WHEN the Maidstone Club booked Silverstone for its annual race meeting last month it certainly had its money’s worth. An excellent entry of 131 and ten races of 10 to 20 laps ensured a full day’s sport, but watched by a very, small crowd. Starting-grid positions were decided by ballot, rendering the opening laps startling, and the marshals were kept on their feet by two accidents on the first lap of the very first race. Hudson damaging his Lotus Eleven against the earthworks of The Motor bridge, while Hegbourne had an exceedingly lucky escape when his sports Cooper-Climax touched another car, hit some old oil drums and rolled on top of him on the outside of the approach to Woodcots Corner. Hegbourne was trapped under the car for some time before anyone could reach him but, the Cooper eventually rolled right side up, the driver got up virtually its good as new ! This race developed into a crisp duel between Tony Marsh in Max Trimble’s Lotus Eleven and McMillan’s Lotus Eleven, until Marsh went ahead to win at 77.68 m.p.h. Brough’s Lotus Eleven was third, ahead of more duellists-Lumsden’s Lotus Eleven finishing just ahead of Graham’s Lotus-Climax.
First heat of the F. III race was worth watching, Proctor (Cooper Mk. X) cornering one-handed, driving very fast but allowing Pitcher’s. Cooper to overtake him after five of the 10 laps. Pitcher won, at 75.61 m.p.h., and by broadsiding Woodcote as he tried to take him Proctor let Truman’s Cooper Mk. X through to second place.
The 750 and 1,172-c.c. Formula boys had a combined 10 Iapper. Wershat in Gammon’s Lola winning the latter at 70.7 m.p.h. and Currie’s Austin the 750 division, at 60.86 m.p.h.
Matters got moving with the 20-lap race for big Sports cars. John Bekaert driving the Speedwell Stable’s H.W.M.-Jaguar, shod with Dunlop Racing tyres, really fast, winning at 79.2 m.p.h. Reg. Harris pedalled his Jaguar-D well enough to take second place from Luntsden’s Lotus Eleven. Proctor then took the second heat of the F. III race at 74.91 m.p.h. from Bradley’s Cooper Mk. IX and Bell (Cooper Mk. VIII).
There were so many entries for the Autosport Series-Production Sports-Car Championship that it had to be contested in two 20-lap races. The first was instructive because Ian Walker drove a Lotus Elite coupe in its first race-and ran right away from W/Cmilr. Mackenzie’s M.G.-A. Walker averaged 70.3 m.p.h., with a lap at 72 m.p.h., the Elite noticeably safe round the corners and altogether a credit to Hornsey. A pity Lawry’s Elite wasn’t present. Third place was secured by another M.G.-A. The big-section of this race saw Dick Stoop lead all the way, driving faultlessly, to win in his Mille Miglia Frazer-Nash at 72.82 m.p.h. (fastest lap, 74.22 m.p.h.), Hanson’s disc-braked Austin-Healey 100S coming well through the field to second place but being unable to make any impression on Stoop. Jennings’ A.C. Ace-Bristol, after ” moments ” at Woodcote, came in third, ahead of Bond’s Le Mans Replica Frazer-Nash. A. J. Nurse emerged front his smart 4¼ Bentley saloon to drive his Turner, this car and Gilbert’s Turner never more than half a length apart, passing and repassing in the corners ! Trafford and Entwhistle (M.G.-As) also had a good scrap. Barnard’s Elva-Courier soon out-cornered and out-sped Baldam’s Turner.
In contrast, The Autocar F. II 20-lap race was dull in the extreme. Mclaren (Cooper-Climax) drove in the lead, winning at 83.2 m.p.h. and contriving to lap at 85.63 m.p.h., but after Wicken’s Cooper had retired there were only two other runners. T. Parnell’s and Stoop’s Cooper’s jogging along well behind.
A 10-lap up-to-1,500-c.c. sports-car race was quite exciting, Brough making a fine effort on lap four by passing the Lotus-Climax cars of Taylor and Mayne on the inside at Woodcote, to gain the lead until he pranged at Becketts. Then McMillan’s Lotus-Climax exploded its clutch, the driver hurting his foot and getting a ride in an ambulance the wrong way of the course, including round Woodcote ! Summers was getting surprising speed from his Arden-Climax and even recovered from going straight on where others turned right at Woodcote. In the end Michael Taylor’s Lotus, Innes Ireland-prepared, won at 77.89 m.p.h. (fastest lap, 78.77 m.p.h.) from Graham’s and Westcott’s Lotus from this establishment.
The final, over 15 laps, of the F. III race was a tremendous tussle between Pitcher and Truman. Always Truman fell back a length going into Woodcote, but on lap 14 he foxed his rival, only to mistake his cut-off point on the run in to Woodcote on the last lap, to lose by a length or two (or by 0.3 m.p.h.), Pitcher winning at 75.8 m.p.h. (fastest lap 76.98 m.p.h.). Bradley’s Cooper Mk. IX was third, Bell’s Cooper Mk. VIII lost a real wheel. The final 20-lap sports-car race saw Bekaert winding on the power in the corners, his H.W.M.-Jaguar running right away, to win at 80.22 m.p.h. (fastest lap 81.53 m.p.h.) on a fine demonstration of high-speed driving. Taylor’s Lotus was second and, because Reg Harris corners his Jaguar slower than he cucles, he was beaten for third place, after seven laps, by Mayne’s Lotus Eleven. Harris was fourth, Westcott’s Lotus pipping Mould’s Jaguar on the line as the latter free-wheeled in.