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(Collin) Max Stahl: 1935 - 2022


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#1 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 July 2022 - 01:20

An eager member of the Eastern Suburbs Sporting Car Club, Max competed in small rallies and then started racing in his everyday-transport Simca Aronde. Working in advertising, he found himself in a position in 1963 to take over the editorship of the monthly Racing Car News magazine and simultaneously started a weekly radio half-hour about motor sport on Sydney radio station 2CH. He had by this time bought the Brian Muir early Holden and race it successfully.

 

From this point onwards, he was at the core of everything in motor sport in Australia. The magazine grew and became ‘The Bible’ of motor sports in this country until weekly and fortnightly opponents took away its immediacy.

 

But while it was strong, Max impressed his opinions on his growing readership. Not that they were always accepted totally, with the glaring exception being seen in the debate about whether Australia should go for a 2-litre racing engine or F5000 as 1970 rolled around. He was never to favour the V8-engined open-wheelers, though came to agree that they had the ability to present a spectacle.

 

Married to Margaret, he became father to Mandy, Vicki-Ann and Michael and was a devoted family man. When I went to work for him in 1972 I was quite amazed with the strength of this side of him. Max had given me my first writing assignment in 1971.

 

He was the only person ever to fire me twice, the first time when Barry Lake put forward a case intimating he’d do a better job than me (in 1973) and then at the end of the decade, but he always called upon me for stories or reports for the magazine.

 

By this time Margaret had gone her own way and Max was embarking on different projects. He had a heart attack in the early eighties, which led to the magazine falling from his grasp (he owned a share of it after 1970) and also to him giving up smoking little cigars. In 1986, when the magazine had folded, he headed a group which brought it back to life for a while, but its time was over.

 

Radio reports on major rallies became his major pursuit, travelling all over Australia to present these on events like the Southern Cross Rally when it became an International event, the World Rally Championship rounds held in WA and the balls-out 4WD Wynns Safari events.

 

It doesn’t take much imagination to realise that Max became a close friend of some of the World’s top drivers. Jim Clark gave him the driving suit he used to win at Indianapolis (later stolen), he was close to Jackie Stewart, Andrew Cowan and many more. He also competed in the London-Sydney Marathon in 1968 with Bobby Buchanan-Michaelson and in 1977 followed the event at close quarters.

 

Everybody who was anybody beat a path to Max’s door and publicity potential in those days. In later years he organised his own events, notably the Camp Quality Caper, which came together very much with the assistance of his new wife, Christine.

 

A quadruple bypass in the nineties didn’t stop him, but he definitely slowed down and by 2016 was starting to lose a lot of his drive. Ultimately he became a full-time job for Christine particularly after suffering a stroke, herself a stroke victim by then and on July 12 he went into a Nursing Home in Scone, where they had been living for three years.

 

Max had turned 87 on July 6. On July 18 he had another stroke, this time more serious, and he was taken to Maitland hospital. This morning, July 21, he passed away at 2am having been in a coma for a couple of days.

 

To his family I offer my condolences, but it’s clear that there are many Max Stahl stories which will surface and are welcome on this thread.

 



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#2 brucemoxon

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Posted 21 July 2022 - 02:07

Oh no.

 

Like so many others, I was given my start by Max. 

 

This is the end of an era. 

 

BRM



#3 GeoffR

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Posted 21 July 2022 - 10:13

From memory he was also involved, along with the late John Large, with the establishment of Targa Tasmania. I recall that he was present at the initial meeting with Tasmanian car clubs regarding Targa.



#4 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 July 2022 - 10:43

Indeed he was...

 

But he abandoned it when Large insisted that the event become more like a road race. Max's determination was that it would be run at much slower pace (by different means), the deaths over the years prove the wisdom of his ideals.



#5 MarkBisset

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Posted 21 July 2022 - 22:06

Oh that is sad.
 

Condolences to you Ray and Max’ family, friends and associates.

 

I never had the pleasure of meeting him but my racing/road diet comprised RCN and SCW for as long as both lasted.

 

A man of his time at the epicentre of racing for so long

 

Mark



#6 Ian G

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Posted 21 July 2022 - 23:27

Yes, sad, didn't know him personally but spoke to him on the phone a couple of times and met him when he was out at Bruce McPhee's Wyong workshop in the 1970's. He and Bruce were in deep discussion but it wasn't about the BMC/BL paint that I was interested in, Bruce had purchased it at the auction when the Sydney plant closed. Not much of a contribution to this thread but still feel like I knew him.

