De Graffenried’s Maserati Wins from Gerard’s E.R.A. with Rosier’s non-supercharged Talbot Third. Only Eleven out of Twenty-five Starters Survive the 300 Miles. Moss’ Cooper Wins Exciting 500-c.c. Race from Dryden and Aston (Coopers).
The First Practice Period
On the Thursday before the British Grand Prix, Silverstone took on all the atmosphere that characterises a really important International long-distance race. Garlands of flowers decked the big refreshment tent behind the pits, while at various parts of the three-mile circuit Scaffolding Ltd. were putting the finishing touches to the big, canvas-covered grandstands. Col. Barnes was using an Austin A90 as a course patrol car, Bob Gerard and his wife arrived in a Bristol and the Continental drivers — Villoresi, Grignard, Claes, Etancelin, and Chiron — had arrived early and meant business, although Chiron’s car was not present. Mays was using his Mk VI Bentley, Earl Howe his Bugatti.
A centre of interest were the two Ferraris, Raymond Mays’ disguised as a Thinwall Special and the Whitehead/Folland car. Mays’ had its new designation engraved on its valve covers, was serviced by mechanics in Vignol overalls and had a Jaeger rev.-counter reading to 8,000 r.p.m. These short, stubby cars have l.h. gear-levers coupled to the gearbox via an exposed bell-crank and push-pull rod and neat spring-type bonnet fasteners. Villoresi’s famous Maserati arrived in a vast, open Michelin-shod F.I.A.T. lorry with a stretcher doing service as a bed behind the seats and its registration numbers obviously put on as an afterthought. The Maserati was not particularly clean and had apparently come straight on from Perpignan, but Villoresi, in blue overalls, white cloth helmet and grey pull-over, looked very fit and confident. The tyre valves of the 5.00-17 front tyres were particularly accessible and 6.50-17 Pirellis were used at the rear. Ramponi was making himself useful to the Continental entrants.
The E.R.A. shock-absorber arrangements were interesting. Geoffrey Ansell’s car had strut and friction dampers all round, Hampshire’s Zoller-blown car used de Rams behind its rear-axle, friction dampers ahead of it, but de Rams only at the front. Harrison’s Tecnauto i.f.s. was strut-damped and Peter Walker’s E.R.A. was another with both struts and friction dampers all round. Bolster’s car, which came in the really vast Bell Dodge van, had Luvax shock-absorbers front and back with strengthening struts adjacent to the shock-absorber arms, while Gerard’s car, still blushing under Jersey laurels, had similar stiffening members running from the front dumbirons to the axle spring pads, the damping being hydraulic at the front and a combination of hydraulic and friction at the rear.
Etancelin’s Lago-Talbot arrived on a two-wheel trailer towed by a Peugeot “202” covered lorry, while a most imposing yellow Fargo van brought Claes’ yellow Lago-Talbot, the inscription on the van’s sides reading: “Ecurie Belge, Bruxelles, Belgique, Specialé Voitures Courses et Sport.” A very fashionably-dressed blonde assisted in the pit, and the whole equipé was most distinguished. The Cabantous/Grignard Lago-Talbot also came per two-wheeled trailer, in this case behind a Laffly van bearing “Equipe Georges Grignard” on its door and a Redex banner and K.L.G. and Dunlop advertising on its sides. Whereas Villoresi ran on Pirellis, Parnell and Ashmore had the latest diamond-tread Dunlops of the same size. Ashmore’s Maserati carried a thermos and feeding tube. Giron was looking after the Hamilton Maserati.
The Lago-Talbots favoured 7.00-18 rear tyres, Etancelin using Engleberts and Grignard Dunlops. Gerard’s E.R.A. had 7.00-16 rear Dunlops and his mechanics, like those of other E.R.A. camps, warmed the rear-axle on the jack before he practised. The G.P. Alta used 6.50-16 rear tyres.
As 2.30 p.m. approached engines were started up. Villoresi strolled about displaying considerable interest in all the cars while his mechanic got his Maserati’s engine going on the handle and let it warm up at approximately 2,000 r.p.m., after which the plugs were changed. The Talbots were battery-started and allowed to almost boil. Freddie Dixon was seen to arrive in the passenger’s seat of a black Jowett Javelin saloon.
