Posts Tagged ‘Spencer Martin’

(oldracephotos/King)

Bob Jane, Elfin 400 Repco, during the Longford Tasman round in 1967. Sweet Repco V8 music @ 7000 rpm flat out in fifth gear…

Idle moments in front of the Teev provide a male multi-tasking opportunity, looking for ‘that shot’ which inspires an article. Breathing, lookin’ at the telly and searching for photographic inspiration simultaneously- three things at once, my girlfriend can scarcely believe it.

There are some cars which are more prolific in terms of the number of photos in circulation though, usually for the same reasons. That is, they are sensational to look at, were race winners and in Australia raced nationally over a number of years and therefore every ‘snapper in the country, both professional and amateur has had a crack at them- and, kindly, circulated said photos on that internet thingy for us all to enjoy!

So…

In the decade from 1960 to 1970’ish there are several cars which are prevalent as defined above- Pete Geoghegan’s second Mustang, Allan Moffat’s Mustang Trans Am, Leo Geoghegan’s Lotus 39 Repco, Frank Gardner/Kevin Bartlett’s Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’, Frank Matich Matich SR3’s and Bob’s Elfin 400.

Delivery of the new 400 to the Bob Jane team, Elfins Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown factory, Adelaide in late 1966. The factory was not flash but the sense of history and those who had been there before was palpable when I inspected my humble Crusader Elfin Vee mid-build in the early nineties. From a modest place did some amazing cars originate (B Mills)

I’ve already done the Elfin 400 to death really…

But there are just too many wonderful photos of Bob’s car not to do this article which I originally intended to be pictorial.

One long previous article was specifically about Frank Matich’s Elfin 400 Olds aka the Traco Olds, the first completed. That piece also covered at somewhat laborious length the design and development of the car, here ‘tis;

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/28/elfin-400traco-olds-frank-matich-niel-allen-and-garrie-cooper/

The other was another lengthy tome, mainly about Hume Weir circuit but it also included a piece within it on Bob’s car, the third 400 built, click here;

https://primotipo.com/2016/05/06/hume-weir/

Bob Jane in one of his first runs, the first race meeting?, Warwick Farm Tasman round in 1967. Top gun that weekend Niel Allen in his Elfin 400 Chev (J Ellacott)

Elfin 400 Repco ‘BB67-3’ was raced by some mighty fine drivers whilst owned by Bob, here is the man himself during the Warwick Farm Tasman round in February 1967…

Jane raced it, so too did 1966/7 Australian Gold Star Champion Spencer Martin. Lets not forget Melbourne up and comer Ian Cook had some drives in 1968, he sadly lost his life at Sandown in 1973 in an ex-Bob Jane Racing machine too. And another young charger, Bevan Gibson took the wheel in 1969, and soon lost his life in it at Bathurst during the 1969 Easter Meeting.

What changed the direction of the article was re-discovery of my copy of ‘Gentleman John Harvey’, the biography on Harves which has some great first-hand material about Bevan by both Bob Jane and John Harvey. I couldn’t find the book when I wrote the Matich Elfin 400 piece, which would have been the right place for its contents, but given the limited print run of Tony McGirr’s book I thought getting these perspectives out there and more readily accessible worthwhile.

In researching Ian Cook i made contact with Grant Twining who owns the Devione Ford, a car raced by Ian. Grant was able to provide some much needed detail to flesh out his story- many thanks to him.

This 400 is significant in Repco Brabham Engines history too as it was fitted with the first customer, as against works engines provided to Jack Brabham. It was a 4.4 litre ‘RB620 Series’ V8.

Ken Hastings aboard the rebuilt ‘BB67-3’ at Sandown on the fast left drop to Dandenong Road circa 1970. Note the change to the bodywork at front and addition of a rear wing. Unguarded horse racing fencing an ever present danger back then. It’s practice by the look, the Pat Crea VW Beetle and ‘Chocolates’ David Robertson Ford Capri V8 sports sedans in the distance (L Hemer)

After the Gibson Bathurst tragedy the car was acquired by Melbourne racer Ken Hastings who rebuilt it. The car passed through several hands over the years before being bought by Elfin enthusiast/racer Bill Hemming, well known to Australians for the Elfin Heritage Centre which houses his collection of cars including ‘BB67-3′.

http://www.elfinheritage.com.au/

The car was rebuilt around a new chassis some years back albeit the very much shagged original frame remains ‘part of the package’- that is the CAMS ‘Certificate Of Description’ recognises the existence of the second chassis precluding the possibility of a ‘B Car’ being built. A neat solution I thought- history and safety are recognised.

Bob Jane leads Spencer Martin and the Elfin 400 Repco at Hume Weir, Queens Birthday meeting in June 1967. John Sawyer in the blue shirt behind, blue car is ex-Jones/Phillips et al Cooper Jaguar  (M Leirsch)

Elfin 400 Technical Specifications…

Lets cover the cars technical specs in brief as it’s covered in detail in the first of the articles referenced above.

The 400 was the third series of sports cars Garrie Cooper and his band of merry men in Edwardstown built. The first were the front engined ‘Streamliners’, the very first Elfins, then came the Clubman and later the mid-engined small-bore Mallala.

The 400 Series sporties were the first ‘big bangers’ he had built, a trip to the UK before he progressed the design too far got him up to speed with what was happening in Europe. The Group 5 Ford GT40 and Group 7 Lola T70, McLaren Elvas and Chaparral’s were the standout cars at the time for different reasons.

Rare colour shot of the Jane 400 in the paddock, date uncertain. Suspension as per text, note the wide based upper wishbone, magnesium uprights and solid Girling brake rotors. See the shot below, car now has a more substantial, but unbraced roll bar (S Lambert)

Whilst Garrie was building his first monocoque chassis car, the single-seater F3/F2/ANF 1.5 Type 100 very successful ‘Mono’ he decided an appropriately stressed multi-tubular spaceframe chassis would do the trick for the sportscar. After all, Ferrari were still winning plenty of races so equipped and the Australian market was conservative, a spaceframe was easier to maintain and to repair ‘in the field’ than a monocoque. Such a design could accommodate different engines he knew customers would want to fit to the cars. The frame was of square, round and oval section tubes, the aluminium undertray was stressed as were subsidiary bulkhead panels

Four chassis were built- first completed was the Matich ‘BB66-2’ which used a Traco Olds V8, then came the Globe Engineering ‘BB66-1’ a pushrod and later DOHC small-block Ford powered car,  Jane’s ‘BB67-3’ received a Repco ‘RBE620’ 4.4 litre V8 and ‘BB67-4’, originally owned by Andy Buchanan a big block Chev.

Bolted to these engines were various Hewland transaxles; HD4 for the Matich car LG500 for the Globe and Buchanan cars and DG300 for Jane’s.

Superb early 1967 shot of the Jane car. Engine is the first customer Repco engine delivered. Repco ‘RB620 Series’ 4.4 litre SOHC, 2 valve, Lucas injected V8, circa 400 bhp @ 7000 rpm. ‘620’ is the Olds F85 modified block and first series crossflow heads- this design was the 1966 F1 championship winning design in 3 litres capacity. Note the tubes to the chassis, oil dry sump to the right. Fuel tank capacity 28 gallons- with the option of more. Array of Smiths and Stewart Warner instruments, see chassis plate on dash left and vestigial roll bar- soon altered to a higher and full width hoop albeit unbraced. Simply superb bit of kit (S Lambert)

Suspension was period typical. At the front by upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/Armstrong shocks. Uprights were cast magnesium, adjustable roll bars were fitted with rack and pinion steering.

At the rear, beautiful cast magnesium uprights were used, inverted lower wishbone, single top link and two radius rods, again with coil springs and Armstrong shocks. Roll bars were again adjustable.

Wheels, cast magnesium Elfin jobbies, were 15 inches diameter, 10 inches wide at the front and 12 inches at the back. Owners progressively increased the amount of rubber on the road appreciably over the coming years in accordance with the incredible advances in tyre technology at the time.

Brakes were Girling alloy ‘BR’ calipers with the rotors 12 inches  in diameter at the front and 11 inches at the rear. The bodywork was designed in house, as you will see in the various articles the ‘aero’ of the car was far from ‘fully resolved’ when completed.

Bob Jane aboard his 400 in 1968 (T Parkinson)

And they say Enzo Ferrari kept his drivers on their toes! So too it seems did RF Jane…

It was only in gathering the photos of the 400 that I realised how many fellas drove the 400 in a short period of time.

Bobs race team plans were changed suddenly when Spencer Martin decided to retire having won the second of his Gold Stars with Bob in 1967- they won two on the trot in 1966-7 using Bob’s Brabham BT11A Coventry Climax.

Spencer Martin had this to say about the 400 ‘What caused the accident (to Gibson) was an aerodynamic design fault with the car. I had driven the car in ’67. It was the quickest thing around at that stage. It had a 4.4 litre Repco V8 in it, and was very, very quick. But the aerodynamics on the car were not right. Unfortunately, Bevan paid for it with his life.’

Martin then commented about seeing the sportscars on circuit at Longford in 1967 when Bob Jane raced the 400. Spencer ran the Brabham BT11A and was therefore on hand to watch the sportscars practice.

Noel Hurd in the Globe Products owned Elfin 400 Ford became airborne at high speed during practice, mowing down a row of fence posts after spinning several times but leaving the driver unhurt. ‘It was an Elfin 400, and I saw them coming down the long straight at Longford, in Tasmania. I wasn’t at all happy with the aerodynamics of the car. Looking back I think I was very fortunate. If I hadn’t retired I would probably have been in that car’ (at Bathurst Easter 1969)

Whilst testing the Elfin at Calder early in 1967 Martin was circulating in 44.2 secs, nearly a second under Niel Allen’s lap record in his 400.

Shell boys at Warwick Farm in 1966: Jane, Kiwi Jim Palmer, Harvey and Jackie Stewart- quite an array of talent, champions all (WF)

John Harvey had shown what he was made of in the RRC Phillips owned Brabham BT14 Repco- so Bob hired Harvey, (born 1938) bought the BT14 and popped the Repco engine from it into the back of the BT11A and off they went to contest the ’68 Tasman Australian rounds.

The logic was that the F2 BT14 chassis wasn’t man enough for the Repco, whereas the older ‘Intercontinental’ BT11A was. Harvey did the Hordern Trophy late ’67 in the car, Climax engined before the Repco for Coventry Climax engine swap was performed. Harvey’s ‘compare and contrast’ of engines in that chassis would be interesting. As Australians know Harves was Bobs ‘main man’, his contracted driver from then right through until Frank Gardner returned to Australia in 1974- joining Jane for 1975.

John Harvey on Warwick Farm’s pit straight during the 1968 Warwick Farm 100 meeting. DNF gearbox in Janes BT11A ‘IC-4-64’ Repco. Clark won in a Lotus 49 DFW. The Brabham was and is a famous car- first owned by David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce and raced in the ’64 Tasman successfully by Graham Hill it was then raced by Martin to two Gold Star wins. Still owned by Jane and restored to CC engined form (autopics.com.au)

Early in his time with Bob John had a bad accident at Easter Bathurst 1968 when an upright in the near new Brabham BT23E broke hospitalizing him for some while with a recuperation period even longer. His first meeting post accident was at Warwick Farm later in 1968. It was a meeting John was glad to get behind him as his eyesight, fine early in the day, had a bit of double-vision later as the day wore on.

