Posts Tagged ‘Ron Tauranac’


Terry Perkins, Elfin 620 Formula Ford leads Peter Larner’s Wren and another Wren – Murray Coombs’ F3 car – back to the Calder paddock as they run down the old circuit exit in 1973…

A swag of Australians pursued a motor-racing career in the UK down the decades, it would be interesting to create a definitive list. My own interest are those guys who gave it a crack that I had seen race in Australia prior to heading across the oceans to the world’s racing capital.

Those who spring to mind – its not an attempt at a definitive list from 1972 – are The Brabham Boys – Geoff, Gary and David (F3), Paul Bernasconi (F3), Chris Farrell (F3), Andrew Miedecke (F3 briefly), Gerry Witenden (FF2000), Gary Scott (F3), Lucio Cesario (WEC in Italy), Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes (F3000), Steve Harrington (F3), Mark Webber (FF), Will Power (F3), Daniel Ricciardo (FBMW), John Martin (FF)…and Terry and Larry Perkins in F3. There are others post 1972 I’ve not seen…or forgotten, so spare me the pedantry.

Let’s focus on the latter brothers, primarily their single-seater exploits in Europe, do grab a wine or a couple of Carltons before you start though, a 1,500 word quickie has become an 11,500 word epic with a tangent or three thrown in, I really have wandered all over the joint with this one…

Larry explores the limits of his Perkins Vee- Hume Weir 1969 (D Simpson)

Quite possibly the Calder meeting at which Perkins T was photographed in the opening shot in 1973, a mixed FF and ANF3 grid, common in the day. I’ll take advice on who most of the cars/drivers are but it appears to be a red Elfin 600 and a Wren on the front row. That’s Terry on row 2 in car #2 Elfin 620 whilst on row 3 on the far side is, I think, Peter Larner whilst the white #78 is Brian Sampson’s Cheetah Mk3 Toyota-unusually far back (unattributed)

The path through motor racing in Australia for the Perkins brothers from Cowangie, a small whistle-stop between Ouyen and the South Australian border, aided and encouraged by their ex-racer/rallyist father Eddie was similar.

Both started in the Victorian Formula Vee ranks and progressed to Formula Ford winning the prestigious TAA Airlines Driver To Europe Australian FF Championship, and then off to the UK they went. Larry was scooped up by Bib Stillwell into his two car Elfin 600 Formula Ford team in 1970, winning the title in 1971, whereas Terry was victorious in 1974 aboard an Elfin 620 supported by Doncaster Ford Dealership Strapp Ford. Ted Strapp was a supporter of motor racing at the time.

Larry figured he wasn’t quite ready to take his DTE prize in 1971 so stayed in Australia driving, and helping to prepare Holden Dealer Team Torana’s of various types and won the Australian F2 Championship in Garry Campbell’s Elfin 600B/E Ford, no doubt the wings-‘n-slicks circa 180bhp experience stood him in good stead when he entered F3 in 1973.

Larry in Garry Campbell’s ANF2 Elfin 600B/E during the 1972 Surfers Paradise ‘Glynn Scott Memorial Trophy’ Gold Star round. The Sydney ‘Provincial Motors’ motor dealer was a wonderful supporter of Perkins inclusive of his initial foray in Europe (G Ruckert)

There was a strong Australian contingent at Snetterton for the inaugural Formula Ford Festival in 1972, then as now the launchpad of many a Grand Prix career. The roll-call included Larry Perkins in Garrie Cooper’s first Elfin 620, John Leffler’s Bowin P4a and Bob Skelton’s Bowin P6f all arrived from Australia whereas Peter Finlay’s Palliser WDF2 and Buzz Buzaglo’s Elden Mk10A both had been campaigning in UK/Europe. Future F1 drivers Danny Sullivan, Patrick Neve and Tiff Needell, in addition to Perkins were also entered.

Buzz qualified well and finished second to Sullivan in his semi-final and was back in the pack in the final having initially run third off the front of the grid, and moving forward before the distributor moved, causing a misfire which pushed him back through the field. Best placed of the Aussies was Perkins, third in the final and at the start of a five year sojurn in Europe which took him all the way to F1.

Whilst Doug Bassett goes straight on at The Hairpin in the background, Larry Perkins Elfin 620 leads Tiff Needell, Lotus 69 at left, with Chris Smith’s Elden #44 up his chuff and Buzz Buzaglo in the distinctive, white, Falconer bodied Elden Mk10A on the inside and the rest, Snetterton FF Festival 1972

Elfin Racing Car News ad extolling the virtues of the Elfin 620. Larry took the first chassis to England having won the 1971 FF Driver to Europe award in one of Bib Stillwell’s Elfin 600s

Profile shot of the Elfin 620, Adelaide International perhaps, Terry Perkins in 1973 or 1974 (unattributed)

Perkins set about finding an F3 car for 1973 quickly. He settled on a GRD 372 Ford-Novamotor, a sound choice of car made by ex-Lotus Components lads led by David Lazenby. His campaign was funded by savings and financial assistance/sponsorship  from David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce and Garry Campbell’s Provincial Motors, both Sydney businesses, BP and Singapore Airlines. First race was at Silverstone’s short circuit on 18 March, round 2 of the BRSCC North Central Lombard F3 Championship. Larry DNF, with Alan Jones the victor in a GRD 372 at the start of a season which would finally see him break free of F3 after four years of banging away at it.

To Snetterton on April Fools Day, again DNF, Jones the winner, then to the BRDC International Trophy Meeting at Silverstone DNF, and again on April 20 DNF accident at Oulton Park – a BRSCC John Player F3 Championship round. Not a great start but it was clear he was trying hard, Larry finally got a score on the board at Mallory on April 23 during another BRSCC round, sixth in his heat and ninth in the final with Jones up front.

Perkins took in a couple of French Championship rounds on the way to the Monaco F3 GP on 1 May, starting at Magny-Cours where he finished third behind Jacques Laffitte and Jean-Pierre Paoli, the pair raced BP sponsored Martini Mk12 Ford-Holbays. At Pau on May 6 he was a DNF with Laffitte again up front. Still in France, Larry won the GP de La Chatre on 20 May to take his first win on European soil from Bernard Beguin and Laffitte.

Larry therefore went to Monaco with his tail up for the 2 June F3 GP Automobile de Monaco, but failed to qualify after an accident on lap 12 of his heat. Jacques Laffitte won the extremely prestigious race in a Martini Mk12 Ford, and raced to a European F2 Championship victory with Tico Martini the following year on his way to F1.

On June 17 he contested the Trophee d’Auvergne finishing sixth, and then on to Rouen on 24 June he was out on lap 4 due to accident damage, plenty of damage which could not be quickly repaired given the small Team Cowangie budget. The bundle of GRD bits Larry presented for inspection to Ron Tauranac referred to shortly was caused by this particular accident…

In the British GP support race Larry cadged a works Ensign LNF3 Ford from Mo Nunn. He was ninth in his heat and had an accident in the final. Another important race, this one was taken by USA’s Tony Rouff in a GRD 373, the best placed Aussies were Alan Jones, third in his GRD and Buzz Buzaglo’s splendid seventh in his smell-of-an-oily-rag budget March 723 Ford.

By 11 August Larry had convinced no less than BC Ecclestone to let him have the use of a Brabham BT41 into which Larry dropped his Ford-Novamotor engine for the Lombard F3 round at Oulton Park. DNF accident on lap 5 would not have left BCE best pleased, but nonetheless Perkins had created the start of a relationship which would see him in a bigger Brabham, an F1 jobbie in three years. Better was eleventh at Mallory on 26 August, Tony Brise was up front that day in a March 733, with further improvement to sixth at the Oulton Park BRSCC Lombard F3 round on 8 September, Brise was again the winner.

Third behind Brian Henton’s Ensign LNF3 and Tony Brise’ March 733 Ford at Brands round 11 of the BRSCC John Player British Championship on 30 September must have been a great boost to Larry’s confidence as well. A DNF followed at Oulton Park after an oil pipe failure on 7 October, the Jones boy triumphed again that day. At Mallory Park he was seventh in mid-October, then fifth, one slot in front of Jones in the Motor Show 200 at Brands on 21 October, Brise won.

Looking at 1973 in perspective, Tony Brise won the BRSCC John Player Championship by two points from Jones, Larry was twelfth, he had done well having started the process of establishing his name and racing on a wide variety of circuits in both the UK and France but he had run out of money. As a consequence his racing in 1974 was rather limited, albeit the year did include a somewhat premature, unplanned crack at F1.

Huge Brands grid 21 October 1973. Ian Taylor, March #1, Tony Brise alongside and Michel Leclere Alpine on the outside. #25 is Alan Jones GRD 372, #4 Masami Kawashima and #61 Larry Perkins, white Brabham BT41 Ford on the inside and the rest. Brise won from (K Hyndman)

Larry Perkins, Amon AF101 Ford, German GP practice, Nürburgring 3 August 1974 (Sutton)

Larry had discussed with Chris Amon joining Chris’ team in 1974 driving either a second F1 car or one adapted to F5000. No doubt Chris saw in Larry somebody who would muck-in with the build, maintenance and preparation of the cars.

When lack of sponsorship put paid to that, Larry organised a few F3 outings to keep his name out there. His first race was in a Trivellato March 743 Ford-Holbay at Monaco in May where he was seventh in his heat, but was a DNF due to accident damage after five laps in the final. That year there were sixty cars which sought to qualify for the final. He raced again for Trivellato in the Monza Lottery in June finishing ninth, and was tenth a month later at Alessandria in the Coppa Autodromo di Casale.

What should have been a career high-point was his first GP chance at the Nürburgring on 4 August aboard Amon’s car, the sub-optimal Amon AF101 Ford. The car appeared at the Nürburgring having missed a couple of races with the front brakes inboard again, the water radiators placed either side of the engine and new wings front and rear as well as lots of other bits-and-shits.

Team Chris was immediately in trouble on Friday, only one lap revealed overheating problems so the crew were kept busy modifying radiator mounts for the balance of the day. As Saturday dawned Chris had developed a streaming cold or sinusitis depending upon the source, so Larry took on the formidable challenge of qualifying the recalcitrant car on the most demanding of all circuits, not one he had raced on before and in a year when he was hardly match fit given the paucity of racing he had undertaken.

The first part of Saturday practice was dry, the second bit was wet compounding the challenge! Some reports have it that he went off but Denis Jenkinson’s account does not record that if it occurred. Unsurprisingly he missed the cut along with Francois Migault, Tim Schenken, Guy Edwards and Howden Ganley, Clay Regazzoni won that weekend in a Ferrari 312B3.

Whilst innovative, the Gordon Fowell designed, John Dalton and Chris Amon financed Amon was uncompetitive in the extreme, not even Chris’ renowned testing prowess could make it good. By the end of the season he had jumped out of the fat and into the flames and raced another shit-heap vastly beneath him in the BRM P201. He ran the car at Mosport and Watkins Glen. It’s said that there was nothing wrong with the P201 that a good ‘ole Cosworth DFV could not fix…

Redemption of Amon’s Formula One career of sorts would come in Morris Nunn’s 1976 Ensign N176 Ford in a drive which had a Larry Perkins twist we will come to shortly.

Chris Amon drove ‘all the classic marques’ of the period including BRM but the Bourne team’s ‘glory years’ of 1959 to 1971/2 were long gone by 1974, here at Mosport, 1974 Canadian GP, BRM P201 (nwmacracing)

Terry Perkins, Elfin 620, Paul Bernasconi, Mawer 004, Andrew Miedecke, Birrana F73, Peter Finlay, Palliser WDF2 and the nose of Geoff Brabham’s Bowin P6F at Oran Park in 1974. Perkins, Bernasconi and Brabham all raced Ralt RT1in Europe, Miedecke did a few races in a March 763 and Finlay had just returned to Australia having finished second in the 1973 EFDA European FF Championship in the Palliser (N Bennett)

Andrew Miedecke, Birrana F73 trying to hold off a hard charging Terry Perkins Elfin 620, with another 620 giving chase at Calder’s Tin Shed corner in 1973 (N Bennett)

While Larry was wrestling the recalcitrant Amon around the Nurburgring, by that August weekend Terry was well into his second Australian Formula Ford season which saw him win three of the ten Driver to Europe Series rounds – at Adelaide International and the Oran Park June and September rounds. His mount was an Elfin 620 albeit he won at Oran Park in September aboard Peter Lissiuk’s Titan Mk6C. Terry won the title with 71 points from Andrew Miedecke and Geoff Brabham.

I recall American visitor Peter Lissiuk’s win in this car at Sandown in July, he was one of some great drivers in a season of depth which included second placed Andrew Miedecke. He had three wins in his Birrana F73 (one of the great Australian FF chassis raced later by Richard Carter and Gary Brabham amongst others). Geoff Brabham was third in the ex-Leffler 1973 DTE winning Bowin P6F with one win, while Paul Bernasconi was fourth in the lust-worthy, ex-everybody and still extant Mawer 004 with two wins. Peter Finlay was just back from Europe mid-season in the Palliser WDF2 in which he finished third in the 1973 European FF Championship. He would be a force in 1975 with Grace Brothers sponsorship and the Pommie cars suspension optimised for the Goodyear slicks then used in Oz FF.

The grids also included later single-seater aces, Peter Larner, Elfin 600, Stephen Brook, Bowin P6F and John Davis who raced the Bowin P4X in which Jack Brabham won his last ever race, the Calder Formula Ford ‘Race of Champions’ in mid-1971. With his Elfin sold prior to the last round of the championship in October, Terry decided to join his Big Bro in England in 1975 with the aim of buying a Ralt, if the car looked up to snuff…

Larry Perkin’s search for a quicker F3 car for 1975 to create the forward momentum needed to capture the spotlight of those who matter coincided with Ron Tauranac’s desire to jump back into the production racing car business. Tauranac recalled Larry pulling up in front of his house with a “rather tatty Formula Three GRD which he was using in races all over Europe. I put in a few rivets for the lad and gave him some helpful advice and I had often thought it would be nice to provide him with something really competitive to race, so I decided to design a chassis which he and his mechanic could build up themselves,” Tauranac recalled in July 1978 Motorsport interview.

In another Motorsport interview he said “(Larry) had no money and asked me to help him redesign a Formula 3 car he had bought. After looking at it, I said, ‘We can do better than this’, so I built him a car with Greg Siddle doing the management bit. Larry began to progress.”

And so it was, in the final months of 1974 Ron Tauranac sat down to design “a simple, easy to maintain, yet competitive racing car, one which could be updated and modified and redeveloped as the years wore on,” arguably the RT1 was the greatest of his production racing car designs…Mind you other contenders would be the Brabham BT3/4/7/11 F1/Intercontinental, BT23/C F2, BT30/36 and lets not forget the RT2/3/4/5, and theres more…whatever the argument, the RT1 was a corker of a car in the hands of a vast number of drivers.

Alain Fenn, who had worked with Ron at Motor Racing Developments, re-joined Tauranac from Fred Opert in the US to assist with the sourcing of componentry. They identified premises at Snelgar Road, Woking and were soon underway in the build of an initial batch of five Ralts. Make that an initial batch of ‘Ralt Twos’ as the very first Ralts were built by Ron and Austin Tauranac in Sydney in the early post-war years.

The first Ralt Norton ES2 powered machine’s construction commenced in 1949 after Ron befriended the first men to build a ‘500’ in New South Wales. Jack and Bill Hooper were Sydney motor-cycle engineers, this car was powered by a Triumph single. Ron later modified the Hooper machine which Austin raced.

Ralt 1’s first event was a Sprint meeting in late 1949, later after running at the Hawkesbury hillclimb in 1950 Australian Motor Sports noted that he made a ‘promising rather than auspicious’ debut on a day when John Crouch, Australian GP winner, took FTD in a Cooper 1100. Tauranac’s relationship with Jack Brabham commenced when RT bought a 500cc MSS Velocette engine Jack had for sale, the two men, both of whom served in the RAAF towards the war’s end struck an instant rapport. As is well known, ‘Ralt’ was derived from the initials of Ronald Sidney Tauranac and his brother Austin Lewis Tauranac, viz Ron Austin Lewis Tauranac – RALT.

There is a certain symmetry about the first batch of Ralt Twos being five cars, as the batch of Ralt Ones that RT was preparing in 1960 was also a batch of five when he jumped on a plane – popping his family, wife Norma and daughter Jann on the ‘Fairsea’ from Circular Quay to Southhampton – off to the UK via an event at Riverside looking after Jack’s Cooper Monaco to join Brabham Enterprises to commence the path we all know so well. The five cars were built as Lynx Formula Juniors after Ron sold the plans and patterns for the design to Lynx Engineering for a nominal sum.

The two Perkins brothers Ralt RT1’s in the Ralt, Snelgar Road Woking factory in early 1975. #44 Larry, chassis # ‘RT1/75-2’ and Terry # ‘RT1/75-3’ (G Siddle)

The first RT1 chassis to take to the track (a total of 165 RT1s were built from 1975 to 1979) was Larry Perkins’ works loaned car- RT1/75-2, Italian Roberto Marazzi bought one (chassis RT1/75-1) via Ralt’s agent in Italy, Chuck McCarty. Ulf Svensson acquired another which went to Bertram Schafer (RT1/75-4), both McCarty and Svensson had been Brabham agents. Terry Perkins machine was RT1/75-3 and longtime Brabham customer, the very quick Hong-Konger John McDonald bought the fifth, RT1/75-5. What about that Ralt logo or wordmark? I loved it from the moment i saw it, the hippy-script was designed by thirteen year old Julie Tauranac!

Perkins, in the second year of 2-litre F3 had chosen wisely, a Ford Novamotor twin-cam was a smart choice for him as he was familiar with the engine of a car he was to self-prepare, the Toyota 2T-G Novamotor would become the engine to have before the season’s end, and was fitted to Larry’s chassis before the year ended.

Larry decided to target the FIA Formula 3 European Cup not having sufficient a budget to run the more prestigious BP series in England, mind you, some sources have it that the FIA F3 European Cup was only announced in the FIA’s June bulletin by which time three of the six Euro rounds had been run and won…

Team Cowangie had tested the car thoroughly enough before the start of the season commenced, and, critically had Greg Siddle – to become a very successful motor racing entrepreneur/driver mentor/team organiser – was in their camp. Larry was fifth at the opening BARC round at Thruxton on 31 March where Gunnar Nilsson was the winner, the first of many that year.

