Posts Tagged ‘Frank Matich’

Frank Matich’s ‘exhaust blown diffuser’ 1972 style, Matich A50 Repco F5000, on the way to victory in the Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm 5 November …

 Sydney based Team Matich may have been relatively small but they were well funded by virtue of support from Repco, Goodyear, Shell and others depending upon the season.

Nobody did more testing in Oz than FM, it was part of his Goodyear contract after all.

He was a deep thinker too.

The engineering, development and conceptual design of Frank’s cars- from the customer Lotus 19’s, Brabham BT7A and Elfin 400 to the Matich team constructed SR3 and SR4 sports cars and A50-A53 series of six F5000 cars were his and a function of racing the cars at the highest level. His testing abilities were the equal of any of the contemporary driver/engineers on the planet too- Brabham, McLaren, Hall, Gardner, Bennett, McRae, Ganley etcetera.

Therefore Matich had the ability to not only come up with new ideas or set-up directions but analyse the impact of them on the car and determine any further changes which may have been required to optimise the explored direction of the day.

FM was always trying ‘stuff’ in an effort to seek the ‘unfair advantage’.

Adelaide International Tasman round 1973- Bob Muir, McLaren M10B Chev alongside FM’s A50

Derek Kneller, FM’s chef mechanic and confidant throughout the Matich F5000 years recalls how the experimentation came about.

‘Frank had been in the ‘States and watched a Goodyear tyre test at Ontario Motor Speedway in early 1972. When he arrived back he told me he had observed a driver called Jim McElreath testing his car with a very low mounted rear wing.’ (Jim McElreath raced an Eagle 72 Offy in USAC racing in 1972- a guess is that MAY be the car Frank spotted being tested at Ontario)

‘He came down to the workshop (in Sydney) and took our spare wing and placed it one two-gallon oil cans that he placed on their sides behind his A50. He then told me to make some mounting brackets so that we could run the car in that position.’

‘We mounted the wing as Frank requested and did some static tests to prove that the wing would be secure and would be able to transmit the load to the chassis without breaking.’

A50 Repco, Derek Kneller with hands on hips, Frank Matich and a good view of the wings and location of the exhausts during the 1973 Tasman Series in NZ (D Kneller/B Sala)

‘The first test for the car with the lower wing mounted lower down was a tyre test at Surfers.

We covered the car and wing with tufts of wool to assess the air-flow over the car and wing. Frank drove the car on the track around the track with me filming the car from our hire car which was being driven by one of the other team members.

Frank also got me to drive the A50 while he followed in the hire car so he could see for himself what was going on, obviously the speed was much reduced and the car was filmed from both sides.’

‘After two days of testing Frank determined there was a benefit from running the wing, he felt he could enter the main straight at a higher speed due to more downforce making the car more stable, we had been reducing the angle of the main (upper) wing and picking up more speed along the straight. We ended up a second under our lap time from the previous Tasman race earlier in the year.’

‘To be honest we didn’t know exactly how we gained the time, but from what we now know about blown diffusers we must have been getting downforce when Frank was on the throttle with the exhaust blowing over the lower rear wing as he powered onto the straight at Surfers. We then were always running far less angle of attack on the main rear wing than our other competitors’ Derek concluded in what is a fascinating slice of aerodynamic racing history.

Aerodynamic Developments Which Followed…

1974 Lotus 76 Ford DFV- the innovative car incorporated an electronic clutch and bi-plane rear wing but was not a success in the hands of Ickx and Peterson, the venerable 72 was updated again for 1975 (Getty)

I’m not suggesting Matich fully understood what he was exploring, nor is Derek Kneller, but explore it he did, with the result felt by Matich and reflected on the stopwatches.

His two Matich A51’s were so equipped throughout the US L&M Championship in 1973.

That series, very well covered by the global motor racing media is probably where Colin Chapman first saw the approach and thought ‘Hmmm, lets have a look at that for 1974’, mind you he only applied half of the Matich approach- the two wings, not the exhaust blowing the wing.

Lets not forget that Matich made these changes two years before Colin Chapman followed suit with his 1974 F1 Lotus 76 Ford DFV.

(D Kneller)

McLaren tried the twin-wing set up as well, albeit a couple of years further on.

Here Jochen Mass’ M23 Ford is so equipped at Monaco in 1976, the flatness of setting of the lower wing clear. They did not persevere with the approach.

FM was even further ahead of his time, in that the first ‘exhaust blown diffuser’ is generally acknowledged to be the 1983 Renault RE40 Turbo, the conception of which was that of Jean Claude Migeot.

He placed the exhausts and turbo-wastegate flow directly into the diffuser. Before this everyone had routed the exhausts into the area of least influence, usually above the gearbox or with long pipes through the rear suspension or in the cars of the early to mid 1970’s between the upper and lower suspension links or above the top links- between the wing and suspension top link.

Prost, Renault RE40 1983 (unattributed)

 

Renault RE40 1983, cutaway (Pinterest)

At least one racing historian, Gordon McCabe, believes that whilst Renault were the first to blow their exhausts into the diffuser, ‘…exhaust blown diffusers include not only those which blow into the diffuser, but also those which blow over the top of it…and it could be argued that the first such device appeared on the 1982 McLaren MP-4B…’

Matich, US L&M Series 1973, Matich A51 Repco (T Rosenthal)

Etcetera…

(G Ruckert)

Matich on the way to victory in the third round of the Gold Star, the Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy, at Surfers Paradise in late August 1972.

He won four of the six Australian Drivers Championship rounds that year- the Victoria Trophy at Sandown in April, the Belle Magazine Trophy at Oran Park in June, here at Surfers, and the Hordern Trophy at home, Warwick Farm, in November. He did not contest the Symmons, September round.

(unattributed)

FM ‘shared the love’ in terms of development items on the A50 with his local customer, John Walker.

Here his twin-wing A50 Repco is shown in the US during the 1973 L&M Championship, I am uncertain as to circuit.

Additional Reading…

Matich F5000 cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Exhaust blown diffusers; checkout this detailed article on the formula1 dictionary site; http://formula1-dictionary.net/diffuser_blown.html and here on ‘McCabism’; http://mccabism.blogspot.com/2012/06/first-ever-exhaust-blown-diffuser-in-f1.html

1983 Renault RE40 blown diffuser details

Bibliography…

Derek Kneller

Photo and other Credits…

Tony Glenn, Mark Pearce, Derek Kneller, Bryan Sala, Tom Rosenthal, Getty Images, Giorgio Piola

Tailpiece…Mark Pearce has captured FM beautifully during the  1973 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman Round…

No doubt the aerodynamicists amongst you will be able to interpret the effectiveness of the wing configuration based upon your analysis of the vortices of water produced on that soggiest of days- the event was won by Steve Thompson’s Chevron B24 Chev, aided by some trick Firestone wets, only a smidge, less than two seconds, from Matich.

Finito…

Frank Matich in his new Elfin 400 Olds nee ‘Traco Olds’ at Warwick Farm during the 1966 Tasman Meeting (Russell Thorncraft)

The very best of the seasons greetings to you all, wherever you may be. May all of us get the luck we deserve in addition to a healthy, wealthy, wise and generous 2019…

It was May 2014 when I first started fiddling around with what has become somewhat of an obsession, I have promised myself I will re-commence racing my Van Diemen RF86 Formula Ford in 2019- ‘doing it’ rather than just writing about it!

I have no strategy with primotipo other than writing about what interests me, the article ideas are generated by a photograph and it is in that context that the direction of the thing has shifted much more to an Australian bias this past year.

