Posts Tagged ‘John Crouch’

Kleinig, not Klienig by the way…

Many of you know I love the language of yesteryear racing reports, so the ‘National Advocate’ Bathurst 8 October report of the 7 October New South Wales Grand Prix is reproduced in full. In the manner of the day the reporters name is not identified, which is a shame as he or she has done a mighty fine job- its all ‘as was’ other than car descriptions where I have been a bit more fulsome with model designations.

The article is a fluke in that I was researching a piece on Frank Kleinig and came upon a batch of staggering photographs recently uploaded by the State Library of New South Wales- they are truly wonderful.

Taken by the staff of ‘Pix’ magazine, a weekly some of you may remember, it’s the first time the photos have been used in high resolution, when published way back they would have been in ‘half-tones’. The racing shots are great but in addition there are ‘people pictures’ of the type important to a magazine such as ‘Pix’ but which a racing snapper generally would not take, these are amazing in terms of conveying the overall vibe and feel of the meeting and times more generally.

Digital scoreboard linked to yer iPhone via the Internet thingy (SLNSW)

 

Najar and Nind at the start, MacLachlan is looking pretty relaxed sans helmet, they were off the same handicap of either 7 or 15 minutes depending upon the source (SLNSW)

Here goes, and remember this event is run to Formula Libre and as a Handicap…

‘Fortunately the racing was not marred by any serious accidents. The only accident occurred during the running of the first race, the under 1500cc Handicap when the young Victorian driver, Wal Feltham crashed at ‘The Quarry’. He was thrown heavily and sustained a fractured collarbone. His car, an MG P Type was badly damaged and he had a miraculous escape. He just managed to jump from the car a few yards before it hurtled over a hillside to crash about 80 feet to be completely wrecked. Feltham was admitted to the district hospital for treament.

It was certainly an afternoon of thrilling races and the scene will long be remembered. The racing circuit throughout the whole length was packed with struggling humanity. All sorts of motor vehicles were there from the first model Ford to the post-war type. As a matter of fact the aggregation of cars was perhaps the greatest ever seen locally and every inch of parking space was taken up.

There were 23 starters in the classic race and it was remarkably free from anything in the nature of a serious accident. Skids there were plenty on the hairpin and ‘S’ bends and though at times the situation looked both ugly and dangerous, the drivers always managed to gain control on their cars at the moment when the wide eyed spectators expected them to overturn.’

Mount Panorama Grandstand 1946 style (SLNSW)

 

Bill MacLachlan’s MG TB Monoposto- twin SU fed Xpag, three bearing four cylinder 1355cc engine (SLNSW)

‘It was on the famous ‘S’ bend, which had been especially noted as one of the most dangerous spots and at which the trials over the weekend that several drivers came to grief, that DA MacLachlan of Sydney had a thrilling experience. His car went into a skid and struck the sandbags on the side with such force that it was hurled across the track to strike the other side and narrowly miss the legs of two girls who were seated on top of the ledge. The car narrowly missed being hurled over the side overlooking a long drop of many feet.

Speaking after the race, the winner, Alf Najar, said that it was a hard race and that fortunately he had a good passage and his car travelled smoothly all the way. He mentioned that the last four winners of the Grand Prix at Bathurst had been tuned and prepared by Rex Marshall of Sydney and to whom he owed much for his success.

He also praised the Bathurst Council for the attention and care given to the track and added that it was because of the work done on the ‘S’ bend during yesterday morning that the drivers were able to negotiate with comparitive safety. The track, he said, was in good order even though it was not capable of holding cars travelling at over 100 miles an hour for any distance.

Speaking generally, yesterday’s race was one of the best of its kind ever run on any Australian circuit. The cars used were all pre-war models and consequently could not be regarded as fast and durable as the later models. In these circumstances the speed attained by the cars was right up to standard.’

