Posts Tagged ‘John French’

(J Wright)

The grid for the Australian GT Championship at Lakeside, Queensland on 8 July 1962…

Bill Pitt, Jaguar 3.4 alongside John French in the Centaur Waggott/Holden, then the two Lotus Elites of Tony Osborne #16 and #7 Brian Foley. On the row behind is #21 Les Howard, Austin Healey Sprite Ford-Cosworth, in the middle the partially obscured #31 Porsche 356 of Tony Basile and on the left the white #30 Renault Floride of Terry Kratzmann .

The light coloured Sprite further back is #51 Sib Petralia, #60 Paul Fallu, Karmann Ghia whilst the #4 Wolseley has long time competitor Ken Peters at the wheel. The unmistakable outline of the grey Renault Dauphine is #6 M Hunt. Dennis Geary #22, was also entered in the HWM Jaguar- now in two-seat Coupe form but with the very same chassis and mechanicals of the car raced by Lex Davison to win the 1954 Australian Grand Prix, ‘just down the road’ at Southport on the Gold Coast.

The 50 lap 75 mile race was won in 62:6.06 minutes/seconds by French from Basile, Pitt, Howard then came Foley. Sib Petralia won the under 1 litre class, Basile the 1000-1600cc, French the 1600-2600cc and Pitt the 2600cc class and over.

The race was the third Australian GT Championship for Appendix K cars- the first was held at Bathurst during the October 1960 meeting and won by Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus Elite, the 1961 event was at Warwick Farm in July- Frank Matich won in his Jaguar D Type.

The CAMS relaxed attitude to the requirements of App K was that cars such as the Matich D, Bob Jane Maserati 300S, David McKay Lola Mk1 Climax and many other sports-racers were allowed to run to fill scanty grids, with hardtops cobbled together for the purpose.

Which rather negated the intent of the CAMS regulatory changes, lets not go down that path.

The first photograph had me tossed- I got Pitt and French but not the locale at all, i’ve never been to Lakeside and some earthworks after the first several years changed the look of the place a bit in any event.

So, many thanks for the detective work of regular collaborator Stephen Dalton and Glenn Moulds- the wise owls of The Nostalgia Forum can usually solve these knotty Who, What, Where and When problems.

Mind you, we are still cogitating in relation to the shot below, said to be Lakeside too.

If there are some Queenslanders out there who can confirm the whereabouts of the scene below that would be a bonus. My suggestion that its on the Jindabyne-Charlottes Pass road near Charlottes in the NSW Snowies so far has little support.

(J Wright)

Most of these photographs were popped up on the Shannons Insurance website by Dr John Wright a couple of years ago but only three were identified- we on primotipo…backed by the research horsepower of the TNF Crew are happy to oblige.

Lakeside was built on farm land purchased by Geoffrey Sidney Sakzewski at Petrie 30km north of Brisbane in 1957.

The first open race meeting was held on 19 March 1961- the landlord was keen to compete so pressed into service his wife’s  four door, light-green pillarless Plymouth Belvedere- here he is chasing the Jeremiah driven Holden FE. Rob Bartholomaeus advises the race was the Queensland Touring Car Championship- Bill Pitt is on his way to winning aboard his 3.4 Jaguar up the road- these two are scrapping for second, a battle won by the Jeremiah.

(J Wright)

 

Pondering and working on the remodelled Lakeside layout in 1965 before the 1966 AGP- David Harding, Ken Peters and Sid at right (unattributed)

 

(J Wright)

The profile of car and the helmet above will be familiar to most of you, its Hill G on his 1963 Australasian Tour during which he raced the Ferguson P99 Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF.

The rest of the hotshots ran 2.7 Climaxes in their Coopers, i’ve always thought it interesting to ponder how Graham would have gone with a bigger engine under the cars shapely bonnet.

Mind you, his only race win on the tour was a heat at Lakeside- its looks a tad soggy so I would not be surprised if Graham is on the way to a Saturday victory aboard this magnificent bit of engineering.

I waxed lyrical a while back about it, click here; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/30/ferguson-p99-climax-graham-hill-australian-grand-prix-1963/

(J Wright)

The poor old Kombi is groaning under the weight of so many champions in one place- 1200cc this model? and now highly sought after of course.

She’s a bit grainy but my best guess- and happy to hear from you, goes a bit like this from left to right- Frank Gardner in the white helmet looking away at the kangaroos, dunno holding the helmet, Arnold Glass in the darker blue race suit, Bruce McLaren holding the light silver helmet, short-sleeved fella probably Greg Cusack, Bib Stillwell and Graham Hill. ‘Blondie-locks’ behind is John Youl perhaps. Do get in touch with your bids.

