Posts Tagged ‘Mike Hawthorn’

hawt goodwood

One of the better known photographs in motor racing is Louis Klemantaski’s shot of Mike Hawthorn’s Cooper T20 Bristol attacking the apex of Fordwater at Goodwood in 1952…

The Klemantaski Collection archive describe the photograph thus; Hawthorn is obviously really on the absolute limit with this Cooper-Bristol. And of course he is aiming right for Klemantaski who had positioned himself at the edge of the track exactly at the apex of the very fast Fordwater corner on the back of the Goodwood circuit. What a dynamic image!

This race was the ‘Sussex International Trophy’ for Formula Libre racing cars on June 2, 1952.

Hawthorn won, perhaps somewhat aided by his father Leslie’s long experience with nitromethane. It was Hawthorn’s third outing with a friend’s Cooper-Bristol.

On April 14th at Goodwood he came up against Juan Manuel Fangio, driving another Cooper, and won against the already famous Argentinian driver. Hawthorn won two races with the Cooper that weekend and finished second in the final race of the day to Froilán González in Tony Vandervell’s Thinwall Special Ferrari GP car.

Then Hawthorn entered the Daily Express International Trophy on May 10th with the same Cooper-Bristol to win the first heat, but finished several laps down in the final due to gearshift problems.

His excellent showing with the Cooper at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps where he was fourth and at the subsequent British Grand Prix finishing third led to an offer from Ferrari for 1953- and an eventual World Championship aboard the Ferrari Dino 246 in 1958.

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1953 French GP Reims July 1953. Mike Hawthorn’s Ferrari 500 and Juan Fangio’s #18 Maserati A6GCM flat out, grinning at one another, Mike won by 1 second after 300 miles of racing (Getty)

‘Hawthorn died in a road crash in January 1959 after retiring from racing at the end of his Championship year, is remembered by his own book Challenge Me the Race and Champion Year and in several biographies, including Mon Ami Mate and Golden Boy. Mike Hawthorn’s grave is in Farnham, Surrey where he is still well remembered and where he and his father had run the Tourist Trophy Garage for many years’, the Klemantaski Collection wrote.

Cooper T20 Bristol cutaway by Vic Berris

Articles on the Cooper Bristol T20/23…

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

https://primotipo.com/2017/02/24/the-cooper-t23-its-bristolbmw-engine-and-spaceframe-chassis/

https://primotipo.com/2016/06/24/jacks-altona-grand-prix-and-cooper-t23-bristol/

Credits…

Louis Klemantaski, Raymond Groves, Vic Berris

Check out The Klemantaski Collection;  https://klemcoll.wordpress.com/about/

Tailpiece: The tie dear boy, the tie…

hawt funny

(Raymond Groves)

Finito…

hawthorn fazz

Mike Hawthorn dives his big Ferrari 335S into The Esses and past the smaller Ferrari 500TRC of Fernand Tavano and Jacques Peron early in the 1957 Le Mans 24 Hours…

Both cars failed to finish, Hawthorn shared the 335S with Luigi Musso, the cars engine cried enough on lap 56 and the 500TRC also had an engine problem withdrawing after the completion of 235 laps.

1957 was a D Type rout- the Ivor Bueb/Ron Flockhart D won from the similar cars of Lawrence/Sanderson, Lucas/Brousselet and Frere/Rouselle, all of which gave Ferrari something to think about! The best placed Ferrari was the 500 Testa Rossa driven by Lucien Bianchi and Georges Harris but it was 39 laps adrift of the winners.

Click on this link for an article about the Ferrari 335S and 1957 Mille Miglia;

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/17/peter-collins-mille-miglia-1957-ferrari-335s/

Credit…

Klemantaski Collection

hawt hill

I don’t think of Mike Hawthorn as a Lotus driver but here he is with Graham Hill, rather similar in age, they were both born in 1929…

Amazing really, grafter Hill worked hard to get into motor racing, his GP career started not long before Hawthorn’s finished and went well into the 1970’s, not to forget Graham’s Le Mans and Indy wins of course. Mike’s racing entree was smoothed by his fathers wealth, it’s intriguing to guess what he may have achieved had he raced on into the 1960’s and applied his considerable skills to Chapman’s works of Lotus art.

