Posts Tagged ‘Jack Brabham’

(L Stringer)

After Jack Brabham won his second World Championship on-the-trot at Boavista, Portugal in late August 1960 he returned to Australia between the Italian and US Grands Prix (Riverside that year) to contest the Craven A International, a one-off race sponsored by a cigarette company, at Mount Panorama on October 2.

The great one raced a Cooper T51 Climax 2.5 (perhaps chassis #F2-4-59) to a convincing win from the similar cars of Bill Patterson and Bib Stillwell, albeit their cars were powered by 2.4-litre and 2.2-litre Climaxes respectively.

Jack takes his slot on the dummy grid, car #10 is John Roxburgh’s Cooper T45 Climax, DNF accident (L Stringer)
Brabham in Cooper T51 #1, #2 is Mildren’s Maserati engined T51 and #4 is Stan Jones’ T51 Climax, DNF accident (L Stringer)

Brabham started from pole and won by 36 seconds. Coopers occupied the first five places of nine finishers in a field which included such pre-War ancients as Tom Sulman’s Maserati 4CM and Frank Elkins Holden engined Bugatti Type 37.

Australian motor racing was still in transition – very quickly – to the modern mid-engined era.

(L Stringer)
Brabham takes the plaudits of the crowd and ‘snappers. Jumper, or perhaps a cardigan over the top of his overalls indicates a chilly Spring Bathurst day! (L Stringer)

These photographs posted by Leigh Stringer on social media this week beautifully capture the vibe and feel of that long ago weekend at Bathurst.

The Gold Star (Australian Drivers Championship) had been won by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati that year, he won four of the seven championship rounds. This Bathurst event wasn’t a title round, but it didn’t stop 28 cars starting the race, and even more entering it, such was the attraction of racing on the same grid as our Champ!

Credits…

Leigh Stringer, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

(L Stringer)

No shortage of Esso capped assistance for Brabham, perhaps Tom Sulman’s Aston Martin DB3S behind? Where is John Medley’s Bathurst Bible when you need it, not here with me in the UK at the moment?!

The end of this story has information on the Cooper T51s in Australia, it draws together the results of 15 years of research by several marque experts; The Naughty Corner ‘Renta’ GP Winner… | primotipo… and this one may be of tangential interest, Coopers Type 41-51; Cooper T41/43/45/51/53… | primotipo…

Finito…

Bill Downie, HRG, Caversham, Western Australia circa 1960 (K Devine)

Ignorance is bliss! Until now I’d assumed Brabham’s 1966-1968 Repco F1 V8 engine rebuilds/freshen-ups were done back at RBE’s Maidstone, Melbourne base, but that’s not the case

“When we started to use the Repco Brabham V8s (the very first race for the new engine was the January 1, 1966, non-championship South African Grand Prix) it was clear to Jack that sending them back to Melbourne for rebuilds wasn’t going to work given the time it would have taken,” recalls Bob Ilich.

The Australian mechanic/technician worked for Jack Brabham Conversions, Motor Racing Developments (MRD-constructors of Brabham cars) and the Brabham Racing Organisation (BRO-Jack’s race team) during the 1965-1967 glory years.

“There just wasn’t the time between race meetings to fly engines backwards and forwards between England and Australia, the logistics just didn’t work.”

In 1966 BRO contested nine championship GPs and four non-championship events (remember those!), and in 1967 11 championship GPs and five non-championship races; Race of Champions at Brands, Spring Cup and International Gold Cup at Oulton Park, the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone and the Spanish GP. This intense program yielded world drivers championships for Brabham and Hulme, and manufacturers titles for MRD/Brabham Repco in 1966-67.

In short, the season was very full from early January until the Mexican GP in late October.

Jack had a ready-made machining solution when the H.R.G. Engineering Co Ltd – founded by Major Edward Halford, Guy Robins and Henry Ronald Godfrey in 1935 – ceased trading in 1966.

HRG built 241 sports and racing cars in addition to their core general engineering work. In 1956 they stopped building cars, their engineering clients included Cooper, and later Brabham.

“When Jack moved BRO from the Canal Yard, Byfleet Road, New Haw Surrey premises (which had been shared with Motor Racing Developments) to Guildford in early 1966, ex-HRG machinist Ron Cousins and his equipment, lathe, milling machines etc were already there doing work for Jack Brabham Conversions which operated from an Esso Service Station in Woking.”

“Conversions did general service and tuning work, fitted Coventry Climax engines to Triumphs and Austin Healeys, made performance modifications, and later did the development work on the Brabham Vauxhall Viva/Torana.”

“The Guildford premises had administration offices upstairs including a drawing office for John Judd, who was back at BRO after his stint with RBE in Maidstone. He was in constant touch liasing with Norman Wilson, RBE’s Chief Engineer in Melbourne.”

“Downstairs was the Brabham Conversions Parts Department, a large workshop where the racing cars were prepared and the transporter parked, Ron Cousins’ machine shop and an engine rebuilding workshop for Jack and myself,” Bob recalled.

“After the first couple of runs in South Africa and testing in England, the engines had oil leaks Jack said we needed to fix. The first rebuilds were to address this, over time of course we did freshen-ups as required.”

Bob Ilich with gasket kit at BRO, New Haw circa March-April 1966. Brabham BT17 sportscar coming together behind him and Holden EH abroad (unattributed)

“All the components we needed were sent from Australia including the new for 1967 700 Series blocks. I remember replacing three 600 Series blocks with the much stronger Repco 700 block, the three Olds F85 based blocks were still in a corner of the workshop when I left. If anything needed machining, Ron Cousins did it,” Bob recalls.

“By the end of the 1967 racing season the only thing we hadn’t mastered was the timing chain cover which still leaked a bit, but those 740 engines were otherwise bullet proof.”

“None of the engines were ever sent back to us for rebuilds,” confirms Michael Gasking, long-time RBE, Maidstone, Melbourne engine fitter and chief dyno test pilot.

“We sent engines and components over as they were needed, Jack and Frank (Hallam, RBE General Manager) were on the ‘phone all the time discussing updates and problems discovered at the track we needed to fix or enhance.”

So, there you have it, a little tidbit of RBE history not in Repco press releases or the history books.

Thanks Bob Ilich, I’m not sure quite how it popped into our conversation, but very much appreciated!

 Etcetera…

HRG

Among HRG’s products/enterprises were the original UK import rights for Weber carburettors, twin-cam HRG (Singer) engines, the Stuart Proctor designed crossflow cylinder head, inlet manifolds and rocker covers for BMC B-Series engines (usually marketed by VW Derrington rather than HRG themselves) and overhead-cam Ford 105E conversions.

