Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Stephenson’

 

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(SLWA)

To keep a sponsor happy that is! Here it’s Perth racer Gordon Stephenson presenting the prizes to the winners of a department store lawnmower racing competition…

WTF you may well say?

Boans was an iconic department store in Western Australia for almost a century. Remember when every State or City had such emporiums of shopping pleasure for those so inclined?- Myer in Victoria, Grace Brothers in New South Wales, Malcolm Reid in South Australia and so on. Now the buildings may still exist but the companies have been absorbed into a small number of conglomerates over the last forty years. Boans were chomped up by the Myer Group in 1986.

A sign of the times, competition and change is the rise in online retailing in the last decade or so- at the time of writing, mid November 2017, Amazon have just launched in Australia. The potential impact has executives of our major local retailers soiling their under-garments with fear. And rightfully so. Change is the continuum.

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Stephenson showing the kids his Tasman Cooper T70 Climax, I wonder if he fired it up and did a lap or two of the Boans, Morley carpark!? Car taken to Perth by Don O’Sullivan who acquired it from Bill Patterson in Melbourne, Stephenson only raced it for 12 months (SLWA)

It seems that Boans organised a ‘cross-promotion’ to raise their profile, to flog a few lawnmowers and roll BP into the fun. Poor BP sponsored Gordon drew the short straw that day to display his car and hand out the prizes. The local media did the rest to maximise exposure.

FTD was awarded to the kid who pushed his mower ‘for Chrissakes pick a Victa two-stroke son it will be lighter than the four-stroke Scott-Bonnar’- across Boans, Morley store carpark the fastest. Morley is 10 Km from central Perth.

The Cooper is an interesting and significant car. It’s the Cooper T70 Climax FPF 2.5 raced by Bruce McLaren and Tim Mayer in the 1964 Tasman Series and then by ’61 World Champ, Phil Hill, mildly updated in the 1965 Tasman. It was purchased by Richard Berryman in the mid-seventies and was restored and is owned by his son Adam Berryman, a Melbourne mate of mine.

The history of the two T70’s car is covered in the two articles below rather than relate the history of one of the two ‘first McLarens’ built.

https://primotipo.com/2016/11/18/tim-mayer-what-might-have-been/

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/02/levin-international-new-zealand-1965/

Stephenson was a stalwart of WA racing for decades, mainly in Touring Cars. He had a busy season in 1968 racing both his ex-Alec Mildren Racing Alfa Romeo GTA and the Cooper in local circuit races at Caversham, having several wins in the T70, and hillclimbs at Mount Brown, York.

The story of the Mildren GTA’s is told here, inclusive of their extensive West Australian history;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/27/the-master-of-opposite-lock-kevin-bartlett-alfa-romeo-gta/

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Racers checkin’ out the opposition, helmets only required for the BP decal attached and related photo op! (SLWA)

Credits…

State Library of Western Australia, Terry Walkers Place

Tailpiece: Racin’…

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(SLWA)

 

 

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Mildren ‘LHD’ GTA, Kevin Bartlett, Lakeside, Queensland 1966 (John Stanley)

Kevin Bartlett explores and exploits the laws of physics in the Alec Mildren Racing Alfa Romeo GTA , Lakeside, Queensland, Australia, circa 1966…

Some years later American F5000 driver, Sam Posey competing in the Tasman Series and observing KB’s Lola  at close quarters described Bartlett as the ‘master of opposite lock’.

It was an aspect of his driving which worked for him and we spectators throughout his career regardless of car he drove ; sedans, sports cars or single seaters.

Alec Mildren Racing and Kevin Bartlett…

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Team Mildren Warwick Farm 1966, not 1967 i think…Big Professional Team 60’s Style! Cars are Mildren LHD GTA, TZ2 and  the Brabham BT2/6 Ford raced by Bartlett at that stage. WF Tasman Meeting 13 February 1966. (Allegerita)

AMR were one of Australia’s first professional teams, the basis of the team formed around a nucleus of talented people who fettled Alec Mildrens cars during his own single seater campaigns, he won the Australian Gold Star Championship and Australian Grand Prix in a Cooper Maserati in 1960.

