Posts Tagged ‘Porsche 956’

(unattributed)

Peter Brock in his Birrana 272 Ford at Winton in 1973…

Brocky was very hot property in 1973 having seized the public spotlight with the last solo Bathurst win aboard his Holden Dealer Team Torana GTR XU1 in October 1972. Every young bloke in Australia wanted to emulate him, and many women wanted to shag him including Miss Australia as it transpired!

Brock, on the way to winning the 1972 Bathurst 500, Holden LJ Torana GTR-XU1, Murray’s Corner (Getty)

Purists were delighted when he bought 272-002, Tony Alcock’s first monocoque Birrana, to contest the Australian F2 Championship, but sadly he didn’t race the car for long, soon returning to the touring car ranks.

John Goss in Birrana #1- the F71 Formula Ford at Oran Park in September 1971. JG gave McLeod Ford value- he raced an HO, his self-built Tornado Ford sports racer and the Birrana that year! (L Hemer)

Tony Alcock’s first Birrana, the F71 Formula Ford was built in Sydney and initially raced by one of Brock’s touring car sparring partners, John Goss. Then Tony returned to his Adelaide home town and started to build Birrana’s in numbers in partnership with Malcolm Ramsay- in 1972 building two F72 Formula Fords and 272-002. Their first ANF2 car was raced by Ramsay, dual Australian F2 champion Henk Woelders and Gold Star champion Leo Geoghegan before being sold to Brock.

Brock Birrana 272 Ford, Oran Park 1973, note the ‘Isuzu-GM’ decal. Car powered by an injected Lotus-Ford twin-cam but not the ‘ducks guts’ 205 bhp Hart 416B twin-cam which came into F2 in big numbers from that year (unattributed)

Brock, Birrana 272 Ford, Hume Weir, 22 April 1973 (R Davies)

PB raced it at Hume Weir, Winton and Oran Park to get his hand in prior to the start of the 1973 F2 Championship which commenced at Hume Weir in June.

Brock was 2nd to that years champion Leo Geoghegan at Oran Park on 5 August and then 6th at Amaroo on 19 August, in a Birrana 273, chassis 273-008. He updated to the best car of the season, Geoghegan galloping to the title with wins in every round but one. Its not clear exactly how many meetings Brock did in the two cars but he certainly raced the 272 at Hume Weir, Winton, Calder and Oran Park and the 273 at Oran Park and Amaroo Park.

Brock, Birrana 273 Ford, Oran Park 5 August 1973- he was 2nd in the AF2 championship round that day to Geoghegan’s ‘works’ 273 (autopics)

Running the Lotus Ford twin-cam engine was said to be a commercial barrier to the continuation of Brock’s F2 program given his Holden Dealer Team contract, but perhaps the reality of running his own car again with the assistance of his dad was just all too hard compared with being a works driver with all of its benefits. It was such a shame, Brock’s sublime skills deserved to be deployed in racing cars as well as the tourers of all sorts in which he excelled.

Brock in the famous self built with mates Austin A30 Holden sports sedan with which he started racing and wowed everyone, Hume Weir circa 1969 (unattributed)

Brock’s talent was clear from the start aboard his Holden engined Austin A30- his aptitude very quickly accepted once others drove that car, none of those who raced it or track-tested it could work out how he did the times he did- not Ross Bond, Peter Wherrett or Rob Luck. The little rocket was a mix of lightweight Austin stripped shell, highly modified Holden 179 6 cylinder ‘red motor’ giving circa 200 bhp using triple 2 inch SU carbs, Holden three, and later four speed ‘box, rear axle assembly wheel to wheel with a Holden front end and Triumph Herald steering rack with disc front brakes and drum rears.

In the crude but fast HDT Torana XU1 Repco Holden F5000 V8 engined ‘The Beast’ sports sedan, Calder circa 1975 (unattributed)

During the early-mid seventies glory F5000 years it always seemed to me the union between Holden and Repco would see him aboard a big, powerful single-seater car at some point, but the closest that ever came to fruition was the Repco Holden F5000 V8 engined Torana sports-sedan ‘The Beast’, which was not exactly what I had in mind at all. Still, what was in that for Holden or Repco I guess? Holden sold sedans not racing cars, so they hardly needed PB racing one of those dangerous things and Repco’s works F5000 driver was Frank Matich. A guest drive in a Matich would have been nice all the same…

In the Bill Patterson Group 5 BMW CSL 3.5 litre at Le Mans in 1976 with Brian Muir. Q48 and DNF with gearbox problems, the race won by the Ickx/Van Lennep Porsche 936 prototype, the best placed Group 5 entry was the 4th placed Schurti/Stommelen Porsche 935  (unattributed)

Marshall/Brock first in class and second overall in the 1977 Spa 24 Hour, Vauxhall Firenza Magnum 2300, 23 July 1977. The Joosen/Andruet BMW 530i won (unattributed)

Steps in the right direction were his international drives at Le Mans in 1976 aboard a Bill Patterson supported BMW 3.5 CSL Group 5 machine paired with Aussie International Brian Muir. Now that would have been a career to emulate in terms of a mix of sedans and sportscars based in the UK?

Spa in a works Vauxhall Firenza Magnum 2300 paired with Gerry Marshall yielded an amazing second outright in the 24 Hour classic in 1977.

Brock’s status as one of the best Touring Car Drivers of them all was confirmed by MotorSport in 2005 who rated him the greatest in an article contributed to by an array of global commentators of the top-20 of all time.

Brock in the Bob Jane Porsche 956 during the Silverstone 1000 Km on 13 May 1984, 21st sharing with Larry Perkins from Q11. Mass/Ickx won in a works 956. The team did Silverstone as a warm-up event pre Le Mans (unattributed)

The Bob Jane supported attempt on the 1984 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Brock partnered by Larry Perkins in a customer Porsche 956 captured all of our imaginations and to me was exactly where that pair belonged and deserved to be. Sadly the warm-up Silverstone 1000 Km and Le Mans was as far as it went. At Le Mans they retired after an LP mistake during the night.

