Posts Tagged ‘Lobethal’

‘Australian Stock Car Road Championship’ race, Lobethal 1939 (SLSA)

The first official ‘Australian Touring Car Championship’ was held at Gnoo Blas, Orange, New South Wales on 1 February 1960, the one race title was famously won by David McKay’s Jaguar Mk1 3.4.

I wonder whether the first Australian Touring Car Championship is not that ‘Official’ as in CAMS sanctioned event at all- but rather the ‘Australian Stock Car Road Championship’ race held during the January 2 1939 Australian Grand Prix meeting at Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills won by Tom Bradey’s Singer Bantam?…

The racing of ‘run-what-you-brung’ production cars goes all the way back to the dawn of racing in Australia- to Intercontinental City to City record breaking, the ‘Car Trials’ run out of major towns and the speed events held within them, on dirt ‘speedways’ and ‘Around the Houses’ racing in Western Australia.

‘Stock Car’ or touring car racing at Applecross, Perth during the 1940 Patriotic GP meeting- the Bill Smith Humber chases a Chevrolet (K Devine)

 

Steamin’: More Applecross action, gas producers Stock Car race!, with one competitor boiling on the line, magic shot (K Devine)

The Monday 2 January Lobethal 1939 AGP event program comprised a 10.45am ‘curtain-raiser’- the 75 mile South Australian Grand Prix, and then ‘an innovation, the Australian Stock Car Road Championship, in which all manner of stock car models, from sedans to tourers, and small engine roadsters have been entered’ over 50 miles held at 1pm. Finally the blue riband Australian Grand Prix contested over 150 miles of the ultra challenging, dangerous, demanding Lobethal road circuit commenced at 2.30pm.

These races, consistent with Australian motor racing practice well into the sixties were run to handicaps- I’m not suggesting that all races into the sixties were handicaps, but some were. The last handicap AGP was the 1948 Point Cook, Melbourne race won by Frank Pratt’s BMW 328.

The entry for the Lobethal stock car title race was diverse and comprised, as suggested above both ‘touring cars’ and ‘sports cars’. This too was the case in Australia until well into the fifties, ‘Sportscars were still seen as a natural part of a production car field, although the arrival of the Jaguar XK120 tended to stretch the friendship’…’The combination of sports and sedan cars to make up production car fields plus the frequent resort to handicapping, meant there were very few predictable winners amongst the touring cars of the early 1950s…’according to HATCC (The Official History of The Australian Touring Car Championship).

John Snow in his Hudson 8, a roadie as well as a car he competed in- inclusive of hillclimbs and at Mt Panorama, Bathurst (N Howard)

The ‘Geoghegans, Brocks and Lowndes’ of that 1939 day were Frank Kleinig in Bill McIntyre’s Hudson 8 and the similarly equipped John Snow, with Jock McKinnon, J McGowan and Ted Parsons in Ford V8’s. In amongst the ‘heavy metal’ were cars such as the Austin 8 raced by local ace of that marque Ron Uffindell, K Brooks’ Wolseley, D Hutton in a Morris 8/40 and Tom Bradey in a Singer 9 Bantam.

The sportscars comprised MG T Types of Owen Dibbs and S Osborne, the MG ‘Tiger’ of Selwyn Haig and the fast Jaguar SS100 of G Brownsworth- he was off scratch as were Kleinig and Snow, the latter two blokes aces in the ‘Grand Prix’ machinery also racing that day. The winner of the AGP was Allan Tomlinson, the prodigiously quick and superbly prepared Perth ace aboard a supercharged MG TA, a wonderful story for another time. Soon actually, it’s completed.

G Brownsworth Jaguar SS100 (B King)

The Adelaide Advertiser’s reporter was not particularly impressed with the touring cars in practice. ‘The entrants in the Australian Stock Car Championship had trouble at almost all of the corners on the course, as the cars, not built for racing, swayed and threatened to overturn with the heavy loading imposed on the bodies imposed by the racing speeds’.

Despite that, Kleinig lapped in 7:32 min/secs, Snow 7:35 and Phillips in 7:45- by way of comparison the lap record was held by Lobethal-Meister Alf Barrett in a 2.3 litre supercharged straight-eight Alfa Romeo Monza in 5:41- so in relative terms they were not too shabby.

Perhaps modern comparisons are instructive. The F1 lap record at Albert Park is Schumacher’s 2004 Ferrari time of 1:24.125, the V8 Supercars record is Scott McLaughlin’s Ford FG X Falcon’s 1:54.6016. Kleinig’s time as a percentage of Barrett’s is 73%, McLaughlin’s of Schumacher’s is 80%- and so it should be, the V8 Supercar is a racer whilst the Hudson 8 was very much a production car. The point is that the relative production lap time of the Hudson relative to a Grand Prix car of the period is not too bad at all.

Lobethal crowd taking in the stock car race 1939 (SLSA)

The Advertiser reported the race as follows…

‘Chief interest in the Australian stock car championship centred on the possibility of J McKinnon Ford V8 (3 mins) catching the leader, TM Bradey who was off 11 minutes in the little four cylinder Singer. The speed of the race was very slow in comparison to the SA Grand Prix’ the Advertiser’s reporter ‘Differential’ observed.

Bradey went into the lead from the Uffindell Austin 8 on the third time around with Hutton, Morris 8/40 a long way back in third. Brook’s Wolseley, Mrs Jacques MG T (Owen Gibbs driver) and the Osborne MG T retired at Kayannie after about three laps each, and McKinnon and Parsons in Ford V8’s moved up into fourth and fifth places respectively’.

Jock McKinnon’s second placed Ford V8, his handicap was 3 minutes (unattributed)

 

Ron Uffindell’s Austin 8 placing is unclear but he had a good weekend winning the South Australian GP in his Austin 7 Spl (B King)

‘Brownsworth with his low-slung racing type car (Jaguar SS100) was the best of the scratch men, and he left them to chase the other five. Lapping consistently at more than 70 miles an hour he moved up several places in successive laps and was gradually overhauling the leaders.

Bradey, however maintained his lead to the finish’.

Tom Bradey was a motor mechanic from Barmera in South Australia’s Riverland, he and his mechanic, Charlie Sheppard, who owned the car, towed it the 200 Km to Lobethal.

Tom Bradey and Charlie Sheppard on their way to a Lobethal Oz Stock Car Championship win’ locally bodied Singer Bantam (unattributed)

 

Tom Bradey and Charlie Sheppard after their historic win, Singer 9 Bantam. It is fair to say that the (non-championship) Group A Touring Car race held as a support event at the first Adelaide F1 GP held just down the road in 1985 was a higher profile race than this one! (J Redwood)

In a weekend of surprises for the Bradey family, James Redwood, Tom’s grandson wrote that ‘Uncles Peter and Don Bradey say he may not have told his wife (my grandmother) the whole truth about about his intention to race at Lobethal’.

‘Tom had set off with the family under the assumption that he was part of the support crew. The race was broadcast on the radio and it wasn’t until mention of Bradey on the call that the family realised he was the driver’.

