JOHORE GRAND PRIX – PART 1: 1949-1953

THE JOHORE GRAND PRIX – PART 1: 1949-1953

By Eli Solomon

Last update 4th July 2022 with additional photos of the Johore 1953 Grand Prix races.

Lim Peng Han and his MG-chassis Bugatti1 chases Mick Jennings’ Black Draught MG TC round Post Office Corner and the Johore Hotel. Bukit Timbalan is in the background to the left and the State Government Secretariat building atop the hill. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

The scope of this series covers the Grand Prix races held around the streets of Johore Bahru between 1949 and 1968. I have broken it into three distinct parts: 1949-1953; 1960-1963; 1967-1968. The 1940 Johore War Effort Grand Prix has been omitted from this paper as it has already been covered in detail in GENESIS & THE WINDS OF WAR.

Results for all the classes are included at the end of this article.

POST-WAR BOOM

After the first Johore Grand Prix in 1940, there was an absence of motoring events until the war was over. The Singapore Motor Club was formed in February 1948 and the Selangor Motor Sports Club was established in March 1950. After their formation, the two clubs took the responsibility of organising and running motor sports events off the hands of the Automobile Association of Malaya [See CLUBBING IN SOUTH EAST ASIA].

The first post-war motor sport events in Peninsula Malaya resumed in 1948 with the Gopeng Speed Trial in Perak in July, organised by the Automobile Association of Malaya. The Seremban Speed Trial on Rahang Road in Seremban and the Lornie Mile in Kuala Lumpur followed in June 1949. In Singapore, the Singapore Motor Club held a two hill climbs following it formation in February 1948 – at Bukit Batok in April and Pender Road in October. In July that year, there was mention of a Round the Houses race in Johore and the local boys were hard at it building their Specials for the proposed event 2 It took a year for this to materialise.

JOHORE SHOWS THE WAY

Once more, Johore prevailed as fertile ground for the sport of racing. Then H.R.H. Tunku Mahkota (Crown Prince) of Johore, Colonel Sultan Sir Ismail, and the predominantly expatriate committee of the newly formed Singapore Motor Club, had found a suitable course that not only had a good surface but also permitted overtaking. The Johore Grand Prix was on!

The umbilical cord linking Singapore to the Malaysian hinterland in the early 1950s.

They had every intention of making the post-war Johore Grand Prix an annual event with international stature. The venue was a stone’s throw from the Causeway with Singapore, with just a customs hut separating the Sourthern-most State in Peninsula Malaya with the island of Singapore.

“Very easy to cross the Johore Causeway, straight run through, no immigration, just a customs hut because we were part of Malaysia then,” recalled local racer Rodney Seow, who entered his first motorcycle race in one of the support races to the 1952 Johore Grand Prix, and went on to win numerous races in open-wheelers and sports cars. It helped that H.R.H. was a patron of the Singapore Motor Club and was himself a big fan of the automobile.

Very easy to cross the Johore Causeway, straight run through, no immigration, just a customs hut because we were part of Malaysia then…

Rodney Seow

The 1949 street circuit was located in Johore Bahru with suitable vantage points throughout the track that ran along the Esplanade, past the Johore Zoo, the Jail, the Sultan’s Palace, Court House and Post Office.  Spectators were allocated parking space near the Customs shed just after crossing the Causeway with Singapore.

The 1949 Johore Grand Prix was run to Post-War World Championship rules – 1½-litre and under (supercharged) and 4½-litre and under (unsupercharged) motors. Unlike the 1940 races, in 1949, there were also categories for motorcycles. This of course attracted the top riders from the Peninsula and Singapore.

The spectators showed up in droves for the races that ran from 1949 through to 1953.

BIG CARS BIG NAMES

For the 1949 Grand Prix, the Tunku Mahkota of Johore, His Highness Sir Ismail, a patron of the Singapore Motor Club, led a parade of the entrants in his V12 LG6 Lagonda, followed behind by his drophead 540K Mercedes as part of the opening ceremony.

Paul Gibbs-Pancheri, Clerk of the Course, used his 1928 4½-litre VdP Bentley as the Course Car, arguably the first vintage car to be shipped to Malaya after the war. The R.A.C. Steward for the event was a very illustrious name in racing – 39-year-old Major Oliver Bertram, one of the famous “Bentley Boys” and two-time winner of the British Racing Drivers’ Club Gold Star award3.

A scene from the first event of the 1950 Johore Grand Prix for Racing Cars. Wong Loon Cheong’s #26 Silver Arrow II 1490cc on the right, entered by Wong for young local car tycoon Chan Lye Choon. The car in the middle is Fred A. Stone’s #18 MG TC. Wong also entered his 1100cc Silver Arrow I (#24) 1100cc. Three other cars stand out in this photo: #25 (back, right – Kok Kum Woh in his Singer Nine Roadster), #21 (Mick Jennings in his Black Draught MG TC), and #23 (Freddie Pope in his supercharged Fiat Special).

Freddie Pope and his Fiat Taxicab Special exits Jail Corner for Jalan Ayer Molek in the direction of Garden Bend. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Freddie Johns’ wife Gladys entered a 2½ Jaguar Tourer Special (a 1936 or 1937 Jaguar Tourer, road registration A2584) for her husband to race in the 1950 Johore Grand Prix. Sadly, Johns had an off-track excursion on lap 15 of 20 of the Grand Prix. Johns was taken to the Johore General Hospital for minor injuries. 

The organisers were not ambitious – there would be just four races in all, of which two were for motorcycles, one for 1500cc and under unsupercharged cars, and 1100cc and under supercharged, and of course, the Johore Grand Prix main event. The motorcycles would be split into two races – one for 350cc and under and the other 351cc and over. Both would have heats of three laps with a five-lap final. The smaller cars would run a three lap heat and a five lap final while for the main event, the cars would all run a five lap heat and a ten lap Grand Prix.

