Posts Tagged ‘Ted Gray’

(B Young)

Stan Jones, Maser 250F and Bib Stillwell Cooper T43 Climax joust into Mountford Corner during the 1958 ‘Longford Trophy’ Gold Star round, 3 March…

It was the first time the great Tasmanian circuit hosted a round of the national drivers championship, the locals turned out in droves, including enthusiast/photographer Bob Young who took these remarkable, crisp oh-so-clear, evocative photographs.

Colour photos of this quality are so rare of Australian racing then. Each one in some ways deserves to be posted on its own but in the end I decided it was better to do a short article around them as a group. They are not the only shots he took on the day mind you- others have already been posted on the Historic Racing Car Club of Tassie Facebook page and filched by me! See the links at the articles end to view some of them.

I wonder whether Stan is having a shot down the outside of Bib or is Bib plunging down the tiny- but just big enough gap Jones left for his fellow Melbourne motor dealer buddy/competitor. Whatever the case, i suspect Stan The Man- and he was very much one of them at the time, gathered Bib up on the long run out of the tight right-hander, gently rising and then steeper towards the Water Tower- 2.5 litres of Maser six having a bit more grunt than a 1.7 litre Climax FWA four.

 

Otto Stone steering, Stan and John Sawyer, 250F, Longford 1958. Racer/engineer Stone’s counsel and car preparation were key factors, with perhaps Jones growing maturity as a driver, in Stan’s well deserved success. Pirelli Stelvio tyres BTW- photo is that sharp! It’s early in the weekend, the team have not applied the real race number decals to the car yet (B Young)

 

Bib sold his ex-Hunt 250F to Arnold Glass and jumped into the first of many water-cooled Coopers with the T43 (F2/9/57 according to John Blanden) whereas Stan, who changed racing cars more often than he did his Jocks- and had a long history of Cooper air-cooled and T23 experience, hung onto the 250F (chassis ‘2520’) and profited from the decision rather than jump into a Cooper just then. He did of course buy T51’s in time, with which he was very fast.

Stan won the 1958 Gold Star with two victories at Fishermans Bend and Phillip Island- book-ending his season with wins and returned to Longford twelve months hence and finally won the AGP he so richly deserved aboard the 250F from Len Lukey.

By that stage Lukey had switched from the Cooper T23 Bristol shown below to an ex-Brabham Cooper T45 Climax Jack raced in Australasia in late 1958 and over the summer races of 1959 before heading back to the UK and a World Championship aboard factory Cooper T51’s.

 

Len jumped from Ford Customline Touring Cars into this Cooper Bristol and an evolved Lukey Bristol in a relatively too brief racing career, his ‘Lukey Mufflers’ business funded his racing efforts- he was a friend to motor racing via Phillip Island and other means for the rest of his life. Another mighty shot, Len has just started his turn-in to Mountford, car looks just superb, as indeed it was-well prepared and driven (B Young)

 

Lukey’s Cooper Bristol was the ex-Tom Cole-Reg Hunt-Kevin Neal machine, chassis ‘CBR/2/9/53’ with which he did so well in 1957-8, but the reality was the car wasn’t an outright winner, hence the upgrade to the then, very much latest available, Cooper T45. With this he pursued Gold Star 1959 success in a year of speed, consistency, good preparation and perseverance- at twelve rounds it was the longest ever Gold Star championship.

Late in its ‘in period’ Australian life the front engined T23 was fitted, as all of the Australian Cooper Bristols were, with a Holden ‘grey’-six or Chev small-block V8, in the case of this car a Holden engine. The racer eventually passed to the Donington Collection in the early seventies and later still back into private hands.

 

The Man in Red- Lukey nattily dressed with his wife holding a serious camera. Long chromed exhaust said to be unique to this ex-Cole-Gibson-Hunt-Neal-Lukey et al car (B Young)

 

There is little doubt a 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF powered Cooper would have very comfortably won the 1959 AGP and Gold Star but them things were like hens teeth- 2.5 FPF’s were issued only to works and favoured teams in Grand Prix racing until the Climax lads could keep pace with global demand which in practical terms meant during 1960.

Ted Gray won the Longford Trophy on this clear but chilly Tasmanian weekend, to have heard the big, booming fuel-injected Chev V8 engined Tornado blasting its way around Longford would have been really something!  This car does sound just like an F5000, imagine that in 1958!

It’s showtime. Raceday. Just love this shot, atmosphere plus.

Len Lukey’s and Lou Abrahams’ boys push their steeds to the form-up area. That beautiful, clever beastie to the left is Tornado 2 Chev 283, the yellow Cooper in the background is Aussie Millers T41. Note the Repco service van- its chilly too, 3 March is still summer’ish but most of the chaps are well rugged up against Tasmanian cool.

 

(HRCCT)

 

Business end of the Tornado 2 Chev in the Longford paddock. GM Corvette ‘small block’ 283 CID V8 with lots of goodies from the US including Vertex magneto and home grown fuel injection using some Hilborn Travers components, circa 380bhp (B Young)

 

As you would have surmised from the foregoing descriptions of the cars, Australian National F1 at the time (until the end of 1963) was run to Formula Libre, hence the presence of Doug Whiteford’s ex-works Maserati 300S below.

I have bemoaned the fact that Doug bought a sportscar from the Officine Maserati team at the end of the 1956 AGP weekend at Albert Park, rather than one of the three 250F’s they had with them.

Whilst Douggie was no spring-chookin’ by then- he started racing pre-War and won his first AGP aboard his Ford V8 Spl ‘Black Bess’ back in 1950, he still would have given his contemporaries a serious run for their money in his always beautifully prepared and driven cars.

Doug sold this car in the early-sixties to Bill Leech, the racer and pillar of the Victorian Light Car Club who used the car both on the road- it was a familiar sight on Beach Road jaunts from Brighton, and at historic meetings in the early years of such racing in Australia. It was a sad day when this ‘mobile Monet’ left our shores.

 

Ooh-la-la. Sex on wheels and what a backdrop- the vivid red Maser 300S ‘3055’ contrasted against the dark shadows and green Mountford Pine- it’s still there by the way (B Young)

 

It was another batch of Bob Young’s photos which inspired an article I wrote a little while back on Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 Spyder, which on this weekend was driven by Melbourne Hillclimb ace Bruce Walton in the sportscar events.

 

(B Young)

The photo below is of the A Edison entered 1250cc MG TF Spl- I know nothing about the car or driver, who can fill us in?

 

(B Young)

 

Article Links…

Longford Trophy and Tornados; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

Porsche 550 Speedster; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/28/hamiltons-porsche-550-spyder/

Longford in detail; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

Stan Jones; https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

Doug Whiteford; https://primotipo.com/2015/05/05/doug-whiteford-black-bess-woodside-south-australia-1949/

Credits…

Bob Young on Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania Facebook page, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

 

(B Young)

 

Tailpiece: The ‘Tasmanian Tyre Service’ Handicap…

It’s a bit of a puzzling photo really- the handicap grid sort of makes sense but Doug Whiteford belongs up the back with Stan as ‘scratch- men’ rather than at front left. John Youl’s red Porsche 356 stands out, other drivers and cars folks?

By the way, they are in the original starting line area, on The Flying Mile, just a way back from Mountford Corner, clearly Bob Young stuck to this part of the track and the paddock- to the right of the racing cars.

 

Cropped version of the above photo, the focus Stanley, ‘2520’ and the lads (B Young)

John Sawyer is leaning on the tail, Otto Stone is on the right approaching, Stan readies himself in the cockpit, I wonder who the fella in the neato Maserati overalls is, and in the MG TF up the road to the right is Charles Button, still active in the Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania today Grant Twining tells me.

Finito…

Ted Gray’s #1 Tornado 2 Chev and Len Lukey’s Cooper T23 Bristol being pushed to the ‘Longford Trophy’ grid in 1958…

What an amazing shot! Colour racing photographs in Australia at the time were relatively rare given the cost of film and that professional ‘snappers mainly worked in monochrome given the demands of publications of the day.

So these pictures took my breath away. The Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania is posting some amazing photographs on its Facebook page. Its incredible the way FB and other online forums provide mediums for the distribution of enthusiast photos which would otherwise be chucked out upon someones death or locked away forever.

The shots are of ‘the more you look the more you see type’. Note the black Repco van and bucolic feel of the parched, brown Longford paddock and surrounding countryside. About 40,000 people attended that March long weekend raceday, it was a big meeting for its time in the Apple Isle. The little yellow Cooper T41 Climax is local boy Austin Miller’s.

