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Tasman Series

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the first Australian Formula Junior Championship at the Tasman Revival

Frank Matich

The Formula Junior International Challenge at the Tasman Revival at Sydney Motorsport Park (SMP) on the 25th November 2012 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Australian Formula Junior Championship.

The 1962 event, held at Katoomba’s Catalina Park circuit, was won by Frank Matich who, incidentally, is the official patron of the Tasman Revival meeting.  And, what’s more, the very car that Matich drove on that day, an Elfin built in South Australia, will also be here to compete in this special event.

Now owned in West Australia by Charlie Mitchell, the Elfin will line up with more than 40 Formula Juniors coming from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand and local Australian entries.  In taking out the 1962 title, Matich and the Elfin beat the best Brabham and Lotus machines imported from the previously dominant overseas manufacturers.

The Brabham BT2 which Tasmanian Gavin Youl drove to second place behind Matich will also be racing at SMP, now driven by Queenslander Graham Brown.  Youl was the first driver to compete in cars built by the Jack Brabham/Ron Tauranac organisation, their Formula Juniors being precursors to the later successful Formula One machines.

Frank Matich

The Formula Junior category has tremendous support worldwide and offers a great spectacle of the evolutionary development of the diminutive racers between 1958 and 1963.  While the earlier cars were front-engined, restricted to 1000cc and fitted with drum brakes, later examples had 1100cc engines in the rear and carried disc brakes.

Sponsor of the International Challenge is the multinational financial services company Credit Suisse, a renowned supporter of some of the world’s best motoring events such as the Goodwood Revival, Monaco Grand Prix Historique and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

As a further tribute to the meeting patron, a number of cars raced and constructed by Frank Matich will be competing and others displayed in a Memorabilia Marquee.  Foremost amongst those on display will be the SR3 and SR4 sports cars which Frank used to dominate the 1967-1969 championships, and the McLaren M10B he drove to win the 1970 Australian Grand Prix.

The Memorabilia Marquee has become a regular feature of the biennial Tasman events hosted by the Historic Racing and Sports Car Association and the Australian Racing Drivers Club.

More information can be found at www.tasmanrevival.com and you can join in the discussions on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hsrca and Twitter at www.twitter.com/hsrca.

Photographs (by Noel Conlon) of the 1962 Australian Formula Junior Championship and the victorious Frank Matich.


A Famous Australian car and a Famous Australian Driver Return to Compete at the Tasman Revival.

Lotus 32 Twincam 1500

Leo Geoghegan’s famous white 1964 Lotus 32 twincam 1500 is to return to Australia for the Tasman Revival.

Now back in its iconic and distinctive Total Team coloured livery, the car is owned and raced by Peter Studer from Switzerland. The car will arrive with others from the UK.

Back in 1964, Leo won first time out in the Hordern Trophy at Warwick Farm. This augured well for the upcoming Tasman Series and indeed Leo was the first 1.5 litre car home in the New Zealand GP, finishing 6th. In Australia Leo finished 8th in the Warwick Farm Tasman event. Later that year Leo took a string of 2nd places beating many 2.5 litre cars along the way. In 1966 Leo took delivery of the ex-Jim Clark Lotus 39 and the 32 was sold. Leo still has very fond memories of his time with this wonderful Lotus.

Cooper Climax T53

Tasmanian Scotty Taylor will make his debut at a Tasman Revival in his Cooper Type 53, which he has used extensively in the UK and Europe.

Scotty Taylor is no stranger to Australian circuits, having driven Bathurst on an incredible 21 occasions. These days Scotty spends 6 months of the year in the “over there” racing a number of historic cars including his Cooper Type 53 and a Lotus 18 which he bought at a Bonhams auction here in 2008 from the John Dawson-Damer collection.

The Cooper Type 53 has a real significance to the Australian scene as it was in one of these that Sir Jack Brabham won his 2nd world championship with in 1960. The car will definitely put Scotty at the sharp end of the early 1960s category of the Tasman Revival race, a place he is used to being when competing in the UK and Europe with the car.


Tasman Series Photo Gallery 3: Pits and Paddock 1967-1969

Here is our third post featuring images from the Tasman Series by photographer Brian McInerney.

This time we take a look in and around the Pits and Paddock. As you can see, things have changed!

These photos are special, because this is the first time they have been published in any medium for 40 years.

