Posts Tagged ‘Jack Brabham’

(JJ Dallinger)

I’ve long been of the view that one needs to see a racing car in the context of its time to be able to appreciate just how much it sat at the apex of engineering achievement of its time…

So that’s where I am going here. Trying to anyway.

Stuff is sometimes meant to be ‘doncha reckon?

I was looking for racers in a favourite hidey hole and came upon this magnificent photograph of an S Class, Art Deco styled ‘Spirit of Progress’ near Albury on the Victoria/New South Wales border in the early 1950’s.

Then Paul Cummins sent some magic Talbot-Lago T26C shots taken at Southport in 1955- Ken Richardson in Rex Taylor’s car, I popped the shot up a month or so ago.

(Cummins Archive)

 

(L Hemer)

On the same day, in response to seeing the S Class shot I sent him, our photographer buddy, Lynton Hemer sent his shot taken of ‘a couple of NSWGR Garratts north of Gosford dragging coal to Newcastle’ in 1967.

I was really surprised to see steam locos in Australia then, I thought we were all-electric close to town and diesel otherwise by that stage. At the same time I was fiddling about with the image of Jack below aboard one of his Tasman 2.5 mounts- BT22 Repco in front of the Wigram Hangars in, you guessed it, 1967.

How modern do both cars, roughly twenty years apart in conception, look in the context of, or in camparison with the trains?

Steam was at the end of a two hundred or so year reign, not a bad effort really, whilst the internal combustion engine, in its most edgy, racey form, was in the middle years of its era which will surely be at an end in ten years or so.

Then again, maybe I just have my hand on it and am merely seeking an excuse to use a couple of great non-racing car shots…

Context is everything my friends.

(Brabham Family)

Mind you, if i’m a smart-arse and some of those with strong knowledge of my inclinations may well agree with such a characterisation, the technology deployed in Jack’s 1967 Brabham is about the same or better than that used in Australia for our interstate train services NOW- none of yer ‘very high speed’ trains here that we have all travelled on in France, Italy, Japan and China.

Even the Brits with their high population densities managed better than 100 mph on my short commuter trip from Bourne End to London last year, ditto the Spaniards from San Sebastian to Barcelona, don’t even think about 100 mph plus here folks, we are well and truly rooted in train technology that Stephenson fella could relate to…

The NSW Trainlink diesel-electric ‘XPT’ entered service in 1982, the design was based on a Brit Rail High Speed Train- the current Paxman Valenta VP185 12 cylinder six-turbo engines develop 2001 horsepower. The things can theoretically do 125 mph but the tracks don’t allow it, the most recent accident in February 2020 cost the train’s driver and pilot their lives (NSW TrainLink)

I’m a big cheat really.

In 1967 that whilst Jack was sitting aboard BT23A and the Garratts were plying their trade in New South Wales the Royal Australian Air Force Dassault Mirage III’s were flying in the skies above- all of a sudden Jack and Ron’s machine does not look so edgy at all, and doubtless some of the ‘American Aviation Heavy Metal’ of the time made the Mirage look like an ‘F2’ machine.

Again, context is everything my friends.

(HARS)

Etcetera…

The S Class were the first ‘Pacific Class’ locos on the Victorian Railways, renowned for their power and speed they did the ‘broad gauge’ Melbourne-Albury run of 190 miles where passengers changed to a New South Wales train running on ‘standard gauge’- adoption of ‘standard gauge’ between Melbourne and Sydney took place in April 1962.

For international readers, Australia was comprised of separate independent colonies until Federation as a country in 1901 so lots of crazy stuff happened, different railway lines/locos/trains across the great brown land being far from the most stupid of decisions.

Only four of these three-cylinder locos were built- fitted with long-range tenders they did the trip non-stop and ran up annual mileages double that of other loco classes used by the VR. Their size and axle load made them unsuitable for regular service other than the Spencer Street-Albury North Eastern line run so within six months of the introduction of new B Class Diesel loos in April 1954 the S Class were withdrawn and scrapped.

Such a shame!- the silver lining in the cloud was the lobbying of the Victorian Government to preserve remaining examples of VR steam locos- all of us Victorian kids have had a trip or two to the Railway Society Museum at Williamstown- ‘Heavy Harry-H220’ is forever etched in my childhood mind, opened in 1962.

The ‘Garratts’ are an AD60 Class Beyer-Garratt patent articulated four-cylinder heavy goods, steam train locos built by Beyer, Peacock and Co in Openshaw, Manchester for the NSW Government Railways.

The final NSW railways steam service was operated by one of these monsters on 22 February 1973- four of them were preserved, well done!

And the Mirage.

A3-42 is a Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation built (CAC built CA-29) IIIO(F) interceptor delivered on 1 August 1966 and served at Butterworth, Malaysia, then Williamtown, NSW before retirement from service in October 1987 with 4,015 hours on the airframe, it was then used for apprentice training at RAAF Wagga Wagga. All Mirages were retired in 1988 and replaced by the General Dynamics F/A-18 Hornet.

‘HARS’- Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Museum at Shellharbour Airport, Albion Park bought the aircraft in March 2015.

Credits…

John J Dallinger, Lynton Hemer, Brabham Family, Wikipedia, HARS, oldracingcars.com, Bob King, NSW TrainLink

Tailpiece…

(B King)

A couple of Bugatti T35B replicas at the Williamstown, Victoria Railway Museum in recent times- the blue Des Dillon and black Bob King machines.

Finito…

(Bonhams)

A couple of months ago, fifty years back Jack Brabham lost the Monaco Prix on the last corner of the last lap when he goofed his braking point for the Gasometer Hairpin- harried as he had been by Jochen Rindt who had been in ‘cruise and collect mode’ for a good percentage of the race until misfortune outted many of the dudes in front of him.

At that point, with a sniff of victory, he tigered in an amazing way- fastest bloke on the planet as he undoubtedly was at the time. Up front Jack’s comfortable cushion was whittled back by his former teammate aided and abetted by some unintended baulks by other drivers.

It is a well known story i have ventilated before, here; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/24/jochens-bt33-trumped-by-chunkys-72/ and here about Jack’s last season of racing; https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/

The two blokes alongside Jack in the shot above are his teammate Rolf Stommelen and on the outside the V12 Matra MS120 of Henri Pescarolo- Rolf did not qualify whilst Henri finished a splendid third, one of my most popular articles is a piece on the Matra here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/06/venetia-day-and-the-1970-matra-ms120/

Love those ‘knock on’ hubs- a carry over from BT25 perhaps? BT33 a sexy and very quick jigger which was still very competitive in Tim Schenken’s hands in 1971 (Official Brabham)

 

Nice look at Ron Taunanac’s second monocoque chassis, Jack aboard BT33 at Monaco, the first being the 1968-1969 BT25 Repco ‘760’ 4.2 V8 engined ‘Indycar’

I wouldn’t have bothered with another article on BT33 but a couple of these photographs popped up lately and are too good not to share. The other thing which intrigues me a bit are the ‘Jet Jackson’ United States Air Force fighter pilot type crash helmets Jack, Jackie Stewart and Piers Courage experimented with in the earlier months of 1970 during the Spanish, Monaco and Dutch Grand Prix weekends that year, and in other events the drivers contested.

We are only, at the start of the 1970 season, nearly three years down the path since David ‘Swede’ Savage first used the first ‘Bell Star’ in motor cycle competition in mid-1967. The design was a great step forward in driver safety, Jackie Stewart was a safely crusader as we all know, it’s interesting that he chose to trial these open style of helmets which on the face of it , pun intended, seems a retrograde step.

Jackie Stewart- who else could it be with his distinctively branded USAF helmet in early 1970. March 701 Ford (Getty)

 

Piers contemplating the next change to be made by Gianpaulo Dallara to his De Tomaso 505 during early 1970 (Getty)

Most sadly, Piers put his to the ultimate test, he was wearing it when he crashed to a most gruesome death at Zandvoort on 21 June 1970- in no sense am i suggesting a Bell Star would have saved his life I might add.

When he went off on the flat or nearly flat out curves at the back of the circuit and into the catch fencing his helmet was wrenched off with both Adam Cooper and Jackie Stewart writing that he was probably dead before the conflagration which susequently engulfed the De Tomaso 505 Ford.

After some basic research i cannot find who made these helmets, i am intrigued to know the answer to that question if any of you know it.

After Monaco Brabham and Stewart do not appear to have worn the helmets again in Grands Prix.

(B Cahier)

 

(unattributed)

Jack thinks about an inside run at Jackie during the March 1970 South African GP- Kyalami.

At this stage of the season, the first championship round of course, they are both Bell equipped- Stewart in a ‘Star’ and Brabham a ‘Magnum’- Jack won the race with the reigning World Champion back in third aboard a machine which was not one of his favourites but far from the worst GP car he ever drove.

Brabham used three helmet types that season, two Bells- a Magnum and Star plus the USAF fighter helmet.

He was a busy boy in 1970 running the full GP season, selected F2 races in a John Coombs owned Brabham BT30 Ford FVA and five or so endurance events with Matra, plus the odd one-offs, here he is jumping out of his MS650 during the 1000 Km of Brands Hatch in April still wearing the fighter helmet, but a slightly different one to that he used in Monte Carlo.

Car #3 is the Scueria Filipinetti Ferrari 512S raced to thirteenth place by Herbie Muller and Mike Parkes

 

Jack shared the car with Jean-Pierre Beltoise , the pair finished twelfth in the race won by the JW Automotive Porsche 917K raced by Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen, this being the race in which the Mexican Ace mesmerised the drenched crowd with his car control of the 450bhp machine as he flicked the big car frm lock to lock as though it was a nimble Formula Ford.

Wind the clock forward a month and Brabham had his last crack at Indianapolis in a Brabham BT32 Offy- this car was one of the BT25 Repco ‘760’ 4.2 V8 chassis modified by fitment of the turbo-charged four cylinder Offy motor- note the Bell Star in use at Indy.

This is during qualifying on 9 May, Jack was classified thirteenth from Q26, he retired with engine problems having completed 175 of the 200 laps, the race was won by Al Unser’s ‘Johnny Lightning Spl’ Colt Ford V8

Jack all ready to boogie with his Sunday best shoes on, no less. Same knock off hubs as the BT33 by the look of it

 

(Brabham Family)

 

(unattributed)

The Charade circuit just outside Clermont Ferrand was another French Grand Prix course which sorted the roosters from the feather dusters- I nearly made it there two years ago having first promised myself I would visit the place when falling for it with my nose buried in Automobile Year 18 in 1971. Drat.

Jack leads here from Jochen Rindt and Henri Pescarolo- Jochen won that day from Chris Amon and Jack with Henri fifth.

Brabham has his Bell Star on as does Henri but Jochen has swapped the full-race Star he used in 1970 more often than not for one of his old Magnums as the nature of the challenging course through the Auvergne-Rhone Alps countryside made him feel motion sickness which was solved with a change of helmet

Jochen was wearing a Bell Star on that fateful day at Monza in September but the crutch-straps of his Willans six-pointer were not items the great Austrian used- on that particular day in that particular accident he needed them badly, and divine intervention.

(Flickr)

‘It turns in ok but as I apply throttle…’ two great mates doing wonderful things together discussing the next chassis change at Zandvoort in 1970- Frank Williams and Piers Courage, note the helmet.

The car was not too flash at all in Kyalami but with each race Courage, the car’s designer Gianpaulo Dallara and Williams were improving it- expectations of both Williams and Courage were high for 1970 as the second-hand Brabham BT26 Ford they raced in 1969 had proved Piers’ place was right up front.

At Zandvoort Courage was running seventh from Q9 ahead of John Miles in a works Lotus 72 (below) when the accident occurred on lap 23- there was not enough of the wreck intact to determine whether the cause was cockpit/component/tyre.

(Twitter)

Pretty enough car which was progressively ‘getting there’, that oil cooler locale is sub-optimal, some revs lost perhaps in top speed. Dallara did get the hang of this racing car thing didn’t he?

In Australasia we had three visits from Piers and Sally Courage aka Lady Curzon, Earl Howe’s daughter, the couple and Piers pace and personality endearing them to all.

