One of the most, if not the most spectacular part of Australian rules football is the high mark, where players jump into the air to catch the ball, often jumping over or on opposition players to grab the ball.
Over the long history of the game, many of these great marks have been captured by photographers, who were in the right place and the right time to take a brilliant picture.
Here are some examples of the best hangers, speccies and screamers taken in Australian rules football history.
Aaron Edwards (North Melbourne) versus Hawthorn (AFL – 2007)
Unidentified Carlton player versus Melbourne (VFL – 1960’s)
Bill Ryan (Geelong) versus St Kilda (VFL – 1968)
John Gerovich (South Fremantle) versus East Fremantle (WAFL – 1956)
Andrew Walker (Carlton) versus Essendon (AFL 2011)
John Coleman (Essendon) versus North Melbourne (VFL 1950’s)
Ashley Sampi (West Coast Eagles) versus Melbourne (AFL 2004)
David Holst (Glenelg) versus Norwood (SANFL 1979)
Peter Knights (Hawthorn) versus Collingwood (VFL 1973)
Michael Roach (Richmond) versus Hawthorn (VFL 1980)
John Dugdale (North Melbourne) versus St Kilda (VFL 1961)
March (formed by Max Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker and Robin Herd) was formed in October 1969, and had reasonable success in the 1970 and 1971 Formula 1 seasons with the 701 and 711 cars.
March started the 1972 season with the 721, which was an improvement of the 711, with over 50 changes and modifications. Herd then designed a totally new car, the 721X (72 for 1972, 1 for Formula 1 and X for experimental), which March hoped would place them amongst the top teams. While the car followed the majority of cars in using the Ford DFV 3-litre V8 engine and Hewland gearbox, there were a couple of innovations. One was the rear suspension, which featured high mounted rear springs operated by cranks and levers. Inspired by Porsche and Alfa Romeo sportscar design, the gearbox was mounted between the engine and the rear axle, instead of behind the rear axle, which was the ‘norm’ in Formula 1 at the time. In theory these two features would be very good for the car’s overall weight distribution, and lead to excellent handling.
The 721X made its debut at the non-championship Race Of Champions at Brands Hatch in March, driven by Ronnie Peterson, with the car making its World Championship debut at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama in May, driven again by Peterson and Niki Lauda.
Unfortunately for March, the customer Goodyear tires that March were using were designed for a conventional chassis and suspension configuration. The front tires were completely overloaded and caused all kinds of trouble in corners from complete understeer to acute oversteer, resulting in an uncompetitive car.
Both Lauda and Peterson retired in Spain, and were nowhere near the top cars in Monaco (Peterson 11th, Lauda 16th) and Belgium (Peterson 9th, Lauda 12th).
March realised that with the team locked in to using Goodyear tires, the only solution was to replace the 721X. This was done expediently by using the Formula Two chassis, modified to take the DFV engine, with the fuel capacity increased by side tanks. The 721G was more competitive, with Peterson finishing in the points at the French, German and United States Grand Prix.
Both 721Xs still survive, and the car driven by Ronnie Peterson competes in historic racing. Here is some great footage of that car lapping the Scandinavian Raceway in 2017, juxtaposed with Ronnie Peterson driving the same car at the same circuit 45 years earlier.
The following books were used as sources for this blog post:
Anthony Pritchard, “Directory of Formula One Cars: 1966-1986”, Aston Publications, England, 1986, p. 142
David Hodges, “A-Z of Formula Racing Cars”, Bay View Books, England, 1990, p. 160-161
In the southern summer of 1938/39, the England cricket team toured South Africa, to play five Test matches as well as games against various provincial teams.
The 1st Test in Johannesburg in late December was drawn, as was the 2nd Test in Cape Town in late December-early January. England won the 3rd Test at Durban in late January by an innings and 13 runs, while the 4th Test in Johannesburg in late February was drawn, leaving England 1-0 up in the series with one Test left to play. As there was a chance of South Africa winning the 5th Test and drawing the series 1-1, it was decided that the match would not be restricted to five days play, and instead would be played to a result, thus becoming a ‘Timeless” match.
