Lap record goes at Boxing Day Brands

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75

Once again good weather blessed the opening of the B.R.S.C.C.’s Boxing Day race meeting at Brands Hatch, although snow began to fall during the journalists’ race and became quite heavy by the end of the day. The first race was a 10-lapper for over 1,600-c.c. G.T. cars, which looked to be a straight fight between Ken Baker’s E-type and Mike Salmon’s Zagato Aston Martin as the Ferraris of Piper and Wrottesley had withdrawn. Baker led from the start, chased hard by Salmon who closed right up on the first lap, only to spin and drop back to eighth place on lap two. Derek Astle spun his ex-works Healey 3000 at Druids on lap two and was heavily clobbered by Warren Pearce’s XK150, putting both cars out of the race. Baker then held a comfortable lead from Arnold’s Morgan Plus Four and Morgan’s Elva Courier but Salmon was storming through the field with the dark blue Aston and moved up to third place on lap six, at which time Morgan’s engine gave out a cloud of smoke and cruised into the pits. Baker was quite safely in the lead but Salmon closed right up to Arnold on the last lap but failed by 0.8 sec. to catch the Morgan. Baker did a lap in 59.8 sec. (74.65 m.p.h.), which is a new record for over 2½-litre G.T. cars on the short circuit.

Next on the bill came a 10-lap F.J. race with Denis Hulme, driving a works Brabham, in pole position. He made a poor start and American driver Roy Pike went into the lead in his Gemini, followed by John Mew, who had been dressed as Father Christmas on the warming-up lap. Hulme made up for his poor start and was in second place on lap two and closing right up to Pike, whose car was throwing out clouds of smoke coming out of corners. He got by on lap four and John Fenning, who had also passed Mew in his Lola, nipped past the failing white Gemini, but at Clearways the Gemini touched the red Lola which spun. Both cars came into the pits and retired. This galvanised the rest of the field into action and numerous changes of position took place, Ian Raby holding second place for one lap in the pretty Merlyn, giving way to Mike de Udy’s Lotus and Mew’s Lotus before spinning on the last lap. Hulme won with ease from de Udy and Mew, Hulme breaking the F.J. and outright lap record at 54.4 sec. (82.06 m.p.h.).

A 10-lap race for under 1,600-c.c. G.T. cars followed and was, as usual, a Lotus Elite benefit. Peter Jopp, driving Les Leston’s Elite, took the lead but Bill Shaw, who had made a bad start in his Elite, took over on lap three and held it to the end, followed by Mike Johnson’s Elite and Jopp. Keith Holland did well to finish fourth and win the 1,000-c.c. class in his G.S.M. Delta, but others less fortunate included Weber, whose Marcos appeared to fall in half behind the front suspension, and Gordon Jones who was driving a Lotus Seven, fitted with a new and not very handsome hard top, which had engine trouble right from the start.

Next came the star event of the day, the 20-lap race for sports racing cars of unlimited capacity for the Silver City Trophy. The car with the biggest capacity was Chris Summers’ Cooper Monaco, the ex-Brian Naylor car, raced at one time with a 3-litre sports Ferrari engine. Summers had taken the 4.7-litre Chevrolet V8 engine from his Cooper single-seater and fitted it to the Monaco. In practice things were far from right and the start of the race saw him as an unknown quantity on the rear of the grid. In pole position was Beckwith’s 1,100 c.c Lotus-Ford 23 with 56.6 sec. with Nick Garbett’s Lotus-Ford 23 just .02 of a second slower. From the start it was obvious that Summers had at last ironed out the bugs in the Chevrolet engine and as the field jockeyed for positions on the opening lap Summers cut through on the inside at Paddock Bend and emerged in fifth place by the finish of the first lap. Roy Pierpoint’s 2-litre Lotus-Climax XV was at the fore of a warring batch comprising Dizzy Addicott’s Alfa Romeo-engined Elva Mk. VI, John Coundley’s Lister-Jaguar and Mike Beckwith’s Lotus. Then came the Cooper-Chevrolet with Sid Fox’s Lola-Climax, Terry Bone’s Lotus-Ford 23 and John Turner in Addicott’s Buick-engined Lotus XV.

Summers’ ego was dampened a little on the third lap when the Monaco spun at Druids and again as he re-started in ninth place. From then on it was a lap by lap battle for Summers to regain his position. This he managed to do, having a splendid scrap with Bone, Turner and Fox initially, the American-engined Monaco finishing in third place just 0.2 sec. ahead of Bone after a terrific burst of acceleration out of the last bend, the two crossing the line almost side by side, in third and fourth places respectively. While this excitement had been going on the lead had switched to Mike Beckwith, after Roy Pierpoint had pulled in on lap seven. Steady in second came Dizzy Addicott, despite a frozen radiator which limited his engine revolutions by about 1,000 r.p.m. The Grovewood Trophy race for motoring journalists, driving works Ford Cortinas, was an extremely close fought battle with the honours going to The Motor in the form of a win by Roger Bell and John Anstice-Brown from Tommy Wisdom (Daily Mirror) and Bill Gavin (Sporting Motorist).

The Long John Trophy race for pre-1940 racing and sports cars was a walk-over for Sid Day’s 1½-litre E.R.A. R6B from R. Cook’s far from original Riley Merlin, the latter being an isolated second, ahead of J. Freeman’s 2-litre Aston Martin. Bergel’s Straight Eight Bugatti Type 35T, took fourth place, despite a late push start after all the field had left the grid. Those in trouble included Gidding’s Frazer-Nash which only joined the race in the closing stages and G. L. Capel’s 1937 Frazer-Nash B.M.W., which was pushed across the line at the end.

With the snow now falling quite heavily and drifting about on the track, and the light failing rapidly, the 10-lap saloon-car race started with Bill Aston leading away in his 3.8 Jaguar but he was rapidly overhauled by Alan Peer’s 1500 Anglia, while Peter Ashdown and Doc Merfield in Cortina and Anglia respectively were breathing down his boot lid. By lap six Merfield was past the Jaguar, then on the next lap he took the lead from Peer and held it to the end, although Peter Ashdown got past both Peer and Aston to harry the familiar yellow Anglia all the way to the line with a Cortina which differed markedly in performance from the ones driven by the journalists earlier on. Aston finished third in the Jaguar, followed by Sir John Whitmore in a works MiniCooper with an engine of 1,212 c.c. which was reputedly giving 100 b.h.p., who just pipped Alan Peer.