In 1967 the #1 BRM Tasman P261 2.1 V8 seat was occupied by Jackie Stewart (apart from Teretonga) with Richard Attwood, Courage and Chris Irwin sharing the second seat, the seasoned Attwood performing best.

In fact that year was a character building one for the Courage Brewing scion, it was said he was ‘over driving’ and despite John Coombs supposedly advising he get out before he killed himself the plucky Brit bought the McLaren M4A Ford FVA he had raced for Coombs that season and headed off south with a couple of FVAs funded by savings, some sponsorship from Courage, a loan from his father and a deal with Coombs which deferred payment for the car until the end of the series.

He had a brilliant 1968 summer with the Les Sheppard prepared 205 bhp car amongst the 2.5s, demonstrating all the speed which had been always apparent but with a much bigger dose of good judgement in the series of eight races over just as many weekends. He blotted his copybook at Pukekohe on the first day of practice but after Les ‘read the riot act’ his performances were very good to brilliant.

Teretonga 1967, BRM P261 2.1 V8, DNF engine after 53 laps- Clark won in his Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre from Attwood in the other BRM  (Ian Peak Collection)

 

Piers third and Chris Amon fourth with a deeply appreciative and enthusiastic Warwick Farm crowd at the end of the 1968 Warwick Farm 100- McLaren M4A Ford FVA and Ferrari 246T. Up front were the Team Lotus duo of Clark and Hill in Lotus 49 Ford DFWs (B Thomas)

 

Teretonga 1969- Derek Bell, Ferrari 246T from Graham Hill, Lotus 49B Ford DFW and Piers, Brabham BT24 Ford DFW. Piers took a splendid win that day from Hill and Amon (Steve Twist Collection)

Whilst fun in the sun is part of Tasman lore- and fact, there was plenty of pressure on a small equipe such as the Courage outfit to prepare the equipment and race it weekly, for the most part on unfamiliar circuits all of which were well known to his main competition- Clark, Hulme, Gardner, Hill to name a few.

His season ending win at Longford is still spoken about in reverential tones by those who were there- it literally pissed down with Piers legendary bravery coupled with a deftness of touch on one of the most daunting road circuits by then still in use in the world- whilst noting it was sadly the last time the circuit was used too.

In many ways the campaign ‘re-launched’ his career. Adam Cooper wrote ‘Thanks to the extensive press coverage his exploits received, Piers’ reputation was in better shape than he could have predicted. He was a failure (not entirely fair in that he was fourth in the 1967 European F2 Championship behind Ickx, Gardner and Beltoise despite pinging off too many bits of real estate) who had made himself into a hero. Those who had paid closer attention noted that his solo campaign also reflected an incredible determination and a hitherto unrecognised ability to organise. Even before Longford he’d been approached by Tim Parnell about renewing his relationship with BRM. Tim had seen the Courage revival at first hand, and was impressed.’

Back in at Slough Frank Williams was readying the Brabham BT23C FVA for the 1968 Euro F2 Championship, in addition he had his BRM ride and a personal retainer with Dunlop, he was away…

Rather than prattle on now about his Tasman exploits lets do ‘Piers in The Pacific’ soon- his Tasman Cup runs in 1967-1969 in BRM P261, McLaren M4A Ford FVA and Brabham BT24 Ford DFW respectively.

Bell Star…

Dan, Nurburgring 1968 as seen by (P-H Cahier)

 

There was no shortage of interest in Dan Gurney’s fancy-schmancy new Bell Star over the German Grand Prix weekend at the Nurburgring over the 4 August 1968 weekend, understandably so- mind you, he used the helmet at Indy that year too- May of course so it was already’out there’.

Dan was ninth in his Eagle Mk1 Weslake, doubtless his head was a bit more dry than the competition- up front it was Stewart from Hill and Rindt, Matra MS10 Ford, Lotus 49B Ford and Brabham BT26 Repco in a day of challenging rain.

But the first Bell Star use credit seems to go to David ‘Swede’ Savage in his motor cycle racing days, here is below at Santa Fe in 1967 so equipped- 9 June to be precise.

Perhaps the first life saved by the technology was that of Evel Knievel who came terribly unstuck upon landing when attempting a motorcycle jump over the Caesar’s Palace Casino Las Vegas fountains (43 metres) that 31 December, breaking and crushing countless of his bodies bones- but not his head!

If Swede’s 9 June use of the Bell Star is not ‘the first’ i am intrigued to know who has that honour and its date.

(Forever Savage)

 

(Forever Savage)

 

It was a pretty happy month of May for All American Racers when three Eagles filled the top four places of the Memorial Day classic, Bobby Unser won from Dan Gurney (above) with Denny Hulme fourth, the interloper was Mel Kenyon’s third placed Gebhardt Offy.

Of historic interest to we Eagle buffs is that the three Tony Southgate designed Eagle Mk4’s were powered by quite different engines- Unser’s used an Offy Turbo four, whilst Dan used a pushrod fuel injected Gurney-Weslake V8 whereas Denny in the other works car used the Ford DOHC ‘Indy’ V8- the options were certainly well covered, were it not for a rear tyre puncture minutes from the end of the race which befell Hulme, it would have been a clean sweep of ‘the podium’ placings.

Oh yes- Dan’s Bell Star, first use of the helmet in car racing.

Photo and Reference Credits…

Official Brabham/Brabham Family Collection , Automobilsport, MotorSport, LAT, ‘Piers Courage: Last of The Gentleman Racers’ Adam Cooper, ‘Forever Savage’ Facebook page, Ian Peak and Steve Twist Collections on The Roaring Season

Tailpiece…

(LAT)

Another one that got away.

Brabham exits Druids Hill with millimetre precision during the 1970 British Grand Prix- he had passed and was driving away from Jochen to what seemed a certain win but for a shortage of fuel hundreds of metres short of the chequered flag. Oh yes, Bell Star equipped.

Finito…

 

(J Langdon)

Appendix J tustle into Mountford Corner circa 1964- Alan Robertson’s Peugeot 203 dives under an FJ Holden, the finish line is only 500 metres away, perhaps this is a last lap lunge…

It’s a corker of a shot.

‘Longford 2’, who is he kidding, Longford 10 you may well reasonably say!

Everything in motor racing in moderation my friends, unless it comes to Lola, Lotus, Elfin, Rennmax, Bowin, Birrana or anything to do with Repco-Brabham, Alec Mildren Racing, Scuderia Veloce or Equipe Matich, Warwick Farm and most of all Longford where the rules of moderation simply don’t apply- just suck it up ok!?

Apart from my Longford fascination, Tasmania is one of my favourite states, on top of that I seem to be in a Covid 19 induced sixties nostalgia zone at present so I’ve mixed in some period Tassie snaps of interest- to me at least.

The wonderful racing photographs are by Lia Middleton’s mum, the ladies name would be great to know if someone can provide it, and Jim Langdon. Here we go with this Tasmanian assemblage.

(J Langdon)

Jack Brabham whistles into Mountford, Brabham BT7A Climax, South Pacific Trophy 1964…

Graham Hill won the race in the Scuderia Veloce BT4 from Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T70 and Frank Matich aboard another Brabham, this time a BT7A, all Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF powered.

Jack had differential failure during lap 22, all was not lost with his customer cars showing so well. Click here for a piece on the Intercontinental Brabhams; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/20/matich-stillwell-brabhams-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1963/

(Middleton Family)

Things must be going mighty goodly as Roy Billington even has time to laugh at one of Jack’s one-liners- Longford paddock with the Hewland HDS or is it HD5? and Coventry Climax FPF laid bare. This second in a series of three ‘Intercontinental Brabhams were very successful cars.

Brabham always had time for the punters didn’t he!? A smile rather than the death-ray stare of some others- a Pro our Jack.

(Middleton Family)

 

(C Raine)

I wonder if it was cheaper to travel by TAA Vickers Viscount or the Princess of Tasmania?

These days the plane is the ‘no brainer’ in terms of cost and convenience compared with the overnight ferry from Port Melbourne to Devonport but it may not always have been so, I wonder what the relative cost was.

The plane on the tarmac at Launceston.

(Middleton Family)

All the fun of the fair!

What a brilliant shot, doesn’t Mrs Middleton capture the mood of the meeting? Technically she has framed and cropped the shot beautifully. I wonder what year this Pit Straight bridge went in?
The shot below gives us a read in part on Don Gorringe’s business interests which funded his involvement and support of motor racing.

 

(Middleton Family)

1968 South Pacific Trophy field race in the dry, so it’s the preliminary ‘Examiner Scratch Race, contested over 12 laps, it rained cats and dogs on the Labour Day Monday public holiday.

The shot above is from towards the rear of the pack diving into the Viaduct- the two BRMs of Pedro Rodriguez and Richard Attwood, I can’t differentiate between the two, then the yellow Mildren Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo of Frank Gardner on the outside, to FG’s left is his teammate Kevin Bartlett, Brabham BT11A Climax with the red/maroon car at the head of this pack, Piers Courage, winner of the very last Longford Tasman Cup event in his McLaren M4A Ford FVA.

In a short race of attrition, Graham Hill won from Jim Clark, both in Lotus 49 Ford DFWs and Frank Gardner’s Brabham Alfa- Clarkset a lap record of 2:14.7 during the race but this time was battered by Chris Amon in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari Can-Am 350 which did a 2:12.6- Chris’ best was 10 seconds a lap better than second place man Ian Cook in Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 Repco 4.4 V8- Amon’s Ferrari was famously timed at 182mph on ‘The Flying Mile’.

Longford 1968 is here; https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/ and the Clark, Hill and Amon cars here; https://primotipo.com/2019/11/05/clark-hill-amon-longford-1968/

(R Macfie)

The truck is heading in race direction towards Mountford Gate, Viaduct, I wonder what year this shot was taken?

(Middleton Family)

Local Longford racing club chief and landowner Ron McKinnon gives Jack Brabham and the race winner, Bruce McLaren a lift after conclusion of the 1965 Australian Grand Prix- McLaren drove a Cooper T79 Climax whilst Jack was aboard a BT11A and Ron an MGA. 1965 AGP here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/27/longford-1965/

(D Febey)

No Australian kid’s summer holidays was complete without a holiday at the beach or in the local pool- you really were ‘posh’ if yer folks had a pool back then.

Just looking at this brings back so many memories, not the least of which was the difficulty of executing a ten outta ten dive whilst not landing on top of some schmo in the process- this is the pool at The Bluff in Devonport.

(Middleton Family)

Graham Hill looking a bit more earnest and focused than Jack in a similar car- a Repco Brabham BT4 Climax owned by David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce.

That’s him in the cap on the right with Bob Atkin and another fella pushing- Hill’s focus was rewarded, he won the 1964 South Pacific Trophy as mentioned earlier. Brabham BT4 here; https://primotipo.com/2016/10/16/point-of-sale/

Kings Pier, Port of Hobart in the mid-sixties. Salamanca Place and the Port is these days a wonderful place to stroll around and dine whilst still a working port (R MacFie)

 

Scuderia Veloce again, this time the great Spencer Martin kicking the tail of the Ferrari 250LM about with gay abandon in 1965, it’s one of the machines very first meetings- the exit of Mountford Corner with a very appreciative crowd.

These cars, production sports-racing Ferrari won Le Mans in 1965 after the top gun Ford GT40, Mk2 and Ferrari P2s dropped by the wayside, Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory raced the winning NART entry.

The 3.3 litre 250LM V12s were notoriously driver friendly, forgiving machines which contested Le Mans as late as 1969, perhaps even 1970, I’m too lazy to check. Click here for a piece on the 250LM; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

(M Stephens)

 

(M Stephens)

I blew my tiny mind upon seeing these photographs of Minuet Stephens- they pinged ‘Queenstown’ in my mind but some of you Tassies can set me straight if I have that wrong, it’s only two years since the last time I swung through, it’s circa 1963 given other shots in this collection.

Isn’t ‘the rig’ amazing, what make and model is the home built caravan’s tow car or truck? The wow factor was succeeded by memories of long interstate trips Australian style before dual-lane highways became common in the eighties- Melbourne to Sydney then, about 500 miles now, was ‘a lot longer then’ on the Hume Highway as yer Dad’s 186cid HK Kingswood wagon was stuck behind outfits like this one and semi-trailers which did not gobble up the road as they do now. ‘How much further Dad?!’ every thirty minutes,  its a wonder he didn’t strangle the three of us really.

