With the exception of one article, the May issue of Motor Sport appeared set in Bodoni. For seventeen years the pages of Motor Sport have been set in Scotch Roman, and when. it became apparent that Motor Sport must change its style, much thought was given to ways and means. Bodoni was selected because we knew it to be easy to read and economical on space.
Most criticisms of the change have been favourable, chiefly because, of course, the new style means more reading matter, but the few criticisms that have been made have confirmed our own views that the pages appeared a little crowded, so by using a wider set (ie, more space between each letter) and by allowing a little more space between the words and doubling the space between the columns, we have produced the present issue with a “look” that we hope will please you. For whilst not being too hard on the eyes, it does at the same time give you approximately 5,000 more words per issue, and with the price remaining at 1s 6d we offer you the best value on the bookstalls today. This issue commences our 29th year of publication, and we therefore feel justified in claiming to be the best and oldest journal covering the Sport.
“Daily Express” Silverstone
We propose to devote the major part of this feature this month to the practice period of the Daily Express International Trophy Meeting, and rightly so, for seldom has such varied motor racing occupied one day, and was not this the first big Formula II struggle to be seen in this country ? The primary Formula II teams were HWM, Cooper-Bristol, Ferrari, Connaught and Gordini. Practice times showed Mike Hawthorn to have maintained his early promise, for he made fastest lap at 87.08 mph. (2 min 1 sec), which Robert Manzon, in the new six-cylinder Gordini, equalled on the Friday. Even better, in troublesome weather conditions on the Thursday, Hawthorn clocked 2 min dead (87.81 mph) and Manzon 2 min 1 sec, Behra 2 min 2 sec, whereas times generally were slower. But Hawthorn had a nasty moment when he went backwards off the course into the straw bales at Abbey Curve, collecting one of Mr Antone’s loud-hailers but fortunately not damaging himself or his car. It is, by the way, now painted dark green, so dark as to be almost black, like Wharton’s Frazer-Nash.
Next fastest, a second slower, was a tie between McAlpine’s Connaught, Fisher’s four-cylinder Ferrari, Peter Collins’ HWM, Duncan Hamilton’s HWM and de Graffenried’s Maserati. A second slower again were Fotheringham-Parker’s Connaught, and the HWMs of Lance Macklin and Tony Rolt. The closest racing we have seen for many a day !
Nevertheless, in general, axle-ratios were deemed too high and those of all five HWMs were changed on the Friday evening in the Paddock, Mike Hawthorn doing a similar job in his van.
Tony Uhlman had arrived in his Opel saloon and circulated the Paddock in his two-seater type Veritas to get things warm before lapping in 2 min 10 sec. This was not the all-enveloping type of Veritas, by the way.
Only one monoposto Frazer-Nash arrived, that of Ken Wharton, with vivid yellow wheels, a vast, ugly air snout above the radiator cowl and bonnet, and cloth-upholstered seat. Ken did not look particularly happy in it, but went vary fast—2 min 4 sec. Its radiator was blanked off with a sheet of paper. Gerard was running his Le Mans Frazer-Nash stripped (2 min 10 sec), and although Leslie Johnson was present he hadn’t brought the rumoured E-type ERA with Bristol engine with him, so Moss was out of the Formula II race. Nor did the new Altas appear. Peter Whitehead’s old Ferrari, after initial inflammatory tendencies, went well (2 min 5 sec), but even faster were Downing (Connaught), Reg Parnell in John Cooper’s Cooper-Bristol, Behra’s Gordini, and Baird’s Ferrari, all in 2 min 4 sec. Gaze’s Alta took 2 min 6 sec. Slowest of all was Lund’s sports-type Lea-Francis, but he was run close by HA Richards’ HAR, which boiled its Riley Six engine dry and appeared to have blown a gasket. Abecassis in the HWM was much off form (2 min 24 sec)—perhaps because the de Dion tube broke while he was in action. The Aston-Butterworth of Bill Aston did 2 min 7 sec. Before leaving the Formula II cars let us remark that the Frazer-Nash had 5.25-16 front, 550-16 back tyres, the Veritas 5.00-16 front, 5.50-16 back Englebert tyres. The Gordinis came in a vast Lancia van, “Seine” emblazoned on its front bumper, and the Ecurie Espadon Ferraris in a tall Fiat van.
The 500s practised on the Friday without incident, nearly all using megaphone exhausts. Some drivers had crash-bars over the cockpit, AJ Nurse a safety belt, and there were some minor slides, notably by Lewis-Evans and AC Rippon, the latter, and more particularly Paul Emery, adopting a most curious driving attitude. seeming to study mostly the sky. J Coombes held himself in with one hand through Stowe. CD Headland had a spot of bother, lifting the flap of his helmet to listen to the motor’s note. The Wasp was wild, then had trouble. Elastic cord held on the “bonnet” of the Arnott. Although Coopers dominated the entry and Arnett, Erskine Staride, FHB, JBS, JP, Mackson, Tiger Kitten, Wasp and Emeryson were running, they were no match for the Kiefts of Stirling Moss and Don Parker (2 min 8 sec). Next in order were Alan Brown (Cooper)–2 min 9 sec, CD Headland (Kieft)–2 min 10 sec, and GH Wicken (Cooper) and Les Leston (Cooper)–2 min 11 sec.
