1957 Australian Drivers' Championship
The 1957 Australian Drivers' Championship was a CAMS-sanctioned Australian motor racing title for drivers of Formula Libre cars. The championship was contested over a nine race series with the winner awarded the 1957 CAMS Gold Star, it was the first Australian Drivers' Championship and the first motor racing title to be decided over a series of races at Australian circuits. The series was won by Victorian racer Lex Davison driving a Ferrari 500/625. Davison dominated the championship, winning six of the nine races, including the series-opening 1957 Australian Grand Prix, to finish 19 points ahead of Tom Hawkes; the other drivers to win races were Arnold Glass and Stan Jones. The championship was contested over a nine race series. Championship points were awarded on an 8-5-3-2-1 basis for the first five places at each race. At the Australian Grand Prix race at Caversham Lex Davison shared the winning car with Bill Patterson and championship points were allotted in proportion to the laps driven by each.
The championship was referred to by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport at the time as "The CAMS Gold Star". However the actual Gold Star medallion was inscribed with the words "Champion Australian Driver" and historical records published by CAMS use the term "Australian Drivers’ Championship". CAMS Gold Star Award, Points score up to and including Wakefield Trophy, Australian Motor Sports, November 1957, page 445 First Gold Star, Australian Motor Sports, January 1958, page 7
Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh, better known as Prince Bira of Siam or by his nom de course B. Bira, was a member of the Thai royal family, racing driver and pilot. Birabongse raced in Formula One and Grand Prix races for the Maserati and Connaught teams, he was the only Southeast Asian driver to compete in Formula One until Malaysia's Alex Yoong joined Minardi in 2001, as well as the only Thai driver to compete in Formula One until Alexander Albon made his debut in 2019. He competed in sailing events at four Summer Olympic Games, flew from London to Bangkok in his own twin-engine Miles Gemini aircraft in 1952. Prince Birabongse's parents were his second wife. Birabongse's paternal grandfather was King Mongkut, loosely portrayed in the Hollywood movies The King and I and Anna and the King, his mother died. Birabongse was sent to Europe in 1927 to complete his education in England at Eton College, where he joined one of his nephews, a grandchild of his father through his first marriage. While he was at Eton Bira's father died, leaving him an orphan.
He was placed under the care of his cousin, Prince Chula Chakrabongse, who became Prince Bira's legal guardian. On leaving Eton at age 18, in early 1933, Prince Bira moved in with Prince Chula in London, while he decided on his future. Prince Birabongse had been registered to attend Trinity College, but on leaving school had not yet passed the Cambridge University entrance examination. Prince Chula hired a tutor for Prince Bira, to better prepare him for the exam, but Prince Bira changed his mind and expressed a desire to learn sculpture rather than attend university. Prince Chula approached leading sculptor Charles Wheeler, Wheeler took Prince Bira on as a pupil within his studio. Although Prince Bira showed some talent as a sculptor, in Wheeler's opinion he needed to learn to draw, so in the autumn of 1934 Prince Bira enrolled at the Byam Shaw School of Art. Prince Birabongse did not attend the Byam Shaw School for long, but while there he became friendly with a fellow student, Ceril Heycock, he began courting her in earnest only a few weeks later.
However, both Prince Chula and her parents placed severe limitations on their relationship, it was not until 1938 that they were able to marry. Bira first raced with his cousin Prince Chula's team, White Mouse Racing, driving a Riley Imp at Brooklands in 1935. In this car Bira established the national motor racing colours of Siam: pale blue with yellow, he lived near Geneva, in the south of France. In 1935, Prince Chula gave him one of the new ERA voiturette racing cars—R2B, nicknamed Romulus. Bira finished second in his first race in Romulus, despite needing to stop for repairs; the remaining races of the season saw Bira placing among the more powerful Grand Prix vehicles, with another second place, fifth at the Donington Grand Prix. For 1936 the princes decided that the previous season's results merited a second ERA, they retained Romulus for international races. Chula purchased a Maserati 8CM to complete the White Mouse roster. Bira's expertise behind the wheel earned him the Coupe de Prince Rainier at Monte Carlo.
