Matters of moment, May 1953


Easter Champions

Easter saw some interesting racing at Goodwood, when a record B.A.R.C. crowd, estimated at 50,000, was present. The “stars” were hardly in the ascendant and Stirling Moss and Reg. Parnell, like the sun, were soon eclipsed. Moss was beaten to it in his Cooper by Alan Brown and R. G. Bicknell in the 500-c.c. Earl of March Trophy Race, over a course on which his Kieft was formerly unbeatable, and Parnell was unplaced. Moss had his chance of a Ferrari but, whereas Hawthorn seized such an offer, Stirling said he preferred to be patriotic and drive British cars. This is entirely laudable but we hope sincerely that he will be seen passing the once, to him, familiar chequered flag in faster machines than sports Jaguars and Sunbeams. It may be that Moss, youngest of aces, has tried to cram in too much; that rally driving, mid-winter Sniping, sports-car record-breaking, and a combination of half-litre and sports-car racing must inevitably detract from prowess in the sterner field of Grand Prix racing. Dick Seaman, greatest of British racing drivers before the war, was content to drive only in G.P. races after he had proved that he could handle successfully the fastest cars.

Or it may be that Stirling, like a lot of other young men, has a temperament better served by living under the supervision of Ma and Pa in comfortable hotels than by taking his home along with him like the snail—although there is nothing snail-like about trailing a caravan behind an XKI20 coupé-for-two!

Reg. Parnell has said hard things in the past about the B.R.M. but he returned, nevertheless, to that  “hot” cockpit, and perhaps thought  what formerly he has said, when the supercharger drive again sheared during the Richmond Formule Libre Race.

Whatever the trouble, let us hope to see these two fine drivers, youth and experience, back again in worthwhile cars in the very near future.

What we have surmised is certainly given the lie by the fine showing of Ken Wharton. Here is a driver who in recent times has gained notable successes in trials, rallies and races in a great variety of cars and who, just back from a rather brisk tour by car and aeroplane from the Equator to the Arctic, used a B.R.M. to not only win the Richmond Formule Libre Race at Goodwood, but to break Parnell’s old lap record on each of his meteoric and beautifully-driven circuits. We say, very loud and clear — “Bravo ! Ken Wharton. You are one of the outstanding British drivers of today.” 

If two of our former ace drivers are dropping from the headlines, the Easter racing at Goodwood brought to light plenty of fresh talent. Salvadori has been noted as a coming man and in his masterful handling of the fuel-injection Connaught, in which he led the field so convincingly in the Formula II Lavant Cup Race until an ill-secured throttle connection fell off with victory in sight, brings him into the front rank.

Flockhart was another young man who did it outstandingly, winning a handicap and all but holding Wharton’s B.R.M. in the Chichester Cup Race with the ex-Raymond Mays 2-litre E.R.A., which is an elderly car none too easy to manage. Although sports cars are not always sufficiently fast to prove that their outstanding drivers would be equally proficient at the wheels of racing cars, H. A. Mitchell drives so well in his Frazer Nash  —  and it is not the latest model  —  that we would like to see him drive something quicker as much as we wish to see Flockhart racing a lower, if not a larger, car than his beautifully turned-out E.R.A.  We might add, too, that the Goodwood crowd always acclaims the elan of F. C. Davis amongst sports-car drivers.



Having dared to express the opinion that racing drivers sometimes try to do too much or “back the wrong horse”  it is only just to acknowledge that organisers, too, have their troubles.

After the excellent Easter racing  —   even if, with Taruffi and de Graffenried the only foreign drivers present, the meeting was hardly “International”  —   which the B.A.R.C. staged at Goodwood, we await with keen anticipation the Formula lll/ Formula II races at the Crystal Palace on Whit Monday. And we are extremely sorry to learn that local residents have issued an injunction against racing at the Crystal Palace,  on the grounds of noise. If the L.C.C. loses its case there will be no more racing at the revived London circuit  —  and, lacking continuity, will the May 25th racing seem adequate compensation for the abandonment of a Whitsun Goodwood meeting ?