I wrote a feature article about both this event and the Lou Abrahams owned Tornado a while back, click here to read it rather than repeat myself.

https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

Bill Mayberry, looking very natty in his red team overalls, takes a well earned rest beside Tornado. Its got a touch of 250F about it in terms of styling albeit not as voluptuous. Slimmer tho, with a higher cockpit surround- perhaps it slipped thru the air a bit better than Masers finest. You can see just how small the cars frontal area is relative to the Cooper Bristol in the opening head-on shot. Austin Miller’s raised yellow Cooper tail you can see and to the right M Hart’s Fiat Abarth 750 (HRCT)

It was a challenging weekend for the Tornado crew as Ted Gray was ill for most of it and there were major dramas with the car, specifically its gearbox. So, the calm looks of the crew are not reflective of some late nights.

Len Lukey’s Cooper was outgunned at Longford, very much a power circuit but Len was soon to become an outright contender- and 1959 Gold Star winner with the purchase of a 2 litre Coventry Climax FPF powered Cooper T43 Climax from Jack Brabham after the Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park later in 1958.

Simply marvellous really…

Tailpiece: Tornado 2 Chevy V8…

image

The attention to detail of this wonderful car extends to the engines rocker covers. Chev Corvette 283 cid cast iron, small block V8. Surely there are few production V8’s which spawned more race success than this family of engines? Small block Le Mans winning ‘Windsor’ Fords duly noted! Vertex magneto, hand made fuel injection system using Hilborn Travers componentry, fabricated extractors, note the steering shaft and universal joint. Body in aluminium by the Mayberry brothers in Melbourne (B Young)

Credits…

Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Bob Young, Stephen Dalton

 

Mrs JAS Jones lines up, left, in her Alfa Romeo 6C1750 SS Zagato prior to the start of a race at Gerringong Beach, New South Wales, 12 May 1930…

Alongside her is the obscured Bugatti T37A of three-time Australian Grand Prix winner Bill Thompson and the Chryslers of E Patterson and #72/14 HJ Beith.

In the politesse of the times Mrs JAS Jones ‘married well’. Her husband Mr John A.S. Jones, ‘Lithgow’s leading businessman’ owned the ‘Zig-Zag Brewery’ and ten hotels. Lithgow is a city in the New South Wales Central Tablelands region 150 Km west of Sydney.

The cashflow of these enterprises provided the means for Mrs Jones ‘…a very congenial hostess who entertains lavishly at her homes in Lithgow and Darling Point, Sydney’ to acquire some wonderful racing cars including the ex-works 1929 Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo 6C1750 SS Zagato chassis number ‘0312894’.

This car played a significant part in Australian motor racing into the late 1950’s being much raced, ‘climbed, trialled, crashed, bashed and modified before being ‘rescued’ and restored in the seventies and eighties.

Jones was one of the great pioneers of Australian motor racing- born Nina Vida Harris in 1882, her motoring career started in the family Chandler and then progressed to a Crossley ‘which she raced at Maroubra with a measure of success’.

After a trip to Europe ‘witnessing real motor racing in France and Italy between Bentley, Sunbeam, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes and Bugatti concerns’, she acquired the Alfa, which was soon shipped to Australia in 1929. It is said she tested the Alfa Romeo model range together with Giulio Ramponi, works driver before choosing the 6C1750 SS, and an astute choice it was for the range of events run in Australia at the time.

Ramponi co-drove the winning 6c 1750 SS in the April 1929 Mille together with Giuseppe Campari. ‘Racing Sports Cars’ in its race results listing offers the tenth placed 6C 1750 SS driven by A Bornigia/Carlo Pintacuda as possibly chassis ‘0312894’ whilst John Blanden in his book suggests the car as ‘reputed to be’ the sixth place Minoia/Marinoni machine.

Jones posing with her new 6C1750 the day after it arrived in Australia (T Forrest)

Jones was immediately competitive in the thoroughbred, over the next few years she was a regular competitor in the large number of ‘Reliability Trials’ which were the staple of New South Wales Royal Automobile Club and Light Car Club events. These contests always included speed tests, typically acceleration test(s) and more often than not a hillclimb.

The 6C1750 was immediately one of the fastest cars in the country, the Bugatti T37A of four-time Australian Grand Prix winner Bill Thompson always gave the Alfa a run for its money whenever it competed in these events. More often than not Jones won her class and occasionally set FTD.

It appears her earliest event was the RACA reliability trial run out of Canberra in August 1929. She contested another of these events in September establishing second fastest time of the day at the grass surface Prospect Hillclimb and another from Sydney to Cattai Creek in December.

The cars 1930 logbook commenced with the Prospect Hillclimb in February and the RACA Sydney to Robertson Reliability Trial.

Disaster was only narrowly averted in her next appearance at Gerringong Beach, in the NSW Illawarra 130 Km to Sydney’s south in May 1930. Car racing was held on the beach during the twenties and into the post-war period.

Travelling last of four in a heat of the Four Mile Handicap at well over 100mph numerous spectators surged forward, the first three cars having passed the finishing post, onto the sand track to see the Alfa take the chequered flag. She hit one man, a Chrysler mechanic, Norman Curley having avoided several other people who had come too far, hurling him into the air and breaking his leg.

Bill Thompson was the star of the day at Gerringong winning several races including the feature event, the Sydney Bicycle and Motor Club Fifty Mile Handicap off the back of his AGP win in the same chassis at Phillip Island on March 24.

In a sequel to the breaking of the mechanic’s leg, Mr Curley took action in the Darlinghurst Court against Jones for alleged negligence for 1000 pounds in damages in June 1931, having spent seven weeks in hospital after the incident. Unsurprisingly, the jury found in favour of Jones, a competitor not an organiser of the meeting and therefore not someone responsible for crowd safety. The matter was not left to chance, Jones was represented by Kings Counsel at some considerable expense to the years racing budget.

Jones and riding mechanic, Gerringong Beach May 1930 Alfa 6C1750 SS (Fairfax)

Gerringong May 1930, competitors unknown (Fairfax)

Nina was said by the Sydney press to be entered in the 1930 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island but did not compete in the race won by Thompson’s Bug T37A.

In June a standing quarter mile competition was held on the Bondi Beach promenade, she did a time of 18.2-5 seconds and beat 64 other competitors in what would have been quite a spectacle. A dog dashed onto the course during one of Jones’ runs whilst the Alfa was flat chat at full speed, disaster was averted by the experienced pilot veering around the frightened hound and applying the brakes ‘causing the car to twirl almost around’.

The earliest reported event in 1931 is the June LCC Trial from Sydney to Avon Dam, she won her class acceleration test. In May she set a speed record for women at 93.264 mph over a measured half mile at Richmond and was disappointed with the result, her run in was too short she felt.

Jones did another of these trials in July and in August- this time from Sydney to Wisemans Ferry where she did the fastest times for supercharged cars. In October the Alfa was pointed to the Razorback where the combination were quickest in both the subsidiary acceleration tests and the hillclimb.

Mr A Hunter competed in the car at Maroubra after it was reopened in July 1932 in a weird event comprising a series of acceleration, braking and parking tests.

The following month Jones ‘threw the keys’ of the Alfa to the great Bill Thompson who had a steer of it in an LCC acceleration test event. It would be interesting to know his ‘compare and contrast’ thoughts of the six-cylinder supercharged Alfa Romeo Sportscar with his four-cylinder supercharged Bugatti Grand Prix machine.

In a famous 1933 incident recounted down the decades Jones had her first big accident.

A convoy of ‘ten of the fastest sportscars in Australia’ set out from Sydney to Melbourne and thence down to the Westernport Bay to witness the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island- the drivers turning the journey into a race and ‘thundering down the Hume Highway at near Grand Prix speeds’.

Jones with her daughter Vida as passenger, having easily outdistanced the rest of the group, when cornering at over 100 mph near Albury had a nail puncture a rear tyre causing the car to roll whereupon Vittorio Jano’s greatest caught fire and was substantially damaged.

‘Travelling around the corner the next man along, John Sherwood (a racer of considerable aplomb)…found the two women practically unhurt but dismally watching their car crackling furiously. The Alfa was burnt right out after unsuccessful efforts were made to put out the flames’.

To add further to the family woes, the patriarch, John AS Jones died in May 1933.

The Alfa was rebuilt by local artisans in Sydney with parts imported from Italy, making its post rebuild competition debut at Bar Beach Hillclimb, Newcastle in August 1934. In another disaster, Jones son Jack, also a racer, after his own run in the Alfa, took his mother up as passenger, lost control, crashed, overturned and hit a telegraph pole gifting his mother a broken thigh and six weeks in hospital.

This second incident, with no doubt her husbands death on her mind, determined the lady racer to retire, she still occasionally drove the 1750 but the more ‘intense’ of events were contested by personal friends driving the car.

Jones did not lose her pace however, as late as April 1937 she won her class FTD at Waterfall Hillclimb in the exotic supercharged machine. Son James won the local River Lett Hillclimb near Lithgow in July 1937.

The Jones family finally parted with the much loved and well used car in 1938. John Blanden records the March 1938 advertisement in ‘The Car’ claiming ‘0312894’ to be completely overhauled and in perfect mechanical condition. The reported cost of the Alfa when landed in Australia was 1750 pounds. Claims were made for hillclimb records at Waterfall, Robertson and Kurrajong in NSW and Mount Tarrengower, Maldon, Victoria.

