Posts Tagged ‘Reg Parnell’

Dunedin 1956 (T Selfe)

The Aston Martin DP155 single seater is surely one of the great marques lesser known models, here at Dunedin, New Zealand in February 1956…

It is significant too as one of the seminal steps in AM’s occasional quest to get into Grand Prix racing. The DBR4/250 cars were tested later in 1957 although not actually raced by Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby until 1959 by which time the mid-engine revolution was underway and by the seasons end ‘complete’. The Cooper T51 Climax delivered bigtime on the earlier promise of its predecessors.

I chuckled when I first saw Tony Selfe’s wonderful photo as the most successful individual GP chassis of all time- Tony Gaze’s ex-Alberto Ascari Ferrari 500 chassis ‘5’ is alongside its stablemate Peter Whitehead’s car and one of the least known GP cars of all time in far-away New Zealand! Not that its fair to call DP155 anything more than the test hack it most assuredly was.

There are not a huge number of photos of DP155 extant, whilst not super sharp the shot is useful to be able to further appreciate Frank Feeley’s body design within the constraints of the wide DB3S sportscar chassis upon which it was based and way up high seating position atop the driveshaft.

But lets go back to the start.

The project dates to the early 1950s when Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd first contemplated construction of a Grand Prix car, the first step was intended to be an F2 machine.

The intention was to mate a variant of the 2.6 litre LB6 engine with a DB3 sportscar chassis. An early prototype was assembled in the winter of 1951/2 using a mildly-tuned 2-litre version of the engine, however, Technical Director Prof Dr Robert Eberan von Eberhorst rejected the idea and the car was quickly dismantled and forgotten.

HWM’s John Heath showed interest in the ‘tuned down’ engine for his F2 cars but David Brown knocked that notion on its head.

The CSI announced a new 2.5 litre Formula 1 to which World Championship Grands Prix would be run from January 1 1954- a replacement for the 2 litre ‘F2’ formula of 1952-1953 during which the Ferrari 500’s in works and privateer hands had been dominant.

In Autumn 1953 Aston Martin contemplated F1 once more, but as a low priority, busy as they were with their sportscar programs which made great sense from product development and marketing perspectives.

The project was given the classification ‘DP155’, the car, allocated chassis number DP155-1, comprised a DB3S chassis frame ‘in narrower single seat form’ powered by a 2493cc (83×76.mm) version of the Willie Watson-designed 2.9-litre Aston Martin engine. Doug Nye cites works mechanics John King and Richard Green amongst those involved in the build, whilst Aston Martin’s legendary stylist, Frank Feeley, designed the bodywork.

John Wyer estimated an engine output of circa 180 bhp on alcohol fuel at the time- well short of the Tipo 625 Ferrari and Maserati 250F which developed at least 200 bhp in early 1954.

The twin-plug DB3S engines of 1955/6 developed about 210/215 bhp but by this time the F1 opposition were at 240/250 bhp so ‘it seemed a futile exercise for Aston Martin, whose sports-racing cars were notoriously and persistently underpowered, to contemplate building a Formula 1 car powered by a derivative of these engines’ wrote Anthony Pritchard.

The car was put to one side in the workshop as sportscar programs were prioritised. Click here for articles on the DB3S; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/28/david-mckays-aston-martin-db3ss/, and; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/31/yes-frank-i-love-it-magnificent-in-fact/

Reg Parnell testing DP155 at Silverstone (or is it Chalgrove?) fitted with 3 litre supercharged engine (RAC2)

The DP155 2.5 litre engine was subsequently installed in works Aston Martin DB3S sports-racing car chassis ‘5’, which Reg Parnell drove to good effect in that year’s British Empire Trophy race at Oulton Park- he was third behind Archie Scott-Brown’s Lister Bristol and Ken McAlpine’s Connaught ALSR.

This prompted contemporary rumours that Aston Martin was considering an entry into Grand Prix competition. Such stories were denied but the belief that this was the case intensified when Aston Martin confirmed that Reg Parnell would race a DB3S-based single-seater car in New Zealand during the first months of 1956.

Reg had identified far-away New Zealand races as offering very useful motor racing earnings during the northern hemisphere winter, perhaps in conversation with Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze who were ‘veterans’ of the trip south to the Land of The Long White Cloud having raced there the two years before in their matched Ferrari 500’s.

The prototype DP155 was dusted off with its original drum-braked 1953 chassis and  fitted with the supercharged 3-litre engine Parnell had used with co-driver Roy Salvadori at Le Mans in 1954.

The supercharged engine then exploded while being tested by Reg at Chalgrove so DP155 was shipped ‘down under’ with a normally aspirated 2493cc engine ‘fitted with special camshafts, connecting rods and pistons’.

The British contingent to New Zealand comprised Stirling Moss, Maserati 250F, the two-amigos Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze with their Ferrari 750S engined Ferrari 500’s, Leslie Marr’s Connaught B Type Jaguar and Parnell’s Aston Martin.

Sir Leslie Marr (still alive at 97 years of age) is a landscape painter of some considerable note, it was in the formative stages of his evolution as a painter- an interest and capability he explored whilst an RAF Technician during the war, that he also raced cars, contesting amongst other events the 1954 and 1955 British Grands Prix.

Kids Jist Wanna Have Fun. In the Wellington backstreets, just unloaded off a ship and about to be sent by rail to Auckland, Ardmore. L>R Gaze HWM Jag, Whitehead Cooper Jag, McKay Aston DB3S and Moss Maserati 250F (CAN)

 

The first race of the tour was the Third New Zealand International Grand Prix at Ardmore Airfield, 25 km south-east of Auckland, in the north of NZ’s North Island.

Senior Kiwi motoring journalist Allan Dick wrote a very concise, interesting piece on the development of racing in NZ post-war in his ‘Classic Auto News’, i am going to use elements of that into this article as the history and most of the venues will be unfamiliar to many.

‘As far as can be ascertained, prewar “racing” had been confined to beaches with only one “circuit” race- the 1932 Prosperity Grand Prix run on a road circuit in the Auckland suburb of Orakei- very much a one off.’

‘While there had been motorsport and car clubs before WW2, it was when peace returned that the sport got organised…It had its roots in Dunedin, when, in 1947, Percy and Sybil Lupp and Harry Hedges formed the Otago Sports Car Club…then Harry went south and was one of the prime movers in creation of the Southland Car Club.’

‘With new clubs joining with the old it was decided to form a national umbrella body, which became the Association of New Zealand Car Clubs- the ANZCC…now MotorSport NZ.’

Allan continues, ‘With the new structure, getting circuit racing going became a priority…with no permanent racing circuit in NZ. In 1948 the Canterbury Car Club was determined to hold a race meeting…on the outskirts of Christchurch. The authorities would not approve the road closure…a deputation including Pat Hoare approached the government and approval was given for the use of Wigram Air Force base…it became a regular annual feature for decades.’

‘Inspired by this, the Manuwatu Car Club got the use of the Ohakea Air Force base and staged the first NZ GP there in 1950. In 1951 public roads were closed in Christchurch for the running of a meeting at Mairehau…so…proper circuit motor racing was now well and truly established, but these were temporary airfield or road circuits.’

‘For 1953, Mairehau, Wigram and Ohakea were joined by a fourth- a genuine inner city, “round the houses” meeting near the wharves in Dunedin.’

‘…any “international” aspect to these meetings had come from Australia, but in 1954 the whole motor racing scene shifted up several gears with the first truly international race meeting- the New Zealand International Grand Prix on the air force base at Ardmore…Now we had five race meetings annually- three airfield and two road circuits. Two in the North Island and three in the South.’

The 1954 meeting (and season) contestants included Ken Wharton’s BRM P15 V16, Peter Whitehead, Ferrari 125, Tony Gaze, HWM Alta and a swag of Australians including Stan Jones in Maybach 1, Jack Brabham, Cooper T23 Bristol, Lex Davison’s, ex-Moss/Gaze HWM but fitted with a Jaguar XK engine instead of the F2 Alta unit and others in addition to locals.

Wigram Trophy 1954. Ken Wharton in the extraordinary BRM P15 on pole beside Peter Whitehead, Ferrari 125, Tony Gaze, HWM Alta and Fred Zambucka, Maserati 8CM. Whitehead won from Gaze and Wharton (LibNZ)

The first NZ GP at Ohakea was won by John McMillan, Jackson Ford V8 Spl in 1950, the other two events prior to 1956 were at Ardmore in 1954 and 1955 and won by Stan Jones, Maybach 1 and Bira, Maserati 250F

And so it was that our 1956 visitors looked forward to a summer of great racing with the Moss Maserati a huge drawcard and NZ GP race favourite off the back of Bira’s 250F win twelve months before.

Shipping problems with the Moss car, the two Ferrari’s and Marr’s Connaught- which were sent to Wellington rather than Auckland did not get things off to a good start. The Connaught was deep in its ships hold and had to be flown to Auckland on the eve of the race, hurriedly assembled and run without being properly prepared.