The Production Touring Cars sprung a surprise, Ken Wharton’s old-model Healey getting round in 2 min 16 sec, a clear 3 sec faster than Stirling Moss could manage in the Jaguar XK120. Moss was supposed to be reaching 101 mph to Wharton’s 112. Sydney Allard would have liked a four-speed or close-ratio three-speed box but was going very well, getting nearly 100 mph with the wind behind his roomy saloon (2 min 24 sec). By reason of spirited cornering, GH Grace (21/2-litre Riley) did 2 min 27 sec, equalled by Ken Downing’s Healey. Dunham’s Alvis looked very unsafe, lurching from side to side, inner front wheel lifting (2 min 30 sec). Slowest was Marshall’s Javelin but only one second quicker (2 min 47 sec) Giacomo Caprara nevertheless contrived to hit the inside bank at Woodcote Corner, before the pits, spinning his 2.4-litre Alfa-Romeo saloon round and round. He broke a rib in the process, collapsing after climbing out. The car was badly damaged and the spring steering wheel was torn right off, presumably by Caprara’s body and not by his arms, although Earl Howe called the Scrutineers to witness the shedding of this rather vital component of a fast motor car. The Alfa took a nice bite out of the earth safety-bank, causing a genial Gordini mechanic to observe, “The Alfa, it is a fine tractor !” De Graffenried’s 1,900 Alfa-Romeo saloon was no faster than Tony Crook’s Bristol saloon, both taking 2 min 32 sec, and for some reason the Alfa-Romeo wasn’t brought out, save as a transport, on race-day.
The Production Sports Cars had a fine practice scrap. Moss was quickest in the Type C Jaguar (2 min 3 sec).—compare this with Formula II times! Peter Walker and Rolt, his team mates, each did 2 min 5 sec—Rolt having pranged mildy on the Thursday. But strong opposition came from the DB3 Aston-Martins, Macklin and Parnell making 2 min 6 sec, Abecassis and Duke 2 min 7 sec. Hawthorn did but one lap in the Cooper-MG. Davis abandoned his Cooper-MG on the grass before Stowe, Mayers was as fast as Davis but kept going, and Watkins’ Allard—all were 5.4-litre cars— clocked 2 min 7 sec. Salvadori truly “stepped on it,” his Le Mans Frazer-Nash clocking 2 min 8 sec, to 2 min 13 sec by Peacock and Stoop, the latter worried. however, by a faulty clutch thrust bearing on his Mille Miglia model. Slowest ? Michael Christie’s Austin A40, which he tried for a while with the head down—or did it fall down ? Poor DA Clarke came by, hand over mouth with horror—a bearing had gone in his Frazer-Nash.
Geoff Duke held a long series of nasty slides in his DB3 which lasted through Stowe and beyond. Incidentally, whereas three of the Type C Jaguars used aero-screens, Peter Walker’s Type C had a wide Perspex screen. The DB3s, bobbly of exhaust, had a screen wiper on the driver’s aero-screen, as did Skelly’s Jupiter, which that evening proved a temperamental starter and tried to chop a mechanic’s finger off with its fan belt.
Asides: Moss’ Type C Jaguar was leaving the Paddock at speed and hit a stray spectator. Stirling shook his head in evidence of annoyance but Peter Walker, following, inquired of the unfortunate “Are you hurt ?” All-night work went on in the Paddock on J Barber’s Cooper.
Neat: The different coloured plug leads of the new Connaughts. F Curtis had the all-enveloping Chrysler-engined Le Mans Allard, but was no faster than the MGs of Davis and Mayers.
Impression: If the Daily Express had bought not only Silverstone but in some respects the BRDC for the day. it certainly brought a vast concourse of spectators—estimated at 125,000—and that motor-racing now attracts a truly democratic crowd was perhaps over-evidenced when a member thereof called to his companion as Lord Howe’s V12 Lagonda went by, “There goes ‘Car-Plate’ Howe.”
We lived, as in previous years, at Silverstone for practice periods and race-day, very comfortably and conveniently in a Berkeley Courier caravan towed by an Austin A70 Countryman, using for transport a Javelin and Morgan Plus Four. Had we been permitted, as the BRDC intended, to park the caravan within the confines of the circuit, diesel fumes from arriving coaches would not have polluted the air of our living quarters in the early morning of May 10th. As it was, the Daily Express went back on an earlier promise and we suffered.
Traffic got away better than in previous years and the writer desires to rerord a pleasant journey home in the willing Plus Four.