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50 Years of Formula Ford in Australia


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#51 rms

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 19:21

Geoff Walters car is an Elwyn (Bickley)



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#52 ellrosso

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 21:09

Thanks Erol. Have amended.



#53 MarkBisset

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 08:13

Terrific shots Lindsay.
The Reynard FF83 was one of the 'game-changer' FF designs at the time- I remember seeing Tomas at Sandown early in the season and going 'wow' and off to Europe he went for a while. I always thought Elwyn Bickley's cars were great- as he was for the short time he raced. I had some problems at Wakefield Park with my Lola T342 which he helped me with yonks ago- it was a pleasure to meet with and talk to him, at that stage he was living in Goulburn, perhaps he still is? Geoff Walters pops up on FB- ill pop your photo up on my primo FB page Lindsay and see if we can point a few FF folks onto this thread. M

#54 ellrosso

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 19:51

Thanks Mark, the brother of one of my old mates from Tassy days, Paul Macmichael (shots of him in his Fiat 1100 from Longford '65) moved to Goulburn in the early 80's for work and got to know Elwyn really well. Paul was a clever engineer too and they got on like a house on fire by all accounts. Don't know if he is still in Goulburn though. 



#55 Catalina Park

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 00:45

Elwyn is still in Goulburn, about 500 metres away from me.

#56 brakedisc

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 19:44

Elwyn is still in Goulburn, about 500 metres away from me.

 

 

Tell him his Scottish friends are still living the dream and back in FF1600.



#57 ellrosso

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 04:03

Few shots from random years in the history of Formula Ford, including some heroes as well as some heartbreak. Last year's Indy 500 winner is amongst them too....... don't have anything on Webber in FF though I'm afraid. Re current FF graduates, keep an eye on Liam Lawson. The young kiwi was NZ FF 1600 champ in 16/17 and just took out the TRS series - he's now a Red Bull junior and will be racing in Europe this year. 2069-R-FF-s-77.jpg2284-R-M-Amb-97-lo.jpg7447-R-Power-00-lo.jpg9756-F-Skelt-71-lo.jpg3485-R-FF-03-lo.jpg11513-R-Mez-85-lo.jpg2279-R-Dell-97-lo.jpg2283-R-Cott-97-lo.jpg



#58 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 05:08

Pic 1,,, RD102 Bridgestone.

Pic 6, some familiar faces besides Glen. My brother is one.

Pic 8, a bit drafty and will not turn in,, look at the right steering arm.

Great pics are all.



#59 ellrosso

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 04:40

Mark, do you know if this is Alan Bisset? He came 3rd behind Walters in the main race. Cheers L11511-A-R-FFord-85-lo.jpg



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#60 MarkBisset

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 03:15

Yes it is Lindsay, top shot too. I've lost touch with him (no relation) , I did 'help', if that is an apt descriptor of my mechanical skills, him with the Bowin P4X he bought off John Davis who raced the car in GB colours in 1976'ish. Alan still lives in his parents old, grand place in Hawthorn 500 metres from where I am sitting now.
By the time he did a season or two in a Wren 2 as well he was ready to make full use of a competitive car which the Reynard most certainly was. He won a DTE round or two- he became a top driver and even better fitter and turner / engineer - 'AM Raceparts'
He was apprenticed to Vickers Ruwolt and then worked for Ron Harrop who he had huge respect for... I really should give him a call!
Mark

#61 TerryS

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 04:32

This thread seems to have been quite for a long time so I though I should rebirth it before the end of the year.

Formula Ford was originally conceived as a cost effective series to foster young racing talent. It was to encourage young drivers to develop car control, race craft, and mechanical skills before progressing up the motor racing ladder.

Whether it has achieved its aims is probably assessed by what the annual champions have gone on to.

To illustrate I have written short summaries on each of the first five champions. These are
1970 Richard Knight
1971 Larry Perkins
1972 Bob Skelton
1973 John Leffler
1974 Terry Perkins

I have put the notes on each in separate posts to avoid becoming over whelming.

I admit the notes on Larry Perkins are not as detailed because his recent history is more well known.