Shortly thereafter Mildren retired from driving to concentrate on his business interests which primarily involved the retail car trade, he was the first dealer of Alfa Romeos in New South Wales, and his race team which employed great drivers including Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett and Max Stewart.

Mildrens’ passion was single-seaters but the team also raced Alfas, notably 2 GTA’s, TZ2 and later ‘105 Series’ Coupes of various capacities in ‘Series Production’ events as those grew in stature in the late 1960’s.

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Alec Mildren Racing and the laid back nature of the Tasman series circa 1967…Bartlett is sitting on the wheel of his Brabham BT11A Climax 2.5 Tasman car, the Alfa is the prototype TZ2 referred to in the B &W shot above. The smiley chap at right rear is a young Fred Gibson, then racing a Lotus Elan 26R. Circuit is Warwick Farm, New South Wales. (Peter Windsor)

Kevin Bartlett started racing in his mothers Morris Minor and very quickly the young mechanic made a name for himself as a fast driver with strong mechnical knowledge and sympathy.

By 1965 he was driving an Elfin Imp FJ owned by the McGuire family and an Austin Healey Sprite and TVR for others. He recalls that ‘Alec and Glenn Abbey (Mildrens Engineer/Mechanic) were always on the lookout for talent, Ralph Sach and Charles Smith who drove for them at the time were getting older and i performed well against them in cars with much less capacity. They also took into account that i could drive different types of cars and do as well as i could’.

‘ I got to race the Alfas’ and then the little Brabham BT2/6 which was powered by a pushrod Ford engine and in mid 1965 the Mildren Maserati, which was the first really powerful car i drove, racing it at Lowood and then winning the 1965 Victorian Sportscar Championship in it at Sandown’.

The Mildren Maserati was a car bulit by Bob Britton of Rennmax Engineering, essentially a Lotus 19 clone using some of the running gear from Alec Mildrens 1960 Gold Star Championship winning Cooper T51 Maserati, particularly the gearbox and 2.9 litre 250S Maser engine.

KB made his presence felt in that race beating Bib Stillwells’ Cooper Monaco Buick V8 and Spencer Martins’ ‘Scuderia Veloce’ Ferrari 250LM amongst others. He had well and truly ‘arrived’.

Mildren GTA’s…

There were two, first a LHD and later a RHD car, Bartlett drove both in their competitive ‘heyday’ and both ended up racing in WA…

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Bartlett in ‘LHD’ entering the Viaduct at Longford and leading Allan Moffats’ Lotus Cortina, 1966. (Ellis French)

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Bartlett at it again…Leger Corner , Warwick Farm 1966 ‘RHD’ Mildren GTA (autopics)

Autodelta…

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The Autodelta factory, Milan circa 1967, car is a GTA ‘Stradale’ or road spec GTA. (Pinterest)

The original ‘step front’ Alfa Giulia Sprint GT was penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone and has to be one of the most beautifully balanced, delicate designs of the 60’s.

Autodelta was the factory Alfa racing subsidiary, formed by famed ex-Ferrari engineer, Carlo Chiti and Ludovico Chizzola in 1963 after the closure of ATS, the Grand Prix team formed by ex-Ferrari staff after a purge by the Commendatore in 1961.

In 1964 Alfa acquired Autodelta and moved it to Milan, near its HQ.

The Giulia sedan was race developed and did well, in Australia winning the Sandown 6 Hour in 1964, but it was too heavy against the Lotus Cortinas so development started on the Giulia Sprint GT in 1964.

The GTA was built to compete in Sedan racing globally, ‘Group 2’ under FIA rules, which boomed in the 60’s. On 18 February 1965 the first Giulia Sprint GTA was unveiled at the Autosalon in Amsterdam.

It was followed by the GTA Junior 1300 in 1968 and later the 1750/2000 GTAm.

GTA 1600 Tipo ‘105.32’ Specifications…

The car featured lightweight bodies, utilising ‘Peraluman 25’ a light alloy comprising aluminium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc. The superstructure remained steel, including the sill panels. The roof, bonnet, boot lid, rear inner support panel and spare wheel well, dash, parcel shelf support panels and rear seat support were all made from the material.

Lightening continued with minimal sound deadening, Perspex side and rear windows on Corsa (race) cars, the GTA lost 205kg compared to the Giulia Sprint GT for a total of 820kg.