For the other visitors it was missing spares and wheels that were the issues but all was made good by the time of the race.

Moss, Whitehead and Parnell all took 2 seconds off Ken Wharton’s two year old BRM T15 V16 lap record in practice with Moss taking pole from Whitehead, Gaze, Brabham, Cooper T40 Bristol (the car in which he started his championship career during the 1955 British GP- and in which he won the Australian GP at Port Wakefield later in 1955), Ron Roycroft, Bugatti T35A Jaguar and Parnell.

Ardmore 1956 grid. Moss, Whitehead and Gaze #4 up front. Row 2 is the Roycroft Bugatti T35A Jaguar, #6 Parnell, Cooper T38 Jag, Syd Jensen, Cooper Mk9 Norton and Tom Clark, Maserati 8CM on the outside. Frank Kleinig is in the light coloured Norman Hamilton owned Porsche 550 Spyder and probably David McKay’s Aston Martin DB3S beside Kleinig and perhaps Alec Mildren’s Cooper T23 Bristol this side of the Aston (unattributed)

 

Tony Gaze Ferrari 500 chasing Leslie Marr Connaught B Type Jaguar at Ardmore during the 1956 NZ GP (Ardmore)

Reg had a fraught start to his weekend in that DP155 threw a connecting rod during the second day of practice. He was well and truly up the creek sans paddle without a spare engine but via the good graces of Peter Whitehead raced his Cooper T38 Jaguar in the race, a most sporting gesture (and the car Stan Jones acquired that summer). Click here to read about the car; https://primotipo.com/2019/03/05/mount-tarrengower-hillclimb/

Gaze led for some of the first lap but then Moss romped away for the balance of the 200 mile journey- he had lapped the field by the end of his thirty-third tour. Some late race excitement was provided when a broken fuel lead sprayed fuel into his cockpit but even after a pitstop to top up the cars fuel he won by three-quarters of a minute from Gaze, Whitehead, Marr and Parnell. Brabham didn’t start with gearbox failure- it split as he was warming it up in the paddock.

All the fun of the fair, 1957 Wigram start. The splash of colour on the front row is Ron Roycroft’s blue Ferrari 375 and the red Ferrari 555’s of Peter Whitehead, who won, and Reg Parnell. The green car on the front row left is Brabham’s Cooper T41 Climax (unattributed)

 

Reg Parnell, DP155 at Wigram (RAC1)

 

The circus then gathered at Christchurch in the north-east of the South Island for ‘The Lady Wigram Trophy’ held at the RNZAF Airbase 7km from the city on 21 January 1956.

The crew in Feltham ensured a new 2922cc engine was flown out to allow installation in DP155 in time for practice.

Moss had returned to Europe after Ardmore but his 250F was put to good use by Ross Jensen and later John Mansel for the ensuing five years or so.

NZ was to be a happy hunting ground for the Brit who won the countries premier race in 1956, 1959 aboard a Cooper T45 Climax and again in 1962 in Rob Walker’s Lotus 21 Climax not too long before his career ending Goodwood accident.

DP155 finished a distant fourth in the 71 lap Trophy race- up front Peter Whitehead was over 5 minutes ahead of the Aston hybrid- he won from pole ahead of Tony Gaze and Marr. Leslie was 1m 35secs adrift of the winning Ferrari with Syd Jensen the first NZ’er home in his Cooper Mk9 Norton 530cc.

Gaze Ferrari at the Dunedin Wharves- David McKay’s Aston DB3S at left (CAN)

 

Dunedin heat start- Gaze Ferrari left, the Arnold Stafford Cooper Mk9 Norton in the middle on pole and Roycroft’s Bugatti T35A Jag at right on the second row (unattributed)

 

Vroom-vroooom-vrooooooom. I can hear the sharp, staccato bark of the 3 litre four as Tony Gaze warms up 500/5 at Dunedin. Uncertain of the car behind but it’s an Aston DB3S a bit further back (unattributed)

 

Syd Jensen, Cooper Mk9 Norton on pole for the feature race alongside Gaze’ Ferrari 500 (TA Thompson)

From there the circus travelled south, still on the South Island to the Otago Harbour city of Dunedin for the ‘NZ Championship Road Race’ on 28 January.

The event of 120 km was 44 laps of 2.74 km around the Dunedin ‘Wharf’ Circuit. Not everyone liked the place as the surface was rough and tough and included a section with a gravel surface.

Syd Jensen’s nimble, fast, Cooper Mk9 Norton started from pole with Gaze and Arnold Stafford in a similar Cooper on the outside of the front row. Marr, Parnell and Whitehead were back on row 3- Kiwis Ron Roycroft Bugatti T35A Jaguar 3442cc, Ron Frost, Cooper Mk9 Norton and Tom Clark, Maserati 8CM were on row 2.

Jensen set the crowd afire in the little Cooper harrying the bigger cars finishing third overall and setting the fastest lap of the race.

Gaze won from Parnell, Jensen, Whitehead and Tom Clark. Marr started the race, did one lap to get his staring money and then retired, not impressed with the place at all, with the other overseas drivers complaining that they were unused to driving on a metalled surface where some sections of the track were unsealed.

 

Parnell head down, bum up whilst Peter and Tony contemplate a post loading cool bevvy. Aston DP155/1 in all of its glory nicely juxtaposed by the industrial surrounds (T Selfe)

Immediately after the Dunedin race these amazing photographs were taken by Tony Selfe of Parnell, Whitehead and Gaze loading their exotic racers onto a low-load railway truck for transport to the next round they were to contest at Ryal Bush, 20 km north of Invercargill, at the very south of the South Island.

Parnell is still ‘suited up’ in his racing kit, the intrepid competitors in the DIY style of the day have helped Tony sip the victory champagne or beer and then taken their machines straight to the adjoining railyards for the Dunedin-Invercargill trip. That chain looks a very butch way to attach the light, alloy Ferrari to the flat rail-car.

Next up is Whitehead’s Ferrari- Peter steering, Tony rear left and Reg at right (T Selfe)

The visitors missed the 4 February South Island Championship at Mairehau but were at Ryal Bush the week later, 4 February for the First ‘Southland Road Race’, a 240 km race- 41 laps of a 5.87 km road course.

Back to Allan Dick’s history lesson on the evolution of NZ circuits.

‘To the farthest south, Invercargill motor racing enthusiasts looked north, and, as one of the founding members of the ANZCC felt it was their duty to join the motor racing scene and they eyed a vacant bit of land on the outskirts of Invercargill on which to build a permanent circuit, but they lacked funds.’

‘But 1956 was Southland’s Centennial Year so it was decided to hold a race meeting on a road circuit to get the sport established and help raise funds. Unlike their Dunedin cousins, the Southlanders opted for a country circuit rather than a city one after plans to close roads around Queens Park failed…they moved into the country and closed three roads around the small settlement of Ryal Bush which included a section of the main road to Queenstown.’

Whitehead was on pole from Marr, Gaze, Clark and John Horton in an HWM Alta 1960cc s/c (ex-works/Gaze) whilst Reg was back on row 3 in the Aston on the stretch of road being used for racing for the first time.

Dick describes the place as ‘…the Reims of NZ- three long straights with three tight corners and high speeds…But unlike Reims, Ryal Bush was narrow and lined with lamp-posts, hedges, ditches, drains and fences. Average speeds were around 150km/h, making it the fastest circuit in New Zealand.’

Given the vast European experience of Whitehead, Gaze and Parnell they should have felt right at home!

(CAN)

Allan writes of the photo above, ‘Photographs of this era are rare. Photographs from Ryal Bush are even more rare. The starters flag has just dropped and the cars are away with a very clear indication of just how narrow the roads were…take your time and drink in the details.’

‘Car #3 is the Ferrari of Peter Whitehead and the Streamliner is Leslie Marr’s Connaught. Car #4 on the second row is Tony Gaze and the antique looking car is Tom Clark in the pre-war Maserati 8CM. Clark had picked and chosen his races this season. Behind Clark is John Horton in the HWM Alta and alongside him is Frank Shuter in the Edelbrock Special.’

‘Also in the photograph can be seen the white Austin Healey 100S of Ross Jensen, the black 100S of Bernie Gillier and the Bugatti Jaguar of Ron Roycroft.’

‘I think it may well have been the start of a heat as there were several other cars entered that aren’t there- including Parnell in the Aston Martin, the Australian Aston Martins (Tom Sulman and David McKay), Pat Hoare’s 4CLT Maserati, Bill Crosbie’s local special and Bruce Monk in the advanced JBM Ford.’

Peter Whitehead won in 1 hour 35 minutes from Gaze, Parnell, Roycroft and Frank Shuter, Cadillac Spl V8 5200cc. Marr retired after an accident on the first lap.

The meeting was a huge success with plenty of money made, preliminary work began on what became Teretonga, its first meeting was in November 1957.

