Posts Tagged ‘Longford’

(B Young)

Huge excitement was created by Geoff Duke’s visit to Australia in 1954, here his Gilera 500/4 is shown at rest in the Longford paddock…

The Brit was a ‘rock star’, he has just won back to back 500cc world titles aboard Gileras in 1953 and 1954 having won his first on Nortons in 1951. In total Duke won six 350cc and 500cc world championships between 1951 and 1955 and six TT races between 1949 and 1955.

But his fame extended beyond bikes given his film star looks and ability to communicate, as such he was a wonderful ambassador for the sport globally and in late 1954 he was poised to spread a bit of his angel dust throughout Australia.

I wrote an article about Geoff four years ago with a focus on his racing in cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/08/geoff-duke-norton-dutch-gp-assen-1952/

Longford (B Young)

 

In a whirlwind tour commencing on 7 January 1955 he raced in four states commencing in Western Australia at Mooliabeenie, a wartime airstrip near Perth on 16 January before a crowd of 15,000 people and then another airstrip at Gawler in South Australia, no doubt wheelspin in top gear was impressive to the 16,000 punters who experienced trying conditions in sweltering heat.

His main opposition in the west was from local all-rounder Peter Nichol on a G45 Matchless and from George Scott’s GP Triumph, at Gawler Keith Campbell and Roger Barker impressed.

Then it was off to the Bandiana Army Base near Albury, the Victoria/New South Wales border town on 30 January- the first half decent venue for the plucky gentleman in his tour to that point, the track comprised 4.5km of perimeter roads.

There, having carefully won the Senior Clubmans event in the slowest possible time, Eric Hinton’s handicap just gave him the edge over Duke to allow him to win the Unlimited Handicap in fading light, this was the only occasion on which the champ was beaten on the tour.

Duke, Bandiana

 

Maurie Quincey, Norton ahead of Duke at Bandiana

Gilera saw the commercial opportunity of a tour to promote their brand sending two current 500/4 bikes and works mechanic Giovanni Fumagalli to look after the machines.

The two bikes brought to Australia derived from a 250cc four designed by Engineer Piero Remor under Piero Taruffi in the early 1940’s. After Taruffi left Gilera to concentrate on car racing Remor and company founder Giuseppe Gilera began work on a 500cc bike whose origins lay in the earlier 250, in 1947.

The new racer was unveiled in 1948 with 1949 its shakedown season. After Remor’s departure to MV Agusta Taruffi was re-hired, together with engineers Colombo and Passoni changes were made to the cylinder head and rear suspension which allowed Umberto Masetti to win the 500cc world championship in 1950.

The bike was redesigned over the winter of 1950/51 adopting a new tubular frame with telescopic forks, pivoting rear suspension and hydraulic shocks. In 1951 Gilera won three GP’s but Duke took the title on a Norton, in 1952 Masetti again won the championship.

Fumagalli and Duke warming up the bike at Gawler (D Voss)

 

Gilera 500-4 1954 (unattributed)

When Duke joined the Milanese firm for 1953 he brought with him strong knowledge of the great Rex Candless designed ‘Featherbed’ frame Norton’s handling, upon his suggestions the Gilera frame was lowered and strengthened to bring better handling with the engine left untouched.

In 1953/54 Passoni redesigned the motor by increasing its stroke, changing the valve angle and elongating the sump to allow the unit to be lowered in the frame by three inches, by this stage the engine produced circa 65bhp @ 10,000rpm.

The frame was of double cradle design made of tubular steel with telescopic suspension at the front and pivoting rear suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers at the rear. The four cylinder, four stroke, air-cooled engine displaced 402.7cc and was undersquare having a bore and stroke of 52mm x 58.8mm. With two valves per cylinder operated by two overhead camshafts and fed by four carburettors the engine gave circa 65bhp as stated above.

1954 Gilera 500 with the dustbin fairing they commenced to experiment with in 1954 (G Cavara)

 

Back to Dukes Tour of Oz. From Albury it was then off to Sydney and a round of public appearances and a visit to Mount Panorama before the next race meeting at the permanent Mount Druitt circuit west of Sydney.

The surface was poor though due to damage from recent car meetings but Duke dominated as he did everywhere else, Keith Stewart impressive in second on a new Matchless G45 twin in the Senior GP.

Mount Druitt

 

Mount Druitt after one of his wins with Keith Stewart on a Matchless G45 behind

Duke’s final two meetings of the tour were down south, at Fishermans Bend in inner Melbourne and majestic Longford in northern Tasmania, which must surely have impressed.

At Fishermans Bend Maurie Quincey led the 500cc race on his Norton for a while before clutch slip set in and Duke pounced in the second Gilera having put the first to one side, it had lost its edge.

Longford was held over two days- with racing on the Saturday and Monday, in the opening race the engine began to lose power with what was diagnosed as magneto problems. The other bike, in Melbourne awaiting shipment back to Italy was stripped of the part which was despatched overnight to the Apple Isle. With the machine back in fine fettle Duke won and set a new lap record in the Unlimited race of 152km/h. Oh to have heard that Gilera screaming its way along The Flying Mile @ 10,000rpm!

Ready for the off at Longford, Duke at right (S Scholes)

Jim Scaysbrook summarised the impact of Dukes tour in ‘Old Bike Australasia’; ‘His whirlwind tour had taken him to every state except Queensland and his charming and eloquent manner did incalculable good for motorcycling. The unprecedented publicity generated helped to dispel the popularly held, media fuelled belief that motorcycle racers were a bunch of halfwits with a death wish. It also had a profound effect on the local riders, serving as a stark reminder of the gap between our rather primitive scene and the European big-time.’

