Posts Tagged ‘Templestowe Hillclimb’

(D Lupton)

Not quite actually.

Lionel Marsh aboard Norman Hamilton’s Porsche 550 at Templestowe Hillclimb’s ‘The Hole’ on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts circa 1961/2.

Denis Lupton took a cracker of a shot- ignore the eucalypts, pretend they are pines and it could be the Eifel Mountains, sorta.

Denis was sure the pilot was Alan Hamilton, son of Porsche Cars Australia founder Norman Hamilton, but after some investigation and comment by Ron Simmonds, Gordon Dobie, Tony Johns and Stephen Dalton, Alan Hamilton resolved the ‘mystery’.

He recalls ‘Sadly, the 550 days were just a bit too early for me. That is Lionel Marsh at Templestowe. I did drive the 550 a couple of times at Fishermans Bend. Sometimes, after the races, Alan Jones and I used to disappear to a deserted end of the airstrips and drive our respective fathers, cars.’

‘I don’t recall how Lionel came to “own” the 550 other than he was a great mate of Jack Godbehear. (a renowned but low profile engine builder) I have a feeling that Jack might have been the owner, or at least, a major shareholder in it. Jack certainly did the preparation for Lionel and in many ways, this was the most successful period of the 550’s
life.’

‘My father and Frank Kleinig took the car to New Zealand to race there in 1956. Frank had difficulty coming to terms with the 550 as it handled total differently to his Hudson Special. Unfortunately, Frank earned the reputation of “hay bail Charlie” because of his habit of hitting hay bails which marked the track limits. My father asked Stirling Moss if he’d like to drive the car in the Ardmore Handicap, which he won.’

‘In about 1964, I located the car in a panel beating shop in Sydney and bought it. The engine was part disassembled, the gearbox was missing, as were the front brakes. The body work was “bruised” in various places. One of the panel beaters from Duttons (our authorised body repairers at the time) commenced work on the “bruises” and I sent the engine back to Porsche for a full rebuild.’

‘I spent six months living and working at Porsche in 1965 and came back with the 906 Spyder, chassis # 906-007. I also came back with a burning desire to race, but with no money. Part of my assets to be turned into cash, was the 550, which was sold to Lindsay Fox with the restoration beautifully completed by Brian Tanti.’

‘Lindsay also owns my 718 RSK which is also beautifully presented in the Fox Classic Car Collection. Incidentally,
the chassis number of the 550 that James Dean was driving when he died was 055, just one car earlier than my father’s car, chassis number 056.’

(D Lupton)

‘I spent 6 months living and working at Porsche in 1965 and came back with the 906 Spyder, chassis # 906-007. I also came back with a burning desire to race, but with no money. Part of my assets to be turned into cash, was the 550, which was sold to Lindsay Fox with the restoration beautifully completed by Brian Tanti.’

‘Lindsay also owns my 718 RSK which is also beautifully presented in the Fox Classic Car Collection. Incidentally,
the chassis number of the 550 that James Dean was driving when he died was 055, just one car earlier than my father’s car, chassis number 056’ Alan conculded.

The close up shot of Hamilton’s ex-works Porsche 904/8- chassis # ‘906-007’ ‘Bergspyder’ is a beauty, Calder 1966- colour too, thanks Denis!

By this stage the machine was fitted with a 2 litre 906 six-cylinder engine, click here for a piece on the car and one of the biggest friends Australian motor racing has ever had; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/20/alan-hamilton-his-porsche-9048-and-two-906s/ . The 550 Spyder is here; https://primotipo.com/2018/06/28/hamiltons-porsche-550-spyder/

(R Simmonds)

Etcetera…

As usual, a flurry of communication with others of our friends after upload of the piece resulted in a few more images.

The first above is from Ron Simmonds, again at ‘The Hole’ with then owner Lionel Marsh at the wheel, whilst below is one from Tony Johns of Stirling Moss having a steer of the car in a sportscar support race- winning the ‘Ardmore Handicap’, as Hamilton notes above, before setting off for a victorious run in his Maserati 250F in the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in 1956.

(T Johns Collection)

 

(T Johns Collection)

During the period Norman Hamilton owned #’0056′ it was driven by ‘every man and his dog’- the array of talent included Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Frank Kleinig, Bruce Walton, Otto Stone, Eddie Perkins, Ted Gray, Austin Miller and Ern Tadgell, who is shown aboard the car at Phillip Island below.