The course did not seem quite so fast as had been expected, and the chicane at Club corner had to be taken very slowly, especially after rubber-dust had rendered the surface slippery. It was said that the exact lap distance of three miles was achieved by putting in this straw-bale chicane, but it also acted as a “deflector” to keep fast-moving cars away from the spectators at this point, but was regarded as a mixed blessing by the drivers.
Practice had not been in progress for long when Salvadori’s Maserati was sounding woolly, its suspension also looking rather soft, as did that of Baring’s Maserati. Mays’ Thinwall sounded anything but thin and he did less wrestling than usual with the steering, unlike Rolt and Etancelin, who had tremendous private tussles with their steering wheels. Peter Whitehead, in blue helmet was going beautifully in his Ferrari, later giving over to an equally determined Dudley Folland. Murray’s Maserati was not on form but Villoresi was going well, passing inside the Whitehead Ferrari and accelerating away from it on one occasion. Bolster’s E.R.A. broke an off-side rear brake pull-off spring, after lapping at 75 m.p.h., but continued, to get in a lap at 77.14 m.p.h. Heath relieved Abccassis of the G.P. Alta, which, like Gerard’s E.R.A., sounded a bit uneven accelerating from Club corner up to the pits. Mays came in for a plug and a consultation, Whitehead peered beneath his brother’s E.R.A., and not all the Continental equipes seemed altogether happy, Grignard’s Talbot coming in in a very warm state, Salvadori’s Maserati, too, was having its engine re-timed. Down at the chicane, Claes slid slowly round on one lap, Rolt’s Alfa-Romeo looked anything but under control, while Peter Walker was indulging in his well-known power-slides and, indeed, he made the fastest lap at 81.08 m.p.h. in his old-type E.R.A. Villoresi replied, but only to the tune of 80.72 m.p.h. Billy Cotton was standing by as reserve driver to Hampshire whose E.R.A. had a distinctive lining along its tail as had Murray’s Maserati. Absentees from the course were the E-type E.R.A., which Mathieson scratched, “Bira,” Brunet, de Graffenried, Rosier, Schell, Chiron and Richardson. The Argentinians were not expected. The lap tames were: —
The Second Practice Period
On the Friday it was known that Ansell’s Maserati, Mathieson’s E-type E.R.A. and Richardson’s R.R.A. would be non-runners. Billy Cotton declared his intention of returning to racing as reserve driver to Hampshire, and Roy Parnell was appointed reserve driver to Murray, R. Dixon reserve to Baring.
The “500s” were now getting ready in their separate paddock. There was a feeling that these little cars were not encouraged as they should have been, their drivers being discouraged from mingling with the Grand Prix drivers, and at one time there was almost a strike because no signalling station, let alone pit area, was provided.
At the scrutineering Howe and Hudlass decided that the off-side rear hub of Rippon’s A.R. Specill was unsafe, while the Gladstone also failed to pass. Watkin’s Cooper favoured big air-scoops and twin fillers in the tail and used 4.00/4.25-15 Dunlops, while Fry’s Parsenn had an exhaust megaphone. Brandon’s Cooper went round with a healthy crackle but later very hungry mice ate the engine internals. John Cooper was also in trouble, keeping J.A.P.’s service van busy, and neither the Marot Special nor the Barden Special sounded right. Cox’s Marwyn. and Wharton’s Wharton were posted as non-runners. Practice times were: —
Of the Grand Prix cars, Chiron’s Talbot, Rosier’s Talbot, de Graffenried’s Maserati and “Bira’s” Maserati (No. 1 in the race) arrived, the last-named using 6.00-16 Pirelli rear tyres, whereas de Graffenried’s used the usual 6.50-16 Pirellis. Giron was retiming Hamilton’s Maserati’s magneto, the G.P. Alta was observed to have a Galley extra fuel tank on the near side of the driving seat, and Peter Whitehead was carefully adjusting the Ferrari’s mirrors. Chiron exchanged his multi-coloured skull-cap for a blue cloth helmet, Grignard his black beret for a white cloth helmet and practice was “on.” Harrison’s E.R.A. was out, although its back-axle had been stripped down in a local garage on the Thursday evening. Billy Cotton, wearing a blue helmet, tried Hampshire’s E.R.A. Fotheringham-Parker complained of no urge below 4,500 r.p.m. in Hamilton’s Maserati. “Bira,” who arrived in a beautiful Maserati “Farina” saloon, fresh from his Perpignan second place, wore his yellow cloth helmet and blue overalls’ Etancelin his customary reversed cap. As last year, Villoresi drove about in his Lancia “Aprilia” saloon. On the whole practice was uneventful, save that Claes spun round and round wildly at Abbey curve but somehow kept his yellow Talbot on the road. Here several drivers momentarily went on to the grass. The best laps were: —
The Ferraris were rather disappointing, cornering no better than the B-type E.R.A.s. The course seemed hard on tyres, but most drivers hoped to go through with one change or none at all.