Peter Whitehead, perhaps, in front of Leslie Marr, Connaught at Ryal Bush in 1956- note the row of haybales in front of the wire farm fence and extensive crowd (Southland Times)

 

Parnell in NZ 1956, Aston DP155 circuit unknown (S Dalton)

 

Ryal Bush entry list

Peter Whitehead was complimentary about the meeting in an interview with ‘The Southland Times’, quipping ‘We’ll be back next year- if they will have us’- he was too, he won the race in his Ferrari 555 from Parnell’s similar machine.

Peter had some suggestions about how to improve things, these extended to shifting the pits to a slower section of road and that the corners be concreted, apart from that he ‘spoke highly of the race, its organisation and the favourable report he was going to give to the Royal Automobile Club in London.’

The visitors missed the season ending Ohakea Trophy at the airfield of the same name on 3 March, shipping their cars back to Europe- not so Tony Gaze mind you, he sold both the HWM Jaguar sports and the Ferrari 500 to Lex Davison who would also do rather well in the years to come with the ex-Ascari chassis- the 1956 and 1957 Australian Grands Prix amongst its many victories.

Before leaving New Zealand the visitors indulged in some deep sea fishing out of The Bay of Islands for a week before heading home. ‘Whitehead is headed for South Africa, and two important international races, including the South African Grand Prix at Johannesburg- he won the event last year. (he won the 24 March Rand GP in March 1956 too aboard the Ferrari 500) Mr Parnell’s next important engagement is the 12 Hour Sebring race in the United States’ the report concluded.

Parnell continued as a works-Aston Martin driver with DP155/1 put in a corner of the Feltham race shop until sold to ‘inveterate specials builder’ and entrant of the RRA (Richardson Racing Automobiles) Specials, Geoff Richardson, fitted it with a 2.5 litre single-plug engine.

Richardson told Anthony Pritchard ‘I paid about 900 pounds for it and it proved a great source of annoyance to me because John Wyer guaranteed when I bought it that it gave 190bhp. I put the engine on my test bed and got 145/146bhp. Wyer had a twin-plug engine but he wouldn’t sell it to me, I never spoke to him again. I made up a 2483cc Jaguar XK engine for it and got nearly 200bhp on pump fuel.’

Geoff Richardson in DP155/RRA Spl at Snetterton in 1957 (Autosport)

 

DP155/RRA Special circa 1961 at left and in the early 1970’s at right. Note RRA badge on grille at left, wider wheels and tyres at right (AMOC Register/HAR)

Richardson only raced the car twice before buying an ex-works Connaught B Type and therefore decided to sell it.

At the request of David Gossage, the new owner, Richardson rebuilt it in 1957 as a sportscar fitted with the body from the Lord O’Neill DB3S/105- modified at the front of the with a simple oval radiator intake. It was registered UK ‘UUY504’.

Gossage sold it to a hotelier, Greville Edwards, who had a bad accident in it in which his girlfriend was killed.

Richardson then re-acquired the car and built a replacement chassis using ‘main tubes supplied by Aston Martin’ said Geoff- and further modified it in the rebuild by replacing the torsion bar rear suspension with coil/spring damper units and fitted the de Dion axle with a Watts linkage in place of the sliding guide. Also ftted was a Salisbury ‘slippery diff. He modified the nose to make it more aerodynamic and finessed a 3 litre crank into a 2.4 litre Jag XK block to give a capacity of about 3.2 litres.

Geoff and his wife ran it in a few sprints and on the road before its sale in 1973. Richard Bell restored the car to original DB3S shape and built a twin-plug engine of correct spec. The car passed through a couple of sets of hands before being modified to 1955 team car configuration by Roos Engineering in Berne.

The last reported owner is in Tennessee…whilst the line of provenance is clearish the car in the US is quite different to the one Parnell, Gaze and Whitehead loaded onto a train on that gloomy Dunedin evening in February 1956!

DP155 via RRA via DB3S/105 body in 1988 and referred to as chassis 131-DB135 registered UUY504

 

Etcetera…

 

Reg Parnell in Peter Whitehead’s Cooper T38 Jaguar at Ardmore during the 1956 NZ GP (sergent.com)

 

Ryal Bush program signed by Whitehead, Marr, Gaze and Parnell.

 

Gaze’s Ferrari 500 in the Dunedin railyards 1956 (T Selfe)

 

Tom Clark’s Maserati 8CM, Dunedin 1956 (CAN)

Photo and Reference Credits…

Tony Selfe, ‘Aston Martin: A Racing History’ Anthony Pritchard, Allan Dick and ‘Classic Auto News’ July 2016 post on Ryal Bush, ‘Hissing Cobra’ by Mattijs Diepraam and Felix Muelas on 8WForix, ‘The History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, sergent.com, Aston Martin DP155 thread on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, Stephen Dalton Collection, Aston Martin Owners Club, The Southland Times, TA Thompson, astonuts.free.fr, Graham Woods Collection

Tailpieces…

(T Selfe)

A crop of the opening shot, Aston Martin DP155 being washed at Dunedin in February 1956, maybe one of you proficient in Photoshop can sharpen it up a bit.

Its just a footnote in motor racing history, but quite an interesting one all the same. It is a shame it lost its single-seater identity, what interest it would create had it survived in ‘original’ specification today.

And below, Reg at Wigram.

(unattributed)

Finito…

amon 1963 agp cooper

(David Mist)

Chris Amon, 19 years of age, awaits the start of the 1963 Australian Grand Prix, Warwick Farm, Sydney. Cooper T53 Climax…

Amon didn’t finish in his ‘Scuderia Veloce’ entered Cooper, the cars fuel pump failed after 24 laps. Jack Brabham won the race in his Brabham BT4 Climax, Amon’s team-leader and ‘SV’ owner David McKay finished 4th in another Brabham BT4 Climax.

I wrote an article about McKay a while back; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

These were the early days of a very successful collaboration between Amon and McKay which resulted in the pair winning the 1969 Tasman Series in the fabulous Ferrari Dino 246T. Chris was the first of many drivers the racer/writer/team owner nurtured over the years.

In Amon’s case it was at a stage of his life when McKay was about to vacate the driving seat and evolve into a new stage of his career as owner/entrant of cars driven by others. Amon, then racing a Maserati 250F in NZ tested McKay’s Cooper T51 at Warwick Farm in August 1962 and contested Australian Gold Star rounds later in the season at Mallala and Sandown, non-starting in both but taking a strong 3rd place at Warwick Farm in the Hordern Trophy behind Bib Stillwell and John Youl in October.

This was all valuable experience before the NZ and Australian Internationals with McKay entering the Kiwi in a later model T53 Cooper.

He was 7th from grid 6 in the NZ GP at the brand new Pukekohe circuit on 5 January, and had DNF’s with ignition and gearbox dramas at Levin, Wigram and Teretonga. He qualified 4th, 6th and 7th. In Australia he had slightly more luck.

He contested the AGP at Warwick Farm, for grid 5 and DNF fuel pump. At the Lakeside International he was 4th from grid 6, his best result. In Tasmania, at the South Pacific Championship at Longford he was 7th from grid 8 and at the Sandown International, the Australian Grand Prix, he finished 6th from grid 12 in the last meeting of his tour on 10 March.

It was a critical period in Amon’s progression as a driver. Chris raced his ex-Owen Racing Organisation Maserati 250F in the first of the Kiwi Internationals at Renwick in November 1962. He then graduated to McKay’s Cooper and so impressed Reg Parnell (who ran Lola Mk4A’s for John Surtees and Tony Maggs in Australasia) that summer in a car that was not the latest bit of kit, and 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF powered rather than the 2.7 variant used by much of the opposition, that he was off to Europe for the rest of 1963. 7th place in the British and French Grands Prix were his best results in the Parnell Racing Lola Mk4A Climax V8 that season.

His climb went all the way to the top echelon of Grand Prix Racing of course, championship Grand Prix win or not, he was undisputably a ‘Top 5 In The World’ pilot in several seasons during the 1967-72 period…

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Chris Amon, Cooper T53 Climax Lakeside 1963. 4th in the race won by John Surtees’ Lola Mk4A Climax (Bruce Thomas)

Cooper T53 Climax ‘F2-8-60’…

The car was built by the CT ‘Tommy’ Atkins team for Bruce McLaren to drive but using the identity of one of the 1960 works F1 cars. (Jacks 1960 chassis)

The chassis was either built late in 1960 for McLaren to race in 1961 UK Intercontinental races or at the end of the season for his use in the 1962 New Zealand and Australian Internationals, depending upon the account you reference.

It was then sold to David McKay for the 1962 Australian Gold Star Series, raced by Amon in the ’63 Kiwi/Australian Internationals and then passed into the hands of a succession of Kiwi owners; Bill Thomason in 1963, Feo Stanton and Ian Rorison 1964 or 1965 and rebuilt as the Rorstan Sports with 2.7-litre Climax engine, then to D Lupp in 1970. Ted Giles bought it in 1978, it’s still in the families ownership in 2012.

