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Peter Molloy - Australia's top engine builder - has passed away


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#1 Lola5000

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 07:01

Social media is reporting the passing of famed engine/team manager Peter Molloy.

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 08:09

This has been expected...

Apart from his activities here in Australia (the earliest I know about was preparing Paul Bolton's Hillman Minx) he also went to the US with Pat Burke Racing and Warwick Brown, had a lot to do with Al Bartz and was generally noted for his work with Chevrolet F5000 engines.

Along the way he was working with Benetton in F1 and returned to Australia to work for Wayne Gardner when Wayne had his Commodores.

But his fame rose out of his time doing Brian Foley's BMC cars, also the works BMC Bathurst entries, then he joined R C Phillips and tutored John Harvey as he advanced through the Mini to ANF1½ and then the 2.5 Repco V8 before going off to race for Bob Jane.

Niel Allen employed him alongside Bruce Richardson and Wayne Eckersley, with Peter being the one tutoring Niel as he challenged Frank Matich and the visiting tyros in F5000 and sports cars, then when Niel retired it was Warwick Brown who had the Molloy coaching and preparation.

Then Allan Moffat and John Goss gained some of his experience.

That adds up to a lot of successful racers who had his skills in their background...

And, sadly, I cannot find the photo I have of Peter crouched beside John Harvey in the pit lane at Lakeside just before John had his first race in the Brabham.



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Edited by Ray Bell, 09 October 2019 - 08:17.


#3 john medley

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 08:18

Peter had a TR Triumph in very early days and 1960 was a co-conspirator with John Cummins' Bugatti Holden which Peter drove in Bathurst practice the year Cummo rolled it at Hell Corner-- and Peter lifted it off Cummo after its inversion.

 

He will be missed. RIP Peter.



#4 Tim Murray

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 08:24

He was the recipient of the Phil Irving Award for 2019, presented to him in hospital:

https://www.cams.com...rded-top-honour

#5 seldo

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 12:39

An exceptional engineer - arguably the best in Australia at the time, and an unassuming, lovely, friendly happy guy who was always happy to help and pass-on some of his expertise. A great loss and will be sadly missed. RIP Pete.



#6 Lola5000

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 21:01

An exceptional engineer - arguably the best in Australia at the time, and an unassuming, lovely, friendly happy guy who was always happy to help and pass-on some of his expertise. A great loss and will be sadly missed. RIP Pete.

I only met Peter once ,at a steak house near Oran Park ,when helping Minogue with his Formula Holden Lola ,Bob invited him along for dinner ,Peter left a lasting impression ,the stories,comment on my remarks and was a delight to be with as he spoke of the racing we all love.



#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 21:51

I only ever saw it once, but it was magnificent...

At the end of test sessions on the Warwick Farm short circuit, Peter would send his charge (on the day I was there it was WB in the McLaren M10B) out to do a few laps to ensure their findings had been good.

They would do a few laps going the opposite direction to normal.

Picture, if you will (or can) what the M10B looked like under full power in third (or fourth?) coming out of Paddock Bend with the horse fences right there near the edge of the track and the tail out heading onto Pit Straight.

#8 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 22:07

Originally posted by seldo
.....(a) friendly happy guy who was always happy.....

You cause me to bring to mind the presentation night at the Bathurst Light Car Club in October, 1965...

This was in the Clubrooms just after Forrest's Elbow, which look like they've been extended a bit these days:

1019blccclubroom.jpg

The Firth Fords had beaten the Minis in the Armstrong 500, but Peter was still in fine form. He'd prepared the Minis and they weren't disgraced, and up on the stage he promised that the next year they'd show those cars with the 'four-letter word' on them. I recall at one point he emulated the well-known diet pill jingle, to the delight of all, in reference to these cars.

And I'm sure it was he who told the story from the stage of the Austin A40 driving alongside the Yarra River. A policeman, we were told (and with interjections it was said it must have been Sutherland or Mottram), noticed something different as the driver went along this road so pulled him up.

He was said to have replaced the worn-out A40 gearbox with one from a Jeep. That was okay, but he had to turn the steering wheel to the right to go left and vice versa.