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Interior of Australian owned GTA ‘Stradale’

Alfa had to build 1000 cars to qualify for the FIA’s Group 2 Touring Car regulations, the Stradale (road) version helped, being built on Alfas normal, Arese production line. Race prepared cars were taken after completion at Arese, to Autodelta, exact specifications of each car built to the order of customers.

The cars engine was a twin-plug highly tuned version of Alfas famous DOHC engine. The head was ported and polished, higher compression pistons, high lift cams, lightened flywheel were fitted and all reciprocating parts were balanced,  increasing power to in excess of 175BHP. An oil cooler and deeper sump aided reliability.

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The engine/bay of the ‘RHD Mildren GTA’ as restored. Philip Island 2013. (Flickr)

A limited slip diff and ‘sliding block’ rear axle locating system was fitted. The standard 5 speed gearbox had a greater range of ratio choices, similarly the diff ratio was ‘to choice’ from homologated alternatives.

Front suspension was modified with adjustable top arms to allow negative camber to drivers choice.

The cars were immediately and immensely successful winning the first round of the European Touring Car Challenge in March 1966. Andrea De Adamich winning the Division 2 Drivers Title and Alfa the European Manufacturers title. In the US Jochen Rindt won the SCCA Trans American Sedan Championship race at Sebring, many championships throughout the world followed.

The GTAm won Alfa’s last championship for the ‘105’, the ETCC Manufacturers Championship in 1971, the cars competitive for a long time with ongoing development.

Arnaldo Tonti, Autodela mechanic attributed the success of the car in ‘Octane’ magazine to ‘… a perfect balance between a very good chassis, with a very low centre of gravity, and a very strong, powerful and reliable engine. The Autodelta sliding block for the rear suspension was a work of art lowering the car and making it quicker and more stable through the corners and giving its characteristic raised front wheel. The engines were capable of 6800/7000 RPM…’

In Australia Mildrens’ LHD car Landed in Mid 1965…

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Bruce Wells shot of Kevin Bartlett at Warwick Farm in 1966, in LHD Mildren GTA

The car was raced in the Sandown 6 Hour race in November 1965 by Alfa factory driver Roberto Businello and Ralph Sach, Businello testing the car at Balacco before it was shipped to Australia. It was a ‘trick’ GTA, very light having an aluminium floor which relatively few had.

It lead the race until lap 99, victory going to Bartlett and Gardner in the Mildren Giulia Super Ti which was also victorious the year before.

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Businello in the GTA, Sandown 6 Hour 1965 (cooper997collection)

Gardner and Bartlett then raced the car in supporting events during the 1966 Tasman Series, Gardner winning outright at Warwick Farm and Sandown and Bartlett first in class at Longford.

‘It was a pleasant car to drive, KB recalled recently. We ran the car at Bathurst, had a win there against Bob Janes’ Mustang on that power circuit. I preferred the LHD car (to the RHD car) as it had the right-hand change which was what i was most familiar with given the sports-car and single-seaters i was racing.

Their was not much difference in the performance of the two cars, although the LHD was a semi-works spec car.

We could knock off the big cars at Warwick Farm but it was much harder at Sandown and the like’.

‘The under 1600cc closest competitors to the GTA were the Mini Coopers who were giving away capacity to us, they were great handling and very quick with the right guys such as Brian Foley and Peter Manton at the wheel’.

‘The LHD was sold as it was getting a little long in the tooth in terms of miles, Alec sold it to a guy named Stephenson in WA’.

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Kevin Bartlett coming off Long Bridge, Tasman meeting, Longford, Tasmania in early 1966 (Ellis French)

Used mainly in State level events the car also contested the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1966, in those days a one race championship. In 1966 the event was held at the Easter Bathurst meeting Bartlett doing well to finish third to the big V8’s of Pete Geoghegan and Norm Beechey in Ford Mustang and Chevy Nova respectively.

The race was run over 20 laps or 75 miles of Mount Panorama, what the GTA lacked in top speed up and down the mountain was largely made up across the top and under brakes.