Credits…

David Mist, Powerhouse Museum, Bruce Thomas, Hammo

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com for the chassis history and race results, sergent.com

Tailpiece: Amon’s Scuderia Veloce Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 prowling the Longford paddock, he was 7th in the ‘South Pacific Championship’ race won by Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax 2.7…

image

(Hammo)

 

 

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Gino Valenzano’s Lancia D24 passes Reg Parnell’s Aston Martin DB3S in the early morning Brescia fog, the action captured by Louis Klemantaski aboard the Aston as both navigator and ‘snapper. Mille Miglia 2 May 1954…

It wasn’t to be a happy event for either car, they both failed to finish as a result of accidents. The competitiveness of Vittorio Jano’s newish D24 design was underlined by Alberto Ascari’s win in another of the cars in a time of 11 hours 26 minutes and 10 seconds. Vittorio Marzotto’s 2nd placed Ferrari 500 Mondial was 34 minutes in arrears.

Piero Taruffi’s Lancia led the race early from Brescia, that year fog replaced the more usual rain, he was first into Ravenna with a lead of 1.5 minutes. Castellotti retired his Lancia by Rome, soon Piero’s car developed an oil leak so he too retired. Ascari then assumed the lead but on the home leg north his throttle return spring failed, a rubber band provided a temporary repair. By Florence he was ready to retire but was prevailed upon to continue, then by Bologna all of the quick Ferrari’s had retired so the final 200Km into Brescia was a ‘cruise’ if the final hours of a race lasting 11 plus hours can be so described!

Gianni Lancia and Vittorio Jano created some stunning sports and racing cars in the early 1950’s, at least the Lancia heir could look back on them as a legacy when he was forced to cede management of the company such was its parlous financial state into 1955.

The new D24 ended 1953 with a stunning 1-3 in the November Carrera Panamericana in Mexico; Fangio won from cars driven by Piero Taruffi and Eugenio Castellotti. Felice Bonetto’s death in a D24 during the event somewhat muted the joy the team felt in victory, to say the least.

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Brescia 1 May 1954: Lancia D24’s are islands in a sea of people. #541 Valenzano DNF distributor, #602 Ascari’s winning car and  #540 Castellotti DNF accident (unattributed)

The D24 evolved from the D23 Spyder, itself begat by the D20 Coupe design. Jano’s development times were short, the D23 made its race debut at the Monza GP on 28 June (2nd Bonetto) and the D24 at the Nurbugring 1000Km on 30 August (Taruffi/Manzon and Fangio/Bonetto both DNF). The wheelbase of the D24’s tubular steel spaceframe chassis was marginally reduced. The quad-cam, chain driven, 2 valve, triple Weber 46DCF3 fed, 60 degree V6 engines capacity was increased from the D23’s 3102cc to 3284cc with power in the range 240 to 270bhp @ 6500rpm for each of the two engines.

The cars late 1953 speed carried through into 1954 with the Taruffi/Manzon D24 leading the Sebring 12 Hour until an engine failure about an hour before the end. Despite that the car completed 161 laps compared with the 168 of Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd in the winning OSCA MT4.

Wins at the Targa by Taruffi, not a championship round in 1954, and 4th & 6th in the Tourist Trophy gave Lancia 2nd place in the Manufacturers Championship with 20 points to Ferrari’s 38 despite not entering Le Mans.

Lancia did get plenty of promotional rub-off for their considerable investment in Italy with the cars winning a swag of races and hillclimbs in ’54. Castellotti won the Treponti-Castelnuovo, Coppa Firenze-Siena, Bolzano-Passo Mendola and the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo. Taruffi took the Giro di Sicilia, Catania-Etna and Coppa d’Oro di Sicilia and Villoresi the Oporto GP.

Lancia’s F1 program absorbed plenty of resources, the D50’s first race  was the final ’54 championship round on 24 October, the Spanish Grand Prix at Pedralbes, Barcelona. Alberto Ascari’s jewel of a Lancia D50 started from pole and led until clutch problems caused him to retire on lap 9.

Lancia D24 cutaway: essential elements of Vittorio Jano’s car. Multi-tubular steel spaceframe chassis, Pininfarina designed and built aluminium body, 60 degree DOHC, 3284cc 270bhp V6, independent front suspension, de Dion rear suspension, leaf springs and tubular shocks. Gearbox 4 speed mounted at rear. Inboard drum brakes front and rear. Weight 740-760Kg (Betti)

Despite the competing GP car program Jano evolved the D24 design later in the year by increasing the capacity of the V6 to 3550cc for which 300-305bhp @ 6500 rpm was claimed. Two of these cars dubbed D25 were entered for Ascari/Villoresi and Fangio/Castellotti  at the Tourist Trophy, Dundrod in September but both retired with diff and engine failure respectively. Taruffi/Fangio and Manzon/Castellotti were 4th and 6th in D24’s.

The timing of the GP debut was unfortunate as the D24 was a mighty fine, fast car which deserved to have been the primary competition focus of Lancia that year.

The D50 changed the course of GP history in terms of its brilliant design, it’s contribution to Lancia’s fiscal disaster and of course giving Ferrari a car which won the world drivers championship for JM Fangio in 1956. But the D24 could conceivably have won Lancia a sportscar manufacturers championship in 1954 had the necessary, exclusive effort been applied to that campaign.

Wonderful hindsight of course, one of my strengths!…

Credits…

Louis Klemantaski, STF, Bruno Betti

Tailpiece: Alberto Ascari’s Lancia D24 chassis ‘006’ of nine cars built, in Rome and ‘heading for home’ 2 May 1954…

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(STF)

 

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‘The good news is the car isn’t completely rooted, the bad news is I can’t get it going…’

Eric Thomson giving the Aston Martin team the sad news that the impressive run by the big Lagonda (Development Project) DP115 V12 has come to an abrupt halt. As the pictures show it was not for lack of trying. He spun and crashed the car in The Esses.

Thomson got the car mobile and back to the pits but it was retired after completing 26 laps, co-driver Dennis Poore didn’t get a drive in the race. Froilan Gonzalez and Maurice Trintignant won in a Ferrari 375 Plus, click on this article i wrote a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2015/09/17/le-mans-1954/

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No doubt there were plenty of yellow flags but Thomson was exposed as he successfully got the car running. Passing is the Pilette/Gilberte Gordini T17S DNF and Moss/Walker Jag D Type DNF, ’54 the D’s first Le Mans (Jack Garofalo)

 

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(Klemantaski)

Eric Thomson blasts the brutally handsome Lagonda DP115 towards ‘White House’ during the early hours of the ’54 Le Mans…

He was running strongly in 3rd place at that stage of the race in a field that year which included the Ferrari 375 Plus, D Type Jags making their Le Mans debut, Cunningham C4R Chrysler V8’s, the DB3S were also potential outright cars in the ‘right circumstances’, the V6 Lancia D24’s and Porsche 550 Spyders to ‘pick up the scraps’.

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Some ‘delicate’ panel beating of the Lagonda’s aluminium flanks by Eric (Jack Garofalo)

 

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Lagonda DP115; Chassis tubular, front suspension trailing links, transverse torsion bars. Rear de Dion, trailing links & torsion bars, roll bars front and rear. Drum brakes.  Engine; 60 degree, aluminium 4486cc DOHC, 2 valve V12. 3 Weber IFC4 carbs, bore/stroke 82.5mmx69.8mm, compression ration 8.5:1. Circa 310bhp@7500rpm. Gearbox DB S32 5 speed. Weight circa 1140Kg (Klemantaski)

Lagonda’s new car during early tests on 22 April 1954.

Gearbox/transmission manufacturer David Brown bought Aston Martin and Lagonda, the acquisitions made as he admired the newly developed box-section Aston Martin chassis and the W.O. Bentley/’Willie’ Watson designed Lagonda straight-six engine. Initially he made the focus on road car development, the Aston’s used the old four cylinder engines.

One of these was hurriedly prepared for the 1948 Spa 24 Hours and won! It was the start of Aston Martin’s renewed racing efforts, both as a works team and selling racers as customer cars into the dawn of the sixties.

Using the Lagonda design as a basis, Aston Martin developed a new ‘DB3S’ sports racer at the start of the 1953 season. It was a  good 3 litre class car, but as an outright car it was bested by Lancia, Ferrari and Jaguar ‘heavy metal’. The CSI didn’t mandate a 3litre capacity upper limit for Sports Cars, to slow them down, until the start of 1958.

To compete for outright victory Aston Martin needed a larger more powerful engine, but there was no road going Aston into which to fit such an engine to make the project economically feasible.

Brown therefore decided to revive the Lagonda name and design a new V12 for both a racer and Lagonda road car.