The 500-c.c. National Race
Saturday dawned fine and warm and, In spite of the locals’ pessimism, rain held off all day.
In the 500-c.c. paddock intense activity went on as the spectators’ cars streamed into the vast car-parks and the crowds filled the enclosures and grandstands. Parker, however, had his Parker C.F.S. on its trailer, with no last-minute jobs to do. As 12 noon approached the crackle of innumerable motor-cycle engines broke out and eventually the 36 starters for the 50-mile 500-c.c. National Race lined up on the grid for a one-lap rolling start behind Col. Barnes’ A90 Austin. In the front row of eight rows were Page’s Cooper, bearing “No. 13” at his request, Aston’s Cooper, Rhiando’s golden-hued, much-fancied Cooper, Moss’ Cooper and Dryden’s Norton-Cooper. Unfortunately not everyone got their engines going in time to keep proper station on the rolling-lap and the Underwood and the Imp started badly, Page stalled at Club corner and Lang’s Cowlan and Rhiando were far behind the pilot car. Kiteley’s Cooper failed altogether. Non-starters, incidentally, were Cox (Marwyn), the Gladstone, the A.R. Special and the Triumph-engined Wharton.
After a lap, as seen from Club corner, Moss had the lead, but Dryden and Aikens (Aikens) were close behind him, followed by Aston, Parker, Brandon, Christie, May, Pratt, whose Imp passed Coldham at Club corner, Smith (C.F.S.), John Cooper, Fry (Parsenn), Kearon and Watkins-all on Coopers unless otherwise stated. Behind came the stragglers, with Rhiando still hopelessly far back and the Underwood last.
Another lap and, Moss still leading from Dryden, Aston’s Cooper was now a close third. That order held for a while, with Moss drawing away and Dryden lengthening the gap between his car and Aston’s. Brandon stopped at Woodcote, continued to Stowe and there retired, while the Scott-engined Underwood was left on the grass before Club corner. Christie’s Cooper was picking up places, and Saunders was trying hard, troubled by a locking brake. On the fourth lap C. N. Cooper’s Cooper spun at Club corner and slid sickeningly between Bacon’s F.H.B. and the attractive but slow Grose, fortunately just missing the latter and averting what could have been a nasty episode. Page had more trouble but drove well while he was going, and the Imp fell out at Stowe corner. The Parsenn sounded very sick before half-distance, and some exciting tail-sliding on the part of Moor in the Wasp and the Cowlan enlivened things at Club corner. The Wasp, which had a rear-placed Norton engine with 14-to-1 compression ratio, Iota-type rear i.s., coil and wishbone i.f.s. and hydraulic brakes, began to trail its undershield. This caused a flap as Courier, observing at Club corner, had no black flag with which to stop it. Eventually Moor turned the car on its side with fluids pouring out, tore off the offending sheeting and continued with aplomb, only to be brought in by horrified R.A.C. officials for a proper examination! Reece’s Cooper then lost bits of its exhaust system, and still Stirling Moss led in his V.-twin-type Cooper with one cylinder removed from its crankcase, his average climbing from 66.58 m.p.h. after five laps to 68.31 m.p.h. after 10 and 66.61 after 15 laps had been run. Now began a grim duel between Dryden, who was experiencing fuel starvation, and Aston. On the seventh lap Aston passed Dryden but on the 13th lap (there were 17 to do) the positions reversed again, with Christie some way away in fourth place, and Aikens doing all he knew behind, once passing the Grose on the inside at Club corner, which he approached in an exhilarating slide. Rhiando, too, was driving desperately to make good his poor start, gaining each lap on Watkins under the brakes but failing to pass him on acceleration, although holding sixth place after 10 laps. The C-type Bond went round slowly, in company with many others. Moss had a comfortable lead, but behind him the duel went on, Aston second again by the 15th lap Dryden passing him again a round later although unable to get more than 5.500 r.p.m. before the carburetter dried up. The Wasp spun at Club corner, Coldham went out with magneto trouble, Kearon and Saunders were out, likewise the Russell and the Marot. The Barden lost its exhaust pipe. So ended an exciting race — another great victory for young Stirling Moss and for the essentially right-looking Coopers. Nothing, one feels, could have been more popular.