Credit…

Special thanks to Denis Lupton and Alan hamilton

Ron Simmonds, Tony Johns Collection, Dick Willis, ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden

Tailpiece…

(Dick Willis)

Ern Tadgell again, in Dick Willis’ shot, this time at Lowood, Queensland in 1957- the car worked hard all over Australia as one of Hamilton’s primary brand recognition tools all those years ago when the Zuffenhausen giant was a small family business start-up, hard though that is to imagine now!

Finito…

(S Jones)

Lots of shots are great, I’m accumulating way too many for an article apiece so this is the first in an ongoing series of ‘dumping ground’ of photographs most of which first saw the communal light of day on Bob Williamson’s Australian Motor Racing Photographs Facebook page. I will keep adding these ‘Oz Racing Random’ over time- about thirty in each article seems a nice number of shots…

The first one is of Stan Jones whistling along Phillip Island’s front straight in his Maserati 250F- its a tad outta focus but still wonderful with the magic blue sky and sea vista across Bass Straight and the crowd enjoying the early summer sun.

As to the date, probably the Phillip Island Trophy 26 December 1958 Gold Star round won by the local boy, their is plenty about Stan in this piece; https://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

(Sparks Family)

The film ‘Grand Prix’ created a huge hit wherever it was released, in Adelaide the film promoters organised an evening parade of racing cars throughout the city streets.

The #6 Lotus is Mel McEwin’s ex-Jim Clark 32B Climax, alongside is Stan Keen, Elfin Mono Ford with future Australian Grand Prix winner and Gold Star champion John Walker in his Elfin Mono Ford behind, the sportscar at rear on the right is Malcolm Ramsay, he of Birrana and much more fame, Elfin 300 Ford, whilst car #90 is Helene Bittner, Rebelle Ford 1500.

The cars are turning from King William Road into Hindley Street for you locals.

 

(J Strickland)

Wentworth Park in Sydney’s Glebe 1920s, these days it’s a trotting track.

Wentworth Speedway was used as a test and race venue from 21 April 1928 to 28 November 1936, a planned December meeting that summer was cancelled because of damage to the track surface and noise.

The venue was first used by bikes, then cars as well, all of the stars of the day competed there, close as it was- very, to Sydney’s CBD.

Anybody ever give the Kleinig Products Mist-Master a whirl?

All you want to know about one of Australia’s greatest drivers pre and post-war is here; https://primotipo.com/2019/12/06/frank-kleinig-kleinig-hudson-special/

 

(S Jones)

 

(S Jones)

Tornado 2 Chev at Collingrove, Angaston, South Australia circa 1961 when it was owned by Mel McEwin but it’s still in its first owner/co-constructor Lou Abrahams’ colours.

The car was an incredibly competitive tool in the hands of Ted Gray- with a bit more luck he could have been the winner of the 1958 AGP at Bathurst. He was a consistent front runner from the time Tornado 1 Ford begat Tornado 2 Ford and in its final Chev 283cid iteration set an Australian Land Speed record of 157.57mph average at Coonabarabran on 29 September 1957- apart from his many race wins.

Mel McEwin attempted to better Gray’s land speed record mark at Lake Eyre, South Australia in July 1960, his best in difficult conditions and with an engine not running properly was 151.101 mph- soon thereafter the car reverted to normal race mode and contested the 1961 Australian Grand Prix at Mallala where Mel was classified ninth amongst the mid-engine hordes led home by Lex Davison in one of Bib Stillwell’s Cooper T51s- it was the last time Tornado started an AGP.

The big beast didn’t have a great AGP finishing record, sadly, with DNFs for Ted Gray at Albert Park in 1956, Bathurst in 1958, Longford in 1959, the car’s two best results were ninth at Lowood in 1960 and Mallala in 1961 with Mel at the wheel but in both cases she was classified ninth and not running at the finish…

Click here for a piece on one of my favourite Australian Specials; https://primotipo.com/2015/11/27/the-longford-trophy-1958-the-tornados-ted-gray/

Postscript.

The ‘Victor Harbour Times’ 7 July 1961 records that whilst the then Casterton, Victoria domiciled 23 year old farmer McEwin ‘…failed by 9 mph when he averaged 148 mph (for the Australian Land Speed Record) he smashed a 23 year old record for the flying mile when he averaged 151.101 mph.’

Da Boys.

Riverside Drags at Fishermans Bend circa 1960.

Once the road circuit ceased to be used the growing hot rod and drag racing scene found a good use for the perfectly flat vacant ex-runways- cool photograph of some cool dudes; https://primotipo.com/2016/04/15/fishermans-bend-melbourne/

 

(B Jackson)

 

(B Jackson)

I wonder if Brian Jackson went stalking competitors in the 1966 12 Hour at Surfers Paradise or just happened upon the Mildren Racing Team Alfa Romeo TZ2 whilst looking for a decent bar?

