Posts Tagged ‘Longford’

(P Geard)

John Youl attacks Mountford Corner, Longford in his Porsche 356 during the late fifties…

John and his racer brother Gavin were scions of a prominent Tasmanian grazier family and very successful, competitive drivers until business pressures forced early retirement. Symmons Plains is a permanent legacy for the racing brothers built as it was on the family property.

(P Geard)

John proved his world level pace in several seasons aboard Cooper Climax T51 and T55 prepared by Geoff Smedley, whose just published book will be definitive on both drivers careers.

In the 1961 Longford shot below he is in the best of company (at right) aboard a Cooper T51 alongside #14 Brabham’s T53 with Austin Miller’s distinctive yellow T51 Climax behind.

(J Richardson)

Roy Salvadori won the South Pacific Trophy race that weekend from Bill Patterson and John with Austin fourth. Brabham was outed with a broken half-shaft on lap 16 of the 24 lap distance.

Here John’s appearance in the Porsche is a little earlier, the last photo below perhaps in 1957 and the others a little later- you can see the evolution from road car still fitted with hubcaps! to lowered rortier racer. I wonder what modifications were made to that 356 Super?

Credits…

Paul Geard, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Ellis French, Geoff Smedley, John Richardson

Tailpiece: Youl, White, Walkem on ‘The Flying Mile’, Longford circa 1957…

(HRCCT)

Youl in what looks like a motor-cycle racing helmet beside his Porker, the yellow machine is Graham White’s Vincent Spl and the obscured Cooper is Jock Walkem’s- the man in black. Delightful bucolic scene belies the high speeds and sound of straining engines which took place annually on this stretch of road over the March Labour Day long-weekend from 1953 to 1968…

Finito…

(Walkem)

Bruce Walton aboard Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder at Longford in March 1958…

The 1958 ‘Longford Trophy’ was the first Gold Star round held at what became the legendary Tasmanian road circuit that March long-weekend. Ted Gray was victorious in Lou Abrahams Tornado 2 Chev. Bruce Walton shared the beautiful Porsche 550 Spyder with its owner, Norman Hamilton. Here he is parked beside ‘The Flying Mile’ near the old startline towards the end of the ‘mile. In 1959 the start/finish line and pits were moved to a safer spot around the corner between Mountford and the Water Tower.

Porsche Spyder 550 chassis ‘550-0056’ was ordered on 2 June 1955 and arrived on the MV Sumbawa in October 1955. One of 91 cars built, it was the only 550 imported to Australia by Norman Hamilton, famously one of the first people awarded commercial rights to the then nascent marque way back in 1951.

The story of Norman’s ‘Porsche introduction’ is a well known in Australia, its an amusing one. The Melbourne pump manufacturer was rumbling up the Glossglockner Pass on the way from Austria to Switzerland to check out the latest in pump technology in an American beast- an Oldsmobile 88 when he was ’rounded up’ by a low slung, snarling silver bullet.

In a village further up the valley he came upon German racer and Porsche tester Richard von Frankenberg partaking of a refreshing beverage in an Inn. He interrupted his break from the arduous task of refining the cars chassis and showed Norman the weird little car. In a burst of entrepreneurial zeal Hamilton followed the German and the car back to the Porsche factory and on a handshake secured the Australian commercial rights- in so doing he became the second agent outside Europe after Max Hoffman in the US.

Looks nothing like my Aston old boy?! South Melbourne Town Hall 1 November 1951 (PCA)

Months later, on 1 November 1951 Hamilton held a cocktail party for Melbourne’s ‘great and good’ at South Melbourne Town Hall, not far from Albert Park, to launch the marque in Oz.

On show were a maroon coupe and a silver cabriolet- forty months after the first 356 Porsche received its road permit in Austria, the cars looked like ‘flying saucers’ compared with the British and American cars with which we were so familiar.

Shortly thereafter selected local motorsport people were invited to test the cars- around Albert Park Lake of course! Very soon after that the Porsche Australian motorsport debut took place with Hamilton family friend and experienced racer/constructor Ken Wylie running the coupe up the dusty Hurstbridge Hillclimb, northeast of Melbourne on 28 January 1952.

Ken Harper and Norman Hamilton with Porsche 356 before the 1953 Redex Round Oz (PCA)

Porsche had fallen into the very best of motorsport friendly hands in Australia. In the following decades Norman, and particularly his son Alan Hamilton, raced exotic Porsches in Australia and aided and abetted the careers of drivers such as Colin Bond, Alan Jones and especially Alfredo Costanzo in Porkers and F5000 and Formula Pacific single-seaters. That story is well covered here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

(Clarence La Tourette)

The 550-1500 RS Spyder was first exhibited at the 1953 Paris Salon, the sexy body hid Dr Ernst Fuhrmann’s ‘Type 547’ DOHC, 2 valve, air-cooled, 1498 cc (85X66 mm bore/stroke) horizontally opposed, twin-Solex fed four cylinder circa 110 bhp @ 6200 rpm engine. This motor provided the basis, as it was progressively modified, for the motive power of successive Porsche racers until 1961. Built from 1954-1955 the 550 design had ‘an integral body-frame with floor frame…the flat frame consisted of welded tubing’. The transaxle was 4 speed with a ‘slippery’ diff, drum brakes were fitted front and rear. With the machine weighing a feather-light 590 Kg, a top-speed of about 137 mph was achieved with levels of endurance and reliability which became key brand values.

When the 550 first arrived at Port Melbourne it was delivered the short distance to the Southern Cross Service Station on St Kilda Road, Melbourne where it was uncrated and checked over by engineer/mechanic/racer Otto Stone. Pronounced fit, veteran AGP winner Les Murphy gave the car it’s competition debut at Rob Roy on Melbourne Cup Day in November 1955.

Delivered to New Zealand for Stirling Moss to drive in the 1956 New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Ardmore, the great Brit won the ‘Ardmore Handicap’ in the 550 and then jumped into his works Maserati 250F to win the NZ GP. The Spyder also participated in that Formula Libre GP- to ninth place driven by New South Wales ace Frank Kleinig.

One of the great shames of Australian Motor Racing is that Kleinig didn’t win an AGP in his wonderful (and still extant) Kleinig Hudson straight-8 Spl. It was apt that Hamilton gave Frank this ‘works’ drive. I’ve mused more than once about how many ‘big races’ Kleinig could have won had he raced a car equal to that of Bill Thompson, Alf Barrett and Lex Davison to name some drivers of equal calibre who spanned ‘the Kleinig decades’ but had much better rides.

Frank Kleinig and the 550 outside his Parrmatta Rd, Burwood, Sydney workshop in early 1956 (C Gibson)

The car was shipped back from New Zealand to Sydney in time for the South Pacific Championship meeting at Gnoo Blas, Orange on 30 January. Kleinig was to drive the Porsche but was barred from competing by CAMS, then a new organisation- the controlling body of motorsport in Australia. Frank had taken part in the ‘unofficial’, as in not sanctioned by CAMS, Mobilgas Economy Run and was punished for his crime by not being allowed to race.

Jack Brabham, who that weekend raced the Cooper T40 Bristol he drove to victory in the 1955 AGP at Port Wakefied to second in the Sou Pac feature race behind Reg Hunt’s Maser 250F- then drove the heavily handicapped Porsche to sixth in the last event of the day, a five lap racing car handicap.