A couple of chargers coming down the mountain. Ted Gray in the ex-Mrs JAS Jones Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Zagato by then flathead Ford V8 powered from Kleinigs Hudson Special. Ted Gray was quick from his earliest outings on Victorian Speedways and evolved into one of Australia’s elite drivers in Tornados 1 and 2- with  a little more luck he could have won the 1958 AGP at Bathurst aboard the big, booming Tornado 2 Chev (SLNSW)

 

John Crouch, Delahaye 135CS ahead of Alby Johnson’s MG TC. Crouch won the 1948 AGP at Leyburn aboard the beautiful Delahaye, perhaps one of John Snow’s most astute racing car purchases in terms of suitability for Australian racing of the day if not in outright pace but reliability (SLNSW)

‘High speeds were witnessed in the ‘Con-Rod Straight’ from the bottom of the S-bend to the left-angle turn (Murrays) into the starting straight (Pit Straight).

The officials had chosen a section of the straight solely for the purpose of checking high speeds and this was known as the Flying Quarter. The fastest speed attained was 119mph by John Crouch in the French Delahaye 135CS. His time was taken during three runs and each time he got progressively better. His speeds were 105, 108 and 119mph.

Jack Murray with the powerful Ford-Bugatti was second with 109mph. This car was exceedingly fast but the driver did not seem inclined to take risks. Rather than that he let it out at top speed while climbing the hills and this made up a considerable amount of ground.

Frank Kleinig also attained 109mph over the distance and brought gasps from the crowd by his masterly handling of the car which is really unique in Australian motoring history. It is made up of parts from several other cars. It takes off with a great leaping surge forward and picks up very fast. It travels like a rocket with no spluttering or back-firing usually associated with high powered racing cars.

The weather was almost perfect with no wind to carry the dust high into the air and into the crowd.

Sunglasses seem to have come into fashion for the summer and a number of girls who tend to forget to bring their sunglasses and hats were noticed wearing mens heavy glasses and sun helmets, while the poor boyfriend stood in the sun and sweltered.’

Pre race pit straight scene with Frank Kleinig’s Hudson Eight Special front and centre, Delahaye alongside? (SLNSW)

Grand Prix…

‘Racing keenly for 25 laps during which time they presented many thrills to the public, Alf Najar (NSW) defeated John Nind (NSW) for major honours in the NSW Grand Prix yesterday. AV Johnson gained third place and defeated FW Gray of Victoria for that position.

Najar and Nind were both driving MG Series TB of 1250cc and 1268cc respectively, started off the 15 minute mark, with DA MacLachlan in a MG Series TA of 1355cc. There has been a friendly rivalry between these three men for many years because of each others good driving and yesterday’s performance demonstated just how good these men are. MacLachlan came only ninth in the race, being handicapped by a faulty cooling system. He was forced to continually call at the pits for water.

At times Najar and Nind fought for minutes at a time trying to wrestle the lead from one another. However, Najar seemed to have the better of the going, for he finished about 600 yards in front of Nind. A remarkable point in the clash between them at the end of the distance- 100 miles is that Najar gained one second in every 3.84 miles.

One of the first to greet Najar after his win of the Grand Prix was his sister, who dashed over to the car as it stopped, threw her arms around him, kissed him and being so elated with the victory, burst into tears.’

Good boy! Alf Najar being congratulated by his mother and sisters after his big win. Looks like a beer to me (SLNSW)

 

Najar returns to the paddock after his win, MG TB Monoposto (SLNSW)

‘Johnson, who gained third place took the lead from L Phillips of Victoria, driving a 747cc Austin, when the latter stopped during lap seven owing to engine trouble. Johnson fought grimly to hold his lead, and did so until the 16th lap when Najar took it from him.

During the next time around he lost second place to Nind, but managed to hold off Gray, of Wangaratta, in a Ford V8 Alfa Romeo, long enough to finish the course. It was a remarkable feat on Johnson’s part, considering that the MG TC he was driving was an almost completely standard machine. He was equipped with lights, mudguards and all equipment to make it roadworthy.