HRG originally operated from Tolworth, Surrey and later Oakcroft Road, Chessington, also located in Surrey.

The then HRG director/shareholders, having reached retirement age closed their solvent, profitable business in 1966. Derringtons took over the drawings, patterns and moulds to manufacture cylinder heads and Jack Brabham acquired or absorbed the machine shop equipment and Ron Cousin into his group…

The main-man out front of Jack Brabham Motors, Hook Road, Chessington (unattributed)

Brabham Premises

There is plenty of interest in Brabham, Jack Brabham, Ron Tauranac and Repco Brabham Engines at quite a granular level.

With an imminent trip to the UK, I’ve a couple of Brabham Sacred Sites at which I’m going to pay homage, with that in mind here is a list fellow Brabham Tourists may find of interest.

Please treat it as work in progress, I’m keen to hear from any of you with additional information to add, or corrections which should be made to this list.

United Kingdom

.Jack Brabham (Motors) Ltd : 248 Hook Road (cnr Hook Road and Somerset Avenue, Chessington, Surrey.

Established circa 1959, ESSO garage, Rootes Group dealership. Phil Kerr ran the business, until his departure to McLaren. Ron Tauranac lived in a Bed-Sit in these premises when he first arrived from Australia and built the MRD (the first Brabham Formula Junior machine ) in a lock-up downstairs.

.Repco UK : Victoria Road, Surbiton, Surrey.

Circa 1957 at the Earls Court motor show. Repco’s marketing division and warehousing facility which sold garage and wheel balancing equipment, and later engine rebuilding, reconditioning and balancing equipment etc.

Space was sub-let to MRD to build Brabhams. The MRD, and Brabhams until when?, were constructed at these premises.

.Motor Racing Developments Ltd (MRD) : Canal Yard, Byfleet Road, New Haw, Weybridge, Surrey.

Circa 1962, manufacturer of Brabham cars and later Ralt cars

Shop floor at Motor Racing Developments circa 1966 (Repco)
Brabham Racing Organisation in 1970, Guildford. Jack’s F1 Brabham BT33 Ford being prepared (D Phipps/MotorSport)

.Jack Brabham Conversions Ltd : 131-139 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey.

ESSO service station, modifications to Sunbeam Rapiers and other cars inclusive of fitment of Coventry Climax FWE engines to Triumph Herald, Austin Healey Sprites etc

.Brabham Racing Organisation Ltd (BRO) :

Initially co-located with MRD.

In early 1966 BRO moved to Weyford House, Woodbridge Meadows, Guildford, Surrey as outlined in this article.

High Performance Exhaust Systems Ltd (Directors Len Lukey and Brabham) sold and fitted Lukey Mufflers for cars, trucks and tractors from this location

BRO moved – partially – back to New Haw (MRD) circa 1968. Allan Ould recalls building the BT25 Indycars in the BRO workshop at MRD that year.

The F1 car prep and machining ‘shops remained at Guildford.

Jack Brabham (Worster Park) Ltd : 33-51 Central Road, Worster Park, London.

Vauxhall dealership in the-day, redeveloped in more recent times as the residential ‘Brabham Court’.

Jack Brabham Ltd : 23 Stoneleigh Broadway, Epsom, Surrey.

?

Jack Brabham (Ewell) Ltd : 5 Ruxley Lane, Ewell, Epsom, Surrey.

Circa 1965. Appears to have been the site of another car dealership?

Engine Developments Ltd (Judd Power) : Leigh Road, Swift Valley, Rugby.

Partnership of John Judd and Jack Brabham which commenced in 1971.

.Brabham family home.

3 Ashcombe Avenue, Surbiton, Surrey, from 1965 Greater London, below.

(P Stockden)
Repco Brabham Engines, Mitchell Street, Maidstone premises early 1967 during the Tasman Series (Repco)

Australia

Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd.

This entity was the Repco subsidiary incorporated circa 1965 to design and construct the Repco Brabham race engines

A small team was initially located in a small part (the engine laboratory) of Russell Manufacturing Pty Ltd at 85-91 Burney Street, and 26-34 Doonside Street, Richmond. The first V8s were built there.

Nigel Tait picks up the story, “The engine lab that was at the back of Russell Manufacturing (Doonside Street, Richmond) was to service the then current Repco factories producing engine parts.”

“Once the Repco Brabham project started to outgrow that small lab, a decision was made to relocate it over to the Maidstone site that had been purchased from the original Automotive Components Limited company some years earlier. One of the four or five factories on that site was cleaned out and early in 1966 the manufacture and assembly of the RB engines was progressively transferred from Richmond.”

“The new company, Repco Brabham Engines Pty Ltd was incorporated, the Repco Ltd (parent company) Director responsible was Bob Brown, the General Manager was Frank Hallam.”

“Eventually a new test centre was built out the back, it was very sophisticated and state of the art with two dynamometers compared to what we had in Richmond.”

Michael Gasking testing RBE620-E2 2.5 V8 on the Heenan & Froude GB4 dyno in the old Myers garage – corrugated iron tin-shed – Doonside Street Richmond Engine Lab. The distinctive long-inlet trumpets allows easy identification of this engine as that used by Jack at the 1966 Sandown and Longford Tasman rounds. Mike is testing it either before the Sandown round, or immediately after it. The engine suffered oil pump failure and had to be quickly rebuilt before being sent to Longford…so it’s either mid-February or 28-29 February 1966 (Repco)
More sumptuous surrounds at Maidstone circa 1967. Very well equipped, RBE were set up to build engines with great precision in numbers. That two axis Cincinatti Vertical Acramatic milling machine (in the middle of the photo) is claimed by the man who sold it to Repco to be the first numerically controlled machine tool sold in Australia. The timing cover case lying flat this side of the vertical tape reader (the light coloured cabinet) was made on this machine (Repco)

“So, from about mid to late 1966 (the move started during the Xmas summer break of 1965-66) the whole of the racing engine project was at Maidstone and the engine lab in Richmond continued to service the Repco engine division.”

“Later, the same dynamometer set up was used for the (1969-1974) Repco Holden F5000 project.”

“In the meantime Repco started to move some of the piston and ring manufacturing plant over to the Maidstone site and for a while both sites operated as Repco Engine Parts – Richmond Plant and Maidstone Plant.”

“Then in 1986 Repco sold off the Engine Division to a management buyout and the same products continued to be made at the two plants though eventually all were consolidated at the Maidstone site, Richmond having been sold.”

“The management buyout company didn’t have a name and Repco kindly allowed it to be called Automotive Components Limited (ACL), so the wheel turned full circle,” Nigel Tait recalled.

