Posts Tagged ‘John Leffler’

(I Smith)

Bob Skelton looking as pleased as punch in the Calder paddock in 1972…

Of course these days there will be some type of law against exploitation of the fine, feminine form in such a gratuitous, crass commercial manner. Now ‘yerd have to equalise things by having some blokes in the mix, somebody of trans-gender not to forgot a blend of souls with a range of colours from around the globe.

Skelton won the 1972 Driver to Europe Series in this Bowin P4A- here he is with car and some TAA ‘hosties’ during one of the Calder rounds.

Australian Formula Ford buffs will recall the days when Australia’s ‘second domestic carrier’ was Trans Australia Airways before it was logically rolled into Qantas whereupon the whole lot was privatised a cuppla decades ago. For a wonderful period TAA sponsored the ‘Driver to Europe Series’ and in the process aided and abetted the overseas careers of drivers including Larry Perkins…

And so it was the ‘hosties’ airline attendants or cabin crew attended meetings particularly the one at which the annual award and ‘kingsized’- in physical dimensions if not the amount of the cheque was handed to the winning driver.

He took his prize and the very first Bowin P6- #P6F-119-72 to England late in the year and contested a couple of meetings including the Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton in which fellow Aussies- Buzz Buzaglo, Peter Finlay, John Leffler and Larry Perkins all had a run, a story told in an article about the Bowin P6/P8 I will finish soon. In the meantime there is a bit about the 1972 FF Festival in this piece about Buzz Buzaglo;

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/08/buzz-buzaglo-australian-international-racing-driver-and-the-eternal-racing-story-of-talent-luck/

Dick Simpson’s shot at Calder during the 21 March 1971 DTE round shows Skello in front of Larry Perkins Bib Stillwell owned Elfin 600 with another 600 all cocked up in the background, perhaps Michael Hall? Larry won the round by the way (oldracephotos.com/D Simpson)

 

 

Bob Skelton in a works MG Midget at Bathurst in 1968 (D Simpson)

Skelton won the 1972 DTE with Bowin P4’s taking the top three placings- Skelton won with 57 points, two points ahead of John Leffler (the 1973 winner aboard a P6F) with Bob Beasley third in the Jack Brabham Ford P4X on 53 points- the best of the Elfins was Enno Buesselmann’s 600 in fourth place.

Out of sportscars, Skelton had his first FF season in 1971 in a Bowin P4- he managed to convince Bryan Byrt who had advertised for sale the car speedway ace Garry Rush had been racing (P4A-106-70) with Byrt Ford support, to hang onto it and allow him to race it rather than sell it managing to finish runner-up to Perkins that year. It was a great performance coming to open-wheelers ‘cold’.

Skelton got more got serious for 1972. He acquired a new P4 from John Joyce (P4A-115-72) and invested in the also new- eligible from that season, Capri XL ‘uprated’ Kent engine- still 1600cc but stronger in certain respects. In fact he was the only driver to use the motor from the seasons outset, but he missed the opening Warwick Farm round due to illness, Bob Beasley won in the Jack Brabham Ford Bowin P4X about which I have written in the past.

Bob made amends at Sandown but Beasley won at Calder and by the fifth round at Hume Weir, John Leffler (P4A), Beasley and Enno Buesselmann (Elfin 600) all had ‘Kents’- Leffo’s was prepped by Bruce Richardson, Beasley and Buesselmann’s engines by racer/engineer Graham ‘Tubby’ Ritter in Melbourne- all these years later Tubby’s son Michael Ritter continues the family Formula Ford preparation tradition!

Despite that, Skelton won at the Weir and Oran Park but throughout the year John Leffler, a very successful Cooper S sports-sedan racer who initially tasted FF in Alan Vincent’s Bowin P4A, was on the march. He had a new P4 of his own and secured Grace Bros sponsorship mid-year which would take him through Formula Ford and ANF2 (Bowin P8) all the way to an F5000 Gold Star win in a Lola T400 Chev in 1976.

