Big Crowd See Alan Brown (Cooper-Bristol) Win at Cheshire Circuit. Heat Winners — Gammon (Lotus-M.G.), Salvadori (Maserati) and Duncan Hamilton (Jaguar)
Run in chilly but sunny weather, the British Empire Trophy Race, transported to Oulton Park from the Isle of Man, was a decided success. This road circuit in a beautiful parkland setting offers excellent spectator facilities and real road-racing for the drivers. Crowds were still coming in half-way through the afternoon and between heats two and three considerable invasion of the course took place at Lodge Corner, but the spectators responded well to appeals over the p.a. and racing continued to schedule.
Earl Howe performed the opening ceremony of the extended 2.23 mile circuit in his Aston Martin DB2, which is finished in his well-known colours. Apart from a lot of loose stones at the new hairpin and dust from the banks at the Cascades, which was efficiently dealt with by water hosed from an imposing fire-engine, the circuit stood up well to the day’s racing. Vehicles are able to park inside the course after crossing a Bailey bridge and this caused some delay in leaving after the meeting. The handicapping of the Final would have been difficult to follow had not the commentators kept the public well informed. The racing was sponsored by the “Daily Dispatch” and had adequate B.B.C. coverage. A good point of organisation was the use of white coats to distinguish the flag marshals.
Heat 1— 20 Laps (44.6 Miles)
Sports Cars up to 1 1/2 litres
For two laps Coombs led in the Connaught, but after four laps he had been ousted by J. Riseley-Pritchard’s Cooper-Connaught, the disco volante car of the Cornhill Racing Team, and Peter Gammon’s astonishing Lotus-M.G. Riseley-Pritchard had matters extremely well in hand, gaining a bigger and bigger lead, lapping at 68.62 m.p.h. Threlfall looked wild in the Turner, which perhaps was cooking its brakes, and Alan Moore in the Tojeiro-M.G. had his moments. On lap 15, Anthony’s Lotus, of the Team Lotus, retired, and much earlier Colin Chapman’s new aerodynamic de Dion Lotus had dropped out. The reason given in both cases was “blown gasket.”
The heat seemed to have settled down in the order RiseleyPritchard, Coombs, Gammon, Moss, Stirling on this occasion appearing in his usual driving-attire and a Leonard-M.G. Alas for the Cornhill equipe, as Riseley-Pritchard accelerated out of Dear Leap on his 16th lap there was a bang, the revs, rose and the Cooper-Connaught retired with a broken half-shaft — exceedingly bad luck. On lap 18 Gammon disposed of Coombs, his a lightweight Lotus spinning its wheels characteristically from the corners.
The race ended without further excitement, except that Ken Wharton, nominated to drive Lister’s Lister after another competitor had unsportingly protested that Scott-Brown was too inexperienced to conduct it, suffered what appeared to be fuel starvation on lap 19 and only just limped in to finish.
1st: P. Gammon (Lotus-MG.) … 20 laps in 39 min. 55 sec. — 67.04 m.p.h.
2nd: J. Coombs (Connaught) … 20 laps in 40 min. 0 sec.
3rd: S. Moss (Leonard-M.G.) … 20 laps in 40 min. 5 sec.
4th: Ruddock (Lester-M.G.), 5th: R. Gallagher (Gordini), 6th: C. Threlfall (Turner), 7th: T. Lund (TF M.G.).
Fastest lap: Chapman (Lotus) and Gammon (Lotus), 69.21 m.p.h.
Heat 2 — 21 Laps (46.8 Miles)
Sports Cars, 1 1/2 — 2.7 litres
All the entries came out for this heat. On the very first lap Alan Brown, in the, lead in his smart Cooper-Bristol, spun at Old Hall Corner and was rammed by Salvadori in the Maserati. Bob Gerard cleverly poked his Frazer-Nash behind both stationary cars and continued and Salvadori reversed out. Brown’s car was badly dented along the off side, but the Maserati showed only damage to its off-side headlamp glass. After lap one Tony Crook, wearing a leather face-mask, led handsomely in his black Cooper-Bristol, driving very hard and well to fight off Horace Gould in a Kieft. Cliff Davis’ Tojeiro-Bristol was third. There was an appreciable gap before Peter Reece’s Mille Miglia Frazer-Nash appeared.
