Posts Tagged ‘Talbot Lago T26C’

(JJ Dallinger)

I’ve long been of the view that one needs to see a racing car in the context of its time to be able to appreciate just how much it sat at the apex of engineering achievement of its time…

So that’s where I am going here. Trying to anyway.

Stuff is sometimes meant to be ‘doncha reckon?

I was looking for racers in a favourite hidey hole and came upon this magnificent photograph of an S Class, Art Deco styled ‘Spirit of Progress’ near Albury on the Victoria/New South Wales border in the early 1950’s.

Then Paul Cummins sent some magic Talbot-Lago T26C shots taken at Southport in 1955- Ken Richardson in Rex Taylor’s car, I popped the shot up a month or so ago.

(Cummins Archive)

 

(L Hemer)

On the same day, in response to seeing the S Class shot I sent him, our photographer buddy, Lynton Hemer sent his shot taken of ‘a couple of NSWGR Garratts north of Gosford dragging coal to Newcastle’ in 1967.

I was really surprised to see steam locos in Australia then, I thought we were all-electric close to town and diesel otherwise by that stage. At the same time I was fiddling about with the image of Jack below aboard one of his Tasman 2.5 mounts- BT22 Repco in front of the Wigram Hangars in, you guessed it, 1967.

How modern do both cars, roughly twenty years apart in conception, look in the context of, or in camparison with the trains?

Steam was at the end of a two hundred or so year reign, not a bad effort really, whilst the internal combustion engine, in its most edgy, racey form, was in the middle years of its era which will surely be at an end in ten years or so.

Then again, maybe I just have my hand on it and am merely seeking an excuse to use a couple of great non-racing car shots…

Context is everything my friends.

(Brabham Family)

Mind you, if i’m a smart-arse and some of those with strong knowledge of my inclinations may well agree with such a characterisation, the technology deployed in Jack’s 1967 Brabham is about the same or better than that used in Australia for our interstate train services NOW- none of yer ‘very high speed’ trains here that we have all travelled on in France, Italy, Japan and China.

Even the Brits with their high population densities managed better than 100 mph on my short commuter trip from Bourne End to London last year, ditto the Spaniards from San Sebastian to Barcelona, don’t even think about 100 mph plus here folks, we are well and truly rooted in train technology that Stephenson fella could relate to…

The NSW Trainlink diesel-electric ‘XPT’ entered service in 1982, the design was based on a Brit Rail High Speed Train- the current Paxman Valenta VP185 12 cylinder six-turbo engines develop 2001 horsepower. The things can theoretically do 125 mph but the tracks don’t allow it, the most recent accident in February 2020 cost the train’s driver and pilot their lives (NSW TrainLink)

I’m a big cheat really.

In 1967 that whilst Jack was sitting aboard BT23A and the Garratts were plying their trade in New South Wales the Royal Australian Air Force Dassault Mirage III’s were flying in the skies above- all of a sudden Jack and Ron’s machine does not look so edgy at all, and doubtless some of the ‘American Aviation Heavy Metal’ of the time made the Mirage look like an ‘F2’ machine.

Again, context is everything my friends.

(HARS)

Etcetera…

The S Class were the first ‘Pacific Class’ locos on the Victorian Railways, renowned for their power and speed they did the ‘broad gauge’ Melbourne-Albury run of 190 miles where passengers changed to a New South Wales train running on ‘standard gauge’- adoption of ‘standard gauge’ between Melbourne and Sydney took place in April 1962.

For international readers, Australia was comprised of separate independent colonies until Federation as a country in 1901 so lots of crazy stuff happened, different railway lines/locos/trains across the great brown land being far from the most stupid of decisions.

Only four of these three-cylinder locos were built- fitted with long-range tenders they did the trip non-stop and ran up annual mileages double that of other loco classes used by the VR. Their size and axle load made them unsuitable for regular service other than the Spencer Street-Albury North Eastern line run so within six months of the introduction of new B Class Diesel loos in April 1954 the S Class were withdrawn and scrapped.

Such a shame!- the silver lining in the cloud was the lobbying of the Victorian Government to preserve remaining examples of VR steam locos- all of us Victorian kids have had a trip or two to the Railway Society Museum at Williamstown- ‘Heavy Harry-H220’ is forever etched in my childhood mind, opened in 1962.

The ‘Garratts’ are an AD60 Class Beyer-Garratt patent articulated four-cylinder heavy goods, steam train locos built by Beyer, Peacock and Co in Openshaw, Manchester for the NSW Government Railways.

The final NSW railways steam service was operated by one of these monsters on 22 February 1973- four of them were preserved, well done!

And the Mirage.

A3-42 is a Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation built (CAC built CA-29) IIIO(F) interceptor delivered on 1 August 1966 and served at Butterworth, Malaysia, then Williamtown, NSW before retirement from service in October 1987 with 4,015 hours on the airframe, it was then used for apprentice training at RAAF Wagga Wagga. All Mirages were retired in 1988 and replaced by the General Dynamics F/A-18 Hornet.

‘HARS’- Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Museum at Shellharbour Airport, Albion Park bought the aircraft in March 2015.

Credits…

John J Dallinger, Lynton Hemer, Brabham Family, Wikipedia, HARS, oldracingcars.com, Bob King, NSW TrainLink

Tailpiece…

(B King)

A couple of Bugatti T35B replicas at the Williamstown, Victoria Railway Museum in recent times- the blue Des Dillon and black Bob King machines.

Finito…

(Cummins Archive)

Ken Richardson in Rex Taylor’s Talbot-Lago T26C, rounds a corner on the Southport road course- Queensland’s Gold Coast, 6 November 1955…

The event was the 114 mile Queensland Road Racing Championship, sometimes referred to as the 1955 Queensland Grand Prix, the second and final occasion on which the challenging layout was used for car racing- there is a bit about the 5.7 mile track in this piece on the 1954 Australian Grand Prix here; https://primotipo.com/2018/03/01/1954-australian-grand-prix-southport-qld/

Amongst the favourites for victory were Lex Davison, aboard the same HWM Jaguar in which he won the AGP twelve months before and Jack Brabham in the Cooper T40 Bristol in which he took a fortunate victory at the 1955 AGP at Port Wakefield, South Australia several weeks before, on 10 October.

Other contenders were Richardson, who was third at Southport in his Ford V8 Special the year before, this time he raced the dual AGP winning Talbot-Lago acquired by Rex Taylor from Doug Whiteford in mid-1954. Queensland youngster, Steve Ames aka Count Stephen Ouvaroff was aboard the ex-Lex Davison Alfa Romeo P3 he purchased not long before- a total of eleven cars took the start.

Davison burst into the lead from Brabham, Richardson and Ames at the drop of the flag, Jack outbraked Lex on lap 2, no doubt the nimble, light Cooper did this relatively easily but he kept his advantage for only a lap before mechanical trouble intervened.

He retired a car which became somewhat notorious for its unreliability with bent valves after the machine popped out of gear on one of the rough circuit’s many bumps causing a big enough over-rev to end Jack’s run.

