Record crowd sees a very full programme at Silverstone.
Lewis-Evans (Cooper) beats Brown and Moss in 500-cc race. Type C and Mk VII Jaguars take Production Car Honours. New 89.29 mph Lap-Record by Fischer’s 4-cylinder Ferrari. Hawthorn’s misfortune in the final
Britain responded warmly to Formula II racing when the BRDC organised the International Trophy Race Meeting for the Daily Express at Silverstone on May 10th. 125,000 people, a record crowd, arrived in coaches, on foot and in 20,000 cars, in spite of the miserable weather. They saw a very full day’s programme of racing, interspersed by demonstration runs by world famous men and machines. HWM won the International Trophy Final convincingly for Britain, Lance Macklin winning his first big race, at 85.41 mph, from team-mate Tony Rolt. Baron de Graffenried’s Scuderia Enrico Plate Maserati was third. After Hawthorn had won his heat convincingly for Cooper-Bristol and Manzon’s new six-cylinder Gordini had won the second heat, the Final seemed to lie between these two, but it was not to be. Manzon had transmission failure at the start and Hawthorn saw something like £1,000 slip from his grasp when the Cooper-Bristol gear-lever broke while he was leading the Gordini. After this the two leading HWMs suffered no opposition. They were using Esso fuel and oil, Lodge plugs, Girling shock-absorbers, Lucas magnetos, and Rudge wheels shod with Dunlop tyres. A new Silverstone lap-record was set by the Swiss driver, Fischer, in a four-cylinder Ferrari, 1 min 58 sec, equalling 89.29 mph.
500-cc race (15 laps, 45 miles)
This was run over a wet track, very unpleasant. Wharton’s Erskine Staride, Bacon’s FHB, and Peter Collins’ JBS nonstarted. Barber’s Cooper was in trouble on the line, and on lap one the Coopers of Wicken and Clarke both retired. Moss in the Kieft built up a truly astonishing lead. Behind, Brown’s Cooper and Richards’ JBS were ahead of S Lewis-Evans’ Cooper. After four laps Lewis-Evans was up in third place. Moss, seemingly unassailable, was lapping at 75.27 mph round after round. Many drivers experienced skids and at Stowe Corner, resurfaced but rather loose, Lewis-Evans Snr, once Earl Howe’s mechanic, and Grey’s Cooper went off the road. Sometime later. Lewis-Evans Snr retired at Stowe, walked from his car, only to see smoke pour from the engine. The fire was soon extinguished. Later still the Smith 500 spun round leaving the corner but continued at unabated speed not once but several times, causing sounds of mirth from the grandstand. Headland’s Kieft retired after 11 laps with fuel feed trouble and Parker’s Kieft never fulfilled its practice promise. For 12 meteoric laps Moss led, then dropped to second position behind Lewis-Evans, Brown third. A lap later, and one from the end. Moss had fallen behind Brown. A brake cable outer-casing of the hand-brake system had become dislodged, preventing the foot-brake from releasing properly, and it was astonishing that Moss was able to finish the race.
International Trophy, Heat 1 (15 laps, 45 miles)
The Formula II cars of Heat 1 took up their grid positions with the track now dry. Earl Howe greeted each driver, the flag went up, the front row began to creep, corrected its impatience, the flag fell, and they were away. From the start, it was Mike Hawthorn’s race. The dark green Cooper-Bristol pulled out about 2 sec lead From Behra’s Gordini four-cylinder, with Peter Collins’ HWM about the same distance away in third place. Behind came Macklin’s HWM, ahead of Wharton in the ugly monoposto, yellow wheeled, dark green Frazer-Nash. After two laps Hawthorn was about 3 sec in the lead and Collins a further second behind the Gordini. The race was pretty much of a procession but a very high-speed one. The only change. amongst the leaders occurred on lap five, when Macklin passed team-mate Collins, Downing had established his Connaught in fifth place, Bira’s Gordini was way back, with the Frazer-Nash hurrying along, seventh, and Schell’s Plate Maserati and Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari duelling furiously behind. Schell worked hard, but Peter’s impeccable driving got him ahead right at the end, after a prodigious effort. Dobson’s V12 Ferrari jogged along behind, holding off Gaze’s Alta, Ulmen’s Veritas, Hirt’s V12 Ferrari, the HAR and the unhappy.Lund’s sports-type Lea Francis, which had been in and out of the pits. Behra made a last lap bid to pass the flying Cooper-Bristol from Farnham but finished 2.4 behind it. On three laps the Frenchman had lapped at 87.81 mph but only once did Hawthorn need to equal this lap speed to win the heat. Aston lost four minutes changing plugs on his Aston-Butterworth and was unplaced, and Claes’ yellow Gordini retired.
