Matich would be able to blow it off wouldn’t you?…

A GTS sure, powered by the little ‘253’ V8 maybe, steel wheels with Belmont/Kingswood hubcaps, lordy. Not to forget the ultimate ‘woggerisation accessory’, without putting too fine a point on it- a black vinyl roof. Yuck, vomitous yuck in fact.

I threatened to leave the house when the old man advised the family over Joan’s finest casserole and ‘smashed spuds that he was getting a vinyl roof affixed to the turret of his metallic mauve/purple HQ Premier- it sounds a toxic colour, it was anything but- sadly, he proceeded as planned. Upon return to Chez Pete & Joan- to copious abuse from my brother and i, he then asked when I would be removing myself from the premises, at fifteen this was not a commitment i felt was legally binding upon my goodself let alone enforceable on his part. To add insult to injury the Ford Fairmont GXL which replaced the ‘haitch-queue’ was similarly equipped- the useless shit one remembers stimulated by a snap.

Matich had a great Lady Wigram Trophy weekend in 1970- he popped his McLaren M10A Chev on pole for the Tasman Cup feature, in front of his similarly mounted arch-rival Graham McRae, and won the race ahead of American Ron Grable in another M10A then Max Stewart’s speedy Mildren Waggott TC-4V.

FM won two 1970 rounds, he took the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe the week before Wigram. He was quick everywhere too- on pole at Pukekohe, Surfers Paradise and Sandown but did not have the consistency of Graeme Lawrence, who, whilst only winning one round took the series with the ‘clockwork reliability’ of the same Ferrari Dino 246T Chris Amon used to win in 1969.

This and the shot below are at Wigram 1970- alongside the hangars here and airborne at The Loop below (E Sarginson)

 

(E Sarginson)

Frank, perhaps fatally, elected to miss the final Kiwi round at Teretonga to get back to Australia to properly prepare for the Australian rounds- specifically to rebuild his (the reports say) only Chev engine which by then had done over 1000 race miles, given he fell five points short of the Kiwi’s total, 1970 could be considered the Matich Tasman which ‘got away’.

’Racing Car News’ reported that the spankers Repco-Holden V8 engine had run on the Maidstone dyno on 24 January and ‘If everything checks out satisfactorily the engine will go straight into the car for the Australian rounds’ That was fanciful or PR bullshit given a 5 litre Holden never been run then, engine ‘RM1’, the first wasn’t tested until February 1970, let alone be offered up to the M10A chassis at this point.

FM never did bag a Tasman Cup despite being one of the quickest guys on track in both his 2.5 litre and 5 litre Tasman sorties. Matich was shy of McRae by four points in 1971, the closest he ever came in a ‘fair fight’ with McRae, both were aboard well developed M10Bs- each racer had five point scoring finishes in the seven rounds that summer, it was a very close run thing.

Back to our vinyl roof, the fellow in the Munro is catching some footage on the Wigram Trophy warm up lap for the local evening teev broadcast, i love the shot, not so much the car’s roof ‘trimmings’ however.

Hey dad, look what I found- Kris and Frank Matich mit brand-spankers yellow painted McLaren M10A Chev at Warwick Farm on or about 13 August 1969. FM’s scooter is a Lambretta- weren’t they distributed by Trojan, manufacturers of McLaren customer racing cars in the UK- did FM bag the local distribution rights?

Frank was a bit shitty with Bruce McLaren after he ordered this car only to find the new M10B was just around the corner.

Derek Kneller packed the car, chassis M10A ‘300-10’  into the plane in the UK and then followed it out to Australia where he, Peter Mabey and Frank modified it to pretty much M10B spec. Derek had built Peter Gethin’s M10B, the first, at McLarens so he had a pretty good idea what the differences in specifications were, and then Frank did enough test laps around Warwick Farm and ‘demo laps’ elsewhere for him to be right on the Tasman Cup pace despite being out of single-seaters for four years.

In the best of company, Warwick Farm 100 grid 14 February 1965. Jim Clark, Lotus 32B, Graham Hill, Brabham BT11A and Matich in last years, but continually developed Brabham BT7A on pole, all 2.5 Climax FPF powered. Clark won from Brabham’s BT11A (on row 2) and Matich. Twelve months later the Matich ‘later sportscar period’ commenced with the Elfin 400 Oldsmobile aka ‘Traco Olds’ (D Williams)

 

(L Hemer)

 

(L Hemer)

 

(L Hemer)

Lynton Hemer was present at Warwick Farm- Hume Straight on the first weekend Rothmans Team Matich ran the M10A, 6 September 1969.

At team HQ in Castle Cove a Traco built Chevrolet engine using 48IDA Webers was fitted- the Repco Holden F5000 program was to come but it’s still a wee-while away, as we have already covered, the rear engine cover cum wing was fabricated by newbee Derek Kneller who would remain with Matich right to the very end of FM’s racing in mid-1974.

The eagle eyed will pick the Hewland LG600 gearbox is being run at this earliest of stages, the machine being raced outta the box, I dare say the job list after this weekend of racing was one of the lengthy ones for which Frank was famous.

Warwick Farm, September 1969- the white roundel has not yet been applied, the SR4 is aft of the McLaren. Beautifully strong ‘full monocoque’ aluminum chassis is very directly related to Bruce and Robin Herd’s 1968 F1 M7A Ford Cosworth GP winning design- it is an adaption thereof (J Bondini)

That big whoofin’ LG600 was deployed well however, after it was removed from the McLaren it was fitted into the back of the SR4 sportscar FM used to toast the competition during the 1969 Australian Sportscar Championship- intended for the 1968 Can-Am both car and engine were hopelessly late so the car remained in Australia instead- the Hewland replaced the ZF transaxle fitted to the SR4, it’s limiting aspect was the degree of difficulty in changing gear ratios, not that the 4.8 litre Repco ‘760’ quad-cam, 32-valve V8 which powered the Sydney built beastie was lacking in torque.

Derek recalls driving, without an Oz drivers licence, the Matich truck to Melbourne together with Tony Williams, a couple of months after his arrival for a meeting at Calder at which both the SR4 and M10A ran- the sportscar was in the truck with the single-seater on a trailer, the next few shots are of that meeting.

(D Kneller)

 

(J Bondini)

Frank at left and Garrie Cooper on the right being interviewed by Ian Wells on that Calder weekend- love to know who the suited gent is on the left?

Derek is leaning on the roll bar, giving the young lass, as we say in polite society, all the attention appropriate, Tony Williams is the other mechanic.

Note that FM is still a Firestone man but his race tyre distribution business was soon to switch to Goodyear to better position himself for the future- that announcement was made just before the Hordern Trophy meeting at Warwick Farm in early December. The race and sporting tyre business was to operate from new premises in Military Road, Cremorne in addition to the existing garage/workshop in Eastern Valley Way, Castle Cove. Note too the McLaren’s wing has changed, more than likely it is a McLaren part and that the engine is still on Webers, not Lucas injection which will be installed before the car crossed the ditch for the first Tasman round at Levin on 3 January 1970.

Oh yes- the car is now two-tone blue, dark at the top an a bit lighter below, the nose of the car has been re-profiled too, it’s not as attractive as the original but doubtless the Heuers proved its on-track superiority.

The element i have not picked up on yet is the ‘pitched battle’ being waged by warring parties about the new Australian National F1 to commence from 1 January 1970.

The choices were to continue with ANF2.5 (highly unlikely) change to 2 litre ‘racing engines’ or go Formula A/5000- this article covers all of these issues- and the design and development of the Repco Holden F5000 engine exhaustively and exhaustingly; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

Matich had a big set of balls in ordering the McLaren when he did as F5000 was not the ANF1 choice at that time- nor was it necessarily the likely outcome when his bank he telegraphically-transferred plenty of ‘Oxford Scholars’ to Trojan Industries- in fact, as the article linked above relates the CAMS announced 2 litre as the future path before doing a back-flip two months later when they then announced a ‘Maccas burger with the lot’ solution of 2 litre/2.5 ‘Tasman’/F5000 with 1970 a ‘phase-in and out period’.

The ever forceful FM played his part in applying pressure to the regulators by backing up his words with actions- to wit, one Formula 5000 racing car in Australia. Note that i have not forgotten Jim Abbott’s Brabham BT23D Oldsmobile ‘F5000 demo car’, a chassis which had been Alec Mildren’s Gold Star winning machine in Kevin Bartlett’s hands, Alfa Romeo 2.5 V8 powered in 1968. Whilst this machine was arguably Australia’s first F5000, lets not forget the Geoff Smedley/Austin Miller Cooper T51 Chev of 1961, without doubt Matich’ was the first ‘real one’ if ‘real one’ is defined as factory bespoke for the class.

My ‘Racing Car News’ collection is incomplete for 1969, but what i think is/was going on in the Calder photos above is that FM did some demo laps during this race meeting (the car is sans number) to demonstrate to the Victorian punters the speed and ‘blood and thunder’ of these big cars.

Ian Wells then ‘interviewed’ drivers Matich and driver/constructor Cooper about their views as to which category they thought was the way to go- as many of you know at that time Elfin had a great, newish race winning design- the 600 which was mighty quick fitted with a Repco Brabham 2.5 V8 or Lotus-Ford twin-cam (or anything else for that matter) so Garrie’s answer to the question is intriguing to ponder!- anybody hear them speak?

(D Kneller)

Amaroo, October 1969, Derek again fettling the demanding temptress.

The rear wing appears the same as that fitted at Calder but the guys are trying to get more front bite- note the very F1 1968’ish chin-wing/winglet and aluminium strips fitted to the leading edge of the front radiator vented outlet- I wonder if that DG300 is fitted yet- she is still on Webers too.

