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Thread: 1965 Australian Grand Prix

  1. #1

    1965 Australian Grand Prix

    I have been on a quest to know everything about this race for decades...

    It was the best race I ever saw, truly magnificent as McLaren, Brabham, Phil Hill, Jim Clark and Graham Hill battled it out. However, with such a tussle going on between these champions, much of the also-ran action got missed. Race reports got skimpy as their space was absorbed by the need to cover a race I now know to have been Phil Hill's greatest drive.

    Yes, for years I said, "Phil Hill made that race come alive!" But when I learned that he described it as his greatest race ever I looked back over it and recognised that it was.

    In my pursuit of information about the event I've spoken to many, many people. Lyn Archer, for instance, gave me some good information about Rocky Tresise during practice and prior to the race, while Jon Davison disclosed other aspects of the events surrounding the fatal crash and its aftermath. Sadie D'Abrera added yet more to this, as did Peter Bakalor.

    Just look at this photo of the grid, published in the book, The Official 50-Race History of the Australian Grand Prix:

    The start. A host of Champions in this photo - pole position is Bruce McLaren, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill complete the front row; The second row is Jim Clark and Frank Gardner, third row is Frank Matich, Bib Stillwell and Phil Hill, fourth row Jim Palmer and Rocky Tresise, fifth row John McDonald, Jack Hobden, Bob Jane, sixth row Roly Levis and Mel McEwin, back row Glyn Scott, Lyn Archer and Kerry Grant. And the cinematographer on the right, with his lens trained on Hill's tacho, is none other than Peter Hopwood.

    And while just one lap later pandemonium would erupt at the point just past the pits where the track narrowed, the fabulous race would simply unfold before our eyes in the following 61 minutes. Just a little over an hour with an average speed of 114.72mph. The lap record would drop time after time, McLaren, Brabham and Phil Hill taking turns to lower it until it finally rested with Brabham at 117.04mph. Flying eighth times on the quickest part of the circuit recorded McLaren as the fastest with a pass at 169mph.

    The Viaduct would echo to the bark of the Coventry-Climax fours, Campbell McLaren's voice would report the race progress at Longford Corner, opposite the pub, the transmissions would take a hammering over the railway level crossing just down Tannery Straight, a sight never before (or since) seen would unfold over the Long Bridge when everyone drew their breaths as Phil Hill passed Jim Clark and Roly Levis would get the blame for running into Jack Brabham and costing him the win.

    It might be prudent to look at the Long Bridge at this time, just to put emphasis on Phil Hill's move on Clark and to give more character to the whole event...

    The Long Bridge. A real 'character builder' on the circuit, and almost exactly halfway around the 4.5 miles of public roads dressed up by the Tasmanian Government to enhance this big annual opportunity to attract visitors from 'the Mainland'. This pic is from the heat from which grid times were derived, the Examiner Trophy over ten laps on the Saturday, Bib Stillwell is seen ahead of Frank Gardner and Jim Clark as they lap Lyn Archer's little Elfin.

    ...and gain some further appreciation of the dangers faced on this public-road circuit.

    A few facts I am looking for to complete my search are:

    1. How and where did Jack Hobden get ahead of the Scott/Levis dice and how many laps did he complete.

    2. Similar details about John McDonald, though he was always ahead of Scott and Levis.

    3. Anything about Mel McEwin's race or result.

    4. A real off-chance - a lap chart of the race.

    Donn Anderson was there, I'm sure, so the Motorman report should be a good and comprehensive one from which I might derive these tid-bits and perhaps other information.

    Other magazine reports which might help would be in Modern Motor, Sports Car World and Tasmanian Motorist.

    I wonder if anyone can help with any of these things?

  2. #2
    This is the Sports Car World report.

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  3. #3
    World Champion
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    Is this Primotipo site of any help to you ?

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    Ken H

  4. #4
    Here you go Ray - a lap chart of the 1965 Australian Grand Prix at Longford.

    It's from the Australian Motor Racing Annual Number Two.

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    Brief report and results from the same publication.

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    Last edited by Milan Fistonic; 01-03-2023 at 08:06 AM.