John Barraclough Sporting Cars of Sydney handled the sale with Barraclough, an ace of the time, racing the car at Penrith Speedway in April ’38 to keep the car in the eye of potential purchasers. Graham Howard’s biography of Lex Davison records that Lex’ father AA Davison at one stage considered buying the ‘crashed 1750 Zagato Alfa’ but perhaps this was after one of the earlier accidents not in 1938. Barraclough entered the car in the April 1938 Australian Grand Prix won by Peter Whitehead’s ERA R10B at Bathurst but the car did not start- whether John practiced or did not appear because of the cars sale, or some other reason, is unclear. After the car was advertised for a short time ‘Racing Ron’ Edgerton purchased it.

Ted Gray, Alfa Ford V8, during the October 1946 New South Wales Grand Prix at Bathurst. He was fourth in the handicap race aboard ‘0312894’ won by Alf Najar’s MG TB monoposto. The car still looks a picture at this stage (postcard from The Tom Woolnough Collection)

In a disastrous, expensive start to his ownership the engine ingested a loose part of the carburettor and comprehensively destroyed itself on the way down the Hume Highway from Sydney to Edgerton’s home in Melbourne. He rebuilt the engine, I have unearthed no record of the cars competition in his ownership, the car was sold post-war to Wangaratta, Victoria businessman/racer Ted Gray in 1944. Edgerton later raced an even more exotic Jano Alfa Romeo, the ex-Alf Barrett Monza, chassis #2211134 which he acquired in 1950.

Gray cut his teeth on Victorian speedways and became one of Australia’s fastest drivers in the fifties. He first came to prominence at Aspendale in October 1938 when he gave Peter Whitehead and his ERA a run for his money in the Alan Male owned Midget- and then did it again at Rob Roy Hillclimb when Ted was only 0.8 seconds slower than Whitehead’s record for the hill. I wrote about Gray’s career in an article about the Tornado Chev, a car he raced with great skill, click here to read it;

https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

Ted Gray and passenger at what is believed to be Rob Roy Hillclimb to Melbourne’s outer east, date uncertain (T Forrest)

Gray, very attached to modified V8 engines having competed with the Alan Male owned Alta Ford V8 special pre-war, soon replaced the Alfa engine and gearbox with Ford components, in this form he raced the car extensively for the next few years. A Ford rear axle was also fitted. The work was performed in the workshop Ted and Bert Cox had in Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. The orginal engine and gearbox were not cast aside but put to use in a Singer chassis’d hillclimb special! John Blanden records that none of the major Alfa components were lost as the car was continually modified, which became important once the cars racing career was over twenty years hence and restoration commenced.

Gray raced the car at the NSW Grand Prix meeting, the first post-war Bathurst in October 1946, he was fourth in the handicap race won by Alf Najar’s MG TB. Despite the lack of circuits in Victoria, perhaps his focus was on speedway Midgets at the time, he didn’t race further in the Alfa at Bathurst but did contest the NSW Racing Car Championships held at RAAF Nowra in April 1947. Tom Lancey won that handicap in an MG TC, with Ted a DNF due to overheating problems with the big V8 after seven laps.

Ted Gray perhaps in the white overalls refuels ‘0321894’, flathead Ford V8 sits well back in the chassis. Dude in the Brylcreem is Doug Whiteford, later three-time AGP winner. Venue is Ballarat Airfield, Victoria on 27 January 1947. Car, sadly entered as ‘Mercury Spl’ (G Thomas)

AMS cover of the same meeting as the photo above, Ballarat Airfield January 1947 with Ted’s 6C V8 being rounded up by Alf Barrett’s straight-8 Alfa Monza- Vittorio Jano designs both of course (S Dalton Collection)

Bob Brown of Adelaide bought the car in 1949, he raced both locally and in Western Australia and Victoria including a big trip across the Nullarbor Pain to contesting the 1951 WA Hillclimb Championship in which he was tenth. A week later  he also competed in the ’51 Australian Grand Prix at the round-the-houses street circuit at Narrogin, a small farming town 200 Km to the south of Perth. He failed to finish, lasting only 3 laps in the race won by Warwick Pratley in the Sydney built Ford V8 engined ‘George Reed Special’. It was the last AGP win for a ‘traditional Australian Special’.

Its interesting that the only AGP the car contested was in 1951, noting the cars entry but non-start in the ’38 race at Bathurst. It’s intriguing as to why Jones did not race the car herself, or enter it for someone else during her period of ownership. Nor did Ted Gray, a most accomplished driver enter the car in the countries premier event during his time with it. They were Formula Libre handicap races after all, the beast in whatever form would have been welcome and a handicap determined appropriate to the the car spec/driver combination at the time.

The car competed in an early Port Wakefield, South Australia meeting in May 1951 doing a 17.4 second standing quarter and recording 100 mph for the flying quarter mile.

Adelaide’s Gavin Sandford-Morgan, owner, racer and restorer of many fine cars over the years was the next owner in 1952. He ‘refurbished and repainted’ the car in time to run it at the opening Collingrove Hillclimb meeting at Angaston in the Barossa Valley in March 1952. He was 2nd in the over 1500cc class. Gavin soon sold the car to Bob Jervies of Broken Hill, he raced it in local events and at Collingrove and Port Wakefield.

Going back a step, in 1950, when the car was owned by Bob Brown, Ross Lindsay left the road at the Woodside road circuit in the Adelaide Hills, hitting a stump, damaging the rear axle housing and a rear spring. More ‘butchery’ or keeping the car competitive to apply the perspective of a racer in period, occurred during Jervies ownership with replacement of the crashed, bashed, bruised and abused! Alfa chassis by a Fiat unit. An SS Jaguar front axle with Douglas aircraft brakes replaced the Alfa originals. At this point there was obviously little left of the car which left Milan in 1929, but again, the chassis was put to one side, not destroyed or trashed.

In the late fifties or early sixties South Australian Tony Cullen bought the car running it in local events before it was acquired in partnership by Melbourne Alfista John Lawson and Terry Valmorbida in 1971. And so, the next period of this significant cars life began- it’s restoration phase.

Car with Ford V8, just doesn’t look the part at all does it!? Mount Tarrengower circa 1975 (J Lloyd)

‘0312894’ at Mt Tarrengower in 1977, headlights not quite right, car more butch, racy and attractive to my mind in this form- the way it arrived in Oz ex-factory as against the way it was built originally- car could quite reasonably have been restored in either form (Blanden)

Lawson and Valmorbida acquired the cars original engine and ‘box. The much used and abused factory original Alfa chassis was saved by Ian Polson and sold by Noel Robson, who had kept it stored for many years, to Lawson, by then the sole owner of the car for $A20. Lawson also located the original front axle, steering box and brakes. The cars appearance was now original but unrestored.

Whilst the original engine’s rebuild was completed a 6C2300 unsupercharged Alfa engine was fitted, in this form the car made regular appearances in historic events including the Mount Tarrengower Hillclimb and at Phillip Island in 1977 and 1978. Many of us remember with glee the cars re-emergence then, as a young Uni student I officiated at Tarrengower and well remember the car at that, hot, dusty meeting.

‘Re-restoration’ process at Historic Vintage Restorations in 2010. ‘…a re-restoration, as over ten years the previous owner Diana Gaze restored it sensitively, retaining and rebuilding pretty well every major original component. The chassis rails and body were then deemed beyond economic repair and retained with the car for provenance although the original crossmembers were riveted to the new rails. These decisions were made in 1990 but times have changed so we have refreshed the mechanical bits and added originality. Photos here are before the re-restoration with the replica body (T Forrest photos and quote)

Diana Gaze, nee Davison, another great Alfista given the cars she and Lex owned and raced, acquired the car in 1983 and commenced a long restoration which involved Bob Williams and Mark Rye in Castlemaine- they were responsible for the chassis and reproduction body respectively. David Rapley took on the engine and later was given the whole project at ‘mock up’ stage. Kew Ward painted it and Grant White made the upholstery.

Terry Forest and Alfa at Phillip Island in 2007, after ‘first’ restoration (T Forrest)

Pretty as a picture, some of Vittorio Jano’s finest work technical details of car as per text below. 2007 shot after ‘first’ restoration (T Forrest)

Diana Gaze sold the car after its restoration, the new owner then had the car ‘re-restored’ some seven or eight years ago with the mechanical components ‘freshened’. The original body and chassis rails were incorporated this time- a decade before these were deemed beyond economic repair but were retained with the completed car and incorporated into the last rebuild as befitting a car now worth in excess of $A4 million.

