Posts Tagged ‘MG TA Spl’

Perth’s Allan Tomlinson wins the 1939 Australian Grand Prix on the immensely daunting, challenging and dangerous Adelaide Hills, Lobethal course…

To this day Australia’s learned motor-racing historians struggle to understand how Tomlinson did the times he did in his little supercharged MG TA Special. It simply does not seem possible for the slightly built young ace to do what he did with what he had.

This article is about the race. The report is that published by the Adelaide Advertiser the day after the event coz’ I do like to use the language of the day when it is available. But this article piece is more about the dialogue of great Oz racing historian John Medley and others on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ discussing Tomlinson’s achievement and how he did it.

The racing on Monday January 2 comprised the AGP for which the ‘Advertiser Cup’ and a prize of 200 pounds was awarded. Other events were the 10.45 am South Australian, or Junior GP, ‘and an innovation, the 1 pm Australian Stock Car Road Championship, in which all manner of stock car models, from sedans to tourers and small roadsters have been entered’. The AGP commenced at 2.30 pm.

 

 

The ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ report of the race weekend, published on Tuesday January 3, 1939

The high speeds recorded by drivers in the first race of the day, the South Australian Grand Prix (75 miles) made the crowd look for thrills, and although they were disappointed with the slow times in the Australian Stock Car Road Championship, they were treated to exhibitions of wild cornering, clever and fast driving, and terrific speeds in the last race of the day, the Australian Grand Prix (150 miles).

That race, conducted for the first time in this state, provided a fitting climax to a day of high speed and thrills. It was the best race ever conducted in Australia according to interstate officials.

Attracted by the treacherous curves, made even more hazardous by melting bitumen, the main bulk of the huge crowd congregated at Kayannie Corner, the Mill Corner at the entrance to Lobethal Village, and the acute Hairpin Bend near the grandstand. Time and again the faster cars, racing to the grandstand hairpin, braked and slithered around the corner, just grazing the sandbags. One of the more unfortunate however was F Kleinig, who hit the sandbags with a crash in the SA Grand Prix. Kleinig’s car was undamaged and although he lost valuable minutes in extricating it from the broken wall of sand, he was able to continue.’

 

My kind of driver- Frank Kleinig had lots of raw pace, fire and brimstone but perhaps not enough consistency to ever win an AGP- which he surely deserved? Here in trouble aboard his Kleinig Hudson Spl, a very quick concoction of MG chassis, Hudson straight-eight engine and an ever evolving brew of many other bits and pieces- a quintessential, ever-present, and still alive marvellous Australian Special (N Howard)

 

‘In the same race DF O’Leary hit the protective bags at Kayannie Corner. RF Curlewis (NSW) overturned when he attempted to pass O’Leary on the corner. He came in too fast, braked, skidded to avoid the sandbags and, with his wheels locked, turned completely over, pinning the driver underneath. The car had to be lifted to release Curlewis, who escaped with a shaking. F Kleinig had to use the escape road in a subsequent lap, and had to weave his way through the excited crowd, which had been attracted by the screaming tyres. Kleinig had much trouble at Kayannie, and eventually hit the sandbags head on.

Skilful driving by JF Snow (NSW) prevented a possible accident at Kayannie in the AGP when he had to brake hard to miss running into the back of Dr CRK Downing, who had broadsided on the gravel across the corner. Alf Barrett (Alfa Romeo Monza) mounted the sandbags in the 12th lap of the same race, and he lost four minutes in backing his car onto the road again.’

 

Is it his watch John Snow is checking, perhaps not? Delahaye 135CS, Lobethal – later the car was an AGP winner in John Crouch’ hands at Leyburn in 1949 (N Howard)

 

Wheels Leave Road

‘The entrants in the Australian Stock Car Championship had trouble at almost all of the corners on the course, as the cars, not built for racing, swayed and threatened to overturn with the heavy loading imposed on the bodies imposed by the racing speeds.

Saywell’s front wheels were leaving the road at the crest of the rise at the end of the Charleston Straight approaching Kayannie, and at the Ess Bend near the golf links on the Kayannie-Lobethal leg of the course as the spectators were treated to similar sights as the cars raced over the hilltop and down the steep downgrade towards Lobethal.’

Click here for a piece of Australia’s first Australian Touring Car Championship event; https://primotipo.com/2018/10/04/first-australian-touring-car-championship-lobethal-1939/

 

The fastest car in the race if not quite the fastest combination- Jack Saywell and the Alfa P3/Tipo B John Snow imported for him not so long before the race (N Howard)

 

The Mill Corner caused many of the drivers much trouble, and as the wheels of the cars repeatedly swept gravel onto the course, the job of cornering at that right-angled turn was made even harder.

Saywell swung right around on one lap and ended up against the protecting bales of straw. People encroaching on the road had to jump to escape injury a few times when R Lea-Wright (Vic) misjudged and swung too wide.

Barrett’s cornering was always a feature of the AGP at that corner, and he took the turn at almost full speed in second gear nearly every time. His courage on a corner which had checked practically every other driver allowed him to gain yards on every lap.

 

Barrett, Monza Alfa (N Howard)

 

Saywell came to grief at the Mill Corner in the fourth lap of the last race (AGP). Hitting the kerb beneath the straw, he rebounded high in the air, but, retaining control of his huge car, was able to speed away without delay. Kleinig took a bale of straw with him for some distance up the Lobethal main street in the same race.

When in third place in the SA GP A Ohlmeyer (SA) skidded while negotiating the S Bend near the recreation ground. Without being able to regain control of his car, he crashed into the sandbags and went over the top, but neither he nor his car was injured.

 

Colin Dunne in his MG K3 during practice. Prodigiously quick and a race winner at the 1938 SA GP Lobethal meeting the year before. Dunne was a DNS with a popped engine in practice- the race was the weaker for his non-appearance. He and his wife hung out the pit boards for Tomlinson under Clem Dwyer’s guidance (N Howard)

 

 

Grand Prix Described

 

(B King)

 

Representatives of the best cars in Australia, the Australian Grand Prix (150 miles) had a field of 17 competitors of which Bowes MG N Type (12 min) the South Australian driver was the early leader.

He got away to a good lead and at the end of the third lap had a three- quarters of a mile leeway over Leach (12 min), Boughton Morgan (11 min), Curlewis MG T Type (21 min), Lea-Wright Terraplane Spl (17 min). Phillips Ford V8 Spl (12:45 min) and Burrows Terraplane Spl (12:45) were juggling for the other places. F Kleinig retired on lap 3.

 

Russell Bowes, MG N Type with a touch of the opposites (H Cullen)

John Medley provided a fascinating vignette about one of Australia’s pre-war racers who lost his life in the war.