The 1963 Lakeside International was won by John Surtees, Lola Mk4A from Hill’s Ferguson P99 and Bib Stillwell’s Brabham BT4- Climaxes all.

Back in the days of yore, until 1969, the Australian Touring Car Championship was decided over one race- the honour to host the event was awarded to Lakeside in 1964- race day was 26 July.

Lakeside’s proximity to Brisbane ensured a good crowd saw a contest waged between a huge variety of cars with Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan winning the first of his ATCC’s aboard a Ford Cortina GT from Norm Beechey, Holden EH S4, Bob Jane’s Jaguar Mk2 4.1, the Brian Foley and Peter Manton Morris Cooper S’, Glynn Scott’s Cortina GT and Brian Muir’s EH S4.

A series of heats, split into engine capacity classes determined the grid- Jim McKeown’s Lotus Cortina was on pole from Jane, Muir, Beechey and Manton.

Muir, Jane and Beechey led initially from Geoghegan and McKeown- Jim moved forward to second behind Muir- leadership of the race by Muir (below) was the first time a Holden had led an ATCC event- it would not be the last! Brian went off to fame and good fortune in Europe not so long after this.

(J Wright)

McKeown took the lead from Brian Muir on lap 7 with Beechey and Geoghegan battling for fourth. Bob Jane moved to second on lap 11 and then first when McKeown made an error and dropped to third behind Muir- at about the same time Warren Weldon locked a brake on lap 15, hit the bank and rolled onto his side a little bit behind Clem Smith who had clobbered the same bit of Queensland on lap 2, rendering his Valiant hors de combat.

The obstacles were raced around back in them days…Clem Smith’s very precarious Valiant R Type, and behind him Warren Weldon’s Holden 48-215 on its side. In the photo below you can see the blue McKeown Lotus Cortina partially obscured by the marshal. Passing Cortinas in both shots (J Wright)

 

(J Wright)

 

Done this one to death- Smith, McKeown and Weldon in line astern (unattributed)

Jane’s lead over Muir was up to 100 metres before clutch problems intervened circa lap 31- Muir then led from Pete and Norm who both passed Bob Jane. Encouraging for Holden, Muir led for the next 6 laps before a puncture forced him to pit, ‘While fetching the spare wheel, one crewman accidentally handed his motel keys to another crewman trying to open the cars boot lid. The delay cost Muir two laps and his chance of victory’ Wikipedia says.

Beechey led from Geoghegan who applied plenty of pressure to the EH in the lighter Ford taking the lead on lap 43, he held on for the next 7 laps to win by 1.2 seconds from Beechey. Jane was third despite a shagged clutch, thirty seconds adrift, with Foley and Manton’s Coopers the remaining cars on the lead lap.

Etcetera…

Start of lap 2 1964 ATCC.

Jane, Muir, Beechey, McKeown, Geoghegan, Manton, Firth, Foley and the rest.

(TRS)

Beechey and Muir in Holden EH S4’s with an obscured McKeown’s blue Lotus Cortina on the inside with Foley in the red Cooper S.

(TRS)

Pete Geoghegan’s winning Cortina GT ahead of McKeown’s Lotus Cortina.

(TRS)

Bob Jane’s very quick Jaguar 4.1 chasing Brian Muir’s Scuderia Veloce Holden EH S4, drivers using all of the available bitumen and a smidge of gravel on the inside.

Tailpiece: Lakeside Magazine looks good….

Credits…

John Wright Collection, The Nostalgia Forum- Stephen Dalton and Glenn Moulds, ‘TRS’- The Roaring Season’, Rob Bartholomaeus

Finito…

(S Hood)

Prime Minister Robert Menzies and Laurie Hartnett in the back of a Vauxhall Wyvern Caleche Tourer having opened General Motors Holdens new factory at Pagewood, in Sydney’s southern suburbs 1940…

I know its not a motor racing shot so it would normally be outside primotipo’s focus but the photos were too good to waste, and I will get there, a racing element is here to be found in a little bit.

(S Hood)

 

GMH Pagewood on the day of the plant’s opening (S Hood)

The merger of Holden Motor Bodies Ltd with General Motors (Australia) Pty Ltd as a result of the stress caused to the former during the great depression forged the basis of one of Australia’s great manufacturers and an iconic marque, the merged entity was named General Motors-Holden’s Ltd.

A great Touring Car Racing brand as well- there is the racing link I guess.

The new company opened its first factory at Fishermans Bend, in Melbourne’s inner west in 1936 and at Pagewood in 1940.

After World War 2 the business made coachwork for Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Vauxhall.

By the mid-forties the automotive industry had the government onside to encourage the development of Australia’s own car.