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Edited by Ray Bell, 09 October 2019 - 22:08.


#9 cooper997

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 23:40

The lid on the toolbox has closed.

 

Unfortunately I never met Peter, but certainly wish I had because of the efforts he'd made with BMC products. However a few years ago, via Garry Simkin's help I was able to speak with Peter to get a little background on his early days.

 

Peter was a little reluctant to begin with, but as we delved back into the goings on of then 50 years and more he fired up and was helpful with his background. 

 

So further to what John and Ray have written, I can add that the first car that had the Molloy touch was Les Durham;s Alvis Terraplane back in the Mt Druitt days.

 

With him working for a lot of different people within motor sporting circles, in his own words he simply stated "Kept getting pinched, but that helped picking things up here and there." - as in knowledge. Frank Dent taught him to tune SUs. He worked on the Arnold Glass 250F under John McMillan and through that connection (Arnold was NSW Porsche distributor) he got to race at a couple of 1960 Lowood meetings in the "ex Army guy's (Don Cross) Porsche." I have reference of the June AGP and September meetings. But it was at Lowood that quickly made him realise where his future was. "Bill Pitt went round the outside of me and that was enough to convince me that racing wasn't for me."

 

There was more Porsche, he helped Graham White run his 356. Ray mentioned Paul Bolton's Hillman, Peter prepared that at Holt Binnie's workshop.

 

The BMC era arrived and he prepared Brian Foley's Sprite, then Minis when BPF was still with P & R Williams. Then of course Brian and Laurie Stewart set up camp as Brian Foley Motors in late 1964 and Peter went with them. John Harvey transitioned from speedway to circuit in late 64 too. So Peter was preparing Brian and John's cars, plus the 3 car BMC works effort for the November 1964 Sandown 6 hour and another Cooper S for the pair to race and win with at the 1965 Lowood 4 hour.

 

Peter-Molloy-TNF.jpg

 

The above still taken from BMC's 1964 Sandown 6 Hour film, driver Peter Manton (left) with Peter Molloy.

 

He told me he used to use John Schroeder's dyno "I buggered that dyno when a flywheel came off a Mini."

 

All this was PM's means to moving onwards and upwards through the categories.

 

A talented Aussie with a story that probably should have been told in full. There was of course in issue #110 Australian Muscle Car (most recent issue, but one) a story of the 1979 ATCC rumblings between the John Sheppard-run HDT Toranas and the Molloy-run Hodgson/Morris Toranas. But that is just a small part in the overall scheme of what they both did over similar timescales.

 

My condolences to Peter's family and friends.

 

Stephen


Edited by cooper997, 10 October 2019 - 01:20.


#10 Dave Williamson

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 03:38

Peter Molloy sadly passed away yesterday - Wed. the 9th of Oct. 2019.

 

 Peter was without a doubt Australia's most successful engine builder and designer, as well as race car -and racing motorcycle- preparation and set-up expert.  

 

He was the most imaginative thoughtful man when it came to race engines and race car design.

 

His talent was stunning. ie.... He redesigned a REPCO V8 a few years ago, I was lucky enough to watch as he ran it on the engine dyno. His modifications increased all known HP figures by more than 10 %  ...

 

Peter built hundreds of reliable and powerful race engines for so many winning cars and motor bikes.....Bathurst race winning cars, F5000 , air cooled cars, world motorbike championships.....it would take far too many paragraphs to name them all.

 

 A clever no-nonsense man, Peter's engineering philosophy was:  ."calculations... common sense...and compromise". 

 

 

 RIP Peter Molloy

 

 

 Dave Williamson

   HSRCA 

     Sydney

       Australia


Edited by Dave Williamson, 10 October 2019 - 07:39.


#11 TerryS

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 04:03

I'm glad a separate thread has been started for Peter's passing. I was concerned it might get lost in the Mentioned in Passing thread

 

What an incredible guy, and he contributed so much to Australian motor racing.

 

I first met him in about 1965 when he was working for Brian Foley in his Caringbah dealership. He was in the very cramped workshop behind the showroom. Lucky he was only working on Minis. From that space as untidy as it might have been he produced some incredible Minis.

