Posts Tagged ‘Lotus 39 Repco’

(P Greenfield)

Niel Allen blasts 5 litres of fuel-injected Chevy off the line at Bathurst, Easter 1970- McLaren M10B Chev F5000…

Peter Greenfield has beautifully captured Niel at the start of the historic three lap ‘Captain Cook Trophy’ in which Allen set a lap record at Bathurst with a time of 2:9.7 seconds which stood for 32 years until it was taken by John Bowe in a Ford V8 AU Supercar with 2:8.3873 to take provisional pole in 2002. Brad Jones did a race lap of 2:9.5705 in the same AU Falcon.

Whilst the track changed in the interim period as to a much better surface it was slowed by the high speed ‘The Chase’ on Conrod. Not to mention the fact that the last Easter Meeting with outright open-wheelers took place in 1973- the track had simply become too dangerous for cars of that performance envelope as it then was.

The feature event on the program that Easter 1970 weekend was the second round of the Australian Touring Car Championship which was won by Norm Beechey’s Holden Monaro GTS350, click here to read about that race;

https://primotipo.com/2018/04/01/variety-is-the-spice/

Start of the lap record race with an obscured Niel Allen over against the Pit Counter. On this side is John Harvey, Brabham BT23E Repco and in white, Leo Geoghegan, Lotus 39 Repco- there was life in the old dog though, in beating Harves in the racing car 13 lapper Leo did a 2:12.1, the fastest ever time by a Tasman 2.5 car at Bathurst. This meeting must have been just about the last race for each of those cars before John and Leo jumped into the Bob Britton built Jane Repco V8 and Lotus 59B Waggott respectively for the balance of their 1970 Gold Star campaigns- a title won by Geoghegan (Rod MacKenzie)

 

Niel Allen collects one of his trophies for the weekend from Chris Davison (C Williams)

Allen did a qualifying lap of 2:11.2 with a trick flat-plane crank Chev engine fitted to one of the fastest F5000’s on the planet at the time. The 1970 NZ GP winner flew around the treacherous for ultra fast single-seaters, circuit to do his amazing time- 171.7 miles per hour down Conrod in the process, a much narrower strip of bitumen than it is now.

The current Bathurst lap records are held by McLarens.

Shane van Gisbergen did a 2:1.5670 in his McLaren 650S GT3 during the February 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race. Jenson Button did a 1:48.88 in his F1 McLaren MP4-23 Mercedes in the pre-event Vodaphone publicity session he did with Craig Lowndes and his V8 Supercar prior to the 2011 AGP at Albert Park- I do like the symmetry of ‘another’ McLaren single-seater holding the ‘lap record’ even though the time was not set in a race.

I wish.

(zimbio.com)

Credits…

Peter Greenfield, motorsport.com, Road & Track, Wikipedia, Rod MacKenzie, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Craig Williams

Tailpiece: Shane Van Gisbergen, McLaren 650S 2016…

(Road and Track)

Finito…

(Rod MacKenzie)

…in the words of Maxwell Smart, for you aficionados of Mel Brooks’ wonderful sixties TV show ‘Get Smart’.

Kevin Bartlett with an inside wheel off the deck demonstrating the millimetre precision for which he was famous aboard the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Alfa in Warwick Farm’s Esses, September 1969. Rod MacKenzie has opened his shutter at precisely the right moment.

Another inch or so and the talented Sydneysider would have ripped an expensive corner off the front of a car which was so kind to him. I’m not sure of the racer behinds identity. A Lotus 27 or 32 perhaps?

Bartlett inherited the Len Bailey designed, Alan Mann Racing built, Alec Mildren owned car after Frank Gardner raced it in the 1969 Tasman Series. KB used it to great effect in that years Australian Gold Star Series winning three rounds and the title in it- Symmons Plains, Surfers Paradise and in Bartlett’s Warwick Farm backyard in December.  During a busy season KB and the Sub also won the Macau Grand Prix on 16 November and contested the JAF Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji.

Every inch a GP car of its day isn’t it, just magnificent. Mildren Alfa in its ‘Alfa ultimate form’. Lynton Hemer’s shot captures the car at WF on Hume Straight in July 1970- interesting shot as the Alfa engine is back in the car long after its first Waggott engined race (L Hemer)

It wasn’t the ‘same car’ by the end of the year though as the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 litre V8 engines with which the chassis was originally designed and built were put to one side and replaced by Merv Waggott’s Sydney built, 2 litre all alloy, DOHC, 4 valve, Lucas injected 275 bhp engine.

The history of my favourite ‘Australian’ racing car is one for another time- it’s a long story as this jewel of a car’s ‘in period’ history starts with 1969 Alfa V8 wins, continues with Waggott engined victories and ends with 1.6 litre Hart 416B success in Australian National F2 form in 1974/5. A fellow named Ray Winter was campaigning this famous car by then.

(Bill Pottinger)

High Speed Precision too…

Bartlett was famous for his tail out style, he was ‘the absolute master of opposite lock’ as Sam Posey described him having raced against KB during the 1973 Tasman Series and in the ‘L&M F5000 Championship’ in the ‘States in 1972/3.

This shot of the car is in ‘neutral to very subtle oversteer’ attitude, a very high speed, delicate drift- was taken by Bill Pottinger whilst Kevin traversed Teretonga’s ‘loop’.

The 1970 Tasman was tough in a 2 litre car, it was the first year of the Tasman F5000 Formula. KB was still quick enough to take 5th at Pukekohe and Teretonga- a second at Surfers Paradise, very much a power circuit was amazing and first at Warwick Farm brilliant but understandable. Bartlett, Matich and Leo Geoghegan were surely the quickest blokes around ‘Gods Own Acre of Motor Racing ‘ out Liverpool way?!

A mighty fine car and a mighty fine driver- thankfully both are still alive and well in Australia, Queensland to be precise…

(Bill Pottinger)

Merv Waggott fettles…

Sydney’s engineering genius Merv Waggott doing a plug change in ‘The Sub’ during the 1970 Teretonga weekend. Alec Mildren had been using Merv’s talents for years and specifically the smaller variants of Waggott’s engines in his other car, the Rennmax Engineering built Brabham BT23 copy ‘Mildren Waggott’ raced by Max Stewart.

When Merv decided to build a bespoke aluminium block to allow a capacity of 2 litres, something the Ford Cortina blocks used hitherto could not, it was an easy decision for Alec to go the more cost effective route with the local engine rather than the 2.5 litre Alfa V8.

The Alfa unit had received no development since first fitted to Mildren’s Brabham BT23D chassis in late 1967. Alfa were focussed on 3 litre engines for both their Tipo 33 Sportscar program and F1. Two litre Waggotts won Australian Gold Stars for Leo Geoghegan in 1970 (Lotus 59B) and Max Stewart in 1971 (Mildren Waggott)

(H Ellis)

Etcetera: Australian Competitor Set 1970…

Startline of the first round of the 1970 Gold Star Series at Symmons Plains, Tasmania in March 1970.

John Harvey’s #2 Bob Jane Racing Brabham BT23E Repco on pole alongside KB in the Mildren ‘Yellow Sub’ Waggott with Leo Geogheagn’s Lotus 39 Repco on the outside, and behind him in the other yellow Mildren Racing entry is Max Stewart in the Mildren Waggott spaceframe Bob Britton/Rennmax built car. Harvey won a top race from Leo and KB.

In a season of change it was Leo’s last championship race in the venerable ex-Clark Lotus, Harves was about to switch to the Britton/Rennmax built Jane Repco V8- yet another car, like the Mildren Waggott built on Britton’s Brabham BT23 jig whilst KB spent much of 1970 racing in the US so did not defend his Gold Star title. It was also the last year of the Tasman 2.5 Gold Star Formula- Geoghegan taking the title in a new Lotus 59B Waggott 2 litre as noted above.

Photo Credits…

Roderick MacKenzie, Bill Pottinger on The Roaring Season, Lynton Hemer, Russell Thorncraft, Harold Ellis

Tailpiece: Bartlett from Geoghegan, Warwick Farm Esses during 1969- Mildren Alfa from Lotus 39 Repco…

(R Thorncraft)

Finito…

 

 

 

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(John Arkwright)

Check out the view Maxxy!

