On July 1st the airfield circuit of Silverstone held within its sparse confines the 29th St. John Horsfall Trophy race meeting. The main event of the afternoon was the 15 lap Martini International Historic race which was to count for the newly formed British Historic Group One Championship. But, unlike some of the recent races that have catered for the type of machinery that was assembled for the Martini encounter, the grid that lined up under the overcast Silverstone skies was both a full and a varied one.
On pole position was the BRM P25 of Robs Lamplough, but the BRM that most people had their eyes on was placed right at the back of the field with a 10 sec. penalty. This was the P25 that is owned by Tom Wheatcroft of Donington Park and driven by Neil Corner, who has won the British Empire Trophy with it for the past three years. Assembled up at the front with Lamplough were the two Lister Jaguars of David Ham and John Harper. On the second row lurked the Bamford Maserati 250F, handled as usual by Willie Green, who was hoping for a good start so that he might have a chance of staying out of the reach of Corner’s tremendously fast car from Bourne. Green had Michael Bowler for company, the latter out once again in his Lister-Jaguar.
Bobby Bell’s Lister headed the third row, which also contained the fleet little Lola Mk. I of Rupert Glydon and Roddy MacPherson’s familiar yellow-nosed Cooper Bristol.
As the field blasted away towards Copse, Corner revved the BRM furiously and, to seconds after the rest had departed, he tore off in pursuit of the cars that were circulating at the tail of the pack. The race was on! Almost Instantaneously the dark blue car began to pick off the slower machinery and it was a sight to behold as he whipped through the field to challenge Green for the lead. And the crowd, who were captivated by this time, saw him pass Green’s Maserati and then head off to the chequered flag to finish almost four seconds clear of the red Italian car after an exhilarating drive.
Bobby Bell drove his Lister with his usual verve to annex third place, while the “other BRM” which the commentator kept referring to, that of Lamplough, finished fourth, some to seconds adrift of the Lister. Lister-Jaguars also filled fifth and sixth places, the cars belonging to David Ham and Michael Bowler respectively. Three different Jaguars crossed the line next, these being the 1)-type of Martin Morris, the lapped Monza Lister-Jaguar of Martin Chapman and the HWM Jaguar of Chris Stewart, who outpaced the battle that was going on behind in the later stages of the race between MacPherson’s Cooper-Bristol and Victor Norman’s Jaguar D-type.
All in all there were eight races on the programme, including the main Martini one, and most of them were good value for money. One of the best dices of the day came in the Classic Sportscar event where the Lotus 23B of Scot Jeffray Johnstone was hounded almost throughout by the bellowing AC Cobra of Martin Colvill. Johnstone eventually got the verdict and Colvill, after a stirring drive, almost fell into the clutches of Brian Cocks, who speeded up with his Lotus 23B towards the end.
One of the cars which a lot of people had patiently waited for appeared, albeit all too briefly, in the closing Group 4 Historic sportscar race and that was the ex-Denny Hulme 1970 Can-Am Championship winning McLaren M8D. The car has recently been shipped over to this country from the States and Chris Stewart was driving it under Rod Leach’s Nostalgia banner. But, alas, the 8.1-litre, 750-b.h.p. monster only circulated for a few laps in the race after having started from the pits following some practice engine problems and it was then black flagged for not having come under the starter’s order.
The Group 4 race itself was won by the Bamford owned Ferrari 512S of Willie Green, which was having its maiden outing of the season. A good dice for second between Jeremy Lord (Caldwell C14B) and Richard Bond’s Lola T7o was ruined after they came together, but they still finished in the stated order behind the dominant Green. Ray Mallock, of Formula Two fame, took a win on his saloon car debut with the works Aston Martin Vantage in the opening Robin Hamilton Challenge race, Rupert Glydon, after no fewer than three spins during the Martini race, pulled himself together again to win the Group One Historic from Mike Harrison’s Cooper T56, David Morgan won the Standard Aston race and John Freeman took his Aston Martin Spa Special to a relatively easy win in the St. John Horsfall Trophy race itself from Nick Mason’s Ulster. — M.C.S.