The Cooper Driving School

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Last winter the Cooper Driving School selected six drivers from their many candidates to take part in races during the 1960 season in Formula Junior. At the time it was anticipated that the best two drivers, Bill Lacey from Ireland and Don Rickman the motorcyclist, would be given a Formula Junior Cooper on permanent loan for the whole season, but as things turned out this was not possible. Activity at the works with Formula 1 and Formula 2 cars, and the demand for Juniors by the sales department, rather left the school short of material. However, the school Junior was used many times during the past season for these six successful pupils to have a go at a proper race. In addition, when the idea of loaning cars to pupils originated Formula Junior in this country was barely beginning, and Coopers had no idea that it was going to develop into such cut-throat racing amongst experienced drivers, so that when they saw the trend of things as the 1960 season progressed they were a bit reluctant to send their pupils out into the free-for-all of Formula Junior. However, there were sufficient races at club meetings at Silverstone and Goodwood, both for Formula Junior and Formule Libre, for the six successful ones to have a go.

It will be recalled that Lacey was the most promising driver and he was entered by the school for Brands Hatch on Boxing Day, where he finished seventh, and then in the spring he had another drive at a Silverstone club meeting, but unfortunately retired. It should have been Don Rickman’s turn next, but his motorcycle scrambles activity prevented him from taking up the offer, so the next on the list had a drive, this being Tony Skelton, and he finished fifth in his first race. Then Freddie Jacks had a drive at Goodwood and finished fifth and back at another Silverstone club meeting Skelton scored a second place and Miss Elizabeth Jones finished eighth. Before this second Silverstone meeting the school hired the Club Circuit for a day and Lacey, Jacks, Skelton, Rickman and Miss Jones had the opportunity to put in unlimited practice, using the school car. The sixth pupil to be selected was Keith Ballisat, but as he had contracted a regular drive with Ken Tyrell’s team, he did not avail himself of the school activities. At a further Silverstone club meeting Lacey scored a fifth and Jacks scored a third, while at the end of the season the school entered Rickman for the B.R.D.C. race on the full Silverstone circuit, and set him off on his first race in the midst of the Open Formula Junior free-for-all. Being his first motor race, and his first visit to Silverstone on the full circuit, he did remarkably well to finish in eighth place. Although the season was not as active for the school pupils as had been hoped, at least the promise of driving a works-entered Junior had been fulfilled, and it is hoped that 1961 will see a lot more racing for the successful pupils. AIready two more names have been selected, these being Richard Wilson and Jean-Claude Franck, and they should get a start in a race early in the new season. Meanwhile, the school continues to sort out the many applications for membership. – D.S.J.

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