Into the first corner Davison’s HWM Jag leads Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol, Ken Richardson’s Talbot-Lago T26C and Ames in the Alfa P3- narrowness of the road clear (Wheels)

 

Twenty year old Steve Ames, in the demanding Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 on the challenging Southport road circuit (Cummins Archive)

 

Brabham, Cooper T40 Bristol (Cummins Archive)

Davo’s machine then burst an oil line, shortly thereafter he arrived at the pits splattered in BP lubricant, for the balance of the event Ames and Richardson fought a close race but in the end the pre-war Alfa Romeo prevailed over its younger equally aristocratic European competitor at an average speed of 80 mph. Rex Taylor was third in his Jaguar XK120 and Barry Griffiths Triumph TR2 fourth, other finishers were the Stan Mossetter MG TC and Noel Barnes MG Spl s/c.

Jack did the fastest lap at 3 minutes 53 seconds, an average of 88 mph this was a smidge outside the record set by Dick Cobden’s Ferrari 125 V12 s/c in 1954.

The ‘Wheels’ magazine report of the meeting mentions George Pearse crashing his Cooper-MG in a 25 mile race for racing cars and stripped sportscars whilst passing Alec Mildren’s Cooper Bristol on the narrow pit straight at over 100mph, he put two wheels onto the grass. Brabham won that encounter from Davison and Mildren. Rex Taylor’s Jag XK120 won the sportscar race and Jack Myers Holden the production car race.

(Cummins Archive)

Stunning shot of Rex Taylor’s Jaguar XK120 ahead of Barry Griffiths Triumph TR2 on the dangerous swoops of Southport. The typical perils of road racing tracks of the day are readily apparent.

Cessation of Southport as a race venue left Lowood, Leyburn, Strathpine and Middle Ridge, Toowoomba as Queensland’s racetracks until Lakeside became the states ‘home of motor racing’ circa 1962.

The Cars…

(Cummins Archive)

Steve Ames Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3- the ex-Scuderia Ferrari/Davison chassis ‘50003’ in the Southport paddock.

I wonder if this was the last in period ‘big win’ for this 2.9 litre supercharged straight-eight- it was a state title after all? The car still looks beautifully prepared in the manner of previous fettlers, AF Hollins’ Allan Ashton and team, I wonder who looked after it in Queensland?

The shot below is of Davo in the same car on Mount Panorama during Easter 1951- down Conrod at a fair old clip between the trees, posts barbed wire and cattle on a rather narrow strip of bumpy bitumen.

(Cummins Archive)

 

(Wheels)

Rex Taylor, Jaguar XK120 from the Barry Griffiths and Bertram Triumph TR2s and the Stan Mossetter (I think) MG TC – a battle during the championship race above, and a superb portrait hunched over the wheel below- Paul Cummins advises the chassis number as #660226.

(Cummins Archive)

 

(Cummins Archive)

Brabham’s central seat, all enveloping Cooper T40 Bristol GP car was largely self built at Surbiton before Jack made his championship Grand Prix debut in it at Aintree in mid-July, DNF after 30 laps, Moss won the British Grand Prix that day in a W196 Mercedes. On 10 October Brabham won at Port Wakefield, an awfully good reason for Queenslanders to get a good look at ‘our boy’ in a current Grand Prix car.

Jack raced it in Australia that summer before selling it, read about the car here; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/16/60th-anniversary-of-jacks-first-f1-gp-today-british-gp-16-july-1955-cooper-t40-bristol-by-stephen-dalton/ and here; https://primotipo.com/2017/07/04/max-stephens-cooper-t40-bristol/

(Cummins Archive)

Superb shot of Rob Griffith’s Triumph TR2 on the limit and looking very racey sans windscreen but with cream tonneau.

(Cummins Archive)

The Wylie Javelin doesn’t get a mention in the race report I have so perhaps the little minx misbehaved that weekend and did not start the race? Paul Cummins tells me the amazing little bolide was raced by Arthur Griffiths with ‘wire mesh on the grille, probably to keep the cane toads out’ not that they were in plague proportions back then but one can’t be too careful. Rob Bailey points out the red #45 Harry Firth built MG Holden, now owned and almost restored by Ian Tate.

See Bruce Polain’s article about this incredible design here; https://primotipo.com/2018/09/14/the-wylies-javelin-special/

(Cummins Archive)

Not so much a Southport shot as an atmosphere one.

Paul suspects the owner of the MG TC may be the photographer of much of the material in this piece, ‘the N Rego of the Zephyr dates it as registered in 1955’- can anybody help with identification of the drivers?

Count Stephen Ouvaroff circa 1960 (unattributed)

Steve Ames/Count Stephen Peter Ouvaroff…

Fair-dinkum blue-bloods are fairly thin on the ground in Australia but Count Stephen Peter Ouvaroff was the real McCoy, he was of aristocratic Russian background.

His parents were Count Igor Ouvaroff and Aubretia Phyllis Ames, Stephen was born on 3 September 1935, his sister, Marina Violet was born in Sussex in 1931. Stephen died in England on 13 November 2017 having lived most of his adult life there.

MotorSport lists Stephen’s birthplace as Russia and nationality as Australian.

The pieces of the puzzle, i am keen to hear from those with some facts rather than ‘i reckons’, seem to be that Ouvaroff, his sister and and his mother moved to New Zealand when Stephen was about 10 years of age, which puts it at the end of the war, then later they moved on to Australia.

Count Igor died in Sussex on 25 July 1939, a reasonable assumption is that the boy grew up in the UK- his mother was English, an open question is whether Igor and Aubretia met in the UK or Russia- i have my money on the UK, as you all know, generally those ‘high born’, were not top of the pops with the crew running that vast country after the Russian Revolution.

So my theory is that Igor decamped to England in order to hang onto his head and met Aubretia, who had no shortage of Earls and a Marquess in her family tree at a lovely society ball- he was born in Russia in 1901, she in Paddington in 1909, in 1930 she was a vibrant 21 and he a dashing 29- a match made in heaven.

The family of three settled in Brisbane, Stephen’s motor racing career started with the ex-Ken Richardson Ford V8 Special, then the P3- perhaps simultaneously racing the Alfa Romeo and an Austin Healey 100S.

The use of the nom de guerre ‘Steve Ames’ was doubtless to avoid the ‘wanker’ tag which would have been applied to the young racer in Tall-Poppy Syndrome Australia.

Despite its age, the Grand Prix Alfa was a fast, formidable bit of kit the youngster seems to have driven very well although he sold it without too many recorded events to Rex Taylor. Whilst some reports have it he moved to the UK in 1956, Ouvaroff raced the Healey 100S in a hillclimb at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, that December.

The 100S, chassis ‘3701’, was the first imported into Australia arriving in August 1955 and had been through the hands of David Shmith and Stan Mossetter before Ames bought it in late 1956. John Blanden describes Stephen as a Toowoomba hotelier so perhaps his mother had acquired a pub along the way.

This shot of the P3 is at Strathpine, Queensland and dated circa September 1957- the pilot could be Ouvaroff, Rex Taylor or perhaps Keith Blicaski- if anyone can date the event and identify the driver that would be great (Cummins Archive)

It seems reasonable to presume Ouvaroff moved to the UK in 1957, Blanden does not date the sale of the Healey to its next owner, i can find no recorded events in the UK that year. In 1958 he acquired and raced an F2 Cooper T43 Climax, his best result was fourth in the 1958 Vanwall Trophy at Snetterton on 27 July behind Ian Burgess, Bruce McLaren and Henry Taylor.

