No B.R.M. at Berne?

MAY cannot have been a very merry month at Bourne. On the 10th, B.R.M. announced that “owing to the new cars not being ready and as drivers have not had practice with them, the provisional entry for the Swiss G.P. at Berne has been cancelled.” The day before, Basil Cardew had a leading story in the Daily Express about Reg. Parnell, No. 1 B.R.M. driver, being upset because he had not been invited to secret tests of a B.R.M. at Silverstone. On the 18th, the B.R.M. Association announced that its membership exceeds 10,000, with funds of nearly £7,000— but the donors must, like our readers, be getting pretty frantic to see a B.R.M. in a race.

The time seemed ripe for us to visit Bourne, where the B.R.M. works adjoin Raymond Mays’ garden, to obtain answers to some of the questions which readers are putting to us about B.R.M. matters. We made this visit on the day B.R.M. scratched from Berne, but Raymond Mays was away. However, at his suggestion, we forwarded to him some of the questions to which readers are continually trying to put satisfactory answers.

Remembering that when we attended the pre-view of the B.R.M. nearly two years ago one engine had petrol injection and that the others were to be converted to it very soon, and that incorrect mixture distribution has been one of the car’s troubles, we asked : Why was petrol injection abandoned for the B.R.M. engine? Reply :

“Petrol injection has not been abandoned, but much more development work in this connection is necessary before it can be employed to full advantage for this particular purpose.”

As the blown engine will be obsolete in two years time, we hope this considerable development is well in hand!

To counter criticism in some quarters and to provide an answer to those who think H. N. Charles, Freddie Dixon, etc., should be “in” on the engineering side of the B.R.M. we asked : What successful racing cars had Peter Berthon designed to recommend him as an engineer on the B.R.M. project? No reply was forthcoming.

To attempt to clear up the Daily Express story of a disgruntled Parnell, we queried : Why wasn’t Reg. asked to take part in the Silverstone tests? Reply :

“The tests at Silverstone on May 14th were of a secret nature to enable us to obtain data as regards modi fications carried out during the winter months, particularly relating to suspension, steering, carburation, modifications to the blower to obtain more power at the bottom end. Silverstone was selected because it is a known circuit where most of the leading makes of racing cars have run. For this particular test it was not intended to have drivers other than the test driver, Ken Richardson, who obviously knows more about the results of the modifications than anyone else. “Bira” and Walker were merely asked to come at the last moment when it was known that their cars had broken down at Goodwood in practice. Obviously, Parnell could not come because his Ferrari was still competing.”

Actually “Bira,” apparently tried the B.R.M. before Whit-Monday as he was racing the Osca at Goodwood that day. It was common knowledge in the Goodwood Paddock that Peter Walker had been called to Silverstone and, it seems, Parnell was merely surprised that he had not been told of the test. He did not welcome newspaper gossip about an incident which, although mild, points to poor liaison between B.R.M. and its No. 1 driver. No one needs to be told of Moss’ skill as a racing driver and we merely echoed our readers when we inquired : Has Stirling Moss been asked officially if he would drive the B.R.M.? If so, what was his reply? Answer :

“I have had a word with Moss as regards the future, and as soon as a B.R.M. is available for such a purpose, he will be asked to try it. This he agreed to do.”

Not altogether convincing, as a car has already been made available to Mays, Sommer, “Bira,” Walker, Richardson, and, we believe, to Gerard. At all events, do you agree when we say, the sooner the better ?

Wondering if finance could deter drivers who already get some return from racing with cars of their own, we asked : Do B.R.M. pay a fee to their team drivers as Mercedes-Benz did to Seaman for example, or are these appointments of an honorary nature ? Reply :

“B.R.M. do pay a fee to drivers and the agreement is a very fair one from their point of view.”

We then inquired if Mays had abandoned the idea of driving himself. He replied :

“At the moment in any case I have definitely abandoned the idea of driving the B.R.M. for the simple reason that my activities in connection with the B.R.M., and my worries, are so many that I could not do justice to myself or the car if I attempted to drive, therefore I have decided against it in this difficult and worrying period.”

To date some £250,000 has been contributed by the industry to B.R.M. Wshing to give credit where due, we asked : Who is the biggest financial supporter of the B.R.M. to date? Reply :

“We are not at liberty to disclose this.”

A pity, as, not being business men, we had even wondered if a B.R.M. balance-sheet would soon be forthcoming. On the subject of the Whit-Monday tests, Raymond Mays wrote :

“The Silverstone tests on May 14th were generally satisfactory, and the data gained very useful. Peter Walker has been most helpful, and has expressed himself wining to fit in with our arrangements.”

Finally, believing that, next to the drivers, the team manager is the most important person in a racing team, we asked : Is Jack Emmott still team manager and, if not, who has replaced him? Reply :

“Jack Emmott is not Team Manager for the reason that he does not feel that he will be in a position to spend enough time here with the team, and abroad, owing to his other activities. In any case he elected to do this for the first year only. At the moment the team management is being handled from Bourne with outside expert assistance.”

We hope this will go some way towards satisfying the many readers who write and telephone questions to Motor Sport about the future of the B.R.M. and whose numbers increased noticeably after the announcement of the Berne withdrawal and publication of the Daily Express Parnell-story. All these good people crave is to see a British car receive the chequered flag in an International motor-race–as we most certainly do ourselves. That the B.R.M., on which so much time and money has been spent, is still not ready is a bitter disappointment, which will, we hope, soon be rectified, if only for the sake of those 10,000 B.R.M.A. supporters. Perhaps at Rheims, on July 1st? Cross your fingers!