Rallycross at Calder circa 1971- HDT supercharged ‘LC’ GTR XU1- this car earlier in its life doubled as a sports sedan on the circuits as well as in the dirt and mud (autopics)

1979 round Australia Repco Reliability Trial- winner with Matt Philip and Noel Richards in an HDT 6-cylinder Commodore (unattributed)

If only Brock had raced the 1974 Australian F2 Championship in a good car amidst one of the best grids of any single-seater championship in Australia ever- with success his career direction may have encompassed racing cars as well as tourers, rallycross, rallies.

Not half versatile was he?

About to clip the Dandy Road grass at Sandown, HDT Torana SLR5000 V8, Sandown 250 enduro 1974. He was 10th in the race won by Moffat’s Ford Falcon XB GT Hardtop (unattributed)

Birrana Cars Feature…

https://primotipo.com/2016/04/29/birrana-cars-and-the-1973-singapore-gp/

Photo and Other Credits…

autopics.com.au, Robert Davies, Lynton Hemer, Getty Images, tentenths.com

Tailpiece: Outta my way big guy. Sydney during the PR build up to Le Mans 1984, Porsche 956 chassis ‘110’…

Finito…

 

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(Wolfe)

Looking at Jack in this shot i wondered who the most recent of the F1 driver/engineers was?

Brabham is helping the boys prepare his BT23E Repco before the Sandown Tasman round, the Australian Grand Prix, in early 1968. Jack, ever the practical, hands-on engineer.

Larrikins, Larry Perkins perhaps? He raced and prepared an Ensign, nee Boro in 1976. Was he, perhaps, the last or most recent of the genre? The guys I am referring to are the blokes who could both drive the things and could and would put ‘em together themselves.

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Nice overhead shot of Perkins Ensign ‘Boro’ N175 Ford at Monaco in 1976. He didn’t make the cut in the principality but raced the car in the Belgian, Spanish and Swedish Grands Prix for 8th, 13th and DNF in an operation which was very much smell of an oily rag and DIY…And did well enough to pick up a Brabham drive later in the season, one, sadly, he was not to keep. These cars of Mo Nunns were beautifully designed, quick jiggers. Chris Amon made ‘em fly too, tho their mechanical breakages sapped his confidence and bruised his body, ending his GP career (Schlegelmilch)

Qualifiers?…

Mercedes mechanic come driver ace Hermann Lang is the first who pops into my head but he can’t have been the only one pre-war? I wonder if the Renault brothers were ‘hands on’ maybe they qualify as the first way back in the Edwardian era? Vincenzo Lancia maybe?

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Hermann Lang at Donington Park 1937. Apprenticed as a motor-cycle mechanic at 14, Lang was an ace on bikes by the time he joined Benz as a mechanic in 1934, by ’39 he was European (read World) Champion. He fettled Fagioli’s W25 initially. Aided and abetted by team manager Alfred Neubauer, and against the wishes of some of the drivers, he test drove the cars in 1935 and 1936 before being made a works driver for 1937 with the 5.6-litre W125. By 1939 he was the grids yardstick, winning 5 of the 8 major GP’s in the 3 litre W154. Having the momentum as the ace of the day was lost by the War years, after a few unsuccessful attempts in post-war GP’s, he won the ‘52 Le Mans in a 300SL Benz (Fox)

Fangio certainly built some of the ‘rockets’ he raced in Argentina early on in his career, whether he wielded a torch once he got to Europe is perhaps another thing.

The dudes i think of most readily are the fifties/sixties fellows; Jack and Bruce of course, Chapman qualifies altho he didn’t race in a GP, he did practice for the French GP in 1956 for Vanwall though.  He qualified 5th but boofed the car so did not race.

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Here’s a few practical chaps, and all pretty handy steerers including Brabham designer Ron Tauranac (far right leaning) who was quick in his Ralts in Oz before he was enticed to the UK by Jack. From left Howden Ganley a picture of 70’s sartorial elegance in the flares, and a mechanic at McLarens in the early days as he progressed thru the junior formulae ranks in the UK. Tim Schenken, (these two later partners in Tiga Cars) Graham Hill waxing lyrical and RT at right. Car is the one of a kind ‘Lobster Claw’ Brabham BT34 Ford, driven by Hill, its British GP practice @ Silverstone in 1971. Tim drove last years BT33 and was consistently quicker than GH in his first full F1 season (Blackman)

Graham Hill, Phil Hill, Richie Ginther, Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, Bob Anderson, Frank Gardner, Denny Hulme, Howden Ganley and Graham McRae all qualify. The Kiwi F5000 ace did a Gee Pee or two in ‘73ish and his cars were great bits of kit.

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In 1970-3 Graham McRae was one of the worlds best F5000 pilots at a time the category globally was mega-competitive, winning races and championships in Australasia, Europe and the US. His Len Terry designed Leda LT27/ McRae GM1 Chev’s were the ‘ducks guts’ as well, until the Lola T300 rained on his, and everybody else’s parades. Formula Lola from then on. Here he is in one of Frank Williams Iso IR Fords during ’73 British GP practice at Silverstone. He didn’t complete the first lap with throttle slide dramas at the start of the lap which ended with Jody Scheckter’s big Woodcote, McLaren M23 shunt which took out half the field (unattributed)

Thinking slightly more broadly Chevron’s Derek Bennett wasn’t an F1 driver but otherwise is absolutely of the driver/engineer fix it yerself mould. Make that design, build and drive it. And in Australia Garrie Cooper (Elfin) and Frank Matich spring to mind, Frank was ‘elite level’ as a driver and his sports and F5000’s cars were all winners. Both were not F1 drivers to be clear. ANF1 drivers, but not F1 drivers…

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Larry at the press launch of the BRM P201 in early 1977. Mike Pilbeam’s chassis was good, if they had popped a DFV into it they would have had a good car? By then the BRM V12 was well past it’s use-by date and hadn’t had any development to speak of for years (Keystone)

Larry was later than all that lot so I reckon its him as ‘the last’? Unless some of you guys can think of someone more recent, and you may well do, the above is outta my head which does not fit into the category of thorough, diligent research.

