Brits get an icy reception

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

Current page

186

Current page

187

Current page

188

Current page

189

Current page

190

Current page

191

Current page

192

Current page

193

Current page

194

Current page

195

When the British contingent found a unique way to deal with the arctic conditions of the 1947 Swedish Grand Prix, their rivals cried foul play

Odd-ball motor races – unusual events that feature internationally recognised categories of significant racing cars – are always interesting. Perhaps the all-time prize winner might turn out to be the Israel Grand Prix on the so-called Barnea Beach circuit at Ashkelon in 1970. A representative Formula 2 field practised there for the event which was organised by the German Automobilklub von Deutschland. Pole position was taken by Ernesto Brambilla in his Brabham BT30, from Patrick Depailler (Tecno) and Derek Bell (BT30), with the sister car of the American Mike Goth (remember him?) fourth fastest.

But on race day the treacherously sand-strewn public road course became inundated by uncontrollable spectators. After touring car practice had culminated in a sizeable shunt and a preliminary Formula Vee race had been run – won by Bertil Roos from the ill-fated Helmuth Koinigg (killed during the 1974 United States GP) – the event was abandoned without the F2 field turning a wheel in anger.

If that was a curious event, even more odd-ball venues to see significant formula cars competing were once popular winter fare: ice-racing on frozen lakes. The best-known of these temporary race circuits was probably Lake Vallentuna in Sweden, although GP cars also raced partly on lake ice at Ramen and Sellnas where dry-land gravel roads formed the majority of each lap, and in Germany on the Eibsee, Titisee and other likely lakes offering reliably strong ice cover – or in the case of the Titisee, unreliably strong ice…

In immediate post-war Britain, the racing fraternity hungered for anywhere to race their cars. In February 1947 Reg Parnell, Leslie Brooke and George Abecassis (as hard-bitten a trio of racing rogues as I can imagine) set sail for Sweden’s Winter Grand Prix. The Swedish national club had expected to use the ice on Lake Vallentuna, but winter was late and the ice too thin. Consequently they organised a race on Rommehed airfield instead, using a course of packed snow topped with sand. As the date approached it still hadn’t snowed. Nine of their 15 entries – French and Swiss-entered Maseratis, Talbots and Delahayes – were being shipped to Gothenburg when winter finally arrived. The freighter was delayed by storms, then became ice-bound. This left only the wily British contingent plus a local to start the Grand Prix, Parnell scooping the cash from Brooke and Abecassis – all in ERAs. Sjoqvist’s Citroën won the sports car event with another shrewd Briton, Oscar Moore, second in his Frazer Nash-BMW.

A few days later the Vallentuna race was finally run, the course marked by gravel frozen into the ice and pine boughs stuck in the snow. Some 30,000 spectators braved temperatures of minus 20 degrees, but conditions proved so bad the start was delayed and the race distance slashed from 40 laps to 25. The news that their entertainment would be curtailed brought a storm of protest, and when the Brits lined up on the startline wearing twin rear wheels and tyres, their French and Italian rivals protested vehemently, claiming such a ploy was banned under international regulations. Untrue.

While the unsupercharged Talbots and Delahayes warmed up comfortably in the bitter air, the supercharged ERAs and Maseratis struck icing trouble. Brooke’s ERA misfired desperately, Abecassis’s was on four cylinders and at the start only Parnell’s was on all six. Raymond Sommer’s Maserati led until he spun and stalled. Despite “working like a demon with the starting handle” he was unable to restart. Brooke’s engine expired, Abecassis lost a piston but soldiered on, and Parnell led him to the line for another ERA 1-2, with Eugene Chaboud’s Delahaye third. Uncle Reg’s average speed for this punishing 25-lapper was 67.72mph. Not bad for 60 years ago – handling an Old English Upright on ice. Of course the defeated French put it all down to those cheating twin rear wheels…

Related articles

Related products