The B.A.R.C. at Silverstone
With the loss of Aintree for the classic “200” race the B.A.R.C. took over Silverstone for the event and organised a full day’s variety of racing in which was included an event for Formula Two cars, which counted as the “200,” it being 200 kilometres long.
Great interest was aroused by the first appearance of the Honda F.2 engine, installed in the F.2 Brabham driven by the Australian himself. This 4-cylinder unit has two overhead camshafts, gear-driven from the front of the crankshaft, and these operate two inlet and two exhaust valves per cylinder in a pentroof head, the valve angle being quite small. Low-pressure fuel injection into the ports is used, with slide throttles, while a long twin-pipe exhaust system is used. Also to make its first racing appearance was the F.2 B.R.M. engine, another 4-cylinder with twin overhead camshafts, being in effect half a Formula One engine. Ken Tyrell had one of these engines in an F.2 Cooper driven by J. Stewart, and John Coombs had one in a Brabham for Graham Hill to drive. These engines use Lucas fuel injection, injecting inboard of the throttle slides as on the B.R.M. Grand Prix engines, and four equal-length pipes exhaust into a single long tail-pipe. Defending their F.2 monopoly were Cosworth with a fuel-injection version of the well-tried SCA unit, Mike Costin driving a Brabham fitted with this unit. Nearly all the remaining entries in the race were using the standard single o.h.c. Cosworth unit running on downdraught carburetters, and if any F.2 car was using a gearbox other than a Hewland, then I failed to see it. – D. S. J.
11 a.m. 10-lap Formula Three Race – 46.7 kilometres – raining
The large field of F.3 cars set off in pouring rain and anyone who showed too much enthusiasm soon spun out of the race. Gethin (Lotus-Ford) went out in front, but Banks in the Tyrell team Cooper-B.M.C. was driving very cannily and once the exuberant ones in front decided to settle down, or had spun off, he speeded up and caught Gethin with ease; the Lotus driver spun but kept going, and Banks went on to a very wet but comfortable win, having shown first-class race tactics most suitable to the weather conditions.
1st: W. Banks (Cooper-B.M.C.) – 21min. 47sec. – 129.746 k.p.h.
2nd: P. Gethin (Lotus-Ford) – 22min. 22sec.
3rd: C. Baker (Cooper-B.M.C.) – 22min. 23sec.
4th: C. Chrichton-Stuart (Brabham-Ford) – 22min. 25.8sec.
5th: K. Ahrens (Brabham-Ford) – 22min. 36.8sec.
6th: C. Lucas (Brabham-Ford) – 22min. 56.6sec.
Fastest lap: W. Banks (Cooper-B.M.C.) – 2min. 06.2sec. – 134.381 k.p.h.
11.50 a.m. 18-lap Sports-Car Race – 84.7 kilometres – raining harder
The rain was coming down even harder as the sports cars lined up and the front row was a most impressive sight, With Clark (Lotus 30-Ford V8), Surtees (Lola-Chevrolet V8), McLaren (McLaren-Elva-Oldsmobile V8) and Salvadori (King Cobra-Cooper-Ford V8). The big Lolas were making their first race appearance, there being a similar car in row 2 driven by David Hobbs. The McLaren-Oldsmobile was making its first race appearance in this country, as was the Shelby “King Cobra” loaned to Ford Advanced Vehicles of Slough, for Salvadori to drive. Graham Hill was in Coombs’ new McLaren but it was too new to be race-worthy. Of the big-boys only Clark and Surtees were in the running, these two battling for the lead amidst the carnage of spins and crashes going on all round the circuit. Clark led to start with but Surtees got by, and then Clark got back into the lead again and drew away when Surtees spun more than once. However, the very determined World Champion battled on with the Lola and held second place, while O’Brien was going very well in the ex-B.R.P. Lotus 19 and Trevor Taylor was profiting from the conditions by keeping his brand-new rear-engined B.M.C.-Mini Aurora sports car up with the faster cars. The stewards reduced the race from 25 laps to 18 laps in view of the appalling weather conditions, and O’Brien was unlucky to spin off on lap 15 and wreck his Lotus, after having driven very well.
1st: J. Clark (Lotus 30-Ford V8) – 42min. 06.4sec. – 120.83 k.p.h.
2nd: J. Surtees (Lola 70-Chevrolet (V8) – 17 laps
3rd: J. Paterson (Lola-Climax) – 17 laps
4th: T. Taylor (Aurora-B.M.C.) – 17 laps
5th: H. Stiller (Lotus 23-Ford) – 16 laps
6th: G. Oliver (Lotus 23-Ford) – 16 laps
Fastest lap: J. Clark (Lotus 30) and J. Surtees (Lola T70), in 2min. 01.0sec. – 140.142 k.p.h.
At 1 p.m. the Stewards inspected the circuit and decided to suspend racing for an hour as conditions were now impossible, and the small crowd of enthusiastic spectators, officially estimated at 19,000, huddled under umbrellas and awaited a further decision. This came around 2.30 p.m. and was to the effect that in view of the appalling weather conditions racing would be abandoned. Already many of the drivers for the F.2 race had packed up and were going home, not wishing to risk their cars on a course swimming with water on which aquaplaning was inevitable.
It was all very disappointing but focused attention on how early the racing season now starts in this island of unpredictable weather. Starting with Boxing Day (cancelled at Brands Hatch), Snetterton, Oulton Park and this Silverstone meeting were all sizable fixtures taking place before Easter, which used to be the traditional start of a new British racing season. So far as cancellations for rain are concerned, they have been uncommon in recent years, although in the halcyon days of Brooklands the faster outer-circuit cars were not allowed to race on a wet track, and if the weather was too bad the B.A.R.C. used to send everyone home, bidding them return for some racing on the following Wednesday. This applied to Bank Holiday Meetings, but the bigger races used to continue through rain thick and thin, some of the Relay Races and the B.R.D.C. 500-Mile Race being held on very wet days, with some sensational spins when drivers “lost it.”
Surtees’ Lola had a 5.4-litre Chevrolet engine with horizontal Webers on a “cross-over” manifold. The Lotus 30s had 4.7-litre Ford engines with down
draught Webers, and the “King Cobra” had a 4.7-litre Ford V8 Shelby-Cobra type engine and Colotti gearbox.
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The Honda F.2 engine uses metric threads – interesting!
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Firestone know all about high speeds with heavy cars, but have still to learn about wet-weather tyres. It shouldn’t take them long now they have a foothold in British racing, with the McLaren team. In the Sports-Car Race Clark and Surtees used Dunlop tyres, but both made the wrong choice, one had the right tread and the wrong rubber compound, the other had the right compound and the wrong tread! Complicated, this tyre business! Lesser drivers gave up in the appalling conditions but these two battled on against the impossible-odds. Surtees having to be lifted off the bank at Copse by the marshals after one of his off-course excursions.
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Still no B.M.C. twin-cam F.2 engine, even in practice, although B.M.C. put it across Ford in the F.3 race.