Matich took the car to Sandown on 9 November and easily won a ten lap Formula Libre event from Maurie Quincey’s Elfin 600B Ford F2 car wowing the crowds with the noise and impact of the car and times in the 1:8 second bracket but Frank predicted fours and fives during the Tasman round in the New Year- his estimations proved correct.

(L Hemer)

Roll forward to the Warwick Farm Tasman round over the February 1970 weekend- and who should be back in one of his favourite spots on the approach to Creek Corner but none other than our friend Lynton Hemer.

Note the ABC TV outside broadcast van and marshalls cars in the background- the Peugeot 404 was then a most worthy new car and long before their status as the most worthy ‘Tree-Huggers’ vehicle of choice in the eighties and beyond.

This shot is indicative of ‘300-10’ chassis’ 1970 Tasman mode- note the injected Chev fitted. Kevin Bartlett took a great win that weekend in Alec Mildren’s 2 litre Waggott TC-4V engined Mildren Yellow submarine- the competition for the most ever laps around the Farm would be a toss of the coin between Matich (DNF rear upright), Bartlett and Leo Geoghegan?

Things moved pretty quickly, as ever for Matich from this point.

He and Niel Allen could not race their McLarens in the 1970 Gold Star as F5000s were ineligible that year, the title was for 2 litre and 2.5 litre cars.

Frank already had support from Repco for his SR4 program in terms of provision of a 5 litre for 1970 ‘760’ series engine- John Mepstead built the most powerful of all Repco V8s over the summer of 1969-1970- this ‘big bertha’ gave 558bhp @ 7500rpm in Repco’s Maidstone test-cells.

The SR4 sadly had only a short race life as Matich’ primary Repco program from 1970 was that of works tester/driver of their new Holden-Repco F5000 V8 designed by Phil Irving, assisted by Brian Heard. As part of the reorganisation of priorities Repco acquired the SR4 from Matich, the car became a museum exhibit despite having the pace to win the next several Australian Sportscar Championships!

Frank shipped the M10A to Singapore in March 1970 but slipped off the daunting Thomson Road circuit during a Singapore GP support race, so was unable to contest the GP which was won by Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T.

A new M10B was soon on its way to Australia, chassis ‘400-10’ was the first of many cars to be fitted with Repco Holden engines. The M10A was repaired around a replacement tub, fitted with a Repco Holden engine then sold and raced by Don O’Sullivan as a second Rothmans Team Matich entry in the 1971 Tasman Series. Don crashed the car badly at Teretonga, twisting the chassis badly, surviving parts were later used in the Jaime Gard designed O’Sullivan financed ‘Gardos Repco’ F5000 car- see here for that story inclusive of photographs not in this piece; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/30/dons-party-f5000-party/

Matich and M10A Chev in the Thomson Road paddock during the 1970 Singapore GP weekend (E Solomon)

 

Matich and Allen post prang- Niel’s M10B Chev does not look so flash whereas Matich’ car at right looks perfect from this angle at least! Warwick Farm July 1970 (K Matich)

The McLaren M10B arrived in Australia and was soon fitted with its new Repco Holden engine- the story of this motors design and development is told in the first article linked above.

After many practice laps at Warwick Farm the M10B Holden made its race debut at Warwick Farm on the 12 July weekend but the original chassis’ life was very short as it was smote a savage blow in a close encounter with Niel Allen’s similar car in a somewhat bizarre accident during that Australian Touring Car Championship meeting, the race won by Jim McKeown’s Porsche 911S.

The 15 lap F Libre/ racing car event had a great entry including the Mildren duo of Bartlett and Stewart aboard 2 litre Waggott TC-4V powered Mildrens, KB was in sparkling form having raced in USAC events in the US for several months, John Harvey was in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco and Leo Geoghegan in his soon to be 1970 Gold Star winner, Lotus 59B Waggott.

The race commenced with five fantastic laps, Bartlett, Allen, Matich, Harvey and Geoghegan raced nose to tail this was ruined when Bartlett and Garry Rush (Bowin P4A) collided- it was a racing accident but the stupidity of including Formula Fords within a grid of far quicker cars was not lost on the organisers…

So Allen led, after KB was eliminated he but was soon passed by Matich- as Niel made a run at FM into Creek Corner the harmonic balancer on his Peter Molloy Chevy engine broke, shearing a rear brake line, unable to haul the heavy Big Mac up Allen ran into the side of the other M10B creasing the aluminium monocoque badly.

A replacement tub was soon on the way from the UK to ensure not too much time was lost in the important process of developing car and engine prior to the AGP and Tasman Series beyond.

M10A Goodies for sale- the fact that two Chevs are being offered for sale rather suggests that FM had a 1970 Tasman Cup spare motor as one would have expected of a well funded front runner- that being the case why did he not contest Teretonga i wonder?

 

(R Wolfe)

Amaroo Park test of the just rebuilt McLaren M10B fitted with a very early Repco Holden V8.

All hands were on deck this particular day, perhaps before the 13 September 1970 meeting, Ian Messner recalls- Kneller, Peter Mabey walking past the car with that great talent and character Graeme ‘Lugsy’ Adams working on it- Lugs was soon to be a Holden Torana XU1 racer before progressing to the build and driving of his own F5000 ‘Adams’ five or so years hence.

In what racer/journalist and later broadcaster Peter Wherrett described as a ‘Demo Run’ Matich demolished two 1.5 twin-cam engined Rennmax’ raced by Ray Winter and Erol Richardson in a 10 lapper- all important race preparation prior to the AGP at Warwick Farm.

The team travelled to Melbourne in the interim, bolting the latest Repco Holden engine into the car and demolished another F Libre field during the 18 October meeting, on this occasion Bob Jane was second in his McLaren M6B Repco sporty with Ken Hasting’s third in the ex-Bob Jane Racing Elfin 400B, Ford V8 engined i think.

The happy Matich and Repco (blatant bias again hereby declared) ending to this story is that despite not being able to compete in the Gold Star series in 1970 Matich scored a great 22 November AGP win from Niel Allen’s M10B Chev and Graeme Lawrence’s Ferrari Dino 246T.

I’ve now strayed from the M10A intent of this piece, make sure you suss the Gardos link above for more on the M10A- to pick up the McLaren/Matich story to mid-1974 from this point click on this link to an article which covers all of the Matich F5000 years 1969 to 1974; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Matich slices thru the Warwick Farm Esses during his victorious 1970 AGP run- McLaren M10B Repco (R McDonald)

Etcetera…

David Atkinson, Matich M10A Chev ‘Racing Car News’ post Tasman Cup March 1970 cover

 

Trick Goodyear slicks displayed in advance of the 1971 season in this Matich Xmas ad placed in the December 1970 RCN issue

(L Hemer)

After I uploaded the article Lynton got in touch with some more photos of the July 1970 Warwick Farm meeting- the Repco-Holden engine’s race debut and Niel Allen’s involuntary assault on Frank race.

The Esses shot above shows KB leading in the Mildren Yellow Submarine from Allen who has clearly given KB or something or someone else a tap- his right front wing is damaged enough, to make him easier prey to the pursuing Matich. The shot below shoes the two M10Bs- same place with Repco-Holden in front of Peter Molloy-Chev!

(L Hemer)

The shot below is a bit more poignant- it’s Garrie Cooper, Elfin 600D Repco 2.5 from a very smokey Glynn Scott, Elfin 600B Waggott TC-4V, the popular Queenslander is not too far from a pit stop or a DNF- sadly he died a fortnight later at Lakeside, 26 July 1970.

(L Hemer)

The photograph below shows one of the Bowin P4A Formula Fords- not sure if it is Garry Rush, staying wide in The Esses as the big boys come through. Max Stewart is ahead of Frank Matich- 2 litre Mildren Waggott and M10B Repco-Holden.

(L Hemer)

 

(L Hemer)

This Esses joust is between two new cars- John Harvey’s Bob Britton/Rennmax built, Bob Jane owned Jane Repco V8 and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B Waggott TC-4V 2 litre.

Credits…

Bill Pottinger Collection, Euan Sarginson, Getty Images, Lynton Hemer, Derek Kneller, Jay Bondini, Dennis Williams, Rodway Wolfe, Kim Matich, Eli Solomon, Rory McDonald Collection, oldracingcars.com, Racing Car News

Tailpiece…

(J Bondini Collection)

Matich and the M10A Chev on the 1970 Warwick Farm, Tasman Cup meeting promotional poster.

Finito…

 

Whaddya do starved of media buzz when the lights go off simultaneously around the globe? Think of a great cost effective promotional idea like this.

The Australian S5000 guys, SS Media have come up with the notion of applying retro liveries to the silhouette of their new 5 litre Ligier JS F3-S5000 Ford V8 rockets- and doesn’t this late 1971 early 1972 Matich A50 Repco scheme look sensational- remove the halo and its perfect! My S5000 piece is here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/26/progress/

The photograph is Frank Matich on the way to winning the November 1971 Australian Grand Prix at Warwick Farm in his just finished, very first race Matich A50 Repco F5000- but for the VHT and Hoosier branding the livery is period kosher. Matich’s F5000 career in terms of cars and competition results is here at length; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Not to forget Ansett Team Elfin circa 1977, Alec Mildren Racing circa 1970 or Equipe Graham McRae circa 1972.

Luvvit.

Credits…

SS Media, autopics.com.au

Tailpiece…

Finito…

 

(unattributed)

The Frank Matich/Glynn Scott Matich SR3 Repco (DNF) homes in on the Phil West/George Reynolds Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Clienti during the 1 September 1968 Surfers Paradise 6 Hour…

As usual, the race was won by the SV Ferrari 250LM, that year driven by the brothers Geoghegan, click on this link for an article about that car inclusive of Surfers wins; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

In a race a bit light on entries- and reduced from twelve to six hours, the Geoghegans won having covered 249 laps from the Bill Gates/Jim Bertram Lotus Elan, 237 and Doug Whiteford/John Roxburgh/Frank Coad Datsun 2000 on 230. Other than David McKay’s ‘Old Red Lady’ 250LM the other fancied sports-racers all retired- the Matich/Scott Matich SR3 Repco, Palmer/Brown Ferrari P4/Can-Am350 and O’Sullivan/Baltzer/Bassett Lola T70 Chev.

