The recent Loose Fillings story on Ron Tauranac brought back some great memories which I will share with you. I consider myself to being one of the more fortunate drivers in Australian motorsport as I am the only person to have owned and raced the two magnificently locally built Ralts.
I acquired Ralt 1 early in 1959 from Bert Bartrop in exchange for a caravan. The only race-track operating in NSW for P-plate drivers was at Orange so I journeyed there on the long weekend in company with Merv Ward who was driving a Holden special. We camped on the infield in a tent, a cold and primitive arrangement unlike the comforts available to today’s competitors.
I remember being very nervous on the dummy grid, revving the engine up and down, where-upon Jack Myers came over and stuck his shoe in the megaphone exhaust. I was a class winner and received a certificate which Ron signed many years later.
The next event I attended was a combined bike and car meeting in Queensland. A former work colleague, Bob Salter, was a bike shop owner and Australian sidecar champion who had a BP contract along with another team member Jack Ahearn, himself an Australian solo champion.
We loaded the sidecar, Jack’s solo and the Ralt on one trailer and crew members Joe Hill, Bruce Richardson and myself drove the Jaguar overnight to a successful
meeting. The next trip to Queensland resulted in piston failure. I later traded the car to Frank Matich on the HMW. Ralt 1 had won its last race.
My crew had moved to Leaton Motors but I was fortunate to have a speedway friend and championship winning sidecar owner Allan Burdus look after the engine. More tracks became available and this great-handling car enjoyed success at these locations. I remember a class win on April 3rd, 1961 at Bathurst and wins at Katoomba.
I can say with confidence that I was a lucky owner-driver to have won in both Australian-built Ralts. Unfortunately the drive rs after me wrecked the cars before my eyes. Graham Howard rang me in the late 1960s for my recollections for an upcoming book but unfortunately it didn’t eventuate. RM.
Research by Bob Ross has helped identify the cars and drivers in the bottom picture, which was taken at the opening meeting at Catalina Park, Katoomba NSW on 12 February 1961. The race was a four-lapper, with prize money of £7, £3 and £2 (£A of course) for the top three places. On pole is Reg Mulligan, Ralt 4 ,Vincent-engined with his friend Bob Maine and Vincent guru Alan Burdis waiting to push start. Alongside is Barry Garner in the Nota Major, currently raced in historics by Dick Willis, #46 is Alan Heasman, Scarab 650cc, #37 is D Russell, MGTC Special, #68 is Peter Wherrett in the Cooper Mk4-Minx, and # 31 is Toby Hindes, Ralt 498cc.
The other pictures are also at Catalina Park which was in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.