After the melée Brown and Salvadori were back from first and second to ninth and tenth places. Thereafter the heat was an example of Salvadori’s brilliant handling of the beautiful sports Maserati.
Let me emphasise it thus: Lap two, seventh; lap three, fifth; lap four, fourth; lap five, fifth; lap six, fifth; lap seven, fourth; lap eight, fourth; lap nine, fourth, closing on Brown; lap ten, second; lap eleven, first, having passed the leader, Crook, on the near side at difficult Old Hall Corner.
Thereafter Salvadori held his lead, in spite of all Tony Crook could do, to win by two seconds, having averaged nearly 70 m.p.h. Brown and Davis indulged in a fierce duel, Brown passing on lap ten and Davis’ car sounding less healthy as the race progressed, so that he was 10 seconds behind Brown at the finish.
Gould, after his fine initial effort, fell back and retired with no water in the Kieft and another retirement was Titterington’s Triumph TR2 with a big-end that was too big.
Reece worked hard at the wheel of his Frazer-Nash, Stoop’s now-well-used car of this make was slower, but Gerard held fifth place ahead of Scott-Russell’s Frazer-Nash. Flockhart’s Austin-Healey had insufficient steam for him to show his skill, although he tried to employ its acceleration to end his duel with Reece, but to no avail.
Defty had a good view of the race from his DB2 Aston Martin.
1st: R. Salvadori (Maserati) … 21 laps in 40 min. 19 sec. — 69.69 m.p.h.
2nd: T. Crook (Cooper-Bristol) … 21 laps in 40 min. 21 sec.
3rd: A. Brown (Cooper-Bristol) … 21 laps in 40 min. 32 sec.
4th: Davis (Tojeiro), 5th: Gerard (Frazer-Nash), 6th: Scott-Russell. (Frazer-Nash), 7th: Reece (Frazer-Nash).
Fastest lap: Crook and Salvadori, 71.68 m.p.h.
Heat 3 — 22 Laps (49.0 Miles)
Sports Cars over 2.7 litres
This heat, for the big cars, was mostly without fireworks. Tony Rolt in one of the three Ecurie Ecosse XK120C Jaguars led for the first seven laps, but thereafter Duncan Hamilton took first place, a mere length or so ahead, in his “private venture” XK120C Jaguar. He passed Rolt as both braked for Island Corner hairpin.
Rolt let Ninian Sanderson in a team car go by as well as Hamilton on lap seven and thereafter it was the young Glasgow driver who held our attention, always pressing the seemingly-relaxed Hamilton, whereas Rolt fell to fourth place behind Jimmy Stewart. Duncan Hamilton set a lap record of 72.32 m.p.h. and twice equalled it, but although loose stones on the course at Island Corner pulled the speed down to a crawl, Sanderson replied with a lap record of 72.98 m.p.h.
He could not pass Hamilton, but he was only one-fifth of a second behind at the finish. Rolt pulled back to third place after Stewart had hit the bank at a glancing blow, Old Hall Corner to finish 37.4 sec. behind Sanderson and 58 sec. ahead of Stewart.
Abecassis kept the H.W.M. Jaguar in a very steady fourth place throughout. Boles was inclined to power-slide his DB3 Aston Martin, Gerry Dunham demonstrated to the crowd that “motor-racing is dangerous” by mounting the earth safety-bank at Old Hall Corner, without damage to his Jaguar, and Berry’s XK120 Jaguar lost time when a throttle jammed. He was running minus the bonnet top panel.
1st: D. Hamilton (Jaguar) … 22 laps in 41 min. 17.4 sec. — 71.29.
2nd: N. Sanderson (Jaguar) … 22 laps in 41 min. 17.6 sec.
3rd: A. P. R. Rolt (Jaguar) … 22 laps in 41 min. 55.0 sec.
