The Triumph Sports Owners Association (TSOA) was founded in England by the Triumph factory in 1954 to promote the availability of accessories and provide technical information gained through the Factory Competition Department to all Triumph TR2 owners. A branch was formed in the USA in 1956 and the Americans professionally developed their organisation, setting new trends in both the social and competitive aspects of membership. Since then branches have been progressively formed in many countries throughout the world. With the passing of time, many of these groups evolved in different directions, some have closed while others have changed their name to reflect the interests of current members.
The Melbourne Branch of the Triumph Sports Owners Association was formed in 1960 by a handful of TR2, TR3, TR3A owners keen on motor sport and social gatherings, and as such is now one of the oldest branches in the world. Separate branches of TSOA have since been formed in all other mainland States.
The club actually started in Victoria as the Standard Triumph Car Club of Australia, No. 3 Branch (TR Owners) on February 15th, 1960. However, on August 30th of that year, a Constitution was presented and voted upon and the name was subsequently changed to the Triumph Sports Owners Association, Melbourne Branch. In most instances the early TR’s served as a dual-purpose vehicle during the 1960’s providing regular transportation during the week and then used in club events at the weekend.
The Triumph TR2 was first imported into Australia in 1954. Two roadsters competed successfully in the 1954 Australian Grand Prix which was run in November on a street circuit at Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast. They finished in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Eldred Norman, who came fourth, highlighted the robust performance and reliability of the Triumph and put the TR sportscar into the Australian Motorsport record book when he drove his TR2 from Adelaide, South Australia to Queensland to compete in the Grand Prix and then drove back to Adelaide. Norman was a brilliant motoring engineer who built several famous ‘Australian Specials’ which he drove successfully around various Australian racetracks.
In 1955, the best ever Australian result for Triumph was obtained when a TR2 driven by Doug Whiteford won the Moomba TT event at the Albert Park circuit. Whiteford was a top Australian driver who had won the Australian Grand Prix on a number of occasions. Earlier that year, Whiteford had put the TR into the record books when he came second in the South Pacific Championships at Orange in New South Wales. Albert Park was just one place better
Gavin Baillieu was another well known Victorian to drive a TR2 and while unable to take his place in the heats of the 1955 Australian Grand Prix, run at Port Wakefield in South Australia, went on to be associated with TR’s for a number of years. Baillieu developed a special bodied TR2 which was very competitive especially when driven by Harry Firth. It is reported that its top speed was 127 m.p.h. over an average of four runs and it could do 0 to 100 m.p.h. in 24.71 seconds. TR2’s were very popular and campaigned successfully on race tracks around Australia beyond 1956 when the TR2 evolved into the TR3 and later the TR3A.
The competitive events for T.S.O.A members are today quite varied with MSCA hillclimbs, sprints and motorkhanas plus being actively involved in the various 6 Hour events run at the 3 major circuits. Early morning runs, new members day and coffee mornings are social events which add variety to the calendar.
T.S.O.A. is affiliated with the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), under whose authority our competitive events are run in a safe environment, and is a member of the Marque Sports Car Association (MSCA) and the Association of Motoring Clubs (AOMC).
MSCA provides venues for competitive events such as sprints, with other member sportscar clubs eg. Austin Healey Owners Club, Jaguar Car Club, Austin Healey Sprite Club, which a single club can no longer afford to run alone.
AOMC provides an avenue to lobby Government departments on motoring issues. One of the benefits gained has been the “Club Permit Scheme” through VicRoads, under which cars over 25 years old may be driven for a maximum of 45 or 90 days per year so long as each outing is recorded in a logbook. This permit is considerably lower in cost than full registration – a worthwhile benefit. TSOA was approved by the then Motor Registration Branch (VicRoads) to operate the Club Permit Scheme for its members on May 11th., 1990.
Over the years, TSOA Victoria Branch has always been renowned for its activities especially for its organising abilities for such prestigious events as “THE SIX HOUR RELAY” which was run at Calder Park. It created a lot of interest and excitement for the many car club teams. TSOA Victoria celebrated “50 Years of 6 Hours’” in 2014, and is still actively competing in these events each year.
The “Blue Riband” event of the Triumph Sports Owners Association would have to be the National Meeting of all the branches of T.S.O.A. in Australia. It is now held on a five year rotational basis in each affiliated Australian state. This “All Australian” format was adopted in 1980 with New South Wales the first to conduct a National Meeting with the new format of a memorable action packed three days over the June Queen’s Birthday weekend.
This format followed an earlier period when only members from New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria met for a once a year ‘pilgrimage’ for what was commonly known as a Tri State Meeting at locations such as Albury, Mildura and, in 1978, Melbourne.
Whilst the most significant event of the 1980’s was the end of production for the Triumph marque with the last TR8 drophead in 1981, the other major event was the incorporation of the Association in 1985 to become T.S.O.A. (Victoria) Incorporated.