Siddle (an article in itself) managed the careers of Nelson Piquet and Roberto Moreno for periods of time in addition to Perkins and many others down the decades, and as a long term admirer of Tauranac “It was Siddle who nominated him and rounded up influential referees” which culminated in the award of an Order of Australia to RT in 2002, wrote Michael Stahl.

Ron Tauranac and Greg Siddle in 1975- racers both (G Siddle)

Brands Polydor Records Trophy, 7 September 1975 front row. Larry this side and Dick Parsons, Modus M1 Ford alongside – first and second – Danny Sullivan in another Modus was third (G Siddle)

Silverstone on 27 April on the short circuit was not a good weekend for the brothers with LP twelfth and DNF whilst Terry was a non-starter due to accident damage. Off to Monaco for the most prestigious race of the year, the first round of the European Championship on 10 May. Larry won his heat from Conny Anderson and Patrick Neve but was out in the final after 12 of the 25 laps with accident damage. Renzo Zorzi’s GRD 374 Lancia won. Nonetheless, an important marker had been put down, the entry list that year ran to 67 cars including the non pre-qualifiers.

Back in the UK for BARC round 5 at Thruxton on 26 May, Larry was seventh and Terry DNS with head gasket failure, Nilsson won again and then to Snetterton on 15 June, Larry was 19th and TP a no-show. Larry had missed the previous two Euro rounds at the Nürburgring on 1 June, and Anderstorp on 8 June, where Freddy Kottulinsky, Modus M1 BMW M-10 and Conny Anderson, March 753 Toyota won respectively.

Team Cowangie headed off to Italy for round four with LP winning the prestigious Monza Gran Premio della Lotteria on 29 June by forty seconds in a field which included future F1 drivers Piercarlo Ghinzani, Renzo Zorzi, Danny Sullivan, Patrick Neve, Gunnar Nilsson, Alex Ribeiro, Conny Andersson, Loris Kessel, Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi, Gianfranco Brancatelli and others.

LP was quickest in practice – which suggests the Ford-Novamotor did not lack power – and that the RT1 was a pretty slippery jigger, Larry’s task was made easier as Gunnar Nilsson had a big accident in practice and was unable to start the race. Larry had a race long scrap winning from local heroes Fernando Spreafico’s GRD 374 Toyota-Novamotor and Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi’s March 743 Toyota-Novamotor. It was a big win mentally and put some valuable funds into the team coffers.

Brands Hatch ‘Polydor Records Trophy’ meeting on 7 September. Larry in #44 won and Terry in #45 was ninth (G Siddle)

Terry’s car at Silverstone during the British GP weekend (A Raine)

Larry spins whilst a Modus and #46 Stephen South Ray BR3 go thru the Woodcote Chicane (T Marshall)

Off to Silverstone for the British GP meeting on 19 July, the FOCA Trophy, and again an important meeting with all of the F1 hierarchy in attendance. The trophy was won by Gunnar Nilsson, he took the British BP F3 Championship that year in a works March 753 Toyota. Terry had his best run of the year to finish fourth, with Larry back in ninth after recovering from an early race spin shown in the photograph above.

Perkins’ Monza victory gave him a serious tilt at the European Championship, so the team transporter headed back across the Channel to Croix-en-Ternois for the Trophee d’Arras on 20 July, the fifth round. Larry was fourth on the grid and Terry sixth in a small field of fourteen cars, with LP the winner and Terry out with accident damage after only two laps.

Then it was on to Denmark for the final Euro round at Djurslandring- the Danish Grand Prix on 2 August. In a wonderful weekend for the Brothers Perkins Terry was fourth in the first of two heats, while Larry won his, Terry bagged the 40 lap Grand Prix! It was a good win too, in front of Anders Olofsson, Conny Andersson, Renzo Zorzi and others. Larry was ninth with undisclosed dramas but had accumulated enough points to win the European Championship. His 18 points and two wins trumped Conny Andersson on 14 and Renzo Zorzi 11 points. The brothers stayed in Denmark to contest the Wrangler GP at the Jyllandsringen on 24 August finishing third and sixth, Larry from Terry with two Scandinavians up front, Jac Nelleman and Conny Andersson in GRD 375 and March 753 respectively.

Larry had a point to make back in the UK, the British F3 Championship was the toughest of F3 contests that year so it was back there to race in a few rounds of the BARC BP Super Visco British F3 Championship before the season’s end, starting with round 15 at Silverstone on 31 August. Larry finished a strong second behind Eddie Cheever, Modus M1 Toyota with Terry only two seconds adrift of Larry but still in fifth place, such was and is the competitiveness of the category. Larry used a Toyota 2T-G Novamotor engine at this meeting for the first time. A week later Larry won the Polydor Records Trophy at Brands, again Toyota powered in a field which included Danny Sullivan, Alex Ribeiro, Gunnar Nilsson, Terry (ninth), Rupert Keegan, Ingo Hoffman etc- it was a good win and indicative of the Toyota advantage over the venerable, long-lived Ford/Lotus twin-cam.

Oulton Park- Gunnar Nilsson, March 753 from Ingo Hoffman in another 753 then Larry with a bunch of three; Eddie Cheever Modus M1 on the inside then Alex Ribeiro and Stephen South both in March 753s, all Toyota 2T-G powered (Toyota)

Ralt Racing Equipe in 1975, Perkins’ RT1 with Ron Tauranac and Greg Siddle off to the right (G Siddle)

Back to Italy on 14 September for the Coppa Autodromo di Casale, on the Autodromo di Casale Monferrato at Alessandria, Larry was fifth, TP not making the trip.

Larry held his Brands Hatch form, winning the BARC BP round 16 on 21 September from Ribeiro and Nilsson, a week later at Silverstone for round 17 he was second behind Nilsson. A week further on, 4 October, the British F3 circus was at Oulton Park for the penultimate BP round, this time the winner was Ingo Hoffman’s March 753 from Alex Ribeiro, then Larry from Nilsson, Cheever, Stephen South and Rupert Keegan- 30 seconds covered these first seven cars.

Off to Thruxton for the final BP round on 26 October, Larry was fifth behind Ribeiro, Sullivan, South and Patrick Neve, Modus M1 Toyota. Then back to Thruxton again on 5 November for the BARC Forward Trust BBC-TV race of 1975 where Larry was again fourth, this time from Nilsson, Cheever and Neve. Team Cowangies’s final race for the year was at Hockenheim on 9 November when Terry raced his Ford Novamotor powered RT1 to seventh in round 12 of the German Championship at Hockenheim, Eddie Cheever won.

The team – Tauranac, Siddle, Perkins L and Perkins T – would have been pleased, make that ecstatic at the season’s results, Larry won the FIA Euro Championship with Terry was equal fourth. Conny Andersson was second and Freddy Kottulinsky third.

Despite contesting, at best, half the rounds Larry was fifth in the more important, if less outwardly prestigious BARC BP Super Visco British F3 Championship. The top four were Gunnar Nilsson, then Alex Ribeiro, both in works March 753s, then Danny Sullivan, Modus M1 and Patrick Neve, Safir RJ03. All of these fellows would race an F1 car with the exception of Terry and Kottulinsky.

Tauranac’s faith in the Perkins brothers was well founded, their speed and success in the RT1s provided a foundation piece for the Ralt sales success which was to follow over the next decade or so. Ron has been quoted many times about how Ralt was a far more profitable business than Motor Racing Developments ever was, lets not forget that first and foremost it was a family business.

Terry Perkins needed another year of F3, having established his potential clearly, no doubt the Danish Grand Prix cup still has a prominent place in his study, he returned to Australia, I’d love to hear from anybody who can tell me his story since then…

Rikky Von Opel, Ensign LNF3 Ford F3, Thruxton 1972. One can’t help but ponder the effectiveness of those wings- not so much the inclination but rather the shapes, very successful design mind you (unattributed)

Von Opel during the 1973 British GP, Ensign N173 Ford. Q21 and 13th, six laps adrift of winner, Peter Revson’s McLaren M23 Ford (unattributed)

Former Team Lotus F3 racer Morris Mo Nunn ran German nobleman and very quick driver Rikky von Opel to victory in the 1972 Lombard North Central British F3 Championship. His prototype F3 car, the Ensign LNF1 was built behind the garage of his Walsall home and was raced with success by another ex-Team Lotus F3 pilot, Bev Bond in 1971. The LNF3 was the 1972 production car was raced with success by the likes of David Purley and Colin Vandervell with Von Opel, great grandson of Opel founder Adam Opel, winner of the Lombard F3 Championship in 1972. You will recall that Larry did a race in a works Ensign LNF3 after damaging his GRD in France in mid-1973.

Keen to progress to F1 the wealthy Rikky financed Mo Nunn’s venture into F1. Dave Baldwin joined the team to work on the F3 cars while Morris designed the Grand Prix Ensign 173 which raced throughout 1973. Rikky’s best was thirteenth in the British GP at Silverstone. In 1974 von Opel decamped to Brabham early in the season after unhappiness with the team’s progress and was replaced by Vern Schuppan, Teddy Yip funded the drive, his best in the N174 (a revamped N173) was fifteenth in the Belgian GP at Zolder. Mike Wilds drove the car late in the season.

For 1975 Mo attracted sponsorship for a two car team comprising the N174 and new Ensign N175 Ford, a beautiful bit of kit, from Dutch company HB Bewaking who were insistent on Dutch drivers. Roelof Wunderink and Gijs van Lennep were signed. Van Lennep, 1971 Le Mans winner in a Porsche 917 together with Helmut Marko and very quick in a Lola T330 Chev F5000 in European F5000 in 1973 was the more successful of the two 5-litre graduates, Gijs’sixth place at Hockenheim gave Ensign their first F1 Championship points.

Late in the season Chris Amon joined the team taking a pair of twelfths and most importantly gave Nunn a driver who could develop the speed inherent in the evolved N176, which was so quick, but sadly so fragile in 1976, Chris’ last year in F1 and a period in which he showed he had lost not a tenth of the raw pace he always had.

Perkins, Ensign N175 Ford, 1976 Monaco GP practice overhead shot shows the pure lines of the Baldwin/Nunn design to good effect. Griffin helmet, looks like brake cooling was an issue- see added on ducts at the rear

During late 1975 there was a spat between Nunn and HB Bewaking which was resolved by HB taking possession of Ensign 175 chassis MN04 which had been raced by Van Lennep, Wunderink and Amon throughout 1975. Larry Perkins was chosen to drive the car in 1976. The car was prepared from the a base in Bovenkerk, Holland by the Bob and Body Hoogenboom (BOb and ROdy = Boro) with plenty of input and work from Perkins, who was very impressive in the way he went about F1 in DIY fashion! In fact F1 in the manner he had run his F3 program, necessity being the mother of invention.

Designed by the well credentialed Baldwin and Nunn, the Ensign N175 was a typical Cosworth kit car of the era with an aluminium monocoque chassis, with upper and lower wishbone front suspension, coil spring/Koni dampers, and a single top link, twin lower links, twin radius rods and coil spring/Konis at the rear. The trusty Hewland FG400 transaxle was mated to the Cosworth Ford DFV which gave around 485bhp at the time. Brakes were ventilated discs, outboard at the front and inboard at the rear.

Money was tight so Larry had done little testing by the time the team arrived at Jarama for the fourth round of the 1976 World Championship, won that year by James Hunt’s McLaren M23 after Niki Lauda nearly lost his life when his Ferrari 312T2 crashed at the Nürburgring mid-season. As is so often the case, adversity and injury creates opportunity for others and so it was for Larry later in the season, indirectly as a result of Lauda’s prang.

Larry did well upon debut, he qualified 24th and finished 13th “circulating tidily and keeping out of trouble” as Denis Jenkinson described his race, after a slow pitstop to change a flat tyre. There were six non-qualifiers that weekend among the large number of teams contesting Grands Prix at the time. Hunt won the race in his McLaren with Perkin’s F3 1975 compatriot, Gunnar Nilsson impressing all with his performance behind the wheel of a Lotus 77 Ford.

Onto Zolder, Belgium, Larry achieved his best ever GP finish, eighth from Q20 in a grid of 24. Lauda won from his teammate Clay Regazzoni in a Ferrari 312T2, Larry passed the two Shadow DN5Bs of Jean-Pierre Jarier and Tom Pryce to secure eighth behind John Watson’s Penske PC3 Ford. In the latest Ensign N176 Chris was Q8 and running fourth when a wheel detached itself from the car, causing Chris to crash and roll, but he emerged unscathed.

LP on the hop, Ensign N175, Jarama 1976

Mosport 1977. Larry Perkins in the big cumbersome Brabham BT45 Alfa in front of the big cumbersome but faster Ligier Matra of Jacques Laffitte (N MacLeod)

Despite having demonstrable F3 speed at Monaco Larry was unable to wrestle sufficient pace out of the Ensign to make the cut, but the degree of difficulty was high. He was doing much of the preparation himself inclusive of belting said self into the six-point Willans, before setting off. But hey, he was in F1 and in a decent car to boot.

At Anderstorp, Sweden, Larry had an engine failure near the chicane giving him a long walk back to the pits and plenty of time to watch the competition at close quarters as he trudged home having qualified 22ndof 26. Amon proved the pace of the N176 having put it into a stunning third on the grid and chasing Depailler hard whilst running third, only to have the left-front corner part company with the rest of the car which sailed through two catch fences and then head on into the barriers. Chris, very shaken, climbed out with badly bruised legs.

Down the back, Alan Jones qualified the Surtees TS19 with which Larry was to become familiar in 1977 eighteenth, and finished thirteenth. This was the weekend the Tyrrell P34 six-wheelers finished a marvellous one-two after Mario Andretti’s DFV went kaboomba, swallowing a piston while in the lead with his Lotus 77.

Off to the Dutch team’s home race at Zandvoort, Larry was Q19 of 26. Jenkinson commented upon Larry’s car control “…There was a lot of pressing on, even from those near the back and both Merzario and Perkins had spins leaving the Tarzan hairpin, the Australian doing a textbook job of declutching at precisely the right moment to avoid stalling the engine, keeping his sense of direction and driving off as soon as the nose swung the full 360 degrees and was pointing the right way up the course.”

Larry was given some work to do after an incident with Peterson’s March 761 late in the afternoon. “…Peterson was out in his spare March and thought he would outbrake and chop across the front of Perkins at the end of the main straight, but the Ensign driver didn’t reckon on being bullied with the result they collided and spun off the road. The Boro-Ensign was wheeled back to the pits more or less undamaged but the March had to be retrieved by a breakdown truck!” Denis recorded.

Larry ran as high as thirteenth behind Ickx, driving the Ensign N176 vacated by Chris Amon after the German Grand Prix but “spun off into the catch fences in a cloud of sand due to a moments inattention on the fast right-hand bend leading ono the main straight,” in the race won by Hunt’s M23 McLaren after a titanic dice for much of the race with Watson’s Penske.

The Italian Grand Prix was amazing as it marked the return to racing of the gritty, oh-so-tough, mentally strong Niki Lauda back in the cockpit of a Ferrari. Ronnie Peterson won that weekend taking the very first works March F1 win in a 761 Ford.

In first wet practice Larry was one of few to brave the circuit and provided an exercise in high-speed aquaplaning to the assembled masses in the pits with a big spin on the straight. Larry made good on Satuday though. “One driver who was embarrassing a lot of people was the bespectacled Australian, Larry Perkins, running his whole show himself, and recording a time that must have given him a “double-A for effort” in anyone’s book, for he split the two works Lotus drivers on the final grid.”

Larry qualified a splendid 13th of 26 and was running 13th in the race, immediately behind Jones’Surtees TS19 when his precious 3-litre Cosworth blew spectacularly whilst passing the pits. It was a cost the team could ill-afford.

It was at this point that one of the consequences of Lauda’s accident played to Perkins’ advantage.

Scuderia Ferrari immediately post-accident correctly saw Niki’s position as grim. His life was at risk in the early days post accident and even if he did survive it was far from clear that Lauda could or would race again. They needed a driver to race the second car alongside Clay Regazzoni, with Carlos Reutemann easily seduced across from Brabham where he had raced Gordon Murray’s race winning Cosworth engined BT44/44B, but was now lumbered with the Alfa Romeo flat-12 engined, heavy, unreliable BT45. Doubtless the deal Bernie did with Alfa Romeo was a good one financially but the cars were not race-winners despite the undoubted talents of the two South Americans, Reutemann and Carlos Pace.

Ecclestone recruited Rolf Stommelen to replace the car vacated by Reutemann before Monza. He did well too, Q11 and DNF, but then Bernie offered Larry the car for the last three races of 1976, the Canadian, US East and Japanese Grands Prix. If he did well there was the chance to do a full season the following year. The task was not an easy one as Pace was quick, he had three years in F1, was already a GP winner and was familiar with the BT45, he would be a tough benchmark for Larry as a teammate.

LP, BT45 Alfa Watkins Glen 1976- doncha lerv the Martini livery on any car! (D Phipps)

Perkins sitting on Carlos Pace’ BT45 in the Kendall Centre, Watkins Glen 1976 (D Phipps)

Denis Jenkinson reported the changes at Brabham in his Canadian Grand Prix race report as follows, “Bernie Ecclestone’s Martini-sponsored team brought along a brand new Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45 for Carlos Pace to drive, this being chassis number 5 which featured several minor chassis alterations and weight-saving changes plus wishbone rear suspension and revised rear bodywork, with newly “faired-in” cold-air ducting for each bank of the 12-cylinder motor. The car was also using the carbon-fibre brakes once more and the Brazilian seemed reasonably happy with it on the first day, although his best of 1 min 13.438 sec. on Saturday was only 12th quickest.”

“In the second car, vacated permanently by Carlos Reutemann, Ecclestone had decided to reward the initiative and determination demonstrated by bespectacled Australian Larry Perkins whilst he was driving the old HB Ensign MNO4 in the European races he could afford to compete in. Perkins was thus installed in the second Brabham (BT45/3) and did a neat and tidy job on his first outing with a works team even though he was forced to take over the team spare BT45/1 after his original mount suffered engine failure on Friday, and then the replacement engine developed a severe internal vibration on Saturday.”