‘Tall, thin, Roderick Russell Herbert Bowes led the 1939 AGP early, then retired after 11 laps. As a driver he was a goer, he was a flyer with the Redhill Flying Club, he enlisted for RAAF service during the war, was a fighter pilot in the UK (now in the RAF) was moved to Burma where he was shot down and died in 1943, an Ace with at least 9 “kills”.

‘His is one of many individual files I read whilst researching my John Snow book (when it is easy to become lost in the moment), reliving that individual’s life for a moment, and even now I feel emotional about sharing that bit of Russell Bowe’s life- a young man/an enthusiast/a worker/a goer/painfully open and honest; he admitted in his enlistment papers of “one traffic offence”: he had put his MG N over a bank near Eagle On The Hill going home from Lobethal that night. He bought the ex-Snow MG K3 in 1940, his parents passing it to Ron Uffindell later’ John concluded.

 

Frank Kleinig’s Kleinig Hudson Spl whistles through Lobethal village at some pace (N Howard)

 

Alf Barrett, Alfa Monza. Steed at the start after an error with a fuel tap- he lost 6 minutes and any chance he had in the race- perhaps the only man on the day who had the blend of speed and consistency to match Tomlinson, tyres permitting (N Howard)

 

After his unfortunate start, Barrett, Alfa Romeo Monza (2:50 sec) who lost 6 minutes on the starting line when his engine would not start was making up time very fast. Tomlinson MG TA Spl s/c (11:30 min) began making an impression, after five laps and filled eighth almost one lap behind the leader.

Lyster Jackson relieved RW Manser MG N Type (Victoria) who retired with engine trouble and AG Sinclair took Dr Downings place at the wheel of the Brooklands Riley (which Alan Sinclair had imported from England for his intended trip to Australia and sold to Downing).

Saywell Alfa P3/Tipo B (scratch) was electrifying the crowd with his terrific speed on the straights, and was only two laps behind the field with 10 laps to go. Barrett was returning increasingly faster times, lapping at more than 90 miles per hour.

 

When Alan Boughton bought this Morgan from Victoria for the inaugural Lobethal car meeting 12 months before it was a sportscar, by 1939 a single-seater, Lobethal 1939 (N Howard)

 

High speed precision, Allan Tomlinson MG TA Spl s/c, some of his secrets revealed at the end of this article (N Howard)

 

Tomlinson, (given the faster signal from his pit by Colin Dunne on Clem Dwyer’s direction) travelling at more than 80 miles an hour as his average speed, pushed up behind Leach, passed him and set out after Lea-Wright. Going out of Lobethal about 30 miles from the finish, Tomlinson passed Lea-Wright and clapped on more speed to set a good margin coming past the grandstand with 3 laps to go.

Saywell was returning a consistent 92 miles an hour average, and Barrett clung on grimly with a slightly better speed.

Burrows followed Phillips who was then third to Tomlinson and Lea-Wright. Saywell’s mishap (Saywell and Barrett both spun in their attempts to increase their pace to match Tomlinson with the heat and tyre problems causing the spins) at the Mill Corner lost him two places and Snow (4:15 min) moved into fifth place behind Burrows.

 

Jack Phillips and mechanic, Ford V8 Spl. Wangaratta based Phillips won a lot of races in this car- perhaps not as ‘pretty’ as Doug Whiteford’s Black Bess but a really effective, fast, reliable machine (N Howard)

The first three positions remained unchanged for the last two laps (with Clem Dwyer slowing Tomlinson over the last 2 laps), with Tomlinson the winner from Lea-Wright and Phillips- MG TA Spl, Terraplane Spl and Ford V8 Spl.

Strangely enough The Advertiser reported the death of Vernon Leach ‘about 27, single from North Melbourne on the second last lap of the race in a separate article to the main race report.

Second placed Bob Lea-Wright , Terraplane 8 Spl, with hard-working mechanic (N Howard)

 

 

 

Leach, in fourth place at the time, raced towards Gumeracha at the top of Lobethal’s main street and swung wide at more tha 60 miles per hour- the car slid, he over-corrected rocketed back to the other side of the road, bounced over a ditch into a bank with the hapless driver pinned underneath the car. He died almost instantaneously.

In the same lap that he was killed he had crashed into the haybales at Mill Corner in addition to an earlier off at Kayannie- he too had increased his times by over 10 seconds per lap to endeavour to match the faster pace being set by Tomlinson and perhaps just pushed too hard on the unforgiving track.

He was far from inexperienced mind you having, for example, won a 116 mile handicap at Phillip Island the previous November. Leach was racing the MG P Type Les Murphy used earlier in the day to place third in the SA GP.

 

I’ll fated Vern Leach MG P Type behind Tim Joshua’s Frazer Nash, DNF lap 7 (N Howard)

 

John Snow, Delahaye 135CS (SCCSA)

 

In another report in the paper on the same day the ‘Tiser said ‘although the fastest time went to J Saywell, AL Barrett in an Alfa Romeo was the outstanding driver in the race.’

‘Losing six minutes…Barrett determinedly set after the field and recorded the best average lap time for the day – 93.7 miles an hour. That time was about 10 miles an hour faster than the best lap recorded last year (in the 1938 January South Australian GP). He gave a brilliant exhibition of driving and control, and cornered magnificently at every bend, rarely getting into trouble with the sandbags. Barrett consistently average more than 90 miles per hour and on two occasions equalled his lap record. His speed on the straights approached 140 miles an hour’.

 

By the time of the 1939 Alf Barrett was master of his steed, a 2.3 litre Alfa Romeo Monza s/c- and I’m not suggesting he had trouble adapting to it. One of Australia’s greatest with a career which extended well into the post-war period (N Howard)

 

Jack Saywell, Alfa Romeo P3 (SCCSA)

 

The report noted ‘Tomlinson, who is only 22, is a motor mechanic with his own business in Perth. Yesterday was his first appearance in interstate company (all states were represented in the race with the exception of Queensland). He won the Albany GP last Easter and the Bunbury Flying 50 in October’.

‘Although it was a delightful day for the spectators the weather was much too hot for the racing cars. Tyres were torn to shreds on the hot roads, the heat made the engines boil, and the melting bitumen made some of the corners very sticky’.

The Advertiser’s reporter did a very good job- the assessment about the conditions and tyres- particularly the impact on the bigger, heavier cars was marked and worked to the advantage of the smaller, lighter cars driven by the likes of Tomlinson.