Brian is a professional photographer and in the 1960s he was the young assistant photographer at Channel Seven in Sydney. For each of the Tasman Series races in 1967, 1968 & 1969 he acquired a press photographer’s pass and had complete access to the drivers and the track.

As a result he has a truly remarkable collection of images of the Tasman Series stars, including Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Derek Bell and the local heroes.

Its only three weeks until the Tasman Revival at Eastern Creek, so make sure you grab your tickets.

Images: Brian McInerney, Fine Image Gallery ©

Via: MotorsportRetro.com


Classic Tasman Ads: McRae wins on Ampol

When New Zealand’s Graham McRae took out the 1973 Tasman Series he become the first – and only – driver to win the Series three years in a row.

His winning mount for 1973 was the hot pink McRae GM1 Chevrolet, powered by British developed Alan Smith engines. McRae was running hot, having just returned from winning the rich L&M Formula 5000 series in the United States.

Graham is pictured in this ad for Australian petroleum company Ampol at Adelaide International Raceway. Interestingly the image is from the 1972 series, as the following McLaren M10B is driven by Kevin Bartlett, Kevin entered a Lola T300 in the 1973 Tasman. Despite his success, Adelaide proved to be unkind to McRae as he failed to finish at this round in both 1972 and 1973.

With the introduction of Formula 5000 to the Tasman Series the stars of Formula One no longer made the long haul down under each summer. However for 1973, there was an intensely competitive field of New Zealanders, Australians and some well credentialed internationals.

The man most pundits expected to be McRae’s strongest opposition was Frank Matich, fresh from his dominant victory in the Australian Drivers Championship – or Gold Star. Ultimately Matich endured a patchy run, winning only once at Surfers Paradise.

Local hopes also rested with big name Formula 5000 heroes like Max Stewart, Kevin Bartlett, David Oxton, Johnnie Walker, Warwick Brown and John McCormack in the Ansett Team Elfin MR5 Repco.

The US contingent was led by Sam Posey. Sam came to the Tasman Series with a big reputation and experience in American Formula 5000, Indianapolis and Le Mans. From England came Alan Rollinson, one of the name drivers of British and European Formula 5000 racing, along with his 24 year old cousin, and relative new comer, Steve Thompson. The cousins would score a win a piece during the series.

McRae opened his account with a troubled run to fourth at Round 1 at Pukekohe, where a pit stop to replace two damaged wheels dropped him well off the leaders. Victory a week later at Levin and another at the Wigram Airfield Circuit near Christchurch made for a strong New Zealand leg. A consistent run in the early Australian rounds kept McRae well in the hunt, and his third victory of the series at Sandown’s penultimate round in Melbourne sealed his third consecutive Tasman crown.

Tragically the days of the Tasman Series were numbered, costs and a shift in popularity towards sedan racing sealed its fate. What had once been the pinnacle series of the southern hemisphere ended with the last race held at Sandown Raceway in February 1975.

James Meale

Via: Motorsport Retro


Brian McInerney Photo Gallery 2: Tasman Series 1967 – 1969

Here are some more wonderful images from the Tasman Series from 1967 – 1969 by photographer Brian McInerney.

They are an absolute treat, because this is the first time they have been published in any medium for 40 years.

Brian is a professional photographer and in the 1960s he was the young assistant photographer at Channel Seven in Sydney. For each of the Tasman Series races in 1967, 1968 & 1969 he acquired a press photographer’s pass and had complete access to the drivers and the track.

As a result he has a truly remarkable collection of images of the Tasman Series stars, including Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, Derek Bell and the local heroes.

Brian is set to releases a series of Tasman Series framed prints, so watch this space.

Images: Brian McInerney, Fine Image Gallery ©


Tasman Legends: Vern Schuppan

Vern Schuppan won the Rothmans International Series Formula 5000 series, driving a Lola T332 and placed second in the 1976 Australian Grand Prix driving an Elfin MR8. In 1978 he was runner up in the Rothmans International Series.

Originally from from Whyalla, South Australia. He drove in various categories, but arguably most of his success was as a sports car driver and was heavily associated with Porsche till the end of his career.

His sports car career, particularly at the Le Mans 24 Hours flourished, firstly as a long term member of the Mirage team and later as a member of Porsche’s official factory squad. After coming close to victory many times, a win finally arrived in 1983.

