Category Archives: Motor Sport

The B.R.M. V16 P15 and Vanwall VW5 continuation cars.

The 1958 Vanwall VW5

For some time now, rare and expensive classic cars have continued to multiply in value, year on year, fetching tens of millions of dollars at auction. They are seen as “a good investment” by many, but the limited supply of these classics has witnessed the phenomenon of continuation cars take off. Continuations such as the Jaguar D Type, the Lightweight E- Type and XKSS, as well as Aston Martin’s DB4 GT, Zagato, and James Bond “Goldfinger” DB5, to name a few, have been made available again in limited numbers.  Constructed by the manufacturers in their specialty departments, these vehicles attract a premium price using original plans and drawings. However, there are plenty of collectors with deep enough pockets to purchase them.

In October and November last year, two more series of continuation cars were announced, and interestingly they are significant 1950’s British Formula One racers. Three Supercharged B.R.M. 1.5 litre V16 P15 Mk1’s will be constructed to celebrate British Racing Motors’ first Grand Prix 70 years ago. The other is the Vanwall VW5 which won the inaugural Formula One Constructor’s Championship 63 years ago in 1958. Six of these cars are also to be completed this year.

Interestingly, these two Grand Prix racers’ story is entwined both in the past and present.

The 1952 B.R.M. Supercharged V12 P15.

Raymond Mays conceived British Racing Motors to champion British engineering ability post-WW2 to the world. Mays brought together a consortium of leading British automotive firms such as Joseph Lucas Ltd, Rubery Owen, and the Standard Motor Company to fund or “donate” components for the project. The engineering drawings for 135-degree V16 powered car were completed in Spring 1947 and drew on technology from the all-conquering pre-war Mercedes and Auto Union Grand Prix cars. The P15 was unveiled in 1949 to the press at R.A.F. base Folkingham with Mays at the wheel.

1950 was the inaugural year of the first Formula One World Championship, but due to reliability problems and the lack of development, the B.R.M. P15 V16 Mk1 struggled. By 1952 Stirling Moss had been drafted into the team while Mays pursued the great Juan Manuel Fangio services. The V16 engine produced 600bhp (450kW) at 12,000rpm, but because of the P15’s ferocious power delivery, due to the two-stage centrifugal supercharger, it not surprisingly suffered poor driveability. Britain’s finest Formula One driver of the time, Stirling Moss, was to comment in Motor Sport magazine, “The brakes were OK, the acceleration was incredible until you broke traction but everything else, I hated, particularly the steering and the driving position,” he told Motor Sport. “Handling? I don’t remember it having any…”.  But it was the sound of the intricate V16 with its Rolls Royce sourced supercharger that left a lasting impression on anyone that saw it in action. 

Juan Manuel Fangio driving the B.R.M P15 at Goodwood.

When Alfa Romeo withdrew from Formula One in 1952, and with B.R.M.’s missing the non-championship Gran Premio Valentino of Turin, the race became a Ferrari whitewash, prompting the F.I.A. to change Formula One to a 2 litre normally aspirated category. These events brought down the curtain on the P15’s Formula One aspirations, and B.R.M. was put up for sale. It was bought by Alfred and Ernest Owen and their sister Jean Stanley on behalf of Rubery Owen.  The irony of the fate of B.R.M. was that it had provided the motivation for the Vanwall VW5 to be conceived.

Guy Anthony Vandervell was a part of the B.R.M. consortium thanks to his company Thinwall bearings. Vandervell, however, lost patience in 1951 with the racing efforts of B.R.M. and had been testing the water himself, first by using modified Ferrari’s known as the Thinwall Special. This eventually brought about the construction of the first Vanwall, with the chassis designed by Colin Chapman and the aerodynamic bodywork by Frank Costin, which ultimately won the Formula One Constructors World Championship (iniitially called the International Cup for F1 Manufacturers) in 1958.  Britain’s first World Championship.

2.5-litre four-cylinder Vanwall engine was based on the Manx Norton racing motorcycle engine.