Other events contested that season included the International Trophy at Silverstone where he finished well back in the 1760cc FPF engined T43. He was a DNQ in the F2 Crystal Palace Trophy, the chassis number of the T43, by then of course fitted with a 1.5 litre FPF, was cited as ‘F2-9-57’. Tenth place followed at Brands Hatch on June 8.

Much better was fifth in the Anerly Trophy at Crystal Palace on 5 July whilst noting the best bit of kit to have that season was a Cooper T45. Off the back of the fourth place at Snetterton a DNQ at Brands on 4 August was disappointing.

During that year he also tested the new Lotus 11 Climax chassis ‘538′ acquired by Charlie Whatmore for George Jamieson at Brands Hatch before its shipment to Australia and much local success here.

1959 seems to have been relatively quiet in terms of race outings, but he ran the Willment Climax 1.5 FWB sportscar to a win at the BARC Goodwood meeting on 6 June impressing Bill Boddy who wrote in his MotorSport report that ‘The fifth race was actually uneventful, Count Ouvaroff’s Willment-Climax leading unchallenged, but very fast for all of that, from Union Jack to chequered flag, as well it might, being the sole 1 1/2-litre amongst a field of 1100s in this five lap Scratch Race and with twin-cam engine at that. The Count won at 84.28 mph and set fastest lap, at 86.22mph.’

The mainstay of Stephen’s 1960 program was Formula Junior where the strategy seemed to be to step back in class from F2 to FJ and in this red-hot class attempt to do well enough to give his career some momentum- sound thinking indeed.

Amongst his best results was third place at the ADAC-Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring and the Solitude Grand Prix outside Stuttgart.

The Nurburgring was wet on that 10 July weekend, quite a challenge for a relative novice on this most daunting of circuits. There he finished behind Dennis Taylor’s Lola Mk2 BMC and John Love’s Lola Mk2 Fiat in a thirty-two car grid, the event held over 20 laps, 155 km – total race duration one hour twenty-two minutes! It amazes me that the highly tuned modified production engines, which more generally raced over ‘Brands 10 lappers’ lasted that long!

Two weeks later his little ‘Inter Auto Course’ equipe travelled to Stuttgart to contest the Tenth Internationales Solituderennen-Formel Junior- the Grosser Preis der Solitude on 24 July.

Another long race, 12 laps, 138 km of the very fast, dangerous, swooping, tree lined road course yielded the young racer second place behind Jim Clark’s works 18 and ahead of Trevor Taylor and Peter Arundell in the other two Team Lotus entries, Gerhard Mietter, Kurt Ahrens and many others in a huge 35 car grid.

Both these German races were significant international meetings, to finish so well up the field in a privately entered car on two long road circuits new to him showed he was no slouch- read about the perils of Solitude here; https://primotipo.com/2018/05/10/surtees-in-solitude/

Solitude FJ GP grid July 1960. Keith Ballisat Cooper T52 BMC, #1 Jim Clark, Lotus 18 Ford and #9 Juan-Manuel-Bordeu, Lola Mk2 Ford, #2 Trevor Taylor, Lotus 18 Ford and car #3 Peter Arundell similarly mounted (unattributed)

 

JM Fangio keeps a paternal eye on Steve’s #18 Lotus 18 Ford at the start of the rather soggy 1960 Eifelrennen FJ. #2 is the second placed Lola Mk2 Fiat (Getty)

Closer to home he was second in the Anerly Trophy in June behind Trevor Taylor’s works 18 Cosworth, in August he had a DNF at Aintree with gearbox problems- there is then quite a gap to Oulton Park in late September where he was way back in nineteenth.

Mixing things up a bit, Steve entered the 18 April Lavant Cup at Goodwood in an F2 Cooper T51 Climax qualifying eleventh of nineteen cars but DNS.

There were 63 Formula Junior meetings in England and 75 in Europe in 1960- a driver needed to be in the car a lot to run with the best, a works seat being optimal of course, i think we can deduce that Count Stephen had talent- he finished two seconds behind Jim Clark at Solitude after 56 minutes of racing in a privately entered car, but it was not to be fulfilled without decent support or a much better seat.

Into 1961 Ouvaroff raced one of the Tom Hawkes and Adrian Gundlach built Ausper T3 Ford FJs.

Dick Willis notes that ‘he was a real “presseronner” in the Ausper. Although he did have some success, the works Lotuses were dominant with topline drivers on their team and the very latest engine tweaks…’

The Competition Cars Australia ‘works drivers’ season seems to have been split into two, whilst noting that half the results tables for the British FJ Championship have disappeared from the F2 Index site- which is a bummer. The first half of the season was devoted to European events, the second was spent closer to home in the UK.

The team entered Monaco but Steve failed to qualify his Ausper T3 Ford, missing the cut by six cars- Peter Arundell’s Lotus 20 Ford won from the Tyrrell Racing duo of John Love and Tony Maggs in Cooper T56 BMCs. Off to Rouen for the GP de Rouen on 4 June he finished well back with mechanical dramas, just in front of him was Denny Hulme in the New Zealand Grand Prix Racing Team Cooper T56 BMC- the Kiwi’s first European season.

He was out of the money again at Reims a month later and at Solitude, Stuttgart on 23 July where he had done so well the year before.

Back in England things were tough too- at Aintree on 7 August he was twenty-fifth where Peter Procter won in year old Lotus 18 Ford, at Goodwood a fortnight later the run of poor showings continued with a DNF due to overheating.

That BARC Formula Junior Championship meeting did have an Australian flavour though, Gavin Youl in the MRD Ford was on pole for the first heat in a great run for the Brabham marque and Jon Leighton’s Lotus 20 Ford was on pole for the second heat. Alan Rees Lotus 20 Ford won from Youl and Dennis Taylor, Lola Mk3 Ford.

Eighth in the September Trophy at Crystal Place was at least a finish on 2 September, and fourth at Oulton Park in the International Gold Cup meeting was more like 1960 form- Tony Maggs was up front that weekend in the Tyrrell Cooper T56 BMC proving, as they did many times that season that a Lotus Cosworth was not essential for FJ success in 1961.

On 30 September he was fifth in the Vanwall Trophy at Snetterton amongst a strong field in number and depth, Mike Parkes was up front in a Gemini Mk3A Ford. Off to Silverstone on 1 October where the strong run home at the seasons end yielded another fourth place, this time in the BARC FJ race one place behind Frank Gardner’s Jim Russell Lotus 20, the winner was Bill Moss in another Gemini Mk3A Ford.

It was a shame to end the season, and seemingly his race career, with a DNF at Snetterton on 8 October.

In a film obscurity Stephen crashed the Lister Jaguar chassis ‘BHL126’ on the set of MGM’s 1961 ‘The Green Helmet’, the car, registered ‘WTM446’ of course lived to fight another day.

Outside the cockpit Stephen married Aprille E Brighton in a society wedding at Brompton Oratory during December 1961 and settled in Drumhouse River Lane, Petersham, Surrey.

Ouvaroff established and operated the American Carriage Company in London for over 35 years, latterly with two of his sons, it specialised in the importation and sale of RHD converted American Cars. Paul Newby advises the business imported a dozen Holden Suburbans and Commodore Wagons from Suttons in Sydney via French domiciled ex-racer, uber-wealthy Arnold Glass at the turn of the century.

