It’s the Pits – J, K & L Newsletter August, 2017

Mal Reid’s J, K & L newsletter, covering pre-1930s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s historic racing and sports cars, has returned to recap 2017’s mid-season action, and been sent out to drivers.

It’s also now available for you to peruse on the Club website. Read on, and enjoy!

It’s the Pits – August 2017

It’s hard to believe that the racing calendar is now half over. The Austin 7 club’s annual Winton meeting has once again come and gone in a blur followed shortly thereafter by the Queensland Historic’s at Morgan Park.

The usual high turnout of pre-60 race cars fronted up for practice on May 27 and once again there were separate races for both Ls and J/Ks. 40 LB sports and racing cars had entered and 32 were first out to qualify. Even though there had been rain around on Thursday, the track seemed to have plenty of grip. It was not surprising that the 2 rear-engined Aussie built Cooper specials headed the pack. David Reid’s Faux Pas Holden Repco with an impressive 1.09.59 heading the Mildren Cooper Climax of Dick Willis 1.10.10. Good times so early in the weekend considering how cold the track was.

Brian Simpson was next in the car that is perfectly suited to Winton. The mighty Cooper J.A.P Mk9 was also into the high 10s with a quick 1.10.96. The big 1100cc twin really loves it around Winton and Brian seems to be punting it as hard as Derrick Greenekelee use to. No mean feat indeed.

In a car that is at the other end of the “suitable to Winton” scale is Patrick Ryan’s big speedcar. The mighty V8 Demmitt Fueling Special was first of the front-engined cars and Patrick had it on row 2 with a 1.11.40 – an impressive time considering it’s much more at home on the long straights of Sandown or Phillip Island.

The beaut Lola Mk1 of Samantha Dymond was 5th and first of the Lb sports cars, and Graeme Marks in the Mac Healey 6th.  The top 10 qualifiers were Fred Greenekelee Cooper J.A.P Bob Schapel MG TC Spec Dick O’Keefe Photon Lotus and Lb newcomer Graeme Louk in his newly-acquired Cooper MG Monoposto. This is a car with a great historic racing history through owners Greg Smith, Ross Hodson, Ray Wamsley, and Brian Gerrard, and it and Graeme are very welcome additions to our fields.  Also making its first appearance back at Winton for a long while and now in the hands of new owner Mike Gosbell was the Sabakat Special. This combination will I’m sure be a regular competitor at many meeting in the future so well done Mike on your latest acquisition.

JK numbers were a little down this year but still 23 entries and 22 starters for practice. Missing this meeting was Graeme Raper in the George Reed Monoskate, so all the Dodge Ford and Plymouth-motored cars were now in the hunt for a trophy for the mantel piece. Leading the way with a quick 1.15.16 was the blue 38 Dodge of Mark Woodberry comfortably in front of the S.A. pack of Chris Frost Hartwig Fargo 1.16.42, Andrew Box Dodge and Gerard Miller Pymouth. Jim Russel was first of the Ford V8s a lot further back and slower than normal in 5th.

Rounding out the top 10 were Peter Wilson Pymouth, the flying Rob Harcourt’s Lancia Meadows fastest of the 4-cylinder brigade and just a few tenths in front of the always-quick MGTB of Neill Murdoch, who was doing well to stay ahead of more big Yank iron David Stewart’s Dodge. The mighty Sulman Singer (now complete with new racing motor in place of the $250 wrecker special as per the last 7 years) put this weekend’s pilot David Reid into 10th. A non-starter for practice was Noel Cunningham in the beautiful Talbot GP having a few issues but he managed to get going later for the Saturday afternoon race.

The Lb’s first 6 lapper was held under dry but cool conditions and David Reid In the Faux Paus notched up another win just ahead of arch rival Dick Willis’s Mildren Climax. The big mover in this race was Graeme Louk in the Cooper MG jumping 4 places up the grid to finish 6th. I thought this combination might take a bit of time to get up to speed but they’re already giving the front runners a hurry up. Well done Graeme!