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Perkins had several drives of the Holden Dealer Team supercharged, Holden LC Torana GTR XU1 during 1972, here at Catalina Park in Sydney’s Blue Mountains (Rod MacKenzie)

Perkins spannered the very first Ralt RT1 Tauranac built to his ’75 Euro F3 Championship win then lent his talents to Chris Amon on his Amon and, as I say largely self prepared the Ensign/Boro Ford well enough to be plucked by BC Ecclestone into Brabham for a while. Until Carlos Pace rained on his parade. By the time Larry got to BRM they were shit-heaps, that episode a total wasta time. Mike Pilbeam’s chassis was in search of a good engine.

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Here Larry is  trying to qualify the Amon AF101 Ford during German GP practice after Chris fell ill, Nurburgring 1974, DNQ. Clay Regazzoni won in a Ferrari 312B3 (Sutton)

Larry prepared all of his cars in the junior formulae in Australia before taking the same talents into European F3. I well remember seeing Larry rectifying his practice mishap transferring all the good bits of Robert Handfirds Ralt RT4 into a new chassis having had a territorial dispute with a slower car in practice, and rooted the cars tub, during the 1981 AGP weekend at Calder. Despite a lack of practice time the car was 4th on raceday, Roberto Moreno victorious in another RT4.

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Teo Fabi and Perkins (near side) in March 782 and 77B during the 1979 F Pac NZ GP at Pukekohe.The 1979 NZ F Pac championship was won by Teo Fabi in a factory March 782. The 5 circuit, 5 weekend, 10 50-mile race series was tough. He dominated, the March 782 the best 1978 Euro F2 chassis, was fitted with the latest March 79B bodywork incorporating sliding skirts. Perkins was his toughest opponent driving the ex-works March 77B chassis raced by Danny Sullivan in NZ the year before. Perkins raced a Ralt Australia/Scuderia Veloce Ralt RT1 in the 1978 series finishing runner-up to Keke Rosberg. Larry was 29 then, it was still not too late to resuscitate his single-seater career, the result may well have been different had Perkins raced a car as quick as Fabi’s. Having said that, in early 1979 Fabi was an F3 graduate, Larry an ex-F1 driver so Larry should have been quicker. Perkins mixed single seaters and touring cars in the early eighties. He raced F Pac and F5000, winning the 1979 Rothmans International Series in an Elfin MR8 Chev. He then became a touring car specialist, winning the Bathurst 1000 6 times and a car constructor. He led the team which built the race cars at the Holden Dealer Team when it was owned by Peter Brock and formed Perkins Engineering to build and race Holdens from early 1986 to 2013.

Bob Janes All Australian, if you can call such an attempt in a German car!, attack on Le Mans in 1984 in a John Fitzpatrick Porsche 956 is a story in itself with the drive shared by Larry and Aussie Touring Car Legend, Pter Brock. The preparation of the car in Australia and France was in Larry’s tender, loving hands, the great run ended during the night whilst Larry was at the wheel.

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Perkins at the wheel of the Porsche 956 he shared with Peter Brock in 1984. The car ran as high as 8th before crashing during the night (unattributed)

Larry was pushing hard and ran out of road passing two cars seeking to make up time, the car had slipped down to about 35th after losing 28 minutes repairing a front hub damaged when the car lost a front wheel whilst Brock was driving. He was sanguine about it saying later fatigue wasn’t the issue, the choice of passing a split second one of course, with hindsight backing off was the right one. Henri Pescarolo and Klaus Ludwig won in a 956B, Larry and Brock were out in the 18th hour having covered 145 laps

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Perkins at the wheel of the Jguar XJR9-LM he co-drove to 4th place at Le Mans in 1988 (unattributed)

Jaguar and Holden Special Vehicles…

Tom Walkinshaw was well aware of both Larry’s speed and car construction skills. The Brit owned Holden Special Vehicles in the post-Brock era but was making the same climb up the UK motor racing greasy pole as a driver, as Perkins in the early 1970’s.

Amusing was being a guest of HSV at Bathurst for the 1000Km event in 1988-the design and branding business of which I was a partner designed/created the HSV Logo and brand look and feel, and seeing the ‘in team competition’ between the two Holden VL Commodore HSV racers.

One was built by the Poms at TWR and one built by Larrikins and the lads in Melbourne! Larry’s qualified in the top 10 but neither finished, Walkinshaw’s car doing only 5 laps and Perkins 137. HSV was a very do it yerself operation then, MD John Crennan himself drove the courtesy vehicle to ferry we guests from the circuit to the airport after the race, a far cry of later years as the business of building heavily re-engineered performance Holdens grew.

Walkinshaw invited Larry to join his TWR Jaguar squad at Le Mans in 1988. The Aussie tested the car at Silverstone in preparation for the race, the car was very quick even compared to the Porsche 956, also a ground-effect car, of 4 years earlier. He finished 4th in the French classic co-driving a Jag XJR-9LM together with fellow ex-F1 driver Derek Daly and Kevin Cogan. The big 7 litre V12 was 11 laps behind the winning Jag of teammates Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace.

Perkins touring car exploits in Oz as both builder and driver are well known. Suffice it to say that the Perkins Engineering workshop at Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne’s southern suburbs built amongst the best Holden Group A and V8 Supercars for a couple of decades both for his own team and customers.

This made him a prosperous businessman, in so doing he applied the self taught engineering, business skills and resilience which made him such a formidable driver. Make that driver/engineer, to pick up where we started!

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Drivers meeting during the 1979 NZ F Pacific series. Larry is talking to Teo Fabi, who won the title that year, Jeff Wood is the tall dude and the blondie, Oz F Pac Ace John Smith (Cammick)

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Jack Brabham explaining why front stiffness is critical to performance, Tasman Series, Australia 1968 (unattributed)

Back to the Brabham BT23E race-prep picture at this articles outset…

Whenever you see pictures of Jack he is always fiddling with something, he is rarely looking on at the mechanics doing stuff or checkin’ out the babes.

