Posts Tagged ‘Maybach’

(unattributed)

Stan Jones, Maybach 1 and David McKay, MG TC Special at Parramatta Park Sydney in 1952’ish…

I’ve done theses fellas to death really, here; https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2018/01/12/bert-and-davids-lola-mk1-climax/

Ditto the track, which as the name suggests, was through a public park in Parramatta only 30km from Sydney’s CBD- here; https://primotipo.com/2018/02/27/parramatta-park-circuit/

The track didn’t last long, which is sad, its very much a place I would like to have attended or raced! I’ve dropped the photos into the linked PP article too but they were too good not to put front ‘n centre given my bias in favour of the track, both drivers and their mounts!

(unattributed)

Parramatta Park again folks- see the railway line in the background, what is the car featured though? The race programs I have are of no assistance, nor do I recognise the cars Greg Smith, John Medley, Ray Bell and Dick Willis?…

Credits…

Flickr

Finito…

1953 AGP grid. Front row L>R Davison HWM Jag, Jones Maybach 1, Whiteford Talbot-Lago T26C, car 11 on row 2 is Ted Gray Alta Ford V8 (Dacre Stubbs)

The allocation of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix to Albert Park was the result of over two decades of work by the Light Car Club of Australia…

I live 800 metres from Albert Park Lake, I awoke this morning to F1 music at 7.05 AM- the sound of two-seater Minardi V10 engined cars ferrying their lucky cargo around gods motor racing country at high speed. The dawn of the 2019 race seems an apt time to upload this article on the 1953 event- the first Albert Park AGP.

Barry Green in his wonderful book ‘Glory Days’, writes that there was a strong push to race at Albert Park in 1934. The Light Car Club of Australia, (LCCA) the promoter of race meetings at Phillip Island were aware of the ‘Islands growing unsuitability given its loose gravel surface as speeds increased.’ Extensive negotiations secured Albert Park as the venue for a race meeting to celebrate the Centenary of Victoria in 1935.

The ‘Sun News Pictorial’ one of the Melbourne daily tabloids, and then as now a good thing in which to wrap ones fish n’ chips, announced the event on June 4 1934.

In doing so the ‘paper lit the fuse of naysayers who brought about the events cancellation, but not before racers Arthur Terdich, Bill Lowe, Barney Dentry, and Cyril Dickason in Bugatti, Lombard, and Austins respectively, lapped the track with mufflers fitted to prove noise wasn’t the issue.’

Stan Jones at speed in Maybach 1, Albert Park 1953, DNF. Stan made this series of cars sing, Maybach 1 won the ’54 NZ GP at Ardmore but none of the Maybachs- 1,2,3 or 4 won an AGP, such a shame! If the Chamberlain 8 is Australia’s most brilliant and innovative special surely the Maybachs are the greatest? Hopeless bias declared! (R Fulford /SLV)

Post war things were little different, but a partnership between the LCCA, the Australian Army- who had a facility at Albert Park, and Victorian Labor Senator Pat Kennelly was more successful.

The three groups/people provided the combination of race organisation, promotional ability, logistical capability- the Army being able to ‘man’ Albert Park, a site of some 570 acres, and political power and influence.

For all, the ability to raise funds in the aftermath of World War 2 was important. For the army, it was money for war widows and orphans, for Kennelly to finance much needed improvements to the park for to upgrade the local amenity, and for the LCCA, the betterment of motor racing.

The parties all were aware they needed to be very careful with the use of the facility so the event was a one day affair, with practice in the morning, racing in the afternoon with the roads open to the public in between. Total time absorbed by the racing activities was less than seven hours!

And so, the 1953 Australian Grand Prix, held at Albert Park over 64 laps, 200 miles in total, on Saturday 21 November, was won by Doug Whiteford in a Lago-Talbot, the last AGP win for ‘French Racing Blue’.

Doug Whiteford’s Talbot Lago T26C passes the abandoned MG Spl of Jack O’Dea on the way to victory. Writing on the side of the car is a list of race wins. Whiteford owned two TL26C’s- this one, 1948-ex Louis Chiron chassis ‘110007’ and later, an earlier but higher spec car, chassis ‘110002’. Vern Schuppan is the current owner of ‘110002’. Crowd right to the edge of the track (R Fulford/SLV)

Entry…

The entry list was headed by local Melbourne businessmen Doug Whiteford, Stan Jones and Lex Davison.

Whiteford was perhaps the form driver, he won the AGP at Mount Panorama the year before in the same Talbot-Lago T26C. Doug was a tough grafter who owned an automotive repair and sales business a drop kick from the shores of Albert Park Lake in Carlisle Street, St Kilda.

The preparation and presentation of all of his racers was legendary. His career stretched back well pre-war to motor cycles circa 1932. He raced Norman Hamilton’s blown Ford. V8 Spl at Phillip Island circa 1935, an MG Magnette and a supercharged Ford Roadster before building the Ford Ute based ‘Black Bess’ his 1950 AGP winner.

A racer to the core, he competed all the way through into the early to mid seventies, after his long time at elite level, as a works driver for the Datsun Racing Team in small sedans and sportscars.

What a shot! Not at Albert Park I hasten to add, Fishermans Bend is my guess. Whiteford changing plugs on his TL T26C. A mechanic by trade, he toiled on his own cars, his race record, standard of preparation and presentation legendary. Date unknown (R Fulford/SLV)

On the up was Stanley Jones, another tough nugget from Warrandyte, rapidly building an automotive retailing empire which would fund an impressive array of racers over the decade to come- all of which would come tumbling down in the credit squeeze of 1961. Jones had thrown in his lot with Charlie Dean and Repco a year or so before- Jones bought Maybach from Dean with Charlie and his team at Repco Research in Brunswick continuing to maintain and develop it. Jones was as forceful as Whiteford was stylish- both were impressively fast.

Also on the rise was Lex Davison, native of St Kilda but then a resident of Lilydale and fast building the shoe manufacture, importing and retailing business he inherited from his father.

Lex by this stage had learned his craft on a varied mix of cars, most recently an Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 GP car. He had just bought an ex-Moss/Gaze F2 HWM to which he fitted a Jaguar 3.4 litre six-cylinder DOHC engine to ‘C Type’ specs and gearbox, this clever combination took his first AGP win at Southport, Queensland in 1954- a race Jones had a mortgage on until the chassis failure of Maybach 2 at very high speed.

Elite Racers All: L>R Jack Brabham Cooper T23 Bristo, third in this group, #3 Lex Davison HWM Jag and #8 Ted Gray Alta Ford V8. Shot included to show the HWM and Alta- Victoria Trophy Fishermans Bend 22 March 1954. Lex is soon to win the ’54 AGP, Jack is soon to travel to the UK and Gray is soon to get a competitive mount in Tornado 1 Ford! (VHRR)

Lex was an urbane man of considerable wit, bearing and charm- but he could and did go toe to toe with racers of Whiteford and Jones ilk and beat them. His career, which had far from peaked in 1953 stretched all the way to early 1965 when he shared the front row of the NZ GP grid with Clark and Hill, a couple of fellas ‘still in short pants’ in 1953.

Frank Kleinig and his Kleinig-Hudson straight-8 Spl could not be discounted nor could the Ted Gray driven Alta Ford V8 Spl- much more would be seen of this outstanding pre-war driver who cut his teeth on the country speedways of Victoria in the years to 1960 with the Lou Abrahams owned Tornados 1 and 2.

Oh to have seen this bloke drive at his best!- as here at Rob Roy Hillclimb, 2 November 1947. Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson 8 Spl, a remarkable marriage of MG chassis, Hudson mechanicals and various other donor parts continuously developed over a couple of decades. A car which shoulda won at least one AGP. Kleinig another driver/mechanic ace (G Thomas)

Kleinig should have won an AGP or two, or three.

The Sydney driver was one of the very quickest immediately pre and post war but times had changed. The AGP was now a scratch race, not a handicap and Frank’s machine, development of which never stopped simply wasn’t quick enough to win outright whatever the undoubted skills of the bloke behind the wheel.

Ted and Frank both needed the ‘guns’ up front to retire and have a dose of reliability themselves for the long 200 mile race to win.

The Reg Nutt, Talbot Darracq 700, DNF dropped valve on lap 14 (Dacre Stubbs)

The balance of the entry was a swag of MG Specials, pre-war GP cars, sports cars and a sprinkling of Coopers including several new fangled JAP mid-engined cars.

Above and below. Davison, Jones and Whiteford. Further back #11 Gray, his Ford V8 creating the smokescreen, #7 Kleinig, #10 Hayes Ford V8 Spl #6 Vennermark/Warren Maser 4CL (unattributed)

Practice and the Race…

Practice commenced early at 8.30 AM and before too long their was drama aplenty amongst the topliners.

Davison’s HWM suffered bearing problems in practice, the session started at 8.30am, the team linished them as best they could prior to the race start at 2.30 pm, but the same affliction stopped the car during the race.

Another top driver I didn’t mention above was Sydney ex-speedway star Jack Brabham but his new Cooper T23 Bristol succumbed in the morning session, like Davison, to bearing problems. The ace engineer/mechanic did of course turn this car into rather a formidable weapon- one which inspired him to try his hand in England a year or so hence.

Also having practice dramas was Whiteford, who had a lose, the car was quickly loaded up and trailered back to Doug’s ‘shop closeby ‘…where the front suspension was stripped. Jim Hawker used the table of a mill as a surface plate and found a bent stub axle he straightened in a press. The Lago also needed a new flexible hose; without a word Whiteford took a pair of side-cutters, walked across to the pre-War Triumph his nephew Doug McLean was rebuilding and liberated precisely the correct hose. This was fitted, the brakes were bled…’ wrote Graham Howard.

The Jones Maybach in for the pitstop which changed the race, albeit the car retired in any event. Passing is the Jag XK120 of Frank Lobb (Dacre Stubbs)

From atop a double-decker bus race officials and a crowd estimated by local newspapers variously at between 50,000 and 70,000 people saw Whiteford, Jones and Davison form the front row with Lex’ HWM leading into the first corner under heavy, muggy skies.