Larry qualified 19th and Pace 10th, Jones Q14. Early in the race Larry ran 14th but had “a wild old spin dropping him to last” circa lap nine. Larry finished 17th, Jones 16th and Pace seventh, the race was won by Hunt’s McLaren M23 from Patrick Depailler’s Tyrrell P34 and Mario Andretti’s Lotus 77, Lotus’ renaissance was well and truly on.

Picking up the Amon thread throughout this article, Chris cried ‘Enough!’ after the first of the two German GP race starts. Lauda’s accident was the last straw, so he stepped out of the Ensign which was so fast in his hands but so fragile too. Neither Hans Binder nor Jacky Ickx, who then drove the car made the chassis sing as Chris did.

But several races after this decision Amon was cajoled back to join Wolf-Willams, he was down to drive an Wolf-Williams FW05 in the Canadian GP. The luckless Kiwi spun “very slowly on a downhill left-hander whilst moving over to make way for a faster car during the second session. Before he could restart he was hit by Harald Ertl, who simply lost control on his own, the impact wrecking both cars and putting both drivers out of circulation with badly bruised legs and damaged muscles”, it was insult to further injury in such a mixed season for Chris.

The circus then decamped across the border to the beautiful Watkins Glen circuit in the Fingers Lake region of upstate New York.

The Glen difficult, technical circuit wasn’t one on which Larry had competed before, Q13 was a good effort only three slots behind the experienced Carlos who crashed in the race. Larry had suspension failure, a front wishbone pick-up pulled away from its mounting after the Aussie had finished 31 laps.

Their was plenty of tension in the air that weekend as the championship was at its pointy end. James Hunt needed to win to keep his hopes alive, which he duly did, taking victory from Jody Scheckter’s Tyrrell and Niki Lauda’s Ferrari.

It was the first time in a while that three Australians were on an F1 grid, Alan Jones and Warwick Brown were also race qualifiers. Chris Amon was hobbling around Watkins Glen on crutches, unable to take the start in his Wolf Williams, which had been rebuilt around a fresh monocoque. Frank Williams sought Vern Schuppan’s services but found another Australian in California instead, and so it was that F5000 ace Warwick Brown got the gig, sadly his only F1 ride.

Denis Jenkinson observed that “Larry Perkins put in a very respectable show in the second Brabham-Alfa Romeo, (in practice) lapping faster than Clay Regazzoni who tried both his regular Ferrari and the spare (028-2) during the afternoon but really seems to have lost a great deal of his determination since he has been advised that Ferrari won’t be needing his services again in 1977.”

Perkins ended up qualifying only a tenth-shy of Pace, Q13 and Q10 and ran as high as 12th in the race ahead of Jones, Ickx and Fittipaldi before yielding his place to Jones, then having the suspension failure which ended his race. Jones was Q18 and eighth after a trouble free run whilst WB was Q23 of 27 and finished 14th, slowed with gearbox problems throughout, with “the Australian driving the last few laps without third and fifth gears operative on the Williams but keeping out of everybody’s way as he did so,” wrote DSJ.

Off to the Mount Fuji and its amazing outlook to the dormant volcano for that amazingly wet race that decided the 1976 title in Hunt’s favour, the race win taken by Andretti’s Lotus 77.

Larry’s qualifying performance was ordinary- Q17 with Pace Q6 “…in Brabham BT45/3, the Brazilian having started practising with BT45/1 but taking over the newer car from team-mate Larry Perkins after it had developed a misfire. The Martini sponsored team was down to only two machines for this final race of the season as the new lightweight BT45/5 had been sent home after Pace had tangled with Mass’ McLaren at Watkins Glen and damaged the chassis quite badly in the ensuing accident.”

The start took place in diabolical conditions, but Hunt made the most of a good start and edged his McLaren into the lead whilst Larry “crept into the pits to retire his ill-handling Brabham-Alfa, the Australian’s car not feeling quite right after being hurriedly repaired after he’d crashed it during the untimed morning session.” Pace withdrew after only seven laps, having similar misgivings about the conditions as Lauda. Alan Jones was Q20 and finished a typically gritty fourth, adrift of Hunt.

And that was it, the Brabham drive for 1977 went to John Watson, on the market from Penske, and, in all the circumstances, the logical decision for Bernie Ecclestone to make.

Interlagos 1977, BRM P207. “I thought you said that was the best engine- the thing wouldn’t pull me’ granny off the top of the piss-pot at Cowangie!”- or words to that general effect

Yours for $A10,000, LP’s Griffin helmet from his Brabham Alfa and BRM days (Perkins Engineering)

To most pundits surprise BRM were returning to Grand Prix Racing in 1977, with an ‘all-new design’- the P207 was the second quickie-car from the hand of the very talented Len Terry who had first pulled the fat out of the fire for the Bourne concern with the 1968 BRM P126. With four months and a minimal budget, the car was unveiled at the swanky Dorchester Hotel on 3 December, 1976. Without time to test properly, it was given a few straight-line runs on a Cambridgeshire airfield where the it boiled as merrily in the English winter, as it did in the South American summer shortly thereafter.

Larry had a taste of how an F1 team should operate with Brabham, and was optimistic – mind you, he had to be as he was hardly spoiled for F1 choice – he joined BRM for 1977.

“Sometimes,” he says, “a driver finds himself in a good situation, the next moment you’re thinking, “Christ, will another opportunity come along?” Well, BRM came along, and I reckoned it was better than nothing. There were some capable people at BRM, and I’m a hands-on sort of guy who reckons you should be able to turn things around if you have good people around you” reflected Perkins, 26 years of age at the time.

Chief Engineer Aubrey Woods, pissed off at Len Terry’s appointment ‘over his head’, and Len, disagreed with the cause of the overheating. Woods and Perkins thought it was a radiator/airflow problem “…but I reckoned it boiled down to the design of the water pump housing. The pump I designed was intended to send the water in two directions, diagonally opposite to each other. But because of a lack of finance, the actual pump was a cobble-up of two pumps cut in half. As soon as I saw it, I knew we would have trouble with it. The interior of the pump was such that it was stirring rather than circulating – and the water was just sitting in the head.”Len Terry recalled.

This was a small problem which should have been easily solved, but the issue preventing a fix was a clash of personalities and ego. Terry, “I was saying that the main problem with the car was the engine, and Aubrey was saying it was a fundamental design problem. He wouldn’t accept it, and I wouldn’t accept it. In fact, looking back, it was neither an engine problem nor a design problem.”

Poor Perkins landed in the middle of this shit-fight, which then descended to complete farce when the car would not fit into the plane to South America from Gatwick. Measurements had been made for a commercial aircraft with two doors whereas the passenger jet on offer had only one. The steam coming out of Perkin’s ears as he awaited his team at Buenos Aires airport is reasonably easy to visualise.

Jody Scheckter shook the established McLaren/Ferrari order with a strong win in the new Harvey Postlethwaite designed Wolf WR1 Ford. A last-minute deal with Brazilian airline Varig meant the BRM arrived at Interlagos in time for the year’s second GP.

Dennis Jenkinson observed the efforts of the team when he wrote about practice in the February 1977 issue of Motorsport “…Mention of Perkins brings us to the subject of the BRM P207, that new car from Bourne which has been designed by Len Terry. Barely ready to move, let alone race, the BRM predictably overheated madly in the Brazilian heat and minor problems with certain aspects of its fuel system couldn’t detract from the fact that the whole team was in a state of total unreadiness. Perkins could only manage 2 min. 42.22 sec. with the BRM and, since we saw him qualify 12th out of 24 at Watkins Glen in a Brabham BT45, we feel we know what conclusion it would be accurate to draw. Some people never learn; or perhaps they don’t want to.”

Whilst Carlos Reutemann drove a fast, consistent race in his 312T2 to win the race, many others lost control on one particular corner which had a surface like ‘black ice’ poor Larry “Totally unnoticed by most of the spectators…crawled into the pits to retire with all of its water blown out after a single lap.” It wasn’t an auspicious start to a season which was an embarrassment to all fans of this grand-marque.

‘Yeah mate it feels great- at this speed’, LP P207 at the Dorchester launch (Getty)

Larry in the Kyalami pits, BRM P201B 1977

Kyalami was next.

The team managed a little testing at home, but broke enough bits to eliminate the use of the P207 in the South African GP. They team took a P201 instead, Perkins quipped that “I think it had Jo Siffert’s name on it”. The machine hadn’t run since Argentina 12 months before. Loaded onto the slow boat to Cape Town – there wasn’t enough cash to fly it – it arrived, according to one journalist, looking as though it had been used as the ship’s figurehead.

The frazzled team trailered it to Kyalami in what turned out to be a tragic weekend with the death of Tom Pryce and a young marshall. Larry popped the car in Q22 “…simply because it would not go any faster” – only Brett Lunger’s private March was slower. The car would do no more than 148.5mph on Kyalami’s long straight. Larry at least finished the race in 15th place albeit five laps behind the winner and bringing up the rear running on about 10 cylinders”, his hands and arms numbed by the vibration caused by missing wheel weights.

Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 312T2 won the challenging race in a Ferrari very low on water and even lower on oil as a consequence of picking up on circuit metal left by the remains of poor Tom’s Shadow and Jacques Laffitte’s Ligier on-circuit.

The P207 returned to battle in the traditional non-championship Brands Hatch’s ‘Race of Champions’ on 20 March, but withdrew when some old ‘parts bin uprights showed signs of wear. The car was far from all-new, Terry’s brief was to use as many existing components off the shelf or what Perkins described as “old rubbish recycled”.

Larry said in 2001, “You dream that someday you will become an F1 driver, and now here I was doing it. I couldn’t believe it. But then I couldn’t believe that, having got there, you could be treated so badly. The car had some nice bits. The engine lacked power initially, but they found 50bhp with a new sump. It sounded beautiful. But then it would break. The gearbox was lovely, too. There were some good engineers at BRM.”

Larry was off though, he had had enough, there was no prospect of a performance improvement, indeed the car did not qualify for any race for the rest of the season despite the best efforts of Conny Andersson (Spain, where he blew an engine on the first day and the car became stuck in gear on the second. Belgium – both V12s blew. Sweden – one engine lost oil pressure, the second blew whilst a third engine flown in overnight also blew and in France where both engines blew) Guy Edwards (Silverstone) and Teddy Pilette (Germany, Holland and Itay).

‘”I wasn’t politically correct; I don’t remember having a long chat about it all, I think I just rang up and said, ‘You won’t be seeing me again’ Larry said. Len Terry left the team at about the same time. It was his last foray in F1: “There was a lot of energy and ideas, but much of it was at cross-purposes, especially between Aubrey and me. It was one big cock-up.” Woods stayed on and reckons his reworked V12 was giving a very competitive 480-490bhp. Pilette concurs, but also remembers that it kept dropping valves: “There was just no money. There was a patch on one block that was leaking. So we sealed it with Araldite”…

Perkins, BRM P201, Interlagos 1977 (unattributed)

Andersson’s BRM P207 in slight undress at Spa in 1977- front inboard rocker suspension clear, DNQ

What to do next?

Over at Team Surtees the ‘Monza Gorilla’, Vittorio Brambilla managed to blow-off all of his younger teammates, Hans Binder was his latest victim in the early races in 1977, mind you, whilst Binder qualified well behind Vittorio he did finish races Vittorio did not. Perkins was given the drive in the other TS19 Cosworth for what was said to be just the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder in early June. There he qualified the Franger F1, Durex sponsored TS19 Q23 – six spots in front of poor non-qualifier Conny Anderson in the BRM Larry had vacated, he finished a steady 12th, Vittorio was Q12 and fourth.

It is interesting to read Jenkinson’s July Motorport report of the June 5 Zolder race and the realisation of the extent of the ‘Unfair Advantage’ Colin Chapman and his team had, as expressed in the Lotus 78 Ford, some excerpts are below. Note that the first Lotus 78 Ford GP win was at Longbeach in early April and then at Jarama a week later.

“Overnight (after practice) the speed of the Lotus was discussed in all quarters. It was accepted that Andretti was a good driver, but not that good, and anyway Nilsson was well placed, so it had to be something about the Lotus 78 that Chapman and his team had done. It wasn’t super-special Cosworth engines, for Andretti was using a John Nicholson prepared engine and Nilsson was using a normal run-of-the-mill Cosworth Engineering prepared unit. Lotus had got a special-development Cosworth engine, but were not using it, it was sitting in the transporter.”

“It could not be special Goodyear tyres, because by the Constructor Association “gentleman’s agreement” everyone had the same type of tyre – or had they? It couldn’t be that Goodyear were preparing for the appearance of Michelin into Formula One, by letting some special tyres slip out. If they had, they are unlikely to have had them for Andretti and Nilsson. It could not be the special low-percentage slip differential, for Nilsson wasn’t using one.”

“The only common factor seemed to be the much-vaunted (at the beginning of the season) air-flow under the side-pods, giving additional down-force. From appearances both Lotus cars seemed to be running with their rear aerofoils at a shallower angle than most people, thus providing little down-force, but more important they were producing less drag. Observers remarked that Andretti was not only much faster round the long right-hand sweep that brings the track along behind the pits; but looked uncommonly steady. Perhaps the inverted aerofoil sections under the sides of the Lotus are now really working, having sorted out the other variables.”

“When Colin Chapman returned on Sunday morning (he had returned home to England for a family gig on Friday) he was both pleased and angry, for while he expected Andretti to be on pole position he intended that he should have done it by a few tenths of a second, not a whole second and a half. Team Lotus had shown their hand unnecessarily.”

And then this from his report of the latter race stages, “The nice drying wind was still doing its stuff and as things improved Nilsson’s Lotus came into its own and the Swede began to reduce the gap on the leading Ferrari at an astonishing rate. Within ten laps on the dry road the Lotus was right up behind the Ferrari and on lap 50 the Swede out-braked the Ferrari into the chicane behind the pits, as if he was overtaking a back-marker, and was gone over the hill into the lead, just like that. There was nothing Lauda could do about it, and with all respects to Gunnar Nilsson’s driving ability, it just had to be a case of a vastly superior car.”

“…Once away from Lauda, the younger Swede was able to ‘roll it off’ and cruise home untroubled, revving to a mere 9,500 r.p.m. in the gears, instead of the normal 10,800 r.p.m. The Lotus was just remarkable, and Nilsson was doing a great job of work with it…Nilsson cruised round to complete the 70 laps.”

The next two races were terrible for Larry, DNQs at both Anderstorp and Dijon where Brambilla was Q13/DNF and Q11/DNF respectively. In the French GP Larry drove only in Friday practice, then Big John bundled him off to one side and popped Patrick Tambay into the car, he too missed the cut.

Vern Schuppan drove the Dinger Spl at Hockenheim for Q19 of 24 and a distant seventh, a lap adrift of winner Lauda, but a finish all the same. At the Osterreichring he was Q25 of 26 and 16th, two laps adrift, then DNQ at Zandvoort with Lamberto Leoni getting the gig at Monza – DNQ…Hans Binder was reinstated at Watkins Glen, Q25 and 11th, two laps adrift…I guess the point of all of this is that it is very hard for a driver to get into some sort of rhythm-and-sync with a car and team unless there is the time and commitment to do so…

And that was it, Larry’s F1 career was over.

Belgian GP 1977 (Motorsport)

So, what do we make of it all, at least to this point in their careers?

Terry Perkins proved he deserved another year of F3 but returned to Australia, never to be heard of in a racing sense again, hopefully via this article I can fill in the last forty years or so. While I have made attempts to get in contact with Terry via social media a while back, hopefully this article will be a catalyst to make a connection and then close things off.

Larry did exceptionally well with the Ensign N175, better than Wunderink and Amon’s best results in 1975. Only Van Lennep’s sixth place bested him and let’s not forget Larry was preparing the car in addition to being chief cook and bottle washer on race weekends, perhaps only Arturo Merzario acted in this manner as a driver after Perkins did. So, the Brabham ride was well deserved.

At Watkins Glen Larry proved he could go almost as fast as Pace in the same car despite giving away three years of F1 experience and a season racing the BT45. Who knows if Bernie pulled Larry and Carlos into the pits in Japan? The net effect was that Larry lost one of his three races in which to establish his credentials. Certainly if I were Bernie I would have grabbed John Watson rather than Larry to pop into the car in 1977- shit happens.


Mind you I would have done what Larry did too in all the circumstances – make a hero of yourself in a poor car has paid off many times in the past but the Stanley Steamer was junk. Whatever management merits ‘Lord’ Louis Stanley had in the past – enabling Tony Rudd and emasculating the Ray Mays/Peter Berthon duopoly duly noted –  part of ancient history, BRM was crying out for leadership of a still good team of engineers/mechanics but the pompous stereotype of aristocratic incompetency was never the answer. Taking Rotary Watches money was almost theft. Stanley-BRM are lucky they didn’t go the wallies for deceptive conduct or something similar.

It would have been better to pop a DFV in the back of Terry’s P207 chassis, who knows how good it really was, engine problems meant decent chassis testing was never achieved, and go forward from there, put some results on the board and find the funds to build a new engine. The precedent of Bourne using engines made by others outside its cloistered high-ceilings was established. The Coventry Climax FPF 1.5 it used in F1 in 1961 and the Chevs installed in the back of the Can-Am cars in 1970/1971 are examples but Larry, unfortunately, landed in the middle of this clusterfuck and did the only reasonable thing he could do- walk, or run perhaps in the opposite direction. At least he had the satisfaction at the end of the year of knowing he did better than the poor, equally optimistic missguided souls who followed him, viz Messrs Andersson, Edwards and Pilette, not to forget Mike Wilds later.

Surtees, who knows…

Jones, Lunger, Andersson, Takahara, Binder, Perkins, Schuppan, Leoni, Tambay all didn’t do so well with the TS19 but Vittorio Brambilla made the thing go, albeit not necessarily finish. To be fair AJ did finish in the top six three times in 1976 and second in the non-championship Race of Champions behind Hunt’s McLaren M23 at Brands Hatch, and he was still on the rise as a GP driver, something made difficult for the rest of the guys mentioned above without a test session or three. It would be intriguing to know how many test laps away from a GP weekend Binder, Perkins, Tambay, Schuppan and Leoni copped from Surtees in 1977. Not many…

Jones has gone on the record in various publications about the degree of difficulty he found in getting John Surtees to make changes suspension/wing changes to the TS19, as he, Surtees had tested the car and therefore knew its attributes…to which Jones acid response was that the car handled and reacted somewhat differently when being driven on the pace than the way it did pottering around a couple of seconds off it…

Surtees was committed to Brambilla, Beta Tools money ensured that, whereas the pilots of the Durex machine were changed as often as one does a used condom..