Skelton from Enno Buesselmann’s Elfin 600 in one of the two Sandown DTE rounds in 1972 (AMRA)

 

A Bowin front-runner in 1971-1972 was another guy who had come out of sportscars- Clubmans was Bob Beasley, here in the Jack Brabham Ford P4X at Oran Park on 19 September 1971(L Hemer)

 

Leffler won the penultimate Warwick Farm round from Beasley and Skelton setting up a ‘winner takes all’ showdown at the Amaroo Park season-ended where, depending upon where they finished, either Skelton, Beasley or Leffler could win the title.

Further spice was added to the mix by the entry of Larry Perkins in the new side-radiator Elfin 620 Larrikins was shortly to ship to the UK to contest the Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton.

Larry was the 1971 FF title winner but took his prize a year later to amass a bit more experience before going ‘over there’, notably aboard Holden Dealer Team circuit and rallycross cars and picking up the 1972 Australian F2 Championship in Gary Campbell’s Elfin 600B Ford twin-cam. For Larry the meeting was valuable race testing and for Elfin’s Garrie Cooper a good run by Perkins would help fill his order for 1973 book which had taken a dent with so much Bowin P4 success.

The pressure showed too- Skelton missed a gear in practice, bending a valve and taking the edge off his engine- without a spare, a standard head was fitted overnight. Larry made Skelton’s job easier by having a huge lose in The Loop taking out Bob Beasley- who, closely following Larry, hit the Elfin head-on. As a consequence Leffler had an easy round win, Skelton took the title- and the trip to the UK, with David Mingay third in Birrana F71- the very first Birrana built by Tony Alcock in Sydney before his partnership with Malcolm Ramsay, this car was first raced by John Goss.

(Wirra)

Amaroo final round with John Leffler’s Bowin P4A in front of an Elfin 600, Enno Buesselmann or Bob Kennedy perhaps? and then Skelton’s P4A.

(Racing Car News)

The first photograph is not on the same lap as the latter two but you can get the drift (sic).

The end result is a rather sick P4X Bowin and perhaps a bit of repair work for Elfins in Edwardstown on the new, very first Elfin 620 before Perkins popped it on a plane to the UK- the 620/620B was a successful series of cars taking Driver to Europe titles in the hands of Terry Perkins in 1974 and Jeff Summers in 1982. I will always have a soft spot for them, my first drive of a racing car was in one of the four Bob Jane-Frank Gardner Race Driving School 620B’s.

Amaroo Park victory parade with the TAA hosties which is about where we came in!

Bob on the XA Falcon GT whilst John Leffler and Bob Beasley make do with Fairlanes…

Other Formula Ford Reading…

On the early days in Australia and Bowin; https://primotipo.com/2018/08/30/bowin-p4a-and-oz-formula-ford-formative/ and Jack Brabham and his Bowin P4X; https://primotipo.com/2019/01/16/jacks-bowin-again/ and the FF Race of Champions at Calder; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/30/calder-formula-ford-race-of-champions-august-1971/ not to forget a bit about Skelton towards the end of this article on Peter Brock; https://primotipo.com/2019/02/01/this-is-hard-work/

Bibliography…

‘AMRA’- Australian Motor Racing Annual 1973′, Paul Newby, Terry Sullivan

Photo Credits…

‘AMRA’, Ian Smith, oldracephotos.com/Dick Simpson, Wirra, Lynton Hemer, Racing Car News

Tailpiece: Skelton, Bowin P4A, Oran Park September 1971…

(L Hemer)

Bob Skelton progressed from Formula Ford to ANF2 in 1973- converting the P6F he raced in England to F2 specifications over that Australian summer, he was mighty quick too, that story told in full in the upcoming P6 piece I mentioned earlier.

Finito…

It’s funny how stuff happens sometimes, I finally bought a Mini Cooper S last month, mind you, the one I lusted after in my teens was a Morris Cooper S…

Most normal fourteen year old ‘knob-jockeys’ were looking at Playboy and Penthouse and giving the sav a serious slap. Being the sick little unit that I was I spent most of my waking hours looking at Sports Car World, Racing Car News- and Autosport which required a trip to town- Technical Books in Swanston Street, Melbourne will be well known to Victorian enthusiasts over 40.