DIY Davo: Jon Davison looking after a wheel or pressures in the Oran Park pitlane prior to the 1977 AGP. Car is his ex-Walker Matich A50 Repco. Davo become a mighty fine F5000 driver with the purchase of an ex-Teddy Yip/Alan Jones Lola T332 Chev 12 months hence. Behind Jon are the Team VDS entries of race winner, Warwick Brown, Lola T430 Chev and Peter Gethin Chevron B37 Chev (Adam Thurgar)

A limiting factor until recently has been access to lots of interesting Australian photographs. This has changed in that Bob Williamson’s ‘Old Motor Racing Photographs-Australia’ and the ‘Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania’s’ Facebook pages and meeting Bob King and Ken Devine in recent times has allowed me to explore topics I never would have contemplated without the visual stimulation of ideas provided by their archive/collections.

So special thanks to those organisations/fellows in addition to the photographers who have been very supportive right from the get-go. John Ellacott, Rod MacKenzie, Lindsay Ross, Dick Simpson, Lynton Hemer, Kevin Drage and Dale Harvey. Terry Marshall’s New Zealand work gets a regular run too.

Len Lukey’s Lukey Bristol chases Bib Stillwell, Maserati 250F, Melbourne Grand Prix, Albert Park 1958. Stirling Moss won in a Cooper T45 Climax- Len was 5th and Bib 4th (Simon Wills via Bob King Collection)

Bob King’s ‘Words from Werrangourt’ articles have been very popular, Rod MacKenzie’s and Bruce Polain’s pieces were beauties, and I have unpublished manuscripts from Peter Finlay and Ray Bell to pop up in the coming months- thanks to you all.

Ray, Stephen Dalton and Rob Bartholomaeus have been great ‘sub-editors’ in advising errors post-upload of articles which has helped the accuracy of primotipo big-time. Stephen and Rob have also provided research material which has given me ‘reach’ beyond my own collection. The collective global wisdom of The Nostalgia Forum is also an ongoing source of nuanced information which goes way beyond the books we all have.

Stan Jones and Cooper T51 Climax at Caversham, West Australia in October 1959. WA Road Racing Championships Gold Star round. Len Lukey won the race in the green Cooper T45 alongside, Stan was 2nd. He won the AGP at Longford in March aboard his Maserati 250F (Ken Devine)

The readership has increased nicely again by over 30% with the Australian readership now 30% of the total compared with 17-20% of the last two years. So, it seems you International folks aren’t turned off by the greater Australian content. The top ten countries in terms of readership in order are Australia, US, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands and Brazil. Exactly the same as last year actually, albeit the order was a smidge different.

Last, but far from least, thanks for reading it!

The balance of this piece are some randomly chosen photographs from the sources above I’ve not published before…

(Chris Robinson)

Bob Skelton contesting the Symmons Plains round of the Australian Formula 2 Championship in September 1973.

He was second to Leo Geoghegan’s works Birrana 273 Ford Hart that weekend and was third in the seven round series behind Geoghegan and Enno Buesselmann in another 273.

Skello first raced this chassis- the very first Bowin P6 built, in the 1972 Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton in the UK before returning home and ditching the Ford 711M Kent motor and Hewland Mk9 gearbox in favour of a Brian Hart built 1.6 litre Lotus-Ford, Lucas ‘416B’ injected engine and five-speed Hewland FT200 ‘box as well as wings and slicks etc.

He did well in 1973, it was a shame he did not race on in the Finnie Ford supported car- without doubt the 1972 FF Driver to Europe Winner (Bowin P4A) had talent aplenty.

Ex-Lotus engineer, Bowin Designs John Joyce’s spaceframe P6 and monocoque P8 designs bristled with innovation having the Lotus 56/72 wedge shape and hip-mounted radiators and JJ’s own very clever variable or rising rate suspension front and rear. Whilst the P6F won an FF title in John Leffler’s hands in 1973, F2 and F5000 Championship success eluded these wonderful cars.

 

(Matt Liersch)

Stirling Moss and minder wander down the new Sandown pitlane with ‘Peters Corner’, the left-hander onto the Back Straight behind them. Notice the kerb, trees and lack of Armco on the outside of Pit Straight and between the circuit and pitlane.

The March 1962 ‘Sandown Park International’ was the track’s first meeting with Moss fifth his Rob Walker Lotus 21. Jack Brabham won from John Surtees and Bruce McLaren- in Coopers T55, T53, and T53- all powered by Coventry Climax 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ FPFs.

(Matt Liersch)

Jack Brabham either pulling into or out of pitlane in the Cooper T55 Climax which was then acquired by John Youl and raced by he and engineer Geoff Smedley with great success over the next couple of years.

(Matt Liersch)

Melburnian’s of a certain age will remember Channel 9 sports broadcaster Tony Charlton here getting the story from Moss and Brabham. He was more a cricket and footy kinda-guy but did a workmanlike job whatever the sport.

https://primotipo.com/2016/04/08/ole-935/

 

(Brian Caldersmith)

Maybach 3 was Charlie Dean’s Repco Research built cars definitive specification in six-cylinder Maybach engine form- Maybach 4 was this chassis modified by Ern Seeliger in various ways inclusive of fitment of a Chev 283 cid small-block V8.

Here the car is showing off its Phil Irving developed fuel injection at Gnoo Blas, Orange during the January 1956 South Pacific Championship weekend.

(Brian Caldersmith)

 

(Brian Caldersmith)

Stan Jones was running well in second position behind Reg Hunt’s new Maserati 250F, and ahead of Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol in third when the Maybach motor let go in the biggest possible way on lap 23, an errant rod broke causing the car to spin down the road.

With little in the way of spares now remaining- and the speed of Hunt’s Maseratis (A6GCM and 250F) apparent Jones ordered a 250F and Maybach 3 was put to one side until Seeliger’s mechanical magic was worked upon it.

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

(Chris O’Connor)

Cheetah as a marque all too often slips under the radar, a bit like the car’s designer, builder and driver Brian Shead- he won the 1979 Australian F2 Championship in a Cheetah Mk6 Toyota.

Shead built ANF3 and 2 cars, two Clubmans and a Formula Holden, well over forty cars in all in his small Mordialloc, outer Melbourne bayside workshop. ‘The Two Brians’ Shead and Sampson (above) dominated ANF3 in the mid-seventies, the 1975 Bathurst 1000 winner (together with Peter Brock in a Holden Torana L34) is on the downhill plunge into Dandenong Road corner at Sandown in 1973 or 1974.

The car is a Cheetah Mk4- a spaceframe chassis powered by a pushrod, OHV, ‘Motor Improvements’ modded Toyota Corolla 1.3 litre, twin-42 DCOE carbed 135 bhp engine. Motor Improvements was Sambo’s business in the Nepean Higway St Kilda, at the time ANF3 was a 1300cc OHV/SOHC category.

https://primotipo.com/2018/06/26/anf3/

(Dennis Cooper)

Clark, Amon, Hill: Lotus 49 Ford DFW by two and a lone Ferrari Dino 246T, Longford 1968.

Not the South Pacific Championship Tasman race mind you- that was held in the pissin’ rain and won by Piers Courage’ McLaren M4A Ford FVA. This is the dry Saturday preliminary which was won by Clark.

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

Credits…

Russell Thorncraft, Quentin Miles, Adam Thurgar, Simon Wills- Bob King Collection, Brian Caldersmith, Matt Liersch, Chris Robinson, Ken Devine Collection, Dennis Cooper, Chris O’Connor

oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece: Bob Janes and Jaguar E Type Lightweight, Lakeside circa 1965…

(Quentin Miles)

Ron Thorp’s AC Cobra is on the second row, it looks hot so perhaps its the summer Tasman meeting.

The Jag was an interesting choice, it was never going to be an outright machine in the sportscar sprint events which predominated in Australia at the time. The Bib Stillwell Cooper Monaco, Frank Gardner/Ralph Sach/Kevin Bartlett Mildren Maserati, Lotus 23’s and increasingly V8 mid-engined cars ruled the roost.

