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The strange career of Australian Arnold Glass


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#1 Derek Pitt

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 23:11

I have often pondered over the career of the Australian, Arnold Glass and wondered if fellow TNFer's had any information and opinions on what seems to me, to be a career strangely unfulfilled.

Based in Sydney and financed by Capital Motors, Glass seemed to have both the resources and the ability to reach the highest level in Australian motor sport, but strangely never quite made the pinnacle.

Glass' career, which at times was touching the peak, was in my opinion, blighted by either the wrong cars at the wrong time, or by simply bad cars.

The Ferrari Super Sqaulo's were a difficult car and largely unsuccessful in the antipodes, but if my memory serves me correctly, Glass following a Ferrari 750 Monza, ended up buying two of them! It will be recalled that he almost won the Bathurst 100 in 1958 but was eventually worn down by Whiteford's Maserati - this being either car's outing of any note.

The Ferraris were followed in 1959 by the ex-Hunt/ex-Stillwell updated 250F Maserati - at a time when the top drivers were getting the current T51 Coopers - surely a case of the wrong car at the wrong time. However, Glass' performances in the 250F were impressive, finishing not far behind Stan Jones' similar winning car in the 1959 AGP and in 1960, setting the fastest-ever front-engimed lap time at Bathurst. This latter achievement was somewhat academic, given that the top drivers were then beginning to get 2.5 litre climax engines for their T51's.

At this time it seemed that if Glass could get his hands on a competitive car, he was ready to challenge the best, however, in early 1961 he imported the ex-Gilby Engineering ex/Salvadori T51 Cooper Maserati. Maybe Glass was impressed by Alec Mildren's 1960 Gold Star-winning Cooper Maserati (which seemed a whole lot better than the rather sorry Europeans versions), but the car he chose was never anything more than second rate in UK and was a very peculiar choice when as an alternative, a 2.5 T51 Climax was readily available. Needless to say, he achieved nothing in this car and fairly quickly replaced it with with an-ex works 1960 BRM.

Again, and not surpisingly, this car was singularly unsuccesful achieving no worthwhile results at all. The BRM engine was discarded and replaced by the ex-Scarab 3.5 Buick engine - another total disaster notably only for clashing with Jack Brabhams leading car in the 1962 AGP.

Thereafter, Glass raced a Lotus 27 twin cam fairly successfully and competently against the Geogehgans, Cusacks etc , all of which only furthered the frustrating question of what he might have achieved earlier if he had chosen the right car at the right time.

I note Arnold glass was nicknamed "Trinkets" and I wonder if this was in some way a reference to his choice of cars?

Finally, I have no idea of whether Arnold is still with us and I would be interested to know what became of him after his retirement circa 1963/64.

Can anybody provide some light on the questions I raise and more partuclarly provide any background on this now largely forgotten driver?

Derek

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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 23:35

Well, according to this thread he was still around in 2003. He didn't retire in 1963-4 either ....

#3 Dick Willis

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 23:40

Firstly the reson, I believe he bought the Cooper Maserati, a Type 45 was that he was unable to buy a 2.5 Climax version which were at that stage only available to a very select few.

In later years, post 1963 etc. he was very involved in his Datsun distribution and retail business at 100 Parramatta Road, Auburn which was very successful until Nissan themselves took over distribution in 1985.

#4 275 GTB-4

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 00:29

Derek...I thought Arnold Glass owned Capital Motors?? That is my recollection when I (unfortunately) purchased a new Datsun 1600 from them in the 1970s.

#5 Derek Pitt

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 00:36

yes 275GT

I thought he owned Capitol Motors too, but i wasnt sure..hence my wording.

And Dick

I was fairly sure the Gilby car was a T51

Derek

#6 Lola5000

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 01:38

Did a lot of offshore power boat racing in the US and Australia with "The Cigarette" and "American Eagle"

#7 John Ellacott

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 04:18

Arnold Glass and his beautilull 250F Maserati at Symmonds Plains March 1960

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#8 Dick Willis

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 04:28

Good pic, John, do you have one of the BRM ?