The Richmond (art deco) buildings are extant, Maidstone became a housing estate close to a decade ago, below.

(N Tait Collection)
(N Tait Collection)

“The memorial at Maidstone was the brainchild and project of a local councillor about 2015. We had Michael Gasking and (now the late) Don Halpin (above) to cut the cake at the unveiling ceremony,” Tait recalled.

“Michael was at Richmond when I joined Repco as a cadet engineer, and I was assigned to work with him as his assistant on Repco Brabham with engine assembly and running the engines on our dynamometer (Heenan and Froude GB4).”

“Michael was (is) a good man, very skilled, a good teacher and very thorough. The engines he built won the 1966 championship and probably half of 1967 (Denny) as well.”

“Don, sadly now gone, was an amazing engine builder, worked in my team after Repco Brabham and the F5000 Repco Holden days on alternative fuel projects for the government, and post retirement built customer racing engines until the end. I miss Don…” recalls Nigel of his colleagues and friends.

Credits…

Bob Ilich, Nigel Tait, Ken Devine Collection, Paul Stockden

Tailpiece…

Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course there are Jack’s businesses in Australia too (both before he went to the UK and after he left to return home) in the automotive, aviation and rural sectors but my focus is just those of the Repco-Period.

If we widened the lens we would be going for weeks I suspect…

Finito…

Note ‘bi-hi’ wings mounted to the rear uprights, and front top suspension inner mounting point. Hewland FT200 gearbox (P Strauss Collection)

“A photograph is everything!” Doug Nye told a group of us several months ago when we were arguing the toss about some knotty identification problem...

My Repco Brabham Engines buddy, Rodway Wolfe and I wrote the ‘definitive article’ on Jack’s Brabham BT31 Repco, his 1969 Tasman mount years ago. You’d think that would be easy enough given it only raced twice in-period, see here for the masterpiece; Brabham BT31 Repco: Jacks ’69 Tasman Car…by Rodway Wolfe | primotipo…

We thought the car was assembled and run for the first time in Australia a couple of days after Rodway helped Jack unpack the wooden MRD box in which BT31-1 was shipped to Port Melbourne, and put it together at RBE’s Melbourne factory between February 12-14, 1969.

But no!

Photographs from Peter Strauss’ collection, custodian of BT31 for 15 years or so, clearly show that the car was tested (by Jack) at Goodwood in late 1968 before being pulled apart, packed into the wooden box then shipped far-far away for Jack and Rodway to open at Maidstone on February 12, 1969.

(S Dalton Collection)

This short UK BT31 chapter was covered by Autosport in their January 3, 1969 issue, found by my friend, ace researcher/writer Stephen Dalton.

“The Brabham BT31, MRD’s (Motor Racing Developments – Brabham) new Tasman car, is based on the BT28 F3 design but with 1.75 ins more wheelbase, larger brake discs and calipers, a different engine bay to accommodate the four-cam (actually SOHC, two-valve) 85mm x 55mm Repco RB830 V8 engine, and twin side fuel tanks. The RB830 develops 290bhp at 9000rpm and uses twin Mallory distributors.”

“The engine top bay tubes detach to facilitate engine removal, and side radiator outlets are included. Wheels are 13-ins diameter with 9-ins front rims and 14-ins rears. The car has been tested at Goodwood, and a full kit of suspension, chassis, gearbox and body components has been sent to Australia to be built up locally for Jack Brabham to drive at the Warwick Farm and Sandown rounds of the Tasman Series.”

Over the years Peter told various people his car had run in the UK. Those-in-the-know, including yours truly, thought Strauss had his-hand-on-it (a colloquial Australian expression suggestive of the telling of a porky-pie).

“When I bought the car off the previous American owner a lot of photographs came with it including those two. I was told the pit-shots may have been Snetterton, it will be interesting to find out where they are.” A learned group of British historians confirm the circuit as Goodwood.

I’ve got to know Peter quite well during Covid, it’s funny how many new-Covid-buddies I have. We dealt with the business of the day recently, then he showed me his BT31 photo album, he flicked through the first few pages, then paused on one particular spread…

“Fuck me dead!” I said, rather loudly. It’s another vulgar colloquial expression, of surprise actually. I might add that I wasn’t issuing an invitation to poor Peter.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, but instantly knew what I was looking at! What was it that nice Mr Nye said about photographs as a source of fact rather than the written word?…

(P Strauss Collection)

Postscript…

Peter has three Brabhams, BT31, a BT11A Climax 2.5 FPF and an FJ BT6 Ford Cosworth 1100, lucky bugger. Along the way he met Messrs Brabham and Tauranac, individually and collectively quite a few times.

Brabham is on-the-record – a number of times in conversations with different individuals and groups of people – as saying that had they (MRD, BRO and Repco Brabham Engines) stuck with another simple SOHC, 3-litre V8 in 1968 rather than raced the under-developed, four-cam, 32-valve 3-litre 860 V8 powered BT26 they could have won another world title. That is three-on-the-trot, 1967-1968, rather than two in 1966-1967.

I don’t doubt that Jack said it but the notion doesn’t stack up. Ford Cosworth V8 engined Lotus, McLaren and Matras won every round of the 1968 World Championship with the exception of the French GP which went to Ickx’ Ferrari 312 V12.

In fact the Brabham Racing Organisation did race a simple SOHC BT24 740 (BT24-3) on several occasions in early ’68 while awaiting BT26 to come on stream. At Kyalami it was Q5 and DNF engine for Brabham, in Spain Q9 and DNF oil pressure for Rindt, Monaco Q5 and DNF accident for Rindt. At Zandvoort Dan Gurney returned to the Brabham fold for just that meeting. Dan popped the car 12th on the grid but DNF with throttle problems. For the sake of completeness, Jochen used it at Brands during British GP practice before Kurt Ahrens raced it at the Nurburgring to 12th place under the Caltex Racing Team banner.

So, to Jack’s point, the Brabham Racing Organisation raced a simple SOHC car in 1968 on five occasions, the best the circa 330bhp machine could do among seven or eight 400bhp Ford Cosworth V8 engined cars was a couple of fifths on the grid…

(P Strauss)

Strauss picks up that vein, relating a conversation he had with Ron Tauranac “At Eastern Creek about 2014. While Ron Tauranac (above) was trying to figure out how to make BT31 run cooler, he mentioned that he had built a few cars (sic!) but recalls that they (MRD) were building a car for the ’68 (F1) season, smaller than usual to save weight and make it more slippery. He found out that fuel cells were going to be mandatory which meant that the BT31 would not comply as the tanks were wrapped around chassis members and could not fit bladders.”