Nonetheless the E was a welcome addition to the local scene and a car Bob retained in his collection for decades- it shared garage space with a Maserati 300S, Jag D Type, Brabham BT11A Climax, McLaren M6B Repco, Ralt RT4 Ford, Chev Camaro ZL1 and various other bits of mouth-watering kit.

Finito…

Carroll Smith, Frank and Joan Matich (NAA)

Frank and Joan Matich confer during the Warwick Farm Tasman meeting, February 11 to 13 1972…

The ’72 Tasman wasn’t the series the Matich’s expected after the debut win of the Matich A50 Repco at the Farm in November 1971- the brand new machine built closeby won the Australian Grand Prix only days after it’s completion, and looked the goods for the Summer Internationals.

Whilst Matich and his team worked their magic in Brookvale, Kiwi Graham McRae was casting a spell or two in Poole whilst Frank Gardner and Bob Marston were indulging in some F5000 sorcery of their own over at Huntingdon- the cars alluded to are the Leda LT27 aka McRae GM1 and Lola T300.

Mind you, things came good for Frank and Joan at home- Warwick Farm is not too far from the Matich HQ in Brookvale (they moved to Military Road, Cremorne on Sydney’s leafy North Shore circa August 1972) FM was quickest in unofficial practice, qualified on pole on Saturday afternoon and won the race, leading throughout from start to flagfall.

This article is superfluous really, I’ve done Matich and his career pretty well to death, several long pieces inclusive of an 11,000 word monster on his F5000 cars- at the end of this article are links to that piece and a couple of others of potential interest.

But then I came upon this swag of photographs of the Warwick Farm weekend which were too good to ignore. I’ve no idea of the publication for which they were intended or indeed if they ever were published. The shots are from the National Archives of Australia, the photographer uncredited. The series of photos are headed ‘Australia’s Mr and Mrs Motor Sport Sets a Fast Pace’. I’ve other photos of this weekend but I decided to maintain the original intent of whoever commissioned them, keep them together and focus on ‘Team Matich’.

Frank Matich, Matich A50 Repco, Pit Straight, Warwick Farm February 1972 (NAA)

Is ‘Mr and Mrs Motorsport’ apt or a bit of PR Bullshit?…

Its a fair observation I suspect.

Frank was already racing his first competition car, an MG TC when he met Joan, ‘her parents thought the sound of the MG arriving was a plane as they lived at Mascot’ Frank recalled, in fact Joan could be said to be FM’s first sponsor as she lent him 140 pounds to rebuild the TC’s engine not long after they first started going out!

Joan went to many of the test sessions and race meetings down the decades, helped schmooze the sponsors and assisted to run the business which was not insubstantial by 1972. There was the race team chasing national titles, the production of racing cars (sportscars -several SR3 and SR4’s and six F5000’s) Firestone, and then later Goodyear race tyre and Bell Helmets importation and distribution and properties to manage, both domestic and business. Lets not forget the demands of four kids too. (Kris born circa 1958, Kim 1960, Lea 1962 and Katrina 1963)

Frank and Joan were not Mr and Mrs Motorsport in the way that Fred and Christine Gibson and Garth and Leanne Tander were in the sense that both were drivers but I think the ‘Mr and Mrs Motorsport’ label is a fair one.

Joan and Kris Matich- Kris went on to race Van Diemens in Formula Ford in the eighties

1972 Tasman Series Top Guns…

McRae, the reigning champion, Matich, Gardner, Mike Hailwood (Surtees TS8 Chev) and David Hobbs (McLaren M22) were perhaps the dudes most likely to fight for the Tasman Cup but Kevin Bartlett, hamstrung only by the age of his McLaren M10B Chev and 1970 champ Graeme Lawrence, like FG Lola T300 mounted would also be ‘thereabouts’. Then came Teddy Pilette, McLaren M10B Chev, Garrie Cooper, John McCormack and Max Stewart in Elfin MR5 Repco’s- all relative newcomers to F5000, and the rest.

In New Zealand it was all McRae- he started on pole in the first three rounds, won at Levin and Wigram, whilst Gardner took the NZ GP at Pukekohe a race in which Graeme Lawrence and Bryan Faloon had an awful accident killing Bryan and outing Graeme for months.

Derek Kneller pointing, how was it Frank? Ken Symes of Repco in the blue suit FM’s boys in the natty, very American STP togs. Note open top section of ‘bathtub’ aluminium monocoque chassis A50 ‘001/002’ (NAA)

FG boofed his Lola at Levin when the engine suddenly cut out on a high speed corner and he clobbered the fence. Gardner, a very ‘safe driver’ must have had more prangs in the 7 months to January 1972 than at any other time in his career- he wrote off the prototype T300P (akaT242P) at Snetterton in a collision with Brian Redman’s McLaren M18 Chev, when FG on pole and Brian off grid 2 had a territorial dispute, on 30 August 1971.

The quite significant in the history of F5000 cars, seminal, defining chassis T242P/T300P was rooted, destroyed.

Lola quickly built up a replacement car for Frank, ‘HU1’, the first production T300 which Gardner raced to a debut win at Hockenheim in front of Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus 56B Pratt & Whitney on 12 September. He took the car to another victory at Oulton and with a second place at the season ending Brands late September round nabbed the 1971 European F5000 Championship. He had been a winner in a Lola T192 earlier in the season prior to the T242/300 race debut, it wasn’t all down to the new car by any stretch.

‘HU1’ was then shipped to Australia in time for the AGP at the Farm, FG crashed it in practice, again the car was re-tubbed before shipping to NZ- only to be boofed again in an accident not of his making at Levin.

He would reappear at Surfers with the repaired car but the chances of the wily veteran winning the series were gone. A shame really as he ‘retired’ from single-seaters after the Sandown round selling the T300 to Sydney F2 pilot Gary Campbell. I say retired as he did a ‘Nellie Melba’ and contested the final round of the 1972 Euro F5000 Championship late in the year to ‘race test’ the prototype Lola T330- ‘HU1’ which became famous in Max Stewart’s hands and is of course still in Australia. A long digression!

Kevin Bartlett took a top win in the final NZ round at Teretonga, driving with a blend of speed and sure-footedness on a wet, difficult track which caught out pole-man Hailwood and McRae. David Hobbs tangled suspension with Matich.

Matich had a shocker of a time in NZ.

He qualified 5th/2nd/5th/2nd- a second at Levin and fourth and fastest lap at Teretonga his best with DNF’s at the NZ GP with engine failure- a broken conrod and a distant 12th at Wigram having only completed 34 laps- KB spun and FM hit him on the way through. Frank pitted and returned 3 laps later completing a further 13 laps before retirement. The sergent.com race report notes ‘…showing the sort of form, had fate not intervened, that would certainly have given him some Tasman points.

A50 left front suspension assembly- top link and swept back locating arm, lower wishbone, coil spring and Koni double-adjustable alloy bodied shocks, adjustable roll bar, big ventilated discs and four-pot Lockheed calipers (NAA)

 

All was not well in the Matich camp either.

A race team needs stability at the top, Peter Mabey had been the Matich Chief Mechanic since the SR3 period (at least), it was intended that Derek Kneller who arrived with FM’s first McLaren M10A in August 1969, (he had been building cars at McLaren Cars in 1968/9 including the first M10A raced by Peter Gethin) would replace Mabey but Peter decided to stay on to build the monocoque A50, as he wanted that experience and the two worked together well through the repair of FM’s McLaren M10B. The team rebuilt the cars aluminium monocoque rather than buy a repalcement from Trojan, to get some experience of this form of construction in advance of the build of the A50 in 1971.

