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Australian drivers who merited a crack at F1


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#1 Wirra

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 11:39

...Same question I can ask for Leo Geoghegan


Leo was, in my opinion, somewhere between the very talented gentleman racer and a quasi-professional. I believe he lacked the ‘mongrel’ to be an F1 driver.

I would consider Kevin Bartlett and Max Stewart as our two drivers most likely to have made it in F1 but they were a bit long in the tooth for F1 at their peak and didn’t have the suitcases of money many were bringing to F1 drives in those days.

I would be interested to read other opinions on this.


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#2 275 GTB-4

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 22:57

Leo was, in my opinion, somewhere between the very talented gentleman racer and a quasi-professional. I believe he lacked the ‘mongrel’ to be an F1 driver.

I would consider Kevin Bartlett and Max Stewart as our two drivers most likely to have made it in F1 but they were a bit long in the tooth for F1 at their peak and didn’t have the suitcases of money many were bringing to F1 drives in those days.

I would be interested to read other opinions on this.


I always thought that business interests dictated Leo's career. He was (and even in recent years, to my knowledge) was a brilliant peddler.

#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 10:09

Those Australians who could have gone F1 had the circumstances gone right should include:

Frank Matich
Leo Geoghegan
Kevin Bartlett
Greg Cusack
Max Stewart
Spencer Martin
John Harvey

All of them had family considerations, most had businesses to run. Spencer, I believe, had had enough when he pulled out of Gold Star racing, Max was probably a little on the old side, but in the late sixties KB certainly wasn't.

Going to the other side of the world with no secure arrangements would have been fraught with problems, I don't think it was ever a serious possibility with any of them except Matich. KB might enlighten us if I'm wrong.

#4 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 22:05

Originally posted by Wirra
.....Is there any reason why Matich is at the top of your list? The days of engineer/driver were all but gone in the time of those drivers you listed, with one notable exception.


I would suggest there were two notable exceptions in F1 at the time...

Remember, I'm talking here of early to mid-sixties, really before Max Stewart was 'discovered', but nevertheless he was brought into it all.

So at that time there was Brabham and McLaren who were doing the 'driver-engineer' thing in F1, and successfully so. Otherwise, Matich is at the head of the list because, (a) He was the first of them to be challenging the Internationals; and (b) He was arguably the fastest.

#5 Ian G

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 22:17

That Melbourne guy that went over to the UK with Alan Jones was supposed to have some talent. I only read about him after his fatal accident whilst testing so not sure if he had a future in F-1 or not.

#6 elansprint72

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 23:01

I'm a bit stumped by this thread as it seems to be a question taken from a quote from an un-specified existing thread.

In any event; the answer is, most likely, 42.

Edited by elansprint72, 17 October 2011 - 23:02.


#7 Wirra

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 00:04

Pete - It's a spin-off from the 'Jim Palmer' thread which became a little side tracked.

Well done admins :up:

Edited by Wirra, 18 October 2011 - 00:10.


#8 elansprint72

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 00:16

Pete - It's a spin-off from the 'Jim Palmer' thread which became a little side tracked.

Well done admins :up:

Which, unfortunately, means that us up topsides might be left on the beach.

Seems to me that there has been some heavy-handed re-arrangements going on hereabouts recently. :rolleyes:

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 01:09

Well, there has been a point of delineation determined as to whether threads are 'Nostalgia' or 'History'...

And now off-topic subjects are being put into their own topics. I see nothing wrong with that nor anything that differentiates as to which audience can participate or comprehend it.

As Peter said, 'Well done, Admins!'

Ian G... you mean Brian McGuire...

#10 austmcreg

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 02:11

I think all the posts so far on this topic have ignored John Youl, whom I believe was one of only two of those nominated so far who actually recieved an offer to go to Europe. My understanding is that Youl was made an offer by Brabham c1962 but declined due to his family pastoral responsibilities. The Youls, John and Gavin, were both well known to Brabham.

The other was Fank Matich, whom I have heard was offered chance in Europe by Bruce Mclaren. He also declined due to family and business resposinilities.

Does anyone have better knowledge of this?

Rob Saward

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 02:37

My grave error not including Youl...

He gave a lot of Internationals a fright in the wet at Lakeside, didn't he?

Like Gavin, however, his invitation undoubtedly meant to FJr or the later F3, and there's no doubt that Boyce needed him to help out at home. Again, he's another who seemed to have 'had enough' when he decided to retire.

Matich and McLaren were always close, at least from 1964 onwards. I don't doubt for a moment that there were opportunities for Frank to go join McLaren. But he had four children already... business would have played a lesser part, as his business interests were small at that time. He was a professional racing driver with the Total backing he enjoyed, working was a sideline for him.