Niel Allen and Max Stewart having a contretemps at Skyline, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, Easter 1969…

The bucolic terrain of New South Wales Central Tablelands stretches into the distance, the view probably not what the two drivers were focussed upon at the time. The race was the ’69 Bathurst Gold Star round, the field of which was substantially reduced by this first lap prang. The incident happened when Max misjudged his braking behind John Harvey, locked a brake and boofed the fence in his Mildren Waggott 1.6. Niel was right up Max’ chuff in his ex-Piers Courage McLaren M4A Ford FVA 1.6 and couldn’t avoid him. Out of shot is Queenslander Glynn Scott’s Bowin P3 FVA who also joined in the fun!

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Nice butt shot of Harvey’s BT23E; note wing mounted to cars uprights at rear, ‘RB740’ ‘between the Vee engine’ and oil cooler up in the breeze (oldracephotos.com)

Here (above) is a shot of Harve’s Bob Jane owned Brabham BT23E Repco, it was Jack’s works ’68 Tasman car, sold to Bob at the end of the series then raced by John in the following years. In fact it wasn’t a lucky car for Harvey, he had a big accident at the same Easter meeting in ’68 when an upright broke, rooting the car and John. He was in hospital for quite a while after the prang, his speed undiminished when he returned to racing Jane’s stable of racers, sports-racers and tourers.

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Harvey’s BT23E at Bathurst after his big practice accident on 14 April 1968 (Dale Harvey)

Click here for an article on this car;

https://primotipo.com/?s=brabham+bt23e

These fellas are favourites; property developer Allen was later as quick as Australia’s F5000 ‘Gold Standard’ Frank Matich without nearly as many seat miles, Stewart a multiple ‘Gold Star’ (1971/4) and AGP winner (19734/5) and Harvey a winner in everything he raced; speedcars, single-seaters, big sportscars and touring cars, the Bathurst enduro included.

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Start of the Bathurst ’69 Gold Star race: front row comprises Max’ yellow Mildren Waggott, Niel Allen McLaren M4A FVA and on the inside Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco. The blue car behind is Glynn Scott’s Bowin P3 FVA and Harvey’s red Brabham BT23E, the torque of which clearly gobbled up Stewart and Allen on the steep climb up the mountain for Max to nearly run into him heading down the mountain. The white car is Henk Woelders’ 3rd placed Elfin 600 Ford t/c. You can just see Jacks red Brabham on the outside beginning his charge. He had fuel feed problems in practice so was off grid 7 with times well below the cars potential (Neville McKay)

The race was won by Jack Brabham’s F3 based Brabham BT31 Repco on a rare Gold Star Australian appearance fitted into his European program. This little jigger was powered by a 2.5 litre ‘830 Series’ SOHC, 2 valve Repco V8. Easter Bathurst is an historically significant meeting in Repco terms; it was Jack’s last Repco race and win in Australia. Brabham’s last International Repco races were those contested by he and Peter Revson in the USAC Championship that year in Brabham BT25’s powered by Repco ‘760 Series’ 4.2 litre DOHC, 4 valve, methanol fuelled V8’s.

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Brabham between Skyline and The Dipper, BT31 Repco during the race (Dick Simpson)

Check out, rather than repeating myself these articles on the BT31;

https://primotipo.com/2015/02/26/rodways-repco-recollections-brabham-bt31-repco-jacks-69-tasman-car-episode-4/

and on Brabham’s 1969 and 1970 seasons;

https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/

This article was inspired by Lindsay Ross uploading quite a few images of this meeting on his oldracephotos.com Instagram page, check it out, they pop up a post every day or so. It seemed an idea to put the images floating around of this meeting in one place. I’ve an Instagram page too, as well as Facebook, just key ‘primotipo’ into the respective search engines and follow the prompts. The FB page has quite a lot of shots I don’t use on primotipo so may be worth a look every few days.

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Brian Page in BT23A with ‘740 Series’ Repco, DNF with broken exhaust on lap 15 in the ex-Brabham/Scuderia Veloce machine (oldracephotos.com)

The first lap accident ruined what could have been an interesting race, Jack cruised to an easy race win by 1.5 minutes from Harvey’s car and Henk Woelders F2 Elfin 600B Ford t/cam.

Historically interesting is that this meeting was on the weekend of 7 April 1969, high-wings were banned globally at Monaco on the GP weekend of 18 May 1969, so it’s interesting to see the ‘Australian State of the Art’ in terms of fitment of said aero devices immediately before they were banned. Brabham tried the ‘bi-wing’ below setup on his BT31 in practice but raced with only a rear wing fitted.

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Of arcane interest, perhaps (from the master of the arcane and tangential) is that all of Jacks ‘works’ Repco engined Tasman cars competed in this race bar one…

Brian Page’s BT23A(1) is JB’s ’67 Tasman car, Harve’s BT23E(1) is the ’68 weapon and Jack raced BT31 the car, late arriving in Australia, which did the ’69 Sandown round only.

Missing is BT19(F1-1-65) the chassis in which Jack won the ’66 World F1 Drivers and Constructors titles, and in 2.5 litre ‘620 Series’ engined form, raced in the ’66 Tasman Series, putting valuable pre-GP season race miles on Repco’s ‘brand-spankers’ V8 at Sandown and Longford.

The only car not in Oz now is BT23E(1) which was, and still may be in the US.

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Jack Brabham guiding BT19 (F1-1-65) into The Viaduct, Longford on his way to 3rd place during the South Pacific Trophy on 7 March 1966, the third race for the new RB ‘620 Series’ V8. The race was won by Jackie Stewart’s BRM P261

Whilst on the arcane it occurs to me is what a versatile, influential and successful design Ron Tauaranac’s BT23 space-frame was in the Brabham Pantheon…

’twas Ron’s clean sheet design for the new for ’67 1.6 litre European F2; it’s variants won a million F2 races over the following years in the hands of aces like Rindt but also in the care of privateer ‘coming-men’. Mind you it didn’t ever win the title despite winning 6 of the ten championship rounds in 1967, ‘graded drivers’ like Rindt were ineligible for championship points. Matra and Lotus took the ‘works entry’ approach more seriously than Jack and Ron during these years, in any event, as a customer racing car the BT23’s won lotsa races, the 1968 Rindt driven BT23C the most successful car of the year.

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Jochen Rindt typically all ‘cocked up’ on the way to a win in the 9 July 1967 ‘GP de Rouen-les-Essarts’, Brabham BT23 Ford FVA. 1.6 litre F2 formula one of great chassis, it not engine diversity, Ford’s Cosworth FVA won every title from 1967 to 1971. F2 was 2 litre from ‘72 (unattributed)

From an F1 perspective the ’67 World Championship winning BT24 Repco was a ‘beefed up’ BT23, to the extent that Ron initially raced his BT24’s with an FT200 Hewland, the Maidenhead gearbox gurus ‘F2 box’ but found that tranny overstressed with ‘740 Series’ Repco V8 torque tearing away at its gizzards, its CWP in particular. I won’t bang on about the BT24 now as I’m in the process of writing an article about the ’67 Brabham/Repco winning season and go into much BT24 detail. Suffice it to say that the F2 BT23 begat the F1 BT24, my favourite Brabham.

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Denny Hulme jumping his BT24 Repco at the Nurburgring during his ’67 Championship winning season. He won the German GP by 40 seconds from Jack (unattributed)

From an Australian viewpoint the BT23 Repco Tasman cars were very important as they provided much needed cars on skinny local grids…

The Tasman Series 2.5 Formula grids were ‘chockers’ with cars and stars, the domestic championship contained quality but not quantity. Budgets for these relatively expensive cars were hard to find in the sixties and Australia’s march to Touring Car domination was already well underway so ‘taxis’ were starting to absorb sponsorship budgets previously devoted to real racing cars.

Funnily enough, even though there was a swag of Repco engined BT23’s running around it was Alec Mildren’s, one off, 2.5 litre Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 V8 engined BT23D(1) which took a Gold Star. Frank Gardner raced this car in the ’68 Tasman, it was then taken over by Kevin Bartlett, the Aussie ace took the ’68 Gold Star in it. Repco never won a Gold Star title, a topic to explore at some stage during the Repco series of articles I am gradually writing with Rodway Wolfe and more recently Nigel Tait’s help.