The Ferrari 275GTB/C completed 216 laps which made it ninth outright and first in its class- the only car in that class mind you.

Phil West wasn’t impressed with it at all ‘It was a fucking awful motor car. Coming into Lukey Corner, over the back, i was braking at 180 yards while the others were at 80. It had complete and utter rear-end breakaway’ he said to Australian Muscle Car magazine.

He then drew comparisons with the early Holden Monaro during testing at Surfers, ‘The Ferrari was doing 154 mph down the straight, the Monaro about 124. The Ferrari was on 10-inch wide racing Dunlops with inboard disc brakes and the Holden was on Michelin XAS road tyres. But it was six seconds a lap quicker around the circuit than the Ferrari. That was something that really opened my eyes, and since then i’ve not been the least bit interested in the badge on the front’ West concluded.

 

SV 250LM goes under its stablemate at Surfers (unattributed)

 

Frank Gardner circa 1966, probably in Australia during the Tasman. Where folks? (Repco Collection)

I hadn’t realised the significance of this Ferrari 275 GTB as one of three RHD ‘Competizione Clienti’ specification 275’s of a total 1965 production run of ten. The addition to the nose of the car appears to be a camera- I would love to see the footage if it exists?

Chassis #07545, the seventh of the ten cars, was ordered by Britain’s Maranello Concessionaires, it was intended as their Le Mans reserve car- their entries that year comprised a P2 raced by Jo Bonnier and David Piper and a 250LM steered by Mauro Bianchi and Mike Salmon, both cars failed to finish.

The GTB wasn’t completed in time for the 24 hour classic but starred as an exhibit at the 42nd International IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt that September. Maranello sold it in October 1965 to Paddy McNally, then a respected journalist later to make a motza as an equity-holder in Allsport Ltd along with Bernie The Unbelievable (Ecclestone).

The GTB featured in an Autosport feature, McNally waxed lyrical about driving the car on the fast uncluttered roads of Europe inclusive of the Col des Mosses in Switzerland. ‘Even at close to 6000 pounds…the Ferrari represents excellent value and it is quite the best car that i have ever driven.’ McNally’s enthusiasm for these machines was genuine, he later acquired #09027 and raced it at Montlhery in the Paris 1000km.

Ford race team boss Alan Mann was the next owner two years hence, along the way he returned it to the factory where the bumpers were removed and big fog-lights installed and then sold it to one of his stars- Frank Gardner.

FG used the car to commute to his race commitments across the UK and Europe- these were many and varied inclusive of Touring Cars, World Manufacturers Championship Prototypes and Sportscars, F2 and the occasional F1 event. It would be intiguing to know just how many km’s the ultra fast GT did in Frank’s short ownership.

The Australian International then brought the car to Australia in the summer of 1967/8 to take up his usual Tasman drive with Alec Mildren, that year he raced the Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 V8. He sold it to Gallaher International, a British cigarette company- sponsor of the 500 mile Bathurst enduro in 1966 and 1967, who used it as a promotional tool.

Scuderia Veloce team driver Bill Brown bought it next, it was during his ownership that Phil West/George Reynolds raced it to eighth outright and first in class (the only car in the class) at Surfers in 1968. It seems this was the machines only race in period.

Melbourne motor racing entrepreneur/hill-climber Jim Abbott was the next owner, I dare say he gave it a run up Lakeland once or twice on the way to its garage at home- after his death it passed to Daryl Rigg and then to Ray Delaney who owned it for seven or so years using the car extensively. So too did Max Lane including contesting Targa Tasmania in 1993- the car left Australia many years ago as the global investment grade commodity it is.

#07545 in recent years (Talacrest)

Competizione 275 GTB’s…

The competition variants of one of Ferrari’s most sought after Grand Turismo’s was born of Enzo’s swifty in attempting to homologate his 1963 250P sports-prototype ‘in drag’- the 250LM as a GT car to replace the revered GTO. The FIA could see  the 3.3 litre LM- a larger capacity 250P with a roof for what it was and refused to homologate it.

Even as a GT the 250LM won Le Mans of course. Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt flogged their NART entry to death- but not quite and won in 1965 after the more fancied Ferrari P2 and Ford GT40 Mk2 prototypes fell by the wayside with all manner of problems.

As a consequence, needing a GT racer, Ferrari set to modifying the just released in 1964 GTB whose baseline specifications included a sophisticated ‘Tipo 563’ chassis, independent suspension front and rear, aerodynamic bodywork, four-wheel disc brakes, five-speed rear mounted transaxle and the well proven ‘Tipo 213’ Colombo V12- in this car SOHC, two-valve and 3.3 litres (3286cc- 77 x 58.8mm bore and stroke) in capacity.

275GTB prototype and first car built #06003 during the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally crewed by Giorgio Pianta and Roberto Lippi, DNF driveline (unattributed)

Depending upon your source there are either three or four distinct series or phases of build of competition 275’s.

The first are the relatively mild modifications to chassis #06003 and #06021.

#06003 is the prototype, very first 275GTB built in 1964, it was retained by the factory for testing purposes throughout 1965, then modified and entered in the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally. #06021- is ‘the third GTB built and the prototype for the 1965 customer competition cars’ according to Peter Sachs who owned it twice. Its first custodian was a Roman, Antonio Maglione who contested at least four Hillclimb events in it in June/July 1965 having acquired it that April.

The second group of three works cars (plus a fourth built to this spec in 1966) designated ‘Competition Speciale’ were extensively modified by a team led by Mauro Forghieri with lightweight tube frames based on the standard Tipo 563 chassis.

The motors were six-Weber carb, dry-sumped Tipo 213 engines to 250LM spec giving 290-305 bhp and had 330 LM Berlinetta style noses with an air-scoop atop the long bonnets.

Other modifications included holes in interior panels, plexiglass windows and the use of magnesium castings for some engine and transmission parts. These cars, also designated 275 GTB/C Speciale, the bodies of which were of course designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti are said by some to be the most direct successors to the 250GTO.

After a DNF at Targa and third in class at the Nürburgring 1000km #06885 was sold by Scuderia Ferrari to Ecurie Francorchamps who raced it at Le Mans in 1965 achieving first in class and third outright- stunning for a GT. The reputation of these ‘275 GTB/C’s was underway.

Ferrari 275 GTB cutaway, specifications as per text (unattributed)

 

Scuderia Veloce line up before the 1968 Surfers 6 hour with Pete Geoghegan’s stout frame back to us. The #17 Ferrari Can-Am 350 DNF in the hands of Jim Palmer and Bill Brown. The West/Reynolds GTB is alongside and victorious Leo and Pete Geoghegan 250LM to the left (Rod MacKenzie)

Gardner’s #07545 was one of ten cars designated 275 ‘Competizione Clienti’ or ‘GTB/C Series 1′, which were built as dual purpose customer road/racers between May and August 1965- they were constructed in parallel with the works cars mentioned above and delivered only to privateers.

The specifications of this batch, very close to production cars included short nose bodies and six Weber DCN3 carbs, rather than the standard three, feeding essentially a standard wet sump Tipo 213 engine. The fuel tank was 140 litres rather than the standard 94 litre jobbie, the spare sat vertically aft of the tank. A higher rear shelf is a visual difference with three air vents in each rear guard a signal of menace. No two cars were identical but most had lightweight alloy bodies.

The final run of twelve cars, the ‘9000 series chassis’ were super-trick, schmick jiggers and are variously described as ‘275 GTB Berlinetta Competizione’ or ‘275 GTB/C’.

They have lightweight long-nose bodies built by Scaglietti which were half the thickness of the 250GTO’s and a specially designed steel and aluminium Tipo 590A chassis which was lighter and stiffer than the standard unit. The suspension and hubs were reinforced, clutch upgraded and a different steering box fitted.

The dry sumped Tipo 213 V12- which allowed the engine to be mounted lower in the frame, was tuned to 250LM specifications with some Electron components incorporated- sump, cam cover, timing chain casing and bell-housing- power was circa 275-282bhp @ 7700rpm. The three big Weber 40 DF13 carbs were a design unique to the car and fitted due to a clerical stuff up by Ferrari who had not homologated the six-carb Weber option.

Out and out racers, these were the only cars referred to by the factory as 275 GTB/C and were the last competition GT’s fettled in Maranello- the Daytona GTB/4 racers were modified in Modena.

Le Mans Esses 1967. The second placed Ferrari P4 of Scarfiotti/Parkes ahead of eleventh placed and first in class Filipinetti Ferrari 275GTB/C #09079 driven by Steinemann/Spoerry (LAT)

 

Ray Delaney in GTB #07545 at Amaroo Park, Sydney in 1981

Credits…

Jaguar Magazine, Repco Collection via Nigel Tait, Rod MacKenzie, Ray Delaney, Talacrest, barchetta.cc, LAT, Stephen Dalton, Australian Muscle Car interview with Phil West

Tailpiece: 1968 Surfers 6 Hour…

(unattributed)

Borrani’s at the front and Campagnolo’s up the back, ain’t she sweet…

Finito…

(R Burnett

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course, and we often attached to a particular era, this unique McLaren M6B Repco ‘740’ 5 litre V8 ticks all the boxes for me…

Here it is in repose in the Symmons Plains paddock on 12 November 1972 before John Harvey goes out and bags his second Australian Sportscar Championship on the trot.

Only Harves and car owner Bob Jane ever raced this thing and Bob never sold it- he died a cuppla years ago and it is still owned by his (very messy) deceased estate.

