Two years of meticulous planning by Ed Holly and his steering committee for the 1960’s Tasman Revival race meeting came together on Thursday 30th November at Sydney, Australia’s Eastern Creek International Raceway.
Summer kicked in the following day – Friday 1st December, the start of a three day race meeting. The weather was reminiscent of the final 2.5lt Tasman meeting held at Warwick Farm – 38 degrees and a sweat box around the track.
Some 400 historic sports, sports racing and racing cars have entered. The calibre of entries is second to none, and in my opinion is only slightly bolstered by the several international entries.
For some ten year’s now one of Australia’s great touring car and Formula 3 drivers Mal Brewster has conducted the energetic track walks at the HSRCA organised meetings. Mal’s experience and knowledge takes any competitor around the track in detail referring to detail markers to aim at, apex turn-ins, and even changing of gears at certain points. It is a great way to go around tracks such as Eastern Creek at a slower pace and absorb the finer points of the track – that that you can easily miss when you’re travelling at 130mph through the turn one sweeper.
Practice for all categories was held in the morning, followed by racing in the afternoon (not typical for modern day historic racing in Australia to have active racing on the Friday).
Group S Production Sports Cars RACE ONE
The first race was for Group S Production sports cars, which was dominated from start to finish by Bill Pye (Porsche 911). Geoff Morgan (911) gave Bill an early battle before battling to hold off Michael Bryne driving his Lotus Super 7 S4. Pye dominated at the front, but with some 47 starters in the race we saw battle throughout the field. Laurie Sellars, Peter Whitten and Brian Weston continued their on-track rivalry in the race in Marcos GT, MGB GT and MG Midget respectively.
Group M Racing cars RACE ONE
Group M racing was then soon on track. These cars represent the earlier part of the International Tasman Series. The Dawson-Damer family impressed all by bringing their vast collection of Lotus Works racing cars. Ross Hodgson steered the 2.5lt V8 Climax engined 39 and placed in on pole – and led from start to finish, not withstanding strong battles with Dean Tighe driving Peter Harburg’s Brabham BT14. Peter Harburg himself was next in his Brabham BT11A. It was a large field comprising many Elfin’s and Rennmax cars, as well as some fine international entrant’s.
It was a small field of just 9 Group Q& R sports-racing cars, so we will move to the next race – the exciting battle of the Formula Ford’s.
Formula Ford’s RACE ONE
The rivalry that was made at the Historic Sandown meeting just a few weeks earlier continued between the Elwin 002 of Tom Tweedie and the Reynard 83 of Nick Lubransky. Tweedie finished second on three occasions at Sandown in Melbourne. Both got off to a fantastic start having battle royale with Lawrie Burford’s Royale (pun intended), and further back Nick McDonald in his Birrana. Jonahton Miles, Nick Bennett and John Pymble entertained the crowd’s too in what was the hardest fought race of the event so far. Tom Tweedie won the narrowest of margins.
Group N Production Touring Cars RACE ONE
Exciting near capacity field of Group N touring cars saw the hard fought battle with temperatures rising in the tin tops as Mick Donahue (Chevy Camaro) led over the finish line from Des Wall (Geogehan 67, 68,69 ATCC winning Mustang) and Scott Bargwanna (Holen Torana XU1). The real hard chargers in this race were the Wayne duo – Wayne Rogerson (Mazda RX2) and Wayne Seabrook (McKeown Porsche 911).
Group O Racing RACE ONE
The second half of the International 1960’s Tasman Series now forms Group O Racing cars. Again a Dawson-Damer family car featured, this time with John Smith driving in the ‘Gold Leaf’ Lotus 49B. A brace of Elfin’s and Brabham’s tried to make competition for the 49, but couldn’t quite match the awesome straight line speed from the powerful power-plant of the Cosworth DFV V8. Richard Carter debuted in his newly acquired Elfin 600, which he has reputedly imported from the US. Talking about the US as overseas competitor Phil Harris was coming to terms with the Eastern Creek circuit in his Brabham BT23C. Spencer Martin (yes, the two-times Australian Gold Star Champion) did qualify on the front row alongside Hodgson in Paul Moxham’s Brabham BT23D Alfa. This very famous Brabham was piloted by Frank Gardner and later Kevin Bartlett in the Tasman Series.
The race was won by Chris Farrell in his Brabham BT30 after many retirements including Smith, Martin, Harris and Les Wright (Brabham Buick V8). Carolyn Dimmer (Lotus 35) from USA impressed with a 6th place finish. It was only her second meeting in this car after recently winning the historic Formula Ford championship in the US.