Lim Peng Han’s very attractive L.A. Special zips past the Johore Post Office. The car was specially built for the 1949 Johore Grand Prix.  Later on at Judge’s Crest, the steering wheel of Lim’s car came loose and the car went down the lalang-strewn ravine, bouncing and bumping along the field. “Better jump…couldn’t decide when to jump,” he later revealed. He was taken to Johore General Hospital for attention. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Qantas engineers Neil Moncrieff (left) and Roy Kendall (right) by their Malayan Special they called the Kudensay. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Neil Moncrieff in the Kudensay prior to terminal overheating caused him to pull over during the 1949 Johore Grand Prix. The lap times suggest that Lim Peng Han’s L.A. Special had put in some blisteringly quick initial laps, matched only by Neil Moncrieff in the Kudensay. Lim’s exit took place after lap 12, Moncrieff was out after lap 13. None of the other drivers were anywhere close to the multiple sub-2 min 8 sec lap times posted by both these Specials. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Again, the race cars dominated. Four of Lim Peng Han’s Specials were entered, including his extraordinary 3½-litre Jaguar-engined L.A. Special, fashioned from the remains of a pre-war Maserati 4CS. Mick Jennings and Lim had both participated in the 1940 Grand Prix. This time, Jennings contested the event in a highly tuned MG TC instead of his MG K3 (that was lost during the war – See THE REAL CAPTAIN MG].

Mike Evans was one of Lim’s first post-war customers for an L.A. Special. His astute account of the development of Lim’s business, borne after years of not just racing in the Far East but knowing Lim well, is fascinating and worth recounting: “…as soon as motor sport returned, Lim found himself in the same frame of mind as the tuners in America who were convinced that it was cubic inches which told in the long run. The Military, in their inimitable way, had brought large quantities of Ford V8 engines into Singapore, and these, brand new and nicely crated, were soon available to the would be Special builder. This was right up Peng Han’s street and No. 27, a glorious example of all the Special builders’ art, was built for the 1949 Grand Prix.”

The Military, in their inimitable way, had brought large quantities of Ford V8 engines into Singapore, and these, brand new and nicely crated, were soon available to the would be Special builder.

It might have been a bit of a juggling act for the team at Lim Motor Garage with a number of L.A. Specials being readied for the big weekend and his own car might have been overlooked, which may have contributed to the accident in the Grand Prix on lap 12 when his steering wheel came loose at Judges Crest.

Eight local Specials lined up for the Grand Prix. Jennings took the chequered flag after 34 minutes and 36 seconds of outright racing in his tweaked TC. Jennings also won the 1,500cc support race. A crowd of over 20,000 attended the event. 

Thank you very much Mrs Jean Falconer4… Mick Jennings wins the first post-war Johore Grand Prix in his Black Draught. Looking over is Clerk of Course Paul Gibbs Pancheri (assisted by young Michael Pancheri).

Lap of honour for Mick Jennings and his Black Draught with its distinctively sloping tail. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

That first post-war Grand Prix catalysed the interest of the younger generation of Malayans such as Saw Kim Thiat, Yong Nam Kee and Freddie Johns. Together with Lim Peng Han and expatriates such as 35-year-old Paul Gibbs-Pancheri, they would fuel local interests for the next two decades.

That first post-war Grand Prix catalysed the interest of the younger generation of Malayans such as Saw Kim Thiat, Yong Nam Kee and Freddie Johns. Together with Lim Peng Han and expatriates such as 35-year-old Paul Gibbs-Pancheri, they would fuel local interests for the next two decades.

THE 1950 GRAND PRIX

Down south in Singapore, Lim Peng Han had been cutting it thin and was busy preparing five cars for the 1950 race when entries closed. There were twelve entries for the main Grand Prix, including Kuala Lumpur-based Mick Jennings, the previous year’s winner. Jennings’ MG TC, his Black Draught, had a lightweight aluminium body painted black.

Australian Neil Moncrieff, who had led the 1949 Grand Prix for thirteen laps before mechanical failure caused his retirement in his Kudensay Special [Mk1], entered his big car once more. For a second time bad luck prevailed – the favourite was caught on the outside and as the cars swept into the first corner, Moncrieff was edged off the road, the car somersaulting three times before crashing into the stands. Fortunately no one was hurt. The slicker Kudensay II was borne out of the remains of Mark I.

Disaster for the V8 Kudensay Special at Zoo Corner. From the wreckage of this came the Kudensay Mark 2. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Malaya wasn’t immune to conflict during this period and the Malayan “Guerrilla War” continued into its third year. The Colonial Government called it the Malayan Emergency. This didn’t prevent the racing from taking place or spectators from coming. The event was similarly very well attended and matched the previous year’s number of spectators of over 20,000.

HOT CATS

For the first time in Malaya, in 1950, a Jaguar XK120 Roadster made its appearance on the race track, entered by planter Frederick Milne ‘Fred’ Ferguson5. Jaguars aside, the were a number of newly constructed Specials, courtesy of Lim Peng Han.

Lim’s Specials included a pair for Peter Laws and Lim Wong Nyan, and one for the youngest entrant for the Grand Prix , 21-year old Michael Evans. Evans, who was working for Paterson Simons in Singapore at the time, had just bought an L.A. Special with Fiat engine from Lim Peng Han and told reporters that he had learned to drive a car only a year ago. Unfortunately for the young lad, the car “succumbed on the warm up lap for the up to 1,500cc class race with a rod through the side!” It appears that this was really just a Fiat 1,100 taxi with a light aluminium body built by Peng Han for Lim Wong Ngan earlier. Evans eventually sold the car to Malayan Airways pilot Brian Hawes. Such was the demand for Lim’s L.A. Specials that the Singapore Motor Club gave special dispensation late entries so that the cars could compete in Johore.

The Malayan V8 Special was still reasonably competitive in 1950 and hotel owner Lim Wong Nyan’s Ford V8 (3,917cc) L.A. Special regularly used his at upcountry speed events. The car was eventually sold to Freddie Johns in late 1952 and renamed Black Ghost. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Another of the Lim Peng Han-built 1,498cc Fiat-based Specials in action in Johore in 1950. The gaggle of identifiable cars behind Yip Peng Yin’s Fiat L.A. Special include Fred Stone (MG TC), William Johns Putra (MG TC) and Mick Jennings (Black Draught TC). Yip was the cousin of Lim’s second wife, Irene.

The start of the 1950 Johore Grand Prix with Jim Pattinson rocketing away from Freddie Johns and his #36 Jaguar Tourer Special. Fred Ferguson’s Jaguar XK120 had an awful start and can be seen at the back of the grid. The other cars on the grid included Peter Laws in a 4-litre V8 L.A. Special, Jimmy Milne in his V8 J.D. Special, Mick Jennings in his Black Draught, Freddie Pope in his Supercharged Fiat Special, Neil Moncreif in the Kudensay Special, Lim Peng Han in his 3.5-litre L.A. Special, Chai Eng Quee in his L.A. MG-Special, and Lim Wong Nyan in his V8 L.A. Special.

