July 04, 2009

Visit our new site at www.motorsportretro.com


We have a new site at  www.motorsportretro.com . Visit us for daily doses of classic cars, bikes, riders and drivers of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

February 15, 2009

Best Daytona 500 finish ever? 1976



Being Australian, I have to confess I have never really understood NASCAR, but I get it now.

Until recently we didn't get it on TV and of course we didn't know who the drivers were. Sure we had heard of Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and more recently Jeff Gordon, but it was completely foreign to all but the motor racing die hards. We sure didn't talk about it in the pub, like we do about Bathurst and Formula 1.

Perhaps that is all about to change with Tasmanian Marcos Ambrose lining up tonight as the first ever Australian to compete in the Daytona 500.

Marcos will start from 23rd place after finishing a credible 13th in the Gatorade Duel qualifying race.

I like Marcos, and I know him a little bit having competed against him in the Australian Formula Ford Championship in 1996 and 1997. In fact to save costs we shared a Transporter for the Perth and Adelaide rounds in '96, back in the days when he was backed by his families Leisure Inns Hotels company.

I always found Marcos to be fair and sporting, but who would have thought he would have the balls and determination to reach the top in Australian V8 supercars and then start all over again and have a crack at NASCAR in the USA. 

Lets be clear about just what an achievement just making the grid is. Consider that no fewer than 60 foreign drivers (and more since this article was written in 2006) have attempted to crack NASCAR and the best finish between them is a 5th place in 1965 for Pedro Rodriguez.

Marcos has his work cut out for him, but I actually think the record books should show Marcos is already the best of all the internationals with a best finish of 3rd place at Watkins Glen in 2008. Let me know if im wrong!

There have been seven Australians who have previously started a NASCAR race, but none who have been employed for a full season at the top level like Marcos. They are Frank Gardner, 1968, Tony Spanos, 1987, Allan Grice, 1987, Dick Johnson, 1989, Terry Byres, 1989, Geoff Brabham, 1994 and Adam Clarke in 2002.

Oh and in regards to the video above. It shows the last lap duel between Richard Petty and David Pearson at Dayton in 1976. Regarded by many as the best ever Daytona 500 finish. The drivers collided, but Pearson managed to limp home and take his only Daytona 500 win!

To this day, Petty still laments the outcome in the '76 Daytona 500, saying, "The race I'll be remembered most for, and the one I'll remember most, is the one I lost."

The full story of the Petty -Pearson rivalry and the classic 1976 finish can be found here.

February 14, 2009

Porsche Museum Opens


Impressive 6500sqm Porsche Museum


A collection of rather awesome 917's


Sports cars including Targa Florio 908


Clean white spaces. The cars are the stars here.


Our supercharged 1970 911T on Targa Tasmania 2002. Not in the museum!


I have to confess im a die hard Porsche man.

I have been completely brainwashed by my Old Man Ray who has had three different Porsche's including his current fire breathing Supercharged 1970 911. 

I have done alot of club racing in the 911 and lets be clear there is nothing quite like the joy of punting a 911 around a race track or road course. Its the way they handle , the way they sound and the way they put the power down that separates them from everything else i have ever driven.

And yes, you read it correctly, the 911 is supercharged....that car is an entire story on its own which I don't have time for right now!

Anyway the new Porsche Museumis officially open! I know this because my the Old Man Ray told me that hes going to visit it in March. The lucky bastard!

He will fly to Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany,where the 5,600 sq meter museum is located in the heart of the Porsche factory.

Designed entirely in white, he will be able to view approximately 80 historic cars and more than 200 smaller exhibits on show depicting Porsche’s history.

Porsche is expecting at least 200,000 visitors per year to its new digs, including my Dad who is at least as nutty as the next Porsche nut.

The historic collection of Porsche AG encompasses a fleet of 400 racing and sportscars, with almost all exhibition vehicles still taking part in historic racing events.

Since the rare items on show in the “Museum on Wheels” are constantly being changed, should he ever go back he will find something new and fascinating at the museum.

During his tour, if he finds himself hungry he can pop into the the exclusive “Christophorus” restaurant and to cap off his trip he can spend a few hours pouring over a collection of  more than 1,000 hours of film and 3,000 books in the Porsche Archives

Send me a postcard Dad!

February 12, 2009

Shell goes retro with Magic of Motoring Gear


Shell LM Jacket


Shell 5 cans vintage logo


LM drivers bag


Shell Race Suit


Shell Successes T Shirt

Shell has followed Gulf Oil and Grand Prix Originals in offering a range of quality vintage clothing and accessories that reflect Shell’s rich racing heritage.

Using the brand name Magic of Motoring the range of products include jackets, bags, T shirts, race suits, art, models and much more.

Shell was a major sponsor of 1970 World Champion Jochen Rindt and the collection features the LM Jacket, named after the Ferrari 275 LM that  Rindt brilliantly drove to victory in the 1965 24 Hours of LeMans.

The details are what really make this jacket special. It features the old school Shell X-100 racing fuel patch on the breast, red racing stripes down the sleeve complete with the vintage Shell logo and on the back Shell is printed in large red letters and finally the  “5 cans” graphic is included on the lining. Nice.