And that was it, back to Oz Larry came.

With his blend of skills you can easily see how Larry could have become a seventies/eighties version of Frank Gardner in Europe blending an F1 test role(s) with race programs in sedans and sportscars but it was sadly not to be, he had given Europe a red-hot- go over five years and made it right near the top of the pyramid. How far had he come from rattling around the surrounding bush of Hume Weir in his FV in 1969? It was time to come home to Australia to make a living in touring cars, a taste of which he had received in his annual Sandown/Bathurst co-drives with The Captain – Peter Janson.

Larry Perkins and Gregg Hansford won the 1993 Bathurst 1000 from pole- a great win and Larry did so in a Holden VP Holden whereas most of the other GM hotshots raced Holden VP Chevs. Only Larry tickled all that was left from the venerable, old Holden ‘308’ V8 (unattributed)

The purpose of this article is not to examine Perkin’s staggering touring car race and business career once he returned to Australia at the end of 1978. He won countless races and six Bathurst 1000’s and had an amazing career as a car builder, initially leading the construction of the Holden Dealer Team cars and later on his own trading as Perkins Engineering. His own race team was successful for decades, not to forget his aviation interests or becoming the first man, together with adventurer Hans Tholstrup, to cross Australia in a solar powered vehicle in 1982, ‘The Quiet Achiever’ was built by Larry and Gary Perkins…

Once Larry returned to Australia he had not entirely finished with open-wheelers, racing David McKay/Graham Watson’s Ralt RT1 Ford BDA in the 1978 New Zealand Formula Atlantic Championship against Keke Rosberg, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Brett Riley and others. He also contested the 1979 Series against another group of young thrusters including Teo Fabi, Eje Elgh, John Smith, Jeff Wood and in 1980, but the Chevron B39 he raced that year was not the greatest or latest bit of kit.

After getting ‘match fit’ in January and February 1979 in New Zealand Larry jumped aboard a works Elfin MR8C Chev and won the 1979 Rothmans F5000 Championship from Alf Costanzo’s Lola T430 Chev and Warwick Brown’s Lola T332C/333 Chev.

He raced Paul England’s Chevron B39 at the dawn of Formula Pacific racing in Australia and the a RT4 in the first F Pac AGP in 1981…having boofed the tub of his car during practice he quickly organised a spare from Ron Tauranac who was roaming the paddock that weekend, I watched, fascinated for a long while at Larry’s efficient pace at getting the good bits from the rooted tub on to the newie, the practical skills which helped get him to F1 were still well in evidence and are still deployed today.

Click here for some of LP’s latest exploits…

Larry Perkins, Mercedes F1 in the Northern Territory. Mercedes Benz Unimog U4000 (P Blakeman)

Other Larry Perkins articles are here;  and here; ,


Larry grew up on a farm at Cowangie in Victoria’s Mallee, wheat farming country on the Ouyen Highway not far from the South Australian border, Adelaide is 290km due west and Melbourne 540km to the south.

Larry’s grandfather, Clifton Perkins was granted 793 acres under the Soldier Settlement Scheme after World War 1, having served and been injured during the Battle of the Somme as a member of the 1st Australian Imperial Force.

Larry’s father, Eddie Perkins, a racer/rallyist gave him a love of all things mechanical and the basic skills Perkins deployed to great effect in both his racing and business career. For the record, LP was born at Murrayville on 18 March 1950, his full name is Larry Clifton Perkins.


Larrikins does his thing in the Warwick Farm Esses during his successful 1971 Driver to Europe campaign.

Former Australian Gold Star Champion Bib Stillwell (or perhaps more accurately ‘BS Stillwell Ford’) owned two Elfin 600s, Richard Knight won the 1970 championship in one of them with Perkins in the other car, whilst Larry’s sidekick in 1971 was Mike Stillwell, Bib’s son, who was pretty handy in Formula Ford, after a brief stint in an ANF2 Elfin 622 he found his niche in a Ford Escort BDG, remember how he made that thing sing in 1972-3?

Bib sold the two 600s at the end of 1971, a bummer, as these drives were eagerly sought seats at the time, he was not the only Ford dealer who supported a car at the time but he was the only one who did it ‘properly’- good budget, well prepared cars with the best of everything.

Chris Amon and the boys chew the fat at Monza during the Italian GP weekend in September 1974.

‘WTF do we do now guys?’ seems to be the vibe of dejection.

The Amon AF101 was a noble if misguided attempt at building an innovative, competitive Cosworth/Hewland ‘kit’ GP car, but Chris was off to BRM enroute to a better situation at Ensign. Whilst No Nunn gave Chris a competitive car in the N176 it was the last straw in the sense that the cars fragility and resultant accidents ‘did Chris’ head in’ as to confidence in the equipment and the Kiwis’ view as to the probable longevity of his life…

As a devout, one-eyed, hopelessly biased Chris Amon fan, the 1973 to 1976 period brings absolute frustration at such a waste of talent driving, mainly, GP junk.

Seldom has a ‘DIY’ F1 effort done so well in the modern era- Bob Anderson springs to mind with his self run Brabhams in the sixties. I don’t think Larry has ever really got the credit he deserves for his stint in Ensign 175 ‘MN04’.

(D Phipps)

The Alfa Romeo 3 litre flat-12 installation in the Brabham BT45 at Mosport in 1976. Circa ? bhp but with significant bulk and thirst, just fine in the 33TT/12 sportscar but sub-optimal as an F1 engine.

A trio of Belgian Grand Prix shots at Zolder in 1976- the car is TS19-1, the first chassis built raced by Brett Lunger and Henri Pescarolo in 1976, Hans Binder and Vittorio Brambilla as well as Perkins in 1977.

Perkins practiced TS19-2, the chassis Alan Jones raced in 1976, at Anderstorp and in Dijon first practice- Surtees gave the race drive to Patrick Tambay.


Motorsport articles published in July 1978, January 1994, July 2001 and January 2014 written by M.C.S, MK, Paul Fearnley and Michael Stahl respectively. Motorsport 1976 and 1977 GP race reports by Denis Jenkinson. F2Index F3 race results,

Photo Credits…

Alan Raine, Greg Siddle Collection, Graham Ruckert, Yoshiaki Hirano, nwmacracing, Mike Dixon, Ken Hyndman,, Tim Marshall, Peter Blakeman, Motorsport/D Phipps, Eric Hautekeete, Nick Bennett Collection, Sutton Images, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Larrikins Ralt RT1 BMW, Thruxton 1978…

(Y Hirano)

Larry aboard the Manfred Cassani owned Ralt RT1 BMW during the first round on the 1978 European Formula Two Championship at Thruxton on 27 March 1978, Bruno Giacomelli won that weekend, and the title that year, in one of the great F2 Marches, a 782 BMW.

In a one-off drive Larry  was the first RT1 home in ninth place behind six 782s and a duo of Chevron B42’s.

LP was RT1 fit, he had raced the David McKay/Scuderia Veloce Formula Pacific variant in the 1978 New Zealand Formula Atlantic Championship against the likes of winner Keke Rosberg, finishing second in the series against the might of Fred Opert Racing.

An aside is that on the same day Larry raced at Thruxton the next generation of Australian RT1 hopefuls contested the BP British F3 Championship 15 lapper. Paul Bernasconi was seventh, Geoff Brabham ninth and Gary Scott 12th- the only interloper was Barry Green’s 16th in a Chevron B38, he of Elfin 620B Formula Ford and Indycar owner fame.

Derek Warwick won that day from Nelson Piquet, both aboard RT1’s.


Jack Brabham aboard his Brabham BT24/1 Repco ‘Streamliner’ in the Monza pitlane during the September 10, 1967 weekend.

Lanky Dan Gurney is at right keeping an eye on his old-boss, while Jo Ramirez, in the white pants/dark top, and the All American Racers crew, tend to Dan’s erotic Eagle Mk1 Weslake #103.

Brabham, Ron Tauranac and Repco-Brabham Engines nicked the 1966 F1 World Drivers and Constructors titles from under the noses of those who were a smidge quicker, but not as well organised or reliable as the Brabham and Hulme driven Brabham BT19/20 Repco 620 V8s.

They did it again in 1967, not that it was a lucky win. Their 330hp Brabham BT24 740 Repco V8 was all new; chassis, engine and major suspension components. They got the cars running reliably el-pronto, aided and abetted by blooding the new exhaust-between-the-Vee cylinder heads during the Tasman Cup; both drivers used 2.5-litre RBE640 V8s throughout New Zealand and Australia.

Lotus ran them close of course. Colin Chapman’s Lotus 49 chassis – in truth little different to his 1966 Lotus 43 – was powered by the new 400bhp Ford Cosworth 3-litre V8, rather than the heavy, unreliable 3-litre BRM H16 engine fitted to the 43.

Driven by a couple of champs in Jim Clark and Graham Hill, they were mighty fine, quick cars, but not in 1967, reliable enough ones. That would come soon enough, of course…

Brabham, all enveloping rear body section clear (MotorSport)
Ron Tauranac, Keith Duckworth and Denny Hulme swap notes. “Have you really only got 330bhp Ron?” (MotorSport)

As Lotus and Cosworth Engineering addressed engine reliability, Brabham and Tauranac tried to squeeze more speed from Ron’s small, light BT24.

There was only so much Repco Brabham Engines could do with the SOHC 740 Series V8, they were busy just keeping up with routine rebuilds for the two BRO cars. As the year progressed the Maidstone, Melbourne crew explored the 850 radial-valve V8 as their ’68 F1 engine, and then, having spent way too much time flogging that dead-horse, on the definitive, but way-too-late 860 DOHC, four-valve V8. Click here for a piece on the RBE740; ‘RB740’ Repco’s 1967 F1 Championship Winning V8… | primotipo…

The aerodynamics of the BT24 was another thing entirely of course. That was within Ron and Jack’s control. If MRD could just make the car a little bit more slippery through the air, maybe an extra 500revs or so would make the difference between race wins, and not.

By the time the team got to Monza on September 7, the cocktail of goodies tried on Jack’s BT24 included the all-enveloping windscreen used on an F2 BT23 earlier in the year, all-enveloping bodywork extending right back beyond the endplate of the Hewland DG300 transaxle, and spoilers which were tried either side of the car’s nose, and alongside the engine. Remember, the Chaparral inspired explosion of wings in F1 occurred in 1968.

Rear spoiler, Monza (MotorSport)
Note the winglets or spoilers, Jack’s nosecone at Spa in mid-June 1967 (MotorSport)

Jim Clark started from pole, with 1:28.5 secs, ahead of Jack on 1:28.8, then Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon and Dan Gurney in BRM, Ferrari and Weslake V12 engined cars, then Denny in the other BT24 on 1:29.46.

Jack could have won of course, but the equally foxey John Surtees out-fumbled him in the final corners, bagging a popular win for the Honda RA300 V12. Denny retired with over-heating so the championship – ultimately decided in his favour – was still alive, with races in the US and Mexico to come.

The office of BT24-1, Jack’s car. The Varley battery is in the aluminium box beneath the driver’s knees (MotorSport)

One of my favourite Grand Prix cars, the BT24, was just enough of everything, the sheer economy of the car always strikes me. See here for my last rave in relation thereto; Give Us a Cuddle Sweetie… | primotipo…

It was the first time Ron had designed an all-new F1 chassis since BT3 way back in 1962. Beautiful details abound, not least the new cast-magnesium front uprights first fitted to Jack’s BT23A Repco, his ‘67 2.5-litre Tasman Cup mount, in late 1966, the Alford & Alder/Triumph Herald uprights used hitherto were finally cast aside.

Hulme’s BT24/2 during the British GP weekend (MotorSport)
Feel the noise…Monza pit action. Brabham and Denny behind him in the distance. The queue by the Armco is headed by Mike Spence’ BRM P83 H16, Chris Amon’s Ferrari 312, perhaps then one of the Cooper Maseratis (MotorSport)

BT24/1 debuted at the same race meeting, Zandvoort 1967, as the Lotus 49 Ford DFV, albeit Jack raced BT19, his ’66 championship winning chassis. Jim Clark won famously on the debut of an engine which set the standard for a decade and a half, more if you include its many derivatives.

Denny’s BT24/2 was ready at Le Mans, when Brabham and Hulme delivered the old one-two, with The Boss in front. Clark won at Silverstone, before another BT24 one-two with Denny ahead of Jack. At Mosport Jack won from Denny. Hulme won at Monaco in May (his first championship GP win), so led the championship by nine points from Jack, with Jim further back. Clark dominated the balance of the season, winning at Watkins Glen and Mexico City, but Denny’s two third placings won him the drivers title and

Those with F2 knowledge will recall that Frank Costin’s Protos Ford FVA raced with a cockpit canopy akin to Brabham’s in 1967. BT24/1 here, again at Monza. Whatever the straight-line benefits, Jack simply couldn’t place the car as he wanted given the difficulty of seeing thru the canopy (MotorSport)
If I knew how to use Photoshop I’d get rid of ‘boots’, but I don’t…BT24/1, ain’t-she-sweet (MotorSport)

BRO sold the cars to South Africans, Basil van Rooyen (BT24/1) and Sam Tingle (BT24/2) after the end of the season. When it became clear that Jochen Rindt’s 1968 BT26 was running late, he raced BT24/3 – which first appeared at in practice, at Monza in September 1967, carrying #16T – in some of the early races of 1968. He raced BT24/2 at Kyalami (Q4 and third), and BT24/3 at Jarama (Q9 and DNF oil pressure) and Monaco (Q5 and DNF accident), before Dan Gurney had a steer at Zandvoort (Q12 and DNF throttle).

The final works-gallop of a BT24 was Jochen’s use of BT24/3 during practice over the British GP weekend at Brands Hatch in July. Before you pedants have a crack at me, for the sake of completion, German ace, Kurt Ahrens, raced the BRO tended, Caltex Racing Team entered, BT24/3 to Q17 and 12th place at the Nurburgring in 1968. Brabham BT24 chassis anoraks should click here; Brabham BT24 car-by-car histories |

Threatening in an elegant kinda way. You can see what is being sought, ignoring the inherent streamlining difficulties of fully outboard suspension front and rear. Ron went to front inboard springs and rockers with the ’68 Indy BT25 Repco and ’70 F1 BT33 Ford (MotorSport)


Magnificent MotorSport Images, Getty Images, Allen Brown’s



Easy-peasy, two hands are for schmucks!

Denis Clive Hulme shows us how it’s done at the Parabolica; Denny’s elegant, sublime prowess for all to see. BT24/2 Monza 1967, ‘standard’ bodywork.


(G Bruce)

Ron Tauranac’s two Brabham BT5 Lotus-Ford twin-cams’s were built in 1963…

The Ian Walker Racing ‘SC-1-63′ achieved plenty of success in the hands of both Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins.

The car used a typical Tauranac multi-tubular spaceframe chassis with upper and lower wishbones at the front and lower links, inverted top wishbone and two radius rods- coil spring/shocks front and rear. Rack and pionion steering, disc brakes all around, a Hewland 4-speed gearbox and a Cosworth tuned Lotus-Ford Twin-Cam of 1596cc giving circa 140 bhp completed the package.

The photograph below is a BT5 test session at Goodwood early in 1963 with the Aussies out in force, oh, and a Kiwi.

From left in the nice, warm ‘jumper’ is Paul Hawkins, lanky Frank Gardner, the Guvnor and Denny Hulme. All rather handy at the wheel of a motorcar- and on the end of a ‘spanner’.



Gordon Bruce,

Tailpiece: Gardner, BT5 Ford, Mallory Park…



Tim Schenken, Merlyn Mk11 Formula Ford and his rivals at Brands Hatch, 20 September 1968…

Chris Steele, Tim’s tuner/entrant dispenses advice to the Formula Ford ‘flock’ comprising Ray Allen, Brian Smith, Dave Morgan and Tony Trimmer. No doubt it’s a press shot to promote an upcoming race meeting; two of these fellows made it through to Formula 1- Schenken and Trimmer, the well of talent in Formula Ford has been deep in every season including its first couple.

Schenken cut his racing teeth in Australia, initially with an Austin A30 and later a Lotus 18 Ford FJ. By the time he contested some F3 races in an old Lotus in the UK in 1967 he had plenty of experience- the step ‘back’ into the new Formula Ford class paid off in spades with wins in both the 1968 British Formula Ford and Lombank F3 Championship- as a consequence he carried away the main 1968 Grovewood Award.

Tetsu Ikuzawa Brabham BT21B from Tim Schenken Chevron B9 Ford, Martini International Meeting Silverstone 1968 (M Hayward)

In 1970 he broke into Grand Prix Racing with Frank William’s De Tomaso 505 Ford, that ride arose as a result of Piers Courage’ death during the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix.

His promise was confirmed with drives in the year old Brabham BT33 Ford for Ron Tauranac in 1971, his first career mistake was jumping out of Brabham as BC Ecclestone acquired it at the end of ’71. Surtees was far from the worst place to be at the time but staying put would have been better.

Tim was as quick as Mike Hailwood at Surtees but the slip down the F1 totem pole was quick once he left and the climb back up is even harder.

I don’t think we ever saw his best in Grand Prix racing but point scoring races and an F1 podium, not to forget his F2, European GT Championship  and works Ferrari 312PB sportscar wins form part of a CV any of us would be rather happy to have.

Schenken, Brabham BT33 Ford, Canadian GP 1971 DNF (unattributed)

Tim’s best results in F1 were sixth and third placings for Brabham in 1971 at Hockenheim and the Osterreichring and fifth, seventh and eighth for Surtees in 1972 at Argentina, Mosport and Spain. In non-championship F1 he was third in the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone and third in the 1972 International Gold Cup at Oulton Park.

