News from Australia

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A CORRESPONDENT—James Gullan, of Melbourne—sends us the following news of racing in Australia. In spite of the war, motoring enthusiasts over there have been enjoying a certain amount of competition. We envy them, for it seems that only neutral and enemy countries will see any racing in Europe this season. Our correspondent raced one of the 5-litre straight-eight Ballot cars last year until a broken rod and a hole in the crankcase eliminated him. The remains of the engine were sold to Heal who has the only existing sister car. Gullan has since fitted a Ford V8 engine in the chassis. He writes:

Owing to the war conditions out here (dammit), there was no race at Ballarol, but the races were again held at Lobethal, South Australia. Last November the 750 c.c. Car Club of Victoria held speed trials at Phillip Island, Victoria. They consisted of a standing quarter-mile and a section of the road marked out from one side of the island to the other; the event was run on a rough gravel road, part of the old road racing circuit at the island now used by motor-cycles only. In the quarter-mile acceleration test I was first in 18¼ seconds; having wheelspin as can be imagined. The car was showing about 90 m.p.h. over the finishing line. Second was W. Whitechurch’s S.S. Jaguar in 21 seconds, and A. Hay’s V8 Special was third, in 22 seconds. In the speed trial, the Ballot was first, averaging 99.8 m.p.h. for the distance from a standing -start, the S.S. Jaguar was second, clocking 96.5, and the V8 Special was third, at 89 m.p.h. About forty cars took part in the event, which was electrically timed by the most intricate apparatus I have ever seen. Except for a Singer Le Mans getting out of control and overturning the event was run without mishap. The top speed of the Ballot was 108 m.p.h. on the rev, counter [very fast for a V8 Ford—The Ballot broke the previous year’s records by quite a bit.

Getting back to the races at Lobethal, these were a 100 mile and 50 mile event, the 100 being the big race, and the 50 a “flat out” for the cars that were still in one piece. I will give you an idea of the cars in the races as you may be interested in some of them.

The races are handicap events owing to the difference in cars in Australia. The limit car was a 750 c.c. Austin, that weighs 7 cwt., and laps the circuit of thirty-nine corners in 8¾ miles at 72 m.p.h. average. Owing to the marvellous road surface I finished up taking all but seven corners flat. As Colin Dunne, who owns the K3 Magnette says “drivers are rated by the number of blips taken to go through a corner,” although this depends of course on the speed of the car. The Austin had 24 minutes start in the 100 mile race from the 2.3 Alfa-Romeo of Alf Barret, who did the fastest lap at 93 m.p.h. before his differential went. The Austin was followed by about nine M.G.s, T. & P types, and a Brooklands Riley was off next. After this bunch came V8 Fords and Terraplane Specials: these were off about the 12 minute mark. The Miller straight-eight that was used by Zborowski was in this bunch, but as the owner drives it to work every day, it should be pensioned off. Next was the V8 Special owned by J. Phillips. This is the most successful car in Australia, having won something like nine races. Next was a bunch of the cars that win most events out here (hill-climbs, etc.). C. Dunne with the blue K3 M.G. that was once owned by “Bira.” Dunne is a very good driver: he is the idol of the young boys out here, owing to his spectacular driving and the scream of his car. It was much noisier than Peter Whitehead’s E.R.A. when both cars were at Bathhurst last year. Top speed about 115: lap speed 84½.

The next car is Alan Tomlinson’s T-type M.G., which won the Grand Prix last year. It weighs 11½ cwt. and is supercharged. There is very little between these two cars, and Tomlinson laps at about 84. Next was the 2-litre Ballot imported into this country by A. Cooper some years ago. It ran off the toad at Phillip Island, killing the driver three years ago, and is now fitted with a V8 motor with two carburetters and Scintilla mag., and has been beautifully rebuilt as a single-seater. It did 108 in West Australia and laps at 84.

Then there was the Frazer–Nash of Tim Joshua; this is also fitted with a V8 motor and did one lap at 87, but is very hard to drive. The Ballot of mine also started with these four cars. One minute behind us was Frank Klienig driving a Hudson Eight-engined M.G. K3 chassis. This is fitted with four carbs., and has a top speed of about 130. Klienig has earned the title of “Dirt Track Charlie,” owing to his spectacular driving, and he has broken the records put up by Whitehead’s ERA. Off scratch was the Alfa-Romeo.

The first lap of the “100” was terrific as far as these five ears were concerned. For the first five miles the cars were never more than 40 yards apart, every one as flat as could be. Alan Tomlinson got out of control, knocked down eight white posts at the side of the road, then went over the side of the hill. Alan had two ribs broken, one piercing his lung, and his condition was very serious, but he is improving. Then the V8 Ballot from West Australia blew up, wrecking the motor; the Frazer-Nash went next, leaving only the M.G. K3 and myself. It was very hot, about 102º. The Ballot boiled after about six miles, so I only cruised around, finishing 10th after stopping at the pits for 5 minutes. Out of six V8s that started only two were going at the finish: most of them went out with cracked heads. The race was won by Phillips’s V8 at an average of 81 m.p.h. The K3 had magneto trouble when in a winning position.

I drove the Ballot with my girl friend as passenger home from Adelaide to Melbourne in 10¾ hours, doing one bit of 23 miles in 16 minutes—the distance is about 500 miles, about 10 miles very rough, the rest good road.