Both Hill and Hawthorn are English to the core albeit completely different charcters. And personalities they certainly were. It’s a wonderful shot.

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Hawthorn, Lotus 11 Climax, Oulton Park, Cheshire April 1955 (Popperfoto)

The event or reason for the Hill/Hawthorn shot is unrecorded but dated 12 April 1956 as is the photo of Hawthorn with Stirling Moss below. Its dated 11 May 1953, i am interested if anybody can assist with the places and occasions…

hawt moss

Credits…

Getty/Manchester Daily Express, Popperfoto

spanish grand prix

Maurice Trintignant’s 1953 type Ferrari 625 from Harry Schell’s Maserati 250F and victor Mike Hawthorn’s 1954 type Ferrari 553 on the picturesque Pedralbes road circuit at Barcelona, 24 October 1954…

This event was famous for the race debut of the Lancia D50’s in the hands of Alberto Ascari and Gigi Villoresi, both were quick and Alberto led convincingly from Fangio’s Mercedes W196 until a clutch hydraulic failure caused his retirement.

The three drivers above had a great dice and all led at different points with Hawthorn taking the victory. Schell retired after a spin damaged his car and Trintignant with a fractured oil pipe. Hawthorn’s win was a good one made slightly easier by the problems Fangio was dealing with in his Benz, his W196 spraying oil into the cockpit.

lancia barcelona

The Ascari #34 and Villoresi #36 Lancia D50’s, just unloaded at Pedralbes for an event which showcased Vittorio Jano’s design brilliance as well as the sublime skills of Alberto Ascari. Such a pity Lancia ran out of money! Still a world title as a Lancia Ferrari D50, and drivers title for Fangio in 1956 was a great reflection on the original design even if it had ‘evolved’ a bit by then (unattributed)

I’m leaving Australia’s winter for 3 weeks in France and Spain including Barcelona so look forward to retracing the street circuits of  Montjuic Park and Pedralbes whilst based in one of my favourite cities. My posts will be shorter over this period.

YouTube Race Footage…

Photo Credit…Yves Debraine

hawthorn

(Klemantaski)

 A study in concentration, Mike Hawthorn at work and on the way to fourth place at Aintree, Lancia Ferrari 801, British Grand Prix 1957…

But Mike was hardly ‘the main game’ in this race, a pivotal one in GP history.

Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss shared a Vanwall to win at home, thereby scoring the first world championship victory for a British car, the beginning of a period of dominance by British teams, largely undiminished for the last 50 years. Also noteworthy and equally epochal was the appearance of two Cooper T43 Climaxes driven by Roy Salvadori and Jack Brabham.

Behra led from the start but Moss passed him before the end of the first lap, then came Brooks, Hawthorn, Collins, four Brits in the first five.

Moss’s Vanwall started to run roughly so he pitted, taking the wheel of Brooks sister car, who was summoned to the pits, Moss rejoined 9th and started carving his way through the field. By this stage Jean led from Hawthorn, who was unable to challenge the Frenchie, then came Lewis-Evans, Vanwall, and Collins. Moss was soon up to 5th aided by mechanical failures which befell Fangio and Collins.

Poor, Jean, his clutch exploded whilst in the lead, Hawthorn ran over some of the schrapnel the Frenchman dropped, puncturing a Continental. Stuart Lewis-Evans then momentarily lead but was quickly swallowed by Moss, Stuart’s throttle linkage broke but it mattered not, Moss won the race from Musso, Hawthorn, Trintignant/Collins all in Lancia Ferrari’s with Roy Salvadori in the little 2 litre Cooper T43 5th

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Credit…

Louis Klementaski, GP Encyclopaedia

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(Allan Fearnley)

Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins looking confident with the speed of their Ferrari Dinos prior to the Silverstone start…

Into 1958 the relationship between Enzo Ferrari and Peter Collins had soured a bit as the chief felt the Brit was not as competitive as he had been, he was dropped to the F2 team at the French GP. Mike Hawthorn’s intervention and Luigi Musso’s death at Reims made his position more secure. Nevertheless he was feeling plenty of pressure at the time…

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Peter Collins takes his last win, Silverstone 1958, Ferrari Dino 246 (unattributed)

Collins started the British GP from 6th on the grid, with Moss’ Vanwall on pole, but Collins blasted through from the second row to lead Moss, Hawthorn, Schell’s BRM P25, Brooks Vanwall VW57 and Salvadori, Cooper T45 Climax.