Production Touring Car Race (17 laps)
This was boring as a spectacle but instructive as to result. Perhaps the highlight of the race was the manner in which Jacobs’ 11/2-litre MG saloon vanquished the Javelins. He received applause from the appreciative crowd when passing Marshall’s and Bennett’s Javelins on the inside of Stowe Corner and he won his class, the MG over 10 sec faster than the fastest Javelin, after Hadley’s Javelin had retired with loss of oil and consequently “run” bearings—a trouble that unrelentingly clogs the Bradford engineers.
Moss, of course, was way out ahead of everyone in his’ Mk VII Jaguar, making also fastest lap, at 76.36 mph. He thus belied the apparent advantage of Wharton’s Healey saloon, which, however, was second, 13.8 sec behind. Allard in the Monte Carlo Allard saloon, now in absolutely standard trim, drove brilliantly, as usual, to finish third, ahead of the only other car to complete the full 17 laps, Bertie Bradnack’s Mk. VII Jaguar. Jim Mayers was enjoying himself hugely in the AC saloon, cornering it so fast in spite of a rigid front axle that Buckley’s Bristol was vanquished, although by a mere 1000 of a second ! But Tony Crook’s Bristol was nearly 2 min ahead. As the cars were so near-standard this indicates extreme driver-prowess !
A heart-stopping incident at Stowe occurred when Grace’s 21/2-litre Riley slid outwards, broadsided, then just as Downing’s old-style Healey saloon looked able to run behind it, slid that way and was clumped head-on by the Healey. After a Bristol and Moss’ horn-blowing Jaguar had gone by Downing reversed and went on, only to retire. Grace sat for a time as in a trance, then drew over to the inside of the corner, tugged up a flattened off-side back wing, to the detriment of his hands, and resumed. Salvadori’s Bristol completed only eight laps, the remaining Javelins and Slatter’s Sunbeam-Talbot fifteen, as did Jacobs’ MG, but ahead of them.
International Trophy, Heat 2 (15 laps)
Robert Manzon showed the virtuosity of the new Gordini Six by leading throughout. Duncan Hamilton pursued him determinedly in an HWM until forced to pull in after six laps. Thereupon Fischer’s four-cylinder Ferrari took second place, Rolt, who had lapped at 87.81 mph, in third position. Parnell had a Bristol-Cooper in fourth, Olive followed by de Graffenried’s 2-litre Maserati. Abecassis had the ZF differential of his HWM seize up when its oil-pump failed —it didn’t seem to be George’s day anyhow—and the rear suspension of the RRA, in which Peter Walker was having a drive, failed. Pietsch’s Veritas which seemed to suffer from an inadequately damped back axle, also retired. Parnell dropped out. Baird’s four-cylinder Ferrari ended up in fourth place, displacing de Graffenried, Brown’s Cooper-Bristol behind him. Manzon took a middle course through Stowe, disliking a hump at the end of the corner, but Fischer clipped the inside line of marker bins and then eased up victory in sight, Fischer, in a weird base-ball type crash-hat, made a big effort and was rewarded with a new Silverstone lap record of 89.29 mph. During this race Fotheringham-Parker experienced a power slide in the Connaught. and left the course on the inside at Beckett’s Corner. An official, a policeman and a girl were mildly injured. Basil-Cardew said in the Sunday Express that they were not taken to hospital, the BRDC that they were. The driver fainted, burning his-arm on the exhanst pipe.
Production Sports Car Race (17 laps)
This race promised a grand battle between the three Type C Jaguars of Moss, Walker and Rolt, and the four DB3 Aston-Martins, each with different colour radiator grille (of original TT shape. which someone likened to the back of in garden seat). which David Brown had produced as a sort of birthday celebration (it was his birthday that day). And so it was, Moss showing his undoubted prowess by winning at almost “Formula II speed,” but with Parnell only 14 sec behind him, followed by the AMs of Abecassis and Macklin to net the Feltham/Farsley marque the team prize.
