Posts Tagged ‘John Walker’

(L Hemer)

Kevin Bartlett, Lola T300 leads the ‘Angus & Coote Trophy’ from John McCormack, Elfin MR5 Repco, Oran Park 1972…

Allan Horsley, the promoter of Oran Park Raceway in Sydney’s outer west, was an energetic, creative guy. Even though this event wasn’t a Gold Star Championship round he attracted a good field of F5000’s to drag in the punters. The Angus & Coote Trophy was provided by a retail chain of jewellers.

The 500bhp V8 roller-skates were spectacular at the (then) short circuit, with Lynton Hemer there to capture the action, his wonderful photos are the inspiration for this article.

Interesting bunch of three Elfin MR5 Repco shots, this one of John Walker with the just visible Max Stewart up his clacker and Garrie Cooper’s works MR5 at rear. Four MR5’s were built, the Ansett Team Elfin cars of Cooper and McCormack and customer cars for Walker and Stewart, all were built to identical specifications fitted with Repco Holden F5000 engines. Walker’s car has the aero as the cars were first built, the Cooper and McCormack (shot below) cars have the ‘Tyrrell nose’ first fitted from the ’72 Warwick Farm Tasman round. Garrie has an airbox fitted, Mac does not. JW, an Elfin man through and through didn’t race the MR5 for long though, he jumped into an A50 Matich which complied with the American regss – the Elfin did not- John did some L&M rounds in the A50. Walker, Matich, Muir, Stewart and Bartlett all competed in the US in 1973 (L Hemer)

McCormack from Muir’s T300. J Mac got quicker and quicker didn’t he? Of the four MR5s, this chassis 5711 was the most successful- ’73 Gold Star and NZ GP win etc. It was a triumph of driving and Mac and Dale Koenneke’s development of what was not the most advanced F5000 design. Mac was further up the Repco queue once Matich retired (L Hemer)

Walkers MR5 5724  note aero comments above. Blade front wing, Walker developed into a very fast F5000 pilot- ’79 AGP and Gold Star winner, the difference in him pre ’73 L&M and post was significant. Confidence is such a big thing! (L Hemer)

With the exception of Frank Matich and his Matich A50 Repco, Lynton has many fine, close-up shots of the ‘Australian F5000 Class of 1972’- I wonder why FM wasn’t present, he was a Sydney boy after all? The answer is probably that he didn’t bother with this non-championship event on May 21, given the Belle Magazine Trophy Gold Star round was only a month hence, here in June.

By then he was on the way to comprehensively belting the Gold Star opposition- he won at Sandown, Oran Park, Surfers Paradise and Warwick Farm with Kevin Bartlett winning at Adelaide International in his Lola T300, and John McCormack at Symmons Plains aboard his MR5. FM won the Gold Star with 36 points from Bartlett and McCormack on 24 and 20 points respectively.

This lengthy article on Matich and his cars focuses a lot on 1971/2 so is useful context to the Australasian F5000 scene of the time, so have a look rather than repeat myself here; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

McCormack from Bartlett (L Hemer)

John McCormack (above) led from the start of the 25-lap event from Kevin Bartlett and Gary Campbell in Lola T300 Chevs. KB’s was a new chassis (HU16) acquired after the Tasman Series, in which he raced his venerable ex-Niel Allen McLaren M10B.

Gary Campbell, ex-Gardner first production T300 HU1 (L Hemer)

Gary Campbell (above) stepped up from the Waggott 2-litre engined ANF2 Elfin 600B/E he raced in the Australian 1972 Tasman rounds into the T300 (HU1) Frank Gardner raced in the Tasman, Campbell took delivery from the final, Adelaide round.

Gardner had notionally retired from single-seater racing but did an event or two in the UK later in 1972 as he track tested the very first Lola T330 HU1, a car purchased by Max Stewart and oh-so-successful in his hands.

Interesting side profile shot of Bob Muir’s T300 accentuates the relative ride height of the T300 with the T330/2 which followed. The presentation of this car had to be seen to be believed. The T300s were always set up with plenty of ride height, as you can see here, Kevin Bartlett observed “It was to do with the wishbone angles, roll centre, etc. The cars were usually set up very soft as the old F2 tub flexed a lot into the bargain. You could feel the strain when the grip was at its best, which wasn’t too often” (L Hemer)

Bartlett passed McCormack for the lead on lap three, with Muir passing Campbell on the same lap.

Muir became a very fast exponent of F5000, perhaps his best work was in the ’73 L&M rather than at home. Bob’s Reg Papps & Sons prepared T300, chassis HU4- ex-Niel Allen after a practice crash ended Allen’s planned racing comeback, was easily one of the most beautifully presented and prepared racing cars in Australia, visually stunning- I waxed lyrical about it here; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/18/my-first-race-meeting-sandown-tasman-f5000-1972-bartlett-lola-and-raquel/

Muir and KB sluggin it out (L Hemer)

Muir passed Bartlett (above) and ran out the winner from Kevin, John Walker’s Elfin MR5 Repco and Gary Campbell with KB setting a new lap record of 40.2 seconds.

In many ways the story of Australian 1972 F5000 racing- the championship Gold Star Series and non-championship Calder based ‘Repco Birthday Series’ (fiftieth birthday by the way) was FM’s absolute preparedness for the season.

His Matich A50, so named in honour of sponsor, Repco’s fiftieth birthday had won on debut at Warwick Farm’s November 1971 AGP, but then had a disappointing Tasman Series, which he lost to arch-rival Graham McRae’s Leda LT27/GM1 Chev, Graham took four wins to FM’s one.

Frank Matich, Matich A50 Repco from John McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco at Surfers Paradise during the 1972 Tasman round, 3rd and DNF in the race won by McRae’s Leda GM1 Chev. Matich won the ’72 Gold Star in the same chassis- A50 ‘001’ (unattributed)

However, Matich was well and truly ready-to-rock at the domestic seasons outset with a very well developed car. Bartlett and Muir were more than capable of giving their fellow Sydneysider a run for his money, but neither had their T300’s early enough to have them honed to the fine pitch Matich had A50 ‘001’.

I suspect Matich did more test miles at Warwick Farm, paid for by Goodyear – he was both a contracted driver and their agent in Australia – than the rest of his fellow F5000 competitors added together. His 1972 results reflected just that.

( L Hemer)

I wonder why Max Stewart (above) raced ye-olde-faithful Mildren Waggott, his ’71 Gold Star winner rather than the Elfin MR5 Repco he had run since the ’72 Tasman?

Maybe the distinctive yellow MR5 wasn’t ready or ‘praps he wanted to give the Mildren Waggott a gallop to showcase its potential to would-be purchasers, Allan Grice bought it shortly thereafter. Maybe he was inspired to do so by Max’s performance at this meeting? In any event this amazing, popular machine was finally outpaced by the post-McLaren M10B series of smaller, lighter F5000’s despite the efforts of its oh-so-talented, lanky pilot.

There are so many shots of the utterly-luvverly Lola T300 in this article it seems smart to expand a bit upon this seminal F5000 machine…

The Lola T190 F5000 wasn’t Lola’s best design but Frank Gardner evolved it into the longer wheelbase, and modified in many other areas T192- and won plenty of races in it in Europe and Australasia.

The car was far from uncompetitive into 1971 too- FG won at Warwick Farm during the Tasman Series, and European F5000 championship races at Silverstone, Mondello Park and Castle Combe. The old racer ran with and beat youngsters such as Brian Redman, Mike Hailwood, McRae and Allan Rollinson.

Gardner on the way to Warwick Farm 100 Tasman victory on 14 February 1971. Lola T192 Chev ‘190/F1/6’ or ‘HU14’- note the winglets aside the cars chassis. WF Esses, car following probably the Matich M10B Repco, brave ‘snapper is Lance Ruting. Car stayed in Oz- sold to Colin Hyams, then to US in 1972  (J Ellacott)

But the laconic racer/engineer wanted something smaller and lighter to stay ahead of the chasing pack, including the new McLaren M18/22, Surtees TS8 and coming Leda GM1.

