Garrie Cooper

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Garrie Cooper
Cooper-1972-Graham-Ruckert.jpg
Garrie Cooper in his Elfin MR5 at the Surfers Paradise round of the 1972 Australian Drivers' Championship
Nationality Australia Australian
Born (1935-12-22)22 December 1935
Glenelg, South Australia
Died 25 April 1982(1982-04-25) (aged 46)
Adelaide, South Australia
Retired 1980
Australian Drivers' Championship
Years active 1962-80
Teams Elfin Sports Cars/Ansett Team Elfin
Best finish 3rd in 1973 Australian Drivers' Championship
Previous series
1966-68

1969-75
1971
1974-75
Australian 1½ Litre Championship
Tasman Series
Australian Formula 2 Ch.
Australian Sports Car Championship
Championship titles
1968
1968

1975
Singapore Grand Prix
Australian 1½ Litre Championship
Australian Sports Car Championship

Garrie Clifford Cooper (22 December 1935[1] - 25 April 1982) was the founder of the highly successful Elfin Sports Cars and a competitive racing driver in his own right, winning the 1968 Singapore Grand Prix, the 1968 Australian 1½ Litre Championship, and the 1975 Australian Sports Car Championship - all in Elfin cars of his own design.

Elfin Sports Cars[edit]

With the help of his father Cliff Cooper, Garrie established Elfin Sports Cars in 1957 at the age of 22, with his first car being the Elfin Streamliner, a front engined sports car which first appeared in 1959, and began racing under the Elfin banner in 1962.

During the 1978 Australian Grand Prix at the fast Sandown Raceway in Melbourne, he suffered a broken leg in a high-speed crash while driving his own Elfin MR8 Formula 5000. The car was destroyed after leaving the track and crashing into the horse track rails on the back straight at over 250 km/h (155 mph). Cooper's explanation for the high speed crash was that something broke on the car which sent him spearing into the fence.

In 1980, Cooper designed and built the first open wheel car in Australia to use Ground effect aerodynamics, the Elfin MR9 (the MR9 it remains the only F5000 ever constructed using Ground effect).[2] This car made its race début in Coopers hands at the 1980 Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne's Calder Park Raceway. Originally to be driven by French Formula One driver Didier Pironi who had experience driving ground effects F1 cars, Cooper himself decided to drive the car as it had only been completed before practice and did not set a qualifying time. Pironi and Cooper's Ansett Team Elfin team mate John Bowe each drove an Elfin MR8 in the race, with Pironi finishing in third place, four laps down on the Williams FW07B Formula One car of 1980 World Champion Alan Jones.

John Bowe also drove the MR9 on limited occasions and felt that with the ground effects it had a lot of potential. However, Elfin were finding out what others had found with Ground effect in that it required stronger suspension components to cope with the higher downforce generated in the corners compared to the conventional F5000's with Bowe reportedly receiving a fright during a race at Sandown in 1981 when the front suspension broke on the car. Unfortunately the true potential of the Chevrolet V8 powered MR9 was never reached and its racing life was limited to just one year as F5000 racing was phased out of Australian motorsport at the end of 1981.[3]

After limited appearances following the 1980 Australian Grand Prix, Garrie Cooper retired from racing following the 1981 season.

Health Issues[edit]

Several years before, Cooper was admitted to hospital to have an artificial heart valve implanted. Due to the metallic material of the valve, Cooper had to take anti-coagulants, which caused concern from CAMS (the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, Australia's motorsport ruling body), but after extensive lobbying from Cooper and countless letters supporting Cooper from his heart specialist, he was able to regain his racing license and continued his racing career.

Death[edit]

Early on Anzac Day (April 25) 1982, while working on a customer's car Garry suddenly died due to a burst aorta which was weakened from years of taking anti-coagulant drugs for his artificial heart valve.

Ansett Team Elfin Drivers[edit]

Drivers who raced Elfin cars as team mate to Garrie Cooper include John McCormack, Vern Schuppan, John Bowe, Larry Perkins, 1976 Formula One World Champion James Hunt, and Didier Pironi.

Career results[edit]

Season Series Position Car Team
1962 Australian Drivers' Championship 18th Elfin Formula Junior Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1964 Australian Drivers' Championship 8th Elfin Mono Mk.1 Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1965 Australian Drivers' Championship 9th Elfin Mono Mk.2B Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1966 Australian Drivers' Championship 8th Elfin Mono Mk.2B Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1966 Australian 1½ Litre Championship 4th Elfin Mono Mk.2B Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1967 Australian Drivers' Championship 12th Elfin Mono Mk.2B Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1967 Australian 1½ Litre Championship 3rd Elfin Mono Mk.2B Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1968 Australian Drivers' Championship 5th Elfin 600B Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1968 Australian 1½ Litre Championship 1st Elfin 600B Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1969 Australian Drivers' Championship 6th Elfin 600C Repco Elfin Sports Cars
1970 Australian Drivers' Championship 4th Elfin 600D Repco Elfin Sports Cars
1971 Australian Drivers' Championship 11th Elfin 600D Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1971 Australian Formula 2 Championship 5th Elfin 600D Ford Elfin Sports Cars
1972 Australian Drivers' Championship 9th Elfin MR5 Repco Holden Ansett Team Elfin
1973 Tasman Series 12th Elfin MR5 Repco Holden Ansett Team Elfin
1973 Australian Drivers' Championship 3rd Elfin MR5 Repco Holden Ansett Team Elfin
1974 Tasman Series 14th Elfin MR5 Repco Holden Ansett Team Elfin
1974 Australian Drivers' Championship 4th Elfin MR5 Repco Holden Ansett Team Elfin
1974 Australian Sports Car Championship 2nd Elfin MS7 Repco Holden Ansett Team Elfin
1975 Tasman Series 12th Elfin MR5 Repco Holden Ansett Team Elfin
1975 Australian Drivers' Championship 11th Elfin MR5 Repco Holden Ansett Team Elfin
1975 Australian Sports Car Championship 1st Elfin MS7 Repco Holden Ansett Team Elfin
1976 Australian Drivers' Championship 7th Elfin MR8C Chevrolet Ansett Team Elfin
1977 Rothmans International Series 6th Elfin MR8C Chevrolet Ansett Team Elfin
1977 Australian Drivers' Championship 7th Elfin MR8C Chevrolet Ansett Team Elfin
1978 Australian Drivers' Championship 8th Elfin MR8C Chevrolet Ansett Team Elfin
1980 Australian Drivers' Championship 20th Elfin MR9 Chevrolet Ansett Team Elfin

References[edit]