Bradey returned to Lobethal the following year and raced a Bugatti Brescia in the 1940 ‘South Australian 100′, but failed to finish the race won by Jack Phillips’ Ford V8 Spl. Years later, in 1958, he bought the ex-Bira/Colin Dunne MG K3 which won the Junior GP at Lobethal in Colin’s hands in 1938 and failed to start the ’39 AGP that weekend with engine troubles. Many Australian enthusiasts will recall the Bradeys ownership and use of the K3 for decades.

In a nice bit of symmetry, Tom Bradey was approached by a North Adelaide man with the offer of sale of a Singer 9 in similar specification to his winning 1939 title car, that car passed to James Redwood in 1972 and in restored condition is still used regularly- the Bradey family-Singer connection lives on.

D Hutton’s fifth place Morris 8/40 (B King)

Race Results

1st TM Bradey Singer 9 Bantam in an actual race time of 54:08 minutes. 2nd J McKinnon Ford V8 . 3rd Ted Parsons Ford V8. 4th G Brownsworth Jaguar SS. 5th DE Hutton Morris 8/40.

The placings below Hutton are unrecorded in both the Advertiser’s contemporary race report published on 3 January 1939 and in more modern reference sources. The fastest lap fell to Brownsworth- 7 min 27 sec at ‘just over 71 miles an hour’.

Most results listings of the race have Jack Phillips as the driver of the third placed Ford V8. Whilst entered by him the car was raced by Ted Parsons according to The Advertiser. Jack and Ted were partners in a Ford service and sales agency at Wangaratta in northern Victoria.

Phillips drove, and Parsons was riding mechanic in the Ford V8 Special the pair owned and raced so successfully in this period- inclusive of third place in the AGP held later in the day and wins at the Interstate Grand Prix at Wirlinga, Albury that March and in the 1940 South Australian 100 at Lobethal.

It was 101 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade that scorching hot South Australian day- perhaps Phillips made a late call early in the sweltering weekend to preserve his energies for the AGP which immediately followed the stock car race, and allowed his partner to race in the support event.

Phillips was one of the aces of the period, it does make you wonder what Jack could have done with the car had he been the driver- and also whether Parsons raced with Phillips’ handicap, which would have been tougher than that applied to him given his level of racing experience, or whether he was given a different handicap.

I wonder if the Ford V8 raced by Parsons was off the Phillips/Parsons dealership floor in Wangaratta or supplied to them by FoMoCo?!

Surely this isn’t the first factory racing Ford entered in an Australian Touring (Stock) Car Championship race?! Harry Firth where are you?

Jack Phillips and Ted Parsons, Ford V8 Spl during the ’39 AGP. No doubt Parsons was a tad weary when he climbed into the the Big Henry’s passenger seat after his 3rd place in the Stock Car Championship race which preceded this event (N Howard)

The interesting thing is why the Lobethal race isn’t regarded as the first Australian Touring Car Championship given both the race’s name- the ‘Australian Stock Car Road Championship’, the ‘national’ entry list (Victoria, NSW and SA?) and that the race was run in a manner consistent with common practice right through to the end of the late-fifties- that is, a mix of touring and sports cars in a handicap event…

The ‘HATCC’ devotes several paragraphs to the race in its introduction but the emphasis of that part of the book is more about the rules of the time, ‘the race (the 1939 Lobe race) the programme explained was “open to standard touring or sportscars fitted with standard equipment and operating on standard first-grade fuel. The only alterations allowed will be raised compression ratio and alterations to the suspension in the interests of safety. In some cases, alterations to the suspension will be insisted upon”.

Then the much respected authors of the book moved on to a discussion about racing after the war.

Selwyn Haig’s MG ‘Tiger’, placing uncertain (B King)

 

Tom Bradey’s Singer being rounded up by Frank Kleinig’s Kleinig 8 Spl during the 1939 Lobethal weekend. This is Kleinig’s outright Hudson 8 MG chassis special he raced in the AGP, not the road car in which he contested the stock car race (J Redwood)

 

Bradey and Sheppard again (J Redwood)

 

Surely you missed the point blokes?!

Which was or is a debate about the merits of Lobethal as the first Australian Touring Car Championship race rather than Gnoo Blas- which held the CAMS created ‘Australian Touring Car Championship’ title race under the then new ‘Appendix J’ rules which commenced on 1 January 1960.

It is intriguing that HATCC authors Graham Howard, Stewart Wilson and David Greenhalgh didn’t debate the topic in their book’s introduction, in the early 2000’s Australian Motor Racing History was being re-written after all…

The honour of the first Australian Grand Prix was reallocated from the 31 March 1928 ‘100 Miles Road Race’, a race for cars of under 2 litres held on the original, rectangular, 6.5 mile gravel road course at Phillip Island, to the 15 January 1927 ‘Australian Grand Prix’, a six lap, 6 miles and a bit race between two cars around an oval, dirt, 1 mile 75 yards horse racing course at Goulburn, NSW’s second largest city.

To be clear, the Phillip Island event was two races, the cars split into classes based on engine capacity, consisting of a total of seventeen starters from several states, with the quickest time winning- Captain Arthur Waite in an Austin 7 s/c was famously the victor. The Goulburn contest was amongst seven competitors from New South Wales- two heats and then a final amongst the quickest pair over 6 laps- the victor was local racer, Geoff Meredith in a Bugatti T30.

My point is that if the attribution of ‘the first’ AGP can be reallocated on such debatable grounds- that the two-contestant Goulburn 6 minute 14.8 second race is an AGP in name only- then surely it is far from tenuous to assert that the first ATCC was the 2 January 1939 Lobethal race amongst competitors from two or three states won by Tom Bradey’s Singer 9 Bantam over 50 miles of the toughest ever race track in Australia, to rules or practices of the time which prevailed until the end of 1959?

Don’t get me wrong, I agree- just, depending upon the number of Coopers ‘Reds’ consumed on the night, that the first AGP is the 1927 Goulburn race, but it is very easy to argue the other way given the entire nature of the event other than its name.

1939 Lobethal program (S Dalton)

John Blanden in his 1981 ‘A History of The Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ writes in his introductory comments about the Lobethal meeting that ‘Immediately preceding the Australian Grand Prix were two other events, the 75 mile South Australian Grand Prix and the Australian Stock Car Championship which in later years would have had the title of Australian Touring Car Championship’.

Whilst on this jolly I rather suspect that had a Ford V8 won the Lobe race there would have been agitation from Ford/Ford fans/enthusiasts/historians to appropriate the 1939 championship as their first ATCC win but given the victor was a Singer- a long gone marque, there has been no such pressure applied.

Then of course there is my conspiracy theory, there always has to be one of those surely!?

The CAMS view of the world started with their existence in 1953, with all due respect to the serious historians spread across the CAMS Historic Commission, what happened in the past pre-1953 does not matter to the CAMS mainstream hierachy much.

‘The Official 50 Year History of The Australian Touring Car Championship’ published in 2011 to celebrate 50 years of the ATCC from the 1960 Gnoo Blas race has CAMS fingerprints all over it.