Group Q & R Racing RACE ONE
Guido Belgiorno-Nettis qualified on pole position with a time 2 tenths quicker then Chris Farrell, also on the front row. Guido is getting quicker and quicker in the ex. Michele Alberto 1985 Ferrari 156 GP, while the always quick Chris Farrell was having a problem free start to the weekend in his Spirit Honda F1. The third Formula One entered for the race was Ian Ross’ ex. Alan Jones Beatrice Lola, which had gearbox problems on Thursday in practice and remained on display on Friday in the pits.
The start of the race was highly anticipated with two screaming turbo era F1 cars on the front row,, followed by RALT’s and March’s. As the revs rose and the starter had full control all eyes were on the front row, and remained on the front row as the Aussie flag was dropped and everyone left a stalled Ferrari behind. So disappointed, particularly as it is a battery start race car, which remained on the inside of ‘Hume Straight’ – Warwick Farm days! And the exciting race continued between the Spirit Honda, Peter Warren’s March 80A and Peter Landen’s Ralt RT1 – finishing in that order.
Group M & O Sports Racing Cars RACE ONE
As the heat started to really penetrate, with some saying their dials were going well past 220, and then almost back around again the M & O field saw a few non-starters and retirements. Nev McKay from Macau dominated in the Mallcok U2 who won from Bruce Lynton in the quick Elfin 300 followed by Stewart Mahony (Bolwell Mk4) and Ray Kenny (Thompson Sport).
Group J, K, & L Vintage racing RACE ONE
The final event of a superb Day One of the 1960’s Tasman Revival race meeting was for the vintage style cars – many with vintage drivers!
The always impressive range of cars were as always led and dominated by the Penrite Oils Lola MK1 driven by Keith Simpson. Star internationals included Peter Giddings (Lago Talbot T26GP) and the very famous Old Yellar II – its owner, Ernie Nagamastu shipping the car from the US, along with the Lago from NZ. Mick Arnold in the Concours finished Sharp Holden tried very hard, but finished a couple hundred yards behind the Cooper T51 Climax of Richard Longes.
In all a fanstastic start to the 1960’s Tasman Revival meeting organised by the HSRCA.
Group S RACE TWO
Saturday started off with fine conditions, as first out on track was the Group S Production sports car 5 lap scratch race.
The Porsche’s again dominated with Bill Pye in particular, as he streaked away in the lead to leave the rest of the field wondering what exactly happened. The first five places were taken by the German marque with the first of the MG’s of Spud Spruyt lapping some 5 seconds faster than the next MG, the BGT of Peter Whitten, Spud had a fantastic dice with Wayne Cooper’s 911 Carrera leaving the big thumping Shelby American 350 of Ian Ross to dice with Brian Taylor (911) and Chris Gray (Datsun 240Z), who rounded out the top ten.
A slice of history thrown in…
The International Formula Tasman Series was held over eight consecutive weekends – four in New Zealand, and four in Australia. The series owes much of its being to one Geoff Sykes, who was an Englishman who was brought to Australia to develop the Warwick Farm motor racing circuit. Warwick Farm already boasted a horse racing facility, but as this facility was going through somewhat troubled times members thought that a motor racing circuit would be beneficial, and most importantly to still allow them to race horses on the race course.
Of course there were many other circuits used in the International Tasman Series, which was held between 1964 and 1969. In New Zealand they included; Levin, Wigram, Teretonga and Pukehoe. In Australia; Longford, Phillip Island, Sandown, Lakeside and Surfers Paradise. All of these fantastic circuits, each with the own uniqueness.
The Formula One drivers of the time who came to the Southern Hemisphere in their “off season” took time to relax, as well as race. The Australian/New Zealand drivers, in their usual relaxed style liked this, but the track action was always some of the most thrilling that the two countries have ever seen. The days between races so the international drivers play golf or cricket, and attend numerous functions. This was the same with some of the locals, but many local drivers also pit crewed on their race cars.
One of the Tasman Revival meetings guest commentators was Bernie King, who commented that Australian’s refer to New Zealanders as sheep lovers, whereas in return New Zealander’s refer to Australia as the “third island”! Bernie also made mention about race calls being so much easier to call as driver’s names were easier to pronounce, i.e. Jackie Stewart, Frank Gardner, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme – referring to some of the names on track today as making life difficult.
To help set the correct ambience of the 1960’s Tasman Revival meeting much attention to detail was spent in the paddock area. To, in the commentary area we organised to set up two points, with the second point in the Horsely Room (a hospitality suite above the pit garages). Here we had the “period” commentators reminiscing on the old cars – times when they could get away with just about anything on the microphone! Along with Bernie we were also honoured to have John Cummins, Adrian Ryan, Graham Howard, Bill Sheehan, and later Will Hagon.