The start was fraught and chaotic as several crews were still with their driver and car as the flag dropped!

Davo’s lead was shortlived, Stanley passed him on the first lap and then drew away. McKinnon was a lap 1 casualty when he nosed the hay-bales but got going again, Arthur Wylie spun the Jowett Javelin Spl at Jaguar Corner but he too got going.

Early in the race Jones led Whiteford, Davison, Arthur Wylie’s Jowett powered Wylie Javelin and Curley Brydon’s  ex-Bill Patterson MG TC Spl.

Davo was out on lap 3, he watched the balance of the event from Stan’s pit.

Bob Pritchett in Australian Motor Sports (AMS) wrote that ‘The trouble with the HWM was that the oil pressure relief valve was cockeyed on its seat allowing all the oil to rush right back into the sump through bypass: most surprisingly, the XK120 oil pressure gauge is so hooked in that, under such circumstances, full pressure was still indicated. Lex’s boys did their best with emery strip and managed to have the car on the line for the GP, but it was of no avail.’

Same scene as above from a different angle- Charlie Dean at bottom right (unattributed)

By half distance Stan still had a good lead over Whiteford, but on lap 40 he pitted for fuel and with his Maybach straight-six engine overheating- the car also needed a water pump drive belt.

His crew were not expecting him and in the confusion Stan was bathed in methanol fuel which necessitated a speedy dismount and then being doused in water before returning to the fray.

Whiteford could not believe his luck.

He perhaps lacked the pace to win, although Pritchett observed on the other hand that he didn’t think ‘Doug was unduly worried…Every few laps he would come up from his half-minute or so back and have a a look at the Maybach and then fall back into line again, so he must have had something up his sleeve’? Stan always pushed hard and was said to lack mechanical sympathy, something Doug had in spades. Jones retired Maybach on lap 56 with clutch failure.

Whiteford’s right rear separates from the Talbot Lago on the exit of Dunlop Corner (AMS)

It was not an easy win though.

Melbourne weather is capricious, the skies darkened and rain tumbled down and cars spun- Wal Gillespie’s HRG (shared with Thompson) amongst others. Spectators added to the challenge with ‘suicidal disregard for their own safety…John Calvert rammed a strawbale…when he had to take avoiding action. I suppose they just can’t understand that towards the end of the straight, the quick drivers are covering the best part of fifty yards each second…’ Pritchett mused.

Whiteford slows the TL 26C at the pits to change wheels having lost his right rear tyre. Fortunately the separation happened close to the pits and his efficient crew (Fairfax)

Two laps from home the right-rear tyre of the T26C came off its rim, fortunately only 300 metres from the pits.

After a stop of 30 seconds to change the wheel, with a huge gap to his pursuers, the local lad was on his way to win the race ‘in a Largo Talbot by 5 laps at an average speed of 82 mph for the 200 miles’ The Melbourne Sun, with its characteristic great attention to motor racing reporting detail, recorded in its 22 November account of the race.

Curley Brydon, a member of the RAAF’s crack 78 fighter squadron during the war, was second in his MG TC Spl 5 laps adrift and South Australian Andy Brown third in an MG K3 Magnette. Then came former AGP winner Les Murphy, MG Q Type and Lou Molina in the MM Holden Spl sportscar

Third placed Andy Brown’s very pre-war MG K3 in for a pitstop. K3 ‘030’ still in Oz- ex-Bira/Snow/Dunne/Davison/Brown and many others! (Dacre Stubbs)

Graham Howard in his ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ (HAGP) account of the race reports on some post race controversy which reader and owner of the Curley Brydon TC, Richard Townley develops further in his note below this article.

Howard wrote ‘…Curley Brydon, who had provisionally been placed third, protested that too many people had assisted with Whiteford’s tyre change, and indeed it was suggested one of the helpers was no more than a gate-crashing spectator; but it was agreed that Whiteford could have changed the wheel single-handed and still had time to win, and Brydon’s protest was withdrawn.

Curley Brydon, in the 2nd placed MG TC Spl s/c leads the 16th placed John Nind MG TB Spl (K Wheeler)

Whiteford is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) as saying ‘Our pit was very congested and there were more spectators around than mechanics. Evidently someone we didn’t know tried to help.’ Note that the SMH report states the protests were heard on Sunday 22 November, the day after the race.

As Richard Townley relates in his comments post publication of this article, Phil Irving wrote in his autobiography that Whiteford ‘…was not immediately declared the winner, through an unofficial report that he had been helped by a bystander to get the Talbot back on course after over-shooting a corner. Not having the use of a telephone, the marshal on the corner concerned wrote out a report to be delivered to the Clerk of The Course, who did not receive it until long after after the race had ended.’

‘Doug, who knew the rule book by heart was aware that the official report of the incident had not been lodged within the stipulated half-hour of the race finish, and shrewdly claimed that it was ultra vires and could not form the basis of a protest. This view being upheld by the stewards, Doug was awarded his third AGP, but it was not a very popular victory’ Irving wrote.

Let’s come back to this after dealing with the balance of the protests.

Howard continues ‘However, he (Brydon) also protested Andy Brown’s second placing, and after investigation it was agreed Brydon was second: Murphy protested Brown as well, claiming to have passed him on the last lap, but this was not upheld.’

‘Fifth was Lou Molina first time out in the neat little Holden-engined MM Special, and the first AGP finish for a Holden engine, Sixth was Jim Leech, a nice reward for his part in securing Albert Park for the race.’

‘Seventh, with a plug lead off, with only first and fourth gears useable and with his seat belt broken, was Frank Kleinig; from six AGP starts, going back 15 years to 1938, it was the cars first finish, and very popular. Nonetheless, the days of 15-year old AGP cars could not last much longer’ Howard concluded.

No doubt Kleinig was well pleased with the result as Pritchett wrote that he left Sydney very late for the meeting with trade-plates affixed to the racer to run it in on the Hume Highway!- when that process was complete the car took its place on the trailer for the balance of the trip south.

So what do we make of Phil Irving’s claims of Whiteford receiving outside assistance?

I can find no record of this in any of the published information I have access to.

It is not mentioned in any of the contemporary newspaper reports of the meeting- not in Howard’s AGP account in HAGP, Howard’s ‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’, Barry Green’s superb long piece on the meeting in ‘Albert Park Glory Days’ or in the November or December 1953 issues of Australian Motor Sports.

Lets not forget that the protests were heard and decided, according to the SMH, on the day after the race- Sunday 22 November.

The Stewards of the meeting, given all of the circumstances, and I have in mind the logistics of communication at the meeting, could choose to admit as evidence what they saw as appropriate- and call witnesses.

By that i mean the Marshal concerned could have been called, and no doubt others who were stationed on the corner at the time to give their account of what Irving wrote occurred, to the Stewards, and for them to then make a determination accordingly.

So, on balance, and in the absence of other accounts which agree with Irving’s I don’t believe his version of events to be the correct one. I am happy to alter that position if other proof, a photograph or first-hand spectators recollection, for example can be made available.

I wonder if Phil, writing his book years later- it was published after his death in 1992, is somehow linking DW’s Saturday morning practice spin with the Saturday post-event protests? Irving makes no mention in his book of the other protests addressed by Howard, Green and the SMH in their reports.

Intriguing isn’t it?

(Fairfax)

Winners are Grinners: ‘Dicer Doug’ has won his third and last AGP.

His birthdate is a bit of a mystery but a consensus seems to be during 1914, so it makes him 39, still a young man albeit a racing veteran of not far short of 20 years then.

A great shame to me was his purchase of a 300S Maserati when the factory lobbed with five cars- three 250F’s and two 300S for the 1956 AGP right here at Albert Park- those machines were driven by Messrs Moss and Behra.

I mean it’s a shame in that, if he had bought and raced a 250F he would have been right in amongst Jones, Davison, Reg Hunt and Ted Gray with an equal car. He made the 300S sing but a 250F would have been a more appropriate car methinks

Things go better with Melbourne Bitter- Coke in this case for ‘Dicer Doug’ (Fairfax)

’53 AGP Australian Motor Racing Context…

This excerpt from the 1953-54 LCCA Annual Report is self explanatory and whilst it is self-serving does provided valuable information about the positive impact of the event in terms of the public’s perception of motor racing.

‘When your committee finally obtained permission to conduct the Australian Grand Prix on Albert Park circuit the victory was only half won.

To overcome public prejudice has been the major bugbear of organised racing on public roads and any incompetent handling of this delicate situation could easily have touched off an explosion of indignation.

That we did not receive even one complaint can be attributed to good fortune and untiring organisation of directors and officials. As it can be said that enthusiasts will make the best of the most adverse conditions, our achievements at Albert Park was the greater in having gratified both the general public and the competitors.

In justifying the faith which the Albert Park Trust, inexperienced in motor racing, was prepared to place in our ability, we have broken down one of the few remaining barriers to a more general acceptance of motor racing as one of the national sports.’

Etcetera…

Whereizzit?! Whiteford sneaks a peek at what he already knows- his pit is close and he has 5 laps in hand, but still a heart in the mouth moment.

Bob King recalls the moment ‘My memory says I saw Doug on the bare rim at Melford Corner, but this must be wrong. This photo is probably taken on the way from Jaguar Corner (which is still there if you look for it) and the pits. After all, I was only 15 and it was my first motor race: A life changing event.’

(S Wills)

Ted McKinnon’s 15th placed Maserati 6CM1500. An ex-works car, this machine first raced in Australia at the 1951 AGP at Narrogin, WA, raced by visiting Englishman Colin Murray.

Car #57 alongside is not entered in the AGP (Dacre Stubbs)

(Dacre Stubbs)

 

(D Elms)

Lou Molina’s fifth placed Molina Monza Holden Special and then Les Murphy, MG Q Type fourth, about to be rounded up at speed by Stan Jones in Maybach 1- an unusual angle of Albert Park at its south end.