‘A number of up and coming stars impressed him, including Keith Campbell, Roger Barker and particularly Bob Brown, who had just gained selection as Australian representative to the 1955 IOM TT races. “This young man is a joy to watch, uses his head, and should figure very well in the IoM and on the continent” he said in his report to the British Press. When Duke was injured at the start of the 1957 season, he recommended Brown to take his place in the Gilera team for the TT, resulting in two excellent third places. For 1958, Duke personally sponsored Bob on a pair of Nortons’ Jim wrote.

Etcetera…

(D Tongs)

The second of the two Gileras at rest in Longford.

The contribution and significance of this series of Gileras is recognised in a wonderful, highly technical and thoroughly researched scholarly paper titled ‘Grand Prix Motorcycle Engine Development 1949-2008’ written by David Piggott and Derek Taulbut.

https://www.grandprixengines.co.uk/Grand_Prix_Motorcycle_Engine_Development.pdf

The authors recognise ‘Piero Remor’s contribution to Grand Prix engine design’ as follows;

‘The defeat of the original MV 4 in early 1966 had brought to a close after two successful decades the career of the 1947 basic 500cc design of Phil Remor. Initially for Gilera, this introduced the Naturally Aspirated aircooled transverse 4-cylinder with double overhead camshafts and 2 wide angle valves per cylinder, bore-stroke ratio around 1. Remor’s concept, although changed in detail development by others in Gilera and MV, is worth remembering. There had also been successful 350cc versions. Remor had actually been associated with transverse 4’s since 1925 when it was the layout of the Italian GRB (Gianini-Remor-Bonmartini) which ultimately had been transformed into the water supercharged Gilera which powered Dorino Serafini to the European Championship in 1939.’

This piece is based on a wonderful article by Jim Scaysbrook titled ‘Geoff Duke- The Duke’s Crusade’, do have a read, it’s terrific.

Geoff Duke – The Duke’s Crusade

Bibliography and Photo Credits…

Bob Young Collection, Des Tongs, Stephen Scholes, Doug Voss, ‘Geoff Duke- The Duke’s Crusade’ article by Jim Scaysbrook in Old Bike Australia issue 13 May/June 2009, ‘Gilera Motorcycles and Racing History’ by Lucien C Ducret, ‘Grand Prix Motorcycle Engine Development 1949-2008’ by David Piggott and Derek Taulbut.

Tailpiece…

Finito…

(unattributed)

Frank Matich and David Finch aboard two wonderful D Types at Longford in 1960…

‘XKD526’ and ‘XKD520’ are both cars I have written about before but these photographs were too good to lose by just dropping them into the existing articles ‘unannounced’.

Its the 1960 meeting- both cars contested the Australian Tourist Trophy won by Derek Jolly’s 2 litre Lotus 15 Climax FPF. I can’t work out what is happening here, probably a practice session. If it was a Formula Libre race being gridded Austin Miller’s vivid yellow Cooper T51 Climax would be up-front- checkout the article about the TT; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/17/1960-australian-tourist-trophy/, here about the Bill Pitt’s career and the D Type;

https://primotipo.com/2016/03/18/lowood-courier-mail-tt-1957-jaguar-d-type-xkd526-and-bill-pitt/

and here about the Stillwell/Gardner/Finch D Type- photo value only really; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/01/mount-druitt-1955-brabham-gardner-and-others/

(unattributed)

Here in the paddock you can see the Leaton Motors livery of Frank’s car really clearly- that’s Aussie’s Cooper to the right and a Maserati 250F behind. Its Arnold Glass’ car, he was fourth in the Longford Trophy behind the three Cooper T51’s of Brabham, Mildren and Stillwell. A wonderful, relaxed, bucolic Longford scene. Another link, about this meeting; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/20/jack-brabham-cooper-t51-climax-pub-corner-longford-tasmania-australia-1960/

‘XKD526’ was acquired by the Brisbane and Northern Territory Jaguar dealer, Westco Motors, owned by Cyril and Geordie Anderson, in a partnership of three together with Bill Pitt and Charlie Swinburn- Charlie died of cancer a couple of years after the car arrived it so it became a partnership of two.

These days the Great Western Corporation is a huge listed enterprise involved in agriculture, trucking, property, mining and other activities. When Cyril Anderson established the business in Toowoomba in 1934 he started with a two-ton truck but expanded rapidly, locally and nationally. By 1953 when they formed Westco Motors Cyril and Geordie ran a large successful business, no doubt the D Type was for them a modest investment but one which would assist to build the Jaguar brand and their market position rapidly.

The car arrived in late 1955, exclusively raced for some years by Bill Pitt, Westco’s Service Manager-Geordie Anderson had a few drives, and then successfully by Frank Matich and Doug Chivas during the Leaton’s ownership.

(unattributed)

Pitt crashed it badly at Albert Park in 1956, at Jaguar Corner, of all places.

The photo above is the start of the 2 December ‘Argus Trophy’ 25 mile sportscar race during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics meeting, the AGP was the feature race of a two-weekend carnival and was won by Stirling Moss’ works Maserati 250F on 2 December.

He was similarly dominant in his Officine Maserati 300S sportscar winning the 1956 Australian Tourist Trophy during the 25 November weekend. Moss won from his teammate, Jean Behra, Ken Wharton’s Ferrari Monza 750 and Pitt’s D Type- a great result for the Queenslander as first local home. This meeting is covered here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/16/james-linehams-1956-agp

and here; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/29/1956-australian-tourist-trophy-albert-park/

Back to the photograph above.