Naturally on Jane’s part, if not Harvey’s, there may have been a question about him racing again after an accident Jane said could have been fatal. He needed another driver until Harves was fit.

Jane in the Longford pits in 1967, nice rear view of the 400 Repco (E French)

Ignoring the touring cars/sports sedans to focus on the cars which matter, Harvey raced the BT11A, then the ex-Brabham ’68 2.5 Tasman BT23E Repco, the Rennmax built Jane Repco 2.5, Brabham BT36 Waggott 2 litre and finally the Bowin P8 Repco Holden F5000. He raced the McLaren M6B Repco sportscar from 1969, with Bob. He drove the Elfin 400 only once and had this to say about it.

Bob drives and Harves carries the booty. McLaren M6B Repco, they have just won the final round of the 1972 Australian Sportscar Championship at Symmons Plains on 12 November- Harvey won 5 of the 6 rounds that year. Sex on wheels (oldracephotos.com)

‘I drove that Elfin only once and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all. It was the sort of car that probably I could have been persevered with, and make it work properly. Or, at least to suit me. Maybe other drivers, including Bevan, were quite happy with it. But I certainly wasn’t. And that was the result of only driving it one time. I didn’t like it so I never drove it again’.

So, the 400 seems to be the car which Jane, who also raced it a lot, shared around a bit.

Ian Cook, Elfin Mono Ford, Calder 1967 (autopics.com.au)

 Ian Cook was a Melbourne boy (born 1941) who made a name for himself in single-seaters winning the Victorian Lucas Davison Series in 1.5 litre Elfin Monos in 1966 and 1967…

He drove an ex-Granton Harrison Mk1 in ’66 and in Garrie Cooper’s prototype Mk2 in 1967. This chassis was the car which Alf Costanzo drove the wheels off and shot to prominence after sold to him by Cook.

Ian, in addition to his Elfin raced Melbourne car owner Tony Osborne’s Argo Chev sportscar in 1967, no doubt his skill behind the wheel of this Cooper derived sporty, a far less sophisticated machine than the 400, was instrumental in him joining the Jane organisation in late 1967.

Ian Cook, Elfin 400 Repco on the Longford dummy grid in 1968. Car now has seat belts. Notice the different injection trumpets on the engine from the earliest 1967 shots

His first drive of the Elfin 400 was at Calder in January 1968, taking 2 wins. The Jane team then took the car to the Bathurst Easter meeting in 1968, together with the BT23E crashed by Harvey in practice.

Bob and Ian were both down to drive the 400 but must have had problems with it in practice as it failed to start any of the events, certainly Cook drove it in practice. Or perhaps John’s serious accident was enough to ‘up sticks’ for the weekend. Their experiences in the 400 that weekend would have been interesting given the sad events which were to transpire 12 months hence.

(R MacKenzie)

Grant Twining reports that Ian Cook was the quickest of all the Elfin 400 drivers who raced the cars at Longford- Matich (noting the advance in tyres between 1966 and 1968) Jane and Noel Hurd. The photo above is of the front row of the ’68 Longford Tasman sportscar support race- #5 Peter Macrow in the Argo Chev vacated by Cook, Ian in the 400 and Chris Amon on pole in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/CanAm 350. Amon took the win, am keen to know the placings.

Four months later Jane won the Victorian Sportscar title at Winton in the 400 after Niel Allen retired his Elfin 400 Chev with a split gearbox housing.

After the Tasman BT23E was repaired Cook raced the car at the Lakeside, Gold Star round in July for 4th place. He doesn’t appear to have had another steer of the car, which is unfortunate.

Allan Moffat then raced the BT23E at the Sandown Gold Star round, bending it. More of that shortly.

The first race after repair of the BT23E was in John Harvey’s hands, at Warwick Farm in a support race late in 1968. His first championship steer was at the Sandown Tasman round in February 1969. John had engine dramas and failed to finish the race won by Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T. Amon also took the Tasman title that year.

Cook aboard the 400 at Hume Weir in 1968 (unattributed)

Ian Cook and Footscray Service Station proprietor, racer, ace machinist and later Brabham expert Denis Lupton were old friends.

Lupton ‘spannered’ Cook’s two Elfin Monos with great success. When the Jane drive came to an end they were keen to buy a Brabham BT23 to run in ANF2 but could not afford to do so. So the pair built the ‘Devione’, a car which took the BT23 track and wheelbase dimensions but was otherwise Lupton’s own design and build.

Ian was a skilled sheet-metal fabricator, between the two mates they had all the skills and experience to build a beautiful car. The spaceframe chassis used F2 Matra MS5 front and rear cast magnesium uprights. A Lotus/Ford twin-cam engine and Hewland 5 speed transaxle completed the cars major specifications.

The car was raced by both men, Cook doing the more ‘senior events’ inclusive of some Gold Star rounds whilst Lupton did club events. The car was built and then raced in the 1968-72 period.

Around 1970 Cook, a talented development engineer moved to Adelaide to join Chrysler, to assist Leo Geoghegan with the road and race development of the Valiant ‘VF’ Pacer, a four door sedan which was proposed to contest the showroom stock, ‘Group E Series Production’ racing which was booming at the time.

Cook was involved in establishing the Pacers road going specification, ensuring a nice balance of engine and braking performance and sorting ride heights, shock absorber settings and roll bars to get the right blend of handling, safety and performance. The first test of these cars was at Sandown in June 1969 during a 12 Hour record setting day.

Niel Allen’s Chev engine 400 ahead of Cook in Jane’s Repco engine variant during the 1968 Warwick Farm Tasman round. They are attacking The Esses. Results folks? Note the different noses on the cars (oldracephotos.com)

Into 1969 the Elfin 400 drive was Bevan Gibson’s, with John Harvey racing the Brabham BT23E and McLaren M6B, the latter with Bob.

Janes Brabham BT36 (BT30-27 was a late build BT30 to BT36 specifications) was raced only sporadically by John Harvey. 2 litre Waggott powered, it was a jewel of a machine but arrived in amongst the F5000’s and too late for the 1971 Gold Star series in which he could have given Max Stewart and Kevin Bartlett a ‘good shake’ at the title Max won.

Bob Jane Racing sold the car less engine to Lupton and Cook who owned it in partnership. They converted it to ANF2 form by the simple fitment of a Lotus/Ford 1.6 litre circa 200bhp engine. The car was to be shared by the friends as before with the Devione.

Lupton withdrew from the arrangement with Ian when he needed to raise some cash to care for one of his young children who needed hole-in-the-heart surgery.

On a cold, wet, foggy Sandown practice day Ian was being looked after by some ‘stand ins’ rather than his usual crew including Lupton- who was dealing with family matters.

Grant Twining, the owner of the Devione and a confidant of Lupton says their theory is that the Brabham’s tyre pressures were probably incorrectly set too low. During practice for the June 1973 meeting the car lost a tyre from a rim, slid into one of the Shell, over the circuit sign, concrete supports, killing him instantly.

A Melbourne driver, his is a story which deserves to be told in full. Suffice it to say, a fine engineer, competitor and man died way too young in very unfortunate circumstances.

Ian Cook accepting the plaudits of the unruly but respectful! Warwick Farm crowd, February 1968. Elfin 400 Repco (D Harney)

Most of us think of Allan Moffat (born 1939) and Janey as arch rivals which they undoubtedly were.

The droll, deadpan, Canadian ‘Marvin’ played the ‘Baddie Role’ so well, it was easy as a kid to dislike him as much as you liked his car! The Trans Am Mustang that is.

But not long after he returned from his successful sojurn of several years in the US, in 1968 he had a couple of drives for Bob- ‘Stuffing the nose of the 400 into the fence and hay-bales at The Causeway at Warwick Farm, and at the following Sandown he had a more comprehensive issue with the Brabham’ (BT23E) wrote journalist Ray Bell. The meeting Bell referred to was the September 1968 Gold Star round, the car, crashed in practice, did not start the race.

400 in the Longford paddock Tasman round, February 1968. Jim McKeown’s Lotus Cortina Mk2 alongside (D Cooper)

I’ve never seen any photos of Moffat aboard either car. Please share them if you have any Instamatic happy-snaps or better!

Moffat didn’t cover himself with glory it seems, not that it impacted his career trajectory! Factory Ford Series Production rides and the Trans Am were both happy 1969 events for both Moffat and we fans. What a ride he gave us all!?

Hume Weir front row of the sportscar feature, Queens Birthday weekend June 1967. Alan Hamilton’s white Porsche 906 Spyder, Spencer Martin in the Jane Elfin 400 Repco and nearside Bevan Gibson Lotus 15 Climax (M Leirsch)

Bevan Gibson (born 1946) I wrote about not so long ago in the article about the ex-Derek Jolly Lotus 15 which Bevan drove to within an inch of its life, bringing himself to the attention of Jane and others. Click here for a link to my article about the Lotus 15.

https://primotipo.com/2017/11/09/dereks-deccas-and-lotus-15s/

Gibson really was an interesting prospect- considerably younger than all of the other drivers. At 22 he was aboard one of the fastest cars in the country- also a tricky one. I’m not suggesting Bevan was in over his head. He had plenty of experience in the 200 plus bhp Lotus 15 and had done some laps in the BT11A Repco during 1968 ‘with a strict rev limit’ to be observed whilst driving the circa 280bhp single-seater.

Pre driving deal. The Shell contracted Bob Jane Elfin Mono Ford alongside the Shell contracted Gibson family owned Lotus 15 Climax, perhaps at Calder, date unknown (unattributed)

Whilst racing the family Lotus 15 Climax Bevan worked in the workshop of Jane’s Chrysler Valiant Dealership in Sydney Road, Brunswick. The racing department was in the same premises.

Spencer Martin had been staying with Bob at his place in Kew, just off the Kew boulevard, a well known and challenging ‘racetrack’ then. Bob suggested he move out into a place of his own- sharing with Bevan, the pair ‘shacked up’ in a unit at Princes Park (Carlton) organised by Bob, the arrangement ran from 1966-7, at which point Spencer retired from racing and returned to his Sydney hometown.

Bevan Gibson having a steer of Bob Jane’s Brabham BT11A Climax in August 1968 (unattributed)

Its interesting looking at the history, the connection to the Gibson family via Hoot Gibson, Bevan’s employment by the Jane Organisation, and ‘batching’ with Martin that Cook got the 400 drive in early 1968 rather than Bevan.

Perhaps it was simply that they (Bob and Spencer) didn’t think Bevan was quite ready for it at that time? There is no doubt that they saw plenty of each others races, photos of various of the Jane cars with the Gibson 15 in shot show them sharing the Shell facilities at race meetings. I’m not suggesting Cook wasn’t worthy of the Jane drive- most certainly he was, I am merely musing over the reasons/timing of the decision to give the drive to Ian rather than Bevan in 1968.

400 in the Calder paddock in May 1967- I wonder if its Bevan’s Lotus 15, which was painted red for a while, alongside. No roll bar in this shot (T Thompson)

At the 1969 Sandown Tasman meeting, the race and championship won by Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dini 246T, Gibson took the fifth of five in a row wins in Jane’s Elfin 400.