In a moment of wham-bam-thankyou-maam pragmatic inspiration, he and Lola Engineer, Bob Marston, married the existing Lola T240 F2/Atlanic chassis with a 5-litre Chev and DG300 Hewland transaxle.

The production variant of the prototype became the T300 we F5000 nut-bags know and love. After some testing, the prototype ‘T242’ made its race debut at Thruxton on August 1, 1971.

FG plonked it on pole and finished third behind McRae’s highly developed McLaren M10B, and Hailwood’s works Surtees TS8. It was a statement of intent, the cars performance and looks were the subject of all he paddock chatter that weekend. The queue at Huntingdon started the morning after.

T242 was renamed T300 from the following Silverstone round on August 14, Gardner was again behind Hailwood, this time in second position.

(J Ballantyne)

The photos above show the car in the Snetterton paddock on August 30, 1971.

The chassis was destroyed in an argument over real-estate that very weekend between Gardner, and Redman’s M18 McLaren on lap eight. The T242/300 was badly damaged, rooted in fact – sad as that particular Lola was a very significant one for the company and F5000 as a class.

The key elements of the design- its overall size and packaging, hip-mounted radiators, wedge shape and aerodynamics are all clear.

Lola T300 drawing, poor in quality but useful all the same. Gardner’s prototype machine (Pinterest

Autosport proclaims Gardner/Lola’s ’71 Euro F5000 victory

Gardner raced his replacement car, the first production T300, chassis HU1 (the car he brought to Australia later that year, boofed in practice for the Warwick Farm AGP, was repaired and then contested the ’72 Tasman before sale to Gary Campbell as above) to its first win at Hockenheim on 12 September, in front of Emerson Fittipaldi’s F1 Lotus 56B Pratt & Whitney turbine, and Teddy Pilette’s McLaren M10B Chev.

I hope Eric Broadley paid those two fellas, Gardner and Marston a bonus in 1971 because they created, arguably, the first of the most successful and profitable family of production racing cars ever.

Lola built ‘a million’ T300/330/332/332C/332CS/333 cars and spares, those machines won countless F5000 and single-seat Can-Am races in the hands of just as many champions, journeymen and amateur drivers for well over a decade.

(G Ruckert)

The photo above is the business end of Bartlett’s T300 HU16 at Surfers Paradise in 1972, that’s Bartlett’s red driving suit and John Harvey’s purple crutch alongside!

Key elements of the machine are the injected 5-litre 500bhp Chevy V8, note the magneto and fuel metering unit. The rear of the aluminium monocoque chassis is to the right- the car was designed as an F2, it was a bit floppy.

Torsional rigidity was improved with the T330/332 which followed, but these were not machines in which to have a front-in shunt, as Bartlett experienced at Pukekohe aboard his T330 in early 1974. He was an early member of the Lola Limpers Club joining fellow Australasians Graeme Lawrence and Warwick Brown- all three came to grief in T300’s.

The gearbox is of course the ubiquitous Hewland DG300. Originally designed for ‘effete’ F1 engines, the prodigious torque of 5-litre motors made the ‘box marginal. Sticking to maintenance and lifing cycles of gears, dog rings, crown wheel and pinions was critical to avoid DNFs. The Hewland in yer little namby-pamby Formula Ford (Mk9/LD200) or Formula Pacific (FT200) was ‘set and forget’ to an extent, not so in one of these big, heavy muvvers.

The uprights are magnesium, disc brakes inboard at the rear and suspension period typical- single upper links and inverted lower wishbones, two radius rods- you can see one on the right threading the exhaust system. The adjustable rear roll bar is clear as is the engine oil tank to the right of the left exhaust outlet.

A superb, fast, race winning bit of kit in every respect but nowhere near as forgiving, if that is ever a word to be used in the same sentence as F5000- as a McLaren M10B KB notes…

Bartlett, Harvey and T300 from the front. Not sure if this is the ’72 Glynn Scott or ’73 Tasman weekend (G Ruckert)

Etcetera: The T300 and it’s father before the 1971 AGP @ Warwick Farm…

This is a pre-race publicity shot by Fairfax media.

The only trouble was Frank Gardner boofed HU1 in practice so did not start the race- he would have given Frank Matich a run for his money that day given the speed of the T300 in Europe. But ‘ya gotta be in it to win it’, and FG was not that weekend, despite a stellar record of prior success at The Farm.

The car was rebuilt in Oz around a new tub freighted in from Huntingdon, and raced to an NZGP win at Pukekohe, and three second places during the 1972 Tasman before being sold to Campbell, as related earlier, after the Sandown round.

(R Davies)

Speaking of chassis Robert Davies has superbly captured this rare photo of a nude T300 Chev- its the Allen/Muir/Brown ‘HU4’ in the Sandown paddock during 1972.

I won’t repeat the technical summary from above- devoid of bodywork the small light aluminium monocoque and minimal front impact protection is abundantly clear. The only deformable part of a racing car of this period was the body of the driver…

(unattributed)

Far-canal, that really is a mess. Its the same chassis HU4 shown above.

If you thought about the physics involved in a Formula Ford shunt you probably wouldn’t do it, but Jesus the big single-seaters of this period- F1 and F5000 really were lethal devices.

Balls of steel to race them springs to mind.

I don’t usually publish shots of rooted racers but this one had a happy ending- and adds some color and reality to the glib ‘Lola Limper’ line used earlier on.

Young Australian thruster Warwick Brown graduated from the McLaren M10B Chev with which he cut his F5000 racing teeth in 1972, to the ex-Allen/Muir Lola T300 prior to the 1973 Tasman- third at Levin and second at Wigram showed his mettle and immediate pace in a competitive car. It all came undone at Surfers, the first of the Australian Tasman rounds.

His car got away from him on the fast, demanding, circuit spreading bits of aluminium and fibreglass over the grassy undulations of the Nerang countryside and broke both Warwick’s legs. He got wide onto the marbles on the entry to the flat in fifth right-hander under Dunlop Bridge, and bounced across the grass into the dirt embankment surrounding the circuit.

The light aluminium tub folded back, in the process doing horrible things to Warwick’s feet and lower limbs. He had a very long recovery, made somewhat easier by the promise of a new car from his near-neighbour patron, mining millionaire Pat Burke. In that T332 HU27 he won the 1975 Tasman Series, the only Australian ever to do so.

It’s a story for another time but WB had another two Lola ‘big ones’ in the US in a T332C and T333. If there was a President for Life of the Lola Limpers Club I suspect it was Mr Brown.

Balls of steel, and mind over matter…

Click here for a piece on WB; https://primotipo.com/2017/03/09/wb-for-73/

(T Marshall)

The photo above is of WB at Levin only a couple of weeks prior to its Surfers demise.

Terry Marshall has captured the Sydneysider nipping a right-front during the 13 January Levin International. Warwick was third behind McRae’s GM1 and Matich’s A50- two of the toughest of F5000 nuts.

(unattributed)

Calder in 1972- Bob Jane had no Gold Star round that year but did promote the ‘Repco Birthday Series’ for F5000 and ANF2.

By the look of the clothes of the hardy Victorians it is winter’ish- Calder in the Winter is not a particularly pleasant place usually, i’m figuring the October 15 round with the assistance of oldracingcars.com though.

It looks as though Gary Campbell #4, has made a corker of a start and is seeking a way past KB #5 but then again maybe KB got off like a rocket and and Gary is giving him room as KB jinks right for a way past John McCormack’s Ansett Elfin MR5 Repco.

Over by the aptly placed Repco sign is the Repco-Holden F5000 engined Matich A50 #25 of John Walker- perhaps some of you American readers saw JW race this car in several L&M rounds in 1973 so well?

Bartlett won this 30 lapper in a smidge under 21-minutes from Walker and McCormack, then came Stewart, Elfin MR5 Repco and Campbell.

Bartlett won this five round series from Matich and Muir.

L Hemer)

Who would have throughout the T300 as a rally car?