I imagine on the relatively quiet roads of the Apple Isle this kind of touring would have been very pleasant indeed.

(J Langdon)

 

(J Langdon)

Bib Stillwell turns in for Mountford with Pit Straight, the Control Tower and Water Tower in the distance- Brabham BT4 Climax in 1964.

By this stage the ‘late blooming’ Melbourne car and aviation businessman had been a front-runner for a halfa decade, in fact he won his third Gold Star on the trot in this chassis that year, having won it in ‘IC-3-62’ as well in 1963.

A quick glance suggested BT11A to me- the airbox led me there but tell tales of BT4 are the external radiator pipe- it looks like a pinstripe and the location of the top front wishbone rear pickup.

The Aston Martin DB5 is rather nice too.

(J Buddle)

Groometals scrap metal warehouse and lead smelting establishment on the corner of Harrington and Warwick Streets Hobart and looking very much in 1998 just before its demolition, as it did in 1965.

The nostalgic observation here is that so many of our inner urban main arteries looked like this until these streets filled with restaurants and retail outlets instead of small business ‘workshops’ as the inner suburbs became places many of us wanted to live.

I gave my Formula Vee a birthday at the end of 1979- amongst other things the suspension was nickel plated and chassis sand-blasted and then stove-enameled in two different ‘shops in Bridge Road, Richmond which these days is all restaurants and retail outlets- many with ‘to lease’ signs reflecting the decade old on-line retail revolution and of course forty-five thousand coffee shops. Still it was forty years ago, so some change should be anticipated I guess!

(Middleton Family)

Look at that crowd on Pit Straight.

Look very carefully to the left and you can just see a couple of jousting Scots- Jim Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax is just in front of South Pacific Trophy winner, Jackie Stewart in a BRM P261 1.9 litre V8.

Jackie won the race and the series in 1966- see here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/19/jackies-66-longford/

In the shot below Arnold Glass has neatly popped the nose of his ANF1.5 Lotus 27 Ford twin-cam into the Mountford haybales during the 1964 meeting- hopefully no great damage has been done in ‘The Mercury’ 10 lapper for racing cars.

It was a small but classy entry of one and a halves- Frank Gardner, David Walker and Greg Cusack were in Brabham Fords whilst Mel McEwin was aboard an Elfin Catalina Ford. Jack Brabham won from Bib Stillwell and John Youl with Greg Cusack the best of the 1.5s. See articles on Arnold and ANF1.5 here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/13/anf-1-5-litre/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/

(J Langdon)

Below is the business end of the monocoque Lotus 27 which very much apes the F1 Lotus 33 in basic specifications- chassis, suspension whilst noting the 1.5 litre FWMV V8 gave circa 210bhp whereas this 1.5 litre Cosworth built Lotus-Ford four cylinder engine gave circa 125bhp. Hewland gearbox of course, lovely Ron Lambert shot in the Longford paddock, the cockpit/nosepiece is off the car, perhaps being repaired…

(R Lambert)

 

The lighthouse supply ship SS Cape York off Maatsuyker Island on Tasmania’s southwest coast, mid-sixties (Nat Arc Oz)

 

(Middleton Family)

 

(Middleton Family)

A couple more shots on the approach and downhill plunge to The Viaduct.

The touring car experts can probably date the event- two EH Holdens chasing a trio of Morris Coopers- Barrett, Smith, Bromfield, Boot and Evan Thomas are the tips of racers Danny Newland and Barry Cassidy- as to the single seater race, who knows?

(M Stephens)

‘You muck around like a pack of old chooks at a Christening’ was one of my Dad’s sayings!

This group of ladies reminds me of my grandmother and her four sisters frocking up, hats and all for a family ceremonial occasion- like a Christening!

It reminds me how ‘white’ we all were too- Gough Whitlam finally repealed the ‘White Australia Policy’ in 1973 for chrissakes- Asian immigration was negligible until President Ford rang Malcolm Fraser and said ‘you pricks helped us create the mess in Vietnam so you malakas have to help mop it up’ or diplomatic weasel words to that effect anyway.

So now we have a wonderful, mainly harmonious multi-cultural mix rather than the mono-cultural Anglo society reflected in the scene of matrons above.

(Middleton Family)

Montford Corner again with a gorgeous Elfin Streamliner confronting a big special- wotizzit?

Huge crowd again, year uncertain.

( Middleton Family)

Ron McKinnon again this time aboard a Datsun Fairlady- his passengers appear to be Bruce McLaren and Graham Hill, so first and second in the 1964 Sou-Pac Trophy.

Never drove a Fairlady but did have a drive of its big-brother Datsun 2000 and couldn’t believe how much better a car it was than the MGBs i was looking at at the time.

(Libraries Tasmania)

 

(Libraries Tasmania)

I sorta missed the whole steam engined thing- Puffing Billy excepted, ten years older and it would have been front and centre for me in a way that it no doubt was for many of you.

These eight H Class locos are sitting aboard the ship ‘Belpareil’ at the Hobart docks, I cheated with the decade though, it’s October 1951. I wonder who the manufacturer was/is?, wonderfully five of these trains still exist.

(Middleton Family)

It’s rotating so hopefully the driver of the Humpy Holden missed the Mountford trees, the physics of it all is working in his favour I think. Who is it?

(Middleton Family)

The wonderful thing about Longford is that for every international who raced there the bulk of the weekends entertainment was provided by local/national drivers who got to play on one of the greatest, most challenging and dangerous road racing tracks in the world, as our Sprite friend, Chris Tapping is doing just here.

(C Broadfield Collection)

The gent in the hat does not seem phased at all by the sight of the yacht ‘Heemskerk’ being shifted by road from Sandy Bay, where it was built to the Hobart Port closeby where the owner Edney Medhurst launched the sleek hulled craft in 1953.

Credits…

Jim Langdon, Chris Raine Family, Lia Middleton Family, Rob MacFie, Daryn Febey, Minuet Stephens, Jeremy Buddle, National Archives of Australia, Libraries Tasmania, Craig Broadfield Collection, Ron Lambert

Tailpiece…

(M Stephens)

Another Queenstown shot i think, the most recent car is an EJ Holden so let’s date the queue of cars on the steam train as being circa 1963.

Finito…

Jack Brabham’s tiny Cooper T41 Climax takes on the big Ferrari 555 Super Squalo’s of Peter Whitehead #5 and Reg Parnell #4- to the right is Syd Jensen in another T41, Ardmore, New Zealand Grand Prix 1957…

Jack’s ‘slingshot’ didn’t topple the big guys that weekend but Stirling Moss ‘put the writing on the wall’ with his Argentinian GP Cooper win twelve months hence and by 1959 it was all over-red rover for the big front-engined glorious Grand Prix cars.

Brabham built this car at Coopers late in 1956 racing racing it twice in the UK before shipment to Australia- in the 22 September Oulton Park Gold Cup, DNF, the race won by teammate, Roy Salvadori’s T41, and then the BRSCC F2 race at Brands Hatch on October 14 where he again failed to finish with piston failure, again a T41 headed the field, Tony Brooks was at the wheel of Rob Walker’s car.

Off to the Antipodes he contested the NZ Internationals, the AGP at Caversham in March, and then the Victorian Trophy at Albert Park the following weekend- he then returned to Europe at the end of the summer having sold the car to Alec Mildren.

T41 chassis number ‘F2/P/56′ was fitted with a 1476cc Coventry Climax FWB sohc, two valve engine which gave circa 100 bhp @ 6500 rpm- it was a trend-setter in that it was the first of many, very many Climax engined Coopers to come to Australia. The design and construction progression of these Coopers (T41-T53) is covered in detail here; https://primotipo.com/2019/10/04/cooper-t41-43-45-51-53/

Despite giving away 2 litres in engine capacity to the Ferraris, Brabham was third at Ardmore until lap 100 of the 120 lap race when his engine temperature soared and he retired with a burst radiator hose which had fried the Climax engines cylinder head gasket- Parnell won from Whitehead and Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F.

Brabham was Q3 and second at Wigram behind Whitehead, started from pole in the Dunedin Road Race this time finishing second to Parnell and then retired after completing 9 laps of the wild Southland Road Race at Ryal Bush where Peter Whitehead again prevailed.

Brabham at Oulton Park during the Gold Cup weekend, Cooper T41 Climax FWB (MotorSport)

 

Brabham during the 1957 AGP at Caversham in March 1957- behind him is the Fred Coxon driven Amilcar Holden Spl DNF (K Devine)

 

Caversham AGP start 1957- Brabham, Cooper T41 Climax, Davison, Ferrari 500/625, Lukey, Cooper T23 Bristol and Jones Maserati 250F. Car #12 Syd Anderson, Alta GP2, #14 Syd Taylor, TS GMC Special, #8 Tom Hawkes, Cooper T23 Holden- behind him is Tom Sulman’s Aston Martin DB3S, #6 Alec Mildren, Cooper T20 Bristol and #5 Jack Myers, Cooper T20 Holden (K Devine)

Off to Perth for the 4 March AGP Jack was third in the scorching hot event behind the 3 litre Ferrari 500/625 of Lex Davison and Bill Patterson and Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F which did that event with its 300S motor.

Then it was back across the continent for the Moomba meeting at Albert Park where the little car contested the 32 lap 100 mile Victorian Trophy Gold Star round finishing second behind Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 and in front of Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S.

Jack then returned to Europe but not before, Graham Howard wrote, driving Ron Tauranac’s new Ralt Vincent at Mount Druitt- i wonder who has a shot of that test day?

Alec Mildren raced the T41 only briefly ‘finding that the chassis kept breaking due to it being too light’ John Blanden wrote- in short order the car was owned and raced by Arthur Griffiths and John Roxburgh before passing to Lyn Archer in Tasmania who raced it very successfully, ultimately with a highly modified Hillman Imp engine, he sold it to buy an Elfin Catalina Ford, a machine he raced for years and is still owned by his family.

The T41 passed through many hands in the decades which followed before Tom Roberts acquired it with David Rapley heading up the restoration of the car, which made its debut at the 2003 Albert Park AGP.

Etcetera…

Australian colours aren’t they?- green with the gold nose, lovely profile shot by racer/photographer David Van Dal at Caversham, ditto below in the paddock.

 

(K Devine)

 

Jack aboard a Cooper T43 Climax FPF 1.5 at Brands Hatch, 8 August weekend 1957, he won both heats of the Rochester Trophy F2 event (unattributed)

Credits…

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, ‘Glory Days: Albert Park 1953-58’ Barry Green, ‘Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, sergent.com, Ken Devine Collection, David Van Dal, MotorSport, F2 Index

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

Lets go back to where we started, Ardmore 1957, and another cracker of a shot, this time just after the start.

Up front it’s all Ferraris- Ron Roycroft’s 375 V12 from the two four cylinder Super Squalos of Whitehead and Parnell. Then out wide on the left is Jack’s Cooper, the Peter Whitehead owned, fourth placed #18 Ferrari 750 Monza driven by Ross Jensen and far right the HWM Alta I wrote about not so long ago being driven by Tom Clark.

The Cooper T39 Climax Bobtail is Ronnie Moores- to the right of him is the Talbot Lago T26C of Allan Freeman, and then, perhaps, Horace Gould’s #2 250F, whilst in the middle of the pack the unmistakable, regal lines of the Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 raced by John McMillan, the almost as ancient Maserati 4CLT-48 of Pat Hoare is out to the right- alongside him is the Jones 250F. I’ll take advice on the rest…

Click here for an article on the Super Squalo; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/ and here for the HWM Alta; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/13/tony-gaze-hwm-alta-new-zealand-1954/

Finito…

(autopics.com.au)

Bruce McLaren, Cooper T70 Climax, Australian Grand Prix, Sandown Park 1964…

Its an unusual angle, Bruce is thinking about brakes as he passes the end of the pit counter and heads towards the tight ‘Peters’ left-hander before the blast up the back straight- unusual in that the shot is taken from outside the circuit, between the Armco fence and access road, a prohibited area for spectators and ‘snappers for most of the tracks life.

Click here for the ‘first McLaren’ Cooper T70 story; https://primotipo.com/2016/11/18/tim-mayer-what-might-have-been/

(J Lay)

This one is also at Sandown but a year later, 1965, as the drivers listen intently to the Clerk of The Course before the off.

