Posts Tagged ‘Repco-Brabham Rice Trailer’

Brian Higgins’ BMW Z4 on the exit of the Viaduct

The Longford Motorama, in recent times an annual Labour Day long-weekend event, is an important date in the Tasmanian motorsport calendar to keep the 1953-1968 Longford road-racing memory alive.

I ducked back to the South Island for a few days. Rob Knott, Justin Brown and their merry band of helpers organised a display of racing cars and bikes and special interest cars at the Village Green, 500-metres from the Country Club Hotel aka Pub Corner on Sunday 7, 2021.

There were plenty of stalls selling all kinds of goodies, a Tongan Band did a great job on entertainment and two ‘around the block demos’ by the competition cars and bikes halfway through the day, and towards its end kept the punters happy.

John Talbot’s Harry Firth built #53 Triumph Ausca Special has been the visual in the window feature of the Country Club Hotel for a couple of decades but has been repatriated from its imprisonment in the last few weeks (M Bisset)

 

(M Bisset)

Belles of the Ball were Rob Knott’s just completed restoration of one of the two Repco-Brabham Rice Trailers used to cart the cars raced by Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme during the 1967 Tasman Series in both New Zealand and Australia- and a Holden tow-car. The ‘HR’ Panel-Van wasn’t one of the cars used back then but a car which took Rob three years to find and rebuild.

At some point Jack Brabham’s BT23A, his ‘67 Tasman Mount (and winner at Longford that year) now owned by the National Motor Museum, and this rig will meet- what a special day that will be.

The other belle was Chas Kelly’s ex-Clark/Geoghegan ‘66 Tasman Lotus 39 Climax which always gives me goose-bumps. It was a static but stunning display car on Sunday.

Repco-Brabham works 1967 entourage- one of two rigs used in NZ and Oz during that seasons full-on assault on the Tasman. It was the only year, during Jack’s Repco-Brabham Engines phase, from 1966 to 1969 when Jack (and Denny that year) did all of the Tasman series rounds in an attempt to win it- Jim Clark won in a Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2-litre V8. Car is a Brabham BT21 (M Bisset)

 

1966 Lotus 39 Climax FPF 2.5. Famous car raced with great skill by Jim Clark and Leo Geoghegan from 1966 to 1970. Arguably its greatest win was in Leo’s hands- the 1969 JAF Japanese GP in Repco 830 V8 engined spec (M Bisset)

The highlight of the day were trips to three of the corners- Tannery, Mountford and The Viaduct via a fleet of four or five large mini-buses.

It was a get-on, get-off to have a walk and look around and then get-on again to go to the next destination arrangement which worked terrifically well.

Knott has stunning attention to detail. At each locale there were information boards, a car/bike or two and one or two drivers/riders from the day to explain all ‘yer wanted to know. In addition, at The Viaduct there were Longford videos and a refreshment van. Brilliant.

Tannery corner display, motorcycle historian/author Ken Young manned this spot. Where the tent is would be about the exit point from this second-gear in a Tasman car right-hander. The folks are walking on the straight towards the fast left hander before Long Bridge (M Bisset)

 

Part of the Viaduct display- Wayne Double’s ex-Jane/Bruno Carosi tribute Jag Mk2 looked grand as did an Anglia similar to the one Phil Brooke raced- and beached nearby in the day. Both drivers (Carosi and Brooke) were on hand to talk to we punters (M Bisset)

It was great to meet Chas Kelly, Ellis French and John Talbot and have long chats with Randall Langdon and a couple of his mates (all the gen on Pat Stride’s Gremlins), Brian Higgins, Phil Brooke, Neil Kearney and Justin Brown.

Kearney, prominent Longford born national sports-broadcaster is making great progress with his Longford book. He and Geoff Harris were busy gathering additional information and anecdotes- pre Xmas this year is realistic timing for the sale of what will be a ripper book by two pro-journos and Longford dudes who attended the event many times in the day.