The cars I lusted after as my first road car- then four years down the track weren’t the local muscle cars but the Cooper S, Escort Twin-Cam, Lotus Europa with my dream car the Ferrari Dino 246GT. The Dino fantasy lasted for a several decades until Gordon Murray’s McLaren F1 finally blew it off its pedestal.

I always thumbed through magazines whilst sitting in a beanbag watching the teev, whilst other cars came and went, my diet of articles always came back to this group of cars with the Cooper S always to be my first car, restricted to a student income as I was.

I had a Castrol promotional brochure (remember the set of seven or eight stapled into Racing Car News, one at a time each month?) about John Leffler’s Cooper S Lwt Sports-Sedan, which I looked at endlessly together with road tests of the S and Clubman GT.

I can still remember the standard Cooper S 1275cc oversizes of the ‘A Series’ block at 1293cc and 1310cc, the factory race AEA 648/649 and rally AEA571 cam part numbers are still in my woolly head long after the intricacies of the accounting and economics I was studying at the time have well and truly disappeared.

Castrol brochure featuring the BMC Racing Team, John Leffler Cooper S, leading Barry Sharp, Ford Falcon at Oran Park circa 1970. Leffo a few years later, 1973, won the Australian FF Championship in a Bowin P6F and in 1976 the Gold Star in an F5000 Lola T400 Chev

I came close to buying Coopers twice and still kick myself for missing out on the first one, a BRG 1969 car in Richmond. Dad insisted I get an RACV (Royal Automobile Club of Victoria) mechanical test on it, which was the right parental advice (not that I usually listened to it) and of course the car sold on the Sunday with my deposit dutifully refunded a couple of days later. I cracked the shits with him for well over a month.

Spending all of my Monash Uni student income on Elfin 620B Formula Ford laps at the Calder based Bob Jane-Frank Gardner Race Driving School whilst 18 changed everything- I found god and he raced single-seaters!

So the focus then became a road tow car and a Formula Vee by the time I started full-time work, that was achieved. I bought a Venom Vee in February 1979 and started work the following month. So, the Cooper S never happened, why bother rattling around in road cars on-circuit when you can drive the real thing? Here are the exploits of one of Australia’s most prominent FV drivers. Not. https://primotipo.com/2016/10/06/formula-vee-and-the-summer-of-79/

I have owned a few Cooper S TYPE cars though; three Alfasuds- Sedan, TI twin-carb and Sprint and an Alfa 147GTA amongst other things.

The Lotus Europa, when I finally drove one was a heap of shit- what a disappointment, ‘shake-rattle-and roll’ it wasn’t a flash example i guess, but the Lotus fetish never left me- my Elise was a wonderful 5 year experience if somewhat challenging in the winter.

I looked at a beaut ‘Vermillion Fire’ red Escort Twin-Cam an old codger (he was far younger than I am now) had for sale in Glen Iris but by then a mate had an Alfa Giulia Sprint GT (nee 1600 GTV) in which I drove a lot of miles and it was a far more cohesive bit of kit than the Escort- and I had couple of 105 Series coupes as a consequence.

The Italian Sheila

Roll on a cuppla decades, had kids, raced historic Formula Ford, got divorced and got a girlfriend. An Italian one actually- if I’d known what Northern Italian sheilas were like at 18 I’d have specialised in that breed from then- but you live and learn right?

Five years ago she bought an R53 Cooper S auto (sub-optimal as a manual driver but too easy round town), in fact I wrote about it a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2014/09/03/perdriau-master-cord-tyres-mini-cooper-s-nuriootpa-and-lobethal-australian-grands-prix-tour/

In recent times the thing, which always used a lot of oil, has been using a forty-four of expensive lubricant a fortnight. Our mechanic put this down to the car probably not being run in properly in its infancy- Patrizia being ‘WUBs’ second owner. The funny thing is you can’t see the oil being burned like you could in the old days- the plume of pungent but sweet smelling blue smoke has not been there.