Collins increased the lead steadily with Moss and Hawthorn comprising the lead group. Stirling’s engine blew on lap 26 leaving Peter leading from Hawthorn. Stuart Lewis-Evans was 3rd but was soon passed by Salvadori. Collins won from Hawthorn, Salvadori and Lewis-Evans’ Vanwall VW57, four Brits!

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Peter Collins being congratulated aboard his Dino after the event. Its July 19, he was dead 3 weeks later, Nurburgring on 3 August (Hutton)

Credit…

Allan Fearnley, Hutton Deutsch

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Cliff Allison releases his Lotus 12 Climax from the Monaco haybales on 18 May 1958, whilst teammate Graham Hill passes in the sister car…

It was a significant race for Lotus, their debut as Championship Grand Prix competitors, Allison was classified sixth and Hill’s race ended on lap 15 with engine dramas.

Coventry Climax had still not built a 2.5 litre version of their FPF 4 cylinder engine, so Lotus, like Cooper, were competing with engines of 1960cc, well below the 2.5 litre F1 capacity limit.

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Jesse Alexander’s shot captures the atmosphere of Monaco ’58, shot taken from the ‘Milk Bar’

Times of change in racing are of immense interest to those of us with an historic bent. 1958/1959 is one of those eras with the growing influence of the ‘Green Cars’ a portent of the British dominance to come. And of course Cooper showing the mid-engined path still with us today.

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Cliff Allison at Monza in 1959 (Cahier)

 

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Lotus 12 in all its naked glory at Zandvoort in 1958. It was about as small as a front engined GP car could get, ignoring the fact it was designed as an F2 car! In 1958 ’twas as modern as tomorrow and as passe as yesterday simultaneously (Cahier)

 

Note the twin dual-throat SU carbs and front roll bar double-tasking as a means of locating the upper suspension top link

Indicative of  mid-engined growing superiority was the failure of all the Maserati 250F’s entered to qualify- driven by Godia-Sales, Kavanagh, Taramazzo, Gerini, de Fillipis, Testut, Gould and the great, but ageing Monegasque Louis Chiron. Lets not forget that only the year before, 1957, Juan Manuel Fangio won the race in a factory ‘Piccolo’ 250F. And Moss also won aboard a 250F in 1956 for that matter too.

Successful British motor-cycle dealer BC Ecclestone had acquired the GP Connaughts but Bernie, Paul Emery and Bruce Kessler all failed to qualify the cars too.

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Bernie Ecclestone trying hard to qualify his Connaught Type B Alta, to no avail as was the case for his 2 teammates (unattributed)

Things were better for the Green Cars at the front of the grid with Brooks, Behra and Brabham in Vanwall VW57, BRM P25 and Cooper Climax T45 respectively. Salvadori and Trintignant were next up in Coopers, the quickest Ferrari, Mike Hawthorn, was sixth in his Dino.

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# 18 Savadori Cooper T45 Climax, # 6 Behra BRM P25, #16 Brabham Cooper T45 Climax, # 30 Brooks Vanwall VW57, winner Trintignant partially obscured behind Brabham Cooper T45 Climax, # 32 Lewis-Evans Vanwall VW57…and the rest, turn one, lap1 (unattributed)

In a race of changing fortunes Behra, Hawthorn and Moss all led but suffered mechanical failures.

Trintignant won the race in Rob Walker’s Cooper T45 Climax from Musso and Collins in Dinos. Moss’ Argentina Cooper T43 win was no ‘flash in the pan’ by any stretch…

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Moss, Hawthorn, Brabham and Trintignant. Ferrari Dino 246, Vanwall VW57 with Monaco ‘snub nose’ and Coopers T45 Climax x 2 (unattributed)

 

Graham Hill prepares for another practice lap whilst Cliff Allison looks on at left and Colin Chapman in the sunglasses at right.

