Tuesday, 02 June 2009 02:39

Bright Winter at Winton

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Original, Exotic and Eccentric cars shine in Winter sunshine
  Dick Willis - 1955 Stewart MG
Photos - Richard Abey
Guest contributor - Lucas Hunter.

Winton lived up, once again, to its reputation of putting on a great spectacle of historic racing. Over 250 cars, 80 motor bikes and 20 sidecars competed in a total of 47 events over the week end.

Our head photo shows the 1955 Stewart MG owned and driven by Dick Willis.  It was built by Gordon Stewart in the early 1950s.  It was noted for its advanced design with its highly modified MG TC engine located behind the driver and with all independent torsion bar suspension.  An MG cut down radiator shell was mounted at the front.  It first appeared in competition at Mount Druitt in 1955, and also at Bathurst and Orange, NSW.  It clocked 142 mph at Bathurst in 1957.  In 1957 an MG A engine was fitted along with a huge supercharger.  It has continued to use this engine ever since.  When Gordon moved to Coffs Harbour in the late 1960s the car in this form was achieving some success in local hill climbs, etc.  Late in 2000 Dick Willis, a fellow Coffs Harbour resident, became its new owner.  Since then it has had a full rebuild to its 1964 format.

 South Australian John and
Barbara Payne's 1933 MG J2
Special, 1250 cc
 David Stewart, also from SA,
1939 Dodge Special, 3763 cc
  Peter Wilson, NSW, 1953
Ford V8 Special, 3916 cc
 Gerard Miller, SA 1939/88
Plymouth Special, 3790 cc
 Kevin Shearer, SA, 1964
White 500 cc
 Tony Osborne, 1930 Riley Special
  Graeme Raper, 1948 Ford
Monoskate 4450 cc.
Jim Russell, 1939 Ford V8,
4300 cc
 Greg Smith, 1934 MG L. type
1500 cc

Car number 67 is listed as a 1964 White 500, but which, as the official program puts it, should probably be known as the Mystery 500.  It was built in the late 50s or early 60s.  A number of Victorian car club members got together back then, and bought a Cooper Mk IX chassis jig and produced some 50 or more copies.  Some buyers fitted BSA motors, and others chose the JAP 500 cc, and this car, fitted with a JAP 500 motor, was thought to be one of these.  But the owners are not convinced, and are still trying to find out a bit more of its history. Some of the copies were known as White Specials, and for a time this car was thought to be a White, but it has since been discovered that it is not.  Kevin Shearer, the current owner, told me that nobody can find the original builder, and all that is known for certain is that it was built in Geelong – possibly in the dead of night with the help of laughing water.  So all that can be said definitely is that the car is a copy of Cooper Mk IX. And that it looks good and goes well. 

Frank Moore, from Queensland, was driving a 1955 Tornado Mk II -- car 74 -- built in Sydney 1955.  It had the Australian land speed record for a while.  It is powered by a 4756 cc fuel injected Corvette motor, running on pure methanol.   

Ed Jolley, the man in the black driving suit seen in the video, is standing next to his Brabham BT 15.  The other man working on his green MG is Richard Townley.  Richard's car was formerly owned by Curly Bryden, and its history includes running in the Australian Grand Prix of 1956.

 John Rowe, WA, 1932 Alvis
Speed 20 - 2,511 cc
 Graham Sharley, SA, 1939
Chrysler Special, 4100 cc
Group Kb Rod McMullin (Qld)
Ford V8 Indy Special – 3916 cc
 Andrew Cannon, 1928 Bugatti 37A
 1500 cc
 Frank Cuttell, NSW, 1929 Gypsy
Fiat, 6124 cc
 (24) Greg Snape, NSW,
Kieft De Soto 4675 cc
  Tony Osborne - Riley.
Geoff Hood - Alvis 12/50,
John Payne - 1933 MG J2
 Daniel Rock/Murray Lane - 1957
Triumph T110.
Steven Barnett/Alaina McCarthy
 – 1972 Suzuki GT 750

Car number 21 (shown below) is the 1951 BMH Comic Book special, owned and driven by Thomas Benson. It was built in Western Australia, and competed at various circuits and hill climbs there.  The car is powered by a Holden grey motor and produced around 125 hp in its original form. Power was boosted to 150 hp during the late 1950s when it was clocked at 115 miles an hour at the Caversham Australian Grand Prix meeting in 1957. 

Fred Greeneklee was driving a 1956 Cooper JAP T36 -- the red car number 2, seen on the video.  It has an 1100 cc JAP engine.  It makes a regular appearance at historic meetings on the east coast. Fred actually owned the Kevin Shearer 'White 500' (Car No 67) at one time, and is as puzzled as anyone about its provenance.  "Winton is the mecca of all old Coopers," he added. 

Car number 49 is a 1949 Bentley Mark VI special from South Australia, originally built in sedan form and later converted to a racing Special in 1960 by UK Bentley specialist, Alan Padget.  The chassis was shortened and narrowed to fit the handmade custom-built aluminium body.  It was imported into Australia in 1983 by Noel Roscrow. It was driven today by Ken Roscrow. 

Car number 17 (shown above), competing in group Jb for the Lou Molina Trophy, is Frank Cuttell's 1929 Gypsy Fiat powered by a 6124 cc engine. It is likely that the Gipsy engine is that shown in Lucas Hunter's photo.

 (38) John Clancy/Chrissie Clancy
1972 Dewith Honda.
(29) Terry Gay/Greg Butler
1969 Honda Tranzac. (/) Unknown
 (99) Andrew Woodall SA – 1958
A40 Slotus Special was stored in
an antique dealer's shed for 18 years
 (74) Frank Moore –
1955 Tornado Mk II (see text)
 (21) 1955 BMH Special  (49) Ken Roscrow -  1949 Bentley
Mk VI Special

Photos below show an outsider's perceptions of a first ever visit to Winton -

 Photo Contributed by Lucas Hunter  Photo Contributed by Lucas Hunter  Photo Contributed by Lucas Hunter

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