Other great products include retro Shell race suits that can be custom embroided with your name and a range of T Shirts.

The T Shirts are to commemorate the series of "Shell Successes" publications from the Fifties and Sixties which Shell produced in celebration of motor sport victories fuelled by Shell.

It doesnt stop there with the team also appearing at Historic events with Shell retro garages.

I wonder which brand will be the next to cash in on their successful racing past?

February 10, 2009

A Ferrari 312 PB for your living room?


Pierre poses with his pride and joy.


Hand made rear end including pipes tuned to recreate the Ferrari note


Leather wheel, prancing horse, and operational gauges.

This video presented by Jeremy Clarkson is utterly brilliant.

Every man should should show this video to their wives or girlfriends to help give their loved ones some perspective. Show this to your wife and say "Darling, look! There is someone out there much much crazier than me!"

The subject of the video is Pierre Scerri, a man who has built a fully functional  1/3 scale replica of a Ferrari 312 PB from scratch!

And yes fully functional means it has a flat 12 cylinder engine that screams with an exhaust note just like the real thing.

It has a working gearbox and exact scale Ferrari gauges which are calibrated precisely to indicate rpm, oil pressure, water temperature and oil temperature.

Pierre, a Telecom engineer who couldn't afford to buy his dream car logically decided to build one to put in his living room. However it took him 15 years and more than 20,000 hours to build this car. 

He learned to make glass so he could make the exact pattern lens for the operating headlights. 

He learned to make rubber so he could mould his own tyres. 

His computer mainframe design background with the French telecommunications system allowed him to duplicate the Ferrari electronics system in exact miniature.  It also provided him with the understanding needed to make a 1/3 scale operating fuel injection system identical to that in the full-size Ferrari

I have to say if it were me and had a spare 20 000 hours, id have had a crack at a full scale version, but no matter what I think the guy deserves some credit for building an amazing creation.

February 09, 2009

Vic Elford Alfa Romeo 33TT3 Targa Florio 1972


Elford at the wheel of the Alfa 33TT3 Targa Florio 1972


Elford enjoys a well earned smoke after winning the Targa Florio in 1968

The thing I love most about racing from years past, particularly the 60's and 70's is that the drivers drove so many different machines in a single season.

It allowed drivers to show how talented they were and not be bound by the contraints of driving a mid grid F1 car for example.

For me one of the coolest and most versatile drivers ever, has to be British racer, Vic Elford.

Consider Vic’s 1968 season. It began with his win in the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally followed by a win the next weekend in the Daytona 24 Hours. He was second at Sebring a month later, then in May scored an epic victory at the Targa Florio, which is considered the greatest win in Targa history. Two weeks later Vic won the Nürburgring 1000 Kilometers. Then in his first F1 race in July Vic took a badly out-classed Cooper T86B to a stunning fourth-place finish in the soaking-wet French Grand Prix.

No doubt the guy has talent!

In this video "Quick Vic" talks us through a practice lap of the famous 72 Kilometre Targa Florio circuit driving a 3 litre V8 Alfa 33TT3.

This footage is from a DVD called "The Speed Merchants"

Some of the comments here are completely priceless, for example.... " This is the section where I usually have my practice accidents. Two years ago in a Porsche i hit an Alfa Romeo service car and then last year...hah.....I hit a local!" Lets hope he meant he hit a sheep or something!

Vic did not finish the 1972 event he shared with Gijs van Lennep. The pair were classified 74th

The video ends with Vic stating that he fears the Targa Florios days are numbered and of course he was right with the event stopped in 1977 due to safety concerns.



February 07, 2009

Vintage Auto Posters

Targa florio 1970 

1970 Targa Florio Poster

Quaker State indy 1988   

1988 Quaker State Porsche Indy Car Poster


1960 12 Hours of Sebring Poster

Authentic automotive posters are a fantastic addition to any office or workshop.

However its often difficult to be sure you have purchased an original in a world full of reproductions on eBay.

If you want to be sure you are buying the real thing then visit www.vintageautoposters.com

The site is run by well know classic car enthusiast Everett Anton Singer who has been supplying collectors with posters since 1980.

The site features over 400 guaranteed original posters from the 1900's to 1990's.

Most of these works have been professionally mounted on archival linen for optimal preservation, and are some of the rarest examples to be found anywhere in the world.

Tony is the only dealer in the vintage automobilia market who is a member of the International Vintage Poster Dealers Association [IVPDA], which I guess helps you feel better about them being originals!

Prices range from about $300 for 70's and 80's posters up to $5000 for rarer posters from the 1900's to 1940's.

Three of my personal faves are above:

The 1970 Targa Florio poster features a completely mind blowing shot of Jo Siffert behind the wheel of the famous number 12 Porsche 908/3 Spyder he shared with Brian Redmond

The second poster is of Quaker State March/ Porsche Indy Car of Teo Fabi from 1988. Sadly Porsches Indy Car experience was not a success in comparison with their other racing achievements.