The Lotus 12 was Chapman’s 1957 F2 contender powered by a Coventry Climax 1.5 litre FPF engine.

Whilst competitive the lithe, nimble, light front-engined cars took no F2 race wins that year, Allison’s second late in the season at the Oulton Park International Cup was the best result.

Fitted with 2 litre FPF’s, ‘F1’ 12’s contested the Non-Championship 1957 Glover Trophy and Lavant Cup at Goodwood and BRDC International Trophy, Silverstone as well as the 1958 Glover Trophy, BARC 200 at Aintree and the BRDC International Trophy before their Monaco Championship debut. Allison’s fourth in the 1958 Glover Trophy aboard chassis ‘357’- the same car he raced in Monaco was the best result. Graham Hill’s car was ‘353’ which has resided, beautifully restored, with Mike Bennett in Adelaide for many years.

Beautiful shots above and below by Bernard Cahier shows the minimalist nature of the Hill Lotus 12 to great effect. Greatness was to come later with Lotus of course- a championship in 1968 after a remarkable stint with BRM.

In some ways its surprising that Chapman, the great innovator, didn’t go the mid-engined route with the Lotus 16, the 12’s successor but he got the hang of the mid-engined thing rather well with the 18 which followed- a machine which was rather successful in FJ, F2 and F1 in 1960.

Lotus 12 Climax cutaway

 

Etcetera…

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Photo and other Credits…

Jesse Alexander, The Cahier Archive, John Ross Motor Racing Archive, John Marsden

Tailpiece: Allison made the Lotus 12 sing…

alli italy

(John Ross)

As here at Monza 1958.

He put the car fifth on the British GP grid, well in front of Hill in the new Lotus 16, finished sixth at Zandvoort, fourth in the Belgian GP at Spa and seventh at Monza. Such were his performances he was off to Ferrari in 1959 at Enzo’s invitation

Finito…

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Harry Schell on the limit of adhesion in his ‘Yeoman Credit’ Cooper T51 Climax at Madgwick Corner, Goodwood…

Harry Schell was a press-on kinda driver wasn’t he? Here the Franco-American is delighting the ‘Glover Trophy’ spectators with some delicious Cooper T51 drifts…

The 1960 event was held on Easter Monday, 18 April. Harry was bang on the pace too, equal 2nd quickest in practice with Stirling Moss in a similar car. Chris Bristow demonstrated his undeniable pace though, he was on pole by a couple of tenths and finished 3rd in the race behind Moss, the winner Innes Ireland in his factory Lotus 18 Climax, the quickest of 1960’s GP grid. Harry’s engine popped on lap 20 of the 62 lap 162 Km race…

Credit…

GP Library, National Motor Museum

Tailpiece: Harry telling a naughty joke by the look of it, Crystal Place, July 1955…

Stirling Moss, Schell and Mike Hawthorn during the ‘London Trophy’ meeting which Mike won the feature race in a Maserati 250F from Harry’s Vanwall.

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(National Motor Museum)

Mike won his heat in the Moss’ family 250F chassis #2508, Harry his in Vanwall ‘VW2’ and Mike the final. Moss was contracted to Mercedes Benz that year, this non-championship 30 July event not one in which Benz entered their W196’s.

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Norman Dewis, famous as Jaguar’s test and development driver was often entered as a relief driver but until 1955 had not raced a Jag…

Here he is in the factory ‘D Type’ during the 1955, horrific Le Mans event. He co-drove Don Beauman’s car the pair failed to finish when Beauman ‘beached the car atop the sand dunes’ at Arnage. Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb scored a hollow win in ‘XKD 505’.

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Umberto Maglioli’s head in his Ferrari 118 LM ahead of the Beauman, Hawthorn and Jacques Swaters D Types during the early laps of the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours (Klemantaski)

Before he joined Jaguar, as the 500cc F3 movement grew, and with a fellow LeaF employee Dewis designed and built a neat Rudge-powered F3 car, the DNC. In its first race at Silverstone in July 1950, he qualified on pole and led for two laps before engine failure. It was rebuilt to do more races in 1951, in October that year Dewis joined Jaguar.