He remained proud and supportive of his Russian ancestry being involved in the annual Russian Summer Ball which was held to raise funds for a Russian charity and The London Cossack Association. Upon his death in 2017 he left his wife and six children.

For sure there is an interesting life to chronicle here in full- with six Ouvaroffs from his marriage there is no shortage of folks to find and interview in relation thereto- a project for another time!

Some of you Queenslanders must recall ‘Steve Ames’? I’d love to hear from you and similarly anybody in the UK familiar with Count Stephen Ouvaroff’s racing and business career.

Steve Ouvaroff, Lotus 18 Ford FJ, Silverstone 1960 (BRDC)

Etcetera…

‘Wheels’ January 1956

Photo and other Credits…

Many thanks to Paul Cummins and the Cummins Archive- sensational photographs, colour is so rare in Australia in this period. Paul hijacked my weekend I got so lost in the Count Stephen Ouvaroff research adventure!

Wheels magazine January 1956 via the Stephen Dalton Collection, British Racing Drivers Club, ‘The Ausper Story’ Dick Willis, F2 Index, David McKinney on The Nostalgia Forum, MotorSport July 1959, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Paul Newby, Les Hughes

Tailpiece…

(Cummins Archive)

Let’s finish where we started, with Lago-Talbot T26C ‘110007’ the first of Doug Whiteford’s two such cars- the machine he used to win the 1952 and 1953 AGPs at Mount Panorama and Albert Park but not before the great Louis Chiron won the 1949 French Grand Prix in it at Reims.

Whiteford sold the car to Rex Taylor in 1954- here at Southport of course driven by Ken Richardson, the car then passed to Owen Bailey in late 1956 and then to Barry Collerson in late 1958. He raced it very skilfully in its dotage into 1961 before moving into more nimble mid-engined single-seaters and then spent a year or so racing F3 cars in Europe in the mid-sixties. Graham Thompson bought the Lago as club car in 1963 from Arnold Glass/Capitol Motors, the car passed through another owner or two before leaving Australia to be scooped up as an historic racer for the growing UK scene in the late sixties.

Finito…

(M Tumby)

Talbot-Lago T26C with a swag of teenage fans surrounding it in Queensland we think …

There was a bit of  unresolved mystery about this shot when it was first posted by Mark Tumby on Bob Williamson’s Facebook page a month ago.

The discussion centred around whether it was Ralph Snodgrass in Whiteford’s second arriving in Australia but early chassis- ‘110002’ at Lowood but only if it was before 6 June 1957 when Snodgrass rolled it at Mount Druitt and then popped it under his house for twenty years, as Rob Bailey pointed out. Rob then mused as to whether it was his father, Owen Bailey in Whiteford’s first Lago, chassis ‘110007’ at Lowood, ‘that would make sense as he was running a family business in Noosa at the time’.

Interesting but still foggy at this point.

(M Tumby)

I circulated the first photograph to ‘wise owls’ Stephen Dalton, Bob King and Tony Johns yesterday- the boys quickly identified the car as the 1952 and 1953 AGP winner ‘110007’ by comparative analysis of windscreen and body slots around the grille.

As to the who and when questions, Stephen observed ‘Finding Queensland programs and entry lists is very hard for this era and it tends to be one ex-Bomber runway looking the same as the other. Here though, the trees tend to tell me not Lowood. I’m tending to think Strathpine which had a thin row of trees on each side.’

‘I’m not committing to stone, but i think its the Ken Richardson era, after Rex Taylor, so mid-55’ish. Then you get the problem of some Leyburn meetings in this timeframe too. Ken won a race at the 4 June 1955 Strathpine meeting, the August 1955 issue of ‘Modern Motor’ has a photo but no clear number…’

Stephen suggested a peek on Trove- which i have just done in brief, there are lots of entries for Taylor, tougher pickings for Richardson in the Talbot-Lago at least- plenty of mentions in his Cooper.

At this stage Rob Bailey did a bit more research- see his responses today, including a careful forage through the two volume Talbot-Lago books which reveals that it is Ken Richardson during a Leyburn sprint meeting in 1955.

Dalton, ‘Now that i’ve looked a little harder in my Leyburn file there was an event in July 1955 too, it was very briefly reported in ‘Wheels’ October 1955.’

’Richardson must have been a decent steerer. He was third behind Davison and Pitt’s nimble Coopers with the Lago at the September 1955 Australian Hillclimb Championship on narrow and tight Prince Henry Drive…’

As to all the young blokes in the shots- maybe a local boarding school outing on a Friday or weekend?

I don’t have ‘an article’ on the ‘Talbot-Lago T26C’ but key that into the primotipo search engine and four or five pieces with plenty of photos will pop up.

Credits…

Mark Tumby, Rob Bailey, Stephen Dalton, Bob King, Tony Johns

Tailpiece…

(S Dalton Collection)

Finito…

1953 AGP grid. Front row L>R Davison HWM Jag, Jones Maybach 1, Whiteford Talbot-Lago T26C, car 11 on row 2 is Ted Gray Alta Ford V8 (Dacre Stubbs)

The allocation of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix to Albert Park was the result of over two decades of work by the Light Car Club of Australia…

I live 800 metres from Albert Park Lake, I awoke this morning to F1 music at 7.05 AM- the sound of two-seater Minardi V10 engined cars ferrying their lucky cargo around gods motor racing country at high speed. The dawn of the 2019 race seems an apt time to upload this article on the 1953 event- the first Albert Park AGP.

Barry Green in his wonderful book ‘Glory Days’, writes that there was a strong push to race at Albert Park in 1934. The Light Car Club of Australia, (LCCA) the promoter of race meetings at Phillip Island were aware of the ‘Islands growing unsuitability given its loose gravel surface as speeds increased.’ Extensive negotiations secured Albert Park as the venue for a race meeting to celebrate the Centenary of Victoria in 1935.

The ‘Sun News Pictorial’ one of the Melbourne daily tabloids, and then as now a good thing in which to wrap ones fish n’ chips, announced the event on June 4 1934.

In doing so the ‘paper lit the fuse of naysayers who brought about the events cancellation, but not before racers Arthur Terdich, Bill Lowe, Barney Dentry, and Cyril Dickason in Bugatti, Lombard, and Austins respectively, lapped the track with mufflers fitted to prove noise wasn’t the issue.’

Stan Jones at speed in Maybach 1, Albert Park 1953, DNF. Stan made this series of cars sing, Maybach 1 won the ’54 NZ GP at Ardmore but none of the Maybachs- 1,2,3 or 4 won an AGP, such a shame! If the Chamberlain 8 is Australia’s most brilliant and innovative special surely the Maybachs are the greatest? Hopeless bias declared! (R Fulford /SLV)

Post war things were little different, but a partnership between the LCCA, the Australian Army- who had a facility at Albert Park, and Victorian Labor Senator Pat Kennelly was more successful.

The three groups/people provided the combination of race organisation, promotional ability, logistical capability- the Army being able to ‘man’ Albert Park, a site of some 570 acres, and political power and influence.

