Posts Tagged ‘Nuriootpa’

Doug Whiteford, Ford V8 Spl leads Lex Davison, Alfa Romeo P3 early in the Vintage Festival Championship, Nuriootpa April 1949 (SLSA)

South Australia’s Barossa Valley, 75 km north of Adelaide is one of the states great wine producing areas.

32 km long and 8 km wide it includes the towns of Lyndoch, Tanunda, Greenock, Seppeltsfield, Angaston and just to its north-west, Nuriootpa.

Somewhat unique in Australia, large numbers of Germans settled in the Adelaide Hills and surrounding areas from the 1840s planting some of the earliest grapevines in the country.

By 1949 the Barossa had 22,000 acres of vines producing 60% of the total South Australian Vintage. Keen to maintain some of the cultural traditions of the old world, in 1947 community leaders organised a festival similar to those held in the Rhine Valley at vintage time, to foster a greater sense of community, raise funds for charitable causes and have fun!

The climax of the two day 22-23 April 1949 celebration was a carnival at Tanunda with dancing sideshows, a draught-horse derby and barbeques of three 600 pound bullocks! Not to forget motor racing…

1949 Festival program

 

Greenock float heading past the Nuriootpa Community Hotel during the 1948 Festival (Advertiser)

 

Nuriootpa circuit map. In terms of the narrative below, the start/finish is in the top right corner

South Australia hosted Australian Grands Prix at coastal Victor Harbor (correct spelling) in December 1936 and on the daunting Adelaide Hills, Lobethal roller-coaster road course in January 1939, Nuriootpa was chosen as the 1950 venue.

In that sense the Vintage Festival race meeting was a ‘warm up’ for the organisers and racers alike- the Nuri road course was only used on those two occasions seven months apart.

Some maps make the track appear a simple square layout around the town but the more detailed drawing above shows the flat 3.1 mile/4.98 km course to be not quite so easy, whilst not on the same planet of difficulty as Lobethal.

The start line was on the Penrice Road/Research Road corner with cars heading clockwise- the top right corner of the map above, the paddock was on parkland on the outside of this corner.

Racers headed down the straight for a fast run into the double-right hand ‘Atze’s Corner’ and then onto Railway Terrace- gently to the right, then a short straight, then a quick left before another hard application of brakes for ‘Tolleys Corner’- the intersection of Railway Terrace and Nuriootpa’s main drag- Tanunda Road/Murray Street.

There the cars kicked away with parklands on the left, gently left over a wooden bridge to clear the North Para River before heading straight- going past the shops then more hard braking for another right-hander at the Penrice Road intersection.

Exiting, the cars gently curved left and gently right before another straight section past the finish line just before the Penrice Road/Research Road intersection and then another lap…

Bill Patterson, MG TC Spl s/c. Plod on this side, St Johns Ambos on the inside. Probably, as many of these shots are, the intersection of Murray Street and Penrice Road- Bill is entering Penrice for the run to the finish line (HTSA)

 

Harry Neale’s Ford V8 Spl at left and Jim Gullan, Ballot Oldsmobile on the right (HTSA)

34 cars and 46 motorcycles entered the meeting, no doubt the poor entry of cars was a function of the traditional Easter fixture at Mount Panorama which took place the weekend before.

Top guns at Bathurst were Lex Davison’s 1934 GP Alfa Romeo P3, Frank Kleinig’s legendary Kleinig Hudson Spl, Bill McLachlan’s Mackellar Spl (Bugatti T37A Ford V8) and Jack Murray’s Day Special (Bugatti T39 Ford V8). The feature event, the 25 lap All Powers Handicap, was won by Arthur Rizzo’s Riley Spl from Curley Brydon, MG TC and Kleinig.

Bathurst contestants who made the trip to South Australia included Davison, Tony Gaze, HRG and Bill Patterson, MG TC Spl s/c.

The Davison and Patterson crews had barely 24 hours to give their cars a tickle in Melbourne before loading up again for the 750 km trip on the Western Highway to the Barossa.