The man behind the building of the Vanwall VW5 continuations is a marketing entrepreneur and former offshore powerboat world champion Iain Sanderson, whose Vanwall Group has owned the rights to the Vanwall name since buying it in 2012 from Mahle, the German automotive component manufacturer. Sanderson has customers for two of the six cars, each of which represents a Grand Prix win in its world championship year. Vanwall clinched the Constructors’ Championship title with a Sir Stirling Moss victory in the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix. The cars will be made to the 1958 Vanwall specification in every detail using original blueprints, at a cost of £1.65 million plus V.A.T. They will be powered by a 270bhp 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, faithfully recreated to original specification. These cars will be fully race eligible for Historic Racing.

The B.R.M. V16 P15’s are also being painstakingly put together with the help of 20,000 technical drawings with the first going to 81-year-old John Owen the son of B.R.M. team principal Sir Alfred Owen. It has been his ambition to hear the 16-cylinder race car driven in anger again so he and others can relive his childhood experience of the car.

1.5-litre supercharged B.R.M. V12 P15 engine.

“Watching the likes of the Pampas Bull (Gonzalez) and, in particular, Fangio, master the power of the V16 was very special”, said John. “And the fabulous noise of the engine still rings in my ears 70 years on!

“In a selfish way, I have always dreamed of hearing that sound again but now I’d also love to share that sensation with others. To hear the V16 screaming at full tilt for the first time is something special – something you never forget.”

“The cars will be constructed to F.I.A. standards and therefore will be fully eligible for historic racing. Thus, taking the first and most important step in the preservation and growth of the B.R.M. marque – the ability for future generations worldwide to see, and above all, hear, the mighty V16 for years to come.” Three of the B.R.M. 1.5litre supercharged V16 P15 are to be built using chassis numbers allocated in the 1950s but never used. No price has yet been mentioned.

Where the story of these two iconic British examples of 1950’s Formula One cars entwine again is via the company that is manufacturing both continuations series. Rick Hall and his son Rob, of renowned company Hall and Hall, who restore, rebuild, and remanufacture historic racing cars, will be recreating these special racers. Rick and his core personnel are also former B.R.M. technicians.

 

Words © Geoff Dawes 2021. Photos and video courtesy B.R.M., Vanwall and Wikimedia.

HOW TO BUILD A CAR by Adrian Newey

HOW TO BUILD A CAR is the understated title of Adrian Newey O.B.E.’s new autobiography. Recognised as the most successful aerodynamicist and design engineer in Formula 1 history, Newey’s book reveals the hard work and personal sacrifices that it takes to design and develop World Championship-winning racing cars.

As a boy, Newey was greatly influenced by his father, a Vet by profession but a prodigious tinkerer and owner of a number of interesting cars. Famously expelled from Repton Boarding School, Newey followed a different path to reach the career, even as a child, he knew he wanted to pursue.

In many ways, this book revolves around the story behind each of the winning cars he designed but stitched together by the thread of his personal life story. The illustrations of his design ideas are insightful and well explained and Newey does not evade mistakes he has made along the way but worked so hard to rectify and finally succeed.

Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola in 1994 in the Newey designed Williams FW16 is a sobering account of the responsibility that the design team have to the driver in a sport where winning is everything. The book is also peppered with humorous stories and anecdotes, so whether you are an F1 fan or have just passing interest in the sport, it’s well worth a read.

Highly recommended.

Available from the Book Depository

Words Geoff Dawes © 2017.

 

 

Archives: The Great Wings and Wheels Challenge

Jeff Evans aboard his 1950 Norton International and Neville Schubert on his 1956 MSS Velocette take on the Supermarine Spitfire MK V111 (background) in the feature event.

The classic racing scene has become a worldwide phenomenon over the past thirty years or more.  The highly successful Goodwood Festival of Speed was first held in 1993 followed five years later in 1998 by the Goodwood Revival that celebrates not only historic racing cars and motorcycles but also aircraft with spectators dressing in period costume to recreate the era.

1993 was also the year Adelaide had its own unique historic event in aid of charity. Below is my report on the meeting.