Ron Phillips AH 100S approaches the looped Otto Stone in the 550 Spyder at Jaguar Corner during the Moomba TT, Albert Park in March 1956 (unattributed)

Otto Stone had a few steers of the 550 including meetings at Fishermans Bend and the 1956 Moomba TT in March (4th) and the November Australian TT both at Albert Park- the latter race famously won by Stirling Moss’ works Maserati 300S from Jean Behra’s similar car, both of which stayed in Australia and were then raced successfully by Doug Whiteford and Bob Jane. Otto failed to finish the race.

Into 1957 Stone contested a 15 lap club trophy race at Fishermans Bend (below) running with the quick guys including Paul England’s Ausca Holden Hi-Power and Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S- following Stone is Ron Phillip’s Austin Healey 100S.

(unattributed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norman Hamilton, Fishermans Bend, June 1957 (autopics)

Walton won the Australian Hillclimb Championship from 1958 to 1963 at a diversity of venues across the country aboard his Walton Cooper in an era when the title ‘really mattered’ and attracted both large crowds and the best of the circuit racers, some of whom like Stan Jones and Lex Davison had cars in their equipes acquired and developed to suit the particular rigours of the ‘hill discipline.

Bruce Walton fettles his modified Cooper Mk8 in John Hartnett’s Melbourne workshop, date folks? (L Sims)

 

Bruce Walton does his thing at Rob Roy in Melbourne’s Christmas Hills, 1953. Walton Jap Spl (unattributed)

Whilst Bruce also circuit raced, he did not contest as many events as many enthusiasts would have liked- had he done so he was the calibre of racer who could have won a Gold Star or at least won a Gold Star round- he was that good.

Not much has been written about the great Bruce Walton who died not so long ago in 2017, this article in ‘Loose Fillings’ is a nice comprehensive piece about his hillclimb exploits. Click here to read Terry Wright’s work; https://loosefillings.com/2017/06/10/climbed-your-last-hill/

Walton, 550 mounted at Fishermans Bend in Feb 1958 (autopics)

 

Bruce Walton passes the Newry Pumphouse, Flying Mile, Longford, Porsche 550, Longford 1958

Walton raced the Porsche at Fishermans Bend in February 1958 which was a good means of getting the feel of the car before attacking the formidable Longford road circuit over the Labour Day long-weekend in March 1958.

In the 5 lapper on Saturday Norman Hamilton drove to second behind Bill Patterson and ahead of John Youl’s Porsche 356. In the feature sportscar race, the Tasmanian Tourist Trophy, Bruce drove to third behind Whiteford’s Maserati 300S and Royce Fullard.

The Marsh owned 550 Spyder at Templestowe Hillclimb in Melbourne’s east circa 1962 (unattributed)

In November 1959 the car was sold to Reg Smith, and sold again after the unfortunate motor dealer lost his life at Bathurst driving a 356 Coupe. Acquired by Victorian Lionel Marsh, it was raced extensively with great class success in Australian and Victorian Hillclimb Championships. Marsh raced it up until 1964 inclusive of hitting an earth bank at Lakeland Hillclimb to Melbourne’s outer east.

After changing hands on several occasions over the following twenty years, including into and out of Alan Hamilton’s hands once or twice, prominent Melbourne businessman Lindsay Fox acquired ‘0056’ in 1992. He tasked Brian Tanti to restore it, a job which took three years to complete.

The RS550 Spyder now resides in considerable comfort at the Fox Collection in Melbourne’s Docklands and is exercised every now and again attracting all the attention it deserves for a car with a roll call of prominent to great drivers including Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Les Murphy, Otto Stone, Frank Kleinig, Bruce Walton, Allan Williams, Ted Gray, Austin Miller, Ern Tadgell, Lionel Marsh and of course Norman Hamilton…

Albert Park paddock, 1958 Victorian Tourist Trophy, Ern Tadgell up that weekend (unattributed)

Credits…

porsche.com, oldracephotos.com.au, Walkem Family Collection, autopics.com.au, Clive Gibson, Porsche Cars Australia, Paul Geard Collection, Clarence La Tourette, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

Etcetera…

£1500, oh dear! Give Lionel a call, not far from my mums place actually!

 Tailpiece: Walton using all the road exiting Mountford Corner for the run up Pit Straight, Longford 1958…

(P Geard)

Finito…

(B Dunstan)

Derek Jolly racing past the Country Club Hotel, Longford on his way to winning the 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy, 7 March 1960, Lotus 15 Climax FPF…

I wrote an article a while back about Derek and his career inclusive of a snippet about this win, but I had a swag of wonderful photos of the Longford meeting, too many for the earlier piece. So here they are courtesy of Kevin Drage, John Ellacott and Ellis French. Some of Ellis’ shots are his own, some from the Walkem Family Collection and Brian Dunstan, hopefully I have the attributions correct.

Sportscar racing has waxed and waned in this country, I guess everything other than touring car racing has really. Mind you, GT racing is a strong class at present, interesting too such is its variety.

The Australian Tourist Trophy has some great names inscribed upon it including Stirling Moss, who won the classic aboard a works Maserati 300S in 1956, Bib Stillwell in 1961/2, Cooper Monaco, Pete Geoghegan drove a Lotus 23 Ford in 1963/5 and in 1977 won with Laurie O’Neill’s much more brutal Porsche 935. Frank Matich had a mortgage on the race for a while, he won in 1964, Lotus 19B Climax, 1966 with an Elfin 400 Olds and in 1967 in his self constructed Matich SR3 Olds and then again the following year in an SR3 this time Repco ‘620’ V8 powered. I saw Paul Gibson’s Rennmax Repco ‘740’ 5 litre V8 win at Winton in 1979, that too a memorable machine. After a period in which the title was not contested the ATT was reinstated in 2007 and usually awarded to the winner of designated events rather than a one-off race as in its earliest days.

Doug Whiteford’s attention to preparation and presentation detail was legendary with all of his cars. Here his Maser 300S during the ATT weekend. Rice transporter of Austin Miller’s Cooper in the background, and a Morris Major- don’t road cars of a period provide wonderful context for a racer of the same era? (J Ellacott)

In the distant past sportscar racing was up there with single-seaters, indeed in the days when the Australian Grand Prix was held to Formula Libre prior to 1964, but especially in the AGP’s handicap days and then before 1960 it was common for sportscars to contest the AGP.

One of the 1960 ATT strongest contenders, Doug Whiteford fitted into that category. The former thrice winner of the AGP entered his ex-works Maserati 300S in the AGP at Longford in 1959- he knew the tricky, demanding place like the back of his hand. Doug was a formidable competitor of vast experience. Even though the Maser was not the latest bit of kit, with his driving skill and car preparation the combination could be expected to be there at the finish- at the front.

Matich D Type and Ampt, beside his Decca Mk2 Climax, #92 Finch D Type, light car to his right the Jack Cooper, dark coloured car nose of Jolly’s Lotus 15. Tall fella in blue driving suit with his back to us in silver helmet is Jolly. Darker red car the Wright Aston DB3S (K Drage)

From John Ellacott- Longford paddock- Frank Matich at left, long-sleeved Joe Robinson an owner of Leaton Motors and in the green overalls Joe Hills and the Leatons XKD (J Ellacott)

Frank Matich and Derek Jolly were both coming-men.