Kevin Bartlett and Doug Chivas raced the car to third place behind the winning Jackie Stewart/Andy Buchanan Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM and Frank Matich/Andy Sutcliffe Ford GT40.

I betcha the Coral Court Motel isn’t still there, click here for a piece on Surfers Paradise opening Speedweek carnival in 1966; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/13/jackie-stewart-at-surfers-paradise-speed-week-1966-brabham-bt11a-climax-and-ferrari-250lm/

 

(A Howard)

Spencer Martin in the Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 250LM at Mount Panorama in its first year of competition- 1965.

Now that would have been a sight- and especially sound on that particular racetrack, click here for an article on this car and 250LMs generally; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

 

Bevan Kaine’s Morris Minor first up (A Morris)

 

(M Jenner)

Competitors line up at Penguin Hillclimb, Tasmania 1964.

The tiny north-west coastal Tasmanian town, 130km from Launceston, hosted the Tasmanian Hillclimb Championship from 1955 to 1971- the 1100 metre climb ran along Deviation Road starting just above Walton Street.

The organising club was the North West Car Club, the annual event was held just after Longford to ‘capture’ some of the interstaters whilst on the Island- FTD in 1955 went to Tom Hawkes’ Allard.

Local bloke, Stephen Mott is publishing a book about the place later in 2020, keep an eye out for it.

 

(R Moppett)

Longford control tower and Launceston Tram ‘nerve centre’- the pit complex and bridge are still a year or so away.

I’ve a million articles on Longford as regulars are well aware, lets link this one as instructive for those new to the place; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/05/longford-lap/

 

(R Simmonds)

 

(R Simmonds)

 

(R Simmonds)

Everybody has to start somewhere, these shots by Ron Simmonds are of 1980 World Champ Alan Jones at Melbourne’s Templestowe Hillclimb not too far from the Jones abode in Ivanhoe, probably during 1964, meeting date folks?

The first shot is rounding ‘The Hole’, the second is the first corner and in the last he is running wide at ‘Barons’.

The Mini 850 was built up by Brian Sampson’s guys- was he trading as Motor Improvements then?

It begs the question as to when was the very first time the Jones boy competed? I’ve got Keith Botsford’s book somewhere, there is no shortage of conflicting material online about his early career, this machine was from a repossession yard recalls AJ. It is a far cry from a Williams FW07 Ford of course.

 

Terry Kelly, Ryleford at Hume Weir circa 1962-1963.

Who can tell us a bit about this special? Hume Weir, down the decades is here; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/06/hume-weir/

 

(D Wilson)

Amazing Panorama to Katoomba from Catalina Park.

This is one track I would love to have competed at ‘in the day’. Peter Finlay commented that he didn’t realise you could see the village as the place was so often shrouded in fog- that’s the Carrington Hotel smoking- where ‘everybody’ stayed.

Appendix J grid competitor names courtesy Rob Bartholomaeus- Bert Needham #6 Studebaker, with Spencer Martin in a Humpy Holden and Bruce McPhee, Holden FE on row one- then #40 Norm Beechey and Des West on row two with #53 Midge Bosworth all in Humpys and rounding out an all-star cast.

(R Martin)

 

(R Martin)

 

(R Martin)

On a clear summers day at Phillip Island you can see forever…

Here Bob Jane Racing are running in the January 1969 meeting- Bob in his second Mustang, the ‘GT390’ and Bevan Gibson who was driving the Elfin 400 Repco that weekend.

Click here for the Elfin 400; https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/

and here for some other of Bob’s cars including the Mustang(s); https://primotipo.com/2020/01/03/jano/

 

1972 Dulux Rally Phillip Island stage- David McKay is about to disappear into the distance.

The Holden Dealer Team Torana GTR-XU1 of either Peter Brock or Colin Bond is alongside and the other is on row two- on the far side obscured by the Torana is Paul Older’s BMW 2002ti with the works Datsun 240Z of Edgar Hermann on the third row.

McKay won the 20 lapper aided by a very top fifth gear he had not used in a competitive stage to that point- click here for a piece on Australia’s Cologne Capris and the 1972 Dulux; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/09/australias-cologne-capris/

 

(I Smith)

Ian Smith was quick on the scene, and on the shutter when a group of Mazda executives got more excitement on the trip to the 1973’ish Phillip Island 500km than in the race itself.