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Simply sensational Dick Simpson shot of Kevin Bartlett in BT23D Alfa, Hell Corner Bathurst Easter 1968, KB was walking away with the race until a broken rear upright ended his run. Dominant in this car in ‘68/9 (Dick Simpson)

Delving deeper into this BT23 tangent, whilst a BT23 Repco never won a Gold Star, a BT23 Waggott nee Mildren did…

Denny Hulme raced a works F2 Brabham BT23(5) FVA in the ’68 Tasman Series comprehensively boofing the car in the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe on 6 January, the series opening round.

Denny’s chassis was Jochen Rindt’s Winkelmann Racing entry in ’67, he won 9 Euro F2 races in it including the Rouen event pictured above. Another car (BT23-2) was sent from England for Denny to race in the rest of the series. Feo Stanton and Ian Rorison of Rorstan Racing bought the wreck and sent it to Rennmax Engineering in Sydney for Bob Britton to repair.

Instead of doing so Bob made a jig from the bent frame and sent a new chassis, the Rorstan Mk1 back to the Kiwis. Seven cars were built on the BT23 jig; the Rorstan, Mildren, two Rennmax BN2 and three BN3’s. Of these the Mildren, so named by Alec Mildren, the Sydney Alfa Romeo dealer, team owner and former Gold Star champion was the most successful. The Britton jig was also put to good use over the coming years repairing cars like Harvey’s bent BT23E!

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Max Stewart ‘harry flatters in top gear’ heading down Surfers Paradise main straight and about to guide his 2 litre Waggott powered Mildren missile under the fast right hander and Dunlop Bridge. 9th in the ‘Surfers 100’ Tasman round in 1970 against the F5000’s. Graham McRae’s McLaren M10A Chev won the race but Bartlett’s 2 litre Mildren Mono Waggott was 2nd on this power circuit (Dick Simpson)

So…the Mildren pictured resting against the Skyline Armco fencing at this articles outset is a BT23 design. Max Stewart was prodigiously fast in the Mildren Waggott, he was one of those guys who seemed to get quicker as he got older, in ’69 he was quick, by the mid-seventies he absolutely flew in his Lola F5000’s. He was one of the very small number of blokes in Oz who squeezed absolutely everything out of these, big, demanding, fast, spectacular, fabulous 500bhp V8’s.

Bartlett, Matich, Allen, John McCormack, Bruce Allison, Warwick Brown, John Walker and Stewart in my book were the F5000 aces with Matich, if I have to pick one, the first among equals. Mind you, on sheer speed Alf Costanzo who came relatively late to the F5000 party could have been ‘the one’. Its an interesting topic to debate, end of F5000 tangent!

One of the pit sights which always amused me, and admittedly small things amuse small minds was big Max, he wasn’t a ‘fat bastard’, but he was 6’2”, crammimg himself into one of his cars before setting off for the dummy grid. If there was a taller bloke than Max in F5000 globally I’d be intrigued to know his name. He must have given away at least 10Kg to the rest of the grid before he even plopped his arse into the tight aluminium monocoque confines of the F5000 Lolas in which he excelled.

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Max was big of stature and heart; here he is after winning the Rothmans International Series ‘Sandown Cup’ on 20 February 1977, his last big win, Lola T400 Chev, sadly not too long before his untimely death at Calder, 19 March 1977 (Ian Smith)

By the time Merv Waggott was building 2 litre variants of his superb DOHC, 4 valve, Lucas injected, bespoke aluminium blocked engines they were outright winners in 2.5 litre Tasman Formula events in the hands on the Mildren Duo, Messrs Bartlett and Stewart. The first Gold Star for F5000 was in 1971; Max’ Mildren Waggott won the Gold Star with about 275bhp from his close mate Bartlett in a much less nimble and reliable 500bhp McLaren M10B Chev in a year of speed and consistency. I don’t care what anyone says, F5000’s driven to their limit were always a little brittle.

So, to join the dots, a BT23 design did win the Gold Star albeit called a Mildren. Stewart’s Mildren Waggott and Bartlett’s Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Waggott are tangents too far for this article and a wonderful future topic, there is a sensational article to be written there with Kevin Bartlett’s first-hand assistance on both chassis’ and engine if I ask him nicely…

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Merv Waggott changing plugs in his baby, Wigram 1970. Bartlett’s Mildren Mono ‘Yellow Submarine’ Waggott (Bill Pottinger/the Roaring Season)

Merv Waggott changing plugs in one of his superb jewels. An all alloy, DOHC, gear driven 4 valve Lucas injected circa 275bhp 2 litre engine. Its in the back Of Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren ‘Yellow Sub’ Waggott, shot is in the Wigram paddock, 1970 Tasman round on 17 January on 7 December. KB had a lousy meeting, not setting a practice time and DNF on lap 6 with engine dramas, Stewart was 3rd though in his car, Matich the winner in his McLaren M10A Chev.

The Waggott 2 litre engine was first built in late 1969 and initially developed circa 250bhp, its output later circa 268-275bhp with about 160 lbs/ft of torque. It raced to a win in KB’s hands in the ‘Sub upon debut in the ’69 ‘Hordern Trophy’ at WF, KB won again at the 1970 Warwick Farm Tasman round ahead of all the F5000’s and 2.5 Tasman Formula cars.  2 litre Waggotts won Australias’ Gold Star in 1970 for Leo Geoghegan (Lotus 59) and Stewart in ’71 as noted above.

An article about Merv and his creations is a wonderful feature for another time. Briefly for international readers Waggott’s Sydney shop built race winning engines from the 1950’s, checkout the article below on the WM Special/Cooper T20 Waggott Holden twin-cam 6 cylinder raced by Jack Myers and tested by Stirling Moss in the late ‘50’s as some background.

https://primotipo.com/2015/02/10/stirling-moss-cumberland-park-speedway-sydney-cooper-t20-wm-holden-1956/

Winding the clock forward, as the ANF1 2.5 litre formula spluttered on in the late sixties a ‘battle to the death’ was fought for the new ANF1 category in Oz between opposing forces who supported either F5000 or 2 litre F2. The latter to commence in Europe from 1 January 1972, F5000 commenced in Europe in 1969 and was born in the US as Formula A earlier still.

Waggott engines were initially of 1600cc, then later 1860cc and used the ubiquitous Ford Cortina block, same as Cosworth’s 1’6 litre FVA wherein Keith Duckworth tested his design ideas in advance of finalising his DFV design. In 1600 form the Waggott would have been Euro F2 legal, it used a production block as the regs required. The 1.6 litre F2 started in ’67 and ended in 1971 when it grew to 2 litres. There were a few FVA’s racing in Australia, the 1.6 Waggott more than a match for them, no Waggott’s, sadly, ever raced in Euro F2.

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Lance Ruting studio shot of one of the engines, Ford block by the look of it so 1600 or 1860 (autopics.com)

Waggott 2 litre engines used a bespoke aluminium block as the stock cast iron Ford block maxxed out at about 1860cc. Beyond that the pistons kissed! Mike Hailwood’s Surtees TS10 won the ’72 Euro F2 Championship running Brian Hart built Ford BDA’s of 1850cc, those competitors running greater capacity than that had unreliability. The final Euro 2 litre F2 regs required production blocks from 1972-75 until ’76 when ‘racing engines’ were allowed. So, in the earliest years of the class the Waggott was ineligible.

Merv’s engines could have raced in F2 from ’76 but he had long before told CAMS to ‘shove it’ after F5000 was chosen (probably rightly given the backing of Ford, Holden and Repco who were building V8’s/wanting to develop an F5000 variant of the Holden engine in Repco’s case) as Australias’ new ANF1 from the 1971 Gold Star competition.

Had the ingenious, beautifully built little engine been Euro F2 Championship legal in 1972 Sydney’s Waggott Engineering had the winning engine! The engines were tried, tested championship winning donks ready to pop into any car. 275bhp and a big fat torque curve, Kevin Bartlett quoted the usable rev range of 6800-8750rpm, would have done the trick in 1972, the BMW M12 changed the F2 game from ’73 of course.

