Boxing Day at Brands Hatch

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Graham Hill demonstrates his prowess

The BRSCC really is extremely fortunate with the weather for its Boxing Day Brands Hatch motor-racing. Never has ice or snow caused the cancellation of this winter programme and last Christmas fog which seemed likely to do so dispersed, so that everything went to schedule and in these circumstances rain seemed only a slight inconvenience.

A considerable crowd attended, which caused the usual delay in leaving the stadium after the last race, accentuated by many spectators’ cars becoming mud-bound in the car parks. We left almost immediately after Graham Hill had won the last race but it was over an hour before we gained the main road to London, by which time the traffic police had ceased to control the stream of cars coming from the Paddock exit.

Racing opened with the 10-lap Yuletide Trophy for sports cars up to 1,100 c.c.,  five Lotus Elevens being challenged by the Hume Lotus, a Cooper, an Elva IV and the Victoria. Iszatt’s Lotus led for the opening two laps, then Payne’s Hume Lotus got by out of Druids Corner, only to spin on the third lap, so that lszatt re-took the lead. Saunders in the Victoria now came up to challenge the leader, braking late but having insufficient speed to get through. Threlfall, after a sober start now had his Lotus going well and was soon running second, challenging Izsatt strongly. He tried to get by on both sides, and on lap seven he did it. Now it was lszatt’s turn to breathe down Threlfall’s neck and he even tried to re-pass outside at Clearways, which can be fatal. Threlfall held his lead, however, although Iszatt made fastest lap, at 63.26 m.p.h. The Victoria finished third.

Next came the 10-lap Grand Touring Race for Appendix J cars, run in over and under 1-1/2-litre classes. Three Lotus Elites and an AC Ace occupied the front row of the grid and another splendid race ensued, J. Clark driving his production Elite, which is distinguished by having all the latest modifications, with enormous verve to lead from Colin Chapman. However, Colin, having returned to racing as a driver, couldn’t allow this and on the slippery track he gradually closed on Clark, going into the lead on lap eight as Clark was forced by back-markers to run wide at Druids. Clark continued to motor fast, momentarily taking to the grass on the last lap – there.are no stupid “no wheels off the road” rules at Brands. But Colin was lapping at 63.95 m.p.h. and had the satisfaction of having Elites in the first four places in the up-to-1,500 c.c. class, Mike Costin finishing third, Robertson’s Elite fourth. Wilks’ contrasting Frazer Nash, with big Appendix J screen, came in next to win the over-1,500 c.c. class from Staples’ AC Ace and Swanson’s Mercedes-Benz 300SL, the last-named no match for Mackenzie’s splendidly-driven Austin-Healey Sprite. Lotus Elite admirers will note that fastest lap in the bigger class, by Staples, was at only 61.49 m.p.h.

In heavier rain the Appendix J saloons assembled for the 10-Iap John Davey Trophy Race. Sir G. Baillie led all the way, and rapidly in a 3.4 Jaguar, never challenged, although J.M. Uren drove his Ford Zephyr truly courageously to take second place, yards ahead of D.J.  Uren’s 3.4 Jaguar. Baillie lapped at 61.15mph. Les Leston did his expected gallop in the 1.5 Riley to win the 1,500 c.c. class at an average only 2.42 m.p.h. slower than Baillie’s Jaguar, keeping at bay Shepherd’s astounding Austin A35, which won a spirited duel against J.M. Young’s Ford Prefect, both cars emitting much smoke. Shepherd actually lapped as fast as Leston’s 1.5 Riley in the 1,500 c.c. class  —   58.58 m.p.h. Don Parker spun off in his Jensen 541, Steele’s Borgward spun and Gaston’s A35 retired.