The Ferguson alloy XK120 car made its appearance at the 1950 Lornie Mile Sprint in Kuala Lumpur in June. It did not take long before several other well-heeled enthusiasts and towkays placed their orders for XK120s. By 1951 XK120s had infiltrated the sporting ranks. Ferguson aside, Brian Hawes, Derek Bovet White6, Donovan7 and the Eastern Auto Chan family had XK120s. By August 1951, one journalist remarked that: “practically every Jaguar in Malaya is in the race today [Johore Grand Prix, August 1951]”.

The Ferguson car was probably the most powerful car on the grid that day in 1950. He had a poor start but eventually finished second, setting Fastest Time of Day. This time, the Grand Prix was won in clear weather conditions by a 32-year-old Hong Kong Bank bank officer, Jim M. ‘Pat’ Pattinson8, then based in Singapore, in his supercharged MG TC. Pattinson, a banker with Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in Singapore, astonished the establishment, leading from start to finish. The following year, five Jaguars XK120s were on the starting grid of the Grand Prix in an attempt to put an end to MG domination.

Grand Prix fever had spread across the border into Singapore and in 1951, the Singapore Motor Club, organisers of the Johore Grand Prix, tried to introduce a massed-start road race in Singapore. The idea was abandoned after months of planning.

Well-known 23-year old James Muir, a tin mining engineer from Selangor, raced  Kyle Plamer’s J.L. Ross’s9 500cc Norton Manx. Muir’s record spoke for itself: 1949 Johore Grand Prix First in 350cc class and FTD; 1950 – first in 500cc race and second in 350cc race. In 1951 he won the Motorcycle unlimited class and was first in 500cc event.

30-year-old Selangor man Eric Monteiro loses it at Jail Corner and the exit into Jalan Ayer Molek in his Velocette 350cc. Malaya’s champion rider was entered in the 350cc and under class as favourite with his inseparable 350cc KTT Velocette.

The Johore Grand Prix packed the Grand Prix weekends with many classes of racing, including one for production sports cars such as this race in 1951. The entry list was dominated by MG TCs (and a sole Singer Le Mans).

THE CAR TO HAVE

Given the performance of the Jaguar XK120, many felt that this was the car to have if one had aspirations of winning the Johore Grand Prix over the Bank Holiday weekend in August 1951. The 1951 Grand Prix, run to world championship rules, was for 25 laps (51 miles 1,100 yards) for cars 1½-litre and under (supercharged) or 4½-litre and under (unsupercharged).

The Grand Prix was held on 5th August 1951 and the course length remained 2miles 110 yards per lap, with no change in the circuit layout. By the middle of the year, the Johore Bahru District Welfare Committee, chaired by Mrs Jean Falconer, wife of John Falconer, British Adviser in Johore, convened a sub-committee to undertake arrangements for the August Grand Prix. There would be three grandstands erected, capable of seating 1100 persons. In addition to which there was to be an enclosure where people could stand and watch the racing. Admission fee was to be 50c with grandstand tickets priced at Malayan $5.

For the Johore Grand Prix of 1951, Clerk of the Course was John Fenwick Lovell Gwatkin-Williams10, the position Paul Gibbs-Pancheri had held in both 1949 and 1950.  The six-footer would act as Clerk of the Course for the following two years as well.

The Grand Prix grid was made up of the familiar names that had raced there since the first Grand Prix in 1940. Lim Peng Han was on his fourth attempt to win the elusive Johore Grand Prix trophy.

Roy Kendall in the reincarnated Kudensay Mk2 on the starting grid for the 1951 Johore Grand Prix. Jaguar XK120s to his right and behind him. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

COOPERHOLICS

1951 was also a pivotal year in Asian racing. The Cooper rear-engine race car had arrived. It was the smallest car on the grid and also the first racing car to arrive in Malaya after the war. Bill Ferguson11, brother of Freddie Ferguson, brought in a 998cc JAP-engined Cooper MkIII. Bill, a member of the Selangor Motor Sports Club, faced a formidable grid of larger cars, five of which were very fast Jaguar XK120s, one of them driven by his brother Freddie who had finished second in the previous year’s race.

1951 was also a pivotal year in Asian racing. The Cooper rear-engine race car had arrived. It was the smallest car on the grid and also the first racing car to arrive in Malaya after the war.

Jimmy Milne’s Cooper JAP heads Bill Ferguson’s 1951 Johore Grand Prix-winning Cooper out of Zoo Corner during the 1952 Grand Prix. 

Four Jaguar XK120s on the hunt into Zoo Corner during the 1951 Johore Grand Prix. Freddie Pope leads the pack in his road-registered alloy-bodied car. Behind Pope is Derek Bovet-White (No.79)13, Singapore competitors had a number of misfortunes that were said to have been cases of sabotage. As a result, competitors from Singapore were allocated armed guards (with heavy sticks) to keep watch on the cars in the paddock. Some took matters into their own hands and kept their cars in the Johore Bahru Police Station compound, while others, such as Freddie Pope, had their cars hidden till race day.

A very common location for photographers at the Johore Grand Prix was Zoo Corner. Here a young Rodney Seow takes an unusual line into Zoo on the first lap of the Johore Grand Prix Support race for 350cc and under motorcycles in his # 83 Norton International. Leading the pack in this photograph is K.C. Wong in a Matchless 350 (#26) followed by Soh Guan Bee in a Norton (#18). Eventual winner Abdul Rahman bin Haji Siraj trails the pack in #91.

School student Rodney Seow picks himself up after fall on lap 7 of the 350cc and under motorcycle support race. Abdul Rahman bin Haji Siraj in the number 91 Norton Manxman passes. They would share FTD in that race.

The grid Race 1 (1500cc and under Supercharged cars) of the 1952 Johore Grand Prix. #44 is Phil Caroline in his L.A. XPAG MG Special; #6 is Chia Eng Quee in his 1,486cc flat-four Jowett Airhen Special 1486cc; and #89 is Lim Peng Han in his Supercharged Fiat KK Special. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Selangor resident Saw Kim Thiat raced his MG TC in the Production Sports Cars race for the 1952 Johore Grand Prix 1952. For the Grand Prix, he used his Jaguar XK120.

Saw Kim Thiat in his Jaguar XK120 sans rear wheel arch during the 1952 Grand Prix.

