1939 Australian Grand Prix

The 1939 Australian Grand Prix was a motor race held on the Lobethal Circuit in South Australia, Australia on 2 January 1939. The race was staged over 17 laps of the 14 kilometre circuit, the longest ever used for the Grand Prix, for a race distance of 241 kilometres. The Grand Prix meeting was organised by Lobethal Carnivals Ltd. and the Sporting Car Club of South Australia.[1]

The race was the eleventh Australian Grand Prix and the second since the 1938 revival of the event. The Lobethal Circuit comprised three country roads in a roughly triangular formation, passing through the town of Lobethal and the nearby village of Charleston. The advantage of using these country roads was that, for the first time, the Grand Prix was held on a bitumen sealed surface instead of on dirt roads. The race utilised a handicap start with the slowest cars starting first and the fastest cars last, the winner being the first to complete the stipulated number of laps.[2] Trophies were awarded for the first three places with prize money paid to the first seven finishers.[1] Prize money and a trophy were also awarded for Fastest Time.[2]

The race was won by relatively unknown Western Australian racer Allan Tomlinson driving a supercharged MG T. Bob Lea-Wright's Terraplane Special finished in second position ahead of Jack Phillips' Ford Special. The winning car's average speed was the fastest of any Australian Grand Prix prior to 1956,[3] with Tomlinson averaging 84.00 mph.[4] The fastest actual time over the race distance was recorded by Jack Saywell driving an Alfa Romeo.

The entry of J O'Dea crashed at the Gumeracha turn late in the race and driver Vern Leech was killed almost instantaneously.[5]

Later in 1939, Australia would declare war on the AXIS powers. As World War II enveloped Australia, motor racing wound down and would not resume until the mid-1940s. The Australian Grand Prix itself would be revived in 1947.


This plaque, which commemorates the running of the 1939 Australian Grand Prix, is the situated in the main street of Lobethal
Race winner Allan Tomlinson (MG TA) contesting the 1939 Australian Grand Prix

Results as follows.[3]

Pos No. Driver Car / Engine Entrant [6] Handicap [6] Laps Time
1 12 Australia Allan Tomlinson MG TA / MG s/c 1.3L AG Tomlinson 11m 30s 17 2h 00m 27s
2 19 Australia Bob Lea-Wright Terraplane Special / Terraplane RA Lea-Wright 17m 00s 17 2h 02m 31s
3 15 Australia Jack Phillips Ford Special / Ford 3.6L JK Phillips 12m 45s 17 2h 02m 46s
4 3 Australia John Snow Delahaye 135 3.6L JF Snow 4m 15s 17 2h 04m 11s
5 17 Australia Les Burrows Hudson Special / Hudson L Burrows 12m 45s 17 2h 04m 38s
6 1 Australia Jack Saywell Alfa Romeo P3 / Alfa Romeo 2.9L J Saywell Scratch 17 2h 06m 48s
7 6 Australia John Crouch Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Le Mans / Alfa Romeo s/c 2.4L JF Crouch 5m 00s 17 2h 08m 33s
8 2 Australia Alf Barrett Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 / Alfa Romeo s/c 2.4L AI Barrett 2m 50s 17 2h 09m 11s
9 20 Australia Raymond Curlewis [7] MG TB / MG 1.3L RF Curlewis 21m 00s 17 2h 09m 57s
Ret 23 Australia Robert Manser [7]
Australia Lyster Jackson [6]
MG N / MG 1.3L RW Manser 21m 00s 14
Ret 26 [6] Australia Vern Leech [3] MG P / MG 0.8L J O'Dea 21m 00s 14
Ret 24 Australia Russell Bowes [7] MG N / MG 1.3L RN Bowes 21m 00s 10
Ret 25 Australia Jim Boughton Morgan 4/4 / Coventry Climax 1.1L JS Boughton 21m 00s 10
Ret 13 Australia Tim Joshua Frazer Nash / Meadows 1.5L CM Joshua 11m 30s 7
Ret 31 Australia J Wilson MG L / MG 1.1L JW Wilson 21m 00s 7
Ret 16 Australia Clifford Downing [6]
United Kingdom Alan Sinclair [6]
Riley Brooklands / 1.5L CRE Downing 12m 45s 5
Ret 4 Australia Frank Kleinig Kleinig-Hudson 8 Special / Hudson 4.2L F Kleinig 4m 15s 3
DNS 7 United Kingdom Alan Sinclair Sunbeam Special AG Sinclair 8m 30s -
DNS 10 Australia Colin Dunne MG K3 / MG s/c 1.1L CA Dunne 10m 00s -
DNS 11 Australia Jim Gullan Ballot J Gullan 10m 00s -
DNS 21 Australia John Summers MG N / MG 1.3L JF Summers 21m 00s -


  • Fastest time: Jack Saywell:[8] 1:45.48 [6]
  • Fastest race lap: Alf Barrett: 5:40s: 93.52 mph [6]
  • Raymond Curlewis was entered to drive an MG N Type in the Grand Prix but, having suffered a rollover in a supporting race, competed in the Grand Prix in an MG TB.[7]


  1. ^ a b Programme, Australian Grand Prix Meeting, Lobethal, South Australia, Monday, 2 January 1939
  2. ^ a b Tony Parkinson, Legend of Lobethal: The Story of One of Australia's Greatest Racing Circuits, Vintage Motorsport Carnivals Proprietary Limited, 2008, page 29
  3. ^ a b c Bell, Ray (1986). "1939". In Howard, Graham (ed.). The Official 50-race history of the Australian Grand Prix. Gordon, NSW: R & T Publishing. pp. 104–115. ISBN 0-9588464-0-5.
  4. ^ Australian Grand Prix Winners, Sandown, Australian Grand Prix Programme, 9 February 1964, page 23
  5. ^ "GRAND PRIX TRAGEDY". The West Australian. 55 (16, 383). Western Australia. 3 January 1939. p. 9. Retrieved 22 May 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h John B Blanden, The 1939 Australian Grand Prix, A History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939, pages 169 to 185
  7. ^ a b c d PRE-WAR MG ARCHIVES REGISTER, prewar.mgcc.info, as archived at web.archive.org
  8. ^ THRILLS AT CORNERS IN LOBETHAL CAR RACES, The Advertiser (Adelaide), 3 January 1939, page 4, as archived at nla.gov.au

External links

Preceded by
1938 Australian Grand Prix
Australian Grand Prix
Succeeded by
1947 Australian Grand Prix