This (opening article) shot was in a general interest magazine in Rodway Wolfe’s suitcase of Repco Goodies which is in my care. I was certain ‘twas Jack’s 1968 Tasman mount, his BT23E, to which is being fitted an RB740 275bhp Repco V8.

Rodway believes the place is probably a workshop on the South side of the Princes Highway near the Warrigal Road corner close to Sandown in Melbourne. Jack’s Australian manager, Reg Thompson (ex-Redex) used to organise these locales close to the circuit, rather than the team operate from Repco Brabham Engines HQ in Maidstone, which in those pre-Westgate Bridge days was a ‘cut lunch and camel ride’ from Sandown in Springvale.

Jack is at left of course, hidden behind him is Graeme Bartels to the right is Norman Wilson, RBE’s Senior Design Engineer post Phil Irving. He is fettling the Lucas metering unit which is beneath the exhausts, I wonder if he is cursing his packaging as he works! Bevan Weston is facing the camera in the middle, all these fellas are RBE Maidstone crew. The other blokes are BRO. (Brabham Racing Organisation)

One of the many hints its Oz rather than Europe are the cans of Australian oil company ‘Ampol’ fuel and lubricant on the floor of the workshop. In F1 Jack was sponsored by Esso then Gulf from 1968. Ampol didn’t make competition fuel or lubricants, Nigel Tait says that RBE used Shell Super M lubricants at Maidstone whilst assembling and testing the engines, I wonder if its Shell oil and fuel in those Ampol cans!

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Front rows of the ’68 Australian GP grid, Sandown Park, Melbourne. Clark #6 then Amon and Jack on the front row-Lotus 49 DFW, Ferrari Dino 246T and Brabham BT23E Repco. On row 2 Hill in the other 49 and Leo Geoghegan Lotus 39 Repco, well up in this 1965 chassis. You can just see Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT23D Alfa on the inside of the circuit (Howard)

Sandown 1968 Tasman Race: The Australian GP…

This account is a truncated version of that found on the excellent sergent.com website.

The conditions that weekend at Sandown Park were absolutely scorching, Melbourne had been in drought for the previous months. I can still remember water restrictions at the time, the race was held over 55 laps of the 3 and a bit Km, very fast circuit laid out around a horse racing course.

‘The first official practice was held in temperatures of up to 106 degrees, Brabham was quickest in the Brabham-Repco V8 fitted with the older 630 type heads which brought the exhausts up from the lower part of the engine. It was obviously a powerful arrangement, as Brabham had little effort getting down to 1:6.7 secs during his 10 laps’.

Its interesting but not quite right, in fact the engine was a brand new ‘830 Series’ Tasman V8, a combination of the ‘short’ 800 block to be used in the 1968 RB860 F1 engine, and crossflow 30 Series heads. These were more powerful than the 40 Series used in F1 in ’67 and more widely on various Repco engines of capacities from 2.5 to 5 litres.

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The brand new, prototype or first RB830 V8 nestled in the back of Jack’s Brabham BT23E chassis at Sandown during the AGP weekend in 1968. That it was developmental is indicated by the tack on oil cooler and weird aluminium ‘fuel pot’ as Rod Wolfe describes it (Rod MacKenzie)

Clearly though the engine being popped into the chassis in the opening shot is a 740 not an 830, so exactly when this engine is being put in-or pulled out is an interesting, if arcane one!

Jack only did the Warwick Farm and Sandown Tasman rounds in 1968, the car clearly raced a 740 that weekend in Sydney their is plenty of photographic evidence to support that. Equally, if you look closely at the grid at the start of the Sandown race the engine fitted to Jack’s car is not a 740 ‘between the Vee’ exhaust engine but a ‘crossflow’ 830 engine.

Perhaps the car practiced initially at Sandown with a 740, the 830 fitted later in the meeting or perhaps the photo at the articles outset is in a Sydney workshop prior to WF, for sure it isn’t RB HQ at Maidstone in Victoria.

To add to the confusion there is a photo in the report of the AGP in the bible (History of The Australian Grand Prix by Graham Howard and others) which shows the car at Sandown fitted with a 740, but the photo caption I don’t think is right, I suspect it’s at WF not Sandown, they are both circuits built around horse racing  tracks and the car carried #2 at both meetings. All contributions welcome on this arcane Repco topic of what engine where!

Clearly the 830 developed plenty of mumbo as Jack popped it on pole from Amon in the four valve Ferrari and Clark on the outside. Then came a brilliant Leo Geoghegan in his ex-Clark 1966 Tasman Series Lotus 39 but fitted with a Repco ‘740’ rather than the Coventry Climax FPF four which the car was built.

In fact it was built for the still-born Coventry Climax V16, but modified to suit the CC FPF. In any event Leo had the old car ‘dancin amongst this compoany in the latest and greatest from Europe and Graham Hill on the second row respectively.

Then was Gardner (Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo T33 V8) and Cusack (Brabham BT23A Repco 740) Rodriguez (BRM P126 V12) then Piers Courage in the little 1.6 McLaren M4A Ford FVA, John Harvey’s old Brabham BT11 Repco V8 740 Attwood (BRM), Hulme and Bartlett (Brabham completed the grid with no ANF2 1.5’s allowed.

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Jack in BT23E in the Warwick Farm pits the week before the Sandown AGP, car clearly fitted with a 740 Series ‘exhaust between the Vee’ engine. Car in front is one of the P261 BRM’s, behind is Piers Courage McLaren M4A FVA F2 car (Brian McInerney)

Race day was still scorching, the drivers avoided the usual pre-race sports car ride. Jim Clark led from Amon, with Jack making a poor start and getting away in 5th place as the field lined up Shell corner.

Coming under Dunlop Bridge for the first time the order was Clark, Amon, Hill, Gardner, Brabham, Geoghegan (already sounding off tune), Rodriguez, Cusack, Courage, Bartlett, Attwood, Hulme and Harvey.

Brabham took Gardner on lap 3 while Cusack slipped under Rodriguez. Hill fell to Brabham on lap 5. Cusack again poured it on to get by Geoghegan (only running on seven cylinders with a broken plug insulator) and Courage got by Rodriguez on the following lap.