The track had an airstrip then, ‘the pilot tried landing from the ocean side with a tail wind overshot, Grant Steers from the Holden Dealer Team jumped in to assist…no injuries.’

 

(D Willis)

Dick Willis, forever young racer, with the JWF Milano Holden 179 in Grafton Street, Coffs Harbour he has just built in 1965.

Bruce Polain is writing a book about these wonderful cars, which will be one to add to the shelves.

Brian Caldersmith, who took the shot wrote ‘This image is a very rough assembly from smaller segments of the drawing of the GT2 done by Tony Caldersmith in April 1969 (B Caldersmith)

 

 

(Via Neil Stratton)

Its a riot.

Well almost, crowd scene after the one race Australian Touring Car Championship at Warwick Farm in September 1968.

Norm Beechey’s Chev Camaro SS awaits a tow after the finish- Pete Geoghegan’s Ford Mustang won from Darrell King, Morris Cooper S and Alan Hamilton’s Porsche 911S/T- d’yer reckon Aussies like Taxis or what?!

 

(unattributed)

Jaguar in Jaguar Corner.

Bib Stillwell’s D Type chasing Jack Brabham’s Cooper Bobtail Climax during the Australian Tourist Trophy, Albert Park, November 1956, I wrote an article about this car not so long ago; https://primotipo.com/2020/04/17/stillwells-d-type/

 

(K Devine)

It could only be Longford’s Viaduct.

Mini ace Peter Manton’s Morris Cooper S on the turn in, guessing 1965- how’d he go folks?

See here for Manton; https://primotipo.com/2017/11/29/mini-king-peter-manton/

Credits…

Steve Jones, Reg & Craig Sparks Collection, James Strickland, Brian Jackson, Alan Howard, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Rohan Moppett, Ron Simmonds, Paul Kelly, David Wilson, Russell Martin, Dick Willis, Ian Smith, Neil Stratton Collection, Ken Devine Collection, Brian Caldersmith, Victor Harbour Times 7 July 1961, Rob Bartholomaeus

Tailpiece: Eclipse Zephyr Spl s/c…

(S Jones)

Whilst not the prettiest of things, agricultural is a word which may be applied to its physical appearance, all of Eldred Norman’s masterpieces bristled with innovation and speed.

Famously constructed in only ten weeks in the lead up to the 1955 Australian Grand Prix at Port Wakefield, the proud South Aussie needed a car to contest the event- its speedy construction belied the insights of its engineering.

The engine and gearbox were stressed components and, together with the Holden front crossmember formed a very stiff structure. Suspension was independent front and rear, the driver was offset, he snuggled the fuel tank as you can see and the Ford Zephyr six-cylinder engine was supercharged.

Here, circa 1960, Keith Rilstone, very quick in the car, prepares for a run up Collingrove Hillclimb- gotta do an article on this thing…

(S Jones)

Finito…

Harry Firth, MG TC Spl, Templestowe Hillclimb, outer Melbourne in 1959…

Long before his well known period as head of the Holden Dealer Team in the late sixties/early seventies Firth was a formidable car builder/preparer/driver in sports cars and sedans on tarmac and dirt.

He won the Armstong 500 three times- twice at Phillip Island and once at Bathurst partnered with Bob Jane- in 1961 they won in a Mercedes Benz 220SE, in 1962 aboard a works Ford Falcon XL, Firth prepared the works Fords at his famous garage in Queens Avenue Auburn, out of these modest premises did some great cars emerge.

He was also victorious in 1963 in a self-prepped works Ford Cortina GT and again as the event morphed into the Bathurst (Gallaher) 500, once, partnering Fred Gibson in a works XR Falcon GT in 1967.

(B Wells)

The Bob Jane/Harry Firth Ford Falcon XK (above) DNF leading the John/Caldecoat MGA, Hell Corner, Bathurst 6 Hour, 30 September 1962. Race ‘won’ by the Geoghegan Brothers Daimler SP250, who were first across the line in a race technically of classes with no ‘outright winner’.

Firth’s Cortina GT ahead of a couple of Humpy Holdens at Lakeside in 1964 (B Williamson)

On Allan Moffat’s recommendation he was engaged to co-drive a Lotus Cortina with Moffat in endurance races at Green Valley and Riverside in 1966.

Ford were keen for him to stay but he had to return home to honour a Ford Australia rally commitment, duly winning the first Southern Cross Rally.

(J Hall)

 

(J Hall)

In 1968 he won the inaugural Australian Rally Championship driving a Lotus Cortina, another doyen of the sport, Graham Hoinville was his navigator.