After the ’71 AGP victory Kneller headed back to the UK, he was homesick, so went home to a gig with Team Surtees. Mabey stayed on but finally cried enough- and left the team after the Levin round having got tired of shouldering the load with other mechanics not pulling their weight the final straw.

Matich did Wigram and Teretonga with the other mechanics and called Derek in the UK, who agreed to return to Australia to assist. ‘I had planned and organised with Frank…to come back to Oz in the middle of the year (1972)…I arrived in Sydney on the Monday after Surfers, Joan picked me up from the airport, I went straight to Brookvale and started work on Frank’s joblist for the car’.

Normally there was a two week gap between the last NZ round at Teretonga and the first Australian one at Surfers Paradise but there was only one week in 1972 making the five day shipment of cars marginal so a group of teams hired a plane to freight the cars by air into Coolangatta, closeby to Surfers.

Derek and Scott McNaughton fitting the drink system- windscreen washer system complete with an electric pump and switch on the instrument panel. neat! (NAA)

Matich had plenty of success at the abrasive Surfers Paradise track over the years, he plonked the A50 on pole at the challenging power circuit and finished third behind McRae and Gardner- FG’s car was re-tubbed and he was back in the game. Kneller notes that the A50 rear suspension geometry was altered with a lighter rear subframe, and raced that way on the Gold Coast.

At the meetings end Frank and Joan jetted from Coolangatta back to Mascot in Sydney, with the A50 trucked back to Brookvale overnight- the team had no spare car, at the time the first customer A50 for George Follmer (Roy Woods Racing) was coming together in a corner of the Matich ‘shop with Carroll Smith assisting.

Kneller set to work preparing the A50 for the ‘Farm.

‘The rear suspension geometry was altered again after Surfers- the rear roll centre was raised…It was at this time the car was given the A50 ‘002’ moniker but it was ‘001’, the same tub, the bodywork was painted in STP colours and the roll bar chrome plated, it appeared different which was a bit of gamesmanship and kept the sponsors happy but it was, and still is the same tub which Bryan Sala now owns. This caused lots of historic (eligibility) grief in later years.’

For the sake of completeness and clarity ‘The same chassis (‘001′) was used for the rest of the 1972 Tasman Series and the 1973 Tasman, at its end it was put on axle stands at the Brookvale factory’ and is very clear photos in the article referred to earlier whilst the two A51’s were built up in advance of their 1973 US L&M Series tour.

A fresh Repco Holden V8 was popped into the rear of the A50 to replace the unit used at Surfers in addition to all of the usual pre-race checks- aided this time by operating from the teams home base rather than the garages used in other cities on tour.

A50 in the Brookvale workshop in the week prior to Warwick Farm. Repco Holden 5 litre Lucas injected V8 giving circa 480 bhp at this point in its development. 1973/4 flat plane crank Repcos the ultimate spec gave circa 520 bhp. Hewland DG300 5 speed transaxle, inboard disc brakes. Rear suspension, Matich designed- Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation cast magnesium uprights, single top link, lower parallel links, radius rods, coil spring/Koni dampers, adjustable roll bar with Aeroquip fittings throughout (NAA)

 

I’ve always thought Matich and McRae were a couple of peas from the same pod…

Both were from engineering backgrounds, Matich was apprenticed as a Diesel Engineer, McRae completed an Engineering Degree- both knew their way around racing cars from a drivers perspective and also as car conceptor, designer, builder, tester and fettlers. This is a very potent combination to build fast cars, or take what isn’t quick and change it and then keep changing it until the butt-cheeks and stopwatch confirm the steeds speed.

By the time both fellas had success at an international level they were not malleable youths- but rather battle hardened older racers who had cut deals to get where they wanted, with firm, battle-inspired opinions , which meant they were not naturally attractive to team managers after fast but perhaps more obedient youths.

Both proved their pace against the worlds best- lets not forget Matich’s speed against the F1 elite in his two Tasman 2.5 seasons in 1964/5 before his Elfin 400/Matich SR3/4 sportscar phase. He raced with Clark for much of a race at Lakeside and popped his Brabham BT7A, by then not the very latest bit of kit in 1965, on pole at Warwick Farm in front of Clark, Graham Hill, Brabham, McLaren, Phil Hill, Frank Gardner and the rest…

A50 Brookvale, FM at right. Note bathtub aluminium tub- 6 tubs were built, all the same design, 3 by Matich and 3 by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Fishermans Bend, Melbourne- 3 A50, 2 A51’s one of which became an A52, and 1 A53. Note the way the lower suspension wishbone picks up, in part on the A-frame forward of the tub (NAA)

McRae beat the best in the F5000 world in Europe and the US- taking the 1972 US L&M Series in his self-built Leda LT27/GM1 and three Tasmans on the trot from 1971-1973.

Both had F1 offers, in FM’s case he had family and a business in Australia which was a barrier- unfortunately in McRae’s case his only F1 start was with Frank Williams Iso Ford in the 1973 British GP when he didn’t survive the first lap carnage wrought by McLaren’s new cub, Jody Scheckter’s mega first lap M23 Ford lose. McRae wasn’t involved in the shunt but the car’s throttle slides were filled with sand which prevented him taking the restart.

At their respective ‘right peaks’- say 1965 for Matich, (born 1935) and 1971/2 for McRae, (born 1940) both were surely good or better F1 material had they arrived at about those times aboard a halfway decent bit of kit!?

Matich and Bartlett before the off. Matich A50 Repco and McLaren M10B Chev. Just to the left of KB’s helmet is Frank Gardner’s silver Bell Magnum- his Lola T300 is on row 2 (NAA)

Meanwhile back in Sydney the 1972 ‘Warwick Farm 100’ beckoned…

Matich, Bartlett, Gardner and Max Stewart were probably the Warwick Farm aces in this race with perhaps Max to be discounted, his time in F5000 would arrive bigtime shortly, but he wasn’t going to win this race in his Elfin MR5.

Frank did pretty much all of his testing at the ‘Farm, he knew every blade of grass in ‘Gods Acre of Motor Racing’ and so it proved over that February 1972 weekend. The changes the team made to the car gave him the edge and additional confidence he needed, he was comfortably ahead of the field in unofficial practice.

On Saturday he was again the class of the grid popping the A50 on pole by 5/10 second from Kevin Bartlett’s McLaren M10B Chev, Frank Gardner Lola T300 Chev, the similarly mounted Bob Muir, Max Stewart Elfin MR5 Repco, McRae Leda GM1 Chev, who only did 12 laps of the slippery track.

Only the first few laps in the earlier Saturday session were dry, otherwise the track was wet or damp- a light drizzle greeted the drivers at noon as they set out for what would normally be the session in which the quickest times were set with cars by then having chassis’ nicely tweaked for the track.

Teddy Pilette McLaren M10B Chev, David Hobbs McLaren M22 Chev, John McCormack Elfin MR5 Repco and Warwick Brown McLaren M10 B Chev and the rest comprised the balance of the grid. Mike Hailwood had a shocker of a time, he missed much of practice when a tyre deflated, then in a discretionary session to test the car he muffed his entry onto The Causeway and clipped the fence breaking a wheel and causing some suspension damage. His boys had a long night ahead but did make the grid.

The Northern Crossing, formerly a series of temporary road patches laid across the top of the Warwick Farm horse racing track had neen replaced with permanent hotmix- a bump leading onto the crossing and a layer of silt across it made the going tough for the drivers, both Bob Muir and Max Stewart had spins during the day.