It’s a special jigger too- Bob knew Bruce McLaren well, McLaren built the car for Bob to suit the Repco engine- its a factory built McLaren not a Trojan Cars Ltd customer jobbie- I’m not bagging Trojan just making clear the ‘pedigree’ of a car which is one of Australia’s most iconic racers.

Duncan Fox wrote that ‘Bob’s M6B was an out of sequence car produced late in 1968 at Colnbrook by Bruce as a favour to his long time friend. It is basically an M12 with M6 bodywork that Bob had stylishly reworked. Personally I think it is the prettiest McLaren sportscar in existence. John Harvey told me they did this because he had difficulty seeing the apex over the original front guards.’

‘It was delivered to the Tilbury Docks in London on a car trailer behind the ‘whale’ (the US Ford Station Wagon McLarens had) by Kiwis Chris Charles and Clive Bush who managed on the way to do extensive side damage with the trailer to a gentleman’s Rolls Royce.’

‘It arrived in Australia in CKD (completely knocked down) less engine and transmission on the freighter SS Port St Lawrence sometime early in April 1969. It was invoiced at US$6000 and carried chassis serial number #50-01.’

‘The engine was a Repco Brabham engines #E26 (740 Series) ‘and the dyno chart I have (17/7/71) shows it developed a maximum of 452bhp @ 6500rpm and 405ft/lbs torque @ 5000rpm.’

The fella leaning into the cockpit of the first photo is John Sheppard, Jane’s Chief Mechanic- he said to me a few years back, ‘whenever you are ready lets do another article on the McLaren’. Sheppo was very generous with his time in putting together a detailed feature on the Clark/Geoghegan Lotus 39 Climax/Repco which John prepared for Leo before ’emigrating to Mexico’ (Victoria) to take charge at Janes, Brunswick, Melbourne race workshop circa 1970.

I must give him a buzz.

(R Burnett)

 

Bob and Harves after that 1972 win (H Ellis)

The great shame is that the McLaren was not ready to race at the start of 1969, the year Matich crushed all before him in the Matich SR4 ‘760’ 4.8 litre V8, his way too late intended Can-Am contender.

So Bob and John were late to that particular party, but Harves did contest the final 1969 round at Sandown finishing second to Matich. Repco then acquired the SR4 from FM to use as an exhibit and devoted their mutual development and race energies to the Repco-Holden F5000 program. The first of these engines was fitted to FM’s McLaren M10B in mid-1970, the combination won the November 1970 AGP at Warwick Farm.

The perfectly competitive SR4 with a trick, fresh John Mepstead built 5 litre ‘760’ Repco was set aside leaving the way clear for Bob and Harves to ‘mop up’ the ASCC with the M6B. I’m not sure why they didn’t race the thing much in 1970- Harve’s focus on the Gold Star and the new Torana Repco perhaps, but in 1971 John won three of the four rounds and five of the six 1972 rounds before they too put to one side the curvaceous racer. Team sponsor Castrol wanted them to focus on the teams ‘Taxis’ rather than the ‘Racing Cars’ which at that point comprised the Bowin P8 Repco-Holden F5000 and the McLaren.

Sad but true…

The full story of the M6B is one for another time.

(E French)

Credits…

Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Rob Burnett, Ellis French, Duncan Fox on The Nostalgia Forum, Harold Ellis

Tailpieces…

(R Burnett)

 

(E French)

Finito…

(unattributed)

Frank Matich and David Finch aboard two wonderful D Types at Longford in 1960…

‘XKD526’ and ‘XKD520’ are both cars I have written about before but these photographs were too good to lose by just dropping them into the existing articles ‘unannounced’.

Its the 1960 meeting- both cars contested the Australian Tourist Trophy won by Derek Jolly’s 2 litre Lotus 15 Climax FPF. I can’t work out what is happening here, probably a practice session. If it was a Formula Libre race being gridded Austin Miller’s vivid yellow Cooper T51 Climax would be up-front- checkout the article about the TT; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/17/1960-australian-tourist-trophy/, here about the Bill Pitt’s career and the D Type;

https://primotipo.com/2016/03/18/lowood-courier-mail-tt-1957-jaguar-d-type-xkd526-and-bill-pitt/

and here about the Stillwell/Gardner/Finch D Type- photo value only really; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/01/mount-druitt-1955-brabham-gardner-and-others/

(unattributed)

Here in the paddock you can see the Leaton Motors livery of Frank’s car really clearly- that’s Aussie’s Cooper to the right and a Maserati 250F behind. Its Arnold Glass’ car, he was fourth in the Longford Trophy behind the three Cooper T51’s of Brabham, Mildren and Stillwell. A wonderful, relaxed, bucolic Longford scene. Another link, about this meeting; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/20/jack-brabham-cooper-t51-climax-pub-corner-longford-tasmania-australia-1960/

‘XKD526’ was acquired by the Brisbane and Northern Territory Jaguar dealer, Westco Motors, owned by Cyril and Geordie Anderson, in a partnership of three together with Bill Pitt and Charlie Swinburn- Charlie died of cancer a couple of years after the car arrived it so it became a partnership of two.

These days the Great Western Corporation is a huge listed enterprise involved in agriculture, trucking, property, mining and other activities. When Cyril Anderson established the business in Toowoomba in 1934 he started with a two-ton truck but expanded rapidly, locally and nationally. By 1953 when they formed Westco Motors Cyril and Geordie ran a large successful business, no doubt the D Type was for them a modest investment but one which would assist to build the Jaguar brand and their market position rapidly.

The car arrived in late 1955, exclusively raced for some years by Bill Pitt, Westco’s Service Manager-Geordie Anderson had a few drives, and then successfully by Frank Matich and Doug Chivas during the Leaton’s ownership.

(unattributed)

Pitt crashed it badly at Albert Park in 1956, at Jaguar Corner, of all places.

The photo above is the start of the 2 December ‘Argus Trophy’ 25 mile sportscar race during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics meeting, the AGP was the feature race of a two-weekend carnival and was won by Stirling Moss’ works Maserati 250F on 2 December.

He was similarly dominant in his Officine Maserati 300S sportscar winning the 1956 Australian Tourist Trophy during the 25 November weekend. Moss won from his teammate, Jean Behra, Ken Wharton’s Ferrari Monza 750 and Pitt’s D Type- a great result for the Queenslander as first local home. This meeting is covered here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/16/james-linehams-1956-agp

and here; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/29/1956-australian-tourist-trophy-albert-park/

Back to the photograph above.

Bib Stillwell is in ‘XKD520’ on the left with Jack Brabham’s partially obscured Cooper Bobtail Climax far left, and Pitt aboard ‘XKD526’ on the right. To the far right is an Aston DB3S, Tom Sulman perhaps.

This is the race in which Pitt came unstuck. In an eventful first lap the car tripped over the stone gutter and rolled- Bill was lucky to survive let alone walk away unscratched after the machine ended up on its back.

In all of the mess- haybales and flattened bodywork, the marshals expected to find him dead in the car, instead he was flicked out as the car went over and landed- safely on the other side of the bales. Lucky boy. The car was quickly repaired and raced on.

Brabham won from Stillwell’s D Type and Bill Patterson’s Cooper Bobtail Climax.

(unattributed)

Lets not forget Bib’s ‘XKD520’ loitering in the expanses of Albert Park during the same meeting.

Superb, rare colour shot of a beautifully prepared and presented car as all Bib’s machines were. Was Gerry Brown wielding the spanners in Stillwell’s Cotham Road Kew HQ at that stage?

(M Ireland)

Bloke Magnet.

Here ‘XKD526’ is performing a valuable function as the centrepiece of Westco’s 1956 Brisbane Motor Show stand and attracting the punters to Jaguar’s more routine roadies!

(Anderson Family)

 

(unattributed)

 

(B Hickson)

The car was rebuilt and then sprayed a lovely gold or bronze!

A great idea to make the car stand out perhaps- the ‘error’ was quickly rectified with a nice shade of British Racing Green replacing the gold hue between Albert Park 1957 and Albert Park 1958!

The first shot is of Bill in the Lowood pits, he has Crocodile Dundee alongside, the only thing Mick is missing is the big knife.

The one below is the beastie being fuelled in the Albert Park surrounds in March 1957.

Pitt was second in the Victorian Tourist Trophy again behind Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S that weekend. He also contested the F Libre Victorian Trophy Gold Star round finishing sixth and first of the sportscars home- Lex Davison won in his Ferrari 500/750.

(unattributed)

Bill returned to Albert Park year after year including the Formula Libre 100 mile Melbourne Grand Prix carnival held in November 1958.

In the shot above he is negotiating the same corner in which he tripped over in 1956 leading none other than race-winner Stirling Moss in Rob Walker’s Cooper T45 Climax FPF 2 litre- Jack Brabham finished second to Moss in a similar car. Bill placed fifth two laps adrift of Moss, then came Brabham, Doug Whiteford, Maserati 300S and Bib Stillwell’s Maserati 250F.

The D worked hard over that meetings two weekends, he was third in the 100 mile Victorian Tourist Trophy behind Whiteford’s 300S and Ron Phillips’ Cooper T38 Jaguar and third again in the 25 mile sports car scratch behind Whiteford’s superb 300S with Derek Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax second.

(unattributed)

A couple of Mount Panorama photos circa 1958-1959.

The one above is probably of the 1958 Australian Tourist Trophy race or heat- Pitt on the outside is about to pass ‘Gelignite Jack’ Murray in ‘XKD532′ DNF, then the third placed Cooper T38 Jaguar of Ron Phillips follows and then Charlie Whatmore’s Lotus 11 Climax. See the #16 Lotus 15 raced by Derek Jolly to second place behind the winner, David McKay’s Aston Martin DB3S. Click here for a piece on his DB3S’; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

Jaguar Magazine recorded that ‘Bill Pitt wrote to Lofty England in 1956 informing the Jaguar guru that the D Type had no brakes at the end of the notorious Conrod Straight because the D Type experienced pad ‘knock off’. Jaguar had never heard of that problem before, and the bottom of Mount Panorama would not be a place to learn about it for the first time’ the magazine pointed out wryly!