(R Townley)

Bibliography…

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and ors, ‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, ‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’, ‘Glory Days’ Barry Green, Australian Motor Sports December 1953,

Melbourne Sun 22 November 1953, Sydney Morning Herald 23 November 1953

Photo Credits…

Dacre Stubbs Collection-Martin Stubbs, R Fulford Collection, State Library of Victoria, VHRR Collection, Fairfax Media, Ken Wheeler via Richard Townley Collection, Spencer Wills via Bob King Collection

Tailpiece: Whiteford on the way to victory, Talbot-Lago T26C…

(R Fulford/SLV)

Finito…

 

Train commuters watch an unidentified MG TC, then Les Wheeler, MG TC chasing A Griffiths, MG TC Spl s/c at the June 1952 Parramatta Park meeting  (CRPP)

‘A two mile motor racing circuit with ground accommodation for 100,000 people is being built at Parramatta Park’ Parramatta, Sydney The Sunday Heralds headlines proclaimed on 21 October 1951…

 Parramatta is a large city within greater Sydney, 25 Km from the CBD, the huge park occupies an area of 245 acres and straddles the Parramatta River on the western edge of the town.

The 8,000 pound investment in the park facility was funded by ten local businessmen and used to clear and widen existing roads to a minimum of 28 to 30 feet. The projected average circuit speed of the circuit, designed and to be run by the Australian Sporting Car Club Ltd (ASSC), was 55 mph.

Barrie Garner, Frazer Nash in June 1955. Later an ace hillclimber in a Bowin P3 Holden. Track surface needs a sweep! Carnival atmosphere, big picnic crowd so close to the centre of Sydney (CRPP)

Motor racing in Parramatta Park had been mused about for decades. An article about the 1929 Monaco Grand Prix in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ mentioned the possibility of events in either Centennial Park, Sydney or Parramatta Park with the writer just as rapidly despatching the idea as one which would be scuttled by the authorities. Indeed, officialdom caused plenty of grief in relation to racing at Parramatta when it was finally becoming a reality.

The proposed event on 28 January 1952 was not the first planned at the venue, a meeting was scheduled to be held on 5 November 1938- the star Peter Whitehead.

The wealthy wool merchant/racer was to compete in his 1938 Australian Grand Prix winning ERA R10B. Officialdom intervened in the form of the New South Wales Chief Commissioner of Police who decided to ban the race on Friday, the day before the meeting, due to concerns about competitor and spectator safety. Click here for my article on the 1938 AGP including details and pictures of the ’38 abortive, aborted Parramatta Grand Prix. https://primotipo.com/2015/04/16/peter-whitehead-in-australia-era-r10b-1938/

In a reprise of the 1938 dramas the Chief Commissioner of Police again stepped in and refused permission for the January 1952 race. The ASCC appealed his decision before the Parramatta Court of Petty Sessions with the Magistrate upholding the appeal. The event was allowed to take place on the basis that spectators were permitted no closer than 40 feet from the circuits edge.

Over 40,000 paying punters turned up on raceday causing massive traffic jams throughout the area and its surrounds.

John Crouch Cooper MkV JAP from Curley Brydon’s MG TC Spl in a handicap event during the January 1952 meeting. One of the ultimate TC specials in Australia shaded by the new generation of cars. Check out the crowd (CRPP)

Star of the show that weekend was Sydney driver John Crouch driving a new-fangled, mid-engined Cooper JAP MkV to three wins of the seven events.

One of victories was perhaps the ‘main event’ of the day, a six lap invitation scratch race for the quickest guys of the weekend- he won it in his 1097cc Cooper. Stan Jones was second in the 4.3 litre Maybach 1 then came Reg Hunt’s mid-engined Hunt ‘500’ fitted that weekend with a Vincent 998cc engine Then was Jack Saywell’s Cooper 1000, Doug Whiteford’s 4.375 litre Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’  and Alec  Mildren’s 1750cc Dixon Riley. The results are indicative of the rise of the small, efficient, mid-engine Coopers in Australia as was the case everywhere else in the world! Crouch set the lap record with a time of 1 minute 59 seconds.

In a reminder that ‘Motor Racing is Dangerous’, a wheel came off Doug Whiteford’s 1950 Australian Grand Prix winner, ‘Black Bess’ whilst travelling at circa 80 mph and landed in the backyard of a Victorian cottage adjoining the course. Fortunately the lady of the house was not hanging out the washing at the time the errant wheel landed atop her prize petunias.

Peter Lowe, Bugatti Holden from Laurie Oxenford, Alvis Mercury, January 1952 (CRPP)

Many meetings were held at the venue until 1957, regularly attracting over 10,000 spectators when the demands and difficulties of holding the races became too much. The circuits closure left the New South Wales circuits at the time as Mount Panorama at Bathurst, Gnoo Blas, Orange and Mount Druitt in Western Sydney.

I have long wanted to write an article about Parramatta Park but a paucity of photographs was the barrier. Not so now- the convenor and members of the Facebook group ‘Car Racing at Parramatta Park’ have uploaded some pearlers of shots- I’ve chosen some at random to give you a flavour of the place. For you FB folks just find and like the page in the usual way.

Stan Jones with a touch of the opposites in Maybach 1 chasing ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray’s Allard Cadillac in the opening January 1952 meeting. Jones was so impressed by the speed of the Coopers in relation to his GP car he promptly placed an order for one, a MkIV was soon in his Balwyn, Melbourne driveway (CRPP)

Both the aces of the day and coming-men raced at the ‘Park including drivers such as Doug Whiteford, Frank Kleinig, Stan Jones, David McKay, Bib Stillwell, Dick Cobden, Bill Patterson, Lex Davison, Tom Hawkes, Alec Mildren, Tom Sulman, Ted Gray, Ron Tauranac, Jack Brabham and many others. RT ran the very first of his Australian Ralts in the opening meeting, as against the Pommie built ones, and his later partner Brabham raced his Dirt Midget!

Jones big Maybach ‘monstering’ Ron Tauranac’s Ralt Norton ES2 500, January 1952 (CRPP)

The program described Jack thus- ‘A familiar winner at the speedway, and this years Australian Hillclimb Champion, Jack should find the circuit well suited to his style. His car is very light, has four wheel hydraulic brakes and is powered by a home made engine using J.A.P bits’.

By the June meeting Jack had jumped into a Cooper Mk5 500, the wry description in the program observed; ‘Australian Hillclimb Champion of 1951, Jack, one of our best midget drivers, is a new recruit to road racing, his Cooper…was an 1100, now has an engine designed and built by the new owner, a foremost expert at getting quarts out of pint pots’ ! A sage description of Jack’s ability to conjure something out of not very much throughout his career as both constructor and driver.

Dick Cobden from Bill Patterson in Stan Jones car and Bill Shipway- Coopers galore, all MkV’s I think June 1955 meeting (CRPP)

Bibliography…

Sydney Sunday Herald 21 October 1951, ‘Fast and Furious: The 1938 Parramatta Grand Prix’ article by Peter Arfanis

Photo Credits…

‘Car Racing at Parramatta Park’ Facebook Group (CRPP)

Tailpiece: Parramatta Park opening meeting, January 1952…

 

 

 

(L Richards)

A motorsport event in Kew, Melbourne even in 1954 is a new one on me?!…

Its a rather nice, leafy, green suburb through which the Yarra River flows 5 Km from Melbourne’s CBD- ‘stockbroker belt’ stuff with some of Melbourne’s ‘better’ private schools contained therein. There is plenty of wealth in the area, then and now. So how come the good citizens of Kew allowed a motor sport event to take place on their turf prey tell?!

Stan Jones’ Cooper Mk4 JAP and a motor-cyclist are about to ‘blast off’ along the Kew Boulevard at Studley Park by the look of it. The flag-man is Reg Robbins, long-time member of Stanley’s racing equipe.

It’s a stretch of road we have all done lap records upon before the long arm of the law toned things down somewhat. A ribbon of bitumen that commands respect as a fair proportion of it is open and high speed despite changes to slow things down.

I have it on good authority that the number of 911’s which go in backwards is not that much different now to the 1980’s when there were plenty of wallies with loads of money not reflected in commensurate levels of driving talent. Many an insurance tale of woe was born on this stretch of blacktop.

(L Richards)

In any event, what is going on here, some of you are Kew locals, we are all intrigued to know?

Stan has his ‘Maybach’ helmet on , it was a good year for him, he had just won the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in perhaps Australia’s most famous special, the Charlie Dean/Repco built and prepared Maybach on 9 January. No wonder he has a big smile upon his face.

For Jones it was an easy event logistically. He lived in Balwyn, an adjoining suburb and his ‘fettler’ Ern Seeliger’s garage was in Baker Street, Richmond, also a couple of kays from The Boulevard on the other side of the river.

I am intrigued. Do tell folks!?. Maybe its a promotion and i’m getting excited about absolutely nothing…

An idea of the Kew Boulevard in 1958- not much different now, leafy green and lots of curves. This is the finish of a ‘car trial’ treasure hunt social event (L Richards)

Photo Credits…

Laurie Richards, State Library of Victoria, David Zeunert

Tailpiece: Stan and Cooper JAP, Templestowe Hillclimb circa 1952…

(SLV)

Templestowe Hillclimb was not too far from Kew, where the shots above are taken, so here is a snap of the man in action there. I’ve no idea of the date in the event that one of you were there to sort that point. Jones hustled a car along, he was a physical, press on kinda driver who pushed hard, not lacking finesse mind you, but you could always see him trying to get the best from his mount.