Pre-race build up- watching the TV feed of an earlier race. Derek ‘Frank’s gold race suit was given to him by Goodyear, they gave him a new set of race overalls every year, unalloyed Hinchman but for 1972 it was the ‘Fypro’ gold set’ (NAA)

 

Yerv got a hole in your sock Dad! Make sure you win but be careful all the same- FM and Kris Matich as Frank suits up (NAA)

 

Kneller belts Matich up so to speak- note the nickel or chrome plated roll bar- the cause of some consternation deacdes later in the ‘A50-002’ debate. There was no ‘002’ but rather a bit of gamesmanship by Matich! (NAA)

 

Lift off- FM gets the jump, he was never headed. Best view afforded by Max Stewart’s truck-top! (NAA)

Jack Brabham was present over the weekend and started the race at 1.30 pm- Matich led from pole winning the 45 lap, 100 mile race from European F5000 Champion Frank Gardner by 18 seconds and Kevin Bartlett another 30 seconds up the road.

FM started strongly, as did Bartlett who looked for a moment to have gotten off the line best,  and opened up a 2.5 second lead from Bartlett, Gardner, Stewart, Muir and McCormack- the latter made a blinder of a start from row 5 using the grass verge.

Matich widened the gap but the order up front remained the same with much of the race interest surrounding Mike Hailwood and his repaired Surtees TS8 who worked his way up from the back of the field- he was sixth on lap 6 passing Hobbs on lap 2, McCormack on lap 4 and Stewart on lap 5.

Pit board advising all is in hand, ease. STP sponsorship just for the Tasman, gone for the Gold Star Series which FM won convincingly in 1972 (NAA)

By lap 10 Matich was 15 seconds in front and at this early stage the race was looking like a repeat of his AGP effort in November. Bartlett was still in second ahead of Gardner in a nice tussle with a 10 second gap back to Muir, McRae with Michael The Cycle right up their clackers. In a ripper drive Hailwood passed McRae under brakes and then got Bob Muir on lap 12- by then FM up front was lapping the 2 litre Waggotts/BDA’s.

Gardner finally got past KB on lap 12 (or 13 depending upon your source), then came Hailwood, McRae ‘never really at home at the Farm’, Muir, McCormack, Pilette, Hobbs, Brown and Tony Stewart’s Mildren Waggott.

John McCormack Elfin MR5 Repco from Hailwood’s Surtees TS8 Chev, Pit Straight (NAA)

By lap 30 Matich eased the pace a smidge with only Gardner, Bartlett, Hailwood and McRae on the same lap- by lap 35 Hailwood could not catch Bartlett and succumbed to a challenge from McRae after he lost both second (early in the race) and fourth gears in his Hewland DG300 transaxle.

In the final four laps there were no changes so Matich won- setting a new record average speed for the race of 94.85 mph with second placeman Gardner setting a new lap record of 1:24.0 to take six-tenths off the mark set by Matich in November. KB was third 30 seconds behind Gardner, then McRae and Hailwood

John McCormack was 6th in his Elfin MR5 Repco, Mac was still in his formative F5000 phase but would soon be a force, then Teddy Pilette 7th in his VDS Racing M10B with Tony Stewart the best of the 2 litre cars in Max Stewart’s Milden Waggott- the car in which Max had won the 1971 Gold Star, then F5000 newcomer and later 1975 Tasman Champion Warwick Brown in his ex-Hamilton McLaren M10B Chev with American visitor David McConnell 10th in a GRD 272 Ford BDA 2 litre.

The quintessential WF victory shot, chequered flag car not quite perfectly in shot and crowded grandstand (NAA)

 

The win was just the fillip Matich needed, he carried the speed he had shown at Warwick Farm both to Melbourne at Sandown’s AGP the following weekend and at Adelaide International a fortnight later.

From pole at Sandown he led until lap 5 when an oil scavenge pump failed putting the A50 out, McRae took the win, and in Adelaide he started from pole but on this occasion had gearbox failure with David Hobbs taking the win in a McLaren M22 Chev.

(NAA)

No doubt a Rothmans executive handing over the goodies above as race sponsor, with the distinctive form of Brabham JA at right- he won an international race or three at Warwick Farm.

To the victor go the spoils- the much respected Australian Automobile Racing Club Chief, Geoff Sykes at right, and in the photo below Derek Kneller receives a trophy, perhaps, for the Chief Mechanic of the winning car.

Credits…

oldracingcars.com, ‘The Canberra Times’ 14 February 1972, National Archives of Australia, Derek Kneller, Alan Wood 1972 WF100 race report in March 1972 ‘Racing Car News’

Other Related Links…

Matich and his F5000 cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Repco Holden F5000 engine; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/03/repco-holden-f5000-v8/

Graham McRae and his F5000 cars; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/06/amons-talon-mcraes-gm2/

Etcetera…

(NAA)

Ampol gets a fair crack of the whip in all these shots. Simpson race-boots common at the time at elite levels- FM’s Adidas jobbies are Nomex.

(NAA)

Looks like Derek Kneller at left taking a snap with his iPhone.

Never found the A50 the prettiest of F5000’s, functional and effective may be better descriptors. And successful. Both A50 ‘001’ and Bartlett’s very equally successful ex-Niel Allen M10B still extant and happily in Oz with Bryan Sala and Alan Hamilton respectively.

Debrief (NAA)

Nice shot of the top, or in part lack thereof, of the bathtub monocoque. Note steel structural element between each ally mono pontoon to which the dash is bolted- it contains the usual array of Smiths instruments. Bell Star helmet de-riguer at the time, FM the importer for Oz. The day I bought my first Bell Star circa 1975 from Ken Nancarrow at ‘Racegear’ in Ralston Street, South Yarra (Melbourne) is etched in my memory- remember him? Wonderful fella- you could never get outta the joint in less than an hour by the time he exhausted you with all of his on-point race gossip.

(NAA)

FM usually wore ‘Hinchman’ suits at this stage, remember the classic cream Hinchman of the era with vertical ‘race stripes’ on the left breast with prominent Goodyear embroidered badge? Always aspired to a set of those.

(NAA)

 

Nah, it’s not gunna rain, the weather comes from the direction of Liverpool.

Cockpit cowling (between Carroll Smith and FM) pretty much the same all the way through the A50-A53 models inclusive of the side-radiator A52 and A53.

I didn’t know who ‘Goodyear Cap Man’ was until reader/mate David Rees/Ray Bell identified him. Derek Kneller clarified the talented American engineer/mechanic/author’s (i’ve got two of his books purchased 20 years ago- ‘Tune To Win’ and ‘Prepare To Win’ from memory) role, which was to build up the A50 ‘003’ for Roy Woods Racing, a car initially raced by ace-racer George Follmer.

(NAA)

By the looks of it the boys are playing around with the steering rack- Matich very mechanically capable to say the least. Both he and McRae were very much in the Colin Chapman, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Derek Bennett, Garrie Cooper, Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, Frank Gardner, Howden Ganley, Larry Perkins mould of oh-so-capable, muck-in and geddit done types of driver/mechanic/engineer. A breed which no longer exists at elite level.

The A50 was an expression of the F5000 state of the art as Team Matich- FM, Kneller, Mabey and one or two others saw it in 1971. There was no ‘designer’ as such but rather draftsman who put onto paper the conceptual design of the car which was led strongly by the chief.

Tailpiece: ‘It sounds ok, great actually Ken’: Repco’s Ken Symes warms his liddl’ 5 litre baby up…

(NAA)

Repco-Holden F5000 V8 a simply glorious engine to listen to, unmuffled as they were for a few years yet.

Finito…

(Repco)

Frank Matich aboard his dominant 1969 Australian Sportscar Championship winning Matich SR4 Repco ‘760’, 4-cam, 4-valve 5 litre V8 at Calder Raceway in 1969…

Clearly the Repco PR snapper was there on the day to capture proceedings, i’m not sure of the meeting date, the championship rounds that year were at Warwick Farm, Surfers Paradise and Sandown- the photo is after the Monaco GP high-wing ban, which as you will see in the article attached is the form in which the car raced early in the year. An awesome machine in every respect.