Group M Racing RACE TWO
Ross Hodgson made it two wins so far for the weekend in the Lotus 39 Climax 2.5. Many battles raged throughout the 30 strong car field, particularly between Don Thallon (Cooper Climax T53 F1) and Col Haste (Brabham BT2) who had a genuine race long battle with Haste eventually finishing only .04 sec behind in third.
New Zealander Ken Williams, who brought over his stunning BBM Mercedes won a ding-dong battle between long-time HSRCA regular Dick Willis in the historic Mildren Cooper & Victorian Peter Strauss. Strauss, like Thallon has recently returned with his Brabham BT6 from Europe where the two took part in the European Formula Junior Championship (regarded as the most prestigious FJ series in the world), a nine round championship encompassing most of the great circuits of Europe. Strauss improved throughout the series, with a best eight finish in one event.
Formula Ford RACE TWO
The historic Formula Ford racing scene has really come of age during the latter part of 2006 with increasing numbers of cars taking to the track. Having said that, we always see fantastic close racing from these cars, but when there are 23 entered it just means for more great contests in one race!
Two front-runners (Burford and McDonald) failed to finish the event), but wow some awesome racing in the first five (four of which were Reynard’s). John Benson joined the scribe in commentary, and took over, which was great, particularly given what he was going through with the Elfin Aero. It was a battle of all the young guns at the pointy end, with Tweedie clinching first for the second time this weekend, followed by the brace of Reynard’s in this order – David Holland, Jonathon Miles, Nick Lubransky and Doug Matley.
Group O Racing RACE TWO
In the race of the cars that will make Sunday’s Tasman Cup race took to the track A most thrilling race between the ex. Works ‘Gold Leaf’ Team Lotus 49B driven by John Smith and the local built Elfin 600B – the new acquisition of long-time historic racer Richard Carter almost finishing side-by-side in the five lapper. So much significant history was out on track – where they should be (not in museums!).So many Brabham’s, Elfin’s and Rennmax racing cars, and Lindsay O-Donnell’s typically coloured orange McLaren M4A, which finished the race in 10th behind the ex. Jack Brabham Repco Brabham BT23C of Peter Simms.
Group Q & R Racing RACE TWO
I know I’ve previously mentioned the word thriller – this race was not only that, but also electric! The start was ground lifting, with some 27 racing cars revving to the limits of their cars, but particularly the Formula One cars, and the Formula Atlantic cars, which rev upward of 12-15,000 rpm.
The front row comprises of two 1980’s F1 cars – the Ferrari of Guido Belgiorno-Nettis & the Spirit Honda of Chris Farrell. Two rows back was John Dimmer in the stunning 1971 Tyrell 004, which Sir Jackie Stewart campaigned the 1972 World Championship in. The Ralt’s, which normally dominate racing in this field were next, with two fine examples of Ron Touranac’s design skills – Vince Holland’s and Vivian King’s RT4’s & Peter Landen’s RT1. Belgiorno-Nettis clearly won the event, followed by King, Landen, Dimmer, Holland, and Farrell in sixth.
Vintage racing Race Two – HANDICAP event
The handicap event is designed to throw a cat amongst the pigeon (so to speak), whereby the handicapping team, comprising Noel Bryen set about calculating how each competitor can finish the five lap evet at the same time (I just always wonder how 36 odd cars could fit across the start/finish line at Eastern Creek – at once). The cars are set off at intervals with the fastest cars starting from the rear – sometimes as the slowest cars come on to the main straight for the beginning of their second lap!
The winner was Peter Yeomans who has the immaculate polished-aluminum bodied Lotus 11 Le Mans. Percy Hunter was second in Wes Dayton’s MG TC Special, followed by Tony Caldersmith (Gemini Mk2).
Formula Ford RACE THREE
The heart-pumping battle de Formula Ford continued in their third event for the weekend Lubransky, Burford and T Tweedie continued their earlier battles until Tweedie had a minor mis-hap, but finished in third – only narrowly beating Nick McDonald, Jonathon Miles and David Holland, who all finished within tenths of seconds of each other.
Group Q & R Racing RACE THREE
The tide reversed in this race with Belgiorno-Nettis finishing sixth after starting from rear of grid. The Spirit Honda of Chris Farrell blew away the field to finish first, thirteen seconds ahead of Peter Warren (March 80A) in second and Landen in third.