A wonderful ‘mighta-been’ all the same. Merv could have ‘stolen the F2 march’ in 1972 in much the same way Repco did in F1 with its Olds F85 production block based ‘620 Series’ V8 in 1966…

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Max Stewart on the way to winning the ‘Angus & Coote Trophy’, the 1971 Oran Park Gold Star round on 27 June. Mildren Waggott 2 litre, Graeme Lawerence was 2nd in a Brabham BT30 FVC, the little cars succeeding as the F5000’s fell away (Dick Simpson)

Credits…

John Arkwright, oldracephotos.com, Dick Simpson, Dale Harvey, Bill Pottinger/The Roaring Season, Ian Smith, Neville McKay, autopics.com.au

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com, F2 Register

Tailpiece: A Lotus to end an article on Brabhams…

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Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco with ‘830 series’ Repco V8, started from the Bathurst ’69 pole but out on lap 12 with a gearbox problem, his time would shortly come with this car, winning the JAF Japanese GP later in 1969 amongst a classy field (oldracephotos.com)

Click here for an article on this ex-Clark chassis;

https://primotipo.com/?s=lotus+39

Finito…

 

39 esses

(Vintage Racecar)

Leo Geoghegan slices his venerable Lotus 39 Repco into the Warwick Farm Esses, Tasman Series, 15 February 1970…

Terrific shot, the focus is on the driver, the rest of the car blurred giving the impression of speed, something Geoghegan had in abundance.

Leo ‘made his name’ in this car, he was a front-runner from the time he bought it off Team Lotus at the end of the ’66 Tasman Series; Jim Clark was third in it, until the time it was put aside to make way for his Lotus 59 Waggott later in 1970.

geoghegan agp 1963

Faster! Deep in thought on chassis changes with his very hot mechanic, AGP practice 10 February 1963. Lotus 20 FJ 1.5 Ford 9th just behind Frank Matich in the quickest of the 1.5’s. Winner Brabham in a BT4 Climax 2.7 (David Mist)

Geoghegan had a long background in Lotus single-seaters after he graduated from sedans and sportscars in the team his father, Tom founded. Starting with an 18FJ in 1961 he progressed through 20, 20B, 22, 27 and then a 32, which, when fitted with a 1.5 Ford Lotus Twin cam engine gave him two 2nd placings in 1965 Gold Star events. He stepped up to the ‘big time’ with the Tasman Lotus 39.

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Leo G on his way to 8th in the little Lotus 32 Ford/Lotus 1.5, ‘Warwick Farm 100’ Tasman Series, 14 February 1965 (Bruce Wells/The Roaring Season)

The ‘old girl’ Lotus 39 was frustrating in many ways, its unreliability, like other Repco Tasman users, was notorious, but it gave him the critical 6 points at Symmons Plains in March 1970 before he switched to his new Lotus 59 Waggott. This won him the Gold Star he coveted and deserved…by 6 points from Max Stewart’s similarly powered Mildren. Max’s Gold Star turn would come for the first time in 1971.

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Easter Bathurst Meeting, 15 March 1970, thru ‘The Dipper’. Lotus 39 Repco (Jeff Nield/autopics.com.au)

Lotus 39 ‘R12’….

The Lotus 25/33 series of cars are amongst motor racing’s most famous, the Lotus 25 the first ‘modern monocoque’, Jim Clark took the 1963 and 1965 World Championships’ in Loti’ 25 and 33 respectively.

The 39 is one of this series of cars and like Jack Brabham’s 1966 championship winning BT19 chassis was built for the stillborn Coventry Climax FWMW Flat-16 engine.

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Coventry Climax FWMW 1.5 litre Flat-16 engine of 1964/5 (unattributed)

The story of this amazing engine is an article in itself; in a nutshell CC’s Wally Hassan and Peter Windsor-Smith were convinced the best route to more power was higher revs (than their FWMV V8) a ‘multi’ was chosen partially due to Harry Mundy’s exposure to the BRM Type 15 supercharged V16 in the dawn of the fifties. Design commenced in 1963, the prototype was on the test bench in 1964.

Torsional problems of the crank were major issues, the engine also failed to deliver more power than the 4 valve versions of the FWMV, which themselves took a bit of development to better the FWMV 2 valve outputs. Then the 1.5 litre GP formula ended and Jaguar took over Coventry Climax; that combination of factors ended CC’s pivotal role as a successful supplier of racing engines for better than a decade.

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Graham Hill’s BRM P261 leads Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax and Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT19 Repco off Long Bridge, THAT post in front of GH’s LF wheel marks the apex…Wonderful Longford 1966 (autopics.com.au)

Colin Chapman needed a mount for Jim Clark to defend his Tasman title, he won it in 1965 with a Lotus 32B Climax, the unused 39 sitting in the corner of the Team Lotus workshop was ideal.

He tasked designer Maurice Phillippe to modify the engine bay of the car to accept a Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF engine. The 39 was different from its siblings in that the ‘D-shaped’ side pontoons of the chassis were ‘chopped off’ at the bulkhead aft of the drivers seat and a tubular steel subframe substituted to carry the CC Flat-16. Changes were made to the frame to accommodate the FPF.

Big thirsty Weber 58DCO carbs fed 2.5 Climax FPF. The frame to support the engine can be seen as can the rear of the Hewland transaxle (I MacNeill)

The 39 side pods also had a more pronounced belly than the 25/33 to ensure sufficient fuel could be carried, having lost capacity by hacking the ‘rear horns’ off the tub on each side. The suspension of ‘R12’ was pure Lotus 33 and was period typical; top rockers actuating inboard coil spring/damper units and lower wishbones and at the rear inverted lower wishbones, single top link and two radius rods for fore and aft location. Adjustable roll bars front and rear as well of course. Steering by rack and pinion and outboard disc brakes on all wheels.

Chapman bought two Climax engines from Bruce McLaren who didn’t contest the Tasman in ’66, he was too busy building cars for his F1 and CanAm programs having just left Coopers.

The 39 was soon on its way to the Antipodes for its race debut in the NZGP at Pukekohe on January 8 1966.

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AGP, Lakeside 20 February 1966. Clark 3rd behind Hill’s BRM P261 and Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT11A Climax (autopics)

By 1966 the Tasman game had largely moved beyond the old FPF. Brabham debuted his Repco Brabham RB620 V8 engine and BRM modified its F1 P56/60 V8 engines to 1930cc, Jackie Stewart took the title in a P261 with 4 wins from Hill’s 2 with Clark and Attwood (BRM) 1 win apiece.

Clark had a tough start to his 1966 Tasman campaign partially because Colin Chapman switched his Lotus tyre contract from Dunlop to Firestone not long before the Tasman commenced. The tyres had been developed by Bruce McLaren, he had used them for over a year and they were competitive but the 39 had to be adapted to them.

In addition Clark had a run of misfortunes which also reduced testing time; an abortive race at Pukekohe (gearbox) no practice at either Wigram (oil leak and engine replacement/accident when Gardner’s Brabham brakes failed) or Levin (snapped radius rod in practice/2nd). At Teretonga the cars speed was shown with a heat win from Stewart. He was moving away from Jackie in the final only to go out with a spin on dropped oil on lap 3.

In Australia he took a win at Warwick Farm, always a happy hunting ground for Clark. Graham Hill won the AGP at Lakeside from Gardner and Clark. He was 2nd to Stewart’s speedy BRM at Sandown and was 7th at Longford, he had carburetion problems in practice and a plug lead came off in the race requiring a stop and dropping him to the back of the field. Stewart was again the victor, with Jim finishing third in the series behind the BRM duo.

Clark had an amazing 1965 season winning the Tasman Series, Indy 500 and the World Drivers Championship, his start to 1966 was not quite so good, a portent of a tougher year!

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Superb Clark portrait by Lindsay Ross. Lotus 39 Climax, Longford 1966. He was 7th after a troubled run, Stewart’s BRM taking the win. Note the cars ‘aero screen’ and truncated monocoque which ends at the drivers bulkhead (oldracephotos)

Geoghegans’ were the Australian Lotus importer so a deal was done to buy the car…

John Sheppard is a legendary mechanic/engineer/car builder and team manager with some of Australia’s greatest cars in his CV; the Geoghegan’s cars, Bob Jane’s Repco Torana, Laurie O’Neills Pete Geoghegan driven Holden Monaro and the Holden Dealer Team amongst an extensive and ongoing career of car construction and team management. Early in his career he was appointed as chief mechanic to the Geoghegans.  Tom took a liking to his work preparing the Youl brothers Cooper, the Tasmanian team were using the Geoghegan’s Sydney workshop at the time. John’s first event with the team was preparing Leo’s car for the Australian Formula Junior Championship at Warwick Farm in September 1963, which he won in his Lotus 22 Ford. He shares some of his recollections about his time with the Geoghegan’s throughout this article.