The 15-lap Christmas Trophy for sports cars up to 1,100 c.c. was yet another good race, which opened with Piper’s Lotus Eleven beating the flag and being penalised by 10 seconds, so that if Piper led on the road, Ashdown’s Lotus Eleven led the race. Leston’s Elva IV, in a team of three works Elvas, challenged Ashdown but on lap five he spun at the corner leading into the bottom straight and although the Elva continued without stopping, this dropped Leston back to fifth position, and when he repeated the performance on lap six his race was virtually over. All this time Graham Hill, in a modest Lotus Seven Climax with blade front wings, had been motoring magnificently, and was now trying to get by Ashdown anywhere he could. He did this out of Paddock Bend on lap nine. A lap later Ashdown and Piper became involved up behind the trees at Druids, so that Peter Gammon’s Lola – now a production car – became second, very hotly pursued by Jones’ Lotus Eleven, which, however, just couldn’t make second place. Ashdown was fifth. Jones sixth. The American, J.D.  Peters, spun off in his Elva. Hill had put up a praiseworthy show in his Lotus 7 with stage 1 Climax engine and did his lap of honour flying a Christmas balloon. The too-eager Piper set fastest lap, at 66.83 m.p.h. 

So far, in spite of the wet track, the racing had been excellent and this was maintained with the 10-lap Francis Beart 500cc race. Don Parker’s Cooper-Norton led for two laps, Newton’s Cooper-Norton went ahead into Druids, Parker re-passed along the top straight, these two fighting a fierce battle within a wheel of the lead. This heart-stopping duel came to an end when Newton rotated coming into the bottom straight on lap seven. Parker took to the grass to avoid him and continued, as did Newton. But it gave Parker a comfortable lead, Newton second, Jones’ Cooper third. Parker won by 1.6 seconds, but Newton lapped faster, at 63.59 m.p.h., while Jones was 3.4 seconds behind Newton at the finish, having made up much ground to catch Pitcher’s Cooper.

Last, in the fading light, came the 15-lap Silver City Trophy Race for any car over 1,200 c.c., divided into racing and sports-car categories. It was started by a warmly-clad Mike Hawthorn, who got the cars away promptly, indicating the last five seconds with his fingers. George Wicken’s F2 Cooper got off like a shell, followed by Hill in the newest, yellow-wheeled F2 Lotus. Wicken, who knows Brands Hatch intimately, seemed determined to lead and commentator Bolster told us that the rear-engine location of his Cooper would assist him, but Hill, by superior driving and perhaps better road-holding, got the Lotus into the lead on lap five corning out of Druids. These two ran right away from the rest of the field, but Campbell-Jones (F2 Lotus) and Stoop were indulging in a race of their own, in third and fourth places, Stoop driving better than he has ever done, his F2 Cooper snaking wildly, but, due to fluffing out of the engine, he had no power in hand. With the leading pair half a lap ahead, Hill won the Silver City Trophy, which he received from Hawthorn. He also made fastest lap, at 66.63 m.p.h., fractionally slower than Piper’s sports Lotus in an earlier race. Crabb went so well that his Lotus 7, and Lewis’s Lotus 7, finished first and second in the sports category, beating AC Bristol, C-type Jaguars and Barnett’s unimpressive LHD A6GS Maserati. Crabb lapped at 63.95 m.p.h.  Poor Halford was a sick man, and his troubles increased when his F2 Lotus also went sick.

Brands Hatch on December 26th last produced really fine racing.

***

All The Winners

Yuletide Trophy:   T.V. Threlfall (Lotus Eleven)  —  60.52 m.p.h.

Grand Touring Race, up to 1,500 c.c.:   C. Chapman (Lotus Elite)  —  62.37 m.p.h.

Grand Touring Race, over 1,500 c.c.:   W.E. Wllks (Frazer Nash)  —  60.06 m.p.h.

John Davey Trophy, up to 1,500 c.c.:   L. Leston (1.5 Riley)  —  57.48 m.p.h.

John Davey Trophy, over 1,500 c.c.:  Sir G. Baillie (3.4 Jaguar)  —  59.99 m.p.h 

Christmas Trophy:   G. Hill (Lotus Seven)  —  64.80 m.p.h.

Francis Beart Trophy:   D. Parker (Cooper-Norton)  —  61.61 m.p.h.

Silver City Trophy, racing cars:   G. Hill (Lotus F2)  —  63.38 m.p.h.

Silver City Trophy, sports cars:   P.R. Crabb (Lotus Seven)  —  62.59 m.p.h.

 

 

 

      

 

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