It’s the Pits, May 2018

Catch up on all the news in the world of J, K and L with Mal Reid’s latest edition of the newsletter for pre-1930s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s historic racing and sports cars.

It’s the Pits, May 2018

Thanks to Mal Reid

I seem to say this every year, but I can’t believe Winton is almost upon us again.

Already two events have been run and won, both with entry numbers down. Normally it’s the HSRCA to kick off the racing year but this year it was decided that the late summer meeting, usually held late February, should be put back until early April to avoid the summer Goulburn heat.

That meant that the annual Phillip Island Classic would be most competitors’ first serious outing of the year. It too would be but a little different this year as normally the Australian F1 GP follows the weekend directly after but this year the GP was rescheduled and held 2 weeks later.

I’m not sure that this was the problem, but entry numbers across the board were down for the first time in many years. There was also a lack of overseas visitors with only Ernie Nagamatsu in the big V8 “Old Yella” making the trip across the Pacific from the USA. The main focus of the meeting this year was on the huge field of Formula 5000s, so no overseas pre-60 cars were invited.

Also, it was first time at this meeting that Formula Vees were combined with our JKL cars making for a 48 car grid.

With the big guns from the UK not here, the door was open for the locals to show that they could put on a good showing and that they did. Les Wrights in the mighty Dalro Jag set the early pace from the Faux Pas (driven this weekend by your humble correspondent with brother David Reid having the weekend off) out-qualifying the Invited Group M Coopers of Adam Berryman T70 and Don Thallon T53. Go the Aussie Specials!!

Big surprise in qualifying was seeing the Vern Schuppan Lago Talbot GP next in 5th. I followed Vern for a lap and watching him throw the big Lago around was a sight to behold.

The weekend race program was spread over a full three days as usual, and for as long as I can remember the weather was pretty much perfect for the entire time, mid 20s and light winds made for great racing conditions.

As numbers were down (37 JKLs) the oldies were combined with F Vs (12). There was a bit of a concern with the Vs running with the JKLs (slower top speeds but quicker cornering speeds when compared to the faster Ls) but I’m pleased to say that I personally had no worries all weekend. The decision to start their group well after the JKLs was a smart one and all went well.

Time won’t allow me to report on every race but all the reports I’ve had seem to point to a very successful meeting for our group. No major incidents and generally a terrific time had by all.

Some great drives should be noted however. Dick Willis really had the Nota Major flying for a couple of 4th places and a fine 3rd on Sunday morning, keeping the mighty George Reed Monoskate of Graeme Raper at bay all weekend. Dick must have been working hard because Graeme got the big Ford V8 down to a very impressive 1.59.97, the quickest Aussie J/K time here at The Island. Great work lads!

Well done to Ian Tait and the rest of the VHRR team for another well run meeting.

Holidaying commitments prevented me from attending the HRSRC Autumn meeting but Dick Willis was there (as always) and he filed this report.


HSRCA Autumn Festival 2018

The HSRCA Autumn Festival, 2018

Thanks to Dick Willis

After the extravaganza of Phillip Island with over 400 entries in all and in many cases 50 car grids, the HSRCA Autumn Wakefield Park meeting was always going to be a much more relaxed affair. The HSRCA allowed separate grids for many groups which would otherwise have been combined such as Vees, F. Juniors, JKLM etc.

Without some of our usual quick runners, the Reids, Les Wright, John Medley etc. our group of L and M was comprised of ten cars and after qualifying it was Brian Simpson from Victoria in the little Cooper Mk9 JAP who found himself on pole. Unfortunately his race was very short lived as the car broke something in the transmission at the start. This left Geoff Varey in the Group M Elfin Mono to win both the Saturday races. Next was Warwick McBean in the Lotus comfortably ahead of “The Pack”.

This group of Garry Simkin in the Cooper Mk4 Vincent, (a car which has had an illustrious career with many notable owners and a variety of power plants ) Barry Bates, Thompson Lola, Rob Leslie in Bruce Richardson’s Nota Minx complete with newly rebuilt engine and Paul Armstrong in the gutsy Nalla provided great entertainment with plenty of passing and repassing. Amazingly, the little Cooper held them off despite its skinny tyres and primitive suspension, the torque of the Vee Twin Vincent proving to be sufficient to keep the pack at bay.

The Sunday morning handicap saw Jim Elphick in the little Ford 10-powered Gazelle greet the chequered flag first and on the way posted his best ever lap time at Wakefield in 1.18. 80. Also in the 1.18s was David McKenzie in the Elfin Streamliner who finished third. Another making a rare appearance at this meeting was Graham Hawker in the Holden powered KAM MG.

The Sunday afternoon race was a combined event with Formula Juniors in which Paul Armstrong came 7th and Warwick McBean 8th.

As this meeting featured a race for the Jim Clark Trophy for Formula Juniors on the fiftieth anniversary, to the day, of Jim’s fatal accident I thought I should give my Formula Junior Ausper a run. After the highs of Phillip Island with the Nota this meeting proved to be huge reality check when first it started blowing its water out and hammered out some bearings in the second Saturday race so back to the garage for it and put into the naughty corner.

Some better news is the recent purchase by Sydney enthusiast John Gale of the 1961 AGP-winning Cooper Climax, F2/18/59, from Peter Harburg which should add some interest to our JKL fields. This car was bought new and raced by Bib Stillwell, leased to Lex Davison for the 1961 AGP and later raced in Historics by Stan Rumble and Peter Landen who still holds the over 2 litre Group L record at Eastern Creek in it.

Also on Coopers, in 35 years of ownership I had never run my Cooper on a dyno until just recently which I was rather shocked to find that it produced just 121 horsepower at the rear wheels. To put this in reality Bruce Richardson told me his Nota Minx is now putting out 118 hp at the rear wheels so clearly I am doing some head scratching.

Next outing is Morgan Park on May 5/6 but JKL entries, at the time of writing this, are rather scarce so undoubtedly there will be some combination grids. Then at the end of May we have Winton so we look forward to some better fields there.

Good Racing,
Dick Willis.


As Dick mentioned we have meetings coming up at Morgan Park with the big historic meeting being held over the weekend of the 14th & 15th July. Winton will have been run so my next newsletter will cover that. If you have any news or a story to share drop me a line at or give me a call on 0412630615.

Hope to see many of you at a meeting soon

Mal Reid

Leave a Comment