(unattributed)

Same part of Mount Panorama but this time Pitt is chasing Ern Seeliger in Maybach 4 Chev- the big booming monster was second in the AGP at Bathurst in October 1958, and would well and truly have had the legs to best the D Type.

This is probably during the Bathurst 100 F Libre race won by Whitefords 300S from Arnold Glass’ Ferrari Super Squalo, which popped an engine on the last lap, then came Bill in a splendid third. Seeliger started from the middle of the front row but didn’t finish having ‘…spun the brakeless Maybach to an eye-popping halt in the Pit Corner escape road’ at half distance wrote John Medley.

(J Psaros)

 

Bobtail Cooper ?, Whatmore Lotus 11 Climax, shapely ? and the nose of FM’s Matich (unattributed)

 

(J Psaros)

I have written extensively about the great Frank Matich a number of times, rather than repeat myself perhaps the most relevant article is this one in terms of his sportscar rise and rise is this one; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Be in no doubt the Leaton support was key to taking him forward from C to D Type Jaguars and then the Lotus 15 Climax- that car powered by a 2.5 Climax FPF showed he was an outright F Libre contender if it were ever in doubt. The group of XKD526 photographs here are all at Lowood probably during the Gold Star round in August 1959.

(unattributed)

One of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport’s less successful rule changes was to introduce Appendix K ‘GT Racing’ to encourage road going GT’s in 1960. This article covers the salient points; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/19/forever-young/

Because grids were skinny they encouraged/turned a blind eye to sports-racers ‘meeting the regulations’ as long as they were fitted with a lid. And so we had David McKay’s Lola Mk 1, Bob Jane’s Maserati 300S and other exotica including ‘XKD526’ fitted with ‘fastbacks’ to allow them to continue to race.

The photos above and below are at Sandowns first meeting in 1962, the conversion created the only hardtop D Type was quite neat looking. I didn’t say beautiful, just neat or functional!

Barry Topen owned the car by then and crashed it quite heavily into the horse railings surrounding the circuit.

It was soon repaired, sold to Keith Russell and then acquired by Keith Berryman in the early sixties- the car was with him ‘forever’ before finally leaving our shores five or so years ago.

(B Anderson)

 

Frank Matich heading up the Mountain at Bathurst in 1961 (J Ellacott)

Berryman, or is it Keith Russell, below at Warwick Farm in the mid sixties with the car still looking great albeit with a set of rather wiiide alloy wheels and the rear guards flared to suit. It does have a bit of the Sunset Boulevards about it gussied up like this.

(unattributed)

Speaking of the guards reminds me of an incident in the Australian Grand Prix paddock a few years back, not long before the cars sale and final departure from our shores.

Noted British artisan and driver Rod Jolley was in Australia that summer racing, i think, a Cooper T51 at Phillip Island and the Albert Park AGP historic double.

Somehow, unloading XKD526 in the Albert Park paddock from its trailer after its long haul from Stockinbingal- Keith Berryman was displaying the car and participating in the on-circuit historic events, a front guard was damaged and a wheel was fouling the guard.

Who to approach for the required bit of impromptu panel beating? Rod Jolley of course. The look of sheer terror on Keith’s face as Jolley set to work on his lovely bit of aluminium with controlled brio was awful to watch- it felt like an arm was being hacked off…

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

Bill Pitt up whilst the car was new and road registered. Uncertain as to the circuit-intrigued to know- such handsome beasts of warfare aren’t they- D Types define ‘compound curvature’.

(J Psaros)

On the side of the main straight at Lowood- a youthful Frank Matich at left eyeing off his future mount. Barry Carr, who worked for Leatons in 1961/62 identifies the group as Leaton’s driver Matich, mechanic Joe Hills and business owners George Leaton and Joe Robinson probably at the time they are ‘either thinking of or had obtained the car from Pitt/Anderson’.

( J Psaros)

‘Move to the back of the bus matey…’

The Leaton’s Bedford bus at Lowood (and at Sandown in 1962 below). The nose to the far left is the Westco Mk7 Jag which finished seventh outright in the 1957 Round Australia Trial behind six VW Beetles. Jaguar Magazine assert that Pitt claimed it as his greatest competition triumph.

The car later became a tow-car for some of the racers inclusive of the D and works built Mk1 Pitt drove to victory in the 1961 one race Australian Touring Car Championship at Lowood.

Both the Mk7 and ‘Big Nose’ The Bus are long gone, sadly.

(G Fry)

Credits…

Anderson Family Collection, Jaguar Magazine, Jock Psaros, Malcolm Ireland, Barry Anderson, Barry Hickson, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘Glory Days: Albert Park’ Barry Green, John Ellacott, Barry Carr, Gavin Fry

Tailpiece: ‘Geordie Anderson’ in her new D Type,’XKD526’…

(Anderson)

Doris ‘Geordie’ Anderson aboard the new D Type she co-owned with Bill Pitt and Charlie Swinburn. Its said that she was the only serious lady racer of a D Type at the time anywhere in the world.

Her racing CV included a win in the Mount Druitt 24 Hour Race in a Jaguar XK120 FHC- we shall come back to Geordie and her exploits ina month or so…

Finito…

 

 

(R Dalwood)

Frank Matich, Brabham BT7A Climax leads Jim Clark’s works Lotus 32B Climax into Pub Corner at Longford in March 1965. A ‘take your breath away shot’, composition and execution by Reg Dalwood is something special…

I suspect this is lap 2 with the leading trio of McLaren, Brabham and Hill further up the road. Behind Jim are Bib Stillwell and Frank Gardner in Brabham BT11A’s, Jim Palmer in a BT7A and then at the rear of the group Phil Hill, Cooper T70 Climax.

Bruce McLaren won this race, the Australian Grand Prix in his Cooper T79 Climax from Jack Brabham’s and Phil Hill in the other Bruce McLaren Motor Racing entry- the updated T70 Cooper driven by Bruce and the late Tim Mayer in 1964.

(HAGP)

Bruce wheels his Cooper T79 around Longford in 1965 hiking his inside right wheel.

These Cooper T70/79 cars are acknowledged now as the ‘first McLarens’ designed and built as they were at Coopers by Bruce and mechanic/technician Wally Willmott. The story of them is here; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/18/tim-mayer-what-might-have-been/

Ron McKinnon gives McLaren and Clark a ride in the sponsors Spitty at the end of the race (B Short)

 

Hill at left, white car McLaren with Jack and Jim in the next row of two (B Short)

McLaren started the race from pole with Brabham, Graham Hill, Clark, Gardner and Matich behind.

Very sadly, this was the race in which Rocky Tresise died after losing control of the Ecurie Australie Cooper T62 Climax. As most of you know this was a double disaster for the Davison family as Lex died of a heart attack at Sandown whilst practicing his Brabham BT4 the weekend prior. The Rocky Tresise story is here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

I’ve a feature brewing on this race so won’t go into all the detail just now, but rather make use of some of the many images of this AGP floating around on the internet- too many for one article.

In some ways Longford 1965 marked ‘the end of the beginning’ of the Tasman Series in that 1965 was the last year of the dominance of the long-lived Coventry Climax FPF engine.

The world championship winning engines of 1959-60 had pretty much ruled supreme in Australia from 1959 through to the end of Formula Libre in December 1963 and to the commencement of the Tasman 2.5 Formula from 1 January 1964.

In 1966 the BRM V8’s made their successful Tasman debut and at the end of the series- Sandown and Longford the first of the Repco ‘RB620’ 2.5 V8’s took their bow in Jack’s BT19.

(B Short)

Two nut brown Aussie summer kids and the equally well-tanned Oz Lotus works mechanic Ray Parsons push Jim Clark’s Lotus 32B Climax through the Longford paddock.

The Clark/Lotus combo were the class of 1965- Jim’s four of seven Tasman round victories was a precursor to a season which included an Indianapolis 500 win aboard a Lotus 38 Ford and his second World Title in Chapman’s Lotus 33 Climax. Not a bad year really!

Click here for an article on the 1965 Tasman Series; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

(K Drage)

Kevin Drage’s shot of the front row of the Longford grid- McLaren, Cooper T79 Climax, Brabham and Hill both in Brabham BT11A Climax’.

He has an amusing anecdote about Bib Stillwell, Matich’s big rival and his reaction to FM’s speed that weekend.

‘One story I remember from this meeting is Bib’s frustration in not being able to match Frank Matich’s lap times during practice. I was helping Gerry Brown to pit crew for Bib at this meeting and Bib was even wondering if Frank had slotted in the 2.7 engine from his (Cooper Monaco) sportscar into the Brabham just for practice to give everyone a bit of a stir up. He even asked me to see if I could “manage” to go over to the Matich pits to checkout the engine number.’

(unattributed)

Matich during the parade lap at Warwick Farm before the 1965 Tasman round.

FM started the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ from pole- in front of Hill, Clark, Brabham, McLaren and Gardner which rather puts the Sydneysiders pace into context. He led most of the first lap, ultimately finishing third behind Clark and Brabham.

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Brabham in the Longford paddock getting his BT11A race ready.

Ron and Jack’s Intercontinental Brabhams were supreme racing cars in conception, design and execution. Drivers of the BT4, BT7A and BT11A of varying ability won plenty of motor races in these cars right through towards the end of the sixties. Click here for a piece on these cars; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/20/matich-stillwell-brabhams-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1963/

Clark in the Longford paddock, Lotus 32B Climax

Credits…

Reg Dalwood on the Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania website, oldracingcars.com.au, Kevin Drage, Ben Short, HAGP- ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, Stephen Dalton Collection, Perry Drury, Ian Smith Collection

Etcetera…

(oldracephotos.com/JEllis)

Brabham, Hill and Clark enter the circuit, the crowd big enough for raceday. Looking back down the road 500 metres or so are the distinctive big pine trees of Mountford Corner. Brabham BT11A by two and Lotus 32B.