Just as he is here, using all of the available road…

maybach

(State Library of South Australia)

 The carefree nature of the 1950 Nuriootpa race paddock is contrasted by the formal attire of the day, young boy in the ‘Pith Helmet’ impressed by Charlie Dean’s Maybach 1…

Nuri cover

1950 AGP Program cover. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

The first post war AGP in South Australia was held in the Barossa Valley…

Not on the daunting Lobethal road circuit where the 1939 event had been held, but just down the road, the circuit was basically a square layout of 3 miles on flattish land. A permit for ‘Loby couldn’t be obtained but one for ‘Nuri was with the intervention of some prominent local businessmen including John Hill-Smith of the Yalumba wine family.

map

Nuriootpa Road Circuit Map (‘History of The AGP’)

Graham Howard’s ‘History of The AGP’ described the circuit…

‘There was a slight uphill section along the (Nuri) Main Street, followed by a right hand corner onto a downhill section back into the countryside…This lead to an Ess at a narrow bridge, after which the road ran straight to an intersection around which were collected the finish line, the pits and-on the next straight after the intersection-the start line. There was a vineyard to the left…but enough grazing paddocks for parking etc…’

The starting straight lead to two fast right hand sweeps after which the road then lead west by way of a pair of gentle Esses …to a T Intersection…then via a left-right sweep across another narrow bridge, into the Main Street again. There were some very bumpy parts…the roads just wide enough for two cars to pass readily…’

The Sporting Car Club of SA ran the event to the Australian Automobile Associations decree, the winner was the competitor finishing in the fastest time but otherwise in the best traditions of the AGP at the time, the event was a handicap and awards were made on that basis. Geddit?

davison nuri

Lex Davison takes to the circuit, Nuriootpa paddock in the background. Alfa Romeo P3/Tipo B. (unattributed)

The main contenders for the race are primarily cars I have written about in primotipo before so I won’t go through the detail, but provide links if you want to refresh your memory; The Maybach, driven by its creator Charlie Dean; https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

‘Black Bess’, the Ford Ute V8 Spl driven by its builder, Doug Whiteford; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/05/doug-whiteford-black-bess-woodside-south-australia-1949/

The ex-Alf Barrett Alfa Romeo Monza now owned and driven by relative novice Rupert Steele. https://primotipo.com/2015/02/20/alf-barrett-the-maestro-alfa-romeo-8c2300-monza/

Lex Davison, who would later win 4 AGP’s started his Alfa Romeo P3. The scratch man was Tony Gaze’ 1935 2 litre supercharged Alta, although he was not to start after dramas in a preliminary race. All these racers were Melburnians.

Fastest resident South Australian was Harry Neale in Eldred Norman’s, extraordinary ‘Double 8’ which married the chassis of a weapon carrier and a pair of single carb Ford V8’s from army trucks. It had independent suspension on all four corners, 7834cc in total and was rated a good chance on a ‘point and squirt’ course like Nuri with slow corners and long straights. See the section below on this amazing car.

nuriootpa poster

Australian Motor Sports described the race day scene…

‘Brilliant sunshine made the competitors paddock a colourful spectacle with racing cars in different hues, tender vehicles ranging from furniture vans and in which the Steele cars had been brought from Melbourne to the luggage trailer which Peter Damman had towed behind his racing Hudson the same distance. In a handy position near the course Motors Ltd’s mobile service van was in constant demand with its stock of racing oils, spares and field workshop’.

1950 agp

The build up to the start of the 34 lap, 100 mile race AMS described thus…

‘Between the finish of the under 1500cc scratch race and the start of the Grand Prix, there was a brief interval for luncheon; then, as 1.30 drew near, cars were lined up in the continuation of the crossroads behind the starting straight, in preparation for the big race. Two spectators climbed up stepladders which they had brought to the course for private grandstands, and the three limit men were away…’

The race itself was diminished by the inability of Gaze to start, Davison’s retirement on lap 1, having lost compression on two of the Alfas 8 cylinders and Dean’s withdrawal on lap 21 with magneto, overheating and braking problems.

What was absorbing was the battle between the ‘Aussie Battler’ garage proprietor Whiteford in his carefully evolved and very well driven Ford V8 Spl, and the ‘Silvertail’ from Toorak, Rupert Steele in the aristocratic Alfa.

The latter had the edge on top speed but the Ford, with more supple suspension, was better suited to the South Australian country roads. Whiteford was a hard man as a driver, but the novice Steele was no slouch, he must have been ‘a natural’ to adapt to the GP car with experience limited to a few hillclimbs and speed events in a Bentley road car.

rupert steele monza nuriootpa

Rupert Steele in his ex-Alf Barrett Alfa Monza, drove an exceptional race as a relative novice against the tough Doug Whiteford. (John Blanden Collection)

On lap 13 Steele ran out of road having passed a gaggle of MG’s- he spun the big Alfa and stalled. He lost about 1:49 seconds, hand cranking the supercharged straight 8 back into life but his race was effectively run.

Whiteford won the race from Steele’s Monza and Jim Gullan’s Ballot Olds, the latter first on a handicap basis from David Harvey and Ron Kennedy, both in MG TC Specials. Steele’s sporting focus was on horses for the rest of his life, sad really as his potential as a driver was clear, the Alfa was sold by the end of 1951.

Whiteford of course went on to enjoy two more AGP wins and a career which went well into the seventies as a Works Driver of Datsun Sedans and Sportscars.

whiteford

Doug Whiteford, victorious in the 1950 AGP at Nuriootpa, in Black Bess’ his self constructed Ford V8 Spl. (John Blanden Collection)

The stimuli for this article were several shots I found in the State Library of South Australia archive- of the Dean Maybach, McKenna BMW 328, Jones HRG and other cars.

I’ve done the Maybach to death in the Jones article referenced above, here are some notes about the other cars, John Blanden’s ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ has provided some of the detail.

bmw 328

Peter McKenna’s BMW 328 in the Nuri paddock Car was the winner of the 1948 AGP, at Point Cook, Victoria driven by Frank Pratt. (State Library of SA)

McKenna’s BMW 328 was raced by him all over Australia at Rob Roy, Fishermans Bend, Ballarat, Port Wakefield, Albert Park’s initial meeting in 1953 and as far afield as Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast for the 1954 AGP, when he overshot a corner and rolled.

The car passed through many hands before leaving Australia in the early 2000’s, chassis # 85136 was brought into the country by John Snow, who acquired the car on one of his regular trips to Europe in 1937. The car was bought from a German General on behalf George Martin, president of the Light Car Club of Australia in Melbourne.

The car finished the 1938 AGP at Bathurst in 10th, see my article on Peter Whitehead’s ERA which covers this race, Martin sadly had a fatal accident in it near Wagga Wagga on the return trip to Melbourne.

Their were two ‘racing 328’s in period, and sadly both were involved in fatal road accidents, the other killing very talented racing driver Colin Dunne and his wife Billie at Phillip Island. Not a race accident mind you, an accident which took place on the circuit between motor-cycle events.

By 1947 the 328 had passed into the hands of champion Geelong motorcyclist and dealer Frank Pratt. Pratt famously won his first car race, the 1948 Australian Grand Prix held at Point Cook! He was aided by a favourable handicap and excellent driving. Whilst new to car racing he was well familiar with intense competition. The cars preparation by multiple AGP winner Les Murphy was also a factor…some reports say Murphy was extremely pissed off, he was originally entered to drive the car, and then was supposedly sharing it with Pratt, whose intention to drive the race solo soon became clear to Les once the arduous event was underway!

McKenna had a handicap of 9 minutes at Nuriootpa, but was not classified.

HRG

Stan Jones, HRG ‘Bathurst’, Nuriootpa AGP meeting 1950. Jones cooked his engine in a preliminary race so was a non-starter for the GP. (State Library of SA)

HRG ‘Bathurst’ Model…

Tony Gaze brought the first HRG to Australia in 1947, the car was uncompetitive. Gaze specified future cars to be light, sports/open wheelers with easily removable lights and guards so the cars could run as sports or racing cars in local events.

Brown and Dureau, a Melbourne trading firm who ‘Gaze was with’ imported the first car to these specs in 1949, Stan Jones the purchaser of the 1.5 litre, 4 cylinder car. (car had no chassis number).

He first raced it at Rob Roy in June, it was soon supercharged running 12 pounds boost, he didn’t race it for long before offering it for sale. He raced it at Corio in late 1949 before entering the AGP at Nuriootpa.

In one of the preliminary races for under 1500cc cars Jones had a furious dice with fellow Melbourne motor trader/racer and later champion Bill Patterson. Bill MGTC Spl mounted, both cars retired with overheating maladies. Jones car didn’t take the AGP start and Patto retired with head gasket failure. Not a successful trip to the Barossa for either of them.

The car was sold later in 1950 to Alan Watson, was badly damaged by him but driven by Sil Massola in the 1952 AGP at Bathurst, and according to the ‘Blanden Bible’ was/is still in Australia.

massola

Silvio Massola in the ex-Jones HRG. Victoria Trophy, Fishermans Bend 21 March 1954. (VHRR/State Library of Vic)

Blurry Maybach in the Nuri Paddock…

The shot is a bit fuzzy but still included for the atmosphere it shows, Charlie Dean in the paddock, ‘Copper’ keeping an eye on proceedings, Fiat Topolino behind the Maybach.

mayback blurred

Charlie Dean, Maybach, Nuriootpa AGP meeting January 1950.(State Library of SA)

Other Entrants…

Curran Ford V8.

curran ford

Dennis Curran, Curran Ford V8 3920cc (State Library of SA)

Regarded as one of the most specialised Ford side valve V8 specials built in Australia, Dennis Curran as an apprentice made many of the cars advanced features including its independent front suspension and modified Minerva braking system. The attractive body appears to be in the style of the Alfa ‘Alfetta’ 158/159 GP cars of the period.

The car was raced by Curran at the 1951 Narrogin AGP in WA, then in Bill Wilcox hands in the 1953/4/5 AGP’s as the ‘FLS’.

The car was then further modified by Frank Murphy on behalf of owner, Melbourne car dealer Harry McLaughlin by fitment of Lancia Lambda rear end, Jag XK120 gearbox and a new body. A 5 litre Ford V8 was fitted inclusive of Offenhauser heads and induction manifolds, it competed in this form at the 1956 ‘Olympic’ AGP won by Stirling Moss at Albert Park. It was then known as the ‘Marchel’, the car disappeared , was found by Noel Tuckey in 1980, restored and is now known as the ‘CWM Ford V8 Spl’ an amalgamation of the surname initials of the contributors to the cars evolution; Curran, Wilcox, Murray.