Schenken aboard his Merlyn Mk11 FF in 1968


Getty Images, Mike Hayward Collection, Victor Blackman, LAT Images

Other Tim Schenken Article…

Schenken testing the Merlyn at Brands during 1968 (LAT)

Tailpiece: Ron Tauranac, Tim and Hill G with Hill’s Brabham BT34 Ford, Silverstone, British GP weekend July 1971- note the rig to attach a camera, the GoPro is still a while away…



Train commuters watch an unidentified MG TC, then Les Wheeler, MG TC chasing A Griffiths, MG TC Spl s/c at the June 1952 Parramatta Park meeting  (CRPP)

‘A two mile motor racing circuit with ground accommodation for 100,000 people is being built at Parramatta Park’ Parramatta, Sydney The Sunday Heralds headlines proclaimed on 21 October 1951…

 Parramatta is a large city within greater Sydney, 25 Km from the CBD, the huge park occupies an area of 245 acres and straddles the Parramatta River on the western edge of the town.

The 8,000 pound investment in the park facility was funded by ten local businessmen and used to clear and widen existing roads to a minimum of 28 to 30 feet. The projected average circuit speed of the circuit, designed and to be run by the Australian Sporting Car Club Ltd (ASSC), was 55 mph.

Barrie Garner, Frazer Nash in June 1955. Later an ace hillclimber in a Bowin P3 Holden. Track surface needs a sweep! Carnival atmosphere, big picnic crowd so close to the centre of Sydney (CRPP)

Motor racing in Parramatta Park had been mused about for decades. An article about the 1929 Monaco Grand Prix in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ mentioned the possibility of events in either Centennial Park, Sydney or Parramatta Park with the writer just as rapidly despatching the idea as one which would be scuttled by the authorities. Indeed, officialdom caused plenty of grief in relation to racing at Parramatta when it was finally becoming a reality.

The proposed event on 28 January 1952 was not the first planned at the venue, a meeting was scheduled to be held on 5 November 1938- the star Peter Whitehead.

The wealthy wool merchant/racer was to compete in his 1938 Australian Grand Prix winning ERA R10B. Officialdom intervened in the form of the New South Wales Chief Commissioner of Police who decided to ban the race on Friday, the day before the meeting, due to concerns about competitor and spectator safety. Click here for my article on the 1938 AGP including details and pictures of the ’38 abortive, aborted Parramatta Grand Prix.

In a reprise of the 1938 dramas the Chief Commissioner of Police again stepped in and refused permission for the January 1952 race. The ASCC appealed his decision before the Parramatta Court of Petty Sessions with the Magistrate upholding the appeal. The event was allowed to take place on the basis that spectators were permitted no closer than 40 feet from the circuits edge.

Over 40,000 paying punters turned up on raceday causing massive traffic jams throughout the area and its surrounds.

John Crouch Cooper MkV JAP from Curley Brydon’s MG TC Spl in a handicap event during the January 1952 meeting. One of the ultimate TC specials in Australia shaded by the new generation of cars. Check out the crowd (CRPP)

Star of the show that weekend was Sydney driver John Crouch driving a new-fangled, mid-engined Cooper JAP MkV to three wins of the seven events.

One of victories was perhaps the ‘main event’ of the day, a six lap invitation scratch race for the quickest guys of the weekend- he won it in his 1097cc Cooper. Stan Jones was second in the 4.3 litre Maybach 1 then came Reg Hunt’s mid-engined Hunt ‘500’ fitted that weekend with a Vincent 998cc engine Then was Jack Saywell’s Cooper 1000, Doug Whiteford’s 4.375 litre Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’  and Alec  Mildren’s 1750cc Dixon Riley. The results are indicative of the rise of the small, efficient, mid-engine Coopers in Australia as was the case everywhere else in the world! Crouch set the lap record with a time of 1 minute 59 seconds.

In a reminder that ‘Motor Racing is Dangerous’, a wheel came off Doug Whiteford’s 1950 Australian Grand Prix winner, ‘Black Bess’ whilst travelling at circa 80 mph and landed in the backyard of a Victorian cottage adjoining the course. Fortunately the lady of the house was not hanging out the washing at the time the errant wheel landed atop her prize petunias.

Peter Lowe, Bugatti Holden from Laurie Oxenford, Alvis Mercury, January 1952 (CRPP)

Many meetings were held at the venue until 1957, regularly attracting over 10,000 spectators when the demands and difficulties of holding the races became too much. The circuits closure left the New South Wales circuits at the time as Mount Panorama at Bathurst, Gnoo Blas, Orange and Mount Druitt in Western Sydney.

I have long wanted to write an article about Parramatta Park but a paucity of photographs was the barrier. Not so now- the convenor and members of the Facebook group ‘Car Racing at Parramatta Park’ have uploaded some pearlers of shots- I’ve chosen some at random to give you a flavour of the place. For you FB folks just find and like the page in the usual way.

Stan Jones with a touch of the opposites in Maybach 1 chasing ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray’s Allard Cadillac in the opening January 1952 meeting. Jones was so impressed by the speed of the Coopers in relation to his GP car he promptly placed an order for one, a MkIV was soon in his Balwyn, Melbourne driveway (CRPP)

Both the aces of the day and coming-men raced at the ‘Park including drivers such as Doug Whiteford, Frank Kleinig, Stan Jones, David McKay, Bib Stillwell, Dick Cobden, Bill Patterson, Lex Davison, Tom Hawkes, Alec Mildren, Tom Sulman, Ted Gray, Ron Tauranac, Jack Brabham and many others. RT ran the very first of his Australian Ralts in the opening meeting, as against the Pommie built ones, and his later partner Brabham raced his Dirt Midget!

Jones big Maybach ‘monstering’ Ron Tauranac’s Ralt Norton ES2 500, January 1952 (CRPP)

The program described Jack thus- ‘A familiar winner at the speedway, and this years Australian Hillclimb Champion, Jack should find the circuit well suited to his style. His car is very light, has four wheel hydraulic brakes and is powered by a home made engine using J.A.P bits’.

By the June meeting Jack had jumped into a Cooper Mk5 500, the wry description in the program observed; ‘Australian Hillclimb Champion of 1951, Jack, one of our best midget drivers, is a new recruit to road racing, his Cooper…was an 1100, now has an engine designed and built by the new owner, a foremost expert at getting quarts out of pint pots’ ! A sage description of Jack’s ability to conjure something out of not very much throughout his career as both constructor and driver.

Dick Cobden from Bill Patterson in Stan Jones car and Bill Shipway- Coopers galore, all MkV’s I think June 1955 meeting (CRPP)


Sydney Sunday Herald 21 October 1951, ‘Fast and Furious: The 1938 Parramatta Grand Prix’ article by Peter Arfanis

Photo Credits…

‘Car Racing at Parramatta Park’ Facebook Group (CRPP)

Tailpiece: Parramatta Park opening meeting, January 1952…





Gavin Youl in the new MRD Ford making a sensational championship debut in Ron Tauranac and Jack Brabham’s Formula Junior at Goodwood on 19 August 1961…

The young Taswegian arrived in England with sportscar and touring car experience in Australia and made a huge impact in finishing 4th in his heat, and 2nd in the final of the BARC FJ Championship in what was only his fourth outing in single-seaters.

Alan Rees won the race in a Lotus 20 Ford. To give perspective on the level of competition, there were 19 non-qualifiers and a field of 24 which included future champions Mike Spence, Richard Attwood, David Piper, John Rhodes, Frank Gardner and Hugh Dibley.

Gavin made a huge splash, and so too did the nascent ‘Brabham’ marque, the MRD was their first car, the established production racing car paradigm was given a shake that day. Arguably Brabham were the most consistent, competitive, cost-effective customer proposition for  most of the sixties and early seventies in FJ, F3, F2 and F1.

The story of Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac’s partnership in forming Motor Racing Developments Ltd in England, the company which built Brabham cars is well known. So too is the decision by the two partners to change the name of the cars from ‘MRD’ to Brabham upon the advice of prominent Paris based Swiss journalist Jabby Crombac. He told Jack that MRD was pronounced ‘merde’ in French the literal translation of which is ‘shit’! And Brabham’s were very rarely, if ever, shit cars!

The MRD was retrospectively given the model name BT1, there was only one built, thankfully the car is still in Australia where it has raced all of its life other than the seven race meetings in England Youl contested between late July and late September 1961.

It’s intriguing to contemplate the look on Frank Gardner’s face at the speed of the MRD at Goodwood as the multi-talented Aussie- who raced a Jim Russell Race Drivers School Lotus 20 that year, was one of a small team who built Tauranac’s new car being peddled so quickly by novice Youl!

Gavin was sold the car by Ron during a Brabham plane trip. Jack took several friends to see the Tourist Trophy bike races at the Isle of Man. It appears there was no great process of choosing the driver of their first car, the commercial imperative was someone who could pay for it! Mind you, no doubt Gavin was aboard the plane with that commercial end in mind as well as his potential as a driver.


Ron Tauranac’s MRD Ford Holbay was a pretty, effective, competitive car. RT had built numerous Ralts in Australia prior to the design and build of the MRD which was his first ‘water cooled engine’ design! The ‘Brabham’ was competitive from the start, here at Goodwood in Youl’s hands, very much indicative of the amazing run of strong, reliable, fast cars built through until Ron’s sale of the MRD business to Bernie Ecclestone at the end of the 1971 F1 season (Getty)

In the MRD’s initial outings (see listing below) not much notice had been taken of it, their were plenty of specials in FJ at the time. But at Goodwood, a circuit on which he had not raced before Youl caused a sensation by popping the car on pole for his heat, 0.8 second under the lap record. Tauranac recalls things were looking good but then the car caught fire, RT rebuilt it in time for the race on the Bank Holiday Monday. Youl was 4th in his heat, it may have been higher but he overcooked it on a corner, but in the final kept it all together to finish 2nd to Rees, then very much a rising star.

Jack’s connection to the car had been kept very secret. The MRD was built in a room at the back of a garage on the Esher bypass with all of the specialist purchases needed to construct the car being made very discretely. The Goodwood meeting was a national event, the FJ events were supports to the RAC Tourist Trophy sportscar race with plenty of press presence. ‘The paddock buzzed with speculation and some people were adding two and two to make four’ wrote Mike Lawrence in ‘The Ron Tauranac Story’. Soon of course the connection was known as were Jack’s plans to leave Cooper at the years end.

Tauranac arrived in the UK in April 1960, whilst he occupied himself with Climax engined Triumph Heralds and other projects for Jack Brabham Motors in Chessington, his main task was to design the MRD in the bedroom of the flat the Tauranac’s rented above a shop in Surbiton.

Sensibly, the car was a conventional multi-tubular spaceframe chassis design fitted with an attractive, fully enveloping aluminium body. Suspension at the front comprised a single upper link and Y-shaped radius rods and lower wishbone with coil spring/Armstrong dampers. At the rear broad based upper wishbones, lower links and twin radius rods were used again with coil spring/dampers. The car was reputedly the first to be fitted with adjustable roll bars.

Alford and Alder uprights were fitted at the front to which were attached 13 inch Brabham alloy wheels, unique to BT1,  front and rear. Rear uprights were cast magnesium. The car used 9inch drum brakes at the front and inboard mounted 8 inch drums at the rear.

The gearbox was a modified VW Beetle 4 speed with Jack Knight cutting gears to give RT the ratios he wanted. The steering rack was also made by Jack Knight to a pattern and drawings RT brought to England from Australia. A Morris Oxford pinion was used with a specially cut rack. Initially a 1000cc Ford engine was fitted with an 1100cc Holbay Ford used from the Goodwood meeting.

Jack was still racing for Cooper as noted above but he found time to help build the car together with Ron, Frank and Peter Wilkins who had assisted Tauranac build the chassis frames of his ‘first series’ Ralts in Australia and was asked to come over to the UK to help build the MRD.

Gavin Youl contesting the FJ race in the MRD at the Warwick Farm international meeting on February 4 1962. He was 3rd behind Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 22 Ford and Glynn Scott’s Lotus 20 Ford (John Ellacott)

In October 1961 the MRD was shipped to Australia where Gavin raced it to some success. He contested some of the support events for that years international meetings in the summer finishing 2nd at Lakeside, 3rd at Warwick Farm and then winning the FJ race at the 1962 Longford international meeting. There, the little car was timed at 132mph on the ‘Flying Mile’. He took a win at Calder in late February and then made the long trip to New South Wales in March- he won the NSW FJ Championship at Catalina Park beating Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 20 Ford. Gavin then returned to the UK to race a new BT2 FJ in selected British and European events.

Victorian Wally Mitchell was the lucky purchaser of the MRD which over the years passed through many owners hands. The car is a much admired part of the local historic scene and together with Jack’s 1966 F1 championship winning BT19 Repco would be the most significant Brabham in Oz.

Works Brabham FJ Campaign in 1962…

The factory assisted drivers in 1962 were Gardner and Youl with Frank initially racing BT2 ‘FJ-3-62’, a car he built. When Gavin arrived in the UK he raced this car with Frank racing ‘FJ-8-62’, both of these cars went to Australia after the initial season of racing in the UK/Europe.

Gavin’s campaign was set back from the start after a testing accident at Brands Hatch made a mess of both the car and his collar bone which was broken. He recovered whilst the car was repaired.

The BT2’s differed from MRD ‘FJ-1-61’ in that outboard disc bakes were used front and rear and Specialised Mouldings built fibreglass bodies replaced the one-off ally body of MRD. A Hewland Mk5 gearbox replaced Ron’s modified VW unit whilst noting the Maidenhead built ‘box also used a VW case.

11 BT2’s were built, the first 2 or 3 by Gardner and Wilkins, the balance by Buckler Cars. Buckler are credited in the Tauranac and Brabham biographies as the constructor of the sole MRD frame, to Tauranac’s drawings, a claim denied by Frank Gardner. In conversations with Australian Brabham owner/historian Denis Lupton, Gardner said the MRD frame was built by Gardner, Wilkins, Tauranac and Brabham.

Buckler built at least 5 BT2 chassis. Of course Arch Motors, the unsung engineering concern, were soon thereafter to become the builder of both Brabham and Ralt ‘production chassis’, in addition to their many other clients!

Peter Arundell’s works Lotus 22 Ford leads Youl’s Brabham BT2 Ford and Denny Hulme’s Cooper T59 BMC through the Nouveau Monde hairpin during the 8 July 1962 Rouen GP for FJ. They were 1st, 12th and 10th overall with Youl crashing in the first heat, he was 9th in the second heat (Sutton)

The BT2 proved to be a competitive car but the FJ combination to beat in 1962 was Peter Arundell in his works Lotus 22 Ford Cosworth. BMC engines were not prominent and the Holbays used by Brabhams were not the ‘ducks guts’ either. When Gardner and Youl’s cars finished they were often the best of the Holbays, that is, best of the non-Cosworth engined cars.

Youl’s results are in the table below, his first meeting after recovery from his injuries was at Silverstone in May, his last at Albi in September. His best results were a pair of 5ths at Albi and Goodwood, the latter event was the BARC Express and Star British Championship, where he was the best placed Holbay car.

Gardner’s 7th on the Monaco FJ grid was indicative of his place (that is fast!) in the pantheon of FJ drivers that year, a race he failed to finish with clutch failure. Arundell won still the most prestigious international junior event from Mike Spence and Bob Anderson, all three aboard Lotus 22 Ford Cosworths. It would have been very interesting to have seen how the Gardner/Youl combo would have gone with Cosworths behind their shoulders in ’62. Right up there for sure.

Gavin shipped his car to Oz after the European races he had competed in with Gardner’s ‘FJ-8-62’ accompanying Frank back to Australia at the end of the year. The lanky Sydneysider raced the car in two of the Formula Libre Australian Internationals in early 1963- Lakeside and Longford with the car being sold to Len Deaton later in 1963.

The history of the 11 BT2 chassis built for those interested can be seen, in all of its intricate glory, on and Ten Tenths, just Google away.


John Youl, with his engineer, Geoff Smedley beside their ex-works/Jack Brabham F1 Cooper T55 Coventry Climax FPF on the Longford grid prior to the ‘South Pacific Trophy’ on 2 March 1964. He was 5th in the race behind Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren, Frank Matich and Bib Stillwell in his 3 year old car (Smedley)

The Youl Family Story…

The story of Gavin and his older brother John, a racer of Cooper T51/55 Coventry Climax engined cars (second in the 1962 AGP to Bruce McLaren at Caversham and twice second in the Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship) is an interesting one for another time. So too is the history of the family, the patriarch of which was an early clergyman in Tasmania and with a land grant made on the South Esk River in 1818 commenced a very successful grazing concern which continues to this day.

Unfortunately Gavin’s promise, his raw speed, was never realised. He raced the BT2 at a few meetings at home, including the 1962 Australian FJ Championship, at Catalina Park in late October. He was 2nd to Frank Matich’s works Elfin Ford with Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 22 Ford 3rd, but decided to retire to focus on the family grazing properties and his other interests which included aviation, both he and John were talented pilots.

The apocryphal Youl/Brabham aviation story involves Gavin being asked by Jack to deliver his single engined Cessna 180 from the UK to a farmer in Tasmania to make way for the Cessna 310 twin to which he was upgrading. Youl needed to get home for Christmas 1961/2, so too did Eoin Young the renowned Kiwi racing journalist and key figure in Bruce McLaren Racing in its early days, as well as Roger Tregaskis, a mate of Youls.

Gavin was the pilot, Roger was in the co-pilots seat and could steer if necessary and Young sat in the back ‘with maps, the five man liferaft and forty pounds of emergency rations. To eliminate customs difficulties we were given the honorary ranks of co-pilot and navigator.’ So off they set with Gavin’s intention to fly over as much land as possible keeping sea crossings to a minimum. ‘The Timor Sea between Indonesia and Australia was our biggest worry. We comforted ourselves in the fact that, as a high winged tail-dragger the Cessna could be landed on the Ocean without tipping over’ Young wrote.

Eoin was later to admit that he was better not to know that the plane was not a new one as he thought, but rather a ’54 model which Jack bought from Lance Reventlow of Scarab fame. All was well on this adventure though, the 7.7 litre, 225bhp, 4 cylinder Continental engined aircraft didn’t miss a beat on the month long trip- 98 flying hours, 30 stops in 18 countries, 13000 miles in total at an average speed of 151 mph chewing through 950 gallons of Shell fuel to do so. What an amazing experience- last word to Eoin Young.