1. S. Moss (Cooper), 17 laps completed, 44 min. 26.2 sec. (68.81 m.p.h.).
2. R. M. Dryden (Cooper), 17 laps completed, 44 min. 50.6 sec. (68.21 m.p.h.).
3. W. S. Aston (Cooper), 17 laps completed, 44 min. 58.8 sec. (68.04 m.p.h.).
4. M. A. H. Christie (Cooper), 17 laps completed, 45 min. 23.8 sec. (67.41 m.p.h.).
5. K. Watkins (Cooper), 17 laps completed, 45 min. 31.8 sec. (67.20 m.p.h.).
6. J. G. Reece (Cooper), 17 laps completed, 46 min. 59.0 see. (65.13 m.p.h.).
7. J. Cooper (Cooper), 17 laps completed, 47 min. 7.4 sec. (65.02 m.p.h.).
8. D. P. B. Prosser (Cooper), 16 laps completed, 45 min. 34.6 sec.
9. Sir Francis Samuelson (Cooper), 16 laps completed, 45 min. 40.2 sec.
10. C. N. Cooper (Cooper), 16 laps completed, 47 min. 10.0 sec.
11. C. F. Smith (C.F.S. 500), 15 laps completed, 41 min. 30.2 sec.
12. J. G. Fry (Iota), 15 laps completed, 42 min. 3.2 sec.
13. W. L. Grose (Grose), 15 laps completed, 45 min. 0.8 sec.
14. L. Bond (Bond), 15 laps completed, 45 min. 44.0 sec.
15. P. W. K. Page (Cooper), 15 laps completed, 46 min. 9.2 sec.
16. E. J. Moor (Wasp 500), 14 laps completed, 45 min. 16.6 sec.
17. C. A. N. May (Cooper), 14 laps completed, 46 min. 50.6 sec.
Fastest Race lap: Moss (Cooper), at 70.95 m.p.h.
Everyone then tackled. picnic lunches — we fed in style in the big, roomy Coventry caravan loaned by the Leicester Caravan Centre — and very soon it was time to take up positions for the Grand Prix, the enclosures and stands now packed to capacity.
As the competing cars lined up on the starting grid by the bridge over the course, flags waved lazily from above the pits and the crowd craned forward in the big grandstands flanking the road, a quite Continental setting on the Silverstone three-mile circuit, which, this afternoon, had to be covered 100 times. All eyes were on Villoresi, in white helmet and blue overalls, his Maserati in the front row. In that exalted position, too, was Peter Walker’s high old-fashioned E.R.A., a grand tribute to his driving skill, for these positions are decided on practice times. The complete order was:
Row 1: Gerard (E.R.A.), de Graffenried (Maserati). Walker (E.R.A.), “Bira” (Maserati), Villoresi (Maserati).
Row 2: Harrison (E.R.A.), Etancelin (Talbot), Rolt (Alfa-Romeo), Parnell (Maserati).
Row 3: Whitehead (Ferrari), Ansell (E.R.A.) Abecassis (Alta), Cabantous (Talbot), Hampshire (E.R.A.).
Row 4: Claes (Talbot), Ashmore (Maserati), Bolster (E.R.A.), Chiron (Talbot).