A few good results also came from two of the best looking cars in the group – Norman Falkiner in the Stanguellini FJ and Max Pegram in the Pretty Gemini Ford FJ. Finishing only a second or so apart, they managed to really put the pressure on the big Demmitt Fueling Special, proving that a “good littlun” is pretty handy around the tight confines of Winton. Charlie Mitchell, one of our WA regulars in the TS Special, had a lonely old race ahead of the next pack, which featured the Gosbell Sabakat, Keith Simpson in the Cooper MK 5, Ian Edgar in the MGTC and James Elphick’s Gazelle Ford.

The Saturday J & K Douglas Briese Trophy race saw 21 cars face the starter. Jim “Stumpy” Russell proved that Ford V8s still rule at Winton’s tight track, just besting the Hartwig Fargo by less than .4 of a second in a good scrap from the two quickies.

The Lancia Meadows of Rob Harcourt showed that J cars might be old but are still very competitive by finishing a fine 3rd. There were only 6 Js entered, so well done Rob to finish ahead of all those big 6-cylinder Dodges, Plymouths, MGs and Hudsons. Rees Mackay in the Riley 9/14 and the big Marsel Special of Robert Sales had a close scrap and ahead of the Parkinson Harris Special, Steinfort MG PA and John Lackey MG TA Tomlinson.

An early start for the Lbs and invited Ms on Sunday morning for the Coad Memorial Trophy and it was Eddie Woods in the Bill Hemming Elfin Streamliner besting Ian Tate’s Prefect Special and the amazing Stanguellini relishing in the slippery track 3rd. The Michael Woodall Slotus Special and Shane Bowden in the Prad MK 5 Sports had a really close finish with the fast closing Prad failing by only 3/100th sec to finish in front.

It was good to see a few cars back on the track after problems on Saturday. The John Medley Nota FJ and your humble scribe with no oil pressure in Prad MK3 Repco (a very worrying time after a recent engine rebuild) finally getting some track time.

The Lou Molina Trophy for JKs proved to be a walk in the park for the big silver Ford of Stumpy Russell, winning easily from Chris Frost’s Hartwig Fargo. Rob Harcourt proved that he was a serious contender 3rd in the Grp J Lancia Meadows only 2 seconds behind the Fargo.

The Group Lb Mark Dymond trophy is always hotly contested and with a much drier track a close race was ensued. The Mildren Cooper finally got its nose in front of the Faux Pas, finishing only 2/100ths in front and side by side. The Graeme Marks Mac Healey just managed to stay ahead of Graeme Louk, really coming to grips now with the super quick Cooper MG in 4th. Samantha Dymond was best of the Lb sports cars from Dick O’Keeffe and Paul Armstrong best of the invited Ms.

Whilst the Mildren and Faux Pas are at the top of the pack there is really a great group just a second of so behind them. 8 cars in fact all recorded best lap times of between 1.10.20 and 1.11.92, which makes for some pretty spectacular racing.

Not long after the finish of the Lb race the heavens opened up, and to their credit 17 J & K cars raced off at varying intervals for the 8 lap handicap. Stumpy was way too good for the handicapper and made it 3 wins from 3 for the weekend in a fine scratch man to checked flag win. A great job in slippery conditions to finish 6 seconds ahead of Stuart Steinfort 2nd  in the MG PA and David Stewarts Dodge 3rd.

And so it was that the weather was to hold out for most of the weekend and the Austin 7 Club can pat themselves on the back for yet another fine meeting. J & Ks were down a bit but there are good signs that Ls will continue to gather good numbers and strong competition in the near future. The job for promotors is to try and get the sort of numbers that attend Winton and Phillip Island to move over the northern boarders to Wakefield Park, but more so Morgan Park in Queensland.

I like many others didn’t venture north to the winter Morgan Park meeting. Dick Willis has sent me this report so thanks Dick for his report and thoughtful comments regarding the state of play in our old race car endeavours and future.

The Morgan Park report, July 2017.

Chilly evenings, lovely Queensland winter days, great hospitality from the HRCC and the newly resurfaced Morgan Park circuit greeted us on our arrival for the fortieth running of the annual Queensland Historic meeting.