As noted Dewis had been a Jag reserve driver before, but the 1955 Le Mans was his only race/works drive for his Browns Lane employers. He had done most of the D development work, the result, the long-nose 1955 car.

Jaguar’s works 1955 Le Mans entries were for Hawthorn/Jimmy Stewart, Tony Rolt/Duncan Hamilton and Don Beauman/Desmond Titterington. Beauman, an old friend of Hawthorn’s was hired after a test under Lofty England’s watchful eye.

Two weeks before Le Mans Titterington and Stewart crashed their Ecosse D’s during the Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring. Stewart decided to retire and Des was hospitalised. So, days before the race Ivor Bueb was slotted into Hawthorn’s car and Dewis into Beauman’s. Their car ‘XKD508’ ran as high as 4th before the Mercedes team withdrew their 300 SLR’s but on lap 106 Beauman ‘parked it’ at Arnage and retired it unable to free it from the sand.

Click here to read an interesting interview with Norman Dewis in MotorSport about his life;

http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/april-2013/86/lunch-norman-dewis

Credit…

Getty Images, Klemantaski Collection, Nicholas Watts

Tailpiece: Hawthorn’s D  from #12 Dreyfus/Lucas Ferrari 750 Monza and Fangio’s Benz 300SLR during the first torrid stint by both Mike and J-MF…

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(Nicholas Watts)

 

 

 

 

jack from kling

Baptism at Aintree – Karl Kling’s Mercedes W196 & Roberto Mieres’ Maserati 250F push Jack at his 1st World Championship F1 event. Cooper T40 Bristol. 1955 British GP. (Jack Brabham Story)

Sixty years ago today, Jack Brabham made his Formula 1 GP debut at Aintree, but first he had to build the car…

The first half of 1955 was full of many goings on for Jack Brabham. With encouragement from the UK RAC motor sporting administrator, Dean Delamont, Jack was convinced to head over to the UK for some motor racing. Little did anyone know the success this would bring – although it was hardly immediate.

It the pages of the February 1955 ‘Australian Motor Sports’ there’s a brief piece on Jack and his trip to the Continent and it rumours that he had ordered a Cooper-Alta and might have a trial drive with Mercedes Benz. To finance such a trip he had to sell his highly developed & successful ‘RedeX Special’ – aka Cooper-Bristol. Stan Jones, having wrecked his Maybach II at the 1954 Australian GP purchased it. Just prior to selling though, Jack had his last race in the ‘RedeX’ at the January 31, 1955 Gnoo Blas meeting. This was a big meeting for the country NSW circuit with international drivers’ Peter Whitehead and Prince Bira running Ferrari & Maserati respectively. For Jack another part of financing the UK journey also meant selling his lathe and some other equipment – all to his later lament.

jack ibsley

The unloved ex-Whitehead Cooper-Alta at Ibsley. (Jack Brabham Story)

Flying to the UK, meant initially leaving his wife, Betty and young son, Geoffrey in Australia. Soon after arriving Jack took delivery of the ex Peter Whitehead Cooper-Alta. In fact he originally set up camp at Whitehead’s Chalfont St Peter’s race garage before a slightly later move to Bob Chase’s RJC Motors operation at Saltdean. His racing activities in the UK, began with the Cooper-Alta at the April 11, 1955 Goodwood Easter Monday meeting. The same meeting Cooper Cars debuted their petite 1100cc Coventry-Climax T39 ‘bobtail’ sports car. Their first foray into what would become a successful ‘Climax’ engine relationship.

brabham GP-1955-debut

Brabham’s brand new, self built Cooper T40 Bristol, Aintree, British GP 1955. Car and driver victorious in the 1955 Australian GP, Port Wakefield later in the year. (unattributed)

History tells us that Jack Brabham never said much, he let his ability do the talking, whether by his driving or engineering skills. But he knew how to get what he wanted. Neither Charles, nor John Cooper ever officially interviewed Jack for a job at Cooper’s Surbiton works. He just hung around often enough until he was one of them.