41-year-old Lim Peng Han raced the S.R. Knight-entered #89 Supercharged Fiat 1,089cc KK Special in the 1952 Johore Grand Prix 1952. Lim managed a sixth place finish in the Grand Prix. The car was also raced in the 10-lap Race for cars 1500cc and under Unsupercharged, 1100cc Supercharged. That race was won by Chia Eng Quee in his Jowett Airhen Special (pictured in #6, alongside Lim in the #89 KK Special). Chia also set FTD in that race. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Yom Ahmad14 in #36 Austin A40 Sports in Race 1 for Cars 1,500cc and under Unsupercharged and 1,100cc Supercharged. 

Race 4 was a 10-lap Handicap race for Sports and Racing cars and featured everything from an Allard J2 to an Austin A40 Sports. The photo shows Jimmy Milne (in Neil Moncrieff’s Cooper JAP) lapping Freddie Pope in an MG TC.

Freddie Johns’ #28 Ford Flathead 239cu V8 Black Ghost at Jail Corner during the 1952 Johore Grand Prix. Look hard and you may just be able to discern Johns’ insignia on the cockpit panel – the skull and bones.

The well-known Black Draught II in action in Johore in 1952. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Singapore’s Chan brothers, Lye Huat (No.30) and Lye Choon, entered a pair of MG TDs for the 1952 Grand Prix. Known as the Citroén Brothers as they arrived at the events in Citroéns (the brothers had inherited Eastern Auto, agents for the French marque). Both had participated in the Johore Grand Prix for the first time in 1951, with MG TDs.

The beginning of the end for the Malayan-built Special came with the arrival of the Coopers, seen here battling it out in 1952.

Malayan Airways pilot Phil Caroline battles his Allard J2 down towards the hairpin at Jail Corner during the 1952 Johore Grand Prix.

At the end of the meet, planter Charles Derek Bovet-White took victory in the Johore Grand Prix in his highly-tuned XK120 while Perak’s Reggie Holden Trevor finally broke his duck on his fourth try with his first Grand Prix win in the motorcycle Grand Prix astride his Vincent HRD Rapide.

27-year-old Reggie Holden Trevor, on his Vincent HRD Rapide, finally won the coveted Grand Prix for motorcycles in 1952 – on his fourth attempt.

…competitors from Singapore were allocated armed guards (with heavy sticks) to keep watch on the cars in the paddock. Some took matters into their own hands and kept their cars in the Johore Bahru Police Station compound…

Derek Bovet-White beat very determined Selangor-resident Saw Kim Thiat (both had XK120s) by the barest of margins – a mere 30 feet. Both the Cooper JAPs suffered engine trouble although the unluckiest entrant at the event was likely Saw’s buddy Au Nai Fai. Au had to retire his XK120 eight laps from the end when it overheated while in 4th place and rapidly catching the leading cars. With Bovet-White and Saw first and second respectively, it was left to the ailing Cooper JAP of Bill Ferguson to take third, the JAP engine coughing on a single working cylinder. Neil Moncrieff set FTD in his Cooper JAP but only managed fifth place while Lim Peng Han finished a disappointing sixth.

It was reported that a crowd of over 20,000 attended the 1952 Johore Grand Prix!

INTERNATIONAL INTEREST

By 1953, there was international interest, but Malaya was now in the midst of a war against Communism. To compound matters, the economic outlook was bleak. Tin shares on the Singapore stock exchange had hit a decade low in July 1953. High-grade ground tin had been exhausted and pump mines were being shut down. Rubber prices were falling. Indonesian restrictions were hitting Singapore’s entrepot trade. The United Nations had an embargo on all shipments of strategic materials to China which hit Malaya’s exports hard. With the signing of a Korean truce in North Asia which signalled the end of the Korean War, there was even greater fear that Mainland communists were going to shift their attention and activities to South East Asia. 

When the Johore Grand Prix was hosted on Sunday 2 August 1953, the SMC’s committee consisted of Allen Crabbe as President and Neil Moncrieff as Vice President.15

The under 1500cc Sports Cars race was started under Le Mans rules with drivers lined up across the track for the massed-start. Nagle Yap took an early but short-lived lead but it was Saw Kim Thiat from KL, driving an MG TD, who took the flag and FTD of 2min 18sec at 61.16mph.

Lim Peng Han in his MG TC Special in 1953 on the way to a second place finish in the Under 1500cc Sports Cars support race. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Freddie Johns was another very active participant throughout Malaya in the 1950s until his untimely death in 1966. For the 1952 Johore GP, he raced “Hitam Manis”, his MG TC.

The event’s only lady entrant in the under 1,500cc Sports Cars race was Ruth Jennings. She had steadily climbed the field but on lap 8 had an altercation with Freddie Johns, both drivers ending up out.

Kuala Lumpur’s Saw Kim Thiat in his MG TC in Race 4 for Sports Cars 1,500cc and Under. The 10-lap race saw a Le Mans start. Saw, better known for racing a Jaguar XK120 and in later years, a Lotus Eleven and Lotus 15, led from start to finish and set FTD in the process as well.

A different perspective of the clash between Freddie Johns and his MG TC and Ruth Jennings in her TC.

Dr. S.C. McPherson pushes his Aston Martin DB2 hard out of Jail Corner on his way to winning the Sports Cars Unlimited support race, beating Phil Caroline (who had spun on five separate occasions in his Allard J2X) and Ho Yue Kong (Jaguar XK120) in the process.

The DB2 on the way to winning Race @ forSports Cars Unlimited (including Saloons) win. This was a 10 lap (20 mile, 1,100 yards) race that featured eight entries – this DB2, a pair of Jaguar XK120s, the ill-fated 2.3-litre Alfa Romeo, a pair of MG TDs, a 1.9-litre Light Fifteen Citroën and an Allard J2X

Down the main straight head three very contrasting automobiles. #79 is Chan Lye Huat in his Citroën Light Fifteen. #32 is the Aston Martin DB2 of Dr. S.C. McPherson. The third car in this photo is Phil Caroline in his Allard J2X. It was a gripping battle between Caroline and his Allard and Kuala Lumpur-based MacPherson and the Aston Martin. The Allard spun five times over the course of the ten-lap race, which effectively gifted the race to the DB2.

The first casualty of the 1953 Johore Grand Prix was this Alfa Romeo 8C-2300, a victim at Garden Bend.  

The first race for the weekend was was won by Jimmy Milne in Neil Moncrieff’s #29 Cooper JAP with Freddie Pope second in his FP23 and Phil Caroline third (in his L.A. XPAG Special).