The "Australian Formula Ford Championship" has had various titles over the years. For simplicity I propose to standardise on that in these posts.

I will as usual welcome constructive comments.

#62 TerryS

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 04:33

1970 champ RICHARD KNIGHT
He came to prominence in a very smartly presented Improved Production Cooper S racing in Victoria
He took up lead position with Bib Stillwell’s two car Formula Ford team. It was the most professional in Australia with engines by Mick Webb. In second car was Larry Perkins
Knight won the first FF race in Australia at Sandown in November 1969
He won the FF championship in 1970, winning 5 of the 6 rounds in an Elfin 600. The only other winner was Bob Beasley in a Bowin P4A. This was Knight’s rookie season
Despite the wins he just beat Beasley 74 points to 71.
Larry Perkins came in 5th.
During 1970 Knight also shared a Stillwell Falcon GTHO with Graeme Ritter in the Sandown and Bathurst endures. They were unplaced.
In the 1970 Australian Motor Racing Annual he was named as one of the top 8 New Faces. Another was a bloke called Peter Brock.
There was no trip to Europe for the 1970 winner. This was introduced for 1971. But he went to Europe anyway, paying his own way.
For 1971 he bought a Palliser FF and competed against future stars such as Jody Scheckter. He did not score any podiums and had to give up when he ran out of funds.
He took a salesman job at the Chequered Flag sports car dealership.
He sat out 1972, and then in 1973 had 5 starts in the UK F5000 Championship in an uncompetitive Kitchmac Chevrolet. There were no great results.
In 1974 he had 4 starts in the UK Formula Atlantic Championship in a March 712 M BDA.
In 1975 he competed in the Le Mans 24 Hour race but was not classified as a finisher.
In the meantime he had opened Richard Knight Cars initially as a Lancia dealer then later also Mazda.
He probably did not have enough aggression or tiger in his driving, and perhaps was deceived by winning the FF championship in his first year in the best car.

#63 TerryS

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 04:38

1971 LARRY PERKINS
Born 18 March 1980
Raced a home-made Formula Vee and was noticed and picked up in 1970by Graeme Ritter the manager of Bib Stillwell’s two car Elfin 600 Formula Ford team.
In his first season in 1970 he finished fifth in the Australian Championship.
With Richard Knight going to UK Perkins was promoted to the leader of the Stillwell team. He dominated the 1971 FF series, still only 21 years old. Out of 12 races, he won six, and finished second and third three times each.
He delayed taking the trip to Europe till the end of 1972. Gary Campbell a Liverpool Mercedes dealer had noticed his talent, and when Campbell stepped up to F5000 he sponsored Perkins in Campbell surplus Elfin 600 T/c F2 car for 1972. There were 7 races in the 1972 F2 championship and Perkins won four of them. He finished the season on double the points of the second placed Vern Hamilton.
Leffler took an Elfin 620 to the inaugural 1972 FF Festival and managed to finish a remarkable third against drivers from around the world.
For 1973 Campbell and journalist David McKay agreed to equally provide funds for Perkins to compete in UK F3. It was a shoe string operation compared with the well financed UK teams. Also with them was Carey Thompson as Manager and Perkins child hood friend Charlie Coburn as mechanic. They formed Team Cowangie and bought an old furniture van as transport. They bought a second hand GRD 372 T/c. Perkins was to write off this car in a high speed crash at Paul Ricard circuit.
Bernie Ecclestone who owned Brabham at the time loaned him a new Brabham BT40 T/C to complete the season.
In 14 races he only got one podium finish.
In 1976 and 1977 Perkins entered F1. He participated in 15 FI Grand Prix’s but highest place was only 8th. This was with 5 different works teams,(Brabham, BRM, Surtees, Amon, and Ensign ) which must be a record.
He came to Australia to contest the 1977 Bathurst race in a Torana A9X with Capt’ Peter Janson. This was only Perkins first touring car race but they came in third.
McKay arranged for Perkins to contest the early1978 Peter Stuyvesant Formula Atlantic series in a Ralt RT 1 with BDA engine. He finished just behind future World Champion Keke Rosberg.
In the 1979 NZ series he finished third in a March 78B BDA entered by big NZ dealer Colin Giltrap.
In 1979 he won the Rothmans International Series in an Elfin MR8 Chev entered by Ansett Team Elfin.
In the Bathurst1000 he had an incredible record. He had 6 wins, 3 seconds and 3 thirds.
His most meritorious win was in 1995 when he got a puncture at the start and had to call to the pits, restarting in dead last. He and Ingall forced their way though the field for the win.
He retired from racing in 2003 aged 53, after two bad crashes at Bathurst.