Despite its Cooper heritage, Jack’s lack of enthusiasm remained for the Cooper-Alta. Even after an engine blow-up at the April 30 Ibsley meeting on the old RAF base, saw him convert it to Bristol power. Meaning he was never going to be satisfied continuing to race that car.

So having gained his new friendship with the likeable John Cooper, Jack was allowed use of Cooper’s Surbiton facilities to knock together what would be his own interpretation of Cooper’s new T39 ‘bobtail’ – shoehorning a big engine into a small sports car. One could even say this was an early incarnation of what would evolve into the Can Am style cars of the mid 60s and onwards.

t40 construction

The bare bones of the Cooper T40 Bristol under construction. Tubular ‘curvy in the usual Cooper way’ chassis frame. Front and rear suspension upper transverse leaf spring and lower wishbones with Arnstrong shocks, drum brakes, 2 litre Bristol 6 cylinder engine.(Jack Brabham Story)

Part of Jack building his ‘streamliner’ F1 car, involved adding 50mm to the chassis’ wheelbase to accommodate the familiar to him, 2 litre Bristol 6 cylinder lump – in place of the 1100 Climax 4. Both built with the engine behind the driver. Worth noting is that in some official entry lists the car is claimed to have a 2.2 litre Bristol. Apparently that was the intent, but not reality. It was also built devoid of lights and anything that would add unwarranted weight.

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The Bristol 2 litre 6 cylinder in the rear of the T40. (Jack Brabham Story)

This project later tagged as T40 in the Cooper genealogy stakes – with 2 constructed. One Jack would use himself, this car was allocated chassis number CB/1/55 and another that Bob Chase’s RJC Motors would briefly run for Mike Keen. I say briefly, because unfortunately a crash at the August 20, 1955 Goodwood 9 hour took Mike’s life and the ever present problem of fire destroyed the car.

Jack Brabham’s UK presence hadn’t gone unnoticed by the UK specialist motoring press, gaining a few comments in race reports. Autosport magazine even showed off the incomplete T40 in their pages the day before its first race. Admittedly the photo would have been taken sometime before that, but it was a brand new car when it hit the circuit – with no test time.

jack and autosport

Autosport 15 July 1955 Cooper/Brabham announcement.

Liverpool’s Aintree circuit was the venue for the running of the July 16, 1955 British GP meeting. This meeting became Jack’s F1 debut race. The programme even mentions ‘The Cooper Grand Prix entry is a prototype of a full team to be built to race in 1956.’ A slightly premature comment as it turned out and the only F1 Grand Prix the T40 would take part. The car’s haste to complete meant new car sorting was lacking and a rear of grid start. Having liberated the Harley Davidson clutch setup from his Australian ‘RedeX’ C-B before sale, with some irony it was this part that let Jack down at Aintree making for an early retirement at 30 of the intended 90 laps the outcome. The dominant Mercedes Benz W196 team that included Juan Manuel Fangio, Karl Kling and Stirling Moss, saw Stirling taking race honours.

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Jack Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol from Ken Wharton Vanwall VW55 equal 9th, with victor Stirling Moss about to round them up in his Mercedes W196. (Bill Henderson)

Despite the niggling start Jack had more faith in the T40 than the Cooper-Alta. What followed over the ensuing month were national events at July 30 Crystal Palace & August 1 Brands Hatch with further retirements at both. Then crossing over the Scottish border his luck with the T40 began to change at the August 6 Charterhall meeting. Finally two 4th placed finishes in his Heat and Final. Continuing into the following week’s damp August 13 Snetterton. At that meeting Jack was able to mix it amongst some of the motor racing luminaries. Such as Harry Schell & Ken Wharton in Vanwall’s, Stirling Moss in his privately entered Maserati 250F and Roy Salvadori 250F. That being the finishing order for Snetterton’s RedeX Trophy race with Jack slotting in between Stirling and Roy for another 4th place. Had he not spun during his tussle with Moss it may well have been a 3rd place greeting him. This race alone was enough to convince Jack he would return to the UK in 1956 as he was about to send the Cooper T40 home to Australia. Jack and Betty then set to return to Sydney in late September to catch up with their son and more motor racing.

