Posts Tagged ‘Jack Brabham’

I’ve written a feature In the current Auto Action #1803 on Dan Gurney’s win in the 1961 Victorian Trophy aboard his works BRM P48 at Ballarat Airfield.

He and Graham Hill raced at Ardmore, NZ, Warwick Farm and Ballarat that summer. Dan’s win was an interesting one in his last BRM drive- it was his first international victory and the only one for the P48 on the last occasion the machine was raced in works hands.

It’s a nice piece, but then I would say that.

For us historic nutters there is also the first in a two-part series on Tim Schenken written by Mark Fogarty. This issue covers his formative years to F1, the next one his Ferrari sportscar drives, Tiga period with Howden Ganley and beyond.

Other standout reads in the sixty page issue are five pages on F1, four on the year ahead for F1, Indycar, F2/3, Moto GP and Taxis, two pages on Oz international Scott Andrews with whom I was unfamiliar and coverage of the Monte, Dakar and the Symmons meeting I was lucky enough to attend a week ago. Plenty of maxi-taxis too of course.

If you haven’t read fifty-years-young Auto Action for a while give us a whirl.

Hopefully the Tasmanian Back to Back Double-Banger season openers at Symmons and Baskerville become a fixture- lets hope so. It makes so much sense on all levels, get you bums down there next year if you can.

The racing was great, imbibing Longford for a cuppla days was magic not to forget some great Tassie touring, sun on the sand and a shandy or three. It was heaven on a stick really.

(unattributed but very keen to know the ‘snapper)

The more you look the more you see. All the fun of the fair. Longford AGP weekend March 1965.

Jack Brabham waits for the pressures in his Goodyears to be adjusted, Brabham BT11A Climax. That’s Roy Billington with hands on hips to the left and Bib Stillwell hovering- his new Brabham BT11A Climax is to the right. Next in line is the ill-fated #12 Ecurie Australie Cooper T62 Climax of Rocky Tresise.

Further along, obscured near the pit counter, is the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM with Lynn Archer’s #20 Elfin Catalina Ford 1.5 on the painted line. The light coloured car at the end of the queue is Frank Matich’ Brabham BT7A Climax.

Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T79 Climax  won this tragic March 1 race, see here; https://primotipo.com/2019/09/27/longford-1965/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

Credits…

Auto Action

Finito…

(G Gauld)

‘Its like a rocket Jack’. ‘It should be, you put it together champ’, the boss responded.

Frank Gardner and Brabham BT2 Ford on the BARC 200 Formula Junior pole at Aintree on April 28, 1962. John Bolster is hovering behind contemplating putting the bite on Jack for a track-test.

The lanky, laconic Aussie didn’t do quite so well with (perhaps) ‘FJ-2-62’ in the race. He ran out of road at Tatts Corner after 7 of the 17 laps ending up amongst the hay-bales close enough to the Pits for Jack to wander over just as he was recovering the car.

(B St Clare-Tregilgas)

 

Jack didn’t have a great day either. He raced Lotus 21 and 24 whilst Ron Tauranac toiled away on the first F1 Brabham, the BT3 Climax FWMV V8. The gears on his Lotus 21 Climax FPF stripped, the race was won by Jim Clark’s Lotus 24 Climax from Bruce McLaren’s Cooer T55 Climax.

The FJ race was won by Peter Arundell’s Lotus 22 Ford in a classy field which included Tony Maggs, John Love, Mike Spence, Richard Attwood, Denny Hulme and Alan Rees.

Etcetera…

(J Hendy)

It’s amazing to think of FG as a budding ‘young driver’ contesting Formula Junior races at Monaco in 1962. He was 31 when he lined up that May, a veritable geriatric by today’s standards when F3 pilots are barely shaving. He was racing a D Type before he left Australia. None of that counted for much when he landed in the UK of course. Sometimes you have to go down to go up, so to speak.

Frank was fourth in the first heat won by Peter Arundell’s works Lotus 22 Ford and failed to finish the final with clutch failure. Up front it was Lotus 22 Fords in first to third – Arundell from Mike Spence and Bob Anderson. All progressed to GP racing, as did Frank of course.

Aintree program in relation to Brabham (and Ausper) FJs (S Dalton)

Another shot of FG below, this time in BT2’s close relation BT6. Not at Aintree, but another horse-racing track, ‘God’s Acre of Motor Racing’, Warwick Farm in Australia.

Gardner had the system beaten. He did his thing in Europe each year and then had summer in the sun back home in Australia where he raced for Alec Mildren.

In 1964 he raced this chassis, ‘FJ-9-63’, Denny’s 1963 works FJ mount, by then fitted with a Lotus-Ford 1.5 twin-cam in the Australian Tasman Cup rounds.

(E Holly Collection)

His best result in the four races was fourth in the Lakeside 99, meritorious amongst the 2.5 FPF Climax powered opposition. Twelve months later he raced Alec’s BT11A FPF in an assault on all of the eight rounds. Frank used BT11As in 1965 and 1966, the shot below is again at Warwick Farm where Gardner was third behind Jim Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax and Graham Hill’s BRM P261.

(unattributed)

Photo Credits…

Graham Gauld, Brian St Clare-Tregilgas, John Hendy, Ed Holly Collection, Stephen Dalton Collection

Tailpiece…

Tattersalls Corner, where FG came to grief, is at bottom right.

Finito…

(Brabham Family)

Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol was billed as the fastest car of its type in the world as a Jack’s ongoing development of it with Frank Ashby’s advice and mentoring off to the side.

These images from the Brabham Family Collection were taken at Mount Panorama during the Easter 1954 meeting, the start of the A-Grade scratch race.

Jack’s T23 being tended by Keith Holland in the white overalls and Arthur Gray of Belshaw Foundry in the blazer (Brabham Family)

I’ve done Cooper Bristols and Jack’s T23 chassis ‘CB/1/53’ to death, here; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/24/the-cooper-t23-its-bristolbmw-engine-and-spaceframe-chassis/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2016/06/24/jacks-altona-grand-prix-and-cooper-t23-bristol/

The other two photos are at Mount Druitt, Stephen Dalton reckons June 27 1954 or 8 August 1954, thanks to Stephen and John Medley for photo IDs.

Credits…

Brabham Family Collection, ‘The Jack Brabham Story’ Jack Brabham with Doug Nye, Stephen Dalton, John Medley

Tailpiece…

(Brabham Family)

Finito…

(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…