Posts Tagged ‘Ralt RT4 Ford’

Andrew McCarthy Ralt RT4 Ford ahead of Benetton BMW and Cheetah Mk8 Ford at Phillip Island (VHRR)

If Bathurst is ‘The Cradle Of Australian Motor Racing’ (1) then surely  Phillip Island is its ‘Birthplace’, given the early Australian Grands’ Prix held on the road circuit not too far from the permanent track we now all know so well…

I’ve always had a sense of the history of the place, as a competitor you get a twinge of excitement the week before and as you cross the bridge from San Remo to Newhaven on the Island itself your sphincter twitches a tad such are the speeds of the circuit. My top gear at Winton short circuit is third in my Van Diemen Formula Ford at the Island, you are motoring fast there even in a car without a surfeit of power.

The meeting has become ‘Bigger Than Ben Hur’, too many entries actually, yer don’t get a lot of bang for your entry fee buck these days but it’s still one of the great Historic Meetings in Australia. There are always a few ‘furriners’ who double enter their cars at the Island and Albert Park for the F1 Gee Pee historic event so there are plenty of  different cars to see each year.

I’m not racing this year but I have been helping ‘me mate Andrew McCarthy prepare his Ralt RT4 Formula Pacific for the rigors of the weekend.

Ron Tauranac is regarded by many of his peers as the ‘High Priest’ of production racing car designers, ignoring the two World Constructors Championships his bespoke Brabham F1 cars won in 1966/7!

The Ralt RT2/3/4/5 F2/F3/FA-Pacific/FSV cars are one of the great series of customer racers of all time. They were winners for lots of customers in all of these classes across the globe in the 1980’s. The Ralt RT4 pretty much did to Formula Atlantic/Pacific what the Lola T330/332 did to F5000, that is, help weaken the class for a while such was their dominance.

I will get around to writing about these cars in detail eventually, RT4 ‘261’, the 1981 Australian GP winning car driven by Roberto Moreno I owned for a while so I won’t prattle on about the background to these cars now, i’ll save it for the article on Roberto’s racer. For every RT4 driven by a hero ten were sold to normal customers whose bums pointed to the ground in much the same way as yours and mine.

Dan Carmichael, Ralt RT4 Ford ‘354’ at Brainard Intl, ‘Jack Pine Sprints’ National Races, 1984 (Winker)

McCarthy’s car ‘354’ is one of these cars, a 1982 chassis, the first RT4’s were 1980 models; it was sold to Dan Carmichael a ‘doyen’ for decades in American SCCA Club Racing. So in the pantheon of drivers he is somewhere between a hero and a regular customer!

‘Fatlantic’ on TrackForum.com said of Carmichael ‘…without a doubt THE MAN in club racing and perhaps of any sport was Dan Carmichael. He…was still a winner and national champ in the fastest SCCA class of all, Formula Atlantic at the age of 80++!!! But thats not all, Dan was a WW2 fighter ace (Hellcats) and then flew jets in the military until the mid 1960’s when they threw him out because he was too old’.

‘Then he took up racing and for the next 35 years won several championships and races usually in very fast sportsracers and formula cars. But there is more, the very first live televised sports event was a college baseball game in the 1940’s, Dan Carmichael was the winning pitcher for Princeton! In the early 1980’s Dan was the Ohio state amateur golf champion (not just for his age bracket). He had a successful engineering firm and was the president of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce for many years and was a winning tournament racketball player until his 80’s when his knees got too bad’.

‘…Always a true gentleman, when I raced against him if you pointed him by he would politely wave as he blew past you. I used to wait until I knew we were coming up to a busy part of the track, but he never forgot to wave, he must have been driving at 150mph with no hands on the wheel, at 80 years old!!! A TRULY great man and a role model for all of us’. It would be great to hear from any of you who know about Carmichael.