Schuppan participated in 13 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, mostly for Ensign and Surtees, making his debut on May 12, 1974. He failed to score any championship points during his sporadic six year career.

In 1971 Schuppan won the British Formula Atlantic Championship and this led to a test drive with BRM.

In 1972 whilst BRM’s test driver he tried unsuccessfully to qualify for the 1972 Belgian Grand Prix. However Schuppan had some good non-championship race finishes with a fourth in the Victory Race and a fifth in the International Gold Cup. In 1973 he finished ninth in the BRDC International Trophy in a BRM.

Schuppan competed in three Indianapolis 500 races (1976, 1979, 1981), with a best result of third in 1981 driving a McLaren-Ford. He won the 1974 and 1976 Macau Grand Prix races, dominating the 1974 by four laps.

He was the 1983 Japanese Sports-Prototype Champion, and followed his 1976 5th place finish, 1975 3rd place finish and 1977 & 1982 2nd place finishes of the 24 hours of Le Mans by winning in 1983 driving a Porsche 956 with Al Holbert and Hurley Haywood. In 1984 he finished 6th at Le Mans with former Formula One World Champion Alan Jones. He had a number of other podium finishes in the World Sports Car Championship. These include a second in the 1973 & 1982 Spa 1000km, third in the 1983 & 1984 Fuji 1000km and a third in the 1985 Selangor 800km races. Schuppan also placed third in the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship in 1984, 1985 and 1986.

With Japanese backing, he also produced a road going evolution of the Porsche 962 called the Schuppan 962CR. At the then price of 195 million yen (1.5 million USD) only six were built.

Via : Wikipedia


Tasman Series: Warwick Farm 1965

Round Five: WARWICK FARM

Sydney Grand Prix

Date: 14th February 1965

45 Laps of 3.621kms (162.945kms)

The 1965 International 100 at the Farm was a notable triumph for the flying Scotsman Jim Clark, who not only established lap and race records, but overcame the loss of third gear very early in the race.

Clark had been in devastating form leading up to the International, with three consecutive wins in the Tasman series, but at the unofficial practice session on the Friday, the leading drivers had sounded a warning that Clark wouldn’t have things all his own way. First, Graham Hill, had scorched round in 1:35, well inside the 1:37.4 record, and he was closely followed by Frank Matich, 1:35.6. Bib Stillwell got down to 1:34.8 and McLaren returned 1:35.8, Clark replied with a 1:34.7 lap. This spurred Graham Hill to a 1:34.2 lap in the next session and Matich to 1:34.3. Matich cut his time to 1:32.8, Hill returned an even 1:33, and Clark and Brabham 1:33.5.

At the end of the day, it was apparent that several cars were suffering from overheating due to leaking sealing rings, and there was some concern that compressions were too high for the 100-octane fuel. (more…)


Race Programe Covers: Tasman Series 1965

Check out these images of the original race program covers from 1965.

The second year of the Tasman Championship consisted of four races in New Zealand and three in Australia. Points could only be gained from three of the New Zealand races which had to include the New Zealand Grand Prix. All three Australian rounds counted for championship points.

The 1965 Tasman Series was won by Jim Clark

The 1965 Tasman Series featured the following events.

1. Pukekohe – NZ

2. Levin – NZ

3. Wigram – NZ

4. Teretonga – NZ

5. Warwick Farm – AUS

6. Sandown – AUS

7. Longford – AUS

Images: TasmanSeries.com


Tasman Legends: Frank Gardner

Frank Gardner was a regular Tasman competitor throughout both the 2.5 litre and Formula 5000 Tasman Championships. He drove various cars for the Alec Mildren team in the ’60s and had the best overall Tasman record for “local” drivers. Mainly competed in Europe where he was regarded as one of the best test drivers and carried out these duties for the Lola factory.

He was best known as a Touring car racing and Sports car racing driver, but he also participated in nine World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 11 July 1964. He scored no championship points. Gardner also participated in numerous non-Championship Formula One races, including a third placing at the 1965 Mediterranean Grand Prix, fourth in the 1965 Race of Champions and third in the 1971 International Gold Cup.