Tony Gaze had an amazing couple of weeks- he drove the HRG from Melbourne to Bathurst, raced it to fifth in the All Powers Handicap feature race won by Rizzo, then drove to Nuriootpa, raced it again for a couple of third places and finally drove it back to Melbourne!

Lex’ machine had misbehaved at Bathurst- he had braking problems, nor would the exotic 2.9 litre twin-cam straight-eight reach maximum revs. Patterson didn’t start his events at Mount Panorama so his boys in Ringwood no doubt had a busy night as well.

Other entries included plenty of MGs- John Nind’s TB Spl, plus four South Australians in TC’s of varying specification- David Harvey, Ron Kennedy, Steve Tillet and Harold Clisby- the prodigiously talented, intuitive, eccentric engineer of 1.5 litre Clisby V6 F1 race engine fame, and much, much more who was making his race debut.

John Crouch raced another HRG, Ken Wylie his clever, fast Austin A40 Spl s/c, Eldred Norman ran his Ford Double-8 Spl- which as the name suggests was powered by two Ford V8’s. Later driver of that car, Harry Neale entered his Ford V8 Spl and Les Robinson the ex-Segrave/Hope Bartlett 1922 GP Sunbeam Ford V8 Spl.

Jim Gullan brought from Melbourne his quick Ballot Oldsmobile Spl with close mate Doug Whiteford there to race his legendary Ford V8 Ute based special ‘Black Bess’- a combination which would win the AGP at Nuri seven months hence.

Lex’ Alfa landed in Australia in February 1948, he was still getting the hang of the car without too many circuits upon which to race it at the time. Theoretically it was the fastest car in the country- in reality Alf Barrett’s older Alfa Monza was the quicker combination but the Armadale blue-blood was at the end of his career at 38, ‘retiring’ in 1948 whereas the 26 year old Lilydale blue-blood was just at the start of his long, distinguished career.

Interestingly, Davo’s car was being looked after by later four-time Gold Star champion Bib Stillwell who, at 22, had commenced his first retail and repair automotive business in partnership with respected, experienced, ten years older than Bib, Derry George in January 1949.

‘Magnette Motors’, or more commonly ‘Stillwell & George’ operated from 121 Cotham Road, Kew, a building owned by Bib’s mother- it was the start of Stillwell’s motor businesses which occupied this and adjoining sites into the 2000s. George learned his craft with Reg Nutt and before that legendary outfit A.F Hollins in Armadale, who would ultimately prepare Lex’s cars with great success upon the recommendation of Tony Gaze.

Australian racing events were mainly run to handicaps at this stage. Bill Patterson’s marvellous Reg Nutt/Doug Whiteford built, Bob Baker bodied MG TC Spl s/c was half a chance. Whiteford’s ‘Black Bess’, continually developed by the talented and driven racer/engineer since it first appeared in 1939 was a well known combination to the handicappers, his challenge would be greater.

Jim Gullan commented about how little time there was to practice and had the opposite braking problem to Davison- his anchors were too good!

With the assistance of Jack Pearce at Paton Brake Replacements (P.B.R. later the Repco Brake Company) Jim and Doug Whiteford had been supplied with a new braking package which comprised light commercial drums, aluminium brake shoe castings copied from Jim’s Ballot, aluminium backing plates and large wire air-scoops which looked great and were no doubt a wonderful psyche!

Gullan found his new brakes so powerful that ‘they were bending the chassis, making the car almost unsteerable on the rough Nuriootpa roads. The only thing to do was to apply them gently.’

Jim Gullan, Ballot Olds in front of a group shortly after the start of the over 1500cc Vintage Festival Championship scratch- #2 Bill Wilcox, Dodge Spl, #11 Harry Neale, Ford V8 Spl then #2 folks and in the dust behind, Robinson’s GP Sunbeam Spl (J Gullan Collection)

 

Davison now in front of Whiteford in their Vintage Festival Championship tussle- from Murray Street and into Penrice Road (HTSA)

A crowd estimated at 30,000 people attended Sunday raceday, the final day of the carnival to see a six event program- it was fine and warm, good conditions for racing.

