The month opens well with Easter weekend and in Britain we have two International meetings, one on Good Friday at Snetterton, the other on Easter Monday at the new Thruxton circuit. At Snetterton, on the flat wind-swept wastes of the Norfolk airfield the B.R.S.C.C. are holding a meeting in which the major event is a 50-lap race for Group 4 sports cars, which will include most things from GT4Os and Lola T70s to Ginettas and Abarths. This will be supported by a 15-lap race for Formula Three and a 15-lap race for Group 5 saloon cars, which means the super-tuned variety. In Hampshire, at Thruxton airfield, the B.A.R.C. are holding a similar race meeting to include a 25-lap race for the Group 4 sports cars, and a similar length one for the hot saloon cars, with a Formula Two event as the main feature. The big race will be held in two heats of 15 laps each and a 50-lap final, and will be the first round in the European Trophy for non-graded drivers. During the season there are to be nine events counting towards this Championship, held in countries throughout Europe with the exception of France, who prefer to run a National championship for Formula Two and not join the rest of Europe, Belgium who have no event this year, and Sweden who have also backed out of Formula Two. This leaves Britain (represented solely by the B.A.R.C., the other professional clubs not wanting to have anything to do with Formula Two), Germany, Spain, Holland, Austria, Italy and Sicily, so that the non-graded driver who wins this Championship can be truly said to be a European Champion. After monopolising Formula Two the Cosworth FVA twin-camshaft, four-cylinder, 16-valve engine was soundly beaten by the Ferrari Dino V6 engine in the Argentine, the Dino V6 naturally being in a Ferrari car, while the Cosworth was used in chassis by Brabham, Lotus, Lola, Tecno and Matra. Whether Cosworth have made any power progress with the FVA engine we shall see at Thruxton no doubt, while the revised B.M.W. Formula Two car may also appear. If it doesn’t it will almost certainly be at Hockenheim the following weekend for Round 2 in the European series. The weekend of April 12th/13th will be a busy one, for apart from the Hockenheim Formula Two race the B.R.S.C.C. in conjunction with British Overseas Airways Corporation will be running another of their successful six-hour races at Brands Hatch for Group 6 Sports-Prototype cars and Group 4 Sports Cars. The previous two B.O.A.C. 500 races had first-class entries and no one forget the Chaparral at Brands Hatch, the 4-litre Ferraris, the 8-cylinder Porsches or the Howmet turbine cars; both races were most successful, in spite of the cramped conditions in the pits at Brands Hatch, and there is every possibility of Nick Syrett and the B.R.S.C.C. getting another first-class entry with works Porsche 3-litre flat-eight cylinder, Alfa Romeo 3-litre V8-cylinder, the J.W. Automotive Mirage with V12 B.R.M. engine, the F3L Ford-Cosworth V8 and Ferrari 312P as well as a full supporting cast of GT40s, Chevron-B.M.W.s, Porsche 910, Dino Ferraris, and so on. Definitely a date to remember is April 13th, especially for those who like variety in motor cars.
While all this is happening on April 13th the Spaniards are hoping to be holding a small Formula One race on the Jarama circuit north of Madrid, but with all the star drivers tied up at Hockenheim or Brands Hatch it is difficult at the time of writing to see what sort of entry they will get. As if three major events on the same day were not enough, there is a saloon car race in Austria, on the airfield at Vienna, this being Round 2 in the European Saloon Car Championship. On April 20th the Formula Two clan have their third race in three weeks, this one being at Pau, the historic town at the foot of the Pyrenean Mountains in south-west France. Although the Pau race is not in the European Championship it is certain to be well supported for the circuit round the town and the Beaumont Park is a classic “street-race” of long standing, not far short of the Monte Carlo circuit for excitement and satisfaction to those who can drive fast and accurately. It is not for the “aerodrome racers” or the “Brands Hatch scratchers”; the former would be petrified by the kerbs, bridges, stone walls and iron girders, and the latter would undoubtedly break wheels or bend wishbones. While the Formula Two event is the main race of the day, there will also be a Formula Three race, of full International status, so that Pau will ring to the sound of racing engines, from morning to evening; as it is only once a year the locals love every minute of it, but if the circuit was used every week, or even every month, then they would soon get tired and put a stop to the whole thing. This is a typical example of the great difference between some European racing and most British racing, we tend to get a good idea and “flog it to death”, the Europeans are content to run a race or use a circuit once a year and for this reason they can get away with things that seem impossible to our minds. On the opposite side of Europe on the day of the Pau race there is the third round in the Saloon Car Championship, at Belgrade in Yugoslavia.
On Friday, April 25th, the Italians hold their round in the long distance Championship over a distance of 1,000 kilometres on the full circuit at Monza which combines the road-circuit and the banked track. Speeds round the bankings are kept down by the use of chicanes at the entrance to the bankings, so that cars start each banking from a low speed in first or second gears. We can expect the full force of Alfa Romeo to be put into this event, and their 3-litre V8 engine should give them a strong chance for outright victory. Equally, Ferrari will be certain to put up a fight with his new 312P Prototype car, and with Porsche and Mirage there as well, and no doubt Matra and Alpine, the high-speed Monza 1,000 kilometres should be worth seeing. If practice foretells an homeric battle between Alfa Romeo and Ferraris, the crowd should top the 100,000 mark, for April 25th is a National holiday to celebrate the first allied landings in Sicily from North Africa during the war. The sight of Alfa Romeo and Ferrari battling against each other in 1951 still lives in the memory of most Italians, and if John Surtees drives for Alfa Romeo, as is suggested, the Monza grandstands should be rocked to their foundations with the enthusiasm of the Italian crowds.
While the paper and rubbish is being swept up at Monza over the weekend immediately following the 1,000 kilometres, and sports-prototype cars are being repaired or overhauled, the Formula Two Championship continues with a race on the Nurburgring at the Eifelrennen meeting on April 27th, run by the A.D.A.C. In France, at Montlhéry, on the same day, there will be an English-type short-race meeting for classes from F.3 to Group 6 and though this meeting is always International it is not very high on the “importance” scale, remaining in the Calendar as a throw-back to earlier days when International meetings were sparse. Finance at these Montlhéry meetings is pretty meagre, which limits the quality of the entry, but they can be useful for British drivers to gain experience of racing outside their own country.
As can be seen from the foregoing, the month of April gets motor racing well and truly under way in Europe and drivers and teams, to say nothing of spectators and the Press, will be well occupied and there should not be any dull moments. With so many events clashing the big problem for April will be the decisions to make as to which meetings to support. Looking further ahead, into the month of June, it should he noted by anyone. intending to visit the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, that the date has been advanced by one day to Saturday, June 21st, instead of Sunday, June 22nd. This is in an attempt to attract greater crowds of spectators; an odd idea when we are busy changing our races to Sunday events for the same reason.—D. S. J.