Roy Billington is on the rear wheel of Jack’s Brabham BT11A Climax- the winning car, then the tall Tyler Alexander, Bruce is in the ‘Persil’ white Firestone overalls, Bib Stillwell behind him, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham and David McKay playing with his iPhone. Jack won from Jim and Phil Hill’s Cooper T70.

Jack posing patiently for Paul Stephenson in his victorious BT11A- Sandown pitlane.

(P Stephenson)

 

(unattributed)

Back to the 1964 Sandown Australian Grand Prix.

Bruce takes a glimpse in his Cooper T70 mirror before lining up for the Shell Corner left hander, Jack Brabham in close attendance- Brabham BT7A Climax. Over to the right alongside the fence Jim Palmer is giving them plenty of room in his Cooper T53 Climax, he was sixth. Jack won whilst Bruce was out with engine problems.

Credits…

autopics.com.au, Jeffrey Lay, Paul Stephenson, Graham Rhodes in Australian Autosportsman

Tailpiece…

(Graham Rhodes photographer)

I chuckled when randomly coming across this photo because it is taken within 20 metres or so of the first one but is taken from under the Armco on the outside of Peters rather than the opening shot from outside Pit Straight towards the braking area into Peters.

Just to add to the date confusion, this one is the year before mind you- Bruce is in the Cooper T62 he raced that 1963 summer inclusive of the 1962 AGP at Caversham in November, Lex Davison acquired it at the end of that summer- lengthy piece on that car here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

Finito…

Dick Cobden’s Ferrari 125 being pushed through the Gnoo Blas paddock- that’s lanky, slim Jack Brabham with helmet on behind (F Pearse)

The natural or established order of Australian motor racing was shaken up and greatly changed by events over the summer of 1955…

The Ardmore, New Zealand Grand Prix in January was won by Prince Bira’s Maserati 250F from Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze in their matching Ferrari 500/625 3 litre, four cylinder hybrids, Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol and Reg Hunt’s new Maserati 250F engined A6GCM, fifth.

Other Australians who made the trip but failed to finish were Stan Coffey, Cooper T20 Bristol, Lex Davison, HWM Jaguar and Dick Cobden in the Ferrari 125 V12 s/c he acquired from Peter Whitehead after the NZ GP the year before.

Lex Davison being chased by Bira and Tony Gaze at Ardmore, 1955 NZ GP. HWM Jaguar, Maserati 250F and Ferrari 500/625 (thechicaneblog.com)

 

(CAN)

A group of the front running cars at Ardmore in ‘Phil Neill’s showroom a day or two before the race.’

Bira’s 250F and Gaze Ferrari 500 in front with Whitehead’s #2 similar 500, #3 is Reg Hunt’s Maserati A6GCM, #77 Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar, #9 George Palmer’s Mercury powered Palmer Spl, #6 Cobden’s Ferrari 125 and hidden, unfortunately, in the corner Bira’s ‘second-string’ Maserati 4CLT Osca V12 with a Ford Consul providing marvellous context!

 

Tony Gaze warms up his 3 litre Ferrari four with plenty of admiring Kiwis by the Dunedin wharves, Ferrari 500/625, January 1955. Reg Parnell’s Aston Martin DP155 is behind and then an Aston Martin DB3S (unattributed)

 

By the end of the Ardmore weekend, Brabham, buoyed by his speed and his mind filled with ambition, ideas of opportunity and success paid bonuses from trade suppliers in the UK by the visiting RAC’s Dean Delamont- had determined to sell his Cooper and chance his luck in the UK.

Dick Cobden, another of the fast-men in Australia- his dices with Brabham during 1954 had drawn fans to meetings from far and wide, also planned a racing holiday in England in between continuing his stockbroking career in a London brokers office.

‘He was accompanied by mechanic Fred Pearse and the fascinating, frustrating Ferrari (125), and enjoyed some mobile spectating…Cobden hoped to collect the D Type he had ordered, but long delays led to him cancelling the order, and the overseas trip was effectively his farewell to motor racing’ Graham Howard wrote.

Fred Pearse attending to Cobden’s Ferrari 125 (F Pearse)

 

Pat Ratliff and Tony Gaze with Gaze’s Ferrari 500/625- the oh-so-famous ex-Alberto Ascari 1952 and 1953 World Championship winning chassis- one of the ‘winningest’ if not the most, GP cars ever (F Pearse)

But first the travelling circus headed by sea to Sydney and then by road west to the Gnoo Blas road circuit at Orange for the ‘South Pacific Championship’ international held on 31 January. Bira, Whitehead and Gaze then planned to race their cars in South Africa.

Whilst Brabham and Cobden contested Gnoo Blas, Hunt and Davison, Lex the winner of the 1954 Southport AGP did not- Hunt was short of some critical parts for his A6GCM whilst Lex did not make the trip.

Hunt’s pace had always been apparent in Australia and in the year he raced a Cooper 500 in the UK and Europe- with the purchase of  the A6GCM he vaulted over the top of everyone in Australia- the speed of car and driver was THE combination of 1955.

Whilst Lex’ HWM Jag was fast, it wasn’t fast enough nor, despite ongoing development was it sufficiently reliable, it did of course hold together at Southport some months before, the 1954 AGP win was the first of Lex’ four victories in Australia’s premier event.

Davison no doubt showed more than passing interest in his good mate Gaze’s Ferrari 500 in the early months of 1955- a purchase he would consummate later in the summer of 1955-1956 and as a consequence set the standard- along with the local 250F’s of Hunt and Jones and Ted Gray’s bellowing V8 Tornado 2 Ford/Chev in the coming years.

Gaze #4 and Whitehead Ferrari’s getting a tickle- car behind is Bira’s Maserati 250F and at the rear the Broadbent/Haig Hurst Bentley (F Pearse)

In Orange the ‘star cars’ were garaged in a workshop where several of these photographs were taken. The images by Fred Pearse, kindly circulated on social media by Peter Reynell who cared for Fred in his final years, take ones breath away.

Bob Pritchett makes mention in his AMS report of the race, of the OSCA being looked after at Lapham’s Garage in Orange, Mr Lapham was the Chairman of the Orange ‘Cherry Blossom Car Racing Committee’ which staged the event along with the Australian Sporting Car Club. Laphams is most likely the venue of the garage shots.

Tony Gaze Ferrari 500 (F Pearse)

 

Ratliff and Gaze (F Pearse)

Thirty-nine cars entered the 100 mile South Pacific Championship, there were also events for sport and touring cars, a purse of two-thousand five hundred pounds was offered for the feature race, very good money at the time.

The entry included Kiwis Fred Zambucka in the Maserati 8CM he raced in the ’54 AGP and John McMillan’s Alfa Romeo Tipo B- both pre-war machines which were at that stage a little too long in the tooth to be a threat, the race was a scratch event, even if, in a nod to the past, handicap placings would also be awarded.

Jack Murray, Allard Cadillac, Ted Gray aboard Tornado 1 Ford was fitted with the Lou Abrahams developed fuel injection setup for the first time. Tom Sulman had rebuilt his Maserati 4CM after a blow up at Gnoo Blas’ last meeting with parts flown specially from Italy to Sydney. Curly Brydon’s supercharged MG T single-seater special was one of the fastest in the country. Albury’s Jack Seaton entered a Maserati, Jack Robinson his Jaguar Special and Stan Jones had Maybach, a Cooper JAP and his Lancia GT entered- in the end Stan raced only the Lancia .

A special practice session was laid on before breakfast on the Sunday for the benefit of Bira, Gaze and Whitehead but it wasn’t of much benefit to the member of the Thai Royal Family when his Maserati 250F threw a rod after only 3 laps of practice, the car had done some miles in New Zealand, was rather tatty and overdue for a rebuild- this was the precursor to the tragedy which followed involving Iain Mountain and his very clever Mountain Peugeot Special the following day.

Practice itself started after breakfast and continued with breaks through until 5.30pm. No appearances were made by Hunt, Zambucka, Davison, the Jones Cooper 1100, James Barclay Special, the Moy MG Magnette Holden or the Peek MG Q Type.

Both Gordon Greig and Sydney’s Bill Reynolds appeared at the wheel of the Alfa Tipo B Alvis which Greig had only just acquired from Ash Marshall. Cobden’s Ferrari was spewing oil out of its breathers, Gaze’s had clutch and magneto problems and Bira’s crew had work to do on the exotic V12 OSCA’s oil scavenge pumps, so there would be no shortage of midnight oil poured in Lapham’s workshops.

Alf Harvey, ex-Bira Maserati 4CLT Osca V12 aka Osca V12 from Dick Cobden’s Ferrari 125 at Gnoo Blas during the 1956 South Pacific Trophy – Can’t find a shot of Bira in the car the year before (Gnoo Blas)

 

The ill fated Ian Mountain aboard his neat Peugeot Special, Sulman’s Maserati behind (K Devine)

 

Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol

 

Raceday started at 10.20 am with the ‘KLG Handicap’ for closed cars under 1100cc won by R Long’s Fiat 1100. The 5 lapper for Sports and Closed cars was taken by Jack Myers Holden, was he the ‘King of The Holdens’ at that stage?

Bira’s spare car was his OSCA V12- a marriage of a 4.5 litre, circa 300 bhp OSCA V12 with his old Maserati 4CLT/48 chassis, as noted earlier his crew had been trying to adequately prepare the car the evening before the race.

In the preliminary 5 lap ‘Gnoo-Blas Handicap for Racing Cars’ event it too suffered a major mechanical failure- a scavenge pump, the motor dumped its oil all over the road with Iain Mountain, who was following closely, lost control on the oil, left the road and crashed through a barbed wire fence at Connaghans Corner killing himself and 26 year old Ballan, Victoria, spectator James Young. Several spectators were injured, two of them were admitted to hospital- all were standing in restricted areas.

The MotorSport account is the one above, the Australian Motor Sports report of the race attributes the accident to driver error ‘Ian had been cautious about the corner on which he came to grief and it could be that he was off line to avoid stones thrown up by Curly Brydon’s car, which he was chasing; Curly actually saw him behind, and slowed down, having discussed the corner with Ian and knowing how he felt about it…’

Whatever the case it was a tragic motor racing incident, the ‘lotsa-money superb preparation of car’ Bira days were long gone. Poor Mountain, 26, had only married four months prior to the 1954 AGP weekend at Southport and had only been racing the beautifully built car from its first appearance at Fishermans Bend in early 1954.

Jack Robinson’s Jaguar Special won the race in which Mountain died, the South Pacific Championship for Closed Cars and another similarly titled 14 lap 50 mile race were won by Les Cosh’ Aston Martin DB2 and Bill Kelly’s Jaguar XK120 respectively.

South Pacific Championship…

The main event was delayed by 50 minutes for obvious reasons, with some indecision about the grid- it was to be 4-3-4, then decided to be 3-2-3 given the narrow road and ended up being 3-2-4. What follows is a summary of the AMS race report.

As the flag quivered before dropping, Jack Murray shot his Allard Cadillac between Gaze and Whitehead and led the field out of sight of the hill crest; Gaze somehow managed to get his clutch operational enough for the getaway and almost as soon as the last sound of the last cars had died, Jack Brabham flashed past the pits, his Cooper Bristol a good fifty yards ahead of Whitehead’s Ferrari, then Murray, Gaze, Cobden, and MacMillan in close quarters.

Gaze was past Murray in the next lap, but Cobden’s Ferrari was smoking and retired after 2 laps at Muttons Corner with a cylinder full of water and a bent rod which was shades of the last Orange meeting.

Brabham (K Devine)

 

Murray, Allard Cadillac (K Devine)

 

Tom Sulman, Maserati 4CM

Brabham’s lead was shortlived, it was not many laps before Whitehead was past the Cooper Bristol- but he drew away slowly indeed and, on the fast sweep and slow right angle corner, Brabham was very visibly fastest of any car in the race, drifting the sweep beautifully with all four wheels leaning outwards, braking late and going through Muttons Corner as clean as a knife…

Gaze, hampered by not having a fully operational clutch and only one effective magneto, was not as happy as he could have been.