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The idea for the Great Wings and Wheels Challenge was inspired by the writings of T.E. Lawrence – the fabled “Lawrence of Arabia “. It was Airman Lawrence’s exploits racing his “super tuned” Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle against the likes of World War One aircraft such as Bristol fighters and Sopwith Camels that captured the imagination of Blind Welfare fundraising promotions officer, and motorcycle racing enthusiast, Chris Wain.

With the help of the Historic Motorcycle Racing Register, Tourism S.A., the Historic Racing Register and the Federal Airports Authority, this unique event was put together to aid the Blind Welfare Association by pitting historic motorcycles, cars and aircraft against each other.

Held in absolutely perfect weather conditions on Sunday, November the 14th at Adelaide’s Parafield Airport, the organisers turned on an entertaining family event that was enjoyed by approximately 20,000 spectators.

But how do you translate Lawrence’s daring races on public roads into an event contained within the safety conscious confines of Parafield Airport? The answer turned out to be really quite simple. By utilising three of the northwestern runways, it was possible to have the motorcycles, cars and aircraft race each other side by side over a measured four hundred metres.

Kent Patrick’s magnificent Type 37A Bugatti.

In the spirit of the era, well known “flagman”, Glen Dix, waved them away with each competitor’s progress being timed by hand-held stopwatch. With some sixty entrants in the car division and thirty-five in the motorcycle class, it was going to be quite a feat to get through the various categories before a final “top ten shootout” for the three divisions could be held. Each competitor though was guaranteed at least three runs, with their best time to be recorded on a special certificate and accompanied by a plaque.

The air was filled with nostalgia as the time trials started with exciting machines for both motorcycle and car enthusiasts to watch and aircraft aficionados to admire. In the motorcycle class, these ranged from Doug Treager’s 1961 Manx Norton and Dean Watson’s 1948 KSS Velocette to Mark Schuppan’s 1962 pan head Harley Davidson outfit. The sight of Peter Graham’s vintage 4.5 litre Bentley and Kent Patrick’s Type 37A Bugatti whipped up images of Le Mans and Brooklands in the car class, which added to the atmosphere of the occasion, helped along with such classics as the SS100 (Jaguar) of Simon Finch and Don Davies MG TC special.

Colin Pay taxies his Supermarine Spitfire MK V111.

The aircraft were well represented too, including perhaps that most loved of bi-planes the Tiger Moth owned by Bryan Price and also the Boeing Stearman’s of Ivor Peaech and Tim Knappstein.

The time trials, however, were not the only attraction of the event. The organisers had made sure there was a carnival atmosphere with plenty of sideshows, rides and static displays to admire. The latter included public access to the cockpit of an Avon Sabre jet fighter of the type used during the Korean War.The Southern Cross Trust also had on display their replica of the Focker V11 that carried Australian pilot Charles Kingsford Smith on the first aerial crossing of the Pacific from America to Australia in 1928.

But the stars of the show for most were Colin Pay’s World War Two Supermarine Spitfire Mark V111 and the Hawker Sea Fury owned by Guido Zuccoli. It was the individual lunchtime acrobatics of these two aircraft that had the crowd enthralled. If the Spitfire could be described as swift agile and elegant, then the Sea Fury was fast furious and loud. With 2,550hp on tap from its radial 18 cylinder engine, the Sea Fury is one of the most powerful piston engine aircraft ever built, and after seeing it in action, few would dispute this claim. Genuinely awe-inspiring stuff and a fitting build-up to the feature event of the day – a match race between a Brough Superior, the Supermarine Spitfire and a Type 37A Bugatti.

Time trials winner Andy McDonald on his 650cc Triton (15) lines up against Bob Eldridge on his Honda CB72 based racer.

Unfortunately, this brought the only disappointment of the meeting when the Brough Superior was unexpectedly scratched. Neville Schubert’s 1956 MSS Veloccette and Jeff Evans 1950 600cc Norton International however ably filled its place. To the entertainment of the crowd, these classic and vintage competitors lined up against each other in a cacophony of revving engines as they waited to be flagged away. At the starter’s signal, they launched themselves off the line with the motorcycles scrambling to an immediate advantage, which they held to the finish line. The Spitfire, although putting in a creditable 17.38 seconds run, was no match, but it was still quick enough to beat home the vintage Bugatti.

