Western Wonder

This Mini was one of the best known in Western Australia at the height of its racing career.

It was one of three Minis individually owned, but maintained and sponsored by Perth tuning legend Terry Le May, and entered in events as the Terry Le May Racing Team. The other two cars were 1275cc Cooper S Minis for Improved Production and Sports Racing Closed categories, owned and raced by Jeff Dunkerton and Doug Mould respectively.

Our feature Mini started life as a 1964 Australian-built 998cc Morris Cooper, in two-tone grey. It was originally purchased by Rod Hawker, but by 1966 was owned by John Alford and painted in the Le May Racing livery.

In the 1967 Labour Day Speed Classic at Caversham, it achieved the very first win for a Le May car in a hotly contested five-lap race.

At this stage the fully-balanced 998cc Cooper engine sported a large-valve polished cylinder head, high compression pistons, a DCOE Weber carburettor, lightened flywheel, extractors and an open exhaust (no muffler) exiting below the left door. Suspension featured Koni shock absorbers and sway bars, while standard Cooper S rims shod with Dunlop tyres were still fitted.

Later in 1967 the car was upgraded to English 1071 Cooper S specification, with the engine bored out to 1098cc to remain in the under-1100cc class. The Mini also received English Cooper S gold-brocade trim and retained the sliding windows and dry cone suspension – when the Australian Cooper S had heavier wind-up windows and hydrolastic.

A set of wheel arch flares was also fitted, although the car usually still ran on standard Cooper S rims. These were considered narrow by comparison to most others being used at the time, but John’s reasoning was that the tyres were a lot cheaper!

The transmission was upgraded with a straight-cut gear set and a ZF limited slip differential, while Cooper S front disc brakes provided the stopping power. Throughout this period the Mini never had a rollbar, with the current bar fitted at a later date.

One racing highlight was an outright win in a touring car event in 1967, against the likes of Mustang and Valiant, and a whole gaggle of other Minis. John had bought a set of rims with some old wet weather tyres on them and, not having anything else to run on the weekend, bolted these to the Mini. With less than a minute to go the heavens opened up, and the only car on “wets” was John.

John also won his class in the single-race WA Touring Car Championship in 1967 – the same race in which Peter Manton won his second under-1300 Class WATC Championship.

27 October 1968 was a momentous day in Western Australia for Minis in general, and for the Le May Racing Team and John Alford in particular. This was the final event held at Caversham, before all racing moved to the new Wanneroo circuit.

Doug Mould won the 1101-1500cc class in the Sports Closed competition, with fellow local driver Wayne Negus taking the under-1100 class in the same race.

However, the Improved Touring Car race was a tremendous battle between Le May team member Jeff Dunkerton and visiting drivers Peter Manton and Brian Foley.

If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 22 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>37</plumshop> <plumshop>38</plumshop>

 

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