It is also a great pity that Aintree has had to announce that, after all, the June racing is cancelled, as this new circuit will not be ready at least until the end of the season. The B.A.R.C. is not organising the Jersey sports-car race (July 9th) this year and, as no racing has been arranged at Goodwood for August Bank Holiday (when Brands Hatch has a Half-Litre programme), we shall have to wait until August 22nd for the next important race at the Sussex circuit  —  the Nine-Hour Sports-Car fixture.

 In some ways these unhappy setbacks may act as a safety-valve. The racing calendar has become very crowded and fewer races, even if by accident and not by design, could mean concentrated enthusiasm and the possibility of 100,000 spectators at a B.A.R.C. meeting. But the gap from April to August without activity on an “International ” scale at Goodwood, and from April to September so far as the traditional short races of “open” status are concerned, strikes us as rather a wide one. Consolation comes in the knowledge that, right from its Cyclecar Club days, no more ingenious and enterprising club exists than the B.A.R.C. We have no doubt that before 1953 is over John Morgan will have devised plenty to compensate for the postponement of Aintree and the possible loss of the Crystal Palace circuit.


May 9th — Reserve this date!

As we close for Press we are without the full list of entries for the great Daily Express/B.R.D.C. meeting at Silverstone on May 9th.  But the racing is bound to be intensely interesting, for Ferrari are beginning to find opposition in the Formula II camp. Salvadori with the fuel-injection Connaught was faster than any car except Wharton’s B.R.M. (0.38 m.p.h. difference!) in practice at Goodwood, and we can expect the Union Jack to be very favourably upheld in Coronation Year by teams of Connaught, H.W.M. and Cooper-Bristol cars.  Silverstone on May 9th will see these cars joined in their first real battle, backed by exciting lone specimens of Cooper, Alta, Moss’ new Alta-Cooper Special, the Alfa Romeo-Cooper, and so on.  Hawthorn should be a “star” attraction, especially if Ferrari decide to let him win.

Then sports-car racing is at a very high level these days and some of our best sports cars, including, we hope, the “Monkey Stable” Kieft-M.G.s, will appear.  If you have never been to Silverstone on a “big day”   —  never mind the traffic delays  —  you have not seen. present-day British racing at its greatest.  If you have, you will already have decided to be present at this B.R.D.C. Coronation Year International fixture. Reserve the date  —  May 9th.


Latest joke from Paris

First motorist : ” I am greatly impressed by the performance of some of the latest British cars.”

Second motorist : “So am I, and as a result have decided to paint my Renault 750 black with yellow spots so that I too will have a Jaguar.”



Really, these American automobiles are wonderful ! Driving home from the office the other evening we were following a vast Buick saloon. Its driver sat, lonely, on the near side of this left-hand-drive juggernaut. We remarked how he motored mostly in the middle of the road, and the passenger said you cannot steer the things within feet. Just then the Buick swung round an obstruction, going still farther out in doing so, and struck an oncoming A40 van, whose bodywork was damaged and from which a wheel embellisher shot off and slid across the road under our Morgan. The noise was quite something and there was dust … The van stopped.

But the Buick driver went on unperturbed, only a little faster than before, his car’s front bumper and wing bearing scars of the battle. We followed but not until Staines could we pass, which we did easily, on the near side ! The driver looked straight ahead.

This charming episode happened about 6.15 p.m. on April 13th, by London Airport on A30, and the Buick’s registration letters were JJJ. If the van driver is in any trouble and anyone shows him this, we shall be glad to supply the registration number.


Look to those laurels, Alberto!

From Logan Gourlay’s “Show Business,” Sunday Express, April 12th:

 “Rosselini talked about his cars. He has nine, including a Bentley and his famous scarlet Ferrari, ‘which I drive as fast as 175 m.p.h.'”


The old chivalry  —  and very nice, too

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the owner of Bentley MP 388 for his thoughtful and generous assistance given to the Austin Seven on the Haslemere-Guildford road on Easter Monday.”—.T. B. May (Guildford).