A 3-litre 830 engined BT31 is an interesting theory/coulda been but RBE mechanics/engineers have long said that no 3-litre 830 V8 was ever built by RBE in-period, they were all Tasman 2.5s. Some 3-litres (and larger) were built in the modern era by Don Halpin and perhaps others.

Further, the F1 bag-tank rules RT alluded to were mandated from the start of 1970, not 1968 or 1969. This FIA requirement effectively forced Tauranac to part with the spaceframes he had hitherto used to such good effect in F1. His 1970 monocoque BT33 was rather a good thing too, whilst noting his 1968-69 BT25 Indycar used an aluminium monocoque too.

Credits…

Peter Strauss, Autosport, Stephen Dalton

Tailpiece…

(P Strauss Collection)

Brabham at Bathurst during the Easter 1969 Gold Star round, won convincingly by Jack who practiced with various wing combinations and permutations but raced BT31 as above.

One of the various what-ifs about this car is whether, suitably updated, he could have won the 1970 Tasman Series with it? This ignores the fact that his Repco deal was over and Betty probably would have shot him if he had raced that summer rather than chilled with the kids at the beach…

It was quick enough to win the ’70 Tasman Cup mind you.

Maybe.

Finito…

Jack Brabham aboard his Brabham BT24/1 Repco ‘Streamliner’ in the Monza pitlane during the September 10, 1967 weekend.

Lanky Dan Gurney is at right keeping an eye on his old-boss, while Jo Ramirez, in the white pants/dark top, and the All American Racers crew, tend to Dan’s erotic Eagle Mk1 Weslake #103.

Brabham, Ron Tauranac and Repco-Brabham Engines nicked the 1966 F1 World Drivers and Constructors titles from under the noses of those who were a smidge quicker, but not as well organised or reliable as the Brabham and Hulme driven Brabham BT19/20 Repco 620 V8s.

They did it again in 1967, not that it was a lucky win. Their 330hp Brabham BT24 740 Repco V8 was all new; chassis, engine and major suspension components. They got the cars running reliably el-pronto, aided and abetted by blooding the new exhaust-between-the-Vee cylinder heads during the Tasman Cup; both drivers used 2.5-litre RBE640 V8s throughout New Zealand and Australia.

Lotus ran them close of course. Colin Chapman’s Lotus 49 chassis – in truth little different to his 1966 Lotus 43 – was powered by the new 400bhp Ford Cosworth 3-litre V8, rather than the heavy, unreliable 3-litre BRM H16 engine fitted to the 43.

Driven by a couple of champs in Jim Clark and Graham Hill, they were mighty fine, quick cars, but not in 1967, reliable enough ones. That would come soon enough, of course…

Brabham, all enveloping rear body section clear (MotorSport)
Ron Tauranac, Keith Duckworth and Denny Hulme swap notes. “Have you really only got 330bhp Ron?” (MotorSport)

As Lotus and Cosworth Engineering addressed engine reliability, Brabham and Tauranac tried to squeeze more speed from Ron’s small, light BT24.

There was only so much Repco Brabham Engines could do with the SOHC 740 Series V8, they were busy just keeping up with routine rebuilds for the two BRO cars. As the year progressed the Maidstone, Melbourne crew explored the 850 radial-valve V8 as their ’68 F1 engine, and then, having spent way too much time flogging that dead-horse, on the definitive, but way-too-late 860 DOHC, four-valve V8. Click here for a piece on the RBE740; ‘RB740’ Repco’s 1967 F1 Championship Winning V8… | primotipo…

The aerodynamics of the BT24 was another thing entirely of course. That was within Ron and Jack’s control. If MRD could just make the car a little bit more slippery through the air, maybe an extra 500revs or so would make the difference between race wins, and not.

By the time the team got to Monza on September 7, the cocktail of goodies tried on Jack’s BT24 included the all-enveloping windscreen used on an F2 BT23 earlier in the year, all-enveloping bodywork extending right back beyond the endplate of the Hewland DG300 transaxle, and spoilers which were tried either side of the car’s nose, and alongside the engine. Remember, the Chaparral inspired explosion of wings in F1 occurred in 1968.

Rear spoiler, Monza (MotorSport)
Note the winglets or spoilers, Jack’s nosecone at Spa in mid-June 1967 (MotorSport)

Jim Clark started from pole, with 1:28.5 secs, ahead of Jack on 1:28.8, then Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon and Dan Gurney in BRM, Ferrari and Weslake V12 engined cars, then Denny in the other BT24 on 1:29.46.

Jack could have won of course, but the equally foxey John Surtees out-fumbled him in the final corners, bagging a popular win for the Honda RA300 V12. Denny retired with over-heating so the championship – ultimately decided in his favour – was still alive, with races in the US and Mexico to come.

The office of BT24-1, Jack’s car. The Varley battery is in the aluminium box beneath the driver’s knees (MotorSport)

One of my favourite Grand Prix cars, the BT24, was just enough of everything, the sheer economy of the car always strikes me. See here for my last rave in relation thereto; Give Us a Cuddle Sweetie… | primotipo…

It was the first time Ron had designed an all-new F1 chassis since BT3 way back in 1962. Beautiful details abound, not least the new cast-magnesium front uprights first fitted to Jack’s BT23A Repco, his ‘67 2.5-litre Tasman Cup mount, in late 1966, the Alford & Alder/Triumph Herald uprights used hitherto were finally cast aside.

Hulme’s BT24/2 during the British GP weekend (MotorSport)
Feel the noise…Monza pit action. Brabham and Denny behind him in the distance. The queue by the Armco is headed by Mike Spence’ BRM P83 H16, Chris Amon’s Ferrari 312, perhaps then one of the Cooper Maseratis (MotorSport)

BT24/1 debuted at the same race meeting, Zandvoort 1967, as the Lotus 49 Ford DFV, albeit Jack raced BT19, his ’66 championship winning chassis. Jim Clark won famously on the debut of an engine which set the standard for a decade and a half, more if you include its many derivatives.