KB was victorious at Warwick Farm in May and that month also won the Queensland Production Touring Car Cahmpionship at Surfers Paradise. He also took a race win at Lowood, Queensland in June before  the car was sold to Frank Cecchele, a Perth Alfa dealer and raced for him by Gordon Stephenson. It was rolled at Caversham in 1967.

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Wonderful, evocative Caversham shot by Paul Boxsell in 1968. Stephenson in the ‘LHD Mildren GTA’, gridding up with Kitz Kohout and Jeff Dunkerton in Porsche 911S and Mini Cooper S respectively, the rest of the field moving forward out of shot. This was the last year for Caversham. (Paul Boxsell)

‘LHD’ competed regularly in WA state events and the annual 6 Hour race held at Caversham ; ’67 DNF Stephenson, ’68 DNF Stephenson, and at Wanneroo Park ’69 DNF Stephenson/ Cooper,  ’70 7th Ricciardello/Zampatti, ’71 DNF and finally in 1972 4 th outright and 1st in the ‘1600’ class for Ricciardello/Cooper.

The car was all but destroyed at Mt Brown Hillclimb and from the remains Ricciardello built a V8 engined Sports sedan, initially Ford 302 and later Chev 350 powered, Cooper buying the ‘RHD Mildren Alfa’, which he later owned in partnership with Ricciardello.

Current ownership is unknown.

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‘LHD’ , 1966 at Mount Brown Hillclimb out of York where it was in later years all but written off, this was the end of the car in its original form (Allegerita)

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LHD at Caversham in 1967 when raced by Gordon Stephenson (Allegerita)

The Mildren RHD GTA, Chassis # 752 561…

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Brian Foleys’ Cooper S chasing Frank Gardners’ new ‘RHD Mildren GTA’ at Warwick Farm in early 1967…Foley acquired the car 6 years later. This shot a wonderful example of oversteer and understeer respectively! (Bruce Wells)

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RHD in the Surfers Paradise 12 Hours 1967. DNF, KB driving with Doug Chivas, KB has passed the Munyard/Crawford/Calvert Holden FJ!, at rear the winning Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM of Bill Brown/Greg Cusack approaches (Ray Bell)

The LHD chassis number is lost in the mists of time…RHD was built in July 1965 and first raced by Gardner at Warwick Farm in December 1966. He then raced the car in numerous supporting events for the 1967 Tasman Series, winning at Warwick Farm and Longford. Bartlett then took the car over and had wins at Bathurst and Surfers Paradise.

Bartlett again contested the one race 1967 ATCC, that year held at Lakeside, another power circuit, and whilst Pete Geoghegans Mustang won again, this time second and third places were secured by the Cooper S’ of Brian Foley and Peter Manton.

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Bartlett fourth in the 1967 ATCC held at Lakeside, Pete Geoghegan victorious in the one race event (Graham Howard History of the ATCC)

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‘Racing Car News’ Ad for the sale of the RHD GTA, March 1968 edition. The Brabham Intercontinental is a Brabham BT11A Climax…prices are right! (Racing Car News)

The car was sold to John French in Queensland in 1968 who raced the car and continued to develop it until bought by Brian Foley in 1972.

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Mildren RHD GTA further developed by John French in terms of wheel/tyres, roll bar, and engine (Unattributed)

Foley had raced an Alfa GTAm in 1971 in the ATCC , and in 1972 as a Sports Sedan, converted from LHD to RHD and fitted with an Alfa Tipo 33 2.5 litre V8, rather than the 2 litre, twin plug DOHC 4 cylinder engine of this factory GTAm.

The T33 V8 was from Mildrens Brabham and Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ single seaters raced by Gardner and Bartlett. I will write about the GTAm separately.

The GTAm was a ‘pork-chop’ compared with the GTA, as it lacked the earlier cars aluminium panels, it was around 200 Kg heavier.

Foley, a Sydney Alfa dealer reasoned a more competitive mount for 1973 would be a lightened and modified GTA , so off to Bowin Designs the car went for major surgery by John Joyce to its suspension, structure, brakes, engine mounting etc. When completed, the car powered by a 16 valve 2 litre Alfa engine developing 225BHP, weighed 636Kg.