A CAMS promo banner appears on the cover, a Foreword by V8 Supercars CEO Martin Whitaker tells how wonderful that mob are and there is a second Foreword from CAMS President Andrew Papadopoulos (don’t mention Formula 4 folks, I did once and I think I got away with it…) ole’ Papa points out in his homily that ‘The ATCC is the second longest running national touring car championship in the world…’, include the ’39 Lobethal event and you have the oldest in the world matey…

I can’t help but wonder that even if the HATCC authors thought their was merit in recognising the 1939 Lobethal race as the first such title, and I’m not saying that is what they think/thought- I rather suspect the CAMS view is that the ATCC started with ‘their’ title in 1960- the ‘Official’ one, whereas the Lobethal race wasn’t an ‘Official’ championship but rather a concoction of the Sporting Car Club of South Australia, the organisers of the Lobethal meeting and is therefore ‘Unofficial’ rather than ‘Official’.

So, there you go, it’s all a CAMS conspiracy not to recognise Lobethal 1939 as it suits their dialogue and view of the world not to- even if the recognition of ’39 would make ’em the big swingin’ dicks of the touring car world by instantly giving them the oldest such title on the planet.

But let’s move on from CAMS, it’s always best to move on from CAMS. Quickly and with plenty of distance.

(S Dalton)

It’s just as easy to come up with reasons why the Lobethal meeting isn’t and wasn’t the first ATCC of course.

Just like a good lawyer, I can argue the case either way depending upon who is paying me the most. And no, I am not a lawyer, I’m not cursed by the misplaced sense of superiority which afflicts those poor souls.

So here are the arguments against Lobe ’39 first ATCC recognition, and rebuttals in relation thereto.

1.The race wasn’t called ‘The Australian Touring Car Championship’, if it wasn’t literally called just that, it doesn’t count as that.

Rebuttal.

Well yep, ya got me sunshine.

However, in Australia we happily call the 1928 ‘100 Miles Road Race’ at Phillip Island the 1928 AGP and the 26 December 1936 ‘South Australian Centenary Grand Prix’ the 1937 AGP (WTF, LOL, go figure etc) so calling the ‘Australian Stock Car Road Championship’ the ‘Australian Touring Car Championship’ is consistent with our flexibility in flicking around titles as and when it suits us.

2.A 50 mile race isn’t championship distance.

Rebuttal.

Bugger off! The ’61 and ’63 ATCC’s at Lowood and Mallala were both 50 miles and they were tracks for ‘girl guides’ compared with the rigours and perils of Lobethal.

3.Thirteen starters isn’t championship numbers.

Rebuttal.

Nah not really. Longford in ’62 only had only 14 cars and Sandown in ’65 only had 18- far fewer per head of population than Lobethal managed in ’39.

4. It wasn’t a touring car race with all those lid-less cars?!

Rebuttal.

Well, sorta, maybe but not really. Since 1960 the ATCC has been held to numerous sets of rules- Appendix J, Group C, Group A, V8 Supercars etc. In 1939 touring cars included those with lids, what we now call a convertible and sportscars. ATCC rules have evolved over time, what happened in 1939 is consistent with changes along the journey made by CAMS.

CAMS get confused every now and then too, about individual cars- for example, the Porsche 911, which most of us call a GT Coupe was ATCC eligible for a couple of years, then became a Sports Sedan and another two or so years later a Production Sportscar. Dimensionally during that period the car didn’t change but CAMS view of it did. Go figure. Don’t actually, because you will never figure it.

5.But Lobe was a handicap race, come on, surely not?!

Rebuttal.

Yeah, well maybe. But what is the difference between the class structure used for 20 years or so to give everybody a fair go and handicaps? Don’t even talk about CAMS rule changes here and there in every other year as their tummies were tickled by the politically powerful to create ‘equalisation’ or ‘parity’ between cars. Good try but that argument doesn’t knock us out of the ring either.

6. You are just trying to knock off the ‘first’ ATCC from New South Wales and give it to those undeserving South Australians.

Rebuttal.

I’m no more thieving a race from you mob than theft of the first AGP from the poor, smug, self righteous Victorians! My motives are as pure as any Canberra politicians.

Here endeth the diatribe.

And so my friends, I put it to you that the one race, 50 mile 1939 Lobethal ‘Australian Stock Car Road Championship’ contested by thirteen or so cars and won by Tom Bradey’s Singer Bantam are indeed the first ATCC champion driver and car- official or otherwise.

As many of you know I am not in the slightest bit interested in touring car racing of any sort so my impartiality in relation to all of this is absolute.

Let’s hear your views!

In the meantime i look forward to a reprint of the ‘History of The Australian Touring Car Championship’ and a letter from CAMS in confirmation forthwith…

Tom Bradey and Charlie Sheppard, Singer 9 Bantam, Lobethal 1939 (B King)

 

Bob Lea-Wright and Jack Kennedy on lap 30, on the way to a 1934 AGP win, they had their difficulties as the car was jammed in top gear for much of the race (S Aspinall)

Etcetera: Singer in Australia…

The marque is largely unknown in Australia today but had plenty of competition success in period, Bob Lea-Wright and Jack Kennedy won the 1934 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island in a Singer 9 Le Mans, as below. This car is currently being restored by Nathan Tasca and his father in Victoria and may break cover at Motorclassica shortly.

(S Aspinall)

Sue Asinall, Bob Lea-Wright’s daughter recalls; ‘Dad and Jack Kennedy are outside the Singer dealership he managed in Melbourne after winning the ’34 AGP.

It was an incredible achievement given during practice the engine blew up. Dad and Jack took the car back to Melbourne and worked all night to instal a new one. They wearily drove back to the ‘Island where they had to “run the engine in” over 8 hours around the track on the Sunday and then race on the Monday!

My father also brought back other engine parts needed by fellow competitors! A true gentleman and genuine sportsman/competitor’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lets not forget Noel Campbell’s win at Lobethal the year before, below.

The Adelaide youngster won the 1938 South Australian Grand Prix at Lobethal in the circuit’s first car racing meeting that January driving his self built and modified Singer Bantam Special.

Not too long after the win he moved to Sydney where the car provided daily transport after conversion back to more standard form, it too, most of it, is in Nathan Tasca’s hands.

There is much, much more to the marque’s history in Australia but these two wins are just a couple of snippets to remember.

(N Howard)

Photo Credits…

Norman Howard, State Library of South Australia, Nathan Tasca Collection, Bob King Collection, James Redwood Collection, Sue Aspinall, Stephen Dalton Collection

Special Thanks…

To Singer enthusiasts and owners Nathan Tasca and James Redwood for research material, photographs and anecdotes

Bibliography…

Various Adelaide Advertiser newspaper articles, ‘The Official History of The Australlian Touring Car Championship’ Graham Howard, Stewart Wilson, David Greenhalgh, ‘A History of The Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ John Blanden

Tailpiece: No Lightweight in Performance: Singer Bantam, winner of the first Australian Touring Car Chanpionship…

(N Tasca)

 

Finito…

 

 

image

Alf Barrett leads Frank Kleinig, Alfa 8C2300 Monza and Kleinig Hudson Spl, Australian Grand Prix, Mount Panorama, Bathurst 1947…

This was the race within the race, these quite different cars outright contenders but the AGP was a handicap Formula Libre event in those days, the race won by Bill Murray in an MG TC, neither Barrett nor Kleinig finished the race. Alf Barrett and the Monza were the fastest combination in the immediate pre and post war periods in Australia, he was regarded as one of the countries greatest drivers.

