Son of a playboy
Roy Sampson had his own engine reconditioning business in South Melbourne – where young Brian learned his trade – and owned some fancy sports cars, including an MG TD and an Austin Healey 100/4. But he was more interested in chasing girls than track glory.
“He was really just a poser I think,” Sampson says. “He was more interested in the women. He wasn’t a bad dad, but a bit of a playboy.” Not surprisingly, his wife soon left him.
Brian was 20 years old and keen to race when someone suggested that Roy let him race the Healey in the Moomba TT 100-mile sports car race at Albert Park in 1955. Brian quickly organised a licence, painted numbers on the car and went to work on the engine. He did a good enough job to qualify 15th out of 33 starters, but the old hands warned of potential trouble in the rst corner with the Le Mans start and gave him some advice:
“I was told that the best thing I could do was to wait until all the other cars had passed me before heading off slowly,” Brian explained. “I did exactly what I was told, but after running to my car, starting the engine, sitting and waiting, and seeing a Singer Nine potter past, I realised that I’d been conned!”
Despite struggling with an oversize helmet that was trying to either rip his head off on the straights or blinding him under brakes, Sampson nished his rst race 10th. He was hooked.
Two years later, he nished third at Albert Park driving a little red Morris Special he’d fallen in love with while watching a Fishermans Bend meeting.
“A couple of months later I was in Sydney Road, Brunswick and saw a little red tail sticking out from under a tarp. It was a place called New York Car Sales, which turned out to be Bob Jane’s. He picked from a mile away that I wanted the car badly and would do anything to get it. He played me very well because I offered him a ridiculous 400 pounds.”
The car of his dreams quickly turned into a nightmare, though. It had no water pump and boiled four times just getting home, only six kilometres away! Still, the innovative youngster soon had it sorted and producing much more power with a supercharger, and he enjoyed two years of success before getting married and selling the car to buy one of those new TV set things.
Brian Sampson in the Morris Special he bought fromt Bob Jane in the late 1950s at Templestowe hillclimb (above) and the Geelong Sprints (below).