In 1966 Gardner finished second in the 1000 km Spa round of the World Sportscar Championship. In 1967 he also finished second in the European Formula Two Championship and second in the British Autocar Formula 2 Championship. In 1970 he was third in the British Formula 5000 Championship and in 1971 was Champion.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s Gardner had podium finishes in the Australian Grand Prix – second in 1966 and 1972 and a third in 1967. He finished third in the 1967 and 1972 Tasman Series. He won the British Touring Car Championship title on three occasions in 1967 (Ford Falcon Sprint), 1968 (Ford Escort) and 1973 (Chevrolet Camaro), and was runner-up in the BTCC in 1970. In 1975 he finished second at Bathurst in the Hardie-Ferodo 1000.

After returning to Australia in the mid-1970s Gardner won the 1977 Australian Sports Sedan Championship driving a highly modified Chevrolet Corvair. That championship victory led into a team management role when he retired from full-time driving. After running the Allan Grice Touring Car and Sports Sedan team in the late 70s, it rolled into a factory touring car preparation for BMW in the Australian Touring Car Championship, a team he would run from the programs toe in the water inception with a BMW 318i turbo Sports Sedan in 1980 all the way until 1987 when Gardner’s operation was unceremoniously replaced by Peter Brock’s former Holden Dealer Team operation, although that relationship broke down after a single season. During that time his team won the 1985 and 1987 Australian Touring Car Championships with Jim Richards. Shifting to a privateer Ford Sierra team Tony Longhurst and Tomas Mezera won the 1988 Bathurst 1000. When BMW returned to the Australian championship in 1991 it was with Gardner’s team. The factory BMW team continued with Gardner, switching to (Supertouring cars in 1994) at the helm until 1998, winning the 1994 (with Longhurst), 1995 and 1997 (with Paul Morris) Super Touring titles.

When the race team was shifted in 1998 Gardner became involved in driver training. Gardner passed away in August 2009.

Via: Wikipedia and 2008 Tasman programme.

Images: Autosport Forums


Jack Brabham: Winning his first World Championship in 1959

Here is a great little video summarising Jack Brabham’s early days, through to his first Formula 1 World Championship in 1959.


Brian McInerney Photo Gallery: Tasman Series 1967 – 1969

Here are some wonderful images from the Tasman Series from 1967 – 1969 by photographer Brian McInerney.

They are an absolute treat, because this is the first time they have been published in any medium for 40 years.

Brian is a professional photographer and in the 1960s he was the young assistant photographer at Channel Seven in Sydney. For each of the Tasman Series races in 1967, 1968 & 1969 he acquired a press photographer’s pass and had complete access to the drivers and the track.

As a result he has a truly remarkable collection of images of the Tasman Series stars, including Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, Jochnen Rindt and the local heroes.

Brian is set to releases a series of Tasman Series framed prints, so watch this space.

Images: Brian McInerney, Fine Image Gallery ©


John Stanley Photo Gallery 2: Tasman Series 1966-1968

Here is another ripper set of photos from the brilliant John Stanley.

Included are some excellent shots of Jochen Rindt, Pedro Rodrigues, Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Piers Courage.

Visit Johns site at John-Stanley.com


Tasman Series: Australian Grand Prix Warwick Farm 1971

Round Six: WARWICK FARM:  36th Australian Grand Prix

Date: November 21 1971

Distance: 45 laps, 162.945 km (101.25 mi)

Coming into the sixth round of the Tasman Series, Frank Matich was favourite to take back to back Australian Grand Prix wins on home soil. He didn’t disappoint starting the race from pole and setting fastest lap to lead home Kevin Bartlett and Alan Hamilton in their McLaren M10B Chevys. (more…)


Race Programe Covers: Tasman Series 1964

Check out these images of the original race program covers from 1964.

The 1964 Tasman Series was won by Bruce McLaren

Every race of the eight round 1964 Tasman Series featured:

1. Levin – NZ

2. Pukekohe – NZ

3. Wigram – NZ

4. Teretonga – NZ

5. Sandown – AUS

6. Warwick Farm – AUS

7. Lakeside – AUS

8. Longford – AUS

Images: TasmanSeries.com


Tasman Series: Australian Grand Prix Lakeside 1969

Round Five: LAKESIDE                 34th Australian Grand Prix

Date: 2nd February 1969

67 Laps of 2.4kms (160.8kms)

This year there was only one week between the last race in New Zealand and the Australian Grand Prix at Lakeside, Queensland. Unlike previous years when cars were freighted to Australia by sea, they now had to be sent by air, for the South African Grand Prix had forced the Australian three Tasman races forward one week to give to give two clear weeks between the last Tasman and the SAGP.