Bib Stillwell is in ‘XKD520’ on the left with Jack Brabham’s partially obscured Cooper Bobtail Climax far left, and Pitt aboard ‘XKD526’ on the right. To the far right is an Aston DB3S, Tom Sulman perhaps.

This is the race in which Pitt came unstuck. In an eventful first lap the car tripped over the stone gutter and rolled- Bill was lucky to survive let alone walk away unscratched after the machine ended up on its back.

In all of the mess- haybales and flattened bodywork, the marshals expected to find him dead in the car, instead he was flicked out as the car went over and landed- safely on the other side of the bales. Lucky boy. The car was quickly repaired and raced on.

Brabham won from Stillwell’s D Type and Bill Patterson’s Cooper Bobtail Climax.

(unattributed)

Lets not forget Bib’s ‘XKD520’ loitering in the expanses of Albert Park during the same meeting.

Superb, rare colour shot of a beautifully prepared and presented car as all Bib’s machines were. Was Gerry Brown wielding the spanners in Stillwell’s Cotham Road Kew HQ at that stage?

(M Ireland)

Bloke Magnet.

Here ‘XKD526’ is performing a valuable function as the centrepiece of Westco’s 1956 Brisbane Motor Show stand and attracting the punters to Jaguar’s more routine roadies!

(Anderson Family)

 

(unattributed)

 

(B Hickson)

The car was rebuilt and then sprayed a lovely gold or bronze!

A great idea to make the car stand out perhaps- the ‘error’ was quickly rectified with a nice shade of British Racing Green replacing the gold hue between Albert Park 1957 and Albert Park 1958!

The first shot is of Bill in the Lowood pits, he has Crocodile Dundee alongside, the only thing Mick is missing is the big knife.

The one below is the beastie being fuelled in the Albert Park surrounds in March 1957.

Pitt was second in the Victorian Tourist Trophy again behind Doug Whiteford’s Maserati 300S that weekend. He also contested the F Libre Victorian Trophy Gold Star round finishing sixth and first of the sportscars home- Lex Davison won in his Ferrari 500/750.

(unattributed)

Bill returned to Albert Park year after year including the Formula Libre 100 mile Melbourne Grand Prix carnival held in November 1958.

In the shot above he is negotiating the same corner in which he tripped over in 1956 leading none other than race-winner Stirling Moss in Rob Walker’s Cooper T45 Climax FPF 2 litre- Jack Brabham finished second to Moss in a similar car. Bill placed fifth two laps adrift of Moss, then came Brabham, Doug Whiteford, Maserati 300S and Bib Stillwell’s Maserati 250F.

The D worked hard over that meetings two weekends, he was third in the 100 mile Victorian Tourist Trophy behind Whiteford’s 300S and Ron Phillips’ Cooper T38 Jaguar and third again in the 25 mile sports car scratch behind Whiteford’s superb 300S with Derek Jolly, Lotus 15 Climax second.

(unattributed)

A couple of Mount Panorama photos circa 1958-1959.

The one above is probably of the 1958 Australian Tourist Trophy race or heat- Pitt on the outside is about to pass ‘Gelignite Jack’ Murray in ‘XKD532′ DNF, then the third placed Cooper T38 Jaguar of Ron Phillips follows and then Charlie Whatmore’s Lotus 11 Climax. See the #16 Lotus 15 raced by Derek Jolly to second place behind the winner, David McKay’s Aston Martin DB3S. Click here for a piece on his DB3S’; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/

Jaguar Magazine recorded that ‘Bill Pitt wrote to Lofty England in 1956 informing the Jaguar guru that the D Type had no brakes at the end of the notorious Conrod Straight because the D Type experienced pad ‘knock off’. Jaguar had never heard of that problem before, and the bottom of Mount Panorama would not be a place to learn about it for the first time’ the magazine pointed out wryly!

(unattributed)

Same part of Mount Panorama but this time Pitt is chasing Ern Seeliger in Maybach 4 Chev- the big booming monster was second in the AGP at Bathurst in October 1958, and would well and truly have had the legs to best the D Type.

This is probably during the Bathurst 100 F Libre race won by Whitefords 300S from Arnold Glass’ Ferrari Super Squalo, which popped an engine on the last lap, then came Bill in a splendid third. Seeliger started from the middle of the front row but didn’t finish having ‘…spun the brakeless Maybach to an eye-popping halt in the Pit Corner escape road’ at half distance wrote John Medley.

(J Psaros)

 

Bobtail Cooper ?, Whatmore Lotus 11 Climax, shapely ? and the nose of FM’s Matich (unattributed)

 

(J Psaros)

I have written extensively about the great Frank Matich a number of times, rather than repeat myself perhaps the most relevant article is this one in terms of his sportscar rise and rise is this one; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/11/frank-matich-matich-f5000-cars-etcetera/

Be in no doubt the Leaton support was key to taking him forward from C to D Type Jaguars and then the Lotus 15 Climax- that car powered by a 2.5 Climax FPF showed he was an outright F Libre contender if it were ever in doubt. The group of XKD526 photographs here are all at Lowood probably during the Gold Star round in August 1959.

(unattributed)

One of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport’s less successful rule changes was to introduce Appendix K ‘GT Racing’ to encourage road going GT’s in 1960. This article covers the salient points; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/19/forever-young/

Because grids were skinny they encouraged/turned a blind eye to sports-racers ‘meeting the regulations’ as long as they were fitted with a lid. And so we had David McKay’s Lola Mk 1, Bob Jane’s Maserati 300S and other exotica including ‘XKD526’ fitted with ‘fastbacks’ to allow them to continue to race.

