Awakening

Sunday 7 April 1974. Sandown racing circuit, Melbourne. The open sports car race had been going as predicted, being led by Bill Maddocks in his thundering McLaren-Lola, ahead of Vaughan Gibson’s Farrell Clubman and Dan Ives in his surprisingly quick MGB.

Gibson had led the race early on, after getting a clean get-away in the less than perfect weather, but was quickly gathered up by the McLaren. Dan Ives was hanging on well in third, and it looked like this would be the final result.

Then, on Lap 4, Ives slipped under Gibson to steal second place and looked set to hold this place to the end.

Racing Car News took up the story: “But then, on lap seven, Maddocks lost it on the causway and there was Ives leading an open sports car field in an MGB (albeit a quick one). So much for the weather.”

Ives held on to win the race, ahead of Gibson and Peter Jones in a BRM Clubman, with Maddocks an unlucky sixth after setting the fastest lap.

Perhaps nobody was more surprised with the result than photographer Peter D’Abbs who raised his camera a little late to clearly catch Ives streaking past in the lead on his last lap.

Ives’ win may have been due to a healthy dose of good luck, or bad luck for Maddocks, but as “they” say, a win is a win. And behind him was an impressive field that not only included the McLaren, but also a liberal sprinkling of local and exotic sports cars: Lotus, Bolwell, Mattich and Lola among them.

This win was the culmination of Dan Ives’ development of his MGB that he had been racing since it was new in 1966, and had been in the Group D Production Sports Cars category since its beginning in 1972.

Shortly after the Sandown win, Ives entered the car at Calder Park, but cooked a head gasket and had to retire. The car was trailered home and the engine and front suspension were pulled out. Ives intended doing a bit more development to the already well-sorted suspension, but fate intervened.

He was a plumber and landed a job in the Antarctic, so the MG was put on hold. Somewhere around this time, according to the B’s current owner Barry Kelly, Ives went through a divorce and much of the paperwork for the car was inadvertently thrown out. The car remained in an unfinished state, spending a few years suspended from the roof trusses in Paul Trevethan’s workshop, before finding its way back to Ives’ garage.

History of a B

Barry Kelly had known Ives for many years, and had known the MGB since it was new in 1966, as Barry explained recently. “He lived two or three doors down the street from where our factory was in Ripponlea. I had cars too and he used to run an Holden ute, with a Jag gearbox in it – full-house old Grey engine, with triple carbs on it. Then he went and bought this MG and I said to him, ‘why the hell would you buy that?’ He said, ‘oh, I want to race it’ .”

“Then I bought a Cooper S brand new…and we used to knock around together. I used to drive the B on accasion and I couldn’t reach the pedals – he was six-foot-odd, and I would think this is the worst thing, why would you buy one of these? And I ended up with it.”

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