The Ilford 500

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Whilst the T.T. had basked in OuIton Park sunshine, the Ilford Films 500-mile race for GT and sports cars at Brands Hatch the following week started in a torrential downpour which caused the stewards to abandon the planned rolling start and revert to a conventional grid, and to limit the race to 500 miles or six hours, whichever would be the shorter. The race, in fact, ended after six hours with the leader having completed 175 laps, not the 189 which would have made up the full 500 miles. Not only did the saturated track eliminate the chances of records being broken, but it rather levelled the big-engined cars with the small ones, and although a 7-litre Cobra did win, it was significant that a comparatively diminutively-sized M.G.-B finished third.

The B.R.S.C.C. were paying starting money, at the rate of £50 per car, which resulted in a total payment of £1,650, compared with the T.T. share-out of over £7,000 on a race leadership basis. Nevertheless, there was an interesting entry list, ranging from the big Cobra to a couple of 1,098-c.c. Sprites.

After a supporting 15-lap F.3 race, won by Piers Courage in a Charles Lucas-entered Lotus-Ford, the Ilford 500 got under way at 2.10 p.m., with Innes Ireland going into the lead in a 4,727-c.c. Ford GT40, holding it until lap 12, when his transmission suddenly locked solid at Stirling’s Bend and he spun off. This let the 3,781-c.c. E-type Jaguar of J. Oliver through into the lead, which he held consistently, apart from a brief spell in second place after a spin, until his 85th lap when he stopped to refuel and to hand over to K. Baker, who spun off and retired.

After the disappearance of the Oliver/Baker E-type, the Shelby American Cobra, an open version with David Piper and Bob Bondurant sharing the driving, took the lead and stayed there to the end, but the other Chequered Flag Cobra, a 4,727-c.c. closed version driven by Chris Irwin and Roy Pike, expired on its 95th lap after losing its oil and putting a rod through the side of the block.

Shortly after the halfway stage, the various retirements let the M.G.-B of Roger Enever into second place. Enever was driving a remarkably consistent race in a car which apparently was having no troubles whatsoever. However, in the final laps, sheer power and a drying track prevailed, and it was overtaken by Sutcliffe’s GT40. The Alan Fraser Tiger had a consistent race in the hands of Unett and Calcutt. It was in third place for a long spell until overtaken by the GT40, finally, only ten minutes before the end, seizing a wheel bearing at Stirling’s Bend and retiring.

Despite the weather, the race proved far more interesting than the T.T. the incidence of pit stops among the smaller cars being far less than among the bigger machines at Oulton.-G.P.