The lack of practice Gullan commented on was because practice was scheduled to start on raceday at 6 am but there were still revellers from the night before in Murray Street, so the circuit didn’t open until 6.40 am and was then made over to the bikies at 8 am.

The only incidents were spinners John Crouch and John Nind- who bent his front axle in the process.

Whilst the 48 mile, 8 lap Barossa Valley Handicap was nominally the feature event, the Vintage Festival Championship scratch race for the over 1500cc cars was probably the thriller of the day with a wonderful scrap between Davison and Whiteford.

Contrary to modern practice, the fastest cars started from the back of the grid. Whiteford’s Black Bess made the best start, then came Gullan, Ballot Olds, Davison’s P3 and Harry Neale in his Ford V8 Spl.

He was followed by Melburnian Bill Wilcox in the Gullan designed Dodge Special- a Dodge six-cylinder engine and Lancia gearbox clad in a sexy Bob Baker built body of Mercedes Benz GP style, and then Mount Gambier’s Les Robinson in the GP Sunbeam Ford V8.

During lap 2 Davo passed Gullan and ranged up behind Whiteford, Wilcox was close to Neale but behind Robinson.

It took Davison 3 laps to get past the hard driven Bess, which was not as quick in a straight line as the Alfa (Davo did 144 mph on Conrod aboard the P3 in 1949 whilst Doug did 121 mph in Bess in 1950) but stopped better and had Doug’s cornering brio- and then stay ahead of Whiteford. Positions then remained the same to the end of the race, Davison won from Whiteford, Gullan, Neale and Robinson.

Graham Howard wrote that Davison’s win was an important milestone, it was his first victory after only two and a half years racing, discounting a ‘club level’ win on the grass at Nar-Nar-Goon in Victoria.

Davison in front of Whiteford in Nuriootpa village- Murray Street into Penrice Road corner (HTSA)

 

Ken Wylie, Austin A40 Special s/c (1250cc) on the Murray/Penrice corner- note the ever present, cast iron/concrete ‘Stobie’ poles distinctive to South Australia. Lex Davison famously bent one of these whilst destroying wife Diana’s MG TC Spl at Lobethal in January 1948- and lived, a bit bruised, to tell the tale! (HTSA)

The car racing program opened with the Motors Ltd Championship under 1500cc scratch event over 8 laps, 24 miles.

Crouch’s HRG led for the first lap- Patterson spun with the Tillet and Harvey TCs, Gaze’ HRG and Ken Wylie, Austin A40 Spl coming through in a bunch.

Patterson worked through to the front, overcoming his spin and led from Crouch and Wylie- then Wylie passed Crouch and set the fastest lap of the race, and came to within 12 seconds of Patterson but the Wylies and Gaze cars faded with overheating, the latter having lost its fanbelt.

Patterson won from Crouch, Gaze, Wylie- then Tillett, Kennedy and Harvey having a ball in their TCs then R Head, Riley Spl and I Jackson, GN.

John Crouch had a good year, he won the 1949 Australian Grand Prix that September in his ex-John Snow Delahaye 135CS on the Leyburn ex-RAAF base runways in Queensland- he was 5 minutes ahead of the pursuers led by Ray Gordon’s MG TC Spl.

Tony Gaze would soon return to the UK, having had a distinguished flying career during the war, to say the least, for the ‘serious’ part of his racing career in Europe. Jim Gullan and his wife Christine joined Tony and Kaye Gaze for the early part of that trip, 1951- an interesting story for another time.

In the Barossa Valley Handicap 16 lap feature, Bill Patterson won off 4 minutes 25 seconds.