The race was an absolute beauty by lap eight, the order was Clark and Amon with Brabham closing fast. Then came Hill, Gardner, a gap to Courage, Cusack, Geoghegan, Rodriguez, Attwood and Bartlett.

On lap 10 Rodriguez blew the V12 BRM. Brabham, by then was catching Amon and Clark at the rate of 0.5 sec a lap, the chase was sending the crowd wild. Three laps later Brabham had closed right up on Amon.

The three leaders lapped Hulme on BP Straight as they flashed past on lap 19, while Gardner got past Hill again and Bartlett somehow blew off Cusack in the Coventry Climax engined old Brabham BT11A. Next time round, Brabham had again lost ground to Amon and Gardner was one second ahead of Hill. Then, as the leaders came from under Dunlop Bridge onto the main straight, there were only two. Brabham came into view a little later coasting towards the pits with a seized engine.

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Clark and Amon during their epic dice into turn 1 or Shell Corner for the quick blast past the old pits on the left, Sandown 1968 (Rod MacKenzie)

With Brabham out of the race, the crowd focused on the furious dice between Clark and Amon, and then back further to Graham Hill and Frank Gardner.

‘Amon desperately needed the win to make up points on Clark and he was driving superbly to hang on to the tail of the more powerful Lotus-Ford. He started a series of maneuvres which were to last throughout the race of slipstreaming the Lotus, then switching to the side and trying to forge past on the straights. However, Clark had enough steam to just hold the Ferrari leaving his braking slightly later than Amon on Shell and Lukey corners’.

Amon lost some ground lapping slower cars but by lap 43 he was looking into Clark’s ZF ‘box. Temperatures had tumbled during the race to a moderate 90 degrees (!) which made things a shade easier all round’.

‘With seven laps left in the 33rd Australian Grand Prix, Frank Gardner got the GO signal from the Mildren crew and roared after Hill. Amon had his nose over the finish line twice in the closing laps in a massive bid to snatch the lead from Clark, but he was out-braked each time into Shell. Gardner took Hill briefly at Lukey corner on lap 52 but Hill was in front again as they came under Dunlop Bridge.

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Clark under brakes in the winning Lotus 49 DFW, AGP Sandown 1968 (Rod MacKenzie)

And that’s how they finished. It was probably the most exciting GP since the 1960 event at Lowood when Alec Mildren won by a mere one 26th second from Lex Davison. Clark credited Amon with a wonderful drive, and it was obvious both men were as near to the limit as anyone for the whole 55 laps. Courage came home a lap down in fifth place while Attwood, Geoghegan and Bartlett all completed 53 laps in that order. Geoghegan received the honour of first Australian home for the second time and Bartlett was fuming because he had received no pit signal as to how close he was to Geoghegan’.

F1 ‘830 Series’ Repco V8?…

An interesting historic sidebar is this engines prospects as an F1 engine, had it been raced in 1968.

The 860 Series, DOHC, 4 valve circa 390bhp engine bombed bigtime in F1 in 1968. Jack and Jochen Rindt had a torrid time, the engine was way behind with its build and testing compared to the simpler, championship winning 620 and 740 Series 1966 and 1967 engines-a story for another time.

Jack was later to reflect, including in a conversation with Repco’s Rodway Wolfe that another F1 title could have been won by Repco  in 1968. His theory was that had they taken the simple SOHC, 2 valve approach which yielded championships in 1966 and 1967 by using the 830 V8 in ’68 another title beckoned. In 2.5 litre Tasman form the 830 gave circa 295 bhp, even if it gave 350 bhp in 3 litre form, which is 20bhp more than the 740 F1 engine gave in 1967, Jack was drawing a long bow about its ’68 prospects, i think.

By 1968 the Ford Cosworth DFV, which first raced in the ’67 Dutch GP was giving a reliable 405bhp and was in the hands of Lotus, McLaren and Matra; 5 or 6 cars raced the engine in every GP depending upon whether Ken Tyrrell’s Matra International fielded one or two cars. Every 1968 GP bar the French (won by Ickx, Ferrari) was won by the DFV…Yep, an 830 engined Brabham BT26 would have finished in the points had it been reliable, Rindt was pedalling it remember. But a title? I really don’t think so Jack, the game had moved on.

The great tantalising Repco ‘what if’ is how the 860 quad cam would have gone in 1969 with its bugs sorted and having a reliable, torquey Repco (real horses, not ponies) 400bhp. A title in 1969?! Maybe…

Credits…

Rodway Wolfe Collection, Rod MacKenzie Collection, Fox Photos, Keystone, Ross Cammick, The Roaring Season, Getty Images, Brian McInerney, Victor Blackman

Tailpiece: Larry on his way to 13th in the Ensign N175 Ford during the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, Hunt won in a McLaren M23 Ford…

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Max Stewart, Niel Allen & Leo Geoghegan (L>R) , Easter Bathurst, 1969 (Wayne McKay)

Start of the ‘Gold Star’ race Mount Panorama, Easter 1969…

In the Good ‘Ole Days there used to be 2 meetings a year at Mount Panorama, Easter when the Gold Star race was the feature and of course the ‘Taxi’ classic  later in the year.

In those days the Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship meant something. A lot in fact, it was won down the decades by some great, World Class drivers including Lex Davison, Stan Jones, Bib Stillwell, Spencer Martin, Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, John McCormack, Max Stewart, Alfredo Costanzo and many others.These days it does not have the same cachet and ‘Taxis’ dominate in Australia. Sadly.

This photo was posted on Facebook recently by Wayne McKay and shows the grid of the ’69 Gold Star event.

Leo Geoghegan is on pole in his evergreen, white, ex-Clark Lotus 39 Repco, alongside is Niel Allen in his ex-Piers Courage McLaren M4a Ford FVA (a European F2 car) Max Stewart having joined Alec Mildrens team that year is at the wheel of the yellow Mildren Waggott in which he would have so much success over the following 3 years. The Mildren was a car built by Rennmax’ Bob Britton on his Brabham BT23 jig.