#12 MattFoster

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 05:54

John Bowe
Alfredo Costanzo
Simon Kane
Russell Ingall

just a few 70s/80s/90s open wheel steerers who might have done well if given the chance

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 07:44

Yes, of course, the separation of the thread means it's open to later eras...

In which case I'd have to say that I think Warwick Brown merited a better shot than he got at F1.

I don't know about Simon Kane, Alfie actually had a try to make it, but found that living in Italy was no help when trying to break into European racing.

What about John Smith?

#14 Tim Murray

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 08:04

At one time I had high hopes for Bruce Allison, based on his European performances. How is he rated in his homeland?

#15 brucemoxon

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 08:04


Bruce Allison

Andrew Miedecke

Lucio Cesario - got a gig with Lancia's team but the cars weren't up to much.

Colin Bond (again, too old by the time he cracked the top)

More recently, Craig Lowndes, Will and Alex Davison, Mark Winterbottom, Garth Tander, and James Courtney (who walked away from F1 after a big scare).



Bruce Moxon

#16 Vicuna

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 09:00

neil allen

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 09:52

I would love to think that Niel Allen could have done it...

But he was totally engrossed with empire building, motor racing was a secondary thing to him in much the same way as working for a living was secondary to Matich.

#18 Russell Burrows

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 14:11

Over the years there have been a host of bike guys who deserved GP rides, but I suspect you don't want to broaden things out this far.

#19 Ian G

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 22:31

Ian G... you mean Brian McGuire...


Yeah,thats him Ray,i can never remember his name.



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#20 Hank the Deuce

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 23:15

More recently, Craig Lowndes, Will and Alex Davison, Mark Winterbottom, Garth Tander, and James Courtney (who walked away from F1 after a big scare).



Bruce Moxon

I would've said Marcos Ambrose might've done good things too...


#21 GD66

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 23:35

The other was Fank Matich, whom I have heard was offered chance in Europe by Bruce Mclaren. He also declined due to family and business resposinilities.

Does anyone have better knowledge of this?

Rob Saward



According to the two-part Aaron Lewis-penned Frank Matich profile in the Australian Muscle Car mag, Matich received invitations to drive from Rob Walker and Colin Chapman, and ended up with a standing offer from Jack Brabham : so much so that, to Matich's embarassment, Denny Hulme was prepping his FJ Brabham for Silverstone at the workshop when Jack offered the car to Frank.
The McLaren connection was at its' strongest when Matich was more or less given carte blanche in the development of the M10s.


#22 Wirra

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 23:52

What about John Smith?

Yes, it surprised me he didn't give F3 in Europe a go, his AGP performances at Calder in the early 80's against the internationals were mighty impressive, along with his local ff and F3 driving... I'll ask him.

I stated before that some were 'engineer/drivers', in a somewhat negative connotation; I believe I should have stated 'constructor/driver', meaning they (e.g. Matich) would be somewhat distracted from the driving aspect. Upon reflection I think it is very important for a driver to have an engineering brain. I had often wondered why David Coultard was retained for so long in top teams but after listening to his comments during F1 telecasts I'm very impressed with his technical nouse, he must have provided great feedback to the designers. It would be a surprise to me but could this explain Mark Webber's longevity?

For this reasoning (engineering nouse) and his driving skills I think John Wright might have been a chance.

PS. Could members provide reasoning/arguments behind their nominations - thanks.

#23 Vicuna

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 06:33

I would love to think that Niel Allen could have done it...

But he was totally engrossed with empire building, motor racing was a secondary thing to him in much the same way as working for a living was secondary to Matich.


the thread is called "Australian drivers who merited a crack at F1'

I didn't read any conditions attaching to it.

#24 Wirra

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 08:51

Over the years there have been a host of bike guys who deserved GP rides, but I suspect you don't want to broaden things out this far.

Not a problem with me.

I remember watching Gregg Hansford at Assen in 1979 winning the 350cc GP and, I think, the 250cc GP (?) - the Heineken had kicked in by then. What happened to him in 500s?

I worked as a scrutineer at a few Castrol Six Hour races and saw some very impressive riders.

#25 Russell Burrows

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 09:55

Not a problem with me.

I remember watching Gregg Hansford at Assen in 1979 winning the 350cc GP and, I think, the 250cc GP (?) - the Heineken had kicked in by then. What happened to him in 500s?

I worked as a scrutineer at a few Castrol Six Hour races and saw some very impressive riders.


That's interesting, were you there for the first one, 1970?

Clearly Hansford had the ability and should have stuck around. I can't recall what happened at Assen, or whether he rode.