The photos above and below are at Sandowns first meeting in 1962, the conversion created the only hardtop D Type was quite neat looking. I didn’t say beautiful, just neat or functional!

Barry Topen owned the car by then and crashed it quite heavily into the horse railings surrounding the circuit.

It was soon repaired, sold to Keith Russell and then acquired by Keith Berryman in the early sixties- the car was with him ‘forever’ before finally leaving our shores five or so years ago.

(B Anderson)

 

Frank Matich heading up the Mountain at Bathurst in 1961 (J Ellacott)

Berryman, or is it Keith Russell, below at Warwick Farm in the mid sixties with the car still looking great albeit with a set of rather wiiide alloy wheels and the rear guards flared to suit. It does have a bit of the Sunset Boulevards about it gussied up like this.

(unattributed)

Speaking of the guards reminds me of an incident in the Australian Grand Prix paddock a few years back, not long before the cars sale and final departure from our shores.

Noted British artisan and driver Rod Jolley was in Australia that summer racing, i think, a Cooper T51 at Phillip Island and the Albert Park AGP historic double.

Somehow, unloading XKD526 in the Albert Park paddock from its trailer after its long haul from Stockinbingal- Keith Berryman was displaying the car and participating in the on-circuit historic events, a front guard was damaged and a wheel was fouling the guard.

Who to approach for the required bit of impromptu panel beating? Rod Jolley of course. The look of sheer terror on Keith’s face as Jolley set to work on his lovely bit of aluminium with controlled brio was awful to watch- it felt like an arm was being hacked off…

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

Bill Pitt up whilst the car was new and road registered. Uncertain as to the circuit-intrigued to know- such handsome beasts of warfare aren’t they- D Types define ‘compound curvature’.

(J Psaros)

On the side of the main straight at Lowood- a youthful Frank Matich at left eyeing off his future mount. Barry Carr, who worked for Leatons in 1961/62 identifies the group as Leaton’s driver Matich, mechanic Joe Hills and business owners George Leaton and Joe Robinson probably at the time they are ‘either thinking of or had obtained the car from Pitt/Anderson’.

( J Psaros)

‘Move to the back of the bus matey…’

The Leaton’s Bedford bus at Lowood (and at Sandown in 1962 below). The nose to the far left is the Westco Mk7 Jag which finished seventh outright in the 1957 Round Australia Trial behind six VW Beetles. Jaguar Magazine assert that Pitt claimed it as his greatest competition triumph.

The car later became a tow-car for some of the racers inclusive of the D and works built Mk1 Pitt drove to victory in the 1961 one race Australian Touring Car Championship at Lowood.

Both the Mk7 and ‘Big Nose’ The Bus are long gone, sadly.

(G Fry)

Credits…

Anderson Family Collection, Jaguar Magazine, Jock Psaros, Malcolm Ireland, Barry Anderson, Barry Hickson, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘Glory Days: Albert Park’ Barry Green, John Ellacott, Barry Carr, Gavin Fry

Tailpiece: ‘Geordie Anderson’ in her new D Type,’XKD526’…

(Anderson)

Doris ‘Geordie’ Anderson aboard the new D Type she co-owned with Bill Pitt and Charlie Swinburn. Its said that she was the only serious lady racer of a D Type at the time anywhere in the world.

Her racing CV included a win in the Mount Druitt 24 Hour Race in a Jaguar XK120 FHC- we shall come back to Geordie and her exploits ina month or so…

Finito…

 

 

(T Watts)

4.4 litres of Repco-Brabham V8 grunt trumps 2 litres of Porsche flat-6 off the line at least, maybe not…

Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 and Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 906 on the front row of the Longford grid in March 1967.

Bob Jane won the Saturday race from Noel Hurd’s Globe Products Elfin 400 Ford and Hamilton whereas in the Monday event Bob won from Wally Mitchell’s RM1 Chev and Glynn Scott’s Lotus 23B Ford. Noel Hurd and Alan Hamilton were DNF’s, the latter running out of fuel on the last lap.

‘Tasmanian enthusiasts would recognise the Gorringe pedestrian bridge, the same bridge that now allows pedestrian access to Baskerville…’ Grant Twining noted.

I’ve written features about both these cars, so initially thought I would pop the photos into the existing articles but they are too good to ‘lose’ by so doing.

They are sourced from the ‘Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania’ Facebook page which I raid every now and again- so far Grant has not cracked the shits about me doing that- do suss the page if you are a Facebooker, if not you are missing out.

In terms of articles the Elfin 400 is here; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/28/elfin-400traco-olds-frank-matich-niel-allen-and-garrie-cooper/. Bob’s Elfin 400 here; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/, and Hamilton’s Porsche 906 and other cars here; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/

(T Watts)

Jane nose up and under power past the Longford pits.

Such a brutally pretty thing, but the aerodynamics of the 400’s were never fully resolved, this car, as many of you know, took flight over the Conrod Humps at Bathurst during the Easter 1969 meeting killing Bevan Gibson in the process.

To that very point Rob Bartholomaeus reminded me Noel Hurd was a non-starter in the Monday Longford sportscar race after a hair-raising off at around 140mph induced by the Elfin 400’s aero package. He was ok, and the car was not badly damaged but the nose was changed thereafter.