A very cool 12 Hours of Sebring poster from 1960 featuring an image of something that resembles a Ferrari 250 TR. The 1960 race was won by Hans Herman and Olivier Gendebien in a Porsche 718RS

February 06, 2009

Honda release Monkey 40th Anniversary Special


Honda Monkey 40th Anniversary Special 2009

Z50 original  

Honda Monkey Z50M circa 1969


Me and Honda QA50 - circa 1975


The retro trend continues to prove irresistible with Honda Australia annoucing the release of the Monkey 40th Anniversary Special.

I have always loved the Z50 as my passion for all things motoring began on a derivative of this bike, the Honda QA50, pictured above.

Even though we lived in suburban Sydney my mother thought a little dirt bike would be great fun for me and my older brother, Dave. She was right of course and im now onto my 15th dirt bike. And yes the fever still burns!

It seems that the Monkey is as relevant today as ever with Honda continuing to produce this cult bike. Of course its still powered by a single cylinder, 3.5 horse power, 50cc, four stroke engine.

The Australian release also comes with a tartan seat, just as they did back in 1969.

Perhaps its a good time to put one in the shed.

December 18, 2008

Peter Brock, Larry Perkins, a Porsche 956 and Le Mans 1984


Brock at the wheel Le Mans 1984

Brock lemans   

Bob Jane T Marts promotional poster

Pitstop lemans 

Pit stop at night

 Brock le mans 2

More fule goes into number 34

Given Australian motor sport fans love of endurance racing,  you would have thought that the results achieved by Aussie drivers at The 24 hours of Le Mans would resonate more with local fans.

After all Aussie have won the event outright twice with Vern Schuppan winning in a Rothmans Porsche 956 in 1983 and Geoff Brabham taking victory ten years later in a Peugeot 905 Evo.

Back in 1984 our arguably Australias most loved racing driver Peter Brock, teamed up with Larry Perkins for the first ever all Australian driver pairing at Le Mans.

Called Team Australia and backed by Bob Jane T Marts , Brock and Perkins were looking to spring a surprise

After bringing the car up through the star studded field to eighth, Perkins crashed heavily due to a non genuine rocker arm failing on the Mulsanne straight at 350km/h. After 18 hours and 145 laps it was all over and Brocky was distraught.

Legend has it that Brock could not forgive Perkins, who was running up to 4 seconds a lap quicker than him and the relationship between was never the same again.

For an in depth story The Team Australia Le Mans 24 hour campaign, check the full article at Wheels Magazine from 1984

Of course not long after this Brocky went completely nuts and many observers believe the Le Mans campaign was a major turning point in his downfall.

Less than 3 yearsafter the race Brock had split from Holden after 18 years largely due to the  "Energy Polarizer" which he came up with under the spell of Dr Eric Dowker.

Of the Energy Polariser Brock said:

“It’s a magic cure – it makes a shithouse car good.”

There is a good article from Wheels magazine in 1987 about Peters fall from grace , but specifically how he came to meet Dowker after the 1984 Le Mans trip and how this led to the idea of the Polarizer. Here is what Phil Scott wrote at the time.

Sunday, June 17, 1984

Brock was shattered. Mentally and physically. Living in the same chateau, sharing the same dinner table, it wasn’t hard to observe the effort Brock ex­pended. The fraught Sarthe 24-Hour campaign with Larry Perkins had left him drained, and after all that build-up, all the publicity, the defeat hurt very badly. Brock had failed and he returned to Australia ailing, desperately in need of rest and relief from the unrelenting stress of the previous month.

His partner Bev introduced him to Dr Eric Dowker, a chiropractor and natural health wizard. Brock looked terrible. There were rumours he had cancer, others said he’d suffered fibreglass poisoning driving the Bob Jane Porsche 956.

Under Dowker’s guidance, Brock re­gained his strength, gave up the cigarettes, and seemingly returned to his old self. At work, it was business as usual at his burgeoning Special Vehicles Division. At home, Brock had a new friend. Dr Dowker had become more than a chiropractor and health adviser."

NOTE: Good interview of Peter Brock by Andrew Denton here where he also probes Brocky on the Polarizer inident.

December 17, 2008

Onboard with Rohrl In the Audi Quattro E2



Just how in the zone must Walter Rohrl have been in this video of him on the way to third place during the Rally Of Portugal in 1985!

Rohrl won two World Rally Championships , the first in 1980 driving a Fiat 131 and he repeated the feat in 1982 driving an Opel Ascona 400 .

He joined Lancia for 83 before again changing teams in 1984 joining the mighty Audi Sport Team and getting the chance to pilot the flame spitting Audi Quattro S1. However the year was a disappointment for Rohrl with his team mate Stig Blomqvist taking the title

By 1985,3 years into the Group B era the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 was the car to beat.  Rohrl charged hard utilising his smooth and tidy style to tame the 2.2 litre, 5 cylinder, 500 HP, turbo charged, 4 wheel drive machine, but again the title eluded him.

The San Remo Rally of 1985 would be the scene of the last of his 14 WRC victories and it also proved to be the last and only victory for the E2 version of the car.

The second video shows the Audi Quattro in action. Turn it up and just listen to the booming sounds of on possibly the best sounding racing cars of all time!