Noted motoring writer and journalist Mike Kable wrote in 1998 upon Barretts’ death…’Alf Barrett was known as the maestro. It was an appropriate nickname because of his achievements between and after World War 2 in a supercharged straight 8 Alfa Romeo 2300 Monza at his favourite circuit – Mount Panorama at Bathurst, New South Wales.

The dapper Barrett drove the thoroughbred Italian car with world class finesse and flair with exceptional physical and mental coordination and intense concentration that enabled him to control sliding the car at its absolute limits with a calm smooth flick-of-the-wrist precision. Seeing the black-helmeted Barrett in action, sitting high in the cockpit, wearing his trademark dark blue short sleeved shirt was a never-to-be forgotten treat.

In an era of self funded amateurs who drove for token prize money, the challenging 6.2 mile Mount Panorama circuit was the standard setter by which the best drivers were judged. Barrett became the master in 1940 with an against-the-odds victory in the New South Wales Grand Prix. The classic race was a handicap with Barrett starting from scratch position, many of his rivals had already covered several laps before he started. He went on with a stunning performance where he set a new outright lap record that made the ‘King of the Mountain’. He had started last and finished first’.

bareet dacre stubbs

This quite stunning, evocative shot was taken by racer/specials builder George Reed at Bathurst during the 1947 AGP weekend. Barrett in the car, Alan Ashton being passed ‘plugs by Gib Barrett during a pitstop. Its a wonderful juxtaposition of the ‘high technology’ of the day with the rural NSW backdrop. (George Reed/Dacre Stubbs Collection)

bathurst map

Barrett was born in 1908 to a well to do family in the affluent Melbourne suburb of Armadale, he and his brother Julian or ‘Gib’ inherited their fathers passion for cars. Before too long the boys were experimenting with all kinds of petrol powered devices in the large grounds of their home.

Not too far away a young mechanic, Alan Ashton was serving his time as an apprentice at AF Hollins Motors, the three of them met and were messing around with cars and bikes which they tested at Aspendale Speedway. Alf and Alan built their first racing car, a Morris Bullnose Special in 1933, initially entering hillclimbs. The car was competitive, winning the Junior 50 and Winter 100 at Phillip Island in 1934.

photo (2)

Ad for AF Hollins, ‘Australian Motor Sports’ 1947

Barrett then bought the ex-Jack Day Lombard AL3 in late 1935 and raced the car in his first Australian Grand Prix at Victor Harbour, in South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula on December 26 1936,

lombard 1936

It was the first AGP held outside Victoria and has been known over time as the 1937 AGP despite being held on Saturday 26 December 1936…and named when held as the ‘South Australian Centenary Grand Prix’. It seems this ‘corruption of history’ as historian John Medley called it, commenced in the 1950’s, whence it originated nobody seems to know.

The Sporting Car Club of South Australia was formed in 1934 and played an active part in the celebration of 100 Years of European settlement of South Australia, the piece de resistance of the organising committee of the South Australian Centenary Committee was SA’s first real road race held 50 miles from Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, only a few miles from the mouth of the mighty Murray River on public roads beteen Port Elliott and Victor Harbour, then as now a summer playground. The event was run over 32 laps, 240 miles in total.

The race attracted the best cars and drivers from all around Australia, the limit men of the handicap race drove MG K3’s and Bugatti Types 37 and 43…and over 50000 paying customers came to an event then a long way from Adelaide.

Barrett entered the Morris for Colin Anderson, his MG ‘P type’ for Tim Joshua, driving the Lombard himself. He had a handicap of 21 minutes but lost a supercharger pop-off valve and failed to finish, Andersons Morris was delayed by overheating problems and was flagged off. Tim Joshua drove an exceptional race in the P Type and was leading the event for some laps before a 7 minute stop in the pits for unidentified maladies, he finished the race second behind the winning MG P Type of Les Murphy.

victor harbour circuit

The Victor Harbour road circuit used for ‘the 1937 AGP’. Used public roads as the map shows close to the Southern Ocean, joining Port Elliott and Victor Harbour. (The Advertiser)

In the 1938 AGP Barrett again raced the 1927 Lombard but the Cozette supercharged car, running off 22 minutes retired from the race held at Mount Panorama. Visiting Englishman Peter Whitehead won in his ERA Type B off a very favourable handicap winning from Les Burrows in a Terraplane Spl.

wirilinga 1938

Barrett racing his Morris Cowley Spl in the 1938 ‘Kings Birthday Grand Prix’, Wirlinga road circuit on the outskirts of Albury, NSW. (Unattributed)

As part of the Albury 150th anniversary celebrations a new 4.2 mile circuit was laid out on public roads at Wirlinga, an Albury suburb.

Albury is a town on the Murray River on the New South Wales/Victoria border. Barrett contested the ‘Kings Birthday Grand Prix’ or ‘Interstate Grand Prix’, the event seems to have been attributed a variety of names, in the Cowley on 19 March 1938. The event was won by local Wangaratta boy Jack Phillips in his self built Phillips Ford V8 Spl.

barrett cowley lobethal 1938

Barrett competing in the Morris Bullnose Spl, Lobethal ’50 Mile Handicap’ 1938. Kayannie Corner. The practice would be put to good use the following year. (Norman Howard)

monza blanden cover

This is the fabulous cover of John Blandens’ seminal book ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’. The fact that Barrett and the Monza, of the hundreds of cars and drivers written about in the publication made the cover says everything about the noted late historians opinion of Barrett and his place in the pantheon of Australian drivers…the scene depicted is at Bathurst 1938.Alan Ashton and Alf changing a wheel on the Monza.

In late 1938 Barrett acquired and imported the Monza from the UK, it had been raced successfully there by AP ‘Ginger’ Hamilton…

Chassis #2211134 was built in 1932 and sold to Raymond Somner, he won the Marseilles Grand Prix at Miramas in September 1932 and several other events selling the car back to the factory having acquired a Maserati for 1933. Hamilton bought it in late 1933 and raced the car extensively in the ensuing 5 years. There is a more comprehensive record of the cars competition record in Europe in ‘Etcetera’ at the end of this article.

I wrote about the design and specifications of the Alfa Romeo Monza in an earlier article so will not repeat that information here, click on this link to that article. https://primotipo.com/2014/10/09/antonio-brivio-targa-florio-1933-alfa-romeo-8c2300-monza/

When the car arrived in Australia it was prepared by Alan Ashton, Ashton acquired a reputation which recognised him as one of the most talented engineers in the country, he fettled cars for Barrett until the end of his career and later Lex Davison throughout his reign in the 1950’s and 1960’s as well as various international drivers who sought his talents.

The Alfa arrived in time for the last pre-War AGP held on the fast, daunting road course at Lobethal in South Australia’s Barossa Valley...

barrett lobethal

Barrett Lobethal 1939 AGP, superb Norman Howard shot. Sandbags, barb wire fences, eucalypts, crowd on the hill, wonderful. Dangerous but wonderful…

lobethal map 2

lobethal township

Bucolic Lobethal in the late 1930’s…the race progressed into, through and out of the main road shown in this aerial shot. (State Library of SA)

South Australian, Patrick Atherton in his website ‘Lagler Racing’ paints a vivid picture of the circuit, these are still public roads upon which you can drive thus…

‘From the old start-finish and grandstand area north of Charleston you could be forgiven for thinking it’s nothing special. No really challenging corners just sweeping curves. But put it into context; these cars had spindly wires and tyres, cart springs and beam axles and near useless drum brakes. These ‘curves’ are all blind. There are crests preceding all of them, particularly the bridges, which funnel into chutes. Think of these machines dropping on to their suspension in mid-air whilst turning at 100mph.

