The big time
David McKay had retired from frontline racing in early 1963 and was on the lookout for a young successor. Martin tted the bill, but had to serve his apprenticeship. His rst outing was the inaugural Bathurst 500, paired with the experienced Brian Muir in an EH Holden S4 (see overleaf).
Then came a brush with racing royalty, as Martin then spannered for World Champion Graham Hill in the Scuderia’s Brabham BT4 during the 1964 Tasman championship.
The carrot was a drive in the Brabham, with Martin’s rst major meeting being the Bathurst Easter meeting where he nished second to Frank Matich in the Formula Libre feature race. However, the Brabham was soon sold, its BT11A replacement wouldn’t arrive until the end of the year, along with another team car that would electrify the racing scene – the fabulous Ferrari LM250. Both Scuderia Veloce’s new cars would debut in the 1965 Tasman. A returning Graham Hill would pilot the Brabham and the ‘boy’, as McKay described him, raced the Ferrari in the Tasman support races despite protests from Hill. The heavy Ferrari was more suited to endurance races like the Le Mans 24 Hour event it had previously contested than ve-lap sprints, but Martin was able to extract the best out of the Italian stallion. In the Gold Star he won the Lakeside round in the Brabham and nished third in the championship. In the 1966 Tasman, he competed in all rounds as the leading resident Australian. His best result was third at Levin, although the New Zealand Grand Prix was another highlight.
“I quali ed on the front row with Graham Hill and Jim Clark. Jackie Stewart and Frank Gardner were behind me on the second row,” he remembers. “But I was out of my depth. I had the speed but David (McKay) should have told me to let those guys go and run my own race. Instead I took off like a scalded cat and was leading after the rst lap. It was bucketing down and I aquaplaned on the back straight and went off. David thought that I had arrived, but I learnt the hard way.”
All was not well within Scuderia Veloce and with McKay (see ‘Three Kings’ breakout), with Martin leaving the team after the 1966 Tasman. As a Shell-sponsored driver, his options were limited. His only choice was to drive for Bob Jane, which meant moving to Melbourne. Equipped with the same Brabham he raced for McKay, and with ace Jane mechanic John Sawyer, Martin would achieve his racing ambition by winning the Australian Drivers’ Championship in 1966 with
three round wins. He repeated the title-winning feat the following year, albeit scoring one less win. He was the rst driver in his twenties to win the coveted Gold Star and the rst hired gun.
Martin, during his time with Bob Jane Racing, raced all of Bob’s toys with distinction. There was the Jaguar Lightweight E Type in which he beat his old Ferrari 250LM at Warwick Farm, the fearsome El n 400 Repco and the Lotus Cortina.
You would think that a dual and reigning Gold Star winner at the ripe old age of 28 would have the world at his feat. However, at the end of 1967 Martin announced his retirement from frontline racing, even skipping the nal Gold Star round at Warwick Farm.
“I told Bob ‘I’m out,’” remembers Martin. “I’d proved a point, but I didn’t have a cracker to my Far left: Spencer Martin worked as Graham Hill’s mechanic in the ‘64 Tasman Cup; driving David McKay’s Ferrari 250LM at Bathurst (centre); and Bob Jane’s Cortina at Warwick Farm (above). name. I was getting married the following year and I had to do something. I bought a trucking business and my father went guarantor. I no longer cared about racing.”