Aston Martin Owners Club - South Australia

Report of the AMOC (South Australia Area) run and lunch to celebrate 100 years of Aston Martin Grand Prix racing, July 24th 2022

Area Rep, Terry Jones had earlier advised the local membership, Interstate Area Reps and some UK Aston Martin aficionados that July 16th 2022 marked 100 years since Aston Martin made their first foray into Grand Prix racing. He had not found any official celebrations planned by the AMOC, very much like the 75th anniversary of the famous 3 line advertisement for the sale of Aston Martin that went under the radar by all except our members – we celebrated this significant event last October.

Terry had been planning to celebrate the centenary and he had been ruminating on a theme that was more significant than just a toast over lunch somewhere. Terry learned the 1922 race was held on a 14km triangular road course just outside Strasbourg, France and the major contenders were Fiat (the eventual winner) and Bugatti – the 2 Aston Martins that were entered were not seriously in contention, indeed, they were late entries into the GP race after failing to make the cut-off time for the Isle of Man race. Count Zborowsky and Clive Gallop drove the two cars that were substantially under powered, being just 1500cc engine capacity in a 2 litre event. How could these gems of information be incorporated into our celebration?

Terry’s first idea was to celebrate via a ‘finger food and bubbles’ evening celebration where Margherita pizzas (supposedly named after Queen Margherita of Italy and the colours of cheese (white), tomato (red) and basil (green) being the same as the Italian flag) would connect the winning car maker (Fiat) and driver (Felice Nazzaro) and Tattinger champagne because the race was held in France. He approached the local Aston Martin agents but negotiations faltered early. It was then decided to hold the celebration at members Carole & David’s house. First part organised!


Margherita pizza with Tattinger bubbles to celebrate the Italian winner of the 1922 French GP. Terry’s private celebration during COVID isolation.
COVID infected Terry celebrating 100 years of Aston Martin GP racing













The major celebration was not going to be easy as there were no suitable Aston Martins available in SA to use as a focus but Terry knew that SA had held just one pre-war Australian Grand Prix race – in Lobethal, a small Adelaide Hills town, in January 1939. He decided he could link this race (and the 1980s/90s Grand Prix races) to the 1922 GP. Terry found several similarities between the two events including that they were both run on sealed street circuits (previous Australian GPs had been run on dirt tracks), both were approximately 14km in length and in both the track was of triangular shape. There was also one fatality in each race and both were held at the height of summer. There were many differences too with the 1922 race being run over 500 miles on slippery roads due to a downpour the previous day while the 1939 race was run over 150 miles in very hot conditions (in excess of 100degrees Fahrenheit and on January 12th that year, Adelaide had a record maximum temperature of 117 degrees or 47.6 degrees Celsius that was not equalled until 2019!)

The Lobethal GP track is still in existence today, consisting of three main roads that surround Lobethal and conveniently, the Lobethal Bierhaus sits alongside the track. Terry enlisted the help of Assistant Area Rep, Terry Holt and both attended the venue to find it was perfect for the event with hosts of mementos from the 1939 race and a good selection of foods and locally made beers and wines.

All appeared set for the events that would be celebrated on Friday 15th and Sunday 17th July (the actual date of the 1922 race was July 16th). Terry swatted up on both GP races and found the winner of the Australian GP was a very talented 22year old driver/mechanic named Alan Tomlinson who hailed from Perth – a long way away in those days when the main road between Adelaide and Perth was not sealed. Alan drove his modified MG TA supercharged car with great aplomb and he won against more fancied opposition.

As a consequence of his research, Terry was invited by the pre-war register of the MG Car Club to talk to their members about the event and this was booked for 10 days prior to our AMOC celebrations. The talk went well though Terry was concerned that no-one was wearing face masks and all attendees had ‘seen many a summer’. Two days later, Terry started to feel a little unwell and a RAT proved he had caught COVID 19 and that over the next few days it came to light that 9 attendees at the talk had also caught the dreaded virus. Terry did not need hospitalisation but merely having tested positive meant that the celebrations for the 15th and 17th had to be cancelled.

It was difficult to accept that this celebration should be cancelled due to COVID as this had also been the fate of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the 3-line advertisement. This was meant to have been celebrated at the ‘Stately Affair’ when our Victorian colleagues visited last October but the borders had been closed due an outbreak of COVID in Victoria. Terry emailed members about celebrating on the following Sunday (the 24th) that happened to be the date of the 2022 French Grand Prix (and so there was a different connection). Many members were keen to celebrate and so Terry re-arranged the drive & lunch for that day.

At 10am some 20 members met on Dequetteville Tce, outside Price Alfred College, that itself has a connection with our Club (celebrated a few years ago). This terrace was also called ‘Brabham Straight’ during the decade that Adelaide hosted the F1 Grand Prix (1985-1995) after the legendary Australian F1 winner. After leaving this GP connection, we drove through the Adelaide Hills to Lobethal where we drove two laps of the 1939 circuit.

Terry asked attendees to time each lap and he would advise the minimum time it would take if the posted road speeds were adhered to. The group got split up when some took the Old Norton Summit Road while the route called for its newer alternative and there was also a problem with Vickers road that Terry missed when he did the trial run only to find he couldn’t find it again (cursed on-line maps). Nonetheless, we arrived safely at Lobethal and a few members did the two laps of the 1939 track as suggested. The mean time appeared to be 10-12minutes (Terry managed 10minutes 30secs) and he advised the best time, consistent with the speed limits, was 9minutes 6 seconds but that this paled when considering the time achieved by Alan Tomlinson who achieved an average speed of 84 MILES per hour giving a lap time of 6minutes 20seconds!

Unfortunately our group had to be seated in the main restaurant area as the ‘function room’ that we booked the previous week was already booked. This meant it was not possible to deliver a speech or view the many memorabilia in that room. There was much discussion about how a 1300cc engine fitted into a wooden framed car could reach in excess of 130mph on the main straight and while it appeared impossible, the scrutineers who checked the cars on race day in 1939 approved the result – none of our members thought we could do this time in our current day cars!

Service at the Bierhaus was slow due to one of the chefs having COVID but the food was good as was the stout (Terry thought).

We started for home around 3pm and most would have made it before the promised rain arrived. Overall, a very successful meeting that allowed us to celebrate this historic milestone in Aston Martin racing history.

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