(oldracephotos.com.au)

It may not have been the latest bit of kit, but, continuously modified by Matich and his team his year old car was well and truly as quick as the latest BT11A or anything else on the grid.

Small crowd above suggests ‘IC-1-63’ is being pushed onto the track for practice or the preliminary on Saturday. Graham Matich is steering, it’s Geoff Smedley with his head down at left, who is the other fella I wonder?

(B Short)

The Touring Car grid ready to start- Le Mans style with the ignition key handed from mechanic to driver- can anybody help with car/driver ID.

Check out the crowd above the pits, access bridge and all the fun of the fair.

(I Smith Collection)

The intense concentration is there but otherwise Jack looks relaxed in the cockpit- key to feel what the BT11A is doing of course.

Shot is taken from atop The Viaduct- a classic shot from this locale, this one has been executed beautifully and shows both Brabham’s ‘form’ as well as the lines and simple, period typical suspension of this oh-so-successful series of ‘Intercontinental’ Brabhams.

All of the shots of this car in the article are a different hue of green, i wonder which is closest to the real McCoy?

Tailpiece…

It’s a butt shot isn’t it.

From the left is the beautifully formed derrière of the lady, such a shame to miss out on the rest of her with a thoughtless crop. Then there is the rear of the FC Holden Wagon and the old bloke standing behind it.

The racer is Jack’s Brabham BT11A Climax ‘IC-5-64’ resting in the paddock after it’s hard won second place.

And finally the rear of an EJ Holden Panel Van.

Atmospheric isn’t it?

(P Drury)

Same scene, same time, same place- whilst Perry Drury was taking this shot Ben Short was standing opposite him taking the one above. Jack’s Brabham and Jim’s Lotus and the EJ Wagon…

Finito…

(oldracephotos.com.au/JEllis)

Frank Gardner leads a twenty-three car field away at the start of the 23 lap, 103 mile 1964 Australian Tourist Trophy, Longford on 29 February…

Gardner is aboard Alec Mildren’s Lotus 23B Ford 1.6 from Bib Stillwell, Cooper Monaco Climax FPF 2.7, Frank Matich, Lotus 19B Climax FPF 2.6 and Bob Jane, Jaguar E Type Lightweight and then in the distance is Frank Coad in the Lotus 15 Climax FPF 1960cc which Derek Jolly raced to win this event at Longford in 1960.

The Lotus was for sale, with Coad in Melbourne, close to potential East Coast potential purchesers, rather than in Adelaide where Jolly lived. ‘Hoot’ Gibson bought it for Bevan to race not so long after this, he drove the wheels off it of course, on the way to a drive with Bob Jane Racing several years down the track.

Matich (Brabham BT7A Climax obscured) and Jane seem to have found a nice bit of concrete on which to base themselves for the weekend. Or is a purpose built bit of ‘wheel alignment’ concrete? (oldracephotos.com.au/Smith)

Bob’s E Type had not long been in Australia, it first raced at Calder in December 1963.

Mildren’s Lotus is a new car whilst the great rivals in ‘outright’ sportscars- and from about then single-seaters too with the Matich acquisition of a Brabham BT7A, Stillwell and Matich are racing well developed cars- the 19B was FM’s second Lotus 19, whereas Bib had been racing the Monaco since September 1961.

(S Dalton)

Who is that pushing the Lotus into position with Matich- Bruce Richardson or Geoff Smedley? Gerry Brown is behind the Stillwell Monaco perhaps- click here for plenty on that wonderful machine; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/10/bib-stillwell-cooper-t49-monaco-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1961/

(S Dalton)

Whilst the opening photo immediately after the start shows Gardner getting the initial jump, 2.7 litres of Coventry Climax torque cannot be denied with Stillwell running strongly as the field contemplates the run up the hill past the Water Towers to the drivers left.

Gardner is second and Matich third, probably taking it easy off the line in deference to the somewhat fragile gearbox, then Jane and perhaps Greg Cusack’s Ford Cosworth 1.5 pushrod engined Elfin Mallala.

Matich looking for something in the Lotus cockpit- ‘his orange maybe’ as Stephen Dalton wryly observed (S Dalton)

The race was disappointing in that Stillwell and Coad were disqualified for push-starts, neither car was fitted with an operable self-starter- whilst Gardner was a DNF with gearbox problems after completing 23 laps.

Stillwell led from start to finish and had the time to make two stops to argue the toss with officialdom- and still was in front of Matich who stayed with Stillwell early- until Bib was disqualified, then Frank eased back confident he would be adjudged the winner.

FM won in 61.18 minutes at a race average speed of 101.25 miles per hour (fastest lap 2:33.0) with Stillwell protesting that his starter motor was operable but wouldn’t start the engine! Jane was second (2:43.3) and Greg Cusack, Elfin Mallala Ford 1475cc, third, a lap behind (2:48.4).

Les Howard was fourth in his Lotus 23 Ford 1098cc, 2 laps adrift (2:57.9), he had a great scrap throughout with the Coad 2 litre Lotus 15 (disqualified) with Bryan Thompson’s Elfin Mallala Climax fifth and John Edwards- the first Tasmanian home, sixth in his Morgan Plus 6 1998cc (3:15.8) 4 laps behind Matich.

Cusack was timed at 140 mph on ‘The Flying Mile’, Matich 150, Stillwell did 156 mph- as did Jane’s E Type.

Checkout ‘Long Weekend at Longford’, a superb Tasmanian Government film of the 1964 Longford weekend, it has excellent coverage of this race, apart from the rest of it which oozes with the relaxed atmosphere of the times.

Thomson’s Elfin Mallala exiting Newry Corner for the run down The Flying Mile (R Bell)

Greg Cusack was on the climb towards Australian National F1, racing a couple of Elfins- an FJ/WR375 and the Mallala sportscar which was derived from Elfin FJ componentry.

Two Mallalas raced that Longford weekend- Cusack’s Ford powered, third placed car and one driven by Shepparton racer, and later Touring Car/Sports Sedan drawcard, Bryan Thomson. The Thommo car was Coventry Climax powered, that 1.9 litre machine was eighth.

(oldracephotos.com.au)

The Thomson Elfin Mallala at rest in the paddock, I’ve long thought the Mallala was the prettiest of all of Garrie Cooper’s sporties. Five of the cars were built in 1962-3 based on the hardware also used by Cooper in the Elfin FJ single-seaters I wrote about a short time ago- all still exist.

As to the drivers of the ‘Humpy’ Holdens, please let me know.

(S Dalton)

Jane above passing the pit complex. Is that the Kerry Cox driven Paramount Jaguar in pitlane?

Matich on his merry way below- a very successful car with quite a few Brabham suspension components by the time FM and his boys had finished with it.

(S Dalton)

Credits…

oldracephotos.com.au, Stephen Dalton Collection, Mr Ramsay, Ray Bell

Etcetera…

(Ramsay)

Bevan and Hoot Gibson going for a blast around the streets of Mansfield in the newly acquired, immaculate Lotus 15 Climax, circa 1964- I love this shot, its just so ‘period’.

The story of the ex-works/Jolly/Gibson Lotus 15 is told here; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

(oldracephotos.com.au)

Tailpiece…

Matich, Lotus 19B on Kings Bridge- he turns to the right as he leaves the bridge in the direction of Longford village. Note the little boat/yacht trailer in the foreground. If memory serves there is/was a boat club in that part of the track?

The 19B met its maker at Lakeside in July 1965. Matich took the car to a Gold Star round we was contesting in his Brabham as preparation for the ’65 ATT, which was held that November and won by Pete Geoghegan in a Lotus 23B Ford. Matich had an enormous accident in the 19B pretty much destroying it and hospitalising himself.

Related thereto was the loss of his Total, the French oil company sponsorship- the local franchise of Total was acquired by Boral Ltd who were not interested in motor racing. As a consequence Matich went in a new direction- sportscars to the exclusion of single-seaters until 1969, the net effect was the purchase of an Elfin 400 Oldsmobile (aka the ‘Traco Oldsmobile’) with which he won the March 1966 Australian Tourist Trophy back here at Longford.

The Matich Lotus 19 story is here; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/08/bay-of-plenty-road-race-and-the-frank-matich-lotus-19s/

Finito…

 

 

Matich A53 ‘007’ front suspension detail- upper and lower wishbones, coil springs and luvverly double-adjustable alloy bodied Koni’s- de-rigueur in F1 and F5000 at the time. Cast magnesium uprights, Melmag wheels, Lockheed calipers grabbing Repco disc rotors. Note the tubular steel subframe which mounts to the aluminium Matich designed but Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation fabricated monocoque chassis- they also cast the Matich steering rack. Pretty lady behind the car on Goodyear duty is unknown, sadly. Derek Kneller is working on the left front, guy with ‘builders cleavage’ is Grant O’Neill. Around the left-rear is Peter Hughes in the white T-Shirt with ‘Lugsy’ Graham Adams in the yellow polo shirt (T Glenn)

Bob Muir settles himself into the cockpit of the new Matich A53 Repco on Friday 1 February, prior to its debut race, the Oran Park Tasman round on 3 February 1974…

Frank and his team had finished the car before the Tasman but Matich was badly hurt in a boating accident the week before the meeting in which he was electrocuted and injured badly.

Bob was chosen by Frank to race the car after he tested it- against doctors orders and satisfied himself that the rigours of a full race weekend, inclusive of the 90 lap race in summer heat were beyond him at that early stage stage of his recovery.