Bob’s eyes will be looking up the rise towards the Water Tower to the tracks left before pursuading his beast into the fast right hander at the top of the hill and plunge towards The Viaduct. Click here for a ‘Lap of Longford’ piece; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

The shot of Alan below is taken on the same stretch. If the car looks a bit odd its because Australia’s Porsche importer has chopped the Coupe roof off to create a Spyder given he was and is a big, tall unit and wanted to be comfy.

(T Watts)

Longford was a demanding circuit in any car but particularly so in a fast, powerful one given the inherent nature of the layout with its culverts, trees, bridge supports, Esk River (scuba divers were always at the ready in dinghies afloat) light poles and other similar immovable objects, the circuit width and its undulations or bumps.

Jane and Hamilton raced most of their cars here- sports and touring cars and in Bob’s case his Elfin Mono single-seater ANF1.5. For Hamilton it was the race debut of the 906- a daunting place for any cars first meeting however well sorted the ex-factory Porsche package undoubtedly was!

Jane raced his Elfin 400 at Longford in 1967 and Ian Cook took the wheel in 1968- Alan raced the 906 here in 1967 only. The ‘ring in’ is the photo below of Alan at Symmons Plains in 1967, its probably the ‘Tasmanian Sportscar Championship’ meeting the week after Longford on 12 March.

Click here for an article on that tragic event, Hamilton’s well-used engine (it had been in the 904-8 he had just stepped out of before fitment to the 906) had a con-rod break so he did not finish; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/17/1967-tasmanian-sportscar-championship/

(HRCCT)

Credits…

Tim Watts, Dennis Cooper, Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Rob Bartholomaeus

Tailpiece…

(D Cooper)

The Longford Shell tent in 1968.

Jim McKeown’s Lotus Cortina Mk2 alongside the Bob Jane Racing 400 raced at this meeting by Victorian Ian Cook. The class of the field in that, final Longford year was Chris Amon who set the outright lap record in David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari Can-Am 350 machine. Here tis; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

Note the aluminium spoiler above the radiator outlet in a quest for more downforce. 1968 was ‘the year of the wing in F1’ remember, mind you, by this stage Jim Hall and the crew from Rattlesnake Raceway in Texas had provided plenty of Chaparral mobile ‘tutorials’ on what could be applied aerodynamically to Group 7 cars like the Elfin to assist in keeping them on terra firma.

Finito…

Jim Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW 2.5 on the downhill plunge towards The Viaduct…

Its not the sharpest of images but an interesting one given the ‘different angle’ and Stephen Dalton’s narrative which goes with it.

‘Its Monday March 4 1968, Longford- playing in the rain on his 32nd birthday. After a few laps of mucky weather he is possibly wishing he could whip through the Mountford property gates and have a nice warm cuppa and some birthday cake’ with Ron MacKinnon, the President of the Longford Motor Racing Association.

‘The photo is coming down the hill from the Water Tower to The Viaduct- they are literally the gates to Ron MacKinnon’s Mountford (pastoral) property’ Stephen adds.

I wrote a feature about this race weekend a while back, the highlights of which were perhaps Chris Amon’s exploits in David McKay’s ex-works Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can-Am machine and Piers Courage’s win in the South Pacific Trophy, the very last motor race ever held at Longford in a European F2 McLaren M4A Ford FVA. Click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/20/longford-tasman-south-pacific-trophy-4-march-1968-and-piers-courage/

Credit…

Stephen Dalton

Tailpiece: The start…

Finito…

Touring Car and Sportscar tustle at Longford in 1965…

Don Gorringe, John Goss, Bob Curran and Greg Ellis blast over the River Esk- they have just completed the fast left-hander onto Long Bridge.

These blokes are all Tasmanian’s- I think it’s probably one of the locals only races, Gossy learned his trade pretty well down south- the only fella to win the Australian GP and Bathurst 1000 race double of course.

Goss is in an Appendix J Holden FJ, in front Gorringe is aboard a Jaguar XK150- which is clearly the successful businessman’s ‘daily driver’ given the rego plate affixed to the front bumper. Bob Curran’s Triumph TR4 was a machine he raced through to 1970 at least and the last car is Ellis’ MGA, it too appears as though he raced it for quite a bit.

Do any of these cars still exist? Who won the race?

Love this David Keep photo, it’s very much a ‘feel the noise’ shot…

Credit…

oldracephotos.com.au/D Keep

(P O’May)

Here he goes again, more Longford!…

Well yes, and tough-titties to those who have had already too much of a good thing!

The wonderful thing about the internet is that it provides a means for enthusiasts to share their information, knowledge and photographs.

In this case it is some of the collection of Peter O’May of the 1959, 1960 and 1961 Longford meetings- his son Malcolm uploaded the material onto ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ a month or so ago.

What makes Peter’s work special is the different perspectives forced upon him as a spectator- he lacked the photographers pass to shoot from the ‘usual spots’ the pros frequented so his work tends to be from different angles than many of the photos we see. In addition, the shots are all colour- as rare as hens teeth back then.

Mal picks up the story ‘…my dad was 25 when the AGP was at Longford in 1959, he and his brother Neil (whose car the front window shots were taken from) attended every Longford event from the first one that the cars were raced, through to the 1968 finale. I have been insanely jealous of this right from the first stories he told me about these days when I was a young bloke right through to now!’

Since these photos were posted in mid-March 2019 Peter, who had been quite ill, passed away so this article is a tribute to him, his enthusiasm, ‘eye’ and passion for a sport he clearly loved.

RIP Peter, thanks to you and Mal for making the wonderful, evocative shots available for us to see and enjoy.