The red car on the second row is John Harvey in Bob Jane’s Brabham BT23E Repco, repaired after his huge Bathurst prang the year before. The light blue car is Queenslander Glynn Scott in his Bowin P3 Ford FVA, a wonderful monocoque built by John Joyce in Sydney, Joyce not long before having returned from a longish stint as an Engineer at Lotus.

The red car towards the rear of the grid, on the fence side of the track is Jack Brabham in his Brabham BT31 Repco. Jack was making a rare Gold Star appearance in the F3 based car built for his 1969 Tasman Series campaign, but which could not be unloaded because of a ‘Wharfies’ strike, and only raced in the final Sandown Tasman round.

This car was the lowest mileage Brabham ever built, it raced at Sandown and then Bathurst, the 2.5 litre ANF1 was in its dying days, Repco were unable to sell it. Years later, after being a Repco display car Rodway Wolfe acquired it, eventually it commenced its second career as an historic racer in Bib Stillwells’ hands.

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Jack Brabham Brabham BT31 Repco , Bathurst Easter 1969 between ‘Skyline’ and ‘The Dipper’. He tried the car both bi-winged and with rear wing only during practice , racing the car as shown. BT31 a one off car based on the F3 BT28. Repco 2.5 litre ‘830 Series’ SOHC, 2 valve V8, circa 295 BHP @ 9000 RPM (D Simpson)

The Tasman 2.5 Formula…

The grid shows just how poor fields had become as the 2.5 litre formula came towards its end.

The Tasman 2.5 litre Tasman Formula commenced in 1964 in Australia and New Zealand. The Tasman Series, 8 events initially, 4 in both Australia and NZ over two months in the Southern Summer was well attended by works or semi works cars from BRM, Lotus, and Ferrari running 2.5 litre variants (bored versions of their 1.5 litre F1 engines out to about 2 or 2.1 litres, or ‘de-stroked’ versions of their 3 litre F1 engines) of their F1 engines.

Local competitors could, on more or less equal terms, compete with the internationals using cars in the early Tasman years powered by the Coventry Climax 4 cylinder FPF engine, dominant in the final years of the 2.5 Litre F1 and later on Repco’s Tasman V8’s, which were available to anyone with the cash.

As the 60’s went on it became harder to attract the European teams to the Tasman Series as the F1 season became longer, and local competitors, other than a small number of teams struggled with budgets to run a Repco.

Mind you, budgets in open-wheeler racing in Australia, whatever the era have always been a problem. It was time, in all the circumstances to consider a new ANF1. CAMS were vacillating between 2 litre F2, to commence in Europe in 1972, and Formula A or Formula 5000, which used ‘stock block’ American V8’s and which had commenced in the US, but ‘taken off’ in Europe in 1969.

CAMS announced the change to 2 Litres, which made sense as Merv Waggotts’ engine had already proved competitive. Under pressure from Ford, Holden and Repco, all of whom had commercial interests in the V8’s introduced into Australian road cars in preceding years, ultimately and controversially in some quarters, F5000 became the new ANF1 from 1971, with the 2.5 Litre cars legal in the 1970 Tasman, F5000’s first Tasman Season.

Presumably Jack came to Australia to fulfil commitments to Repco, as a non-resident he was ineligible for Gold Star points, either way he was a welcome addition to the thinning Gold Star grid.

He was a busy boy in April and May. He was at Bathurst in April, raced in the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix in Barcelona and Monte Carlo on May 4 and 18, also practising, qualifying and then racing at Indianapolis on May 30. Indianapolis itself occupied a big chunk of May.

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Jacks car for the Indianapolis 500 in 1969 was the BT25 built the year before. In 1968 they (2 cars bult by MRD) were raced throughout the season by Jack, Jochen Rindt, and Masten Gregory. Repco ‘760 Series’ 4.2 litre normally aspirated, alcohol fuelled V8, circa 500BHP @ 8500RPM. Hewland GB300 gearbox, chassis using sheet aluminium as a stressed member for the first time in a Brabham.

Jack engaged Peter Revson to drive the other BT25, the cars powered by big 4.2 litre normally aspirated, alcohol fuelled ‘760 series’ Repco V8’s, close cousins of the F1 ‘860 Series’ engines which had given so much grief in 1968.

AJ Foyt was on pole at 170.568 MPH, with Jack on 163.875MPH, Revvie squeaking into the field slowest qualifier at 160.851MPH. Revson showed his class in the race won by Andrettis’ Hawk Ford, finishing fifth whilst Jack had ignition failure.

The cars were competitive that season Revson winning a race at Indianapolis Raceway Park later in the season.

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Jack Brabham and Peter Revson at Indianapolis 1969

High Wings…

Looking at the Bathurst cars the high-wings stand out, pun intended.

They had grown larger and higher over the previous 12 months, developments in F1 emulating the wings used first by Chaparral on their Cam Am and World Sports Car Championship cars.

Things were about to change though after numerous failures to wings and their mounts- Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill both experienced near catastrophic failures of the wing mounts on their Lotus 49’s in Barcelona on May 4. The FIA acted decisively at Monaco, banning high wings in all classes globally after Monaco GP practice. There on Saturday, gone on Sunday.

Jack experimented with bi-wings in Bathurst practice, had fuel feed problems problems so he qualified well back, but settled for a wing on the rear, and went sans aero-assistance on the front for the race. The fuel delivery problems were alleviated with the installation of the electric fuel pump from Repco Director, Charlie Deans’ Lancia and an on/off switch to avoid flattening the cars battery.

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Rodway Wolfes’ shot of Jack in practice, here with both front and rear high-wings, Mount Panorama Easter 1969. (Rodway Wolfe)

The skinny grid looked even thinner by the time the cars appeared out of ‘Murrays’ and onto pit straight at the end of lap 1- Stewart and Allen had a territorial dispute going into the Dipper tangling and neatly parking nose to nose high above the Bathurst Plains below.