The match started at the Kingsmead Ground at Durban on Friday, the 3rd of March. South Africa won the coin toss, and decided to bat first. At the end of the first day, they were 229 runs for the loss of two wickets. Peter van der Bijl was 105 not out, taking nearly all day to score his century, which included a 45 minute session where he didn’t score a run at all.
William Pollock, a writer for the “Daily Express”, wasn’t impressed by South Africa’s slow play:
“The South Africans have got this timeless Test all wrong. Evidently they think that the big idea is to stay in as long as you can and score as slowly as you like. They have not though enough about it. The thing is to get as many runs as possible, preferably as soon as possible. Runs count, not how long the team batted…..There is no reason why England should not make 1,000 runs….Anyhow the boat still sails on March 17.” We will hear more about the boat later in this post.
Only 17 runs were added in the first hour on day 2, and then van der Bijl was dismissed for 125 , which took over 7 hours. The scoring increased when Dalton and Nourse were at the wicket, and South Africa finished the day at 432 runs for the loss of six wickets.
Sunday was a rest day, and there was rain, which freshened the pitch and made it still perfect for batting. South Africa were dismissed late on day 3 for 530, and England had scored 35 runs for the loss of one wicket when play ended early due to rain and poor light. Daily Mail correspondent and former South African player Bob Crisp though that England at this early stage had no chance of winning, writing:
“England are still holding out, but their fall is imminent. Even allowing for all the traditional uncertainties of cricket it seems impossible that they can extricate themselves from their difficult position.”
On day 4, scoring was especially slow, with England ending at 268 runs scored for the loss of seven wickets. The England innings finished early on Day 5 for 316, giving South Africa a lead of 214. As they were over 200 hundred runs in front, they could have asked England to follow-on and bat again, but due to there being no time restrictions, instead they decided to build their lead and tire the England players out by having them field. South Africa finished the day scoring 193 runs for the loss of three wickets. Amazingly, in a match where batting conditions were perfect, all three South African wickets fell when the score was 191.
On the sixth day, South Africa took their score to 481 all out. By this stage, fatigue had started to take its toll on the England team. Wicketkeeper Les Ames was replaced behind the stumps by Paul Gibb for the final session, so that he could have a break from having to concentrate on every ball bowled. England finished the day having scored no runs and lost no wickets after facing only one ball of their 2nd innings, and the 4th of the match. England needed to score the huge figure of 696 runs to win the game. In normal circumstances this would have been impossible, but the pitch had played perfectly for the whole of the match, and there was no time limit on how long England could take to score those runs.
England went about their task with determination. Paul Gibb played the “anchor” at one end, scoring 78, while Len Hutton (55) and Bill Edrich (107 not out) also scored well. Edrich had never scored more than 29 runs before in an innings for England, and his previous scores in the series had been 4, 10, 0 & 6 batting down the order. England captain Wally Hammond promoted him up the order, and the move paid off, with England scoring 253 runs for the loss of just one wicket.
On the eighth day, the 11th of March, rain washed out the entire day’s play. There were now signs that the England party could be pressed for time. William Pollock’s article mentioned that the boat would be leaving on the 17th of March. This was the SS Athlone Castle, which would return the England team back home. It was a two-day train trip from Durban to Cape Town, so England would need to catch a train on the evening of the 14th of March in order to make it back to catch the boat. The three England players who had not been chosen for the match had already left for Cape Town. If the England party missed the boat, then they would have to wait a fortnight for the next boat to arrive.
The next day was a scheduled rest day, with the match recommencing on Monday, the 13th of March. Edrich and Gibb took their partnership to 280 runs before Gibb was dismissed for 120, scored in 9 hours and over 5 separate days. Edrich continued on until he was dismissed for 219, and now there was a distinct possibility that England could pull off a remarkable victory. At the end of the ninth day, England had scored 496 runs for the loss of only three wickets, needing a further 200 runs to win.
Wally Hammond, 58 not out overnight, played atttractively in the morning session of the tenth day. South Africa’s attempts to slow the scoring were not working – Jack Gage in the “Daily Tribune” said that “it was like a small boy trying frantically to stop the water from gushing out of a tap after he had mischievously unscrewed by the washer.”