RIP

#7 Wirra

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Posted 22 July 2022 - 02:43

In the late 70s I came to realised my racing ambitions were way ahead of my ability. I sold my Elfin and racing equipment and decided to backpack around Europe following the GP circus. I wrote articles about my adventures which were printed in my club magazine. The editor forwarded copies to Max at RCN. A few snippets appeared 'Bits & Pieces'. I bumped into Max at an Amaroo meeting and he said how he enjoyed the articles. I mentioned to him that was thinking of going back the following year and he offered to obtain press credentials for me.
 

While I was short of cash the offer was too good to refuse. I proposed to my then girlfriend and promised her a European honeymoon - knowing she had a few bob saved. It was the best honeymoon ever, from Monaco to Monza in a campervan. Pit access at all the GPs and free lunches!

 

If not for Max it wouldn't have been possible. My wife and I (yes, still together) have very fond memories of that time with gratitude to Max. RIP.


Edited by Wirra, 23 July 2022 - 01:11.


#8 ellrosso

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Posted 22 July 2022 - 04:11

RIP Max Stahl and condolences to his family and friends. The extent of his contribution to Australian Motorsport would be huge. RCN was the "bible" for so much of our "golden eras".



#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 July 2022 - 04:36

Originally posted by Wirra
In the late 70s I came to realised my racing ambitions were way ahead of my ability. I sold my Elfin and racing equipment and decided to backpack around Europe following the GP circus. I wrote articles about my adventures which were printed in my club magazine. The editor forward copies to Max at RCN. A few snippets appeared 'Bits & Pieces'. I bumped into Max at an Amaroo meeting and he said how he enjoyed the articles. I mentioned to him that was thinking to go back the following year and he offered to obtain press credentials for me.
 
While I was short of cash the offer was too good to refuse. I proposed to my then girlfriend and promised her a European honeymoon - knowing she had a few bob saved. It was the best honeymoon ever, from Monaco to Monza in a campervan. Pit access at all the GPs and free lunches!
 
If not for Max it wouldn't have been possible. My wife and I (yes, still together) have very fond memories of that time with gratitude to Max. RIP.


Not an altogether uncommon story, Peter...

Some people had introductions from Max to various organisations which were important to them. Max had the contacts, everywhere. And people arriving in Sydney from many parts of the World beat a path to his door. Jean Molyneaux comes to mind, who was involved in some way with the New Caledonia Safari. an event which Max won in company with John Keran in a Volvo 122.

And speaking of Volvo, Max was to become identified by the red 122 with the numberplate, CMS-007. It followed on from a VW 1500, and was a written off car which had been brought back to life. It was to have many lives before Max sold it about ten years ago. Or maybe less.

The last vehicle I saw Max drive was this pickup, he tried it in my driveway at Dalveen:

Ausret-0315-91-indriveway.jpg

And he appeared to enjoy it, too...

Ausret-0315-92-maxatwheel.jpg

...but it wasn't long after this he drove no more. And he didn't appear to want to drive any more, nor to miss driving. I will always find that strange of a man who was out there in the middle of the night in Peugeot 203s and Simcas (and other cars) being navigated by his friend, Ken Britton, in the Club and State Championship rallies of the late fifties and early sixties.

Nor of someone who keenly sought out opportunites to run in the Bathurst enduros. Or get himself, as mentioned, into the London-Sydney Marathon. Nor someone who was as capable at the wheel as he was, he was only beaten home in the Warwick Farm Journo's race in Fiat 124s by Bill Tuckey, for instance.

He loved this photo...

0722maxholdenphoto.jpg

...of himself in the thick of things in 1963. Bo Seton out in front from Spencer Martin, Max and Bruce McPhee way too wide in Paddock Bend. This framed version hung in his home, I think initially it was displayed in the RCN office. He often talked about racing the Holden at Bathurst and Sandown Park that year.

#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 July 2022 - 23:34

A couple of relatively recent pics of Max:

 

0722-Maxbrucejimjuly15.jpg

With old friends. Taken at one of (the late) Grahame Ward's Gold Coast get-togethers, Max with Bruce Richardson and Jim McKeown.

 

 

0722maxandmal.jpg

Touching. At the 2014 Tasman Revival, Max with Mal Brewster. Mal, most will recall, we lost in a head-on crash near Cowra in April last year.

