R.A.C. Tourist Trophy

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Oulton Park, May 26th

The Tourist Trophy has a fine and long history dating back to 1905 and has been run on circuits like the Isle of Man, Ards, Donington and Dundrod, and numbers among its winners Tazio Nuvolari, Rudi Caracciola, Stirling Moss and Peter Collins. In 1965 it moved from Goodwood to the admirable setting of Oulton Park, but nevertheless seems to have lost much of its former glory. To be fair, it is certainly one of the better and more important rounds of the British Sportscar Championship, for which it qualifies with double points.

As an International event, however, it is of little importance. This year, only two foreign entries turned up, one of which was raced by an Englishman. The race was open to Group 4 and Group 6 cars in the up to and over 2-litre categories, but the only over 2-litre Group 6 entered—the Alan Mann Racing Ford prototype—was withdrawn. So the entry was predominantly of Lola-Chevrolet T70s and Chevron-B.M.W.s. There were also three Porsches, one of the new Lotus 62 Group 6 cars, a couple of Group 6 Chevrons with Cosworth Formula Two engines, a very old Ford GT40 and equally well-used examples of Lotus 47 and a Ginetta G12.

Practice for this 34th R.A.C. Tourist Trophy was held on Whit Saturday prior to the race on the Bank Holiday Monday. Rain intervened, but not before the Group 4 record was well beaten. Fastest in practice were, naturally, the Lolas, led by Hawkins in his regular works development car, and Bonnier, who was driving the Scuderia Filipinetti long-distance car which took part in the Targa Florio. The Lolas driven by Redman, Trevor Taylor and Piper followed. The John Woolfe team appeared in the afternoon with a brand new Lola with a fuel-injected engine built by themselves and to be driven by Attwood.

The fastest 2-litre car was easily the Lotus of Miles which made its debut at the B.O.A.C. 500. The Lotus-designed and built engine, which utilises a Vauxhall block seemed to be going very well, while Hine was the fastest of the 2-litre Group 4 cars with the works Chevron. This was fitted with a German Schnitzertune B.M.W. engine with fuel injection, but this was discarded before the race for one of Chevron’s home-tuned units.

There was no supporting programme, but Northern enthusiasts, no doubt attracted by good publicity and fine weather, gathered in large numbers. The start was fairly orderly—as befits a long-distance race—and once the field had sorted itself out, it looked like a Lola benefit. A few teams had nominated co-drivers and one of them was Filipinetti, who had the little Swiss driver Muller at the wheel for the first half of the race. Though he had only practiced in the rain and hardly knew the circuit he soon got the hand of things, and on lap nine he passed initial leader Hawkins and started to draw away. Further down the field, both Attwood, who had practised in the wet, and Oliver, who was driving the Techspeed Lola and had suffered an engine failure on the first lap of practice, were scorching through the field.

So after 10 of the scheduled 110 laps the order was Muller, Hawkins, Redman, Taylor, Piper, Attwood and Oliver, all in Lolas, then Miles in the 2-litre Lotus. Luca, driving the Sportscars Switzerland Porsche 910, was leading the smaller 2-litre class as Hine was having trouble with the brakes of the works Chevron.

The Lola armada soon started to fade, for the first Oliver retired with a broken throttle linkage and Hawkins had to stop with a flat tyre, which lost him some places. Muller was going at a tremendous pace in the Swiss car, drawing away from the field, and regularly lowering the lap record. But on the 35th lap he left the track at Druids and damaged the car too badly to continue, leaving Bonnier without a drive.

This put Redman in the lead, with Taylor second, and Piper third, but the Lancastrian was not to stay in that position for long. On lap 43 he suffered a flat tyre which caused his car to spin into the bank at Esso. He managed to limp the car back to the pits, where a new rear body section was fitted. However, the car was handling badly once he got back in the race, and only a few laps later he left the road again, this time for good.

At this stage, around lap 50, the rain started to fall, but Trevor Taylor—driving with all is old skill—was pulling away from the field in the Team Elite car. Piper was now second, with Miles third, ahead of Lucas and Lepp in his private Chevron-B.R.M. Attwood had moved up to third place, but his clutch had packed up and he was unable to restart from his pit-stop.

Pit stops were now coming thick and fast, and Piper came in for a very quick refuel, followed by Taylor, whose visit took longer, as his car had to have a new rear tyre as well as fuel. So, as Taylor left the pits and accelerated away, he was caught by Piper: nevertheless he was soon able to draw away from the second man again. The track had already dried following the shower and Hawkins, who had changed onto rain tyres, had to make another stop to change back onto dry tyres. However, he soon started to make up places once more, but on lap 75 he apparently put a wheel on the grass coming out of the Island Bend. The car went out of control, bounced into a marshals’ post, then a tree, and immediately exploded in flames. It finished up upside down in the middle of the track, which was covered in burning fuel.

None of the following cars could get through and all had to queue up while the marshals vainly tried to extinguish the huge fire. Finally a fire tender arrived, but by this time the unfortunate Hawkins was dead. As the race had run over the two-thirds distance, the regulation allowed the positions at the time of the accident to stand.

So the Tourist Trophy went to Trevor Taylor, his first major victory since leaving Team Lotus in 1962. He had driven a good race, but at the time of the accident he was very dubious about the car completing the distance as the clutch had packed up and he was having a lot of trouble selecting gears. Piper was second, 17.4 sec. behind, with Miles in an excellent third place, the Lotus having run perfectly throughout. Fourth was Lepp, who had not made his pit-stop, and thus was just in front of Lucas. Bridges in a Group 6 Chevron-Cosworth was sixth and the R.A.C. decided to award Hawkins posthumously with seventh position ahead of Skeaping’s well-driven Chevron. Altogether it was a very sad end to an interesting if not exciting race.—A. R. M.

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