Fag cash

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SIR,

I enjoyed David McKinney’s feature on the Tasman series, but I must take issue with him on one point. When he writes that the colours of Jim Clark’s 1968 car were “changed from the traditional Team Lotus green and gold (sic) to the red, white and gold of Gold Leaf and a new era in international racing was born”, I assume he believes this to be the first sponsorship of a racing car by a tobacco company.

In fact 1950s New Zealand speedway star Bruce Abernethy produced a Rothmans-sponsored Cooper in the appropriate blue and white livery for the 1965 Tasman series of races in his homeland.

This car was actually based on a 1963-type T66 F1 chassis. which had apparently been destroyed in a fiery accident in the 1964 Austrian GP at Zeltweg which effectively marked the nadir of Phil Hill’s career. The twisted wreck was rebuilt in five days by Racing Preparations of Wembley who also converted it to take a 2 1/2-litre engine and larger gearbox, and it duly arrived in New Zealand to suitable puns about it rising Phoenix-like from the ashes.

Alas Abernethy was not successful on four wheels, and the Rothmans Cooper was driven by Dennis Harwood in the 1966-67 season.

Nor was Gold Leaf Team Lotus the first F1 team to race in the name and colours of a cigarette manufacturer. Team Gunston was formed for local events in southern Africa in late 1967, initially with John Love driving a Brabham-Repco BT20 and Sam Tingle in an LDS. Love had already won the non-championship Rhodesian GP before both cars appeared in the South African GP run on New Year’s Day 1968. This was, of course, the last Grande Epreuve before the Gold Leaf deal was announced…

Also, why was the Australian GP dropped from the Tasman series? In 1970, the race date was changed from February to November and was to have been the final round of the World Championship according to the provisional calendar. Plans had to change when sufficient money failed to materialise, and the race (which was held at Warwick Farm) was run instead for F5000 cars.

So it was that Jack Brabham’s Grand Prix career finished not with the first World Championship event on his home ground but in faraway Mexico City four weeks early.

I AM, YOURS, ETC,

DAVID COLE, BARROWDEN, LEICS.

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