#64 TerryS

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 04:43

1972 BOB SKELTON
He raced a couple of MG Midgets very forcefully, and also had some good results at Bathurst.
As example in 1967 at Bathurst in a Cooper S with Mal Brewster they had a clear lead but the clutch failed with only 9 laps to go.
The story of his graduation to FF is interesting. Wollongong dealer Bryan Byrt ran Byrt Ford. He ran a Bowin P4 FF for speedway star Gary Rush. Rush finished third in the inaugural 1970 FF Championship, but Byrt wanted more results, so he sacked Rush and put the car on the market.
Skelton convinced him to keep running it for him. He was always good with “the gift of the gab”.
He finished second to Perkins in the 1971 Australian FF championship over 12 races, winning 2 two races to Perkins six.
In 1971 Byrt Ford also ran a bright purple Falcon GT-HO Phase 111 in selected touring car events. At Bathurst He and co driver Phil Barnes finished a remarkable second to Allan Moffat.
In 1971 Sydney dealer Finnie Ford had run a Falcon GT-HO at Bathurst driven by journalist David McKay. They were contesting second place but Skelton drove away from him, which impressed Finnie.
In 1972 at the Sandown FF round he debuted the first built Bowin P6F. This introduced rising rate suspension, similar to the Lotus 72 F1, and was very difficult to tune.
In early 1973 Byrt sold the Wollongong dealership to purchase McCusky Ford in Mt Gravatt, Brisbane, a much bigger market. He named it Bryan Byrt Ford. So Skelton was out of a drive and Byrt wanted to sell the Bowin as being a shrewd marketer Byrt did not believe there was enough “bang for the buck” in Formula Ford. Skelton convinced Syd Finnie of Finnie Ford, Miranda, .to buy the car and run it for him. Byrt retained the Falcon GTHO and took it with him to Brisbane, to be run by Queenslanders in that parochial state.
Finnie was susceptible to Skelton’s approach as he admired his Bathurst 1971 performance.
He won the 1972 Australian FF title. He was then 30, which is comparatively old for FF.
The Bowin P4A is now in the collection of ex racer Terry Daly but is not raced.
At the end of 1972 as part of his championship prize he went to England, taking the Bowin P6 to the UK Many thought this was unwise as the P6 was still unsorted and he should have taken the proven P4.
In a preliminary race at Brands Hatch he DNF’ed when rear suspension failed. At the FF Festival at Snetterton he made the final but was punted off on lap one.
He then brought the P6 back to OZ and converted it to F2 with a Hart T/C, wings wider wheels etc.
Skelton was third in the 1973 Australian FF title, although a complete novice to wings and slicks. He often equalled the very experienced Leo Geoghegan in the latest Birrana 273 in qualifying but had a poor finishing record. Out of seven championship races he only finished 4, and scored two second places,
Skelton was good at self promotion. I recall being at a Cronulla Sharks Rugby League game in 1973 when he drove the P6 up and down the sideline at half time, blipping the throttle several times. The crowd loved it.
Then at the end of 1973Syd Finnie went bust due to property speculation and Bowin was sold and the dealership wound up. The site is now a medical centre and town houses.
That was unfortunately the end of Skelton’s single seater career..
In 1973 Bathurst, Byrt recruited him as co driver to John French in a new Falcon Coupe, but they did not finish. In 1974 he was teamed with Colin Bond in Holden Dealer Team Torana, they finished 4th at Bathurst, but retired at Sandown enduro.
In 1975 and 1976 he ran a Holden A9X for Max Wright Holden of Penrith, where he worked as a salesman.
He competed mainly in Sydney. In 1975 he finished 4th at Bathurst, and 7th in 1976.
In 1979 and 1982 he was co-driver to privateers at Bathurst, but without success.
At 1984 Bathurst it was to be his last race. He was then 42. He was to co drive a Commodore with Ken Matthews. After qualifying well, Skelton damaged his arm and could not race on Sunday.
That was the end of his racing career.
He established a business in Balmain called Mr Jackets selling corporate and promotional clothing which re ran for many years. There was a write-up in RCN on this.
He had serious stroke in 2012, aged 70. It badly affected his memory.
He has been described as possessing raw speed but lacking in application and dedication to proceed further.
He also lacked mechanical knowledge, a disadvantage in an era when drivers often prepared their own cars.