The cars initially ran in handicap order with Head, Clisby and Ravdell Ford A Model Spl s/c early retirements. After 8 laps Keith Rilstone led in a Morris Minor from the Howard Austin Ulster then the MGs of Tillett, Kennedy and Ohlmeyer (TA).

Patterson was past Crouch, Harvey and Wilcox whilst Davison passed the Ford Double-Eight driven by Eldred Norman- ‘…while Norman was out on the dirt passing Harvey, Davison was dancing from one side of the road to the other, behind them, shaking his fist in search of an opening, Nuvolari style’ AMS reported.

Jim Gullan passed Tony Gaze whose car was boiling, with Patterson taking the lead on lap 14- at this point Rilstone was second from Tillett, Kennedy and Howard.

With 2 of the 16 laps to run Patto had consolidated his lead whilst Tillett was within striking distance of the Rilstone Morris then Wilcox, Dodge and Howard, Austin.

Doug Whiteford only gets a mention towards the end of the AMS report but consistent laps in the 2 minute 30 second mark saw him finish fourth behind the top three- Patterson, Tillett and Wilcox. Kennedy’s TC was fifth, then Gullan, the Crouch HRG, Rilstone, Ohlmeyer’s TA, R Howard’s Austin Ulster, the Harvey TC, Harry Neale’s Ford V8 Spl and the Nind TB Spl.

Bill Patterson first raced a modified MG TC before switching to his new racer (below) which was built in late 1948- he first competed in it at Rob Roy in January 1949, so the Sports Car Club of South Australia handicappers did not have much to work with in the way of results, always handy!

25 year old Bill Patterson in the Nuriootpa paddock after his first big win- the Barossa Valley Handicap in the ‘Patterson’ MG TC Spl s/c’. His ascent as a driver was commensurate with better cars, itself a function of the growing success of his outer eastern Melbourne, Ringwood Holden/truck dealership. Won the Gold Star in a Cooper T51 Climax in 1961, his pace was apparent from the start of his career (R Townley Collection)

 

Stobie pole growing from the cockpit of the Patterson TC- fine lines, driven and developed further by Curley Brydon after its sale by Patto in 1950 (HTSA)

To qualify for the last event of the day, the Consolation Handicap 6 lapper, entrants had to have not won more than forty pounds in any of the previous races!

For the first 4 laps the lead was swapped between Rilstone and later Australian Tourist Trophy winner, Derek Jolly’s Austin 7 Spl with the race won by  Ron Kennedy from Steve Tillett both in MG TC’s and then John Crouch’s HRG which had a very consistent weekend, then came Gaze, Gullan, Wilcox and Davison who set the fastest race time and a lap record of 75 mph.

Then was Ohlmeyer, TA, Jolly, Austin 7 Spl, the Nind TB Spl, Harry Neale, Ford V8 Spl and the N Jackson GN.

Harold Clisby made the local papers after losing control of his MG TC and backing it into a fence. The Clisby family account is that ‘…he was leading the race until another car cut him off on a corner sending him careering over a bridge with only the fencing wires preventing him ending up at the bottom of a creek.’

Jim Gullan, Ballot Olds, the chassis rails of which have been copiously drilled for lightness, no doubt at the cost of torsional rigidity which probably was not great before he started. Which corner? Dunno. Stobie pole marks the apex (unattributed)

Etcetera…

Jim Gullan and Doug Whiteford were close friends, as noted above, in the best traditions of the day, after the 1950 Nuriootpa AGP ‘…we drove each others car around Albert Park one evening, both previously having driven the other’s car a short distance’ wrote Gullan.

‘My impression of the Ford was it had more power and torque than the Ballot, with a rougher engine. The brakes had a very hard pedal and poor retardation, the steering was light and spongy. The car was tail light, tending to wander at speed, difficult to drive at racing speeds.’

‘Doug’s impression of the Ballot, very smooth high revving (6000 rpm) engine, steering and brakes too sensitive, difficult to drive!’

Gullan, mused over the changes to ‘the scene’ in 1950 with drivers getting faster imported cars and ‘nearly half the field in the 1950 Grand Prix had been made up of MG’s, which made for interesting under 1500cc Scratch Races.’