Results:

1st- AG Tomlinson MG TA Spl 120 min 27 sec on handicap, actual time 110 min 57 sec. 2nd RA Lea-Wright Terraplane Spl  122 min 31 sec / 118 min 31 sec. 3rd JK Phillips Ford V8 Spl 122 min 46 sec 114 min 31 sec. 4th JF Snow Delahaye 135CS 124 min 11 sec, 107 min 26 sec. 5th L Burrows Hudson 124 min 38 sec , 116 min 23 sec. 6th J Saywell Alfa Romeo P3/Tipo B 126 min 48 sec, 105 min 48 sec. 7th JF Crouch Alfa Romeo (handicap 5 min) 128 min 33 sec, 112 min 33 sec. 8th AI Barrett Alfa Romeo Monza 129 min 11 sec. 9th RF Curlewis MG T Type 129 min 57 sec,

 

To the victor the spoils- Tomlinson’s win was a result of a mix of masterful planning, preparation and superb implementation of agreed race-day tactics and with superb driving- brilliant professionalism by Allan, Clem Dwyer and Bill Smallwood, youngsters all (The Advertiser)

 

Jim Gullan’s Ballot 5/8LC ‘Indy’, DNS the race but would have better luck at Lobethal post-war- he won the 1948 South Australian 100 at Lobe in another Ballot- the Ballot Oldsmobile Spl (N Howard)

 

Jack Saywell, Alfa P3 (SCCSA)

 

(H Cullen)

Junior Event SA GP

From the limit mark RS Uffindell (above) veteran Sporting Car Club member, led all the way to win the SA GP (75 miles), the first event of yesterday’s programme.

He drove a consistent race, content to keep the average lap speeds below 70 odd miles an hour. Bryson’s accident in the first lap allowed Uffindell to clear out from the 12 minute markers, and although Les Murphy (Victoria) drove very well to hold second place for several laps he was unable to make up the huge leeway set him by the South Australian. The handicaps were too great for the scratch-man and other backmarkers and they had to be content to sit behind the better handicapped drivers.

Results

1st R Uffindell Austin Spl 70 min 54 sec. 2nd RA Lea-Wright Terraplane Spl. 3rd Les Murphy driving J O’Dea’s MG. 4th JK Phillips Ford V8 Spl. 5th L Burrows Terraplane Spl. 6th RWE Manser MG N Type. Fastest Lap F Kleinig Kleinig Hudson Spl 5 min 54 sec ‘more than 90 miles an hour’

 

Uffindell’s Austin 7 at a South Australian hill-climb and in more recent times below (T Johns)

 

(T Johns)

 

TM Brady, Singer Bantam, winner of the 1939 Australian Stock Car Championship and as a consequence the very first winner of the Australian Touring Car Championship (The Advertiser)

 

Australian Stock Car Championship

Chief interest in the Australian stock car championship centred on the possibility of J McKinnon catching the leader, TM Brady. The speed of the race was very slow in comparison to the SA Grand Prix.

Brady went into the lead from Uffindell on the third time around with Hutton a long way back third. Brooks, Mrs Jacques (Owen Gibbs driver) and Osborne retired at Kayannie after about three laps each, and McKinnon and Phillips moved up into fourth and fifth places respectively.

 

 

Brownsworth with his low-slung racing type car was the best of the scratch men, and he left them to chase the other five. Lapping consistently at more than 70 miles an hour he moved up several places in successive laps and was gradually overhauling the leaders. Brady, however maintained his lead to the finish’ and in so doing is the winner of the very first Australian Touring Car Championship an honour hitherto accorded David McKay’s win in the 1960 ATCC at Gnoo Blas, Orange aboard his Jaguar Mk1.

 

TM Brady (left) and co-driver/mechanic, Lobethal, first winners of the Australian Touring Car Championship 1939, Singer Bantam (unattributed)

 

Results

1st TM Brady Singer Bantam. 2nd J McKinnon Ford V8 . 3rd JK Phillips Ford V8. 4th G Brownsworth Jaguar SS. 5th DE Hutton Morris 8/40. Fastest Lap Brownsworth 7 min 27 sec ‘just over 71 miles an hour’.

 

The TM Brady Singer Bantam, Lobethal 1939 (unattributed)

 

Tomlinson, Lobethal 1939 (The Advertiser)

 

Allan Tomlinson’s MG TA Spl’s speed. How Did He Do It?…

John Medley ‘I remain still mystified about how Allan Tomlinson and the ‘other kids from the west’ did what they did to win the 1939 Australian Grand Prix at Lobethal…’

Tomlinson’s win was not a total surprise as race-day dawned. The Advertisers race morning summary said ‘…Despite his huge handicap- he is the only scratch man…J Saywell…has made himself one of the favourites for the race. Provided he has a clear passage and his motor keeps going, Saywell should be well up with the field 20 miles from the finish. His record average laps during the week favour F Kleinig who is off 4 min 15 seconds, but one of the most consistent of the drivers who is expected to do well is AG Tomlinson of Western Australia.’

John Medley explores how Allan Tomlinson did the ‘unbelievable’ in both his book ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ and online on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’. What follows with the exception of a contribution from Terry Walker is from those two sources. Recording in an easily accessible place this analysis has been a somewhat laborious process, any mistakes made are mine.

‘I had previously calculated, using known tyre sizes, wheel sizes, diff ratios and revs and the sort of speeds that the supercharged Tomlinson MG T special did. Over 130mph was the answer. People who know MG TA engines say “impossible”.

‘Problem: His lap times at Lobethal suggest that the car was in fact that fast. I and others have calculated sector times that he had to have achieved to do those lap times- and then found them impossible to match. Problem 2: He did the times and the lap chart shows it.

On the most difficult section of Lobethal, from the Gumeracha turnoff to Mount Torrens Corner through the dives, twists and turns amongst the trees at very close to top speed, he had run away from much faster cars: John Snow long ago told me that Allan had rocketed away from the Snow Delahaye through here.’

 

John Snow’s Delahaye 135CS (N Howard)

 

‘When Allan talked of all of this six weeks ago, (Medley was writing on TNF in 2005) I found him very self effacing, modest, factual and with an astonishing memory. He explained the sort of things he and Clem Dwyer and Bill Smallwood did to make the car and the driver fast. And he added fuel to the fire by suggesting speeds of closer to 140mph!!’

John continues, ‘He explained, for example, that while they carefully rehearsed the whole Lobethal circuit, it was the Gumeracha Turnoff-Mt Torrens section that they had focussed on in the three weeks before the event- walking each bit, looking at it from different angles, discussing lines, gearing, braking points etc and then applying their findings bit by bit in unofficial practice. They made the decision that this tricky bit was the critical bit of the whole circuit.’