Matich was aboard the Leaton Motors Jaguar XKD ‘526’ first owned by the Anderson Family in Brisbane and raced with much success by Bill Pitt. Matich progressed thru Healey’s then the Leaton Motors C and D Type Jaguars, proving his pace in all of them. The Sydneysider’s career as a professional of elite world class would extend all the way to early 1974. Let’s not forget the race winning cars he and his team built from 1966 to 1974 either.

Jolly, Lotus 15 in Longford’s pit straight (E French)

Derek’s Lotus speed was proven in his earlier Lotus 15 despite it toting only an FPF Coventry Climax engine of 1475cc- this car met its maker at Albert Park in late 1958, probably due to component attachment failure. Derek raced his replacement Series 3 15 as a works entry at Le Mans in 1959 with Graham Hill, the engine blew with Derek at the wheel when the infamous Lotus ‘Queerbox’ jumped out of gear. The revs went sky high, an errant rod then comprehensively carved the alloy block in half.

image

Jolly at left and Kevin Drage discuss the Lotus in the Longford paddock. Note the 1960cc Coventry Climax FPF fed by twin-throat SU carburettors (E French)

Jolly’s Lotus had only just arrived in Australia, equipped with a 1960cc Coventry Climax four-cylinder FPF engine was the latest bit of 15 kit. In fact it was the most modern car in the field. Derek took a debut win in its first Australian race meeting at Gnoo Blas, Orange, New South Wales in early February winning the ‘South Pacific Sportscar Championship’ from David Finch in a Jaguar D Type.

Finch also entered the Jag at Longford. ‘XKD520’ was first owned by Melbourne car dealer/racer Bib Stillwell and was a car through which Frank Gardner progressed before his departure to Europe. When Frank decamped to the Old Dart Finch raced it with skill, mainly in New South Wales and Queensland. The car left Australia in 1967, the purchaser none other than Grand Prix driver and later Le Mans winner Richard Attwood.

These panoramic shots give a sense of perspective about this part of Tasmania and the exacting nature of the circuit. Here Alan Jack Cooper T39 Climax, David Finch D Type and Geoff McHugh Allard J2 are coming off Long Bridge. McHugh was not entered in the ATT so this is either practice or the Monday LCC Tas Trophy race (E French)

Tom Sulman, by then one of racings senior citizens, entered his Aston Martin DB3S, a car he had raced since its inclusion as a member of the three Aston ‘The Kangaroo Stable’ team in Europe in 1955. Sulman was a driver of vast experience in all kinds of cars and surfaces going back to his mid-twenties speedway days in both Australia and the United Kingdom. But his car was a winner only in the event of mechanical misfortune at the front of the field. Jim Wright entered another ex-Kangaroo Stable DB3S. He was stepping up from the Buchanan TR2 he had raced at Lowood in the ATT in mid 1959.

Tom Sulman rolls his Aston DB3S onto the Longford grid beside Whiteford’s Maser 300S. Perhaps before practice or a preliminary, I don’t be live the other two cars contested the championship race (J Ellacott)

 

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Ellis French Collection

The other outright contender was Wangaratta’s Ron Phillips in a Cooper T33 Jaguar. Reg Parnell raced the attractive beast in the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1955, the car was then acquired by Stan Jones who sold it on quite quickly having raced it at Fishermans Bend and Albert Park. John Aldis raced it without much success. Its return to competitiveness was as a result of the combination of Phillip’s driving skill and the racers preparation by Melbourne driver/engineer Ern Seeliger.

Seeliger had looked after Phillips Healey 100S and was the fellow who created Maybach 4- the final iteration of that great series of Charlie Dean designed and built, (Repco Research team duly acknowledged) Stan Jones driven cars. Maybach 3 was modified by Ern by the fitment of a Chev Corvette V8 where six-cylinder Maybach motors previously existed. And some other mods by that clever chap too.

Ron Phillips Cooper Jag on Pit Straight (J Ellacott)

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Ron Phillips enters The Viaduct, Cooper T33 Jaguar (HRCCT)

The Cooper Jag was a real chance with a mix of handling and grunt well suited to Longford’s nature, Ron had raced it at Longford the year before so knew his way around the place. Phillips was also ‘in form’ having won the ATT at Lowood, Queensland in June 1959 from Bill Pitt’s Jag D and Bob Jane’s Maser 300S- the sister works car to Whiteford’s which came to Oz during the 1956 Australian Grand Prix carnival. Phillips and Jolly had jousted regularly when Derek raced his Decca Mk2 Climax FWA in 1956-58 with Ron then racing a very quick Austin Healey 100S. Both drivers had stepped up to more powerful ‘outright’ cars.

Ron Ward MGA from Tony Basile Porsche Carrera (oldracephotos.com.au)

The 22 car field was rounded out by smaller cars of which the John Ampt Decca Mk2 Climax, ex-Jolly, the Eddie Perkins (father of Larry) Porsche Super, Owen Basile Porsche Carrera and Alan Jack’s ex-Bill Patterson Cooper T39 Climax ‘Bobtail’ were the strongest.

Whiteford and Jolly were generally considered favourites for the race, but the ‘Australian Motor Racing Review’ report of the event states that there was confusion over practice lap times and as a consequence that pair and others were placed well back on the grid.

The start: Phillips, away quickly from pole #87 Matich, to his left, partially  obscured is Ampt, arrowed is Jolly,  behind Derek in the Porsche is Eddie Perkins, #92 is Finch, #8 Jack, well back is #10 Whiteford, #16 is T Cleary Austin Healey 100S (K Thompson)

The Phillips Cooper Jag and the Matich D Type were on the front row. Behind them were Alan Jack’s Cooper Climax 1.5 and David Finch’s D Type, then John Ampt in Decca Mk2. Tom Sulman’s Aston DB3S was on the next row with Jolly, then Whiteford’s Maser and one of the Porsche’s- and the rest of the field.

Phillips, Cooper Jag, #32 Ampt Decca Climax, #92 Finch Jag D, #8 Jack Cooper Climax- with the two Aston DB3S of #99 Sulman and #126 Wright in line astern behind Jack. Tail of Jolly Lotus 15 is behind Finch, the red of Whiteford’s Maser back a bit centre, Porsche Carrera Coupe is Eddie Perkins and the rest (B Dunstan)

Race…

 The ‘Australian Motor Racing Review’ report of the event follows.

‘With terrific acceleration at the start Derek Jolly moved through the field to the front and soon showed that the other 22 cars in the field would have a hard job trying to catch him.

Moments after the start: Jack, Cooper and Finch D Type. Look closely to the right of Finch’s helmet and you can spot the silver Jolly helmet- he has jumped away at the start. You can see the red of Whiteford’s Maser further back. Porsche is #46 Porsche Eddie Perkins, #16 John Cleary Austin Healey 100S (oldracephotos.com.au)

Ron Phillips in second place, was fighting hard to keep ahead of Matich’s D Type and Whiteford was well behind in fourth place. On the sixth lap of the 24 lap race Whiteford began to increase his speed and on the seventh lap passed Matich to move into third place’.