KB negotiates the Warwick Farm paddock during the famously wet 1973 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round, Steve Thompson Chevron B24 Chev won that day.

(unattributed)

The angle on the dangle.

And they are all angles, just the wildest looking thing at the time – even the Lotus 72 looked conservative alongside one of these babies.

Bartlett on the Calder grid alongside Mc Cormack during the 15 Ocober meeting referred to above.

Photo Credits…

Lynton Hemer, John Ballantyne, oldracephotos.com.au, Graham Ruckert, Terry Marshall, Pinterest, John Ellacott, Fairfax Media

References…

oldracingcars.com, The Nostalgia Forum

Tailpiece: Double T300 Trouble- Muir from Bartlett, Oran Park 1972…

(oldracephotos.com.au/DSimpson))

Finito…

(autopics.com/DBlanch)

The field on the first of 85 laps- the ‘Angus and Coote Diamond Trophy’, Gold Star Championship second round, Oran Park 26 June 1971…

Kevin Bartlett, McLaren M10B Chev from Max Stewart, Mildren Waggott TC-4V, Graeme Lawrence, Brabham BT30 Ford FVC 1.9 and then the dark helmeted Henk Woelders in his Elfin 600E Ford twin-cam- the first of the 1.6 litre ANF2 cars.

The 1971 Gold Star was an interesting one in that both 2 litre ‘race engines’ and F5000’s contested the championship- whilst F5000 cars were eligible for the Tasman Cup in 1970 and 1971- that year was the categories first in the domestic championship.

On the face of it perhaps the favourites at the seasons outset were Frank Matich and Kevin Bartlett in ‘match fit’ McLaren M10B’s. FM’s Repco Holden powered car was the ‘same car’ he and his team had continually evolved for eighteen months whereas KB’s chassis was the machine Niel Allen had raced in the 1970 and 1971 Tasman Series- beautifully prepared by Peter Molloy it was ready to boogie. Other F5000’s were Alan Hamilton’s brand new M10B- Allen’s spare chassis built up and sold when Allen retired from racing, and John McCormack’s Elfin MR5 Repco which appeared for the first time mid-season, at Sandown in September.

The quickest of the Waggott 2 litre TC-4V powered cars were Max Stewart’s Mildren and Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 59B but Leo’s car was for sale so the reigning Gold Star champion contested few 1971 meetings.

Kevin Bartlett leads Max Stewart and Graeme Lawrence early in the race- KB appears to be running plenty of wing (L Hemer)

 

Gary Campbell and Tony Stewart in Elfin 600B/E Ford twin-cams inside Doug Heasman, Rennmax BN3 Ford (R Thorncraft)

It had taken until 1971 for the Tasman Cup to fall to an F5000- Graham McRae won it in an M10B whereas in 1970 Graeme Lawrence’s 2.4 litre Ferrari Dino 246 took the title, other Tasman 2.5 and 2 litre cars had been competitive amongst the 5 litre V8’s- the expectation was that an F5000 would win the Gold Star but Max Stewart’s fast, reliable Mildren Waggott won it with a win at this meeting- Oran Park and strong placings elsewhere to score 23 points to Bartlett and Hamilton’s 22 points each.

Bartlett was fast everywhere- he won the Governors Trophy Lakeside opening round- was on pole with Max at Oran Park, won the non-championship (that year) Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm, and the Victorian Trophy at Sandown a week later but had the wrong tyres, that is, no wets at Symmons Plains where they were rather necessary, and blew an engine whilst leading at Mallala giving the new Elfin MR5 Repco its first title win in the hands of John McCormack. Mac would do very well with this car in the next two years on both sides of the Tasman Sea.

Max niggling away at KB- the big V8 blasted away on OP’s long straight but otherwise the little Mildren- Max’ car for 2 years by then was mighty quick elsewhere on the circuit (L Hemer)

 

(Peter Houston)

 

And again albeit by now MS has lost his right-front wing- did he ping one of KB’s Goodyears to do the damage? (L Hemer)

Matich’s campaign fizzled away too. The team missed the opening round at Lakeside as they were successfully campaigning the McLaren in the US- the team raced at the first two US F5000 Championship rounds in California, winning at Riverside with a pair of seconds in the two heats and were second at Laguna with another pair of seconds in the heats behind David Hobb’s M10B Chev.

Back home at Oran Park FM ran foul of another car earlier in the week doing enough damage for the team to build a new chassis- they did this rather than buy one from Trojan to give them valuable experience in advance of construction of FM’s new monocoque chassis Matich A50 Repco which would win the AGP later in the season upon its debut race from pole.

Matich leading a couple of cars through Laguna Seca’s Corkscrew on the 2 May 1971 weekend, McLaren M10B Repco (D Kneller)

The Matich McLaren was ready for the third round at Surfers in late August winning from pole. He started the Victorian Trophy at Sandown from pole but retired with blocked fuel-injection slides- KB won. With no chance of winning the title the team missed the final two rounds at Symmons and Mallala to focus on completion of the A50.

Alan Hamilton was impressive in his first year racing these demanding cars, whilst he came back to the machines in the late seventies it is a pity he didn’t persevere then whilst in ‘his youth’ and when the class could have done with another well prepared frontish of the field car- Warwick Brown or rather Pat Burke bought this car giving Warwick’s career a big kick-along in 1972 of course, the machine prepared by Peter Molloy.

Another big guy being monstered by a little one- Alan Hamilton, McLaren M10B Chev and John Walker, Elfin 600B Ford (L Hemer)

 

A couple of dicing Elfin 600s trying to stay clear of the Bartlett-Stewart express right up their clackers onto the OP main straight- Clive Millis from Tony Stewart (T Coles)

 

Graeme Lawrence’s nimble Brabham attacks Col Hyam’s Lola T192 Chev- note the sidepods fitted to the car by Gardner (L Hemer)

At Oran Park Max won from Graeme Lawrence’s visiting Brabham BT30 Ford FVC and Hamilton’s McLaren, Bartlett retired with his differential pinion stripped- the good ‘ole Hewland DG300 transmission was always marginal for F5000 use unless its maintenance was entirely up to snuff. The gearbox was originally built for F1 in 1966- for Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham when both the 3 litre Repco V8 and Eagle-Weslake V12 had far less than 500 pounds foot of torque tearing away at its gizzards…

F2 honours went to Henk Woelders who was fourth in an Elfin 600E- the dominance of this car in ANF2 at the time indicated by the fifth to ninth placed cars being Elfin 600B’s raced by Tony Stewart, Jack Bono, John Walker (soon to jump into an Elfin MR5), Vern Hamilton and Don Uebergang.

Henk Woelders’ Elfin 600E chasing Vern Hamilton’s 600B (L Hemer)

Etcetera…

(P Houston)

Melbourne racer Colin Hyams jumped into the big league with the acquisition of the works Lola T192 Chev Frank Gardner campaigned in the Tasman Cup that summer- FG did well in it too, taking a win at Warwick Farm and finishing fourth in the overall pointscore. Colin retired at Oran Park with gearbox dramas.

(L Hemer)

Gary Campbell’s Elfin 600B/E Ford, chassis ‘7122’ worked hard that year raced by both the Sydney ‘Provincial Motors’ motor dealer and Larry Perkins to whom he lent the car for a successful attack on the Australian Formula 2 Championship.

(L Hemer)

Alan Hamilton’s McLaren M10B ‘400-19’ despite ostensibly a 1970 model F5000 was brand new given its very late build into a complete car by Peter Molloy and sale to Hammo. As many Australian historic enthusiasts know, all these years later AH owns both his old car and the Allen/Bartlett chassis ‘400-02’- the wheels of which have been twiddled by Alfredo Costanzo until recent times.

(L Hemer)

John Walker in his 600B chassis ‘7018’, by this time the following year he was racing the fourth and last built Elfin MR5 Repco ‘5724’ in which he made his race debut in the last, Adelaide International round of the 1972 Tasman Cup in February 1972- the start of a mighty fine F5000 career in Australasia and the US inclusive of an Australian Gold Star and Grand Prix win in 1979. He was seventh at Oran Park 6 laps adrift of the front-runners with undisclosed dramas.