‘And of that section, the corner next to Schubert’s paddock was the “jewel in the crown”: it took them the longest time in practice, and it wasn’t until 1940 that Allan Tomlinson was able to take it flat out.’

‘They had nicknames for one another: strong and athletic Bill Smallwood was The Minder, good driver and long-time competitor (state championships on two-wheels and four and still a racer into his 80’s). Clem Dwyer was The Manager, and Allan was labelled The Driver- by Clem, who reckoned that Allan was 2 seconds per lap quicker than Clem at any WA circuit.’

 

The Kids from Perth: Tomlinson, Smallwood and Dwyer (K Devine)

 

Albany 1938 (K Devine)

 

‘They came to Lobethal (three weeks before the race and very quickly borrowed a Morris tow-car from an Adelaide dealer and set themselves up close-by to Lobethal in Woodside) as very young unknowns all the way from Western Australia.

No-one took any notice of them (“we were just the kids from the west”) and no-one was prepared for what the youngsters would hit them with- despite Allan’s seven wins in a row in Western Australia. And it should be noted that when Allan was injured and unable to race for part of 1939, it was Bill Smallwood who took over the top placings in WA, also in a TA Special.

Ultimately, after the three days of official practice, they removed their practice cylinder-head (from Bill Smallwood’s racing MG T Special) and on race-day bolted on their special head for the race.

Tomlinson deliberately only practiced sections at speed: not only were the roads not closed, but they didn’t want any observer to gain an idea of what the kids from the west could do. An Adelaide builder staying in the same (Woodside) hotel noticed them, though, initially he suggested to them that they were foxing (“you are cunning young bastards”). Then he drew out his comprehensive record of every lap-time of every car at Lobethal and he suggested they could win- particularly after a good final practice. They continued to politely disagree, because they were very apprehensive about the serious eastern states experienced hotshots in their real racing cars’.

 

Saywell’s magnificent Alfa Romeo Tipo B or P3 depending upon your inclination- the apocryphal story about this car is it’s rather pricey twin-cam, supercharged straight eight being despatched by boat back to Italy just prior to the the war and never being seen again- probably still in the bilges of a ship on the bottom of the ocean. Ultimately restored to original specs of course and long gone from our shores (H Cullen)

 

Medley continued, ‘The stars of the day were always going to be the recently imported Alfa Romeo’s and the Delahaye. Alf Barrett threw away his chances at the start with a failure to turn a fuel tap on again and lost something like six irretrievable minutes with his 2.3 Monza.’

John Snow plugged on steadily in his 135CS Delahaye, speeding up as the race proceeded and he gained confidence in the survival of his tyres on an appallingly hot day. John Crouch’s 2.3 long-chassis sports Alfa was never quick enough and was (according to Allan T) on one occasion passed by the MG T Special up the main street of Lobethal, and Jack Saywell’s 2.9 Alfa was also troubled by its rubber and its brakes. Snow was so impressed by the MG T Special going away from him towards Mt Torrens Corner that he said he just had to own it- and in 1946 he did’.

 

John Crouch in his Alfa 8C , Lobethal 1939 AGP (N Howard)

 

‘Allan told the story of how Saywell passed the MG up the main streets of Lobethal to lead by over 150 yards as they headed towards that tough section: and he pointed out that Saywell was in his way by the time they were past Schubert’s Corner and slowing him up towards Mt Torrens Corner.’

‘…On this section maintaining his race strategy Allan Tomlinson flung the cart-sprung supercharged TA neatly but rapidly through as usual, aviating at times over some of the blind crests, and going away easily from one of the best modern sportscars in the world (the Snow Delahaye 135CS).

The supercharged T-Series Special was reaching 130mph on this spooky section. It took the astounded Snow all the way to Charleston to catch and pass him. Even then it was a struggle because perfectionist engineer Tomlinson had made sure that the TA engine would endure revs way beyond factory limits so perfectionist driver Tomlinson could drive it with reliability to 130mph.’

 

John Snow’s Delahaye 135CS beside one of the Australian Touring Car, sorry Australian Stock Car Championship contenders in the leafy Lobethal paddock (N Howard)

 

Medley wrote ‘The Tomlinson strategy  was to run the tallest tyre/diff combination they could, not brake or accelerate too hard, run the car a gear high, let the car build up to its maximum and keep it there in particular by maintaining the highest possible corner speed’.

‘There is another haunting truth about the kids from the west that day.’

’In the entire field despite Allan Tominson’s apprehension about the eastern states hotshots there was one, and only one driver with significant racing experience on tar: all the others had experience only on dirt: the only exceptions were John Snow with his overseas experience and the few who had raced at Lobethal one year earlier- that is, they had each had one day’s tar experience: Tim Joshua, Bob Lea-Wright, Jack Phillips, Alf Barrett and Jack Boughton.’

’The one and only one with significant tar experience was Allan Tomlinson, by then a very successful veteran of WA Round The Houses racing…A tar-surfaced Lobethal with so many fast corners was tailor made for Allan Tomlinson- particularly given his race plan to use the tallest possible diff and to corner close to the cars maximum all day’.

 

The smiling assassin- Tomlinson bares down upon whom folks. Albany (K Devine)

 

Details of car preparation were no less remarkable.

‘Remember when they were doing all this stuff, they were just kids, barely 20 years of age in that pre-Kart era when they started on Allan’s new MG T.

‘Examples include rebuilding the engine after every race, constantly improving it, never satisfied unless the short motor could be spun over with the thumb and fore-finger on the crankshaft’s flywheel flange. (“if it kept spinning it was ok, if not we pulled it apart to see what was fitting too neatly”) and the gas pressure within all cylinders was within a 3% range.’

‘Rings were lapped in a dummy bore carefully measured for round and cylindrical, the actual bore was lapped with rings already lapped, and then the lapped rings were lapped in the lapped bores: there was no running in needed.’

‘Copper inlet pipes ran smoothly from supercharger on the left to inlet ports on the right. Why copper? “Because of its heat transfer properties”‘

 

The Lobethal scrutineers trying to understand the speed of the blue-bullet from Perth (HAGP)

 

More on the engine from Terry Walker.

‘I’ve worked out why the Tomlinson MG TA, when pulled down in its new owners hands, seemed to be unremarkable inside the engine- it wasn’t heavily modified at all.’

’What Alan Tomlinson and Clem Dwyer did was the most finicky preparation- it revved higher than standard of course, but not a lot higher- the cam was fairly mild- but by careful preparation, it could hold those higher revs at full throttle for a very long time without the engine bursting. It was blueprinting, but beyond blueprinting. They worked hard on improving reliability as well as power. Well ahead of their time in many respects.’