For all, the ability to raise funds in the aftermath of World War 2 was important. For the army, it was money for war widows and orphans, for Kennelly to finance much needed improvements to the park for to upgrade the local amenity, and for the LCCA, the betterment of motor racing.

The parties all were aware they needed to be very careful with the use of the facility so the event was a one day affair, with practice in the morning, racing in the afternoon with the roads open to the public in between. Total time absorbed by the racing activities was less than seven hours!

And so, the 1953 Australian Grand Prix, held at Albert Park over 64 laps, 200 miles in total, on Saturday 21 November, was won by Doug Whiteford in a Lago-Talbot, the last AGP win for ‘French Racing Blue’.

Doug Whiteford’s Talbot Lago T26C passes the abandoned MG Spl of Jack O’Dea on the way to victory. Writing on the side of the car is a list of race wins. Whiteford owned two TL26C’s- this one, 1948-ex Louis Chiron chassis ‘110007’ and later, an earlier but higher spec car, chassis ‘110002’. Vern Schuppan is the current owner of ‘110002’. Crowd right to the edge of the track (R Fulford/SLV)

Entry…

The entry list was headed by local Melbourne businessmen Doug Whiteford, Stan Jones and Lex Davison.

Whiteford was perhaps the form driver, he won the AGP at Mount Panorama the year before in the same Talbot-Lago T26C. Doug was a tough grafter who owned an automotive repair and sales business a drop kick from the shores of Albert Park Lake in Carlisle Street, St Kilda.

The preparation and presentation of all of his racers was legendary. His career stretched back well pre-war to motor cycles circa 1932. He raced Norman Hamilton’s blown Ford. V8 Spl at Phillip Island circa 1935, an MG Magnette and a supercharged Ford Roadster before building the Ford Ute based ‘Black Bess’ his 1950 AGP winner.

A racer to the core, he competed all the way through into the early to mid seventies, after his long time at elite level, as a works driver for the Datsun Racing Team in small sedans and sportscars.

What a shot! Not at Albert Park I hasten to add, Fishermans Bend is my guess. Whiteford changing plugs on his TL T26C. A mechanic by trade, he toiled on his own cars, his race record, standard of preparation and presentation legendary. Date unknown (R Fulford/SLV)

On the up was Stanley Jones, another tough nugget from Warrandyte, rapidly building an automotive retailing empire which would fund an impressive array of racers over the decade to come- all of which would come tumbling down in the credit squeeze of 1961. Jones had thrown in his lot with Charlie Dean and Repco a year or so before- Jones bought Maybach from Dean with Charlie and his team at Repco Research in Brunswick continuing to maintain and develop it. Jones was as forceful as Whiteford was stylish- both were impressively fast.

Also on the rise was Lex Davison, native of St Kilda but then a resident of Lilydale and fast building the shoe manufacture, importing and retailing business he inherited from his father.

Lex by this stage had learned his craft on a varied mix of cars, most recently an Alfa Romeo Tipo B/P3 GP car. He had just bought an ex-Moss/Gaze F2 HWM to which he fitted a Jaguar 3.4 litre six-cylinder DOHC engine to ‘C Type’ specs and gearbox, this clever combination took his first AGP win at Southport, Queensland in 1954- a race Jones had a mortgage on until the chassis failure of Maybach 2 at very high speed.

Elite Racers All: L>R Jack Brabham Cooper T23 Bristo, third in this group, #3 Lex Davison HWM Jag and #8 Ted Gray Alta Ford V8. Shot included to show the HWM and Alta- Victoria Trophy Fishermans Bend 22 March 1954. Lex is soon to win the ’54 AGP, Jack is soon to travel to the UK and Gray is soon to get a competitive mount in Tornado 1 Ford! (VHRR)

Lex was an urbane man of considerable wit, bearing and charm- but he could and did go toe to toe with racers of Whiteford and Jones ilk and beat them. His career, which had far from peaked in 1953 stretched all the way to early 1965 when he shared the front row of the NZ GP grid with Clark and Hill, a couple of fellas ‘still in short pants’ in 1953.

Frank Kleinig and his Kleinig-Hudson straight-8 Spl could not be discounted nor could the Ted Gray driven Alta Ford V8 Spl- much more would be seen of this outstanding pre-war driver who cut his teeth on the country speedways of Victoria in the years to 1960 with the Lou Abrahams owned Tornados 1 and 2.

Oh to have seen this bloke drive at his best!- as here at Rob Roy Hillclimb, 2 November 1947. Frank Kleinig, Kleinig Hudson 8 Spl, a remarkable marriage of MG chassis, Hudson mechanicals and various other donor parts continuously developed over a couple of decades. A car which shoulda won at least one AGP. Kleinig another driver/mechanic ace (G Thomas)

Kleinig should have won an AGP or two, or three.

The Sydney driver was one of the very quickest immediately pre and post war but times had changed. The AGP was now a scratch race, not a handicap and Frank’s machine, development of which never stopped simply wasn’t quick enough to win outright whatever the undoubted skills of the bloke behind the wheel.

Ted and Frank both needed the ‘guns’ up front to retire and have a dose of reliability themselves for the long 200 mile race to win.

The Reg Nutt, Talbot Darracq 700, DNF dropped valve on lap 14 (Dacre Stubbs)

The balance of the entry was a swag of MG Specials, pre-war GP cars, sports cars and a sprinkling of Coopers including several new fangled JAP mid-engined cars.

Above and below. Davison, Jones and Whiteford. Further back #11 Gray, his Ford V8 creating the smokescreen, #7 Kleinig, #10 Hayes Ford V8 Spl #6 Vennermark/Warren Maser 4CL (unattributed)

Practice and the Race…

Practice commenced early at 8.30 AM and before too long their was drama aplenty amongst the topliners.

Davison’s HWM suffered bearing problems in practice, the session started at 8.30am, the team linished them as best they could prior to the race start at 2.30 pm, but the same affliction stopped the car during the race.

Another top driver I didn’t mention above was Sydney ex-speedway star Jack Brabham but his new Cooper T23 Bristol succumbed in the morning session, like Davison, to bearing problems. The ace engineer/mechanic did of course turn this car into rather a formidable weapon- one which inspired him to try his hand in England a year or so hence.

Also having practice dramas was Whiteford, who had a lose, the car was quickly loaded up and trailered back to Doug’s ‘shop closeby ‘…where the front suspension was stripped. Jim Hawker used the table of a mill as a surface plate and found a bent stub axle he straightened in a press. The Lago also needed a new flexible hose; without a word Whiteford took a pair of side-cutters, walked across to the pre-War Triumph his nephew Doug McLean was rebuilding and liberated precisely the correct hose. This was fitted, the brakes were bled…’ wrote Graham Howard.

The Jones Maybach in for the pitstop which changed the race, albeit the car retired in any event. Passing is the Jag XK120 of Frank Lobb (Dacre Stubbs)

From atop a double-decker bus race officials and a crowd estimated by local newspapers variously at between 50,000 and 70,000 people saw Whiteford, Jones and Davison form the front row with Lex’ HWM leading into the first corner under heavy, muggy skies.

The start was fraught and chaotic as several crews were still with their driver and car as the flag dropped!