Matich at speed in the Leaton D Type. He hit his straps and proved equal to the ‘Big Car Challenge’ as Frank Gardner called it during the Leaton phase of his career- Jag C, Jag D and the Lotus 15 to follow the D Type proved his sheer pace (oldracephotos.com.au)

‘On the ninth lap, Phillips, who was experiencing brake trouble, slowed and allowed Whiteford into second position 11 seconds behind Jolly. In the next lap Whiteford put in an amazing burst to reduce this lead by a further 2.5 seconds’.

Whiteford turns his Maser into Mountford Corner during practice. Sex on wheels- few fifties sporties prettier than this. 3 litres wasn’t enough to be an outright contender when they were first built in Europe, but plenty quick in Australia. Such a shame he didn’t buy a 250F when Maserati returned back to Europe at the end of the ’56 AGP carnival, rather than the 300S raced in that carnival by Jean Behra- to see him mixing it with Davison, Hunt, Jones and Gray in that 1956-58 period in a single-seater would have been mega (K Drage)

‘Jolly, having been notified of this by his pit crew, increased his speed. On the fifteenth lap Phillips retired from the race with smoke steaming from his car. By the seventeenth lap Whiteford had closed to within 5 seconds of Jolly but the speed of the Lotus was again increased until, on lap 26, Whiteford had dropped back to 13 seconds behind.’

Cruisin’ @ high speed through the Tasmanian countryside, perils of the formidable Longford circuit readily apparent. Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax ‘608/626’ (oldracephotos)

 

Matich on Pit Straight during the race (J Ellacott)

‘In the closing stages Whiteford seemed to have lost one or more of his lower gears and Jolly went on to win from him with Matich a long way behind in third place’. Another report has it that Whiteford’s problem was a slipping clutch. John Ampt was fourth in the 1100cc Climax FWA engined Decca Mk2- this little car had a wonderful track record in Australian Tourist Trophy races despite its modest capacity, it was 5th in 1958, 4th in 1959 as well as its 4th in March 1960. Tom Sulman was fifth in his Aston DB3S and then David Finch sixth in his Jaguar D Type.

An elated winner. Jolly, Series 3 Lotus 15 Climax FPF 1960cc. Works entered @ Le Mans 1959, it was a trick, schmick car. Jack Cooper T39 and the Matich D Type further back (Walkem)

Winners Are Grinners…

To the victor the spoils of success. Well warranted and well deserved.

Derek had completed his apprenticeship, having first started racing Austin 7’s in his native South Australia in 1948 and progressed through his Decca Climax FWA powered specials in the mid-fifties into the outright Lotus 15. The best if not the most powerful car in the field, and one he drove with great skill.

Lets not forget his winning Lotus 15 was a Team Lotus works entry at Le Mans in 1959, the drive shared with Graham Hill. He was no slouch. In many ways it is a shame business pressures forced Derek out of racing, he had not peaked, there was still more to come I think.

(Walkem)

A great mighta-been is how he would have fared aboard a single-seater Lotus 18 or 21 FPF engined ‘Tasman’ car in the early sixties- he was the Australian Lotus distributor after all. His battles with Frank Matich, seen below congratulating Jolly from the cockpit of the Leaton Motors Jag, would been great to behold. So too those with other top-liners of the period such as Lex Davison, Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell and David McKay.

(B Dunstan)

Etcetera: Other Longford ATT Photographs…

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Doug Whiteford and Maserati yet again, on the grid for the Monday Light Car Club of Tas race- #120 is the very neat Zephyr Special of Jim Barrie (E French)

Kevin Drage doing a plug change on the Jolly Lotus 15 in the Longford paddock (K Drage)

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Doug Whiteford again, the photographers are drawn to these wonderful red cars! Maser 300S near the start line

Pre start vista with the Ampt Decca Climax, Jolly Lotus and Finch D Type in view(oldracephotos.com.au)

Refuelling Whiteford’s Maser 300S and the Ern Tadgell owned Lotus 12 Climax FWB ‘351’ aka ‘Sabakat’. Ern, unclassified, contested the F Libre Longford Trophy won by Brabham’s Cooper T51 Climax. Recreation of Sabakat still extant (K Drage)

Related Articles…

 Lotus 15

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

 Aston Martin DB3S

https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

 Jaguar XKD

https://primotipo.com/2015/01/17/le-mans-1957-d-type-jaguar-rout-ron-flockhart-racer-and-aviator/

 Maserati 300S

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/15/bob-jane-maserati-300s-albert-park-1958/

Longford 1960

https://primotipo.com/2015/01/20/jack-brabham-cooper-t51-climax-pub-corner-longford-tasmania-australia-1960/

Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax on Pit Straight during the race (J Ellacott)

 

 

Bibliography…

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ G Howard and Ors, Australian Motor Racing Review 1959/1960, Ellis French Collection

Photo Credits…

 John Ellacott, Kevin Drage, Ellis French, Walkem Family, Brian Dunstan, Keverall Thompson, oldracephotos.com.au, Ken Devine Collection

(K Devine)

Arcane and Irrelevant: The Last Sportscar To Enter an Australian Grand Prix?…

I think it was Jeff Dunkerton’s Lotus Super 7 Ford 1.5 pushrod, above, which contested the ’62 AGP at Caversham- he was classified 9th having completed 46 of the 60 laps covered by the winner, Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax 2.7 FPF.

In the days when full 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF’s were as rare as hens teeth in Australia- they were in the hands of F1 teams, Frank Matich’s Lotus 15 Climax 2.5 FPF was the last ‘competitive’ sportscar AGP contender, i reckon. His ex-Team Lotus car was delivered with a 2.5 FPF, much to the annoyance of the locals running single-seater Cooper T51’s who couldn’t get their hands on one.

FM failed to finish the 1960 Lowood AGP only completing 9 laps. The race was won by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati 2.5 by a ‘bees dick’ from Lex Davison’s glorious front engined 3 litre Aston Martin DBR4 GP car. I’m not saying Matich would have knocked off Alec and Lex but the 15 had the pace to finish 4th– in behind Bib Stillwell’s Cooper T51 Climax 2.2 FPF. He would have given Bib a run for his money too!

Anyway, its interesting how long sportscars were a part of our great race…

Tailpiece: Kevin Drage’s Longford paddock panorama in March 1960…

Kevin was Derek Jolly’s mechanic/crew, the Lotus 15 is centre stage with the Geoff Smedley built Kenley Vincent Special alongside (K Drage)

Finito…

Max Stephens powers his 2 litre Cooper T40 Bristol up the Domain Hillclimb, Hobart, Tasmania probably late 1959…

Its not just a T40, it’s THE T40, Jack Brabham’s 1955 Australian Grand Prix winning car- Jack took a somewhat lucky win when the more powerful cars of Stan Jones and Reg Hunt fell by the wayside or were mortally wounded.

Colour isn’t so common in Australian motor racing photography in the period- partially due to its cost and that professionals mainly shot in monochrome given good ole black and white in magazines prevailed. This is a fantastic colour photograph from Lindsay Ross’ oldracephotos.com.au archive, I’m not sure who the ‘snapper is in this particular case but his/her composition took my eye.