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Thomson in DP115 ‘neatly parked’ in The Esses. Car looks okey-dokey both front and rear in this shot. Note difference in cars nose compared with the earlier images of Brown at the wheel above and Parnell below (Jack Garofalo)

‘Willie’ Watson developed a 4.5 V12 engine. Following the basic design elements of the straight six, the new engine featured twin overhead camshafts and two plugs per cylinder. To keep weight down, the engine was cast in aluminium. Equipped with three quad-choke Webers it initially produced 280 bhp, but with development there was the potential for much more. Mated to a four speed ‘box, the engine was installed into an enlarger and ‘beefed up’ DB3S chassis. Similarly the body was DB3S derived albeit with three separate front air intakes.

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Reg Parnell racing DP115 in its debut race, Silverstone BRDC International Trophy Meeting on 15 May 1954. Great looking car (GP Library)

During its first test, with David Brown at the wheel ‘DP115’ caught fire! The car was hurriedly repaired to contest the 1954 Silverstone ‘International Trophy’ F1 meeting supporting sportscar race, Reg Parnell finished 5th, well behind the Ferraris and Jaguars, but ahead of its 3 litre class winning sibling Astons.

By then after some fettling the engine produced circa 310 bhp, whereas the Ferrari’s claimed outputs were of greater than 350bhp. Initial problems included cold starting and handling characteristics, but there was no time to do the necessary development work before Le Mans on 12/13 June.

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First lap Le Mans 1954, 2nd placed D Type of Rolt/Hamilton and #10 Bouillin Talbot Lago T26 GS. Check out the photographer? atop the pole!  (GP Library)

For Le Mans the four speed gearbox was replaced by a stronger five speeder and the nose of the modified with a single larger air-intake similar the DB3S.

Aston Martin entered 2 DP115s, but one was withdrawn and replaced by a 4th DB3S. The cars handling contributed to Eric Thompson’s spin after 2 hours, whilst lying in 3rd place. After the strenuous efforts clear in the photos he managed to coax the big V12 back to the Aston pits, but it was damaged too badly to be made raceworthy. In a poor race for the team none of the other Astons finished.

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Thomson beavering away, he did ‘cut and shut’ the rear of the thing considerably, other shot is of Gonzalez in thw winning Ferrari 375 Plus (Getty)

The other DP115 first raced in the 1955 British Grand Prix support sportscar race, it finished 4th behind three DB3S. Neither car was raced again.

The cars 1954 results were poor but unsurprising with a relatively new and underdeveloped chassis and engine. Undeterred, for 1955, Brown’s team built two new multi-tubular spaceframe/backbone chassis to which the engine was fitted, the cars were designated  ‘DP166’.

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The Parnell/Poore Lagonda DP166 in the Le Mans pits 1955 (unattributed)

One car was entered at the ’55 Le Mans, driven by Reg Parnell and Dennis Poore the Lagonda DP166 retired after 93 laps of the tragic race with fuel feed problems. That was the effective end of the V12 program. Encouraging for Brown was the 2nd place finish of the DB3S driven by growing GP star Peter Collins and equally developing endurance racer Paul Frere.

The focus for the next few years was the DB3S program. The chassis of both DP166s were later used to form the basis of the Aston Martin DBR2s. Le Mans and World Sportscar Championship success came of course in 1959 with the glorious 3 litre DBR1’s…

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/22/lemans-1959-aston-martin-dbr1300/

Checkout this website of Michael Green’s, his mother, father and uncle worked at Aston’s during these years, his recollections fascinating reading…

http://www.offroadexperience.com/wcb/aminfo.htm

Credits…

ultimatecarpage.com

Tailpiece: Merde! Thomson gets plenty of advice from the Aston pit…

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Finito…

 

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Jersey Maserati line up of ; #1 Chiron 4CL, #2 Pagani 4C, #3 Sommer 4CL, #4 Bira 4C…

‘MotorSport’ announced the first British post-war international race at St Helier, Jersey on 8 May in its April 1947 issue…

‘The course embraces 1.5 miles of the St Helier promenade and measures 3.5 miles per lap, the race is a scratch contest over 160 miles, under Formula Rules ie; supercharged 1.5 litre and unsupercharged cars of 4.5 litres. There are no fuel restrictions and lady drivers are barred…Already everyone in the country seems to be booking accommodation…for the Jersey Road race will attract immense crowds of spectators’ MotorSport said.

Saint Helier is the capital of Jersey, the largest of the North Sea Channel Islands which had been liberated from the Germans less than two years before. The race was the first of five held on the island (1947-1950 and 1952), Brooklands having been bomb damaged during the war and there were problems with the authorities using a circuit on the mainland…

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Raymond Mays supervising the preparation of his ERA D Type ‘R4D’ on 1 April 1947. The workshop shot is of interest as is the girder chassis of the car, 6 cylinder supercharged engine awaits installation on the bench (Getty)

Starved of racing opportunities the race was well supported by British entrants and was also the first meeting supported by drivers from the continent; Maserati 4CL’s were entered for Reg Parnell, Louis Chiron and Raymond Sommer, 4C’s for Bira, Ian Connell, Nello Pagani and Robert Ansell.

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Louis Chiron surrounded by his team and well-wishers on race-day. Maser 4CL 2nd but probable winner of the race…(Bert Hardy)

A swag of ERA’s were entered; George Abecassis and Joe Ashmore in A Type’s, B Types for John Bolster, Bob Gerard, Peter Walker, Cuth Harrison and Billy Cotton/Wilkie Wilkinson, a D Type for Raymond Mays and E Type for Peter Whitehead.

Other notable entrants were Pierre Levegh’s Delage D6.70 these cars also entered for Henri Louveau and Jean Achard. Leslie Johnson was entered in a Talbot T150C.

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Victor Reg Parnell’s Maserati 4CL (Bert Hardy)

 

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Raymond Mays ready to practice his ERA at St Heliers on 4 June 1947 (Getty/Popperfoto)

Bira set the quickest time during practice on the Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 2.6.6 but all three Scuderia Milano Maserati’s; Sommer, Chiron and Pagani were under 2.10.

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Bira Maser mirror adjustment in the pits, fastest by some way in practice (Bert Hardy)

Melted pistons in several of the blown cars was a problem causing MotorSport to speculate about the impact of missing fuel company expert technicians. Whitehead ran well until a split fuel tank in the ERA E Type dumped its contents on the road, the tank was repaired for the race, not well as it turned out!

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Maser mechanics fetting (Bert Hardy)

Johnson did a good time of 2.17 in the sports Talbot, the ‘Ecurie Delsac’ Delages of Louveau, Levegh and Achard slower.

The front row comprised Bira on pole from Pagani, Chiron and Sommer with Mays, Gerard and Ansell on row two and Whitehead, Parnell, Walker and Dixon on row three.

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Parnells Maser being pushed onto the grid (Bert Hardy)

 

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Chiron’s Maser 4CL being pushed onto the grid (Bert Hardy)

 

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’47 Jersey Road race just prior to the start. The front row L>R Sommer, Chiron, Pagani with Bira on pole all in Maserati’s (Jersey Evening Post)

MotorSport reported ‘The start was quite colossal…the entire field hurtled off with a crash. Impressions were difficult to analyse during the first mad rush, with the howl of the engines rising to a scream and the confusion of the blurring colours. Pagani took a slight lead from teammates Chiron and Sommer while Whitehead’s ERA hung slightly on getaway so that the Talbot and two Delages of Johnson, Levegh and Achard closed up like a released rubber band’.

‘After about 90 seconds of silence the leaders dived out of the Bayview Hotel corner, brakes on and slowed for the pedestrian like hairpin, Sommer in the lead from Bira 2 seconds back then Pagani and Parnell. There was an appreciable gap…to Mays, Ansell and Whitehead’ the latter retired the ERA E Type with a recurrence of the split aluminium fuel tank.

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Bira correcting a slide in his Maser 4CL on the harbour front road (Klemantaski)

Bira got in front of Sommer before lap 5 but the Frenchman got the lead back but couldn’t hold it, Bira pitted on lap 10 to change a wheel having boofed a kerb.

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Bira Maser 4C from Sommer Maser 4CL early in the race at Bel Royal corner (Jersey Evening Post)

The Thai Prince lost only around 24 seconds but Derby’s Reg Parnell was in front by 45 seconds, a lead he never lost.

Sommer set a lap record of 2.6.2, 91.28mph on this road circuit before retiring with a ‘worn engine’.

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Chiron’s Maserati 4CL Klemantaski)

There was considerable confusion about race positions the scoreboard and broadcast announcer at odds ‘It was not until 3 laps from the end that Parnell was shown as the leader with Chiron 2nd …Certainly (Parnell) was driving as if he thought he was 2nd, unlike Chiron who was driving as if he was sure he was 1st’.

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Spectators as confused about race positions as the drivers and their crews? The scoreboard says its #7 Parnell from #4 Bira and #18 Gerard on Lap 15 (Bert Hardy)

 

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Chiron pistop for fuel (Bert Hardy)

Further back ‘Mays drove as he has seldom before, climbing ruthlessly up the ruck to 3rd place once he got the car running on all six’.

