“They were the only people who probably had more than two mechanics. Two mechanics was certainly an indulgence – Midland Racing Partnerships with two mechanics for 2 or 3 cars. It didn’t mean that Jack Brabham or Denny Hulme drove the arse off you; it just meant that the organisation was infinitely superior to anybody else’s. Spare engines! They probably had 5 and if we blew an engine we would pull it out of the chassis repair it and put it back in again. It wasn’t exactly state of the art then and the Brabhams had the breakthroughs with the Hondas.”
So said Frank Gardner recounting the mid 1960s when he was driving the new Formula 2 Lola T60 for Midland Racing Partnership.
We had gathered at the workshop of Robert Tweedie in Sydney to witness the re-launch of his 1965 Lola T60 that Frank had driven for Midland Racing Partnership. Frank was quick, but it was a time when Brabham had teamed up with a well-resourced Honda. Frank is known for not revisiting the past but while the Brabhams were virtually all-conquering at the time the history books do say that Frank’s finest finish in the car was a close 2nd at Reims when he beat Jim Clark.
The T60 was the first monocoque open wheeler built by Eric Broadley, although as he had his mind firmly on the T70 sports racing car at the time the design was left to Tony Southgate.
Lola SL60/2 was the 2nd T60 built and had a slightly longer wheelbase than the previous car due to the height of both Frank Gardner and South African driver Tony Maggs. From Lola the car was bought by the Midland Racing Partnership and later driven successfully by Chris Amon, Dickie Attwood, Paul Hawkins, Jo Bonnier and David Hobbs. With Formula 1 engines during the first half of the 1960s being limited to a maximum of 1,500-cc the Formula 2 engines were a maximum of 1-liter. Throughout its first class life Lola SL60/2 was fitted with either the BRM 71 or Cosworth SCA engines that produced around 120 to 125 bhp. After Europe the car was taken to New Zealand and eventually found its way to Australia and raced between 1978 to 1989. It was then purchased by Robert in 2001 very much in need of a complete restoration.
It was red, white or the amber liquid all round on the night and after a five year restoration Robert clearly was a very proud Lola owner but he didn’t forget to thank John Masala and others like John Burke saying that without them the car wouldn’t have been before us in all its glory.
The car looked immaculate in its original dark blue livery and we look forward to seeing it out and about where it belongs – on the circuit. Hopefully soon we will see it gracing the pages of Vintage Racecar.
The above article appears in Vintage Racecar magazine, for more details of this excellent publication visit their website at: www.vintageracecar.com/ or if you would like to take out a subscription speak to Ed McDonough on 01604 761813.