With no JK cars, the five L cars entered were joined by 3 invited M cars, 4 Formula Juniors, 5 Vees and an M racing car to constitute a viable and interesting field. Quickest of all and winner of all four races was Noel Bryen with his very well driven Rennmax Junior, second and third in the first 3 races were Les Wright in the Dalro and Dick Willis in the Nota Major. Sharing next honours from our “groups” were Warwick McBean and Paul Armstrong, who were well matched, then Ian Young making a welcome reappearance in Sabrina and Mike Gosbell in the exquisite Sabakat/Lotus 12 who were also well matched. Barry Bates too in the Thompson Lola was close behind, but the challenge for many of these drivers was too get clear of the Vee war which Craig Carlson was observing from the relative safety of his TC Special. With several of our group non-starters in the final fourth race only Les Wright (3rd) Paul Armstrong and Barry Bates were finishers.

The good news is that several of our group came away with class records thanks to the circuit improvements and perseverance. Noel Bryen improved on the FJ record by 0.8, Les Wright, LB over 1600 by a massive 2.5 secs, Dick Willis, Lb under 1600 by 1.1 secs, Paul Armstrong, M racing over 1600  by 1.3 secs, Barry Bates, M racing under 1600 by 3.3 secs and Warwick McBean, M sports over 1600 by 4 secs. Well done guys !

While those competing had a wonderful time both racing and socialising it was very disappointing, especially to our group sponsor Craig Carlson, who provides so much support to visiting JKL competitors, that so few took advantage of the Queensland hospitality and of this great country circuit and town.

Northern competitors frequently travel southwards to NSW and Victoria but it is frustration that many southerners do not reciprocate seemingly being content to race once a year at Historic Winton, admittedly an institution in itself. Meanwhile, forces within the movement are keen to phase out our “ancient” JKL cars from meetings as was evidenced for instance by the Classic Speed Festival at Eastern Creek where JKLMO cars weren’t even invited, the start of a trend of the future. By sitting at home with our JKL cars in the garage we are playing right into the hands of these prophets of doom and you wouldn’t have to be a genius to see where this will end up.

No races (except Winton, God bless ‘em) for JKL and consequently these cars, which people are sitting on at home thinking are appreciating faster than their superannuation, and their owners will be in for a rude awakening as they will be unsaleable as there will be no events for them and they will become valueless museum pieces.

Even if owners do not wish to race their cars themselves consider following the example of Dave Medley and Bruce Richardson of Sydney who have engaged younger and very capable drivers and now, as team “patrons”, are deriving much pleasure in watching their cars being driven very well.

I implore owners of JKL cars to think hard about bringing their cars out and run at some interstate meetings, our two Wakefield Park meetings in September would be a good starting point and restore some strength to the JKL category which, in case you have forgotten was the category around which Historic racing was founded some 41 years ago.

Yours in Early Historics,
Dick Willis.

Hear hear Dick, I and many other agree whole heartedly but I like many find it hard to get to some of the meetings further afield. Next year let’s all give a thought to supporting both the Queenslanders and South Aussies who are always filling our grids in NSW and VIC.

Great news also that the Don Wright Citroen Special is again back on the track. Second owner Bob Winley has a big hand in its restoration for Perry Long. Bob and Perry have just given the Citroen its first run at Wakefield Park along with John Bowe no less.  The track workout went well and the car ran strongly so we all look forward to seeing this very pretty late 50s Special in racing action soon.

On a sad note, I was very saddened to here of the passing of our good mate from W.A. Bob Pinkerton. Bob was a regular competitor here in the eastern states in his Belchamp Peugeot, most recently at Winton where we all had a feed and beer or two. He told me he was heading off the Papua New Guinea as he did annually to do charity work for the Papuans that helped his father during WW2, and apparently succumbed to a heart attack whilst there. Our sincerest condolences go to Bob’s family in Perth.

Also, Grant Campbell informed me of the passing of Victorian Roy Williams. Roy was the intrepid pilot of the mighty Sabrina Austin 6 and our condolences go to Roy’s wife Dianne and his family. 

Coming events of note are our 2 old car meetings at Wakefield Park. The HSRCA Spring meeting featuring JK and L cars on the 2-3 September and entry forms and all the info you need can be found here at .

At the end of September on the weekend of 23rd – 24th the 2nd running of the Amaroo Historic Revival will be held at Wakefield Park. Details from Ph: (02) 4822 2811| .

If anyone has any news please let me know. Race safe and see you at the track.

Mal Reid

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