Eddie Paynter scored (75) before being dismissed with the score at 611. A couple of brief rain delays interrupted Hammond’s concentration, and he was dismissed for 140, with the score at 650 –only 47 more runs required to win. At the tea break, England were only 42 runs short of their target, when it rained again- except this time the rain was prolonged and didn’t stop.
The South African Board of Control meet with the two captains (Hammond and Alan Melville) and issued the following statement:
“The South African Cricket Association Control Board, in consultation with the captains, agreed that the match should be abandoned, the Board recognising that the England party would otherwise not have the requisite number of hours in Cape Town before sailing home.”
So the match that was designed to produce a result ended up producing no result, being abandoned as a draw. England were incredibly disappointed to have been so close to an improbable victory, but were unable to win due to circumstances that were not considered a possibility prior to the match starting. This was the last “Timeless” Test match played – since World War 2 all Test matches have a time limit of five days play.
Here is the full scorecard of this extraordinary match:
The following books were used for this blog post:
Andrew Ward, “Cricket’s Strangest Matches – Extraordinary but true stories from 150 years of cricket”, Robson Books, London, 2000, pp. 126-129
Peter Hayter, “Great Tests Recalled”, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 1990, pp. 56-75.
During the 1925-26 Sheffield Shield cricket competition in Australia, New South Wales won both their matches against Victoria by an innings, and scoring over 700 runs in an innings in both matches. The Victorian revenge the following season was brutally decisive, albeit shortlived.
New South Wales arrived in Melbourne in December 1926 for the first meeting of the teams in the season. The game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) started just before Christmas, took Christmas Day and Boxing Day off, and then continued to a finish. The NSW team was relatively inexperienced, with only four players having played on the MCG before. Of the nine NSW players who had been part of the Australian team that toured England earlier in 1926, only Tommy Andrews and Arthur Mailey were available. Despite this, the team were confident, as in their previous match against South Australia in Adelaide, they had won after scoring 6-446 in the fourth innings, which set a record for the highest fourth innings total in Australian first-class cricket history. They were led by Alan Kippax, an elegant, stylish batsman who had controversially been omitted from the 1926 tour of England. In 1925-26 Kippax had scored 271 against Victoria at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and in the first two Shield games of the 1926-27 season he had already scored three centuries. Another member of the side was the talented youngster Archie Jackson, who had just turned 17, but already the scorer of a Shield century.
Victoria was at full strength, and were an imposing form. Opening batsman Bill Ponsford had scored 214 against South Australia earlier in December, while Hunter “Stork” Hendry had also scored 177 in the same match. Both players then scored centuries against Queensland. The other opening batsman, Bill Woodfull, had topped the batting averages during the English tour in 1926.
On the 24th of December. Kippax won the toss, decided to bat on a perfect wicket, and would have been disappointed with a score of 221. Several players made starts – Norbert Phillips 52, Tommy Andrews 42 and Jim Hogg 40*, but none of them could convert their start into a century. The best of the Victorian bowlers was fast-medium bowler Arthur Liddicutt, who finished with the figures of 4-50 from 21 overs.
Victoria’s reply began on the 27th of December, and any idea New South Wales had that their hosts might be affected by too much Christmas cheer quickly disappeared. Woodfull and Ponsford scored quickly – the NSW total of 221 was overtaken in just under two and a half hours, with the 100 runs between 150 and 250 taking just 41 minutes. Both batsman survived chances, and took the chance to attack the NSW bowling unmercifully. As some of the NSW players wondered if they would ever take a wicket, Woodfull was out for 133, with he and Ponsford having created a new 1st-wicket Shield partnership record of 375.
Hendry came out to replace Woodfull, had a life early in his innings, and then slaughtered the NSW bowling. At the end of day, Victoria were an incredible 1-574, with Ponsford 334* and Hendry 86*. NSW leg spinner Arthur Mailey had taken most of the punishment, with figures of 0-148 off 28 overs.