The results of both restorations were quite stunning- Mrs JAS Jones would have been best pleased. Mind you, I expect she would have very quickly climbed aboard and set off at great speed rather than waste her time with the way the car looked…

1930 Alfa 6C1750 GS cutaway- not an SS but essential elements the same (unattributed)

The Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Zagato…

‘The 1750, and for that matter the 1500… must be among the finest ever made both from the point of view of engineering and driver satisfaction.’ – Michael Frostick, ‘Alfa-Romeo-Milano’.

Enzo Ferrari persuaded Vittorio Jano to leave FIAT’s racing department and join him at Alfa Romeo. Jano was one of the greatest car engineers of the twentieth century with a career that spanned the decades right through to his revolutionary Lancia D50 Grand Prix car of 1954- the 1956 Lancia-Ferrari or Ferrari 801 won the drivers and manufacturers championships that year.

Jano designed both Alfa Romeo’s grands-prix and road cars. As a consequence these ‘roadies’ emerged, influenced as they were by their more exotic brethren, as some of the most exciting and sophisticated of their day, establishing the Milanese marque’s reputation for producing sporting driver’s cars arguably unmatched at the time.

Jano arrived at Alfa in 1923. By the following year he had designed, and Alfa built the legendary P2. The P2 GP car achieved much race success and also provided the basis for Jano’s first production model- the 6C 1500 of 1927.

The car was designed as a fast touring machine combining light weight with sparkling performance by use of a 1,487cc inline six-cylinder engine based on the P2’s straight eight, it produced 44bhp in single-overhead-camshaft ‘Normale’ form.

The beautifully balanced machine had an engine mainly made of aluminium alloys of monobloc construction with gear driven camshaft(s) and five main bearings. The electrics were by Bosch with coil ignition. The multiplate clutch and gearbox drove the rear axle via a torque tube. Suspension was by half-elliptics all around, brakes were mechanical, rod operated and fully compensated. The front axle was of C-section, the front springs passed through holes in the beam. Small rods forming part of the front actuation passed upwards and through the centre of the king-pins.

Twin-overhead-camshaft ‘Sport’ and supercharged ‘Super Sport’ models followed, the latter being the first of its type to feature the classic open two-seater coachwork by Zagato forever associated with sporting vintage Alfas.

Production of the 6C 1500 ceased in 1929 upon the introduction of the 6C 1750.

(unattributed)

The 6C 1750 (1929-33) boasted a derivative of the 1500’s six-cylinder engine enlarged to 1,752cc. Built in single-cam Turismo and twin-cam Sport (later renamed Gran Turismo) variants it was an exciting, fast, touring car combining light weight with sparkling performance by the standards of the day, more than 120km/h (75mph) was achieved depending upon the coachwork fitted.

Aimed at gentleman racing drivers, or gentlewoman racing drivers in the case of ‘#0312894’!, there was also a limited edition Super Sport, or ‘SS’, version, which later evolved into the Gran Sport.

Produced only during 1929, the SS was available with or without a Roots-type supercharger fed by a Memini carburettor, the production split being 52/60 (blown/un-blown). Most of the cars carried coachwork by Carrozzeria Zagato or Touring with James Young bodying the majority of cars imported into the UK.

The 6C 1750 SS was one of the most popular and successful sports-racing cars of its day. Twenty Alfas competed in the 1929 Mille Miglia, with seven in the top ten. The race was won, for the second consecutive year, by Giuseppe Campari and Giulio Ramponi. Other high profile victories for model included the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps, Grand Prix of Ireland and the 12 Hours of San Sebastian – all in 1929 – plus the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps and the RAC Tourist Trophy in 1930. The 1750’s sporting career, aided by its mechanical longevity, extended far beyond its production, which ceased in 1933.

Mrs Jones’ cars competitive life extended well beyond 1933 of course, I doubt any of the 6C1750’s built were used in anger longer than this car!

Bibliography…

Lithgow Mercury 22 March 1954, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, various newspaper articles via Trove 1929-37, ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ John Medley, ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’ John Medley, Bonhams, article by Sir Anthony Stamer in MotorSport December 1961, contributions on the Alfa BB Forum especially Terry Forrest, Racing Sports Cars, Stephen Dalton

Photo Credits…

Fairfax Media, Tom Woolnough Collection, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Terry Forrest Collection, John Lloyd, Stephen Dalton Collection

Finito…

bib

Bib Stillwell’s new fangled Cooper T43 Climax leads Stan Jones olde world Maserati 250F off Long Bridge towards Newry Corner, Longford 3 March 1958…

Ted Gray’s Lou Abraham’s owned Australian Special, ‘Tornado 2 Chev’ took the win in ‘The Longford Trophy’. There was life in front engined cars yet, Jones took the 1959 Australian Grand Prix at Longford in his fabulous Maserati, albeit assisted by the absence of 2.5 litre Climax engined Coopers, that would change soon enough.

Stillwell was still learning his craft, his time at the top came in the sixties with four Australian championships ‘on the trot’ from 1962 to 1965…

Introduction…

As usual photo’s have stimulated the article, this time a great series of shots Lindsay Ross of oldracephotos.com posted on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ of the Tasmanian event. The fact that Tornado won this and other races makes the car one of the great Australian Specials up there with the Charlie Dean/Stan Jones/Repco Maybach and the crazy-innovative Chamberlain brothers built Chamberlain 8.

I didn’t so much see the Tornado as hear it for the first time. I was at Sandown in the 1970’s and heard what i thought was an F5000 on circuit, in fact it was Tornado, small block, injected Chev V8 powered. I made a bee-line for the car in the paddock and marvelled at the smarts behind its construction and the ‘balls of steel’ of the fella who raced it in period.

Other tangents in this article are the Tornado’s pilot, Ted Gray about whom little has been written, the 1958 Gold Star series and AGP which he deserved to, should the planets have been better aligned, won!

stns car fettled

(Walkem Collection)

Otto Stone, leaning over the Maser’s engine and John Sawyer fettle Stan Jones’ 250F in the Longford paddock. Jones’ performances in the car improved once Stone started preparing it. By 1958 they understood the Italian stallion’s nuances and Stan’s driving was a little more of a ‘percentage game’ than a ‘win or bust’ approach. Dividends were Gold Star victory in 1958 and AGP win in 1959.

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Arnold Glass in his ex-works/Reg Parnell Ferrari 555 Super Squalo. He was 3rd ahead of Doug Whiteford and Len Lukey. The bucolic pleasures and ever-present dangers of Longford readily apparent (oldracephotos.com)

The entry for the third round of the Australian Drivers ‘Gold Star’ Championship race was one of great depth for the day and reflected competitor interest in Longford, allocated a round of the championship for the first time that year…

Arnold Glass had raced his Super Squalo since November 1957, having bought the car off John McMillan who raced it for a short time when sold to him by Reg Parnell. The car was an ex-works 1955 555 Super Squalo. I wrote about it a while back, click here to read the article; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/

miller and patterson

Austin Millers Cooper T41Climax FWB 1.5 Climax ahead of Bill Patterson’s Cooper T39 Climax (oldracephotos.com)

Coopers were starting to arrive in Australia in numbers, the transition from front engined Grand Prix cars and Australian Specials to ‘reasonably priced’ mid-engined cars, the first of which were Coopers was underway.

Jack Brabham won the first mid-engined AGP victory with his Cooper T40 Bristol at Port Wakefield in 1955, but that was a lucky win and flattered to deceive, at the time anyway.

By March 1958 Stirling Moss had won Cooper’s first World Championship GP win in Argentina, by the end of the year the ‘paradigm shift’ was pretty clear, despite the lack of a 2.5 litre Coventry Climax engine.

doug and arnold

Whiteford, Maserati 300S #4 and Glass, Ferrari 555 Super Squalo in the Longford form-up area (Walkem Collection)

Doug Whiteford’s ex-works Maser 300S was an outright contender in Formula Libre championship events in Australia when he first bought it after the 1956 Olympic GP meeting, won by Stirling Moss in a 250F, at Albert Park. Despite Doug’s artistry behind the wheel, he was still one of the countries best drivers, the Maser was finding the going tough with so many fast single-seaters around by 1958.

Arnold Glass was not of the same calibre or experience as Whiteford but drove the Ferrari well and shone in 1959 when he acquired the ex-Hunt/Stillwell 250F, which was a more forgiving and faster car.

Lou Abraham’s Melbourne built Tornado Chev was one of the greatest of Australian Specials of the 1950’s. The big V8 engined, ladder frame chassis car, capably driven by Ted Gray was easily capable of taking the Gold Star and the AGP at Bathurst in 1958 with more luck and reliability. It was to be a mixed but successful Tasmanian weekend for the team.

The 1958 Longford Trophy…

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Ted Gray in the victorious, big, blue, booming Tornado 2 Chev, bellowing its way thru the beautiful Tasmanian countryside. Longford 1958 (oldracephotos)

The thrill of seeing some fast cars from the mainland attracted circa 40000 raceday spectators despite the possibility of rain.

