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Garrie Cooper - racing driver

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#1 island

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Posted 08 November 2000 - 17:58

How good was the Elfin boss behind the wheel of his
F5000 racers ? Did he improve with the years ?
In the MR 5 he often was seconds slower than teammate
McCormack, the record books say. But in 1977/1978 with the MR 8 he qualified closer to Schuppan, I think.
How do you rate him, Ray ?
And was there pressure from Ansett to replace him with
another driver ?


#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 November 2000 - 08:15

Certainly no pressure from Ansett, they hardly put anything into the team, if I've got my facts right.
McCormack could indeed eat him, but perhaps it was more a case of him putting more into his driving and tapering off his other responsibilities as a constructor when the MR8 came along. More than that, he had McCormack as team leader back in the early times, later on he was part of a group that were struggling to keep their formula alive. He had to go better, and he had a great car in which to do it. Shame the MC9 didn't get the run it deserved.
He was a third place man... that's how I'd rate him. He only ever won one major Australian race where there was significant competition, and everyone fell out in that.. though there were other factors and he had been leading quite early.. that was Mallala, 1970, I think.

#3 David Shaw

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 12:46

Mallala 1969, second on grid (by 0.1sec) and fastest lap by a fair margin.

Didn't he also win a Singapore GP?

#4 SJ Lambert

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 04:06

I've just learned today that the excellent Barry Catford book detailing the Garrie Cooper Elfin story is getting another limited run.


#5 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:51

Garrie was not a world beater but he was better than described in the opening post. Also often he was being the development driver at race meetings which is often not conducive for rapid times. Though he still seemed to finish respectably. On occasion he could be very quick, as quick as Mac but probably not as consistent.

#6 eldougo

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:12

I tend to agree with all answers posted on this thread .Garrie Cooper was a a good driver that ran a Great business and enjoyed his time behind the wheel at weekend which helped him relax and enjoy the thing he loved the most building and designing racing cars.
I respected the man and he diving who put himself up there for all to see ,unlike the person who started this.

#7 Lola5000

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:47

Over the years I've spoken to a number of 5000 driver most if not all rate the MR8 right up there with the Lola's. :up:

#8 SJ Lambert

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 11:23

The text below is taken from this link to the Elfin Heritage Centre site. Where he's described as "The Quiet Genius"

My exposure to Garrie was limited to my pre crawling days. But from what I'm told by my parents and others who knew him well, he was indeed a quiet gentleman with none of the "mongrel" in him that some other racing drivers are apt to exhibit.

There's no doubt that his cars gave many, many drivers on the domestic scene the tools to go racing competitively - one has to assume that without Elfin Sports Cars, a fair percentage of them would have struggled to get hold of suitable machinery!!


The Elfin Heritage Centre is dedicated to the memory and achievements of Garrie Cooper. The aims of the Heritage Centre are to commemorate and celebrate the heritage of the marque by providing a meeting point for Elfin enthusiasts and assistance in keeping Elfin cars performing on tracks throughout the world.

The Elfin name towers over Australian motor sport like few others, which is surprising given the quiet nature of its founder, Garrie Cooper.

Never one for words, Cooper spoke through his deeds on the race track. The mighty successes of his racing cars, driven by himself and a legion of other talented drivers, spoke volumes for the man who built racing cars in a small Adelaide factory for more than 20 years.

Because Cooper was born in Adelaide, South Australia, a world away from the hub of motor sport, he never received the recognition he certainly deserved. Had he been born in England, France or Italy there would probably have been an Elfin Grand Prix team, and Cooper would most likely have been lauded for his innovative racing car designs much as John Cooper and Colin Chapman were for their Cooper and Lotus cars that fundamentally changed racing car design.

He wasn't. He was born in Australia so the world only got a glimpse of his genius. When European teams and drivers came south for the northern winters to race against the best drivers and teams local motor racing could muster, Garrie Cooper was right up there, racing his V8-powered Formula 5000 monsters, with great success against the best in the world.

While Cooper enjoyed immense success at the wheel of his own cars, like the 1968 Singapore Grand Prix and the 1975 Australian Tourist Trophy, he also gave other great Australian drivers the chance to shine. Scan the list of drivers who have tasted success in Elfin racing cars and you'll find names like sports car legend Frank Matich. Gold Star champion John McCormack, Bathhurst champions Larry Perkins and John Bowe, Le Mans 25 hour winner Vern Schuppan and Formula One World champion James Hunt.

While Cooper would undoubtedly have enjoyed watching these other great drivers win in his cars, he gave his all in racing with and against them, because that's what he enjoyed most.

Cooper built racing cars because he loved racing. It was something he dreamt of from a young age. That his company grew to become the second largest manufacturer of racing cars in the world in the late 1960s was testament to his engineering ability.

From the early 1960s to the late 1970s Elfins dominated local openwheeler and sports car racing, from the diminutive Formula Vee to the sleek Formula Ford which helped a generation of young chargers get into racing, to the thundering V8-powered sports and racing cars that won numerous national titles.

Along the way Cooper and his tiny team built 27 different models, a total of 248 cars. With an impressive list of 29 national championships and major titles they were all winners, much like their quietly spoken creator.

Australian motor racing lost one of its stars when Garrie Cooper died suddenly aged just 46, in 1982. His spirit is looking over the shoulder of the designers of all subsequent Elfin models.

#9 SJ Lambert

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 12:25

I bet John Bowe loved this little gem of an idea of Garrie's, the GE Two-25

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#10 wilga1

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 01:37

I bet John Bowe loved this little gem of an idea of Garrie's, the GE Two-25




Re the second photo, what are the wings in the middle of the car about?

Was this some form of trick photography?

#11 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 08:41

Re the second photo, what are the wings in the middle of the car about?

Was this some form of trick photography?

I agree they look strange. Seemingly there only for the test.

For some reason I thought the GE225 was after Garrie, obviously not as it is still in Ansett colors.

The bottom pic has the car appearing to have a huge airbox too.Raw fibreglass?  Semi blending into the concrete of the AIR wall.

Obviously testing some odd bod things as you do.