Hendry raced to his hundred early on Day 3, before becoming Mailey’s first wicket. Ponsford was strangely subdued , and scored only 18 runs in 40 minutes, beforer playing a delivery from Gordon Morgan onto his stumps. Then amazingly there were two failures – “Hammy” Love and Stuart King being dismissed for 6 and 7 respectively. Victoria had “collapsed” from 3-614 to 5-657. After this brief lull, the onslaught was started again by Jack Ryder, who had come to the wicket after Hendry was dismissed. Scoring at 75 runs an hour, Ryder found an ally in Bert Hartkopf, a leg-spinning all-rounder who had scored 80 in his only Test Match, against England on the same ground two seasons previously. Hartkopf was dismissed for 61, with the total 6-834. Liddicutt joined Ryder, who at this stage was on his way to a double century. When the 900 was reached, Ryder was 195. He reached his 200 and then went berserk, smashing the bowling to all parts of the MCG. Ryder was swinging so consistently, that it looked like he would get out at any moment. Yet his dismissal seemed unlikely, with his hitting being so pure, finding gaps in the field, and the tiredness of the NSW fielders making it easy for him to score runs. Liddicutt was bowled for 36, with the score now 7-915. A few minutes later the record innings total for the Shield competition – 918 by NSW against South Australia at Sydney in 1900-01 – was passed, but Victoria continued on. Victorian wicketkeeper Jack Ellis had the honour of bringing up the 1,000th run, and celebrated by doing a little jig and shouting “Long Live Victoria!”.
Ryder had hit Andrews for 4,6,4,6 in successive deliveries, and in trying to reach his 300 with another six, was caught by Kippax at mid-on for 295 (8-1043) . Frank Morton was run out without scoring (9-1046), but Ellis and Don Blackie continued on, before Ellis was run out, to finally end the Victorian innings at the end of the day for 1,107.
All of the NSW bowlers had copped a hiding, with the “best” bowling figures belonging to Mailey, who finished with 4-362 off 64 overs, and not surprisingly a maiden over amongst those 64 overs. There were only 5 maidens bowled in the entire innings. Mailey was known for his sense of humour, and he showed it after the innings, claiming that it was a pity that the innings had ended, as he was just finding his length. He also said that a chap in the grandstand with a brown derby hat had dropped several sitters as well!
As well as the gargantuan size of the Victorian score, the other amazing feature was how quickly the runs were scored. The innings took just 633 mins, so Victoria were averaging close to 100 runs an hour. Despite being belted to every corner of the MCG, New South Wales kept up an extraordinary over rate, averaging 95 overs a day. This was back in the days of 8-ball overs instead of the current 6-ball overs, so there were less breaks between overs, but it is still an impressive performance.
The next day NSW batted again, needing to score a mere 886 to make Victoria bat again. The pounding they had taken in the field had knocked the stuffing out of them, and they only just improved on their first innings total, scoring 230 and losing by an incredible innings and 656 runs. As they left Melbourne on the train to travel back to Sydney, they had no idea that the tables would be turned so dramatically in a month’s time.
For the return match at the Sydney Cricket Ground in late January 1927, Victoria were without Love, Hartkopf, Woodfull, Ponsford and Ryder, who had scored 847 of that massive total. NSW welcomed back three of their Australian players, Charlie Macartney, Bert Oldfield and Johnny Taylor.
Whereas NSW has struggled in Melbourne after winning the toss, here they took command and at end of the first day’s play were 8-424. Kippax had made a glorious and stylish 187*, while Jackson had scored only 42, but scored them with such style and grace that commentators were already comparing him to the legendary Victor Trumper.
Play started late the next day, and NSW made 469. Victoria were 2-15 when play ended early due to rain. Back in the 1920’s, pitches were not covered overnight, and thus rain was allowed to fall on them, which affected the way that the ball bounced off the pitch. Such a pitch is referred to as a “sticky wicket”, with the term entering the English language as a metaphor for someone who is in trouble, or in a difficult situation.