Row 5: Salvadori (Maserati), Hamilton (Maserati), Baring (Maserati), Rosier (Talbot), Mays (Ferrari).
Row 6: Murray (Maserati), Nixon (E.R.A.).
Last-minute examinations of Hampshire’s and Whitehead’s cars attracted attention, the plugs were changed in “No. 7” E.R.A. as Gerard sat beside It on a fuel churn and de Graffenried sat in his car. The absentees were Ansell’s Maserati, the E-type E.R.A., Schell’s Talbot and Richardson’s R.R.A.
Three minutes to go and all engines were silent. Then frantic push-starting and the pack was alive and vibrant with sound and blue smoke haze. Villoresi’s Maserati required a push, although a mechanic had its handle ready, Gerard calmly studied his instruments, de Graffenried held a rear wheel as his Maserati crept forward. Then down went Col. Barnes’ flag and they were away, a snarling, multi-coloured pack-and no falterers. Gerard held an initial advantage, de Graffenried close up. The roar died away, coming in broken, distant sounds from the far side of the circuit, brakes squealing, exhausts blaring and above it the musical whine of Ansell’s Wade supercharger. Then they were through the chicane which involved braking from 100 to some 15 m.p.h., and accelerating uphill and through the tricky Abbey curve. “Bira” led with Villoresi on his tail, followed closely by de Graffenried, Parnell, Gerard, Harrison, Abecassis, Cabantous, Etancelin, Chiron, Walker, Ashmore and Whitehead. Another lap and that order held to the 8th place, but Chiron had moved up to 9th position and Ashmore and Whitehead had passed Walker. Already Murray had been to his pit, while Ansell’s E.R.A. was far back.
On the third lap Villoresi came past “Bira” to lead, with the low-chassis, two-stage 16-valve four-cylinder Maseratis in the first four positions and Gerard, Abecassis and Cabantous driving watchfully behind. Villoresi steadily increased his lead, so that after five laps he had averaged 79.15 m.p.h., and led “Bira” by 4.6 sec. Parnell was some way behind de Graffenried, with Cabantous closing on Abecassis. “Bira” now settled down to regain his lost lead and after ten laps he was only three seconds behind and the race-average was up to 79.52 m.p.h. Parnell was now 3rd, 25.2 sec. behind Villoresi, de Graffenried 4th, Abecassis 5th and Chiron 6th.
Already the pace was telling — with over 270 miles to go! Murray commenced a series of pit stops to change plugs, the first costing 85 sec., the next 93 sec., Bolster, whose E.R.A. had optimistically been fitted with a new oil gauge immediately before the start, came in to discover lost pressure, lost 85 sec., and came in a lap later for a check of the supercharger oiling arrangements. Then Cabantous, in his beautiful knitted helmet, struck serious trouble and tin after tin of Castrol was poured into his Talbot to replace oil that had smothered driver and car. The outlook was an unhappy one but the Talbot resumed. Bolster’s E.R.A. clonked horribly in its back axle as it was push-started after its stop and Murray again came in, his car misfiring, Roy Parnell taking over. Later he was in yet again, with oil-pressure failing.
After 15 laps Villoresi led by a mere 0.8 sec. from “Bira,” the average up to 79.76 m.p.h., and Ashmore now in 6th place. Another five laps and “Bira” hadn’t closed the gap by a yard, yet Villoresi had now averaged 79.82 m.p.h. Mays was finding his Ferrari a handful, blipping and fighting on the corners, Gerard’s exhaust note sounded a trifle ragged on the slower sections of the course and Holt retired after a back axle inspection of his Alfa-Romeo, a driving shaft broken. Poor Bolster lost four minutes looking for some oil pressure and Nixon’s E.R.A. sheared its supercharger drive and went for a well-earned rest in the dead car park.
The pits now became a centre of interest, as the first refuelling became due. Murray had oil pressure trouble added to his worries, Roy Parnell having given the car back to him, Baring’s Maserati took on fuel (it had two fillers on the tail) and much water, for it was boiling well and truly.