Davo’s lead was shortlived, Stanley passed him on the first lap and then drew away. McKinnon was a lap 1 casualty when he nosed the hay-bales but got going again, Arthur Wylie spun the Jowett Javelin Spl at Jaguar Corner but he too got going.

Early in the race Jones led Whiteford, Davison, Arthur Wylie’s Jowett powered Wylie Javelin and Curley Brydon’s  ex-Bill Patterson MG TC Spl.

Davo was out on lap 3, he watched the balance of the event from Stan’s pit.

Bob Pritchett in Australian Motor Sports (AMS) wrote that ‘The trouble with the HWM was that the oil pressure relief valve was cockeyed on its seat allowing all the oil to rush right back into the sump through bypass: most surprisingly, the XK120 oil pressure gauge is so hooked in that, under such circumstances, full pressure was still indicated. Lex’s boys did their best with emery strip and managed to have the car on the line for the GP, but it was of no avail.’

Same scene as above from a different angle- Charlie Dean at bottom right (unattributed)

By half distance Stan still had a good lead over Whiteford, but on lap 40 he pitted for fuel and with his Maybach straight-six engine overheating- the car also needed a water pump drive belt.

His crew were not expecting him and in the confusion Stan was bathed in methanol fuel which necessitated a speedy dismount and then being doused in water before returning to the fray.

Whiteford could not believe his luck.

He perhaps lacked the pace to win, although Pritchett observed on the other hand that he didn’t think ‘Doug was unduly worried…Every few laps he would come up from his half-minute or so back and have a a look at the Maybach and then fall back into line again, so he must have had something up his sleeve’? Stan always pushed hard and was said to lack mechanical sympathy, something Doug had in spades. Jones retired Maybach on lap 56 with clutch failure.

Whiteford’s right rear separates from the Talbot Lago on the exit of Dunlop Corner (AMS)

It was not an easy win though.

Melbourne weather is capricious, the skies darkened and rain tumbled down and cars spun- Wal Gillespie’s HRG (shared with Thompson) amongst others. Spectators added to the challenge with ‘suicidal disregard for their own safety…John Calvert rammed a strawbale…when he had to take avoiding action. I suppose they just can’t understand that towards the end of the straight, the quick drivers are covering the best part of fifty yards each second…’ Pritchett mused.

Whiteford slows the TL 26C at the pits to change wheels having lost his right rear tyre. Fortunately the separation happened close to the pits and his efficient crew (Fairfax)

Two laps from home the right-rear tyre of the T26C came off its rim, fortunately only 300 metres from the pits.

After a stop of 30 seconds to change the wheel, with a huge gap to his pursuers, the local lad was on his way to win the race ‘in a Largo Talbot by 5 laps at an average speed of 82 mph for the 200 miles’ The Melbourne Sun, with its characteristic great attention to motor racing reporting detail, recorded in its 22 November account of the race.

Curley Brydon, a member of the RAAF’s crack 78 fighter squadron during the war, was second in his MG TC Spl 5 laps adrift and South Australian Andy Brown third in an MG K3 Magnette. Then came former AGP winner Les Murphy, MG Q Type and Lou Molina in the MM Holden Spl sportscar

Third placed Andy Brown’s very pre-war MG K3 in for a pitstop. K3 ‘030’ still in Oz- ex-Bira/Snow/Dunne/Davison/Brown and many others! (Dacre Stubbs)

Graham Howard in his ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ (HAGP) account of the race reports on some post race controversy which reader and owner of the Curley Brydon TC, Richard Townley develops further in his note below this article.

Howard wrote ‘…Curley Brydon, who had provisionally been placed third, protested that too many people had assisted with Whiteford’s tyre change, and indeed it was suggested one of the helpers was no more than a gate-crashing spectator; but it was agreed that Whiteford could have changed the wheel single-handed and still had time to win, and Brydon’s protest was withdrawn.

Curley Brydon, in the 2nd placed MG TC Spl s/c leads the 16th placed John Nind MG TB Spl (K Wheeler)

Whiteford is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) as saying ‘Our pit was very congested and there were more spectators around than mechanics. Evidently someone we didn’t know tried to help.’ Note that the SMH report states the protests were heard on Sunday 22 November, the day after the race.

As Richard Townley relates in his comments post publication of this article, Phil Irving wrote in his autobiography that Whiteford ‘…was not immediately declared the winner, through an unofficial report that he had been helped by a bystander to get the Talbot back on course after over-shooting a corner. Not having the use of a telephone, the marshal on the corner concerned wrote out a report to be delivered to the Clerk of The Course, who did not receive it until long after after the race had ended.’

‘Doug, who knew the rule book by heart was aware that the official report of the incident had not been lodged within the stipulated half-hour of the race finish, and shrewdly claimed that it was ultra vires and could not form the basis of a protest. This view being upheld by the stewards, Doug was awarded his third AGP, but it was not a very popular victory’ Irving wrote.

Let’s come back to this after dealing with the balance of the protests.

Howard continues ‘However, he (Brydon) also protested Andy Brown’s second placing, and after investigation it was agreed Brydon was second: Murphy protested Brown as well, claiming to have passed him on the last lap, but this was not upheld.’

‘Fifth was Lou Molina first time out in the neat little Holden-engined MM Special, and the first AGP finish for a Holden engine, Sixth was Jim Leech, a nice reward for his part in securing Albert Park for the race.’

‘Seventh, with a plug lead off, with only first and fourth gears useable and with his seat belt broken, was Frank Kleinig; from six AGP starts, going back 15 years to 1938, it was the cars first finish, and very popular. Nonetheless, the days of 15-year old AGP cars could not last much longer’ Howard concluded.

No doubt Kleinig was well pleased with the result as Pritchett wrote that he left Sydney very late for the meeting with trade-plates affixed to the racer to run it in on the Hume Highway!- when that process was complete the car took its place on the trailer for the balance of the trip south.

So what do we make of Phil Irving’s claims of Whiteford receiving outside assistance?

I can find no record of this in any of the published information I have access to.

It is not mentioned in any of the contemporary newspaper reports of the meeting- not in Howard’s AGP account in HAGP, Howard’s ‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’, Barry Green’s superb long piece on the meeting in ‘Albert Park Glory Days’ or in the November or December 1953 issues of Australian Motor Sports.

Lets not forget that the protests were heard and decided, according to the SMH, on the day after the race- Sunday 22 November.

The Stewards of the meeting, given all of the circumstances, and I have in mind the logistics of communication at the meeting, could choose to admit as evidence what they saw as appropriate- and call witnesses.

By that i mean the Marshal concerned could have been called, and no doubt others who were stationed on the corner at the time to give their account of what Irving wrote occurred, to the Stewards, and for them to then make a determination accordingly.

So, on balance, and in the absence of other accounts which agree with Irving’s I don’t believe his version of events to be the correct one. I am happy to alter that position if other proof, a photograph or first-hand spectators recollection, for example can be made available.

I wonder if Phil, writing his book years later- it was published after his death in 1992, is somehow linking DW’s Saturday morning practice spin with the Saturday post-event protests? Irving makes no mention in his book of the other protests addressed by Howard, Green and the SMH in their reports.

Intriguing isn’t it?

(Fairfax)

Winners are Grinners: ‘Dicer Doug’ has won his third and last AGP.