Barry Catford, somewhat prophetically, wrote the following note as a reporter covering the meeting for ‘Australian Motoring News’. ‘During the sportscar race I noticed on each lap the nose of the Jane Elfin lifted markedly after hitting a bump on the main straight before the start/finish line. The bump would affect the other cars, but not as noticeably as it did the Elfin. It seemed as though the Jane car needed less ride height at the front and maybe more at the rear which then may have resulted in less air getting under the front of the Elfin as it lifted over the bumps’.

The accident at Bathurst happened that Easter, on 7 April, three months later

Bevan Gibson ahead of Niel Allen at Calder in March 1969, 400 Repco from 400 Chev (oldracephotos.com)

In ‘Gentleman John Harvey’ Peter Molloy recounts how John Harvey was completely shattered by what had happened to Bevan. ‘I really think that John wanted to give it away then and there’. But, ever the complete professional, he saddled up in the Brabham BT23E and contested the Gold Star race- won by Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT31 Repco after the Gibson accident with the remnants of the fire fighting foam still on the track and debris off to its side. On a track which bit him badly due to component failure only 12 months before.

Bob Jane had this to say about Bevan- ‘Hoot Gibson (father of Bevan)…were a family devoted to motor racing. ‘Hoot’ went back to the rallies from years before. Along with a lot of my mates like Lou Molina and all those sort of people. Young Bevan was a very promising driver. He was very aggressive. When I say aggressive I mean very brave. Unfortunately, that element of bravery brought him undone’.

‘The car he was racing, my car, was an Elfin. Obviously with the knowledge we have today about aerodynamics, things would be different. The car had a flat bottom, and Mount Panorama was a very fast track. It had two bumps and the end of the straight which brought a lot of people undone. The car took off, went upside down, and caught on fire. It was just a terrible, terrible tragedy’.

Gibson pictured with the Jane Elfin Mono, at Calder, date unknown (unattributed)

It wasn’t my intention to spend time dealing with the accident which befell Bevan at Bathurst.

As I mentioned at this articles outset, what started as a pictorial has ended up a feature. There are quite a lot of ‘I reckons’ about the accident online, my article includes these too. What is persuasive or a least informative are the views of those from within the Bob Jane Team, and Harvey details with Bevan sensitively and the accident in full, on that basis I include the following lengthy view of a friend and insider.

‘Bevan was a very bright young bloke. He had extremely good car control, and was very fast. He was a bit like a lot of us in our younger days, he was a bit wild at times. But he was able to harness that wildness, that energy, and put it into his driving. He was very good in competition and making excellent progress’.

‘Also some drivers may have a ‘devil may care’ sort of attitude. This can lead to some ‘spirited’ driving. I never felt this would bring Bevan into harm, but I did sometimes think he was a bit on the wild side. I felt that at times he threw caution to the wind. I have no hard core evidence for this…but I just remember feeling that at times’.

‘Quite apart from what I thought, he was certainly a good young driver. He had a lot of talent. Had he survived he would certainly have been good at his craft, and would have won lots of races…’

Lap 1 of the fateful Easter Bathurst Sportscar race 1969. The event was not an ASCC round- but was an important race with all the ‘top guns’ present. Niel Allen ahead in his ex-Matich Elfin 400 Chev, Frank Matich, suffering fuel feed dramas is 2nd, Matich SR4 Repco then Bevan Gibson, Elfin 400 Repco. Note the winglets on the front of the Allen car, big rear wing and front tabs on the SR4, Jane car devoid of these aero appendages (oldracephotos/Dick Simpson)

Bathurst Easter 1969…

John Harvey continues ‘On the Saturday night Bevan discussed with us the fact that the Elfin was lifting off the road coming over the last hump. I said to him”You can’t have it lifting off the road. If it lifts off the road it will go upside down”. We suggested that maybe the car was getting a bit ‘light’ going over the hump. I really didn’t know what technical things he could do to alleviate the situation’.

‘We expended the conversation to include Bob Jane and John Sawyer (Bob Jane Racing Team Manager/Chief Mechanic). Bevan suggested we may put some air ‘flippers’ on the front of the car, or some little winglets. This was late on the Saturday night, and hardly the right time to initiate things like that. The conclusuion was that we didn’t know if it would work. These are the sorts of things you have to test under controlled conditions. Raceday, particularly at Bathurst, is not the place to test.’

‘The only comment I made was “In all the years I have been coming to this place in whatever cars, if the car does not feel stable over the last hump- or even the second last hump- or if its a windy day- always lift off the throttle”. To do this may only drop your speed only a few miles per hour, but what it does is drop the nose of the car. Drop the nose of the car, and reduce the amount of air under the car. The car will therefore feel that little bit safer, and that much more stabile’.

‘So, that was that. there were a number of drivers who were aware of the problem and did just as I said. All we could do was pass this advice on to Bevan- all I can recall is that Bevan was running third. He then passed Niel Allen (ex-Matich Elfin 400) or Niel had some problem and Bevan was in second place’.

Bob Jane team and Elfin 400 at Calder, date uncertain. John Sawyer in blue suit behind the car. No roll bar fitted in this shot (unattributed)

‘Bevan then started to catch the race leader, Frank Matich  (Matich SR4 Repco ‘760 Series’ quad-cam 4 valve Repco 5 litre V8- a normally vastly faster car than the Jane Elfin 400).  Franks car had gone onto  seven cylinder for some reason, but he still had a good lead. Bevan was starting to catch Frank. Maybe Frank’s car now went onto six cylinders. I don’t know. All we knew was that Bevan started to catch Frank fairly rapidly, Bevan went across the top of the mountain behind Frank, and down through the Esses. From there it was on to Conrod Straight’.

‘It appeared to us that if he caught Frank he would bide his time and pass where it was safe to do so. At this stage no one was thinking about aerodynamics. Plus, i’m not at all sure what role that may or may not have played. It appeared that Bevan ‘drafted’ Frank down the straight. He caught right up on Frank and surely knew he had him. I think by this time there were a couple of laps left to go in the race.’

‘Naturally I have no way to know what is going on in Bevan’s mind. But I can easily imagine him thinking “I’ve caught up to Frank Matich. I can pass him and win this big race at Mount Panorama”. Which, of course would be a big win to have’.

‘So Bevan drafted Frank down the straight. He seemed to me to pull out just before the last hump. He pulled out to get the run down the inside of Murray’s Corner, and beat Frank under brakes. I suppose they were travelling at 160-170mph, and Bevan had pulled out just before the last hump. When Bevan hit the fresh air the car seemed to accelerate. The Elfin lifted, went up in the air, and came to earth upside down. The car almost instantly caught flames, and that was that’.

‘There was no doubt in my mind that Bevan died in that first upside down impact. The rest of the destruction and the fire, didn’t really matter’.

John then sensitively deals with the hours and days which follows, and points out that despite over 25,000 miles of testing, and the advance of aerodynamic understanding in the decades which followed the accidents which befell Mercedes Benz at Le Mans not so few years ago. Two flips to Mark Webber.

Bevan Gibson, Elfin 400 Repco, Bathurst Easter 1969. An outstanding young talent taken too soon. RIP Bevan Gibson (oldracephotos.com)

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘Gentleman John Harvey’ Tony McGirr, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘Elfin’ Barry Catford and John Blanden

Special thanks to Grant Twining for insights and information about Ian Cook

Photo Credits…

Ellis French, Dennis Cooper Collection, Dale Harvey, J Ellacott, oldracephotos.com, Dick Simpson, M Leirsch, S Lambert, Bob Mills Collection, GTRX, Tony Parkinson Collection, Wayne Wooton Collection, T Thompson, Tim Watts

Etcetera: Niel Allen from Noel Hurd and Bob Jane, Elfin 400’s all …

 

Mixed sportscar bag in country NSW. Jane at Hume Weir in early 1968 from a Lotus 11, Meyers Manx VW beach buggy! and Geneer Outlaw VW (oldracephotos.com)

 

Bob Jane off the line at a Calder Raceway drag meeting in, I think 1968. He took out ‘Competition Eliminator’ with an 11.78 second/117.80 mph pass for the standing quarter (W Wooton)

 

Ken Hastings at Sandown circa 1971, note the changes to the 400 body and addition of the rear wing (T Parkinson)

 

Bill Hemming in his beautifully restored ex-Jane 400 Repco at Phillip Island in recent years (G Russell)

Tailpiece: Butt shot for the tailpiece seems apt. Niel Allen Elfin 400 Chev, bodywork by Frank Matich, compare and contrast with the standard rear of Bob Janes 400 Repco. They are heading over Sandown’s old Causeway and about to swing left into the approach of the very quick Dunlop Bridge in 1968…

Tailpiece 2: End where we started with Bob Jane- at Longford in 1967, alongside is Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 906. We have liftoff…

(T Watts)

Finito…

 

 

 

Any Brabham is an over Australian $175-200K proposition these days, except one!…

There was a time, a long time, that the Australian Motor Industry was in expansionary mode behind the high tariff walls that allowed us to live in fools paradise along with most other western countries. Said tariffs in Australia started to reduce circa 1972/3. That was a pivotal moment for our automotive sector, it was never the case that our industry would cease to manufacture cars as a result of that policy change, there are a host of factors company by company that led to that outcome, but the quite correct reduction in tariffs was the first factor in a death by a thousand cuts.

The big three of the Australian industry in the sixties were General Motors Holden, Ford and Chrysler Australia. Chrysler/Mitsubishi’s Adelaide, Tonsley Park manufacturing facility is long gone, it is essentially a technology park these days whilst Holden and Ford have ceased manufacture much more recently, Holden in the last month. It was quite eery to drive past the Ford Geelong factory a week ago and see it in silence, the carparks empty of the workers who built engines there for decades.

GMH, Ford and Toyota, the other local manufacturer in more recent times are mere importers these days, a whole sector of manufacturing is gone due to the failure or desire of the local subsidiaries of global transnationals to make cars the punters want. Our cost structures are high, the global transnationals can and do decide where to make cars in a manner which maximises their profits and high cost locations hardly enhance that. Not to mention Government Policy Fuck-Wittery. It’s more complex than that, I’m getting off-point!

Back to 1963, much simpler times.

GMH, dominant in big cars, but with Ford chasing them down, looked enviously at the growth in the small car market and particularly the market share of BMC, (British Motor Corporation) Ford, VW and others.

GMH’s answer was the Vauxhall Viva, provided by GM’s UK subsidiary and first introduced in Oz in April 1964. The two door, small cars performance was ordinary, its virtues cheapness of running costs and a slick gearbox.

From small acorns do big things grow though- the late sixties to early seventies six-cylinder Torana GTR, GTR-XU1 and later the mid-seventies V8 L34 and A9X owe their parentage to the little, wheezy, Pommie Vauxhall Viva.

Its initial Australian performance credentials were bolstered by Class A (cars costing under 900 pounds) victory in the 1964 Bathurst 500, where the Spencer Martin/Bill Brown (car #46 in the ad above) driven Viva triumphed over 5 other Vauxhalls, Hillman Imps, Morris Mini 850, NSU Prinz and VW Beetles.