For some laps there was a good duel between MacMillan in the Alfa Tipo B and Greig in the Alfa Tipo B Alvis, the two red cars looking very impressive as they came around in close company. Jack Robinson and Joe Murray went at it for most of the race, the Jaguar just ahead until towards the finish when he stopped briefly at the pits and lost two laps.

Curly Brydon, always quick and neat, kept hard on Tom Sulman’s hammer, and Bill Wilcox went very well in his green Ford Special until it went bad over a space of 3 laps or so and he retired. Noel Barnes had the ex-Ron Ward MG Special sounding very sweet and healthy even though he was lapped several times by the faster cars.

Finally, the sun well down on the Western horizon, Peter came around grinning and without his crash hat and we knew the race was finished. As Brabham was less than a minute behind at the end he naturally won the handicap, Peter had fastest lap in 2:21.

Peter Whitehead Ferrari 500/625, won from Brabham, Cooper T23 Bristol, Gaze, Ferrari 500/625, Jack Murray Allard Cadillac, Tom Sulman Maserati, Curly Brydon MG Spl, G Greig Alfa Tipo B Alvis

Whitehead’s top speed was 149 mph, Gaze 147, Brabham 136, Sulman 110 and Brydon’s 115mph.

Cobden about to go out, Sulman readies his Maserati (K Devine)

 

One of the Ferrari 500s at Laphams (F Pearse)

Snippets by AMS’ Bob Pritchett…

‘The 3 litre motors of Gaze and Whitehead have a bore and stroke of 104 x 90 mm and the inlet valve is open for, wait for it, 330 degrees of the revolution…I saw Gaze’s motor stripped later; the valves are simply tremendous, and the pistons are like outsized salmon tins with bumps on them, rods like a short length of RSJ and the five bearing crankshaft a beautiful piece of work’.

Big Muvvas: Weber sand cast 58 DCO’s (F Pearse)

Hunt didn’t race but was present in person ‘…With no Maserati, marooned in Melbourne with a broken back plate. He tried to borrow one of Bira’s spares but received the rather discouraging reply, that he could have them all and the car for 4000 sterling. Slightly different to the Australian approach- Tony Gaze did the race with a magneto coil out of Cobden’s Ferrari for instance.’

Bira’s Maserati 250F (F Pearse)

‘I reaped some sort of macabre delight out of watching the Clerk of Course Daimler steaming around festooned with advertising matter during the wrangle about slogans on cars which resulted in Coffey’s dramatic retirement on the (start)line, masking tape all over Murray’s Allard Cadillac, funny little blobs of green paint on Brabham’s Cooper Bristol and such.’

Stan Coffey’s Cooper Bristol, after a stoush with CAMS about advertising he did not take the start, I see Clive Adams prepared the car. Cobden Ferrari 125 at rear (K Devine)

Etcetera…

(K Devine)

Jack Robinson being push-started in his Jag Special whilst alongside Tom Sulman fettles his Maserati, photo below of Robinson’s Jag XK engine.

(K Devine)

 

#2 Whitehead, Ferrari 500 #4 Gaze’s similar car and #1 Bira’s 250F (F Pearse)

 

Tom Sulman, Maserati 4CM

Bibliography…

MotorSport May 2006 article by Jim Scaysbrook, Australian Motor Sports February 1955 race report by Bob Pritchett

Photo Credits…

Fred Pearse Collection, Ken Devine Collection, Stephen Dalton Collection, Allan Dick’s ‘Classic Auto News’, Australian Motor Heritage Foundation, Russell Hawthorn, Doug Chivas Collection

(D Chivas)

Postscript…

Brabham left for the UK in mid-March 1955 after a function held at Jack’s parents home in Hurstville attended by over 100 guests including the Mayor and Mayoress- at that stage he was expected to be away for six months.

It turned out to be rather longer than that of course, the great Australian finally retired from Grand Prix racing at the end of 1970 having been a front runner that season inclusive of one GP win which but for poor luck should have been three- competive to the very end of his long career.

He couldn’t stay away from racing for too long though, by August 1971 he was back in the seat of the Jack Brabham Ford sponsored Bowin P4X Formula Ford and won the ‘Race of Champions’ at Calder from Frank Matich, Kevin Bartlett, Bib Stillwell, Alan Hamilton, Allan Moffat and others.

I think it was his last ever real ‘race win’, 1978 Sandown demo with JM Fangio duly noted?…

(R Hawthorn)

Tailpiece: Smorgasbord of ‘Big Red Cars’…

Whitehead, Cobden, Gaze and Bira, not that his 250F was red (F Pearse)

Finito…

(R Meyer)

Leo Geoghegan’s Holden 48-215 from Frank Hamm’s Jaguar Mk5, Bathurst, Easter 1959…

I’m not sure if this is the parade lap described below or a race but the presence of the sportscar in amongst the touring cars suggests the former.

The stunning series of photographs are uber-rare ones from the inside of Conrod Straight, the cars have just cleared Forrests Elbow and are winding up in top gear. The kid standing on the fence is Rick Meyer, his father took these wonderful rare photos trackside, ‘locals’ photographs.

The Easter meeting was the Gold Star round traditionally- there are a huge number of past, current and future top liners or champions amongst the entry list. ‘Currents’ include Stan Jones, Doug Whiteford, Ross Jenson, Curley Brydon, Jack Myers, Jack Murray and David McKay. ‘Future stars’ are Len Lukey, Alec Mildren and Bill Patterson- Gold Star winners in 1959, 1960 and 1961 respectively, Lionel Ayers, Glynn Scott, Arnold Glass, Frank Matich, Ron Phillips, Ron Hodgson, Doug Chivas, Leo Geoghegan, John French, Des West, Max Volkers, Brian Foley, Ian Geoghegan, Brian Muir and ‘Ken’ Bartlett- no doubt Kevin Bartlett learned the value of clean, clear hand-writing on entry forms when he perused the race program at the circuit!

The photo below is from the same spot and shows reigning World Champ Jack Brabham on the 2 October 1960 weekend when the local boy returned to Australia having retained his F1 drivers title, to win the ‘Craven A International’ from a classy field of locals.

The Cooper T51 Climax leads the similar white-coloured machine of 1961 Australian Gold Star Champion, Bill Patterson. Patterson was second in the race with Bib Stillwell, also T51 equipped in third- he is probably that flash of red car behind Patto.

(R Meyer)

The photo below is again Geoghegan who is about to take, perhaps, Barry Gurdon’s Austin on the run down Conrod, or is it a Triumph Herald? By this stage Leo’s car is very quick and much modified- light weight, it has a Repco Hi-Power cylinder head and multiple SU carbs, is fitted with an MG TC gearbox, slippery diff and disc front brakes.

The introduction of the Australian Touring Car Championship from 1 January 1960 run to Appendix J regulations would reign-in the ‘costs out of hand’ development of touring cars without in any way constraining the appeal of tin-top racing to either spectators or owner-drivers.

(R Meyer)

Beautiful picture of the Les Wheeler funded, Gordon Stewart designed and built Stewart MG…

Believe it or not this very advanced car was concepted and constructed in the early fifties around a tubular steel spaceframe chassis, MG TC engine and brakes. With a Bob Baker built body, modified in the nose here, it first raced at Mount Druitt in 1955.

(R Meyer)

The engine was 1350cc in capacity and fitted with a Laystall crank and locally made rods. By the time the car appeared lots of serious stuff from Europe was racing locally so it missed the boat a bit as a potential ‘outright’ contender but its 1957 Gordon Stewart driven 142 mph made it the fastest TC speed ever over Bathurst’s Flying One-Eighth!

Here, Dick Willis says the car is supercharged ‘B-Series’ BMC powered, still with Gordon at the wheel. This car is extant and a wonderful feature article, such is its conceptual design and execution, for another time.

(D Willis)

A bit more from Dick Willis, here the Stewart MG crew- ‘Ecurie Cinque’ at Mount Druitt probably in 1958. ‘Jim Robson (at right) of Silverdale fame was a technical writer for Riley (Nuffield) before the war writing workshop manuals etc. After the war he emigrated to Australia and soon struck up a friendship with the like, Nuffield minded, Gordon Stewart- Jim was one of the team who developed the Stewart MG…’

Credits…

Rick Meyer, Dick Willis, Paul Newby

Tailpiece: Finish as we started, neighbour still with hands on hips and the obedient Rick still on and behind the fence!…

(R Meyer)

Cars are Horst Kwech’s RM Spyder (Buchanan body) and Tom Sulman’s Aston Martin DB3S during the Easter 1960 meeting.

Paul Newby explains that Horst Kwech built the RM Spyder whilst working at Regional Motors in Cooma- New South Wales sub-alpine country, hence the ‘RM’. It comprised a Buchanan bodied upside-down Singer chassis powered by a Repco Hi-Power headed Holden ‘Grey’ six-cylinder engine and still exists in Canberra.

Finito…

 

 

 

Jack Brabham’s first Le Mans 24 Hours was the 1957 running of the endurance classic during which he shared a Cooper T39 Climax with Englishman Ian Raby…

Whilst the Coventry Climax 1097cc FPF engined car was quick the duo finished fifteenth outright and third in their 1100cc class behind the similarly engined works Lotus 11 of the American duo Herbert Mackay-Fraser and Jay Chamberlain (ninth overall) and the Bob Walshaw/John Dalton Lotus 11 FPF (thirteenth overall).

Upfront it was a Jaguar D Type rout, the marvellous British six-cylinder beasts occupied the first four places with the Ron Flockhart/Ivor Bueb Ecurie Ecosse car at the head of the chasing pack- the new 3 litre short-stroke XK engine did the trick. Click here for an article in part about this race; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/17/le-mans-1957-d-type-jaguar-rout-ron-flockhart-racer-and-aviator/

Jack and Ian Raby with their Le Mans steed, what airport folks? (unattributed)

 

(Motorsport)

Jack has his hand up to his face, perhaps he is about to indicate to a low flying Jaguar or Ferrari that he wants the pass before the next corner.

The Cooper T39 ‘Bobtail’ was based on the Owen Maddocks’ contemporary 500cc design specifically to accept the new Coventry Climax FWA four cylinder, two valve, single overhead camshaft, twin SU fed 1100cc engine. Later the 1460cc Climax FWB was offered and still later sleeved down 1100cc versions of the 1.5 litre FPF twin-cam, two valve engine as used by Brabham and Raby here.

(Motorsport)

Here the eighth placed, first in 1500cc class, Ed Hugus/Carel de Beaufort Porsche 550A RS chases Brabham through the ever present sand banks awaiting the unwary or careless.

I’m cheating with this shot, it’s Le Mans but a year later- in 1958 Jack shared an Aston Martin DBR1/300 with Stirling Moss, never a good guy to share with at this event given his usual role as ‘the hare’.

The car, leading strongly at the time from the start was out after only 30 laps with a buggered conrod- Jack didn’t get a steer on raceday- Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill won that year in a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa 3 litre V12.

Shots of Jack actually in an Aston Martin DBR1/300 are thin on the ground- let’s make this one almost in…

Its Goodwood, the RAC Tourist Trophy in September 1958 in which he shared a car with Cooper teammmate Roy Salvadori to second place in the race won by Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks in a sister car with another DBR1 crewed by Carroll Shelby and Stuart Lewis-Evans in third place.

Winners are grinners, so too are finishers in this gruelling race- Ian Raby and Jack looking pretty happy and looking forward to a bath and a beer or a Beaujolais perhaps.

Etcetera…

(Motorsport)

Jack contemplates his Climax engine with plenty of support during practice whilst an artist sets to- the car passing is the #8 Lewis-Evans/Severi Ferrari 250 TR which swallowed a piston in practice and did not start. The pair raced a 315 Sport to fourth placed and as such were the best placed Ferrari and the only one of five Scuderia Ferrari entries to go the distance albeit 27 laps adrift of the winning Jag.

(Motorsport)

Brabham goes around the outside of one of the Lotus 11s early in the race. These ‘Bobtails’ started as central seat sportscars but as race organisers got a little antsy about that were also built with a seat either side of the centre of the car- as here.

(Motorsport)

Ian Raby…

Ian Raby on the hop, the Brighton garage owner/motor trader died after an accident in an F2 Brabham BT14 Ford Twin-cam at Zandvoort in 1967.