A stirring episode happened when Mayers, going great guns in his Lester-MG, ahead of Davis’ Cooper MG, and leading his class, had No 1 con-rod break coming into Stowe Corner. Naturally oil and jagged pieces fell on the course, smoke poured from the car which locked its back wheels and swerved onto the grass. Fairman close behind, got by in the Jaguar XK120 but thereafter ensued panic for the flag-marshal was reluctant to cross the course with the oil-warning flag. Duke spun round several times, went clean through the new palisade which now marks the outside of this corner (no straw bales, mercifully), and continued without stalling his engine, the crowd approving. Alas, he stopped later, and retired. Watkins’ Allard gyrated, Stoop in his Mille Miglla Frazer-Nash slid for yards in a broadside, straightened up and went on, then Curtis’ Le Mans Allard went head-on into the palisade, Curtis getting out to look at the car before proceeding.
Eventually the oil was sanded and lappery continued as before. Salvadori won the 2-litre class in one of Tony Crook’s Frazer-Noshes, followed by Tony himself, and Davis gained a great ovation after winning the small class from Ruddock’s Lester-MG and George Phillips’ Jupiter.
Note that Watkins’ 5.4-litre J2X Allard was next to the three DB2s, that Salvadori beat Walker’s Type C Jaguar (!), delayed by in spinning episode, and that Rolt’s Type C Jaguar retired with a split hub, possibly an aftermath of his practice prang. Ian Stewart did splendidly to complete the full distance in his Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar XK120. The Austin A40 Sports finished last, 12 laps out of 17 covered, and Leonard abandoned his rather ugly Cooper-MG on the grass before Stowe Corner.
International Trophy Final (35 laps)
This promised an enormous battle, particularly between Hawthorn’s Cooper-Bristol and Manzon’s six-cylinder Gordini. But Manzon damaged the transmission of the Gordini at the start, driving round with a nasty noise to retire. Hawthorn was ln the lead with Behra’s 11/2-litre four-cylinder Gordini hanging on well. Fischer’s four-cylinder 2-litre Ferrari third. Brown’s Cooper-Bristol fourth. Rolt’s HWM fifth. On lap two Brown fell back, as did Fischer, Rolt taking third place followed by Macklin’s HWM.
Came drama ! Hawthorn failed to come round. The gear-lever, apparently an experimental one for the Cooper-Bristol, had broken at a weld. Hawthorn reported this to his pit. Changing with about one inch of stub until a repair could he effected. But the race was lost irretrievably.
Behra held his lead until lap four when Macklin, who had passed Rolt the previous lap, took this position, followed by his teammate. Behra’s Gordini too, having succummed to transmission trouble. Fischer held third place and continued to do so until de Graffenried, really flinging his 2-litre Maserati through the corners, displaced him. Duncan Hamilton pulled in with loss of power on the HWM, but Macklin and Rolt, the latter sawing at the wheel in characteristic fashion, were driving in formation, looking coolly competent.
Mainly the race was without incident. Once Claes in his Gordini passed Dobson’s Ferrari on the inside going into Stowe Corner. By 26 laps Macklin had lapped Hirt’s Ferrari. Soon after this Dobson indicated oil on the course beyond Stowe but although the oil-flag came out no one skidded. Crook’s sports Frazer-Nash began to discard its undershield, and seemed to have done some cross-country motoring. Brown lost three minutes due to the Cooper-Bristol needing fresh plugs, and Baird’s four-cylinder Ferrari had been dropping oil, while Downing’s Connaught stopped to report rising oil temperature. So the race ran to its conclusion, the HWMs comfortably ahead of the Continental opposition, and “God Save Our Queen” was duly played to the intense and happy crowd.
Besides the serious races there were other attractions. There was the parade of champions, Sydney Allard and crew in the Monte Carlo winning Allard saloon. Stirling Moss and crew in the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 which was second in that rally. Donald Healey, back from his near-miss in the Mille Miglia, circulating in a low-chassis 41/2-litre Invicta of the type he used (but with “outsize” wheels) to win the 1931 Monte Carlo Rally, and Alan Hess in the globe-encircling Austin A40 Sports. Then Geoff Duke did extremely-polished “lappery” on his solo Norton, finding the surface rather loose on a corner, but clocking an effortless-looking 81.05 mph. Finally Duke paced Jose Mieffret, holder of the world’s bicycle speed record at 109 mph, on his special cycle, the high-gearing of which would have turned Edwardian car designers green with envy—together they did two-laps, both at 40.7 mph.
