Thursday, 09 March 2006 00:25

Tate, Ian

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Ian Tate is a Melbourne driver, who as a youngster, was taken by his uncle to the Albert Park Grand Prix in 1953.  He has been hooked on motor racing ever since. He grew up near well-known racing driver Harry Firth's garage in Melbourne.  He used to walk past the shop and stand looking through the window.  Harry Firth noticed him after a while, and invited him in to the workshop to have a look around. Soon afterwards, he started doing odd jobs on weekends, and ultimately became part of the Harry Firth team from 1955/1956. It's a friendship that continues to this day.
Of the many cars that he has driven the following are some that stand out in his mind. 
  •  Several of Dean Butler's cars including the four-wheel-drive Miller, the 1939 Maserati Straight 8, 3 litre car that ran at Indianapolis. Allard J2 R (J2R3404). The Jim Robbins Indianapolis car of 1954 and the T26C Lago Talbot (the factory car with the 230 horsepower engine). 
  • When the Donington Museum visited Australia on Feb 14 1982 he drove the 250 SM. Ferrari 125. 
  • He shared test driving with Harry Firth in the Holden Dealer Team Torana  XU 1.  
  • The Stirling Moss Maserati that won the 1956 Australian Grand Prix. 
  • The ex-Dan Gurney Eagle Westlake V. 
  • The Ford GT 40. The Torana XU1 Car 05 (Peter Brock).
His present car is a the Ford Prefect Special (built in Tasmania in the early 1950).During a visit to Goodwood in the United Kingdom he drove the Maybach Special which attracted a good deal of interest. He felt a strong sense of responsibility driving an icon of Australian Motor Racing before a huge crowd of very well-informed aficionados. And of all the cars he ever drove the ERA  R1A of 1934 – the 1500 cc works car formerly driven by Raymond Mays - stands out. It is in completely original configuration. It handles beautifully, is very fast, and has formidable stopping power. (Mechanical brakes).
Amongst the many tracks he has driven on are:  Winton, Mallala, Sandown, Phillip Island, Speed on the Tweed, Rob Roy, and of course Goodwood.

His present business: Tate Engines is dedicated to the preparation of racing cars. The walls of his workshop are covered with photographs and memorabilia that are a museum of Classic Marques racing in Australia.                        

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