Ted Gray was in bed with ‘flu, so Geelong’s Tom Hawkes did a few laps in the Tornado. Things got worse for the team in early practice on raceday when the cars gearbox failed. With the aid of  Hawkes and a Ford truck gearbox from a wreckers yard, Lou Abrahams and his crew replaced the unit in time to record a nominal practice time at the rear of a sports car race. Alec Mildren damaged his Cooper in a preliminary race so only 6 cars faced the starter for the 54 mile Longford Trophy race, if the race lacked quantity of starters it certainly had quality.

Bib Stillwell’s new Cooper Climax got the jump from Stan Jones’ Maser 250F, Gray’s Tornado, Arnold Glass’ Ferrari, Len Lukey’s Cooper Bristol and Doug Whiteford’s Maserati.

jones 2

Stan Jones, Maserati 250F, Longford 1958. Shot taken in practice, car bearing the scars of an attack on the local real estate or another car by Stanley (oldracephotos.com)

With 3 laps completed Stillwell held a small lead from fellow Melbourne motor trader Jones, the rest within 250 metres of each other. Stillwell retired with pinion trouble, Jones simultaneously lost the 250F’s 3rd gear. The Tornado took the lead on lap 4 from Jones, Glass, Whiteford then Lukey.

Gray extended his lead over Jones but was being progressively splattered with oil from the errant ‘box. He pressed on when the taste! of the oil made him aware the problem was the gearbox not the engine. Gray had also lost 1st and 2nd gears but the torque of the big Chev V8 was still an effective combination relative to Jones who was short 3rd, the Maser DOHC 6 cylinder engine less able to ‘plug the torque gaps’ than the Chevy.

Jones tried to chase Gray down but the Tornado took the win several seconds from Stan, the big, wonderful Chev engined Special clocked 147.5 mph over the measured mile. Glass was 3rd, 8 seconds behind Jones then Whiteford and Lukey, less than 30 seconds separated the 5 cars after 54 miles.

Stan Jones won the Gold Star in 1958 with wins at Fishermans Bend and Phillip Island in Victoria and seconds at Orange, NSW, Longford and Lowood, the Queensland airfield circuit.

tornado AMS PW

Ted Gray in Tornado 2 Ford ahead of Stan Jones Maser 250F, Port Wakefield, South Australia  (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Lou Abraham’s Melbourne built Tornado’s were two of the great Australian Specials of the 1950’s...

The Tornado was no ‘flash in the pan’ it was built by a couple of wily racers and their team who knew their way around racing cars and V8’s. There were two cars, three really, the short life of Tornado 1 led to Tornado 2 but before both was a highly modified Alta V8.

Wangaratta, Victorian driver Ted Gray first came to prominence well before the war, when as a young motor apprentice he contested the events won by Peter Whitehead’s ERA R10B at Aspendale Speedway in Melbourne on 1 October 1938. Whilst Whitehead won the day and took the lap record, Gray nearly matched him in his motor cycle engined midget.

He almost did it again 2 months later coming close to Whiteheads ERA times at Rob Roy hillclimb in outer Melbourne, again driving the Alan Male owned midget. Alan Male’s career started as a salesman for the Fisher Norton agency in Melbourne, shortly thereafter starting a used car business which provided both the cashflow to pursue his racing passion and the means to promote his business.

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Ted Gray on the left and Colin Best on the last lap of a Speedcar event at Aspendale Speedway, Melbourne in 1939. Details of chassis’ and engines unknown  (vintagespeedway.com)

Gray also contested the January 30 1939 Rob Roy meeting when Frank Kleinig became the first driver to break 30 seconds in the famed Kleinig Hudson, perhaps the most famous of all Australian Specials, if not the most famous then certainly the longest lived.

As War loomed Gray raced one of the last pre-war Australian motor races at Wirlinga, Albury, on 17 June 1940. ‘The Male Special’ was the ex Alan Sinclair Alta 1100 fitted with a Ford V8, Alf Barrett was the scratch man but Gray was not giving the exotic GP Alfa Romeo Monza too much. Barrett won the 6 lap preliminary with Gray in 2nd, both failed in the 25 and 75 Mile Events.

There was the occasional event during the war years. In his book Jim Gullan recalls a three heat match race to raise money for charity between Gray in the Male Spl/Alta V8 and Jim’s Ballot Ford V8 at Aspendale Speedway; Ted won the first heat, Gullan the second and Ted by half a wheel the third ‘…we were lapping the dirt track at 80mph in one long sideways drift, it was exciting!’ Gullan recalled.

Gray set FTD at an early postwar Greensborough Hillclimb.

He contested the 100 Mile NSW Grand Prix at Bathurst in 1946 in the ex-Mrs Jones (Alfa 6C 1750SS) Alfa Ford V8, Gray 2nd to Kleinig in the over 1500cc handicap and 4th in the 100 Miler, Alf Najar’s MG TB Spl the victor.

Gray received a lot of publicity when he recorded a 73mph average in the Alfa V8 from Wangaratta to Melbourne to win a bet in 1946! These days there is a dual lane freeway from Albury to Melbourne but that was not the case post war, Ted would have been flying to do that time! No doubt he was well familiar with the Hume Highway, his home and motor dealership business were in Wang but at least one account records him having an engineering shop in Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, now vibrant as the city’s ‘Chinatown’.

gray alta

Ted Gray in the Alta Ford V8, Fishermans Bend March 1954. 4th in the Victorian Trophy . This car still exists, restored by Graham Lowe to its original form in the mid ’80’s (SLV)

Around 1948 Gray re-acquired the Male Spl/Alta V8 he raced pre-war and fitted a Ford Mercury side-valve V8 which was fitted with a locally made OHV conversion by Lou Abrahams.

The car first ran in this form at Fishermans Bend in October 1952 and was competitive enough to place 4th in the 1954 Victoria Trophy at FB. The capacity of the chassis to handle the engines power had been reached so Gray and Abrahams decided to build a new car ‘The Tornado’ the name the same as those Lou applied to his boats.

gray 2

Another shot of the Abrahams/Gray #8 Alta V8 at the ‘Victoria Trophy’ meeting at Fishermans Bend, Melbourne on 22 March 1954. #3 is Lex Davison’s HWM Jag, winner of that years AGP at Southport, Queensland, and Jack Brabham in a Cooper Bristol (SLV)

Gray was obviously a talented, fast driver with mechanical sympathy, he often drove cars owned by others throughout his career.

The engine out of the Alta 1100 referred to above was built into a special by speedway racer Bill Reynolds in Melbourne. He built a neat ladder frame chassis and transverse spring suspension front and rear car. Passed into Bill Dutton’s hands, Gray raced it for him from late 1949, more often than not the Alta engine problematic.

ted gray bathurst

Gray in the Alta 1100 Spl at Bathurst in 1950, LF tyre off the deck (Historic Racing Cars in Aust)

Lou Abrahams, a wealthy but unassuming man started racing dinghy yachts in his teens but transferred his sporting inclinations to cars and speed boats, before later returning to yachts, his first Sydney/Hobart victory came in 1983 but that was all in the future.

In the fifties his ‘Louisco’ plastics and packaging business provided the cashflow for mechanical pursuits. Ian Mayberry whose father and uncle worked on Tornado recalls that Lou’s father owned the George Hotel in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. Lou also had a screenprinting, fabrics and plastics business named Colortex Fabrics in Murrumbeena which he later sold to Nylex Ltd, becoming a board member of that large public company in the process.

lou abrahams

Lou Abrahams towards the end of his life, he died in February 2014 at 88. Cruising Yacht Club, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney. He won Sydney-Hobart twice in 1983 and 1989, sailed it 44 (times, 43 consecutively, a record. He also sailed 7 ‘Fastnets, the biennial classic off Britain and Ireland  (unattributed)

fishos start

Flavour of the era. Love this Fishermans Bend shot; ‘Victoria Trophy’ meeting February 1958 with the front engined cars of Gray, Tornado 2 Chev and Jones Maserati 250F up the front. Policeman and his horse oblivious to the cacophony, note the ‘safety’ fence. Industrial heartland of western Melbourne in the background (Geoff Green)

Gray built the Tornado 1 chassis from formed box sections of sheet steel, the structure had boxed side and cross members and specially made cross-members front and rear to which the suspension was attached.

Ian Mayberry doesn’t recall how Lou, Ted and his uncle, Bill Mayberry met but the three of them were the teams core. Lou basically did the engines and between Ted and Bill they built the chassis and body and maintained the car.

Some of the bodywork was built at the panel business owned by Ians father Jack, who painted the cars and Bill, located at 248 East Boundary Road, East Bentleigh, a southern Melbourne suburb. Ted Grays workshop Ian believes at that stage, was in Coburg or Carlton, both inner Northern Melbourne suburbs. This workshop looked after retail customers but was also where the car was built and maintained.