#9 John Ellacott

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 05:01

Dick, this was his second BRM at Catalina Circuit May 1962 before he installed the Scarab engine.

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#10 John Ellacott

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 05:24

And at the August 1962 meeting with the scarab engine installed coming out of Craven A corner.

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#11 Amaroo Park

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 05:33

As far as I know he owned Capital Motors. It was definitely owned by Ray Lintott when it was wound up in the early nineties

#12 John Ellacott

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 05:35

Arnold Glass in the Ferrari Super Squalo at Mount Druitt ( Sydney ) 10 November 1957 .Hell! 51 years ago am I that old. I was still a teenager when I took it.

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#13 David McKinney

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 07:08

Evocative photos, John (as always) :up:

#14 Barry Boor

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 08:44

This is a special day! I have never seen that type of BRM painted red before. Thank you so much for the pictures, John.

(Notice I didn't say a red BRM - I remember the Centro-Sud car.)

#15 275 GTB-4

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 09:03

Originally posted by John Ellacott
Arnold Glass in the Ferrari Super Squalo at Mount Druitt ( Sydney ) 10 November 1957. Hell! 51 years ago am I that old. I was still a teenager when I took it.


THANK GOODNESS you took it, kept it and eventually ended up posting it here John :up:

All the Best from a younger Codger, Mick :)

#16 John Ellacott

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 09:11

Arnold Glass Cooper Maserati Warwick Farm March 1961

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#17 Barry Boor

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 09:16

Still in its Tommy Atkins colours, I see.

#18 Derek Pitt

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 09:59

Lovely pics John....

Sorry I confused Gilby Engineering with C T Atkins....Salvo should have given me the clue and thanks for telling us when he DIDNT retire Vitesse.

As helpful and as intersting as all this is, my essential points remain on the table unanswered.

Do others think his career was blighted by bad choice of cars and notwithstanding that, how good was he?

How did the name Trinkets come about?

As an addendum I would have to say that only a mother could love the look of that BRM.

Derek

#19 Dick Willis

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 10:39

Just to be different, I love those P48 BRM's and Arnold had two of them.

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#20 Tim Murray

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 10:44

Agreed absolutely - a great-looking car (in its original state, anyway) especially in red rather than BRM green.

#21 David McKinney

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 11:58

Originally posted by Derek Pitt
Sorry I confused Gilby Engineering with C T Atkins....Salvo should have given me the clue

No apology necessary, Derek
The Cooper-Maser was campaigned by Atkins in 1959 and Gilby in 1960
But it was a T45, not a T51

And to answer your main point, as I suggested in the other thread, he was not in the class of his contemporaries such as Davison, Mildren, Patterson or Stillwell. Having said that, there were one or two flashes of brilliance, and his star might have shone brighter if he'd followed the crowd and raced less individualistic cars. But I don't think so.

I think the 'Trinkets' nickname started before his racing career, but don't recall ever hearing its origin

#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 12:54

I believe the 'Trinkets' name is because he liked collecting things... but I'll check on that when I get a chance...

In the meantime, I also don't feel he was on the pace in the 27, the only car I saw him race. No challenger for the Leo Geoghegan or Greg Cusack cars at all.

#23 ensign14

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 13:24

I don't suppose anyone has any pics of him when he raced his McLaren in the Aurora series?

#24 Mondiale M85S

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 13:48

I saw him in an McLaren M29 at Mallory Park in a Formula Libre race, i'm guessing its the same guy?