JE Murray, who finished fifth in a 3622cc Ford Bugatti, gained the honour of fastest time by clocking 1hr.26min.24sec. for the entire trip of 100 miles. He drove brilliantly throughout and the car gave him the minimum of trouble. Apart from winning fastest time, the car was also one of the best looking on the track.’

Murray in the ex-Bill Thomson Bugatti T37A AGP winner, chassis ‘37358’ now Ford sidevalve V8 powered. This car and its adventures over its long racing life is a story in itself- still extant and in the process of restoration (SLNSW)

 

Alec Mildren, Mildren Ford V8 Spl and Jack Nind MG TB Spl. Mildren of course became a champion driver, winner of the 1960 Gold Star and AGP at  Lowood aboard his Cooper T51 Maserati. Alec was off 13.36 minutes and DNF (SLNSW)

‘A number of drivers were forced to pull out owing to mechanical trouble. Warwick Pratley, of Peel, one of Bathurst’s hopes, was forced to stop in the fourth lap of the second event- the over 1500cc handicap- after he had held the lead for two laps and looked to possess a chance of winning. Big-end trouble caused his withdrawal.

Norman Tipping, also of Bathurst in a Terraplane Six Special, was driving a most spectacular race, and was actually overhauling the leaders when the gear handle came loose in his hand as he was changing gear in the pit straight. The car pulled up some 100 yards beyond the pits. Tipping was proving a great crowd-pleaser with his spectacular cornering.

Tipping’s car had exceeded all expectations as he had been in difficulty with his engine over the past week or so and there was some doubt as to whether he would start. The final tuning of the locally manufactured Terraplane was not complete until midnight on Sunday night.  However, the car was on the track in time and with his clean, confident driving raised the hopes of Bathurstians each time he passed, being the only local representative left in the race.’

The great Frank Kleinig wearing a kidney belt working, as always, on his steed. This car started life as Wal McIntyre’s Miller 1.5 litre straight-8 engined Kirby Deering Special in 1936- an amalgam of MG Magna chassis, Mathis suspension and gearbox and much more. Fitted with a Hudson straight-8 prior to the 1938 AGP it was then named the Hudson Special or Kleinig Hudson Special, here in single carb format in a formidable machine the development of which never stopped. It’s still extant in Melbourne. Story on Kleinig completed and ready to upload soon (SLNSW)

 

Ron Ewing, Buick Spl. Built by Ewing and first raced at Bathurst in 1940, the clever car was a combination of Buick 8/40 straight-8 engine, Terraplane chassis and Lancia gearbox. Does it survive? (SLNSW)

‘Frank Kleinig, who was driving his own Hudson Eight Special, completed five laps and had to pull up halfway around the track with smoke pouring from his engine. For a moment, it was thought his car was on fire, but the trouble was in the clutch.

Ron Ewing, who was expected to do well in his Buick Special only completed one lap in very poor time and stopped for the same reason as Kleinig. His mechanics had been working vigorously on the car and just made the starting line in time for the start of the big race.

Ron Edgerton had only done four laps when he took his car, a Lycoming Special, powered by a Continental Beacon engine- out of the race with ignition trouble. It had been backfiring for a couple of laps and it was not surprising when his withdrawal was announced.

One of the mystery cars of the race, a monoposto Jeep Special, driven by NJT Andrews, of NSW, did not do as well as expected, and finished in lap five with the engine emitting eruptive noises. Others who did not finish the race included RS Ward’s MG Series TA and W Conoulty’s Austin Comet, both cars were from NSW.’