Through the little town of Charleston, with it’s pub (still there) the crowds were thick. Stories abound of drivers stopping, mid practice sessions for a pint or two.Out past here are frightening kinks, all blind, all crests and dips. Then a blind right hand kink sucks you into Kayannie corner, the tight right hander leaving Woodside Road and heading towards the township of Lobethal. Here the spectators got off the train from Adelaide straight into spectator areas at the side of the track, driver’s left.

The climb up the hill is significant, mostly straight for almost two km, but at the top, this track steals straight from the soul of Nurburgring. Lined by trees, the blind crest plummets away left, bottoms out right, drops away again, into a rollercoaster left. Then it flattens, raises slightly, then another drop into the braking area for the hard right hander (Mill corner) into Lobethal’s main street. Even the main street isn’t straight. Past the pub on the right there’s now a little ribbon of paving (Indianapolis-style) across the road and a plaque to commemorate the racing era.

Up the hill it funnels between shops and houses and then there is the blind, off-camber Gumeracha Corner, which claimed lives. The stretch from here to the start-finish hairpin has to be experienced. 5 km of crests, blind curves, feature changes and major undulation. Here is where the truly great drivers would have made up time on nothing more than sheer bravery. Indeed they did, and one in particular, winner Alan Tomlinson.’

barrett lobethal practice

Barrett during practice with a passenger, a fearsomely quick ride on this roller-coaster technically very difficult circuit of the brave, skilful and committed. Kayannie Corner, Lobethal AGP 1939. Railway line to Adelaide, bucolic delights of Lobethal clear to see. (Norman Howard)

Jack Saywell had the car with the most potential, an Alfa P3 fitted with a 2.9 litre supercharged straight 8, Barretts’ Monza, also designed by Vittorio Jano, had a less sophisticated 2.3 litre supercharged straight 8. A big incident in practice involved Barretts’ avoidance of a slow moving MG, the Monza ran off the road at high speed, a rear wheel hitting a gutter and throwing the car high into the air landing 20 metres down the road. Alf brought the car back under control, the incident causing a bent back axle and buckled wheel which were fixed by Ashton overnight, but the wheelbase was 2 inches shorter on one side of the car than the other.

60000 people attended the event, Barrett stalled at the start, losing 5 minutes in the process. He finished 8th, the handicap event won by Alan Tomlinson in a supercharged MG TA Spl.

Despite his handicap Tomlinson ‘punched way above his weight’, his preparation for the race meticulous. He walked the circuit in the weeks prior to the event and drove around it in another TC practicing each section patrticularly the 5Km stretch from Gumeracha Corner to the Start-Finish hairpin, he knew that section would be key for a driver in a notionally slower car, if you were brave enough…Tomlinson was to say after the race that Saywells Alfa held him up on that stretch! Tomlinson returned to Lobethal in 1940 for the SA Trophy and almost lost his life in an horrific accident after colliding with another car, careering off the road through a wire fence, lucky not to be decapitated and hit a tree. The young WA driver did not race again but lived into his 90’s.

Check out this fabulous documentary on the short but sweet history of Lobethal road circuit…https://vimeo.com/83756140

The Monza quickly established lap records at Lobethal, Bathurst, Albury Wirlinga, Nowra, Ballarat and Point Cook. It’s last pre-war start was at Wirlinga in 1939, winning a short handicap and setting a lap record of over 90mph on the gravel course.

monza nuroootpa 1939

Barrett sorts himself and his new Monza out at the start of the 1939 AGP at Lobethal SA. He stalled the car and was well behind the field by the time he cleared fouled plugs. (Norman Howard)

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Wonderful high speed pan of the 8C2300 Monza, and its dark blue shirted driver, Lobethal 1939. (Norman Howard)

lobethal scene

AGP Meeting crowd scene, Lobethal 1939…captures the atmosphere and undulatig nature of the roads. (State Library of SA)

During WW2 Alf and ‘Gib’ served in the RAAF, returning to racing after hostilities ceased…

barett bathurst 1947

Barrett showing the deftness of touch and relaxed driving style for which he was famous. Monza, Bathurst AGP 1947. (John Blanden Collection)

In late 1946 the Monza was again race prepared.

The first race meeting organised by the LCCA in Victoria was at Ballarat Airfield in February 1947, the RAAF making their facility available for creation of a road circuit. Over 30000 people attended the event which featured all of the stars of the day Barrett thrilled the crowds with his driving and the sight and sound of the fabulous supercharged straight 8 engine. Alf didn’t beat the handicappers on the day, off scratch he gave away 22 minutes to the limitman, Hollinsheads’ MG J2, victory in the feature race, the Victoria Trophy going to Doug Whiteford in ‘Black Bess’, the Ford V8 Spl later to win the 1950 AGP.

This fantastic bit of footage shows both the Ballarat 1947 event and 1961 International Meeting contested by Dan Gurney, Graham Hill and many others. Don’t be put off by the commentary, Barrett is driving his Monza not an Alfa P3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2uwd7m6UGo barett ballarat

At Nowra, a new airstrip venue in June Barrett won both the over 1500cc event and 110 mile NSW Championship in the Monza achieving both the fastest lap at 93mph and time despite a pitstop.

Whilst motor racing recommenced post war in Paris on September 9 1945 the first post war Australian event seems to be a Hillclimb at Foleys Hill out of Sydney.

The first post-war AGP was not held until 1947 at Bathurst…despite problems with the police in getting the requisite permit and dissension in the ranks of the drivers there were 29 acceptances and 22 starters of the race.

monza bathurst 1947

The caption of this photo is of ‘Alf Barrett receives the chequered flag October 1947’, he DNF’d the AGP so perhaps this is the finish of a preliminary race. Wonderful shot all the same. (Unattributed)

Barretts’ Monza was off scratch due to the absence of Saywells faster P3, it’s engine was dispatched by sea prewar to Italy for a rebuild, never to survive the voyage. Lex Davison entered a Mercedes SSK 38/250, the first of many successful AGP’s for the Victorian, other fast cars the Kleinig Hudson Spl of Frank Kleinig, Hope Bartletts’ Dixon Riley and Ewings’ Buick Spl.

davison and barrett bathirst 1947

Lex Davison leads Alf Barrett AGP 1947. Mercedes 38/250 and Alfa Monza respectively…it would not be long till Lex impoted a Jano designed Alfa of his own, he imported a P3 in 1948 Davison set the fastest overall race time in the fearsome 7.6 litre SSK but was classified 3rd under the handicap system. (Byron Gunther)

Practice was on the preceding Thursday and Sunday, Barrett enlivening proceedings by taking all and sundry for rides around Mount Panorama in the Monza, as did Lex Davison in his Merc complete with linen helmet, goggles, coat and tie!