(P Houston)

Bartlett always raced with passion, lots of fire and brimstone and bucket-loads of natural brio. Lucky bastard.

KB pedalled the car through the 1972 Tasman inclusive of a Teretonga round win amongst much more modern metal and then did a US L&M round or two in it before racing Lola T300’s in both Australia and the US that year.

Credits…

Special thanks to Lynton Hemer, whose great photos inspired this piece

autopics.com- D Blanch, Russel Thorncraft, Tony Coles, Derek Kneller Collection, Peter Houston, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

(L Hemer)

Max Stewart accepts the plaudits of the crowd on the warm-down lap- by June 1971 Alec Mildren Racing was well and truly disbanded but such are the bonds between driver and entrant that Max still carries Alec Mildren Racing signage and Seiko continued to provide financial support to Max into his first F5000 foray with an Elfin MR5 Repco in 1972.

Finito…

‘My signature shot, Jim Clark Lotus 49 Ford DFW and Chris Amon Ferrari Dino 246T. Two of the best drivers of their time. Taken early in my photography journey. Not only is it a record of the 1968 Surfers Tasman race, the pic is pretty well balanced and shows the scenic aspect of the old Surfers Paradise track. I describe in the Tasman book, the trauma experienced in getting to and from the race’ (R MacKenzie)

 

I finally bought the Tasman Cup bible at Sandown a while back, what a ripper book it is!…

 

There are some heavy dudes involved in it. Publisher Tony Loxley has assembled a swag of ‘in period’ talent- journalists, photographers and drivers to contribute, forty in all. I blew my tiny mind when I got it home and penetrated the thick plastic, protective cover to unveil content rich words and images. That Sunday afternoon was completely shot.

At $A95 it’s a snip, nearly 500 pages of beautifully printed and bound hardcover with about ninety percent of the (900’ish) images unfamiliar to me. Mucking around with primotipo I’ve seen plenty of shots in the last four years or so- it was awesome to view a vast array of unseen images, some from the archives of ‘snappers ‘I have met online’ who have kindly allowed me to use their work on my ‘masterpiece’.

Which brings me to Rod MacKenzie’s work.

I’ve used his images before but the material in the Tasman tome is sensational for its compositional artistry. So I gave him a yell and said you choose two photos (Clark and Muir) and I’ll choose two (Gardner and Walker) to showcase the work and support this article. The photo captions are Rod’s, his ‘artists notes’ if you will. We plan some occasional articles going forward, many thanks to Rod.

 

‘Frank Gardner, Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo negotiates Newry Corner at Longford, Tasmania 1968. Perhaps one of the wettest races i have attended. At least i was taking photos, not driving! This pic has its own appeal, i just pressed the button. Frank’s skills were tested and you can see the race was on public roads with spectataors in the most unsafe areas. Fences were barbed wire, no run-off and badly cambered roadway.’ (R MacKenzie)

 

Rod writes about his work…

‘We all have favourites.

In over fifty years of motor racing photography some of my earlier photos remain dear to me.

However, the photos were not quite as important as the spectacle of close racing between highly skilled ‘pilotes’ in competition with their cotemporaries.

They at the time were the source of income to attend the many race circuits and were sold to magazines in Australia and overseas.

Now the photos have become most important.

These photos are now historical records of these men and some women whose exploits have been written about and add reality to reports and clarity to memories.

I also endeavoured to photograph many of the competitors ensuring not only ‘the stars’ were captured.

Without the photos, memories become clouded and distorted. Not by intent, but by the passage of years.

My photos of several Tasman Series spent some time in the proverbial shoebox during a period of having a new family to bring up.

They were revisted to be included in two books (so far) from Tony Loxley of ‘Full Throttle Publishing’ about Formula 5000 and The Tasman Cup and have been included in many other books now. I have released some of the photos on social media and they are still appreciated judging from some of the comments received.

I take pride in my photos as i try to add ‘something’ above and beyond a picture ‘of a car on asphalt somewhere’. A good black and white photo in my view is more difficult to produce than a colour photo and just suits the history of races.

My photos should convey the ‘atmosphere’ of motor sport- the drama, the commitment, the excitement, the humour, the unusual, and the extraordinary when that is possible.

Consequently my shots can be moody and dark, bright and clear, or show incidents capturing moments of drama.

They generally also have content to ensure recognition of the location of the subjects. The content may be from background, the cars, the weather or the occasion.

Together, Mark Bisset and i plan a small series of ‘favourites’ chosen between us from my vast collection.

These random photos will continue to appear as time and subject allow, and i also invite you to sample a few more from my http://www.rodmackenziecollection.com/ website and Facebook Group.

Until the next offering, enjoy the photos here’.

Rod MacKenzie

 

‘One of those shots that work even when most things are not right for composition. The car is too far away, the foreground is irrelevant, the background does not relate to much. BUT John Walker, Matich A50 Repco, in a 1973 wet Tasman race came undone at the Warwick Farm Causeway, and used the short circuit to recover. The pic shows how lost he seemed to be!’ (R MacKenzie)

 

This weighty addition to my shelves got me tangentially thinking about what ‘The Essential Library of Books on Australian Motor Racing History’ comprises. I reckon its these works, in no particular order…

.‘The Official 50 Race History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard (and others)

.‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley

.‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard

.‘David McKays Scuderia Veloce’ David McKay

.‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley

.‘As Long As It Has Wheels’ James Gullan

.‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’

.‘Jack Brabham Story’ Brabham and Doug Nye

.‘Tasman Cup 1964-1975’ Tony Loxley (and others)

.‘History of The Australian Touring Car Championship’ Graham Howard and Stewart Wilson

.’Historic Racing Cars In Australia’ John Blanden

The above books don’t cover the Repco Racing story in anything remotely approaching full. Two that sorta do are Malcolm Preston’s ‘Maybach to Holden‘ and Frank Hallam’s ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ but both have warts. Malcolm’s is good, mind you, my Repco Brabham Engines buddies say it has quite a few errors. Hallam’s book is 70% insight and 30% arrant bullshit, but you need a fair bit of Repco knowledge to separate, page by page, the gold from the crap. I’ve stayed clear of marque specific books- Catford on Elfin and King on Bugatti for example, as I’m trying to get spread of topics from a small number of books not a long list of works…

I’m really interested to hear from you all on additions or deletions to the list.

The debate isn’t ‘my favourite books on Australian motor racing’ but rather the minimum number of books which most thoroughly tells the history of Australian motor racing. What books should a young enthusiast with limited funds buy is perhaps the filter to apply to your thinking?

Whilst the biographies listed may seem specific- they are, but they also cover heaps of related racing stuff over the period of the subjects life, so have great breadth.

Pre-war Oz racing books are thin on the ground, few were written- in that sense Medley’s and Gullan’s books are gold. So too are the relevant chapters of the ‘History of The AGP’ which provide lots of context in addition to the race reports themselves.

Howard, McKay and Medley were/are enthusiasts/racers who have wonderful historic perspective and deep insight that only masters of subject matter have. Bringing all of the threads about a topic together and drawing conclusions is hard, all have that ability.

All of the books listed are out of print except ‘John Snow’ (Medley still has copies) ‘History of the AGP’ and ‘Tasman Cup’, but all can be obtained with patience on eBay. The only one which is a bit on the exy side is Phil Irving’s book, the prices of which are high given huge global Vincent enthusiast demand in addition to us car guys.

In any event, all debate on the topic is invited, and yes, lets hear of your favourite books as well…

Credits…

Rod MacKenzie Collection

Tailpiece: Bob Muir, Lola T300 Chev, Warwick Farm 1972…

 

(R MacKenzie)

‘Action! Getting close to Bob Muir’s Lola T300 in the Esses at Warwick Farm in 1972. This remains my favourite Warwick Farm location although getting it right was really difficult. There were only a few places that were close enough to warrant an uninteresting background.

So we have the best location, best looking Lola, and a great photo that shows Muir’s speed and commitment at the most difficult section of the ‘Farm’.