She-who-must-be-obeyed looked at new Abarth 595’s last summer and only baulked when I pointed out the lack of cruise-control- so we, she, kept driving The WUBster and I kept shoving expensive oil down its gullet on a weekly basis whilst alternative, automobile deliberations continued.

WUB @ Tarra Warra Estate near Healesville

And then, as they say in the classics, it happened!

Ok, I did insist we use her car for the trip to Kyneton, comfier than mine as it is.

A few kays past Calder, going up the long hill towards Diggers Rest the little beastie lapsed onto 3 cylinders- not a big deal I thought as the same thing happened in almost the same place twelve months before and was just a duff plug. An easy, cheap fix.

Not so this time.

The long gradual build up of carbon on #3 piston from all that not fully burned oil over all those years, ignited, blowing a neato hole in said aluminium component and did some block damage to add insult to injury. Worse, it was ALL MY FAULT as I insisted we use her car not mine- I was driving the thing at the moment of destruction.

Never mind the fact that the ‘liddl fokker could have let go on a similar trip she did to McRae the week before…’twas all my fault, deploying all of the chick logic they have.

No amount of cunning-linguistics on my part, and my powers of persuasion are not too shabby given forty years in business, were going to shift the crossed arms of The Italian Sheila.

So my friends, having first got interested in Coopers circa 1971, I am now the proud owner of an R53 in 2019, it’s easily the most expensive in Australia too. My heart feels good but my wallet is not so flash.

The Italian Sheila did buy the Abarth in the end- it’s great, in some ways the ultimate inner city tool, I’ll bore you with that another time.

As I said at the outset, it’s funny how stuff happens sometimes, and more often than not a chick is involved…

PS; Hopefully The Italian Sheila does not read this, she never looks at primotipo, all good, I trust, hope and pray.

Tailpiece: The new Abarth 595 in Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy…

Castrol Cooper S Brochure- the rest of it…

 

Finito…

 

(Bennett)

It’s an exciting time for Formula Fordsters in Australia, the fiftieth anniversary of the first FF race in Australia, at Sandown on 25 November 1969, takes place in 2019…

The shot above is of Paul Harrington keeping an eye on a journalist about to have a spin aboard a Bowin P4A at Calder, date and drivers name folks? John Joyce built twelve P4’s, one of which was acquired by Ford for promotional purposes, this car, chassis ‘P4A-108-70’ still exists in the hands of Geoff Fry at Bathurst.

LCCA Sandown program entry for the first FF race in Australia in November 1969 (A Mann)

Harrington came to Australia from the UK in the late sixties and was initially employed as General Manager of the Queens Road, Melbourne based Light Car Club of Australia, well known to Australian enthusiasts as the promoters of Sandown and Lakeland Hillclimb in its latter days and venues such as Albert Park earlier on. Being an entrepreneurial type Harrington established Auto Action in 1971, a magazine which exists to this day, although Paul died some years back.

He is at Calder given the role the LCCA had in providing administrative support for the FF category which continued until the clubs demise as a result of the fiscal disasters which occurred due to running two poorly attended World Sportscar Championship races in the mid-eighties. Jon Davison saved the sports bacon by picking up the circuit lease but that central LCCA gathering place and watering hole on the corner of Roy Street and Queens Road for Victorian racing folks has never been replaced.

That first Australian FF race at Sandown on 25 November 1969 was contested by a mix of bespoke FF’s and converted Formula 3 cars. The race was won by Richard Knight’s Bib Stillwell owned Elfin 600 from Murray Coombs’ Lynx and Allan Ould’s Aztec AR8 driven by Bob Minogue- many years later a fast F5000 competitor in the ex-Brown/Hamilton/Costanzo Lola T430 Chev. The Elfin 600 is still about with Allan Ould looking for a Hewland Mk4 or 5 gearbox to complete the car in time for the Sandown fifty year celebration meeting. The Lynx, I’m not so sure about.