Then, amid great excitement, Villoresi came in. He leapt out, assisting his mechanics, Freeman placed an experimental hand on each Pirelli tyre and about 35 gallons of fuel were hosed in — time 58 seconds. Meanwhile, “Bira” was well in front. Abecassis lost part of the Alta’s exhaust system going past the pits, but continued unconcerned, then Ashmore came in to the pit-area, marked by an open golf-umbrella, which “Wilky” hectically supervised. One felt that one man had too many cars to look after, and Parnell’s pit-work was not of the best in consequence. Ashmore took on fuel, had a drink, and was off in a mere 25 seconds, however. Unfortunately the new type Dunlop on his off-side rear wheel punctured because he hit a straw bale at the chicane and there were delays while the jack was got out and a clouter found for “Wilky,” so that Ashmore got out to finish his drink — time 46 seconds.
After 25 laps “Bira” led by a second from Villoresi, at 80.07 m.p.h., and he had also made the fastest lap, at 81.94 m.p.h. Then Villoresi came in again, ran along the pits to find the huge oil gun and himself put in some 10 gallons of oil, while more fuel was put in. The bonnet was removed for a check of the oil pipes and the plugs were calmly examined, but the total loss was 170 seconds. Soon afterwards the red Maserati was in again and as he sat in the car talking disappointedly to his head mechanic, Luigi was seen to slowly pull off his driving gloves and we knew that the first 4CLT Maserati was out.
Others to refuel were de Graffenried, who lost only 49 seconds, and Mays, who lost 57.6 seconds. It had been splendid to observe the G.P. Alta at last going strongly, and it was pitiful that a float chamber should break from an S.U. carburetter and delay it 243 seconds when Abecassis was driving in excellent form. Naturally, these depot stops, supervised by S. C. H. Davis and carefully timed by Rivers Fletcher, had completely altered the race outlook. After 35 laps “Bira” led Parnell by 46 sec., at 80.12 m.p.h., de Graffenried maintaining his third place, Walker a very gallant fourth, Gerard driving impeccably in fifth place and Etancelin’s Talbot up in sixth position. At 40 laps it was much the same, “Bira” now 41.4 sec. from Parnell, at precisely the same average speed. Next, all manner of complications arose. Chiron, varying vivid gesticulation with serious discussion, decided that his transmission was breaking up, but took on fuel and continued. Murray overshot, reversed and came in for a pit-stop which consisted mainly of putting about as much fuel on the track as in the tank — 10 gallons in 94 seconds — and sending him off with the filler cap open, than which few things are more dangerous. Parnell then stopped for fuel and, in spite of considerable “flap” behind the scenes, and the fact that he climbed out and cleaned his vizor he went off to a slightly hesitant push-start, with 20 gallons in, in the excellent time of 32 seconds. Ashmore also took on fuel, Roy Parnell took over but was soon in again, and amid more flap “Wilky” put a puzzled Ashmore back again, the car leaving amid panic cries of “Is the bonnet fastened?” Parnell fell to 103.4 sec. behind “Bira” due to his refuel and then came one of those episodes that change the whole aspect of a race. “Bira” felt his Maserati hopping sideways at the Club corner chicane, held it, lost it, and the front of the car struck one of the marker barrels amid the straw bales. For, although “Bira” continued to his pit, both front wheels were out of line, the cowling badly damaged, and the leader led no more. “Bira” appeared to take fully half-an-hour explaining to Platé and others! The magnificent drive put up by Walker, bare headed and without goggles, ended when he reported a broken front brake lock-nut. His mechanics, ready to slickly refuel the old E.R.A. were puzzled when he climbed out, which he cheerfully explained by remarking, “There are no brakes left, absolutely no brakes. I motored across a cornfield.” Walker took defeat truly philosophically.
Baring’s Maserati was out with an incurable water leak, Harrison’s E.R.A. with engine trouble, but the red Ferrari was sounding healthy though difficult to handle, Folland relieving Whitehead after the refuel.
At half-distance Parnell led at 78.57 m.p.h., 23.6 sec. ahead of de Graffenried, while Gerard was 111.4 sec. away, a steady third. With Walker’s retirement Etancelin motored into fourth place, with Hampshire’s E.R.A. fifth, Rosier’s Talbot sixth.