Dan first raced the Ralt in October 1982, crashing it badly enough 12 months later to need a new tub which was built by Mark Bahner in late 1983. The car passed through several hands in the US before being purchased by one of the ‘Doyens’ of Australian Historic Racing, former national Formula Ford Champion Richard Carter circa 2002. Richard ran at the front of the fields in the very well developed car before selling it to Matt Lloyd in WA, Lloyd sold it to Andrew not long before his untimely demise in 2008.

McCarthy is a pretty good mechanic for a stockbroker and prepares the car in his home workshop in a twee inner eastern Melbourne suburb. The setup is small but works fairly well, mind you, the passing parade of lissom young Armadale ladies working out in the park opposite is not particularly conducive to the concentration levels needed for the important car preparation task at hand.

Peter Brennan of ‘Racers Retreat’ fame (click the bar at the top of the site) provides lots of advice, not that he says Andrew listens to much of it, and specialist capability inclusive of engine maintenance. That’s been the major task this week, the Jennings built ‘big valve’ Ford Cosworth BDD 1.6 litre engine ingested a washer which helped retain the air intake ‘snorkel’ to its baseplate at Winton in May last year- whilst huge carnage, ‘nuclear fission’ inside the engine was avoided prudence suggested it was a good idea to pull the engine out and send it off to PB, who is not too far away in Burwood.

The motor needed pistons, rings, bearings and valves. The engine developed 212bhp @ 8500rpm last week with another 700rpm to come. In Melbourne’s heat the thing was getting too hot to give it a ‘big ‘tug’, a full power run on Brennan’s dyno. Click on this link to an article on Formula Atlantic/Pacific, which includes information on the engines used in the class;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/18/keke-rosberg-attacks-the-pukekohe-chicane-new-zealand-grand-prix-january-1978/

The rear endcase of the Hewland FT200 ‘box is a bespoke Ralt casting which incorporates a mount for the wing support post (Bisset)

McCarthy holding his bell-housing above, RT4 awaits its engine. The engine bay is big, there is plenty of space for a variety of engines and moving them backwards and forwards in the monocoque chassis to alter weight distribution as needed for different classes or as ideas about such things (weight distribution) evolved from year to year. Compare this shot with the one below and note how the whole rear end ‘wheels away’ obviating the need to realign the suspension if time is short- which it is in this case!

Tauranac used aluminium ‘legs’ or extensions either side of the main chassis section to attach the engine rather than a tubular steel subframe. You can see by reference to this shot (below) and the one above where the aluminium cross beam attaches, with the rear end attached, via 4 high tensile bolts each side, to each of the ‘leg extensions’.

See the mechanical tach drive (photo below) off the back of the exhaust cam, 48DCO2 Weber carbs (fuel injection was not allowed by the FA regs) and inlet manifolds which are Jennings own castings. The dry sump tank is to the right of the ‘right leg’ with a red cap. In front of it is the dull yellow coloured plastic oil catch tank, you can just see the slim, red battery mounted flush along the side of the ‘leg’ extension. Clutch is a twin-plate Tilton.

(Bisset)

When the car was rebuilt after its ’83 prang Carmichael fitted ’83 spec RT4 rocker rear suspension (above) rather than the earlier (‘80/1/2) simple conventional coil spring/shock unit which was cleverly done by RT, but the rocker setup cleans up the airflow thru the all important ground effect tunnels even more. Calipers are AP-Lockheed, discs cast iron. Brakes went outboard at the rear in the G/E period again to keep bits and pieces outta the sidepods where they mucked up airflow. See the canisters for the Fox adjustable shocks- this photo shows just how independent from the rest of the car the back bit is.

Gearbox is, of course, a ubiquitous Hewland, the FT200 pretty much de-rigour in F2 since 1967. Andrews is FT200 #1561, I wonder if that means Mike Hewland’s amazing Maidenhead (its worth a visit to the factory folks) outfit had built 1561 of these ‘trannies between 1967 and 1982?! Look closely under the box and you can see the gold coloured frame to which the lower wishbones on either side mount.