An updated car- the ‘HB’ Holden Torana was released in May 1967. With its conventional front engine/rear drive format, it found favour amongst traditional Oz buyers compared with some of the opposition- the new-fangled BMC cars and rear engined ‘Gunter-Wagen’ – VW Beetle. Small Fords- Anglia, Cortina always did well here. Perceived positives of the ‘HB’ were just enough power, the ‘box, rack and pinion steering and coil sprung, as against leaf sprung rear end.

By 1968 the 1159cc pushrod OHV engine gave 69bhp. It was to this base that the ‘breathed on’ Brabham Torana was released. It is not my intention to go through the timeline iterations of the Brabham Torana but in essence the package included a free flow exhaust system, twin Stromberg carbs which gave circa 79bhp, not a lot but 20% more than a base Torana ‘poverty pack’. The spec also included disc brakes up front, low profile 6 X 12 inch wheels/tyres on super wide 4 inch rims!, rally GT stripe and Brabham decals. The top speed of the base model Tommy Torana was 80mph, Jack’s did 89…with a huge tailwind I suspect.

It was pretty unimpressive though, ‘me mums Morrie 1100 with yours truly at the helm had no trouble regularly shutting one down on the trip from North Balwyn to Monash University- the fellow parked in a different corner of the Clayton car park to hide its shame.

Progress is an amazing thing though. By 1969 the little Viva had evolved into six-cylinder (as well as the four cylinder) cars, by 1970 the only car I was interested in at the Royal Melbourne Show car display was the ‘LC’ Torana GTR-XU1.

And the rest as they say, is history- a swag of Australian Touring Car Championship and Rally wins. Depending upon the model, these cars were amazingly adaptable motor sport tools.

And Jack started it all!

Not really at all.

For him it was a commercial deal, he had nothing whatsoever to do with the spec of the Brabham Torana’s- but they are the cheapest Brabham’s on the planet albeit not ones built by Motor Racing Developments!

Credits…

Unique Cars and Parts

Tailpiece: Jack Has His Hand On It…

 

 

(Joel Wakely)

Two of my favourite drivers are Lorenzo Bandini and Australian Gold Star champion, Spencer Martin but it was quite a surprise to see them in the same shot- Lorenzo in a Cooper and Spencer a Holden…

Joel Wakely’s Boomerang Service Station at Concord, inner-western Sydney was well known amongst Australian motor-racing aficionados by February 1962 as builders of one of the fastest ‘Appendix J’ Holden 48-215/FX sedans in the land peddled very hard by up-and comer Spencer Martin.

The young Sydneysider was soon to race Tasman cars like Bandini’s Cooper for Australian racer/journalist/patron David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce, but that period was still a year or so away. Click here for Spencer’s own account of his racing career;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/30/spencer-martin-australian-gold-star-champion-19667/

Bandini himself was also on the rise, his racing in the southern summer sun of ’62 was part of Mimmo Dei’s grand plan to give the young Italian some racing miles aboard his Scuderia Centro Sud T53 Cooper in the European ‘off-season’, to get him razor sharp for the rigours of the coming season back home. The 2.8 litre Maserati engined Cooper was very much a ‘big-car’, F1 by then was a 1.5 litre formula, so the experience was valuable for him. It was a successful strategy back then and still is- the New Zealand Toyota Racing Series every summer is a place young racers look to keep themselves race fit and help thrust their careers forward. Click here for my article about Bandini;

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/24/lorenzo-bandinicooper-t53-maserati-warwick-farm-sydney-1962/

The car in the middle of the shot is the gorgeous Clive Adams designed Prad Holden sportscar styled along the lines of a Maserati 300S. Jack Pryor built the chassis and Stan Brown it’s shapely body. Spencer Martin bought, developed and raced the car successfully after Adams sold it.

And so it came to pass that Bandini’s Cooper was operated from the Boomerang Servo at the behest of BP, who supported Centro Sud. It made good sense as the garage was only 25Km from Warwick Farm, near Liverpool on Sydney’s then western outskirts. Wakely recalls that ‘So many people heard about the car at the garage and came down to have a look we had to have crowd control!’

Centro Sud were not exactly renowned for the detail presentation of their cars but even so I thought Lorenzo’s car looked a bit tatty. Perhaps the reason is that it isn’t the car he raced!

Have a look yourself at the photo below, it isn’t the same car. The inlet and exhaust sides of the Maserati engine are on the opposite sides to the Cooper in shot, apart from the body differences. I think the car above is a spare T51 Cooper, one of two acquired by Dei from Coopers in 1959 and raced in both F1 in 1959/60 and the Intercontinental Formula in 1961. Still, that’s my theory it may not be right! So, the question for my Australian friends is which Cooper chassis is Bandini sitting aboard? A Centro Sud spare or another car based that weekend at Concord’s Temple of Speed?…

I love these mysteries, but I like the answers even more…

Lorenzo Bandini in the Centro Sud Cooper T53 Maserati during the ‘Warwick Farm 100’, 4 February 1962. Compare and contrast with the car in the opening shot (John Ellacott)

Bibliography/Photo Credits…

oldracingcars.com, sergent.com, Joel Wakely, John Ellacott

Other Reading…

My other article about Spencer Martin, and the iconic Ferrari 250LM he raced for David McKay

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

jane

(Bryan Liersch)

Bob Jane leading his champion driver, Spencer Martin onto the Hume Weir dummy grid for his first race in ‘Bob’s baby’, his Elfin 400 Repco 4.4 V8, June Queens Birthday weekend 1967…

Martin was by then the reigning national Gold Star Champion. In fact he was half way through a year in which he won his second title on the trot, and then having achieved his motor racing aims retired from the sport at elite level’.

#85 in the background is the ex-Bib Stillwell, Tony Osborne owned Cooper Monaco Olds V8 driven by Ian Cook.

Click here for an interesting article on Spencer; https://primotipo.com/?s=spencer+martin

The inspiration for this article are a number of great shots of the Hume Weir circuit near the mighty Murray River and border of New South Wales and Victoria. The circuit, closed in 1977 won’t be on the radar of international enthusiasts although Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori raced there during the Australian International races in the summer of ’61.

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Jack Brabham wins the ‘Craven A International’ in his Cooper T53 Climax in March 1961, love the ‘Fergy’ in the background, Hume Weir  (unattributed)

I knew the circuit, i just missed racing there, it was closed by 1979 when in bought my first Formula Vee, was built in a disused quarry which provided construction stone and gravel material to build the Hume Dam, particularly its retaining wall. Although a Victorian i am a Thredbo skier, a legacy of 9 years working in Sydney and for years summer and winter have driven from Melbourne along the stretch of road from Ebden to Tallangatta with Lake Hume to my left. From Khancoban where the Alpine Way starts is a phenomenal drive to Thredbo Village. This drive, in fact the whole journey from Albury through Corryong, Khancoban, Geehi and Dead Horse Gap to Thredbo is one of Australia’s great drives.

Watch the ‘coppers’ though they police it furiously, the area near Scammells Lookout, a must stop, is an area to stick to the limits in particular!

For years i have driven for miles with Hume Dam on my left and wondered about the Hume Weir project and researched it, some old shots i found are too good not to share.

So, this masterpiece comprises a piece about the building of the Hume Dam, the birth of its Hume Weir Circuit ‘love-child’, the history and some shots of the circuit and a bit about Bob Jane’s Elfin 400 the photos of which at Hume Weir inspired the article.

For my international friends, the ‘where the hell is he talking about?’ question is addressed by the map below, ‘Hume Weir Circuit’ is in red, the road to Thredbo is also there.

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1960’s aerial shot of Hume Weir circuit, dam and dam wall. At the bottom of the shot is ‘Scrub Corner’, the tightest hairpin in the country, then heading ‘up’ is the ‘Back Straight’ into the combination of corners called ‘The Loop’, then left (going down the page again) into ‘The Esses’ past the pit entry and onto the ‘Front Straight’, the start/finish line is at the start of which (Dallinger)

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Dean Street, Albury 1920’s (Dallinger)

Australia is the driest continent on the planet, as a consequence there have been some major infrastructure projects since Federation in 1901 to provide water for irrigation of crops and/or power. The Hume Dam is one, on much bigger scales are the Ord River Scheme in WA and most impressively and significantly the post-war Snowy Mountains Scheme in NSW.

Travelling the roads mentioned above gives some insights into the ‘Snowy the scale of this nation building post-war project, its one of the civil engineering wonders of the world, can only be experienced on the ground, its un-Australian not to experience it at some point in your life!

Explorers Hume and Hovell trekked through the area in 1824, Albury was first settled by Europeans in the 1840’s.

As early as 1863, it was clear that water management was needed to ease the boom and bust flows of the rivers. Lochs and weirs were advocated but when representatives of the three colonies impacted, NSW, Victoria and South Australia met in Melbourne, the talks came to nothing. Not much different to today really, when the Premiers meet. Difficulties with border customs, bridge and punt tolls, along with self interest made necessary compromises between the parties impossible.

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Albury/Bethanga Bridge construction 1920’s (Dallinger)

After Federation (when the colonies joined to form a country) in 1901 a more global view of national priorities was capable of being made and after consideration of 25 sites the present one was chosen.

The factual material which follows is a truncated version of a paper by Joe Wooding for the ‘Albury & District Historical Society’ on construction of Hume Dam.

To build a reservoir, lots of land is needed, in this case, prime river frontage. 15,582 acres in NSW  and 87,268 in Victoria. Not everyone was pleased with the compensation offered, the lawyers were happy though as the courts were ‘chockers’ with disputes for over a decade.

Construction commenced in November 1919, soon tent cities sprang up on both sides of the river. More permanent buildings were soon erected. On the Victorian side, the hamlet of Mitta Junction, became known as Ebden Weir and the site for operations.The higher ground in NSW was called Hume Weir, started from nothing. In 1920, the title Hume Weir was officially bestowed on the whole project in honour of the explorer.
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Relatively early works, 1920’s (Dallinger)

Massive amounts of infrastructure were needed. I must admit to always being amazed at what was built with the equipment available in earlier times. (noting the Pyramids scale of achievement!)
A metalled road from the main road at Wirlinga, now Old Sydney Road was built to the site. A Hume Weir rail siding was established from which vast amounts of stores, equipment and cement were conveyed to the NSW work site by a fleet of 10 solid rubber tyred Thornycroft motor lorries. In Victoria, a branch from the Wodonga to Cudgewa rail line was laid to Mitta Junction. A road bridge to link the two villages spanned the Murray just below the work site.
Two quarries were established. The one in Victoria provided earth fill and clay for the embankment and later the site for the Hume Weir circuit. Originally, 2 steam locos were used to haul trucks along the earthen bank, 8 were added later. The rail tracks were constantly re-laid as the bank grew. Two steam grab cranes were used in early excavation work at the quarry. Two ‘navvies’ were deployed, steam cranes which ran on the rail system. Much of this equipment was brought from Nagambie and Eildon. Over 500 horses were  used to haul monkey-tailed scoops and drays.
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Horses still had a role despite modern construction techniques of the day (Dallinger)

In NSW the stone quarry is on Hawksview Hill. Four steam locos and numerous trucks were brought from Burrinjuck. The rail system was extensive, rails ran to and from the quarry and the Bethanga Bridge site. Rail was also used inside the coffer dam to service the spillway foundation excavations.