  5. #5
    Ken, the Primotipo page relates mostly to Rocky Tresise, frequently quoting me and my posts about that event on the Nostalgia Forum...

    However, it's always worth re-reading when you're looking for detail and some of Chris Davison's memories are different to those of Jon, to whom I have spoken at length. Unfortunately I didn't get to talk in detail to Anthony, though it had been a brief subject of discussion when he was tending a family member's race car.

    It's also interesting that Chris referred to the doctors telling Lex he had a heart problem shortly before his fatal crash.

    Milan, thank you for posting that report. Unfortunately written by Bill Tuckey in his 'Romsely Quints' guise and very light-on for the detail and even more unfortunately wrong about the problems suffered by Roly Levis.

    What he records as a brake problem was in fact a differential problem, and that's a story in itself.

    I feel I really need the Motorman and Tasmanian Motorist reports badly. Perhaps a local paper report on Jack Hobden's adventures would be good as well and someone might well turn that up on Trove, which I don't know how to work.

  6. #6
    That lap chart is strange, Milan...

    Thanks very much for it, I'd love to have had that when I wrote up the race for the Tasman Cup 1964-1975 book, this race being written up because it was Phil Hill's greatest race - and because the race, as a whole, deserved it.

    Where the chart is strange is in that McDonald obviously finished the 21st lap ahead of Hobden, but he's not listed as a finisher, while McEwin is listed as a finisher though in the list of retirements he's noted as a non-finisher. That could be to do with percentage of the class-winner's race distance, I suppose.

    And then there's the matter of Gardner, who pitted and then went out as the leaders began their last lap to drive to the finish. So he should be listed as a finisher in eighth place.

  7. #7
    There are no reports in Motorman on the Australian rounds of the 1965 Tasman Cup Series.

  8. #8

    I know I met Donn when he was here doing the reports, so that must have been 1966.

    Thanks for the information, Milan, it's an avenue I can now stop pursuing.

  9. #9
    So now the situation I face is this:

    The placings down to seventh are not in dispute at all. Eighth place has just the one 'problem' reporting, but I'm not going to consider that as it's clear from Peter Bakalor's Autosport report that Gardner did finish and there's no doubt he finished ahead of Scott, or even McDonald even if he did finish, Peter mentioning it twice including, "...he came out a the leaders did their 25th lap and staggered on to the finish."

    Race reports that I have make no mention of McDonald or Hobden after the early laps. The lap chart Milan has posted shows Hobden dropping to last but one, with only McEwin behind him, and finishing 22 laps. McDonald is shown as leading Scott, Levis and Hobden until lap 15, and that's exactly what one would have expected. Then he drops behind them (a spin or a pit stop?), repasses Hobden a few laps later and the lap chart shows him as retiring.

    However, the results shown on the oldracingcars,com website shows him leading Hobden home with them both on 21 laps. I must ask Allen Brown where he got that result.

    It's really the results for these two cars which upset my confirmation of the final result.

    My list of retirements is:

    Lap 2 - Rocky Tresise (fatal accident)

    Lap 3 - Kerry Grant (unable to restart after stopping to allow ambulance across the circuit)

    Lap 4 - Bob Jane (gearbox problem)

    Lap 4 - Lyn Archer (mechanical problems)

    Lap 15 - Frank Matich (broken front suspension)

    Lap 23 - Roly Levis (crash caused by broken differential* - but classified as a finisher)

    * Levis' problem with the differential is what caused him to crash into Brabham on lap 16.

  10. #10
    This clause is from the CAMS Manual of Motor Sport with 1980 National Competition Rules.

    Could this be a reason for Gardner not being classified as a finisher?

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  11. #11
    I very much doubt it, Milan...

    He had six minutes to complete the lap, and he would have been well around it when the leaders started taking the flag. He definitely covered more that 75% of the race distance.

    The one who wouldn't have complied with this was Levis, he was out on the circuit when the race finished and his car remained there for some time. But he was classified as a finisher.

    Which introduces a question over the non-classification of McDonald.

  12. #12

    As I recall, about 1963 there was a new ruling came into F1 racing where cars could be classified as finishing when they weren't running at the end of the race. Do you have chapter and verse on this rule, and might it have also applied to Tasman Cup races?

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