#65 TerryS

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 04:45

1973 JOHN LEFFLER
He Raced a Cooper S sports sedan with success at Oran Park and Amaroo. It was developed it to be probably the fastest in Australia.
His racing was always on a shoestring. He ran a service station and mechanical workshop, first on Princes Highway at Kogarah and then Stoney Creek Road at Beverley Hills.
Even when part of Grace Bros Race Team, the sponsorship was not great. Grace Bros sponsored many cars and were a department store in only Sydney and Suburbs. So any interstate success meant little to them.
He often complained in his column in Auto Action about how tight a budget he raced on.
He bought a Bowin P4 FF and finished second in FF Championship
In 1973 of the 9 races in the championship we won 5 races, two in his Bowin P4A and 3 in new Bowin P6F. He finished on 68 points ahead of David Mingay (Bowin P6F) on 61.
For 1974 with the rich Van Heusen F2 Leffler wanted to step up to F2. He had seen in 1973 that the Bowin P6 T/C was falling behind. He wanted something much better, so he ordered a monocoque Bowin P8 with a Hart T/C and rising rate suspension from Sydney’s John Joyce. Unfortunately at Amaroo in its only start he crashed and twisted the chassis. It was beyond quick repair.
Leffler then purchased the Bowin P8 Repco F5000 that Bob Jane had been running for John Harvey. A sponsorship change had made this car redundant to Jane. It was bought without the Repco engine and converted to a F2 car. In the 1974 F2 Series over 8 rounds he had a win, a second and 2 thirds He finished third in the F2 Championship to Leo Geoghegan.
Meanwhile the original P8 had been converted to F5000 spec and fitted with a Chev engine. He later admitted this was mistake and would have been better to run the Repco, as it cost a fortune in installation and problem solving.
In 1975 running the Bowin P8 Chev as a F5000 in the Australian Drivers Championship over 5 races Leffler finished fifth with a second and a third.
Also in 1975 in a one off appearance in the Australian F2 series at Calder Leffler ran Paul England’s Brabham BT36 to finish third, and resulted in 10th in the Championship.
At the end of 1975 the team discovered the P8 monocoque chassis was twisting too much and even with John Joyce’s help this could not be fixed without a complete rebuild. So they looked elsewhere.
At end of 1974 Lola had introduced the T400 to replace the T332 for the 1975 series. This was a completely new design and introduced Rising Rate Suspension to Loa for the first time. This was not understood bt most and took a long time to work out. So sales were slow. The last T400 to be made chassis HU 15 was sold to US agent Carl Haas in April 1975. Because of the T400’s reputation it remained unsold until purchased by Leffler in January 1976 for a very good price. Leffler believed that with his experience with rising rate suspension on the Bowin P8 he should be able to tame the T400.
In 1976 he won the Australian Drivers Championship (the Gold Star) in the Lola T400, although he didn’t win a race. There were 4 races in 1976 and four separate winners. He had 3 seconds and a third to win championship on 22 points from Max Stewart on 12 points.
In the 1977 Australian Drivers Championship there were again 4 races. Leffler won one race and just finished second on points in the championship on 16 points to John McCormack’s 19 points.
He then retired having reached his objective and the Lola T400 was sold to John Wright.
He has since served as a Driving Standards Observer and a Race Driver Instructor.
His racing career was based on incredible determination.