Steam power was widely used, some of the machinery was extraordinary. In NSW two huge cement mixers capable of producing 900 cubic yards per day were operated. The crusher was a 30 ton Hadfield made in Sheffield, England. It was unloaded at the weir rail siding and with great difficulty, transported to the quarry by 2 large steam traction engines.
dam steel

(unattributed)

A flying fox spanned the river from east to west with a large steel cable 400m long. The cables were attached in such a way allowing coverage of almost the entire work site. 300 tons of concrete blocks were used as ballast on the mobile pylon. A trolley was attached to the cable, enabling loads of up to 10 tons to be placed almost anywhere on the work site. The Bucyrus steam shovel was capable of lifting 3½ cubic yards and the only machine on site using caterpillar tracks.
dam train

(Dallinger)

‘The process of using crushed rock rather than smooth river gravel and adding large rock individually, produces ‘cyclopean concrete’. A 750mm wide concave rubberized conveyor belt carried the concrete, which could be retrieved at any point, by concrete shutes, for placement at the work site. Belts were pressure cleaned for their return journey. The huge rocks, some weighing up to 10 tons, called ‘plums,’ were cleaned with a high pressure hose before being individually craned into the wet concrete. Some were completely buried, but many were left half exposed to ‘key in’ the next batch of concrete. Steel reinforcing was only used near the top of the spillway. The structure is about 17% rock. At its base, the wall is 32m thick and double that if you take in the dissipater wall’.

dam wall 1927

Dam wall 1927, looking at the Murray upstream (unattributed)

‘As well as road works in the villages, other amenities were provided. Residences, barracks, stores, recreation halls, a post office and police presence were established. Electricity was installed for lighting only and turned off at 11pm. A Church of England was transported in. A casualty ward, a doctor with a phone and car were provided. Dances and pictures, obviously silent, as ‘talkies’ were not seen in Albury until 1928. The school had 66 pupils in 1921. The baker, milkman, greengrocer and butcher called regularly as did the ice man. Sport attracted many of course’.

dam end 1

Dam wall work progression (unattributed)

Manual labour was harsh with a 48 hour week, later reduced to 44 hours. Picks, shovels and
bare hands were often the only method of filling drays. Returned soldiers from the Great War
were given preference for employment, followed by married men. Estimated numbers of
workmen employed varies greatly with about 1000 cited. At the peak of construction around 1927, numbers given were Victoria 355, NSW 650, Bethanga Bridge 89. With a large workforce and dangerous working conditions, accidents were a reality, with total fatalities estimated at 6-9 people.
The Weir was officially opened by the Governor-General, Lord Gowrie, on November 21 1936
 ‘by closing an electric valve control circuit which released the water through two giant needle valves…the greatest irrigation work in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the most important in the world. It cost £5,550,000 to construct, and is located nine miles from Albury’ The Albury Banner’ said.
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Dam opening ceremony in 1936 (Dallinger)

In 1957, the Power Station was completed with 2 turbines now capable of producing 58 Mw which is not large in the electricity industry. As a comparison, Albury’s peak demand for summe of 2013 was 110 Mw.

dam end
The 1960s saw a large increase in the weir’s pondage necessitating additional works on the
dam. One aspect was to open the old stone quarry and supply thousands of tons of granite to
stabilize the clay bank of the earthen wall.
dam sail
dam car
Wirlinga…

Hume Weir wasn’t the first circuit in the Albury area, Wirlinga was.

A public roads layout of 6.79K, roughly rectangular shape using Thurgoona, St Johns and Bowna Roads as well as the Riverina Highway was used. 14km  from the centre of Albury, the track was used several times before WW2. Rather than get lost in that tangent now, tempting though it is, we will come back to Wirlinga another time.

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Car #22 is Alf Barrett’s Morris Bullnose Spl. #3 Tim Joshua’s Frazer Nash TT Replica, #4 Hope Bartlett’s MG Q Type,  #6 Jack Phillips winning Ford V8 Spl, Wirlinga 1938 (Dallinger)

The 150 mile ‘Interstate Grand Prix’ (called the ‘Albury Grand Prix’ in the Sydney Morning Herald report of the 1939 race) was run on 19 March 1938. The ‘Albury and Interstate Gold Cup’ was run on 12 June 1939. Both handicap races were won by local Wangaratta boy, Jack Phillips Ford V8 Spl. The track wasn’t used post war.

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The lower pic shows Les Murphy in the O’Dea MG P Type from Colin Dunne’s similar car and George Bonser’s Terraplane Spl, help wanted in relation to the cars in the upper shot  Wirlinga 1938 (Dallinger)

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‘Sydney Morning Herald’ 13 June 1939

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Typically parched Australian summer, 1970’s. Hume Weir wall middle right and Great Dividing Range clear  (unattributed)

Hume Weir Circuit…

Hume Weir was enormously popular in the immediate area, in fact depending upon the year the locals were served by Tarrawingee, Winton outside Benalla and the ‘Weir.

When the circuit was leased from the Hume Dam authority by the Albury and District Car Club the members initially established an unsurfaced layout which was first raced on 2 November 1959. It was lengthened to 1.1 miles during the year, first used sealed for the Christmas meeting on December 12 1959.

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Cars race at one of the earlier meetings on the original dirt layout, Hume Weir 1959 (unattributed)

The financial support of Gold Star champion Len Lukey’s and his ‘Lukey Mufflers’ business allowed the amenities to be improved sufficiently to hold the 1961 international event. The ‘weir only got the gig, historian Stephen Dalton records as negotiations with PIARC to use Phillip Island fell over.

The 1961 program comprised an ambitious 21 events held on the Sunday and Monday 12 and 13 March, they were mainly short races with the feature ‘Craven A International’s 20 lappers on each day.

The meeting was contested by Brabham, Salvadori, Bib Stillwell, Bill Patterson, Austin Miller and Jon Leighton. It wasn’t a big field; Moss had long since left the country, as had the BRM drivers Hill, Gurney and Ron Flockhart and his Cooper.

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This shot shows the two sections of the track separated by a narrow strip of concrete, March 1961 meeting perhaps (unattributed)

Brabham.

The Internationals that summer were raced at Warwick Farm, Ballarat Airfield in Victoria and Longford and won by Moss Lotus 18 Climax, Gurney BRM P48 and Roy Salvadori’s Cooper T51 Climax respectively.

The Longford meeting was on March 5, Brabham and Salvadori travelled back to Melbourne from Tasmania, the Coopers towed up the Hume Highway, the main Melbourne/Sydney artery to contest the ‘Craven A Internatioanals’ at Hume Weir on 12 and 13 March. No doubt it gave Jack an opportunity to catch up with his family in Sydney.

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Brabham’s Cooper T53 Climax out front of its Albury digs, Gabriel Motors.  (Border Mail)

It was all fairly casual, Jack’s car was accompanied by his mechanic and a driver for the towcar, an FC Holden Station Wagon and was maintained at a local Esso servo/workshop.

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Brabham’s Cooper T53 during his victorious March 1961 weekend (unattributed)

Jack won the race on the Sunday by just 0.9 sec from Patterson the reigning Gold Star champion and Bib Stillwells Cooper T51’s in his T53.’The last 3 laps saw the leaders in the esses together and the crowd was wild with excitement as it was still anybody’s race but Jack Brabham showed championship form and held off the challenge to win’ said the Border Mails report.

hum brabs cheq

(Border Mail)

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Austin Miller’s distinctive yellow Cooper T51 Climax perhaps chasing Jon Leighton’s Cooper T45 and Roy Salvadori’s T51 during the Sunday race in which they were 4/5/6th (unattributed)

On Monday ‘Brabham streeted the field in the international cup race and set a lap record of 51.2 seconds, a time equated to 147kmh’. ‘Twas again a Cooper 1-3 JB winning from Stillwell and Jon Leighton in Cooper T51 and T45 respectively.

With that both internationals jumped on a plane for the UK, their first event the Lombank Trophy at Snetterton which Jack won in his Cooper T53, Roy was 5th in a similar car.

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Brabham T53 just in front of Patterson T51 in Sunday’s race closing stages (unattributed)

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(Border Mail)

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The short nature of the circuit perhaps mitigated against its use for championship events having said that it hosted a round of the Australian F2 Championship from 1973-76 with later multiple Gold Star winner Alfredo Costanzo setting the all-time lap record in a Birrana 274 Hart 1.6 F2 car on 15 June 1975. In 1976 the circuit also held a round of the Australian Sports Car Championship, fundamentally though it is a circuit which is fondly remembered by club racers of both bikes and cars and spectators of course.

The circuit was essentially ‘killed-off’ by CAMS with ever increasing and more difficult safety requirements which the owner/promoters couldn’t afford. There was a section where the cars passed each other separated by a concrete wall which was of particular concern.

The last race meeting was held on 27 March 1977 although the track was used as part of the Alpine Rally which was run out of Bright, not too far away. Every now and again a ‘comp sec’ of a car club convinced CAMS to issue a permit for a ‘sprint event’ but essentially another circuit was lost, a real shame as the usual causes; noise in a built up area or urban encroachment which simply made the entreaties of property developers irresistible to circuit owners didn’t apply in this rural area.

hum air

(Dallinger)

The photo above nicely juxtaposes the Dam with the circuit which is clear to see above the dam wall in the middle of the picture, plenty of water about in this shot! At present it is as dry as!

Molina Monza Holden Spl.

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You get a sense of just what a magnificent natural ampitheatre the circuit was, most of but not all of the circuit could be seen from one place. This is the Molina Monza Holden Spl, the shot isn’t dated so not sure who the driver is. The car’s specifications are outlined in this article amongst other Oz cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/13/shifting-gear-design-innovation-and-the-australian-car-exhibition-national-gallery-of-victoria-by-stephen-dalton-mark-bisset/

Perkins.

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(Dick Simpson)

Larry Perkins in the ‘boonies’ at ‘Scrub Corner’ on 28 December 1969 early in his career, car is characteristically a Perkins Vee. He is looking for a marshall to help him back to terra firma.

He was in F1 in a private Ensign nee Boro in 1975. This is early days tho, his early break was to get one of Bib Stillwell’s Elfin 600FF seats in 1971 taking the ‘Driver to Europe’ series. He stayed in Oz for ’72 and raced an Elfin 600B/E Ford to win the national F2 title. He then took Garrie Cooper’s first Elfin 620FF to the Formula Ford Festival at Snetterton at the end of the year, contesting the Festival with a few other Aussies and then stayed in the UK. F3 in 1973 and the rest is history…

Brock.

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Peter Brock ahead of Lynn Brown’s Cooper S, these are ‘Sports Sedans’, anything goes sedans with Brock and Brown two of the sports finest pracitioners of the art. Brocky is young and made his Holden ‘Red’ 6 cylinder engined A30 sing, his performances in it resulted in Harry Firth, fine judge of talent picking him up as a Holden Dealer Team driver. Brock took his first Bathurst win in 1972.

