1976 Rounds 1 - 4

Round One: ORAN PARK


From an unbelievable 28 entries for the first round of the four race Australian International Series, only 13 started the 62 lap race run on the 2.6 km, long, Oran Park Grand Prix circuit, and only seven finished the event.

Of the seven cars which were taken to New Zealand for the series there, three, the Sharp Lola T400's driven by Max Stewart and Paul Bernasconi, and John Edmond's ex-Garrie Cooper Elfin MR5, had not arrived back on Aussie soil, and this accounted for three scratchings. John Goss had entered both his usual Matich A53 Repco Holden and the ex-Kevin Loy, ex-Ian Douglass updated A51 to A53 similar car. He chose to compete in the latter car.

Geoffrey Brabham was an entry in a Lola T332 Chev but the car didn't arrive from the US and the Australian Formula Two Champion's debut in F5000 was to be deferred while Jack and son went to the UK chasing a Formula Three drive. Johnnie Walker was also a scratching, his Lola T332 Repco Holden was not race-ready and the talented South Australian was short on finance.

Practice for most of the drivers brought little joy as they fought to keep their cars on the slippery and dirty circuit. John McCormack had a wild spin in the Elfin MR6 after crossing the bridge. Bruce Allison and Ken Smith did the same in their respective Lolas but in a less spectacular manner. David Purley, too, was having his share of loses mainly due to a loss of fuel pressure and hence power out of the corners.

Quickest was Allison, having knocked 0.2 secs off his previous best time in the second session. Lawrence equaled this time in the final session. Schuppan methodically adjusted to the circuit and conditions and settled for number three slot, while McCormack really turned on the flat plane crank Repco Holden to record a 66.9 second lap which was still good enough for the second row by the end of the day. The single plane crank Chev engine of Bartlett's seemed to be working well also, giving the Lola driver fifth fastest time. Bartlett, on returning to the pits and finding a smaller racing car encroaching on his pit space tried nudging it with one of his front wheels. The Lola's steering wheel flicked around, inflicting a painful injury to Bartlett's thumb and wrist.

In contrast to practice day, the weather on the Sunday caught a few drivers napping. Rain fell around midday, but appeared to be clearing for the race. The experienced Schuppan cast his eyes skyward and called for his bubble visor. New Zealand driver Baron Robertson was a scratching, the engine in his Elfin MR5 was sucking air through a hole in the side of the inlet port. Ken Shirvington did not start either, as his ex-Teddy Pilette Lola T400 had engine problems.

All cars on the grid were shod with slicks as Lawrence led Schuppan and Allison down past the pits and into the fast left hander for the first time. A cloud of dust announced that someone had failed to negotiate the corner. It was Jon Davison, the brakes on his immaculate Matich A52 having failed due to a fractured brake line. Purley, who was sitting in fourth after the start, was soon displaced by Goss. McCormack was sixth, followed by Bartlett, his swollen wrist deadened by pain killing injections, Leffler, Cannon, Smith, Hook and Gil Cameron in the McLaren M10B.

Rain began falling on the fifth lap and Bartlett's Lola all but climbed over Purley's similar car, causing the English driver to back off. McCormack took advantage of the situation and shot past the slowing black Lola and Allison's similarly painted Lola T332 disposed of the Theodore Racing car shortly afterwards.

Lawrence was maintaining a comfortable 4.5 second gap to Allison as Purley pitted briefly. Then Cannon and Leffler had a coming together, with the T400 Lola losing the battle. It was still spitting with rain as the remaining 11 cars, still with Lawrence in the lead, entered the 10th lap. Goss was making a bid to take Schuppan, who was finding his Lola a trifle twitchy, his left rear tyre was slowly deflating and the engine was down on power.

It took a further six laps to dispose of the ailing Lola but despite the tyre problem, Schuppan kept Goss in his sights. Meanwhile, Allison was hauling in Lawrence until, on lap 18, the New Zealand driver spun on the slowest corner of the circuit, losing 14 seconds. Back in the field, in seventh place, Bartlett was having a difficult time keeping Smith at bay. Cannon was nine seconds ahead of Bartlett, who was being led by McCormack and Schuppan until, on lap 26, the Theodore car pitted for a new left rear tyre.

By lap 35 the field had slowed drastically as the rain became much heavier. Lawrence didn't slow enough, however, and found himself uncontrollably heading for the wall at the end of the straight under the bridge. Goss did a 360-degree spin and McCormack slipped his car into second place. For some reason Cannon's March, on slicks, didn't seem to be bothered by the wet conditions as much as the others.

First in for rain tyres was Schuppan on lap 37 and, after a 1m 45sec stop, he was out again lapping 10 seconds faster than anyone else. Bartlett was next four laps later but Peter Molloy was playing a waiting game in the Allison pit. The rain didn't ease but Allison was in the lead and his manager didn't want to call him in. Eventually, most of the other serious drivers pitted for wet weather rubber.

By lap 48 Allison was barely hanging onto his lead, Goss, not having changed tyres, was second. Five laps later, Schuppan took the lead as Allison finally overcooked it, slamming into a concrete barrier at the foot of the main straight. Like Purley's Lola, Schuppan's lack of power was no longer a disadvantage and he was able to lap faster than any other driver remaining in the race.

Despite anxious faces in the Theodore Racing pits concerning Vern's fuel supply, the delighted Australian received the chequered flag 16.5 seconds ahead of Bartlett and in third place was Smith, more than a lap down.

A lot of people hoped that for 1977 there would not be the last minute hassle of drivers requesting that the organisers reduce the race distance because their Lolas wouldn't make it on their fuel load. That's what happened in round two at the Adelaide Raceway.

Date: 2nd February 1976
Venue: Oran Park

62 laps of 2.61kms (161.82kms)

Result Driver Nat Car


1 Vern Schuppan Aust Lola T332 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8 62  
2 Kevin Bartlett Aust Lola T400 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8 62  
3 Ken Smith NZ Lola T332 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8 61  
5 John Goss Aust Matich A53 / Repco 4994cc V8    
  David Purley UK Lola T332 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8    
Ret Bruce Allison Aust Lola T332 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8   Accident
Ret Graeme Lawrence NZ Lola T332 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8   Accident
Ret John Leffler Aust Lola T400 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8   Accident
  Gil Cameron Aust McLaren M10B / Chevrolet 4995cc V8    
  John Cannon UK March 75AM / Chevrolet 4995cc V8    
  Terry Hook Aust Lola T332 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8    
Ret Jon Davison Aust Matich A52 / Repco 4994cc V8 0 Brakes
  Ken Shirvington Aust Lola T400 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8    
  John McCormack Aust Elfin MR6 / Repco 4994cc V8    
DNS Baron Robertson NZ Elfin MR5 / Repco 4994cc V8    
DNA Johnnie Walker Aust Lola T332 / Repco 4994cc V8    
DNA Geoffrey Brabham Aust Lola T332 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8    
DNA John Edmonds Aust Elfin MR5 / Repco 4994cc V8    
DNA Max Stewart Aust Lola T400 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8    
DNA Paul Bernasconi Aust Lola T400 / Chevrolet 4995cc V8    





Date: 9th February 1976
Venue: Adelaide Raceway

67 laps of 2.41kms (161.5kms)

Result Driver Nat Car





Round Three: Sandown


Date: 16th February 1976
Venue: Sandown

52 laps of 3.11kms (161.50kms)

Result Driver Nat Car




Round Four: Surfers Paradise


Date: 23rd February 1976
Venue: Surfers Paradise

50 laps of 3.21kms (160.5kms)  

Result Driver Nat Car





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