Curtain raiser for the weekend with this race that saw 7 entries (the eighth was Lim Peng Han in the Kieft Mk1-A which did not start). The race was won by Jimmy Milne in Neil Moncrieff’s Cooper JAP with Freddie Pope second in his FP23 and Phil Caroline third (in his L.A. XPAG Special). Freddie Johns was fourth in his MG TC (called Hitam Manis). While Pope raced his Jaguar XK120 in the main Grand Prix race, he used his #23 Special in the Handicap Race 1 for Racing Cars.

Freddie Pope’s heavily-modified Jaguar on its way to victory in the 40-lap 1953 Johore Grand Prix. Of fourteen starters, only seven completed the gruelling 40-lap race. Au Nai Fai was second in another XK120 and Phil Caroline third in an Allard J2X Studebaker. The overall length of the race had been increased over the previous year’s 35 laps (25 laps in 1951; 20 laps in 1950; 15 laps in 1949).

Nonetheless, the Johore Grand Prix was still the event of the year in Malaya, and indeed Asia. When entries for the Johore Grand Prix closed on Wednesday, 15th July 1953, the woes of the economy had been put aside temporarily and the rush to get the cars and bikes ready for the big day on 2nd August was at full swing. 1953 would also see the arrival of the first international entry, from Australia.

1953 would also see the arrival of the first international entry, from Australia.

32-year-old Western Australian Sydney Anderson, from Perth, had a secret weapon to match the XK120s and Coopers. His “Double Banger” had two V8 engines mounted on a Dodge chassis. “Sure win!” the local competitors moaned. There was exotic machinery as well – an Italian car and driver combination – 26-year-old Carlo Vigano, a recent arrival to the Colony, had a pre-war Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 rebodied with a Zagato Coupe body.

As the saying goes, old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm. In this case it was experience and some of the above that prevailed over youth and motor engineer and workshop owner Freddie Pope wrested victory in his XK120 Special.

The centre of attention in the paddock for the 1953 Johore Grand Prix is the Western Australian-entered Double Banger.

The scantily-clad Jaguar hounded Anderson’s Double Banger and finally assumed the lead on lap 19 after Anderson retired with mechanical issues. Pope and local motor car distributor Chan Lye Huat then proceeded to lap the entire field, the XK120 blasting down Jalan Tai Heng at 112mph.

Of the fourteen starters, only seven completed the gruelling 40-lap race. Once again, Au Nai Fai finished second in his XK120. Airline pilot Phil Caroline was third in an Allard J2X Studebaker. Chan Lye Huat set FTD, a new lap record, in his Cooper JAP, but pulled out of the race a lap before the end with engine trouble, having come within 90 seconds of the leader at that point.

The weekend closed on a sombre note with the death of rider Osman Abbas during practice earlier. Johore mourned its first Grand Prix fatality. This fifth annual post-war Johore Grand Prix would be the last street circuit race until 1960. Was it the unfortunate fatality, economic woes or the battle against Communism [the Malayan Emergency] that put a stop to the racing?

RACE RESULTS for all classes (top three positions)

1949: Grand Prix 15 laps: C.O. ‘Mick’ Jennings/Black Draught MG TC; Jimmy Milne/J.D. Ford V8 Special; S. Theraviam/MG TC

Fastest Time: Lim Peng Han/L.A. V8 Special & Neil Moncrieff/Kudensay V8 Mk I 2:04 (59.68 mph)

Overall race time: 34:36 (avg 53.60 mph)

Previous lap record: NA

Cars 1,500cc and under Unsupercharged & 1100cc Supercharged 10 laps: C.O. Jennings/Black Draught MG TC; Chia Eng Quee (entered by Wong Loon Cheong)/Silver Arrow I; S. Theraviam/MG TC

Fastest Time: Unknown

Overall race time: 23:39 (55.2 mph)

Previous lap record: NA

Cars 1,100cc and under Supercharged (same race as above): Chia Eng Quee/Silver Arrow I

Motorcycle Grand Prix (351cc and Over) 10 laps: Seet Beng Sin/Ariel Square Four “Squariel” 997cc; S.H. Davidson/Norton International 490cc

Fastest Time: Seet Beng Sin/Ariel 997cc. Time unknown

Overall race time: 12:32 (avg 56.9 mph)

Previous lap record: NA

Motorcycle 350cc and Under 10 laps: Jock Muir/Norton 348cc; J.E. Higginson/Velocette 348cc; Lemat bin Chumek/Triumph Lemat Special 350cc

Fastest Time: Unknown

Overall race time: 23:21

Previous lap record: NA

1950: Grand Prix 20 laps: Jim M. Pattinson/Supercharged MG TC; Fred M. Ferguson/Jaguar XK120; C.O. Jennings/Black Draught MG TC

Fastest Time: Fred M. Ferguson/Jaguar XK120 2:13 (55.64 mph)

Overall race time: 49.90 mins (49.66 mph)

Previous lap record: 2:04 (59.68 mph)

Cars 1500cc and Under Unsupercharged & 1100cc Supercharged 15 laps: C.O. Jennings/Black Draught MG TC; Chia Eng Quee/L.A. MG-Special; P.D. Rooth/MG TC

Fastest Time: Yip Peng Yin/L.A.-Fiat Special @ 2:09 (57.36 mph)

Overall race time: 34:30 (53.8 mph)

Previous lap record: Unknown

Motorcycle Grand Prix (350cc and Over) 15 laps: Jens Skakke/Vincent HRD; Reggie Holden Trevor/Vincent HRD; J.L. Ross/Norton Manx 499cc

Fastest Time: Jens Skakke/Vincent HRD 1:56 (63.79 mph)

Overall race time: 29.46 mins (63 mph)

Previous lap record: Unknown

Motorcycle 350cc and Under 15 laps: Graham B. Marriott/Matchless 350cc; Jock Muir/Norton 348cc; Ho Cheng Choon/Triumph 348cc

Fastest Time: Jock Muir/Norton 348cc 1:57 (63.25 mph)

Overall race time: 34.30 (53.8 mph)

Previous lap record: Unknown

1951: Grand Prix 25 laps: Bill Ferguson/Cooper JAP 996cc; Freddie Pope/Jaguar XK120; Fred Ferguson/Jaguar XK120

Fastest Time: Bill Ferguson/Cooper JAP 996 & Brian Hawes/Jaguar XK120 Monoposto 2:04 (59.68 mph)