The people who were in trouble were the Victorian batsman, who lost 6 wickets for the addition of just 4 runs, leaving the scoreboard at an amazing 8-19, before being dismissed for just 35 runs. Ray McNamee, who had been belted all over the MCG in December and finished with the unflattering figures of 0-124, ran through the Victorian batting line-up, finishing with the incredible figures of 7-21 off just 8.4 overs. Charlie Macartney took the other 3 wickets, conceding only 10 runs off just 9 overs. The wicket was better, but not perfect, when Victoria followed on. They scored 181, and NSW had won by an innings and 253 runs – an astonishing reversal of the humiliation in Melbourne. Victoria’s 35 wasn’t their lowest score against NSW, but it stood in dazzling relief immediately after following the massive 1,107.
The contrast, even one so extreme, in many ways typifies cricket, especially back in the days before pitches were covered. If the pitch stayed hard and true, then the rungetters were remorseless, the boundary fieldsmen busy, the bowlers weary. But things could change swiftly, and occasionally the game was only as predictable as the next day’s weather forecast.
The following books were used as sources for this blog post:
“A Century of Summers – 100 Years of Sheffield Shield Cricket” – Geoff Armstrong, Ironbark Press, Randwick, NSW 1992
“First-Class Cricket in Australia – Volume 1 1850-1851 to 1941-42”, Ray Webster, Glen Waverly NSW 1991
Normally when a team posts a huge score in any sporting event, the odds of them being beaten decrease markedly, but they cam still lose. Here are details of the highest losing scores recorded in various competitions, along with accompanying video footage.
Formula 1 in the modern era is almost a business rather a sport, due to the huge amounts of money required to build, test and maintain highly technologically advanced cars, as well as paying for all of the personnel required to run a team, along with the transportation costs as the teams travel around the world from race to race.
However, there was a time when the spending required was not as astronomical, and teams could enter Formula 1 racing at a reasonable cost. One of these teams, and arguably the last of the true “privateer” entries in Formula 1, was Connew. Here is their story.
The Connew story starts with Peter Connew, who in 1969 was an apprentice draughtsman. A friend asked him if he would like to go with him to watch the 1969 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. When Connew asked his employer for time off for the trip, and they refused, Connew resigned on the spot. He attended the Grand Prix, and while the actual racing didn’t interest him, the sound of the engines and the design of the cars certainly did. Upon returning to England, Connew needed a job, and through a contact landed a job at the Surtees Formula 1 team. Team manager John Surtees won the 1964 Formula 1 World Championship, and after having driven cars for Lotus, Cooper, Lola, Ferrari, Honda, BRM, as well as driving a privately entered McLaren, had decided to build his own Formula 1 car, which was due to compete in the 1970 Formula 1 season. After seeing a Formula 1 car at such close quarters, Connew decided that he wanted to have a go at designing his own Formula 1 car. He resigned from Surtees and with a blank piece of paper, started work.
A lock-up garage in East London was hired as the team’s workshop, and work began in earnest making Connew’s drawings a reality, with the deadline being the opening round of the 1972 Formula 1 season, the South African Grand Prix. Connew were lucky in one respect – they were right in the middle of the “kit car” era of Grand Prix racing. Key components, such as a Ford Cosworth DFV V8 engine and a Hewland gearbox, could be bought “off-the-shelf”. The overwhelming majority of teams that competed in Formula 1 at this time used the DFV engine and Hewland gearbox, as they were reliable and could be easily fixed or replaced if there were breakages. The tub of the car could be machined out of aluminium, and other mechanical parts could either be machined or bought. As well as Connew, his cousin Barry Boor and friend Roger Doran built the car, which was named the PC1. Several benefactors and friends also gave financial support.
One unusual design feature was the radiator setting, which offered an ingenious solution to cooling problems. It was front-mounted at a very slight angle of five degrees, enabling air to pass through upwards and come out through a vent on the top. This also prevented turbulence underneath the car. The thin chisel nose was also similar to the Surtees TS7, possibly due to observations made by Connew when he was working for Surtees.
Despite everyone putting in long hours to get the car ready in time, the team realised that they wouldn’t be ready for South Africa, and instead decided that the 4th round of the Championship, the Monaco Grand Prix, would be the debut of the PC1. The small team then received a setback – due to a change in regulations, the team would have build a new tub, which they did, and which was not surprisingly called the PC2.