By now most of the vast crowd were suffering from a severe case of nostalgia overload, as the meeting started to wind down.  The final runs of the top ten entrants were held for each class – although it would be the fastest pass the competitors had accomplished on the day that would decide the winner of the time trials.

The most powerful piston engined aeroplane in the world the Hawker Sea Fury.

And they were pretty close too, with eight competitors getting into the 13-second bracket in the motorcycle category and two in the car class. The overall winner and first in the motorcycle division went to Andy McDonald on his 1962 650cc Triton with a 13.04sec pass. Overall second and first in the car class was the Elfin of F. Greeneklee with a 13.12sec run while third place and second in the motorcycle category went to Wal Morgan on his 1962 650cc Tribsa with a time of 13.25sec.

Worth a mention also is the effort of Neil Munro and Shane Edwards who came sixth overall with a13.47sec on their 1000cc Vincent HRD outfit. Perhaps not surprisingly the aircraft didn’t fare so well, with the best time of 16.0sec being achieved by Tim Knappstein with his Boeing Stearman.

But the real winners, of course, were the public who got a unique opportunity to see some fantastic machinery compete against each other and in doing so contribute toward a very worthwhile cause.

 

Words and photographs, Geoff Dawes © 1993. Published in British Bikes Magazine 1993.

Archives: The Classic Adelaide Rally

The1997 Classic Adelaide winning 1969 Ford GT HO of Hogarth and Walters.

The1997 Classic Adelaide winning 1969 Ford GT HO of Hogarth and Walters.

For eleven years, from 1985 to 1995, the city of Adelaide in South Australia was host to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Held in early November, it was, for the most part, the last race of the season and the teams and drivers enjoyed its “end of school year” atmosphere and many would holiday in Australia before returning to Europe. The race was a popular one with the Formula One “circus” and three times won the Formula One Promoters’ Trophy as the best run Grand Prix of the season.

The momentum started to gather for Australia to host a Grand Prix when Australian Alan Jones won the 1980 Formula One driver’s championship. The races were being televised, and the ratings were good. Rumours started emanating from the eastern states of Australia of a willingness to hold a Grand Prix event. But it was the South Australian Labor Premier, John Bannon that took the trouble to fly to London and meet with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and secure the race for Adelaide.

The State Bank collapse in 1991 and Bannon’s resignation in 1992, plus the political infighting over the cost of staging the Grand Prix, saw Ecclestone award the race to Victoria and it has been held at Melbourne’s Albert Park since 1996.

The loss of the Formula One Grand Prix left a large vacuum in the major events calendar for Adelaide causing the State Government to support a number of other events in an effort to fill the void. One such event was the Classic Adelaide Rally, a competitive meeting on closed country bitumen roads that showcased different regions around Adelaide and attracted competitors from Australia and overseas and also some extremely rare and exotic machinery. It also catered for non-competitive entries that could take part in the touring category to enjoy a uniquely South Australian experience.

The first event took place in 1997 and ran until 2009 although it was revived briefly as part of the Targa Australia series. The rally though is about to be resurrected once more as an essential part of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival. The festival was first staged in 2014 at the home of Adelaide’s Formula One racetrack Victoria Park. The event was a great success showcasing Australia’s motor racing heritage including some significant Formula One cars.

The Sporting Car Club of South Australia, with the help of the State Government, is responsible for putting this exciting event together and this year the Adelaide Motorsport Festival and Classic Adelaide Rally will be held over four days from Thursday, October 15th to Sunday, October 18th, 2015.

In 1997 I covered the inaugural Classic Adelaide Rally for English publication Classic and Sports Car, and its revival has prompted me to delve into the archives and publish my article and photos for MotoVue below.

The Ferrari 246GT of Angliss and Mcmahon tackle the Paris Creek hairpin.