Overall race time: 55.186 min @ 56.06 mph

Previous lap record: Fred Ferguson/Jaguar XK120 @ 2:13 (55.64 mph) in 1950

Cars 1,500cc and under Unsupercharged & 1100cc Supercharged 15 laps: Bill Ferguson/Cooper JAP 996cc; Freddie Pope/FP23 Special; Lim Peng Han/L.A. MG-Special

Fastest Time: Bill Ferguson/Cooper JAP 996cc  2:215 (52.22 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: Yip Peng Yin/L.A.-Fiat Special @ 2:09 (57.36 mph)

Cars 1,100cc and Under Supercharged: Bill Ferguson/Cooper JAP 996cc; Kok Kum Woh/K&K Fiat Special

Fastest Time: Bill Ferguson/Cooper JAP 996cc 2:215 (52.22 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: NA

Sports Productions Cars Under 1,500cc 5 laps: J.A. Graham/MG TC; P.M. Jamieson/MG TC; C.O. Jennings/Black Draught MG TC

Fastest Time: Saw Kim Thiat/MG TC 2:21 (52.48 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: NA

Motorcycle Grand Prix 351cc and Unlimited 20 laps: Jock Muir/Norton 499cc; Chris Teh/Norton 499cc; Lawrence R. Robson/Lawrence Triumph TT 498cc

Fastest Time: Reggie Holden Trevor/Vincent HRD 1:53 (65.49 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: Jens Skakke/Vincent HRD 1:56 (63.79 mph)

Motorcycle 350cc and Under 10 laps: Ross Isle/Norton 348cc; Capt. Edward B. Wilson/7R AJS 348cc; Osman bin Abbas/Norton 350cc

Fastest Time: Edward B. Wilson/AJS @ 2:08 (57.81 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: Jock Muir/Norton 348cc @ 1:57 (63.25 mph)

1952: Grand Prix 35 laps: Derek Bovet-White/Jaguar XK120; Saw Kim Thiat/Jaguar XK120; Bill Ferguson/Cooper JAP 996cc

Fastest Time: Neil Moncrieff/Cooper JAP 1,096cc 1:58 (62.71 mph) – New lap record

Overall race time: approx. 1:14.33 (57.36 mph)

Previous lap record: Bill Ferguson/Cooper 996cc & Brian Hawes/Jaguar XK120 Special @ 2:04 (59.68 mph)

Racing Cars 1,500cc and under Unsupercharged & 1,100cc and ubder Supercharged (10 laps): Chia Eng Quee/Airhen Special 1486cc (Javelin); Phil Caroline/LA. MG-Special; Kok Kum Woh/K&K Fiat Special 1098cc

Fastest Time: Chia Eng Quee/Airhen Special 2:11 (56.49 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: C.O. Jenning/Black Draught MG TC & Bill Ferguson/Cooper 996cc @ 2:10 (56.92 mph)

[Note: In 1951 the race distance was over 15 laps]

Production Sports Cars 1,500cc & under (7 laps): Saw Kim Thiat/MG TC; C.O. Jennings/Black Draught MG TC; Douglas Ian Jansz/MG TC

Fastest Time: Saw Kim Thiat/MG TC 2:23 (51.75 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: Saw Kim Thiat/MG TC @ 2:21 (52.48 mph)

Handicap Sports and Racing Cars Unlimited (10 laps): Jimmy Milne/Cooper JAP 1,096cc; Bill Ferguson/Cooper JAP 996cc; Chia Eng Quee/Airhen Special 1,486cc

Fastest Time: Jimmy Milne/Cooper JAP 1,096cc 1:58 (62.79 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: NA

Motorcycles Grand Prix (351cc and Over) (15 laps): Reggie Holden Trevor/Vincent HRD 998cc; Jock Muir/Norton 499cc; R. Sivaganam/Triumph Trophy 498cc

Fastest Time: Reggie Holden Trevor/Vincent HRD 1:55 (65.4 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: Reggie Holden Trevor/Vincent HRD @ 1:53 (65.49 mph)

Motorcycle 350cc and under: A. Rahman bin Haji Siraj/Norton Manxman 348cc; M. Breakspeare/BSA 348cc; Alan Bussens/BSA 348cc

Fastest Time: Shared between Rahman/Norton Manxman; Rodney Seow/Norton International 498cc; M. Breakspeare/BSA 348cc @ 2:08 (57.81 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: Edward B. Wilson/AJS @ 2:08 (57.81 mph)

Motorcycle 175cc and under (3 laps): Danny Needham/BSA 123cc; James Robson/CZ 149cc

Fastest Time: Danny Needham 2:37 (47.13 mph)

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: NA

1953: Grand Prix 40 laps: Freddie Pope/XK120 Special; Au Nai Fai/XK120; Phil Caroline/Allard J2X

Fastest Time: Chan Lye Huat/Cooper JAP 1:57 (63.25 mph) – New lap record.

Overall race time: 1:23.48

Previous lap record: Neil Moncrieff/Cooper JAP 1096cc @ 1:58 (62.71 mph)

Handicap Racing Cars 1,500cc and under, 1,100cc and under Supercharged 10 laps: Jimmy Milne/Cooper JAP 1,096cc; Freddie Pope/FP23 MG-Special; Phil Caroline/L.A. MG-Special

Overall race rime: 21:36

Fastest Time:  Jimmy Milne/Cooper JAP 2:05 (avg 59.20 mph)

Previous lap record: C.O. Jennings/Black Draught MG TC & Bill Ferguson/Cooper JAP 996cc 2:10 (avg 56.92 mph)

Sports Cars Unlimited (including saloons) (10 laps): Dr. S.C. McPherson/Aston Martin DB2; Phil Caroline/Allard J2X; Ho Yue Kong/Jaguar XK120

Fastest Time:  Phil Caroline/Allard J2X 2:08 (avg 57.81 mph)

Overall race time: 22:30

Note: Just four cars started this race after three scratched]

Motorcycles 350cc and Under (10 laps): Ross Isle/Norton Featherbed 348cc; William Cleugh/Norton Manx 350cc; Victor S.L. Lee (entrant Chua Sui Kwang)/Triumph 350cc

Overall race time:  20:50.2

Fastest Time: Ross Isle 2:00 (61.67 mph)

Previous lap record: Jock Muir/Norton 350cc 1:57 (63.25 mph)

Sports Cars 1,500cc and Under (10 laps): Saw Kim Thiat/MG TC; Lim Peng Han/MG TC Special; Chan Lye Choon/MG TD

