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Thursday, 09 March 2006 00:25

Tate, Ian

Written by 
Ian Tate 
President of the Victorian Historic Racing Register (Club Patron Sir Jack Brabham)

Pictured, below, left: Ian Tate in his workshop with the 1956 Australian Grand Prix
Maserati.(Driven by Stirling Moss)

(Click on image to enlarge)

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) See below, right. (Click on image to enlarge)

itatelago_S.jpgWhen 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 (as in the photograph)
The ex-Dan Gurney Eagle Westlake [email protected]
The Ford GT 40.
The Torana XU1 Car 05 (Peter Brock)
His present car, the Ford Prefect Special (built in Tasmania in the early 1950) shown in photograph below.

(Click on image to enlarge)
itateprefectspl_S.jpgDuring 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) See photo below, left.

 (Click on image to enlarge)
itateera_S.jpgAmongst 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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