JKL Newsletter February 2010
Dick Willis, HSRCA Group JKL Registrar
PO Box 280, Coffs Harbour. NSW. 2450
Ph, 02 66522099, 0427 400158, firstname.lastname@example.org
Firstly, New Year greetings to everyone, and many thanks to those who sent me Christmas greetings, they were much appreciated. A new decade is upon us and a lot to look forward to in the JKL world.
For some of us it has already started with the Bruce McLaren Festival in New Zealand, firstly at the new Hampton Downs circuit on January 22/23/24 and the following weekend at Pukekhoe. The new Hampton Downs circuit was really good and the developers have obviously spent a small fortune there, when the pit facilities are completed it will be really great venue and we wish them well with it. With a total entry of almost 340 cars in ten categories, all racing, no regularity, there was bound to be action aplenty. From Australia there were about 70 cars plus a heap of Aussie spectators, I kept seeing them everywhere, even in downtown Auckland. Competitors also came from the USA, UK and Denmark with lots of overseas Formula 5000’s and Juniors. “Our” category was called Early Historics, somewhat similar to our JKL with almost 40 entries. Quickest by far were the two UK T51 Coopers with 2.5 litre engines of Rod Jolley and Roger Wills which rather left my 2 litre job in the shade but I did qualify third. Behind me were the baying pack of hounds led by the 8C35 Alfa of Peter Greenfield from the USA which would be the quickest pre war car I have ever encountered in 30 years of Historic racing, then there was the massive NZ Stanton Corvette sports car which only ran at Hampton Downs but probably would be a Group M car in Australia, the lovely Connaught of Grant Clearwater was surprisingly quick but suffering some teething problems following a long restoration. Another legendary NZ car was the 5244cc Lycoming Special of Ralph Smith and David Ham’s Lister Jag from the UK was another quick contender as was David White’s noisy Cooper Bristol.
Further back was a great collection of NZ Specials, many of them I had read about previously such as the GeeCeeEss, the Edelbrock Special, Ace111, the 260M Zephyr, the Northland Special, the BCM etc. From Australia we had Jim Elphick in the Gazelle, Richard Longes in his T51 Cooper, Grahame Vaughan with his Lotus 11R and Garry Simkin with the JBS. The large WA contingent comprised of Charlie Mitchell in the powerful TS Special, Thomas Benson with his yellow Holden Special, John Rowe in his Ford Mercury Special, Ed Farrar with his blown P Type MG and Neil McRudden in the Repco R4 Holden Sports which I hadn’t seen before but had heard a lot about. Neil brought seven cars and four spare engines to ensure WA was well represented.
A great debacle arose at HD when firstly the promised supply of Avgas was late arriving and then it proved to be not Avgas but a locally brewed cocktail which caused many engines to detonate and played havoc with bladder tanks, fuel tank foam and rubber seals. Naturally the organisers were extremely embarrassed and steps were taken to replace the dodgy fuel but this was all too late for those who had suffered terminal engine damage and the ramifications will surely continue for some time.
Fortunately I had bought fuel from a supplier in Pukekhoe so was not affected but suffered a severe setback in qualifying when the Cooper lost its coolant, I had however managed to set a reasonable time beforehand. The 0.4 mm head gasket had blown into a multitude of pieces so there didn’t seem to be any alternative at this early stage of the meeting but to try and effect repairs. A trip to some suppliers in Pukekhoe secured the necessary materials and with the assistance of Michael Vigneron we set to to cut out a head gasket which proved to be something of an attraction for the many spectators in the pits and a pic of this performance subsequently appeared on the internet and is reproduced below. The next greatest concern was whether the “Cooper” rings which contain the compression pressures on a Climax would hold as it is usually essential to replace these every time the cylinder head is removed but some hi-temp sealant applied to the rings seemed to do the trick and no further trouble was experienced from that area. We did however make a monumental blunder after refilling and bleeding the cooling system when everyone thought that someone else had refitted the radiator cap and I spun out on my own coolant half way through the next race. With the cap refitted halfway through the next race some more coolant became evident on the track so I came in thinking it had to be from my car but found that all was well so some clever person then promised that I would get “The Bunny of the Meeting” award. After all this, the car ran well and I finished with some second and third placings in the subsequent races after holding off my adversaries but the big Alfa proved too strong with its 350 bhp and it was extremely well driven.
I wasn’t the only one to have problems as much work was in evidence at both meetings but some very resourceful repairs and sharing of tools and equipment kept most of the cars mobile. The quick Cooper of Roger Wills came to grief early in the meeting at Pukekhoe when he fitted a new set of tyres and spun into the Armco before they were properly bedded in putting him out for the remainder of the meeting but all was not completely lost as he still had his McLaren M1B to drive in the races for big sporties.
Rod Jolley has asked me to do some research on T51 Cooper, as many of you would know it was owned by Bill Patterson for many years and Bill won his 1961 Gold Star in it. The late Murray Richards bought it off Patterson a bit over 20 years ago and sold it to Rod Jolley a few years later and it has proved to be a very successful car in UK racing. The July 1961 issue of Modern Motor has a good story on the car where it is said Patto bought it off a private owner in the UK and it has previously thought to have been a works team car. Its chassis number does not follow the usual sequence of T51 numbering, does anyone know the origins of this car and if it was a works car who drove it and where and when ?
Many of you would have seen the great story Patrick Quinn did in Vintage Racecar mag on the Bradey K3 MG recently where it was stated it would remain in their family forever however it seems he has succumbed to a substantial offer and the K3 is now resident in Melbourne.
I recently received word that Derry Greeneklee is to hang up his helmet having become an Octogenarian, Derry and his quick little red Cooper will be sadly missed particularly at the annual Winton meetings where the combination really shone. We will also miss reading the Chas McGurk adventures “The Making of an Historic Racer” but I believe there is a sequel in the wind “The Maturing of an Historic Racer” guaranteed to bring peels of laughter from even the most sober of readers. We wish you well Derry and hope you can keep up to date with more of the adventures of Chas McGurk.
Have you seen this week’s Auto Action with “Ten Questions with Les Wright” former Group L competitor and currently our HSRCA Registrar’s Chairman who has had an enviable record in his 30 years of Historics driving a great array of notable and none more formidable than his current Benetton B186 ex F1 car.
Our first HSRCA race meeting for 2010, as if you needed reminding, is at Wakefield Park on February 20/21 and there is still, JUST, time to enter. We are of course looking for a good JKL entry so that we can have races for our classes exclusively but we need YOUR support to be able to do this.
A month later is Phillip Island where Alfa Romeo is the featured marque and Peter Greenfield with that 8C35 Alfa that I encountered in NZ may be tempted to enter. Apparently the JKL entry is very good and Rod Jolley is definitely coming with his Cooper.
Repairs to my Cooper at Hampton Downs with Michael Vigneron supervising and me pointing.
Good Racing in 2010 and hoping to see you all at Wakefield in a few weeks,