Nigel Tait, the restorer/owner/driver of the car and i did a long feature about this wonderful machine, click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2016/07/15/matich-sr4-repco-by-nigel-tait-and-mark-bisset/

(Repco)

Credits…

Repco Ltd

Tailpiece: Where is Meppa when I need him?…

Repco’s John Mepstead was seconded to Matich’s Sydney operation to look after the several-of-a-kind, DOHC, 32-valve, ‘760 Series’ Repco, circa 560bhp 4.8-5 litre V8’s which powered this machine.

SR4 was Matich’s proposed 1968 Can-Am contender- it ran way too late in its build so he raced it in Oz in 1969- it was like taking a sledge-hammer to crack a nut such was its local dominance!

Finito…

(N Stratton)

 

Kevin Loy’s Matich A51 ‘005’ Repco F5000 departing Oran Park in Vice-Regal style, 2 February 1975…

No standing on ceremony here, although its a you-beaut ANF1 car- the Formula 5000 machine is travelling in no more comfort than my Formula Vee and considerably less so than my old Lola T342 Formula Ford. And its off to Surfers Paradise, 850 kilometres away in the hands of Ian Douglass to whom it has just been sold.

I’ll bet Frank Matich, Derek Kneller and the boys looked after the thing much more nicely in the US- this chassis was new for the US L&M Series tour Team Matich undertook during 1973. It was FM’s primary weapon, A51 ‘006’ went along for the ride as the spare. Here is a story about Matich and his F5000 cars;

https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Matich A51 ‘005’ in the Mid Ohio paddock 1973 (T Capps)

 

Lella Lombardi in A51 ‘005’ during the 1974 AGP- car was overseen by Matich himself. Lella pushed Max Stewart, the winner very hard before oil pump failure ended a great run (HAGP)

In many ways this little baby would be ‘the’ F5000 Matich to own. It toured the US, was raced by Lella Lombardi at Sandown and Oran Park in 1974, and, sold to John Goss to keep A53 ‘007’ company, won the 1976 Sandown Park Australian Grand Prix modified to A53 spec.

Another shot of Lombardi, this time at Sandown Park’s Dandenong Road corner in 1974 (B Keys)

Later still French sportscar ace Henri Pescarolo raced it at Calder in 1977, so too did Jim Richards in its ‘period dotage’ in 1979.

A very nice jigger indeed, here looking a bit forlorn on an open trailer behind an XA Ford Falcon Wagon rent-a-rocket.

Still, the serious money should be spent on the car not the trailer…

Goss wins the 1976 AGP aboard his Matich A51/53 ‘005’ from Vern Schuppan’s Elfin MR8C Chev, Sandown Park (HAGP)

Credits…

Neil Stratton, oldracingcars.com, Terry Capps, Derek Kneller, ‘History of The AGP’ G Howard and ors, Bruce Keys

Tailpiece: A51 ‘005’ fitted with Repco V8 flat-plane ‘Shaker’ crank in the Watkins Glen pitlane 1973…

(D Kneller)

Finito…

It’s the end of the swinging-sixties- the Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and others ‘Pop Art’ phase is in full bloom…

It’s interesting to look at the graphic design and advertising imagery of the period which is wonderfully full of it, the style even extended to some stickers in Australia’s ‘Racing Car News’ magazine.

For the princely sum of 20 cents the six decals would be in your letterbox within the week, don’t you love the immediacy of snail-mail? The cheap giveaway was a time honoured technique in the pre-internet days of building a database of potential customers, oh for simpler times when identity fraud was rare rather than something to be mindful of in our daily online interactions.

The cars and drivers are all well known to Australian enthusiasts and include some of the stars of the day many of whom I have written about in whole or in passing.

The first image is Kevin Bartlett’s Alec Mildren Racing Mildren Waggott ‘Yellow Submarine’, a car first raced by Frank Gardner in the 1969 Tasman Series and then used by KB to win the Gold Star later that season. Click here for more; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/14/missed-it-by-that-much/

Frank Matich’s Matich SR4 Repco was built to contest the 1968 Can-Am series but ran hopelessly late so crucified local opposition in the 1969 Australian Sportscar Championship instead. Click here for a long feature on it;

https://primotipo.com/2016/07/15/matich-sr4-repco-by-nigel-tait-and-mark-bisset/

Whilst the Niel Allen sticker says McLaren M10B, the car depicted is the M4A he acquired at the end of the 1968 Tasman Series from Piers Courage. This piece on the ’68 South Pacific Trophy at Longford, won by Courage tells a bit about this car; https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

The final three cars featured are Pete Geoghegan’s Australian built Mustang above (as in built for racing), Norm Beechey’s Holden HK Monaro GTS 327 with Bob Jane’s Shelby constructed Mustang as the ‘Tailpiece’. All of these machines are covered in an article I wrote about the 1969 Australian Touring Car Championship won by Geoghegan. Here ’tis; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/01/1969-australian-touring-car-championship/

 

Credits…

Bob Williamson Collection

Tailpiece…

Finito…

image

Frank Matich, Brabham BT7A Climax tries to outbrake Bib Stillwell #6, Brabham BT4 Climax, December 1963…

Photographer John Ellacott upon posting this shot online described it as ‘the two great rivals on Hume Straight’…Matich braking down the outside on the run into the slow second gear ‘Creek Corner’. Frank’s car was brand new, just unpacked, it had only turned a wheel for the first time several days before the 1 December ‘Hordern Trophy’, the final round of that years Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship.

Frank’s car was fitted with 2.5 litre ‘Climax FPF, Bib’s older chassis had an ‘Indy’ 2.7- a fair duel, one guy with the edge in chassis perhaps and one with a bit more power?

Stillwell led from the start of the 34 lap race and then FM began to reel him in finally catching the Victorian on lap 20, the pair tangling in ‘The Esses’. The collision was enough to put Matich out of the race but Stillwell finished 4th, the race was won by John Youl in his Cooper T55 Climax 2.5 from David McKay’s ex-Brabham BT4.

frank and bib wf discussion

Frank left and Bib- looking very natty is his BRDC blazer and developing his listening and empathy skills by the look of it after the ‘Hordern Trophy’. Great rivals with a lot of respect for one anothers abilities (Sports Car World)

In the 1964 Tasman Series which followed the month after this race Youl was the most successful of the locals. Stillwell only contested three Australian races gaining a strong second in the AGP at Sandown whilst Matich was prodigiously fast but had woeful reliability, we shall pick up the Tasman shortly.

I described the rivalry between Frank and Bib in a post about the Stillwell Cooper Monaco.

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/10/bib-stillwell-cooper-t49-monaco-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1961/

It’s fair to say Stillwell, born 31 July 1927 took a while to mature as a driver. He started racing MG’s in the late 1940’s and as his motor dealerships became more successful throughout the 1950’s he acquired and raced some expensive, fast cars- D Type Jag and Maser 250F included. By the time he commenced racing Coopers he had well over 10 years of experience and was ready to take on anybody winning his first Gold Star in 1962 and the last in 1965- four on the trot.

Matich, born 25 January 1935 was a more precocious talent who first competed in an MG TC at Foley’s Hillclimb circa 1954 and raced seriously from later in the decade after selling his Austin Healey and purchasing the ex-Frank Gardner Jaguar XKC- he soon drove cars for Leaton Motors who employed him as Sales Manager. Bib was more the ‘silver spoon special’ born on the right side of the tracks and funded into his first dealership with family money. Mind you, whatever Bib started with he multiplied many times over, he was an extremely successful businessman in Australia and then became an executive of global calibre inclusive of being President of the Gates Learjet Corporation in the US.

