Silverstone, May 2nd.
The B.R.D.C.’s “Festival of Speed” has become an important fixture for many British spectators, who enjoy a full day’s programme for modest admission charges. This year over 100,000 flocked to Silverstone, not, as on the Continent, in carefree fashion to drink in the sun at outdoor tables as the racing cars were driven through colourful streets, but in pouring rain to a bleak circuit under the watchful “eye” of radar speed traps.
The big event was the 16th International Daily Express Trophy Race over 52 laps, or approx. 152 miles, for F.1 cars, speculation Increased because Ireland had won at Snetterton, Brabham the Aintree 200, Clark at Goodwood.
But before that there were other attractions, racing commencing at 10.15 a.m., in rain, with the 25-lap GT Race, which Mike Salmon should have won in the 3.7-litre Dawnay Racing Le Mans Aston Martin which shattered the old GT lap record by 1.4 sec. in practice. Salmon led away, but he spun at Becketts and lost 22 places. His subsequent climb back to the front of the field was impressive—by lap five he was ninth—but Graham Hill in the Maranello 3-litre Ferrari kept an eye on the mirror, speeded up when Salmon attained second place by lap 13, and won at 92.63 m.p.h. by 16.2 sec. Sears’ A.C. Cobra was third, and the class winners were Ireland’s S.M.A.R.T. Porsche, followed by Stoop’s sister car a lap behind, Jim Clark’s Elan, which went splendidly, a lap ahead of team-mate Arundell, and Hedges’ M.G. Hill, Salmon and Sears shared fastest lap, at 94.76 m.p.h.
The sports cars came out next, also for a 25-lap race. The “big bangers,” like the Ian Walker Lotus 30s and Jim Stewart’s 3½-litre Tojeiro-Buick, should have added to the excitement, but Taylor’s Lotus non-started, as did Jim Clark’s officially, although it joined in late, to pop and bang its way round with only occasionally proper “vee-eight” noises from its Ford engine. There was still Tommy Atkins’ 5-litre Cooper-Maserati but its unpainted bodywork suggested hasty preparation, and Salvadori was content to tail McLaren in the 2.7-litre Zerex Cooper-Climax, which won at 98.96 m.p.h., 30.2 sec. ahead of its bigger challenger. Coundley’s 2.7-litre Lotus-Climax finished third. McLaren lapped at 100.74 m.p.h., and the smaller classes went respectively to Sutton’s Lotus-Ford and Hine’s Lotus-Climax.
Just before the spectators consumed their beer and beef-sandwich lunches, the saloons indulged in a 12-lap race. Gone are the stirring exploits of Mini drivers understeering round Chevrolets and Jaguars at Copse. Jack Sears soon had his 7-litre Willment Ford Galaxie comfortably in the lead, with Brabham discreetly thundering in his wake in the Alan Brown Galaxie. The only stirring aspect of a dull race was Jim Clark going so well in his Team-Lotus Lotus-Cortina that Sir Gawaine Baillie couldn’t catch him in spite of being Galaxie mounted. The Minis trailed along behind, although Hopkirk, Fitzpatrick and Slotemaker had 1,293-c.c. Coopers, the only excitement being mud on their screens which posed a problem for the washers and necessitated blind driving. Young’s Superspeed Ford Anglia mixed it with the tail-end Minis, and the ghouls got their thrill when Baldet’s Lotus-Cortina harmlessly shed a front wheel at Beckett’s.
Not very exciting so far, but at least the rain had stopped. The hoped-for demonstration by Ford of America’s “200-m.p.h.” GT coupé failed to materialise, and the idea that Moss would circulate in Spero’s Maserati 250F was only a rumour, while the Allard Dragon dragster which is supposed to be endangering our Continental Correspondent’s beard, was rather lost on Silverstone’s expanses. The motorcycle boys, however, put on a good mock-race on A.J.S. and Norton machines.