The 1959 Australian Hillclimb Championship was held at the Queens Domain on Saturday 14 November 1959, in fact the weekend was a ‘double-banger’ with competitors over from the mainland able to compete at the Baskerville circuit on the Sunday. Perhaps this photo is of Max during the championship meeting, i’m intrigued to know.

The journalist Rob Saward, writing on The Nostalgia Forum had this to say about T40 ‘CB/1/55’ and Stephens…

‘The gearbox was always this cars weakness…It was the usual Citroen based (ERSA modified) box Cooper were using in the early Bobtails and F2 cars, which worked ok with the FWA or FWB Climax, but 2 litres of Bristol power meant it had to be treated very gingerly. Longford was always hard on transmissions, even more so before the railway crossing was rebuilt prior to the 1960 meeting’.

‘Max Stephens never really had the chance to demonstrate his true potential in the car- he was a gifted motorcycle racer, Tasmania’s best in the 1950’s and there is no reason why he could not be good in a car also. I don’t know whether it was his (Max Stephens Motors in Moonah, a car sales, later accessories and motorcycles) business that stopped him getting more involved in car racing or whether money was the issue…he died a few years ago’.

‘The car was sold in about 1962/3 to Alan Robertson of Hobart who converted it from central seat to sportscar format and raced a few times before Bristol engine problems intervened…the car was purchased by Frank Cengia, who restored it in the original Brabham 1955 colours, but in the 1990’s it was unfortunately sold overseas…’when Pat Burke who owned the car fell upon hard times’.

Cooper T40 ‘CB/1/55’ whilst in Stephen’s ownership at Longford in 1959 or 1960. It is the car that Jack built, literally, days before his championship F1 debut at Aintree in the 1955 British GP. The car was constructed on the T39 Bobtail sports jig, with modifications. Note the curved Cooper spaceframe chassis, Bristol 2 litre engine sitting tall in the chassis, alloy wheels…such a clever car (oldracephotos.com)

Talented engineer Geoff Smedley added that ‘the car was prepared (in Tasmania) by the late Eric O’Heaney, one of the old school motorcycle mechanics who gave Max a lot of success in his bike days…Eric himself was an avid bike racer until a serious accident…In my mind Eric was an earlier version of the great Phil Irving, both with the same demeanour in their thinking and dedication to the development of the sport…’

Scott Stephens describes his father Max‘…as a respected car and motorcycle racer. He was the only Australian, whilst riding a Manx Norton 500, who successfully passed Geoff Duke for the race lead whilst Geoff held the mantle of current World Champion, this was achieved during the Australian Grand Prix held at Longford…Observed motorcycle trials was his last competitive stance. He was the Kawasaki and Maserati distributor in Tasmania…In his Hobart store he was the approved reseller of Norton, BSA, Velocette, Triumph, Laverda, Maico, Cotton, AJS, CZ, Montesa, Bultaco, Ossa, Hodaka, Italjet and Suzuki’ makes down the decades. Scott himself was a successful professional racer who rode for Kawasaki Australia, Matich Pirelli Racing and Suzuki quips that Max ‘Loved and was amazed by anything driven by fuel!

Tailpiece: Stephens and T40 on the warm-down lap, Longford…

(P Geard)

Bibliography/Credits…

The Nostalgia Forum- contributions by Rob Saward and Geoff Smedley, scottstephens.com.au, oldracephotos.com.au, Paul Geard Collection

Finito…

 

clark

Rod MacKenzie’s moody, foreboding, evocative image of Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 at Longford in 1968 is one of my favourites…

Clark is exiting Newry Corner on the run towards the ‘Flying Mile’. He started from pole, winning 100 bottles of champagne in the process and finished second in the Saturday preliminary race in beautiful weather but the clouds opened on Monday morning for the Tasman Championship event, ‘The South Pacific Trophy’.

Star of the show was Piers Courage who drove a gutsy, skilful race in the most challenging, treacherous conditions to win the event in his little F2 McLaren M4A FVA ahead of the big Tasman 2.5’s of his close competitors. Pier’s car was self run, his performances in it that summer reignited his career.

courage

Piers Courage in his McLaren M4A F2 car, Newry Corner, Longford 1968. Power was not all on this fast circuit in such wet conditions, but the plucky Brit was giving away at least 130bhp to his 2.5 litre V8 powered opponents (R MacKenzie)

Pedro Rodriguez and Frank Gardner were second and third in BRM P261 2.1 V8 and Brabham BT23D Alfa 2.5 V8 respectively. Clark was fifth in his Ford Cosworth DFW engined Lotus 49, the 2.5 litre variant of the epochal 3 litre DFV GP engine.

Jim Clark chewing the fat with BRM’s Tim Parnell- all the fun of the fair, Longford 1968, Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW ready for action (oldracephotos/Harrisson)

Clark and the boys with Denny Hulme’s Brabham BT23 FVA behind (HRCCT)

Lets go back to the start of the meeting, marvellous from the Tasmanian’s perspective as the series went down to the wire, Chris Amon was still a potential series victor with only six points between he and Jim Clark with Piers Courage’s third place within Graham Hill’s grasp depending upon how he fared.

Chris Amon blew the sealing rings in the Ferrari’s little V6 keeping his crew busy for the evening whilst Pedro Rodriguez popped an engine too- the BRM mechanics therefore readied the P261 V8 for the race rather than he P126 V12 the Mexican raced in the Saturday preliminary. Piers Courage tapped the nose of his pristine McLaren M4A when the flaggies got so enamoured of the cars they forgot to signal oil on the track! All was well at Gold Leaf Team Lotus.

Lap 1 of the preliminary on Saturday, Geoff Smedley’s amazing colour shot- Clark from Hill, Amon, Gardner and one of the BRM’s- Lotus 49 by two, Ferrari 246T, Brabham BT23D Alfa and BRM P261 0r P126 (G Smedley)

Practice times didn’t mean too much as the teams were focused on race setup for the twelve lap Saturday preliminary race ‘The Examiner Racing Car Scratch’ which also counted for grid positions. In the second session of practice Clark did a 2:12.8, Hill 2:13.6 and Amon 2:13.8. Clark was under Jack Brabham’s record set on the way to his win the year before in his BT23A Repco, Jim won 100 bottles of champagne for pole as stated earlier.

In the preliminary on Saturday the grid formed up with Clark on pole. Hill comfortably won the event run in fine, dry weather from Clark and Amon. Both Lotuses were timed on the Flying Mile at 172 mph but Amon’s 182 mph in David McKay’s ex-works Ferrari P4/Can Am 350 sportscar rather put the single-seaters in the shade! Lets not digress about that car now, follow the link at the end of this article for a long piece about the P4 which Chris raced in the sportscar support events in each of the Australian Tasman rounds.

Hill G leads the pack off Long Bridge on lap 1 of the Saturday preliminary. Hill, Clark, Amon, Gardner, Leo Geoghegan Lotus 39 Repco, a BRM and perhaps Kevin Bartlett Brabham BT11A Climax (R MacKenzie)

Only a couple of supporting races had been run on the Monday raceday when light rain started to fall at about 10am, this soon became heavy. As the rain got harder and the clouds more threatening it was obvious that it was not likely to abate before the 2.15 pm race start time

The track was almost under water at some points where hay bales had broken up and straw was blocking the drains. Efforts by track officials soon had most of the drainage system under control.