McCarthy is a press on kinda driver, feisty as you might expect of a fellow of Irish catholic descent. He is very quick considering how few miles he does. Had a few FF2000 races on a business/pleasure trip to the UK in his youth many decades ago and has competed in historic racing for about 15 years. Nice view of the sidepods and lower rear wishbones, robust tho Tauranac’s chassis are they are not built to withstand Learjet type take-offs and landings. This Winton contretemps creased the chassis quite badly (McCarthy Collection)

This attempt at aerobatics at Winton in 2013, impressive as it is was Andrew, was not conducive to survival of ‘354’s second chassis and so it was off to Mordialloc to have a chat to Mike Borland about repair.

The builder of Spectrum Racing Cars diagnosed a crease from McCarthy’s ungodly rear end assault upon another competitor and other wear over the decades from previous misdemeanours- replacement of the tubs inner and outer aluminium skins was the only option, the quality of the workmanship superb.

As of this Wednesday evening, the car loaded up, so with luck our hero will be on-circuit on Thursday.

Do come and find the red RT4 #112 in the paddock amongst the Group Q and R entries, and say gedday, hopefully it will be a fun weekend…

Credits…

1 ‘Bathurst: The Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, Jerry Winker, VHRR, McCarthy Collection

 

ray m

(unattributed)

I have always been a big Derek Bennett and Chevron fan, ditto Formula 2 nutter. It was a pity Bernie f@cked the category over by creating F3000 as a home for all those F1 redundant Ford Cosworth DFV’s in my book…

The photo above is of Ray Mallock at Nogaro during the 1977 European F2 Championship round on 3 July. His works car was disqualified for being underweight, the race win was taken by Rene Arnoux’ Martini Mk22 Renault V6, the championship taken by the plucky little Frenchman on his way to F1 that year.

Best placed of the Bolton Bolides that weekend was a Chevron favourite, Riccardo Patrese in a Trivellato Racing, BMW engined B40 in second place, only a second behind the flying French V6. Patrese was the highest placed of the Chevron B40 pilots that year having done the full championship, he was 5th in the title, a year of consistency. Rosberg took a race win at Enna and Lamberto Leoni’s Trivellato Racing Chevron B40 Ferrari Dino another at Misano.

Plenty of ‘hotshots’ had a steer of the B40 in addition to Patrese including Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Patrick Tambay, Jacques Laffitte, Clay Regazzoni, Art Merzario, Derek Daly, Brian Henton, Elio de Angelis and Tiff Needell amongst others. Many of these ‘guested’ in the Fred Opert Racing entries, Fred the US importer of Chevrons and key Rosberg entrant in F2 and F Atlantic/Pacific.

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/18/keke-rosberg-attacks-the-pukekohe-chicane-new-zealand-grand-prix-january-1978/

alain

Alain Prost in an Opert B40 Hart at Pau in May 1978, DNF engine in the race won by Bruno Giacomelli’s works March 782 BMW, Euro F2 champ that year . The 2 litre Hart 420R, injected, DOHC, 4 valve engine gave circa 300bhp (unattributed)

Perhaps Ray Mallock was not at the absolute elite level of some of the dudes above, but after a successful career in the junior single-seater formulae and sportscars the Brit, son of Arthur ‘U2’ Mallock built a very successful business constructing and racing cars for a wide variety of global road car manufacturers, click on this link to suss the achievements of RML Ltd; http://www.rmlmallock.co.uk/

ray ralt

Ray Mallock, Ralt RT4 Ford BDD at Calder, AGP 8 November 1981, the red RT4 behind is John Smith’s car, Q8 and DNF (John Brewer Collection)

Australian enthusiasts of a certain age may remember Mallock contesting the 1981 Australian Grand Prix at Calder, the first of three AGP’s won by Roberto Moreno. Mallock raced the Ralt RT4 in which he won the ’81 British F Atlantic Championship with 9 wins. He plonked the thing mid grid at Calder, finishing 7th. In front of him were Moreno, Piquet, Geoff Brabham, Larry Perkins, Andrew Miedecke and David Oxton, behind him Bruce Allison, Alfie Costanzo and John Smith. Alan Jones, Jacques Laffitte and John Bowe all failed to finish the race. I saw the full race weekend and thought Ray’s was a great race so far from home.