Independent suspension was used front and rear; the front comprised a transverse leaf spring low down with upper control arms and shockers from a Peugeot. At the rear a transverse leaf spring was again used on top of Holden lower control arms.

tornado front end

Tornado 1 front suspension detail; Peugeot upper control arms and shocks, transverse leaf spring at the bottom. Brakes Chev drums with Mustang aircraft internals ‘They worked very well at Orange’ said AMS, but perhaps not so well at Bathurst later in the year! (AMS)

Lancia stub axles were grafted onto the Peugeot steering knuckles to take advantage of the centre lock wire wheels, steering was Peugeot rack and pinion.

Fabricated hubs were used at the back using Lancia splined hubs and wheels with Monroe Wylie telescopic shocks. The bridge type structure at the back housed a Halibrand quick change final drive, brought back from the States by Lou with various engine goodies. Dodge universals were used on the rear drive shafts.

tornado rear sus 2

Tornado 1 rear end; suspension by top transverse leaf spring and Holden wishbone below, diff a quick change Halibrand with Ford V8 crownwheel, brake drums Chev with P51 Mustang fighter mechanisms, note rear and 2 side fuel tanks, also crossply road tyres upon which the car is being raced, the car chewed its tyres, races lost as a consequence! (AMS)

Brake drums were Chev 11.5 diameter and 2 inches wide, the operating mechanism from a Mustang fighter aircraft and had ‘one cylinder operating a one piece self energising single shoe to each wheel. Ted figures they stopped 5 tons or so of P51 Mustang, so they should stop the Tornado…’

tornado engine

Tornado Ford Mercury based engine. Block cast iron, heads bespoke aluminium designed by Lou Abrahams. Shot of OHV gear and central ‘plugs, pump for Hilborn-Travers fuel injection at the engines front (AMS)

The engine was Abrahams responsibility and was unique as the first in Australia to use fuel-injection.

The Ford Mercury V8 was bored and stroked to over 5 litres, the most innovative element it’s locally cast aluminium, OHV heads designed by Abrahams to replace the side-valve originals. They featured hemispherical combustion chambers with valves; 1 7/8 inches inlet and 1 5/8 inches exhaust in size, inclined at an included angle of around 90 degrees operated by rockers from standard cam followers. ‘Plugs were centrally placed, the whole lot topped by attractive aluminium rocker covers which could be seen, seductively, through the bonnet sides.

Each exhaust port had its own pipe, the inlet ports had a cast light alloy stub incorporating an air butterfly and spray nozzle from the Hilborn Travers fuel injection system. A Scintilla magneto provided the spark with the water pump and clutch standard. Drive was via a standard Mercury gearbox with a close ratio gearset imported from the US.

tornado engine

Engine of Tornado 1 Ford on its Gnoo Blas debut at Orange, NSW in January 1955. Ford Mercury side-valve block with bespoke aluminium heads designed by Lou Abrahams in Melbourne . ‘Louab’ fuel injection Hilborn-Travers based. Nice lookin’ thing innit?  (oldracephotos.com/Devine)

Ted Gray and Tornado 1 Ford at Gnoo Blas, January 1955 (K Devine)

The frames to take the body were of round steel and ‘are part of the chassis’ ; one in front supported the radiator, there was another at the firewall and ‘another which carries the kitchen type Laminex instrument panel’ (!) and one behind the seat.

Pedals are pendant the brake master cylinders mounted into a beefy ‘top hat section arch’ under the scuttle. Instruments comprised tach, oil and fuel pressure, oil and water temperature and a push-pull switch for the magneto. Fuel was carried in three tanks, one in the tail and one either side of the driver.

tornado orange debut

Tornado 1 Ford on its debut at Gnoo Blas, Orange, January 1955 ‘…first outing last month showed that it will be a very impressive car in the very near future’ Note engine exposed thru bonnet (AMS)

When completed Tornado 1 Ford made its debut, painted white at Gnoo Blas, Orange in January 1955 where its potential was clear despite various teething problems. Back in Victoria in February the car retired from the 50 Mile Victoria Trophy held at Fishermans Bend with grabbing brakes, prophetic as things turned out, Lex Davison took the win in his HWM Jaguar. At Albert Park for the Argus Trophy in March, the big V8 placed 3rd in a heat and 5th in the final, Doug Whiteford the winner in his Lago Talbot T26.

Off to Bathurst in October for the NSW Road racing Championship and disaster.

Gray, running 4th in the ‘Group A’ race ‘was running neck and neck with Robinson’s Jaguar Spl…Down the straight for the last time and the white Tornado either locked a brake or touched Robinson’s rear wheel, sliding horribly out of control for over 150 yards before hitting a bank and a tree on the left, bits spraying down the road. Miraculously, a very lucky Ted Gray survived, receiving multiple fractures and severe shock but Tornado was a write-off. Rebuilt, its great days were yet to come’ said John Medley in his ‘Bathurst Bible’.

tornado bathurst

John Medley; ‘ Until seeing Garrie Cooper’s 1978 AGP accident (in an Elfin MR8 Chev F5000 at Sandown) i hadn’t seen one worse. In the overcast from up on Griffin’s Mount, all one could see was white bits flung down the road, rolling and bounding. Ted Gray wore white overalls and helmet. That he actually stepped out before collapsing is incredible’ (Bernard Coward photo in ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ by John Medley)

The two partners decided not to rebuild the rooted car but rather use what they could in Tornado 2, Abrahams incorporating all they had learned from the previous cars completed the reconstruction of the car with Bill Mayberry and other artisans whilst Gray was in hospital, recovery took 6 months.

Tornado 2 had a ladder frame steel chassis with 3 inch wide side members and incorpated most of the suspension and steering parts from Tornado 1 including the Peugeot steering, Lancia stub axle and Holden suspension components. The Halibrand diff, Ford engine and ‘box were also transferred from the old to the new. The P51 Mustang braking system was removed and replaced by a conventional drums all round setup built by Patons Brakes in Melbourne, eventually a Repco subsidiary.

Gray’s involuntary racing vacation was around 6 months, Abrahams and his team did an amazing job building the replacement so fast; the blue painted fibre glass bodied car made its debut in the hands of multiple Australian Hillclimb Champion, Bruce Walton at Albert Park in March 1956.

Walton performed well despite teething problems, an appearance at the Geelong Sprints resulted in a standing quarter mile of 15.1 seconds. The car was continuously modified throughout 1956 to get it running fast and reliably, the ‘high maintenance’ constantly cracking fibreglass body replaced by an aluminium one late in the year of the same shape.

Gray contested the 1956 AGP meeting at Albert Park won by Moss’s works Maserati 250F but the beast only lasted 15 laps before retirement. Its future competitiveness was underlined at the opening Phillip Island meeting in December 1956 with 2 wins on the very fast open circuit suited to the cars power and strong handling.

Tornado 2’s 1957 season commenced at Fishermans Bend in February, a tyre failed whilst holding 2nd place.

At Albert Park for The Victoria Trophy’ meeting on 24 March, 3rd behind Davison and Jones in Ferrari 500/625 and Maserati 250F a good result but retirement followed in the championship race, a Gold Star round that year, the first year for the prestigious annual award for Australia’s Champion driver.

gray albert park

On the Albert Park grid alongside Bob Jane’s Maserati 300S. Here Tornado 2 with low cut body sides and Ford engined (autopics.com/Peter D’Abbs)

The car failed to score any Gold Star points and later in the year a Chev Corvette 283 cid V8 engine replaced the faithful Ford/Abrahams V8.

Despite the ongoing development of the Ford Mercury based engine with its trick Abrahams head the lighter, over-square, OHV in standard form, small block Chev was the way to go with plenty of parts to improve the engines performance readily available in the US. The engine was sourced using contacts of Abrahams and Jack Mayberry at Holden.

tornado chev engine

Tornado 2 with Chev engine, bespoke rocker covers as with the Ford engine. Hilborn-Travers injection incorporated in specification, Vertex magneto clear. Circa 380 bhp claimed (Merv Bunyan Collection)

With Commonwealth Oil Refineries (soon to be BP) sponsored Australian Speed Records scheduled at Coonabarabran in central NSW on 28 September the small team had only a week to adapt the Chev to the Ford ‘box, fit the fuel injection system and fettle the thing into running order. The car was unloaded from its trailer on the long 620 mile tow from Melbourne to Coonabararan, over 200 miles was covered to run the engine in and refine its tune on public roads!

BP had chosen cars and drivers to attempt the various records which were held on a 4 mile stretch of road linking Coonabarabran with Coonamble via Baradine. The sealed aggregate surface was good and allowed high speeds but it was only 18 feet wide and had a pronounced crown.

Run off to the sides was limited by white posts, to the east by trees, to the west a railway line and a string of telegraph poles. Additional hazards were small dirt tracks to give farm access and a dirt road near the railway line both of which provided plenty of dust…a bend at each end of the 4 miles limited run-in and braking and slowing down.

Such attempts were best held in the cool of the morning for optimum engine performance but media needs meant they were held later in the day when the wind was gusting so no motorcycle attempts were made.