A large crowd was of course present on the Labour Day long-weekend. Crews brought the cars out onto the circuit in front of the pit counter and stood together under umbrellas as the drivers went into a huddle with the promoters of the meeting and the CAMS stewards to determine if the race should go on.

Leo Geoghegan and Lotus 39 Repco return to the Longford pits after some exploratory laps. DNS with unsuitable tyres. Its the Courage McLaren by the pit counter (oldracephotos)

Sergent.com report that first it was decided that the cars should do a couple of exploratory laps then report their findings.

Geoghegan, Amon, Clark, Hill, Attwood, Gardner, Bartlett and others went out and after looking like motor boats ploughing through the water delivered their thoughts to the meeting. The conditions were so bad various drivers with unsuitable tyres elected not to start having driven some ‘sighting laps’.

Kevin Bartlett recounted his experience in the Alec Mildren Racing Brabham BT11A Climax; ‘I did two exploratory laps and the old BT11 couldn’t find traction anywhere. I had an absolutely terrifying 4th gear 720 degree spin across the short Kings Bridge, the one after the Viaduct, missing all the obstacles at the tracks edge. After exiting Pub and in a straight line i did a 360 degree loop. She nearly escaped me over the rail line on the way to Long Bridge. Out of Newry and up the hill to the straight slithering along with no touch felt between me and the bitumen, so i suppose I thought at that moment to do another lap at a very reduced speed then pit’.

Packed car park: Amon’s Dino, the BRM’s of Attwood and Rodriguez, Pedro’s P261 fully covered, the two Lotus 49’s, Piers McLaren, then Leo G’s Lotus 39 and John Harvey’s Brabham BT11A (oldracephotos)

long

‘What are we going to do boys?!’ Drivers considering their options before the race, the pouring rain exacerbated by drains beside the track which couldn’t cope with the deluge; Clark facing us, Hill’s distinctive helmet clear. Courage with his back to us in helmet, Gardner’s lanky frame partly in shot to the right. Amon in the ‘Firestone’ suit, Harvey? at left with head down (oldracephotos)

‘Once back in the tent Alec, Frank (Gardner) Denny (Hulme Brabham BT23 FVA F2) and i had a talk about the tyres that Denny and i had and after trying to come up with a better tread pattern, such as the ones fitted to Franks car (Brabham BT23D Alfa) but with no result. It was agreed that Denny and i shouldn’t risk a start. I was happy with the call and Leo (Geoghegan Lotus 39 Repco) followed suit. Most of the top guys had the latest Firestone, Dunlop or Goodyear wets but none were available to suit the BT11’s. I consoled myself with the fact that if the new world champion (Hulme) didn’t like the risk i certainly shouldn’t!’

Longford, wonderful circuit that it was, provides no runoff area for a driver to go in the wet (or dry!) should a driver lose control or suffer a bad attack of aquaplaning, and this was the main point in contention.

The ill fated Brabham BT23A Repco ‘740’ of Greg Cusack on Friday or Saturday (oldracephotos)

Greg Cusack in David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT23A Repco (Brabham’s victorious Longford mount from 1967) had left the road that morning. He lost the car on the greasy road as he went over the hump/bump on the approach to The Viaduct. The car left the road, hit a bank, somersaulted and crashed into a ditch, he was then pinned under the it before being quickly released by officials.

The 37 year old Canberra motor dealer, who had intended Longford to be his last race meeting, was taken to Launceston Hospital with chipped bones to both knees, stretched ligaments and a fractured left wrist. He was lucky it was not a good deal worse. Bib Stillwell organised for one of his planes to fly Cusack and his wife home to Canberra on the Tuesday where he was admitted to hospital.

Whilst Cusack lay in hospital the other drivers were trying to explain the difficulties of Longford which were exacerbated hugely in the wet. ‘Motoring News’ reports at length about the cordial discussions between the drivers and officialdom and all of the competing issues of safety, providing a show and running a race to determine the winner of the Tasman Cup.

The Stewards finally ruled that the race should go ahead but be shortened to 15 laps of the 4.5 mile circuit, (128 miles to 68 miles) and put the starting time back to 4pm hoping the rain would ease and the situation be safer as a consequence. At 4.15pm the sodden cars and their game, uncomplaining drivers were facing the soggiest start ever seen at Longford, one of the most challenging road circuits in the world.

Front row- Amon Ferrari 246T and the two Lotus 49 DFW’s of Hill and Clark, that’s Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT23D Alfa nose (oldracephotos)

Soggy start: L>R Amon Ferrari Dino 246T, Hill Lotus 49 and unsighted to the right Clark. Then Rodriguez BRM P261 #11 and alongside Gardner in the light coloured Brabham BT23D, #12 behind him Attwood BRM P126 and alongside him the winner Courage McLaren M4A. L>R in the back row John Harvey’s Brabham BT11A, John McCormack Brabham BT4 and Mel McEwin Lotus 32B (oldracephotos)

Clark’s Lotus 49 got away well, somehow finding traction with the wide Firestones, and he was followed into the right-hander before The Viaduct by Amon and Hill. The drivers took the opening laps cautiously under race conditions and each car was leaving a gap to the other so they could see through the flying spray.

At the end of lap one the order was Clark, Rodriguez BRM P261 V8 on Dunlops, Gardner Brabham BT23D Alfa on Goodyears, Courage Mclaren M4A Ford FVA using new narrow-section 970s, Hill Lotus 49 Ford DFW on Firestones, Attwood BRM P126 V12 on Dunlop, Amon Ferrari 246T back in seventh owing to a run down the escape road at Newry Corner, then John Harvey Brabham BT11A Repco John McCormack Brabham BT4 Coventry Climax FPF and Mel McEwin Lotus 32B Coventry Climax FPF, this car the ex-Clark/Palmer 1965 Tasman Championship winning chassis.

Richard Attwood, a very good 4th in the big BRM P126 V12 on Pit Straight. BRM was testing, by way of eight Tasman race weekends in a row, this new F1 design in 2.5 litre capacity in advance of the ’68 GP season (oldracephotos/DKeep)

‘Attwood found he had more traction on Dunlops than Hill had with the wide Firestones and he slipped under the Lotus for fifth place on lap 2. Both Attwood and Rodriguez had hand-cut drainage grooves in their tyres. A lap later Courage really got his foot in it to take Gardner on lap 3. He then jumped past both Rodriguez and Clark on the next lap while Gardner followed him through and waited for another lap behind Clark before taking the plunge and heading for second. Amon had taken Hill and now, on lap 5, the order was Courage 9.6 secs ahead of Gardner, Clark, Rodriguez, Attwood, Amon, Hill and Harvey. McEwin and McCormack were already in danger of being lapped by the flying Courage.

Hill from Gardner, not sure who and one of the BRM’s, Long Bridge (R MacKenzie)

Courage, driving like a young Stirling Moss in the blinding rain, somehow gained another 9.5 secs on lap 6, putting him 16 secs ahead of second man Gardner in the Brabham-Alfa. Rodriguez had pulled past Clark and on the next lap Attwood whizzed past Clark to take fourth. On lap 9 Courage was 32 secs ahead of Gardner and having a ball out on his own, right foot hard in it. Gardner was 3.5 secs ahead of Rodriguez who was followed by Attwood, Clark, Amon, Hill and Harvey losing a lot of ground’.