Raby is the type of bloke I admire- a racer to his core, he started in a Cooper Mk2 or Mk4 JAP as ‘chief cook and bottle washer’- driver, entrant, sponsor and mechanic of his little 500 and progressed to F1 as a privateer in exactly that manner. He used the moniker ‘Puddle Jumper’ on the side of some of his cars which reveals a good sense of humour and self- it is the way I described myself as a runner in my school cross-country days meaning I was an amateur compared to some of the more serious blokes.

After racing in sportscars, Formula Libre and Formula Junior he bought Keith Greene’s Grand Prix Gilby-BRM retiring from his World Championship debut race at Silverstone that year. He progressed to Brabham’s very first F1 car- BT3, by then BRM P56 V8 engined for 1964 finishing eleventh in the 1965 British GP at Brands- doubtless he was a proud man that day.

Raby, Cooper Mk8 Norton, Brands Hatch, Francis Beart Trophy, 4 September 1955- he won his heat but was unplaced in the final (500race.org)

 

The ‘Puddle Jumper’ Cooper T39 Climax in Denmark circa 1957, details appreciated (unattributed)

Formula 2 was a bit more cost-effective so Ian raced a Merlyn Mk9 Cosworth SCA sporadically in 1965 and a more competitive 1965 Brabham BT14 in 1966. Whilst not running right at the pointy end- it was a Brabham Honda year, and he was a regular Cosworth customer not up the front of the SCA queue- but he finished usually just behind the F1 pros and true ‘coming-men’- eighths at Oulton, eleventh at Goodwood and then a splendid fourth at the Nürburgring in April in front of Rindt, Peter Arundell and Kurt Ahrens- good company!

Rabu had an accident in the Brabham at Brands in October but repaired the car and fitted a Lotus-Ford Twin-cam for the first year of the 1.6 litre F2 in 1967 and slipped down the lists- sometimes he was the best of the twin-cams but they were giving away 20bhp or so at best to the dominant 210bhp FVAs.

Ian was eighth at Snetterton, thirteenth at Silverstone, sixteenth at the Nürburgring that year- far below his performance with a more competitive package the previous year. What shows in just skimming through the results is that he was a finished- he wasn’t the fastest bloke on track but he was consistent and brought the thing home- he could obviously prepare his cars well too.

Raby during the 1963 Silverstone British GP weekend, Gilby BRM, DNF gearbox from Q19- Clark won in a Lotus 25 Climax (unattributed)

 

Ian Raby, British GP, Brands Hatch 1964. Q17 and DNF undisclosed, Brabham BT3 BRM (unattributed)

In the Guards International Trophy meeting at Mallory he was sixth behind Surtees, Gardner, McLaren, Ickx and Allan Rollinson. Ninth in the Limborg GP in Belgium followed and then two appearances at Hockenheim for eighth in June and fifth in the F2 Championship round in July. At Tulln-Langenlebarn, Vienna he finished thirteenth and was a DNF at Jarama in late July.

After that weekend he towed his little Brabham to Holland for the 30 July Grand Prix of Zandvoort on 30 July. Whilst Jacky Ickx set about winning the race in Ken Tyrrell’s Matra MS5 FVA Ian left the road on lap 6 and went through the fence at the very fast Rob Slotemaker Esses, he was extracted from the badly damaged car with critical fractures to his head, back and legs and then seemed to be on the road to recovery before succumbing three months after the accident.

Ian Raby, born 22 September 1921, died on 7 November 1967 aged 46, a dedicated racer taken before his time.

Ian Raby, Brabham BT14 Ford twin-cam, Eiffelrennen, Nurburgring 1967

Credits…

Motorsport, F2 Index, Jornal Dos Classicos, 500 Owners Association, Harry Michelbach

Tailpiece…

(Motorsport)

Jack ranging up to pass the Monopole X88 Panhard Coupe- twentieth overall but not running at the finish- the little 750cc machine was crewed by two Pierres- Chancel and Flauhault.

Finito…

lukey

Len Lukeys’ Cooper Bristol, Mount Druitt, NSW in May 1958, having set FTD at 13.53 sec for the standing quarter (J Ellacott)

‘Now that really is a beautiful looking racing car! Wotizzit I wonder’, the young gent seems to thinking…

The smartly attired chap is surveying the lines of Len Lukey’s Cooper T23 Bristol at Mount Druitt in Sydney’s west in May 1958. Len Lukey was both a champion driver and successful businessman, founding ‘Lukey Mufflers’ in the 1950’s, a brand still respected today.

Melbourne born, Lukey started racing relatively late, aged 32 having established and built his ‘Lukey Mufflers’ business from its Nepean Highway, Highett base. Generations of enthusiasts are aware of his name because of the original equipment and performance exhausts and mufflers he produced. No lowered, worked EH Holden with wide ‘chromies’ and twin SU’s was complete without the distinctive Lukey logo being displayed on its exhaust’s for following traffic to know its performance intent.

Lukey started competition in the Victorian hills with a side-valve Ford Mainline Ute, Australia’s ubiquitous workhorse down the decades. It was in this car at the opening Altona meeting in 1954 that he frightened the life out of Stan Jones in Maybach when he spun whilst coming through The Esses, the car looking all the while as though it had lost its way transporting a load of mufflers from Highett to Williamstown. The competition regulator, the CAMS, frowned upon the use of such a utilitarian vehicles in racing so he switched to the first of a series of Ford Customlines.

Len Lukey, Ford Customline, Rob Roy, 1957 (B King)

 

image

Equipe Lukey during the 1959 AGP weekend at Longford, Cooper T45 Climax- unknown, Neil Marsden, Helen Lukey, Claude Morton and Len Lukey (Jock Walkem)

 

Awesome shot at the start of the 1959 AGP at Longford, showing not least how narrow the track was then- the old start line was on The Flying Mile towards Mountford Corner. Winner Stan Jones has the jump in his Maserati 250F, then Len, partially obscured in his Cooper T45 Climax, then Arnold Glass, Maserati 250F, Doug Whiteford, Maserati 300S, Ron Phillips, Cooper T33 Jaguar, Alec Mildren, Cooper T45 Climax and the rest (unattributed, I’d love to know the name of the photographer)

Its interesting to review the stunning march of touring car domination of Australian motor racing and look at the role Len Lukey had in its rise. Australian Motor Sports had this to say in its January 1960 issue, ‘…there can be no doubt that by tuning these massive cars to the highest possible pitch, Len Lukey started the ball rolling towards the day when the term production car racing became such a farce that a special Gran Turismo Class had to be instituted’.

Lukey had some spectacular moments as he learned his craft, a trip through the hay bales at Albert Park and a lucky roll at Phillip Island- there was no rollover protection in those days, both were lucky escapes.

The car was timed at 106mph at Gnoo Blas, Orange in 1956 beating both Jack Myers and the Aldis Bristol. His dices against Jack Myers, the Sydney Holden driver were crowd pleasers in the way Geoghegan/Beechey battles were a little further down the track.

He soon took hillclimb class records at Rob Roy, Hepburn Springs and Templestowe, all in Victoria.

Both Myers and Lukey progressed into single seaters via Cooper Bristols. In Lukey’s case his ascent to the top was quicker than just about any Gold Star winner, and then, he almost immediately upon achieving the prestigious award in the longest ever season- twelve rounds in five states, retired as a competitor but remained in the sport as a circuit owner and sponsor.

Team Lukey during the 1957 AGP weekend at Caversham- Customline and Cooper T23 Bristol (K Devine)

Lukey commenced racing the ex Reg Hunt/Kevin Neal Cooper Bristol in 1956…

He was ninth in the ‘Olympic’ Australian Grand Prix won by Stirling Moss at Albert Park in a works Maserati 250F.

In the 100 mile Victorian Trophy Race he was fifth behind Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 3 litre, Brabham’s Cooper Climax, Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and Tom Hawkes’ Cooper T23 Holden, it was an auspicious open-wheeler debut. He started a campaign to contest the Gold Star the following year- the first time the Australian Drivers Championship had been contested.

The season commenced at Caversham, 16km from Perth, held in searing heat and famously won, after much argument about lap-counting, by Davison’s Ferrari which was shared by Lex and Bill Patterson- Len was fourth in a fast reliable run in the Cooper. He was fifth at Albert Park and then late in the season scored two thirds in the New South Wales Road Racing Championships at Mount Panorama and in the Port Wakefield Trophy held at the South Australian circuit in rough bush country 100km north-west of Adelaide.

He set Australian National Speed Records in both the Cooper- 147.4mph, and the Customline at 123.3mph outside Coonabaraban in north-western NSW in 1957.

The Cusso was timed one way at 130mph, the car that weekend festooned with masking tape, shields over its headlights, an enclosed radiator and sealed doors and boot to squeeze every bit of speed from the beast. Len had to enter the car through the windows, safety again very much to the fore!

The car which ran at Coonabarabran was a new shell, but all the learnings and good bits of the earlier one were transferred across. Len raced it for a further year before being selling it to Melbourne driver Owen Bailey but it was badly damaged in an accident at Albert Park in 1958, Bailey’s first meeting in it.

On the way to winning the ‘South Australian Trophy’, Gold Star round at Port Wakefield in April 1958, Cooper T23 Bristol (unattributed)

 

Lukey at Albert Park during the Melbourne GP in November 1958, Lukey Bristol, Jaguar Corner. ‘Vanwall-esque’ nature of the body clear if not as beautiful in execution (B King)

 

lukey

Len Lukey being congratulated by Derek Jolley for his 2nd place in the October 1958 Victorian Road Racing Champinsghip at Fishernans Bend. Lukey Bristol, Ted Gray won in Tornado 2 Chev (K Drage)

Its amazing to compare and contrast the short four or five round Gold Star contests of later years with the more arduous nature of the series earlier on, particularly given the standard of Australian highways then.

The 1958 award was contested over nine rounds starting at Orange in New South Wales, from there to Fishermans Bend in Melbourne, then south across Bass Straight to Longford, to Port Wakefield north of Adelaide in South Australia, then two rounds at Lowood, Queensland in June and August- so I guess depending upon other race commitments one could leave your car up north- then to Mount Panorama, Bathurst New South Wales for the Australian Grand Prix in October and then, finally two rounds in Victoria- Albert Park in November and Phillip Island in early December.

The 1959 Gold Star was held over a staggering twelve rounds- and so it was that Len committed himself to a couple of serious tilts at the title in 1958 and 1959, the lessons learned in 1958 were applied with great success the following year when he won the title.

Len was third in the opening South Pacific Championship round at Gnoo, Blas Orange in January, Jack Brabham won that event in his Cooper T43 Climax but was ineligible for Gold Star points as a non-resident.

Back home to Victoria Len was then fourth at Fishermans Bend in February and fifth in the Longford Trophy in March. Stan Jones won at the Bend and Ted Gray at Longford in the big ‘booming Chev Corvette 283cid V8 engined Tornado 2.

He scored his first splendid Gold star win in the South Australian Trophy at Port Wakefield in April, winning from Austin Miller’s Cooper T41 Climax and Keith Rilstone in the amazing Zephyr Special s/c.

Then followed a long haul back to Melbourne to ready the car and then a 1650km tow to Lowood Queensland for the two rounds held on the disused airfield circuit.

He bagged a pair of thirds in the Queensland Road Racing Championship at Lowood in June and the Lowood Trophy in August- Alec Mildren won both of these events in his Cooper T43 Climax, with Len looking lovingly and with considerable longing for one of these mid-engined cars, an aim he would realise before the year was out.

Len had developed his own thoughts on how to improve the performance of his Cooper and built a new spaceframe, high-bodied chassis, the ‘Lukey Bristol’ into which the mechanicals of the factory car were fitted.

Ready for the AGP, the car was taken to Bathurst but finished a distant sixth, two laps in arrears of Lex Davison, Ern Seeliger and Tom Hawkes aboard 3 litre Ferrari 500/625, 4.6 litre Maybach 4 Chev and 2.3 litre Cooper T23 Holden-Repco respectively.

The last two round of the championship were back in Victoria, he was fifth in the Melbourne Grand Prix, an exciting race weekend in which Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham scrapped at the front of the field in 2.2 litre Cooper T45 Climaxes- the race was won by Moss from Brabham then Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S, Bib Stillwell’s ex-Hunt Maserati 250F and then Len.