In the past week the ABC ‘Backroads’ team have been gathering material for a TV show on Longford (generally, not just the racing) so keep an eye out for that on the tello next year. It will be episode one in early 2022. We had dinner with Heather Ewart, the journo who presents the show, and the team of three who are on the road thirty weeks of the year to create an always interesting show from all over Oz.

David Sternberg on the hop during 1964, Cooper T51 Climax (M Bisset)

My final plug is for Stephen Mott’s ‘The Penguin Hillclimb’ book.

I bought a copy from Stephen and his wife who were selling the book from the boot of their car at the gig. Penguin is a small village on Tassie’s north-west coast which had a seven-tenths of a mile hillclimb operational from 1955 to 1971.

It’s very much a buy folks- 196 pages, hard-cover with high production and design standards. 200-plus hi-res photographs, 97.5% I’ve never seen before. The format is meeting date chronological with break-outs throughout on notable cars and drivers. $50 plus postage, email Stephen on penguinhillclimb@gmail.com.

Great news for enthusiasts is that the Longford Motor Racing Museum which has been pushed hard but quietly over the last couple of years by Rob Knott and Justin Brown is getting closer to fruition. ‘Tis said Scomo is after spade-ready projects with council support- watch this space over the next few months.

One of the more amusing parts of the day and the spirit of the times was Frank Manley’s account of racing his FE Holden, which he retains, at the ’62 meeting. He rocked up with his wife and kids aboard, unloaded them, practiced and raced, camping inside the circuit at the Mill Dam reserve and then drove the team home again to Hobart at the end of an enjoyable weekend.

At this point Chas Kelly interjected to point out that Frank is one of Tasmania’s most famous motorists, and owner of the states equally famous HQ Holden Monaro GTS.

When the pissed-captain of the Lake Illawarra bulk-ore carrier ship took out the middle sections of Hobart’s Tasman Bridge in January 1975, Frank was one of two motorists to stop, front-wheels over the precipice, with the Derwent River 45-metres below.

Sadly, his attempts to flag down five other motorists as they came over the bridge were to no avail, all plunged to tragic deaths. Oh yes, he still owns the Munro too.

(B Short)

Etcetera…

 

(M Bisset)

Sex on wheels, or thereabouts.

The late John Dawson-Damer did the real hard work restoring the Lotus 39 back to the specifications in which it was raced by Clark and Geoghegan in 1966, thirty years ago. Kelly gave it another birthday 15 years or so ago when he acquired it. See here for a feature on the car; https://primotipo.com/2016/02/12/jim-clark-and-leo-geoghegans-lotus-39/

Lotus 25/33 chassis R12, type 39 chassis 1, if that makes sense (M Bisset)

 

(M Bisset)

Tannery Corner info board. The main photo if you can see it, shows an unusual view of Tannery with the bikes coming towards us along Tannery Straight.

On the right, in the distance, is the Tannery building which still exists as a posh home or B&B. None of the circuit maps show it, but there is a harry-flatters-in-top kink to the right out front of that building.

(M Bisset)

Holden Haitch-Rrrrr and Haitch-D Panel Vans. Knott’s attention to detail in this exercise fantastic.

Takes me back to the Monash Uni students car park in the mid-seventies when these mobile shaggin’-wagons were very popular and cheap.

(M Bisset)

Viaduct vista.

The cars came down the hill and turned left under the first arch where the info-board is being inspected. The dual-lane carriageway, which was part of massive road-works and water levee banks throughout flood-prone Longford, can be seen beyond the second arch.

(M Bisset)

About all that is left of Long Bridge sadly.

Good news on the bridge front is that there is a proposal before the Northern Midlands Council for construction of a pedestrian and bike bridge in the location of the old Kings Bridge.

From our perspective this would allow easy access from Longford village along Union Street, then over the bridge towards the Viaduct on your walking tour of the circuit. It won’t be possible to walk all the way to the marvellous railway edifice though- it is on private land, the MacKinnon’s ‘Mountford’ property.

Trains use the Viaduct and bridge over the South Esk River daily on trips to and from Hobart and Launceston. The Viaduct is not in danger of being knocked over while trains operate, only freight trains these days mind you.

Finito…