Overall race time: 23:40

Fastest Time: Chan Lye Choon 2:18 (61.16 mph)

Motorcycles Under 175cc (3 laps): Billy Robson/Robson “R” Special 125cc; Lam Im Kong/Excelsior 125cc (entrant: Hugh P. Anderson); Peter Chan/C.Z. 149cc

Race Time 8:87

Fastest Time: Billy Robson and Lam Im Kong: 2:43 (45.65 mph)

Overall race time:

Previous lap record: Danny Needham/BSA 123cc 2:37 (avg 47.13 mph)

Motorcycles Unlimited (20 laps): Reggie Holden Trevor/Vincent HRD 998cc; R. Sivaganam/Triumph Trophy 498cc; Douglas Frank/Norton 498cc

Race Time: 37:25

Fastest Time: Reggie Holden Trevor 1:50 (avg 67.27 mph) – New course record

Overall race time: Unknown

Previous lap record: Reggie Holden Trevor/Vincent HRD @ 1:53 (65.49 mph)

Motorcycles Special Award for 500cc bikes: R. Sivaganam/Triumph Trophy (Run conjointly with the Motorcycle Unlimited event)

Acknowledgements

Pancheri Collection; Saw Kim Thia Collection; Rodney Seow Collection; Jennings Collection; F.A. Johns Collection; Lim Peng Han Collection; Moncrieff Collection; RMA Collection

NEXT UP: JOHORE GRAND PRIX – Part 2: 1960-1963

Footnotes

  1. This car was referred to as the L.A. Bugatti-MG. It consisted of an off-set monoposto body, something resembling a Bugatti horseshoe grille, Andre Hartford front friction dampers, 8-inch drum brakes and side-laced wire wheels, very pre-war MG indeed – suggesting perhaps that the chassis was from his MG M-Type. The Bugatti bodywork would be used over and over until it was finally reunited with its rightful chassis and engine in 1962.
  2. Straits Times, 16 July 1948, p8. First mention of a Johore “Round the Houses” race to be organised by the newly formed SMC and held later in 1948. “Special Cars For Race”. The story states that Singapore racing motorists are building special cars for a “round the houses” road race in Johore area.
  3. Major Oliver Bertram was then stationed in Singapore as a Squadron Leader (barrister) with Tanglin G.H.Q. F.A.R.E.L.F. (the British Army’s Far East Land Force). He was a Barrister-At-Law and a Judge Advocate and held the Brooklands race track record for a short period during 1935.
  4. John Falconer (b. 1898 – d. 1990) was British Resident Commissioner to Johore between March 1949 and July 1952. Dorothy Jean Falconer was his wife.
  5. Before WWII The Ferguson brothers, Perak-based planters ‘Bill’ James George Milne Ferguson and Frederick Milne Ferguson, were busy with duties at the Royal Air Force Government Flying Training School at Kallang Airport, Fred having commenced his cadet training in October 1940 and Bill, in the second batch of cadets, started his in March 1941. Planter Charles Derek Bovet White, later to join the Fergusons as very active racers in post-war Malaya, was also a flight training school cadet in October 1940 [Malaya Tribune, 18 October 1940, p.3 – Malayan Airmen To Train in Canada]. For a more detailed note on the Ferguson family, see THE LOST CREAM CRACKER.
  6. Charles Derek Bovet White, D.F.C. (Distinguished Flying Cross) – [b. 13 Nov 1913 d. 1. 1996?] Arrived in Malaya 1934. Assistant Manager, Penang Rubber Estate, Nibong Tebal, Province Wellesley. Joined SSVAF 1940. Trained at Kallang in Singapore (2nd batch of cadets with Fred Ferguson), Iraq, and South Rhodesia. Flew Mosquitoes with RAF and NZ RAF with 487 Squadron [RAFVR number 135139]. Returned Malaya 1947 as Manager, Holmwood Estate, Batang Berjuntai, Selangor, then Bukit Jalil Estate, Petaling, Selangor. Bukit Jalil Estate (1219 acres) was owned by Jeram Rubber Estates Ltd. Jeram sold Bukit Jalil Estates in 1951 as a going concern for $750,000, having purchased the estate from Cromlix Rubber Estate in January 1939. Back from leave in October 1950 with his new Jaguar XK120. The family left Malaya in July 1961. He was Commanding Officer of the Royal Malayan Air Force until 1961, flying Harvards. Position taken over by Kirpal Singh, Deputy Director of Broadcasting (Engineering) in August 1961 [author unable to verify this information on C.D.B. White’s official position in the Royal Malayan Air Force].
  7. The XK120 appears to have been purchased by Freddie Pope sometime in May 1951, following the Gap Hill Climb in Singapore. At the 27 May 1951 Gap, a B. Donovan of Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Negri Sembilan was entered with race number #48. Donovan was possibly from 2nd Battalion, RWF, stationed at Tampin, Negri Sembilan.
  8. We know very little of Jim Pattinson. He was later seen in Hong Kong and continued to participate in club meetings there, first at the 17 October 1954 Practice Hill Climb at Golden Hill in Hong Kong, setting FTD in the cars event. He repeated this at the 5 December 1954 Golden Hill Climb and at the 9 January 1956 Wong Nai Chong Hill Climb, again in his MG T-Type Special. It was but a fleeting appearance over the 1955-56 period in Hong Kong.
  9. James Lunan Ross (b.1903) of Kinross, Scotland. Educated Dollar Academy. Chartered Accountant, Kyle, Plamer & Co. KL. Then director of the same. Lt. FMSVF Signals Battalion. POW Singapore to Thailand. Returned post-war. Returned as Lt-Col. Lived at 5 Stonor Road, KL. Married Marjory Helen Bryce MA 1946, Edinburgh. Returned to Malaya by BOAC/QEA on 12 August 1946 via Burma with rank of Lt.Col. President of the AAM Selangor Branch in 1940. Instrumental (while Managing Director of Kyle, Palmer & Co.) in the merger of Kyle, Palmer & Co. and Peterson Simons in 1961.
  10. 39-year-old John Fenwick Lovell Gwatkin-Williams (b.1925 – d. 1983)arrived in Singapore in June 1946 with the Ministry of Supply as a disposal officer. He headed the British Stores Disposals Board (Singapore), offices in Cathay Building. An engineer by profession. he worked at Bentley Motors before the war. During the war he commanded the Eighth Army’s Mobile Vehicle Park (3rd London Ordnance Field Park), one of the original desert rats. From running the British Stores Disposal Board in Singapore he moved to the Civil Service, spending time in Burma before returning to Singapore for Overseas Corporation (F.E.) Ltd, sole agents for Repco parts (in that capacity in 1956) in Singapore and Malaya. Overseas Corporation (Far East) Ltd was a subsidiary of Overseas Corporation (Australia) Ltd., local office at 18 Cecil Street in Singapore and at 68 Ampang Road in Kuala Lumpur. He also served on the committee of the Singapore Motor Club, holding the positions of Public Relations Officers and of President (in 1957).
  11. ‘Bill’ James George Milne Ferguson was born in Perak on 27 April 1912 to Scottish parents. Bill was the eldest son of James Scott ‘Fergie’ Ferguson  of Fyvie in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. J.S. Ferguson [for more on James Scott Ferguson, see footnote #8 of THE LOST MG TA CREAM CRACKER] came to Malaya around 1906. By the 1930s the Ferguson boys (there were three) must have been reasonably well off to indulge in various
    activities, including owning several interesting cars, and flying. Bill would have gone to college in the UK in the early 1930s, probably either Oxford or Cambridge.
  12. Sungei Way Estate planter C.D.B. White’s XK120 (registration N4072) was featured in The Singapore Free Press, 27 October 1950, pg 7. The car was delivered to Singapore from England on the S.S. Oranje. The XK120 was purchased for £1,276 circa June 1950 while he was on home leave. He entered the car at the Brighton Sprint – finishing 4th in the Unlimited class. /efn_note] in his XK120 (prior to some serious engine tweaks for the following season). On Bovet-White’s outside is Malaysian Ho Yue Kong (No.81) in his XK120. In the distance is Brian Hawes in his XK120 Monoposto Special. The five XK120s entered were upstaged by Freddie Ferguson in his little 998cc JAP-engined Cooper MkIII.