#66 TerryS

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 04:47

1974 TERRY PERKINS
After racing a home built Formula Vee he started in Formula Ford in 1973 in an Elfin 620FF. This was a development of the Elfin 600 but with side radiators.
He finished 5th in the 1973 Championship but only scored half the points of the winner Leffler.
In 1974 he also raced a Titan 6C FF. In the 1974 Championship over 10 races he won 3, two in the Elfin and one in the Titan. He also had 2 seconds and three thirds. He was sponsored by Strapp Ford, a Melbourne suburban dealer.
He raced with brother Larry in 1975 in the UK and Europe under the Team Cowangie label. They raced Ralt RT1 twin cams.
In 1975 in Europe Formula 3 he started twice six times. He won once and in another finished fourth from 66 starters
In 1975 in UK Formula 3 from 5 starts his highest finish was a ninth
He returned to Australia and seemed to fade into motor racing obscurity. He made a one off appearance in 2005 in a Lotus 18 Formula Junior.
In recent times he has assisted his son Hank in an historic Formula Ford.
So very little is known about the guy subsequent to 1975.

#67 TerryS

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 04:47

And on the 7th day he rested......

Happy New Year

#68 E1pix

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 06:12

Six thumbs up, Terry.

#69 lyntonh

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 08:01

And on the 7th day he rested......Happy New Year


You deserve a rest, well done !!

Edited by lyntonh, 30 December 2019 - 08:02.


#70 Ray Bell

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 09:18

Leffler's retirement was due to a medical condition...

His determination was a little deeper. He tells that his stepfather was always 'down' on him and telling him he'd never achieve anything. John decided he would become Australian Champion at something to show he was wrong.

Spotting a racing car in a nearby service station, he quickly decided in what field he wanted to succeed.

#71 ellrosso

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 19:02

I met John out at Eastern Creek a few years ago at one of those driver autograph signing things and was very impressed by him - seemed like a really decent bloke. Very pleased for him when he won the championship too - he'd come a long way from his SRC Mini.

10502-F-Leffo-77-TNF.jpg



#72 E1pix

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 19:32

Lindsay, at first I thought this was an apex shot, noticed the driver's hands, and thought "That had to precede a Big Hit."

 

:lol:



#73 2Bob

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Posted 30 December 2019 - 21:06

I met John out at Eastern Creek a few years ago at one of those driver autograph signing things and was very impressed by him - seemed like a really decent bloke. Very pleased for him when he won the championship too - he'd come a long way from his SRC Mini.

 

 I met him at Oran Park in late 1960s when I broke a crankshaft in my Mini.  Seeing that I had another race meeting at Albury on the way back to Adelaide I wanted to see just what had happened and John allowed me to use the facilities at his service station in Kogarah to pull the motor out of my mini.  Came across as a really down to earth nice guy to me too (didn't give me a crank shaft though...)..

 

Well done Terry S.  Great reading.



#74 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 December 2019 - 13:05

Just looked it up...

John Leffler's retirement came at the end of the 1977 season, after coming home second in the Gold Star to John McCormack. His medical check for his licence for the following year showed he had an enlarged heart muscle.

#75 MarkBisset

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Posted 31 December 2019 - 22:45

Terry,

Many thanks for the career summaries of the guys, really useful distillation.
I’ve long held the view you have to be a very good driver to win a ‘DTE’ round and a great one to win the series, History has proved the point since 1970?

The interesting one for me at the moment, am just finishing an article on the Bros Perkins in Europe 1972 to 1977, is Terry Perkins.
I always knew he was good having seen 3 or 4 of his Elfin 620 races in 1973/4, and whilst you are right in saying he did few F3 rounds in the second of the Team Cowangie RT1’s in 1975 he did win the Danish GP at Djurslandring, a round of the European F3 Championship, and was fourth in the British GP F3 support race- one of the most prestigious of the year of course- he was ahead of many later F1 drivers that day including Larrikins. It is a shame he didn’t do a second season- $ no doubt the issue.

But I’ve drawn a blank since he came back to Australia, have tried to get in touch via the Super Roo Racing website which proves he has the family sense of humour- those with a long Oz FF memory will note American Peter Lissiuk as a works driver!

http://superrooracin...m/terry-perkins

Mark

Edited by MarkBisset, 31 December 2019 - 22:47.