Bill Conoulty makes final adjustments to his Austin 7 Comet before the off. The ex-motor cycle racer, the first to do 100mph on a bike in NSW it’s said, used this car as a test bed for many of the engines he developed, inclusive of an OHV design. At one stage his Sydney business employed over 40 people (SLNSW)

 

John Crouch and his helpers ready the beautiful Delahaye 135CS sportscar, it’s chassis #47190. The car was famously barbequed in a trailer fire whilst Dick Bland and his guys were towing it back to Bathurst upon their return from the 1951 AGP meeting at Narrogin in Western Australia- it was rebuilt/reconstructed a couple of decades ago by Ian Polson and lives in splendid retirement in an American museum. I must get around to writing about John Crouch- a great driver, racing entrepreneur and administrator (SLNSW)

Results

Support Races

The Under 1500cc Handicap was won by John Barraclough’s Bill Nunn owned MG TB 1250cc, the over 1500cc Handicap was taken by Kleinig’s Hudson Spl who ‘drove with such determination and daring that he had overtaken seven cars and was rapidly overhauling the leaders…during one of the Flying Quarters he was clocked at 108mph…Murray’s Ford Bugatti did one better and clocked 109mph over the same distance’.

Grand Prix

Alf S Najar MG TB Monoposto 1250cc first in 1 hour 33 minutes 19 seconds, Jack P Nind MG TB Spl 1268cc second, Alby V Johnson MG TC 1250cc third, Ted Gray Ford V8 Alfa Romeo 3924cc fourth, J Murray MacKellar Special s/c (Bugatti T37A Ford) 3622cc fifth, Walter I Mathieson Jaguar SS100 2663cc sixth, John F Crouch Delahaye 135CS 3555cc seventh, Chas W Whatmore Ford V8 Spl 3917cc eighth and D ‘Bill’ A MacLachlan MG TA 1355cc. Fastest time, J Murray 1.26.24

Belf Jones, Buick Special from MacLachlan’s MG TA Monoposto- does anybody know about the Buick Spl? (SLNSW)

 

Bill Murray, Hudson Spl, DNF after 23 laps, car prepared by Frank Kleinig, not sure if he built it? Alf Najar is credited with renaming Pit Corner ‘Murrays Corner’ after Bill collided with the hay bales. Came back and won the 1947 AGP here at Bathurst in a stripped MG TC (SLNSW)

Alfred Najar…

Alf Najar arrived in Australia aged 8 years old with his parents and four sisters, the family hailed from Tripoli, Lebanon where his father had established a successful tailoring business.

They settled in Sydney and soon established tailoring and dressmaking enterprises in Kingsford and Auburn, this evolved into a small manufacturing business when Alf joined his parents in 1936. Clearly they were profitable, Alf having the income to build and race a car.

The factory was taken over by the government during the war years to produce clothing for the military.

Apart from his NSW GP win Alf was sixth and second in the 1947 and 1948 AGP’s respectively and was the holder of many sprint and hillclimb records inclusive of the 1946 Australian Hillclimb Championship at Bathurst.

He is also credited with starting the sport of water skiing in Australia together with ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray, in 1948 becoming a foundation member of the Australian Water Ski Association. In a lifetime of involvement in sport he was a member of the All Australian Five-Man Skeet Team for 16 years and held Australian and New Zealand titles in clay target shooting.

For many years he ran the family tailoring business including the acquisition of ‘Najar House’ in Campbell Street, Surry Hills- he and his wife retired in 1978 then trading and building property successfully. He died in 2015.

A couple of the Najar girls keeping an eye on big brother (SLNSW)

Etcetera…

(S Dalton Collection)

 

(S Dalton Collection)

 

AMS December 1946 (S Dalton Collection)

 

(B Williamson)

Cars pictured in the bucolic, rural, relaxed Mount Panorama paddock include #23, a mystery car!, with Hope Bartlett’s #10 MG TA Spl closeby. #31 is WD Feltham, MG P Type, #22 is Jack Nind’s MG TB Spl, the second #23 in the rear of the shot is Bill McLachlan’s MG TA Monoposto.

‘Monoposto Jeep’ or ‘The Andrews Special’…

The Monoposto Jeep Special our intrepid reporter mentioned piqued my interest, and as he often does, my mate Stephen Dalton came to the rescue with this April 1947 AMS article which explains all about the car- it is an attractive machine, does it still exist?

Its a bit tricky to read- I can manage by blowing it up with my trusty iPad, there is a precis of the salient bits below if you have insurmountable dramas.