Malaysian Ho Yue Kong, pictured at the 1951 Johore Grand Prix, actively raced his XK120 at the various sprints throughout Malaysia and Singapore.

Two names made their second appearance in Johore, again in MG TDs. Brothers Chan Lye Choon and Chan Lye Huat would go on to dominate local racing for many years after. The race also saw a number of Specials entered, including Chia Eng Quee’s newly-built Airhen Special which had a standard Jowett Javelin 1948cc engine.

Chia Eng Quee came from the school of Lim Peng Han. His Airhen Special was based around a Jowett with its flat-four alloy engine. [See MONSTERS & MAVERICKS  MALAYAN/SINGAPORE POST-WAR SPECIALS]

Singapore Motor Club President Paul Gibbs Pancheri (1928 3/4½-litre VDP open tourer  Bentley, was shipped to Singapore in 1949) leads Chan Lye Choon (MG TD) out of Jail Corner onto Jalan Ayer Molek during the 1951 Johore Grand Prix.

Bill Ferguson wrestles his little 998cc Cooper JAP towards a surprise Grand Prix victory in Johore in 1951 against a formidable grid that included five Jaguar XK120s!

Mick Jennings, founding President of the Selangor Motor Sports Club, now 52, had his supercharged 85bhp (at 6,500rpm) Black Draught back, rebuilt after the body was badly damaged during transit back to Kuala Lumpur after a hill climb earlier that year in Singapore. Kudensay II met Black Draught II on the start line. Neither could match Bill Ferguson’s little 996cc Cooper JAP. The Cooper won both the Johore Grand Prix, as well as the preceding support race for cars 1½-litres and under.

TAKING OFF

If 1951 was a bumper year for the organisers with over 80 entries received, 1952 was even bigger with 101 entries for seven events (four for cars, three for motor cycles), the biggest program yet held in Malaya. In 1951, the Johore Grand Prix was run to 25 laps (51 miles 990 yards). The 1952 Grand Prix was lengthened to 35 laps, the longest ever for the Johore Grand Prix. A field of 17 cars entered the Grand Prix and these included a pair of Cooper JAPs, Jaguar XK120s, a Jowett Jupiter, MG TDs and the requisite number of Malayan-built Specials.

The start of one of the support races in the 1952 Johore Grand Prix featuring (front row L to R) Bill Ferguson’s 996cc Cooper JAP, the Roy Kendall-Neil Moncreiff Kudensay Special and Mick Jennings’ Black Draught MG TC. Singaporean Chan Lye Choon is in the No.33 MG TD on row two.

The pair of Coopers included Bill Ferguson’s 1951 winning car, and a new import – one that would be shared between Neil Moncrieff and Jimmy Milne and leave a lasting legacy of victories and records up and down the Peninsula over the next few years. Critics lamented that these cars would “ruin motor sport in Malaya” and that “nobody sees any point in trying to build a Special when he knows he can’t beat the Coopers.” But the Coopers were fragile. Talk centered around whether the Coopers would be permitted to race in the Support race for Sports Cars as well (the Coopers were withdrawn for were entered in the Handicap race for Sports and Racing cars and in the Grand Prix).

Critics lamented that these cars would “ruin motor sport in Malaya” and that “nobody sees any point in trying to build a Special when he knows he can’t beat the Coopers.”

The issue of the Cooper racing cars wasn’t the only concern the competitors had. At the 13-event Ipoh Speed Trial at Ashby Road earlier in the year (13 April 1952)12 13 April 1952. Ipoh Speed Trial – Ashby Road. 7000 spectators. 13 events. Mrs Ian William Blelloch British Advisor to Perak, presented the prizes. Sports Cars 3 lap race; Racing Cars 5 lap race

  • Later Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Prof. Dr. Yom Ahmad Bin Ngah Ahmad, born circa 1922-1924. By 1959, one of the leading Malay contractors based in Perak. Became President of the Perak Malay Chamber of Commerce, 1959. Tan Sri Yom Ahmad successfully nurtured his small business operation that was incorporated in 1958 into a holding company, Yom Ahmad Ngah (Holding) Sdn Bhd with subsidiaries dealing in diverse businesses such as construction and housing government contracts, private and public housing projects, tin-mining and import-export transactions.
  • The rest of the SMC’s committee consisted of the following: Hon. Secretary J.M. Bruce; Hon. Treasurer R.W. ‘Percy’ Corner; R.E. Dufler; Douglas Frank; John Gwatkin-Williams (PRO); Ross Isle; James Lockerbie; Jimmy Milne; A.E.G. ‘Teddy’ Moore; Geoff W. Morton; Clement Pat Thomas.
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