The Trophy events
Group N Production Touring Cars RACE THREE
Three trophies were up for grabs in this race, but the great thing is that not one person ould take home all three! Des Wall (1967 Geoghegan Mustang) took home the Brian Foley Trophy for Group Nc, the Ian Geoghegan trophy for Group Nb cars was won by John Gilfillan (driving Scott Fleming’s Lotus Cortina), who also was the only Nb car to finish inside the top ten. The Jack Meyers Trophy for the earlier Group Na touring cars was won by Bruce Smith in Australia’s quickest MG ZA Magnette.
Group M Racing Cars RACE THREE
The rain came down, and stayed for most of the afternoon, which evened the field out. The Jack Brabham trophy was well contested by Dean Tighe (Brabham BT14) and Peter Strauss (Brabham BT6), with Tighe becoming the deserving winner – not to say that Strauss didn’t drive an awesome race.
The Formula Vee’s were also out racing at their first “race” (not purely regularity) meeting in historic racing. Vee’s filled positions 8 to 12 ahead of the BT6 Brabham of the Tasman Revival meeting instigator, come committee Chairman, Ed Holly.
Formula Ford RACE FOUR
The Ford’s raced for the John Lefler Trophy, which was convincingly won by Laurie Burford in the wet conditions. Jonathon Miles finished second, narrowly ahead of the trio of Nick’s, lead by Bennett (Wren), McDonald, and then Lubransky.
Group O Racing RACE FOUR
As the rain continued to dampen the track, and some decided to ‘save’ the car for Sunday’s racing Jamie Larner (Brabham BT18) won the Leo Geoghegan Trophy. Carter finished second followed by New Zealander Robin Wootten, third in his BT18.
Group Q & R Racing Cars RACE FOUR
In dryer conditions the Ron Touranac trophy was fittingly won by a Touranac design – the Ralt RT4 of Vivian King. Splitting the Holland Ralt was American John Dimmer’s Tyrell OO4, who finished second. Malcolm Miller finished in fourth in the Birrana, followed by Howard Blight in his March 75B.
Group M, O, Q & R Sports Racing Cars RACE FOUR
The M & O and Q & R grids were combined for their final event of the day, where there were two trophies on offer in the M & O classes. The Spencer Martin Trophy for Group O sports racing cars was won by the overall race winner Nev McKay (Mallock U2) who in the race streaked away from the fierce battle for second place, which was narrowly claimed by the Milano GT2 of Scott Whittaker from the Matich SR3 of Keith Berryman. The Frank Matich trophy for Group M Sports Racing cars was won by Stewart Mahony, who put in a great drive in the Bolwell Mk4.
Today, all who made the journey to the 1960’s Tasman Revival meeting were struck with a taste of the mid to late 1960’s as the paddock area of Eastern Creek was transformed to represent the 1960’s style paddock – albeit with modern style marquee’s.
The Tasman Experience marquee offered spectators the chance to walk back in time and experience the 1964-1969 International Tasman Series. Hay bails were laid throughout with video screens showing footage on loan from the ABC, and a great insight to the Series in the fold-out signage boards of the many circuits used during the Tasman Series.
There were also other exhibits including our friends from Vintage Racecar Journal stand, Leo Geoghegan’s Photo display, coffee stall, and some fantastic cars. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis displayed his fabulous Ferrari 206 Dino, Nigel Tait brought both the 1966 World Championship Winning Brabham Repco BT19 and the unbeatable Matich SR4, and there was also an Alec Mildren Racing Brabham, and Matich sports car on show.
Vintage Racecar also provided the photo exhibition in the Horseley Room, which had some photo’s amended by the great Kevin Bartlett!
The rain absolutely poured down during the morning. At about 8am (an hour before commencement of racing) the Clerk of Course announced a wet track. First out was the Group S race, which was re-scheduled due to the late finish on Saturday night. Steve Sheppard and Geoff Byrne didn’t make it one racing lap after coming together at turn nine (which incidentally had a name change for the day to Creek Corner).
To get into the spirit some (including yours truly) wore period dress, but the ‘period commentators’ also got into the swing of things re-naming the corner’s to remember the great corners of tracks used during the Tasman Series. Most were named after corners at Warwick Farm (after all, it was a NSW meeting), Sandown and Longford. Corner’s such as Pub Corner, Homestead, Hume Straight and Lukey Heights (there was though of also calling the Lukey Heights corner, which was Corporate Hill, Rothmans Rise, ut the thought was we would have to include a saying – tobacco intake will cause harm to your body).