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Niel Allen #2 and Max Stewart neatly parked high on the mount…’The Dipper’. McLaren M4a and Mildren Waggott respectively, Max extricating all 6’4” from the Mildren. Superb shot shows both the height and elevation of Mount Panorama. (John Arkwright)

Jack cantered way and won the Bathurst Gold Star race, his last win in Australia, but one?…

Brabham retired from F1 at the end of 1970, but let’s come back to that in a little bit.

In 1971 Bob Jane promoted a Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ at Calder in August pitting some of the stars of the past and present against each other.

Kevin Bartlett, Frank Matich, Bib Stillwell, Alan Hamilton and Alan Moffat were amongst the drivers who took on Jack in his Bowin P4x. Jack Brabham Ford sponsored Bob Beasley who raced ‘Jacks’ car in the ‘Driver to Europe Series’, the Australian Formula Ford Championship that year, Jack taking the car to victory to much public acclaim…no way were one of the locals going to beat him having just retired!

So that little known FF event, I think, was JB’s last ever race win?

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Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’. Calder August 15 1971. # 6 Bib Stillwell Elfin 600, in his old helmet!, #1 Jack Brabham Bowin P4x, # 7 Unknown Elfin 600, and the obscured car alogside Jack is Frank Matich in, i think an Aztec. Trivia is that car # 6 is the Elfin 600 raced by Larry Perkins to win the FF Championship in 1971, Mike Stillwell raced the sister BS Stillwell Ford # 7 entry in the same Championship. (Unattributed)

Jack ‘came back’ and did some touring car events in the mid 70’s,including the Bathurst 1000 several times and even shared a Porsche 956 in the World Sports Car Championship race at Sandown in 1984, but I reckon that FF win was his last.

l34

In a promotional coup, Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss shared a Holden Torana L34 in the 1976 Bathurst 1000. Unfortunately the car had a driveline failure and was hit up the ar$e badly damaging the car. Patched together, the pair put on a show for the crowd but the car did not finish (autopics)

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# 56 Porsche 956 driven by Jack Brabham and Johnny Dumfries in the Sandown 1000 round of the World Endurance Championship in 1984. The car was a camera vehicle, and again a promotional coup but still competing, although suffered rear suspension failure so was a DNF. Brabham and Alan Jones careers did not overlap in F1 but both Australian World Champs competed in this race Jones sharing another Rothmans Porsche with Vern Schuppan, also DNF. It was Jacks first experience of a ground effect car, at 58, quite different to the last ‘serious car’ he drove, the Brabham BT33 Ford in which he finished the Mexican GP in 1970, he acquitted himself well. (Pinterest)

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Whats it like out there Jack? It was a hot weekend, the challenge of the powerful ground-effects Porsche must have been considerable but Jack drove for over 2 hours in total, the car eventually failing. Whilst in works Rothmans colours it was a Richard Lloyd Racing 956

F1 in 1970…

These days F1 is all about youth, drivers start in Karts, some are in F1 by 20. Jack was 44 when he commenced his last season and was incredibly competitive at an age F1 drivers these days are long since retired. It was to be a very full season for Jack in a large number of different categories.

He won the season opening South African GP, made a last lap mistake at Monaco under pressure from Jochen Rindt whilst leading and came second. He also finished second to Rindt in the British GP at Brands Hatch as well having passed him and was pulling away before running short of fuel on the last lap, an error made by then Brabham mechanic, and now McLaren chief, Ron Dennis.

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Brabham leading a gaggle of cars early in the Monaco GP 1970. Brabham BT33 Ford, Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra MS120, Jacky Ickx Ferrari 312B, Denny Hulme McLaren M14a and one of the Lotuses…Jack lead the race but Rindt gave the Lotus 49 its last victory in a phenomenal chase of Brabham, pressuring him into a last lap error into second place. Had Rindt re-joined Brabham for 1970, he enjoyed 1968 with them despite the foibles of the Repco ‘860 Series’ DOHC V8, instead of staying at Lotus Jack would have retired at the end of ’69 and Rindt, who knows?…(Pinterest)

He could have won the World Title in 1970 with a little more luck. Mind you luck was in short supply that year, friends and former teammates, Bruce McLaren and Jochen Rindt as well as Piers Courage  perished in 1970.

Grand Prix racing is the pinnacle but 1970 was a year of great depth. The grid comprised the established aces- Stewart, Rindt, Hill, Ickx, Hulme and Rodriguez, as well as young chargers in their first F1 year including Regazzoni, Peterson, Fittipaldi and our own Tim Schenken. Ferrari, Lotus, BRM, Brabham and March all won races in 1970 as well.

Ron Tauranac designed Jack a ‘pearler’ of a car for 1970. The team had been successful with space-frame chassis’ since it was formed. Chapman popularised the monocoque with his 1962 Lotus 25 but Brabham won championships in all formulae with their simple, user friendly, easy to repair and forgiving cars. The latter was both a design feature and a function of Jack doing the final chassis settings before ‘sign-off’.

For 1970 monocoques had effectively been mandated by the FIA, new regulations demanding bag fuel tanks to improve the safety of the cars. Tauranacs’ first stressed-skin chassis was the BT25 ‘Indycar’ pictured above. The BT33 could be said to be standard ‘Cosworth powered kit-car’- an aluminium monocoque, Ford DFV engine and Hewland gearbox were its essential elements, but it was a very good one, and was still very competitive in Tim Schenkens hands in 1971.

bt33

This shot is at Hockenheim 1970, Stommelens’ car in front (5th), Jacks (DNF) at rear. Essential elements the ‘bathtub’ aluminium monocoque chassis. Front suspension by top rocker and lower wishbone operating inboard mounted coil spring/damper unit. Gearbox and rear suspension ass’y rolls away for the engine change minimising time spent especially on time consuming wheel alignment in the field..mechanics will still align the car mind you..but not as big a job! The more you look, the more you see…(Pinterest)

Matra…1970

Jack had decided to retire due to family pressure at the end of 1969 when he agreed terms verbally with Jochen Rindt to rejoin the team for 1970. Jochen enjoyed his Brabham season in 1968 despite the problems with the ‘860 Repco’ engine but ultimately asked Jack to release him from his undertaking as a consequence of an offer from Lotus which was too good to refuse. Had that course of events transpired history would of course been quite different…Rindt dying at the wheel of a Lotus 72 at Monza and winning the 1970 World Championship posthumously.