#25 Alan Cox

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 15:01

Arnold took part in four of the five rounds of the 1982 British Formula 1 championship with his Colin Bennett-run M29 McLaren, with a singular lack of success, notwithstanding the pitifully poor entry that the championship attracted, but bear in mind that he was, by then, probably 20 years past his peak. He recorded a fourth place at Thruxton when only four cars finished but his greatest notoriety in the series was achieved when he took leader Jim Crawford out of the race at Oulton Park. I have a photo of him in the car, somewhere in the bottom of the photo box, and will post it if I can find it.

Some talk about him on this thread in connection with his owning of a Mustang WWll fighter
http://www.airtalk.o...ge-vp29285.html

Reading other websites it appears that he was the original importer of Nissans into Australia. Seems to be some dispute about the spelling "Capitol" or "Capital"? I can't make it out clearly on John's excellent picture of the 250F.

#26 David McKinney

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 15:49

Definitely Capitol

And Ray - I agree about the Lotus 27 period. Not a no-hoper, but not a serious challenger either

My reading of 1982 British F1 series reports suggests however that by then he had fallen into the former category :)

#27 PRUNET

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 16:26

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Derek Pitt
[B]I
....if my memory serves me correctly, Glass following a Ferrari 750 Monza, ended up buying two of them!

Derek,

Indeed Arnold Glass had one but:

- It was not exactly a 750 Monza but a one year earlier 735 Mondial (0462/MD)
- I have no record of him racing it but would like to know if he did
- I have no record of another sports Ferrari with him.

Regards

#28 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 21:46

Originally posted by David McKinney
Definitely Capitol

And Ray - I agree about the Lotus 27 period. Not a no-hoper, but not a serious challenger either.....


That's right... he could pull off a narrow win if Leo didn't turn up at Oran Park...

'Capitol' Motors was named after the nearby Capitol theatre in the city, where he started out dealing in motorcycles.

#29 fines

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 21:50

I once worked for Capitol Motors... :smoking:











But not for Arnold Glass! :lol:

#30 Dick Willis

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 23:05

I was a Nissan/Datsun dealer in the seventies and eighties and CAPITOL motors were the distributors until 1985, as Ray pointed out he started out in a little yard at Haymarket opposite the Capitol theatre in about 1947 I think, and then got into cars eventually opening branches on the North Shore, in William St, City and then on a huge site at Parramatta Rd, Auburn where both his wholesale and retail operations were conducted.

As well as the NSW Nissan distributor he was also the NSW distributor for BMW which in those early day weren't easy to sell, bit different to today ! Russian motorbikes were another import for a while but the quality on the ones we sold was atrocious. I always thought the nickname "Trinkets" was associated with his surname, Glass. In the fifties most NSW racing drivers had nicknames.

Our dealings with Capitol Motors were mostly with personnel in the wholesale department and the Principal was always treated by everyone with the greatest of respect, always being referred to or addressed as "Mr.Glass," the most contact we had with him was on overseas trips where he was always most emphatic on the courtesy we should extend to our Japanese hosts.

I used to see to him occasionally at NSW Historic race meetings but haven't for some time and last I heard he was living in Monaco with all the rich and famous.

#31 Dick Willis

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 23:17

My apologies if this pic isn't too clear but it shows Arnold Glass in what I think was his first racing car, a Masreati 4CL at Lowood in 1956 in company with Norm Crowfoot in the Crowfoot Holden.

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#32 275 GTB-4

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 05:32

Originally posted by fines
I once worked for Capitol Motors... :smoking:

But not for Arnold Glass! :lol:


Please don't tell me you worked in the service Dept in the 1970s :mad: :rotfl:

#33 Lola5000

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 07:13

He also raced a North American P51 Mustang in the 60/70s.

#34 fines

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 09:55

Originally posted by 275 GTB-4
Please don't tell me you worked in the service Dept in the 1970s :mad: :rotfl:

No, just a name coincidence.;)

#35 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 11:03

To give an idea of how big the Capitol Motors yard at Auburn (or Lidcombe) was...

At one point in the early seventies there was a hailstorm passed through there. The glass building that surrounded the all-year swimming pool at Lidcombe collapsed under the weight of the hail, immense damage was done.