As things transpired Muir raced the A53 only the once at Oran Park before Frank returned to the cockpit at Surfers Paradise a week later- FM did the last three Tasman rounds and soon after retired from racing for good.

Frank Matich tests the A53 early on that Friday before OP- I wonder how many laps he did and how long the task list was after his first test laps?! (D Harvey)

The 1974 Tasman was a beauty.

By the time of the fifth round at Oran Park, there had been four different winners in New Zealand.

John Walker took the opener at Levin on 5 January in his one-of-a-kind Lola T330 Repco Holden, Peter Gethin won at Pukekohe the following weekend in his VDS Chevron B24 Chev- then John McCormack was victorious in the somewhat geriatric, but continually developed Elfin MR5 Repco at Wigram- that year the New Zealand Grand Prix. Max Stewart won the Teretonga round in his mighty fast Lola T330 Chev ‘HU-1’ the very first of the breed, Frank Gardner’s development or prototype car in fact.

Muir aboard at OP. Repco Holden F5000 engine- car fitted with the ‘ultimate spec’ flat-plane crank unit giving circa 520bhp and not losing the mountain of torque for which these units were known in the quest for more power. Note the ‘Varley’ battery behind the Lucas injection unit and coil- no doubt now very well insulated from the ‘good vibrations’ of the engine which ‘shook the shitter’ out of the battery and cost the one race only A52 victory of the Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy, Gold Star race at Surfers Paradise on 2 September 1973 (T Glenn)

I wrote at length about Frank and his Formula 5000 designs a while back, click on this link for a comprehensive story and analysis of these wonderful machines, with A53 ‘007’ the last and best; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

This article is about the development of the Repco-Holden F5000 V8; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

(D Kneller)

The photo above is of Matich Chief Mechanic Derek Kneller and Bob Muir consulting during practice at Oran Park, the one below is a fortnight later at Sandown- its FM exiting Peters/Torana Corner and blasting up the back straight in a new ‘small-window’ Bell Star.

Bell together with Goodyear were two of the racing brands for which Matich held the local commercial rights. The helmet is a “Bell 120 (Degree) Full Face Helmet- they retailed at $79.90 at the time…”, quipped Matich employee Rob McDonald.

So, by Oran Park the Matich lads were up against it with their new car- the opposition were race ready off the back of the first four intensely Tasman fought rounds. Mind you, it is fair to say that the A53 was a slightly tidied up and evolved version of the short-lived A52 which met its maker when Muir had a testing shunt in it at Warwick Farm in late September 1973.

(unattributed)

Generally the designers original intent is its most pure, don’t you think?

If i’m critical of the look of the car, a machine which to me was a real honey of a thing, maybe the only element which is not aesthetically pleasing is the way the A50-52 cockpit surround doesn’t integrate well with the nosecone.

The thing was a jet right outta the box mind you- so who gives a shit what I think!

Repco’s Ken Symes and Derek Kneller push FM’s A53 from the Sandown fork up area or dummy grid into pitlane, Shell Corner or more boringly ‘Turn One’ behind. Note the engine oil sump on near side aft of the radiator. Note brake air-scoops since OP (P Weaver)

The A53’s was first completed and wheel-aligned on the ground on 11 January 1974- ‘by that stage the Tasman was already underway but we could have had the car finished easily in time for Pukekohe. Repco didn’t want us to go given the fuel shortage dramas they expected in New Zealand’ recalled Derek Kneller. The first OPEC Oil Embargo or crisis began in October 1973 with New Zealand particularly impacted given 80% of their crude oil needs were provided by Middle Eastern countries.

With hindsight Repco over-reacted, but the net effect of their decision (despite well before renewing Matich’s annual August to August sponsorship agreement through to the end of August 1974) was that Team Matich didn’t race in New Zealand- so the final build of the car was done in relatively relaxed fashion rather than with the pressure of the 5 January first round in mind.

‘Mind you, Frank sent me to the Pukekohe first round race weekend to scout around and report back on the Tasman field on latest developments and what everybody was up’ Derek recalled. No doubt the new Warwick Brown and Graeme Lawrence Lola T332’s were of particular interest.

When back in Sydney the crew completed the car- the team at that stage comprised FM, DK, Peter Hughes, Grant O’Neill and Leon Jarvis.

A53 was first tested at Oran Park on 24 January, the driving chores shared by Matich and Enno Buesselmann.

Enno had come out of FV and FF and had a strong 1973 driving the Bob and Marj Brown owned ANF2 Birrana 273 Ford-Hart- he was third in the championship that year behind Leo Geoghegan’s dominant, similar, works car. Matich decided to give him some laps in the car.

‘Enno did two stints of 10 laps apiece’ recalls Derek. ‘We didn’t time the first ten given it was his first time in a big car but he got down to a best of 47 seconds dead in the second of his two sessions. With the same setup as Enno FM did a 44.6- and then later in the day a best of 43.6 seconds after some changes were made to the car’.

The team then left the circuit with a decent job list before the Oran Park Tasman round.

‘Frank had a visitor from Repco in Sydney- one of the senior guys, he planned to take him out in his boat, Frank had a home and boat slipway at Clareville. The boat wouldn’t start- the battery was flat. He grabbed a Honda generator and the leads for a battery charger and mistakenly pushed the lead into the 240 volt, rather than 12 volt plug- he then got a big shock from the alligator clip which attached itself to the fleshy part of his hand, burning it badly. Simultaneously he fell forward downwards and over the battery, burning his chest and losing consciousness’.

‘Kris saw some of this from the wharf and jumped into a skiff to help his Dad- who motioned not to come near the live boat- the generator stalled ending the ordeal. Frank had burns to the fleshy piece of his right hand between the thumb and forefinger and chest.’ In addition there was the mental shock related to the whole incident. Most of you are aware the gearshift in a racing car is usually on the right so FM had a considerable challenge in managing 100 miles at Oran Park a few days hence.

Despite the accident Matich had not lost his sense of humour, team machinist/fabricator Peter Hughes recalls Frank saying to him ‘that when he lost consciousness and came around again “I could hear the generator running and thought I’ve died and gone to hell and they have Honda generators here!”, He also told me that he couldn’t grasp the round knob to turn it off and pushed the choke lever up to stall it. Sense of humour and thinking all the time’ concluded Peter.

Despite that setback Matich, heavily bandaged, and no doubt against his medical advice did ten laps of Oran Park on the Friday before the meeting getting down to a best of 42.4 seconds.

The team had dramas in practice at OP, typical teething problems, including  the engine, which meant that Bob started off the back of the grid, his best according to Team Matich records was a 42.8- the result in the race was a DNF after fuel-pump failure.

Max Stewart’s T330 won the ‘Oran Park 100’ race that day, but Peter Gethin again finished- its was his fifth in a row finish, this time in fifth place, ultimately he would win the title with an eight out of eight 1974 Tasman finishing record.

Derek, ‘On the Wednesday (6 February) after the race we went back to Oran Park for some further testing.’

‘We had fitted a new rear suspension crossbeam and also cured the fuel pump problem. During the Oran Park race Frank walked to several corners to observe the A53 on track, and after the race he checked his rear suspension drawing and come up with a new spec for the rear crossbeam, he stood the spring/shock unit more upright by a couple of degrees. After the Wednesday test he was pleased with the change.’

Frank drove 27 laps in total and Bob Muir drove 12. The majority of Frank’s were in the 42’s with a quickest of 41.0. Bob’s furst stint was also in the 42’s and his second stint reeled off 5 laps- 41.3, 41.1, 41.3, 41.0 and 41.0. Pole for the race was 39.9. From my working with FM i know there would have been at least 1 second being held back in testing when FM was fighting fit let alone suffering from the injuries from the accident. After this test we were given another work list to complete before setting off for Surfers on Thursday afternoon’ Kneller concluded.

Team Matich then trucked the mighty quick car up to the Gold Coast where Matich was so fast in the A52 not so many months before during the September 1973 Gold Star round.

His time was good enough for fourth on the grid, despite it being his first real go in the car and coping with a broken throttle cable and too much oversteer- he finished third behind the Teddy Pillette and Gethin VDS Chevron B24’s despite knocking off a front wing on lap 15.

FM’s was a mighty fine display of speed amongst all those highly developed cars- not to say personal grit and determination in all the circumstances.

Sandown is a power circuit, Matich put his flat-plane crank 520bhp Repco engine to good use qualifying second on the grid behind Gethin. A crowd of over 20,000 people saw Matich lead for 15 laps before water pump problems- apparent from lap 5, the resultant cooked motor ended his day.

Gethin took the win from Graham McRae’s McRae GM2 Chev- the disappointment of the series in terms of results if not in absolute pace and Walker’s T330 Repco.

A53 at rest in the Adelaide International paddock (C Bond)

 

Matich during his final race appearance- the ‘Adelaide 100’ at Adelaide International on 24 February 1974. FM fourth behind Warwick Brown, Peter Gethin and Graeme Lawrence- Lola T332, Chevron B24 and Lola T332, all Chev powered (D Mellonie)

And so to the final Tasman round, Adelaide International, and as it turned out FM’s final race.

Frank again popped the car second on the grid, the car was fitted with a fresh engine, a tenth shy of Stewart’s T330.

In the race he was running second before spinning on some oil and again worked his way up to second- and challenging Brown hard in the final stages, before he spun four laps from the end when his engine momentarily cut out. He finished fourth, 27 seconds behind winner Warwick Brown.

WB had the honour of taking the very first win for the Lola T332- the first of hundreds of victories for the T332/T332C/T332CS/T333 F5000/Single-Seat Can-Am family of cars! Warwick’s car, or his patron, Pat Burke’s to be more precise, chassis ‘HU-27′, was the very first of the T332’s.