‘In a Dowerin (WA) race meeting report in the 1930’s, the writer- a WA Sporting Car Club man- commented on the revs the engine was pulling. Not i suspect because they were outrageously high, but because Allan could keep the car on max revs lap after lap. An astounding feat for a production engine in the 1930’s’.

During the 70 year re-enactment/celebration of the 1939 AGP at Lobethal Alan Tomlinson was still alive and was guest of honour of the weekend.

When John Medley spoke to him about the engine ‘Allan told of using no head gasket but rather lapping the head with three grades of valve-grinding paste on a surface plate, then lapping the block likewise, then lapping the two together- “took me two weeks for each process” said Allan. “Surely you must use a machine to do that” i foolishly said. “No, all by hand” replied Allan.

‘Great 1940/50’s MG TC racer George ‘Research’ Pearse said to me 15 years ago “You couldn’t buy performance over the counter then like you can these days. Performance had to come from what was inside your head and from your ability to shape metal”.

The little team from the West were i suspect prototypes of that view, and also forerunners of a level of professionalism which didn’t exist in Australian until the 1960s’.

 

 

The Modern Era…

The seventieth anniversary of the 1939 AGP at Lobethal in 2009 provided an opportunity for many enthusiasts to meet with Alan Tomlinson, who, at that stage lived in New York and was 92 years old.

Some snippets from those who were there;

After the race no lesser figure than Lord Nuffield himself was interested in the TA’s secrets.

Doug Gordon, ‘ Alan was a lovely bloke. I met him in the main street of Lobethal and he gave me an almost blow by blow of the 1939 event, including all of his preparations of the car, along with a remarkable account of how he was introduced to Lord Nuffield at a fancy post-race dinner.

AGT at Lobethal in 2009

 

‘William Morris was waiting in a side room and Allan was only young  with some rowdy mates, who had been his pit crew. He was approached by an officious looking gent in a “penguin-suit” who he thought was a bouncer about to kick them out of the show. In fact he was ushered quietly and alone into a separate room where Lord Nuffield was waiting to meet him.’

‘Morris wanted to know every detail about how he got his TA to go so fast! The poms were not able to duplicate anything close to what Allan had achieved with the car. He was told from that day on Allan had the entire UK MG racing division at his disposal and that he was to personally liaise with Morris to requisition anything he desired at no cost. He thought it too good to be true, but did send off a range of requests and in due course everything he asked for was delivered to him in Perth!’

‘This was one of the most satisfying motoring conversations I have ever had- time seemed no object to Alan and at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted exchange occurred in what seemed to be the blink of an eye! I have nothing but the greatest of respect for this man and everything he achieved- especially being an MG man myself’ Doug concluded.

 

(J Medley)

John Lackey at left, built a replica of the Tomlinson TA Spl. Here it is with Alan at the wheel and Rob Rowe ‘who engineered the replica rebuild, doing some of it “blind”, so when AGT slipped into the seat and slid his foot onto the clutch (thus assuring Rob he guessed correctly), Rob turned to a nearby pillar and had a tear or two.’

‘Rob then asked Alan, at this, his first sight of the replica, how he managed the bonnet clearance of something low on the left. AGT reply “Did you hammer flat the fifth louvre from the front?” wrote John Medley.

(J Medley)

John Medley ‘John Lackey, Rob Rowe and I discussed the long copper inlet tract he used on the supercharged TA, from the supercharger drawing its air from the cockpit left to the right hand side of the engine ie; it was an INTERCOOLER. First principles AGT said “It seemed the right thing to do” and later he thoughtfully said “I think I was born an engineer”…

Alan Tomlinson returned to Lobethal in 1940 and had a terrible crash which hospitalised him for some time and ended his career.

John Medley again picks up the story. ‘The car ran on alcohol in 1940, he touched the Alan Boughton slowing Morgan over the top of the hill before the Lobethal Esses, where he was launched nose-standing into a paddock where he hit a tree.

‘Alan had not seen this picture (below) until 2009 until Ed Farrar showed him. AGT was shocked, perhaps understanding better his long recovery in Adelaide, sometimes in hospital, sometimes at South Australian Sporting Car Club President John Vercoe’s place. AGT never raced again’.

 

(J Medley)

‘John Snow, greatly impressed by the Kids from The West, just had to have the car so bought it, and rebuilt it via John Barraclough who served in Perth early in the War. He onsold it to Hope Bartlett when he bought the Dixon Riley in 1946- selling it to Hope when Bartlett sold the TA to Lean Barnard then Alec Mildren as shown in the Parramatta Park photo below.’ The shot shows Alec ‘with implement at left’- by then the car was fitted with 16 inch wheels.

John Lackey built a replica of Tomlinson’s MG TA, the original did not survive. ‘The TA’s body ended up without headrest on John Ralston’s “J Archibald” MG TC Special until he was naughty re-importing banned birds. Alec Mildren built a single-seat body on the TA chassis, cut down TC radiatored, sold to Curley Brydon to continue a remarkable career’ wrote Medley.

 

Etcetera…

 

(T McGrath)

Terry McGrath met with Allan Tomlinson at the Whiteman Park Motor Museum at Caversham, Western Australia in July 1996.

Doesn’t he look a lean, mean fighting machine despite his advanced years?

(T McGrath)

 

Photo Credits…

Norman Howard, The Advertiser, Ken Devine Collection, Bob King Collection, Dean Donovan Collection, Hedley Cullen, Ray Bell Collection, ‘SCCSA’ Sporting Car Club of South Australia Collection via Tony Parkinson

 

Bibliography…

The Advertiser newspaper January 2 and 3 1939, ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley and Terry Walker on To he Nostalgia Forum’

 

Tailpiece: Tomlinson enroute to the Lobethal AGP win in 1939…

(K Devine)

Finito…

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(Ken Devine)

Doug Green blasts his oh-so-famous ex-Ascari/Gaze/Davison Ferrari 500/625 chassis #5 down a suburban West Australian, Bunbury street on 26 December 1960, a far cry from the European circuits on which it won Alberto’s two World Championships in 1952 and 1953 …

Western Australia has a rich history of racing on street circuits; Albany, Collie, Katanning, Mandurah and Narrogin in addition to Bunbury all had street racing at one time or another.

Bunbury’s racing history is particularly long. The Indian Ocean port city services the farm, mining and timber industries of Western Australia’s South West 175 Km south of Perth and had car and motorbike racing ‘around the houses’ up until 1988.