Finito…

(SLWA)

Garrie Cooper aboard his Elfin 600D Repco V8 in the Wanneroo Park, Western Australia pitlane in May 1970…

 ‘Motor Racing Royalty’ in Australia are any Australian cars powered by Repco Brabham V8’s in my book. There are only four single-seater road-racing cars so built- 3 Elfin 600’s and the Rennmax/Bob Britton built Jane Repco. Of all the Australian built Repco Brabham V8 engined cars- single-seaters and sportscars, to me the most desirable is this particular car, Garrie Cooper’s 1970 works machine, Elfin 600D chassis ‘7012′. There is a spot for it in my garage.

Few racing car designs have won success in Formula Ford, F3, F2 and F1- well, ok, Australian National Formula 1- the Elfin 600 variants 600, 600B, C, D and E are such cars. If Cooper and his band of merry artisans in Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown, South Australia had built a Formula Vee 600 (his FV of the day was the Elfin 500) he literally would have had covered all Australian single-seater categories with variants of the one spaceframe chassis design!

I have an article half-finished on the Elfin 600. I was going to pop these wonderful shots of GC and ‘7012’ taken during the WA Road Racing Championship meeting at Wanneroo on 3 May 1970 into it but they are too good to lose in a longer feature. Elfin and Garrie Cooper bias hereby declared, not that I am alone in that regard.

The final Tasman 2.5 ANF1 year was 1970, Cooper built the car for his own use that season but didn’t take a Gold Star round win in it. Leo Geoghegan won the coveted title in a 2 litre Waggott powered European F2/Formula B chassis Lotus 59 taking two wins, there is a certain amount of irony in that as Leo had raced the ex-Jim Clark Lotus 39 powered by various Repco engines since 1967. If anybody deserved a Repco powered Gold Star championship victory it was the popular Sydneysider!

Max Stewart won another two ‘Star races in his similarly Waggott 275 bhp powered Mildren and John Harvey also took a couple in the other new for 1970 Repco Brabham engined car, the Jane Repco.

Cooper’s Elfin 600D Repco beside John Walker’s Elfin 600B Ford ANF2- ANF2 then was a 1.6 litre, production twin-cam, 2 valve formula which effectively meant the use of the Ford/Lotus twincam engine. That’s GC standing up and JW sitting on the Armco next to him (SLWA)

The Jane, like Cooper’s Elfin was powered by Repco Brabham ‘830 Series’ V8’s, RBE’s ultimate spec Tasman 2.5 engine.

These babies made their race debut in the back of Jack Brabham’s BT23E in the 1968 Sandown Tasman round- the specifications included the ‘short’ 800 block (’68 F1 issue) SOHC, crossflow, 2 valve ’30 Series’ heads as well as Lucas fuel injection and all the usual Repco goodies. The engines have a bore/stroke of 3.34/2.16 inches and produced 295 bhp @ 9000 rpm with a big fat, Repco mid-range band of torque. They weighed 330 pounds and hit the road via Hewland FT200 gearboxes.

Cooper was a fine driver, he won an Australian 1.5 Championship together with Max Stewart and an Australian Sportscar Championship as well as a Gold Star round at Mallala in 1969 aboard a 600C Repco, but he wasn’t an ace. ‘7012’ in the hands of Kevin Bartlett, Stewart, Geoghegan or Harvey was a Gold Star winning car, make that 1970 Tasman Championship winning car in Bartlett’s hands if a dose of Repco reliability was thrown into the mix.

The Wanneroo Park meeting was not a Gold Star round but Garrie and another South Australian Elfin 600 ace and future AGP and Gold Star winner John Walker made the trip across the Nullarbor from Adelaide and took first and second places in the WA Racing Car Championship ‘Carbon Brakes 500’ with ex-Brabham employee Bob Ilich third in his Brabham BT21B Cosworth SCB.

The meeting had an eight race card, the ten lap Touring Car and Sportscar Championship events were won by Peter Briggs in the ex-Norm Beechey Holden Monaro GTS327 and Howie Sangster aboard Don O’Sullivan’s Lola T70 Mk2 Chev respectively.

GC accepts the spoils of victory in his ‘Fastman’ nomex suit (SLWA)

Etcetera…

John Walker 600B and GC 600D Repco, Wanneroo 1970 (SLWA)

Walker’s 600B @ Wanneroo, same weekend. JW developed into an awesome F5000 steerer, took the ’79 AGP and Gold Star aboard a Lola T332 Chev (SLWA)

Credits/References…

State Library of WA, Terry Walkers Place, oldracingcars.com, Brian Caldersmith

Postscript & Statistics…

Brabhams are excluded from the list of Australian cars fitted with 2.5 Repco V8’s, they are Pommie cars however much some of us Aussies like to claim them as ours. Sure Motor Racing Developments was owned by Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac, an Australian domiciled Brit, but the cars were designed and built in the UK- so lets be fair folks!

7 Brabhams (BT11A, BT14, BT19, BT22, BT23A, BT23E, BT31) were built with or modified to accommodate RB 2.5 litre V8’s as was 1 Lotus- the ex-works 39, the stillborn Flat 16 Coventry Climax FWMW chassis converted to Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF engined form for use as Clark’s 1966 Tasman car.

To the list of 4 Oz built Repco 2.5 powered single-seaters should be added ex-RBE engineer, Peter Holinger’s 2 hillclimb cars, ‘Holinger Repco’, have I forgotten any others?

Before digressing further from the story I started with, all three of the Elfin 600 Repco’s built still exist- 600C ‘6908, ‘7011′ and 600D ‘7012’ with two of them ‘runners’ and one (7012) in the process of being rebuilt/restored. The Jane Repco chassis still exists in a WA Museum but is no longer Repco powered.

GC in ‘7012’ at Oran Park in 1970. Ain’t she sweet (unattributed)

As to the Australian built Repco engined sportscars, I think there were 10.

They are as follows- shown are build years, car type, number built, Repco engine originally fitted and first owner.

1966/8- 1 x Elfin 400 4.4 620/720 (Jane), 3 x Matich SR3 4.4 620/720 (Matich). 1968/9 1 x Matich SR4 5 litre 760 (Matich/Repco), 1 x Bob Britton/Rennmax built MRC Repco 5 litre 740 (Ayers). 1971- 2 x Elfin 360 2.5 730/830 (Moore, Michell). 1970/2- Rennmax- 1 x 2.5 740 (McArthur) and 1 x 5 litre 740 (Ayers)

To get a complete list, the following non-Australian built sportscars should be added- 4.

1966- 1 x Brabham BT17 4.3 620. 1968- 1 x Chevron B8/12 3 litre 720 (John Woolfe) 1969/70- 1 x Healey XR37 3 litre, 1 x McLaren M6B 5 litre 740 (Jane)

The sportscar list is dangerous as it is pulled out of my head, that will trouble some of you! but do help me with the research as there is no such list currently. Let me know cars I have forgotten and we can update the schedule.

So, to summarise.

There were 12 single-seaters to which Tasman 2.5 V8’s were fitted- 3 Elfins, 1 Jane, 7 Brabhams and 1 Lotus.

Lets not forget Peter Holinger’s 2 4.4 litre 620/720 engined hillclimbers. There may have been some ‘climbers in the UK?

There were 14 sportscars to which a range of Repco Brabham V8’s were fitted as above.

For the absence of doubt, as the lawyers are inclined to say, this list does not include cars powered by Redco Pty. Ltd. built Repco Holden F5000 V8’s just the Repco Brabham Engines Pty Ltd built motors, the list above also excludes RBE F1 and Indy V8 chassis lists.

Frank Matich in his SR3 Repco ‘720’ 4.4 V8 Warwick Farm Tasman meeting 1968 (B Caldersmith)

To nail my colours completely to the mast, the most lustworthy of the Repco engined sportscars to occupy my garage alongside Elfin 600D ‘7012’ is, probably, a Matich SR3. I’ll have the second of two chassis fitted with RBE 4.4 620/720 V8’s with which FM contested some ’67 Can Am rounds and then returned home to dust up Chris Amon’s ex-works Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can Am V12 in the ’68 Australian Tasman round sportscar support events.