He concluded that the Ballot had reached the limit of its development without a new chassis fitted with independent suspension.

By the time he returned to Australia after twelve months in Europe, in early 1952, air-cooled Coopers were plentiful, Stan Jones was racing Maybach 1, Doug Whiteford had his first Talbot-Lago T26C and much, much more- the times were changing with much of the evolution due to the growth of scratch racing, to win one needed the equipment to do so.

 

Yet one more shot of the Davison/Whiteford dice, Doug almost wholly obscured by Davo and the Stobie (HTSA)

 

(State Records SA)

 

(SLSA)

This is the only clear motorcycle shot I can find, John Medley identified the rider as South Australian, Les Diener, his machine is a Velocette 350 MkVIII KTT.

He had a great weekend, winning the 5 lap Barossa Junior TT and finished third in the Senior event despite giving away capacity to most other entrants.

Diener and Lloyd Hirst had a good go in the Junior event, Hirst leading for the first 2 laps, in the Senior TT Laurie Boulter’s Norton and Hirst’s Vincent-HRD finshed in front of Diener.

Check out this fascinating article about Les Diener- what a talented rider and engineer he was; https://www.shannons.com.au/club/bike-news/old-bikes-australasia-the-eldee-velocettes/

After the final race the crowd swarmed into Nuriootpa’s main street- Murray Street for the start of a procession of sixty decorated floats. At the end of the day 25,000 people converged on Tanunda Oval above, ‘to see the most lavish spectacle ever staged in a South Australian country town.’

The Barossa Vintage Festival is now held biannually with a week long calendar of events including wine workshops, heritage events and church services- the Barossa’s Lutheran leanings reflect its German heritage, which is about where we came in…

Otto Stone’s copy of the race program, programme I should say! from Stephen Dalton

Bibliography…

‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘As Long As It Has Wheels’ James Gullan, ‘Harold William Clisby: The Life of a Restless Engineer’ on clisby.com, Australian Motor Sports 16 May 1949 via the Bob King Collection, Stephen Dalton Collection

Photo Credits…

‘HTSA’ History Trust of South Australia, State Records of South Australia, Adelaide Advertiser, State Library of South Australia, Richard Townley Collection

Tailpiece…

(State Records SA)

Grape pickers during the 1949 Festival- its seventy years ago my friends. Lots of happiness and optimism in those pretty smiling faces.

Finito…

davo nuri 1949

This fantastic shot of Lex Davisons’ Alfa Romeo P3 ahead of Doug Whitefords’ Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’, Nuriootpa, in South Australia’s’ Barossa Valley on 23 April 1949…

Look at the hay bales, stone houses characteristic of South Australia, the ‘Stobie’ light poles are still a feature of SA streets and the relaxed crowd. Captures the flavour of the day doesn’t it?

It’s funny where you find stuff. I was researching my article on Alf Barretts’ career and Alfa Monza a while back and tripped over this shot of Davo on the ‘South Australia History Hub’, but no details were provided. I knew who it was but not exactly when or where, Stephen Dalton fellow enthusiast/historian identified the place, date as well as the event.

‘The Vintage (as in wine vintage, the Barossa is a world renowned wine region) Festival Championship’ was a 25 mile event, 8 laps of the Nuri road circuit, it was reported in Graham Howard’s biography of Lex Davison, from which this article draws heavily.

As you will see from the cars described, the bulk of our elite fields were Australian Specials in the main, we are still several years away from a reasonable number of European GP cars on our grids and 5 years away from the ‘Red Car Period’ of the mid to late fifties, the factory cars then dominant.

The last AGP win for an Australian Special was the 1951 Narrogin event in WA…

It was won by Warwick Pratley’s Ford ‘Flathead’ V8 powered George Reed Special.