Now that the car was complete, the team needed to find a driver, which they did in the form of Frenchman François Migault, who had some promising results in the French Formula 3 and Formula 2 championships in the early 1970’s. Migault was signed up for 5 races – Monaco, France, Great Britain, Germany and Austria. As well as providing his driving talent, Migault also brought something else to the team – a Ford truck. In the rush to complete the car, Connew and his friends had given no thought as to how they would get the car to the races! Migault’s Ford was converted into a transporter, though by this time they had missed the Monaco Grand Prix. They then travelled by ferry across the English Channel to Clermont-Ferrand, the site of the French Grand Prix, but 60 miles outside of Le Mans the transporter broke down. Unable to make the Grand Prix, the team decided to do some testing at Le Mans, but it was discovered that part of the rear suspension had been damaged in the trip across France.
The Connew finally got onto the track at the British Grand Prix, but suffered suspension problems during Thursday practice. Upon closer examination at the team’s garage, one of the rear uprights was found to be badly damaged, so Connew withdrew to fix the problem. As to be expected from such a small team with limited testing funds and testing time, the Connew recorded the slowest time in qualifying – 1 minute 30 seconds, 3 seconds slower than the second slowest car in the field.
Despite not filing an official entry, the small team arrived at the German Grand Prix, but the organisers refused their entry – claiming that the fearsome Nurburgring circuit was not the most suitable circuit for a new car with teething problems and an inexperienced driver to be competing on.
After all of these disappointments, other people might have thrown in the towel, but the Connew team were determined that they would start a Formula 1 Grand Prix. At the Austrian Grand Prix they finally achieved their goal – Migault was the 25th and slowest qualifier, but he was going to start the race! By steady driving, Migault had picked up 4 places, but on lap 22 the rear suspension failed on the main straight, with Migault being able to bring the car to a safe halt on the side of the track.
Here is a video of the 1972 Austrian Grand Prix, with a couple of fleeting glimpses of the Connew in the opening laps:
The car’s final appearance for 1972 was in the World Championship Victory Race at Brands Hatch, with David Purley behind the wheel. Another example of the misfortune or bad luck which plagued the team now occurred. Purley had requested that an engine “kill switch” be fitted to the steering wheel, but on the warm-up lap the switch was pulled out, thus stopping the engine. There was insufficient time before the start to fix the problem, so the Connew failed to start its final race.
And that was it – the car was modified to accept a 5 litre V8 engine to enable it to compete in Formula 5000 in 1973, but results were poor, and at the final meeting of the season, Tony Trimmer crashed the car, damaging the chassis beyond repair.
For many years the two chassis (PC1 and PC2) sat covered in weeds in Connew’s garden, but in 2015 Barry Boor and several friends started the ardous task of restoring one of them to either a rolling chassis or even a fully running car.
Migault raced Formula 1 in 1974 and 1975 for BRM, Hill and Williams but with very little success. He continued to race in sports cars up to the early 2000’s, before retiring, and passing away in January 2012 of cancer.
Connew retired with his wife to the Essex countryside in 1976, where for the past 30 or so years he has been a foster carer for hundreds of displaced children.
Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, the team were probably very naive in thinking that they could successfully compete with the major teams in one of, if not the biggest and most competitive motor racing series of the time. The persistent problems with the rear suspension would suggest that the team lacked the finances to build parts properly, as well as being able to extensively test them.
On the other hand, they achieved their goal, taking part in a Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix, and probably had a lot of fun along the way, which is what life is supposed to be about. It is just a shame that the Connew adventure will never again be repeated in Formula 1.
The following sources were used for this blog post:
Mattijs Diepraam, Felix Muelas DIY heroes, Forix.com
Anthony Pritchard, “Directory of Formula One Cars 1966 – 1986”, Aston Publications, Bourne End, England 1986
Steve Small, “The Guinness Complete Grand Prix Who’s Who”, Guinness Publishing, London, 1994
In 1930 a company was formed in France known as Societé des Études et de Fabrication d’Automobile de Course, which, as its name implied, was for the study and building of racing cars. It was not a very successful firm, for they only built one racing car, and that has gone down in history as one of the biggest flops of all time. Using the initials of the firm the car was called the S.E.F.A.C., and it had been designed by Émile Petit, who had designed the successful Salmson cars in the 1920’s.