Bowin Clan Meeting in early 1975 at Oran Park: Track day attended by John Joyce on the lectern’s left with John Leffler in dark Grace Bros clobber standing on the start line addressing the troops. Sitting down on the tyre opposite Leffo is Paul Bernasconi, shortly off to Ralt and European F3. Cars are a mix of front radiator P4A’s and chisel nosed P6F’s- front and centre is Leffler’s P8 Chev F5000. The day was reported at length by Barry Lake in Sports Car World magazine- drivers and their fettlers were coached on car preparation, set-up, with on-circuit suspension adjustments made throughout the day inclusive of reasons for the changes recommended (SCW)

When John Joyce- I’ve another article on Bowin half-cooked which provides the background to the marque, returned from his long stint with Lotus in the mid-sixties he initially built three monocoque F2 cars.

These machines designated ‘P3’ (Project 3) were raced initially by Glynn Scott, Ian Fergusson and Barrie Garner. Glynn’s was the first built and was fitted with an ex-Piers Courage Ford FVA engine, Ian’s with a Lotus/Ford twin-cam whilst Barrie’s was a hillclimb machine powered by a Holden ‘Red’ six cylinder motor.

Joyce’s 1959 ‘P1’ and 1962 ‘P2’ were both Formula Juniors- one was Cooper based and the second was named ‘Koala’, both cars raced by John.

Barrie Garner in his Bowin P3 Holden at King Edward Park Hillclimb, Newcastle, NSW in 1971 (D Harvey)

 

Glynn Scott’s Bowin P3 Ford FVA and Lotus 23B Ford in the Lakeside paddock in October 1968. The 911 T/R is Alan Hamilton’s, just arrived and so impactful in the 1969 ATCC (G Ruckert)

With the advent of FF in Oz, Joycey adapted the P3 design’s conventional upper and lower wishbone and coil spring/shock front- and single top link, inverted lower wishbone and twin radius rod, coil spring/shock rear suspension design to a (mandated) spaceframe chassis to suit FF.

Power was of course the class issue cast iron, four cylinder, Ford 681M, 691M, 2737M- and from 1971 in Australia the 711M 1968/69/70/71 Cortina/Escort/Capri pushrod, OHV, twin-choke Weber fed 105bhp’ish motor. Hewland Mk8 or Mk9 4-speed transaxles completed the key mechanical elements of the package.

Mike Stillwell in Graham North’s Wren- the first FF Wren built by Bill Reynolds, Graham Gilbert’s self built Corsair FF and Brian Beasy’s self built Beasy FF at Calder in 1970. These days, since 1972! Ian Mayberry owns the Wren with the Corsair and Beasy still extant (A Clifford)

 

Richard Carter in the Tony Simmons built Hustler FF, Warwick Farm circa 1972. Tyres are Goodyear RR12’s (N McDonald)

 

One of the neat things about the class in its early Australian days were the number of one or two off cars encouraged by rules which initially excluded foreign designs. So, in those early years Corsair, Aztec, Hustler, Fielding, Beasy, Nota and others chased race wins together with ‘factory’ built Wrens, Bowins, Elfins and a little later Birranas.

The WA built Fielding FF driven by future quick Bob Creasy during the 1971 Warwick Farm Tasman meeting (L Hemer)

 

Garrie Cooper’s highly adaptable Elfin 600 design (variants of which won in FF, ANF3, ANF2 and ANF1!) ‘dominated’ early on with Richard Knight, who made his name in an Improved Production Cooper S the winner of that first Sandown race in 1969 and victor in the Bib Stillwell owned 600 of the first national FF Championship in 1970.

Knight moved to the UK, racing a ‘Palliser WDF3 FF at the head of the UK/Euro fields against Scheckter et al until funds ran out. After several attempts in other categories including F5000 he set up Richard Knight Cars and became a highly successful Mazda and Lancia dealer in the UK’ wrote FF and Hillclimb ace Peter Finlay.

Larry Perkins in another of Bib’s 600’s won the title in 1971 and took his Trans Australia Airlines sponsored ‘Driver to Europe’ prize in late 1972 contesting the inaugural Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton in the first Elfin 620 FF.