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Brock, Birrana 273 Ford, Hume Weir 22 April 1973 (Robert Davies)

‘Peter Perfect’ only did one fullish season in single-seaters in this ex-works Birrana 272 Ford, its the very first of Tony Alcock’s monocoque cars. A good car but it didn’t have a Hart Ford engine, and the competition was hot in 1973-5 in F2, Brocky quickly went back to Holdens. A great pity, a natural driver of great smoothness, finesse and throttle control; oh to have seen Brock in a Repco Holden engined F5000 in the 1970’s!

Hansford.

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(unattributed)

Greg Hansford blasts onto the main straight 1977. Kawasaki KR750 water-cooled 2 stroke.

Beechey.

hun beech

(Bowdens)

Beechey changed from Holden to Ford running this ex-works Series Production Ford Falcon GTHO Ph3 with some cash from Ford in 1972. Here he is in April, DNF with clutch failure. Ford apparently then changed their minds wanting Norm to return the car and money they paid him, Norm telling them unsurprisingly to ‘jam it’.

Bartlett.

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(Bruce Wells)

Kevin Bartlett in polo-shirt at the wheel of the works Lynx BMC, the Curl-Curl  kid was on his way! Lotus 20 behind i think. Year anyone?

Bikes.

hun bikes

(John Small)

Jim Budd and Roger Hayes Team Avon Kawasaki’s lead the 1 hour production race at the ‘weir in November 1977. Third is Jeff Parkin and then Alan Hales both on Suzuki’s. Hot work in the heat.

Jane.

jane mustand

(oldracephotos.com)

Bob giving his factory Shelby built Mustang Trans-Am plenty during the 1970 Christmas ‘Weir meeting. His new Chevy Camaro 427 cannot be too far away, Norm Beechey took the 1970 ATCC in his Holden Monaro GTS350 but Jano won it in 1971/2 in the same car with a 427 in ’71 and ‘tiddly’ 350 small block in 1972.

jane torana

(Dick Simpson)

Bob was back with another new toy in 1971, one of his finest, the John Sheppard built Holden Torana into which was slotted one of the 4.4 litre SOHC ‘620 Series’ Repco V8’s once fitted to the Elfin 400 pictured below. CAMS didn’t allow it to compete with the wing for long, check out the Vees in the Weir ‘form up’ or dummy grid area in the background. This car was mainly raced by John Harvey, in ’71 Bob focused on the Camaro and winning the ATCC. The car is still around albeit Chev engined and in need of restoration.

jane elf

(oldracephotos.com)

Bob Jane didn’t race his Elfin 400 too much, it was mainly driven by his drivers; Spencer Martin, Ian Cook and Bevan Gibson. Here in early 1968 at Hume Weir Jane is ahead of a Lotus 11, Meyers Manx beach buggy! and, is it an Elva Courier. These big Elfins are sensational cars, i wrote a long article about them a while back, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/05/28/elfin-400traco-olds-frank-matich-niel-allen-and-garrie-cooper/

400 rear

It’s interesting to see racing cars in the context of their day to gauge the impact they had on people, how ‘other worldly’ and fast they looked. Seeing them at historic race meetings is not the way the populace saw them at the time.

This shot does that in spades and the fair citizens of Conmurra Avenue, Edwardstown, an Adelaide suburb had seen plenty of cars leave the Elfin factory in their street. This one clearly captured their attention all the same.

That WOW! factor we all still experience at the sight of something really special, mind you, these days it’s usually the ‘WOW! Ugly as a Hatful of Arseholes’ impact rather than ‘WOW! Beautiful’. Such is the impact of cad-cam and the aerodynamicists ‘art’ on free flowing curvaceous forms.

The Mini 850 and Holden ‘EH’ on the typically Aussie outer suburban street nicely juxtapose the body of Elfins first ‘big-banger’ sports car with contemporary ‘roadies’ of the day.

WOW! indeed.

400 side

Elfin built four Elfin 400’s, all with different engines, the first completed was the Frank Matich Elfin 400/ Traco Olds featured in the article link above.

This car is about to be delivered to Bob Jane Racing in Melbourne in early 1967 in time for the sports car events which were a part of each years Tasman rounds.

It’s the first 4.4litre Repco ‘620 Series’ V8 fitted to a car, the engine developed in parallel with the 1966 Championship winning 3 litre variant of the same engine, victorious in Jack Brabhams hands that year.

In fact it is the first customer Repco engine sold, the first fitted to a sports car and the first fitted to a car built in Australia, Brabhams were built in the UK. So, significant in Repco’s’ history.

400 front

The SOHC 2 valve, Olds block, Lucas injected engine produced around 400bhp@8000rpm, enough in Australia, but not elsewhere in the world at the time, where big Chevs were dominant. In 1965/66 the Lola T70 was the ‘ducks guts’ in Group 7 sports car racing but the McLaren M6A appeared in 1967, from that moment the record books were attacked by the McLaren steamroller until the end of 1971 when Porsche ‘rained on their parade’ with the 917/10 and 917/30 turbo’ cars.

As stated above this car was raced by Jane himself, Ian Cook and Bevan Gibson. Unfortunately it was the car in which Bevan flipped on Conrod Straight, Bathurst at the Easter 1969 meeting, killing the promising young driver instantly.

Frank Matich was dominant in his range of sports cars in Australia into 1967, pickings at championship level were slim when FM was present. Matich’s Elfin 400 Traco Olds delivered its promise and his own SR3’s were almost identical in terms of chassis to the Elfin 400 if not the body.

The ex-Jane 400 is now restored and owned by Elfins’ Bill Hemming.

bevan

Hamilton Porsche 906 Spyder, Spencer Martin Elfin 400 Repco and Bevan Gibson Lotus 15 Climax, Hume Weir, Queens Birthday weekend 1967. Somewhat poignant shot given Bevan is to die in the car beside him 2 years later. Gibson made the families Lotus 15 Climax absolutely sing, it was his drives in this old car which earned him the Bob Jane drive (Bryan Liersch)

Bibliography…

Joe Wooding ‘Albury & District Historical Society’ paper on construction of Hume Weir

‘Elfin Sports and Racing Cars’ John Blanden and Barry Catford, Elfin Sports Cars Facebook page

Photo Credits…

Bryan Liersch, Bob Mills Collection, Dick Simpson, John Small, oldracephotos.com, Bowdens, Bruce Wells Collection, Robert Davies, Bowdens

John J Dallinger’s stunning collection of Albury photographs

Tailpieces: Family, fun day out at the Weir…

hum humpy

(unattributed)

hun humpy 2

Hume Weir humpy Holden mayhem (Dick Simpson)

 

martin 250 lm wf 1965

(John Ellacott)

Spencer Martin tips his Ferrari 250LM into the fast ‘Homestead Corner’ at Warwick Farm before unleashing the cars 3.3 litre V12 on the long Hume Straight, what a sound it must have made! August 1965…

Spencer Martin was one of Australia’s champion drivers of the 1960’s winning the Gold Star, the Australian Drivers Championship in 1966 and 1967 in a Brabham BT11A Climax.

His career could be summarised thus; he saw, he came, he conquered from 1960-1966, retired to marry and have a family, focus on business and then returned many years later…

martin portrait

Spencer Martin in his racing heyday, Lakeside 1965. (Bruce Wells)

I don’t cover Spencer’s career in detail but rather introduce an interesting article i discovered in a rally guide for an event held in memory of David McKay. Martin outlines his experiences as a driver/mechanic with McKay and Scuderia Veloce, if not the first, then certainly one of the first of Australia’s professional racing teams formed in 1959…

A brief background of McKay and SV is contained in these articles i posted a while back. One is predominantly about McKay’s Ferrari 250LM, one of the most evocative cars ever raced in Australia, https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/ , the other about his Ferrari P4/Can Am 350, an equally stunning car https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/  .

Martin commenced racing at Gnoo Blas, Orange NSW in 1960 in a Nota, he built from a kit himself, then progressed through the Prad Holden, a very successful sportscar and into ‘Appendix J’ sedans. He beat some of the heroes of the day in his ’48-215′ or FX Holden and was  approached by McKay to join SV. Martin picks up the story…

martin 48 215

Spencer in the ‘Boomerang Service Station’ Holden FX, Catalina Park, Katoomba 1963. It was consistent ‘giant killing’ performances against Norm Beechey and the like which attracted McKay to Martin. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

‘Work on the racing cars was carried out in a garage at the rear of his (McKay) house in Wahroonga on Sydney’s upper North Shore. We later moved to new premises beneath the Shell Service Station on the Pacific Highway at Wahroonga.

At this time I was driving the ‘Boomerang Service Station Holden’ for Joel Wakely and was keeping Norm Beechey very busy around Catalina Park, Warwick Farm and Sandown Park. In 1963 David brought Brian Muir back from the UK to drive in the Hardie Ferodo at Bathurst and I was to be Brian’s co-driver. Brian had been driving a Ford Galaxie in the UK and had won the British Touring Car Championship

David was, thankfully very impressed by my driving with Brian and told me he was about to retire and would I like to take over driving his Brabham. (Ex Jack Brabham BT4 Climax) Well you may imagine how I felt getting out of an EH Holden into an F1 Repco Brabham! We took the car to the short circuit at Warwick Farm for a few familiarisation laps where I was shocked by how much power the car had, especially how the far the nose lifted when you put the ‘pedal to the metal’.

It was not long before David entered the car at Bathurst. It was now 2.7 litres and running on methanol. He told me to keep it under 4500rpm down the straight for a few laps and be careful over the hump. I ‘pulled the string’ on the third lap and was doing 172mph over the hump. The car became completely airborne with a very much nose up attitude. I was wearing a Les Leston helmet with a small peaked visor to help keep the sun out of your eyes. Well the wind at this speed would catch under the visor which gave the effect of lifting you out of the car. It didn’t take long for me to remove the peak!’

martin longford tasman

Its 1967 as the painted date on the Longford Viaduct says. Martin eases his Bob Jane Racing Brabham BT11A Climax ‘IC-4-64’ into the right hander to exit the turn, ’67 Tasman ‘South Pacific Trophy’ 5 March 1967. He only lasted a lap of the race, his Climax FPF suffering ring failure. Jack Brabham won the race in his Brabham BT23A Repco. Clark took the series win in his Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8. Love the local ‘topography’, sturdy stone viaduct!, hay bales, painted, slippery white ‘no passing’ lines on the public roads. (oldracephotos.com/David Keep)

martin wf brabham 1967

Spencer Martin exercising all of his Coventry Climax’ lusty 235 horses through Leger Corner, Warwick Farm, December 1966. ‘Hordern Trophy’ Gold Star round won by Frank Gardners’ Brabham BT16 Climax from Kevin Bartletts’ Brabham BT11A and Martins’ similar car in 3rd. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

‘The biggest difference in driving the cars of David’s and my time was the safety aspect. No seat belts, no fuel cells, no on-board fire extinguishers, no roll cages, no fireproof clothing. I was driving the Tasman Series in New Zealand and was wearing a polo-shirt made of nylon. When Jim Clark saw me in this he explained how dangerous nylon was in the event of a fire. Jim gave me a pair of his Dunlop Racing overalls. Boy, did I think I was smart wearing these and they were fireproof so I could go faster! Actually they gave you about 5 extra seconds in the event of a fire. They were made of cotton and soaked in a fire retardant. Rather different from today’s suits.