Parnell’s Maserati was brought in because it was dropping oil and it was found to be very hot as well. It continued, and its second refuel went through in 112 seconds. These stops, however, put de Graffenried into the lead, his average after 60 laps being 78.11 m.p.h., and his lead over Gerard, who was now second, 196.8 sec.
It was now a case of which cars would survive the remaining 120 miles! The leading Maserati sounded as healthy as ever. Gerard came in for his scheduled refuel, which was magnificently handled save for a moment’s delay while a rag was found for Bob to wipe his fly-smeared vizor. Amid claps he was away in 45 seconds, pumping up pressure furiously. Parnell had more troubles, including a fuel leak, finally culminating in rear-axle failure and his retirement, after a fine run, with the crowd following his every move. Still they fell out. Bolster did so literally when he overturned his E.R.A. at Stowe corner, and was removed to hospital with injuries rather optimistically announced as “bruises and abrasions.” Cabantous’ Talbot retired with a seized piston. Gerard obviously couldn’t catch de Graffenried, but he began to worry him by closing the gap, until the famous E.R.A.’s exhaust note lost a little of its crispness. A hush fell over the crowd when they heard that. The G.P. Alta continued to show splendid form but another 40 seconds had been lost when the faulty carburetter began to flood again-George Abecassis certainly is unlucky. Chiron finally gave up with a broken universal joint.
At 70 laps the leading Maserati, controlled now from its pit by Villoresi, had over two minutes lead, and had averaged 77.95 m.p.h. With Pannell’s disappearance Rosier had brought his beautiful non-supercharged Talbot into third place, but not within striking distance of Gerard. Murray’s Maserati finally succumbed with valve trouble. De Graffenried stopped to refuel again. As he jumped out the yellow-wheeled Maserati rolled forward, but he was quick to slam on its hand brake and he had a drink and put on new goggles as the fuel was hosed in. It was a beautifully conducted refuel, losing the leader only 25 seconds. Gerard did not go by while the Maserati was stationary, but by 75 laps the gap had closed to 62.6 seconds, and although de Graffenried had speeded up from 77.52 m.p.h. to 78.05 m.p.h. five laps later, Bob Gerard was then only 61.4 seconds in arrears. Thereafter de Graffenried eased up a trifle and Gerard, too, slowed due to a slight misfire. The race looked like ending uneventfully but was to take a grave turn. Richardson had taken over from Mays in the difficult-to-handle Ferrari and, hitting a bump at the fast Abbey curve, felt the car slide. He got it on full lock and it still would not come out and in a moment it had spun off the road amongst the crowd. Most of the spectators involved ran clear but unfortunately about half-a-dozen persons were hit. It is believed that they may have trespassed beyond the barriers. After some delay the doctors, nurses and an ambulance got to the scene and fortunately no one was found to be very seriously injured. Everyone sympathised with Ken Richardson, who did all any driver could do under the circumstances. In a broadcast that evening Mays explained that the Ferrari had no margin of safety and said he wished, without being unkind, that he had had his E.R.A.
So the 1949 British Grand Prix ended, with de Graffenried victor of his first important race and another great win chalked up to the 16-valve Maserati. Bob Gerard was a truly gallant second, thus reversing the Jersey positions, and it was nice to see one of the Talbots, in Louis Rosier’s able hands, come home third. The final placings were: —