 

I had a phone call from Kevin Macintyre last night, he was busy recalling all the good times he had with Max. Kevin started out in his backyard bending up anti-roll bars and went to Max at RCN to show him. Max befriended him and helped him with his advertising and K-Mac grew to become the leader in their field. Kevin needs some good marketing now as he still makes among the very best products (camber kits, principally) in the field. But it was the good times he recalled last night.

 

"It was at Surfers and it had rained all night and there was no racing," he said. That was a Tasman round, was it '74? "And an ice cream vendor came down the street. Peter Molloy and Maxie Stewart rushed out and stopped it. They dragged the driver out of his vehicle and threw him into the motel pool!"

 

Such was the company Max kept at times... always looking for fun and games.

 



#11 cooper997

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Posted 23 July 2022 - 09:06

A man many of us with an interest in motor racing's past can be gratefull for the effort he went to producing RCN and the coverage it gave at the time.

 

My meeting of Max was rather fleeting, 2006 Tasman Revival at Eastern Creek and slightly later he helped out with a photocopy of an early RCN issue I needed for something I was trying to piece together.

 

As others have said his contacts were widely spread and given Paddy Hopkirk has also left us, the best I can do is dig out this photo from Max's November 1965 Bits & Pieces column. Max, Paddy & Timo at the top of Mount Panorama with an early Aussie-built Cooper S. The reason they were there was the 1965 Armstrong 500, the International drivers part of BMC Australia's 6 car effort against the mountain. 

 

 

1965-RCN-Stahl-Hopkirk-Makinen-TNF.jpg

 

My condolences to Max's family and friends.

 

 

Stephen



#12 TerryS

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 00:36

I believe it is a great and enduring tribute to Max that so many historians and TNF posters rely on RCN for Max's completeness and accuracy on Australian motor racing reporting. I know I do.

 

He could cram so much news and info into a RCN issue that it was incredible.

 

I was idly looking at motoring magazines in local newsagent in 2008 and saw one I hadn't seen before. It was "CLIBSPORT the magazine of Australia's motor sport future"

 

I picked it up and saw that Max was the Editor, so I instantly bought it. Reading through it it had a a multi page Bits & Pieces section by Max. This and the general layout reminded me so much of RCN.

 

The issue was dated July/August 2008. I never saw another is\sue so don't know how long it lasted.

 

Among the contributing writers in that issue was one Ray Bell, who contributed six articles.

 

I only met Max once. In 1965 I went to the Chippendale offices to buy some RCN binders. Max seemed a very open and helpful guy.

 

RCN exposed so many areas, specially the Peter Owen tyre ads.... 



#13 GMACKIE

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 02:56

At Warwick Farm (early '60s) Archie White invited me to join his 'Neptune Racing Team'. He introduced me to a couple of 'team members' - Ray Kaleda, and Max Stahl.

 

Max was a really nice bloke, and I can't think of anyone who didn't think so...

 

RIP Max.



#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 04:13

It's true that he did so much with the magazine...

 

But after it went out of his hands following his heart attack, and when an attempt at re-birthing it was thwarted by various problems, he commenced working on events. The Targa Tasmania was his idea, but as it wasn't going to be run the (safer) way he foresaw it he pulled right out of it. Then he ran the Sydney Classic Rally once, and in conjunction with Alan Lawson put together three editions of the Kidney Kaper, which was a charity event in the style of the various 'Bash' events.

 

These events were year-long efforts to organise. The Camp Quality Caper was held over eleven years and Max co-opted some of his old Holden racing mates - principally Bruce McPhee and Des West - to assist in setting the courses and officiating in the events. It was a big money-raiser for the Camp Quality people.

 

As noted by Terry, there was an attempt at making yet another magazine work in 2008. Between a lack of advertising sales and interference from Bob Jane, that also came to nought. But Max had flung himself into the job and had me living at his place for weeks at a time to help him with it.

 

Talking to Ray Eldershaw about the success of Racing Car News - remembering that there were at that time two other magazines largely devoted to the sport in Australia - he reminded me that Max went everywhere, took a camera with him all the time and talked to everyone. Added to that, Max quite candidly relied on people liking to see their name in print, so using lots of names in race reports was a feature of the magazine. A column by some top mechanics held interest, the Jim Sullivan 'Philosophy' feature showed he and Max weren't afraid to criticise people in charge when necessary and the letters column was always busy.