Capitol Motors employed an insurance assessor full time for three months to assess the damage to the cars in their yard!

#36 rdmotorsport

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 22:42

Arnold raced for Cobra nee Colin Bennett racing in the early eighties both in British F1 and then converting the car to can am spec and off to the states with Val Mussetti as his team mate.

#37 Derek Pitt

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 04:44

TNF is an amazing resource and learning experience.

I had absolutely no idea the Glass had a second or third career in UK and the USA. For all I knew he disappeared circa 1963/64 and never raced again.

I am struck by the fact that he was racing a 4CL Maserati - (a prewar car, in concept at least) - in 1956, a 250F in 1959 and was still racing an AC Cobra in in the early eighties - quite a range.

I am now further fascinated by this latter-day career and wonder what the arrangements etc were, because by that time Arnold would have been getting on a little - he looks about 35 in the 1960 250F picture.

And yes David, I agree with your appraisal of his abliity and your comments re his almost eccentic choice of cars, but my central theme still remains clouded somewhat - namely - why, when he had the resources, the enthusiasm and a taste of running near the top in the 250F to BRM era, did he buy a Lotus 27 and be content in the lesser formula?

Remember this was in a period when the top locals could acquire 2.7 Brabhams and Coopers relatively easily and was also a time when NSW drivers such as McKay and Matich were beginning to challenge the Victorian domination of the big Gold Star open-wheelers and therefore Glass' stepping down to a lesser level seems to me to be even more curious.

Derek

#38 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 08:03

Perhaps he felt he needed to scale down his racing?

Perhaps he was disheartened by his lack of front-line results or his inability to put in the time to get them... the last effort being the Scarab engine in the BRM.

His empire was growing, he was getting older, living up to greater responsibilities, perhaps even listening to his insurance agents?

#39 Derek Pitt

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 09:41

Thanks Ray

But i am afraid I have to disagree with you.

There is just as much aggravation getting a F2 car the the grid as there is in getting a big-banger there. - prepartion, packing, towing, mechanics, accommodation and worst of all, incompetent scrutineers. So Glass taking the Lotus from Paramatta Road down to Sandown for example, could not be described as scaling down his racing.

It could be argued that a smaller car is cheaper all round, maybe marginally, but as you point out, his empire was growing and it would seem funding was not an issue.

Personal danger? - probably more of a chance of an accident in a lesser open-wheel category than there would have been be in among the more experienced big boys.

Derek

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#40 John Ellacott

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 09:48

Another shot of the BRM as he starts the descent down the mountain with the Bathurst countryside in the background. Easter 1962

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#41 bradbury west

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 10:31

[i]Originally posted by Derek Pitt
...... did he buy a Lotus 27 and be content in the lesser formula? Derek [/B]

IIRC the car run by Michael Schryver in 1500t/c form at last year's Revival
Roger Lund

#42 Barry Boor

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 10:31

:clap: Bootiful!

#43 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 10:46

Originally posted by Derek Pitt
Thanks Ray

But i am afraid I have to disagree with you.....


You're probably right to do so too... after all, I'm guessing just like everyone else... I haven't even tried to tackle the reason for choosing the strange cars he'd picked earlier.

.....There is just as much aggravation getting a F2 car the the grid as there is in getting a big-banger there. - preparation, packing, towing, mechanics, accommodation and worst of all, incompetent scrutineers. So Glass taking the Lotus from Paramatta Road down to Sandown for example, could not be described as scaling down his racing.

It could be argued that a smaller car is cheaper all round, maybe marginally, but as you point out, his empire was growing and it would seem funding was not an issue.....


I'll throw in here, however, that he could run it in a wider variety of races, many of them lesser events and therefore less time consuming. Like the odd Oran Park rather than that trek to Sandown, and he'd be more able to pick his racing dates to fit in with his business needs. A 1.5 would get a lot more dates on which it could run, even if the races weren't as important.