Bira won a further four races in the ERAs that season, took the Grand Prix Maserati to 5th at Donington and 3rd at Brooklands. This was the high point for the White Mouse team. Following Dick Seaman's move to Mercedes for 1937, the Thais purchased his Grand Prix Delage and all of its spare parts, along with a second Delage. Despite several upgrades, hiring experienced race engineer and future Jaguar team manager Lofty England, the cars underperformed, on many occasions Bira raced in the older and by now inferior ERAs. In addition, the money spent on the Delage upgrades had sapped the resources of the team and corners were being cut in the ERA's race preparations. In the year White Mouse did invest in a newer C-Type ERA, chassis R12C. R12C came to be known as Hanuman, Bira attached a large, silver badge depicting the Hindu deity after whom he had named the car. Following a major accident in 1939 Hanuman was rebuilt back to B-Type specifications, in light of this major overhaul Bira renamed the car Hanuman II.
While Bira maintained a respectable results tally in British events, the more costly international races were a disaster. After the war, Bira returned to racing with several teams. In 1951 he raced in an old 4CLT fitted with a newer V12 Osca engine. No results were obtained this year as a result of the poor performance of the car combined with a severe accident. By 1954, with some newer gear, a Maserati 250F, he won the Grand Prix des Frontières on the Chimay road circuit and finished fourth in the 1954 French Grand Prix with his own Maserati. In January 1955, he won the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore. Bira competed in sailing events at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in the Star, 1960 Rome Olympics in the Star, 1964 Tokyo Olympics in the Dragon and the 1972 Munich Olympics in the Tempest. In the 1960 Games he competed against another former Formula One driver, Roberto Mieres, who finished seventeenth, ahead of the prince at nineteenth. Prince Bira died at Barons Court tube station in London on 23 December 1985.
He collapsed and died having suffered a major heart attack, but as he carried no identification with him, his body could not be identified. A handwritten note was found in his pocket by the Metropolitan Police and was sent for analysis at the Universi
Australian Grand Prix
The Australian Grand Prix is a motor race held annually in Australia under contract to host Formula One until 2023. The Grand Prix is the second oldest surviving motor racing competition held in Australia, after the Alpine rally first held in 1921, having been contested 83 times since it was first run at Phillip Island in 1928, it is sponsored with naming rights by Swiss watchmaker Rolex. Prior to its inclusion in the World Championship, it was held at a multitude of venues in every state of Australia, it was a centrepiece of the Tasman Series in most years between 1964 and 1972 and was a round of the Australian Drivers' Championship on many occasions between 1957 and 1983. Unusual for a race of such longevity, as of 2018 the location of the Grand Prix has moved with 23 different venues having been used over its life, a number eclipsing the 16 venues used for the French Grand Prix since its own 1906 start; the race became part of the Formula One World Championship in 1985 and was held at the Adelaide Street Circuit in Adelaide, South Australia, from that year to 1995.
From 1996 it has been held at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit at Albert Park in Melbourne. The winner of the race is presented with a circular plate named the Jack Brabham trophy in a design based on the steering wheel of one of Brabham's racing cars and a perpetual trophy, the Lex Davison trophy; these trophies each date back to the 1960s. Since moving to Melbourne, the Australian Grand Prix has been the first race of the F1 World Championship excluding 2006 and 2010; when held in Adelaide it was the final round of the Championship, hosting numerous races memorable for deciding Championship results, most notably the 1986 and 1994 races which saw the 1986 and 1994 World Drivers' Championships decided. Australian driver Lex Davison and German driver Michael Schumacher are the most successful drivers in the 86-year history of the event taking four wins each, while McLaren and Ferrari have been the most successful constructors with twelve victories each. Frenchman Alain Prost is the only driver to win the Australian Grand Prix in both Australian domestic and World Championship formats, having won the race in 1982 driving a Formula Pacific Ralt RT4 and in Formula One in 1986 and 1988.
While an event called the Australian Grand Prix is believed to have been staged in 1927 near Sydney, it is accepted that the Australian Grand Prix began as the 100 Miles Road Race held at the Phillip Island road circuit in 1928. The inaugural race was won by Arthur Waite in what was an entry supported by the Austin Motor Company, a modified Austin 7. For eight years, first called the Australian Grand Prix in 1929, continued on the rectangular dirt road circuit; this was the era of the Australian "special", mechanical concoctions of disparate chassis and engine that were every bit as capable as the Grand Prix machines imported from Europe. For all the ingenuity of the early Australian mechanic-racers, Bugattis dominated the results, taking four consecutive wins from 1929–1932; the last Phillip Island race was in the title lapsed for three years. An AGP style event was held on Boxing Day, 1936 at the South Australian town of Victor Harbor for a centennial South Australian Grand Prix before the Australian Grand Prix title was revived in 1938 for the grand opening of what would become one of the world's most famous race tracks, Mount Panorama just outside the semi-rural town of Bathurst.