Another extremely dangerous factor was the aluminium fuel tanks which were placed either side of the drivers seat. We needed to have over 18 gallons of Avgas for a long race, so we packed dry ice around the tank prior to the race on hot days.’

001MartinAllenGibsonwm

Spencer Martins’ Ferrari 250LM ‘6321’  leads the ‘Country Club GT Race’ at Warwick Farm September 19 1965. The chasing Lotus Elan 26R’s are Niel Allen and Fred Gibson. (Heinz Federbusch)

‘Graham Hill was driving our new Brabham (BT11A Climax) at Warwick Farm in 1965. When we fuelled the car, an hour before the race, one tank was leaking through a crack in its top edge. I went into panic mode, Graham, however, asked me to go to the toilet and bring him back a bar of soap. He made this into a putty mixture and plastered it into the crack. As he explained, the leak was on the top of the tank, so after a few laps the fuel would be below the problem area. I used this fix a few times over the years. Can you imagine this sort of thing happening to an F1 Ferrari or McLaren?!

One of the biggest events to materialise at SV was when David talked Archie White, the Shell Racing Manager, into buying the 250LM Ferrari. I was not allowed to go to the wharf to bring it home as I had work to do on the Brabham. However I’ll never forget seeing it for the first time and David saying it was mine to drive!’

‘David was the best motoring journalist at this time. Not only was he able to write about cars, he could also drive them. David was at the front of the grid for the 1963 Australian Grand Prix at Warwick Farm alongside Surtees and McLaren. He was the first Aussie home and all this on a 40 degrees Celsius day when many of the younger drivers stopped due to heat exhaustion. The temperature inside his car was measured at over 50 degrees.

agp 1963 front row

Front row of the AGP grid, Warwick Farm February 1963. Surtees on pole, Lola Mk4a Climax, McLaren Cooper T62 Climax and McKay Brabham BT4 Climax. Jack won in his BT4 Climax from Surtees, McLaren and McKay.(Autopics.com.au Collection)

David, in his motoring column, was very critical of the cars which Ford, GMH and Chrysler were building at that time. Sir Frank Packer allowed David to continue his reports in the Sydney Telegraph because his column was selling newspapers. When News Ltd took over the Tele, they would not allow him such a full hand as they explained they needed the advertisers money from the motoring industry so David left.’

martin bathurst 20lm 65

Spencer Martin in one of his early drives of the SV Ferrari 250LM at Murrays Corner, Bathurst, Easter 1965. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

martin

‘Australian Autosportsman’ magazine July 1965. Shell ‘Advertorial’! Martin on the cover in the SV Fazz 250LM, picture taken probably on the same day as the one above, but this time, i think, ‘Hell Corner’, which leads onto the uphill ‘Mountain Straight’ having gone past the pits. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

‘The first race for the 250LM was the Sandown Park Tasman round sports car race in February 1965…Graham Hill was to drive the Brabham in the Tasman race, however he put it on David to allow him to also drive the LM. David kept his word to me and told Graham that ‘the boy’ was going to drive it. Well, Frank Matich was leading (in Elfin 400/ Traco Olds) then suddenly we did a ‘Stephen Bradbury’ as Matich blew up and we went on to win it’s very first race. In reality it was no match for the more powerful Elfins and Lola’s. It did however win every long distance race in which it was entered.

The ‘Old Red Lady’ as David affectionately called the LM, was a fantastic car to race. With the V12 very low slung in the engine bay behind the driver, and with 8000rpm, the noise inside and out was certainly something to remember for driver and spectator alike.

David was a vary hard taskmaster. He expected me to work on customer road cars during the day and maintain the Brabham and Ferrari after hours. I was made an offer by Bob Jane which I decided was better for my future so I moved on. Years later David wrote me a letter saying he was sorry for being so hard on me. This lead to a rekindled friendship where we travelled overseas together to many of the F1 races.

I really miss ‘The Old Man’. He was a true Ferrari-ist, and gave us all the true pleasure of seeing the two best cars ever to race in this country, the 250LM and P4 Ferraris!’

rcn martin lakeside

This ‘RCN’ cover David Atkinson painting depicts Spencer winning the 10 July Gold Star race at Lakeside, Queensland 1966 ahead of Kevin Bartlett #14 Brabham BT11A Climax and John Harvey Brabham BT14 Ford 1.5…1-3rd in the race en route to Martins 1966 Gold Star title. (Racing Car News)

David McKay had this to say about Spencers’ departure and career in his wonderful autobiography, ‘David McKays Scuderia Veloce’…‘I was both surprised and disappointed but in retrospect I had expected too much and had been too hard on the young man. I had treated him as I would a son and no doubt Martin thought ‘the son’ had had a lucky escape. Sadly I had planned to take Martin to Maranello where I was sure Mike Parkes would have got him a drive at Le Mans and he would eventually have graduated to F1.

However, instead of telling me he’d been waiting for this chance and had his bags packed, Martin said he didn’t fancy Le Mans with its dangerous mix of cars and drivers and thank you but no thanks. I still consider to this day Martin would have achieved a successful career with Ferrari and we have often joked about what might have been. Martin argues that he has all his arms and legs in place and that his successive Australian Championships in 1966 and 1967 fulfilled his motor racing ambitions. It was twelve years before we were to speak again and it was the LM which brought us together’.

symmons grid 1966

Front row of the Symmons Plains, Tas 1966 ‘Gold Star’ grid. #7 the winning ex-Clark Lotus 32B Climax of Greg Cusack, #5 Brabham BT11A Climax of Kevin Bartlett and on the near side Spencer in his Brabham BT11A Climax. The nose of John Harveys’ Brabham BT14 Lotus/Ford TC is on row 2. Cusack won from Harvey and John McCormack, Brabham BT4 Climax. (oldracephotos/David Keep)

martin WF

Martin on the way to 6th place in the SV Brabham BT11A ‘Warwick Farm 100′ Tasman race 13 February 1966 won by Clarks’ Lotus 39 Climax. This is not long before Martin left SV for Bob Jane Racing, this same chassis ‘IC-4-64’ won his 1966/7 Gold Star titles. (Autopics.com.au Collection)

As Spencer says he left SV and Sydney to join Bob Jane Racing in Melbourne, both Shell sponsored teams at the time and a controversial move albeit a very successful one for both driver and team…Jane acquired the Brabham BT11A Climax Spencer had been racing for SV, it was this car in which he won the Gold Star in 1966 and 1967. His toughest competitor was Kevin Bartlett in a similar car entered by Alec Mildren, the pair having many close dices with Bartlett famously setting the first over 100mph lap of Bathurst during their Gold Star encounter at Mt Panorama in 1967.

spencer

A touch of understeer for Spencer in his Bob Jane Brabham BT11, ‘Hordern Trophy’, Warwick Farm in December 1966. Race won by Frank Gardner from Kevin Bartlett. This shot is from a ‘period’ Shell magazine ad. (Spencer Lambert Collection)

In 1967 Repco’s 2.5 litre Tasman ‘740 Series’ V8’s powered the cars of Greg Cusack (SV Brabham BT23A), Leo Geoghegan (Lotus 39) and John Harvey (Brabham BT14 ) even though these cars were all competitive they lacked the consistent reliability which prevented Repco ever achieving a Gold Star Series win…Martins’ Climax engined Brabham won 2 rounds, winning his second title by 7 points from Cusack, his replacement at Scuderia Veloce and promptly retired.

Years later he re-established his relationship with McKay as he outlined above, he owned a share in McKays’ LM for a while and raced a range of exotic racing cars in historic racing in both the US and Europe. He still lives in Australia and is in happy retirement with a large extended family to keep him busy…and the occasional competition drive.

martin and mckay

Spencer Martin and David McKay pictured on 27 October 2004. Chris Haigh took this shot having just taken David for a lap of Wakefield Park, Goulburn, NSW in McKay’s original Jaguar Mk1 ‘The Grey Pussy’. David died on December 26 2004 at 83 of cancer. (Chris Haigh)

Etcetera…

longford grid lm

Spencer Martin stands by the front ‘guard of the SV 250LM, his second meeting in the car, Longford Tasman meeting February 1965. Yellow car is the Mildren Maserati, driven by Ralph Sach (built by Rennmax’ Bob Britton on his Lotus 19 jig) the yellow shirted Mildren mechanics are (L) Stewart Randall and (R) Glen Abbey, the latter behind many Mildren/Gardner/Bartlett/Stewart victories. Driver behind the Fazz perhaps Les Howard. (oldracephotos.com/David Keep)

martin brabham surfers

Martin leading and winning the Surfers Paradise Gold Star round in 1966. Shot taken below Repco Hill, Brabham BT11A Climax. (John Stanley)

Jackie Stewart contested the above, Surfers’ Gold Star 1966 race, this article may be of interest to some in his ‘one-off’ Brabham BT11A Climax drive…https://primotipo.com/2015/02/13/jackie-stewart-at-surfers-paradise-speed-week-1966-brabham-bt11a-climax-and-ferrari-250lm/

mc kay lm longford 1965

The ‘Guvnor David McKay steers his 250LM through the Longford paddock in March 1965, the second meeting for the Ferrari driven by Martin. Graham Hill drove the SV Brabham BT11A Climax in the final ’65 Tasman race, the AGP, to 4th place, Bruce McLaren won in a Cooper T79 Climax. (Ellis French)

symmons grid 67 martin brabham

Martin being congratulated before the start of the Gold Star race at Symmons in November 1967. DNF with cam follower failure, race won by Greg Cusack, his replacement at Scuderia Veloce, in a Brabham BT23 A Repco. #2 is Garrie Coopers’ Elfin Mono Ford TC. Its Martins’ final race of ‘his serious career’, he had wrapped up the Gold Star for the 2nd time in succession and retired, the car driven by John Harvey for Bob Jane Racing from then. (oldracephotos.com/David Keep)

martin lakeside barbham 65

Martin in the SV Brabham BT11A ahead of Leo Geoghegans’ Lotus 32 Ford 1.5 TC, Lakeside ‘Gold Star’ race July 1965. Martin won from Leo and John McDonalds’ Cooper T70 Climax. (The Roaring Season/Bruce Wells)

martin tassie brabham

Car owner, the stocky, strong Bob Jane tests the rear spring rates…whilst driver Martin does his best to ignore the chief. Symmons Plains Gold Star round November 1966. Brabham BT11A Climax, ‘box is Hewland HD5. (Ellis French)

Spencer Martin 2006 Tasman Revival

Spencer pictured beside the Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo raced by Frank Gardner in the ’68 Tasman and then Kevin Bartlett to Gold Star success in 1968. Car restored by Paul Moxham and driven by Spencer here at the Eastern Creek, NSW Tasman Revival Meeting in December 2006. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Spencer Martin Catalina

Spencer Martin signed program of the Catalina Park cover on which his Holden starred! (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Bibliography…

‘David McKay Memorial Rally 2012: Rally Guide’, ‘ David McKays’ Scuderia Veloce’ David McKay, The Nostalgia Forum

Photo and Other Credits…

John Ellacott, Bruce Wells, autopics/Richard Austin, The Roaring Season, Chris Haigh Collection, Racing Car News, Heinz Federbusch, Ellis French, John Stanley, Racing Car News, Chris Haigh

Lindsay Ross of Oldracephotos http://www.oldracephotos.com/content/home/ for the use of the shots by David Keep

David Blanch of Autopics Collection  http://autopics.com.au/

Stephen Dalton Collection, Spencer Lambert Collection

Finito…

pete

‘Pete’ Geoghegan in the SV Ferrari 250LM, Hell Corner, Easter Bathurst ‘Gold Star’ meeting April 1968, crowd listening to the howl of that V12 on the downchanges. (Dick Simpson)

Pete’ Geoghegan  hard on the brakes of the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari , before he leans it into Hell Corner, the left hander out of Pit Straight and onto Mountain Straight…

David McKay signed the brothers Geoghegan, Leo and Pete to share the car in the Surfers Paradise 12 Hour race later in ’68 , Australian spectators treated to the spectacle of the multiple Australian Touring Car Champion extracting all the ‘Red Lady’ had to offer in a series of sprint events earlier in the year to familiarise himself with the car. Over the years some fine drivers raced it, but McKay rated Geoghegan over most.