I think that if you go back and look at which meetings he ran, he missed out on an awful lot.

.....Personal danger? - probably more of a chance of an accident in a lesser open-wheel category than there would have been be in among the more experienced big boys.


But would the insurance boys see it that way?

Again, all surmise, but logical questions and assumptions. Until someone asks Carnal Arnold, of course, we'll all be just guessing.

#44 zumeto

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 13:49

Arnold Glass liked to go really fast, so much so that he arranged to buy six EE Lightning Mach 2 fighters from the RAF when they closed their bases in Germany. I don't think it proceeded because no one was willing to suffer sonic booms from Arnold joy-riding around Europe in them. I thought that he retired to Switzerland rather than Monaco, but that's just a vague memory. Capitol Motors was bought by Australian National Industries, they paid him a lot of money and even longer term, were happy with the deal. Probably not a top-line driver, but used the money his strongest skills earned to indulge himself with good gear.

#45 Terry Walker

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 14:12

Anrold Glass, Caversham, AGP 1962:

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Practicing for the AGP at Caversham, 1962, in the BRM Scarab.

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#46 Derek Pitt

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:18

Looking at the BRM's total lack of suucces out her notwithstanding the issue of Glass' driving ability and concentrating on the BRM as raced in 1961/62, the question must be asked - were those cars any good?

In 1960 GP's they achieved little apart from Hill's abortive effort at Silverstone and that, if one reads Sir Jack's version of the race rather than the hysterical British press, was anything but clear-cut and was rather more "like the exception that proved the rule."

Likewise in the international races out here early in 1961, the cars performed without distinction except at Ballarat where there was no Moss or Brabham and even then they both had difficulty with an on-form Stan Jones in his 2.5 T51 Cooper.

So in local races in 1961 we had Jones, Patterson, Stillwell & McKay in 2.5 T51's - the BRM was nowhere - although I am not sure when the car first appeared here locally. Did the cars go back home or did Glass buy them after Ballarat and why did he have two? Likewise in 1962, with T53 Lowlines and a T55 "penciline", plus Patterson's very quick T51, the BRM never looked like winning a race . The Scarab engine appeared to offer no improvement in performance over the BRM.

So the questions remains ....was the BRM's lack of success here due to it being a poor car or was it due to the fact that Glass was not in the class of the people mentioned above, or was it a combination of both issues?

Derek

#47 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:23

He bought the second one after he crashed the first...

There's information about this in a thread elsewhere on this forum. It was before my time so I'm not familiar with the circumstances.

#48 David McKinney

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 12:33

Originally posted by Derek Pitt
was the BRM's lack of success here due to it being a poor car or was it due to the fact that Glass was not in the class of the people mentioned above, or was it a combination of both issues?

The BRM might have been a "poor car" on reliability grounds, but was certainly competitive enough on speed
Fastest practice times for the two 1961 antipodean races BRM contested against proper competition are as follows:
NZ Grand Prix, Ardmore
Moss (Lotus 18) 1m 20.2
Brabham (Cooper) 1m 20.4
Hill (BRM) 1m 20.7
Gurney (BRM) 1m 20.8
McLaren (Cooper) 1m 20.9
Warwick Farm 100
Moss 1m 39.3
Gurney 1m 39.3
Hill 1m 40.1
Ireland (Lotus 18) 1m 41.2
Brabham 1m 41.8

I think that gives you your answer

#49 Barry Boor

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 19:40

Well, it gives us one answer - Dan Gurney was a very quick driver.

And NGH wasn't bad either!

#50 David McKinney

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 20:07

Yes, I think on balance I would rate both above Arnold Glass :)

At Ardmore in 1962 the track was in appalling condition. The front row were on average 5sec slower than they had been the year before. Glass was 13sec off the BRMs' 1961 pace
I can't do Warwick Farm because he didn't practise in 1962