The last AGP win for an Australian built car was John Goss’ victory at Sandown in 1976 in a Matich A53 Repco F5000 car- Australian built but not a ‘Special’ in the sense meant above!

nuri

‘The Vintage Festival Championship…’

‘Non-starters included Jack Days Talbot Darracq, Barracloughs Delage and Alfa Mercury. Cars were marshalled with the fastest at the back, Whiteford made the cleanest start. On his hammer was Jim Gullan Ballot Olds with Davison, Neale Ford V8 Spl, Wilcox Dodge Spl and Robinson Sunbeam Mercury, his car the 1922 GP Sunbeam fitted with a Ford V8 and with a body reminiscent of the Segrave 200mph car.’

‘In the next lap Davison passed Gullan and was right behind Whiteford, whose Ford V8 Spl was going very well, this car winning the 1950 AGP at this circuit, I covered this car a while back. Wilcox was close to Neale and behind Robinson.

Davo passed Whiteford by lap 4, the order remained unchanged from then. ‘Doug Whiteford did everything but tie knots in the Ford keeping up with the Davison Alfa and it was the first time he has been seeing really trying. The two leaders outstripped the rest by over a minute and a half and lapped the last man home…’

A great race and a portent of things to come from the two Melburnians…

Davison the wealthy industrialist from Clendon Road, Toorak in the aristocratic GP Alfa and Whiteford the garage proprietor from Carlisle Street, St Kilda in the self built/developed but incredibly clever, quick Ford V8 Spl…several suburbs and poles apart but very much racing enthusiasts and champion drivers both.

4 AGP wins for Davison and 3 for Whiteford, some splendid racing was to follow in the ensuing decade from these two great competitors…

Credits…

SA History Hub, Graham Howard ‘ Lex Davison:Larger Than Life’, Stephen Dalton research

 

image

Doncha’ love old automotive street advertising signs!?

 I was tootling home after my early morning coffee on Sunday and came upon this sign for ‘Perdriau Master Cord Tyres’.

For Melburnians the sign is on a development site on the corner of Malvern Road and Francis Street, Hawksburn.

In most of Australias’ cities, as I guess elsewhere in the world, people are moving closer to town with old industrial buildings converted into interesting residential places or more often modern ones constructed. Often their are interesting old signs exposed when demolition occurs.I don’t recall what was on this corner before, but this sign on the adjoining building wall has been exposed, looking at the history of the Perdriau it’s been hidden since the 1920’s!

The developer has erected a hoarding so thus far it’s been spared the ravages of graffiti-ists.

perdriau rider sydney

Perdriau sidecar delivery service; out front of 21 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney date unknown. (Tedd Hood)

My friend Google tells me Henry Perdriau commenced importing rubber into Sydney in 1897 and manufacturing tyres in 1904, older motorists may remember the company as a market leader. Corporate consolidation is not new of course, the company was absorbed by what is now Pacific Dunlop Ltd in 1929.

I’ve not heavily cropped the shot, I love it juxtaposed with the modern inner urban environment in which it sits.

Still, it will be covered again within 12 months or so, to be exposed by another group of ‘archaeologists’ in 100 years time when once again the site is adapted for whatever use is appropriate then. I have a feeling by then ‘we’ will be getting around in ‘The Jetsons’ style of vehicles than something using rubber tyres. Who knows?

This Shell sign is a ripper as well. It’s on the Horrocks Highway, in the small village of Auburn in South Australia’s Clare Valley, i  spotted it on a cruise up there a month ago.

sheell

It’s interesting what you can spot out and about, mind you I’ve nearly been hit ‘up the chuff’ a couple of times in the process, these sightings are always accompanied by an application of brakes Daniel Ricciardo would be proud of! In fact my partners Cooper S has a neato coffee stain on the dash of said vehicle as a consequence of one of these manouevres.

My quip that the ‘brakes grab a bit’ didn’t remotely come close to making up for the mess i made in her otherwise pristine car…it does have a nice coffee smell, almost cafe like, inside however!