Firth and Ken Harper also prepared the Ford Australia Falcon GT ‘XT’ London-Sydney Marathon entries.

These 302 CID V8 engined sedans won the teams prize with Harry behind the wheel of the eighth placed car with his usual friend and navigator, Hoinville. The Vaughan/Forsyth car was third and Hodgson/Rutherford GT sixth.

The two photos above are at the Crystal Palace, London start on 24 November.

The Firth/Gibson winning works ‘XR’ Ford Falcon GT ahead of the 4th placed Mildren Racing Alfa GTV1600 of Kevin Bartlett and Laurie Stewart. Bathurst 500 1967 (unattributed)

 

Des West, Ian Tate and Harry Firth, Bathurst 1969 i guess (D Wilson)

This unique blend of skills and experience is what bagged him, even as a ‘Ford guy’, passed over as team manager by Al Turner as ‘too old’ – the HDT job. He held this management role until 59 years of age, in 1977 when John Sheppard succeeded him.

Let’s get back to the MG, this short article does not do Harry’s career justice, I am not attempting to do so- I am getting off point!

The MG Special, chassis ‘TC4723’ commenced construction in 1951, the chassis was much modified and lightened. The engine was also heavily adapted for the demands of racing, exactly how is not disclosed in my reference sources, but included fitment of a Wade supercharger running at 22 pounds of boost which mounted in front of the radiator. If any of you have details of the full specification, ever evolving as it was, drop me a note, I will pop the details into the article.

The bodywork was ‘functional’ rather than attractive as many of the ‘single-seater’ MG specials in Australia at the time were. Its bluff nature mitigated against top speed but perhaps the cars primary purposes were hillclimbs and trials rather than top speed on Conrod Straight, Bathurst and the like.

The MG was successful on the circuits, sprints and hillclimbs only slipping down the order as more modern Coventry Climax engined cars started to appear in the second half of the fifties.

Heart of The Matter: Firth in the stripped or perhaps not yet bodied TC @ Rob Roy during the 1952 Labour Day meeting on 10 March. Fantastic photo of a hard trying Harry- by then the LCCA were paying prize money, Leon Sims wry comment is that ‘Harry on occasion drove more than one car to increase his earnings’. FTD to Reg Hunt, Hunt Spl from Charlie Dean in Maybach 1 (L Sims)

Harry eventually replaced the MG with a Triumph TR2, which was equally effective and functional until endowed with an Ausca (Maserati A6GCS) clone body but he retained the car which was stored out the back of his ‘Marne Garage’ on the corner of Burke and Toorak Roads, Camberwell.

My grandparents and uncle had the newsagent on the opposite north-east corner of that intersection in the late fifties/early sixties, Harry was famous for sipping a cup of tea and working his way through the motor magazines, never buying any of course!

Firth eventually sold the site to the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport to construct their headquarters. At that point, when he had to remove the car, it was sold to Jack Schumacher in Murray Bridge, South Australia, he didn’t use it much and resisted Harry’s regular entreaties to buy the car back until 1977.

Harry restored it and occasionally used it in Historic events, I’ve lost track of it in recent years. Firth died in 2014 aged 96.

Harry Firth and later twice Australian Touring Car Champion Norm Beechey, both driving Holden 48-215’s at Templestowe Hillclimb in Melbourne’s, then outer east, not sure when- mid fifties. Not too far from Rob Roy actually. I wonder if they are laughing about a cup or their winnings? (unattributed)

 

(autopics.com.au)

The photo above is a decade or so later than the one at Templestowe and shows Harry driving a Holden Dealer Team Holden Monaro GTS350- perhaps one of the circuit racing cars pensioned off for much tougher duties in 1969- Calder Rallycross.

I wonder if this was Firth’s last competition appearance as a driver prior to his Historic Racing period a bit later on?

(unattributed)

Harry with all of his booty in 1964.

(Castrol)

Firth with the two Holden Dealer Team LJ XU1s of Peter Brock and Colin Bond in 1972- I think it’s brake fluid he is playing with for the camera or flogging.

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, Leon Sims, autopics.com.au, Stephen Dalton

Photo Credits…

State Library of South Australia, Australian Motor Sports, Leon Sims Collection, Bob Williamson, David Wilson, John ‘Archie’ Hall

Tailpiece: Harry Firth and Graham Hoinville on the way to winning the June 1964 Ampol Trial, works Ford Cortina GT…

101 cars including 5 works teams entered the event which was held over 7000 miles in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria- start and finish at Bondi Beach (unattributed)

Finito…