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John Sheppard in the 39 Repco cockpit circa 1967, hat is the Mickey Mouse Club! (John Sheppard)

Essentially 1966 was a learning year for Leo in the big cars in the domestic Gold Star Championship. His limited campaign excluded the Mallala and Sandown rounds, 2nd to Spencer Martins Brabham BT11A at Surfers Paradise his best result. A duff wheel bearing was the cause of a DNF at Lakeside, he didn’t start both the Symmons Plains and Warwick Farm rounds with Coventry Climax engine problems.

Sheppard recalls; ‘The Lotus 39 was a great car although the engine problems we had were a function of very tired engines, the blocks were cracked so it was a problem keeping them running in that first year. When we took over the car they had a strange set-up to deal with the vibrations of the big Climax-four, they put rubber o-rings between the cylinder head and inlet manifold letting them flop around, and i mean flop around so Jim had problems with throttle control. We easily fixed this with a more conventional set-up of putting the o-rings between the inlet manifold and carbs’.

‘We didn’t have problems with the Firestones but i recall Leo, having fiddled around with set-ups based on tyre temps and the like at an early tyre test embarrassing the Firestone guys a bit when his ‘seat of the pants’ set-up changes gave immediate results. Leo was quick in the car straight away, i asked Bob Jane to get his driver (Spencer Martin) to stop baulking mine at Warwick Farm and Bob of course telling me to piss-orf…’

Fifth in the Australian Grand Prix ’67 Tasman Round at Warwick Farm and 2nd the following weekend behind Clarks Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8 at Sandown was indicative of speed and better Coventry Climax reliability.

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Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 sharing the AMR 1968 cover with Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T. 39 here with ‘740 Series’ Repco V8 and quite the prettiest thing with its carefully, thoughtfully aerodynamic rear bodywork developed for it by John Sheppard. Knock on wheels, Castrol color scheme just gorgeous with the speed if not always reliability to match

In 1967 Sheppard and his team did a beautiful job converting the car to a 2.5 litre Repco ‘640 Series’, ‘exhaust between the Vee’ spec engine in April. They created quite the most beautiful sixties single seater. OK, maybe Gurney’s Eagle T1G gives it a run for its money! The FPF developed around 235bhp, the ‘640’ 275bhp@8500rpm.

Sheppard; ‘It was an easy decision to go with the Repco, our Climaxes were old and tired and Repco were keen to do business with everyone. It wasn’t the biggest saga to adapt the Repco V8, we made new chassis tubes to accommodate the wider engine and used the original Hewland HD5 gearbox. The suspension geometry wasn’t touched, in fact it wasn’t the whole time i worked on the car (to the end of 1968) which shows the bloke who designed and built it knew what he was about. As tyres evolved we still got the results by simply getting the best from the tyres making set-up changes based around getting tyre temps even across the tread. Basic but important stuff.’

‘The chassis and bodywork, we made a nice rear cowling or engine cover, was done by Alan Standfield who worked out of his fathers ‘Supreme Mousetraps’ factory out near Mascot. (near Sydney Airport) It was all a bit bizarre but he did good work in grotty conditions with loads of noisy machines making springs and sawdust from the ‘trap bases all over the place!’

Leo took his first Gold Star round win at Sandown in September, Sheppo recalls; ‘Early in the Repco piece i said to Frank Hallam (GM Repco) ‘you should be nicer to us because we will win the first Gold Star race for you, he turned and walked away. I had great delight in walking up to him and telling him ‘I told you so’ when we took that Sandown win which was Repco’s first Gold Star win too’

The Climax FPF engined Brabham BT11A’s were superbly driven by Spencer Martin and Kevin Bartlett and just had the legs and reliability to pip the more powerful Repco engined cars of Greg Cusack, Geoghegan and John Harvey that year. Martin took the title.

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On the end of a tow rope as was the case all too often. Here its a Coventry Climax engine failure; the FPF popped back into the car after early 1967 Repco frustrations for the final WF Gold Star round, DNF with overheating (Peter Windsor)

Leo was so miffed by the lack of reliability of the Repco that his team popped the Climax back into the car for the final Gold Star round, the Hordern Trophy’ at Warwick Farm, not finishing that race either, the Climax overheated.

Sheppard; ‘We didn’t have a good run with the Repco’s early in the piece. The 640 Series Repco, the Olds block engine chucked its oil out of the crankcase, the scavenging arrangements were poor, the stiffener plate was ‘out in the breeze’, oil sat on that and got thrown around. Leo said the engine was hard to drive as there was little power below 6500-7000rpm. The 700 Series blocks were better but in many ways by then the opposition had caught up with the Cosworth and Ferrari Dino engines competing in the Tasman. The engine was a clever design though, you could take the heads off without disturbing the timing chest and vice-versa, i give Repco ten out of ten for the way they went about things.’

For the 1968 Tasman Series all local Repco clients engines were updated to the latest specifications with 700 Series blocks.

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Leo’s 39 chases Richard Attwood’s BRM P126 at Surfers Paradise 1968. Great butt shot of both cars and a contrast of the beautifully faired Lotus and messy, bulky BRM V12. Neat packaging of the 1967 World Championship winning ‘740 Series’ V8 clear (here in 2.5 not 3 litre form). ‘Between the Vee’ exhausts easy for the chassis designer, no complex plumbing issues of pipes and tubes or an ‘ally tub. Trumpets for Lucas fuel injection and Bosch distributor cap clear also between the Vee. Car uses the same Hewland HD5 gearbox as it did with the Cov Climax FPF engine. Diaphragm to which ‘everything’ attached also clear at the very back of the chassis. Suspension at rear period typical; single upper link, inverted lower wishbone, 2 radius rods forwards for location and coil spring/damper unit with an adjustable roll-bar (Brian McInerney)

Into 1968 the Tasman Series got even tougher as the International Teams brought 2.5 litre variants of their current GP machines; the Lotus 49 DFW and the BRM P126 V12. The Mildren Team acquired a one-off Brabham BT23D powered by a 2.5 litre version of Alfa Romeo’s Tipo 33 sports car engine and Ferrari brought 2 2.4 litre Dino V6’s, the 246T.

Geoghegan, as in the prior year did only the Australian rounds; his 4th at Surfers on the same lap as the new Lotus 49’s in his 3 year old car his best result.

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Who is the Belle of the Ball? Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco DNF beside Brabhams Brabham BT23E Repco 7th , Rodriguez BRM P126 6th in a P261 with Clarks Lotus 49 1st. Warwick Farm practice, Tasman 1968 (The Tasman Cup)

He lost an oil line at Warwick Farm, finished 7th at Sandown, both events won by Jim Clark’s dominant Lotus 49 and elected not to start the final, very wet Logford round given the lack of a suitable tyre for the treacherous circuit.

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Hill, Gardner, Geoghegan and further back Kevin Bartlett squabble over 2nd place on lap 2 of the Surfers ’68 Tasman round, Clark is up the road. Lotus 49 DFW, Brabham BT23D Alfa, Lotus 39 Repco and Brabham BT11A Climax (Rod MacKenzie)

Kevin Bartlett was the class of the Gold Star fields in 1968 winning the title by 10 points in the Brabham Frank Gardner drove in the Tasman. Geoghegan’s old Lotus was still fast; he took pole at Sandown and Mallala and won the race but otherwise the car lacked the consistency and speed to win the title.

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Geoghegan Catalina Park, Blue Mountains, NSW 1968 (Paul Hobson)

Chris Amon took the 1969 Tasman in his superbly driven and prepared Ferrari Dino 246T from Jochen Rindt, Lotus 49 DFW Piers Courage, Brabham BT24 DFW and Derek Bell’s Dino 246T.

Geoghegan, still driving the ‘old lady’ contested the full series; 5th at Pukekohe in the series opening NZGP behind the four drivers above, 4th at Levin, he missed the final NZ, Teretonga round.

