Max Stewart in his Lola T330 at Phillip Island in 1974.  Copyright oldracephotos.com/Neil Hammond. Used with permission.

Tasman Cup Formula 5000 1974

Despite a headline $100,000 of sponsorship from Rothmans using their Peter Stuyvesant brand name, the only foreign involvement in the Tasman Cup in 1974 was the Belgian VDS team with their pair of Chevron B24s for British championship winner Teddy Pilette and his highly experienced teammate Peter Gethin. The top local drivers included Graeme McRae in his new McRae GM2 with which he had won November's Australian GP, Johnnie Walker who had a Repco-Holden engine in a Lola T330, Max Stewart with his Chevrolet powered T330, John McCormack also with a Repco-Holden in his Elfin MR5, and Warwick Brown and Graeme Lawrence who had the first of the new Lola T332s.

McRae looked likely to take a fourth successive title when he set pole position at Levin with the first ever 100 mph lap at the circuit, and set fastest lap as he drew away from in the race before his engine blew out all its oil and seized. Walker won this race, but only after Stewart and Gethin lost time in the pits. McRae was on pole again at Pukekohe, again with a new lap record, and again led easily setting the race's fastest lap, and again retired, this time with a broken wing mounting. Gethin won this time, as the VDS team were looking increasingly impressive despite continuing problems with their Firestone tyres. Another pole followed for McRae in the GP at Wigram, and again he led much of the race before retiring. Gethin had led the early stages but time in the pits dropped him to third and John McCormack won the race. Stewart took the Teretonga race, with McRae second after handling problems, and Gethin only fifth, leaving the Englishman with a narrow championship round.

The second half of the series in Australia started with the VDS team in tyre trouble at Oran Park, where McCormack took pole and Stewart took the race. Then McRae led at Surfers before retiring, leaving Pilette and Gethin to finish 1-2 for VDS. Gethin won from McRae at Sandown, to put the title well within his reach, and then clinched his third F5000 championship with second place at Adelaide behind Warwick Brown. An unhappy McRae was left blaming his mechanics.

The races

05 Jan 1974 > Levin International

12 Jan 1974 > Pukekohe Grand Prix

19 Jan 1974 > New Zealand Grand Prix at Wigram

26 Jan 1974 > Teretonga International at Teretonga Park

03 Feb 1974 > Peter Stuyvesant $100,000 at Oran Park

10 Feb 1974 > Peter Stuyvesant $100,000 at Surfers Paradise

17 Feb 1974 > Peter Stuyvesant $100,000 at Sandown Park

24 Feb 1974 > Adelaide '100' at Adelaide International Raceway

1974 Tasman Cup table

1Peter GethinChevron B24 - Chevrolet V841 pts2 wins
2Max StewartLola T330 - Chevrolet V826 pts2 wins
3Teddy PiletteChevron B24 - Chevrolet V822 pts1 win
4=Johnnie WalkerLola T330 - Repco Holden V821 pts1 win
4=John McCormackElfin MR5 - Repco Holden V821 pts1 win
6Warwick BrownLola T332 - Chevrolet V819 pts1 win
7Graham McRaeMcRae GM2 - Chevrolet V813 pts 
8=David OxtonBegg FM5 - Chevrolet V89 pts 
8=Graeme LawrenceLola T332 - Chevrolet V89 pts 
10=Allan McCullyFM5 - Chevrolet V87 pts 
10=Frank MatichMatich A53 - Repco Holden V87 pts 
12=Ken Smith2-litre March 732 - Ford BDG2 pts 
12=Garry PedersenMcLaren M18 - Chevrolet V82 pts 

Points table from Autocourse 1974/75 p185.