 

He was a great tutor and mentor to many drivers.

 

I remember an article in Racing Car News when he first took over Bruce Allison and introduced him to F5000. They disconnected the ant roll bars and made Allison drive around Oran Park in the reverse direction to normal. He really thought outside the square. 

 

Some years ago I wrote to Australian Muscle Car magazine enquiring why they had not done a feature article on Peter. They replied he was in the process of writing an autobiography and were waiting for that, rather than pre-empt things in it.

 

I wonder if the autobiography was ever completed?



#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 04:28

I think not...

He spoke to Max about that some time earlier this year, but I'm fairly sure it wasn't complete.

#13 cooper997

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 06:08

Speedcafe tributes

 

#1 https://www.speedcaf...h-brain-tumour/

 

#2 comments from Warwick Brown, Bob Morris, Bruce Allison, Colin Bond and KB

https://www.speedcaf...t-peter-molloy/

 

Stephen



#14 eldougo

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 21:32

Sad news of the passing of Peter Molloy..RIP.

Having known him for many years and enjoyed his stories on anything about motor racing ,motor bikes, boats etc he surely was as the saying goes "Been there done that" sort of man and a complete one of a kind that has finally closed his tool box for the last time.



#15 cooper997

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 23:26

Dave Williamson has been kind enough to send through a couple of photos of Peter for inclusion here.

 

Peter-Molloy-02.jpg

 

Peter-Molloy-RB-dyno.jpg

 

Apart from all the long hours and hundreds of all nighters preparing race cars, Peter obviously loved what he did. Here he's at play with the Repco Brabham engine as mentioned by Dave in post 10.

 

The irony here is that when I spoke with Peter he made mention of going to Melbourne to build a Repco engine (what is now 50 odd years ago) at the factory. Clearly not one to dance around with his opinion, reason why (they were) "Bloody hopeless, because they had no one to build one."

 

Stephen



#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 00:15

That would be the more recent engine build in the pics...

However, the trip to Melbourne to build a Repco V8 would have been for Harvey's Brabham in 1967. Like some others with Repco 2.5 V8s, they must have been having failures that shouldn't have happened. Leo Geoghegan, you might recall, had his Climax refitted for a meeting or two because of the Repco's unreliability.

Undoubtedly it was more like stress on the factory because of the pressure of Jack's World Championship programme, as well as development work on the upcoming quad-cam engine, and even likely ructions between those who didn't like Phil Irving's ways, that were the root cause rather than not having anyone to do the job. After all, Jack and Denny did a lot of successful racing that year.

#17 Dave Williamson

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 03:22

Dave Williamson has been kind enough to send through a couple of photos of Peter for inclusion here.





Apart from all the long hours and hundreds of all nighters preparing race cars, Peter obviously loved what he did. Here he's at play with the Repco Brabham engine as mentioned by Dave in post 10.

The irony here is that when I spoke with Peter he made mention of going to Melbourne to build a Repco engine (what is now 50 odd years ago) at the factory. Clearly not one to dance around with his opinion, reason why (they were) "Bloody hopeless, because they had no one to build one."

Stephen
 

 

 

 

FYI: Brian Wilson owned the Brabham BT24 and asked Peter to rebuild the motor. Peter re-designed the timing chain+ sprocket system [due to non-available parts] by fitting modern gears and chains ( from an Indy car engine ) as well as using shorter con rods.

To quote Brian Wilson: " The original 3-litre Type 740 engine (as in the car) was good for about 320hp @ 8000rpm. The engine Pete built was showing 350hp ....and still climbing at 7000rpm. It probably would have peaked at over 375hp. Not far short of a quad cam - and infinitely more reliable....."

DW.


Edited by Dave Williamson, 11 October 2019 - 12:31.


#18 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 06:09

Yes, if they were still using the Daimler rods in the originals they were probably the shortcoming in the engine...

The biggest compromise, I guess you'd say.

When it came to the 2.5-litre version, Phil Irving is said to have reckoned with its super-short stroke that the pistons were barely 'wobbling' up and down.

#19 ceesvdelst

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 16:09

Was this man related to the bike racer Ginger Molloy by any chance?