John Leffler in his P4A at Hume Weir in early 1973. TAA (later absorbed into Qantas) were the then government owned domestic airline carrier and provided great support sponsoring the ‘TAA Driver to Europe Series’ for well over a decade, inclusive of providing some ‘hosties’ at some of the rounds. These days from amongst the old gay blokes and boilers you couldn’t put any eye candy on a grid from inside a Qantas cabin…(Bennett)

 

1972 Bowin P4A DTE champion with his new P6F- the very first one built, chassis ‘P6F-119-72’ alongside Larry Perkins equally new Elfin 620 far, far from home in the Snetterton paddock during the Formula Ford Festival weekend. Rising or progressive rate suspension linkages of the P6 clear. This chassis returned to Oz, and fitted with Hart/Ford twincam, Hewland FT200 box, appropriate wings, wheels, tyres and brakes contested the 1973 ANF2 Championship. Larry stayed in England and did rather well, the 620 came home (Bennett)

Fellow Aussies John Leffler and Bob Skelton also made the trip and raced Bowin P4A and brand new P6F respectively. I wonder how Skello would have gone had he raced the known quantity P4A in England in which he won the 1972 DTE rather than the radical, chisel shaped, side radiator, rising-rate suspended and ultimately very successful P6F?

Leffler and Skelton finished fourth in their respective heats but did not make the final in which Perkins was third behind Ian Taylor and Derek Lawrence. Aussies Buzz Buzaglo ran in third early and then faded when his distributor shifted and Peter Finlay was tenth in his Palliser in a field which included later F1 drivers Danny Sullivan, Patrick Neve and Tiff Needell in addition to Larry.

Skelton, Leffler (who won the 1973 DTE title in a P6F) Bob Beasley and speedway star Garry Rush- who Joyce rated very highly in a conversation I had with him in the early nineties, were early very fast P4 exponents.

Garry Rush Bowin P4A leads Phil Webber Elfin 600, another Elfin then David Green Wren and Richard Knight, Elfin 600 in the November 1970 DTE round at Warwick Farm (L Hemer)

 

Perhaps the best credentialed of all Bowin P4 pilots was Australian triple world champion Jack Brabham in car #1!, the P4X raced that year with Jack Brabham Ford sponsorship by Bob Beasley. Jack won this 1971 Calder Park ‘Race of Champions’, his last event ‘in period’- he retired at the end of 1970 of course but could not resist appearing at this meeting- I wonder how much practice he did at Oran Park in this car?! Calder was not new to him- he tested his BT31 Repco Tasman machine at Calder on the day it’s assembly was completed in January 1969. The field for the ROC included Bib Stillwell #6, and Bob Jane #7, both in Stillwell Elfin 600’s raced that year by Larry Perkins and Mike Stillwell in the DTE Series, Frank Matich is alongside Jack with Allan Moffat, Kevin Bartlett and Alan Hamilton the other starters (Bennett)

The P4 design had a second wind in the mid-seventies with the sudden 1975 mid-season change in Australian FF regulations back to road tyres.

Australian FF evolved from mandated road tyres from the classes introduction, to the Goodyear RR12 ‘all weather’ race tyre and then to a Goodyear slick- shortages of that tyre forced a mid-season change to the Bridgstone RD102 during 1975- a great road-going radial of the time, I had a set on my uni-student special (read rooted) burnt orange Capri.

After cutting his teeth in Australian Formula Vee Peter Finlay left Australia and lived the life of a racing gypsy with his wife in the UK, doing so very successfully for several years, finishing third in the EFDA/European FF Championship in 1973. Peter recalls ‘coming back from the UK to Australia at the end of 1973, my Palliser WDF2 arrived early in 1974 and I fitted Goodyear slicks straight away. The ‘wets’ were Goodyear ‘RR12’s. In 1975 I joined the Grace Bros team and we ran the Goodyear slicks and a different type of Goodyear wets until Matich (Frank Matich was the Goodyear Race Tyre importer) was unable to continue supply from about mid-year. I was on the Formula Ford Australia Committee and used my car to test the Bridgestone RD102 radials…They were as cheap as chips but the car(s) handled poorly…Having driven the Palliser on Goodyear slicks I can’t say that the Bridgestones were any fun at all’.