‘It wasn’t until we delivered the plane to its eager new owner that we discovered it had been refused a Certificate of Airworthiness because there was so much corrosion in the fuselage that the wings were about to fall off!’ Boys Own Adventures and exploits indeed.

The Youls were never far from the sport, indeed they were major supporters, Symmons Plains circuit is built on land they owned. Very sadly, Gavin, an important figure in the earliest Motor Racing Developments years died in 1992 at 45, way too young, after a brief battle with a very aggressive cancer.

1962 Australian FJ Championship grid before the off at catalina park, Katoomba on 28 October 1962. #8 Leo Geoghegan Lotus 22 Ford, #2 Youl Brabham BT2 Ford and #4 Frank Matich Elfin FJ Ford. #16 is Clive Nolan Lotus 20 Ford. Matich won from Youl and Geoghegan, Nolan was 5th (Ed Holly)

Etcetera: G Youl European Race Results…

1961 British FJ Results: Gavin Youl MRD Holbay/ Brabham BT1. I have also listed the winner of each race

23/7/61 Mallory 2nd. Jack Pearce won in a Lotus 20 Ford

29/7/61 Silverstone 5th , holed fuel tank, pitted to top up with fuel. Mike Spence Emeryson Mk2 Ford

7/8/61 Aintree 17th, forced out of final with blown head gasket. Peter Proctor Lotus 18 Ford

19/8/61 Goodwood 2nd, great effort of 4th in the heat, team had a pit fire during practice. Ian Rees Lotus 20 Ford

2/9/61 Crystal Palace DNQ. Trevor Taylor Lotus 20 Ford

23/9/61 Oulton Park 13th. Tony Maggs Cooper T56 BMC

30/9/61 Snetterton 31st. Mike Parkes Gemini Mk3A Ford

1962 British and European FJ Results: Gavin Youl  Brabham BT2 Holbay

12/5/62 Silverstone  DNF oil pressure. Peter Arundell Lotus 22 Ford

1/7/62 Reims DNF lap 1. Arundell  as above

8/7/62 Rouen 12th. Arundell as above

14/7/62 Silverstone 12th. John Fenning Lotus 20 Ford

6/8/62 Brands 7th. Tony Maggs Cooper T59 BMC

18/8/62 Goodwood 5th. Arundell as above

21/9/62 Zandvoort DNF. Arundell as above

9/9/62 Albi 5th. Arundell as above

Random but sorta sixties related; Aussies Abroad in Europe…

I was flicking through the ‘F2 Index’ database to research the FJ/F3 race results of David Walker (article coming together very slowly) and Gavin Youl and it occurred to me just how many Australian’s ‘had a crack’ in England/Europe in the 1960’s.

It was a long way away then, 12000 miles- it still is the same distance I expect! but the cost and means of making the journey, then mainly by ship, as flying was so expensive, made it seem further and harder than now. What follows is a quickie list of guys, tracking them through the Junior Formulae. I don’t pretend its complete, do let me know if there are fellows I have missed. The period researched is 1960-1970 in the UK- where the racing was outside the UK I have clearly stated so.

1960 FJ

Steve Ouvaroff Lotus 18 Ford, Frank Gardner Cooper Ford

1961 FJ

Frank Gardner JRRDS Lotus 18 Ford- FG famously straightened cars at the Jim Russell School and was allowed to race them on weekends! Gavin Youl works MRD Ford

1962 FJ

Frank Gardner and Gavin Youl works Brabham BT2 Ford, Steve Ouvaroff Alexis Mk4 Ford, John Ampt Ausper T4 Ford- now there is a story to be written- about Geelong racer, Tom Hawkes’ Ausper project

1963 FJ

Paul Hawkins and Frank Gardner Brabham BT6 Ford- both guys careers took off into F1 within 12 months, Gardner raced big ‘Tasman’ 2.5 litre cars in the ’63 Australian summer as well as BT2, a go home and race summer trend he continued until his permanent return to Australia during 1974. John Ampt Alexis Mk5 Ford, Martin Davies Lotus 20 Ford

1964 F3

Martin Davies Lotus 20 Ford (running top 10)

1965 F3

Jim Sullivan Brabham BT15 Ford (he won some kind of Driver to Europe award didn’t he?) (ran top 10)

1966 F3

Jim Sullivan and Wal Donnelly Brabham BT18 Ford, Dave Walker Brabham BT10 Ford- all 3 ran under the ‘Team Promecom’ banner racing in Europe

1967 F3

Tim Schenken Lotus 22 Ford- made an immediate splash in this self prepared ‘ole clunker, having learned many of the Pommie circuits in 1966 aboard a Ford Anglia twin-cam.

David Walker Merlyn Mk10 Ford with his racing the on the road ‘gypsy existence’ in Europe going from race to race living on start and prize money. Kurt Keller, Barry Collerson and Wal Donnelly all raced Merlyn Mk10 Fords (Donnelly occasionally his BT18) throughout Europe that summer no doubt offering each other lots of support. All four were Sydneysiders, mind you they did not all do the same meetings by the look of it

1968 FF&F3

Tim Schenken won both the British FF and F3 championships in the same year, a feat never achieved before or since, and took the Grovewood Award. He raced a Merlyn and Chevron B9 Ford respectively.

Walker also ‘stepped back’ to FF that season to successfully re-launch his career. John Gillmeister Lotus 32 Ford- F3, Wal Donnelly Brabham BT18 & BT21 Ford F3 in Europe

1969 FF&F3

Tim Schenken Brabham BT28 Ford F3, John Gillmeister Lotus 35 Ford.

Dave Walker won the Les Leston FF C’ship in a Lotus 61 and joined the works Lotus F3 Team later in the season- Lotus 59 Ford and was immediately in the leading group (with his dominant Lotus 69 F3 season in 1971, the same year he made his F1 debut)

Jim Hardman raced a Brabham BT21B Ford in F3. He returned to Oz in 1975, after a stint running the Bob Jane/Frank Gardner Racing Drivers School at Calder he prepared cars for others, designed and built 3 ANF2 cars- one of these Hardman JH2 Fords won the ANF2 title in Richard Davison’s hands. He prepared championship winning cars for several drivers/team owners and is still in the business in outer Melbourne.

Buzz Buzaglo Merlyn Mk11 FF, I wrote a feature about Buzz a while back, click on the links at the end of the article to read it.

Vern Schuppan Makon MR7 FF

1970 FF&F3

Tim Schenken broke into F1 in sad circumstances- he joined Frank Williams and raced the De Tomaso after Piers Courage death.

Dave Walker GLT Lotus Lotus 59 Ford- 2nd in BRSCC F3 C’ship, John Gillmeister Brabham BT28 Ford.

Alan Jones, a couple of races in a Lotus 41 Ford and then late in the season in a Brabham BT28 Ford running down the back at this early stage (Jones F3 breakthrough and breakout of F3 season was in 1973)

Buzz Buzaglo Merlyn Mk11 FF (Buzaglo raced in F3 in 1973/4) Vern Schuppan works Palliser FF (Vern’s ascension was in ’71 when he won the first British F Atlantic series in a Palliser and was picked up by BRM in F1)

As to others, Aussie touring car ace Brian Muir carved a great career for himself in the sixties and seventies racing tourers and occasionally sports-racers in the UK and Europe.

Speaking of ‘Taxis’, Shepparton’s Bryan Thomson sold his truck business and took his ex-Beechey Mustang to the UK and raced it for 2 seasons in the mid-sixties before coming back to Oz and being a force in racing as either a driver or entrant for a couple of decades.

John Raeburn raced a Ford GT40 and a Porsche in endurance events in 1966-8 with Tim Schenken an occasional co-driver in the longer events.

As I say, it’s a quickie list- let me know who I have forgotten in that 1960-1970 period, it would be great to assemble a complete list. I’ll attack other decades another time after the going ‘cross-eyed’ exercise in creating the list above abates.

I’m also interested in what became of each of these guys and am keen to hear from any of you who can help flesh out the stories other than for the ‘stars’ of course, the histories of whom are well known.


Ten Tenths Forum especially Denis Lupton, Ron Tauranac website, F2 Index, ‘Brabham, Ralt, Honda: The Ron Tauranac Story’ Mike Lawrence, ‘The Jack Brabham Story’ Jack Brabham with Doug Nye, Eoin Young article in MotorSport August 2011

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, John Ellacott, Sutton Photographics, Ed Holly Collection

Tailpiece: Beautiful portrait of  25 year old works Brabham FJ pilot, Gavin Youl at Rouen on 8 July 1962…





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 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;

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.


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…


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



Jack Brabham ponders wing settings on his Brabham BT26 Repco during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend at Mont Tremblant, 22 September 1968…

I blew my tiny mind when Nigel Tait sent me the photo, neither of us had any idea where it was. A bit of judicious googling identified the location as Mont Tremblant, Quebec, a summer and winter playground for Canadians 130km northwest of Montreal.

Regular readers will recall  Nigel as the ex-Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. engineer who co-wrote the recent Matich SR4 Repco article (a car he owns) and has been helping with the series of articles on Repco’s racing history I started with Rodway Wolfe, another RBE ‘teamster’ a couple of years ago.

When Nigel left Repco in the ACL Ltd management buyout of which he was a part, he placed much of the RBE archive with his alma mater, RMIT University, Melbourne. Its in safe hands and available to those interested in research on this amazing part of Australian motor racing history. The archive includes Repco’s library of photographs. Like every big corporate Repco had a PR team to maximise exposure from their activities including their investment in F1. The Mont Tremblant shot is from that archive and unpublished it seems.

Its one of those ‘the more you look, the more you see’ shots; from the distant Laurentian Mountains to the pitlane activity and engineering of the back of the car which is in great sharpness. It’s the back of the BT26 where I want to focus.

The last RBE Engines article we did (Rodway, Nigel and I) was about the ’67 championship winning SOHC, 2 valve 330bhp 740 Series V8, this BT26 is powered by the 1968 DOHC, 4 valve 390bhp 860 Series V8. It was a very powerful engine, Jochen plonked it on the front row three times, on pole twice, as he did here in Canada in 1968. But it was also an ‘ornery, unreliable, under-developed beast. Ultimately successful in 4.2 litre Indy and 5 litre Sportscar spec, we will leave the 860 engine till later for an article dedicated to the subject.


Check out the DG300 Hewland 5 speed transaxle and part of the complex oil system beside it to feed the 860. Also the big, beefy driveshafts and equally butch rubber donuts to deal with suspension travel. It’s interesting as Tauranac used cv’s in earlier designs, perhaps he was troubled finding something man enough to take the more powerful Repco’s grunt, the setup chosen here is sub-optimal in an engineering sense.

The rear suspension is period typical; single top link, inverted lower wishbone, radius rods leading forward top and bottom and coil spring/damper units. It appears the shocks are Koni’s, Brabham were Armstrong users for years.

The uprights are magnesium which is where things get interesting. The cars wings that is, and the means by which they attach to the car…

See the beautifully fabricated ‘hat’ which sits on top of and is bolted to the uprights and the way in which the vertical load of the wing applies it’s force directly onto the suspension of the car. This primary strut support locates the wing at its leading edge, at the rear you can see the adjustable links which control the ‘angle on the dangle’ or the wings incidence of attack to the airflow.

I’ve Lotus’ flimsy wing supports in mind as I write this…

Tauranac’s secondary wing support elements comprises steel tube fabrications which pick up on the suspension inner top link mount and on the roll bar support which runs back into the chassis diaphragm atop the gearbox.


The shot above shows the location of the front wing and it’s mounts, this time the vertical force is applied to the chassis at the leading front wishbone mount, and the secondary support to the wishbones trailing mount. This photo is in the Watkins Glen paddock on the 6 October weekend, the same wing package as in use in Canada a fortnight before. The mechanic looking after Jack is Ron Dennis, his formative years spent learning his craft first with Cooper and then BRO. Rondel Racing followed and fame and fortune with McLaren via Project 4 Racing…


Jim Hall and Chaparral 2G Chev wing at Road America, Wisconsin 1968 (Upitis)

The great, innovative Jim Hall and his band of merry men from Midlands, Texas popularised the use of wings with their sensational Chaparral’s of the mid sixties. Traction and stability in these big Group 7 Sportscars was an issue not confronted in F1 until the 3 litre era when designers and drivers encountered a surfeit of power over grip they had not experienced since the 2.5 litre days of 1954-60.

During 1967 and 1968 F1 spoilers/wings progressively grew in size and height, the race by race or quarter of a season at a time analysis of same an interesting one for another time.


Hill’s winged Lotus 49B, Monaco 1968 (Schlegelmilch)

In some ways ‘who gives a rats’ about the first ‘winged Grand Prix win’ as Jim Hall pioneered ‘winning wings’ in 1966, the technology advance is a Group 7 not F1 credit; but Jacky Ickx’ Ferrari 312 win in the horrific, wet, 1968 French Grand Prix (in which Jo Schlesser died a fiery death in the air-cooled Honda RA302) is generally credited as the first, the Fazz fitted with a wing aft of the driver.

But you could equally mount the case, I certainly do, that the first winged GeePee win was Graham Hill’s Lotus 49B Ford victory at Monaco that May.

Chapman fitted the Lotus with front ‘canard’ wings and the rear of the car with a big, rising front to rear, engine cover-cum-spoiler. Forghieri’s Ferrari had a rear wing but no front. The Lotus, front wings and a big spoiler. Which car first won with a wing?; the Lotus at Monaco on 26 May not the Ferrari at Rouen on July 7. All correspondence will be entered into as to your alternative views!


Jacky Ickx’ winning Ferrari 312 being prepared in the Rouen paddock. The neat, spidery but strong wing supports clear in shot. Exhaust in the foreground is Chris Amon’s Fazz (Schlegelmilch)

Lotus ‘ruined the hi-winged party’ with its Lotus 49B Ford wing failures, a lap apart, of Graham Hill and then Jochen Rindt at Montjuic in the 1969 Spanish GP. Both drivers were lucky to walk away from cars which were totally fucked in accidents which could have killed the drivers, let alone a swag of innocent locals.

A fortnight later the CSI acted, banning high wings during the Monaco GP weekend but allowing aero aids on an ongoing basis albeit with stricter dimensional and locational limits.


Mario Andretti has just put his Lotus 49B on pole at Watkins Glen in October 1968, Colin Chapman is perhaps checking his watch to see why regular drivers Hill and Jackie Oliver are being bested by guest driver Andretti who was entered at Monza and Watkins Glen at seasons end! Andretti put down a couple of markers with Chapman then; speed and testing ability which Chapman would return to nearly a decade later. More to the point are the wing mounts; direct onto the rear upright like the Brabham but not braced forward or aft. Colin was putting more weight progressively on the back of the 49 to try and aid traction, note the oil reservoir sitting up high above the ‘box. Stewart won in a Matra MS10, Hill was 2nd with both Andretti and Oliver DNF (Upitis)

Chapman was the ultimate structural engineer but also notoriously ‘optimistic’ in his specification of some aspects of his Lotus componentry over the years, the list of shunt victims of this philosophy rather a long one.

Lotus wing mounts are a case in point.

Jack Oliver’s ginormous 125mph French GP, 49B accident at Rouen in 1968 was a probable wing mount failure, Ollie’s car smote various bits of the French countryside inclusive of a Chateau gate.

Moises Solana guested for Lotus in his home, Mexican GP on 3 November, Hill won the race whilst Solana’s 49B wing collapsed.

Graham Hill’s 49B wing mounts failed during the 2 February 1969 Australian Grand Prix at Lakeside, Queensland. Then of course came the Spanish GP ‘Lotus double-whammy’ 3 months after the Lakeside incident on 4 May 1969.


Faaaarck that was lucky one suspects the Lotus mechanics are thinkin’!? The rear suspension and gearbox are 200 metres or so back up the road to the right not far from the chateau gate Ollie hit. It was the first of several ‘big ones’ in his career (Schlegelmilch)

For the ‘smartest tool in the shed’ Chapman was slow to realise ’twas a good idea to finish races, let alone ensure the survival of his pilots and the punters.

I’m not saying Lotus were the only marque to have aero appendages fall off as designers and engineers grappled with the new forces unleashed, but they seemed to suffer more than most. Ron Tauranac’s robustly engineered Brabhams were race winning conveyances generally devoid of bits and pieces flying off them given maintenance passably close to that recommended by ‘Motor Racing Developments’, manufacturers of Ron and Jack’s cars.

The Brabham mounts shown earlier are rather nice examples of wings designed to stay attached to the car rather than have Jack aviating before he was ready to jump into his Piper Cherokee at a race meetings end…

‘Wings Clipped’: Click on this article for more detail on the events leading up to the CSI banning hi-wings at the ’69 Monaco GP…


Nigel Tait, Repco Ltd Archive, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Cahier Archive, Alvis Upitis


Hill P, ‘Stardust GP’ Las Vegas, Chaparral 2E Chev 1966


Now you see it, now you don’t; being a pioneer and innovator was the essence of the Chaparral brand, but not without its challenges! Phil Hill with 2E wing worries at Las Vegas in 1966, he still finished 7th. Jim Hall was on pole but also had wing problems, John Surtees’ wingless Lola T70 Mk2 Chev won the race and the first CanAm Championship  (The Enthusiast Network)

The 13 November 1966 ‘Stardust GP’ at Las Vegas was won by John Surtees Lola T70 Mk2 Chev, CanAm champion in 1966. Proving the nascent aerodynamic advances were not problem free both Jim Hall, who started from pole and Phil Hill pictured here had wing trouble during the race.

The Chaparral 2E was a development of the ’65 2C Can Am car (the 2D Coupe was the ’66 World Sportscar Championship contender) with mid-mounted radiators and huge rear wing which operated directly onto the rear suspension uprights. A pedal in the cockpit allowed drivers Hall and Hill to actuate the wing before corners and ‘feather it’ on the straights getting the benefits in the bendy bits without too much drag on the straight bits. A General Motors ‘auto’ transaxle which used a torque converter rather than a manual ‘box meant the drivers footbox wasn’t too crowded and added to the innovative cocktail the 2E represented in 1966.

Its fair to say the advantages of wings were far from clear at the outset even in Group 7/CanAm; McLaren won the 1967 and 1968 series with wingless M6A Chev and M8A Chev respectively, winning the ’69 CanAm with the hi-winged M8B Chev in 1969. Chaparral famously embody everything which was great about the CanAm but never won the series despite building some stunning, radical, epochal cars.


