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When Alfa Romeo starred during Sandown’s endurance infancy

The traditional endurance race at Sandown has gone through a few distance changes before becoming the traditional precursor to the big race at the Mountain hosting some of the world’s best drivers.

The Repco Garage will focus on the first two events held for production cars and won by Alec Mildren Racing-prepared Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Supers.

Occurring two years after the circuit opened, the Sandown 6 Hour International played host to 37 entries ranging from Classes A to F based on power output, while Class G was ineligible for outright positions and open to FIA Class 2 specification entries.

Alongside Alfa Romeo, Morris, Ford, Fiat, Volvo, Datsun, Holden, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Studebaker, Peugeot, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Triumph, Jaguar, Vauxhall and Renault were all featured on the entry list.

The list of drivers was headlined by Formula 1 ace Jackie Stewart in a Class G Ford Lotus Cortina, dual Indy 500 winner Rodger Ward in a Studebaker, future Bathurst victor John Fitzpatrick partnered by rally ace Paddy Hopkirk in a Cooper S, Timo Makinen and Rauno Aaltonen in another Morris completed an impressive international contingent.

On the Australian side, it is just as highly regarding featuring the likes of Lex Davison, Doug Whiteford, Frank Matich, Alan Hamilton, inaugural Great Race winners Frank Coad and John Roxburgh, Bob Holden, Barry Ferguson, Brian Sampson, Bob Jane, George Reynolds, Bill Brown, Repco employee Paul England, Kevin Bartlett, Brian Muir, Peter Manton, Brian Foley, New Zealander Jim Palmer and unknown Canadian Allan Moffat on his local debut.

It was an illustrious list as many went onto define the Australian motorsport landscape for the next decade.

Alfa Romeo was an unknown quantity to many, but the Ti Super had all the ingredients to be a race winner as it proved. It was light at 1000kg, aero-efficient though this was still regarded as a dark art as the 1.6-litre motor developed 110kw with a pair of 45mm Weber twin-choke carburettors and the suspension was also tweaked to provide an all round strong package.

Mildren’s entry was spearheaded by Alfa Romeo factory pilot Roberto Bussinello and local Ralph Sachs to what was a reported an easy victory, taking the flag after six hours seven laps clear of the BMC-entered Morris Cooper S steered by Peter Manton partnering fellow Mini ace Foley.

Although the larger V8s led early, one driven by Davison ended up running out of brakes at Turn 2 (now Turn 4) to have its backend hanging out spectacularly.

Alfa Romeo continued its flawless record by repeating the feat in 1965 as Bartlett this time joined by then open-wheel export Frank Gardner took the win ahead of Steve Holland and Albert Poon in aa Ford Lotus Cortina by four laps.

The race took a two year sabbatical before returning as a three hour event and the state of competition had shifted significantly.