Bugatti Dodge.

bugatti dodge

L Robinson, Bugatti Dodge, Nuriootpa 1950. Interested to know more about this car if anyone has any information on it.  (State Library of SA)

Ballot Oldsmobile.

ballot

Jim Gullan, Ballot Olds, AGP Nuriootpa 1950. (State Library of SA)

Jim Gullan replaced the Ballot Ford he had been racing in 1944 with a 2 litre Ballot bought nearby to his families garage in South Melbourne. The Ballot engine was sold and replaced by an Olds 6 cylinder engine and ‘box. The chassis was shortened by 2 feet and narrowed by 6 inches, the chassis also lightened, you can see the holes made in its longerons to do so.

A body was made by Bob Baker in Melbourne, he built many racing bodies at the time, this Ballot credited as the first. The sports 2 seater was registered and commenced racing in 1946. It won the 1950 AGP handicap class as above.

Noted journalist and historian Ray Bell wrote about this car on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ here is his detailed account of the construction and development of the car.

‘Jim Gullan’s Ballot will always rank as one of those cars that looks the part of an Australian Special. The raked nose, the heavily drilled chassis, steering wheel close to the chest and mandatory straps over the bonnet, its wire wheels carried a car that mixed European and American as well as any other. Fortunately the early life of the car is well detailed in Gullan’s book, ‘As Long As It Has Wheels,’ and there was plenty to write about as the Ballot Olds was to bring Gullan a number of successes.’

‘The car was bought in 1944, almost on a whim, it seems, after Gullan had sold the Indianapolis Ballot (by now fitted with Ford V8) early in the war.  A 2-litre model with sohc engine and knock-on wire wheels (more important, according to Gullan), it had a poor body. He mentions 4-wheel brakes with Dewandre servo, making it a 1926/28 model 2LT.

Soon after buying it a workmate offered money for the engine, gearbox and radiator to fit into a Bugatti chassis.  Said Gullan: “I suppose any engine was better than none..’  Having just the chassis left, he thought he’d build a copy of his favourite car, the ERA. He was reluctant to go for another Ford, having had bad experiences with the V8, so an ad for an Oldsmobile engine and box (unused spares purchased for a Taxi) overcame his problems. It was to have triple Ford carbies and extractors.

The chassis was made into a copy of a Bugatti chassis, was shorter and narrower, designed to be ‘strong in the middle,’ boxed and drilled liberally ‘as on the SSK’ for lightness. The original hubs were retained, but laced to smaller rims, the spring shackles were located at the front instead of the rear as Gullan drew on all the modern technology he could identify.’

‘Bob Baker built the body round an angle iron frame, which was screwed to the chassis with small reject aircraft bolts. A deliberate effort was made to reduce frontal area, hence the car’s low appearance. Quick-fill petrol and radiator caps were fabricated and instruments (like the carbies) came from army disposals’.

‘The Ballot name was retained, even though virtually only the axles and wheel hubs remained, because it made it simple to register the car. Just roll up and pay the money!’

‘Springs were fitted outside the chassis and there were torque stays to the front axle, with finned alloy drums off a spare 2-litre Ballot Jim had bought and sold. The first race was at Ballarat at the beginning of 1947, after which hydraulic shocks were fitted front and rear (‘to the horror of the Hartford purists!’) and hydraulic actuation of the brakes was arranged. For Lobethal 1950, (the event which is the subject of this article) which the car was to win on handicap, a specially made 3.5:1 diff replaced the original 4.1:1 unit. Jim had to do the design work for the gear cutter.’

‘Gullan was in business with one of his major opponents on the track, Doug Whiteford, and when Doug imported an Edelbrock cam and heads (he’d melted a pair of alloy heads at Lobethal in 1940!) Bruce Rehn copied the cam profile and lift for the Olds. By the time of the Point Cook AGP (1948) there was yet another higher lift cam and special ratios in the gearbox. As a result of the heat at Point Cook, with the Olds running so cool and well, the engine was bored 3/16”, while both cars were fitted with enlarged sumps with cooling tubes fitted. Then for Nuriootpa’s opening meeting in 1949 PBR made up special alloy brake shoes and backing plates. These were found to be bending the chassis, so some more work was required’.

‘The car was Gullan’s expression of all he’d learned from observing racing and running his own Salmson, Wolseley, Austin and Ballot V8. It was considered by Whiteford to be ‘too sensitive in the steering and brakes, difficult to drive.’ Gullan adjudged Black Bess to be ‘tail light, tending to wander at speed, with light and spongy steering and poor brakes.’

‘Considering just how it came together – the bits that just happened to be there, the chance acquisitions – it worked very well. Gullan was a handicap specialist, with his wife Christine timekeeping and acting as strategist, and they beat the handicaps with monotonous regularity. He comments that he just had to keep on making the car quicker to keep on beating them, so it was well developed when sold to Alan Watson.’

‘He mentions getting airborne over the top of the hill approaching Lobethal at 110mph, touching 116mph on the straight and holding it flat all the way from Lobethal to within sight of the pits at that early stage of its development. By the time it won the handicap section of the 1950 AGP it must have been a fairly quick car’ (Ray Bell)

The car passed through many hands over the next 20 years, raced as late as 1963 at Calder, Victoria. It has been used since 1970 in historic events, is still alive today, i believe in Frank Moore’s Collection of Australian Specials in Queensland.

ballot olds 1946

Jim Gullan in his Ballot Olds at Rob Roy,Victoria in 1946. This provides a clearer view of the car. (George Thomas)

Double 8.

double 8

Eldred Norman in the ‘Double 8’ during the 1950 Nuriootpa, AGP. DNF on lap 2. (TNF)

The following truncated account of this car is by ‘theotherharv’ from ‘The Nostalgia Forum’.

‘In 1946 Eldred was purchasing ex-army vehicles left behind by the Americans and selling them in Adelaide. While visiting Papua-New Guinea , he acquired a war-surplus Dodge weapons carrier chassis along with a host of Jeeps and Blitz trucks at an auction in Port Moresby.

Eldred used the Dodge to construct a race car – the ‘Double Bunger’, or more commonly ‘Double V8’. The Double V8 was built from bodywork from aircraft and a tubular steel chassis.

d 8 engine

Scratchy shot of the 2 Ford V8 engines. Double 8. (TNF)

Power came from two Ford Mercury 239ci flathead V8 engines for a total capacity of 7,800cc. These engines were good for 100-110bhp each when run independently, giving Eldred some 200bhp in the Double V8. Engine cooling suffered, despite radiators both in front and behind the driver, with a tendency to overheat on long races. The engines were coupled flywheel-to-crank snout with a four-row chain drive. The engines were timed to fire as a V16, with a Scintilla magneto providing the spark.

This large 2500 lbs machine had independent suspension and water-cooled drum brakes supplied by 4 US made Toronto fuel pumps. The drum brakes produced spectacular clouds of steam as he applied them, despite being undersized for the task. The rear brake drums were built inboard, operating on the back axle and additionally cooled by a fan worked by the tail shaft.

d 8 road

Eldred Norman aboard his road registered ‘Double 8’ attractive body, truck wheels betraying cars weapon carrier underpinnings! Two seater form here, this evolved over the cars life. (TNF)

Road-registered, Eldred was frequently seen driving the Double V8 around the Adelaide hills, with trade number plates tied with string or a strap around his neck. Between 1948 and 1951 he drove the car successfully in hill-climbs and various race tracks in three States. The vehicle was also driven long distances to compete at tracks such as Fisherman’s Bend, Victoria, a 900-mile round trip journey sans mufflers.

In addition to circuit racing, Eldred also raced the it at Sellick’s Beach, South Australia where racing was undertaken between mile posts. An annual speed trial and motorcycle races were held on three kilometres or more of sand along Aldinga and Sellick’s Beaches up to 1953. The Double V8 won both the unlimited scratch race and over 1500cc handicap race held at the beach by the Racing Drivers Association of South Australia in April 1950. This event drew more than 5,000 spectators. One incident with Harry Neale at the wheel of the Double V8 ended with the Double V8 deposited into the sea, ripping off the bodywork and leaving Harry sitting on the chassis, wet but unhurt.

norman dbl 8 woodside

Eldred Norman ‘Double 8’, Woodside 1949. (State Library of SA)

Eldred’s can do, larrikin spirit was also evident in the way he once retrieved the telephone cables laid out for communication between officials at each end of the Sellick’s Beach strip… by fitting a bare rim to the Double V8 rear axle and firing up the twin V8s to power what must have been Australia’s most powerful fishing reel.

The Double V8 marked the start of Eldred’s entries into the Australian Grand Prix. The January 1950 Nuiootpa Australian Grand Prix, Eldred’s Double V8 retired after only two laps.

d 8 woodside 2

‘Double 8’ in the Woodside, SA paddock 1949. (State Library of SA)

The 1951 Australian Grand Prix was again run as a Formula Libre event in March at a 4.4 mile ‘around the houses’ road circuit at Narrogin, Western Australia. Eldred entered the Double V8. While leading on lap 7 of 24 it again broke down (this time due to suspension failure), leading to Eldred’s retirement from the race.

The car was sold in 1951 to Syd Anderson, proprietor of the Sydney Anderson Automotives used-car dealership in William Street Western Australia. During both Anderson’s and subsequent ownerships the car was modified repeatedly.

Anderson raced the Double V8 extensively, including the following West Australian meetings; The Great Southern Flying 50 meeting at Narrogin in March of 1952, winning the scratch race for over 1500cc.The Northam Flying 50 meeting at Northam in April, winning the three-lap scratch race for over 1500cc. The Goomalling Speed Classic at Goomalling road circuit in June. He was 4th in the 15 lap handicap for Racing Cars, 1st in the 3 lap scratch race for Racing Cars over 1500cc and 1st in the 5 lap handicap race for Racing Cars.

d 8 2

Wonderful color shot of Syd Anderson racing the Double 8 at the ‘Goomalling Speed Classic’ at Goomalling WA in 1952. 2 1st places at the meeting. Note truck wheels drilled for relative lightness. (TNF)

Anderson entered the Double V8 in the 1953 Johore Grand Prix in Malaya. He retired from the race due to overheating.

