Partially bringing a topic over from the Australian pics 50s to 70s thread:
Originally posted by Guy Miller
Does not look like 178MPH
So we set the scene for a bit more of an Aussie Miller tribute.
Originally posted by Guy Miller
On behalf of the Miller family I would like to thank you all for your kind words and reccolections of Aussie in his racing days. He was put to rest on Tuesday with an excellent gathering of friends and family and with the fly past of two Stearman radial engined aircraft. A fitting way to end a remarkable life.
Guy is not the only one who had a close relationship with Aussie...
Geoff Smedley sent me these words and pics:
From Geoff Smedley
Aussie was a good friend of mine and he is one bloke in Australia who should go down in history as one of the greats of the sport.
I first met this infectious character in the mid fifties when he turned up to race at Longford and ran into problems with his car (the Miller Special) which was a 1500 Cooper Climax brought into the country in boxes labeled as crop spraying equipment.
Two cars arrived together, Austin drove one and the second was a Lotus owned by business partener Ernie Tadgell with modified bodywork, this car eventually took Ernie's life.
In 1958 Austin moved to Launceston and opened the Hotel Monaco which quickly became the hub of petrol heads for the whole state and perhaps changed the motor sport scene in Tasmania to a perspective never seen before or since, good days of can do and restriction free challenges.
At that time Austin was obsessed with breaking the Australian Land Speed Record recently set by the Tornado Special at Coonabarrabran, but of course the funds weren't there for us to think of purchasing the right equipment for the task so if this dream was to become a reality it meant working around the items at hand.
It was in a loft building next to the Monaco that Aussie's then pride and joy, a type 51 2.2 Cooper Climax previously owned by Stan Jones, went under the knife to be transformed into a record holder in the true belief "yes we can".
I had to dedicate my full time to this project and the task was far more involved than first thought, the car was really not the basis for the desired outcome eventhough a 400HP Corvette engine now replaced the demure looking Climax. A suitable transmission was then the big worry, how to get that power to the wheels.
The original gearbox used by Cooper was a Citroen light 15 and could be likened to perhaps a singer sewing machine, but nevertheless a bird in hand is better than nothing so with a lot of cross-bolting of the case and I hand-made suitable wide gears to produce just a 2 speed box that would theorectically give a result of some 205 MPH at around 6,500RPM. To be driven by such enthusiasm from Aussie, how could we fail?
Anyway it all came together in 1961 when after long and tedious preparation demanded by CAMS we did break the record on Bakers Beach on Northern Tasmania in late 1961, a feat that only Australia's very first loveable larrikin could pull off.
It was said after the event that higher speed than the 164 mph average may have been even greater had Aussie not been so weighted down with all the screws and plates he carried due to his many crop spraying mishaps over many years but nothing could dampen his sense of adventure. Seeing I was born on Austin's birthday we always kept in touch on that day, but for some reason his age never past 35 and I recall on reaching that age I was able to send a telegram saying (caught up to you ya Bas..d) as it was always his story that if he spoke to the car in this way he could always gain another 500 revs or so.
A man of his time, even played a stand in driver for the film "On The Beach" for Fred Astaire but he couldn't dance....
Thanks for that, Geoff... now the pics:
A very early run with the streamlined top on the Cooper at Bakers Beach.
The top became detached and blew off prior to the main runs being done.
Geoff (before John Youl and Frank Matich caused him to lose all his hair)
with Aussie and the Cooper at Bakers Beach.
I'll have to post this in the On The Beach
Aussie Miller in Fred Astaire's car ready to stand in for the Hollywood
dancer and actor.
Aussie with Fred Astaire, looks like it's at Phillip Island?
Edited by Ray Bell, 28 October 2009 - 01:40.