Denny’s BT24/2 was ready at Le Mans, when Brabham and Hulme delivered the old one-two, with The Boss in front. Clark won at Silverstone, before another BT24 one-two with Denny ahead of Jack. At Mosport Jack won from Denny. Hulme won at Monaco in May (his first championship GP win), so led the championship by nine points from Jack, with Jim further back. Clark dominated the balance of the season, winning at Watkins Glen and Mexico City, but Denny’s two third placings won him the drivers title and

Those with F2 knowledge will recall that Frank Costin’s Protos Ford FVA raced with a cockpit canopy akin to Brabham’s in 1967. BT24/1 here, again at Monza. Whatever the straight-line benefits, Jack simply couldn’t place the car as he wanted given the difficulty of seeing thru the canopy (MotorSport)
If I knew how to use Photoshop I’d get rid of ‘boots’, but I don’t…BT24/1, ain’t-she-sweet (MotorSport)

BRO sold the cars to South Africans, Basil van Rooyen (BT24/1) and Sam Tingle (BT24/2) after the end of the season. When it became clear that Jochen Rindt’s 1968 BT26 was running late, he raced BT24/3 – which first appeared at in practice, at Monza in September 1967, carrying #16T – in some of the early races of 1968. He raced BT24/2 at Kyalami (Q4 and third), and BT24/3 at Jarama (Q9 and DNF oil pressure) and Monaco (Q5 and DNF accident), before Dan Gurney had a steer at Zandvoort (Q12 and DNF throttle).

The final works-gallop of a BT24 was Jochen’s use of BT24/3 during practice over the British GP weekend at Brands Hatch in July. Before you pedants have a crack at me, for the sake of completion, German ace, Kurt Ahrens, raced the BRO tended, Caltex Racing Team entered, BT24/3 to Q17 and 12th place at the Nurburgring in 1968. Brabham BT24 chassis anoraks should click here; Brabham BT24 car-by-car histories | OldRacingCars.com

Threatening in an elegant kinda way. You can see what is being sought, ignoring the inherent streamlining difficulties of fully outboard suspension front and rear. Ron went to front inboard springs and rockers with the ’68 Indy BT25 Repco and ’70 F1 BT33 Ford (MotorSport)

Credits…

Magnificent MotorSport Images, Getty Images, Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

Easy-peasy, two hands are for schmucks!

Denis Clive Hulme shows us how it’s done at the Parabolica; Denny’s elegant, sublime prowess for all to see. BT24/2 Monza 1967, ‘standard’ bodywork.

Finito…

(S Van den Bergh )

It’s an interesting car badge, don’t you reckon?

One of our friends in Belgium, Stef Van den Bergh, bought it recently and wants to know more about it. ” I am curious who made it. I suppose it was Honda since Brabham isn’t even mentioned on the badge. How many were made and were they sold, or given as a present?”

So there is the challenge folks. Was it made by Honda, the Albi GP organisers or their merchandise people, or perhaps a ‘renegade’ wanting to cash in on Honda’s presence in F2 as well as Grand Prix racing?

The real McCoy – and below fitted to the nose of Denny Hulme’s Brabham BT18 at Montlhery in September 1966. That weekend Jack Brabham won from Jim Clark’s Lotus 44 Cosworth SCA with Denny third, having started from pole. That season, many races were Brabham-Hulme one-two’s

When Richie Ginther won the 1965 season – and 1.5-litre formula – ending Mexican Grand Prix, Honda bagged it’s first of many F1 successes.

Honda entered F2 with Brabham that year, see here for an earlier piece I wrote about this topic; ‘XXXII Grand Prix de Reims’ F2 3 July 1966: 1 Litre Brabham Honda’s… | primotipo…

Brabham raced a BT16 powered by S800 Honda engines at four meetings in March and April 1965; Silverstone, Oulton Park, Snetterton and at Pau with poor results. Honda set to work to produce an engine which wasn’t so peaky from May to August, then Brabham reappeared at the Oulton Park Gold Cup and the GP Albi later in September. He retired with clutch dramas at Oulton but was right on the pace at Albi, finishing second to Clark’s Lotus 35 Cosworth SCA by six-tenths of a second after nearly two-hours, and 309km of racing…Honda were in town!

1965 Honda RA300E F2 engine in a Brabham BT16 chassis : 1-litre (72×61.2mm – 996cc) all alloy, DOHC, four-valve, fuel injected circa 135bhp @ 10000rpm (1965 RA302E 150bhp @ 11000rpm) four cylinder engine. Weight 145kg (Brabham Family Archive)
Jack from Denny at Goodwood during the Sunday Mirror Trophy on April 11, 1966. Brabham BT18 Hondas one-two (Honda Racing)

The calibre and depth of F2 grids then is shown by looking at the Albi field, in order of finishing (or not); Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme, Jochen Rindt, Alan Rees, Mike Spence, Frank Gardner, Bob Bondurant, Jo Schlesser, Jean Vinatier, Brian Hart, Trevor Taylor, Silvio Moser, Guy Ligier, Mike Beckwith, Graham Hill, Geki Russo, Peter Revson, Henry Grandshire, Eric Offenstadt, Ludovico Scarfiotti, Paul Hawkins and Richard Attwood. Five world champs, a couple of Indy winners, three Le Mans victors and two Can-Am Cup champions.

Ron Tauranac and Jack Brabham had plenty of balls in the air during 1965, apart from the usual manufacture of production racing cars and the running of works teams (Motor Racing Developments and Brabham Racing Organisation) in F2 and F1. They had nascent engine programs with Honda (F2) and Repco Brabham Engines (Tasman and F1), and in addition were helping Goodyear develop tyres which were critical to Brabham, MRD, BRO and RBE’s two 1966 F1 championship wins; the manufacturers and drivers championships.

Jack Brabham, Brabham BT16 Honda during practice for the cancelled BARC Senior Service Trophy at Silverstone on March 20, 1965. The race was cancelled due to excessive amounts of water – visible – on the circuit
Ron Tauranac at left with stopwatch board, and Jack attend to changes during practice at Montlhery during the September 11, 1966 weekend. Brabham BT21 Honda. Brabham won by three seconds from Jim Clark’s Lotus 44 Ford SCA with Hulme two seconds behind Jim

The European F2 Championship commenced in 1967, the first year of the 1.6-litre F2. Despite the lack of a title in 1966 (although Brabham won the six round French F2 Championship) Brabham Honda were absolutely dominant. Of 16 major races held in Europe, Brabham won 10; Goodwood, Pau GP, GP Barcelona, GP Limborg, the London Trophy at Crystal Palace, GP Reims, the Kanonloppet at Karlskoga, Finland GP, GP de L’ille France at Montlhery, and the GP Albi. Six of these events were Brabham Honda one-twos, with Denny bringing his car home behind his team-leader. Hulme won two races as well, the GP Rouen and Trophee Craven A on the Le Mans, Bugatti circuit.

Credits…

Stef Van den Bergh, F2 Index, Getty Images, Brabham Family Archive, Honda Racing, MotorSport

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

A couple of happy-chappies after the conclusion of the Pau GP on April 17, 1966. Jack and Denny finished in line astern aboard Brabham BT18 Hondas, with five-tenths of a second between them. Back in third, nearly 1 1/2 minutes adrift was Graham Hill in John Coombs’ Brabham BT16 BRM P80. Brabhams filled six of the top ten placings.