Only just completed, with a tar seal for the circuit still a year away, the race was won by Englishman Peter Whitehead racing a new voiturette ERA B-Type, just too fast for the locally developed machinery. One more race was held, at the Lobethal Circuit near the South Australian town of Lobethal in 1939, before the country was plunged into World War II. In the immediate post-war era, racing was sparse with competitors using pre-war cars with supplies cobbled together around the rationing of fuel and tyres. Mount Panorama held the first post-war Grand Prix in 1947, beginning a rotational system between the Australian States, as fostered by the Australian Automobile Association. A mixture of stripped-down production sports cars and Australian "specials" were to take victories as the race travelled amongst temporary converted airfield circuits and street circuits like Point Cook, Leyburn and Narrogin before, on the races return to Mount Panorama in 1952, the way to the future was pointed by Doug Whiteford racing a newly imported Talbot-Lago Formula One car to victory.
Grand Prix machinery had been filtering through in the shape of older Maserati and OSCAs and smaller Coopers but had yet to prove to be superior to the locally developed cars. The end of the Australian "specials" was coming, but the magnificent Maybach-based series of specials driven exuberantly by Stan Jones would give many hope for the next few years. Lex Davison, who for several years would experiment with sports car engines in smaller Formula 2 chassis, took his first of four victories in a Jaguar engined Formula 2 HWM in 1954, while the previous year Whiteford won his third and final Grand Prix as for the first time racing cars thundered around the streets surrounding the Albert Park Lake in inner Melbourne; that circuit, which for four brief years gave Australia the strongest taste of the grandeur surrounding European Grand Prix racing, was 40 years very much modified, used to host the 1996 Australian Grand Prix as the modern Formula One world championship venue. Jack Brabham took his first of three AGP wins in 1955 at the short Port Wakefield Circuit in South Australia.
The race is significant in that Brabham was driving a Bristol powered Cooper T40, the first rear-engine car to win the Grand Prix. The Grand Prix returned to Albert Park in 1956, Melbourne's Olympic Games year to
The Maserati 250F was a racing car made by Maserati of Italy used in'2.5 litre' Formula One racing between January 1954 and November 1960. Twenty-six examples were made; the 250F principally used the SSG 220 bhp 2.5-litre Maserati A6 straight-six engine, ribbed 13.4" drum brakes, wishbone independent front suspension and a De Dion tube axle. It was built by Vittorio Bellentani and Alberto Massimino. A streamlined version with bodywork which enclosed the wheels was used in the 1956 French Grand Prix; the 250F first raced in the 1954 Argentine Grand Prix where Juan Manuel Fangio won the first of his two victories before he left for the new Mercedes-Benz team. Fangio won the 1954 Drivers' World Championship, with points gained with both Maserati and Mercedes-Benz. In 1955 a 5-speed gearbox. Jean Behra drove this in a five-member works team. In 1956 Stirling Moss won the Italian Grands Prix, both in a works car. In 1956 three 250F T2 cars first appeared for the works drivers. Developed by Giulio Alfieri using lighter steel tubes they sported a slimmer, stiffer body and sometimes the new 315 bhp V12 engine, although it offered little or no real advantage over the older straight 6.
It was developed into the 3 litre V12 that won two races powering the Cooper T81 and T86 from 1966 to 1969, the final "Tipo 10" variant of the engine having three valves and two spark plugs per cylinder. In 1957 Juan Manuel Fangio drove to four more championship victories, including his legendary final win at German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, where he overcame a 48-second deficit in 22 laps, passing the race leader, Mike Hawthorn, on the final lap to take the win. In doing so he broke the lap record at 10 times. By the 1958 season, the 250F was outclassed by the new rear engined F1 cars. However, the car remained a favourite with the privateers, including Maria Teresa de Filippis, was used by back markers through the 1960 F1 season, the last for the 2.5 litre formula. In total, the 250F competed in 46 Formula One championship races with 277 entries, leading to eight wins. Success was not limited to World Championship events with 250F drivers winning many non-championship races around the world.