The Double V8 was then sold by Anderson to James Harwood, a navy veteran, musician and motor enthusiast in Perth. Harwood tossed a penny with Anderson to decide the purchase price – either £50 or £100. Harwood won. The vehicle was then towed to Harwood’s business premises where Bill Strickland removed the two Ford V8 engines, which were sold. The Double V8 body was then placed outside James business as advertising, though was removed a few days later at the request of Perth City Council.

In the period of 1955-1957 Toby Carboni raced the car extensively in Western Australia.

Keith Windsor bought the Double V8 body in 1957 and installed a V12 Lincoln Zephyr.

Lincoln produced these engines from 1936-1948, ceasing production nearly a decade before Windsor’s repowering of the Double V8. I’m not certain if Windsor used the 267ci, 292ci or 306ci engine (110-130bhp), though in any case was a marked reduction from Eldred’s 478ci (~200bhp) double V8 powerplant.

Windsor debuted the V12 Double V8 in the Christmas Cup at Caversham in late November 1958, competing in the five-lap racing car scratch race for over 1500cc, though did not place in the top three positions. Sadly, Windsor found the V12 vehicle was not manageable and subsequently scrapped it.

After the Double V8, Eldred then bought a 1936 Maserati Type 6CM.’

Such a shame that this amazing car did not survive.

MG K3…

(S Jonklaas)

Otto Stone’s car, out after completing only one lap.

Healey Elliott…

healey elliott

Another State Library of SA shot, its not clear from the caption if the car is competing or otherwise. Car behind is a Nash Ambassador. Donald Healey built 101 of these cars, Elliott refers to the body builders, Healey provided the ladder frame chassis to that firm to clothe, engine was a Riley 2.5 litre pushrod 4, the car for a time the fastest 4 seater in the world. Built from 1946 to 1950. Suspension trailing arms at the front and live axle at the rear, coil springs front and rear.

Etcetera…

Rupert Steele.

steele bentley

Rupert Steele contesting a Rob Roy Hillclimb in his Bentley devoid of bodywork in 1948. The step up from this lumbering tourer, he only did one circuit race in the car, to the GP Alfa Monza must have been immense. (George Thomas)

 

whiteford paper article

‘The Adelaide Advertiser’ 3 January 1950.

Bibliography…

Graham Howard ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’, John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, Australian Motor Sports January 1950, Stephen Dalton Collection, Motormarques, Ray Bell, The Nostalgia Forum (TNF), The Adelaide Advertiser 3/1/1950

Photo Credits…

Publications as above, State Library of South Australia, John Blanden Collection, George Thomas, The Nostalgia Forum, Stuart Jonklaas Collection

Tailpiece…

Don Cant from Ron Kennedy, both in MG TC Spls, finished in fourth and third places respectively.

Finito…

front

brabham entry

As motoring enthusiasts we all have a favourite (or two) when it comes to the various pressed, beaten or moulded automotive art…

The Italians have had a long tradition of art worthy cars for many to aspire. So what happens when the Art World decides to pay homage to a predominately Australian automotive heritage? Well you get the National Gallery of Victoria’s ‘Shifting Gear – design, innovation and the Australian car’ exhibition.

The NGV’s ‘Ian Potter Centre’ in high profile Federation Square, opposite Melbourne’s famous Flinders St Train Station has gone all out to show a variety of Aussie ‘coachbuilders’ art from the roads and the race tracks, ‘a celebration of Australian Automobile design represented by 23 cars dating from the late nineteenth century to the present day’.

Despite there being a lot of red involved, not one has an Italian sounding car name and only one has bodywork with a close relationship to Maserati.

NGV Efijy

‘Efijy’ – Shifting Gear? Or Cape Canaveral we have lift off? Holden built ‘Efijy’ as a Motor Show concept 10 years ago – Corvette basis, 6 litre supercharged GM LS2 644bhp V8 & 4 speed auto with ’55 FJ Holden looks

Upon entering the precinct, Holden’s Efijy greets you. It’s long and oh so low stance ready for cruising along Carlton’s Lygon St.

Then an entry fee covers viewing the main exhibition halls with more than enough variety for all to come away with a favourite that wouldn’t look too out of place sitting in your garage or shed.

It was a tad rushed when primotipo visited, so give yourself at least an hour to pass through and enjoy.

efi front

efi back

Several of the cars have long standing Australian Motor Racing Heritage, so it’s interesting to see how the Art World perceives them. Certainly different to the bitumen they usually frequent! And indeed, substantially different to seeing them at the likes of Phillip Island or Sandown.

‘Shifting Gear’ runs until July 12 with more details here:- http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/shifting-gear/
All exhibits details – http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/ShiftingGearLabels-web.pdf

And remember not to get told off by security for using a camera flash!

bt 19

A Unique arrangement that allowed some smart, capable Aussies to take on the world, Brabham BT19 Repco. Brabham and Tauranac based in the UK collaborated with Repco in Melbourne to gain a head start on the new 3 litre F1 Grand Prix rule changes for 1966. Jack and this Brabham successfully taking on the ill prepared other teams within the F1 paddocks and grabbed both Drivers’ & Constructors’ Titles in 1966 and 1967. (Denny Hulme grabbed the Drivers Title in 1967).

Regular readers will know we have covered the history of these achievements in some detail in previous posts; this one about the ‘RB620 series’ 1966 Championship winning engine…https://primotipo.com/2014/08/07/rb620-v8-building-the-1966-world-championship-winning-engine-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-2/

and this one about Jacks’ 1966 Championship Year…https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

image

And in the red corner we have Purvis Eureka, Paul England’s Ausca (mostly hidden), Elfin Streamliner Climax and Molina Monza Holden…

NGV Group red

Garrie Coopers’ Elfin concerns first production racing car was the Elfin Streamliner, like many other designers he took a long look at Chapmans’ Lotus 11 and was consistent with many elements of it in his own interpretation; multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, slinky, light aluminium body and a range of engine configurations to suit customer choice. The car on display is the ‘ducks guts’ with Coventry Climax FWA engine and front wishbone, as against split front axle setup.

Elfin built 23 of these cars from 1959 to 1963, Cooper setting the foundations for high standards of design and manufacture which were his hallmark and sustained commercial success.

elfin streamliner

tach

When Ausca met Eureka; Nice juxtaposition of the 70’s Wedge with the curvaceous 50’s. Not many cars have been built with full canopy door openings. But with the Purvis Eureka and Holden Hurricane this exhibition has two.

Allan Purvis, an advertising executive, obtained the rights to the English developed ‘Nova’ building over 650 cars in Melbournes’ Dandenong between 1973 and 1989 considerably improving the design as he went along. The car was based on VW Beetle chassis and mechanicals although Purvis built some cars with the Ford ‘Kent’ 1600 engine, a very ‘tunable lump’ with bits from Cosworth, Holbay and the like.

Despite its Maserati A6GCS looks, the Paul England-built Ausca has links to Repco and Holden too. A gifted engineer, the Ausca remains fitting testament to Paul’s skills of 60 years ago. He passed away last year

ausca and purvis

Paul England and his friend Bill Hickey built the Ausca in their spare time at Repco Research in Sydney Road, Brunswick the clever, light car having a ladder frame chassis, a fibre glass body, the pair making the moulds. Holden front suspension was used, England narrowing the track by cutting 6 inches out of the middle of the cross-member and a Holden rear axle casing also shortened by 3 inches, suspended by quarter elliptic springs, radius rods doing locational duties.

Steering was by Peugeot rack and pinion, Repco subsidiary Patons provided the drum brakes the car powered by the very first ‘Repco Hi-Power’ cross-flow head for the ubiquitous Holden ‘Grey Motor,  the engine good for around 115bhp @5000 rpm using 2 1 3/4in SU carbs 1956. Gearbox was a Fiat 521 using straight cut gears, the car first raced late in 1955.

ausca 1

ausca 2

atmo

chamber2

The Chamberlain 8 is about the wildest Australian Special of all and deserving of an article in its own right…

Chamberlains’ as a family had a rich engineering heritage, originally manufacturing ball bearings and later tractors so Bob Chamberlain and his friend Bob Price had access to the toolroom and factory facilities to build their outrageously innovative space frame chassis, independently sprung, front wheel drive car.

First completed in 1928, the car evolved over the decades. After a succession of unreliable motor cycle engines Bill Chamberlain decided to build an engine himself. The result was a 1004cc 2 stroke with 4 cylinders and 8 pistons, two crankshafts and a Rootes type blower. Its scream was its hallmark @ 7000rpm, at a sedate 5000rpm it developed 80bhp.

chamber 1

The Chamberlain competed in 3 AGP’s at Phillip Island in the 1930’s coming into its own post war when one of the Chamberlain’s cousins, Jim Hawker built his own spark plugs and improved its electrical system.

The car never left the families hands and was restored for the 1978 Phillip Island 50 Year AGP Anniversary, its now owned by John Hazelden after the brothers deaths some years back. He is the lucky custodian of a very important part of our history.

chamb 3

Checkout this YouTube footage of the Chamberlain 8 Sound…

 

cham drawings

ian potter

NGV GTRX

One off, Torana GTR-X concept was still a fair way away from Holden’s 1969/70 production vehicles. As with most concept cars the economics didn’t stack up to sign off for production. It would have been part of a niche market catered by the likes of Datsun’s 240Z and even the Bolwell Nagari shown below.

A stunning car with bullet proof, race proven ‘186’ CID, pushrod OHV, triple Stromberg carbed 160bhp 6 cylinder engine hitting the road through a 4 speed close ratio gearbox…it should have been built and exported.

Alas, a great Aussie ‘what if’

gtrx donk

gtrx front

toranan butt

ngv

Melbournes’ Art Centre spire, aspect across the Yarra River from the NGV ‘Ian Potter Centre’ in Federation Square…gloomy Autumn day

Hard to believe that the catalyst of Maybach was some war-surplus materials and some Aussie ingenuity…To save repeating ourself visit this prior feature… https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

NGV Maybach

atmo 3

The FR1 Concept Car is a 2011 collaboration between GM Holden Design, the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing, Boeing, the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce and Marand Precision Engineering Collection.