Finito…

(Auto Action)

Jack Brabham’s last win (I think) was the Formula Ford Race of Champions at Calder on August 15, 1971.

30,000 Melburnian’s turned up to see our just-retired World Champ beat a classy field of past and present Oz champions including Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, Bib Stillwell, Alan Hamilton, Bob Jane, Leo Geoghegan and Allan Moffat. Click here for pieces on the meeting, here; Calder Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ August 1971… | primotipo… and here; Jack’s Bowin, again… | primotipo…

The sight of Teddy Whitten interviewing Black Jack on the victory dais gave me a chuckle. Whitten (RIP) is a legendary Melburnian, one of our most decorated of all VFL/AFL footballers. While he had the gift-of-the-gab, his motor racing knowledge could fit easily on a postage stamp so his banter with Jack for the punters at the circuit and on Channel Seven would have been amusing.

(Allan Moffat, Wren FF)

Moffat is a touring car icon of similar stature to Teddy, but he hadn’t competed in single seaters for a few years, see here; Allan Moffat, Single-Seater racer… | primotipo…

He enjoyed the Formula Ford foray, brief as it was, commenting in his Auto Action column; “My car – Morley Ford Wren went like a charm. I enjoyed the change in handling and the beautiful response you get. There’s no doubt that these cars teach you quickly and teach you well.”

“Sitting out there in the open with the front wheels bobbing a few inches away and the track disappearing alongside is a really thrilling experience. Formula Ford just has to be the way for the young drivers,” was great endorsement from Moff during FF’s second full season in Oz.

If those who would change FF fuck-off and leave things well alone we should have the category for another 50-years. When it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Credits…

Auto Action, Sydney Morning Herald

Tailpiece…

(SMH)

The great EJ Whitten, wearing his beloved Big V, Victorian state side jumper, during training for a state carnival game in 1963.

Finito…

Ya gotta be kiddin’ blokes! This thing is rattling my teeth!

Is the look on Jack Brabham’s face aboard his Brabham BT24 Repco in the Mosport pitlane. By the end of the weekend he was a happy-chappy as winner of the first, soggy, 1967 F1 Canadian GP…

These days every Tom, Dick and Harold has a little, lightweight GoPro to capture their every move aboard their kart, board, bike, girlfriend or racer. It was a whole different ballgame in 1967, the state of the art was somewhat more cumbersome.

The interesting thing is where the footage ended up? Perhaps it was quickly consumed by the local TV news audience. I’ve had a fossick on that YouTube thingy but cannot find anything, do let us know the link if you discover its whereabouts.

Jim Clark and Graham Hill were quickest in qualifying aboard Lotus 49 Fords from Chris Amon, Ferrari 312, Dan Gurney, Eagle Mk1 Weslake, Bruce McLaren, McLaren M5A BRM V12, Brabham’s BT24 Repco and Jochen Rindt, Cooper T81 Maserati.

image

Into the first turn at Mosport its Clark Lotus 49, from L>R Stewart BRM P83, Hill Lotus 49, Gurney Mk1 Eagle and Hulme Brabham BT24. That’s Rindt far left Cooper T81, Amon’s Ferrari 312 is in the murk behind Stewart’s left rear and the rest (unattributed)

Rain fell before the race to make things interesting. Clark led from Hulme, who took the lead on lap four, with Jack passing Hill for third. I rather fancy driving the Brabham, with its nice flat, fat torque curve rather than the DFV engined Lotus with its very abrupt power delivery in its earliest days in these conditions.

Bruce McLaren worked his way up thrugh the field, taking Jacks third place, then on lap 22 he took Clark’s second too. Clearly the conditions suited the V12 BRM engined McLaren. As the track dried, Jim and Jack both passed Bruce. Denny was still happily in the lead but Clark’s Lotus was quicker in the dry conditions and soon led, it rained again. Clark kept the lead but then his DFV went kaput. Jack overtook Denny at about the same time and won from Hulme with Gurney a distant third.

At the end of the meeting Denny had a nine point lead in the drivers championship over Jack, but with three GP’s to go; Italy, the US and Mexico City it was well and truly game-on between the buddies and teammates.

image

Jack is on the drying line in BT24 so I think its him re-taking McLaren’s M5B third place, rather than Bruce taking Jack earlier on  (R Laymon)

Jack was out-fumbled by John Surtees’ Honda RA300 on the last lap, last corner at Monza with Hulme retiring due to overheating early in the race. At Watkins Glen Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford won from Hill’s with Denny third and Jack a distant fourth. Denny then led the championship from Jack by five points before the final round. It was all down to Mexico where Clark won from Brabham and Hulme. Denny bagged the title from Jack – 51 points to 48 points and Jim third on 41.

The car of the year was undoubtedly the new Lotus 49 Ford in terms of outright speed, but the less powerful, not much slower and more reliable new Brabham BT24 chassis with its new Repco Brabham 740 Series V8 should never be forgotten in the shadow of the sexy Lotus 49, as it always is! It did win the Manufacturers Championship after all.

Credits…

 Ron Laymon Photography

Tailpiece: Winners are Grinners and Jack had a smile which lit a room. Mosport 1967…

image

(R Laymon)

Finito…

stan 2

Stan Jones wins the 1954 Victoria Trophy at Fishermans Bend in his shortlived, brand new Maybach 2, 21 March 1954…

Regular readers may recall the feature on Stan, Alan’s dad and a champion in his own right a while back. There are not many photos of Maybach 2 as it was only raced briefly before Stanley comprehensively destroyed it after a chassis weld failure, at the ’54 AGP at Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

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

Jones raced Maybach 2 at Easter Bathurst, then Altona, Victoria on May 2 and at Fishermans Bend in October before that fateful November weekend. Still, he was lucky not to lose his life in the high speed trip backwards through the Southport scrub and trees.

The beauty of these online blogs is that you can continually update them as you find new shots, this set are so good I thought it worth a fresh post.

davo HWM Jag

Davison in his new HWM Jag (VHRR Archive)

Maybach wasn’t ready for the Victoria Trophy preliminary on Saturday, but contested the 64 mile feature event on the airfield circuit in Melbourne’s inner west.

He took the lead from Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar before the first corner. Davos’ original intention was to fit the HWM with the engine from his Alfa Romeo P3, the complexities of that undertaking with the straight-eight, supercharged engines central power take-off were immense! He therefore fitted the HWM with a Jaguar engine topped by a C-Type head, the car was victorious at Southport in November winning the first of Davison’s four AGPs.