Stirling Moss said that the 250F was the best front-engined F1 car he drove. David McKinney, Maserati 250F, 250F Overview Article Case history of 250F article with complete chassis data Top Gear 250F review
Australian Drivers' Championship
The Australian Drivers' Championship was a motor racing championship contested annually from 1957 to 2014 by drivers of cars complying with Australia's premier open-wheeler racing category as determined by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport. From 2005 to 2014 this category was Formula 3 and the championship was promoted as the Formula 3 Australian Drivers' Championship; each year, the winner was awarded the CAMS Gold Star. It was the third oldest continuously awarded title in Australian motorsport, with only the Australian Grand Prix and the Australian Hillclimb Championship having a longer uninterrupted history. While intended to be the premier prize for domestic motor racing it had faded in importance over time and from the 1980s had been a feeder series for the Supercars Championship, or a launch pad for drivers to start international careers; the first title in 1957 was open in regulation Formula Libre. While the age of the'Australian special', handbuilt racecars developed by local mechanic/engineers away from the European/American manufacturers that had dominated pre-World War II racing, was not yet dead, most notably the series of Maybach specials were still competitive as second-hand Formula 1 and Formula 2 cars from Europe became popular with competitors, with the Maserati 250F finding a few homes in the top echelon of drivers.
The rise of Cooper in Europe, led by Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and the rest of the Australian/New Zealand invasion that flooded into Formula 1 in the 1960s, saw a trickle down effect increase as the smaller cheaper rear-engined packages proved popular amongst competitors. The competitive nature of the racing as well as the reputation of antipodean personnel in Europe saw the factory teams look towards racing in Australia/New Zealand during the European winter; this led to the development of the Tasman Series regulations and a flood of Coopers and Brabhams into Australian racing, as well as encouraging the rise of domestic manufacturers like Elfin Sports Cars. As the Tasman series faded there was a considerable push for a two-litre open formula to replace the Tasman regulations, however with Formula 5000 having a strong foothold with competitors two-litre fell by the wayside. While F5000 was popular by this stage the Australian Touring Car Championship had surpassed it for popularity, a situation that would continue until today where the Australian Drivers' Championship is now seen as a young driver development category.
Formula 5000 continued until 1981, with fields shrunk to less than ten cars at some venues, a local variant of Formula Atlantic in use since the late 70s, was adopted and proved successful with large numbers of Ralt RT4s imported. But Pacific, or Formula Mondial as it was re-badged, faded by 1987 and the local Australian Formula 2 category was adopted for a single race format while a Formula 3000 based formula titled Formula Holden was developed. Formula Holden ran from 1989 to 2003 by which stage this formulae had become unviable, the international death of Formula 3000 causing a supply of chassis to dry up. In 2005 the present international Formula 3 regulations was adopted. Dwindling grid numbers in Australian Formula 3 saw CAMS elect not to award the Gold Star in 2015 for the first time in its history; this decision was made. Sourced in part from: Australian Drivers' Championship portal Formula 3 Australia website
Alexander Nicholas Davison was a racing driver who won the Australian Grand Prix four times between 1954 and 1961 and won the Australian Drivers' Championship in 1957. He drove HWM-Jaguar, Aston Martin and Cooper-Climax grand prix cars. Davison won Class A of the 1960 Armstrong 500, forerunner of the Bathurst 1000, driving an NSU Prinz. In 1961 he won the Aintree Grand Prix, finished third in the British Empire Trophy and placed tenth in the Intercontinental Championship - his only point being a sixth in the Guards Trophy, all whilst racing an Aston Martin, he competed at the 1961 24 Hours of Le Mans with Bib Stillwell in an Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato. Davison and Stillwell were invited to race for the Essex Racing Stable due to their involvement with Aston Martins in the Australian racing scene. Davison had finished second in the 1960 Australian Grand Prix and fourth in the Australian Gold Star Championship in an Aston Martin DBR4/300, their Le Mans adventure ended prematurely when a blown head gasket saw them retire on lap 25.
On 20 February 1965 Davison died in a crash during practice for the 1965 International 100 at Sandown International Raceway. While accelerating through the dog leg of the back straight in his 2.5L Brabham Climax he suffered a heart attack. The car left the road at over 160 km/h, hit a culvert and crashed through a horse railing fence. Davison was dead when officials reached him. Davison was the husband of female racing driver Diana Davison and father of Australian racing drivers Jon Davison and Richard Davison and grandfather of Alex Davison, Will Davison and James Davison. Drivers who win the Australian Grand Prix are awarded the Lex Davison Trophy, so named to honor Davison, the first 4-time winner of the event; this trophy and made in Britain by Mr Rex Hays to the order of CAMS, incorporates a silver model of the Austin 7 driven to victory in the first Australian Grand Prix in 1928
Coventry Climax was a British forklift truck, fire pump and other speciality engine manufacturer. The company was started in 1903 as Lee Stroyer, but two years following the departure of Stroyer, it was relocated to Paynes Lane and renamed as Coventry-Simplex by H. Pelham Lee, a former Daimler employee, who saw a need for competition in the nascent piston engine market. An early user was GWK, who produced over 1,000 light cars with Coventry-Simplex two-cylinder engines between 1911 and 1915. Just before World War I a Coventry-Simplex engine was used by Lionel Martin to power the first Aston Martin car. Ernest Shackleton selected Coventry-Simplex to power the tractors that were to be used in his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914. Hundreds of Coventry-Simplex engines were manufactured during World War I to be used in generating sets for searchlights. In 1917 the company was moved to East Street, Coventry. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s they supplied engines to many companies manufacturing light cars such as Abbey, AJS, Ashton-Evans, Bayliss-Thomas, Crossley, Crouch, GWK, Morgan, Triumph and Standard.