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Leo’s Lotus 39 Repco ‘730 Series’ NZGP paddock, Pukekohe 4 January 1969. 5th in the race won by Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T (Habu/The Roaring Season)

Straight to Queensland he was a splendid 3rd in the AGP at Lakeside behind Amon and Bell. He was 5th in his home, Warwick Farm race and had fuel tank problems in the final Sandown round.

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Lakeside in the AGP; 4/5 year old car 3rd at Lakeside behind the Ferrari 246T’s of Amon and Bell (Rod MacKenzie)

Seventh in the series, the highest placed local was a superb result for a small team running a 4 year old car against GP Teams running their latest car.

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Leo running wings at the Warwick Farm Tasman round on 9 February 1969. Sydney the teams home base. With very low angle of attack mind you. He chose not to run them at the fast Tasman final round at Sandown the following week. He was 5th in the ‘pissin wet race won by Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49B Ford DFW, therefore this dry day is practice (Dick Simpson)

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Sandown Tasman practice, 15 February 1969. Running head of Alfie Costanzo’s McLaren M4A FVA. Leo DNS with a fuel tank leak, Alf DNF engine (Rod MacKenzie Collection)

For the 1969 Gold Star Series the 39 was more competitive than in ’68 being  fitted with the latest Repco’730 Series’, crossflow head V8 used in the Tasman, this gave 290bhp@8600rpm. The car was now running wings and whilst less aesthetically pleasing than its earlier form was fast.

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Symmons Plains Gold Star 3 March 1969. Leo was 2nd to Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Alfa (right)  (Ellis French)

Interesting shots at Symmons Plains, Tasmania 3 March 1969 above and below. Both the 39 and Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Alfa ‘Yellow Submarine’ sporting the hi-wings de-rigeur for the previous 12 months and soon to be outlawed over the Monaco GP weekend a month or so hence. My two favourite ‘Australian’ open-wheelers of the 1960’s albeit not in their most aesthtically pleasing form. Bartlett won the round with Leo second.

Repco ‘730 Series’ Repco V8, notice the steel ‘A-Frame’ to brace the wing supports referred to in the text and wider rear wheels but same sized fronts compared with earlier shots. Tyre widths increased dramatically from cars build in 1965 to 1970.

Locating stays for the 39 rear wing beefier than most, the failure of these in a whole swag of cars, notably the two Lotus 49’s of Rindt and Hill during the 1969 at Montjuich Park, Spanish GP the catalyst for the CSI to mandate changes to wings.

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Symmons Plains Gold Star 1969, Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco, KB’s Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ Alfa behind (Ellis French)

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Bathurst Gold Star round 7 April 1969; Max Stewart Mildren Waggott, Niel Allen McLaren M4A Ford FVA and Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco on pole. Brabham won in his BT31 Repco from the back of the grid with the front row all DNF. An accident took out Stewart and Allen, Leo had a gearbox problem (Wayne McKay)

Kevin Bartlett took the Gold Star championship again using the Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, initially Alfa Romeo V8 engined and later in the year in Waggott TC4 valve form. This engine developed by Sydney engineer Merv Waggott is a story in itself, it won Gold Stars for Bartlett, Geoghegan and Stewart in 1969-71 beating 2.5’s and in 1971 F5000’s to the title.

Leo was 2nd with 20 points to Kevins 33 and had reliability but perhaps not the ultimate speed, seconds at Symmons Plains and Mallala Gold Star season highlights for the old beast.

The 39’s day finally arrived 4.5 years after it was built; Geoghegan won the 1969 JAF Japanese Grand Prix in the Lotus from Roly Levis Brabham BT23C FVA and Sohei Kato’s Mitsubishi Colt F2-C 1.6. I covered this great win in an article about Leo last year, click here for the link; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/02/leo-geoghegan-australian-driving-champion-rip/

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By 1970 F5000 was adopted as the new Tasman Formula albeit 2.5 litre Tasman cars were also eligible, the smaller cars gave the big V8’s ‘plenty of curry’ in that first year with Graeme Lawrence winning in Chris Amon’s victorious 1969 Ferrari 246T ‘008’. Bartlett took the Warwick Farm round in the 2 litre Mildren ‘Yellow Sub’, another small-car win..

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Tractable these Repco’s! Chugging thru the 1970 Sandown paddock. Nice shot showing the 33 style tub, fuel filler in front of dash bulkhead and late ’69-70 wing (Jeff Scriven Collection)

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Same day as above with Leo in the red hat alongside his mount. Hard to see but front suspension is top rocker, lower wishbone and inboard spring/damper actuated by rocker (Jeff Scriven Collection)

Geoghegan raced the Australian rounds only for 7th at Surfers and Warwick Farm, he was DNF at the Sandown final round.

Into the domestic 1970 season Leo raced the car in the first Gold Star round at Symmons Plains, here below he shares the front row of the grid with John Harvey’s red Brabham BT23E Repco and Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren Waggott ‘Yellow Submarine’. KB’s absence racing in the US for much of the year took out a tough adversary in 1970.

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Gold Star round 1 1970. Symmons Plains 2 March 1970. John Harvey won in his #2 Brabham BT23E Repco from Leo obscured this side and Bartlett’s #5 Mildren Waggott (autopics.com)

The last significant meeting in which the 39 raced was the March Easter Bathurst meeting in which Niel Allen’s McLaren M10B Chev F5000 car set a lap record which stood for decades. ‘Outright’ open-wheelers have not raced at Mount Panorama given the speeds of the cars and inherently dan gerous nature of the circuit as it was then. And still is, despite huge improvements in circuit safety.

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Easter Bathurst 1970, contrast this shot with the hi-wings from the year before above. John Harvey’s #4 Bob Jane Brabham BT23E Repco ‘830 Series’ Repco V8, Leo’s 39 Repco ‘730 Series’ V8 and Niel Allen’s obscured McLaren M10 B Chev F5000 (Rod MacKenzie Collection)

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Leo in the new Lotus 59 Waggott, Warwick Farm’s Pit Straight 1971 (oldracephotos/Schell)

Whilst the 1970 Tasman series was run to F5000 the Gold Star Series in an interesting piece of CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motorsport) decision making driven by politics was run to the 2.5 Tasman Formula.

From Leo’s perspective the path was clear; the circa 275bhp 2 litre Waggott engine was powerful, light, reliable and better still would bolt straight into the back of the Dave Baldwin designed F3/F2 Lotus 59. As the Lotus importer, the core of the Geoghegan’s business road cars of course, his preference was a Lotus which could win the title, his F5000 options were a domestic season away.

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The Geoghegan’s cars; Leo’s and Pete’s Touring cars were always beautifully presented, giving the sponsors great exposure. Here the 59 Waggott, in Castrol colors. As beautifully integrated a package as the 39 Repco in its ‘740 Series’ Repco days. Oran Park Gold Star round, 27 June 1970 (Lynton Hemer)

The 59 already had a successful season of racing in Europe with Emerson Fittipaldi taking the 1969 British F3 title and Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill winners in European F2 events; 4 rounds for Jochen and 1 for Graham. In essence the engine and chassis were a proven package.

And so it proved to be; Leo took wins at Warwick Farm and Mallala and seconds at Oran Park and Symmons Plains when the ‘old lady’ 39 held together and scored 6 valuable points…

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Leo G during tyhe driver parade before the 27 June Oran Park 1970 Gold Star round won by Max Stewart (Lynton Hemer)

Leo Geoghegan’s Later Open-Wheeler Career…

This article was to have been a ‘quickie’ around the few shots at the start  but as usual i have  ‘rabbited on’.

The article isn’t intended to be a Leo G whole of career one, the focus was the Lotus 39. Leo raced the Lotus 59 Waggott on into 1971, that chassis is still in Australia, i will write about it separately.

Geoghegan was a factory driver for Chrysler, as covered in the other article link provided earlier, he developed and raced Valiant Pacers and Chargers for the Tonsley Park, Adelaide based company in the incredibly popular Series Production (showroom stock essentially) races which proliferated, like a disease, in Australia in the late 1960’s, the growth of ‘Taxi Racing’ in Oz remains undiminished and omnipotent.