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Sam Gilby in his Maserati 6CM ‘Went well indeed but he should remember that in his first race, style, driving manners and a complete lack of baulking are are more important than dicing hard. Style and correctness are still the first things to learn’ MotorSport noted! (Klemantaski)

‘Johnson, playing a waiting game behind Louveau’s Delage…lost top gear, just when his pit signalled him to take Loueveau during the last third of the race’.

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Parnell (Bert Hardy)

‘Final placings after all the protests and shouting had died down were’;

Parnell Maser 4CL from Louis Chiron Maser 4CL, Mays 3rd in ERA D Type then Ashmore’s ERA A Type, Henri Louveau Delage D6.70 and Leslie Johnson Talbot T150C.

Picture Post…

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For the winner the spoils; Reg Parnell on the ‘Picture Post’ 24 May 1947 cover (Bert Hardy)

The inspiration for this article is the amazing work of Bert Hardy who was the principal photographer for the ‘Picture Post’, Britains most influential news-pictorial magazine, who took many of the shots used in this piece.

The magazine’s life spans around 30 years from 1938 to 1957, very quickly achieving sales of 1.7 million copies per month. What took my breath away is the sheer breadth of coverage of Hardy’s work, pretty much the progress, daily lives, sport, politics, contemporary culture and all of the conflicts in which the UK became enmeshed is shown in the archive. If you are a Brit take the time to have a look at the work. The disadvantage of the Getty Images (who now own the archive) format is that the low res scans don’t have the details of each shot unless you click on them and it ‘kicks you out’ after every 5 0r 6 clicks but its worth persevering.

Here is a link to the images;

http://www.gettyimages.com.au/photos/bert-hardy?sort=mostpopular&excludenudity=true&mediatype=photography&phrase=bert%20hardy

And here is a long but very interesting article about Bert Hardy, as an Aussie i have never heard of the man but he was truly an amazing photo-journalist;

http://www.photohistories.com/Photo-Histories/50/the-life-and-times-of-albert-hardy-1913-1995

Etcetera…

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Bira preparing for the off , Maser 4C (Bert Hardy)

 

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The top shot is Parnell’s Maserati 4CL being refuelled, the lower one Ray May’s, preoccupied but looking after the autograph needs of young fans (Bert Hardy)

 

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Car #15 the Leslie Brooke ERA B Type passes the pits DNF engine failure (Bert Hardy)

Bibliography…

Motorsport April and June 1947

Photo Credits…

Bert Hardy, Louis Klemantaski, Jersey Evening Post, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Ray Mays ERA D Type independent  front suspension detail…

ray smiling

22 April 1947

Finito…

gonzalez silverstone

(Louis Klemantaski)

Froilan Gonzalez plays with the limits of adhesion of his victorious Ferrari 375 V12 at around 140mph. Copse Corner, Silverstone, 14 July 1951…

The dominant force in Grand Prix racing in the immediate post-war period was Alfa Romeo, the pre-war ‘Alfetta’ voiturettes progressively modified to remain winners; they had not been beaten since 1946.

Ferrari had achieved success at Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio and now took an alternative Grand Prix design path to Alfa and BRM for the 1951 season in building cars powered by a normally aspirated 4.5 litre V12 rather than the supercharged straight 8/V16 route of his rivals. Instructive had been the reliability and speed of the Talbot-Lagos despite the cars relative lack of sophistication given the French machines road-car origins.

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Gonzalez, Silverstone 1951, Ferrari 375, the burly Argentinian master of this car. Note exhaust system of the V12 and twin radius rods locating rear axles (unattributed)

Ferrari’s Type 375’s were first entered at the Pescara Grand Prix on 15 August 1950, but were not ready. The cars made their championship debut at Monza on 3 September 1950 with entries for Alberto Ascari and Dorino Serafini. Ascari qualified 2nd and was dicing with the lead group of Fangio and Farina both 158 mounted, before retiring on lap 21 with engine overheating.

Click here for an article on the Type 375 i wrote a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/10/vi-gran-premio-del-valentino-april-1952-ferrari-375/

In order to test the cars over a full GP distance,375’s for Ascari and Serafini were entered for the GP do Penya Rhin, at Pedralbes, Barcelona on 29 October. The cars finished 1/2, no Alfa’s were entered but the cars completed a GP distance without problems. With further development over the winter the 375’s were ready for 1951.

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Alfa Romeo pit British GP, Silverstone 1951 (unattributed)

By 1951 the supercharged Alfa’s, designated ‘159’ developed around 410bhp from their supercharged 1.5-litre engines, while Ferrari had been working on a twin-plug version of the 4.5-litre V12. It wasn’t as powerful as the Alfa but it was more efficient, less fuel meant less pit stops.

Alfa ignored most of the early season non-championship races. In their absence Ferrari 375’s won at Siracuse and Pau on 11 and 26 March, Gigi Villoresi the winning driver on both occasions. Ascari won the San Remo GP on 22 April.

The Alfa’s finally appeared for the ‘BRDC International Trophy’ race at Silverstone on May 5, but the works Ferari 375’s did not. Fangio and Farina each won a heat for Alfa with the final held in torrential rain led by Reg Parnell’s Ferrari 125/375 when the race was ended after 16 minutes on lap 6.

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Engine and brake detail of the Alfa Romeo 159, Silverstone 1951. 1.5 litre two-stage supercharged straight-8 (unattributed)

The first 1951 Championship GP was at Berne for the Swiss Grand Prix. Ascari was suffering from a burn to the arm received during a Formula 2 race at Genoa the weekend before and Villoresi slid off the road in wet conditions. Progress was indicative of Taruffi’s Ferrari second place splitting the Alfas of Fangio and Farina, first and third.

At Spa, a jammed wheel at a pit stop cost Fangio his second successive win, Farina took Belgian GP win for Alfa Romeo from Ascari and Villoresi in Ferrari 375’s.

The French Grand Prix was a furious battle between Ascari and Fangio, both of whom changed cars with Fangio taking the win for Alfa. Ascari’s 375 had gearbox failure and Froilan Gonzalez, who had led the race briefly and pitted to refuel, was asked to hand his car over. Fangio took over Luigi Fagioli’s Alfa, JM’s car failed on the first lap of the race. This was Gonzalez’ first race for Ferrari. Just before the French Grand Prix, Enzo Ferrari had approached him to replace the unwell Piero Taruffi. The Fagioli/Fangio car won the race from the 375 of Gonzalez/Ascari.

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Gonzalez in his first Ferrari drive, he lead the French GP at Reims before offering his 375 to Alberto Ascari, the pair finished 2nd to the Fangio/Fagioli Alfa 159 (unattributed)

Froilan recalled the French GP in Gonzalez ‘The Pampas Bull’; ‘The dream was to be very brief. I was utterly determined to make my mark at Reims in the Grand Prix de France and after a tough battle I managed to lead the race. But when I stopped at the pits to refuel (Ferrari Team Manager) Ugolini told me to hand over my jewel to Alberto Ascari who had walked back to the Ferrari pits after his own car had broken down’.

‘Recalling it now I suppose it was understandable. Ascari was more experienced in the Grand Prix arena than I, and since he was now available, it was obviously more sensible to let him take over. But at the time I was mystified and wounded. I assumed I had in some way failed one of Ferrari’s mysterious tests. Yet nobody would tell me where I had failed’.

‘I was just as puzzled when Enzo Ferrari sent for me. Puzzled and timid, for Ferrari was a powerful experienced man of the world while I had only recently arrived in Europe I had no idea how to address the ‘sacred monster’ of the motoring world when I was led into his office. I managed to say ‘Good morning’ in Spanish and then stood there speechless, wondering why I was there and what to do next. Don Enzo, realizing my embarrassment, helped me out by smiling and shaking my hand. And to my utter amazement he – the greatest figure in world motor racing – actually congratulated me for what I had done at Reims. I was even more astounded when he suddenly asked me: ‘Would you like to sign a contract to drive for the Ferrari team?’ I can feel even now the almost painful thumping of my heart. This just isn’t true, I told myself.’
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Ascari cruising the Silverstone pitlane, Ferrari 375 during practice DNF lap 56 with ‘box failure (Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo brought 159’s to Silverstone for Fangio, Farina, Consalvo Sanesi and Felice Bonetto. Ferrari brought three Type 375s for Ascari, Villoresi and Gonzalez with Peter Whitehead in Tony Vandervell’s  ‘Thinwall Special’ Ferrari…

Talbot returned with three T26C 4.5-litre, straight-6 cylinder cars. Maserati relied on ageing 4CLTs for David Murray and John James, while Philip Fotheringham-Parker raced an older 4CL. ERA had Bob Gerard and Brian Shawe-Taylor and Joe Kelly was in his Alta.

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Scuderia Ferrari drivers Silverstone 1951; Gigi Villoresi left, Alberto Ascari and Froilan Gonzalez, all remarkably ‘well-nourished’ by driver standards of today! And older of course (Getty Images)

BRM turned up on the morning of the race having missed practice. Reg Parnell and Peter Walker started from the rear of the grid as a consequence.