The A53 was a great bit of kit- it won the the 1976 Australian Grand Prix in John Goss’ hands (in chassis A51/3 ‘005’) a couple of years after it’s birth.

If only FM had gone to the US in 1974. It would have been fascinating to see how a 520 bhp, flat-plane-crank Repco V8 powered A53 would have fared amongst a plethora of Lola T332 Chevs. With the lessons learned during the unsuccessful 1973 L&M Series campaign for sure they would have put up quite a fight…

Derek Kneller and Ken Symes fettle the A53 in the Sandown Park paddock (A Radley)

Lets come back to Frank’s retirement, Derek Kneller again picks up the story.

‘We were set up beautifully for 1974.

Repco had renewed the sponsorship arrangement in August 1973, they had allocated us four engines which were powerful, as displayed during the Tasman races we did- and the new car was quick.

Consulting with the Matich Red Books (FM used a series of red hard cover foolscap books as data logs), when he got out of the car at Adelaide he dictated a long job list for the car, all to be done before the next race. Car too low/too much brake on the rear/too much wing?/steering vibration/more roll stiffness at rear/stay with banana wing (Matich at the time had the ‘original Matich wing’ and an ‘American banana’ style)/check bump steer and shocks/rear springs harder/new brake ducts/tyre pressures too high.

When he got out of the car and we left Adelaide he planned to race on.’

Frank and Joan Matich in the Warwick Farm form up area poor to the 1973 Tasman round- Matich A50 Repco ‘001’. Note the neck brace Joan is wearing

‘In Adelaide he spun twice, once on oil and the second time he couldn’t work out why. He had constant ringing in the ears as a result of the boating incident and just felt at 39 he could not concentrate as he had always been able to before so he felt it was perhaps time. At the same time FM’s wife Joan was having severe ongoing problems with her neck including surgery. So it was a combination of factors as a consequence of the accident and the need to focus on Joan and the rest of the family that led to the decision to retire, sell the racing cars but otherwise remain in business including the racing franchises such as Goodyear and Bell’ Kneller said.

No doubt Matich indicating he wanted to retire made the decision for Repco to withdraw from racing easier given the global competitive pressures upon them in the increasingly difficult economic situation of the time- oil shocks, the progressive lowering of Australian Tariffs and global ‘stagflation’.

Derek Kneller returned to the UK (there are some great stories there to be told when his book is finished!, c’mon Derek lots of us are waiting for that little baby!) with Peter Hughes the last of the race team to leave, he ‘worked with Tony Simmons for a while then when John Goss finally bought the A53 I worked with John and Grant O’Neill until 1975- the 1975 Tasman was the last series with John before marrying and travelling around Australia for two years.’

(M Bisset Collection)

Etcetera: The closely related Matich A52 Repco ‘006’…

During 1973, as related in one of the linked articles above, Matich took two A51’s to the US to contest the American F5000 Championship, the ‘L&M Series’, the cars used were chassis ‘005’ and ‘006’- ‘005’ was tested for a day at Warwick Farm before shipping to the states, ‘006’ was not.

The team who travelled to the US were, FM, DK, Chief Mechanic, Chris Miles, Team Manager, Bob Riley, Draftsman and engineering of the car, John Anderson and Leon Jarvis, Mechanics and Ken Symes looking after four Repco V8’s

Derek Kneller recalls ‘The cars did not perform as expected we had a handling problem on the latest spec Goodyear’s and the bumpy nature of the US circuits. The tyres weren’t identical to those we tested before going to the US. FM wasn’t the only driver testing the F5000 tyres, the final production tyres we were presented were different, so we were playing catch-up. The cars were still as fast as any at the Riverside first round mind you’.

‘The biggest problem was engine related. The higher cornering speeds of the US circuits threw up a scavenge problem in the Repco engines, this seemed to get worse as the season went on and at Watkins Glen the crankshaft bearings were damaged in both cars during practice and both were withdrawn from the race after discussion with Repco management in Maidstone the night before the race. This meeting was the first at which we ran the flat-plane crank engines.’

‘If Frank had qualified on the time he did on the Friday we would have been on the front two rows at the Glen. By then Matich had the car sorted on the tyres- this involved changes to shocks/camber and toe to get the loading right. We also moved the battery to the front to load the car up front a bit more.’

‘At the start of the season the A51 was as competitive as the T330 but its development accelerated with so many drivers and teams running and experimenting with the T330’s’.

‘Straight after the race weekend at Watkins Glen chassis ‘006’ was flown back to Sydney with me so that the handling and engine problems could be sorted. Chassis ‘005’ was left in the States with the rest of the team.’

Matich A51 ‘006’ and A51 ‘005’ in the Watkins Glen pitlane, June 1973- A51 ‘006’ rebuilt as an A52 using the same ‘006’ chassis as per text (D Kneller)

‘On returning to Sydney the engine problem was overcome, an additional scavenge pump was added to scavenge oil from above the camshaft. Oil was being retained in the valley above the camshaft in the longer fast corners causing oil starvation in the oil tank, leading to bearing failure.’

After the engine problem was sorted it was decided to redesign the chassis to overcome the handling deficiencies, hence the A52 design…The A52 was built using the A51 ‘006’ chassis and rear end but with a longer engine/gearbox adaptor (bellhousing) giving a 2inch longer (50mm) wheelbase than the A51, this was in line with the Lola T330′.

‘The radiators were moved to the sides of the chassis along with modifications to the engine water pump so that each radiator cooled the opposite side cylinder head and were shrouded with aluminum ductings’.

‘The oil tank was repositioned behind the left-hand radiator (from beside the cars gearbox, outside its wheelbase) and the battery moved from the front of the car to above the bellhousing’.

At the front of the chassis the steering rack was moved from the chassis itself to a heavily redesigned front subframe. The top pick up point for the shock absorber/spring assembly was raised approx 1 1/4 inch (30mm) along with a redesigned lower wishbone and new front uprights. These mods gave an increase in front suspension movement’.

‘To complete the design a chisel shaped nose made from fibre glass was added, the complete car was about 10 Kg lighter than the A51’.

‘The A52 was tested extensively by Frank at Warwick Farm during late July/early August 1973 with a hope of returning to the US series, but a problem with the sponsors in the US prevented this happening’.

FM Matich A52 Repco, ahead of Max Stewart’s Lola T330 Chev, Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy, September 1973 (K Payne)

‘We had hoped to be back by Atlanta but we had problems with Carroll Smith and the Earley’s who owed us money. They were a father/son combination who were chiropodists operating their business and workshop in Dover, Ohio. Smith went AWOL at the Glen- non-one could get hold of him, he was bluing with the Earley’s too and then turned up a couple of races later with Graham McRae’ recalled Derek.

‘Frank sent me back to bring all of the cars, spares- the lot, Ken and Ando were still there whilst the other three had already come back to Australia.

FM side aspect at Surfers, similarity to A53 clear albeit A53 sidepods were bigger and longer to cover the fuel cells meet the new for 1974 deformable structure regulations (K Payne)

 

Matich off to the side of the circuit at Surfers trying to diagnose his problem- a destroyed battery internals (K Payne)

‘The A52’s only race was the Gold Star race, the ‘Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy’ at Surfers Paradise on 2 Sepember 1973 when fitted with a flat plane crank Repco F5000 engine. This gave over 520hp and sounded like a Cosworth DFV on steroids! (the best of the two-plane Repco engines gave circa 495bhp@7000rpm)

‘FM was quick straight away- he knew what the tyres needed, he led the race setting fastest lap before retiring with battery failure, the high frequency vibration from the engine shook the internals of the Varley battery apart.’

‘The car was comprehensively destroyed in a test session at Warwick Farm in late September whilst driven by Bob Muir. The chassis was beyond repair, both the outer and inner skins were damaged. The photos show damage from the car hitting the water-sprinkler system at Warwick Farm, 50mm diameter steel pipes- at great speed’.

‘Frank was not happy as he had just left the circuit after a successful session to visit his wife Joan, who was in hospital- and had let Bob have a steer to get another drivers opinion of the car, Bob had been driving a Lola T330 Chev in the US’.

As a consequence of the death of A52, A53 was born using the last remaining Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation constructed chassis.

(D Kneller)

Photos of the comprehensively damaged A52 ‘006’ back at the Matich workshop in September 1973.

‘The ‘006’ remains stayed at the Matich Military Road workshop and were then moved to the warehouse in Aartarmon and then later Darley Road and were finally junked a week or two before I rejoined Matich in 1989′ said Derek.

‘Frank knew I would want to repair and restore the car which he didn’t want to do so he got rid of it not long before I arrived back to run his Headway Helmets business- I shipped a Mondiale Formula Ford out for Kris (Matich) when I came back to Australia too’ Derek recalled.

(D Kneller)

Photo and Other Credits…

Tony Glenn, Derek Kneller, Peter Hughes, Peter Weaver, David Mellonie, Dale Harvey, Peter Weaver, Alan Radley, Ken Payne via John Payne, Curt Bond, oldracingcars.com, ‘Australian Competition Yearbook’ 1975 Edition.

Click here for Allen Brown’s great summary of the Matich F5000 cars;

https://www.oldracingcars.com/f5000/matich/

Tailpiece: Muir, ready to rock n’ roll, Oran Park pit lane 1 February 1974…

(T Glenn)

Its all happening above, its the Friday before the meeting.

An obscured Bowin P6F Formula Ford is between the Matich and Brian Foley’s ‘Chesterfield Racing’ XA or XB Ford Falcon Panel Van.

The shapely form in the driving suit holding the helmet in the middle of the shot is Christine Cole/Gibson who ran a Group C ‘105 Series’ Alfa 2000 GTV from 1973 to 1975 in many races including the 1975 Australian Touring Car Championship (which she gave a really good shake!) and Manufacturers Championship- its probably Foley to the left of Cole?

The more you look, the more you see…

Finito…