At last, then, it was the turn of the F.1 cars. The front row of the grid was occupied by Gurney in a modified 1963 Brabham-Climax which had done 1 min. 33.4 sec. in practice (although the old lap record was said to have been broken in the race again and again, in fact, Woodcote Corner had been modified, making the course fractionally faster for 1964), Brabham in a similar car, Hill’s latest B.R.M. and Clark’s 1963½ Lotus 25B. In the next row were McLaren’s 1964 Cooper-Climax, Arundell’s Lotus 25B, and Surtees’ 1964 Ferrari with 120º V6 engine. Row three held Ireland’s new 6-speed B.R.P.-B.R.M., P. Hill’s last year’s Cooper-Climax, T. Taylor s latest monocoque B.R.P.-B.R.M. and Hailwood’s Lotus-B.R.M. The field was completed by Amon’s Lotus-B.R.M., Maggs’ Centro-Sud B.R.M., J. Taylor’s Cooper-Ford, Revson’s Lotus-B.R.M., Baghetti’s 1963 ex-works Centro-Sud B.R.M., Bonnier, who, after a narrow escape from incineration in Rob Walker’s new Brabham-B.R.M. in practice, drove the 1964 Cooper-Climax, Anderson’s Brabham-Climax, Raby’s Brabham-B.R.M., Rudaz’ ex-Walker 1962 Cooper-Climax, Siffert’s Brabham-B.R.M. recovered from its Austrian prang, and de Beaufort’s ancient F.2 Porsche.
The noise of “animals at feeding time” rose to a single crash of sound as the flag faltered downwards, and Hill’s B.R.M. led away, challenged by Clark. The Lotus set a lap record of 110.92 m.p.h., yet by lap six the Brabhams of Gurney and Brabham were it, the lead.
Clark’s race did not last long, for a trail of smoke prefaced engine seizure on lap 10. A Brabham had been forecast by many as the winner and here were Gurney, who had forged through to the front with a lap equal to Clark’s, and Brabham himself nicely in front, followed by Hill’s B.R.M. and Arundell’s Lotus. Surtees was dropping back, the Ferrari not getting all the fuel it craved past the fuel injectors. Bonnier was in trouble with the Cooper’s lubrication system.
The pattern was established for many laps as the two Brabhams, with Hill holding on, Arundell falling back, McLaren and Phil Hill behind but not challenging, then, a sort of separate race, Ireland, Amon, Maggs and Hailwood in a disturbingly tight bunch, and Revson trying to keep up.
Gurney’s Brabham lost brake fluid from a rear brake seal and lost its lead, to retire on lap 27. This left Brabham in the lead, and he pushed his former steady lappery up to 111.39. m.p.h. as Hill began to close on him.
On lap 29 the B.R.M. proved able to take the Brabham. It seemed to be Hill’s race, but lap 48 saw Brabham go round at 112.58 m.p.h., to snatch the lead at Woodcote. The crowd woke up, to some truly intense racing. Both Hill and Brabham are strategists. Now they were racing as if tied together, Hill re-passing at Copse but never shaking off Brabham by more than two or three lengths. As the race entered its last few laps, Brabham came up as if to look into the B.R.M.’s cockpit to see what revs Hill was using. Hill made not a single mistake under this intense pressure and appeared to be safe, but Brabham, giving his engine everything for the run-in, took the lead out of Abbey and got a wheel ahead as they crossed the finishing line, to win such a close race that the timekeepers gave both cars the same time and speed, but didn’t declare a dead-heat. The B.R.M. just wouldn’t go any faster! It could not have been more exciting had it been a staged finish, and the spectators loved it. Arundell made third place.
McLaren went out, unable to steer his Cooper after the balance weights had flown off a front wheel, Ireland was worn down in leading the aforesaid foursome and crashed, Anderson retired with clutch failure, Taylor had gone out with no oil pressure, and Raby with engine trouble. The old lap record was broken time and again, the new one being Brabham’s 112.58 m.p.h., while the race average, 110.35 m.p.h., was nearly as fast as that old F.1 lap-record.
The F.3 race was a bit of an anti-climax after this splendid F.1 battle; it was a victory for B.M.C.-powered cars, Jimmy Stewart’s Cooper winning at 98.07 m.p.h. from Banks’ Cooper and Cardwell’s Brabham-Ford.—W. B.
Ford had a had day—the only Lotus 30 going badly, the much-publicised Le Mans Ford GT car defaulting in its demonstration.
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Racing isn’t what it was, judging by Peter Garnier’s reference in the programme to the 20-litre 250F Maseratis of 1954-60!
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What would you do to the young women who enquired whether the GT cars performed first because it was raining and they have closed bodywork?
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The motoring-dog would like to be told how that small black poodle got into the Paddock.