It soon became clear that the good-ole P4 and its suspension geometry suited the tyres very well so the sight of the old-school, front-radiator Bowins knocking off the vary latest of FF designs from both Australia and Europe- imports by then were allowed, became the usual sight in mid-later seventies Oz FF.

John Smith in his Grace Bros sponsored P4A at Oran Park in very Smithy- and very Bridgestone RD102 radial tyre slide. Not necessarily what the drivers preferred (in terms of a tyre) but very crowd pleasing (Bennett)

 

1976 DTE round at Amaroo Park. Richard Carter Birrana F73 on pole- unseen on the front row is his Grace Bros teammate John Davis in the P4X, in blue is John Smith and yellow Mike Quinn, both P4As. The red car is Birrana F71/1 with Terry Shiel at the wheel- the very first Birrana initially raced by John Goss. Carter won the 1976 DTE with the P4’s of Smith, Davis and Quinn second to fourth (Bennett)

 

Gerry Witenden Birrana F71/1 (same car above albeit modified by Elwyn Bickley) ahead of 1978 DTE Champ John Wright P4A and Richard Davison, Hawke DL17 getting a helping hand from a P6F, Amaroo Park 1978 (C Davison)

Great P4 exponents in this later renaissance era for the older chassis were John Davis, Mike Quinn, Warren Smith, Graham Smith, John Wright and John Smith (none of the Smiths related)- the latter one of the high-priests of Australian FF and a bit later Formula Pacific. Smithy and John Wright won the DTE in 1977 and 1978 respectively. Wright was also an awesome racer who jumped straight from FF to the ex-Leffler F5000 Lola T400 Chev, and made the thing look as easy to drive as the FF he had just stepped from.

Who is that man in a P4? Surfers circa 1978. Meanwhile Ron Barnacle, later DTE winner in a Royale RP31 in 1984 makes up ground having done some lawn-mowing for circuit owner Keith Williams, Elfin 620B (C Davison)

 

Oran Park 1976 DTE Bowins as far as the eye can see! John Davis, John Smith and Mike Quinn all in P4s, then Richard Carter Birrana F73- Carter still prodigiously fast in historic racing to this day (Bennett)

 

1976 Oran park P4A butt-shot, Quinn chasing Smith. Mk9 Hewland box, single top link, lower inverted wishbone, coil spring-/shocks and mechanic adjustable roll bar all period typical albeit by this stage a few rockers were starting to appear on cars such as the Royales and Lolas in Oz (Bennett)

These days Bowins are not the familiar sight they should be in very healthy Australian Historic Formula Ford despite classes which should encourage all to compete. A number of us, me included, pushed hard to admit cars built up to 31 December 1989 into historic FF which has had the knock-on effect of drivers buying cars of this later period- owners of the pre-1977 and pre-1983 classes these days stay away in droves. Come back folks!- please bring your Elfin 600, 620B, Birrana F71-3, Lolas, Royales, Hawkes, and especially your P4 Bowins along…

Smithy made it look so easy- rest assured folks it is not! Here the maestro leads Grant Walker, the Kiwi aboard a Tiitan at Amaroo in 1977. A year later I was lookin’ after me mate Alan Bisset’s ex-Brabham/Davis Bowin P4X at Amaroo and witnessed some almighty ANF2 racing between ex-FFers Smith and Larner in the Ford pushrod powered Galloway HG1 and Elfin 700 respectively on this late, lamented outer Sydney circuit (Bennett)

By the late-seventies the going was getting tough for the old P4 with a swag of English cars adapted locally to suit the needs of the Bridgestones and some newer local designs on the scene. The Richard Davison Hawke DL17 developed by Bill Reynolds, the ‘everybody raced’ ex-Arnel Lola T440, several Royale RP21’s and Van Diemen RF77’s, David Earle’s Elfin Aero and Elwyn Bickley’s superb Elwyn 02 all spring to mind.

