Ferrari, Jaguar and Cooper-Norton Successes at Record-Attendance “Daily Express” Meeting
The Intermstional Trophy Meeting at Silverstone, organised on May 15th by the B.R.D.C. for the enterprising Daily Express, opened in heavy rain but from 5.30 a.m. crowds poured into the stands and enclosures until a record crowd of some 120,000 enthusiastic spectators had assembled — proof positive that motor-racing is an established sport in England. This was a genuine International meeting, with Gonzalez. Trintignant, Maglioli, Manzon, Behra, Simon, Bayol, Mieres and Bira meeting Wharton, Parnell, Salvadori, Moss, Walker, Abecassis, Whitehead and other leading British drivers. An excellent programme had been organised, run off to strict schedule under the aegis of Desmond Scannell, unmarred by serious accidents. As last year with Hawthorn, Ferrari, with Gonzalez and Trintignant, won everything within their reach. Jaguar led the touring cars, Moss the 500s. In spite of the big crowds cars got clear of the circuit quite soon after the last race, a credit to police planning of the traffic arrangements.
International Trophy — Heat 1 (15 Laps)
As early as 10.15 a. m., in disheartening cold rain, the field got away for the first 15-lap, 50-mile heat of the International Trophy. Gonzalez had one of the new, short-chassis 1954 2 1/2-litre Ferraris, Maglioli a 1953 Ferrari with the latest 2 1/2-litre engine, Rosier his blue 1953 Ferrari, likewise with 1954 2 1/2-litre engine, Jean Behra a 1953 Gordini with the new 2,490-c.c. engine and anti-roll bars front and back, Bira his last year’s blue and yellow Maserati with new 2.194-c.c. power unit, Rolt was in Rob Walker’s 2-litre Connaught, Beauman and Marr driving similar Connaughts, the former entered by Sir J. Boles, Bt., Moss was present in his new F.1 2 1/2-litre Maserati with de Dion back axle, the remainder of the field comprising Alan Brown in the “hush-hush” new 1,971-c.c. Vanwall Special, looking rather Ferrari, but with a curious arrangement of gilled copper tubing over the enclosed nose in place of a normal radiator. Somervail’s Cooper-Bristol, Macklin’s 2 1/2-litre H.W.M., Emery’s2,488-c.c. Emeryson, driven by Chapman, and Richards’ Riley-engine H.A.R. Schell’s Maserati didn’t run.
Lance Macklin’s H.W.M. lasted only a few hundred yards and from flag-fall Gonzalez was in the lead, followed by Rolt and Behra. At the end of lap one Moss, Bira and Maglioli in the other works Ferrari passed Behra. Gonzalez, driving in his new-found steady style, reminiscent of Ascari or Fangio, drew steadily away from Rolt, who had the 2-litre Connaught really wound up to keep ahead of the foreign 2 1/2-litre cars. Alack, on lap six he spun off coming onto the change of surface out of Stowe Corner. Moss just missed him by swinging over to the right and somehow Bira scraped through one the left as the Connaught slid backwards towards him. Tony had to be push-restarted but was in sixth place on lap seven. Moss kept Bira at bay for another three laps but the little Siamese Primce was driving with his former skill and passed Moss on lap ten. Thus they finished, with the second works Ferrari fourth, Behra’s Gordini fifth and the Vanwall Special sixth ahead of Rolt.
It had been an unpleasant opening for the drivers on the slippery track, everyone using their throttles with great discretion; Chapman and Beauman experiencing pirouettes nevertheless. Gonzalez made not a single mistake, looking slow but doing a lap at 85.67 m.p.h., to which Moss and Bira could only reply to the tune of 84.3 m.p.h.
Sports-Car Race (17 Laps)
On a still-wet track this promised fireworks, but they luckily proved to be damp — the drivers were on their best behaviour and thrills were few. Gonzalez now got into Ferrari’s fantastic 4.9-litre sports car, a glorious red two-seater with streamlined headrest and all-enveloping body. In practice it had -a clever two-panel windscreen, the driver looking out of the clear space between the panels, but now only the lower panel was in use.
The works Jaguars (Rolt and Moss) were absent, preparing to meet the Ferrari at Le Mans. So were both the Austin-Healeys, a Kieft. Gaze’s H.W.M. and the Gilby Eng. Co. Maserati which should have been driven by Cliff Davis. David Brown fielded an open two-seater 3-litre DB3S (Peter Collins) and two exceedingly fine coupé DB3S, also with the 3-litre engines, for Whitehead and Salvadori, with Parnell in the new 4 1/2-litre V12 open Lagonda, an exceedingly new Le Mans car making its competition debut. Jaguars were represented by the three Ecurie Ecosse cars, one of which was driven by Peter Walker, the others by Jimmy Stewart and Ninian Sanderson, and Duncan-Hamilton’s and Kelly’s privately-run Type Cs. Abecassis had the Mille Miglia H.W.M.-Jaguar. The 2-litre class was contested by a bevy of Cooper-Bristols opposed by Gould’s Kieft-Bristol, a TR2 Triumph (Leslie Brook) and Peter Morgan’s TR2-engined Morgan Plus Four. The 1 1/2-litre category was a Lotus versus Connaught matter, Leston joining in with a Leonard-M.G., Reece in de Puy’s 1,300-c.c. Osca and the Kieft being non-starters.