Given I have covered either cars or some of the events before, I decided to group the cars by year as Peter shot them and provide links to relevant information I have already published.

The photo identification process was made easy as my friend/historian Stephen Dalton did all of that research using his formidable memory and resource base.

The opening shot choice- gees it was hard to make that one!

But in the end bias prevailed and it had to be a muscle-shirted Stan Jones willing his Otto Stone prepared Maserati 250F to 1959 Australian Grand Prix victory- a mightily well deserved one which was a long time in coming.

Its such an Australian scene!

The clear as a bell sky, grey’ish greeny blues of the hills in the distance, sprawling eucalypt tree and the unmistakable light browns of parched summer toasted grasses in the foreground. Add in some water towers and characteristic farmers barbed-wire fence and it could be a scene in many places across the Great Brown Land- but for the big, red racing car at far right of course!

Keith Malcolm, Skoden Sports lining up for the entry to The Viaduct (P O’May)

1959: 2 March Labour Day long-weekend…

Longford was first used by cars in 1953 when several races were provided for four wheelers in amongst the motorcycle program- we have the bikies to thank for Longford folks.

Tasmania had not hosted an Australian Grand Prix until 1959- the circuit could not be denied of course.

The big outright cars first raced here in 1958 when Ted Gray prevailed in the Tornado Chev, the following year Stan Jones won the race having also been awarded the Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship the year before.

(P O’May)

Stan’s was a wonderful win- and timely, the era of the front-engined Grand Prix car was coming to a close. There is little doubt that had Len Lukey’s Cooper T45 (above) been fitted with a 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF rather than one of 2 litres in capacity that Len would have won on that memorable day- he was 2 seconds adrift after 1 hour and 11 minutes of racing, 25 laps, 110 miles.

(P O’May)

I’ve done Stan to death here; https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

and on that ’59 GP here; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/08/stan-jones-agp-longford-gold-star-series-1959/

and more on the Maserati at Longford here; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/11/1958-longford-trophy/

(P O’May)

John Lanyon’s MG Spl ahead of Max Stephens Cooper T40 Bristol on the run into The Viaduct- click here for a piece on the T40; https://primotipo.com/2017/07/04/max-stephens-cooper-t40-bristol/

and again; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/16/60th-anniversary-of-jacks-first-f1-gp-today-british-gp-16-july-1955-cooper-t40-bristol-by-stephen-dalton/

Its not just any T40 mind you, its Brabham’s self built 1955 Australian Grand Prix winning car- Jack had a somewhat lucky win that day at Port Wakefield at the expense of Stan Jones and Reg Hunt.

Max retired the car after completing 18 of the Longford laps- it was a machine that had a woeful reputation for reliability albeit it held together for Jack on that important Port Wakefield day!

And below the Cooper on The Flying Mile- he is close to Mountford Corner is my guess.

(P O’May)

 

Another character I have written extensively about is ‘Dicer Doug’ Whiteford, here below leading Frank Coad, Vauxhall Spl into The Viaduct.

(P O’May)

This car was one of Australia’s most iconic for the five or so years Whiteford raced it throughout the country.

He ran it in both sportscar events and in ‘single-seater’ events such as the AGP which was to run to Formula Libre at the time- until 1964 when the ‘Tasman 2.5’ Formula was introduced.

By then (1959) it wasn’t quick enough to win the AGP, an Australian Tourist Trophy eluded him too- not that he didn’t win plenty of races in it.

I have opined before that he should have bought a 250F from Officine Maserati rather than a 300S at the duration of the 1956 Albert Park AGP, the Maserati guys brought five cars along to that meeting- three 250F’s and two 300S. Whiteford and Bob Jane owned the Maseratis for years, Bob for decades.

See Doug here; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/05/doug-whiteford-black-bess-woodside-south-australia-1949/

and here; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/16/1953-australian-grand-prix-albert-park/

The photo above is in practice or during a sportscar support race- Coad did not contest the AGP, the lovely Vauxhall Special still exists by the way, the 300S has long since left our shores after decades in the hands of the Leech brothers.

Whiteford was out before completing a lap of the AGP with a major driveline failure as the car jumped the Tannery Straight railway crossing. Alec Mildren was extremely lucky not to chest mark a bit of uni-joint at 100 mph- the offending part ‘only’ hit the crown of his helmet in a desperate attempt by Alec to duck to avoid the heavy, lethal, exotic missile.

 

(P O’May)

A wonderful crowd pleaser in 1959-1960 was Ron Phillips in the big, booming Cooper T39 Jaguar- here dropping into The Viaduct, a spot Peter clearly spent a bit of time at in 1959, what a spectacular place that must have been and accessible to all.

Click here for this ex-Whitehead/Jones machine; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/05/mount-tarrengower-hillclimb/

Phillips started on row 3 of the grid only a half a second behind poleman Jones but retired after completing 18 laps with differential failure.

 

In a sea of Coopers Austin Miller’s cars were always easy to pick in their distinctive yellow hue.

(P O’May)

The crop-duster pilot come hotelier prepared his own cars and did a great job both in and out of the cockpit.

Here he is aboard his ‘Miller Special’ Cooper T41 Climax FWB- he failed to finish having completed 8 laps with a leaking gearbox casing.

Reminds me I have a feature on Aussie 95% complete! I’ve owed Guy Miller a call for at least 12 months just to finish the sucker off! Click here for a quickie on Aussie; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/20/aussie-miller-cooper-t41-climax-trevallyn-hillclimb-launceston-tasmania-1959/

 

Arnold Glass loomed large on the local scene in a variety of exotic front and mid-engined cars funded by the cashflow of his ever more successful Capital Motors automotive empire in Sydney.