Credits…

John Brewer Collection

Tailpiece: Mallock’s works B40 at Nogaro ’77…

ray m 2

Chevron B4o chassis an aluminium monocoque, the gearbox the ubiquitous Hewland FT200 5 speed transaxle (unattributed)

 

 

geoff and jack

‘Cmon Dad £1 a week isn’t much…you know i’m saving for a racing car!? Lets cut a deal and then you can go back to qualifying ok?…’

I doubt he did the deal, Jack a notoriously tough negotiator and parsimonious, but Geoff did get his first racer, a Bowin P6F Formula Ford in 1974 and did rather well from there, Jack doing his bit along the way!

 

jack and geoff

Geoff’s first racing car drive? Jack clicking the watches at Oran Park, Sydney 16 August 1972. Car is the Jack Brabham Ford owned Bowin P4X normally raced by Bob Beasley, and in a bit of trivia, the car in which  Jack won his last single-seater race at Calder in 1971 in the ‘Race of Champions’ which pitted current and past stars against each other in FF’s (Getty Images)

brabham bowin p6f

Geoff Brabham in his Bowin P6F FF during his 1974 national campaign, F1 driver, Larry’s brother Terry Perkins won that year in an Elfin 620 (Bob Jane Heritage)

Brabham had done a few races in 1973 in an Elfin 620 FF but mounted a serious camapign for the Australian National FF title in 1974 driving John Leffler’s championship winning car from ’73. These Bowins were very advanced for their day; wedge shape, hip radiators and rising rate suspension front and rear, this in a car first built in 1972.So advanced were the cars that later Reynard designer, Malcolm Oastler was still winning in a P6F in 1983.

http://www.bowincars.org/mediawiki-1.6.12/index.php?title=Bowin_P6

Geoff progressed to Australian F2 in 1975 winning the title in a Birrana 274 Ford, ANF2 then was a 1.6 litre, DOHC 2 valve formula, effectively mandating the Lotus Ford twin cam engine, the ‘ducks guts’ variant, the ‘Hart 416B’ producing circa 205bhp.

This wings and slicks experience was important for Brabham in his UK F3 and US Super Vee racing in various Ralt RT1’s over the next 3 years.

brabham amaroo

Brabham, Birrana 274 leads the F2 field at Amaroo Park, Sydney in 1975. He won the title. Ray Winter Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ in 2nd and Andrew Miedecke Rennmax BN7 3rd, all Hart Ford powered. Birranas’ were jewels of cars built by Malcolm Ramsay and Tony Alcock in Adelaide between 1971 and 1974, around 21 were built; FF,F3,F2.Unable to make a $ in Oz they ceased construction, Alcock moved back to the UK joining Graham Hill and was on that fateful flight… (Unattributed)

gb raltrt1

GB BP British F3 Championship 1977. Brands Hatch 11 September. Ralt RT1 Toyota DNF in a race won by Derek Daly’s Chevron B38 Toyota. (David Lawson)

Brabham raced in the British F3 Championships in 1976 and 1977, moved to the ‘States in 1979 and won the Super Vee Championship in a Ralt RT1 also breaking into ‘big cars’ late that year with a Single Seat CanAm 5 litre Hogan HR001 Chev.

image

Who said spaceframes were a thing of the past in the elite categories by 1979? GB in his Hogan HR001 Chev, Riverside GP, 4th. Jacky Ickx heading out to practice behind in his Lola T333CS Chev, Jacky won the CanAm title that year. Al Holbert raced the Hogan for most of the year, but it wasn’t quick or reliable, GB drove it in the last 2 rounds. (Chris Nally)

brabham vds

VDS001 Chev, GB won the CanAm in this car in 1981. VDS raced the Lola T530 in the previous 2 years, this Trevor Harris designed car used the centre of a Lola T530 monocoque; the fuel cell, roll bar and engine mountings. Front suspension was T530 derived but the rest of the car, inclusive of Tony Cicale designed body was built at VDS California workshop. (Unattributed)

Over the following years he mixed Indycars and CanAm winning the 1981 Championship in Count Rudy Van der Stratens VDS Teams self built car, VDS001 having been quicker than teammate and 1980 Champion Patrick Tambay in identical Lola T530 Chevs in the second half of the season.