Holden, led by Hartnett got the upper hand on Ford in a pitch by keeping their demands for taxpayer support to a lower level than FoMoCo.

 

The first Holden was built to a reject 1949 model design based on 1946 Chevrolet mechanicals. The car was to sit between the bigger American’s and smaller British machines which dominated in Oz at the time. The engine was also Chev based. This photo is the 1945 clay model of the Holden 48-215, named the ‘Anzac Holden’ by its clay modeller, Frank Herschey

(SLSA)

 

Ben Chifley at the Holden launch, Fishermans Bend, 29 November 1948 (NMA)

In 1944 the feds invited GMH to build a family car suited to our unique, extreme climatic conditions.

American and Australian engineers hand built three Holden test cars at GM’s experimental workshop in Detroit- the first, chassis ‘19525’ was completed on 30 August 1946. After months of durability tests the cars were secretly shipped back to Fishermans Bend.

 

The very first Holden prototype ‘car number 19525 from Project 2000, which then became Project 320 and the initial prototype of the future 48-215 in the United States showing the cars temporary name ‘GMH’ above the ‘Holdens’ badge on the bonnet’. Rego Michigan BK-46-48 (SLSA)

 

Further testing took place locally and then GMH engineers and technicians built two further prototypes in Australia, the first of these was completed on 22 August 1947- these became the definitive model and shape we all know and love.

For the record, the first production Holden was completed on 1 October 1948, largely built off-line, it was a ‘Gawler Cream’ 48-215, body #6, VIN ‘8-1001-M’ and fitted with engine # ‘1001’.

 

 

In 1948 in a ceremonial scene akin to the opening image, then Prime Minister Ben Chifley pulled the covers off Holden #1, the ’48-215′ or Holden FX at Fishermans Bend on 29 November 1948, with mass production starting at the heady rate of ten cars a day!

Soon production boomed of course, and the rest, as they say is history- including the closure of the final Holden production line at Elizabeth, South Australia on Friday 20 October 2017.

The Australian motor industry as manufacturers of mass-market cars no longer exists. We now have a tiny number of niche companies- god bless Michael Borland and Spectrum Racing Cars down Mordialloc way in outer Melbourne for example.

 

Fishermans Bend 1948 (SLV)

 

48-215 first brochure

 

States Motors team, South Australia with one of their first two Holdens in December 1948 (D Loffler)

The ’48-215′ was economical, sturdy, stylish, light and with its modern’ish cast iron, OHV, 2171 cc/132.5 cid, in-line six cylinder engine gave better performance than similarly priced, or in some cases, more expensive cars.

In standard form the undersquare engine (bore 3 inches, stroke 3 1/8 inches) gave 60 bhp @ 3800 rpm and 100 foot/pounds of torque at a very relaxed 2000 rpm on a compression ratio of 6.5:1. The motor was fed by a single downdraft Stromberg BXOV-1 carburettor with spark provided by a Delco-Remy distributor. Gearbox was 3 speed- the shift was column mounted, the four-wheel drum brakes had a kerb weight of 2230 pounds to stop.

Amenable to tuning, enthusiasts were soon fitting twin-SU’s or Strombergs or Amals, extractors and giving the heads the usual port ‘n polish treatment to extract additional neddies which were easily found.

The post war explosion of the Australian economy with full employment, industry protected by high tariff walls and the ready availability of consumer credit made it possible for a family man or salesman to have not just day to day transport but also a car for club motorsport.

In many ways the work-horses of Australian motor-racing were MG’s of all sorts, both pre and post-war but especially T Types and the 48-215 or more colloquially the FX, and FJ ‘Humpy’ Holdens in the fifties and into the sixties- so many folks cut their racing teeth in these machines.

 

Redex Round Australia Trial Holden FJ competitor- in South Australia but otherwise intrigued to know the details (Adelaide Advertiser)

 

Len Lukey’s Ford Customline from Syd Anderson’s 48 Series (with non-standard grille) and Bob Holden, Peugeot during the 1957 Caversham AGP weekend (K Devine)

 

Touring car racing started in Australia at the sports inception, daily drivers in the earliest days were the cars which competed in trials and the timed speed events- hillclimbs and sprints within trials. The first Australian Touring Car Championship (Australian Stock Car Championship) was held during the Australian Grand Prix weekend at Lobethal, South Australia in January 1939.

The inexorable and later rapid rise of tourers over pure racing cars in Australia was largely due in the 1950’s to grids chockers with Holden’s- spectators turned out in large numbers to a growing number of race-tracks to watch blokes compete in cars outwardly similar to those in which many of the punters arrived at the race meeting.