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Peter Walker’s BRM Type 15, 7th being given a shove during practice (unattributed)

John Bolster of Autosport commented about Gonzalez’ speed and technique; ‘Thursday found me walking round the circuit, trying to work out how on earth these boys get round the corners the way they do. My stopwatch was busy in my hand, and I had a conversion table, so it was with immense excitement that I observed that Froilan Gonzalez had lapped at 99mph. His next tour looked even faster and, yes, the magic 100mph had been topped at last!’

‘The interesting thing is that he brakes later than anybody else, actually enters the corner faster, and gets through in an immensely long drift. He has none of the ease in the cockpit that Farina exhibits, and certainly does not follow the same path every time. Unlike all the other drivers, he changes down without gunning his motor, and yet there is no clash of gears and the box stands up to the treatment. John Wyer and I listened to this for lap after lap at Woodcote, and were fair amazed. A phenomenon, this Froilan!’ Bolster observed.

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Froilan Gonzalez Ferrari 375, Silverstone 1951, lovely portrait of the Argentinian Champion (unattributed)

Gonzalez lapped Silverstone in 1 minute 43.4 seconds and was on pole, a second quicker than Fangio’s Alfa. On Friday the track was damp and those times prevailed. Froilan’s time was set without the latest the latest twin-plug V12 fitted to Ascari’s car.

Gonzalez; ‘Ferrari had the gift of instilling confidence in its drivers. Although I was still very inexperienced I arrived at Silverstone for the 1951 British Grand Prix feeling that I really belonged in the Scuderia Ferrari, feeling eager also to pit my car’s power against the almost unbeatable Alfa Romeos – and my own skill against the world’s greatest racing drivers. Silverstone was the meeting place for international statesmen, industrialists, and millionaires, all looking for excitement’.
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Silverstone was the first time an Alfa Romeo had not been on pole position since the world championship began the year before…

Around 50,000 spectators arrived at the Northhamptonshire circuit on the Saturday, eager to see a great contest between Alfa, Ferrari and BRM.

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Start of the GP with Gonzalez, left on pole Fangio and Ascari #11 on the outside. Ferrari 375, Alfa 159, Ferrari 375 (unattributed)

Felice Bonetto made the best start from seventh, the front row delayed with excessive wheelspin,  and lead at the end of lap 1 but Gonzalez took over with Fangio chasing.

Gonzalez; ‘As we passed the pits for the first time I noticed that both the Alfa and Ferrari team managers were signaling the same instructions, which were in effect that we should drive our own race. The alarming start meant that team tactics must be abandoned. ‘Go for the lead’ came the urgent message and soon as I saw that I went flat-out. By the next lap I was leading’.

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Felice Bonetto Alfa being chased by #12 Gonzalez Ferrari and #1 Farina Alfa 159 with #11 Ascari Ferrari just in shot (unattributed)

‘I could not hear them but I had the feeling that the British crowd had forgotten their usual restraint. They were jumping and waving and, it seemed to me, yelling like mad. ‘Pepito. You are ahead of the Field Marshals,’ I thought, and kept my foot hard down on the accelerator pedal. Then suddenly my rear-view mirror showed a red car, growing bigger and bigger. A signal from my pit as I shot past told me it was Fangio’s Alfa Romeo. ‘Pepito. Don’t do anything foolish. Don’t panic. Even Fangio will have to do a re-fuel.’
Within 15 laps, Fangio was five seconds ahead of Gonzalez. the duo were 44 seconds ahead of third-Farina who was scrapping with Ascari from Bonetto and Villoresi. It was Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari. The fuel stops would settle the issue.
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Nice color panned shot of Gonzalez on the way to victory. Shows the big, butch lines of the Ferrari to good effect, the delicacy of touch required to drift the thing at 140mph readily apparent, and appreciated!  (unattributed)

Gonzalez hit the straw-bales at Becketts but gradually closed on Fangio to retake the lead on lap 39. At the end of lap 48, Fangio pitted and Gonzalez came in 13 laps later. Ascari had retired with gearbox trouble and Gonzalez climbed from his car and offered it to his team-mate.  Ascari refused and urged Gonzalez to continue. The stop took 23 seconds, Fangio’s 49  seconds, JM had his rear wheels changed and his fuel tank filled. The gap between the leaders was then 1 minute 19.2 seconds.

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Pitsop for the thirsty Parnell BRM Type 15 ; passing is the Farina Alfa being closely watched by Alberto Ascari, astride the white line, retired from the race. The balding Raymond Mays looks away from the BRM , to Mays right beside ‘the copper’ is journalist and racer John Bolster (unattributed)

‘When Fangio caught me in the 10th lap I let him overtake, placing myself directly on his tail. We traveled in tandem, our two cars seeming to be roped together. Even when he increased speed we remained like this, driving like men pursued by the Devil himself. There was a moment of danger around the 25th lap when I took Becketts Corner too fast and hit the straw bales. But this made me keener than ever and I set off again after Fangio. I began to close on him, having been perhaps 5 or 6 seconds behind him with both of us averaging about 97 mph until, on the 39th lap, I eventually took him. Towards the end of the race I was more than a minute ahead of him’.

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Gonzalez leads Fangio during their great Silverstone race (unattributed)

‘Motorsports’ August 1951 issue described the events as follows: ‘Try as Fangio could and did, it was over. Gonzalez came round, crash hat and visor in his left hand, waving them to the crowd.

‘Ferrari with the unblown 4.5-litre had at last broken the might of the two-stage supercharged 159 Alfa Romeo, as they have been threatening to do since Monza last year. Froilan Gonzalez had driven impeccably and is now in the front rank.

‘Fangio drove like the master he is, but couldn’t catch the Ferrari, nor could his longer pit-stop explain the 51 second gap and he was the meat in the Ferrari sandwich. And how these Argentinians drive!’

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Froilan Gonzalez takes the Silverstone chequered flag to record an historic personal and team win, Ferrari 375 (unattributed)

Villoresi was third after Farina retired at Abbey Curve, with smoke billowing from the engine compartment but the failure reported as ‘clutch’. Bonetto was a further lap behind the Ferrari in fourth.

british farina

Farina’s Alfa 159 hors ‘d combat on lap 75 with a failed clutch (unattributed)

Reg Parnell was 5th in the BRM with Walker 7th. The BRM drivers completed the race burned by their exhausts and dazed by fuel vapours. In the hurry to complete the cars for the race, the exhausts hadn’t been properly insulated and the drivers were ‘cooked’.

brm

The BRM Type 15′ s get away at the start; Walker left 7th and Reg Parnell #6 5th (unattributed)

‘It was very confusing’ said Gonzalez aftewards, ‘But very exciting. Everyone was shouting and talking; the mechanics saying over and over again that the Alfa Romeos had been beaten. Then I was taken to meet the Queen and given a laurel wreath. Of course, I understood little of what was said but it was a very nice feeling to have all those people congratulating me.

‘On the winners podium I was embraced warmly by Fangio. That meant a lot to me. Then they played the Argentine National Anthem. I had never experienced anything like this before. When I saw my country’s flag being hoisted, it was just too much for me and I cried. That moment will live with me for ever.’

british wife

Gonzalez being congratulated by his wife and crew after the historic win, the enormity of it all still to set in (unattributed)

Enzo Ferrari’s dogged determination to win Grands Prix with his own cars was achieved against Alfa Romeo, for whom for many years he lead their pre-War racing programs. It was the first time the Alfas had been beaten since the first post-war French Grand Prix in 1946.

At the end of the season, Alfa Romeo applied for a significant increase in their government grant, the company still within the control of the agency which took it over after its insolvency pre-war. It was refused and the team withdrew from Grand Prix racing, a return finally made with the provision of engines in 1970 and more wholistically as a team in 1979.

In his Richard Williams biography, Enzo Ferrari said of his first Ferrari GP victory: ‘I cried for joy. But my tears of enthusiasm were mixed with those of sorrow because I thought, today I have killed my mother’…

Etcetera…

alfa paddock

Alfa’s in the Silverstone paddock; #3 Consalvo Sanesi 6th, #1 Farina DNF (unattributed)

start 1

Front row makes a poor start; #12 Gonzalez, Farina  better away and Ascari #11 on the right with Fangio’s Alfa almost beside Ascari and Felice Bonetto, Alfa coming up quickly behind Fangio (unattributed)

ascari farina

Alberto Ascari from Giuseppe Farina Ferrari 375 and Alfa 159, Silverstone 1951, both DNF (unattributed)

pitstop

Gonzalez supervises his Ferrai pitstop whilst Ascari, right, looks on having sportingly declined to take the car offered to him by Froilan allowing him to take the well deserved win (unattributed)

Bibliography…

f1fanatic.co.uk, grandprixhistory.org, Team Dan, silhouet.com, J Perez Loizeau and Ors ‘Jose Froilan Gonzalez:The Pampas Bull’

Photo Credits…

Louis Klementaski, Getty Images, Michael Turner art

Tailpiece…

britsi art

Painting depicts Gonzalez’ pursuit of Fangio with a blue Talbot-Lago T26 ahead (Michael Turner)

 

 

glass

(Heinz Federbusch)

Arnold Glass eases his Ferrari 555 Super Squalo into Mount Panorama’s tricky Esses as he starts the plunge down the mountain, Easter 1958…

Glass raced this car with success from November 1957- here he is contesting the ‘Bathurst 100′ on 7 April 1958, the race won by Doug Whiteford’s equally exotic Maserati 300S. Glass drove a great race ahead of the vastly more experienced, multiple AGP winning Whiteford. The Fazz’ engine blew within sight of the finishing line but he was able to roll over the line in front of the third placed car.