Pedro raced the little 2.1 litre BRM P261 V8 having raced the new P126 V12 in the preliminary and had engine failure. 2nd a minute behind Courage just sneaking past Gardner in the final stages (oldracephotos/DKeep)

‘Rodriguez started to close up on Gardner in the closing laps, but nothing could touch Courage. This was his day, it was he who had the best gear on his car and he was darned sure he was going to make it a race to remember. He had pulled 45.5 secs on Gardner by lap 12 while Rodriguez had got within 2.5 secs of Gardner. Hill challenged Amon on the same lap and finally squeezed past in a daring effort on the greasy track to make the Lotus-Fords fifth and sixth’.

Frank Gardner on the exit of Newry, Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Tipo 33 2.5 V8. 3rd a minute behind Courage (R MacKenzie)

‘As Courage screamed down the straight heading for the flag he was over 55 secs ahead of Gardner and he came past the pits jubilantly waving his hand. Gardner by this time, heading for the braking area at Mountford, had Rodriguez looking right at the Alfa V8 pipes. There seemed no way that Rodriguez could slip past, but suddenly a gap appeared as Gardner went a shade wide on Mountford and Rodriguez poured on the power into the short straight and took the flag about 25 yards ahead of the Alec Mildren car. Attwood finished his race fourth after a very steady drive, followed by Clark, Hill and Amon’.

John Harvey coming off Long Bridge in Bob Janes Brabham BT11A Repco ‘740’ V8. This is the car in which Spencer Martin won the ’66/7 Australian Gold Star. Converted to Repco power just prior to the Tasman (R MacKenzie)

Hill, Lotus 49 DFW, 5th on the Flying Mile (R MacKenzie)

‘Courage had the rubber, just the right amount of power for the job and the ability to keep the car straight on a very dicey and greasy circuit. He finished the Tasman Cup Series in a wonderful third place behind Clark and Chris Amon. Then came Hill and Gardner 17, McLaren 11, Rodriguez and Hulme 8, Jim Palmer 7, Attwood 4, Roly Levis and Leo Geoghegan 3, Paul Bolton, Red Dawson and Kevin Bartlett 2, Graeme Lawrence and Ross Stone 1 each’.

Like a duck to water- Courage, right tyres, set up, enough power, precision and bravery. McLaren M4A FVA F2 machine (R MacKenzie)

It was very much the end of an era, the last Longford, the speed of the cars and advancing track safety rules caught up with the place and an inability of the club/government to make the requisite investment. Most importantly Jim Clark, a very popular visitor to Australasia since the early sixties and twice winner of the series in 1965 and 1968 died at Hockenheim in an F2 Lotus 48 in April.

Lotus returned in 1969 but it was not quite the same without the magic and personality of the great Scot.

photo (15)

A very happy but cold and soggy Piers Courage, with wife Sally after his Longford ’68 win. It was a might fine drive which is still remembered by those fortunate enough to see it. (oldracephotos)

Etcetera…

Practice and Saturday Preliminary

Richard Attwood, BRM P126, The Viaduct (oldracephotos/Keep)

 

Lap 1 bunch behind the lead group- Gardner Brabham BT23D, Geoghegan Lotus 39, Attwood BRM P126, Bartlett Brabham BT11A, Rodriguez BRM P126 into The Viaduct (oldracephotos)

 

Leo Geoghegan, Lotus 39 Repco 740. Leo frightened the internationals in his ‘old bus’ more than once that summer- Clark’s ’66 Tasman mount Coventry Climax FPF engined. Non starter on Monday tho (R MacKenzie)

 

Chris Amon, Ferrari 246T. Chris learned a lot from his ’68 tour, and applied those learnings well in 1969 winning the title in an updated, four valve, winged  Dino (oldracephotos

Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P126. The V12 engine in this car failed during the race so Pedro raced the ‘backup’ P261 V8 in the championship event- cars which had become wonderful Tasman machines from 1966-8. Winner in ’66 in Stewart’s hands (oldracephotos/Keep)

 

Graham Hill, Lotus 49 Ford DFW. Perhaps not the best of Tasmans- 2nd at Surfers and Warwick Farm his best results (R MacKenzie)

 

Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P261 V8 during practice (oldracephotos/Keep)

 

Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P126, The Viaduct (oldracephotos/Keep)

 

Richard Attwood, BRM P126. Drove the Oz rounds in the car vacated by McLaren- 4th at Longford deserved, DNF’s @ Surfers and Sandown, overall the P126’s were not blessed with great reliability in the ’68 Tasman (R MacKenzie)

Photo and Other Credits…

Roderick MacKenzie Collection;  http://www.racephotoaustralia.com/

oldracephotos.com;  http://www.oldracephotos.com/content/home/

The Nostalgia Forum/Ellis French/Rod MacKenzie and Kevin Bartlett.  Sergent.com race report. Geoff Smedley. ‘Canberra Times’ 6 March 1968

Ellis French Collection/Archive

Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/Can Am 350…

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

Tailpiece: Practice- Rodriguez BRM P261 from Courage McLaren M4A Ford FVA and Kevin Bartlett Brabham BT11A Climax FPF. Variety is the spice, braking into The Viaduct…

(oldracephotos/DKeep)

Finito…

image

Jack Brabham dipping under brakes as he approaches ‘Pub Corner’ in his Cooper T51 Climax on the first lap of the ‘Longford Trophy’ in  March 1960, wonderful Ellis French shot…

Jack returned to our Australian summer as the reigning World Champion, he didn’t disappoint the Tasmanian crowd winning the race from the similar MkIV T51’s of Alec Mildren and Bib Stillwell.

In those pre-Tasman 2.5 litre Formula days Australian National F1 was run to Formula Libre rules, by 1960 Coopers of various models and capacities were the dominant marque. There were still sports cars amongst the single-seaters though including Doug Whiteford’s ex-works Maserati 300S, sold to Doug after the 1956 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park when five Masers made the long trip south to Australia.

The Australian Motor Sports Annual Review 1960/61 has a report of the 1960 Longford Trophy and notes with superb understatement that ‘Possibly no circuit in Australia offers so many scenic attractions and quite so large a variety of racing hazards as that at Longford in Northern Tasmania.’

 The article continues ‘Although racing has been carried out at Longford for several years, it was only the selection of the circuit for a Gold Star race in 1958 that Longord became known to Australians outside Tasmania…One of the advantages Longford holds over any other mainland circuit is full government and community support. Unlike other states where motor racing is viewed with concern for safety or as a niose disturbing nuisance and a Sabbath breaker, Tasmania views motor racing as a vital tourist attraction and as such, gives it the fullest support’.

 Improvements to the track since the 1959 meeting resulted in a faster, more even surface with a softened approach to the railway crossing in Longford township.

Longford 1960 grid shot

John Ellacott shot of the front 2 rows gridded up: Brabham #4, Stillwell #6, Miller in yellow, all Cooper T51 Climaxes, and Arnold Glass in the Maserati 250F…evocative!