It was Jones’ Victorian Trophy though, he lapped the field, leading Jack Brabham’s Cooper T23 Bristol over the line by three miles.

jack brabham

Davison #3 HWM Jag, Ted Gray #8 Alta Ford V8 and Brabham’s obscured Cooper T23 Bristol. Fishermans Bend 1954 (VHRR Archive)

jb and art wylie

Arthur Wylie in the Wylie Javelin ahead of Brabham’s Cooper Bristol. Victorian Trophy 1954 (VHRR Archive)

sil massola HRG

Silvio Massola’s HRG, Fishermans Bend 1954 (unattributed)

Etcetera…

(The Age)

Stan won in 1953 too.

Here he is, two happy chaps Ern Seeliger at left, again at Fishos, on this occasion Ern had prepared Maybach. But he was also a racer as well as an engineer, famously adapting Maybach 3 to accept a Chev V8 creating, you guessed it, Maybach 4.

A very talented man, little has been written about him and the products of his Richmond workshop, a great future topic.

Photo Credits…

Victorian Historic Racing Register archive

Finito…

Jack Brabham, Brabham BT4 Climax, Warwick Farm 1963 (J Ellacott)

The airwaves were abuzz last year with the news of Sebastian Vettel’s departure from Ferrari.

It seems only yesterday he was the ‘enfant terrible’ giving Mark Webber plenty of stick, a decade or so later, the worm turned for him in the form of Monsieur de Clerc.

Still Seb has been on a motza for a decade or so, resort islands are cheap in the post Covid 19 world, back in ‘the good ole’ days’ the commerce of motor racing was a tad tougher.

(New York Times)
Vettel and Leclerc after a territorial dispute in Brazil 2019

Jack Brabham worked all the angles; he built racing cars with Ron Tauranac, raced cars in F1 via his business Brabham Racing Organisation and raced Coopers for the works and via ‘Ecurie Vitesse’.

Not to forget modified cars via Jack Brabham conversions, columns in magazines which were ghosted for him and the sale of this years car to Australian racers at the end of each summer; the Cooper T40 Bristol in 1955, Cooper T39 Bobtail in 1956, Cooper T41 Climax FWB in 1957 and lordy knows how many T45/51/53s from 1958 onwards.

By the Australian summer of 1962/3, he and Tauranac had built and raced their first F1 Brabham, the BT3 Coventry Climax FWMV V8 from the middle ’62 season. They constructed a Coventry Climax FPF engined variant of that spaceframe design for ‘Intercontinental’ use designated the BT4.

Jack took the first of these machines to Australia for the 1962 AGP at Caversham, outside Perth. He was looking good for a win after a furious dice with Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 when he tangled with Arnold Glass’ BRM P25 Buick V8, Bruce bagged a nice win.

Not to worry, the car made a good impression on the local hotshots, many of whom had bought Coopers from him, or via him. There were the NZ Internationals to contest and several races in Australia in those immediate pre-Tasman Cup years.

Jack started from the front row of the NZ GP at Pukekohe but cooked a head gasket after only 12 laps- John Surtees’ Lola T4A Climax won. He won at Levin from Tony Maggs and Innes Ireland who were Lola T4 Climax and Ferguson P99 Climax mounted. On the Wigram FNZAF Airfield Bruce McLaren won in the Cooper T62, at Teretonga Bruce won again, with Jack fourth albeit he took the lap record- Maggs and Ireland were again second and third.

While the racing was going on so too was the commerce. David McKay purchased Jack’s BT4 after Teretonga, Bib Stillwell ordered one too which was entered at Warwick Farm. A replacement car was air-freighted to Jack for the Australian races, which in time honoured Brabham fashion he would sell to Lex Davison at the end of the summer.

The Australian Grand Prix was held at Warwick Farm that year on February 10. Brabham BT4s dominated the results sheet; Jack won in his new ‘IC-2-62’, David McKay was fourth in Jack’s ‘old’ ‘IC-1-61’ and Bib Stillwell was fifth in his new ‘IC-3-’62’. Interlopers were Surtees and McLaren – second and third in Lola Mk4A and Cooper T62 respectively.

It wasn’t an easy win for Jack mind you, the ship carrying the new car arrived late so it had to be flown from Melbourne to Sydney, finally arriving late on the Friday night.

As Jack recalled in Doug Nye’s book, instead of Tim Wall having days to prepare the car, he had ten hours. The car was at the Farm early, but lost the first of the early sessions with an electrical short. During second practice, Jack scrubbed in tyres and got the engine running properly, by the end of the day he was happy with the car despite starting from the rear of the grid.

In the race Brabham ‘sliced clean through the field’, then Surtees spun out of the lead on lap 31 of 45, allowing Jack to close right in and slipstream past on Hume Straight into Creek Corner. The resident bugler did his thing and crowd went nuts! (two shots below)

From Sydney, the circus headed north to Brisbane’s Lakeside where Surtees won from Hill, Stillwell and Chris Amon in David McKay’s old Cooper T53. It was one of a series of great performances that summer which saw him scooped up by the Parnell team and taken to Europe.

The teams then had a two week break to prepare the cars and transport them to Melbourne and across Bass Straight for the South Pacific Championship held over the Labour Day long weekend in early March.

Bruce McLaren won from pole, equally impressive was Bib’s second place only a second adrift of the Kiwi international and then local boy John Youl third in his Cooper T55- both the guys in front of him ran 2.7 FPFs, Youl’s was a 2.5.

Then it was back across Bass Straight for the opening Sandown meeting (above). There Bruce was again on pole from Jack, and won from Maggs and McKay with Jack a DNF engine a lap before the finish.

While Jack did a roaring trade in Brabham BT4s there is little doubt that had there been a Tasman Cup in 1963 Bruce would have won it, a feat he managed in ‘the first McLaren’ – a Cooper T70 – Climax the following year.

Credits…

oldracingcars.com, autopics.com, Ken Devine Collection

Tailpiece…

img_5785

(K Devine)

Brabham’s brand new BT4 Climax during the 1962 AGP weekend at Caversham, ain’t she sweet.

Finito…

(De Lespinay Collection)

Jack Brabham and John Cooper’s attack on the 1961 Indianapolis 500 took place on May 30, 1961. Lordy, that’s 60 years ago this weekend.