Jack told his wife Betty he would compete for one more year, putting everything into that last season, and not just F1.

He participated in the World Sports Car Championship for Matra competing at Le Mans in an MS650, a spaceframed car using an endurance version of the compnay’s F1 3 litre, 48 valve V12. He shared the car at Le Mans with Francois Cevert, the car not finishing with engine failure.

He also did the lead up events to Le Mans including Daytona, 10th with Francois Cevert, Cevert breaking into F1 that year. He shared a car with Jean-Pierre Beltoise at Brands and Monza finishing 12th and 5th respectively.

1970 and 1971 were the years of the ‘5 litre monsters’ the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S, it was tough for 3 litre prototypes, Matra steadily evolved their cars to be the class of the field in 1973/4/5, but Jack enjoyed the season and having simply to drive the car, not do literally everything else.

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In search of downforce…Brabham in the Matra MS650, Brands Hatch 1000Km, April 1970, 12th sharing the car with Beltiose (Pinterest)

And Indy…1970

Ron Tauranac built a new monocoque car for  the race using  a 2.65 litre turbo-charged 4 cylinder ‘Offy engine and Weisman gearbox. Jack was classified 13th but had piston failure which carved the block in half. The race was won that year by Al Unser in a Colt Offy ‘Johnny Lightning Special’.

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Formula 2 in a Brabham BT30…1970

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Pau GP 1970 front row L>R : Jochen Rindt on pole Lotus 69, Francois Mazet & Jack Brabham both in Brabham BT30’s. Green helmet in the secong row is Henri Pescarolo in another Barbham BT30, and alongside Clay Regazzoni, Tecno 69. All Ford FVA powered. Rindt won from Pescarolo and Tim Schenken, also in a BT30…(DPPI)

John ‘Nuggett’ Coombs was a longtime privateer entrant running Brabhams and in 1970 had a ‘dream team’ of Jackie Stewart and Jack sharing a Brabham BT30. Jack competed at Pau, Rouen and Tulln-Langenlebarn (Vienna), his best result second in the latter meeting to the Ickx BMW 270.

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Brabham ahead of Jochen Rindt at Pau, France 1970. Jack DNF, Rindt winning the race in his Lotus 69 Ford FVA. The European F2 Championship was won in 1970 by Clay Regazzoni in a Tecno Ford FVA. Brabham is driving a Brabham BT30 FVA owned by John Coombs. (Pinterest)

Tasman Series 1970 and Retirement…

The only series he didn’t do that he usually did was the Tasman Series in our Summer, his Matra campaign commenced on January 31 at Daytona, but it was the first year of the F5000 Tasman series, albeit the 2.5 Litre cars were still eligible, maybe he figured it wasn’t worth the effort as MRD didn’t build an F5000 car at the time? Either way he spent February in Australia.

Graham Lawrence won the Tasman series that year with his ex-Amon Ferrari 246T, consistently running with and beating the more powerful but less nimble F5000’s.

If only Jack had dusted off the BT31 which won at Bathurst the previous April, fitted current tyres and wings maybe he would have won the Tasman Series, a cup missing from his mantelpiece.

Jack said in later years that he felt he had another 3 or 4 competitive years in him. He recounts to Doug Nye in his biography that his father, who had always been his strongest supporter within the family and reinforced his decisions to continue racing, advised him not to reconsider his retirement during 1970 given the deaths which occurred that season.

At the end 0f 1970 Jack returned to Australia to a farm near Wagga, Jack Brabham Ford in Sydney and his aviation interests in addition to investments in the UK.

What can you say about this remarkable Australian which hasn’t already been said? To my way of thinking he is Australias greatest sportsman ever. No other individual performed at the same level for so long, was as innovative as he was, and took on the best in the world and won, both in terms of his driving and in the deployment of Australian technology.

RIP Jack Brabham and thank goodness you did retire at the end of 1970.

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Jack Brabham, sans wings, Sandown Tasman practice 1969…surely a competitive mount in Tasman 1970 had he entered…?(Flickr unattributed)

 

jacks

Deep in set-up thought. Jack in his BT33 F1 car during 1970. ‘Jet Jackson’ fighter pilots helmet that he, Jackie Stewart and Piers Courage tried that year. Skiers goggles. No nomex gloves, leather, nice Rolex watch. Lovely shot which captures the essence of the guy i think!? (Getty Images)

 


 

Etcetera: Bathurst 1969…

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Jack Brabham , Bathurst practice Easter 1969. Brabham BT31 Repco ‘bi-winged’ in practice (Facebook)

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Brabham in the race which he won, sans front wing. Bathurst Easter 1969. (Facebook)

 

Etcetera: Calder FF Race 1971…

 

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Brabham takes the spoils of victory…’Race of Champions’ Calder, Australia August 1971. Car is a Formula Ford Bowin P4x (Facebook)

 

Etcetera: F1 1970 and Brabham BT33…

 

bt 33 cutaway

Drawing of Ron Tauranacs’ 1970 Brabham BT33 Ford, Motor Racing Developments first ‘real’ monocoque chassis car

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Jarama, Spanish GP 1970. Avoiding the fire as a result of the Ickx/Oliver collision, both the Ferrari and BRM were destroyed but the drivers escaped an accident caused by a stub axle failure of the BRM (Pinterest)

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Jack Brabham, Monaco 1970 . BT33 from above, wet Saturday practice (Pinterest)

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Jack trying teammate Rolf Stommelens BT33 in Spain practice, both DNF in the race won by the March 701 Ford of Jackie Stewart (Pinterest)

Etcetera Matra…

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daytona

Jack Brabham, Matra MS 650, Daytona 1970 (Nigel Smuckatelli)

Photo and Other Credits…

oldracingcars.com, Pinterest, Getty Images, ‘Jack Brabhan with Doug Nye’, Nigel Smuckatelli

The End…