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#20 cooper997

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 03:54

The Supercars Bathurst telecast rarely holds my attention for very long, but I happened to catch Neil Crompton's short tribute on Peter's passing just before 1pm..

 

Also in recent times I've been in contact with John Russell, who raced the likes of Cortina, Cooper S, Elfin and ASP and loved the engineering side of things. He reminded me that he got called up to Qld (from SA) to work for Barrie Broomhall.back in 1964. BB's previous mechanic, Wayne Eckersley was heading off to learn a few tricks with Peter Molloy. Of course Wayne later went and worked for Williams Grand Prix Engineering when AJ was running with them. To quote John he mentioned "If you asked PM a question you were sure to get a straight answer."

 

John being a Ford fan since childhood also made comment about PM "Anyone who could get those Moffat 351 Cleveland engines to do 1000km around Bathurst was a bit special" - the reference to that of course is Bathurst 1977.

 

Stephen .



#21 Wirra

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 08:22

I was flicking through the channels on the TV the night before last when lo and behold there was Peter Molloy commenting. It turn out I'd come across the Wayne Gardner movie, 'Wayne'. 

 

Must admit I was more than pleasantly surprise by the overall content of the movie. It was on Foxtel and will be re-run on Thursday 16th 17th but I managed to also find it on 'Stan' - ask your kids or grandkids about how that stuff works!


Edited by Wirra, 13 October 2019 - 22:09.


#22 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 09:12

Met Peter very briefly once. From all accounts a very nice bloke and the results of his engines prove his worth with engines.

Not a very nice way to die though at least had a decent innings. 

Another legend gone. 



#23 GMACKIE

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 21:49

I only met Peter once ,at a steak house near Oran Park ,when helping Minogue with his Formula Holden Lola ,Bob invited him along for dinner ,Peter left a lasting impression ,the stories,comment on my remarks and was a delight to be with as he spoke of the racing we all love.

I've been trying to think of a "steak house near Oran Park".

 

Could it have been the Leppington Inn of Thieves Trees ?



#24 cooper997

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 23:57

Quick copy and paste from FB.

 

Team Molloy would like to extend an invitation to celebrate the life & times of

Peter Michael James Molloy.

The service will be held at Greenway Chapel & Memorial Gardens

460 Avoca Drive

Green Point, NSW

Thursday 17 October at 12 noon

 

 

Stephen



#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 00:26

I think it's time to start recounting Peter Molloy stories...

One I recall reading some time ago (well over 50 years) relates to the fast Hillman Minx prepared by Peter for Paul Bolton to race. Someone, it seems, put up the money to lodge a protest and the car was hastily pulled down for a bore and stroke measurement.

Sure enough, it was just over the class limit of 1600cc.

The Stewards were about to deliberate on all of this when Peter said, "Hey, how about we wait until it cools down and measure it again?"

And so they did... and it was under 1600cc. The magazine report I read said it was 1599.999cc, but I think that might have been an exaggeration.

#26 Lola5000

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 06:51

I've been trying to think of a "steak house near Oran Park".

 

Could it have been the Leppington Inn of Thieves Trees ?

Can't remember ,all I know is the chef walked out and 2 hours latter our steaks arrived from another diner ,very odd but a fun night Bob and Peter Molloy kept the crew entertained with wonderful period 5 litre stories .



#27 TerryS

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 23:57

An interesting thread here on Peter on a bike on the salt flats

https://forums.autos...oy#entry3782260

#28 ReWind

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Posted Yesterday, 19:41

Nothing about his age, let alone his birth date?

(Or do I miss it?)



#29 Ray Bell

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Posted Yesterday, 21:45

There is a mention on that linked page that he was then 74...

Which, I think, made him 84 at the time of passing.

#30 Ray Bell

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Posted Today, 01:20

Here's an excellent rundown on his life...

https://bikereview.c...neer-1934-2019/

It gives his birth year as 1934 and states he was 84, so he must have been close to his 85th birthday.

#31 cooper997

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Posted Today, 02:00

Nice find Ray,

 

Very nice tribute Jeff Ware.

 

Stephen