Pete

Pete Geoghegan 3 wheeling ‘6321’ into ‘The Dipper’ , Bathurst Easter ’68. Up ahead was teammate Bill Brown in the SV Ferrari P4/350 Can Am (Bob Jane Legends)

McKay’s ‘Scuderia Veloce’ was arguably the first of Australia’s professional racing teams, initially McKay was the driver but later SV’s entered cars for others including Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and nurtured the careers of local drivers including Spencer Martin, Larry Perkins and John Smith.

McKay was a remarkable man. He was a World War 2 veteran , a world class driver, the most influential motoring journalist of his day and a successful businessman with both SV the racing team, and Scuderia Veloce Motors, retailers of  Volvo, Porsche and Ferrari, for whom he was the NSW concessionaire.

martin

‘Australian Autosportsman’ magazine July 1965. Shell ‘Advertorial’! Spencer Martin on the cover in the SV Fazz 250LM, picture taken at the Easter meeting, i think, ‘Hell Corner’, which leads onto the uphill ‘Mountain Straight’ having gone past the pits. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

In some ways purchase of the 250LM didn’t make a lot of sense as the car was a heavy endurance machine, locally it was competing with lightweight sports-racers built for sprint events, it was competitive in 1965 , but into 1966 the appearance of Frank Matich’s Traco Olds/Elfin 400 and other similar cars made the going tough. By then the car had been sold to Kiwi Andy Buchanan but was prepared and entered by SV.

Its forte was long distance events, for which it was designed!, McKay and Spencer Martin, the young star McKay was nurturing, won the Caversham 6 Hour race in Western Australia in 1965. The Swan Valley event did not have great depth of field in the outright class ,’6321′ winning by 12 laps from Ron Thorp’s AC Cobra.

Here is a link to an article about Spencer Martin and David McKay which also includes additional pictures of the 250LM and Martin’s driving impressions of the racer; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/30/spencer-martin-australian-gold-star-champion-19667/

caversham

David McKay & Spencer Martin won the Caversham 6 Hour race in ’65, opening the 250LM’s long distance success ‘account’ (Terry Walker)

martin

Evocative Longford shot of Spencer Martin, Long Bridge, 1966 (Alan Stewart Collection)

Keith Williams was a great promoter of his new circuit at Nerang outside Surfers Paradise, the LM winning his 12 Hour Enduro  3 years on the trot; in ’66 driven by Buchanan and Jackie Stewart, ’67 by Australians Greg Cusack and Bill Brown, and in ’68 by the Geoghegans’, all of the victories against cars which were faster on paper but not ultimately having the LM’s combination of speed and reliability.

In 1968 McKay had pleasure and pain; victory for the LM but defeat of his Ferrari P4/350Can Am car, acquired earlier in the year with the express aim of victory in a race he thought was by then beyond the old LM. For those interested in the P4, click on this link to an article on the full history of this car; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

surfers

Scuderia Veloce’s team in the Surfers dummy grid, 12 Hour ’68. The winning Geoghegan Bros 250LM at left, 275GTB of Phil West/George Reynolds centre, and P4/Can Am 350 ‘0858’ of Bill Brown/Jim Palmer on the right (DNF accident) (Photo Rod MacKenzie)

lm

The Roxburgh/Whiteford Datsun 1600 being rounded up by the LM, and Hamilton/Glynn Scott Porsche 906 Spyder , Surfers 12 Hour 1967 (Ray Bell)

By ’68 the car was owned by Sydney businessman Ashley Bence but Mckay soon repurchased it and kept it as a much cherished road car. I missed its racing heyday but saw McKay drive it at the Sandown meeting in late 1978 at which Fangio demonstrated/raced his Mercedes Benz W196. Unfortunately an oil line came adrift causing McKay to spin and hit the fence at The Causeway. Graham Watson, later ‘Ralt Australia’ and a ‘Gold Star’ national champion himself repaired the car.

bridge

McKay in ‘6321’ tootling across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the late ’70’s. This shot was part of a ‘Sports Car World’ magazine article McKay wrote about the car, the trials and tribulations of delivery amusing…

A share in the car was sold by McKay to Spencer Martin, its original driver in ’65, the car contested some international historic events before ultimately being sold to Ralph Lauren…its life now a good deal easier than being taken to its limits by the likes of Pete Geoghegan.

ad

Racing and Development of the LM In Period: Letter from Ferrari’s Mike Parkes to David McKay dated 1 February 1966 about ongoing development of the cars in Europe…

‘…Passing now to your LM you will no doubt be pleased to learn that the car has been homologated in the 50 car GT category, as has the 4.7 litre Ford GT, although infact neither they nor us have made 50 cars.

We are still making one or two LM`s, David Piper has probably given you all his ‘gen’ on modifications. He has gone up to 7″ front rims, also I think 8″ rears, and has increased the top speed considerably by lengthening the nose and making it similar to the 1962 GTO.

He has had quite a number of gear-box failures, some of which I suspect may have been due to Fax, his mechanic, but it is clear that the crown wheel and pinion should be changed after between 18-24 hours use, depending on the ratio employed, and the same applies to the pinion bearings.

I incidentally cannot recommend in the interest of liability, attempting to fit other than ex factory spares. My research incidentally, reveals that Fiat 500 bearing shells should not fit.

We have introduced a somewhat complicated modification to improve the gearbox life which includes machining out the bearing housings in the casing to take bigger bearings. I can probably send particulars if you decide that it is worth while.

We do not official recommend the use of ‘M’ tyres, and infact suspect that customers gear-box failures were due to their using ‘M’ tyres, but my own view is that the introduction of the ‘M’ tyre coincided with the limit of fatigue life of many peoples gear-boxes. You should use 550 front and 600-660 rear and probably reduce the camber a little at the rear and should find the car faster.

You can obtain variations of the intermediate gearbox ratios by using some of the ratios from the Targa Florio box should you find the standard LM ratios not suitable for your circuits.

For an engine overhaul, as I think I told you, you should definitely change valve springs checking carefully to ensure that you have the correct fitted length. Bearing shells need only be changed where they appear necessary, also rear main oil-seal. Valve seats should not be changed unless absolutely necessary, this being determined by how far they have sunk into the head. I would not think that it was worth changing the big end bolts.

I am at a loss to understand why you have to grind down the rear pad, but can assure you that you have the correct calipers. We have never carried out compression checks ourselves but your system seems very sound, the engine presumably being hot. I can give you no indication of the valves to expect.

I would be most interested in hearing about any sort of racing programme you could offer me in Australia for 1966-67. Yours, Mike Parkes’

image

‘6321’ now part of the Ralph Lauren Collection

250P & 250LM…

Ferrari’s rebuff of the sale of his company to Ford in 1963 resulted in a ferociously competitive response by FoMoCo in sports car racing; Eric Broadley’s GT40 design in the prototype class and Carroll Shelby’s Ford engined AC Cobras /Daytona Coupes the response in the GT category.

In ‘GT’ the dominance of Ferrari’s ‘250 GTO’ was being challenged by the Cobra’s, Maranello’s  response was essentially to add a roof to its championship winning ’63 Prototype, the 3 litre V12 ‘250P’, call it the ‘250 LeMans’ and seek to homologate it into the ‘GT’ class. The CSI were onto Ferrari though, only 32 cars were built rather than the 100 mandated by the rules, so the cars raced as Prototypes until the CSI eventually relented and agreed to ‘GT’ homologation.

All but the first few cars were built with 3.3 litre V12’s, the first were 3 litres, but the 250LM name stuck, rather than 275LM as Ferrari naming convention dictated. (250 cc x 12 cylinders is 3000cc…275cc x 12 cylinders is 3300cc).

The McKay car, chassis # ‘6321’ was one of the last cars built.

The 250 LM’s were popular customer endurance racing cars but not considered outright contenders for ‘Blue Riband’ events but the race failure of the Ferrari P2 and Ford’s GT40 and Mk11 resulted in a famous victory for ex-F1 driver Masten Gregory and future World Champion Jochen Rindt at LeMans in 1965 .

The 2 drivers flogged the NART LM # ‘5893’  to within an inch of its life, to their surprise winning the event, Rindt famously expecting to be back in Paris early enough for dinner.

That victory was Ferrari ‘s last at Le Mans…

nart

North American Racing Team ‘NART’ victorious 250LM ‘5893’ at Le Mans ’65. Drivers Masten Gregory & Jochen Rindt (unattributed)

lm cutaway

Ferrari 250LM cutaway showing its 3.3 litre V12, 5 speed transaxle, spaceframe chassis and all independent suspension by wishbones and coil spring/dampers ( G Beht )

Etcetera…

spencer at sandown

First race meeting for ‘6321’, Sandown Tasman meeting 21 February 1965. Spencer Martin at the wheel. A win after Frank Matich retired his Lotus 19B Climax. (Ray Bell)

 

martin

Fabulous shot of Spencer Martin in the LM, Warwick Farm, August 1965. (John Ellacott)

 

caversham

Spencer Martin ahead of Lionel Beattie in the Byfield Ayres Repco Holden Spl during the ‘Le Mans 6 Hour’ race at Caversham, in WA’s Swan Valley in 1965. Martin drove to victory sharing with car owner David McKay. (Alan Yates)

 

spencer caversham

Another Caversham 1965 shot, by the look of the helmet perhaps David McKay at the wheel. LM ‘6321’. (Lionel McPherson)

 

LM Launch

‘Automobile Year’ coverage of the 250LM launch at the Paris Show in October 1963

Race History (inaccuurate & incomplete ) of 250 LM ‘6321’…

http://www.barchetta.cc/english/all.ferraris/Detail/6321.250LM.htm

Photo and Other Credits…

Dick Simpson, Roderick Mackenzie, G Beht cutaway drawing, Bob Jane Legends, Terry Walker, Automobile Year, John Ellacott, Alan Yates, Stephen Dalton Collection, Ray Bell, Lionel McPherson, Mike Parkes Letter from ‘The Nostalgia Forum’

Tailpiece…

scud

Finito…