(P O’May)

Arguably the car from which he extracted the most was his ex-Bib Stillwell Maserati 250F, his weapon of choice from 1959 to 1961- here he is bellowing a melodic six-cylinder song along The Flying Mile, not far from the Mountford braking area.

He finished a strong third in the AGP having started from grid slot 3 and set the fastest race lap- 97.01 mph, he was two seconds behind Stan and Len at the races end.

Click here for a piece on Mr Glass; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/

 

Alec Mildren’s Cooper T45 Climax singing its way along The Flying Mile, he was fourth in the AGP in his little, new for 1959, 2 litre FPF powered Cooper- the story of his lucky to survive race was related above. Alec was two seconds behind Stan as well- what a race finish to see that would have been.

See the Water Towers in the distance- they are to the drivers left as they travel up the Pit Straight hill towards the right-hand, fast plunge downhill towards The Viaduct. Alec will shortly brake hard for the 90 degree right-hand Mountford Corner into Pit Straight.

The following year at Longford, Mildren’s clever concoction of Maserati 250S engine and new Cooper T51 chassis made its race debut.

By the end of the season the Sydney motor dealer/racer had won both the Gold Star and a sensational AGP win at Lowood from Lex Davison’s Aston Martin DBR4 3 litre in a nail-biting, split second finish. Alec’s story, or Part One of it, is told here; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/08/mildrens-unfair-advantage/

 

(P O’May)

Geoff McHugh, Allard J2, The Viaduct entry.

He wasn’t entered in the AGP but rather contested one of the other events- the big beast was timed at 137mph over The Flying Mile during the 1955 Tasmanian Trophy.

This J2, chassis ’99/J/1731′ is the first to race in Australia and achieved much success in the hands of Stan Jones and then Tom Hawkes before sale to Geoff McHugh- I wrote about it a while back; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/07/allard-j2-tom-hawkes-collingrove-hillclimb-1952/

 

(P O’May)

Let’s end 1959 with Stanley- plunging into The Viaduct.

 

(P O’May)

1960: 5 March weekend…

The steady ascension of Touring Car Racing was underway even back in 1960- here ‘perhaps Ron Marshall, red Holden FE, #71 David McKay in the red Jaguar and #69 Ron Hodgson grey Jaguar, then #14 the Dick Crawford Morris Minor having a moment at Mountford’ Stephen wrote.

(P O’May)

David McKay looking typically natty in blue top replete with British Racing Drivers Club badge and red-spotted cravat- no doubt the Dunlop man is happy with the results.

McKay would have been full of confidence having won the first, one race, Australian Touring Car Championship at Gnoo Blas, Orange New South Wales only a month before on 1 February. There the same Mk 1 3.4 litre Jaguar as above won the 20 lap race in a Jaguar rout from Bill Pitt and Ron Hodgson’s similar cars.

McKay is covered here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

and here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/12/bert-and-davids-lola-mk1-climax/

The Jaguar Australian Touring Car period is here; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/20/australian-touring-car-championship1962-longford-tasmania-battle-of-the-jag-mk2s/

 

(P O’May)

By the time of the 1960 meeting Jack was the reigning, just minted 1959 World Champion.

Here in the paddock he is alongside his Cooper T51 Climax chassis ‘F2-4-59’.

Thats local grazier/racer John Youl in the shades sussing out Jack’s wheels as his next potential purchase! Tim Wall to the right- who is the fellow Jack is speaking to? Twelve months hence John would have a new T51 of his own- in which he was mighty impressive.

Click here for an article on John; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/02/john-youl/

(P O’May)

Look into the distance of the photo above and you can see Ron Hodgson’s ex-McKay ‘Grey Pussy’ Jaguar Mk1 3.8 and the distinctive blue Cooper Jaguar of Ron Phillips.

That’s Jack’s Dad to the far left in the braces, but who is it on the end of the trailer- he always helped Jack manage things when in Oz- he pops up in so many of the shots for a decade it is not funny! Then the Dunlop chappy- who is he? Note the open tailgate of the Holden FC Station Wagon as we call ‘Estate’ cars in Australia.

The Cooper T51 is chassis ‘F2-4-59’, said by Allen Brown’s oldracingcars.com to have been ‘…Brabham’s main car during the early part of 1959 and then became a spare car when ’27-59′ appeared at Zandvoort’.

(P O’May)

The ‘Longford Trophy’ 17 lap feature race on the Monday of the long weekend was won by Jack- seven seconds in front of Alec Mildren’s new T51 Maserati mentioned earlier in this piece. Brabham is shown below lining up his Viaduct entry.

(P O’May)

Bib Stillwell was third in his T51 Climax 2.5 and then came Arnold Glass in the best placed of the front engined cars. Then followed the Jon Leighton Cooper T45 with Glynn Scott Cooper T43 Climax the last of the finishers in a pretty skinny field of only twelve cars.

Click here for an article on the 1960 meeting; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/20/jack-brabham-cooper-t51-climax-pub-corner-longford-tasmania-australia-1960/

 

(P O’Day)

In many ways equal billing to the single-seaters in 1960 were the Sportscars contesting the 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy, in effect the Australian Sportscar Championship.

Arguably, that grid of sporties was the best ever at a Longford meeting?

The race was one by Derek Jolly’s ex-works Lotus 15 Climax shown in the paddock above, next to a Vauxhall.