Mind you I’ve always dribbled over the two Elfin 360 Repco 2.5’s from the first time I saw them in 1972, Elfin 600 component based jewels of things that they are, to finish about where I started…

Tailpiece: ‘7012’ at rest Wanneroo May 1970…

(SLWA)

Matich SR4 & SR3…

Matich SR4 Repco…by Nigel Tait and Mark Bisset

 Finito…

image

(Beasy/Repco)

The fast way to get around Repco’s Maidstone factory…

Repco Engine Development Co chief Malcolm Preston bought this Veggie Cart from Melbourne’s Victoria Market to shift shite around the plant. These enterprising lads have neatly set it up for this fun shot. Luvvit!

The dapper bearded ‘70’s dude wearing the tie is Don Halpin, I spoke to him not so long ago, he hasn’t changed too much at all. Rodway Wolfe says the guy left of Don is John McVeigh and moustachioed fella is Ken Symes, on the far right is Brian Slader.

When is it though?

I’m guessing the up and over exhausts are to fit Frank Matich’s McLaren M10B/C, Frank was the works Repco driver who did the development work long before the first customer engines were sold. That makes it 1970 or 1971, but there are a load of Australian F5000 nutbags who can probably provide the date and time of day. The Bowin P8 also had this style of exhausts to clear the rising rate suspension linkages which precluded a low exhaust, that would make it late 1971 or 1972.

Mind you, thinking about it some more, the exhausts fitted may be just for the dyno. Its out that side door so the big V8 may be heading in the direction of the test-house. The long inlets look like those of one of the you-beaut, super trick, schmick, flat-plane crank engines too. These gave 525bhp, Repco’s horses were always stallions too, not geldings! So…that makes it 1973/4, the Repco boys ‘fashionable’ looks also define that era.

All opinions welcome and as you Repco F5000 experts can see I’ve covered the years 1970 to 1974, the whole period in which these superbly designed and made engines were built!…

image

1974 Sandown Tasman round, John Walker Lola T330 Repco 3rd, Peter Gethin won is a VDS Chevron B24 Chev (unattributed)

Credit…

The Repco cart photo is sourced from Mark Beasy, he and Will Beasy have a great Repco connection having inherited the only Repco Holden F5000 powered Lola on the planet, the ex-John Walker T330 ‘HU23’.

It’s getting closer to completion, the project was started by Mark and Will’s dad, Brian many years ago. I remember seeing Brian on quite a few occasions at his Lilydale home, client work always got in the way of that particular restoration and the thankless CAMS Historic Commission eligibility work he did. A top bloke- talented motor-cycle racer, car racer and engineer.

image

JW 1st in the 1973 Gold Star round at Phillip Island in November from McCormack and Cooper in Elfin MR5’s (Chris Parker)

 

 

 

 

image

Warwick Brown, Lola T332 Chev, Riverside 1974 (TEN)

‘WB for 73’ was the T-Shirt catch phrase of Warwick Brown’s team during the 1973 Tasman Series…

The good looking, well heeled young bloke from Wahroonga on Sydney’s North Shore had graduated from the relatively forgiving McLaren M10B Chev in which he cut his F5000 teeth in 1972 Australian Gold Star competition to an altogether more demanding mistress for the Tasman  Series, a Lola T300 Chev.

His ex-Niel Allen/Bob Muir car, chassis ‘HU4’ was a very good one, but the T300 was a fast, albeit flexy, twitchy little bugger. With guidance from mentor and engineer Peter Molloy, Warwick quickly adapted well to his new mount.

He didn’t finish the first Tasman round at Pukekohe, the Lola out of fuel but was third behind Graham McRae and Frank Matich in their own designed and built cars, two very hardened professionals at Levin. He was second the following round at Wigram behind McRae. Warwick then went to Australia feeling great despite a poor seventh at Teretonga with undisclosed car dramas.

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WB, Team Target (retail stores) Lola T300 Chev, New Zealand, Tasman 1973

At Surfers Paradise though he became a ‘Lola Limper’ bigtime…

His car got away from him on the fast, demanding circuit spreading bits of aluminium and fibreglass over the undulations of the Nerang countryside and broke both of  Warwick’s legs. He got wide onto the marbles on the entry to the flat out in fifth right-hander under Dunlop Bridge and bounced across the grass into the dirt embankment surrounding the circuit. The light aluminium tub folded back, in the process doing horrible things to Warwick’s feet and lower limbs. He had a very long recovery, made somewhat easier by the promise of a new car from his near neighbour patron, mining millionaire Pat Burke.

That September 2nd in 1973 i attended the ‘Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy’, the F5000 Surfers Paradise Gold Star round in 1973, and hobbling around on crutches was Warwick talking to his fellow F5000 competitors and the fans.

He really was struggling just to get about and obviously in pain. Unbelievably, I couldn’t believe it when I saw the race report, he contested the next Gold Star round on October 7, one month later in Adelaide. No way could he get in and out of the car unaided.

To me it was madness, given his state, but to Warwick it was everything. He withdrew his old M10B after 8 laps and spent the following months getting properly fit for the 1974 Tasman but he had put down a marker as one determined, tough hombre!

Pat Burke bought him a new Lola T332 Chev, chassis ‘HU27’, the first production T332 and WB had a very consistent Tasman series in it…

He never finished worse than seventh, only failing to complete the NZ GP at Wigram, and won the final round, the Adelaide International. The ’74 Tasman had depth, the field included Teddy Pilette, Graeme Lawrence, John Walker, Max Stewart, Kevin Bartlett, John McCormack and Graham McRae- Peter Gethin won it in a VDS Chevron B24 Chev.

Warwick, Pat and Peter Molloy had plans to take on the best in the US by taking their Lola to the ‘States, ‘match fit’ as it was after the rigours of the eight race Tasman program.

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WB in ’73 (John Lemm)

In 1974 the SCCA/USAC F5000 field included Mario Andretti, Brian Redman, Jackie Oliver, Sam Posey, Graham McRae, Brett Lunger, David Hobbs, Al Unser, Lella Lombardi, Vern Schuppan, James Hunt, John Cannon and others.

By the time Warwick and his crew got to the Ontario round on 1 September it was ‘Formula T332’- Mario Andretti had won two rounds, Brian Redman a couple and David Hobbs one, all in Lola T332’s, the greatest F5000 car ever.

Brown was eleventh at Ontario and then fifth at Monterey in mid-October behind Redman, James Hunt in an Eagle 755, Andretti, and Eppie Wietzes in another T332. In the series final round, the Riverside GP, he was third behind Andretti and Redman.

As a WB fan reading about these performances in Australian weekly ‘Auto Action’ I remember being blown away by his speed in such august company viewed through the prism of just how badly hurt he was- and would be again, he had three ‘Big Ones’ in his pro career. I could see his pain getting around at Surfers.

It takes extraordinary guts to get back into these things after big accidents in which you are hurt.

The mind management and sheer courage involved has always intrigued me. Not that he was the only ‘Lola Limper’ in Australasia, Graeme Lawrence and Kevin Bartlett spring readily to mind.

But those three US races in ’74 made him really, he proved to himself he could do it. The crew came back to Oz later in 1974 and Warwick was running away with the AGP at Oran Park until mechanical problems intervened. He then won the ’75 Tasman in a close fought battle with fellow T332 drivers Graeme Lawrence and John Walker and set up a US pro-career for the next few years with Jack McCormack’s Talon nee McRae cars in 1975 and then Team VDS.

It’s not an article about the entirety of WB’s career rather a reflection on mind over matter, toughness, passion, resilience and the fierce desire to compete and win that separates elite drivers like Brown, Lawrence and Bartlett from we mere mortals…

(unattributed)

Etcetera…

Pat Burke acquired the ex-Niel Allen (spare tub) /Allan Hamilton McLaren M10B Chev chassis ‘400-19’ in time for the 1972 Australian Tasman Cup rounds.