(S Dalton Collection)

The car was designed and built by Gordon Stewart for Norman Andrews using many Lea Francis components as a base- chassis, front and rear axles and the gearbox.

The racers first meeting was the 1946 Bathurst event in which it was powered by a 2195cc Willys-Jeep engine which was immediately replaced by a circa 3.5 litre Austin OHV six which was modified in all the usual ways and fed by triple-Amal carbs to give over 130bhp. The Leaf gearbox was replaced by a Wilson pre-selector ‘box when the engine was swapped.

Semi elliptic springs were used front and back and Hartford shock absorbers, wheels were Rudge Whitworth wires and the body was formed in steel sheet.

I am intrigued to know how it performed in the ensuing years- and its fate.

(S Dalton Collection)

Credits…

National Advocate Bathurst Tuesday 8 October 1946, State Library of New South Wales, article by Brian Caldersmith in the HSRCA magazine 16 December 2015, Stephen Dalton Collection- Australian Motor Sports, Bob Williamson Collection

Tailpiece…

(SLNSW)

‘Flaggie’ 1946 Mount Panorama style, complete with suit, bowler hat and fag to calm the nerves…

Isn’t it a cracker of a shot? Somehow I doubt he has the athleticism of Glen Dix, Australia’s most celebrated practitioner of the flag waving art.

Finito…

 

 

 

 

 

Train commuters watch an unidentified MG TC, then Les Wheeler, MG TC chasing A Griffiths, MG TC Spl s/c at the June 1952 Parramatta Park meeting  (CRPP)

‘A two mile motor racing circuit with ground accommodation for 100,000 people is being built at Parramatta Park’ Parramatta, Sydney The Sunday Heralds headlines proclaimed on 21 October 1951…

 Parramatta is a large city within greater Sydney, 25 Km from the CBD, the huge park occupies an area of 245 acres and straddles the Parramatta River on the western edge of the town.

The 8,000 pound investment in the park facility was funded by ten local businessmen and used to clear and widen existing roads to a minimum of 28 to 30 feet. The projected average circuit speed of the circuit, designed and to be run by the Australian Sporting Car Club Ltd (ASSC), was 55 mph.

Barrie Garner, Frazer Nash in June 1955. Later an ace hillclimber in a Bowin P3 Holden. Track surface needs a sweep! Carnival atmosphere, big picnic crowd so close to the centre of Sydney (CRPP)

Motor racing in Parramatta Park had been mused about for decades. An article about the 1929 Monaco Grand Prix in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ mentioned the possibility of events in either Centennial Park, Sydney or Parramatta Park with the writer just as rapidly despatching the idea as one which would be scuttled by the authorities. Indeed, officialdom caused plenty of grief in relation to racing at Parramatta when it was finally becoming a reality.

The proposed event on 28 January 1952 was not the first planned at the venue, a meeting was scheduled to be held on 5 November 1938- the star Peter Whitehead.

The wealthy wool merchant/racer was to compete in his 1938 Australian Grand Prix winning ERA R10B. Officialdom intervened in the form of the New South Wales Chief Commissioner of Police who decided to ban the race on Friday, the day before the meeting, due to concerns about competitor and spectator safety. Click here for my article on the 1938 AGP including details and pictures of the ’38 abortive, aborted Parramatta Grand Prix. https://primotipo.com/2015/04/16/peter-whitehead-in-australia-era-r10b-1938/

In a reprise of the 1938 dramas the Chief Commissioner of Police again stepped in and refused permission for the January 1952 race. The ASCC appealed his decision before the Parramatta Court of Petty Sessions with the Magistrate upholding the appeal. The event was allowed to take place on the basis that spectators were permitted no closer than 40 feet from the circuits edge.

Over 40,000 paying punters turned up on raceday causing massive traffic jams throughout the area and its surrounds.

John Crouch Cooper MkV JAP from Curley Brydon’s MG TC Spl in a handicap event during the January 1952 meeting. One of the ultimate TC specials in Australia shaded by the new generation of cars. Check out the crowd (CRPP)

Star of the show that weekend was Sydney driver John Crouch driving a new-fangled, mid-engined Cooper JAP MkV to three wins of the seven events.