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Leo at Oran Park, ‘works’ Grace Bros sponsored Birrana 274 Hart Ford 1974. Jewels of things, fast ones. Aluminium monocoque chassis, Hart Ford 416B injected, often ‘ally blocked, Twin-Cam circa 205bhp, Hewland FT200 5 speed ‘box (oldracephotos.com/Peter Schell)

But Leo was a ‘died in the wool open-wheeler man’ and accepted a works drive with Adelaide’s nascent Birrana Engineering; Malcolm Ramsay and engineer Tony Alcock built some fabulous cars in three short years which turned upside down the local single-seater market, the jewel like cars winning the Australian F2 Championship from 1973-1976.

Leo took two of the titles in 1973 and 1974, finally retiring from single-seaters at the end of 1974. He went out with a bang though. The 1974 AF2 Championship was one of the most closely contested and competitive openwheeler championships in Australia ever. ‘Van Heusen’ shirts tipped in good sponsorship and established F5000 aces and young thrusters made for some sensational racing. But wily Leo, at 38 still very fast took the title by 4 points from Aussie International Bob Muir in another Birrana.

Birrana Cars is a story for another time.

John Sheppard on Leo as a driver; ‘He was incredibly fast, as good as anyone he competed against capable of just not keeping up with but beating world champions. Leo in a way kept to himself, Pete was more ‘one of the boys’ so Leo and i didn’t discuss his career aspirations but he got a lot of satisfaction from racing with the drivers that he did; world class drivers. He was very precise, Pete would throw around what he was given, Leo used the same bit of road lap after lap, very consistent, precise and fast’.

R12 in Modern Times…

Leo focussed on the 59 but gave Formula Vee ace Bernie Haehnle a test of the 39 in the wet, at Amaroo Park in May 1970. With predictable results, poor Bernie took the left-rear corner off the car. The difference from a 40bhp Rennmax FV to 280bhp Tasman car in the wet would have been marked!

39 after Bernie Haehnle’s Amaroo Park 1970 shunt (D Simpson)

 

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Leo G, 1970 Gold Star champion in his old car later in the year at Warwick Farm. 22 November. Lotus 39 Repco (Dick Simpson/oldracephotos.com)

The car was tidied up visually, Leo gave it a run at Warwick Farm late in the year in its original color scheme but still running a Repco engine, it was then offered for sale. The Repco engines on loan were returned to Melbourne and those owned by the Geoghegans sold. Australia’s sports-racing car fields were the beneficiaries of a surplus of ‘cheap’ 2.5 litre Repco V8’s; two Elfin 360’s and  two Rennmax’s  specifically.

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Darryl Pearsall’s Lotus 39 Ford Twin-Cam ‘R12’ in the Winton, Victoria paddock in 1973/4 (oldracephotos.com)

The long racing life of R12 continued on for a year or so as an AF2 car, Darryl Pearsall the new owner. F2 then was a 1.6 litre, 2 valve class effectively mandating the Lotus/Ford Twin Cam. The car was fitted with a Twin-Cam and when sold was purchased by John Dawson-Damer for his superb collection of Lotus’s in 1976.

The car was restored to its original Coventry Climax FPF engined form and fortunately when sold after JDD’s death and realisation of some of his collection remained in Australia, fitting given the cars Australian history. It lives in Tasmania loved to bits by a lifelong Jim Clark fan, Chas Kelly.

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Lotus 39 Climax ‘R12’ at the Longford Revival Meeting in April 2011. Restored but not over-restored, a balance we tend to get right in this country! (Ellis French)

Etcetera…

Clark Lotus 39.

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Longford front row 1966. #1 Clark’s Lotus 39 Climax and the two BRM P261’s of Hill #2 and Stewart beside the fence (Ellis French)

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Clark and mechanics looking typically relaxed during the Tasman. Here at Warwick Farm with R12. February 1966 (unattributed)

Click on this link for a lovely story related to the photo above about the ’66 Tasman.

https://open.abc.net.au/explore/45668

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Geoghegan 39.

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Leo G portrait circa 1963. Colors on helmet ‘Team Total’, the French oil company a strong supporter of motor racing in Australia at the time. Lotus 22 or 27 (Ray Berghouse)

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Sandown Park paddock, Tasman ’67. Leo finished 2nd to Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8 in ‘The Sandown Cup’. Nice shot shows the car in its Coventry Climax FPF engined/Castrol Racing colors. This is 26 February 1967, the Repco V8 was installed that April (Mike Feisst/The Roaring Season)

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This is a nice shot of the 39 of the Repco 740 Series V8 installation, Surfers Tasman round in February 1968. Cooper S is that of top touring car driver John French (Rod MacKenzie)

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These days the crowds are all over the ‘Taxis’, in the days of yore the focus was where it should be, on fast open-wheelers! Sandown paddock, am guessing Tasman Meeting 1969 (Jeff Morrall)

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Leo’s Lotus dips under brakes for Creek Corner at the end of Hume Straight in 1970 (Lynton Hemer)

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Lotus 39 business end in its Repco ‘740 Series’ 2.5 V8 days. 275bhp@8500rpm, the engine weighed 345lbs/157Kg. Gearbox Hewland HD5. Note Repco logo on LH cam cover, Smiths tacho drive on the RH cam cover. Lucas fuel injection, Bosch distributor between the Vee. 1967/8 (John Stanley)

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Bibliography…

Thanks very much to John Sheppard for his time and recollections

Graham Howard and Ors ‘History of The Australian GP’, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

Vintage Racecar, oldracephotos.com, Peter Schell, Dick Simpson, Bruce Wells, Habu, Mike Feisst/The Roaring Season, Lynton Hemer, Rod MacKenzie, Ellis French, John Stanley, Paul Hobson, Wayne McKay, Jeff Scriven Collection, Ray Berghouse, David Mist, John Sheppard, Brian McInerney, Jeff Nield/autopics.com.au, Tony Loxley ‘Tasman Cup’, Peter Windsor, Ian MacNeill

Tailpiece: Leo takes Miss Queensland for a squirt around Lakeside in the family Lotus 23 Ford. Brother ‘Pete’ raced this car, not certain of the date, but 1965’ish…

39 babe

 

rcn surfers 1968

We all have our favourite local motoring and motor racing publications...

When I was a youngster here in Australia it was ‘Sports Car World’ for fast road cars, the monthly letter from noted NZ born but global motoring journo, Eoin Young on the European and American racing scene was not to be missed nor the column of Romsey Quints, a crusty curmudgeon who wrote about ye olde days.

And for racing it was ‘Racing Car News’ supplemented by the global giant ‘Autosport’ which required a tram trip into the big smoke as it wasn’t carried by my local newsagent.

RCN was the bible tho.

It was national, maybe a bit Sydney centric, edited and owned by Max Stahl, an ex-racer who knew everybody from clubbies to visiting World Champions in Australia annually for the Tasman Series. It was chock full of local to global news and events with ‘Stringers’ all over the place making its coverage remarkable at the time.

Delivery of information digitally takes the sense of excitement out of the visits to the newsagent eagerly anticipating these monthly publications arrival instore…having said that the ‘democratisation of the media’ means even ‘Schleppers’ like me can ‘have a go’.

There was not a page of RCN to be missed from Stahls’ editorial upfront to the classifieds up ze back, the paintings by David Atkinson, Colin Anderson and others reason alone to buy the thing.

This cover by David Atkinson captures the action of the 11 February 1968 Tasman Series Round at Surfers Paradise. It depicts Graham Hills’ Lotus 49 DFW leading Leo Geoghegans’ ex Clark Lotus 39 Repco from the Piers Courage McLaren M4A FVA around the ‘Repco Hill’ section of the circuit.

Clark won the race from teammate Hill, Courage in second, a great performance on this power circuit in the little 1.6 litre Ford FVA engined M4A and Leo G, first local home in third place.

RCN survived into the ’80’s but was never the same after Stahl sold it, somehow the thing lost its soul…these days there are print and digital Australian ‘publications’ but none are as good as Racing Car News…

clark and amon surfers

Stunning Roderick MacKenzie shot of Clarks’ Lotus 49 leading Chris Amons Ferrari 246T, Surfers Tasman 1968. Clark won, Amon DNF with an engine failure. Tweed Ranges in the background. Clark won the series and Amon returned in 1969 winning the it in a Dino. (Roderick MacKenzie)

leo g lotus surfers

Leo Geoghegans Lotus 39 Repco ‘740’ Series 2.5 V8 being given a big push, John Sheppard at the wheel and Geoff Smedley at left. ‘Castrol’ colors, Repco installation replacing the Climax FPF 4 cylinder engine lead by Sheppard creating just about the best looking 60’s single seater ever, this is not the cars best angle however! (wolseley680)

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Surfers dummy grid. Hill #5 loaded up, the Lotus behind awaits Clark. You can just see the #11 nose of Rodriguez BRM P126 (10th) a Ferrari nose amongst the crowd and the nose, far right of the Courage McLaren. (wolseley680)

Tasman 1968 Highlights…

Photo Credits…

Roderick MacKenzie http://www.rodmackenziecollection.com/ , wolseley680

Finito…

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Leo Geoghegan victorious in the 1969 JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) Grand Prix. Lotus 39 Repco.