Lukey was quickly in discussion with Brabham about purchase of the Cooper T45- the very latest of Surbiton’s machines at the time, and would soon have the 2 litre Coventry Climax FPF engined machine in his workshops providing him with the tool to do the job in 1959.

Len was still active on the hills, winning both a new NSW sprint record and FTD at Mt Druitt in 13.53 seconds, this articles opening photo is at that meeting. In July he spun at the end of Rob Roy when the throttle jammed open, Len was thrown from the car before it rolled to a halt, but it was a lucky escape.

The final Gold Star event was the Phillip Island Trophy on Boxing Day but Len spun the Cooper in a preliminary event damaging the cars suspension enough to non-start the championship race. The Coad brothers sportingly lent him their Vauxhall Special but the car was outclassed, with Lukey third in the Gold Star with 21 points, then Alec Mildren on 23 with Stan Jones deservedly taking the title with 31 points- Stan won two rounds at Fishermans Bend and Phillip Island and was third on three occasions- Gnoo Blas, Longford and the first of the two Lowood rounds.

The Lukey boys push the Cooper T23 Bristol thru the Longford paddock in March 1958, behind is the Lou Abrahams owned, mighty Tornado 2 Chev, victorious that weekend (HRCCTas)

 

Len and Stan Jones on the cover of the March 1959 issue of AMS in recognition of a marvellous AGP dice resolved in Jones’ favour 1959- Cooper T45 Climax from Maserati 250F

After Brabham contested three New Zealand internationals in early January 1959, Lukey bought the car from Jack. It was fitted with a 2 litre FPF rather than one of the 2.2’s Jack had been using- these engines were rare with the full 2.5 litre variants built around new blocks being readied back in Coventry for Cooper, Rob Walker and Lotus’ use in F1 that season- rather successfully so as events transpired.

In 1959, as mentioned above, the Gold Star was contested over twelve gruelling rounds- between 26 January and 14 June, the halfway mark of the season, those on the title chase travelled from their home base, to Orange, then Fishermans Bend, Longford, Port Wakefield, Bathurst and Lowood- Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland, with an arduous second half of the season still to come.

The competition was strong- Len and Alec Mildren raced Cooper T45’s, Bill Patterson a T43 with Stan Jones the other racer who had committed to most of the rounds- racing his Maserati 250F, Maybach 4 Chev and later in the season he took delivery of a Cooper T51 Climax as did Bib Stillwell, David McKay and Austin Miller but the latter trio did not race across the continent in the manner Len, Alec and Stan did.

In much the same way that the new-fangled Coopers were challenging the front-engined orthodoxy in Europe so too of course was the case in Australia albeit there was no surprise at the speed of the Coventry Climax engined cars given the giant killing nature of the air-cooled Coopers since the first appeared of one at Bathurst in the dawn of the fifties.

Only two points separated the Cooper T45 Climax duo of Lukey and Mildren at the seasons end- Len won the title with 68 points to the Canberra motor-dealers 66.

Mildren won three rounds- Fishermans Bend and the two Lowood rounds mid-season whereas Len won two- at Caversham and the last round at Phillip Island when the pressure was well and truly on. The Cooper’s differential failed during Saturday practice, Len did not have a spare, Noel Hall did but it was affixed to his car which was in Sydney. Jack Myers removed the gearbox and popped it onto a ‘plane, there the precious cargo was collected from Essendon Airport and then taken to Phillip Island where it was fitted to the car. The machine was finally ready about an hour before the off- Lukey led from the flag and on the final lap equalled the lap record- a memorable win indeed.

Alan Jones quizzing Lukey about the handling characteristics of his Cooper- Otto Stone, racer/engineer/mechanic and fettler of the Stan Jones Maserati 250F at the time is to the right of Alan and Stan is far right but one in the white helmet ready for the off, Phillip Island 1959 (unattributed)

 

Lukey and Jones scrapping through Longford Village, AGP 1959, ‘pub corner’- Cooper T45 and Maserati 250F (oldracephotos.com)

Stan Jones won two rounds as well, notably the Australian Grand Prix at Longford after a race-long dice with Len- it was a classic battle of the time between the powerful front engined 2.5 litre Maserati and the more nimble, but less powerful 2 litre Climax powered Cooper. There was a bit a karma in Stan’s race win as no-one in the field, other than Mildren, deserved an AGP win more and Alec’s time came twelve months afterwards at the conclusion of an even more thrilling dice between Lex Davison’s 3 litre Aston Martin DBR4/300 and Mildren’s 2.5 litre Cooper T51 Maserati at Lowood.

Jones also won at Port Wakefield in March in the big, booming Maybach 4 Chev, stepping back into the car he vacated two years before when he acquired his Maserati 250F. His friend and engineer, Ern Seeliger had replaced the SOHC straight-six Maybach engine with a Chevy V8, and made other changes to what had been called Maybach 3, there was something a bit poetic about a Maybach taking one last win this late in the piece given the front-running nature of this series (of three or four variants of cars depending on how yer do your count) of cars for the best part of a decade.

Bill Patterson, like Mildren and Jones had a very long race CV which he enhanced in 1959 with two wins in his Cooper T43 Climax- arguably a quicker driver than Mildren and Lukey, if not Jones- Patto was also in a run to Gold Star victory, his turn would come in 1961 aboard a Cooper T51 Climax the year after Mildren.

Single round wins that year were taken by Jack Brabham, taking his traditional win at the season opening Gnoo Blas ‘South Pacific Championship’ before heading back to the UK and by Kiwi Ross Jensen’s Maserati 250F in the prestigious Bathurst 100 at Easter but neither qualified for Gold Star points as non-residents.

Bib Stillwell was the other round winner in his new Cooper T51 Climax at Bathurst in October. Bib was perhaps the slowest of all of this generation to mature as a driver at the absolute top level but he won four Gold Stars on the trot from 1962 to 1965 with a blend of speed, consistency and the best of equipment.

What was impressive about Lukey’s win in 1959 was his relative inexperience against the fellows he beat, all of whom had fifteen years to a couple of decades on him in race experience, but it was a close run contest. That year a driver could only count their scores from nine of the twelve rounds, Len and Alec scored in ten rounds apiece, both had to drop a round- both discarded 3 points, and so it was after a long, intense year of racing criss-crossing the vast brown land that Lukey won from Mildren by only 2 points. Amazing really, but the CAMS learned the lesson and the event was never held with that many rounds again.

Lukey only raced once more, in the 1960 NZGP at Ardmore and then sold the car to concentrate on his business interests.

It was a good performance too- seventh on the grid amongst all of the 2.2 and 2.5 litre FPF’s but it all came to nothing after undisclosed dramas after finishing 36 of the events 75 laps- Brabham won from McLaren, Stillwell and Jones- two Cooper 2.5’s from two Cooper 2.2’s rather put the state of play at the time into sharp relief.

No photoshop here, Jones and Lukey during their 1959 Longford AGP dice getting some serious air as the cross the railway line on the outskirts of Longford village on Tannery Straight (C Rice)

 

Left to right, Lukey and Mildren in Cooper T45 Climaxes and Bib Stillwell in his new T51 at Caversham in October 1959- Len took the win (K Devine)

 

(B King)

Whilst Lukey retired from competition to focus on his business, he remained a friend of motor racing until his untimely death in 1978…

He provided financial support to various competitors not least Jack Brabham, the works F1 Brabhams of the sixties used Lukey exhaust systems right into the 1966 and 1967 championship winning Brabham BT19 ‘620’ and BT24 ‘740’- all of the works F1 cars were fitted with Lukey exhaust systems.

Look closely at the rear of one of the Brabham BT24 Repco ‘740’s during the 1967 GP season in the photograph below and you can see the ‘Lukey Mufflers’ made exhausts on the car- and the company name on the chrome plated exhaust endpieces.

In 1962 Len acquired a Holman Moody built Ford Galaxie ‘R Code’ 406cid four-door which was raced initially by Lex Davison, Len no doubt encouraging his purist racing car friend in the direction of the ‘dark side’. The shot below is of Norm Beechey racing the machine against Max Volkers’ Cortina at Lowood in August 1964, I wonder who got the better of this encounter in the wet? The Galaxie still exists.

(B Thomas)

 

 

Brabham BT24 Repco during the 1967 season (unattributed)

The 1962 Armstrong 500 (miles) production car race resulted in extreme circuit damage to the the Phillip Island track, the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club Club (PIARC) could not afford to repair the bitumen out of meagre club funds and as a consequence the track sat idle for two years.

During the initial track fund raising to build the place a decade before, Repco and Olympic Tyres supported bank guarantees for PIARC to a value of £17,000. Without funds to service the loan- no race meetings and therefore no income, Repco and PIARC made the regretful decision to sell ‘The Island’ property.

Shortly thereafter Lukey was chatting to racer/enthusiast George Coad at Essendon Airport whilst awaiting a plane.  Upon learning from Coad that PIARC was forced to sell the facility, Lukey immediately rang the clubs President and offered to buy it for £13,000.

As part of the deal, Len imposed a condition on the club that racing be revived. Lukey would develop the property and PIARC re-build the track and facilities and run four events a year for ten years. Lukey had a passion for the island and the circuit but also knew what it would take to revive and run the place having been a PIARC committee member some years before. PIARC paid Len $2 per year in rent.

The first public race meeting was held three years later in September 1967. The circuit was sold again after Lukey’s death and is now the wonderful facility we all know and love, without Lukey’s timely investment it would not be there today.

The Lukey brand hasn’t been in family hands for decades but lives on as a wonderful reminder of its founder, a great driver of both touring cars and single-seaters, a lifelong enthusiast and supporter of the sport.

Love this shot of the Cooper T23 Bristol during the 1956 AGP weekend at Albert Park, the machine is getting plenty of attention- finned drum brakes and top transverse leaf springs front and rear both clear (G Smedley)

Additional Lukey reading…

Do click on the links for these two short articles- their are some stunning photographs contained within. Here; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/20/teds-tornado-and-lens-cooper/ , here; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/08/stan-jones-agp-longford-gold-star-series-1959/ , and here; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/11/1958-longford-trophy/

Etcetera…

 

 

(unattributed)

These big barges occupy a lot of real estate and did no harm at all to attract the punters- touring cars were on the rise, sadly, even in 1956. Len Lukey from Norm Beechey in Ford Customlines during the 1956 AGP carnival. Is the Holden 48-215 on right front below that of Jack Myers?

(unattributed)

Cooper T23 Bristol..

(unattributed)

 

(B King)

Lukey’s Cooper T23 Bristol blasts past the Army Barrack’s at Albert Park during the 1956 AGP, and below the cockpit of the immaculately prepared Cooper at Templestowe Hillclimb in Melbourne’s east.

(B King)

Doug Nye wrote the history of the 1953 build Cooper Mk2 Bristol chassis’ on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ in 2003.

He lists ’11 (ish) to 12 (ish)’ chassis. The ‘Lukey’ car is ostensibly numbered ‘CB/9/53’.

‘1953 ‘5’ The Tom Cole Mk2 – in effect totally destroyed in fire at Syracuse

1953 ‘5B’ The Tom Cole Mark 2 rebuilt as above around a fresh frame, driven by Swaters, Cole, Graham Whitehead- to Dick Gibson- sold to Australia probably Reg Hunt. (Reg Hunt’s Mark 2- alleged sold NEW in 1954) for Kevin Neale in Australia- to Len Lukey- Frank Coad- Eddie Clay- Ken Cox- Peter Menere- Jumbo Goddard and to Tom Wheatcroft for The Donington Collection. But this was surely in reality the ex-Tom Cole second Mark 2 of 1953…ex-Gibson’ Nye wrote.

(B King)

Gardening at Templestowe circa 1958- no harm done by the look of it.

(A Lamont)

It would have been a wild ride around Longford, mind you, the forgiving nature of the Cooper Bristol chassis would have made it slightly less challenging than some other cars of the day.

This wonderful shot is during the 1958 Gold Star meeting in March- the first ‘national’ Longford won by Ted Gary in Tornado 2 Chev.

(unattributed)

Len at Albert Park, am guessing in 1957, who and what is that behind him?