Warren Smith (no relation) still made Smithy’s old jigger sing well enough to finish second in the 1980 DTE with one win, but time for a car first built in late 1969 had finally arrived…

We have lift off- Sandown DTE 1978. Elwyn Bickley Elwyn 02, obscured Peter Krefel Royale RP21, Richard Davison #5 Hawke DL17, to the right near the fence Lyndon Arnel Lola T440- look down on the fence side of the grid and you can see the distinctive P4 nose of that years champ- John Wright’s car (C Davison)

Etcetera…

Bowin…

 

The Bowin P4A- PR shot of John Wright’s chassis. 12 cars built between 1969 and 1972 (Bennett)

 

The Bowin P6F, John Leffler at Amaroo Park in his 1973 DTE winning mount ‘P6F-120-72’. Geoff Brabham also raced this chassis doing his first full year of FF in 1974- he won the 1975 ANF2 Championship in a Birrana 274 Ford/Hart and then left for European F3. 26 cars built between 1972 and 1976. Leffo perhaps the greatest of all the Bowin racers?- winner in the P4 and P6 in FF, in the P8 ANF2 car and a ‘coulda been’ 1975 AGP winner aboard the much maligned P8 Chev F5000 machine had the planets been aligned and the cars ignition not drowned in the latter stages of the Surfers Paradise race, won in the end by Max Stewart’s Lola T400 Chev (Bennett)

 

Sandown November 1969…

Brian Beasy, Beasy FF exiting Dandenong Road with a gaggle of cars including a winged F3 or F2 car. Decades later Historic Formula Ford in Australia would not have happened without the late Brian’s influence and guidance in the CAMS Historic Commission on all things related to FF inclusive of car eligibility (Beasy Family)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Minogue, Aztec AR8, Sandown, Dandenong Road, November 1969 (autopics.com)

 

Allan Ould’s Aztec AR8 was raced to 3rd as in this photo in the November 1969 first Oz FF race

 

FFA membership list as at the end of 1970

 

Current historic Van Diemen RF86 racer Anthony Mann dreaming of his own Formula Ford as a 9 year old kid aboard the FF ‘display car’ a Wren FF in Shepparton 1969 (Mann)

Arcane and Irrelevant…

Australian Formula Ford tyres- strictly for FF anoraks only! List developed during some Facebook banter mainly between me, Peter Finlay and Nick Bennett

1969-1971 Road tyres of drivers choice. In the UK Finlay notes the Firestone Torino ‘wide ovals’ were a road crossply with a racing compound

1972-1973 Goodyear RR12 all weather

1974-1975 mid-year Goodyear slick with RR12 wets and very expensive but superior G10 winter treads for sopping wet races

1975-1980 Bridgestone RD102 road radial

1981-1983 Dunlop slick ‘592’ compound

1984-1994 Dunlop CR82 all weather

1995-2015 Avon ACB10 all weather

2016 on Yokohama A048 all weather

Peter Finlay, Palliser WDF2 from Peter Larner, Elfin 620B, Calder early 1975 just before the Goodyear slick- check out the tyre distortion folks, were changed due to supply problems to the Bridgestone RD102 radial. Finlay won 3 rounds that year and Larner 1 with both tied for second in the title chase won by Paul Bernasconi in a Mawer 004. Finlay later owned and ran Peter Wherrett Advanced Driving and was a hillclimb ace- Larner still is a great engine builder and raced an AGP or two in the Formula Pacific era (Finlay)

Photo and Other Credits…

Laurie and Nick Bennett Collection, Chris Davison, Nick McDonald, Oz Classic FF Facebood site, Lynton Hemer, Dale Harvey, Anthony Mann, Sports Car World, Peter Finlay, Graham Ruckert, Beasy Family Collection, A Clifford, Grant Burford

Tailpiece: In Search of An Apex…

(SCW)

John Leffler, Australian Gold Star Champion in a Lola T400 Chev in 1977 and kneeling John Joyce trying to get their Bowin charges to apex correctly during the Oran Park Bowin test day in early 1975.

Harry Macklin aboard the ex-Leffler P4A John raced in the early 1973 DTE rounds before switching to his new P6F.

Finito…