The object was to provide a French challenger for Grand Prix honours in the 1934-37 period of racing, which had a weight limit of 750 kilograms for cars. The S.E.F.A.C. was certainly different compared to other cars that were going to race in the mid-1930’s, such as the Mercedes-Benz, Auto-Union, ALFA-ROMEO, Bugatti and Maserati, especially in regard to its engine.
The Petit-designed engine was probably all right in theory, but was not very good in practical terms. There were two 4-cylinder blocks mounted side by side on a single crankcase, each block having a cylinder head with twin overhead camshafts. In the crankcase were two crankshafts mounted side by side and geared together, so that they ran in opposite directions. The right-hand crank drove a large supercharger from its rear end, and the left crank drove the gearbox, so that the propeller shaft ran down the left side of the wide chassis frame. This allowed the driver to sit low, but made for a wide car. The channel-section stell chassis frame, designed by Edmond Vareille, carried independent front suspension and a rigid rear axle, coil springs being used at all four corners. The whole car was far too heavy, weighing in at approximately 930 kilograms, while the bodywork made the S.E.F.A.C. one of the ugliest cars to grace the Grand Prix scene. The biggest failing was the engine, which produced only 250bhp, the lowest amount of power of any of the cars eligible for Grand Prix racing.
The first appearance of the S.E.F.A.C. was at the French Grand Prix at Montlhery, on the 23rd of June 1935. The car was to be driven by local driver Marcel Lehoux.
When Lehoux took the car out on the track and made a couple of slow laps, he found the S.E.F.A.C. to be extremely ill-prepared. The engine was short of power, the brakes did not work properly and the road holding was miserable. After Lehoux returned to the pits to explain the situation the car was pushed away and the entry was scratched.
The S.E.F.A.C. made no further appearances until 1938. A new formula for Grand Prix racing had been introduced in the same year, limiting supercharged engines to a maximum capacity of 3 litres, with no weight limit for the cars. This time the S.E.F.A.C managed to start the French Grand Prix at Reims on the 3rd of July, but its appearance was only marginally better than its 1935 debut. Driven by Eugene Chaboud, the S.E.F.A.C only managed two laps before retiring due to mechanical problems.
The third and final appearance of the S.E.F.A.C was at the 1939 Pau Grand Prix, held on the 2nd of April in the town located in the Pyrenees. Practice times show how uncompetitive the S.E.F.A.C. was. Fastest qualifier was Mercedes-Benz driver Manfred von Brauchitsch with a lap of 1 minute 47 seconds. The fastest time recorded by Jean Tremoulet in the S.E.F.A.C. was 2 minutes 14 seconds – 27 seconds slower! The S.E.F.A.C started on the 15th and last place on the grid. At least this time the S.E.F.A.C managed to actually do some laps, before retiring after 35 of the 100 scheduled laps due to mechanical issues.
The failure of the S.E.F.A.C was neatly summed up by a British driver who said: “I went to see the S.E.F.A.C. and could SEFAC-ALL.”
There however was one final twist in the S.E.F.A.C story. In 1948 the French press announced a new Grand Prix contender, from the firm Dommartin. On closer inspection, the Dommartin was found to be the S.E.F.A.C., fitted with a non-supercharged 3.6 litre engine and new, but no less ugly body.
The Dommartin never raced, and for many years it languished in a French museum, until it was purchased by English enthusiast Richard Lines in the mid-1990’s, who undertook a complete rebuild which lasted for 10 years. Lines restored the car to its 1938/39 specifications, but then sold the car before emigrating to Australia. I have no idea as to the current whereabouts of the S.E.F.A.C, nor if it actually managed to reappear on the track in historic racing. I hope that it did, as a “lemon” like the S.E.F.A.C. is part of the rich history of Grand Prix racing.
While this was the end of the line for the Dommartin racing car, they did attempt to produce another vehicle, at the other end of the motoring spectrum. The Petit design was an unusual curious open all-terrain vehicle. Under the 4-seater forward-control bodywork lay an 800cc flat-twin air-cooled engine in the tail, and a 5-speed gearbox. Production was minimal.