The Tornado was fitted with a 3:1 final drive ratio and 19 inch wheels with 5.25 inch wide tyres, Ted was aiming for over 160mph but magneto dramas limited revs to 5300rpm. The team lowered the ratio to 2.8:1 to reduce revs, achieving 157.53mph on the Sunday to take the outright record from Davison’s Ferrari 500/625, the very same chassis ‘005’ with which Alberto Ascari won his 1952/3 world championships, which was quicker the day before.

Tornado 2 created a sensation at 157.5 mph, the big, spectacular blue car thundering and bellowing across the plains on the long, flat public roads.

Straight to Bathurst from Coonabarabran for the NSW Road Racing Championships on 6 October, two years after the demise of Tornado 1. The cars aluminium fuel tank split, thefuel leak the cause of its retirement. The metal fatigue was overcome by sheathing the ‘ally tank in 1/2 inch thick fibreglass.

A week later at Fishermans Bend was more successful, Gray taking a strong win

1958 Gold Star Season…

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Tornado Chev in the Bathurst paddock, AGP meeting 1958. Its derivative of the best GP cars of its day but has a beauty all of its own. Bill Mayberry built the Tornado bodies (Kevin Drage)

Whilst of ‘plebian origin’ in comparison to its main competitors for the 1958 Australian Drivers Championship; Davison’s and Arnold Glass Ferrari 500/625 and 555 Super Squalo, Stan Jones and Doug Whiteford’s 250F and 300S Maserati’s and the Mildren, Lukey, Miller, Hawkes Coopers of front and mid-engined inclination. Tornado 2 was much more than the sum of its parts and had consistently shown championship winning speed if not reliability.

Perhaps one of the great injustices of ‘motor racing’s world of mighta beens’ is Tornado 2’s failure to win the Gold Star in 1958 just when it neeeded to as the mid engined tide came in.

It was not until 1971 that an Australian built car won the AGP and Gold Star, that honor going to Frank Matich in his Matich A50 Repco at Warwick Farm in late 1971.

The 1958 Gold Star comprised 9 meetings in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland; a big program of travel in the days when the continent was the same size as now without todays road  network!

1958 Season/Gold Star Series…

gnoo blas

Tornado 2 at rest, Gnoo Blas, 1958 (Ian McKay Collection)

South Pacific Trophy, Gnoo Blas, Orange NSW 27 January.

Gray chased Brabham’s Cooper in 2nd, set the first 100mph lap of the circuit and retired with a misfire, Brabham won the race from Jones Maser and then set-off for his European season.

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Handsome beastie that it is! Tornado 2 Chev in the Fisherman’s Bend paddock February 1958. Spectators cars Jag Mk7 ? and Holden FB (Geoff Green)

Victoria Trophy, Fishermans Bend, Melbourne, Victoria 23 February.

‘The Carnival of Motor Racing’ was a combined car and motorcycle meeting.  Jones won a close race from pole. Gray qualified 2nd and ran 2nd until he had throttle linkage problems, he returned to the race but later retired. Jones won from Glass’ Ferrari and Whiteford’s Lago.

fishos first lap

First lap at Fishermans Bend, the flat industrial landscape clear in this shot. The big front engined cars of Glass and Jones with Gray obscured on the outside lead the pack (Geoff Green)

Longford Trophy, Tasmania 3 March.

Covered at this articles’ outset. A win for Gray’s Tornado after practice dramas.

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Tornado 2 Chev, Fishermans Bend, February 1958. Good front suspension shot showing the Peugeot top wishbone/shock and transverse lower leaf spring (Geoff Green)

South Australian Trophy Race, Port Wakefield, South Australia 5 April.

Jones led the race until his radiator was blocked by straw from a haybale he attacked, Lukey’s Cooper Bristol won from Austin Miller’s Cooper. Gray didn’t enter.

tornado lowood

Gray kept the lead at Lowwod on 15 June for most of the race but slowed towards the end when the ‘breaker strips’ on his rear tyres started to show, allowing Mildren to take the lead (AMS)

Queensland Road Racing Championship, Lowood, Queensland 15 June.

Jones led until problems with the Masers rear end caused its retirement. Gray led Mildren’s Cooper until Tornado’s tyres started to shred towards the races end, Gray’s easing gave Mildren the win from the Tornado and Lukey’s Cooper Bristol.

The Tornado turned the tables on Mildrens Cooper the following day at Gnoo Blas, Orange when Gray won the ‘Canoblas Trophy’ a 55 mile race with the Cooper 2nd, the event contested by 17 cars. Tornado was timed at 153mph and Mildrens 2 litre Cooper T43 Climax at 145mph.

The dedication of competitors at the time is absolute; it was an 825 mile all night drive from Lowood to Orange. ‘The Canberra Times’ reported ‘The Queensland Grand Prix finished at 4.30pm…each in private cars towing the racing cars, they left Lowwod at 5.30pm and travelling in company most of the way arrived at Orange at about 8am.

‘They then prepared their cars, practiced…started a 4 lap scratch race at noon and the Canoblas Trophy at 2.30pm…’

It wasn’t too far for Alec to then drive back to Canberra, where his business was then but Ted had a 325mile drive from Orange to Wangaratta to be at work on Tuesday, before towing Tornado back to Lowood again in late August, 875 miles, or a bit like driving from London to Rome without the autoroutes.

Lowood Trophy Race, Queensland 31 August.

Jones led from Gray and eventually took him on the oil soaked track but this time the Tornado had diff problems . Mildren’s Cooper passed Jones, taking the win from Victorians Jones and Lukey.

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Finish of the VRRC Race at Fishermans Bend, October 1958. Gray won in the ‘red nosed’ Tornado, yellow car Austin Miller’s Cooper T41 Climax and Ern Seeliger’s blue Maybach 4 Chev (David Van Dal)

Victorian Road Racing Championships, Fishermans Bend 18 October.

The championship was not part of the Gold Star in 1958 and a week before the AGP at Bathurst so was perhaps a risky event to contest but it was an excellent one for the team, Gray won the race from Len Lukey’s Cooper Bristol with Austin Miller’s Cooper T41 Climax third

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41 year old Ted Gray getting the trophy and plaudits of the crowd. VRRC champ, Fishermans Bend 1958. Bill Mayberry in moustache and stocky Lou Abrahams in red  (Kevin Drage)

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Bathurst, 23 October 1958 grid; A preliminary race i suspect as the grid is not as for the AGP itself #12 Davison Ferrari 500/625, white nosed Ferrari Super Squalo of Kiwi Tom Clark with Tornado on the outside of row 1. Row 2 L>R Mildren’s Cooper T43 Climax, Merv Neil Cooper T45 Climax and Curley Brydon’s Ferrari Chev, the Jones Maser is obscured by Neil’s Cooper against the fence on row 3. Red clad Tornado crew looking on (David Van Dal)

Gray was on pole from Jones, Davison returning to racing in his unsold Ferrari 500/625, Neil’s Cooper T45 and Lukey’s Cooper Bristol.

Jones led Davison from the start, Ted’s strategy was to start with a light fuel load build a lead and stop later in the race for fuel. He soon passed Jones and Davo, the three cars ran spectacularly nose to tail for the next 12 laps.

bathurst nose to tail

Jones 250F leads Tornado across the top of Mount Panorama during their great dice (Alan Stewart Collection)

On lap 19 he made his stop but only had a lead of 10-12 seconds, then his stop was cocked up, taking another 25 seconds before setting off in chase.

On the first lap out he achieved the fastest standing lap of Mount Panorama ever, he was too fast though, boofing the fence at Skyline, damaging Tornado’s steering and suspension, the car retired 2 laps later.

He had led for 20 of 24 laps and set the fastest ever speed of 155.17mph recorded on ConRod Straight.

Jones led Davo for another 2 laps, until breasting the first hump on Conrod the 250F dropped a valve after 7 laps of clutchless gear changes.

Davison eased his pace, over 2 minutes ahead of Ern Seeliger in Maybach 4 Chev and Tom Hawke’s Cooper T23 Repco Holden.

It was one of the greatest AGP’s ever.

tornado melbourne

The new and old; Brabham’s Cooper T45 Climax 2 litre leads Ted’s Tornado and Jones Maser 250F on lap lap 2 of the ’58 Melbourne GP at Albert Park. Moss’ winning Cooper T45 is further up the road  (AMS)

Melbourne Grand Prix, Albert Park, Victoria 23 November.

Moss and Brabham disappeared into the distance in their 2 litre Cooper Climaxes, Gray retired whilst fastest local, Jones also withdrew with falling oil pressure, Whiteford, Stillwell Maser 250F and Len Lukey took the remaining Gold Star points.

Philip Island Trophy Race, Victoria 26 December.

Jones won the race and Gold Star in his GP Maser from pole, Mildren and Roxburgh were 2nd and 3rd in Cooper Climaxes. Gray didn’t enter and Stan Jones won the Gold Star he deserved.