He raced Indycars from 1981 to 1987, and then periodically, in the early 90’s, in the last 4 years just competing at Indianapolis, his best Indy finish 4th in a VDS entered Penske PC10 Ford in 1983.

brabham indy car

VDS Racing Penske PC10 Ford, Q 26th finished 4th at Indy in 1983, his best result. (Unattributed)

In sports cars he was an ace, winning 4 IMSA GT Championships with various of Nissans sports cars run by ‘Kas’ Kastner in the US.

He competed at Le Mans with Nissan in 1989 and 1990 and was a logical choice for Renault as a safe, experienced, fast driver as part of the 1993 Peugeot Team to repeat the success of the year before, the 3.5 litre V10 905 Evo 1 a very quick car, in essence a 2 seat GP car. He won the race partnered by Eric Helary and Christophe Bouchot, taking a race win that Jack didn’t, JB wasn’t a LeMans regular but did compete with Matra in 1970, his final season in Europe. https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/

Jack settled the family in rural Wagga Wagga in New South Wales in 1971, well away from motor racing but it was not long before the pleasures of bucolic life, whatever they may be, were overwhelmed by the Brabham boys ‘need for speed’, all graduating from Australian Formula Ford to F3 in the UK in turn!

image

Peugeot 905 Evo 1 Le Mans 1993. GB won the race partnered by Eric Helary and Christophe Bouchot. Jean Todt popped him into the car for the final stint. (Unattributed)

Geoff Brabham returned to Australia in the early ’90’s racing both 2 litre ‘Super Tourers’ and ‘V8 Supercars’. He was runner up in both the 1995 and 1997 Super Touring Championship and won the 1997 Bathurst 1000 Super Touring race partnered by his brother David.

brabham in bmw

Mid 90’s in Australia in one of his BMW 2 litre ‘Super Tourers’. (Unattributed)

GB had a remarkably diverse career, as versatile in his time as Jack was in his, and a career of achievement especially if comparisons with his father, such a difficult act to follow, are put to one side!

The Brabham Racing Dynasty continues with Geoffs’ son Matthew finishing 4th in the 2014 Indy Lights Championship driving a Dallara Nissan for Andretti Motorsport. http://matthewbrabham.com/ David Brabhams’ son Sam is also competing and hoping to make the Le Mans grid this year…

Etcetera…

image

Another angle of the wild VDS001 Chev in 1981. GB Used both this car and Lola T530 Chev to win the CanAm title that year. Circuit unknown. (Unattributed)

brabham ralt rt4

GB contested a few of our Formula Pacific Australian Grands Prix at Calder. Here Ralt RT4 mounted in 1983, he finished 4th in the race won by Roberto Moreno, also, inevitably in a Ralt! Alan Jones, Jacques Laffitte also contested the race. (John Brewer Collection)

brabham road america

GB at Road America IMSa 1992. Nissan NP91C 3rd behind 2 Eagle Mk3 Toyotas. (Mark Windecker)

905 drawing

1992/3 Peugeot 905 Evo 1. Carbon fibre chassis weighing 750Kg. ‘SA35’ 80 degree 3499cc DOHC 4 valve fuel injected V10. 670bhp@12500rpm. 6 speed ‘box.

Tailpiece…

geoff and jack moulton

Photo Credits…

Bernard Cahier, Chris Nally, Mark Windecker, RIAM Photo Archive, John Brewer Collection, David Lawson, Bob Jane Collection, Getty Images