The main event of the 1960 meeting was the Australian Tourist Trophy whivh was won by Derek Jolly’s ex-works Lotus 15 Climax FPF 2 litre. Jack Brabham was secured by the organisers, the just crowned World Champion bringing the Cooper T51 Climax FPF 2.5 with which he had won the NZ GP at Ardmore in January for the Longford Trophy Formula Libre event.

 Jack’s practice time of 2:38 was a second clear of Bib Stillwell’s 2.2 litre T51. A welcome addition to the grid was Alec Mildren’s new Cooper T51 Maserati, the frame of the car was adapted by Mildren and mechanic Glenn Abbey to fit a 4 cylinder DOHC Maser 250S sportscar engine running on methanol. The soon to be 1960 Australian Gold Star champion did 2:46.

Longford Trophy 1960 start

Stillwell gets the jump off the line, Glass at rear, Brabham on this side (John Ellacott)

Stillwell got the jump from the start and lead for the first three-quarters of a lap before Brabham passed him in his more powerful Cooper.

On lap 3 Jack did a 2:34, an average of 105.19 mph, on the following lap Jack recorded a top speed on the Flying Eighth Mile of 157.9 mph. Brabham reduced his pace and led comfortably from Stillwell, Mildren and Arnold Glass’s ex-Hunt/Stillwell Maserati 250F.

The punch of Mildrens Maserati engine was demonstrated when he sailed past Stillwell’s Coventry Climax engined T51 on the Flying Mile. At about the same time Bill Patterson’s 2 litre T51 passed Glass with Jon Leighton’s Cooper T45 Climax being challenged by Glynn Scott’s similar ex-Mildren machine, both of these cars were powered by 2 litre Climaxes.

 Towards the end of the 17 lap 45 minute 40 second race Brabham allowed Mildren to close up to within 100 yards of his car. Magneto failure spoiling Patterson’s good run in his 2 litre T51.

 Brabham won from Mildren, Stillwell, Glass, Leighton and Scott, the Glass Maserati the only interloper amongst the dominant mid-engined Coopers.

Brabham Cooper T51 Longford 1960

Brabham in his Cooper T51 Climax at Longford in 1960. I think the gent in braces at the rear is Jacks’ father, this chassis 1 of 2 he used in his successful 1959 GP season (oldracephotos)

Allen Browns’ wonderful archive ‘oldracingcars.com’ states that the car Jack drove at Longford was probably the first of two cars he used in his succcessful 1959 F1 season, chassis ‘F2-4-59’. He drove it in the early part of the year, it then became a spare when ’27-59′ appeared at Zandvoort.

When Jack’s Australian season ended the car was sold to Bib Stillwell who then had two T51’s to choose from, his Gold Star campaigns had started to become more serious and ultimately were very successful.

Brabham returned to Europe to successfully defend his world title, the domestic Gold Star series was won in 1960 by Mildren in his new, locally adapted Maserati 250S, 2.5 litre DOHC engined Cooper T51.

Longford scene 1960

Kevin Drages’ panoramic view of part of the Longford paddock in March 1960, looking across to Mountford corner with the Pit Straight on the right. Cars are green Derek Jollys’ Lotus XV Climax and the ‘Kenley Vincent Spl’.

Etcetera…

Brabham Longford media interview 1960

‘Modern media scrum’, Jack tells the press how it was post race. JB’s British Racing Drivers Club badge proudly worn on his overalls. Car is a Humber ‘Super Snipe’, in those days British prestige cars were very popular in Australia, the Germans steadily whittling them back by the early 70’s…(Kevin Drage)

Bill Patterson Cooper T51 Longford 1960

Bill Pattersons’ Coopers T51 x 2… Patterson went on to win the Gold Star in 1961, retired from driving but supported others for decades via his Ringwood, Melbourne, Holden Dealership. (Ellis French)

Jack Brabham and BIb Stillwell, Longford 1960

Jack Brabham and Bib Stillwell swapping Cooper set-up notes…or Bib is buying Jacks car!? Stillwell was a good Brabham customer over the years acquiring many Coopers including the car Jack drove at Longford that weekend and, later Brabham’s. Both men very successful drivers and businessmen (Kevin Drage)

Bib Stillwell Cooper T51 Climax Longford paddock 1960

Bib Stillwells’ Climax engine being fettled in the Longford paddock. Cooper T51 (Ellis French)

Jack Brabham Cooper T51 Climax on the approach to Pub Corner Longford 1960

Tailpiece: Lets finish on the same note as we started, an Ellis French shot of Brabham, this time ‘panned’ into the braking area on the entry to ‘Pub Corner’, Longford 1960…

For international readers Tasmania is a wonderful place to visit. The scenery is stunning on all of its coasts, the mountains in the middle worth climbing, the ‘Overland Trail’ in the Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park worth walking. Hobart is a centre of culture and ‘Foodie Stuff’ is worth a stop for ‘Mona’ alone, a gallery of contemporary art…and you can still see a lot of the Longford circuit including the ‘Country Club Hotel’ with heaps of racing memorabilia.

Photo & Reference Credits…

Ellis French, John Ellacott, oldracephotos.com, Kevin Drage, ‘Australian Motor Sports Annual 1960/61’

oldracingcars.com

Finito…

1962 Longford touring cars

Start of the 1962 Championship race held during the Longford Tasman Series meeting, an all Jaguar  front row. Bob Jane Mk 2, Bill Pitt and Bill Burns in Mk 1’s from left to right…

The race was close fought with Jane winning from Pitt and Burns. Jaguar dominated the early years of the ATCC, winning the championship in its first four years. In those far away days the event was decided in one race!, a huge difference to the contemporary ‘V8 Supercars’ title which is decided over fourteen rounds, using three different race formats in Australia and New Zealand.

longford

Fantastic and unusual shot of Bob Jane in the winning Jag Mk2 entering ‘The Viaduct’ at Longford. Hay bales and the ‘stout’ (its still there) brick structure encouraging purity of line and application of power on entry! (Geoff Smedley)

jane

Bob Jane Mk2 ahead of Pete Geoghegan Mk1, 3.8 and 3.4 respectively in the Monday, Longford touring car race, Mountford Corner. Jane won, Pete DNF after leaving the road near The Viaduct. (Keverell Thomson Collection)

The inaugural championship was held at Gnoo Blas, Orange NSW, with victory going to David McKay’s Mk1, Bill Pitt prevailed at Lowood, Qld in 1961, similarly mounted and Bob Jane at Longford and Mallala, SA Mk2 in 1962/3.

1969 was the first year the title was decided over multiple rounds in five states, ‘Pete’ Geoghegan winning in his famous, second Ford Mustang.

Touring cars are not my thing, but these shots well and truly capture the ‘fun of the fair’ and a sense of Longford which is spoken about in reverential terms, if also in awe of its danger and technical difficulty by those lucky enough to have been or raced there.

As a postcript, Bill Burns very luckily survived a high speed multiple rollover in those pre-seat belt and rollbar days, two years later, 1964 at the end of the ‘Flying Mile’ just before Mountford Corner.

Burns Jag Longford 1964

Longford map

Photo Credits…

Unattributed shots via Ellis French, Geoff Smedley, Keverell Thomson Collection