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Ray Barfield’s ex-works/David McKay Aston Martin DB3S ‘9’, at Carey Park, Bunbury, December 1960 (Ken Devine)

Racing commenced there in 1938 with the running of the ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ on a large circuit in the town itself, Allan Tomlinson the victor…

The first event, held over 25 laps of the roughly 2 mile course on 14 November 1938 was won by Allan Tomlinson’s MG TA Spl s/c in 63 minutes. The race, a handicap as was the case for much of Australian motor racing for decades, such was the relative paucity of racing cars let alone vehicles of equivalent performance, was a big success. Norm Kestel and Jack Nelson were 2nd and 3rd in MG TA and Ballot V8 respectively with Kestel, in a TA similar to Tomlinson’s pushing him hard all the way.

The 22 year old Tomlinson was a very fast, skilful and thoughtful driver, his performance in Bunbury, off a handicap of 40 seconds and setting the fastest race lap at 2:24.0 was indicative of his pace.

In fact he was a ‘child prodigy’ by the standards of the day having only started racing aged 18 at Lake Perkolilli in 1936. He drove a Ford V8 in the stock car handicap and scored an excellent win. Subsequently he raced a midget at Claremont Speedway and then bought the MG TA for regular racing and competition work.

He was employed in the family business, the Tomlinson & Co foundry and engineering shop and applied those resources and his own mechanical skills well. The TA arrived shortly before the premier race in WA, the Albany GP, in 1937 and was quickly fitted with a Marshall blower and stripped of all superfluous parts. Allan drove well but the cars brakes failed on lap 16, he sailed through the barriers of Salvation Army Corner, unharmed!

During 1937 he continued to perform strongly at track meetings at Dowerin, with a couple of wins and in the WA Car Clubs Hillclimb at Victoria Reservoir.

Tomlinson’s winning MG TA ahead of  Jack Nelson’s Ballot V8 2nd, Albany GP 18 April 1938. Note the difference in the body of the Tomlinson car here and as a monoposto below (Terry Walker)

His first major success was in the 1938 Albany GP, that Easter he won off a handicap of 3 minutes 30 seconds from Jack Nelson’s Ballot V8 and Kestel’s quick MG TA. The handicappers were onto him though, his Bunbury handicap was 40 seconds but the youngster and his team were further modifying the MG away from the gaze of authority. Tomlinson, Bill Smallwood and Clem Dwyer carefully rebuilt the engine and clad the racer in a light, pretty, aerodynamic monoposto body which was painted blue. Extensively tested, the car was running perfectly, the race win the reward for careful attention to detail.

Tomlinson and the teams fanatical attention to the preparation of the car was unusual and remarkable for the day. They were about to show the east coast ‘big boys’ just how to prepare for, and drive a motor race.

Allan Tomlinson winning the 14 November 1938 ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ in his light, powerful, highly developed, 1340cc supercharged MG TA Spl (Terry Walker)

In early-December the team loaded the little 10/6 Marshall Rootes supercharged, aluminium bodied MG onto a ship in Fremantle for the short voyage to Port Adelaide.

On 2 January 1939 Tomlinson won the Australian Grand Prix on the immensely demanding, 8.6 mile long Lobethal road course in the Adelaide Hills.

The team had a spare T Type for Tomlinson to explore and master the swoops, dives and blind corners of the place. He also walked the roads, studying the gradients and topography closely. Historians still debate the speed of the little MG on that day, with its trick axle ratio it was good for 130mph, with Tomlinson claiming later speeds close to 140! There were some much faster cars in the race, Jano straight-8 Alfa Romeos and others, but whilst many drivers were on the brakes or a trailing throttle Tomlinson used skill and circuit knowledge to go flat where others were not…

Allan returned triumphant to WA aboard the ‘Kanimbla’ and was given an informal reception at the Albany Council Chambers on 8 January. The team then returned to Perth and on to another big victory, this time the ‘Great Southern Classic’ at Pingelly over 25 miles- ‘his fourth successive motor racing win in twelve months’ The West Australian reported.

Disaster struck at the Tomlinson foundry in East Perth on 4 May 1939 when Allan, whilst fixing an oil blower to a piece of machinery, had it explode, badly damaging three fingers on his left hand; two were later amputated in Perth Hospital, the lacerated index finger recovered. A ‘rock star’ in Perth by this time, his progress was covered daily in the local press. Tomlinson recovered but did not race again in 1939, the winds of war were blowing by then of course.

Sadly the Lobethal course that gave him his greatest win bit him very badly during the New Years Day 1940 ‘South Australian Hundred’.

The young driver was lucky to escape a very high speed trip through the countryside; he accidentally tagged the back of a Morgan, left the road and went through the bush, down an embankment and ended up against a tree in a roadside camping area. He broke his ribs, received internal injuries, shock and a long stay in Royal Adelaide Hospital. Whilst the car was not badly damaged-the body was dented and the wheels buckled, but the engine and chassis were undamaged according to Bill Smallwood.

As to Tomlinson, a highly promising career was over. After 5 months in hospital Allan returned to Perth with intentions to race but with the outbreak of war, motor racing ceased. Post-war Tomlinson had a lifelong involvement in the WA Sports Car Club and VSCC. He died aged 95 having lived a full life.

Now, where was i?! Back to Bunbury!

The Bunbury town circuit layout was used again post-war in November 1946 albeit the cars raced in the opposite direction to 1938. In 1950 the Australian Motor Cycle TT was held on the same layout.

The relative isolation of Carey Park, a suburb 3.5Km south east of Bunbury allowed the ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ to take place again in 1960. Competing vehicles were mainly production sports cars, the exceptions Green’s Ferrari 500 and Jack Ayres 1.5 litre, supercharged GP Alta. Ray Barfield’s ex-works Aston Martin DB3S was a sports car of considerable performance too.

The race was also called the ‘Carey Park Flying 50’, whatever it’s name results have been hard to find although photographer/historian Ken Devine believes the feature race, these photos are from that event, was won by Green’s Ferrari. If any of you have a race report I’d welcome you getting in touch.

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Jack Ayres, Alta ‘010’, starting the turn into Ecclestone Street from Forrest Avenue, pretty car, nicely proportioned lines, nose of the original car modified locally (Ken Devine)

Jack Ayres’ GP/F2 Alta s/c ‘010’…

Geoffrey Taylor’s first Alta sportscar was built in 1929.

He decided to build a 1.5 litre, supercharged GP car post-war, the  first of which appeared in 1948. The three cars built had ladder-frame chassis and wishbone suspension with rubber as the spring medium. The third of these cars, ‘GP3’, bought by Irish motor trader and wheeler-dealer Joe Kelly in 1950 was powered by a DOHC, 1496cc, SU fed, two stage Rootes type supercharged engine developing 202bhp at 6000 rpm. It contested non-championship F1 races and both the 1950 and 1951 British GP’s at Silverstone in Kelly’s hands finishing over 15 laps in arrears of the winners in both years.