See the Bowin Website for ‘P9’ the Foley GTA Project…

http://www.bowincars.org/mediawiki-1.6.12/index.php?title=%28P9%29

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Brian Foley in the RHD Mildren GTA now further developed and lightened by Bowin Designs and raced as a Sports Sedan in 1973. Its very easy to confuse this car with Foleys GTAm which raced in the same livery, and was converted from LHD to RHD when converted to Tipo 33 2.5 V8 in 1973…(autopics)

The car was fast, but V8’s were coming into the category in increasing numbers, so after a prang at Oran Park in late 1973 the car was sold to Peter Brown in Canberra. Foley essentially retired from racing after a fine career.

Brown, an Alfa racer from way back fitted a Mazda Rotary engine then sold the car to Neville Cooper in Western Australia, where all exotic Alfas’ seem to end up! The ‘LHD Mildren GTA’ having been damaged too much in race accidents to continue with it. A Ford V8 was fitted, the car was then sold to Peter Gillon who raced it for two years before being acquired by Ricciardello and Cooper in Partnership.

It was raced very successfully including a win by Cooper in the 1979 Wanneroo 300Km race, the car was always competitive in WA Sports Sedan competition during this period.

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Ultimately the much raced GTA was acquired by a Sydney enthusiast who had owned GTA’s before and was aware of the cars provenance, a long restoration followed, the car is now a regular entry in Historic events across Australia.

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For the Sake of Completeness…

It appears there were two other GTA’s which raced in Australia ‘in period’.

The ‘MW Motors GTA’ was raced by Syd Fisher and Frank Porter for MW who were the Victorian Alfa Distributor, sold to Mario Marasco, who raced the car as a Sports sedan and wrote it off at Hume Weir. It is presumed lost.

The ‘Gulson LHD GTA’ was restored from a ‘fire wreck’ in Western Australia.

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Frank Porter driving the MW Motors GTA at Sandown, Melbourne for a successful challenge on a 12 hour national record attempt in 1968 (Allegerita)

 


 

Etcetera…

 

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Copy of the first page of the long homologation papers for the GTA (Allegerita)

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Autodelta factory 1965, GTA’s and a Giulia Super Ti on ‘the line’.Completed cars were delivered from Alfa’s Arese production line and then modified to customer order. (Pinterest)

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Alfas’ test track Balacco, circa 1966. TZ2’s and GTA’s, drivers unknown…(Pinterest)

Etcetera ‘LHD’…

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Roberto Businello in Pit Straight Sandown Park November 1965. The car lead the Sandown 6 Hour for 2.5 hours, retiring at 99 laps (Allegerita)

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The start at Longford 1966. Pete Geoghegan Mustang, Bartlett in ‘LHD’ and Allan Moffat in the Lotus Cortina (Ellis French)

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‘LHD’ at Caversham, WA 1967 (Allegerita)

Etcetera ‘RHD’…

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Kevin Bartlett in ‘RHD’ , Warwick Farm 1966 (Roderick MacKenzie)

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‘RHD’ in Mildren ownership, the old Sandown Paddock circa 1967 (Flickr)

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John French to a large extent made his name in ‘RHD’, here at Lakeside early in his ownership in 1968 (Unattributed)

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John French in ‘RHD’ , Lakeside 1970, sandwiched by two Torana GTR XU1′ s, Dick Johnson in his formative Holden days! on the nearside. (Alfa Bulletin Board)

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Brian Foley in ‘RHD’, Oran Park 1973. This is post Bowin modifications, car has later single headlight ‘1.6 Junior’ front clip rather than early ‘Stepfront’. Very easy to confuse the car with the ex-Foley GTAm which by this stage was in Perth…(Dale Harvey)

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‘RHD’ in Neville Coopers hands, WA. (Wells/Neville Cooper)

 

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Special thanks…Kevin Bartlett

For his recollections of the two cars

Sources and Photo Credits…

The Nostalgia Forum, Alfa Bulletin Board, John Stanley, autopics, Bruce Wells Collection, The Roaring Season, Howard/Wilson ‘History of The ATCC’, peterwindsor.com, Paul Boxsell, Roderick MacKenzie, Neville Cooper Collection, Yen Yoshikawa cutaway, Dale Harvey, Ellis French, Ray Bell, ‘Allegerita’ by Tony Adriaensens

The End…