Only Ferrari and Piers Courage managed to get themselves sorted out in time, while Lotus had all sorts of problems with customs and freight. It was apparent that Ford Australia weren’t behind the Lotus effort this year, for they had to do most of their own organising right from administration down to transport for drivers and mechanics. Ferrari, on the other hand, had the services of David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce to help them over the tricky spots and this deal also included workshop space and transporters. No wonder the Ferraris were better prepared for Lakeside than Lotus. (more…)


John Stanley Photo Gallery: Tasman Series 1968-1969

Here are a series of remarkable photos courtesy of John Stanley

Visit John’s site here


Tasman Series: Surfers Paradise 1968

Round Five: SURFERS PARADISE

Rothmans 100

Date: 11th February 1968

50 Laps of 3.219kms (160.950kms)

After a welcome two weeks’ break, the International drivers were soaking up the sun in Surfers Paradise, ready to meet the next four-week challenge in Australia. Chris Amon had a handy lead and only needed another win to put him in a hard position for anyone apart from Clark to catch. Graham Hill joined Jim Clark to make Team Lotus more formidable, and Richard Attwood arrived to team with Pedro Rodriguez in the BRM’s.

Hopes were high in all quarters. BRM, flushed with success at Teretonga, were looking forward to a more trouble free run in Australia. The Gold Leaf Team Lotus (as they were now known) were confident their two-man team would improve their already excellent chances of picking up points for the series, and Chris Amon had a new four-valve engine flown out which produced more power and gave the rear of the car more streamlining, owing to its compact shape. The Alec Mildren team now had two cars as well, as they brought Sydney driver, Kevin Bartlett, into the series in their older Brabham-Climax to back up Frank Gardner. Then there were the loners, Leo Geoghegan in the Lotus 39 Repco V8 and Greg Cusack in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham Repco V8. And right in there too just to upset the apple cart were those troublesome two, Piers Courage and Denny Hulme in the Formula Two cars which had proved so fantastically quick. (more…)


Tasman Series: Warwick Farm 1968

Sydney Trophy

Date: 18th February 1968

45 Laps of 3.621kms (162.945kms)

Jim Clark and Graham Hill in the super-tough Lotus-Ford V8s drove a brilliant team race to completely overcome the opposition when the Tasman Series played to a crowd of over 35,000 at Sydney’s Warwick Farm. Clark the 100 mile race from start to finish, and moved into the points lead for the first time since the series started seven weeks earlier.

Run in 90 degree temperatures the race saw every Australian 2.5 litre car retire with mechanical failure, which gave local car honours to brilliant Italian-born Alfredo Costanzo in a 1.5 litre Elfin-Ford. During the race the circuit was awash with oil from the cars of such notables as Brabham, Geoghegan, Rodriguez and Gardner, but Brabham set a new outright record of 1:29.0 secs during a futile chase after pitting to replenish his oil supply. However, Australian Frank Matich broke Brabham’s new record when he took his SR3 Repco V8 on to a greasy circuit two races later and set an incredible new record of 1:28.5 secs despite an engine miss that has haunted the car. (more…)


Tasman Series: Longford 1964

1964 was the first season of the famous Tasman Series for 2.5 litre Formula One Cars.

The trip to the super fast 4.5 mile Longford circuit in Tasmania hosted an impressive entry list of cars and stars.

The Aussie attack was naturally spearheaded by Jack Brabham with support from Frank Matich and Bib Stillwell, all driving Repco Brabhams. Frank Gardner, Bill Patterson, John Youl and Lex Davison were all entered in Coopers.

The ever popular 1962 World Champion, Graham Hill was in attendance, no doubt being his witty and charming self. Hill was an early favourite,  running a Repco -Brabham BT4.

The Kiwi contingent included Bruce McLaren in a low slung Cooper T70, Tony Shelley in a Lola T4 and Jim Palmer in a Cooper T53.

The meeting got of to a somber start when US driver Timmy Mayer crashed heavily during second practice and died instantly. He was just 25.

Of course the show must go on and when the race began Jack Brabham hit the front with Hill and Matich in hot pursuit. (more…)