Barrett gave away 37 minutes to the first car away, Alf lapping at 3:08 and 124mph down the ‘narrow, bumpy and spooky Conrod Straight between the trees’ but retired on lap 27 with valve insert trouble. He didn’t ever have a surplus of AGP luck! The race was won by Bill Murrays’ MG TC.

‘Alf in his 8C2300 was the fastest driver in Australia in 1947’ according to John Medley but for 1948 the level of competition increased with Tony Gaze and Lex Davison importing a 2 litre supercharged Alta and Alfa Romeo P3/Tipo B respectively.

barrett with passenger 1947

Barrett with a passenger sans helmet…before the 1947 AGP at Mount Panorama. What a wild ride it must have been. (Byron Gunther)

The 1948 AGP was held at Point Cook…

Its easy to forget the context of the post war times in a low key year for motor racing in Australia, John Medley in ‘Cars and Drivers #3’…’The post war age of austerity with its restrictions and ration books still prevailed with a shortage of fuel, oil, paper, steel, food and power. In fact fuel rations were tightened during the year which placed a limit on the number of events…The mainstay of Australian motor racing still remained the homebuilt sprecial, a few of them single-seaters but most two seaters used on the road with number plates and lights, and for racing’.

barrett point cook

With ‘B24 Liberator’ and 1 Bristol Beaufighter aircraft as a backdrop Barrett leads Bill Fords’ Hudson Spl (7th) and Dennis Currans’ Willys Ford V8 Spl (5th) during his brief race in conditions which were amongst the hottest of any AGP. Fantastic evocative shot. (George Thomas)

Point Cook is in Melbourne’s inner western suburbs, the first time the AGP was held at an airforce base and the first AGP not held on a course using public roads.

26 cars entered the race, held on Australia Day , 26 January which was over 42 laps of a 3.85 km circuit comprising airfield runways, taxiways and service roads. A total distance of 100 miles. Only 10 cars completed the race which was held in excruciating hot conditions. No shade was to be had on the desolate airfield. The handicap event, AGP’s not held as scratch events until 1951 was won by Frank Pratt a Geelong, Victoria motorcycle racer/ dealer in a BMW 328.

Barrett started the race poorly having some issues which slowed him down then was the fastest car in the race for a while before withdrawing from the event with heat exhaustion on lap 22. He was far from alone, only 10 cars completed the event.

Alf contested the Easter Bathurst meeting which comprised some short handicap races, he didn’t win but set fastest lap in his. Gaze blew the Altas’ 2 litre engine and Davison retired early after troubles arising from a spectacular practice crash. The feature, handicap race, the ‘NSW 100′ was won by John Barrcloughs’ MG NE with a fine battle between the Barrett and Davison Alfas’, Barrett in the older car breaking the lap record at 3m 01 seconds with Davo recording 144mph down Conrod in the P3, a new straight line speed at Mount Panorama.

Melbournes’ Cup Weekend in November seems to be Alfs’ final race with the Monza, winning his class at Rob Roy Hillclimb at the Australian Hillclimb Championship. With a growing family and a business to run Barrett sold the Monza and retired from racing, not entirely though!

Alf retired at the top, John Medley commenting about 1948 as follows…’Cars new to the scene included Lex Davisons’ Alfa P3 and Tony Gazes’ two Altas with Alf Barretts’ Monza Alfa Romeo still the car to beat in major races’

The Monza passed into the hands of Rupert Steele in late 1949…a Victorian who was very quickly on the pace, practising the car on the back roads between Beaconsfield and Dandenong to help get the feel of the fabulous car.

He raced at Fishermans Bend, was 6th in the SA Championship at Nuriootpa, SA in 1949 and put that practice to good effect in the 1950 AGP which was also held on that quick road course in the Barossa Valley. The race was still a handicap event, Steele finished 2nd to Doug Whitefords’ Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’ and shared the fastest lap with Whiteford, a formidable driver with vastly more experience than Steele albeit a much less sophisticated car. ‘Black Bess’ famously based on an ex-Victorian Forestry Commission Ute!

Steele didn’t own the car for long, later in life he became a notable Victorian in business and horse racing, the car was advertised again for sale.

rupert steele monza nuriootpa

Rupert Steele in the Monza contesting the 1950 AGP at Nuriootpa in the SA Barossa Valley. He finished second and shared the race’ fastest lap with Doug Whiteford, the winner. (John Blanden Collection)

Ron Edgerton was the buyer… Victorian ‘Racing Ron’, a very experienced driver was very competitive in the Monza racing it around the country, an initial win at Ballarat Airfield in the 1950 Victorian Trophy against strong opposition was impressive.

edgerton victorai atrophy 1950

The car raced at the Bathurst October meeting in 1951, finishing 4th in the ‘100’ and 3rd in the 50 Mile ‘Redex Championship’. The year was capped with a 4th in class at the Australian Hillclimb Championship at Rob Roy, in Melbournes’ Christmas Hills.

edgerton bathurst

‘Racing Ron’ Edgerton in the Monza ‘2211134’ ahead of Frank Kleinigs’ Kleinig Hudson Spl, Hell Corner, Bathurst in the 50 Mile ‘Redex Championship’ in October 1951. (WJ Farncourt)

barrett

Alf Barrett hadn’t entirely retired, here he is at Bathurst in 1950 driving Tony Gaze’ 2 litre Alta Monoposto ’56S’, whilst the latter was overseas. (John Blanden)

The Winter 2012 issue of ‘Loose Fillings’ the wonderful Australian Newsletter about air-cooled racing cars had an article by the late lamented Australian Historian/Enthusiast/Racer Graham Howard…

‘He (Barrett) was at Bathurst in October 1951 as a spectator when offered a drive in Misha Ravdell’s Firth-prepared Mk4 Cooper Vincent… after Ravdell himself had been injured in a local road accident. Not having driven a racing car of any kind for more than a year and with no experience whatever of a Cooper-style car, he won a six-lap under 1500cc handicap and was well placed in the main event when he ran over a displaced sandbag and broke a driveshaft universal joint. He vividly remembered the Cooper’s vibration. ‘It was like driving a lawnmower– dreadful. You’d get out of it as if you’d been driving a lawn-mower.’ But everything else compared to his beloved Alfa was a revelation.

‘The Cooper made my hair stand on end. It ran so straight and it stopped straight. The brakes were like running into cotton wool. With the Alfa you always felt you were a foot off the ground and it would get such dreadful brake tramp. ‘The thing I noticed with the Cooper, it held on until all four wheels went together. You could go too far with the Alfa and cars like that, and they’d still hang on, the Cooper would just go snap. ‘But that little Cooper – it just went straight, it stopped straight. So when I say the Alfa was good, it was good-until the Cooper’.

barett cooper bathurst

Barrett in the borrowed Cooper Mk4 Vincent, Bathurst October 1951, he finished 1st in a race despite not having sat in the car before! He is in his ‘civvies’ collar and tie…and with a noticeable smile on his face! (John Medley)

Its fascinating to get the insights of the day from a top driver of the comparison between ‘the old and new paradigms’ of front and mid engined cars…Cooper won their first Grand Prix in Argentina 1958, in Stirling Moss’ hands, himself a former Cooper 500 exponent.