The follow up jibe that ‘car manufacturers would pay for that coffee smell’ didn’t work either…No sense of humour these women.

patz

‘WUB’ speeding past the MCG…in the words of Basil Fawlty…’don’t mention the coffee stain…i did it once and i think i got away with it’…

Mini Cooper S …

That Cooper S is a great car by the way. Its an R56, the just superseded jobbie. 1.6 litre DOHC turbocharged, circa 128KW and 240 Nm of torque.

Patrizias car is an auto, sub-optimal I know but the ‘box and its operation is great, almost enough to convince me to change to the ‘dark-side’.

The auto is a bit ‘clunky’, in fact you can drive the thing smoother manually than in auto mode. Perversely the thing starts in first (of 6) in auto but second in manual mode, unless you select first. Its much less aggressive on lift off in manual mode as a consequence around town. Counter intuitive, but Der Deutschlanders have their ways I guess. That aside the steering wheel, and shift mounted manual controls work a treat.

Its fast, has heaps of mid-range punch, has beautiful turn in, great brakes and sharp steering in a ‘modern car sense’ but lacking compared to my personal road car benchmark, my S1 Elise which I should not have sold!

They are not the most practical of things though, the rear seats a bit of a joke, one of my ‘well-nourished mates’ couldn’t get out of it for a fortnight until his girth disappeared a tad. Not feeding him helped.

I looked at an R53 when they first came out, under pressure from the ‘little sabre-toothed tiger to whom I was betrothed’ to get a more practical car than ye olde 3.2 Carrera, much to the disappointment of my sons who rather liked riding in the old bus. The Mini had less rear seat space than the ‘parcel-shelf’ type seats of the 911!

‘WUB’ has done a lotta trips since acquisition 6 months ago, the only touring downside is a fair amount of road-noise from the sunroof, even when closed, the price you pay for the pleasure of the thing. The car has done 85000Km so its no ‘spring-chicken’ but is still as ‘tight as a mackerals bottom’ in terms of ‘shake, rattle and roll’. Panel fit and the detailing of the thing inside and out is a designers delight. More ‘Audi flair’ than ‘BMW spartan’.

Its far from the rorty original Cooper S’ driven in my youth none of which were standard, all taken out from 1275cc to 1293 or 1310cc, had a 45DCOE Weber, extractors and the factory rally cam ‘AEA 544’ if memory serves…but still a nice small, fast jigger albeit far more refined than the original.

Worth considering if you are in the market for a small, stylish, fun, fast, well built, practical car…for two!

min 1

Australian Grands’ Prix at Nuriootpa & Lobethal…Suggested Driving Tour

map

Back to the earlier thread about the Clare Valley. It ocurred to me having driven through the Clare for the first time on one of my weekends here a month ago (i work in Adelaide but live in Melbourne), that other interstaters with a penchant for Australian GP history may enjoy a tour, if you are ever in Adelaide, which takes in the Clare, Barossa Valley, and Nuriootpa and Lobethal.

A nice loop to the Clare, back through the Barossa, which contains Nuriootpa, then on to Lobethal, and back to Adelaide.

The AGP is one of the oldest Grands’ Prix in the world. It started at Phillip Island in Victoria and for many years each state held it in turn annually. Over the decades in South Australia its been held at Victor Harbour in 1937, Lobethal in 1939, Nuriootpa in 1950, Port Wakefield in 1955, Mallala in 1961, and from 1985 to 1995 at the fantastic Adelaide GP circuit.

My suggestion is a tour which could be done in a day but would be best over 2 days depending upon how large an element you want to make of the wineries as against the driving. I won’t advise on the wine as there is red stuff and white stuff, i like to drink both but am no connoiseur. You COULD, if you wanted add Mallala, and Port Wakefield into the loop, in the first half-day as both are West of Adelaide, which is the direction in which we head. This is all GPS stuff so i won’t go into too much detail.