Ron Toombs should have come to Europe sometime in the early to mid sixties. Carruthers did eventually take the plunge and got his world title, albeit much later than he should. Bill Horsman too was as good as either of them. As far as I know he never ventured outside of Australia until coming to England sometime in the nineties to race in classic events. All a bit sad that, as he could easily have made the grade in GP's during his prime. Bryan Hindle is another contender but Salvation Army stuff probably got in the way.

Edited by Russell Burrows, 19 October 2011 - 10:12.


#26 Wirra

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 10:29

...Clearly Hansford had the ability and should have stuck around. ...

IIRC he did two seasons in 500s and never scored a point!

There are numerous examples of drivers/riders being near unbeatable in a lesser category but failing dismally at the top level. Winning a national ff or F3 championship doesn't make you an F1 candidate.

#27 275 GTB-4

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 11:38

Bryan Hindle is another contender but Salvation Army stuff probably got in the way.

..

One of my Hero's...and I always wondered what was holding him back...now I know...thanks Russ :cool:

#28 seldo

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 04:07

Some interesting names being proffered. Quite a few would have been held back by sheer physical size, although not so much in those days as now where they are mostly jockey-size

#29 GD66

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 09:08

I remember watching Gregg Hansford at Assen in 1979 winning the 350cc GP and, I think, the 250cc GP (?) - the Heineken had kicked in by then. What happened to him in 500s ?



Hansford finished second in the 250, seven seconds behind Graziano Rossi. He only had a few gallops on the overweight, overrated 500 Kawasaki, and his GP career was curtailed at the Belgian 500 GP at Spa in 1981 when he whistled up an escape road and hit a marshal's parked car, badly breaking his leg.


#30 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 10:04

Yes, it surprised me he didn't give F3 in Europe a go, his AGP performances at Calder in the early 80's against the internationals were mighty impressive, along with his local ff and F3 driving... I'll ask him.

I stated before that some were 'engineer/drivers', in a somewhat negative connotation; I believe I should have stated 'constructor/driver', meaning they (e.g. Matich) would be somewhat distracted from the driving aspect. Upon reflection I think it is very important for a driver to have an engineering brain. I had often wondered why David Coultard was retained for so long in top teams but after listening to his comments during F1 telecasts I'm very impressed with his technical nouse, he must have provided great feedback to the designers. It would be a surprise to me but could this explain Mark Webber's longevity?

For this reasoning (engineering nouse) and his driving skills I think John Wright might have been a chance.

PS. Could members provide reasoning/arguments behind their nominations - thanks.

I suspect John Smith had family business considerations too.

I feel that a lot of the blokes mentioned had the talent but were not prepared to go overseas to try and make their name. A few did, Larry, Russel Ingall, Marcus Ambrose even Tim Schenken.
And KB and Warwick Brown stayed a little closer to their comfort zones racing 5000s in the US, but none of them really got the breaks. Craig Lowndes had the best deal in recent times but it did not work for what ever reason. Courtney and a couple of others got close but no cigar.

#31 Ian G

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 23:05

I suspect John Smith had family business considerations too.
Craig Lowndes had the best deal in recent times but it did not work for what ever reason.


I think it was mainly "Homesickness" Lee, he didn't seem to settle in over there at all but Mark Webber's nemesis, Dr. Marko ,didn't make it easy for him.(apparently).

http://joesaward.wor...does-it-matter/

#32 Jimisgod

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 01:56

Will Power. Very quick in FF, was always first during one season I watched, and with a decent gap to W. Davison in 2nd. However he trod water in the failing Champcar series instead of going to Europe.

Watch for Scott Pye as of right now, he went to Europe. Australian drivers have so many choices in terms of eventual series to aim for, but very few opportunities.

#33 brucemoxon

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 05:13

I think it was mainly "Homesickness" Lee, he didn't seem to settle in over there at all but Mark Webber's nemesis, Dr. Marko ,didn't make it easy for him.(apparently).

http://joesaward.wor...does-it-matter/


Craig's never been one to point the finger of blame, but the whisper has always been that his buy-in went mostly to JPM's car, and that Craig had to make do with hind tit. He had only one good result, and that was after he finally got his own engineer.




Bruce Moxon

#34 Ian G

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 22:48

I think he lost the support of Walkinshaw somewhere along the line as well Bruce,i remember Tom giving him a serve to an Oz. Journo.,knowing full well it would be reported back here, shortly before Craig returned to Oz. Marko had a reputation of putting a lot of pressure on his Drivers so at least Craig made it back home in one piece.

Larry Perkins didn't have the stars align in his F-1 drives and may have made an impact with more time/money.I'm sure David McKay(may have been Amon) was trying to get him a Ferrari test drive.

http://www.f1rejects.../biography.html

Edited by Ian G, 23 October 2011 - 06:51.