 

No wonder people kept calling with snippets of news, that the Bits & Pieces items spread out over six or seven pages in each issue.



#15 TerryS

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Posted 25 July 2022 - 02:37

He loved this photo...

0722maxholdenphoto.jpg

...of himself in the thick of things in 1963. Bo Seton out in front from Spencer Martin, Max and Bruce McPhee way too wide in Paddock Bend. This framed version hung in his home, I think initially it was displayed in the RCN office. He often talked about racing the Holden at Bathurst and Sandown Park that year.


This great photo is on the cover of Joel Wakely's new book Racing Humpy Holdens

Item (pitstop.net.au)

#16 ellrosso

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Posted 25 July 2022 - 05:54

Another popular section in RCN was Adelaide Ad libs, Tassy Tit bits etc, etc which gave some local info from each state. Started in about 1973? from memory in the Bits n Pieces section.



#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 July 2022 - 06:38

Terry, it's funny, the caption says that was at the '63 International meeting...

 

But I'm unable to verify that by race reports.

 

Lindsay, you're right that they were popular. But starting much earlier, though irregular. 'Adelaide News' made one edition early in '69 and then became 'Adelaide Ad Libs' when it reappeared in April, 1970. 'West Australian Whispers' was in the June 1970 issue, but the concept really got started with 'Adelaide Additives' in March 1971, Tony Groves provided these news items and he reappeared in the June issue with the revived name of 'Adelaide Ad Libs'.

 

'Tassie Tit-Bits' first appeared in the August issue of 1971 and then Steven Chopping started coming back with a regular column in October 1972 which was initially 'Tassie Topics' but reverted to the original name later. The WA scene got a lift when John Crawford went to Perth and 'Points West' started in that same issue.

 

'Mainly Melbourne' which went back further, was by this time almost a full page and under its own masthead.



#18 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 July 2022 - 08:01

Eight or ten years ago Michael Stahl did a story about Max's Volvo - which I mentioned earlier - and this rather special photo of father and son was posed:

 

0722maxandmichaelinvolvoreduced.jpg

 

Thomas Wielecki was the photographer and he set it up very well. while in the background there's a typical Max touch - an English 'CMS-007' numberplate.

 

The Volvo was driven to Melbourne and auctioned shortly after this.



#19 TerryS

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Posted 26 July 2022 - 01:17

Ray, are you indicating that in Australia it may be implied that being editor of a motoring magazine may not be the path to a fortune.

 

If so, why do so many guys try it?



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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 26 July 2022 - 01:36

I don't think I intimated anything about the personal wealth of motoring editors...

 

There are many perks, of course. Contra deals used to abound, I don't know about now.

 

Which leads to a quip from Michael at one stage: "Pop won't die until he's done a contra deal for his funeral."

 

I'm sure the paint job on the Volvo came from a similar source, tyres always did, and alloy wheels, while sub-load airline tickets were in good supply when we put the TAA logo into the FF result panels.



#21 ellrosso

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Posted 26 July 2022 - 04:26

I did a comparison test with Michael for Wheels mag in I think 1987 and he said his dad was the "king of contra...."   Michael was a good steerer I thought - won his class in the GTP (3hr?) race at Bathurst 1998 in an XR6 Falcon with 2 other journos.



#22 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 26 July 2022 - 09:07

Terry, it's funny, the caption says that was at the '63 International meeting...

 

But I'm unable to verify that by race reports.

 

Lindsay, you're right that they were popular. But starting much earlier, though irregular. 'Adelaide News' made one edition early in '69 and then became 'Adelaide Ad Libs' when it reappeared in April, 1970. 'West Australian Whispers' was in the June 1970 issue, but the concept really got started with 'Adelaide Additives' in March 1971, Tony Groves provided these news items and he reappeared in the June issue with the revived name of 'Adelaide Ad Libs'.

 

'Tassie Tit-Bits' first appeared in the August issue of 1971 and then Steven Chopping started coming back with a regular column in October 1972 which was initially 'Tassie Topics' but reverted to the original name later. The WA scene got a lift when John Crawford went to Perth and 'Points West' started in that same issue.

 

'Mainly Melbourne' which went back further, was by this time almost a full page and under its own masthead.

Tony Grove.



#23 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 August 2022 - 13:45

There will be a private (family and close friends) service on August 15 in Newcastle...

 

At a later date there will be a much broader group able to attend a function somewhere in Sydney.