Motor Racing Returns to London

RoIt (Connaught) Wins L.C.C./B.A.R.C. Coronation Trophy at New Crystal Palace Circuit.

Motor racing returned to London Road Circuit, at the Crystal Palace, on Whit Monday, when upwards of 50,000 well-behaved and enthusiastic people enjoyed a slick meeting run by the B.A.R.C. for the London County Council.

It was fitting that this meeting should be held so near to Coronation day, for the first meeting at the old Crystal Palace circuit, which was shorter and more tortuous was held in 1937 in the Coronation Year of H.M. King George VI. The new circuit was lapped during the Whitson meeting at 72.73 mph., a speed achieved by Rolt’s four-Amal Connaught for the 1.39 miles. The surface is good and seemed unaffected by the sun on what was the hottest day of 1953. The meeting was run through to schedule but, as so often happens in this country, it hardly deserved the title of International, as only British drivers competed.

The new circuit was officially opened by Lord Howe after the National Anthem had been played. He broke a Coronation tape across the course with the prow of a Palm Beach Allard, and he was followed by a retinue of modern Bentleys, including a “Continental.”

In practice Ken Wharton had done a lap at 73.37 m.p.h. in his Cooper-Bristol. All races were from scratch, and all were over 10 laps.

CORONATION TROPHY – Heat 1 – Formula II Cars

Rolt was soon in the lead in the dark blue Connaught and in the absence of the works Connanghts which were in trouble after their last race, the challenge came from Wharton in his yellow-nosed Cooper-Bristol. But after half-distance the Bristol engine grew rough and Wharton fell back. He closed the gap it little towards the end but clearly it was Rolt’s race, which he drove in his usual polished manner. These two were well ahead of the rest. Macklin’s H.W.M. following at a discreet distance. and Moss’ Cooper-Alta running fourth. But the Londoners still cheered for Stirling.

CORONATION TROPHY – Heat 2 – Formula II Cars

The placing of three different makes of prominent Formula II cars in the first heat made everyone eager for this race, but the field was reduced by non-starters and further diminished when Bennett’s Cooper 1,000 broke a driving chain on the line and Alan Brown failed to start the sports engine of his Cooper-Alfa-Romeo. So the race was rather tame. Peter Collins’ H.W.M. being overtaken by Peter Whitehead’s Cooper-Alta, which developed a comfortable lead, as usual, competently driven. A duel for second plate between Collins and Graham Whitehead in Tom Cole’s Cooper-Bristol resulted in victory for Collins by 0.6 sec. Bobbie Baird spun his Ferrari at the Glade in lap four, damaging its tail, but he walked in unhurt.

500 – c.c. RACE

This was quite a tussle, and Moss showed something of his old form by getting his Cooper-Norton out of the ruck and winning unchallenged. Behind, Leston (Cooper), Bicknell (Staride) and Brown (Cooper) held those positions until half-distance, when S. Lewis-Evans (Cooper) took third place. Then Leston overdid it and vanished from the fray, his car bent: but he was able to ride in on the tail of Moss’ Cooper. Owen also spun off and damaged his Hill 500, and Truman retired with both rear wheels of his Cooper leaning over hard to port ! Leston had white-walled tyres on his Cooper. Brown and Brandon came in holding hands !


Four elderly E.R.A.s. the old “Seaman” Delage, a 4CLT Maserati, a 6C Maserati and a Cooper 1,100 made this a fine race. The Crystal Palace rang to the old sounds of blower howl and rasping exhausts ! Graham Whitehead made no mistakes and led all the way in the beautifully-prepared ex-Shawe Taylor E.R.A. Rolt had given the Rob Walker Delage to Roy Salvadori and clearly he wasn’t so accustomed to this fine oid car as Tony for, although it cornered very steadily, it fell behind and Birrell in his E.R.A. kept it comfortably in sight all the way.

Peter Reece’s Cooper 1,100 went well in fourth place but W. Goodwin retired Kayley’s E.R.A. on lap two, cutting his switch and coasting in, while C.J. Hamilton’s E.R.A. sounded as if suffering from the heat at the end. Kennington drove a 6C Maserati, Habin, Tuck’s 4CLT.


Eleven cars came out, Wharton led from Macklin’s H.W.M., with Rolt third but a lap later the order was Wharton, Rolt, Macklin. On this lap Leslie Marr hit the sleeper fence on the outside of the Glade bend a mighty whack. This tore off the near-side front wheel of his Connaught, the tyre leaving the rim. The car spun, but miraculously missed trees, camera-men and palings. The driver got out and walked away ! Later, in dragging the car off the course telephone wires were uprooted and much fuel spilt on the track. In the midst of this melIée the victorious Rolt came by, cup in lap, in his winning Connaught.

But this is to anticipate, for it was not until the end of lap seven that Rolt passed Wharton. Wharton had been leaving his braking very late, tail spragging on the corners, but now the Connaught was ahead, and it looked the more stable car.

Peter Whitehead in his Cooper-Alta now going really well pipped Lance Macklin for third place. Tony Rolt was a popular victor – and one of Britain’s most polished drivers – in Rob Walker’s four-Amal blue and white Connaught. Moss was fifth,

SPORTS CARS UP TO 2,000 c.c.

Wharton non-started in his Frazer-Nash. Cliff Davis in his Tojeiro with Bristol engine, which is still numbered JOY 500, led all the way but in the closing stages he was particularly hard-pressed by H. A. Mitchell in his Frazer-Nash. Keen, driving the central-seat Kieft in place of Jim Mayers, held third place, front wheels flapping somewhat, but was finally pipped by Brooks’ Frazer-Nash. The heavy 1 1/4-litre Shattock-Atalanta disposed of Blacks Frazer-Nash, which came by with dead engine, and Alan Brown bent the baek of his pretty Cooper-Bristol in an incident at the beginning of the new link and then, running last, did it again at the Glade, which seemed rather unnecessary.

Altogether, this was an excellent meeting and no doubt by staging it so well the B.A.R.C. has made many new recruits to the role of motor-racing spectator. Better starting money will probably have to be offered in future to keep up the quality of the entries. The occupants of houses overlooking the circuit –  even that from which the noise injunction emanated, we believe – seemed quite interested in this short, snappy afternoon’s sport, The half-litre cars will use the circuit on July 11th and September 19th, but we shall have to wait until 1954 for another of these truly excellent “mixed” meetings, when, let us hope, the R.A.C. may allow a few more runners in each race. – W.B.