The Monza was offered for sale by Edgerton in ‘Australian Motor Sport’ in April 1951 and was bought by Toorak, Melbourne enthusiast Earl Davey Milne, it is still owned by the family and whilst in good hands and complete it remains disassembled and unrestored…

alf bwa 1953 agp

Alf racing and sharing brother Gibs BWA, in the early laps of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park. The car was a fusion of MG TC Chassis, Lancia front end and steering box, Lancia wheels, brakes and 1935 Chev truck driveshafts powered by a 1.5 ltre supercharged Meadows 4 cylinder engine from a Frazer Nash! (Unattributed)

Alf made a comeback of sorts in the 1953 Australian Grand Prix, the first held at Albert Park…Alfs’ brother Julian or ‘Gib’ was also a racer and built a 2 seater sports car called BWA, colloquially the ‘Bloody Work of Art’ pre-War but actually named after the cars builders Barrett/Ashton/White.

The BWA was converted into a single-seater post war, the 1953 AGP regs allowed 2 drivers so Alf started the race and handed over to Gib. It wasn’t their best of races the pair losing 15 minutes at the start with fouled ‘plugs and then managed to set fire to it after a fuel spill at a pitstop. Still, they finished 12th, Doug Whiteford won the race in his first Talbot Lago, it was his third and final AGP win, the Lago as aristocratic as Black Bess, his 1950 AGP winner, was proletariat having won the AGP at Bathurst in 1952 in the Lago as well.

bwa ablaze

The BWA ablaze at the Albert Park pits…this was the end of the conflagration, the ‘BBQ’ was immense at the point of ignition…the Barretts got the car going and finished the event. (Youtube)

Barrett remained a motor racing enthusiast and in a neat bookend to his careers commencement also finished it in a Morris…

He contested the 1969 Bathurst 500 in a Morris 1500 shared with Kyneton, Victoria motor dealer/racer Mel Mollison. They finished 37th Barrett driving the car with the same verve and flair for which he was famous if not wearing the blue T-Shirt for which he was also renowned…he died in 1998.

barrett morris 1500

Tailpiece…

alf bathurst dipper monza

Barrett and Monza, descending the mountain thru ‘The Dipper’, Bathurst 1939. (Unattributed)

Etcetera…

barrett bwa rob roy

Alf Barrett racing brother Gibs’ BWA in early unbodied form. The car was a fusion of MGTC chassis, mainly Lancia componentry and supercharged 1.5 litre Meadows engine. 16th Rob Roy Hillclimb. (State Library of Victoria)

barrett wirlinga 1938

A close up of Alf Barrett and his Morris ‘Bullnose’ Cowley Spl, Wirlinga, Albury 1938. Car built together with brother ‘Gib’ and Alan Ashton. Historian John Medley noted that this car was destroyed in a bushfire, the engine only survived. (Unattributed)

alf lobethal 1939

Barrett AGP Lobethal 1939. (Norman Howard)

barrett lobethal 1939 2

Yet another stunning Norman Howard AGP Lobethal 1939 Barrett shot.

lobethal paddock

Monza in the Lobethal paddock 1940. To the left is the Jack Phillip’s Ford V8 Spl which won the main event at that meeting ‘The South Australian 100’ and at far left a Bentley Ute used as a tender vehicle. Barrett DNF with rear axle failure but set fastest lap at 5m 48sec, 92mph avg. (Ean McDowell)

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Barrett and the Monza at Ballarat Airfield February 1947. (John Blanden Collection)

alf bathurst 1947

Barrett, Monza, Bathurst AGP 1947…the fastest car driver combination again that year. (Byron Gunther)

lago and monza

Doug Whitefords’ Talbot Lago in front of the Monza, then owned by Ron Edgerton at Bathurst in 1951… a happy hunting ground for both cars. (Unattributed)

Monza # 2211134 History…

The following article was published in ‘Motor Sport’ by Denis Jenkinson in 1976 with input from Earl Davey-Milne, a Melburnian who still owns the car. monza m spoort 1 monza m sport 2

Bibliography and Credits… John Medley in Graham Howard’s ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’, John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, ‘Loose Fillings’ Winter 2012, Motor Sport, MotorMarque, Patrick Atherton Lagler Racing, ‘Cars and Drivers’, John Medley

John Blanden, George Reed, Dacre Stubbs Collection, John Blanden Collection, Ean McDowell, John Medley, autopics, State Library of Victoria, W J Farncourt, George Thomas, Byron Gunther, Norman Howard, Allan Griffin Collection

Finito…

 

image

Doncha’ love old automotive street advertising signs!?

 I was tootling home after my early morning coffee on Sunday and came upon this sign for ‘Perdriau Master Cord Tyres’.

For Melburnians the sign is on a development site on the corner of Malvern Road and Francis Street, Hawksburn.

In most of Australias’ cities, as I guess elsewhere in the world, people are moving closer to town with old industrial buildings converted into interesting residential places or more often modern ones constructed. Often their are interesting old signs exposed when demolition occurs.I don’t recall what was on this corner before, but this sign on the adjoining building wall has been exposed, looking at the history of the Perdriau it’s been hidden since the 1920’s!

The developer has erected a hoarding so thus far it’s been spared the ravages of graffiti-ists.

perdriau rider sydney

Perdriau sidecar delivery service; out front of 21 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney date unknown. (Tedd Hood)

My friend Google tells me Henry Perdriau commenced importing rubber into Sydney in 1897 and manufacturing tyres in 1904, older motorists may remember the company as a market leader. Corporate consolidation is not new of course, the company was absorbed by what is now Pacific Dunlop Ltd in 1929.

I’ve not heavily cropped the shot, I love it juxtaposed with the modern inner urban environment in which it sits.

Still, it will be covered again within 12 months or so, to be exposed by another group of ‘archaeologists’ in 100 years time when once again the site is adapted for whatever use is appropriate then. I have a feeling by then ‘we’ will be getting around in ‘The Jetsons’ style of vehicles than something using rubber tyres. Who knows?

This Shell sign is a ripper as well. It’s on the Horrocks Highway, in the small village of Auburn in South Australia’s Clare Valley, i  spotted it on a cruise up there a month ago.

sheell

It’s interesting what you can spot out and about, mind you I’ve nearly been hit ‘up the chuff’ a couple of times in the process, these sightings are always accompanied by an application of brakes Daniel Ricciardo would be proud of! In fact my partners Cooper S has a neato coffee stain on the dash of said vehicle as a consequence of one of these manouevres.

My quip that the ‘brakes grab a bit’ didn’t remotely come close to making up for the mess i made in her otherwise pristine car…it does have a nice coffee smell, almost cafe like, inside however!

The follow up jibe that ‘car manufacturers would pay for that coffee smell’ didn’t work either…No sense of humour these women.

patz

‘WUB’ speeding past the MCG…in the words of Basil Fawlty…’don’t mention the coffee stain…i did it once and i think i got away with it’…

Mini Cooper S …

That Cooper S is a great car by the way. Its an R56, the just superseded jobbie. 1.6 litre DOHC turbocharged, circa 128KW and 240 Nm of torque.

Patrizias car is an auto, sub-optimal I know but the ‘box and its operation is great, almost enough to convince me to change to the ‘dark-side’.