His birthdate is a bit of a mystery but a consensus seems to be during 1914, so it makes him 39, still a young man albeit a racing veteran of not far short of 20 years then.

A great shame to me was his purchase of a 300S Maserati when the factory lobbed with five cars- three 250F’s and two 300S for the 1956 AGP right here at Albert Park- those machines were driven by Messrs Moss and Behra.

I mean it’s a shame in that, if he had bought and raced a 250F he would have been right in amongst Jones, Davison, Reg Hunt and Ted Gray with an equal car. He made the 300S sing but a 250F would have been a more appropriate car methinks

Things go better with Melbourne Bitter- Coke in this case for ‘Dicer Doug’ (Fairfax)

’53 AGP Australian Motor Racing Context…

This excerpt from the 1953-54 LCCA Annual Report is self explanatory and whilst it is self-serving does provided valuable information about the positive impact of the event in terms of the public’s perception of motor racing.

‘When your committee finally obtained permission to conduct the Australian Grand Prix on Albert Park circuit the victory was only half won.

To overcome public prejudice has been the major bugbear of organised racing on public roads and any incompetent handling of this delicate situation could easily have touched off an explosion of indignation.

That we did not receive even one complaint can be attributed to good fortune and untiring organisation of directors and officials. As it can be said that enthusiasts will make the best of the most adverse conditions, our achievements at Albert Park was the greater in having gratified both the general public and the competitors.

In justifying the faith which the Albert Park Trust, inexperienced in motor racing, was prepared to place in our ability, we have broken down one of the few remaining barriers to a more general acceptance of motor racing as one of the national sports.’

Etcetera…

Whereizzit?! Whiteford sneaks a peek at what he already knows- his pit is close and he has 5 laps in hand, but still a heart in the mouth moment.

Bob King recalls the moment ‘My memory says I saw Doug on the bare rim at Melford Corner, but this must be wrong. This photo is probably taken on the way from Jaguar Corner (which is still there if you look for it) and the pits. After all, I was only 15 and it was my first motor race: A life changing event.’

(S Wills)

Ted McKinnon’s 15th placed Maserati 6CM1500. An ex-works car, this machine first raced in Australia at the 1951 AGP at Narrogin, WA, raced by visiting Englishman Colin Murray.

Car #57 alongside is not entered in the AGP (Dacre Stubbs)

(Dacre Stubbs)

 

(D Elms)

Lou Molina’s fifth placed Molina Monza Holden Special and then Les Murphy, MG Q Type fourth, about to be rounded up at speed by Stan Jones in Maybach 1- an unusual angle of Albert Park at its south end.

(R Townley)

Bibliography…

‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard and ors, ‘Lex Davison: Larger Than Life’ Graham Howard, ‘Phil Irving: An Autobiography’, ‘Glory Days’ Barry Green, Australian Motor Sports December 1953,

Melbourne Sun 22 November 1953, Sydney Morning Herald 23 November 1953

Photo Credits…

Dacre Stubbs Collection-Martin Stubbs, R Fulford Collection, State Library of Victoria, VHRR Collection, Fairfax Media, Ken Wheeler via Richard Townley Collection, Spencer Wills via Bob King Collection

Tailpiece: Whiteford on the way to victory, Talbot-Lago T26C…

(R Fulford/SLV)

Finito…

 

On the Port Adelaide wharf, January 1951. Type 35 Bugatti, GP Lago Talbot and 4CL Maserati (Bob King)

This whole online caper is interesting not least for the people you meet in the virtual world and as a consequence subsequently in the real one.

Greg Smith is one such fellow, he is a well known Melbourne racer/engineer/restorer who wrote an article for us a while back. We were discussing some arcane topic online the other week which led to an invitation to one of Smithy’s wonderful Wednesday night feasts in honour of the late Italian/Australian hotelier/racer/raconteur Lou Molina- who looks down on proceedings from the wall with approval at Greg’s execution of some of Lou’s Italian dishes.

There were some fine car/racing identities there on the night including Perth boy Rod Quinn, and locals Ron McCallum, David Ogg and Bob King. Since then Bob and I have joined the Automotive Historians Australia Inc (many of you would be interested in this several years old group, a topic for another time) and the two day AHA conference gave me the chance to twist Bob’s arm into contributing an occasional article or two.

Bob King hustling the Anzani Bugatti around the Adelaide GP road circuit (Bob King)

He is a retired medical practitioner who has had a lifetime interest in vintage and racing cars and Bugattis- his particular passion. As well as racing and rallying these cars, he has maintained a deep interest in their history which culminated in the publication of three books on Australian (and New Zealand) Bugattis as well as one on the Brescia Bugatti. Bob has had historical articles published in many journals. He continues to enjoy restoring and driving his small collection of a Bebe Peugeot, Bugatti T35B and an AC Ace.

Bob is a wonderful, knowledgeable chap, its great to have him involved, his first ‘Words from Werrangourt’ piece is titled-

‘The Dale brothers, importers of important cars- Part 1’

Anyone who is fortunate enough to have old copies of Australian Motor Sport (January 1946 to April 1971) will be aware of wordy advertisements for exotic cars imported by the Dale brothers: Peter Durham Dale and Henry K H Dale. Their origins are something of a mystery, but it is thought they had some Egyptian ancestry mixed with more recent English blood – Henry may have been born in England.

Dale brothers on the 1936 AGP grid at Victor Harbor in December 1936, Bugatti T37A. Henry driving, Peter alongside- DNF after 9 laps in the race won by the Les Murphy MG P Type (Bob King)

 

Dale boys during the Victor Harbor race, I wonder if he caught it! (Morris Family)

They are recalled as two rather pompous single men who lived the life of gentlemen in a terrace house in Williams Road, Toorak in Melbourne. Well remembered is a large round ‘coffee’ table in the drawing room on which was displayed the latest copy of every motoring magazine. The garage on the side street was opened to reveal the latest, newly acquired exotica. Peter, known as ‘Durham’ had some mundane job with an insurance company as well as being a journalist on the ‘Truth’ newspaper; he wrote a three part history of the pre-war Australian Grand Prix in AMS, which piqued the interest of the writer in these races. Henry, christened Hylton, was usually engaged in the wool trade in Egypt.

The writer’s earliest memory of Peter was at Fisherman’s Bend car races in the late 1950’s. A friend and I were gazing in awe at Miles Ryan’s 100mph Low Chassis Invicta. I commented to said friend that the radiator badge was not straight. We were addressed in a stentorious tone by one whom were later told was Peter Dale: “That is how you know it is handmade” – a lesson well learnt. We do not have a chronology of cars imported by the Dales, but let us start with three on a wharf.

Peter Dale in ‘37160’ with its unusual ‘Touriste’ body by Jarvis of Wimbledon (Bob King)

The Bugatti 35A is not an ‘A’, but a 1925 Molsheim works racing Type 35, chassis no. 4575.

It was Jules Goux’s 2 litre car for the French and Spanish Grands Prix of that year. The French GP was a 1000km race held in torrential rain over 9 1/2 hours. The Bugatti team finished intact with Goux in fifth place. What endurance.

Henry spotted its radiator in the back of a garage in Neuilly-Sur-Seine in about 1950 and bought it for about $150. Although it had not been run since before the war, he had the oil changed and then undertook a delightful Autumnal drive to Marseille, from where the car was shipped to Adelaide.