Sports Racing Cars
The extremely wet conditions seemed to slow the Mallock U2 of Nev McKay, who so far this weekend has been so dominant. Stewart Mahony (Bolwell Mk4) and Ian Pope (Lolita Clubman) had a thrilling dice in the wet and it was hard to tell the winner as they passed the finish line side-by-side, but the results confirm Mahony the victor. The tail-end battle was fiercely fought, but I’m sure it wasn’t for who could get the wooden spoon!. Peter Cohen narrowly won the battle in the HRB Ford Clubman from the Lotus Super 7 of Maurice Blackwood.
Racing Cars Division 2
A very exciting race in drying conditions for the Racing Cars Division 2 event. All weekend we have seen so much close action from all the categories, particularly at the front of the fields. This event was no exception as Tom Tweedie came to terms with the Lola T60 Formula 2 car and won the five lap event. But it wasn’t without strong competition from the Formula Junior entrants, mainly Englishman Jonathon Williamson (Lotus 22) and Victorian Peter Strauss (Brabham BT6). The three left the field behind, and in another photo finish Strauss just came second from Williamson.
The brace of Formula Vee’s did likewise about half a lap back. This time the hard-fought battle was for three, a Venom, Nimbus and Elfin Hallmark. Terrific battle, which saw the Nota Formula Vee of Terry Freckelton narrowly run away about a second in front of the previous three of Wilkins, Humphrey and Reeks respectively.
Racing Cars Division 2
This 8 lap race turned into the battle of the Formula Juniors of Williamson and Strauss toward the end when Tweedie’s Formula 2 Lola T60 retired with two laps to do. Good to see the Cooper T59 of David Reid finish third behind Williamson and Strauss, although some distance back.
Marque Sports Cars
After receiving the post-applied one minute penalty board in the morning race the battle continued raging between Brett Morse and Spud Spruyt. Until that is, Morse had a moment and found himself way back in the field. This time Spruyt had the lead all to him, and won a convincing race. Stuart Littlemore was also by himself in his Morgan Plus 8.
The battle was on for the minor place on the podium as the big Shelby American GT350 of George Nittis had plenty of straight line power (confirming the theory there’s no replacement for cubic displacement) in a battle royale with Jason Lea (Datsun 2000) and Laurie Sellars (Marcos GT). Sellars had an earlier battle on his hand with the MG BGT MkII of Peter Whitten, before managing to drive off in the distance and into the battle in front.
Formula One tribute parade
The Tasman Revival meeting was blessed to have such a magnificent array of period Formula One cars, most of which were out there racing. But some chose just to complete these awesome parade laps. One for instance was another of the Adelicia Dawson-Damer owned Lotus 79. This car also runs the most successful Formula One engine ever – the Cosworth DFV V-8, but also can claim the title to be the first of the ground-effects Formula One cars. The titanium side-skits are lowered and locked in by the crew just before the car enters the circuit, and then raised again as the car returns to the pits. An amazing car – sounds good too!
Other cars in the parade were John Dimmer’s Tyrell 004, which uses the same powerplant, the Dawson-Damer Lotus 49, which was driven in the parade by Dan Collins, who was to drive the Classic Team Lotus Lotus 49, which unfortunately never made it to the track. John Elliot, whose car did make it took part, as did the Brabham BT24 Repco of Brian Wilson (Sir Jack’s 1967 Championship car), and the Repco Brabham BT19, which was driven by caretaker Nigel Tait. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis also took the Ferrari 156GP out for a quick spin.
Vintage Racing RACE SIX
The final event to be covered for the weekend was for Group J, K & L. The eight lap race was won (but not by too much) by Keith Simpson in the Penrite Oils Lola Mk1. Greg Neal kept a reasonable gap between his Plymouth Special and Graeme Vaughan’s Lotus 11 Replica who finished in that order.
The battle for the race though was between two visiting overseas driver’s. Peter Gidding’s chose to bring his stunningly prepared (as are all his cars) 1952 Lago Talbot T26 GP, and Brian Caldersmith handed the wheel of his immaculate Lotus Type 14 Elite to Sir John Whitmore (Sir John was to drive his own Elite, but that was also in the second container). The positions rarely changed, but there was nothing in the battle as the little under-powered Elite managed to hold on to the mighty quick Lago Talbot.
The 2006 1960’s Tasman Revival meeting was a huge success. With some of the best historic racing seen in Australia for quite some year’s, a great chance to revive old friendships, extend the truth of period stories, and to see some fabulous racing cars from across the world try to mix it with the best of the Australian’s!
2007 promises to be special – stay tuned for more, and please have a Happy Christmas.
Report by: Charles Rogers / Historic Racing Australia