In fact by the end of the fifties the quickest of the Holdens were quite sophisticated racers incorporating Phil Irving designed Repco ‘Hi-Power’ cylinder heads, two or three carburettors with one or two cars fitted with Merv Waggott’s twin-cam heads to create an ‘ultimate spec’ Holden.

MG TC and sometimes Jaguar four speed boxes replaced the Holden ‘three on the tree’ column shift gearbox, four wheel discs replaced the standard drums, the cars were extensively lightened and all of the rest…

 

Ron Harrop’s ‘Howler’ at Calder in the early seventies- Holden FJ with highly developed Holden ‘Red motor’ successor to the ‘Grey’. Harrop became a touring car circuit ace and a Holden engineer par-excellence (unattributed)

 

Warren Weldon from Bo Seton, Holden FX by two: Catalina Park early sixties (B Wells)

 

Great names who raced ‘Humpy Holdens’ included Jack Myers, the ‘Holden King of the mid-fifties’, John French, Leo and Pete Geoghegan, Max Stahl, Spencer Martin, Des West, Norm Beechey, Brian Muir, Warren Weldon, Bo Seton, John Goss and many, many others.

Into the dawn of the sixties CAMS adoption of Appendix J put paid to the wild modifications which had started to proliferate- it became the category to which the Australian Touring Car Championship was run. ‘Series Production’ or standard road car racing provided the basis for further growth in tourers by spawning endurance classics such as the Phillip Island and later Bathurst 500, relative to racing cars which became progressively starved of sponsorship funds and less and less relevant to the ‘football, meat-pies and touring cars lovin’ Australian public.

Be in no doubt my friends, Holden Motor Bodies Ltd in 1919 begat General Motors Holdens Ltd which gave birth to the ’48-215′, the intrinsic qualities of the design created a worthy competition car in modified form, the ready availability of which gave rise to the accelerated (pun intended) growth of touring car racing in Australia.

 

Melbourne Museum, Swanston Street. Royal Australian Navy Hawker Sea Fury (VW626) with Holden 48-215 in the foregrund during the ‘Jubilee of Flight’ exhibition in July 1953 (Museums Victoria)

After-thought: Sir Laurence Hartnett…

Laurie Hartnett strode the Australian manufacturing landscape like a colossus throughout his career but his pugnacious attitude to his American masters as to the design elements of an All Australian Holden led to his removal as Chief Executive of GMH Ltd in December 1946.

He was offered a role with the GM Corporation in the US but did not want to leave Australia- he never got to give birth to Australia’s own car- his own Hartnett was a notable achievement all the same. I’m not going to get lost in this tangent but click here to read in brief about a quite remarkable man.

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hartnett-sir-laurence-john-12602

Etcetera…

Repco Hi-Power Head..

https://primotipo.com/2015/06/26/repco-record-car-and-repco-hi-power-head/

Holden ‘Grey’ as Racingcar and Sportscar Engine…

Whilst the focus of this article is the 48-215 and FJ as competition cars themselves the Holden Grey was adopted by many racers as replacement engines for their single-seater or sportscar originals or as the very basis of a special.

The Bristol to Holden conversions of Cooper T20 and T 23’s are examples of the former and the Lou Molina and Sil Massola ‘Molina Monza’ an example of the latter.

Click here; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/10/stirling-moss-cumberland-park-speedway-sydney-cooper-t20-wm-holden-1956/

and here; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/13/shifting-gear-design-innovation-and-the-australian-car-exhibition-national-gallery-of-victoria-by-stephen-dalton-mark-bisset/

Des West’s 48-215 Racing Specifications..

http://www.thegreymotor.com/2014/11/des-west-fx-27-grey-survivor.html

Des West’s second 48-215 racer pictured at home, Wingham, NSW having set the fastest Holden record time at Lowood in 1964 (G Woodward)

Rally and Race..

June 1953 Monte Carlo Rally, Davison, Gaze and Jones DNF. Gatsonides/Worledge won in a Ford Zephyr (unattributed)

 

1953 Monte Carlo Rally- Messrs Gaze, Davison and Jones- Aces All

 

John French at Gnoo Blas, Orange circa 1960 (R Kaleda)

 

 

 

 

 

Chifley, Fishermans Bend, 29 November 1948 (SLSA)

 

Hottie and the new 48-215. Whereizzit tho? Being lazy buggers I’m thinkin the Holden PR mob would not have travelled far to do the photo shoot so my vote is Ringwood Lake on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts?

Credits…

Sam Hood, Museums Victoria, State Library of South Australia, Ray Kaleda, Garry Woodward, General Motors Holden. australiaforeveryone.com.au, Museums Victoria, Bruce Wells

Tailpiece: ‘Told you it would be pretty painless’ Bob Menzies and Laurence Hartnett, GMH Pagewood 1940…

(S Hood)

Finito…