The car is a 21st century concept hotrod, hand crafted and powered by a 362bhp Chev V8 and 6 speed manual ‘box.

fr1

50 heads and mm

Repco Brabham ‘RB 750 Series’ V8…

Repco were a very innovative company, this is the engine developed as an option for the 1968 season and whilst developing good power on the test bench the difficulties of fitting the engine into Ron Tauranacs’ spaceframe chassis Brabhams’ or any other car for that matter are immediately apparent given the ‘spiders web’ of exhausts to be accommodated.

Developments of Repco’s ’30 Series’ heads showed there was a power advantage with cross flow gas paths, the ‘radial layout’ ’50 Series’ heads were aimed at exploiting that.

DOHC were used per bank, each one driving inlet and exhaust valves alternately. The valves were side by side in each half of a pent roofed combustion chamber. This layout allowed very simple valve operation compared with the BMW Apfelbeck ‘radial’ heads of the time. Doug Nye..’ On the Repco test heads exhaust stubs appeared within the Vee as a bunch of 8 small bore pipes, while 4 more appeared below the heads outside the Vee on either side. 8 induction trumpets fought for space within the Vee, and 4 more appeared on each side’.

One test engine was built up and the results were ‘encouraging’ but it was a blind alley because of installation problems…So the ‘Type 50′ heads were shelved and the more conventional ’60 series’ DOHC 4 valve heads used in 1968.

19 and 59 heads

The ‘750 Series Radial Valve’ engine beside Jack Brabhams Brabham BT19 Repco and its simple RB ‘620 Series’ SOHC 2 valve 3 litre, 310 bhp 1966 Championship Winning V8 Engine

repco

Pictures on the wall…Repco’s 3 litre F1 engines L>R ’68 ‘860 Series’ DOHC 4 valve, ’67 ‘740 Series’ SOHC 2 valve ‘exhaust between the Vee’ and obscured workshop shot showing the assembly of the ’66 ‘620 Series’ SOHC 2 valve cross flow…

43 years on and the Bolwell Nagari still has it. Good looks and performance to match…

NGV Bolwell

When i was 13 i drooled endlessly over the Bolwell Nagari, it really was ‘as good as it got’ in Australia. Home grown in dowdy Mordialloc but with Italian looks; the Chapman inspired backbone chassis a lightweight platform for the fibre-glass body and core Ford componentry; ‘302’ Windsor 5 litre V8, 4 speed ‘box and rear axle, live axle but very well located.

The Coupe version was even sexier than the ‘Spider’, Campbell Bolwell and his brothers were masters of the kit and low volume art…very tricky in a small market like Oz at a time the legislators made life hard for small players.

I still have the brochure i mailed away for in 1971…

Nagari_Brochure_Front

Nagari_Brochure_Last

mmm cockpit

Molina Monza Holden Special…

In many ways the MM is the most powerful and beautiful of Australias’ Holden engined specials.

Concepted by Lou Molina, much loved member of Melbournes’ ‘Spaghetti Mafia’ who brought fine Italian cuisine to Melbourne between the wars and Silvio Massola, the car was designed and built by Brian Burnett, who by 1955, had the Maybach bodies in his cv. The car had a ladder frame chassis, an aluminium body that was derivative of many influences but wonderfully distinctive with it.

Motive power was the Holden ‘Grey motor’ with Repco Highpower head but also fitted with a Marshall blower fed by a big SU 2 3/16th ins. carb, 199bhp @ 6000rpm the result. Drive was transmitted by a dual plate clutch to a Jag ‘box and then by a short drive shaft to a de Dion rear end utilising Ford components. Front suspension is of planar type using a transverse spring to locate steering knuckles at the top, with wishbones below. Telescopic shocks are used front and rear. Steering is by Citroen rack and pinion, brakes drum using HWM Jag components at the front.

MM made its competition debut at Rob Roy in Melbournes’ Christmas Hills on May 5 1957 and was very successful in Molinas hands against much more exotic cars before slowly passing into obscurity before being superbly restored not so many years ago by Gavin and Bryan Sala.

It is a truly fabulous device.

NGV MM

mm

NGV

monza wheel

The Holden Hurricane design study is about as far removed to their Holden production cars could ever be…

It was of course the era of low slung, mid-engined sporties such as the Ford GT40, De Tomaso Mangusta, Lamborghini Miura and even Lotus Europa. So Holden decided to give it a crack. One way to get the new ‘253’ CID Holden V8 noticed

NGV Hurricane

The car made its Melbourne Motor Show debut in 1969 and has a box section steel frame clothed in fibre glass panels. Wishbones, coil springs and dampers were used at the front, rear suspension uses swing axles, trailing arms and coil springs. The 4.2 litre pushrod OHV V8 produced 260bhp @ 6000rpm, the car uses a 4 speed manual ‘box and disc brakes on all corners. Height is 39.2 inches.

hurri

‘Hey Charger!’ the Ad Tag Line said in 1972…

The triple 45 DCOE Weber-fed Chrysler Valiant Charger’s played second fiddle to GTs and XU1s for too many years. But not anymore, they have a strong following and their values have increased substantially.

265 CID, in line OHV 6 cylinder engine, ‘E39’ 3 speed and ‘E49’ 4 speed ‘boxes. Never really developed as racers as Fords GTHO’s or Holdens XU-1’s but mighty competitive all the same.

NGV Charger

Credits…

Doug Nye ‘Profile Publications Brabham Repco’

‘Shifting Gear’ NG Victoria

Photos by the authors

lex balcombe

Lex Davison’s ‘Little Alfa’ leads Lyndon Duckett’s Bugatti Type 35 Anzani, the brand new body of the Alfa gleaming in the Winter sun, Balcombe Army Camp, Victoria, Australia 12 June 1950…

The ‘race meeting’ at Balcombe was a small but historically significant part of Australian Motor Racing history, this wonderful shot is from the Dacre Stubbs Collection.

Balcombe paddock with Lyndon Duckett’s Bugatti T35 Anzani and the Davison Little Alfa in foreground (G McKaige)

It goes something like this, as reported in Barry Greens fine book ‘Glory Days’ which records the history of Albert Park in the 1950’s.

The army were keen to raise money for their canteen fund and asked the Light Car Club of Australia (LCCA) to run a race meeting using the grounds of their camp. The race meeting was a financial success, but key to the creation of a circuit was closure and use of a section of the Nepean Highway, the main road between Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula- permission was not forthcoming from the relevant authority

So the Balcombe meeting occurred as more of a sprint event given track limitations with two cars on the track at a time, and a series of eliminations on the day to determine the winners of the various classes.

Charlie Dean in Maybach 1- handsome and fast beast that it was, sold to Stan Jones a year or so later but maintained and developed by Charlie and his boys at Repco Research in Brunswick in the years which followed. Winner of the 1954 New Zealand GP in Jones’ hands. Recreated by John Sheppard in the eighties (G McKaige)

‘The Royal Australian Signals Corp Sprint’ for under 1500cc, ‘The Survey Corps Sports Sprint’ for over 1500cc and ‘Balcombe Apprentice School Trophy’ for outright cars were catchy names indeed!

Doug Whiteford won the outright final in his 1950 Australian Grand Prix Winning Ford V8 Spl, ‘Black Bess’, from Bill Patterson’s supercharged MG TC and Stan Jones HRG. All three were subsequently Australian champions and AGP winners.

Reg Hunt’s Hunt JAP ‘Flying Bedstead’ Spl, it’s engine installation pictured below. By 1955 he had raced 500’s for a year in the UK and was one of the fastest combinations back in Australia aboard a Maserati A6GCM- stiff not to win the AGP that year at Port Wakefield (G McKaige)

 

(G McKaige)

The historically significant bit is that when Bill Leech, lifelong competitor, car collector and LCCA President at the time discussed the meeting and its shortcomings as a circuit sans Nepean Highway with the Commander of Army Southern Command, he was asked ‘what can we use as an alternative’? Whereupon Leech replied ‘what about here?’. Here being Albert Park where Southern Command were based, and the rest as they say is history and covered a while ago in another post.

https://primotipo.com/2014/10/01/1956-argus-trophy-albert-park-reg-hunt-and-lex-davison-maserati-250f-and-a6gcm-ferrari-tipo-500/

Hobart Mercury 14 June 1950

In an amusing end to the weekend the Hobart ‘Mercury’ reported that the Melbourne Traffic Police Chief described many motorists returning from Balcombe as ‘reckless road-hogs’- harsh language indeed.

‘Many of them drove like whirlwinds’ in attempts to emulate the skilled drivers with several booked for speeding at 75 miles an hour. The racers themselves were spared the blame- perhaps the ‘need for speed’ stretch was the straight road from Mornington along past Sunnyside to Mount Eliza? I guess Pt Nepean Road is what we now know as the Nepean Highway.

Little Alfa aroca concourse

‘Little Alfa’ engine bay at AROCA Spettacolo, 2014. (M Bisset)

Balcombe will be well known to Melburnians of a certain age…

It was towards the top of the hill on the Nepean Highway as you leave Mornington and enter Mount Martha and these days is the site of a school, Balcombe Grammar and housing. The last army training units left the area in 1983.

For international readers Mount Martha, of which Balcombe is a part are on the shore of Port Phillip Bay, the vast expanse of water one can see in the distance on the AGP telecasts from Albert Park. The Mornington Peninsula, both it’s beaches and wineries are worthy additions to your tourist agenda when you visit!

The US Marines also played a part in construction of the circuit being credited with building both Uralla Road through the camp and Range Road locally to access a rifle range.

As World War 2 approached countries globally prepared for the inevitable, the 4th Division of the Australian Army were located at a camp in Balcombe on 209 acres of land compulsorily acquired from local landowners to defend Port Phillip and the Morninton Peninsula.

Tony Gaze, Alta Sports (G McKaige)

 

Derek Jolly, Austin 7 Spl over from Adelaide- road registered, I wonder if he drove his racer across? (G McKaige)

The army presence had a huge local impact, at the time their were 104 houses in Mt Martha- by mid 1940 over 3000 militia soldiers of the 4th division- trainees were located at four temporary campsites between the Nepean Highway and the coast just south of Bay Road.