As I wrote above, under the tutelage and guidance of Peter Molloy- and using Mighty-Molloy Chevs, Warwick quickly adapted to these savage beasts- he was seventh at Surfers Paradise, ninth at home at Warwick Farm, fifth at Sandown and failed to finish at Adelaide International.

The photograph above is of Warwick with the dominant 1972 Gold Star combo of Frank Matich and his Matich A50 Repco at Oran Park during practice for the ‘Belle Magazine Trophy’ in June- they were fifth and first respectively.

He was equal fourth, together with John Walker, Matich A50 Repco in the 1972 Gold Star series with Matich, Kevin Bartlett, Lola T300 Chev and John McCormack, Elfin MR5 Repco in front of him- but he was well and truly on his way.

Credits…

oldracingcars.com, Bob Harmeyer, The Enthusiast Network, John Lemm

Tailpiece: Brown winning in the Lola T333CS Chev, Watkins Glen 1978…

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(Bob Harmeyer)

Warwick Brown’s VDS Racing Lola T333CS Chev enroute to a single-seat Can Am win at Watkins Glen on 9 July 1978.

He won from Al Holbert and Rocky Moran both also Lola T333CS mounted. The car following WB is George Follmer’s Prophet Chev. Brown was second in the championship that year but the class of the field was his countryman, the three years older Alan Jones who took five victories and the title in the ‘works’ Carl Haas T333CS.

Jones was ‘moonlighting’ in 5 litre cars having gained a toehold in F1 which he was in the process of capitalising upon with Williams Grand Prix engineering.

Finito…

walker sandown

Robert Davies took this amazing shot of John Walkers’ F5000 Lola T332 scything at very high speed the Sandown Park horserailing on lap 1 of the Tasman Round, 23 February 1975…

Walker survived the accident and lived to fight another day, eventually winning both the Australian Grand Prix and ‘Gold Star’ the national championship for drivers in 1979 in another Lola T332.

The other cars in shot are also Lola’s ; Max Stewarts’ T330 left, Graeme Lawrences’ T332 centre and Kevin Bartletts’ similar car on the right. In fact it was in Bartletts’ T332 ‘HU22′, later owned and raced successfully by Bruce Allison before passing into Martin Sampsons’ hands in which Walker won the AGP and Gold Star in 1979.

The battle for the ’75 Tasman was decided in this race.

Going into the Sandown final round Walker, Warwick Brown and Kiwi 1970 Tasman Champion, Graeme Lawrence all Lola T332 mounted could all win the series depending upon how ‘the cards fell’, with 30 points apiece from 7 prior rounds.

Sandown in February was typically hot throughout practice, Walker took pole from Brown, Max Stewart third and Lawrence 4th, their was nothing between the title protagonists, it was anybody’s race.

lcca shot

John Walker, Warwick Brown and Graeme Lawrence pictured at the Light Car Club, then the Sandown promoters, a day or so before the race. The Melbourne ‘Sun’ was a good paper in which to wrap yer fish n’ chips but had no merit otherwise, much as the Herald-Sun does now. The article rabbits on about Alan Moffats new ‘Cologne’ RS3400 Capri, indicative of the Aussie fixation with ‘taxis’ (touring cars), making no mention of the Tasman finale…nice shot tho!

wb sandown 75 pits taright

Warwick Brown, razor sharp after a series of races in the US in 1974 in ‘HU27’. He had been racing the car a full year, he and engineer Peter Molloy understood all of the cars nuances, this chassis the very first of the T332’s, made its debut in the ’74 Tasman. This shot is on the old Pit Straight, the car ‘nose up’ under acceleration in 3rd gear. (Robert Davies)

Brown was perhaps the ‘form driver’…he broke into F5000 in the ex-Alan Hamilton McLaren M10B which was engineered by the very experienced Peter Molloy, Molloy having prepared the sister M10B to this when owned by Niel Allen.

Molloy knew the car intimately and was equally adept as a driver mentor/coach. Brown was immediately on the pace in what was an old car in 1972. He then jumped into the ex Allen/Muir Lola T300, a quicker but twitcher, more challenging conveyance than the M10B and was very competitive in the ’73 Tasman but became a ‘Lola Limper’ in an horrific high speed accident at Surfers which could have taken his life. It was not the last Lola ‘big one’ in Warwicks’ career either.

When he recovered his Patron, Pat Burke, bought the very first T332 which he ran in the 1974 Tasman Series doing well enough to win the final Adelaide round, he competed in the first round of the domestic 1974 Gold Star series, which Lawrence and Walker also contested. Browns’ team then shipped ‘HU27’ to the US successfully competing in several rounds of the ’74 Series before returning for the AGP at Oran Park in mid-November. Warwick ran the final US round in the Talon nee McRae GM2, he would contest the ’75 US Series in. Brown was well and truly ‘match fit’ by the start of the series , his confidence buoyed by his competitiveness in the ‘States.

Max Stewart won the ’74 AGP from Kevin Bartlett, KB also a ‘Lola Limper’ by virtue of his awful leg-breaking Pukekohe Tasman ’74 shunt. Graeme Lawrence was 3rd in his T332 ‘HU28’ which he also raced in the ’74 Tasman and the whole Australian Gold Star series, he was well familiar with the car by the commencement of the ’75 Tasman.

lawrence sandown 75

Graeme Lawrence in his T332 Chev ‘HU28’. GL raced this car successfully over several seasons. (Robert Davies)

Graeme Lawrence won the Tasman Series in 1970 in the Ferrari Dino 246T ‘0008’, also Chris Amons’ 1969 Tasman winner…1970 was the first year F5000’s were eligible to compete for the title. He started in F5000 in a Lola T300, that car short lived after Lawrence was involved in an horrific high speed, ‘nobody’s fault’ accident with countryman Bryan Faloon in the ’72 NZ GP at Pukekohe, Faloon losing his life and Graeme breaking both legs and sustaining other serious injuries. Like the other ‘Lola Limpers’ described herein he continued his passion for the sport. After he recovered long time sponsor Air New Zealand supported a Surtees TS15 Ford F2 car he ran in the ’73 Tasman and in South East Asia, before returning to F5000 with the T332 for 1974.

Bartlett and his great friend Max Stewart were not as competitive ’75 Tasman contenders as they hoped. The great friends were the first customers of Lola’s F5000 latest- the trick, schmick but not ultimately quick, rising rate suspension T400.

Bartlett’s 3rd at Levin in the opening round flattered only to deceive, the cars were reasonably reliable throughout the series but not as quick as the T332’s. So unimpressed with the T400 were they, that both contested the Adelaide and Sandown rounds in their old cars. Bartlett his T332, his T330 rebuilt around a new 332 tub after his Pukekohe prang and Max the very first, very fast, very successful T330, ‘HU1’, the prototype tested and raced in the UK in late 1972 and honed to a fine pitch before handover by Frank Gardner to Stewart prior to the ’73 Tasman commencement. It would have been very interesting to see how this pair would have faired had they run their well proven older cars, but there was no reason to believe the T400 would not be a quicker car than the successful previous Lola F5000’s had been. Each one quicker than the previous model.

The T400’s ended up being winners in the hands of Count Rudy Van der Straatens ‘Team VDS’ in Teddy Pilette’s and Peter Gethin’s hands in Europe and by Max Stewart in Australia but were otherwise shunned by most Lola customers who continued to modify and develop their T330/2’s- the T332C was surely THE definitive F5000 car.

jw sandown practice

John Walker in his Lola T332 Repco in Shell Corner or turn 1 onto the old Pit Straight in practice, Saturday 22 February. Lola T330 ‘HU23’ B, rebuilt as a T332 after the first of its numerous shunts, unique in fitment of Repco Holden F5000 engines. These were ‘carry-overs’ from JW’s previous Elfin MR5 and Matich A50 both cars designed for the Repcos’. Repco withdrew from racing in 1974 but continued to provide parts support to their many customers. JW car fitted for Sandown ’75 with the last specially prepared ‘flat plane crank’ Repco engine developing circa 520bhp in addition to the Repcos’ legendary ‘truckload’ of mid range torque. (Robert Davies)

In many ways the least well prepared of the ‘Tasman Finalists’, at the Series commencement was John Walker.