1959 and Beyond…

Tornado was barely raced in 1959 which was a pity as Jones Maser 250F won the AGP at Longford early in the year and Gray finished 2nd to Stillwell’s Cooper at Bathurst in pouring rain for the NSW Road Racing Championship in October, Mildren’s Cooper was 3rd; there was life in the front engined cars still.

Perhaps with more reliability in 1959 after all the learnings of the hard year in 1958 the wonderful, big blue V8 could have prevailed but as the great Frank Gardner said ‘IF Yer Auntie Had Balls She’d be Yer Uncle’… Ifs, buts and maybe’s mean nothing in sport. But the speculation is fun!

Lou and Ted raced the car in the 1960 New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore on January 9. An interesting idea but they were on a hiding to nothing with the plethora of Cooper’s racing in Australasia by then. Brabham won from McLaren and Bib Stillwell all in Coopers. Tornado retired after 5 laps with magneto dramas.

bz gp

First lap of the 1960 NZGP, Ardmore, College Corner; #47 Bruce McLarens Cooper T45, #7 Moss Cooper T51 #4 Brabham Cooper T51 #18 David Piper Lotus 16 Climax, Gray in Tornado is at the rear of this shot on the outside of a Cooper, light colored band on the nose. 14 of the cars which started were front-engined so Ted was far from alone and with an engine not the largest in this F Libre race (sergent.com)

Upon its return to Australia Tornado was sold to South Aussie, Mel McEwin who contested both the 1960 and 1961 Australian Grands’ Prix in it but the car was by now, like all other front-engined cars being blown off by 2.5 Litre FPF engined Coopers. The 2495cc variant of the FPF engine was now fairly common in ‘The Colonies’; scarcity in this part of the world gave the front engined cars a slightly longer front line racing life than would otherwise have been the case.

In the 1965/6 the car passed to ex-Cooper racer John McDonald as a ‘fun car’ after his frontline career finished but he had a massive accident in it at Calder ‘breaking the car in half’.

In the early 70’s the car was restored by McDonald in Canberra making its Historic Racing debut at Hume Weir, Albury on Boxing Day 1976.

The big, bellowing, blue Tornado has been an occasional starlet at historic events for decades, sold to Frank Moore, it has been a part of his collection of Australian Specials/Cars since 1999.

tornado cover

After this articles publication David Rapley, Australian Racer, Historian, Author and Restorer got in touch with his insights on Tornado, a car he fettles in Melbourne for its Queensland owner Frank Moore…

‘I was delighted to read your work on ‘The Tornado’ as Teddy Tornado is a great friend of mine having spent a lot of time with me in recent years. My comments/contribution is only of a very minor technical nature but I felt your work so good that I wanted to add it.

When Frank gave the me the car with a broken con-rod from an outing at the Melbourne GP it was in a very bad state. After inspection we concluded that the whole car had to be dismantled, crack tested and properly reassembled. Frank insisted that nothing should be repainted or anything done to modernise it-a welcome attitude after the over restored cars we mainly see these days at Historic meetings’.

‘The front suspension was a mess with badly cracked stub axles and pivot/king pins and steering arms. (I use these parts still for show and tell to ‘try’ and educate old car people in the danger of not crack testing-sadly largely a waste of time!) These were originals covered in weld, the stubs themselves being I believe Itala not Lancia.

The brakes on the car-front are single leading shoe with two wheel cylinders per side of Aero origin I believe War Hawk but could well be Mustang and clearly date back to Tornado 1. The drums are locally made and may be Patons only contribution as the rear brakes are A90 Austin or Healey. I have not found any period photo’s to date when they were fitted but looking at how they were mounted I would guess from the first building of Tornado 2′.

‘It is obvious that the rear transmission support box and lower wishbones were used straight from the earlier car but with a top wishbone added, the transverse spring only providing now suspension’.

‘We went to great lengths to find a 1958 correct block and Corvette heads but sadly this engine was sabotaged at a subsequent Melbourne GP by someone pouring steel shot down the inlet trumpets of the Hilborn injection in the supposedly secure display tent. The current engine has a correct block but they are getting very difficult to find’.

‘An interesting aside-after the car was wrecked at Calder the front suspension was sold off to a Hot Rodder; Richard Bendell was horrified, bought it back and gave it to McDonald to repair the car.

Pleased to report Teddy still has all his original aluminum body now much battered and cracked and as much as possibly all of its bitz and bobbs’.

tornado agp

Ellis French’s wonderful atmospheric shot of Ted Gray gridding Tornado 2 up for the 1959 AGP at Longford. DNF on lap 4 with a run main bearing, #5 is Len Lukey’s Cooper T45 Climax 2 litre 2nd . Lukey took the Gold Star title that year, at 12 rounds the longest ever (Ellis French)

Where Does Ted Gray and Tornado Fit in The Pantheon of Australian Motor Racing?…

There is not a lot published about Ted Gray. He was born in Wangaratta 140 miles from Melbourne its rich grazing country. Well known to Aussie racers, Wang is close to Winton Raceway.

Born in 1917 he was apprenticed as a motor mechanic and commencing racing career on Speedway’s the most popular and common branch of the sport in the 1930’s. He finished 2nd in the 1938/9 Victorian Speedcar Championship to George Beavis in a match race at Olympic Park, Melbourne.

He continued race on speedway’s into the late 1940’s whilst also road racing and had a massive accident at Maribyrnong Speedway in Melbourne’s west in December 1947. In a classic ‘interlocked wheels speedway prang’ Gray was thrown from his somersaulting car sustaining spinal injuries and extensive lacerations, recovering in the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

So his 1955 Tornado 1 Bathurst crash was not his first ‘Big One’. Clearly he was one tough nut as his speed after the Bathurst prang, he had a six month ‘holiday’ after it remember, was if anything faster after the prang than before it. These country boys are hard men.

In terms of his business, he was a partner in the local Ford Dealership in Wang. He also had workshops in Melbourne’s CBD and later Carlton or Coburg. It was in the latter that Ian recalls another bad accident in the early sixties when Gray’s legs were broken in a workshop accident in which he was pinned to a wall by an errant car.

The Australian Motor Sports Review Annual in 1958/9 rated a quartet of drivers ‘representing the ultimate performances in the 14 years since the war; Doug Whiteford, Lex Davison both triple AGP winners at the time (Davo later won a fourth) Len Lukey 1959 Gold star winner and Ted Gray.

Of Gray the review had this to say;

‘Ted Gray has been driving Lou Abraham’s Tornado since the car first raced. Winner of the Longford Trophy in 1958 and numerous other races his main claim to distinction is as Australia’s fastest recorded driver. In the Tornado at Coonabarabran, NSW in 1957, Gray recorded a new ‘Class C’ Australian record of 157.53mph, the fastest yet achieved in Australia.’

Quite how Stan Jones was overlooked in the quartet is beyond me. I wasn’t there at the time but Stan had won a lot of races including the NZ GP in 1954 by 1958, personally I would have popped him in front of Gray and Lukey.

None of which is to take anything from Ted Gray who was a vastly experienced and very fast driver. Further, he was one of that engineer/driver breed who had the skill to design, build, race, interpret the beasts needs and modify their steed further to make it competitive. Maybe Larry Perkins was the last Australian of Gray’s ilk?

I’m not sure when Ted Gray died and am interested to hear from anyone who can add more to his story.

That the small, clever, experienced and adequately funded team from Melbourne took on the best of European Grand Prix cars at the time was a great achievement. Its just a shame they don’t have the ’58 AGP and Gold Star to reflect Tornado’s speed…

tornado crew

The Tornado 2 Chev crew in 1958, circuit unknown. L>R Ted Gray, Lou Abrahams and Bill Mayberry in red (AMS Annual 1958/9)

Bibliography…

Special thanks to Ian Mayberry for his recollections and David Rapley for his comments on the car in modern times.

John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, Stephen Dalton Collection, Australian Motor Sports July 1956, The Canberra Times 18 June 1958, John Medley ‘Bathurst: Cradle of Australian Motor Racing’ and ‘John Snow: Classic Motor Racer’, Australian Motor Sports 1958 and 1959 annuals, Graham Howard Ed ‘The History of The AGP’, Stephen Dalton Collection, James Gullan ‘As Long as It Has Wheels’

Photo Credits…

oldracephotos.com stunning archive, thanks to Lindsay Ross, Walkem Collection, vintagespeedway.com, Ian McKay Collection, Kevin Drage, Geoff Green, David Van Dal, Alan Stewart Collection, sergent.com, Ken Devine Collection

Tailpiece: One of the greatest ever AGP’s, Bathurst October 1958, Jones 250F, Gray Tornado and Davison Fazz 500/625 at it ‘hammer and tongs’ on a circuit to test the skillful and the brave…

stan bathurst

(AMS Annual)