‘In the background is a red Triumph TR2, #99 the Tom Sulman Aston Martin DB3S and the Sid Sakawski/Tony Basile #15 white 356 Porsche Carrera’ adds Stephen.

Click here for an article about Jolly and the Lotus 15; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

and here for one on the ATT; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/17/1960-australian-tourist-trophy/

Oh, and one on Tom Sulman; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/19/tom-sulman/

 

(P O’May)

On the other side of the same Vauxhall mentioned immediately above is Arnold Glass’ 250F being fettled for the Longford Trophy.

Twelve months on it was twelve months harder for one of the grandest of front-engined Grand Prix cars in a sea of mid-engined machines. Before too long Arnold would have a Cooper T51 Maserati of his own.

 

(P O’May)

1961: 5 March weekend…

Dianne Leighton, Triumph Special with Ray Long’s Elfin Ford Streamliner looking for an inside line into Mountford Corner- the distinctive tree looms on the right inside the barbed-wire fence.

(P O’May)

Brabham was defeated in the 1961 South Pacific Championship by his former 1958 Cooper teammate Roy Salvadori in a Cooper T51 Climax- here Jack enters The Viaduct.

Mind you, it was an ‘Ecurie Vitesse’ Brabham owned car Roy drove, chassis ‘F2-5-57’, an ex-McLaren works machine.

Brabham had halfshaft failure in his own T53 ‘Lowline’ after completing 18 of the 24 lap ‘Longford Trophy’. The chassis number of that car is ‘F2-8-60’, a car Brabham raced in F1 in 1960.

That year there were fourteen starters in the feature race of which eleven were Coopers of varying vintage. Salvadori won from Patterson, Youl, Miller, Davison (in Aston DBR4) and Mildren- all in T51’s of varying Climax capacity, and in Mildrens case, a Maserati 250S 2.5 litre engine.

Click here for an article about Roy’s win and career; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/22/roy-salvadori/

 

(P O’May)

Murray Carter plucks second gear on the downshift before Mountford- the Carter Corvette became a familiar sight at Longford and the other Tasmanian circuits raced as it was by Bert Howard, a local for some years into the late sixties.

What a sound that booming 283 CID Chevy V8 would have made along The Flying Mile- click here for Murray and his car; https://primotipo.com/2017/01/19/forever-young/

1963: 4 March weekend…

(P O’May)

Bill Patterson’s Cooper T51 Climax with Lex Davison’s Len Lukey owned Ford Galaxie in the background.

Click here for an article on Patto- 1961 Gold Star winner and co-driver for some very hot laps with Lex Davison’s Ferrari 500/625 AGP win at Caversham in 1957; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/02/patto-and-his-coopers/

The South Pacific Trophy Longford feature event was won that year by Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T70 from Bill Stillwell in a Brabham BT4 and John Youl in a Cooper T55, all three Coventry Climax FPF powered.

 

(P O’May)

Drivers Eye View: Long Bridge…

Every section of a circuit is critical for lap times of course, inevitably the really quick stuff are the bits that sort the men from the boys- no doubt the dauntingly quick left hand entry onto, and left hand exit off Long Bridge is one of those stretches of road.

Amon set the fastest ever Longford race lap in David McKay’s Ferrari 350 Can-Am sporty in 1968- to have seen that lap in this particular part of the Tasmanian world would have been really something.

Peter O’May has done us a big favour with three photos to give those of us not fortunate enough to drive Longford, let alone race on it, a bit of an idea what it looked like from a car. Dalton’s educated guess is that the shots were taken in 1961.

(P O’May)

The car is almost in the middle of this short bit of road, below The Viaduct here- you would not have exited too far to the right tho- you need to be to the left to be able to get on the noise early for the run towards Kings Bridge- the other crossing of the River Esk.

Checkout the hay-bales, it’s still that era of course. Better a hay bale than a bluestone bridge all the same.

I did a long (very) piece ‘Longford Lap’ a while back which may assist in piecing the challenging track together; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

This piece is just on this Viaduct section of the track; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/28/longford-viaduct/

(P O’May)

The shot above, as is clear, is on the start-finish Pit Straight.

The paddock is to the right, within a year or so a footbridge is in place and a little later a marvellous pit and spectator viewing facility. That helps date the shot.

Looking up the hill you have exited the right-hand Mountford, which is behind you and would be plucking the gears, protecting yourself on the right, but otherwise working your way to the left of the road after you pass the Water Towers and over the brow of the hill (see below) to line up for the fast right towards The Viaduct.

Credits…

All photographs in this article were taken by the late Peter O’May- via Malcolm O’May

Stephen Dalton for the car identifications, oldracingcars.com.au, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

(P O’May)

Tailpiece: The Viaduct vista 1960…

What a stunning image to finish with.

The final shot is taken from the top of the hill, to the left of the railway line looking back up the hill to the quick right-handler towards The Viaduct itself.

Stephen’s call on the cars is the rear of the Alan Jack Cooper Bobtail, Whiteford’s Maser 300S, Ern Tadgell’s Sabakat (Lotus 12 Climax), Alec Mildren’s Cooper T45, another Cooper, the Geoff McHugh Allard J2X and perhaps David Finch’s Jaguar D Type.

Checkout the attire of the crowd.

A few ‘flat caps’ which is sorta unusual in Oz? What are they looking at though?, it’s not the first lap group of cars but must be an aircraft overhead or perhaps a really stunning looking chick up on top of the bridge?!

It could be a warm up lap of course although Whiteford has moved a bit our way to protect his line from the better braked Lotus, sorry, Sabakat of Tadgell behind him.

Finito…

(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…