The Adelaide crash repair business proprietor came into F5000 from F2, swapping his Elfin 600 for an MR5 Repco, the first of Garrie Coopers’ Elfin 5 litre single seaters.

John hadn’t raced the car for long before deciding to compete in the ’73 US F5000 ‘L&M Series’, and bought a Matich A50 to do so, the Elfin lacking the ‘bag tanks’ required for that series and the ultimate competitiveness Walker sought.

matich watkins gelen walker

Walker and team on the Watkins Glen grid. Matich A50 Repco ‘004’. JW finished 8th in the race won by Jody Scheckters’ Lola T330, T330’s filling the first 6 places, such was their dominance that year. Mind you Scheckter won the L&M US title that year mainly driving a Trojan T101. Mechanic clearly has had a shopping trip to San Francisco…(Chris Parker)

He did well in the US, finishing 8th at Michigan and Watkins Glen in the limited campaign returning to Oz for the ’73 Gold Star series a notably faster driver- and with a Lola T330 he bought from Carl Haas to which he fitted the Repco Holden F5000 engines which had nestled in the back of both the Elfin and Matich. Both cars were designed for the Repco engine, the Lola was not and whilst JW was not at the top of the ‘Repco food-chain’ initially, sponsored driver Frank Matich was- the Lola was always a ‘jet’ with the lighter, torquier, albeit slightly less powerful than the best Chevs, Repco donks.

walker mid ohio

John Walker looking longingly at fellow Aussie Bob Muirs’ Lola T330 ‘HU4′ in the Mid Ohio paddock on 3 June 1973. He was mightily impressed by the T330s’ he had been chasing around the US circuits…by 24 July Lola had invoiced him for ‘HU23’ in ‘Viking Orange’, the car delivered in the US, the Repco fitted there, but first raced in Australia at the Adelaide Gold Star round in October 1973. (Terry Capps)

JW contested the ’74 Tasman in the T330 winning at Levin and in the first rounds of the ’74 Gold Star series but pranged the car in the second heat at Surfers Paradise doing sufficient damage to require a new chassis. This car had ‘more hits than Elvis’ over the years, as the oldracingcars.com history shows!

T330 ‘HU23’ was then rebuilt around a T332 tub, whilst Walker didn’t do any of the remaining ’74 Gold Star rounds he had done enough test miles around Adelaide International in his new car to be competitive from the start of the ’75 Tasman.

old Sandown circuit map

Circuit map of Sandown in its original guise. JW accident occurred at the fast, downhill lefthand kink after ‘Mobil’, the approach top speed in 5th gear, before braking…

By the time the ‘Tasman Circus’ arrived at Sandown in February the 7 rounds had been won by Lawrence (Levin and Adelaide), Brown (Pukekohe and Oran Park), Walker (Surfers Paradise) with Chris Amon winning at Teretonga in his Talon MR1 Chev and Graham McRae Wigram in the Talons cousin, McRae GM2 Chev. (the Talons were cars built in the US by Jack McCormack to the GM2 design sold by McRae to McCormack)

And so the scene was set. There was much excitement in Melbourne with the mainstream media, usually only interested in Aussie Rules, Cricket and Donkeys (horse racing), providing substantial coverage to the cars and drivers for a wonderful showdown of ‘local drivers’ Graeme Lawrence a Kiwi but much admired and respected by local fans as a driver ‘from over the ditch’.

The day dawned bright and sunny, it was with a great deal of anticipation and interest that we fans ventured out to the circuit. I jumped the pit fence gaining my ‘students discount’ to the paddock and took in pre-race preparations and watched the start from the pit counter, JW went past in 2nd behind Brown, John Goss taking 2nd from Walker on the run uphill…

Photographer, Robert Davies described the bellowing field of cars heading up the back straight …’I was pre-focussed on the track at my favorite vantage point at ‘Marlboro Country’ (the top of the back straight on the outside of the corner) ready for my usual shot of the leading cars on the opening lap. JW lost control of the Lola and slid at very high speed along about 100 metres of the fencing that separates the horse racing track from the motor racing circuit. He was very lucky, the fence posts snapped like matchsticks and the water pipe that ran along the top of the fence (to water the horse racing grass, you can actually see the water pipe atop the rail) passed over the top of his helmet’.

Walker was unconscious and was removed from the car and taken to nearby Dandenong Hospital, discharging himself shortly after arrival.He escaped serious injury from what was a very nasty accident with the best of outcomes, some years later Garrie Cooper went off after a wing-post failure at a similar spot in his Elfin MR8, he broke limbs but again was lucky to survive, Sandown is not without its perils.

The reason for the accident has never been clear, mechanical failure ruled unlikely by post race inspection of the wreck.

brown marlboro country

WB on the downhill plunge from ‘Marlboro Country’ to Dandenong Road in his T332 Chev, past the orange colored remains of Walkers’ car on the way to 6th place in the race and the Tasman Series win. The only occasion on which an Australian won the Tasman title. (Robert Davies)

A good deal of interest in the race was removed with JW’s demise but it was tempered with the knowledge that he was ok, and the subject of mass media coverage in the days which followed as a consequence.

Graeme Lawrence had fuel metering unit dramas and Warwick Brown slowed and had a quick ‘splash and dash’ with low fuel and finished 6th, gaining the vital point to win the title, it was a fitting victory for a driver who jumped back into these awesome cars after an accident as horrific as the one shown above but with far more dire consequences 2 years before…

John Goss won the race, his first F5000 victory in the Matich A53 Repco, the last of Franks’ superb cars…It was to be the last Tasman Series, the Kiwis and Aussies ran F5000 Series in 1976 of 4 races each back to back but the New Zealanders then changed their National Formula to Formula Atlantic/Pacific from 1977 Australia soldiering on with F5000.

goss sandown matich 1975

John Goss on the way to Sandown victory in his Matich A53 Repco (007). Sandown was a happy F5000 hunting ground for JG, in addition to this, his first F5000 win, he also won the 1976 AGP in a very close race with Vern Schuppans’ Elfin MR8 Chev, Goss victorious in his other Matich, A51/3 ‘005’. Goss started racing in his native Tasmania in sedans and then the ‘Tornado Ford’ a self-built sportscar. But for some FF races in the first Birrana F71 he made his name as a touring car driver in Ford Falcon GT’s…but he became an awesomely quick F5000 driver, immediately on the pace in Matichs’ fantastic cars from mid-’74. Here he is descending the hill below ‘Marlboro Country’, the horse railing mown down by Walker, and the destroyed Lolas’ orange airbox clear to see. (Robert Davies)

So that was that, a wonderful series of 8 races in the Australasian Summer which started in 1964 and had seen the best in the world compete in the Southern Hemisphere annually was at an end.

Both countries continued with summer International Series but the magic of the Tasman was forever lost…the Australian Grand Prix is superb but it isn’t 8 wonderful races in 2 months!

jw with lola lcca

John Walker pictured in Roy Street Melbourne behind the old Light Car Club of Australia premises during a pre-Sandown promotional shoot in 1978. Car is the Martin Sampson/Magnum Wheels owned Lola T332 Chev ‘HU22’ in which Walker won both the 1979 Wanneroo Park, WA, AGP and Gold Star Series. (Ian Smith)

Etcetera…

walker paper 2

john walker paper article

Lola T330 Chev…

Those with an interest in what makes these cars tick may find this series of articles on Peter Brennans’ restoration of the ex-Lella lombadi T330 ‘HU18’ of interest.

https://primotipo.com/2014/06/24/lellas-lola-restoration-of-the-ex-lella-lombardi-lola-t330-chev-hu18-episode-1/

Photo and Other Credits…

Robert Davies- check out Roberts’ other amazing shots on Flickr

Arrowtown , South Island , New Zealand

Ian Smith, Terry Capps, Chris Parker

Thanks to Rob Newman for reading the draft and correcting some facts