One of victories was perhaps the ‘main event’ of the day, a six lap invitation scratch race for the quickest guys of the weekend- he won it in his 1097cc Cooper. Stan Jones was second in the 4.3 litre Maybach 1 then came Reg Hunt’s mid-engined Hunt ‘500’ fitted that weekend with a Vincent 998cc engine Then was Jack Saywell’s Cooper 1000, Doug Whiteford’s 4.375 litre Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’  and Alec  Mildren’s 1750cc Dixon Riley. The results are indicative of the rise of the small, efficient, mid-engine Coopers in Australia as was the case everywhere else in the world! Crouch set the lap record with a time of 1 minute 59 seconds.

In a reminder that ‘Motor Racing is Dangerous’, a wheel came off Doug Whiteford’s 1950 Australian Grand Prix winner, ‘Black Bess’ whilst travelling at circa 80 mph and landed in the backyard of a Victorian cottage adjoining the course. Fortunately the lady of the house was not hanging out the washing at the time the errant wheel landed atop her prize petunias.

Peter Lowe, Bugatti Holden from Laurie Oxenford, Alvis Mercury, January 1952 (CRPP)

Many meetings were held at the venue until 1957, regularly attracting over 10,000 spectators when the demands and difficulties of holding the races became too much. The circuits closure left the New South Wales circuits at the time as Mount Panorama at Bathurst, Gnoo Blas, Orange and Mount Druitt in Western Sydney.

I have long wanted to write an article about Parramatta Park but a paucity of photographs was the barrier. Not so now- the convenor and members of the Facebook group ‘Car Racing at Parramatta Park’ have uploaded some pearlers of shots- I’ve chosen some at random to give you a flavour of the place. For you FB folks just find and like the page in the usual way.

Stan Jones with a touch of the opposites in Maybach 1 chasing ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray’s Allard Cadillac in the opening January 1952 meeting. Jones was so impressed by the speed of the Coopers in relation to his GP car he promptly placed an order for one, a MkIV was soon in his Balwyn, Melbourne driveway (CRPP)

Both the aces of the day and coming-men raced at the ‘Park including drivers such as Doug Whiteford, Frank Kleinig, Stan Jones, David McKay, Bib Stillwell, Dick Cobden, Bill Patterson, Lex Davison, Tom Hawkes, Alec Mildren, Tom Sulman, Ted Gray, Ron Tauranac, Jack Brabham and many others. RT ran the very first of his Australian Ralts in the opening meeting, as against the Pommie built ones, and his later partner Brabham raced his Dirt Midget!

Jones big Maybach ‘monstering’ Ron Tauranac’s Ralt Norton ES2 500, January 1952 (CRPP)

The program described Jack thus- ‘A familiar winner at the speedway, and this years Australian Hillclimb Champion, Jack should find the circuit well suited to his style. His car is very light, has four wheel hydraulic brakes and is powered by a home made engine using J.A.P bits’.

By the June meeting Jack had jumped into a Cooper Mk5 500, the wry description in the program observed; ‘Australian Hillclimb Champion of 1951, Jack, one of our best midget drivers, is a new recruit to road racing, his Cooper…was an 1100, now has an engine designed and built by the new owner, a foremost expert at getting quarts out of pint pots’ ! A sage description of Jack’s ability to conjure something out of not very much throughout his career as both constructor and driver.

Dick Cobden from Bill Patterson in Stan Jones car and Bill Shipway- Coopers galore, all MkV’s I think June 1955 meeting (CRPP)

Bibliography…

Sydney Sunday Herald 21 October 1951, ‘Fast and Furious: The 1938 Parramatta Grand Prix’ article by Peter Arfanis

Photo Credits…

‘Car Racing at Parramatta Park’ Facebook Group (CRPP)

Tailpiece: Parramatta Park opening meeting, January 1952…