The story of their initial testing sortie in October 1960 in a GP T53, and Brabham’s problem-plagued ninth place in the race has been well told, not least in my piece in this week’s Auto Action #1811 https://autoaction.com.au/issues/auto-action-1811

Noddy Grohman giving the car a birthday after its qualifying run. Note the Dunlop wheels and tyres, more substantial roll-bar than the F1 equivalent, and big fuel tank on the left side (De Lespinay Collection)

David Friedman’s rare body-off shot shows the T54’s offset secrets- suspension, engine and gearbox, fuel tanks and driver. Transaxle is Cooper Knight C5S but with three, rather than the five speeds of the F1 spec ‘box (D Friedman)
Cooper receiving some Bear service before qualifying in May (De Lespinay Collection)

After the race, the star of the show was shipped back to the UK for a demonstration run at Silverstone, and then back to the car-owner, Jim Kimberly in the US. The Kleenex heir funded Cooper’s 500 attack.

The T54 at an SCCA Divisional meeting, Hillsborough, US in June 11, 1962. “Just after Kjell Qvale purchased the car…the Kimberly Cooper Spl lettering has been removed…at tis point the car had no engine, gearbox or driveshafts…(R Spencer)

Kimberley ordered two cars from Mickey Thompson for his ’63 Indy campaign, Kimberley sold 61-S-01, which had been on display in the Indy Museum for a little while, to Kjell Qvale, operator of British Motors in San Francisco.

Joe Huffaker, prominent engineer, suggested fitment of an Offy 4.2-litre DOHC, four-cylinder engine to the T54, this combination was potentially a race winning one.

Qvale sold Aston Martin amongst the suite of marques his British Motor Cars Ltd sold in San Francisco. He substituted the big, long, heavy – and as it turned out reliable but not powerful enough – Aston DOHC-six for the far more compact and suitable Offy four.

Joe Huffaker and Kjell Qvale with Cooper T54 Aston Martin in 1963, it looks pretty sleek from this angle (De Lespinay Collection)
Joe Huffaker contemplates the Aston Martin six, bulk, length and height. Chassis lengthened to accommodate it (De Lespinay Collection)
Rodriguez, T54 and crew for the obligatory Indy portrait shot (IMS)

Initial test laps at Indy by Ralph Liguori showed the Dunlop wheel/Firestone tyres combination was too weak, so cast Halibrands fitted with Firestones were substituted.

Later despite the best efforts of fizzy, fast Pedro Rodriguez at the wheel, the ungainly-looking car failed to make the qualifying cut.

The Cooper was the fastest thing through the corners, besting even the Clark and Gurney (Dunlop wheels and tyres) Lotus 29 Fords. The AM engine simply lacked the puff the company had promoted, Rodriguez’ qualifying speed was only 2mph than Brabham’s two years before despite better tyres.

The engine was returned to Newport-Pagnell, while the T54 was sold to a San Jose, California club-racer.

The photograph below shows the largely unmodified chassis, albeit fitted with a beefy roll-cage and nerf-bars for sprintcar use on the paved tracks of the northwest.

(De Lespinay Collection)

By 1966 T54 had changed hands a number of times. It was raced with a Maserati engine at Trenton and Phoenix, then Buick, Ford and Chev V8s in quick succession.

By 1976 the Cooper had morphed into a bizarre Chev-powered mid-engined sprintcar raced by Darryl Lopeman.

Cooper T54 Chev (De Lespinay Collection)

Under that mountain of sinful-ugliness (ya gotta admire the guys’s innovation however), “are the original chassis and suspension, brakes, shock absorbers, pedal-cluster, radiator, oil tank, dashboard, seat and plenty of other bits” wrote Phillippe de Lespinay, saviour and restorer of the car.

The car was crashed through a wooden wall at Spanaway Raceway, Washington due to a stuck throttle. While Lopeman was ok, the nose and both rear, magnesium uprights were damaged.

(De Lespinay Collection)
(De Lespinay Collection)

The T54 “reappeared in 1990 as a bad wreck” in Tacoma Washington, its main components were the basis of the rear-engined sprint car.

The remains of both (the wreck and sprint car) were bought by De Lespinay in partnership with Robert Arnold. The car was then rebuilt, including the original 2.7 Climax FPF, by De Lespinay, Thomas Beauchamp and Gene Crowe aided by detailed photographs taken in period, and provided by David Friedman, some of which are included within this article.

T54 parts acquired by De Lespinay (De Lespinay)
Brabham with T54 chassis in 1991, ample hole in 2.7 FPF block clear (De Lespinay)

The chassis survived “inside another car”, the engine parts were tracked down in Texas and in Colarado. The block was welded by renowned Indy engineer Quincy Epperly, then rebuilt by Gene Crowe at Steve Jennings Race Engines in California.

As much as possible of the original car was used. An indication of this is shown by the shot of the machine during its rebuild in California during March 1991 – with Jack Brabham inspecting progress – it was ready for Brabham to drive at the Monterey Historics six-months later.

After the best part of a quarter-century of ownership Lespinay sold the car five years ago, many of you will have seen it demonstrated in the US, the UK or the Gold Coast.

Brabham and Cooper reunited at the Monterey Historics (De Lespinay)

Etcetera…

(De Lespinay Collection)

Smiles, and relief all round. Jack has made the cut, Cooper and Rodger Ward – who had cajoled and bullied, in a caring kinda way, Cooper and Brabham into doing the initial Indy test in October 1960 – all looking happy with a hard won time. Look at that crowd.

Front suspension detail, upper and lower wishbones each side – but offset to the left. Adjustable Armstrong shock and coil springs. Oil tank aft of radiator, Alford and Alder upright just visible, so too the Cooper steering rack and roll bar.

Note fuel filler cap, fuel tank above the drivers knees and big soft crash-pad attached to steering wheel hub.

Just don’t think too hard about a very high speed frontal collision…

(B Tronolone)

Charlie and John Cooper taking in the Indy vibe.

A decade before they were knocking out Cooper Type 15 and 16s as fast as they could build them. Ten years later they had a couple of World Championships in their pockets, and the rest.

Who knows, if the planets had been aligned, shod with Firestone tyres and a trouble-free run they may have bagged Indy in ’61 too.

Fortune favours the brave. That, they most certainly were.

Jim Kimberley leaning in at left, Cooper up. Pit stop practice

(S Dalton Collection)

Beautiful portrait of Brabham and his F1 Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 FPF during the October 5-6 1960 initial test session at Indy.

Credits…

Phillippe de Lespinay’s tsrfcars.com website and Cooper T54 Facebook page

Time-Life, David Friedman, Roy Spencer, Bob Tronolone, Car and Driver, Stephen Dalton Collection, Grid

Tailpiece…

(Life)

What it was all about really.

Beating a great big car with a little itty-bitty-one. John Cooper in the T54 being pushed away from Rodger Ward’s Watson-Offy roadster after practicing some pitstops

Finito…