Walker led away but after a lap Gonzalez was leading for Ferrari. He continued thus, careful to get the big car straight after the corners before turning on its full power! The lead he gained over last year’s Le Mans-winning Jaguars showed everyone present why the Jaguar company is preparing faster entries for this year! Indeed, the 4.9 Ferrari lapped several times at 85.67 m.p.h., exactly equal to his best laps in time 1954 F.I Ferrari in the previous race! Abecassis drove impeccably, eventually getting the H.W.M. into second place ahead of Walker and Stewart with four laps to go, lapping in the course of this fine piece of motoring at 83.63 m.p.h. Parnell followed the leaders in the V12 Lagonda, lapping at 81.68 m.p.h., which was just sufficient to hold off Duncan-Hamilton’s Jaguar. Salvadori, steadier in the coupé DB3 than Collins in the open Aston Martin, finished first and second in their class, leading the bigger, very imposing-looking, all-enveloping new Cooper-Jaguar of Whitehead, which has ducted cooling. Alan Brown fairly flung his B.E. Trophy Cooper-Bristol round the course to secure the 2-litre class, finishing 10th in the field, actually ahead of Sanderson’s Jaguar and Whitehead in the other coupé DB3S! Colin Chapman, attired in a shirt to match the yellow wheels of his aerodynamic Lotus-M.G., got a fine lead over Coombs and Gammon in the 1 1/2-litre class. The Morgan retired and Riseley-Pritchard’s Cooper-Connaught stopped for a plug change.
International Trophy — Heat 2 (15 Laps)
In rather better conditions the cars lined up for Heat 2 of the racing-car event.
Trintignant had a works 1953 Ferrari with the new 2,490-c.c. F.I engine, Parnell his similar 1953/54 Ferrari prepared under Leslie Hawthorn’s supervision. Simon a 2 1/2-litre Gordini, Gerard his fast Cooper-Bristol, McAlpine, Young and Thorne Connaughts, Fairman drove Webb’s Turner, Gould was Cooper-Bristol mounted, Salvadori reappeared for the first time since the Goodwood crash in the Gilby Eng. Co. F. I Maserati, Mieres had after all got his blue and yellow 1953 Maserati with 1954 F.I engine ready in spite of its accident at Bordeaux, Whiteaway had a 2 1/2-litre H.W.M., Manzon another 1953/54 2 1/2 Ferrari and Richardson his E.R.A.-engined R.R.A., which had mysteriously fluffed out in practice with water where there should have been h.t. current. Wharton’s Maserati did not materialise and Whitehead’s Cooper-Alta had blown up too seriously at Bordeaux to face Silverstone. Wharton’s Cooper-Bristol, Graham Whitehead to drive, also non-started.
The race quickly settled down into a clear-cut pattern. Parnell, to the delight of the crowd, led Trintignant, but always the works Ferrari was close behind Reg, spray bursting all over it and spurting up past the
front -wheel splash guards. After ten laps the Frenchman passed Reg, cornering rather more neatly and, as the track dried a little, making the fastest lap so far, at 90.06 M.p.h. Parnell settled into it comfortable second place, with Manzon never out of third position, these Ferrari drivers lapping at 87.08 and 85.16 m.p.h., respectively. Salvadori, after a poor opening, brought the Maserati up fourth ahead of Simon’s Gordini while Fairman (Turner) just came onto the six-place scoreboard when Gerard’s Cooper-Bristol went sick. Gould’s had already succumbed, after leading Gerard, McAlpine and Mieres both stopped, to swap hot plugs for fresh ones, and the R.R.A. broke a valve.
Touring-Car Race (17 Laps)
There are two distinct views about this — some people regard it as the most interesting race of the day, others have no use for it. We conform to the first-named opinion: some very instructive things are to be observed and certain arguments conclusively settled. Again the driving was of a higher standard than before.
Sims caused a surprise by leading the Mk. VII Jaguars for the first two laps in his 2 1/2 Riley saloon until he spun off after Stowe in a big way. Appleyard’s white Jaguar then led, pursued by Tony Crook’s Lancia Aurelia, Rolt’s Jaguar and Wharton in one of the surprising Daimler Conquest saloons. Then Crook spun coming up to Woodcote and Wharton struck the Lancia, the Daimler’s bonnet and near-side front wing being reduced to scrap. Both cars were out, leaving Moss, who, after stalling at the start, had passed Wharton, third — Jaguars 1, 2, 3 — followed by Dunham’s 3-litre Alvis, Adams’ Jaguar and Parnell’s 2 1/2 Daimler. After nine laps Parnell got past Adams and then Dunham, after a grand and safe-looking run, stopped to remove his bonnet top-panel (wot! no straps?), and vanished from the leader-board, Abecassis (Daimler) coming up to sixth in consequence. Thus it ended, George having a stiff task to hold off Sims’ Riley, which had worked through the field after its spin. Appleyard averaged 75.55 m.p.h. Jaguar winning the team prize. All three team Jaguars broke the lap record, at 77.48 m.p.h.