Press reports at the time the camp was built said it was the most pleasant site for an army camp in the country, a point not lost on the ‘Army Brass’ one suspects, the Peninsula then as now is a popular summer playground.

The 1st US Marine Division, relieved from the strategically critical Coral Sea campaign at Guadalcanal, arrived in 1942 and used Balcombe Camp as a rehabilitation centre.

It became headquarters for the 1st Division of the USMC in 1942, the corp trained in the area including carrying out beach landing exercises using the ship ‘HMAS Manoora’.

Post war the Army Apprentices School was located there until 1983, and once, just once, it was used as a race track!

Davison ‘Little Alfa’…

duckett and davison rob roy 1946

Lyndon Duckett and Lex Davison, right, with their collections of cars at Rob Roy Hillclimb, Christmas Hills, Melbourne 1946. L>R. Ducketts’ 1908 Isotta Fraschini, Bug T35 powered by an R1 Anzani DOHC engine and Davisons’ ‘Little Alfa’ in 2 seater form as first modified by Barney Dentry, Mercedes SSK (Culture Victoria)

Lex Davison was one of Australia’s greatest drivers, the winner of four Australian Grands’ Prix and father and grandfather of two generations of racing drivers- grandsons Will and Alex are V8 Supercar Drivers and James an Indycar racer competing currently in Australia and the US respectively.

In 1950 Lex was still four years away from his first AGP win, he competed in everything everywhere and had just acquired an Alfa P3 in a progression which would take him to be a consistent front runner in the decade to come.

‘Little Alfa’ started life as a Tipo 6C 1500 ‘Normale’- chassis #0111522 was imported by Lex’ father in 1928 in chassis form as a road car. The original fabric body by Martin and King was replaced with a steel body built by Terdichs’ in 1945, both Melbourne firms.

Lex took over the car after the death of his father, Barney Dentry, a top driver of the day himself, stripped it and Kellow Falkiner built a two-seater body.

lex davo little alfa 11 th rob roy

Always an exciting driver, Davo contests the 11th Rob Roy 1946. This wonderful shot by George Thomas shows the lines of the car to good effect after its first evolution from Tourer to Racer (George Thomas)

 

lex cape schanck

Lex slightly! sideways at the second hairpin, Cape Schanck Hillclimb on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in 1946. ‘Little Alfa’ here in ‘evolution 2’ not its final spec (Cars and Drivers #1)

 

Little Alfa, Balcombe 1950 (G McKaige)

John Blanden records that the car became well known over the following years and was set aside when Davison acquired a Mercedes SSK. Dentry again ministered to the car and before it was completed the P3 arrived from the UK…as a consequence the 6C1500  became henceforth the ‘Little Alfa’.

Dentry shortened the chassis, lightened the brakes, replaced the rear axle with one from a 1750 SS Alfa, fitted a Rootes cabin mounted blower and moved the engine back 6 inches.

The chassis was then taken to renowned race body-builder Bob Baker who constructed a derivative but distinctive aluminium single-seater body with a pointed tail.

The cars first outing was at Balcombe as recorded above, coming second in its semi-final. The Alfa didn’t race much, the P3 was the front line car until the AGP winning HWM Jag was acquired/built later.

The Little Alfa was retained by the Davison family and moved from property to property before finally being restored by Nick Langford’s restoration business in Castlemaine. It made its debut in December 1979.

little alfa amaroo

Lex’ son Chris driving in the car, with daughter Claire, post restoration, Amaroo Park Historics 1986. (Gordon Graham)

Little Alfa’ was run in historic events by Diana Davison, Lex’ widow and quite a driver in her own right, son Chris and WW2 Spitfire Ace and post war racer Tony Gaze, who married Diana in 1977. Chris, a very quick Formula Ford racer in period and historic competitor now, recalls with great fondness the car…

‘It was a massive honour for me to drive ‘Little Alfa’. The car was purchased by my grandfather in 1928 and used as the family car until his death in 1942. It was only then that Lex got hold of it and started racing it. Of course this is the same car that Lex and Di drove to Bathurst for their honeymoon and also became one of his first racing cars. But he only did a handful of races in it. I am not sure that it was going to be competitive and he got the opportunity to purchase the P3, or ‘Big Alfa’ as it was known in our house. This is why the cars were known as the ‘Little Alfa’ and the ‘Big Alfa’.

‘In terms of actually driving it, i am taller and broader than average so it was a real squeeze to fit in. We took out the seat and I sat on the floor on an old sheep skin. The first thing you notice is that it has an accelerator pedal in between the brake and the clutch, and this does take some time to get used to. With no actual fuel pump, you must ‘pump up’ the air pressure in the fuel tank with a dash mounted pump and if you get busy around the circuit its easy to forget to do this and next thing the engine starts to die from lack of fuel. The alcohol fuel used to cause problems with the supercharger freezing up, so it was very important to get the fuel mixture right’.

‘Being a tight fit in the car, I used to feel the chassis rails flex whenever I went around a corner or hit a bump.With no seat belts or roll bar, driving the car flat out up the back straight at Sandown was one of the most dangerous things I have done in motorsport, especially as I was virtually held in the car by a low piece of bodywork and hanging onto the steering wheel for grim life’.

‘The term ‘brakes’ could be described as an overstatement, ‘restrainers’ more accurate. The car weighed 1500kgs and with a blown 1500cc engine on alcohol, you picked up quite a bit of pace down the long straights. I did give the fence a whack at Sandown once when I arrived at the end of the old pit straight and had ZERO brakes. The mechanic had forgotten to adjust the length of the brake cable and the shoes were barely even touching the brake drums’.

‘The best the car ever drove was at the 1986 Amaroo Historic Meeting, i could actually get some attitude and drift going. Frank Gardner spoke to me after one of the races, he had been standing right on the start of the pit apron, where you would aim the car at the turn in point for the corner onto the straight. He commented that seeing the car in a full drift coming straight toward where he was standing sure got his attention!’

‘The biggest problem I had at that meeting was once I really got the car going well, the speed up the straight and through the kink was such that both front wheels vibrated very badly, which was a real concern when you were so close to the old quarry wall. In the wet the car was a nightmare with levels of understeer that could only be described MASSIVE. With very old tyres and little adjustment on the car, I used to use the handbrake on turn in to try and get the rear end to generate some changes of direction. But I walked a fine line and really had to get the timing right, requiring a flick into the corner, quick pull on the handbrake to get the rear to slide and power on to keep up some attitude. If you got it slightly wrong it was back to uncontrollable understeer and all I could see from the cockpit was a VERY long red bonnet and two front tyres wasting their time with massive levels of lock’.

‘It was fabulous to see Mum and Tony on the circuit in the ‘Little Alfa’ but Mum did find it difficult to drive. So we ‘retired’ the car after the 1986 Amaroo meeting satisfied that we had actually seen the car fire a shot in anger’.

davo amaroo 86 little alfa

Chris and Claire Davison in the ‘Little Alfa’ at the 1986 Amaroo Park meeting Chris speaks about in the text. These days Claire is a mum, she, husband Johnny and Chris race a team of 3 Reynard FF’s in Australian Historic Racing. Lex’ ‘Ecurie Australie’ races on…(Chris Davison)

http://www.theweeklyreview.com.au/geelong/well-read/cover-story/7082-motorsport-bloodline/?nav=Y2F0X2lkLzIyNg==

‘Little Alfa’ remained in the Davison family until sold some years ago but thankfully remains in Australia in the hands of a caring Alfista, the car has an entirely Australian history since it’s departure from Italy in 1928.

Chris Davison…’I know that all of our family are delighted to see Trevor Montgomery now driving the car at most of the historic race meetings in the south. I feel that he understands and respects our family’s connection to this unique car and unique piece of Australian motorsport history’.

gaze nd davisons rob roy

Paddock scene from gentler more relaxed times, Tony Gaze, Diana Davison and Lex, Rob Roy Hillclimb 1950. (Dacre Stubbs Collection)

 

little alfa sandown 2009

‘Little Alfa’ current custodian Trevor Montgomery and Chris Davison at Sandown Historics November 2009…looking as pristine as it did in 1950. (Chris Davison)

Etcetera- Balcombe…

(G McKaige)

Derek Jolly’s Austin 7 Spl, he later won the 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy- a decade hence aboard an ex-works Lotus 15 Climax. I wrote about he and his cars a while back.

 

(G McKaige)

 

(G McKaige)

Love these these two shots above of Lyndon Duckett and George McKaige preparing the Anzani Bugatti before the event on a frosty Melbourne day in ‘Duckett’s Lane’- Towers Lane behind Duckett’s Towers Road, Toorak home. Road car is a Rover P3.

(G McKaige)

 

(G McKaige)

MG K3 and Engine above- here unsupercharged.

Credits…

Chris Davison, many thanks for the recollections of driving the car and photos from the family collection

John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, Barry Green ‘Glory Days’, ‘Cars and Drivers’ magazine, Dacre Stubbs Collection, Culture Victoria, George Thomas, Gordon Graham, Hobart Mercury 14 June 1950, George McKaige via his son Chester

(G McKaige)

Tailpiece: The New and the Old…

The Keith Martin (John Medley thinks) Cooper Mk IV JAP 1000- which must have looked ‘other worldly’ to the good citizens of the Peninsula in 1950.

The modern as tomorrow Cooper is nicely juxtaposed with Doug Whiteford’s self-built #4 pre-war ‘Black Bess’ Ford V8 Special which won that years AGP at Lobethal six months before- and on the day at Balcombe. There were no Coopers at Lobethal but two made the long trip to Narrogin, down south of Perth for the 1951 AGP, Martin’s car and a later MkV driven by John Crouch.

#1 is Tony Gaze’s Alta and to its right Maybach with the bonnet covered- there was plenty of life in the front-engined cars at that stage of course, but the mid-engined era was underway from that little factory in Surbiton.

Finito…