Phil Hill relaxed in his 2E at Laguna Seca on 16 October 1966, Chaps wing in the foreground, Laguna’s swoops in the background. Phil won from Jim Hall in the other 2E (TEN)

Hill G, Monaco GP, Lotus 49B Ford 1968


Interesting shot of Hill shows just how pronounced the rear bodywork of the Lotus 49B was. You can just see the front wing, Monaco ’68 (unattributed)

Hill taking a great win at Monaco in 1968. Graham’s was a tour de force of leadership, strength of mind and will. Jim Clark died at Hockenheim on 7 April, Monaco was on 26 May, Colin Chapman was devastated by the loss of Clark, a close friend and confidant apart from the Scots extraordinary capabilities as a driver.

Hill won convincingly popping the winged Lotus on pole and leading all but the races first 3 laps harnessing the additional grip and stability afforded by the cars nascent, rudimentary aerodynamic appendages. Graham also won the Spanish Grand Prix on 12 May, these two wins in the face of great adversity set up the plucky Brits 1968 World Championship win. Remember that McLaren and Matra had DFV’s that season too, Lotus did not have the same margin of superiority in ’68 that they had in ’67, lack of ’67 reliability duly noted.


Hills 49B from the front showing the ‘canard’ wings and beautifully integrated rear engine cover/spoiler (Cahier)

Ickx, Rouen, French GP, Ferrari 312  1968


Mauro Forghieri, Ferrari’s Chief Engineer developed wings which were mounted above the engine amidships of the Ferrari 312. Ickx put them to good use qualifying 3rd and leading the wet race, the Belgian gambled on wets, others plumped for intermediates.

Ickx’ wet weather driving skills, the Firestone tyres, wing and chaos caused by the firefighting efforts to try to save Schlesser did the rest. It was Ickx’ first GP win.


It looks like Rainer Schlegelmilch is taking the shot of Jacky Ickx at Rouen in 1968, note the lack of front wings or trim tabs on the Ferrari 312 (Schlegelmilch)

Tailpiece: The ‘treacle beak’ noting the weight of Tauranac’s BT26 Repco is none other than ‘Chopper’ Tyrrell. Also tending the car at the Watkins Glen weighbridge is Ron Dennis, I wonder if Ken’s Matra MS10 Ford was lighter than the BT26? If that 860 engine had been reliable Jochen Rindt would have given Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill a serious run for their money in 1968, sadly the beautiful donk was not the paragon of reliability it’s 620 and 740 Series 1966/7 engines generally were…



hill 1

(Brian Watson)

Graham Hill having a squirt of  Jack’s Brabham BT26A Ford in British GP practice, Silverstone July 1969…

GH in a Brabham is not such a big deal; he raced F2 Brabhams with success for years as well as Tasman Formula ‘Intercontinental’ Brabhams in the mid-sixties. Later he was the pilot of Ron Tauranac’s intriguing ‘Lobster Claw’ BT34 in 1971 but he was a Lotus F1 driver in 1969, so ’twas a bit unusual  to practice an opponents car.


Hill’s red Brabham BT11 Climax from Clark’s Lotus 32B and Aussie Lex Davison Brabham BT4, all Climax 2.5 FPF powered on the way to an NZGP win for Graham. Pukekohe, 9 January 1965. Hill also raced an earlier BT7A in the ’66 Tasman for David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce, the entrant of the car shown, he was familiar with Brabham ‘GP’ cars long before 1969! (unattributed)

Jack was still recovering from a testing accident at Silverstone in June when a Goodyear popped off a front rim, his car ploughed into an earth bank, his ‘equal worst accident’ with the Portuguese Grand Prix one in 1959. He lay trapped in the car with a badly broken ankle, Cossie V8 screaming at maximum revs until he punched the ignition cutout and extinguishers to minimise the chance of the pool of fuel in which he lay igniting. Eventually a touring car also on the quiet circuit mid week stopped and raised the alarm.

Jacky Ickx driving the other Brabham was late for Silverstone’s first session, all timed for grid positions in those days, so Tauranac had 2 cars idle.

Graham and teammate Jochen Rindt were peeved with Colin Chapman, to say the least, as the Lotus transporter was not in the paddock when the session got underway. Graham was ‘ready to rock’ all suited up but had no car to do so and was more than happy to put in a few laps for Tauranac. Rindt remained in his ‘civvies’ and fumed as the rest of the field practiced.

hill 2

Ron Tauranac giving Hill a few tips on his very quick, twice a GP winner in ’69, BT26. ‘Just don’t over rev the thing for chrissakes Graham, Jack will kill me if you do…’ Is that Ron Dennis at right? (unattributed)

1969 was the year of 4WD experimentation for Matra, McLaren, Lotus and Cosworth. Ultimately, very quickly in fact, 4WD was determined an F1 blind alley; the traction the engineers sought was more cost effectively provided by advances in tyre technology, Goodyear, Firestone and Dunlop were all slugging it out in F1 at the time, none of ‘yer control formula’ bullshit then. The effectiveness of the ‘low wings’ mandated from the ’69 Monaco GP also played its part in getting grip.

Chapman’s issue was pursuading his pilots to treat the Lotus 63 Ford, his 4WD design seriously, to test it with a view to developing it rather than to humor him. 4WD was successful at Indy; Chapmans ’68 Indy Lotus 56 ‘wedge’ was 4WD and came within an ace of winning the race, so was the ’69 Lotus 64, ignoring the misfortune surrounding both of these cars.

It was a challenge to get Rindt into the thing at all but he did finish 2nd in the August 1969 Oulton Park Gold Cup. The result meant nothing though, in front of him was Ickx’ Brabham BT26A but all the cars behind were F5000 and F2 cars not GP machines. Still, it was useful testing for Chapman if not for Rindt, his 4WD view was formed!

Chapman’s solution to his drivers recalcitrance was to sell 2 of his Lotus 49’s, one each to Jo Bonnier and Pete Lovely, leaving only one 49 in Team Lotus’ possession! A car you don’t have is a car you cannot drive. Said drivers were not best pleased.

graham 63

Hill, Lotus 63 Ford 4WD, British GP practice, Silverstone July 1969. ‘Turn in bitch!’, understeer and the inability of these cars to respond to delicate throttle inputs plus excessive weight were the main performance deficiency issues. As well as the absence of the electronic trickery which helped make 4WD work into the 80’s (Brian Watson)

When the showdown with Chapman occurred and the speed, or lack thereof, of the 63 was clear Col borrowed back the car he sold to Bonnier, GH raced that 49 and JoBo the 63. Chapman rescinded the contract with Lovely.

The ever restless Lotus chief didn’t give up on 4WD in Fl, the gas turbine powered Lotus 56 campaigned in some 1971 events had its moments and potentially a great day in the wet at Zandvoort until Dave Walker ‘beached it’.

The 49 raced on into 1970 and in ‘C’ spec famously won the Monaco GP in Rindt’s hands before the Lotus 72, Chapman’s new 2WD sensation, which made its debut at Jarama was competitive.

grham 49

Hill races his Lotus 49B to 7th place. Silverstone 1969 GP (unattributed)

At Silverstone Hill raced the 49B to 7th having qualified 12th and Bonnier retired the slow 63 with a popped engine. John Miles making his F1 debut raced the other Lotus 63 to 9th, the young, talented Lotus engineer stroked the car home from grid 14.

Stewart won a thrilling high speed dice on the former airfield with Rindt, only ruined when Jochen’s wing endplate chafed a rear Firestone, some say it was the greatest British GP ever, on the way to his world title in a Matra MS80 Ford.

It would be interesting to know Graham’s opinion of the Brabham BT26 compared to his 49, the competitiveness of which, especially in Rindt’s hands not at all in doubt despite the 49’s middle age, it was a little over 2 years old in 1969.

I am a huge Graham Hill fan, he was well past his F1 best by the time i became interested in motor racing in 1972 but he was still quick enough to take F2 and Le Mans wins then, he was my kinda bloke, sportsman and champion. A statesman for his sport and country.

joc and jack

Jochen and Jackie scrapping for the ’69 British GP lead, Jochen’s Lotus 49B with bulk, uncharacteristic understeer. Look closely and you can see the closeness of his LR wing endplate to Firestone tyre, the cause of a pitstop to rectify and then back into the fray only to run outta fuel, the 49 notorious for its incapacity to sometimes scavenge the last few gallons from its tanks. Stewart Matra MS80 Ford (unattributed)

1969 was as tough a year for Hill as 1968 was great.

Jim Clark’s April 1968 death impacted Hill deeply on a personal level, they had been friends for years and Lotus teammates since the ’67 Tasman Series. Colin Chapman and Clark were like brothers and whilst Colin struggled with his grief, Hill in a tour de force of character and leadership marshalled Team Lotus by their bootstraps and refocused them on the year ahead. The result, World Titles for Hill and Lotus by the seasons end.

graham and jim

Clark and Hill beside Graham’s Lotus 48 Ford FVA F2 car prior to the start of the Australian Grand Prix, Warwick Farm, 1967. Car behind is Kevin Bartlett’s Brabham BT11 Climax. Clark was 2nd in Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre, GH DNF with a gearbox failure. JYS won in BRM P261 2.1 litre (History of The AGP)

The Tasman Series in early 1969 showed just how tough a year Graham was going to have within Lotus. Rindt joined them from Brabham and whilst enjoying it, he had committed to Jack verbally to return to Brabham in 1970, landed in the team in the year the Repco 860 quad-cam engine failed consistently.

Jochen had been in GP racing since mid 1964, was a consistent winner in F2 and had taken the 1965 Le Mans classic with Masten Gregory in a Ferrari 250LM, was regarded as one of the fastest guys around, if not the fastest but had still not scored his first GP win. Graham was simply blown-off by a guy with it all to prove, Jochen finally got the breakthrough win at Watkins Glen, the last round of the season in which Graham had what could have been a career ending shunt.

He spun mid race, undid his belts to bump start the car and of course was unable to redo them unaided; he spun again on lap 91, this time the car overturned throwing him out and breaking both his legs badly.

What then followed was a winter of Hill’s familiar grit and determination to be on the South African GP grid in March 1970. He was and  finished 6th in Rob Walkers Lotus 49C Ford.

Quite a guy, G Hill.

graham and col

Team Lotus 1969. Hill, Chapman and Rindt. A tough season all round. With some reliability from his Lotus and mechanical sympathy to it from Rindt, there was a serious opportunity at the title that year, not to be (unattributed)

Etcetera: Lotus 63 Ford…

miles 1

John Miles races the Lotus 63 to 10th on his GP debut at Silverstone 1969. Rounding him up is Piers Courage’ Frank Williams owned Brabham BT26 Ford, he finished 5th at Silverstone in a ripper season in this year old chassis. He emerged as a true GP front runner in ’69 (unattributed)


63 1

Cutaway self explanatory for our Spanish friends! Key elements of 4WD system in blue; see front mounted Ferguson system diff, Ford Cosworth DFV and Hewland DG300 ‘box mounted ‘arse about’ with driveshafts on LHS of cockpit taking the drive fore and aft to respective diffs. Rear suspension top rocker and lower wishbone, coil spring/damper, brakes inboard (unattributed)


miles 2

John Miles, young Lotus engineer and F3 graduate ponders his mount. Lotus 63 Ford. He was later to say the 63 was not so bad, he did more miles in it than anyone else, until he first parked his butt in a conventional Lotus 49! which provided context. Note forward driving position for the time and sheet steel to stiffen the spaceframe chassis. Nice shot of disc, rocker assy and stub axle also (unattributed)


63 2

Fantastic front end detail shot of the Lotus 63. Spaceframe chassis, Lotus first since 1962, beefy front uprights, upper rocker actuating spring/shock, lower wishbone. Ferguson system front diff axle and driveshafts to wheels. Big ventilated inboard discs. Intricate steering linkage from angled rack to provide clearance required (unattributed)


Photo Credits…

Brian Watson…, Vittorio Del Basso

Graham Howard ‘History of The Australian GP’

Tailpiece: Tauranac, Hill and the ‘Lobster Claw’ BT34 1971…


RT seeks feedback from GH during Italian GP practice Monza 1971. Hill Q14 and DNF with gearbox failure on lap 47. GH best results in 1971 5th in Austria and Q4 in France. Teammate Tim Schenken, in his first full F1 year generally quicker than GH in the year old, very good BT33, BT34 not RT’s best Brabham. No doubt RT missed Jack Brabham’s chassis development skills, Jack was on his Wagga Wagga farm from the start of 1971 (unattributed)


Jack Brabham Oulton Park Gold Cup 1966, Brabham BT19 Repco

Jack Brabham wins the Oulton Park ‘Spring Cup’ 1966. Brabham BT19 Repco (Brian Watson)

The second episode covered the design and building of the 1966 ‘RB620’ V8, the engine which would contest and win the World Constructors and Drivers Championships in 1966, this is a summary of that season…

Brabham BT19 cutaway

Cutaway drawing of Brabham BT19 # ‘F1-1-65’, JB’s 1966 Championship Winning mount. Produced in 1965 for the stillborn Coventry Climax Flat 16 cylinder 1.5 litre F1 engine and modified by Ron Tauranac to fit the ‘RB620’ engine, which was designed by Phil Irving with Brabham/Tauranacs direct input in terms of ancilliaries etc to fit this chassis. A conventional light, agile, driver friendly and ‘chuckable’ spaceframe chassis Brabham of the period. Front suspension independent by upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/ damper units. Rear by upper top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and coil spring/ damper units. Adjustable sway bars front and rear. Hewland HD500, and later DG300 ‘box. Much raced and winning chassis…still in Australia in Repco’s ownership (Motoring News)

The 1966 South African Grand Prix…whilst not that year a Championship round was the first race of the new 3 litre F1 on 1 January.

In December 1965 the first 3 Litre RB620 ‘E3’ was assembled and with slightly larger inlet valves, ports and throttle bodies than the ‘2.5’ produced 280bhp @ 7500rpm. After six hours testing it was rebuilt, shipped to the UK and fitted to Jacks ‘BT19’, a chassis built during 1965 for the stillborn Coventry Climax 16 cylinder engine, the rear frame modified to suit ‘RB620’.

Brabham started from pole and lead until the Lucas injection metering unit drive coupling failed. He achieved fastest lap but was the only 3 litre present.

Straight after the race the car was flown to Melbourne and fitted  with  Repco 2.5 engine ‘E2’ for the Sandown Tasman round on February 27, Repco’s backyard or home event…

BT19 on the factory floor in Melbourne

Roy Billington prepares BT19 for fitment of the’RB620′ 2.5 Tasman engine in place of the 3 litre used in South Africa on 1 January 1966 (Wolfe/Repco)


Brabham and Frank Hallam, Sandown 1966

Jack Brabham with RB Engines GM Frank Hallam at Sandown 1966. Publicity shot with BT19, long inlet trumpets give the engine away as a ‘Tasman 2.5’. Car sans RH side ‘Lukey Mufflers’ exhaust tailpipe in this shot ‘, sitting across the drivers seat. Rear suspension as described in cutaway drawing above, twin coils, fuel metering unit, HD500 Hewland, battery and ‘expensive’ Tudor oil breather mounted either side of ‘box (Brabhams World Championship Year’ magazine)

During a preliminary race the car set a lap record- the race won by Stewart’s BRM. But in the main race but an oil flow relief valve failed, causing engine damage, Stewart won from Clark Lotus 39 Climax and Graham Hill in the other BRM P261.

Upon dissasembly, it was found a sintered gear in the pressure pump had broken. The engine was then rebuilt for the final Tasman round at Longford Tasmania.

In a close race, with the engine overheating, the car ran short of fuel and was beaten by the two 2 litre BRM P261’s (bored out 1.5 litre F1 cars) of Stewart and Hill, Jackie Stewart easily winning the 1966 Tasman Championship for the Bourne team.

Brabham BT 19 refuelling, Longford 1966

BTT19 being filled with the sponsors product, Longford paddock 1966 (Ellis French)

In early January 1966 the engine operation was transferred from Repco’s experimental labs in Richmond to the Maidstone address and factory covered in episode 2 where the operations were ‘productionised’ to build engines for both BRO (Brabham Racing Organisation) and customers.

So far the engine had not covered itself in glory but invaluable testing was being carried out and problems solved.

Meanwhile back in Europe other teams were developing their cars for 1966…

All teams faced the same challenge of a new formula, remember that Coventry Climax, the ‘Cosworth Engineering’ of the day were not building engines forcing the ‘English Garagistes’ as Enzo Ferrari disparagingly described the teams, to find alternatives, as Jack had done with Repco.

Ferrari were expected to do well, as they had done with the introduction of the 1.5 litre Formula in 1961, they had a new chassis and an engine ‘in stock’, which was essentially a 3 litre variant of their 3.3 litre P2 Sports Car engine, the ‘box derived from that car as well. The gorgeous bolide looked the goods but was heavy and not as powerful as was claimed or perhaps Repco’s horses were stallions and the Italian’s geldings!

Ferrari 312 1966 cutaway

Hubris or too little focus on F1 in 1966…on paper the Ferrari 312 shoulda’ won in ’66…when Surtees left so did their title hopes, Ferraris’ decline in the season was matched by Brabhams’ lift…

Cooper also used a V12, a 3 litre, updated variant of the 2.5 litre engine Maserati developed at the end of the 250F program in 1957 when it was tested but unraced.

Cooper T81 Maserati engine 1966

Coopers’ 1966 T81 was an aluminium monocoque chassis carrying a development of Masers’ 10 year old ‘Tipo 10’ 60 degree V12. DOHC, 2 valves per cylinder, Lucas injected, and a claimed 360bhp @ 9500rpm. The cars were heavy, reasonably reliable. Surtees and Rindt extracted all from them (Bernard Cahier)

Dan Gurney had left Brabham and built a superb car designed by ex-Lotus designer Len Terry. The T1G Eagle was to use Coventry Climax 2.7 litre FPF power until Dans’ own Gurney-Weslake V12 was ready. Again, the car was heavy as it was designed for both Grand Prix and Indianapolis Racing where regulation compliance added weight.

Denny Hulme stepped up to fulltime F1 to support Jack in the other Brabham.