Fisherman’s Bend Races – don’t be fooled by the blower blow off hole in the bonnet, Herb Ford had swapped bonnets with his supercharged Type 37A, ‘37332’. (Dino Lanzi)

Peter collected it, had it registered by Bob Burnett-Read who actually substituted a Ford Prefect from his used car lot for the Bugatti – the weigh bridge man seemed satisfied with this. The car was driven by Peter to Melbourne and from there to Bathurst for the Easter races where it performed creditably in the hands of Lyndon Duckett and Peter Dale.

They had driven there in a convoy of 4 Bugattis – the Type 35, the Anzani Bugatti, a Type 51A and a Type 57C – Dales ‘Ecurie Pur Sang’. The next owner of the 35 was Bugatti enthusiast Herb Ford who sold it on when it emitted expensive noises from its roller bearing crankshaft. In the words of Peter, it was ‘a mass of fatigued stresses’.

Some more photos of Bugatti Type 35 ‘4575’…

(P-Y Laugier)

This photograph above is thought to be M Poret in the car pre-war, he was a Parisian owner.

(B Burnett-Read)

This photograph was taken shortly after arrival in Australia. Bob Burnett-Read has just had the car registered prior to Peter Dale’s drive from Adelaide to Melbourne.

(Bob King)

Herb Ford only used the car once or twice, including a sprint on or near the Geelong Road (accounts vary). It is said he made the fastest 1/4 mile time- finishing at astronomical revs in third, maybe this is why the engine was making unpleasant noises.

He sold the tired car to John Martin who did not keep it long enough to dismantle the complicated built-up roller bearing crank before passing it on to John Thomson. Here it is with Martin- note the ill-fitting bonnet from the 37A- when adding a supercharger to an unblown GP Bug, the steering box is moved up and back, to make space. Hence the steering drop arm being in the wrong place.

(unattributed)

The next owner, John Thomson had the good fortune to be friendly with Bugatti expert Peter Menere, at his Brighton ‘Pier Prestige Garage’.

John was dead keen to have a GP Bug, and after prolonged and unsuccessful haggling with Ford, he eventually bought the dismantled car from Martin for an astromonical 870 pounds, the Brighton Buggattisti thought he was mad. After spending a further 700 pounds with Moore Hydraulics getting the crankshaft ground, and untold hours toiling over the rest of the car, he eventually had a going car- an original, unmolested factory racing car, no less. Not long after completing the car in the mid-sixties John moved to London, the car following him in 1972. In 1974 50 years of the Grand Prix Bugatti was celebrated in Lyon with an amazing turn-up of Grand Prix Bugattis. John is seen in the car on that occasion.

(unattributed)

On the starting line at Limonest Hillclimb, Lyon.

A great action shot of John on Prescott Hillclimb- the hillclimb owned and run by the Bugatti Owners Club (unattributed)

A well known photo of the Talbot-Lago ‘110007’ below but worth seeing again. Doug Whiteford AGP, Albert Park, 21 November 1953 – ‘Yes Doug, your tyre is missing’.

Lago Talbot GP chassis no. 110007 was the car with which Louis Chiron had won the 1949 French Grand Prix. Henry was contemplating purchasing Raymond Sommer’s Lago, but was advised by Chiron to speak to Paul Vallee, patron of Ecurie France, as he might sell Chiron’s car which was being prepared for the Barcelona Grand Prix. It was entrained to Marseille and thence to Adelaide.

Its first owner in Australia was Tom (Happy) Hawkes who only drove it once or twice. Its serious debut was at the 1951 Easter Bathurst meeting, 1951; Hawkes drove it to third in the Bathurst 100 and Whiteford was third in another scratch race, setting a new lap record of 3 minutes.

The ‘Maestro’ Whiteford won the 1952 GP at Bathurst and the 1953 race at Albert Park, in spite of the tyre issue.

Here the car is pictured below during the December 1956 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Albert Park, by then the ‘6 plug’ chassis ‘110007’ was owned by Owen Bailey, whose race was shortlived with axle failure on the line.

(S Wills)

AGP Albert Park paddock with the ‘6 plug’ Bailey ‘110007’ in front of the car Doug Whitford replaced it with- an earlier car, chassis ‘110002’ but to more advanced specification inclusive of more powerful ’12 plug’ 4.5 litre motor. Stirling Moss won the feature race aboard a Maserati 250F.

(S Wills)

Beautiful shot of ‘Dicer Doug’ Whiteford with Peter Dale during the 1956 AGP carnival. Car is Talbot-Lago ‘110002’. It would be interesting to know how many AGP’s in total the various cars the Dales imported over the years contested.

(S Wills)

Cockpit below is ’12 plug’, ‘110002’, Spencer Wills photograph again taken in the Albert Park paddock. Quadrant for the pre-selector gearbox clear.

(S Wills)

Photo below of Owen Bailey at Albert Park, am intrigued to know which meeting. It appears he has spun into a gutter, or been rammed from behind.- the shape of the dent suggests the former.

(S Wills)

Shot below is of Whiteford in the ’12 plug’ ‘110002’ at Fishermans Bend on 12 February 1956.

(S Wills)

 

(unattributed)

‘The Maserati 4CL, chassis No. 1579 is first recognised as Raymond Sommer’s 1946 Marseilles Grand Prix winning car.

In the photo above Sommer is being led by Tazio Nuvolari in another 4CL during the second heat. Sommer won both this 15 lap heat and 35 lap final, the great Mantuan failed to finish the preliminary and therefore did not qualify for the final run on the Marseille Prado Street circuit on 13 May.

It was painted blue for its French owner. Again it was Louis Chiron who suggested Henry should buy it from Sommer’s widow – Sommer had been the owner of one of Europe’s largest carpet manufacturers.

Via an advertisement in Australian Motor Sport, the car was soon in the hands of Victorian Peter Vennermark. He soon had trouble with the highly supercharged 1.5 litre engine, which had developed an appetite for cylinder blocks. Unlike the other two cars featured which have returned to Europe, this car remains in the caring hands of the Victorian owners.’

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, ‘Bugattis in Australia and New Zealand, 1920 to 2012’ Bob King and Peter McGann

Photo Credits…

Bob King Collection, Herald-Sun, G Griffiths, S Anderson, Morris Family, Spencer Wills, Bob Burnett-Read, Pierre-Yves Laugier

Finito…

sew

There has to be an interesting article in evolution of the GeePee cockpit and controls over time, does there not? Here its the tiller of the Johnny Herbert’s Stewart SR3 Ford on the grid of the 1999 Spanish GP at Barcelona on 30 May…

He retired from the race with transmission failure on lap 40 of the 65 laps, the event won by Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren MP4/14 Mercedes. Rubens Barrichelo was generally the quicker of the two Stewart drivers that season but Johnny broke through for the teams first and last Grand Prix win at the Nurburgring on 26 September.

talbot

(Adoc/Corbis)

Fifty years before, the state of the art is demonstrated by one of the Talbot Lago T26C’s, being fuelled on the Albi GP grid on 10 July 1949, quadrant for the pre-selector ‘box and chassis plate clear below the wheel in shot. Wonderful image isn’t it!?

Credits…

Tobias Heyer, Adoc/Corbis