The engine was sent to Maranello for repair, but there were no 3.5 litre spares available so a 2.5 litre 1956 GP engine was sent back to Sydney that November. Glass became disenchanted with the car and replaced it with the ex-Hunt/Stillwell Maserati 250F with which he had more success.

glass albert park

The Glass Super Squalo being pushed thru the leafy surrounds of Albert Park during the Melbourne GP/Victorian Tourist Trophy meetings in November 1958. First meeting with the cars new 2.5 litre engine. (Kevin Drage)

The Ferrari was brought to Australia by Reg Parnell, he placed the ex-works 1955 chassis sixth in the Formula Libre 1956 Australian ‘Olympic’ Grand Prix at Albert Park.

The car was later sold to John McMillan, who rolled it at Mount Druitt, damaging it badly, the car was repaired by local artisans including racers Tom Sulman and Jack Myers and was then sold to Glass.

I remember seeing the racer at Giltraps Motor Museum, Kirra, on Queenslands Gold Coast on a family holiday in 1973. ‘Twas sensational to look at, the first fabulous ‘front engined red GP car’ i had seen and therefore forever etched in my memory!

Giltraps added it to their collection as a static exhibit in 1963 at the end of the cars ‘front line’ career in the hands of Arthur Griffiths and then Des Kelly, both Queenslanders.

#555/2 was restored by Noel Tuckey and a team of enthusiasts in 1975/6 competing at various historic events, inevitably the car was Hoovered up by an overseas investor in the 1980’s.

glass fazz

The Squalo at Gilltrap’s in the early ’70’s, a star amongst the other exhibits! (Sharaz Jek)

Arnold Glass is an immensely interesting character…

From a humble background, trained originally as a fitter and turner he made his first small fortune trading and repairing motor cycles. He was a racer and later an immensely successful businessman via his Sydney ‘Capitol Motors’ Datsun empire.

The following obituary was written by Malcolm Brown and published in the Sydney Morning Herald in January 2009- Glass was born on 11 December 1926 and died on 16 January 2009.

‘As a boy, Arnold Glass was directed by his father, a music teacher, to play the violin. But Arnold’s eye was firmly fixed on Popular Mechanics, a magazine for rev-heads, which he read from cover to cover, dreaming of owning a motorcycle.

Arnold’s father relented and bought him How To Be A Motor Mechanic. The boy who would become a dynamo in the Australian motor industry, a multimillionaire, sportsman and playboy, had his course in life set.

Arnold Glass, who has died at 82, was born in Newcastle and grew up in Marrickville. He left school at 14 to earn money for his family, which included three brothers and a sister. He became an apprentice mechanic and, at 16, left home and bought an old Douglas motorcycle for £3/15/-.

glass mt druitt

Glass racing the 555 Super Squalo at Mount Druitt, Sydney on 10 November 1957. Bulbous rather than beautiful? Stunning regardless, if not the most successful of GP Ferrari’s. The Lancia D50 saved Ferrari’s bacon when ‘gifted’ to them in the deal brokered later in 1955. (John Ellacott)

While working in engineering plants, Glass studied at technical college to become a fitter and turner. He worked on Avro Anson aircraft engines at Butler Air Transport and saved to buy motor cycles, which he restored and sold. In 1946, at 19, he went into partnership with Julian St John to run a motorcycle business. Operating out of a tin shed in Marrickville, they scoured back alleys seeking to buy motorcyles.

In 1947, Glass acquired a Tiger Moth, learnt to fly and developed an absorbing interest in war-vintage piston-driven aircraft.

In 1949, he and St John bought an old Chinese grocery shop in Campbell Street, opposite the Capitol Theatre, and converted it into a motorcycle shop, naming their business after the theatre. Used motorcycle and car salesmen depended on newspaper advertisements to find out what cars were for sale and would pounce on the first editions at 3am. But Glass paid a young Herald employee £2 a time to throw a copy from a toilet window at midnight.

The arrangement was risky. The businessmen had a setback when they bought a stolen motorbike. Yet Glass wasn’t one to recoil from risk. In partnership with Bill Duffy, he bought an unfancied racehorse called Johnny Zero, which won consistently, earning the owners £30,000.

He bought used cars in Singapore and aircraft in England, selling them to rural customers in Australia. In 1951, he and St John converted a pet shop in Campbell Street into a car yard. The next year he bought out St John and, in 1953, bought land for another car yard in the Haymarket, selling Chryslers, Simcas, Renaults and Porsches-by then he was selling 1000 vehicles a year.

Glass tried punting but stopped when he was losing heavily. “I found something that could beat me,” he recalled. He married a model, Norma Geneave, in 1955, acquired a car yard at Lidcombe in 1957 and won the Bathurst 100 motor race. A daughter named Amanda was born in 1958.

In 1961, he bought a car yard at Artarmon and made the critical decision to invest in Japanese cars, then rarely seen in Australia. Moving into William Street, he took over a Datsun franchise, soon the cars captured the public’s imagination his wealth assured.

He bought a home in Cremorne, in so-called ‘Millionaires’ Row’, with its own wharf, but his marriage failed in 1963. ‘I’m not a family man’, he said later. ‘I didn’t have a lot of time or patience for a family type life. I put so much into my business, none was left over.’

Glass contesting the 1962 Australian Grand Prix in a BRM P48 Buick V8, 5th in the race won by McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax (K Devine)

Glass raced many different cars, including Ferraris and Jaguars. He raced boats in Australia and the United States and competed successfully in marathon waterski events. He flew aircraft, buying a Mustang and British-made Vampires and travelled to Czechoslovakia and Poland to fly MiG-21s. His restless energy took him spear-fishing with the Prime Minister Harold Holt.

In 1961, Glass slammed his BRM P48 into a tree at 100 kmh at Mallala, after which he required plastic surgery. Bouncing back, he bought a seven-hectare site on Parramatta Road, Auburn, and turned it into the biggest car dealership in NSW, as the distributor for Nissan and BMW.

He established his own finance and insurance company, dealt in aircraft and boats and ventured into show business. Transporting himself in his Lear jet, he stalked and killed buffalo and lions in South Africa, crocodiles in Zimbabwe and bears in Alaska. His powerboat racing wins included the 1975 Sydney-Newcastle BP Ocean Classic.

By 1976, Capitol Motors was selling 23,000 Datsuns a year. In 1977, Australian National Industries bought the company for $28.43 million. With his 49 per cent shareholding, Glass took away $13.87 million while joining the ANI board as deputy chairman.

He spent much of his time in Monaco, although he returned in 1983 to sack three ANI executives. He had demonstrated his toughness years earlier by sacking car salesmen who failed to reach quotas. Retiring to Monaco in 1984, he returned from time to time to see his daughter and her family. He died in Sydney.

Arnold Glass is survived by his partner of 37 years, Jennifer Hole, his daughter, Amanda Sorensen, and grandchildren Ryan, Tegan and Kirsty’.

Arnold, his face showing the signs of a practice accident, with Graham Hill prior to the start of the 1965 NZ GP at Pukekohe. Hill won in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A Climax whilst Glass retired after 3 laps in his Cooper T55 Climax with mechanical dramas (CAN)

Etcetera…

glass and 250f

(John Ellacott)

I love this portrait of Glass by John Ellacott, looking every inch the successful man he was- its taken at Symmons Plains, Tasmania in March 1960. The car is the Maserati 250F referred to above, chassis #2516, the ex-works Moss/Behra/Hunt/Stillwell car which Arnold raced very competitively from 1959 to 1961, the car with which he achieved most success i think.

I wrote an article about this Maser a while back, click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/

Gilltrap catalogue

From the Giltraps catalogue of display cars circa 1967, the Fazz Super Squalo is at bottom, at the top is ‘Genevieve’, the Darracq which starred in the 1953 British film of the same name. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Credits/References…

Heinz Federbusch and John Ellacott photos, John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, Kevin Drage, Stephen Dalton Collection, Sharaz Jek, Ken Devine Collection, Obituary by Malcolm Brown- Sydney Morning Herald, Quentin Miles, Classic Auto News

Tailpiece: Glass, Maser 250F, Bathurst circa 1960…

(Q Miles)

Finito…