1. Baron de Graffenried (Maserati), 100 laps completed, 3 hrs. 52 min. 50.2 sec. (77.31 m.p.h.).
2. F. R. Gerard (E.R.A.), 100 laps completed, 3 hr. 53 min. 55.4 sec. (76.95 m.p.h.).
3. L. Rosier (Talbot), 99 laps completed, 3 hr. 53 min. 50 sec. (76.21 m.p.h.).
4. D. Hampshire and B. Cotton (E.R.A.), 99 laps completed, 3 hr. 54 min. 50.0 sec. (75.94m.p.h.).
5. P. Etancelin (Talbot), 97 laps completed, 3 hr. 53 min. 23.4 sec. (74.81 m.p.h.).
6. F. Ashmore (Maserati), 97 laps completed, 3 hr. 54 min. 40.0 sec. (74.40 m.p.h.).
7. G. Abecassls (Alta), 96 laps completed, 3 hr. 52 min. 59.0 sec. (74.07 m.p.h.).
8. P. Whitehead and D. Folland (Ferrari), 95 laps completed, 3 hr. 53 min. 46.8 sec.( 73.04m.p.h.).
9. G. E. Ansell (E.R.A.), 94 laps completed, 3 hr. 53 min. 19.6 sec. (72.53 m.p.h.).
10. J. Claes (Talbot), 92 laps completed, 3 hr. 53 min. 56.4 sec. (70.78 m.p.h.).
11. D. Hamilton and P. Fotheringham-Parker (Maserati), 92 laps completed, 3 hr. 54 min. 0.8 sec. (70.76 m.p.h.).
Fastest Race lap: “Bira” (Maserati) on his 40th lap, at 82.44 m.p.h.
In the 500-c.c. National Race the first three cars home used Lockheed brakes lined with Ferodo, Dunlop tyres, and Lodge plugs, fired by Lucas magnetos in the case of Moss and Dryden. Dryden and Aston ran on Shell fuel.
The Grand Prix winning Maserati ran on Shell fuel and oil, fired by Lodge plugs, and it was arrested before the corners by Ferodo-lined Lockheed brakes. Gerard, too, used Shell fuel, Lodge plugs fed by a Lucas magneto, Ferodo-lined Girling brakes and relied on Dunlop tyres. Lodge plugs, Ferodo-lined Lockheed brakes and Dunlop tyres were also used on Rosier’s Talbot.
The winner was universally popular, if begrimed. He insisted on Gerard sharing his wreath until both drivers were so decked and these two were, the happiest, jolliest pair of victors we have ever seen. But Gerard was very deaf and de Graffenried showed signs of strain as he sat still in his car while the Swiss National Anthem was played through. Then, laughingly wringing Gerard’s hand, all sign of driving 300 very arduous miles at over 77 m.p.h. vanished.
On the whole the Press arrangements were good, and the view and commentary from the main grandstands excellent. But, of course, the usual invasion of unauthorised persons happened in the Press enclosures and there were too many of these beings in the pit area.
The daily Press photographers nearly called a strike, because they were upset at not getting access to the course during the race. But Chief Marshal Harveyson saved the situation by letting all cameramen into the winner’s enclosure. That man really does do a job of work as a marshal — and takes a properly firm stand whenever such is justified.
Bob Gerard, having walked to the winner’s enclosure, was asked to go back for his car-and being Bob Gerard, laughingly obliged!
As usual, Joan Gerard kept his chart and his pit was really well conducted.
In the 500-c.c. race 27 entrants used J.A.P. engines, four Norton, two Scott, two Rudge and one a Triumph Twin. Moss retained the Z/F type differential on his Cooper. The B.B.C. commentary went over very well, Max Robertson and Murray Walker getting the spirit of the race over splendidly, imbued with genuine excitement-especially when Bolster nearly collected Walker! But the B.B.C. were not allowed to televise the race.
A new X.K Jaguar was displayed beside the track near the pits.
Motor Sport was most comfortably housed in a Coventry “Knight 48” Mobile Home, loaned to us by the Leicester Caravan Centre, 489, Aylestone Road, Leicester (‘phone 32342) from whom full details are available. These de luxe caravans are priced at £2,200 complete.
Almost everyone of importance in the motoring world was at Silverstone, including Earl and Countess Howe, Sir Algernon Guinness, His Grace the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, George Eyston, John Cobb, Wilfred Andrews, the Marquis Camden, Lord Waleran, and many prominent members of the B.B.C.
De Graffenried won £500 and an R.A.C. Silverstone Plaque, Gerard £300 and Plaque, Rosier £200 and Plaque. Stirling Moss netted £60 and Plaque, Dryden £40, Aston £30. There were many other prizes and it was a nice gesture on the R.A.C.’s part to offer a plaque to the chief mechanic responsible for the winning car in the. Grand Prix.
Photographs appearing in this article are Motor Sport copyright.
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