In the 1920s the company moved to Friars Road, Coventry and in the late 1930s they acquired the former Riley premises on Widdrington Road, Coventry. In the early 1930s the company supplied engines for buses. With the closure of Swift in 1931, the company was left with a stock of engines that were converted to drive electric generators, giving the company an entry into a new field; the economic problems of the 1930s hit the business hard and Leonard Pelham Lee, who had taken over from his father, diversified into the production of water-pumping equipment and the "Godiva" was born. Going into the war, Coventry Climax used their marine diesel experience to further develop and build the Armstrong Whitworth supercharged H30 multifuel engine for military use; this has been fitted as an auxiliary engine in the British Chieftain and Challenger battle tanks and Rapier anti-aircraft missile systems. In the late 1940s, the company shifted away from automobile engines and into other markets, including marine diesels, fire pumps, forklift trucks.
In 1946, the ET199 was announced, which the company claimed was the first British-produced forklift truck. The ET199 was designed to carry a 4,000 lb load with a 24-inch load centre, with a 9 ft lift height. In 1950, Harry Mundy and Walter Hassan joined Coventry Climax, a new lightweight all-aluminium overhead camshaft engine was developed in response to the government's ambitious requisition outline asking for a portable fire pump, capable of pumping double the amount of water specified in the previous outline, with half the weight; this was designated the FW, for "Feather Weight". The engine was displayed at the Motor Show in London and attracted attention from the motor racing fraternity for its high "horsepower per pound of weight". With strong persuasions at the show including those by Cyril Kieft and a young Colin Chapman, Lee concluded that success in competition could lead to more customers for the company and so the team designed the FWA, a Feather Weight engine for Automobiles; the first Coventry Climax racing engine appeared at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans in the front of one of two Kieft 1100 sports racers, but both cars failed to finish the race due to problems unrelated to the engines.
The FWA became popular in sportscar racing and was followed by the Mark II and by the FWB which had a capacity of nearly 1.5-litres. The new Formula Two regulations suited the 1.5-litre engine and it became the engine to have in F2 racing. The following year, the first Climax engines began to appear in Formula One in the back of Cooper chassis; these were FWBs but the FPF engine followed. Stirling Moss scored the company's first Formula One victory, in Argentina in 1958, using a 2-litre version of the engine. In general terms, the engines were not powerful enough to compete with the 2.5-litre machinery and it was not until the 2.5-litre version of the FPF arrived in 1959 that Jack Brabham was able to win the world championship in a Cooper-Climax. At the same time, the company produced the FWE engine for Lotus Elite and this enjoyed considerable success in sports car racing, with a series of class wins at the Le Mans events in the early 1960s. In 1961, there was a new 1.5-litre formula and the FPF engine was given a new lease on life, although the company began work on a V8 engine, designated the FWMV, this began winning races in 1962 with Jim Clark.
There were a total of 22 Grand Prix victories before 1966 with crossplane, two- and four-valve versions of the FWMV. When the new, 3-litre, formula was introduced, Coventry Climax decided not to build engines for the new formula and withdrew from racing after the unsuccessful FWMW project, with the exception of the new 2-Litre version of the FWMV. In the early 1960s, Coventry Climax was approached by Rootes to mass-produce FWMAs for use in a compact family car project called Apex with an all-aluminium alloy over head cam engine combined with a full-syncromesh aluminium transaxle; this combination was considered radical at the time the syncromesh on all forward gears, declared'impossible' by Alec Issigonis of BMC Mini fame. The adoption to mass-production was successful, the project came out to the market as the 875cc Hillman Imp totaling over 400,000 units made by 1976 including the 998cc version. At Earls Court in 1962 Coventry Climax' chairman Leonard Pelham Lee announced the withdrawal from building Formula 1 e