1.Punch ‘Auburn into your GPS. Head West up the A20 and A32 bypassing Gawler .(116Km)

2.At Auburn by all means check out the Shell sign! Then do a ‘Clare Valley Loop’, i suggest (and South Australian readers please chip in with comments)…Auburn, Mintaro (stop and have a good look its a really interesting little historic village with a good Pub), Farrell Flat then into Clare itself. Check out Clare.

Then go through Emu Flat and Emu Flat to Skillogallee’ for a meal or a look. Its at Trevarrick Road, Sevenhill. It was very good.

3. Now we head for Nuriootpa in the Barossa. go via Kapunda, and Koonunga to Nuriootpa. (90Km) There are lots of wineries in the Barossa so do your research accordingly.

nuri

With the AGP due to be run in SA in 1950, the search was on to replace, ‘vast, fast, treacherous Lobethal’ as historian Terry Walker put it. With lots of local support a circuit was laid out which included the Nuriootpa main street. Its all still there to see, but only the starting stright , Research Road looks the way it did in 1950, the sweeping curves over the river are smoother, wider and armco lined (‘Lost Circuits’ Terry Walker)

black bess

Doug Whiteford , winner of the 1950 AGP at Nuriootpa in ‘Black Bess’, his Ford Mercury engined cut down ex Forests Commission Ute Special. In those days the AGP was a Handicap event, but Black Bess was a fast car by any standards

bess

A better shot of # 8 Black Bess driven by Bill Hayes albeit at Fishermans Bend, Victoria in 1953. Lex Davison is leading in an Alfa P3, with Bill Pitt #1 Alta. ‘Bess was built for Whiteford in an Albert Park, Melbourne backyard in 1939. Ford ute chassis , bed iron frames and panneling from the Footscray tip. A coat of black paint gave its name. When Whiteford returned from the war a Mercury engine was fitted, benefitting from US Hot Rod experience. From 1946-52 the car was one of the fastest in the country, inclusive of the AGP win. As imported cars came in it became obsolete, being tracked down and restored before its debut in the 1977 City Of Sydney Trophy (Old English Sports Cars)

4. Now go through Tanunda in the direction of Birdwood (42 Km)  where the National Motor Museum is. There is not a lot of motor racing stuff in it to really float my boat but if you haven’t been before its worth a look. Go via Lyndoch, Williamstown, and through Mount Crawford Forest, on to Birdwood.

5. Birdwood to Lobethal (17Km)

lobethal 1

tommo

Alan Tomlinson came all the way to Lobethal from WA and won the 1939 AGP in his very fast, light, powerful,supercharged MGTA Spl. He returned to compete in the 1940 SA Grand Prix and was hospitalised after crashing the same car at high speed. In second and third places were Australian Specials’: Bob Lea Wright in the Terraplane Spl, and Jack Phillips in a Ford Spl.(Google)

lobethal

Lobethal was developed as a motor sporting centre off the back of the successful 1936/7 SA Centenary/ Australian GP’s at Victor Harbour. WA driver Alan Tomlinson won the race in both the fastest elapsed time and on handidcap, he drove a self prepared superchaged MG TA Spl. Lobethal was revived in 1948, but three sensational accidents saw it fall into disuse in favour of Woodside, and Nuriootpa. In 1951 the SA Government banned motor-racing on public roads, such ban was in place until the 1985 Adelaide AGP.

6.Lobethal to Adelaide (45Km). key in your location and away you go…

 


 

Etcetera…

perdy

Contenporary magazine advert for Perdriau tyres…late 1920’s (ANU Archives)

enzo

Enzo Ferrari was a big Cooper S fan, and driver! Modena circuit mid 60’s (Pinterest)

nuri

AGP Nuriootpa 1950. 3 MG TC Spls…#30 David Harvey (4th), #29 Vin Maloney (12th), and # 35 Don Cant (8th). MG’s of all kinds were the backbone of Australian Racing including AGP’s for decades (Unattributed)

References…

Pinterest, Wikipedia, ANU, ‘Lost Circuits’ Terry Walker

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