The Daimlers, nicely turned out, had sprung a real surprise, being in fourth and sixth places, beating the Rileys in the 3-litre class. De Mattos’ Ford Consul finished 12th, to win the 2-litre class, in which the only opposition was James Tillings’ diesel Borgward, which was 28th and last. In the 1 1/2-litre category Owen’s Volkswagen lapped steadily but slowly, the Javelins of Wright and Sparrowe looked dangerous but duelled with spirit, Sparrowe passing his rival, only to lose by a second on the last lap. Dick Jacobs’ 1 1/4 M.G. was considerably faster and won this class.
The 1,100-cc.c. class was notable for some great fun and games, Standard right duelled with Morris Minor (the latter the older 918-c.c. cars, although Foster’s and Derrington’s had Altao.h.v. heads, the former with one, the latter with twin S.U.s.), the result being Morris 18th, Standard 19th, then Potter’s “three wheeler” Panhard 20th, Standard 22nd, Standard 23rd, Morris 24th, Morris 25th, with Newton’s little Renault 28th, all beating the VW and Borgward. Away front all this inter-marque strife went C. A. S. Brooks’ D.K.W., very fast, very steady, to win the class in 17th position, averaging 64.15 m.p.h. on 896 c.c. to the leading Morris’ 64.12 m.p.h. on 918 c.c. Ken Gregory’s Standard had a “tied-together” session with D. O’M. Taylor’s Standard.
International Trophy-Final (33 Laps)
A minor sensation came when Gonzalez’ new Ferrari refused to commence, but this was solved merely by standing down Trintignant and giving the Argentinian his last year’s re-engined Ferrari
Rumours of British protests floated about, as this gave Gonzalez a better grid position, but we are glad to say nothing official was demanded.
In any case, Gonzalez took the lead and increased it all the way, never challenged, making fastest lap of the day on a still-damp track, at 95.79 m.p.h. Moss held second place in the Maserati for five laps, after which Behra, driving the Gordini brilliantly and gaining on Moss on the corners, passed. Manzon’s Ferrari retired after a few laps, dropping from third to fourth place and then vanishing for good. Moss now started to chase Behra and was ahead again on lap 15, passing on acceleration out of St.owe Corner, to the acclaim of the spectators. Bira, running a steady fourth, lost the clutch of his Maserati after 11 laps, Mieres replacing him, followed by Brown, who was going well in the Vanwall, and Simon’s Gordini. Then the Vanwall began to lose oil, Mieres waving to indicate that some was on the road, and Simon moved up on lap 17 as Brown retired with a burst oil pipe, letting Trintignant into sixth place in Maglioli’s Ferrari. While Gonzalez was unassailably leading, content with the 1953 car, the comparatively low placing of Trintignant suggests that Maglioli had an appreciably slower car.
Salvadori lost a minute when his Maserati suffered a stuck throttle, the Emery came to the pits for work on the petrol filter and a change of plugs. Thorne’s Connaught had retired with suspension failure, and Parnell’s Ferrari, when running fifth, had transmission trouble, while Whiteaway’s H.W.M. broke a universal joint., With the field thus depleted the order at 18 laps was Gonzalez, Moss, Behra, Mieres, Simon, Trintignant — Ferrari, Maserati, Ferrari, Gordini, Ferrari, suggesting a classic Continental race. Them — no Moss! The de Dion tube in his Maserati had broken at Club Corner on lap 21, leaving the rear wheels at odd angles and Stirling disconsolate. This let Rosier into sixth place. And so they finished, two Gordinis following the winning Ferrari home at it discreet distance and no British car in the first six. Rolt was the first Englishman home, after a good drive in the privately-owned 2-litre Connaught. Behra lapped at 94.93., Moss at 94.08 m.p.h.
500-c.c. Race (15 Laps)
Moss, in the Beart Cooper-Norton, in his characteristic style, impeceable in the F. III field, led all the way, to win easily from Les Leston’s new Cooper-Norton and Russell’s Cooper-Norton. The only excitement was provided by a tight bunch of four cars behind, from which Bueb, Keen and Hall, in Coopers, emerged to beat Taylor’s Staride. Grose (Grose) stalled at the start, Headland’s Martin-Headland stopped for a fresh plug, then retired, and the four-cylinder Simca Surva of Otterbein was never in the picture and also retired. The Revis showed signs of contact with hard object and Parker never got in the first six, although his Kieft lapped at 85.67 m.p.h., as did Taylor. Moss and Leston both lapped at 86.37 m.p.h.