(B King)

Lukey Bristol..

(unattributed)

Lukey heads up the Mountain, Mount Panorama during the 1958 Australian Grand Prix in October- well and truly outgunned in his new Lukey Bristol which had made its race debut at the previous Lowood Gold Star round, on a circuit which rewards power and a forgiving chassis.

The Lukey Bristol was an evolution of the factory product, but lighter with a chassis designed by Lukey. It had a more enveloping body clearly influenced by Frank Costin’s Vanwall design and using castings made and machined in Melbourne. The engine from his CB was used, the new machine also had a transverse leaf rear end like the original.

It was advertised for sale in this form as were the various components and body panels which were made of fibreglass. Bob King believes three of the chassis were built- the Lukey Bristol, ‘Faux Pas’ and a third. Both the cars mentioned are in the hands of David Reid, do get in touch if you can add more to this.

(Miller Family)

The photograph above and below are of the construction of the Lukey Bristol at right, with the Cooper T23 at left denuded of its constituent parts, at the Lukey factory in the Nepean Highway.

Note the rifle on the wall to scare off late night intruders, ‘chicky-babe’ calendars on the wall and robust spaceframe chassis- who the artisans are would be great to know.

Things have progressed in the shot below with a rear suspension corner, straight off the T23 soon to be bolted on, transverse top leaf spring carried over, chassis clearly lower and wider than the original.

(Miller Family)

 

(B King)

The page above is included for the section about the ‘Lukey Mufflers Chassis’ and related components. I was going to crop and then thought let’s all read it and weep- Frank Shuter’s Maserati 8CM will do me!

The ad makes mention of both front and mid-engined chassis availability- the former were of the type used on the Lukey Bristol, the latter built off a jig created from the Cooper T45 chassis- one of the Cooper experts will be able to hazard a guess as to how many chassis were built using this jig, not the only T45/T51 jig in Australia either!

(B King)

Len Lukey, Lukey Bristol chases Bib Stillwell’s ex-Hunt Maserati 250F during the 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix- they were fourth and fifth respectively. Stirling Moss won the race in a Rob Walker Cooper T45 Climax from Brabham’s similar car- the chassis bought by Len at the end of the summer, and Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S.

Look at the lean of the heads into the corner and the relative roll of the Lukey Bristol compared with the Maserati.

(unattributed)

Winning at Part Wakefield in the Cooper Bristol in 1958 and contesting the 1958 AGP at Bathurst the same year, he was sixth. The #56 car behind is Bill Reynolds in the Orlando MG Spl 1.5- Murrays Corner.

(B King)

More Australian Motor Sports, this time incorporating the ad for the sale of the Lukey Bristol.

Cooper T45 Climax..

(G McNeill)

 

(unattributed)

Lukey rounds Stonyfell Corner, Port Wakefield, South Australia in the 1959 ‘Gold Star’ round- Cooper T45 Climax.

The shot below was taken during the Fishermans Bend Gold Star round in early 1959.

(unattributed)

Information about this car is a bit opaque, like so many Coopers of the period but the story goes something like this. Chassis T45 ‘F2-10-58′ was believed to be a factory machine raced by Jack Brabham until it was damaged at the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix.

It was acquired by Jack after being rebuilt around a new frame, brought to Australia and raced to second place behind Stirling Moss’ similar Rob Walker owned car in the 1958 Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park, the last race meeting held at the celebrated circuit in its first iteration as a motor racing venue.

Jack then took it to New Zealand to contest the 10 January Ardmore NZ GP, again finishing second behind the Walker/Moss T45. He was second at Wigram and third at Teretonga behind Ron Flockhart, BRM P25 and Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T45 Climax and then headed back to Europe, Len acquired the car at this point.

The car was then bought by Melbourne’s Jon Leighton who raced it successfully for a couple of years albeit the competiton got pretty tough with so many 2.2 and 2.5 litre FPF engine T51 Coopers on the scene.

It passed into the hands of Melbourne Architect Richard Berryman, and then later to Len Lukey’s widow, the car was an attraction at the Phillip Island museum for many years during the long period the Lukey’s owned the track and was occasionally raced by Keith Lukey, Len’s son.

Robert Shannon, founder of the insurance business well known in Australia was the right kind of owner sensitive to the car and it’s importance- I recall speaking to him about it during Melbourne City Chamber of Commerce meetings on several occasions.

After Robert’s sudden death by heart attack, Ron Walker, ‘father’ of the Albert Park Australian GP’s of today owned it, did nothing with it and then rather blotted his local copybook by selling it via Bonhams in the UK. It would have been rather nice if the Cooper with such a significant Australian history was advertised locally and stayed here.

Do contact me if you can assist in filling the gaps.

Credits and references…

John Ellacott, Kevin Drage, Ken Devine Collection, Bob King Collection- Spencer Wills photographer, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and others, Doug Nye on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, oldracingcars.com, Wikipedia, Jock Walkem, Charles Rice, Geoff Smedley, Andrew ‘Slim’ Lamont, Greg McNeill, Austin Miller Family Collection

Special thanks to Bob King for some wonderful photographs and tidbits from his AMS collection

Tailpieces: Lukey with Cooper T23 Bristol sans bodywork, Templestowe circa 1958…

(B King)

 

(B King)

Finito…

My theory is that there are only a relatively small number of ‘T-Intersections of Life’ decisions which are key in determining the paths which follow…

Its interesting to read Tony Davis’ biography (with Akos Armont who has directed the accompanying documentary due in cinemas early next year) of Jack and pick what those may be.

Johnny Schonberg’s wife and her pressure on him to give up racing in 1948 gave Jack his start- that it was a speedway car meant Brabham both got a taste of competition and also entered the sport in Australia at its professional end- that is he quickly realised there was a dollar to be made if you were good.

David Chamber’s suicide meant his Cooper T23 Bristol was available when it landed in Australia in 1953- Jack was able to buy it with his savings and assistance from his parents and REDeX. Whilst Jack was a name in speedway the RedeX Special put his name in lights on the circuits. Cooper inclined, he bought Peter Whitehead’s Cooper Alta to race in England- a shit-heap as it transpired, but he attracted the attention of the John and Charles Cooper with it when he moved to the UK, donned some overalls in Hollyfield Road, initially on an unpaid basis and six years later had bagged two World F1 Titles with the team.

Jack poses with Number 28, the Midget he and Johnny Schonberg built which was then powered by a 996cc 8/80 JAP engine. It’s his first race night in a 23 year career, Parramatta’s Cumberland Oval on 5 December 1947 (T Wright)

 

Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol REDeX Spl at Mount Druitt circa 1954. The sponsorship arrangement and advertising, not allowed by CAMS, caused Jack plenty of grief (Nye/Brabham)

Betty Evelyn Beresford was the right choice of Jack’s partner in life- she allowed Brabham to have absolute focus on his racing whilst she brought up the family of three boys- all successful racers themselves of course.

It transpires that Brabham was ‘Jack The Lad’ and not averse to a bit of Hanky Schpanky outside the matrimonial boudoir, this ultimately caused the end of his marriage in 1994. Jack’s second marriage to his secretary, Margaret Taylor, in 1995 is not explored in the book, a shame as she looked after him for over two decades but maybe this was simply too painful for the Brabham boys who unsurprisingly adored their late mother. Conversely, Gary Brabham’s charges and jail for child sexual offences in 2009 and 2016 are covered in brief, to the credit of Davis and the Brabhams.

The partnership between Ron Tauranac and Jack was key of course, this relationship dates back to 1951. Brabham involved him in consulting on major modifications to the Cooper T45/51 whilst he and his brother Austin were building the first series of Ralts before he came (home in a way, he is a Brit by birth) to England to commence Motor Racing Developments Ltd with Jack at the dawn of the sixties.

It transpired they needed one another too- Davis explores Jack’s ‘relevance deprivation syndrome’ and mental health after he retired to the bucolic splendour of outback Australia and Ron had been shafted in the sale of MRD to Bernard Charles Ecclestone within twelve months of Jack jumping a Qantas 707 to enjoy his boat on the Georges River.

Yeah, well you may well be the boss of McLaren in a decade cocko but to soften the front bar turn it the other way! Tauranac, Brabham and Ron Dennis at Monaco in 1970- BT33 Ford Cosworth, second after that last lap mistake- Jochen Rindt the winner in Lotus 49D Ford

 

Repco RBE640 2.5 litre ‘Tasman’ V8 in the back of Jack’s Brabham BT23A at Warwick Farm in the summer of 1967 (B Wells)

The precise start of Brabham’s relationship with Repco- when they gave him his first free part is unknown and never will be but from little acorns did big things grow. Jack saw close up Charlie Dean and his Repco Research Team and their work in building and racing the Maybachs, got a further sense of their facilities and capabilities in the manufacture of the Repco Hi-Power cylinder heads for the Holden ‘grey-six’ cylinder engine- designed by one PE Irving. At some stage, probably via Charlie Dean, Jack met ‘Dave’ McGrath, Repco Ltd CEO, Frank Hallam saw on opportunity to look after Jack’s Coventry Climax FPF’s in Richmond circa 1962, and the rest- a cuppla world titles is history.

The final T-Intersection call was to retire at the end of 1970- its significant in that Brabham pulled the stumps at the top of his game and was able to die in his Gold Coast bed, an opportunity Bruce McLaren, Piers Courage and Jochen Rind- statistics in 1970 did not have. Davis relates how Jack thought he still had a year or three in him but Geoff Brabham speculates that Brabham knew it was getting harder for an older guy to run at the front as cars became more aero dependent and developed greater G-forces. Jack was 44 in 1970, Ronnie Peterson was 26 to put the Australian’s challenge into some kind of competitive perspective…

She’ll be ‘comin down The Mountain, Easter Bathurst 1969. Brabham BT31 Repco RBE830 2.5 V8- its practice, he raced with the rear wing only- first place in his last commitment to Repco in Australia (D Simpson)

 

Betty, Jack and his self built monoposto, all enveloping bodied Cooper T40 Bristol during his championship F1 debut at Aintree in 1955. Happy times and the world at their feet (S Dalton)

This is the fourth book on Brabham but the first biographical account- what makes it different are the perspectives of Geoff and David Brabham, Ron Tauranac, Stirling Moss, John Surtees, Denny Hulme, Frank Matich and many others rather than the account being largely Jack’s perspective.

There is plenty of ‘nuts and bolts’ for we uber-enthusiasts, i do like Tony’s ‘Cooper T45 Climax’ rather than ‘Cooper’, much of the story will be familiar to those of us of a certain age but there are a heap of fragments which were new to me. What was interesting throughout the process- i need to declare a bias here as i was engaged twelve months ago to read and comment upon the manuscript along with a few others, was to get to know Tony and understand some of the commercial elements of publishing. The intended readership is much broader than you and i, targets extend to more casual observers and those from outside racing, i believe Tony has made that ‘straddle’ of ‘average punter’ to enthusiast masterfully.

Australian readers of the Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review will be aware of Davis as a motoring writer but he is also a noted author of adult and kids fiction as well as a number of motoring books. He is the son of Pedr Davis, who turned 90 in November, one of the doyen of Oz ‘muttering rotters’ from the sixties to nineties.

After reading the first few chapters of the manuscript i rang Tony and advised him that he was a Perick! ‘Why?’, he enquired. ‘Because you write with a beautiful descriptive fluidity, and i have been made acutely aware of my own limitations’ i responded.

Do buy the book, its a great read over the festive season or otherwise!

‘Brabham- The Untold Story of Formula One’, published by Harper Collins, ISBN: 978 1 4607 5747 5 (hardback) and ISBN: 978 1 4607 1122 4 (ebook)

Photo and other Credits…

Terry Wright’s ‘Loose Fillings’, Stephen Dalton Collection, Dick Simpson, Getty Images, Nye/Brabham, Bruce Wells

Jack loved the races he did for Matra in 1970- all he had to do was rock up and drive rather than have responsibility for ‘the lot’.

Here he is in the MS650 3 litre V12 prototype during the Brands Hatch 1000km- he shared the car with Jean-Pierre Beltoise to twelfth, Jack’s best result was a win at Montlhery later in the year, the Paris 1000km, his co-driver on that occasion was Francois Cevert in an MS660.

Finito…