Later ‘GP3’ was fitted with a Bristol engine by Kelly to contest F2 events, the sophisticated supercharged engine was then fitted to Alta ‘010’, a hitherto F2 chassis raced by Robert Cowell in 1949/50. The story of father and ex-Spitfire WW2 pilot Cowell is an interesting one as he became she; Roberta Cowell was the very first transgender Brit, the operation took place in 1951.

The car was bought and imported into Australia in 1956 by Gib Barrett of Armadale, Melbourne. Gib and Alf Barrett were formidable racers for decades both pre and post-War, Alf Barrett one of the all time greatest Oz drivers.

The car was fettled and finished 1oth in the post Olympic Games 1956 Melbourne GP at Albert Park in Gib’s hands, it was sold soon thereafter to Perth’s Syd Anderson in 1957. And so began an intensive period of racing for ‘010’ in WA. Syd raced it in the 1957 AGP at Caversham near Perth but retired, the race was won by Lex Davison and Bill Patterson in the Ferrari 500/625 also featured in this article.

Jack Eyres then bought ‘010’ racing extensively in the West in all kinds of events, he was 5th in the ‘WA Trophy’ Gold Star round in December 1960, that race won by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati. By the following August, Caversham Gold Star round Ayres had moved on to a Cooper MkV powered by a 1.1 litre Ford engine, with the Alta raced by new owner, Jim Ward.

The old car had by the early sixties become uncompetitive and dilapidated, the cars restoration was commenced by Jim Harwood in WA in the later 1960’s and finished by Lotus doyen John Dawson-Damer in outer Sydney. Graham Lowe owned it before it passed to Peter Briggs museum at York in WA, which was fitting given the cars WA racing period. ‘010’ was fully restored and always looked a treat when it appeared at Australian Grands Prix and other special events. Sadly the car left Oz some time ago, it recently appeared at Retromobile, offered for sale.

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Touring Car action at the ‘Highway Corner’, Bunbury 1960 (Jodie Krikkie)

Ferrari 500/625 Chassis #5, 3 litre…

Ferrari 500 #5 is said to be the most successful Grand Prix car of all time; it won 6 of the 7 championship Grand Epreuves held in 1952 and 9 in 1953 to win Ascari’s two drivers titles.

I don’t plan to cover the detailed history of this car now, it seems appropriate to do so in an article about Lex Davison who achieved so much Australian success in it; the 1957 and 1958 AGP’s, the very first Australian Drivers Championship, the ‘Gold Star’ in 1957 to name a few.

Lex eventually sold his beloved car to West Australian Doug Green in 1960. It had finally become uncompetitive in the eastern states but still had a year or so of relevance in WA.

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Doug Green proudly displays his Ferrari 500/625. Caversham, WA (Terry Walkers)

Davison wasn’t done with front-engined GP cars though, he very narrowly lost by a cars length the 1960 AGP at Lowood, Queensland to Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati in a superb Aston Martin DBR4 before finally changing to ‘the mechanical mice’ as he described Coopers, winning his fourth and final AGP at Mallala, South Australia in a T51 Climax in 1961.

Davison bought the Ferrari off his friend, Tony Gaze, after the NZ summer races in 1956, Gaze had success with it in 1954 and 1955 having acquired it from the factory fitted with a 3 litre sportscar ‘750 Monza’ engine for the Formula Libre events common globally at the time.

The Fazz was eventually bought by Tom Wheatcroft in the late 1960’s, the first car for his famous Donington Collection, it’s  identity as Ascari’s chassis unknown at the time Tom acquired it. The car had chassis number ‘0480’ when bought by Gaze. During the restoration of the car the provenance of it was investigated by Doug Nye amongst others and confirmed after careful ‘forensic examination’ and in communications with Ferrari.

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Doug Green’s Ferrari 500/625, Carey Park, Bunbury 1960 (Ken Devine)

Doug Green bought ‘5’ in 1960, having graduated from an 1100cc Cooper. He got to grips with it, racing extensively in WA, soon improving upon Davo’s times in it at Caversham. He contested the Caversham Gold Star rounds in 1960 and 1961 finishing 4th and 2nd in thin fields, respectively. He sold the car in 1963 upon retirement from racing.

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Rare colour photo of the engine bay of Ferrari 500/625 #5 at Bunbury in 1960. I just about blew a head gasket when I saw the opening photo and this one, color shots of this car are rare, I’ve seen few of its engine bay let alone one with the ‘atmospherics’ Ken Devine has composed and captured here. 3 litre 750 Monza DOHC inline 4 cylinder engine produced circa 290 bhp. Local kids fascinated by the exotic, and still contemporary enough, racer (Ken Devine)

The Ferrari 500, designed by Aurelio Lampredi, used a ladder frame chassis typical of the period, suspension at the front was double wishbones and coil spring /dampers. A De Dion rear axle was used, the gearbox mounted to the diff and connected to the engine by a short propshaft.

The F1 2 litre engine was a 1985cc in line 4 cylinder engine with DOHC and 2 valves per cylinder. Magneto’s provided the spark and Weber 58DCOA3 carburettors the fuel, the engine gave around 185/190bhp@7500rpm. When acquired by Tony Gaze a 3 litre Monza engine was fitted, this gave circa 290bhp. Power is quoted from 245-290bhp depending upon the source.

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Doug Green, Ferrari 625/500, Caversham 1960, he eventually lapped faster in the car, having got the hang of it, than Lex some years before (Julian Cowan)

 

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Keith Rilstone’s Zephyr Spl having just passed! Greens Ferrari 500/625, the supercharged car very potent, it was a different thing under brakes, Murray Trenberth in the Alta Repco Holden further back. 1960 Caversham (Ken Devine)

Bunbury Circuits…

Bunbury probably won’t be known to most Aussies other than those who have visited the Margaret River region in which case you may have made a fuel ‘pitstop’ on its outskirts.

My brother lives in Perth and has a place at Gnarabup, Margaret River so I know the place a bit, but its motor racing history had passed me by until seeing these fabulous photos posted on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ by Ken Devine. On a future visit I’ll drive the circuit(s), which you can still do.

map

The Carey Park track itself, for Perth readers and visitors who may want to drive it, used Clifton, Victoria, Arthur, Stirling, Wittenoon and Prinsep Streets, Upper Esplanade then Wellington, Wittenoon and Carey Streets. The map below will make more sense of it when you visit.

circuit

In fact the Carey Park road circuit, 3.5Km from the centre of town was only one of many used down the decades in greater Bunbury.