Frank, the young pro, was cut from totally different cloth. He was educated at De La Salle College, Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west and was apprenticed as a fifteen year old Diesel Engineer at Sydney’s Kurnell Oil Refinery before progressing through Butlers Air Transport and in 1954 to Selected Sportscars where he first came into contact with the Englishman who owned the MG TC Frank prepared and both men raced.

FM’s ability and ‘gift of the gab’ attracted patrons and commercial support from very early on in his career, Matich too was shortly to do well out of the business of motor racing with Australian franchises for Firestone and later Goodyear racing tyres and Bell helmets apart from the sale of some of the Matich sports and F5000 cars he built.

Matich and Stillwell were intensely competitive, driven, successful men- they had far more in common i suspect than not, especially in terms of mindset and will to win.

The battles between the pair were absorbing, Matich very quickly got on the pace of the big 2.5 Climax Formula Libre cars (the 2.5 Tasman Formula started in 1964, Australia’s national F1 ‘ANF1’ was F Libre till then), having come out of powerful sportscars- Jags C and D Types, Lotus 15, 19, 19B and small bore single seaters- ‘works’ Elfin FJ Ford and Elfin Catalina Ford 1.5.

At the time these 2.5/2.7 litre F Libre/Tasman cars were the fastest road racing cars in the world, F1 having changed from a 2.5 to 1.5 litre formula from 1 January 1961. Given his experience it was not a surprise when Frank was on the pace straight away as he jumped out of his Lotus 19B sporty and into the new Brabham acquired with the French Oil Company, Total’s, support.

Well before the Tasman Series commenced in 1964, we had a strong International Series of races in Australasia in January/February, with enough of the best in the world to test the locals in equal cars Matich was more than a match for any of them. So was Bib on his day.

matich wf private practice brabham

Matich mounted up and ready for his first test of the naked BT7A, devoid of all signwriting and in ‘civvies’ at Warwick Farm the week before the ‘Hordern Trophy’ above. Brian Darby, at the rear, picked the car up from the Port Melbourne wharves the week before, Bruce Richardson is the other mechanic in shot. Note reinforced wide based top front wishbone and rubber mounted ball joint, inverted wishbone at the top and single lower link in the rear suspension. The later BT11A had the opposite rear set up- single top link and inverted lower wishbone (John Ellacott)

Matich was very quick in the Brabham throughout that ’64 Tasman Series and the short period in which he raced the BT7A, its interesting to look back at his time in the car.

The late 1963 pre-international events in New Zealand are covered in this article here;

https://primotipo.com/2017/09/08/bay-of-plenty-road-race-and-the-frank-matich-lotus-19s/

The first 1964 international was at Levin, which Frank missed, at Pukekohe, the NZ GP on 11 January, he ran strongly behind Brabham, McLaren, Tim Mayer and Hulme- he passed Mayer for third only to pop his engine on lap 26, McLaren won the race in a Cooper T70. After Puke he shipped the car home to Australia and re-joined the circus at Sandown on February 9. There he ran ahead of the locals before suffering crown wheel and pinion failure on lap 4.

At the Farm, Matich’s home turf, he started from pole, followed Jack away, then passed him but muffed his braking at Creek and ran off the road. Off to Queensland, at Lakeside, he was driving away from everybody before the engine let go- a Weber ingested a stone and the expensive motor went ka-boom on lap 8. After the long tow to Tasmania he finished third in the race won by Graham Hill’s BT4 and was first of the locals despite a misfire and a revolution amongst his mechanics who pushed the car onto the grid but left his employ after the race.

Ray Bell wrote that ‘He had a mixed bag of results in shorter races during the middle part of the year, taking a number of outright lap records, then came the Gold Star closing events. Lakeside…pole and the lead before an oil line came adrift; Mallala he didn’t turn up (Stillwell basically could not be beaten for the Gold Star by this stage) and he led the Hordern Trophy till half distance before yet another engine failure’.

The 1965 Tasman Series was won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 32B Climax, despite not contesting the four Kiwi rounds Matich was right on the pace at Warwick Farm, the first Australian round, starting from pole and leading to Creek corner, he then raced with Brabham behind Hill and Clark up front. ‘Both Hill and Matich had troubles in this race with cement dust getting into the steering, Hill spinning on the last lap because of it and failing to finish. Matich was third behind Clark and Brabham’s BT11A, Stillwell (BT11A) was thirty seconds behind him’ wrote Bell.

matich bt7a lakeside 1964

Matich in his ‘semi-nude’ BT7A in the hot 1964 Lakeside summer sun, puddle notwithstanding! He is trying to stay cool in the searing Queensland summer heat, lower side panels removed…shot shows the proximity of the aluminium side fuel tanks containing lots of Avgas…no rubber bag tanks prior to circa 1970 (Peter Mellor)

Down south at Sandown he ran just behind the internationals ahead of Stillwell only to retire with ignition failure- a rotor button on lap 10. During the AGP at Longford he pitted with suspension problems on lap 5 whilst best of the locals having run in sixth place. At Lakeside he contested the non-championship ‘Lakeside 99’ and made it a real race dicing with Clark on this high speed, demanding circuit for most of the race. ‘They traded places many times, but Matich did have a pitstop and lost some laps before rejoining the battle’. It was a race FM rated as one of his best.

Into the domestic season Stillwell won the Victorian Road Racing Championship Gold Star round in April after a couple of Matich spins, albeit FM was second despite a failing engine- and started from pole a half-second clear of Bib.

That was all the racing he ever did in that car. At Lakeside’s Gold Star round in late July, he crashed his Lotus 19B Climax- he took the sportscar to the meeting to test it in advance of the Australian Tourist Trophy which was held at the circuit later in the year, was burned and hospitalised and in the aftermath Total took the decision to cease their racing program and sold the cars and parts.

The story of the next phase of Frank Matich’s career in sportscars, initially with the Elfin 400 aka ‘Traco Olds’ is told in links within this article.

Frank Matich was one of Australia’s many F1 mighta-beens, to me the most likely to succeed of all, but with a young family and business ties in Oz it never happened despite offers being made to him on more than one occasion to go to Europe.

As noted, Matich didn’t race single seaters for long at this stage of his career- from 1963 to 1965, racing sports cars very successfully until 1969 when he came back to open wheelers with the advent of F5000- where he was a star as both a driver and constructor. Click here for an article on this phase of his career;

https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

It’s a shame he didn’t drive Tasman 2.5 cars throughout this golden-era of single-seater racing in Australasia, his battles against the internationals as well as the local hotshots in both Tasman races and domestic Gold Star competition would have been sensational, Matich mixing it with Bartlett, Martin, Geoghegan, Harvey and the rest would have added depth to Gold Star fields which were increasingly  ‘skinny’ as the decade wore on.

Stillwell retired at the end of 1965, he was certainly as quick as anybody on his day and arguably had not quite peaked when he did retire. No less an observer of the local scene than journalist/racer/Scuderia Veloce owner David Mckay believed that by 1965 Stillwell had reached F1 standard, not least for his ability to drive fast without mistakes or destroy the equipment.

brabhams longford 1965

Intercontinental Brabhams at Longford, AGP 1965. Stillwell’s dark blue #6 BT11A (6th), Matich BT7A (DNF) and Frank Gardner in Alec Mildrens yellow BT11A (8th), the race won by Bruce McLarens’ Cooper T79 from Brabhams’ BT11A (Kevin Drage)

The Intercontinental Brabhams…

brabham caversham bt4

The first of the Intercontinental Brabhams. Jack in BT4 ‘IC-1-62’ on its debut at the Australian Grand Prix, Caversham, WA on 18 November 1962. He retired after colliding with another car whilst lapping him, Bruce McLaren won in a Cooper T62 Climax (Milton McCutcheon)

When Jack started his climb to the top in Europe he returned and raced in Australia each summer, bringing a Cooper with him and racing it successfully, then selling the car to one of the locals before returning to Europe. It was a nice little earner and helped fund his way in Europe as he fought to gain a toehold in international competition.