The dominant marque of the 1.5 litre formula , Lotus were caught without an engine and contracted with BRM for their complex ‘H16’ and were relying also on a 2 litre variant of the Coventry Climax FWMV 1.5 V8…simultaneously Keith Duckworth was designing and building the Ford funded Cosworth DFV, but its debut was not until the Dutch Grand Prix in 1967.

BRM, having failed to learn the lessons of complexity with their supercharged V16 1.5 litre engine of the early 50’s, and then reaping the benefits of simplicity with the P25/P48/P57, designed the P83 ‘H16’, essentially two of their 1.5 litre V8’s at 180 degrees, one atop the other with the crankshafts geared together. They, like Lotus were also using 2 litre variants of their very fast, compact, light and simple 1965 F1 cars, the P261 whilst developing their ‘H16′ contender.

Honda won the last race of the 1.5 litre formula in Mexico 1965 and were busy on a 3 litre V12 engined car, the RA273 appeared later in the season in Richie Ginthers’ hands.

Ginther Honda RA273 , Monza 1966

Richie Ginthers’ powerful but corpulent, make that mobidly obese Honda RA 273 at Monza, the heaviest but most powerful car of 1966…it appeared too late in the season to have an impact but was competitive in Richies’ hands, a winner in ’67 at Monza…(unattributed)

Bruce Mclaren produced his first GP cars, the Mclaren M2A and M2B, technically advanced monocoque chassis of Mallite construction, a composite of balsa wood bonded between sheets of  aluminium on each side.

His engine solution was the Ford ‘Indy’ quad cam 4.2 litre V8, reduced to 3 litres, despite a lot of work by Traco, the engine whose dimensions were vast and heavy, developed way too little power, the engine and gearbox weighing not much less than BT19 in total…He also tried an Italian Serenissima engine without success.

Bruce McLaren, McLaren M2A Ford Indy, Riverside 1966

Bruce testing M2A Ford at Riverside, California during a Firestone tyre test in early 1966. M2A entirely Mallite, M2B used Mallite inner, and aluminium outer skins. Note the wing mount…wing first tested at Zandvoort 1965. L>R: Bruce McLaren, Gary Knutson, Howden Ganley and Wally Willmott (Tyler Alexander)

So, at the seasons outset Brabham were in a pretty good position with a thoroughly tested engine, but light on power and on weight in relation to Ferrari who looked handily placed…

Variety is the spice- 1966 MotorSport magazine visual of the different F1 engine solutions pursued by the different makers

Brabham contested two further non-championship races…with the original engine in Syracuse where fuel injection problems caused a DNF and at Silverstone on May 14 where the car and engine achieved their first wins, Brabham also setting the fastest lap of the ‘International Trophy’.

Brabham , Silverstone Trophy 1966, BT19 Repco

First win for BT19 and the Repco ‘RB620’ engine, Silverstone International trophy 1966 (unattributed)

Monaco was the first round of the 1966 F1 Championship on May 22…

Clark qualified his small, light Lotus 33 on pole with John Surtees in the new Ferrari alongside. Jack was feeling unwell, and the cars were late arriving after a British seamens strike, Jack recorded a DNF, his Hewland HD 500 gearbox jammed in gear.

Mike Hewland was working on a stronger gearbox for the new formula, Jack used the new ‘DG300′ transaxle for the first time at Spa. Clarks’ ‘bullet-proof’ Lotus 33 broke an upright, then Surtees’ Ferrari should have won but the ‘slippery diff’ failed leaving victory to Jackie Stewarts’ 2 litre BRM P261.

Richie Ginther Monaco 1966

Richie Ginther going the wrong way at Monaco whilst Jack and Bandini find a way past. Cooper T81 Maser, BT19 and Ferrari 246 respectively. Nice ‘atmo’ shot (unattributed)

Off to Spa, and whilst Brabham was only fourth on the grid…he was quietly confident but a deluge on the first lap caused eight cars to spin, the biggest accident of Jackie Stewarts’ career causing a change in his personal attitude to driver, car and circuit safety which was to positively reverberate around the sport for a decade.


The rooted monocoque of Jackie Stewarts’ BRM P261, Spa 1966. He was trapped within the tub until released by Graham Hill and Bob Bondurant who borrowed tools from spectators to remove the steering wheel…all the while a full tank of fuel being released…(unattributed)

Surtees won the race from Jochen Rindt in a display of enormous bravery in a car not the calibre of the Ferrari or Brabham, Jack finished fourth behind the other Ferrari of Lorenzo Bandini. Denny Hulme still driving a Climax engined Brabham.

At this stage of the season, the ‘bookies pick’, Ferrari, were looking pretty handy.

BRM P83, Stewart, Oulton Park 1966

Another major new car of 1966 was the BRM P83 ‘H16’…love this shot of Jackie Stewart trying to grab hold of the big, unruly beast at the Oulton Park ‘Spring Cup’ 1966. The car got better as 1966 became 1967 but then so too did the opposition, the message of Brabham simplicity well and truly rammed home when the Lotus 49 Ford appeared at Zandvoort in May 1967…free-loading spectators having a wonderful view! (Brian Watson)


Dunlops’ dominance of Grand Prix racing started with Engleberts’ final victory when Peter Collins won the British Grand Prix for Ferrari in 1958.

Essentially Dunlops’ racing tyres were developed for relatively heavy sports prototypes, as a consequence the light 1.5 litre cars could compete on the same set of tyres for up to four GP’s Jimmy Clark doing so in his Lotus 25 in 1963!

Goodyear provided tyres for Lance Reventlows’ Scarab team in 1959, returned to Indianapolis in 1963, to Europe in Frank Gardners’ Willment entered Lotus 27 F2 at Pau in 1964 and finally Grand Prix racing with Honda in 1964.

In a typically shrewd deal, Brabham signed with Goodyear in 1965, it’s first tyres for the Tasman series in 1965 were completely unsuitable but within days a new compound had been developed for Australian conditions, this was indicative of the American giants commitment to win.

By 1966 Goodyear was ready for its attack on the world championship, we should not forget the contribution Goodyears’ tyre technology made to Brabhams’ wins in both the F1 World Championship and Brabham Honda victory in the F2 Championship that same year.

Equally Goodyear acknowledged Brabhams’ supreme testing ability in developing its product which was readily sought by other competitors at a time when Dunlop and Firestone were also competing…a ‘tyre war’ unlike the one supplier nonsense which prevails in most categories these days.

Dan Gurney Eagle T1G Climax, Spa 1966

Dan Gurney, Eagla T1G Climax, Spa 1966. In my top 3 ‘GP car beauties list’…Len Terry’s masterful bit of work hit its straps 12 months later when the car, by then V12 Eagle-Weslake powered won Spa, but in ’66 the car was too heavy and the 2.7/8 Climax lacked the necessary ‘puff’…Goodyear clad cameraman exceptionally brave!, shot on exit of Eau Rouge (unattributed)

The French Grand Prix was the turning point of the season…

Brabham arrived with three cars- Hulmes’ Climax engined car as a spare and finally an ‘RB620’ engined car for the Kiwi. Perhaps even more critically for Brabham, John Surtees had left Ferrari in one of the ‘Palace Upheavals’ which occurred at Maranello from time to time, fundamentally around Surtees’ view on the lack of F1 emphasis, the team still very much focussed on LeMans and the World Sports Car Championship, where the marques decade long dominance was being challenged by Ford.

Surtees was also, he felt, being ‘back-doored’ as team-leader by team-manager Eugenio Dragoni in choices involving his protege, Lorenzo Bandini. The net effect, whatever the exact circumstances was that Surtees, the only Ferrari driver capable of winning the ’66 title moved to Cooper, Bandini and Mike Parkes whilst good drivers were not an ace of 1964 World Champ, Surtees calibre…

Reims was the ultimate power circuit so it was not a surprise when four V12’s were in front of Brabham on the grid, the Surtees and Rindt Coopers and the two Ferraris. Surtees Cooper failed, and Jack hung on, but was losing ground to Bandini, until his throttle cable broke with Brabham leading and then winning the race.

It was Jacks’ first Championship GP win since 1960, and the first win for a driver in a car of his own manufacture, a feat only, so far matched by Dan Gurney at Spa in 1967.

It was, and is a stunning achievement, but there was still a championship to be won.

Jack Brabham French GP 1966 Brabham BT19 Repco

Brabham wins the French GP 1966, the first man to ever win a GP in a car of his own construction. Brabham BT19 Repco (umattributed)



Brabham’s BT19 leads out of Druids at Brands Hatch, ’66 British GP. Gurney Eagle T1G Climax, Hulme’s Brabham BT20 Repco, Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax and the two Cooper T81 Masers of Surtees inside and Rindt, then Stewart’s BRM P261 and McLaren’s white McLaren M2B Serenissima and the rest (unattributed)

At Brands Hatch Ferrari did not appear…

They were victims of an industrial dispute in Italy. Cooper were still sorting their Maser V12, the H16 BRM’s did not race nor did the Lotus 43, designed for the BRM engine. BRM and Lotus were still relying on 2 litre cars. Brabham and Hulme were on pole and second on the grid, finishing in that order, a lap ahead of Hill and Clark.

At Zandvoort, in the Dutch sand-dunes

Brabham with beard Dutch GP 1966

Jack was tough but had a sense of humor…he had just turned 40 a month or so before, there was a lot in the press about his age so JB donned a beard, and with a jack-handle as walking stick approached BT19…much to the amusement of the Dutch crowd and press (Eric Koch)

Brabham and Hulme again qualified one-two but Jim Clark drove a stunning race in his 2 litre Lotus leading Jack for many laps, the crafty Brabham, just turned forty playing a waiting game and picking up the win after Clarks’ Climax broke its dynamic balancer, the Scot pitting for water and still being in second place when he returned, such was his pace. Clark fell back to third, Hill finishing second, the Ferraris and Coopers off the pace.

Brabham in BT19 Repco, Dutch GP 1966

Bernard Cahiers’ famous shot of Brabham ‘playing with his Goodyears’ in the Dutch sand-dunes is still reproduced by Repco today and used as a ‘promo’ handout whenever this famous car, Jacks’ mount for the whole of his ’66 Championship campaign, still owned by Repco, is displayed in Australia


German GP grid 1966

German GP grid, Nurburgring 1966. I like this shot as it says a lot about the size of 1966 F1 cars and the relative performance of the ‘bored-out 1.5 litre cars vs. the new 3 litres at this stage of the formula. The only 3 litre on the front row, is Ferrari recent departee John Surtees Cooper Maserati #7, Clark is on pole #1 Lotus 33 Climax, #6 Stewart BRM P261, # 11 Scarfiotti Ferrari Dino, all ‘bored 1.5’s. Row 2 is Jack in BT19, and #9 and #10 Bandini and Parkes in Ferrari 312’s, all ‘3 litres’. The physical difference in size between the big, heavy Ferraris, and the little, light BT19 ‘born and built’ as a 1965 1.5 litre car for the stillborn Coventry Climax Flat 16 engine, is marked (unattributed)

The Nurburgring is the ultimate test of man and machine…

Brabham qualified poorly in fifth after setup and gearbox dramas. Clark, Surtees, Stewart and Bandini were all ahead of Jack with only Surtees, of those drivers in a 3 litre car!

The race started in wet conditions, Jack slipped into second place after a great start by the end of lap one and past Surtees by the time the pack passed the pits, Surtees suffered clutch failure widening the gap between he and Brabham, Rindt in the other Cooper finishing third. Hulme was as high as fifth but lack of ignition ended his race.

Hill and Surtees were still slim championship chances as the circus moved on to Monza.

Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme, German GP 1966

Denny and Jack ponder the setup of Hulmes BT20, practice conditions far better than raceday when Jack would triumph (unattributed)

Ferrari traditionally perform well at home…and so it was, Ludovico Scarfiotti winning the race on September 4.

Another power circuit, Brabham was outqualifed by five ‘multis’ the V12’s, the Ferraris of Parkes (pole) Scarfiotti and Bandini, the Cooper of Surtees and the H16 Lotus 43 BRM of Clark in third.

The Ferraris lead from the start from Surtees, but Brabham sensing a slow pace took the lead only losing it when an inspection plate loosened at the front of the engine, burning oil, the lubricant not allowed to be topped up under FIA rules. Hulme moved into second as Jack retired. The lead changed many times but Surtees retirement handed the titles to Brabham, Scarfiotti winning the race from Parkes and Hulme.

The cars were scrutineered and weighed at Monza.

The weights of the cars was published by ‘Road and Track’ magazine. BT19 was ‘Twiggy’ at 1219Lb, the Cooper T81 1353Lb, BRM 1529Lb, similarly powered Lotus 43 1540Lb and Honda RA273 1635Lb. Lets say the Repcos’ horses were real at 310bhp, Ferrari and Cooper (Maserati) optimistic at 360 and BRM and Honda 400’ish also a tad optimistic…as to power to weight you do the calculations!

Jim Clark Lotus 43 BRM Monza 1966

Jim Clark jumps aboard his big, beefy 1540Lb Lotus 43 BRM whilst Jacks light 1219Lb BT19 is pushed past, ’66 Monza grid. Love the whole BRM ‘H16’ engine as a technical challenge…(unattributed)


Scarfiotti and Clark Italian GP 1966

2 of the ‘heavyweights’ of 1966, Ludovico Scarfiottis’ Ferrari 312 leading Jim Clarks’ Lotus 43 BRM at Monza, Scarfiottis’ only championship GP win (unattributed)

Jim Clarks’ Lotus 43 BRM achieved the ‘H16’s only victory at Watkins Glen…the Scot using BRM’s spare engine after his own ‘popped’ at the end of US Grand Prix practice. Jack’s engine broke a cam follower in the race, Denny also retiring with low oil pressure.

jack us

Front row of the Watkins Glen grid. #5 Brabham’s BT20 on pole DNF, Bandini’s Ferrari 312 DNF and Surtees Cooper T81 Maser 3rd (Alvis Upitis)

The final round of the 1966 was in Mexico City on October 23…

The race won by John Surtees from pole, in a year when he had been very competitive, and perhaps unlucky. Having said that, had he stayed at Ferrari perhaps he would have won the title, the Ferrari competitive in the right hands. Brabham was fourth on the grid, best of the non-V12’s with Richie Ginther again practicing well in the new, big, incredibly heavy V12 Honda RA273. Surtees’ development skills would be applied to this car in 1967.

Surtees finished ahead of Brabham and Hulme, despite strong pressure from both, whilst Clark was on the front row with the Lotus 43, the similarly engined BRM’s mid-grid, it was to be a long winter for the teams the postion of many not that much changed from the seasons commencement…

Mexican GP 1966, Surtees, Brabham and Rindt

John Surtees, Jack and Jochen Rindt, Coopers T81 Maserati X2 and BT19. Mexican GP 1966. Ferrari missed Surtees intense competitiveness when he left them, the Cooper perhaps batting above its (very considerable!) weight as a consequence, Rindt no slouch mind you. The Coopers’ competitive despite the tough altitude and heat of Mexico City. (unattributed)

Malcolm Prestons’ book ‘Maybach to Holden’ records that 3 litre engines ‘E5, E6, E7 and E8’…were used by BRO in 1966, in addition to E3, all having at least one replacement block.

Some engines were returned to Melbourne for re-building and at least three were sold in cars by Brabham to South Africa and Switzerland, whether Repco actually consented to the sale of these engines, ‘on loan’ to BRO is a moot point!, but parts sales were certainly generated as a consequence.

Detail development of the ‘RB620’ during the season resulted in the engines producing 310 bhp @ 7500rpm with loads of torque and over 260bhp from 6000-8000rpm.

Brabham team with BT19 1966

Back In Australia…

The Tasman ‘620’ 2.5 litre engine was not made available to Australasian customers in 1966, they were in 1967, a Repco prepared Coventry Climax FPF won the ‘Gold Star’, the Australian Drivers Championship in 1966, Spencer Martin winning the title in Bob Janes’ Brabham BT11A.

4.4 litre ‘RB620′ engines were built for Sports Cars, notably Bob Janes’ Elfin 400, we will cover those in a separate chapter.

Development of the F1 engine continued further in early 1966 in Maidstone, whilst production and re-building of the ‘RB620’ for BRO continued, we will cover the design and testing of what became the 1967 ‘RB740′ Series engine in the next episode…

Meanwhile Brabhams’, Tauranacs’, Irvings’ and Repcos’ achievements were being rightly celebrated in Australia where ingenuity, practicality and brilliant execution and development of a simple chassis and engine had triumphed over the best of the established automotive, racing and engineering giants of Europe…

Repco 'RB620' 3 Litre F1 V8

‘RB620’ 3 litre V8 in Brabham BT19, 1966 F1 World Champions (Bernard Cahier)


Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme , Mexican GP 1966

Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme, 1st and 4th in the World Drivers Championship 1966. Mexican GP 1966, lovely Bernard Cahier portrait of 2 good friends. Graham Hills’ BRM P83 ‘H16’ at rear.


Brabham 'Championship Year' magazine

BT19 cutaway

BT19 Repco cutaway (unattributed)


london Racing Car Show 1967

Brabham BT19 Repco on ‘centre stage’ at the 1967 London Racing Car Show (unattributed)


RB Nose

Brabham after Rheims victory 1966

A fitting photo to end the article…the joy of victory and achievement after his Rheims, French GP victory. The first man ever to win a GP in a car of his own manufacture, Brabham BT19 Repco (unattributed)


Rodway Wolfe Collection, ‘Jack Brabhams World Championship Year’ magazine, Motoring News magazine, The Nostalgia Forum,, Nigel Tait Collection

‘Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston, ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye

Photo Credits…

The Cahier Archive, Brian Watson, Tyler Alexander, Ellis French, Eric Koch, Alvis Upitis, Rodway Wolfe Collection

Tailpiece: The Repco hierachy at Sandown upon the RB620’s Australian debut, 27 February 1966. Phil Irving leaning over BT19 and trying to grab another fag from Frank Hallam’s packet. Norman Wilson with head forward leaning on the rear Goodyear, Kevin Davies and Nigel Tait in the white dust coat…and Jack wishing they would bugger ‘orf so he could test the thing. Nigel Tait recalls that the car probably had 2.5 engine #E2, had no starter motor and he the job of push-starting the beastie…