Racing started on the ‘Bunbury Central Circuit’, which as the name suggests was in the centre of town. Car racing ceased between 1947 to 1960 but motorcycle racing continued on this circuit and then the ‘Bunbury Moorelands Little Circuit’, also known as the ‘Glen Iris Circuit’. This track was laid out on public roads next to the Preston River and was ideal as the area was rural and so caused little drama to the public. The Bunbury Motorcycle GP meeting was held annually there from December 1963 to Easter 1974.

‘TQ’ Speedway cars raced on the ‘Carey Park Short Circuit’ of .95 of a mile in late 1958 ‘The South Western Times’ in its article before the meeting helpfully advised spectators to ‘…take the greatest possible care while watching the (5) races…under no circumstances should they cross the road while races are in progress’. So ‘Carey Park’ was used by speedway cars in advance of road-racers two years later for the 1960 ‘Bunbury Flying 50’.

In March 1975 the Bunbury Motorcycle Club hosted heats for the WA Road Racing Series around the streets of Davenport, Bunbury’s industrial area, 6.5Km from the town centre. This layout was also confusingly called ‘The Ring Road Circuit’ as it incorporated the new Busselton By-Pass and North Boyanup Road, well known to Perthies visiting ‘down South’ as they call a visit to Margaret River and beyond.

Wayne Patterson thrilling the crowds in 1988; Yamaha TZ350, Bunbury Back Beach circuit (Patterson)

This fairly ugly locale was used in 1975/6/7 before the move to the altogether more visually attractive and challenging ‘Bunbury Back Beach Circuit’ in 1980. In Australian Beach Lingo a ‘Back Beach’ is a surf beach and a ‘Front Beach’ is calmer water, I’ve no idea from where this derives! This fairly wild looking circuit overlooking the Bunbury break was used from 1980 to 1988. Then there are the local drags and speedway venues- they like their motor racing down south!

Ray Barfield’s Aston Martin DB3S chassis #9 was a car of impeccable provenance and specification…

The car was one of two built for works use in 1956, chassis #10 the other, whilst the successor design, the 1959 Le Mans winning DBR1 was in development.

DB3S/9 was first raced in the GP of Rouen as a warm up to Le Mans on 8 July 1956. Peter Collins raced it to retirement with bearing problems but Moss was 2nd in DB3S/10 behind the winner, Eugenio Castellotti’s works Ferrari 860 Monza and ahead of the 3 litre Maser 300S of Jean Behra.

At Le Mans on 28/29 July, ‘9’ was driven by Moss/Collins, the lead factory car was ahead of the field but finished 2nd after gearbox problems slowed it. Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart won, a lap ahead of the Aston in an Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D Type. The AM ‘LM6’ 2922cc engine fitted for Le Mans developed 219bhp @6000rpm- good for 150mph at La Sarthe.

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Ray Barfield Aston Martin DB3S into the right hander into Ecclestone Street (Ken Devine)

Moss won in the car at Oulton Park in August, and at Goodwood on 18 Septenber Roy Salvadori was 2nd to Tony Brooks in another DB3S. The last appearance of DB3S’9′ as a works entry was at Goodwood on 22 April 1957 driven by Brooks, he was 3rd.

The car was rebuilt and offered for sale by Aston’s as they focussed their attention on the new DBR1 and was bought by David McKay, the Australian racer/journalist keen to acquire a works car having owned an earlier customer DB3S, chassis ‘102’ a car David raced as part of ‘The Kangaroo Stable’. This group of three DB3S Astons raced by Australians David McKay/Tony Gaze, Tom Sulman/Jack Brabham and Les Cosh/Dick Cobden in 1955 is a story in itself.

Australian oil company Ampol provided financial support for the purchase, the car immediately became the fastest sportscar in Australia, winning upon its debut at Bathurst in October 1957. David won 8 of 9 races in it finishing 2nd only once, to Doug Whiteford’s Maser 300S in the Tasmanian TT at Longford. McKay’s last race in DB3S/9 was at Bathurst in October 1958 when he won the 100 mile Australian TT from Derek Jolly’s Lotus 15 Climax and Ron Phillips Cooper T33 Jaguar.

The car passed through Stan Jones hands in Melbourne, he only raced it once, before being bought by Barfield in mid-1959. The Mount Helena racer used it regularly in the West through to the Christmas Cup meeting at Caversham on 22 November 1963, fittingly, he won the 5 lap sportscar scratch race.

In 1956 when built the DB3S was pretty much the state of the sportscar art in terms of specification, it was closely derived from a road car and could, fairly easily be driven on the road. By 1963 the long distance racing paradigm was perhaps best defined by the specialist racing, mid-engined Ferrari 250P- a 3 litre V12 engined car which was far from a ‘roadie’ however much Enzo Ferrari tried to position the 250P’s cousin, the 250LM as such. The point here is just how focussed sports-racing cars became and how much racing technology changed in a very short period of time.

Barfield then retired from racing, it was fitting that the wonderful ex-works Aston won its last race however insignificant a 5 lapper at Caversham in 1963 was relative to 24 hours at Le Mans in 1956!

Ray retained the car inside it’s Rice Trailer on his farm outside Perth, famously keeping the engine fully submerged in a container of oil, having discovered a crack in the crankshaft, for 25 years.

Many people knocked on his door to buy it over the years including David McKay on more than one occasion but all were aggressively turned away. Finally a big wad of cash allowed Sydney’s Kerry Manolas to buy it, sight unseen, and it was not a pretty sight when he did see all of its components in October 1987! The car was superbly restored by Gavin Bain’s ‘Auto Restorations’ in Auckland. I wonder where in the world it is now?

Oh to have seen the Ferrari, Alta and Aston race on the Carey Park streets in the ‘Bunbury Flying 50’ all those years ago. Three amazingly interesting and diverse cars in the one race, and all so far from ‘home’!

Bibliography…

The Nostalgia Forum particularly the contributions of Terry Walker, Ray Bell and Ken Devine. 8Wforix.com, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, oldracingcars.com

Photo Credits…

The Ken Devine Collection, Julian Cowan, Terry Walkers Place, Jodie Krikkie, Wayne Patterson Collection

Tailpiece: Vin Smith, Alpha Peugeot 1.5 s/c…

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 (Ken Devine)

Vin Smith at the Highway Hotel Hairpin, Bunbury 1960.

This effective, pretty little special was one of several built and raced by Smith from the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties. So much of Australian motor racing was reliant on ‘specials’, usually very fast ones at that for 50 years.

Finito…