One of Australia’s racing greats of the 1960’s and early 70’s, Leo Geoghegan died of cancer aged 78 on 1 March…

Leo won the Australian GT Championship in 1960, (Lotus Elite) the Australian Formula Junior Championship in 1963 (Lotus 22 ) the Australian Drivers Championship, the coveted Gold Star in 1970 in Lotus 59 Waggott and the AF2 Championship in Birranas’ 273 and 274 in 1973 and 1974.

Internationally he won the JAF Japanese Grand Prix in his Lotus 39 Repco in 1969. It was in this car, raced by Jim Clark in the 1966 Tasman Series in which Leo stepped into the premier 2.5 litre ‘Tasman’ class, initially Coventry Climax powered and later with Repco V8’s that Leo more than held his own against the visiting Internationals in what was progressively an older car.

The Geoghegans’ held the Lotus franchise in Australia for many years, it was in a new Lotus 59 powered by one of Merv Waggotts’ 2 litre DOHC engines in which Leo finally won the Gold Star in 1970 after years of plugging away in the evergreen ’39.

leo g wf

Hamming it up for photographer Bruce Wells at Warwick Farm, before the ‘WF 100’ Tasman round February 1966. (Bruce Wells)

Leo and his brother Ian or ‘Pete’ were crowd favourites throughout the 60’s in particular, Leo mainly in open wheelers and Pete in Touring Cars in which he was 5 times Australian Champion.

Most of you outside Australia (85% of you by the way) won’t be aware of the Geoghegans’, this lovely period movie by Castrol ‘The Racing Geoghegans’ positions them nicely into the pantheon of Australian Racing in their day.

 

Leo was concentrating more on Touring Cars as the lead tester/driver for Chrysler into the early ’70’s in their Valiant Pacer/Charger ‘Series Production’ program but returned to open wheelers when offered the ‘works drive’ by Birrana’s Malcolm Ramsay, these jewel like cars a story in themselves, in AF2 in 1973 and in 1974.

The 1974 AF2 series was one of the most competitive domestic Australian open wheeler championships ever (series sponsorship attracted both the top up and comers and F5000 stars) Leo winning the title against the very best…to watch him in these cars, I didn’t get to see him in his Tasman days, was to see a bloke at the top of his game, a very smooth, precise line driver and aggressive with it. His battles with Bob Muir in another Birrana in ’74 spring to mind especially a very soggy Calder. A magic driver for sure.

leo g lotus 32

Leo in the ‘Warwick Farm 100′ Tasman round February 1966. He finished 7th in the 1.5 litre Ford/Lotus engined Lotus 32. Race won by Jim Clarks’ Lotus 39 Climax, the car Leo acquired at the end of the series. (Bruce Wells)

Ray Bell ‘in period’ journalist with ‘Racing Car News’ had this to say about Leos’ commitment and precision, writing in ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ in 2002.

‘It’s time to look at Leo a little more closely. Maybe at Warwick Farm, his real home circuit and in the Lotus 59, equipped with a nice toey Waggott TC4V engine and good enough to win him the Gold Star… let’s wander over to Homestead Corner… the cars are whistling through, taking that line that clips the two apexes and is so important for their speed down Hume Straight.

Lap after lap, Leo is precise and fast. But look there, on the outside edge of the circuit, where he drifts to between the apexes… see the white line, and then the drop of two inches or so where the bitumen’s been laid over an old entry road? Watch Leo’s rear tyre as he drifts out there…

The wheel had only a couple of inches on the white line… the rest of the tyre was hanging out there with two inches between the tread and the bitumen… two inches from disaster at that speed… every lap!’

One of the greats. RIP.

leo fuji speedway

Leo G in the racesuit, Fuji paddock JAF GP 1969. Lotus 39 Repco. Engine here is Repco ‘830 Series’ 2.5 Tasman V8, the ‘ultimate version’ of the Tasman Repcos’ , circa 295bhp@9000rpm. Packaging of this later Repco engine not as ‘neat and cohesive’ as the exhaust between the Vee ‘740 Series’ pictured below. (Unattributed)

lotus 59

Leo in the Lotus 59 Waggott at WF approaching the ‘Northern Crossing’. AGP November 1970. 3rd in the 2 litre Lotus behind the winning Frank Matich McLaren M10B Repco F5000 and Graeme Lawrence’2.4 litre  Ferrari Dino 246T. (Rod Mackenzie Collection)

lotus 39 stanley

Quintessential combination for many years, Leo G and Lotus 39 Repco…1969. (John Stanley)

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Wonderful portrait of Leo G by Rod MacKenzie in 1970. (Rod MacKenzie Collection)

Tailpiece…

Wonderful ‘Alec Mildren Racing’ film about the 1969 JAF GP won by Leo Geoghegan and contested by several Australians including the Mildren Racing pair, Kevin Bartlett and Max Stewart.

Etcetera…

lotus 32 hordern trophy

Black helmet and black T-Shirt…Leo G Lotus 32 Ford 1.5, Hordern Trophy, Warwick Farm December 1964. This was a huge win, the little 1.5 beating the big 2.5 Climax engined Tasman cars in this ‘Gold Star’ round. (Richard Austin)

leo and jackie wf

Leo G (left) & Jackie Stewart Warwick Farm Tasman round February 1967. JYS won the race in his BRM P261, Leo 5th and holding the trophy for first local resident home in his Lotus 32 Ford 1.5. (Dale Harvey)

leo wf tasman 1967

Leo, Lotus 39 Climax heading for 5th place during the 1967 ‘Warwick Farm 100’ Tasman round, Kevin Bartlett? perhaps behind, Brabham BT11A Climax 6th. (Unattributed)

geoghegans surfers 1968

Leo and Pete Geoghegan won the Surfers Paradise 6 Hour in 1968 in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM

mr annual

Leo G in his Lotus 39 Repco & Chris Amon Ferrari Dino 246T on the cover of MRA 1968. In this form the car was about as good as a 60’s open-wheeler looked. The conversion from Coventry Climax 2.5 FPF to Repco ‘740 Series’ 2.5 Tasman V8 was done by Geoghegans’ crew lead by John Sheppard, the marriage between chassis and engine superbly executed.

leo and max jaf gp

Leo Geoghegan leading his compatriot Max Stewart during the 1969 JAF GP. Lotus 39 Repco 2.5 & Mildren Waggott 1.6. Race was F Libre. (Unattributed)

lotus 59 wf

Leo campaigned this Lotus 59 Waggott in 1970 and 1971, winning the Gold Star in the 265bhp 4 cylinder, DOHC injected four valve engined car in 1970. Here at Warwick Farm (lyntonh)

leo charger 1971 wf

Geoghegan manhandling his Chrysler Valiant RT Charger around Warwick Farm in October 1971. These cars were powered by 265cid in line 6 cylinder OHV, triple Weber 45DCOE engines…together with the Ford Falcon GTHO and Holden Torana GTR XU1 comprised a much loved period of Touring Car racing in Australia. Shortcomings of the Charger were its 3 speed ‘box, 4 speeder from 72’ and under-developed relative to the opposition. Leo G chief test driver/developer and lead driver for Chrysler, cars built at a long since closed factory in Tonsley Park, Adelaide. (Jeff Nield)

leo and enno birrana 273

Leo Geoghegan and Enno Buesselmann, Sandown 1973. Both Birrana 273 Hart Ford T/cam. (autopics)

Photo and Other Credits…

Bruce Wells, theroaringseason.com, lyntonh, Dale Harvey, autopics.com.au, John Stanley, Rod MacKenzie Collection

The Nostalgia Forum, RayBell, Motor Racing Annual