brabham and hawthorn

Jacks thoroughly modern mid engined, ‘central seat sports derived F1 car’ ahead of the over the hill Ferrari 625 of Mike Hawthorn, monstering the little Cooper. MH finished equal 6th in the race with Fazz teammate Eugenio Castellotti. Things got better for Ferrari, the Lancia D50 ‘gifts’ were not too far away! (unattributed)

autocar

The year of 1955 was also a period whereby other Aussies had made the trip to England for a racing holiday. Orders had been placed with Aston Martin for 3 of their DB3S racing sports cars. The ‘Kangaroo Stable’ as it was so named with members being Tony Gaze, David McKay, Les Cosh, Dick Cobden, Tom Sulman & Jack Brabham. Circumstances played against them though. Late delivery of the cars didn’t help, but it was the June 11-12, 1955 running of Le Mans that put the skids on racing soon afterwards with a number of events cancelled as a result to the Pierre Levegh Mercedes going into the crowd at Le Mans.

1955 Hyeres Kangaroo

‘Kangaroo Stable’ Aston Martin DB3S at the Hyeres 12 Hour, France 29 May 1955. L>R Gaze, McKay, Brabham, Cosh and Cobden standing near the post. Only Tom Sulman is missing from the shot. Race won by Canonica/Munaron Ferrari 750 Monza, then came the Kangaroo Stable trio; Gaze/McKay 2nd, Cosh/Cobden 3rd and Sulman/Brabham 4th. (David McKay ‘Behind The Wheel’)

Jack Brabham was present at the famous French road course that year, but as a reserve driver for the Bristol team. He got to qualify, but never received the call up to put his helmet on for the race. That may well have been one of several omens Jack was granted in 1955 and over his outstanding career.

Cooper Cars Ltd also had a presence at Le Mans with the John Brown/Edgar Wadsworth Cooper T39 1100 and the Whitehead Brothers Cooper-Jaguar that year, but it was the infancy of Jack and John’s friendship, hence no involvement with the Surbiton marque’s effort

Another instance of Brabham luck was just before he headed for home. September 17 was the Dundrod RAC Tourist Trophy meeting in Ireland, with Jack there to share the Michael O’Shea owned Cooper T39 with London driver, Jim Mayers. An inexperienced French driver, Vicomte Henri de Barry created annoyance for several drivers as he baulked their progress, with those drivers’ having to take risks to get past to further their race on the testing Irish road course. Unfortunately the situation ended as badly as it could with a fiery crash at Deer’s Leap involving several cars. Jim was one of 2 drivers to die at that crash scene – the Cooper scattered to oblivion. This event would also claim another driver, elsewhere around the course. Although not knowing otherwise, Dean Delamont had sought out Betty Brabham, thinking it was Jack involved in the main crash – only to find him in the pit. Jim and Jack had flipped a coin to decide who did the first stint. We know who won…

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Together in the UK, Betty Brabham followed Jack mid-year. While their son, Geoffrey stayed with his grandparents in Sydney. Cooper T40 Bristol. (Jack Brabham Story)

So as can be seen there were a few familiar names that helped establish Jack Brabham in those early days in the UK – Whitehead, Chase, Cooper & Delamont. The Bristol marque also played its part with their engine and the Le Mans reserve driver gig. Through them, Jack Brabham, Jim Mayers & Mike Keen are also entwined with their 1955 Le Mans Bristol team involvement. Taking out 7th (Mayers), 8th (Keen) & 9th places behind Jaguar’s Mike Hawthorn, Ivor Bueb winning entry. It was all a taste of the next 15 years Jack would encounter in the highest levels of motor racing, including building more racing cars.

Etcetera…

jack

Jack shipped the Cooper Bristol home to Australia at the end of 1955, and in the saltbush country of the new Port Wakefield circuit, 100Km from Adelaide, won the 1955 Australian Grand Prix on 10 October. A lucky win from Reg Hunt’s ailing Maserati A6GCM and Doug Whiteford’s Talbot-Lago T26C. The first mid-engined AGP win. (unattributed)

Bibliography and Photo Credits…

‘The Jack Brabham Story’ Jack Brabham and Doug Nye, ‘Behind The Wheel’ David McKay, Bill Henderson

Finito…