After this there was a 5-lap race between five selected Jaguar XK120s, for which Moss, Behra, de Graffenried, Pietsch, Gaze and Claes balloted. Moss proved his great virtuosity by running clean away, winning from the Baron by 11 sec. Curiously, although Claes owns a left-hand-drive XK120 of his own he was last but one, just ahead of Gaze.
The BRDC improvements to Silverstone were praiseworthy, the pits, now permanent brick structures with observation roof above, and the main grandstand, properly roofed, have been moved from Abbey Straight to the straight beyond Woodcote. A possible snag is that Woodcote, with its new safety bank, is a blind corner, so that cars pulling into the pits are unseen by faster cars until the corner has been taken (Whitehead nearly rammed Ulman’s Veritas here at the end of Heat 1) and the runway Paddock has its exit to the circuit on this comer. Full praise for proper lavatory accommodation. There was corner-to-corner television laid on in some of the enclosures and stands and immense central towers for newsreel operators. From the Woodcote Stand a fine view of the corner and pits, and starts and finishes of races also, is obtainable. Moreover Desmond Scannel intends to get a lot more done before the British GP on July 19th.
The equipment of the winning HWM has been given earlier. It remains to add that Lewis Evans’ Cooper used Shell oil and fuel, Lodge plugs, BTM magneto, Newton dampers, Dunlop tyres and Ferodo brake linings. Moss burnt Shell fuel, ignited by Champion plugs, in both Mk VII and Type C Jaguars, lubricated them with Shell oil, energised aforesaid plugs with Lucas ignition, was carried safely on Dunlop tyres, and was slowed down when he deemed it advisable by grace of Ferodo linings in the case of the Mk VII. Girling dampers were used on that car, Newton on the Type C.
Formula II racing was demonstrated to be very absorbing and the BRDC will be foolish if it does not adopt this Formula for the British GP. Speeds were slower, but by less than 10 mph, for the new Silverstone circuit is 68 yards longer than the older one. If we deem this to lower Farina’s old lap record from 99.99 mph to 99 dead, Fischer’s new record of 89.29 mph is, indeed, less than 10 mph slower.
It was thought before the race that the Cooper-Bristols might lack speed on this circuit. Hawthorn disproved this in the first heat and HWM only won by superior reliability, even so losing two cars. Certainly Hawthorn’s Bristol engine pokes out just that much more hp than the remainder of the breed, a tribute to the TT Garage at Farnham where the car is prepared. Whether the new Gordini Six would have proved a match for Hawthorn we were not permitted by the gods to discover, but it was 0.56 mph faster in heat 2 than the Cooper-Bristol was in winning heat 1, and even the Gordini was faster than the HWMs in this heat. The four-cylinder Ferrari of Fischer was displaced by HWM and de Graffenried’s enlarged 4CLT Maserati-Plate, but there is every reason to suppose that had the “works” four-cylinder Ferraris come over (shortage of drivers prevented this) they would have been appreciably faster.
The immediate future of International Formula II racing would seem to hold a great struggle between Gordini, Cooper-Bristol and HWM, the Gordini perhaps a shade ahead, but the “works” Ferraris out in front. The single-seater Frazer-Nash has yet to find its form and the Connaughts even more so, for they were none too impressive on May 10th, being beaten, for instance, by Whitehead’s old V12 Ferrari and even by Crook’s stripped sports Frazer-Nash. The Cooper-Bristols from the Scuderia Richmond and from the Surbiton works also lack consistent speed. However, this is not so serious as lacking engines or vital bits which prevented the ERA and the new Altas from appearing at all.
Of the production cars, the Daily Express orgy turned the limelight (in which float the dollar notes) warmly onto the Jaguars, Mk VII and Type C, albeit only Moss’ virtuosity now keeps the latter motor car ahead of the DB3 Aston-Martins. The Type C Jaguars had disc brakes. Perhaps, however, Jacobs’ drive in the innocent-looking 11/2-litre MG saloon, which neatly put Abingdon ahead of Bradford, was the real highlight. In half-litre racing S Lewis-Evans is now proved to be a driver of the first flight.—WB.
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