#76 ellrosso

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Posted 01 January 2020 - 04:37

Shot of Terry Perkins at Calder 1973 (deleted my last post as I'd already posted the shot of Larry on page 1 - apologies).

4960-N-TPerk-73-TNF.jpg



#77 TerryS

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 22:10

Peter Lissiuk, now there is a name I thought I would never hear again.

I had a brief chat with him in the Oran Park pits in 1974. He was an American of 23/24 years. He was only a slight build with long hair and a very bushy full beard.

He appeared from nowhere in the 1974 Driver to Europe Series and then disappeared again when the series was finished. I never heard anything of him after that.

He was living literally on a shoestring with not "two bob to his name". He had no sponsors or sources of income. Yet he was a happy guy doing what he dreamed of doing.

He had an old Holden EJ Station Wagon packed with tools and spares. He slept in it when away at race meetings. The wagon was unregistered, he couldn't afford it.

Behind it on an open trailer was his Titan Formula Ford.

He had great potential but lack of funds meant he couldn't take risks like his competitors. He did win a round of the Series, I think at Sandown, and I recall finished 5th or 6th in the Series.

#78 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 22:20

As not many would know of his background, Terry, it's nice of you to acquaint us with these details...

 

I don't believe I ever met him, nor did I see his EJ, but I would have like to by the sound of things.



#79 MarkBisset

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Posted 03 January 2020 - 10:18

Yes Terry,

He won the winter Sandown DTE round, Geoff B won the Tasman one in his P6F.

I’m away from home @ present but if someone has an SCW collection there is a feature on Lissiuk in the October 1974 issue- be great too see it.

Not sure if the Titan Kiwi Grant Walker raced here in the DTE a year or so later is the same chassis,

M

Edited by MarkBisset, 03 January 2020 - 10:18.


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#80 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 09:13

Mark has sent this photo from Oran Park in 1978:

 

0220fr-MBffordsoranpark.jpg

 

He's added:

 

The sexiest of all Oz FF’s- Nutsy Norden In Mawer 004
Garry ‘Dubious’ Dubois in the Elfin 620B raced by Peter Larner the year before and Barry Green the year after- Garry very quick in Vees and this car then disappears
Terry Shiel in the first Birrana- F71- what happened to him?
And Mick Quinn in a P4A



#81 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 09:14

Here;s the pic again, without the ad to make it smaller:

 

0220fr-MBffordsoranpark.jpg



#82 opplock

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 09:52

Peter Lissiuk, now there is a name I thought I would never hear again.

 

 

He raced in the NZ Formula Ford series between 1973-76 winning one race. Started with a Titan Mk6 then raced a car he called the Illegal (modified MK6 I seem to recall). It was listed in programmes as IL Eagle. 



#83 MarkBisset

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 20:59

Thanks for popping the photo up Ray.

Always loved the Mawer from the moment I first saw it in Paul Bernasconi’s hands yoinks ago- it was great to race against it when Bart Mawer first got started in racing.

Does anyone know what became of Garry Dubois- he was so quick in Victorian FVee, then jumped into the Elfin and was immediately on the pace in that two winning a couple of DTE rounds at least and then departed the scene. I have a vague memory that he may have been involved in a motor trimming business- perhaps one of you know his story?

Terry Shiels time in Birrana F71-1 reminds me of Gerry Witenden who did so well in it a year or two later nearly winning the DTE with what was by then an old jigger albeit Gerry had modified it a bit with a wider front track amongst other things- lovely bloke too- from Goulburn, I did see he died not so long ago. Raced F2000 in the UK for a bit with Delta I think...

Mark

#84 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 21:42

For Terry Shiel it was a diversion from his tin-top racing...

 

I might ask Dave Clement about him, I'm sure he went on in tin-tops after this point.



#85 MarkBisset

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 22:00

Guys,

A quickie on ‘our’ only in period Lola T440- nice pic to put up for one of you with the IT smarts...

https://primotipo.co...0-formula-ford/

Mark