The auto is a bit ‘clunky’, in fact you can drive the thing smoother manually than in auto mode. Perversely the thing starts in first (of 6) in auto but second in manual mode, unless you select first. Its much less aggressive on lift off in manual mode as a consequence around town. Counter intuitive, but Der Deutschlanders have their ways I guess. That aside the steering wheel, and shift mounted manual controls work a treat.

Its fast, has heaps of mid-range punch, has beautiful turn in, great brakes and sharp steering in a ‘modern car sense’ but lacking compared to my personal road car benchmark, my S1 Elise which I should not have sold!

They are not the most practical of things though, the rear seats a bit of a joke, one of my ‘well-nourished mates’ couldn’t get out of it for a fortnight until his girth disappeared a tad. Not feeding him helped.

I looked at an R53 when they first came out, under pressure from the ‘little sabre-toothed tiger to whom I was betrothed’ to get a more practical car than ye olde 3.2 Carrera, much to the disappointment of my sons who rather liked riding in the old bus. The Mini had less rear seat space than the ‘parcel-shelf’ type seats of the 911!

‘WUB’ has done a lotta trips since acquisition 6 months ago, the only touring downside is a fair amount of road-noise from the sunroof, even when closed, the price you pay for the pleasure of the thing. The car has done 85000Km so its no ‘spring-chicken’ but is still as ‘tight as a mackerals bottom’ in terms of ‘shake, rattle and roll’. Panel fit and the detailing of the thing inside and out is a designers delight. More ‘Audi flair’ than ‘BMW spartan’.

Its far from the rorty original Cooper S’ driven in my youth none of which were standard, all taken out from 1275cc to 1293 or 1310cc, had a 45DCOE Weber, extractors and the factory rally cam ‘AEA 544’ if memory serves…but still a nice small, fast jigger albeit far more refined than the original.

Worth considering if you are in the market for a small, stylish, fun, fast, well built, practical car…for two!

min 1

Australian Grands’ Prix at Nuriootpa & Lobethal…Suggested Driving Tour

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Back to the earlier thread about the Clare Valley. It ocurred to me having driven through the Clare for the first time on one of my weekends here a month ago (i work in Adelaide but live in Melbourne), that other interstaters with a penchant for Australian GP history may enjoy a tour, if you are ever in Adelaide, which takes in the Clare, Barossa Valley, and Nuriootpa and Lobethal.

A nice loop to the Clare, back through the Barossa, which contains Nuriootpa, then on to Lobethal, and back to Adelaide.

The AGP is one of the oldest Grands’ Prix in the world. It started at Phillip Island in Victoria and for many years each state held it in turn annually. Over the decades in South Australia its been held at Victor Harbour in 1937, Lobethal in 1939, Nuriootpa in 1950, Port Wakefield in 1955, Mallala in 1961, and from 1985 to 1995 at the fantastic Adelaide GP circuit.

My suggestion is a tour which could be done in a day but would be best over 2 days depending upon how large an element you want to make of the wineries as against the driving. I won’t advise on the wine as there is red stuff and white stuff, i like to drink both but am no connoiseur. You COULD, if you wanted add Mallala, and Port Wakefield into the loop, in the first half-day as both are West of Adelaide, which is the direction in which we head. This is all GPS stuff so i won’t go into too much detail.

1.Punch ‘Auburn into your GPS. Head West up the A20 and A32 bypassing Gawler .(116Km)

2.At Auburn by all means check out the Shell sign! Then do a ‘Clare Valley Loop’, i suggest (and South Australian readers please chip in with comments)…Auburn, Mintaro (stop and have a good look its a really interesting little historic village with a good Pub), Farrell Flat then into Clare itself. Check out Clare.

Then go through Emu Flat and Emu Flat to Skillogallee’ for a meal or a look. Its at Trevarrick Road, Sevenhill. It was very good.

3. Now we head for Nuriootpa in the Barossa. go via Kapunda, and Koonunga to Nuriootpa. (90Km) There are lots of wineries in the Barossa so do your research accordingly.

nuri

With the AGP due to be run in SA in 1950, the search was on to replace, ‘vast, fast, treacherous Lobethal’ as historian Terry Walker put it. With lots of local support a circuit was laid out which included the Nuriootpa main street. Its all still there to see, but only the starting stright , Research Road looks the way it did in 1950, the sweeping curves over the river are smoother, wider and armco lined (‘Lost Circuits’ Terry Walker)

black bess

Doug Whiteford , winner of the 1950 AGP at Nuriootpa in ‘Black Bess’, his Ford Mercury engined cut down ex Forests Commission Ute Special. In those days the AGP was a Handicap event, but Black Bess was a fast car by any standards

bess

A better shot of # 8 Black Bess driven by Bill Hayes albeit at Fishermans Bend, Victoria in 1953. Lex Davison is leading in an Alfa P3, with Bill Pitt #1 Alta. ‘Bess was built for Whiteford in an Albert Park, Melbourne backyard in 1939. Ford ute chassis , bed iron frames and panneling from the Footscray tip. A coat of black paint gave its name. When Whiteford returned from the war a Mercury engine was fitted, benefitting from US Hot Rod experience. From 1946-52 the car was one of the fastest in the country, inclusive of the AGP win. As imported cars came in it became obsolete, being tracked down and restored before its debut in the 1977 City Of Sydney Trophy (Old English Sports Cars)

4. Now go through Tanunda in the direction of Birdwood (42 Km)  where the National Motor Museum is. There is not a lot of motor racing stuff in it to really float my boat but if you haven’t been before its worth a look. Go via Lyndoch, Williamstown, and through Mount Crawford Forest, on to Birdwood.

5. Birdwood to Lobethal (17Km)

lobethal 1

tommo

Alan Tomlinson came all the way to Lobethal from WA and won the 1939 AGP in his very fast, light, powerful,supercharged MGTA Spl. He returned to compete in the 1940 SA Grand Prix and was hospitalised after crashing the same car at high speed. In second and third places were Australian Specials’: Bob Lea Wright in the Terraplane Spl, and Jack Phillips in a Ford Spl.(Google)

lobethal

Lobethal was developed as a motor sporting centre off the back of the successful 1936/7 SA Centenary/ Australian GP’s at Victor Harbour. WA driver Alan Tomlinson won the race in both the fastest elapsed time and on handidcap, he drove a self prepared superchaged MG TA Spl. Lobethal was revived in 1948, but three sensational accidents saw it fall into disuse in favour of Woodside, and Nuriootpa. In 1951 the SA Government banned motor-racing on public roads, such ban was in place until the 1985 Adelaide AGP.

6.Lobethal to Adelaide (45Km). key in your location and away you go…

 


 

Etcetera…

perdy

Contenporary magazine advert for Perdriau tyres…late 1920’s (ANU Archives)

enzo

Enzo Ferrari was a big Cooper S fan, and driver! Modena circuit mid 60’s (Pinterest)

nuri

AGP Nuriootpa 1950. 3 MG TC Spls…#30 David Harvey (4th), #29 Vin Maloney (12th), and # 35 Don Cant (8th). MG’s of all kinds were the backbone of Australian Racing including AGP’s for decades (Unattributed)

References…

Pinterest, Wikipedia, ANU, ‘Lost Circuits’ Terry Walker

Finito…