The Ferrari 246GT of Angliss and Mcmahon tackle the Paris Creek hairpin.

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Bruce Hogarth and co-driver Bruce Walter have won the inaugural Classic Adelaide Rally held over the 6th to 9th of November in South Australia.

The FIA sanctioned event attracted nearly 100 entries and covered some 1000km of bitumen road with 300km of closed special stages over four days. Competitors left race headquarters at Adelaide’s Hilton Hotel each morning before completing a loop of some of South Australia’s most demanding hills roads. This included visits to the sites of former road circuits that have held an Australian Grand Prix such as Victor Harbor (1937), Lobethal (1939) and Nuriootpa (1950) before returning to Adelaide’s Victoria Park Racecourse to complete a Super Special Stage on the remains of the Formula One Grand Prix circuit.

It was Hogarth though who drove his hairy-chested 1969 351 cubic inch V8 XW Ford Falcon GT HO to victory on the last day of the event to beat overnight leaders and Panama to Alaska winners Rick Bates and Jenny Brittan who crashed their 1971 Porsche 911 out of contention on the final Paris Creek stage. Hogarth and Walter, however, had been strong contenders for outright honours during the four days of the event consistently running in the top three. Chris Stephen and Adrian Mortimer claimed second place outright 27 seconds behind the leaders in their 1964 Iso Rivolta with Tom Barr-Smith and Mark Barr-Smith third 1 min and 05 seconds adrift in their 1964 BJ8 Austin Healey Rally.

Ritter and Ruess tackle the special stage in their 1952 Pan Americana winning Mercedes 300SL prototype.

Ritter and Ruess tackle the special stage in their 1952 Pan Americana winning Mercedes 300SL prototype.

But the event was marred by a number of accidents one of which claimed the life of former F1 Grand Prix Board Chairman Ian Cocks who was 5.7km into the 22nd stage and holding third place overall when he failed to take a corner on the Mt. Bold road. Mr Cocks’ 1967 Porsche 911S hit a tree and rolled over before catching fire. His 19-year-old daughter and co-driver Chantel Cocks were pulled from the wreck by spectators and taken to hospital suffering from severe burns. It was her first competition event.

Mr Cocks was an experienced rally driver and had recently completed the Panama to Alaska Rally. He was also an advisor to the directors of the Adelaide Classic Rally, an event that many had hoped would fill the void left by the loss of the Adelaide Formula One Grand Prix which was also held in early November.

Sherman and Walkley attack the Paris Creek hairpin.

Sherman and Walkley attack the Paris Creek hairpin in their 1964 Aston  Martin DB4.

Although the event had secured naming rights sponsorship from Ansett Air Freight and had captured television coverage by German Sports TV Network DSF, most of the support for the rally has come from the State Government through the Major Events Corporation via the South Australian Tourism Commission. The Premier Mr Olsen would not comment whether the Government would continue to support the event until a full investigation had been completed into the accident.

Chairman of the organising body, Rally and Motorsport S.A. and well-known rally driver, Dean Rainsford, described the tragedy as “our worst nightmare.” However three international teams of Tony Brooks and Baron Otto Reedz-Thott driving the 1957 Le Mans-winning D-type Jaguar, Ditter Ritter and and Micheal Ruess competing in the 1952 Pan Americana winning Mercedes 300SL Proto and Paul Vestey and Doug Nye in the Le Mans class winning 1966 Ferrari 365GTB, had nothing but praise for the event, comparing the organisation as the best they had encountered anywhere.

Vestey, who has competed in similar events in Europe and America commented, “ This is the first time we have encountered the use of Grand Prix type Medical Intervention Vehicles anywhere for this type of event.” Well-known motoring historian Doug Nye summed up their feelings by describing the Adelaide Classic Rally as, “Mind-blowingly fantastic.”

Words Geoff Dawes © 1997/2015. Photographs by Geoff Dawes © 1997. Published in the February 1998 issue of Classic and Sports Car

Here is a link to the 2015 Classic Adelaide Rally: http://www.classicadelaide.com.au