Cooper sold a lot of cars in Australia, Jacks business brain was as sharp as his cockpit skills so it was natural that some of the earliest Brabham production racing cars were for Australasian Formula Libre and from 1964, the 2.5 Tasman Formula- which in effect meant cars built for Coventry Climax FPF ex-F1 engines- 2.5 litres but increasingly 2.7’s after Jacks successful Indy 500 run in 1961 in the Cooper T54 with its 2751cc FPF engine. The Tasman Formula mandated 2.5’s of course.

Soon Repco were making Climax parts and eventually building the engines in totality under licence in Australia. The bits were plentiful which was just as well as the level of competition was such that the long stroke donks were being pushed well beyond their limits with spectacular blow-ups fairly common.

stillwell lakeside 1963

Bib Stillwell in his BT4 Climax ‘Lakeside International’ 1963, 2.7 FPF powered. 3rd in the race won by John Surtees Lola Mk4A Climax 2.7 (Bruce Wells/The Roaring Season)

The first Intercontinental Brabham, i use that descriptor as that was the chassis prefix for each car (‘IC’), the design intended for the shortlived Intercontinental Formula created in response to the new 1.5 litre F1- was the BT4 based on the first Brabham GP machine, the 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FWMV V8 powered BT3.

The first Brabham, retrospectively referred to as ‘Brabham BT1’, was the MRD, an FJ machine first raced by Gavin Youl with the BT2 an evolution of the MRD/BT1. The Intercontinental cars which followed the BT4 were the BT7A in 1963 and BT11A in 1964, both F1 cars adapted for Climax FPF engines.

Some incredibly talented guys raced the ‘IC’ Brabhams- Internationals such as Brabham, Hulme, Gardner, Hill and Stewart as well as Australian champions including David McKay, Lex Davison, Stillwell, Matich, Spencer Martin, Kevin Bartlett, John Harvey, John McCormack and other drivers in New Zealand and South Africa.

hill and stillwell longford brabhams

Graham Hill ahead of Bib Stillwell, BT4 Climaxes, 1st and 4th. ‘South Pacific Trophy’, Longford March 1964. (Rod MacKenzie)

Jack Brabham won Australian Grands’ Prix in a BT4 and BT7A in 1963 and 1964 respectively. The cars won the Australian Drivers Championship, the ‘Gold Star’ for Stillwell in 1963 and 1964 aboard his BT4, in 1965 with a BT11A and for Spencer Martin, again BT11A mounted in 1966 and 1967.

bib stillwell wf 1965 bt11

Bib Stillwell in his final and successful Gold Star year 1965. BT11A at Warwick Farm. His final year of racing, he had a top year in the car at WF, finishing 4th in the Tasman race albeit behind Matichs’ BT7A in 3rd and 1st in the Hordern Trophy at the end of the year (John Partridge Collection)

The ‘Brabham IC Australian party’ ended in 1968 when Kevin Bartlett won the Gold Star in BT23D/1, a one off car built for Alec Mildren’s Team around Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 V8’s he secured to add a bit of Italian flavour to the local scene, Mildren was an Alfa Romeo dealer.

The Intercontinental cars were typically fast Tauranac designs of the period. They had rugged spaceframe chassis, suspension by upper and lower wishbones at the front with Armstrong shocks and coil springs. At the rear there was a single upper link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and coil spring damper units with adjustable sway bars fitted front and rear. With Jack doing all of the initial chassis setup work the cars were quick and chuckable ‘straight out of the box’.

Hewland HD5 gearboxes were used in the main (Colotti in the BT4) and rack and pinion steering completed the package with the cars clad in a slippery fibreglass body.

brabham bt 4 from rear

Bib Stillwells’ Brabham BT4 Lakeside February 1963. 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ 2751cc Coventry Climax FPF engine, 58mm Webers, Colotti T32 5 speed ‘box. Rear of the spaceframe chassis apparent. Suspension- inverted upper wishbone, single lower link and twin radius rods for location, coil spring damper units, no rear roll bar here. Stillwell’s cars famously immaculate in preparation and presentation (Peter Mellor/The Roaring Season)

After Repco’s 2.5 litre Tasman V8 engine made its debut in BT19, Jacks victorious 1966 F1 winning chassis, in 1966 the Tasman Brabhams were variants of the BT23 frame (BT23A and BT23E) with the exception of the very last BT31 for the 1969 series. See Rodway Wolfe’s article about BT31 which he owned for many years; https://primotipo.com/?s=brabham+bt31

Once the 1.5 litre F1 ended in 1965 BRM quickly realised a stretched variant of their P56 V8 in a P261 chassis would be a Tasman winner and ‘their endeth the locals’ in Climax engined cars taking on the Internationals similarly mounted on more or less equal terms.

The Repco Tasman V8’s provided a supply of competitive customer engines for locals so the Tasman Formula continued into 1970 with engines capable of matching the internationals when the ever expanding F1 season and more restrictive driver contracts made eight weeks in January/February in Australasia no longer a proposition for the best in the world. With it went a wonderful decade or so of intense but sporting summer global competition in our backyard.

Those Intercontinental Brabhams were gems though and gave both the international aces and local hot-shots very effective tools with which to strut their stuff, not least Messrs Stillwell and Matich…

matich longford grid 1964

The Matich BT7A being pushed onto the Tasman grid, Longford 1964. Steering is Graham Matich, looking down at the rear is Geoff Smedley. Matich finished 3rd, just in front of Stillwell, Graham Hill won the race in a BT4 (oldracephotos.com)

Tailpiece: Wanna buy a car matey, or a plane?…

bib and jack and bedford

Stillwell and Brabham, rivals and friends in the Longford paddock 1965. They are sitting on Bibs’ Bedford truck, BT11A up above…i doubt Jack sold anyone more cars over the years than he did Bib?! Bib put them to very good use mind you (Kevin Drage)

Frank Matich on dealing with ‘Wily’ Jack Brabham…

http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/halloffame/jack-brabham/frank-matich-on-jack-brabham/

Etcetera…

matich hordern trophy 1964

Matich in his BT7A contesting the ‘Hordern Trophy’ at Warwick Farm in 1964. DNF in the race won by Leo Geoghegan in a Lotus 32 Ford 1.5, a great win for Leo, he and his brother Sydney Lotus dealers, Leo graduated to the ex-Clark Lotus 39 Climax at the end of the 1966 Tasman series (John Ellacott)

matich bt7 longford 1965

The Matich BT7A sitting in the Longford paddock in 1965. DNF with suspension failure in the race won by McLarens’ Cooper T79 Climax. Rear suspension by this stage to BT11A spec (Kevin Drage)

matich magazine

Front page spread in ‘Australian Motor Sports’, no advertising allowed on racing cars in Australia in those days but the colors on the nose of Franks’ Brabham (Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus alongside) are those of ‘Total’ the French oil company who were prominent in Australia at the time, the spread no doubt a ‘cross promotion’ as the modern marketers would call it!

stillwell rcn

‘Racing Car News’ and Stillwell’s Gold Star win in 1964. Brabham BT4 Climax.

Photo and Other Credits…

John Ellacott, Milton McCutcheon, The Roaring Season/Peter Mellor/Bruce Wells, Kevin Drage, Rod MacKenzie, The Nostalgia Forum, Australian Motor Sports, Racing Car News

theroaringseason.com, oldracephotos.com, Ray Bell on The Nostalgia Forum

Tailpiece: Matich, Brabham BT7A, and Graham Hill, red BT11A and Clark, Lotus 32B, ‘Warwick Farm 100’ 1965…

(J Ellacott)

Finito…