4th: Stewart (Jaguar), 5th: Abecassis (H.W.M.), 6th: Kelly (Jaguar), 7th Boles (Aston Martin).
Fastest lap: Sanderson, 72.98 m.p.h.
Final — 32 Laps (71.4 Miles)
First Seven in each Heat
This was really three races in one, with a system of credit lap and time handicapping of the entire field.
Sanderson’s Jaguar having holed its sump after heat three, Rolt very sportingly let Ninian drive his car. The small cars had over a lap start and held off the Jaguars.
Gammon, driving superbly in his little Lucas-tuned Lotus-MG., led on handicap, with Moss second, Coombs third. Then Moss had clutch trouble and left the Leonard-M.G. to the mercy of small boys by Lodge Corner, walking off in apparent disgust. Ruddock now occupied third place, Threlfall fourth position, the latter driving a wild-looking car. Crook suffered valve trouble, preventing him from repeating his fine drive in heat two, although his Cooper-Bristol limped round at the very end of the race.
Hamilton equalled Sanderson’s 72.98 m.p.h. lap record on his ninth lap, but the big cars, which he was leading from Sanderson and Stewart, were not in the picture. However, by 15 laps Alan Brown’s Cooper-Bristel, bearing the scars of its collision in heat two, was third behind Gammon and Coombs.
Reece (Frazer-Nasb) called at the very adequate pits to change plugs and later stopped again. By 20 laps Brown lay second. What of Salvadori? He had been right on Brown’s tail, all set to pass, but an excursion into the sand at “Duncan’s Corner,” where a boat awaited drivers who actually penetrated as far as the lake (now renamed “Roy’s Corner”!), lost him much time. He set the lap record at 74.33 m.p.h. in an endeavour to wash out his mistake, but could not catch Brown in the remaining ten laps, the Cooper-Bristol having taken the lead by lap 25.
The C-type Jaguars were going great guns, in line-ahead formation, Stewart nearly ramming Sanderson round the hairpin, but they were still about half-a-lap in arrears.
Ruddock’s Lester-M.G. came to a standstill on the road down to the hairpin, but Davis’ Tojeiro had as much acceleration up the hill on the other side as Kelly’s Jaguar. Salvadori caught Gammon before the end of an excellent race, which ended without unwonted fireworks. — W. B.
1st: A. Brown (Cooper-Bristol) 31 laps in 58 min. 47 sec. — 70.56 m.p.h.
2nd: R Salvadori (Maserati) … 31 laps in 59 min. 17 sec.
3rd: P. Gammon (Lotus-M.G.) 30 laps in 59 min. 6 sec.
4th: Hamilton (Jaguar), 5th: Sanderson (Jaguar), 6th: Stewart (Jaguar), 7th: Davis (Tojeiro), 8th: Abecassis (H.W.M.), 9th: Gerard (Frazer-Nash), 10th: Coombs (Connaught), 11th: Scott-Russell (Frazer-Nash), 12th: Kelly (Jaguar), 13th: (Turner), 14th: Gallagher (Gordini), 15th: Baxter (Jaguar), 16th Lund (TF 7th: Crook (Cooper-Bristol).
Class Winners: A: P. Gammon (Lotus-MG.) … 67.92 m.p.h.
B: A. Brown (Cooper-Bristol) … 79..56 m.p.h.
C: D. Hamilton (Jaguar) … 71.48 m.p.h.
Lap record Salvadori (Maserati), 1 min. 48 sec. — 74.33
“British Empire” Briefs.
Alan Brown won on Esso fuel, a Solex carburetter, K.L.G. plugs, Dunlop tyres, Esso oil, an A.C. fuel pump, Lucas ignition, Armstrong dampers, Austin-Healey wheels and Mintex brake linings.
Oulton Park is a very pleasant course and a great change from an airfield circuit. Spectators can picnic on the banks by Lower Lake as the cars go by in full view along both straights and round the Cascades and Island Corner hairpin — a truly picturesque setting. This has the allure of a Continental circuit, and I recommend you to attend the next car meeting at Oulton, on June 12th. The B.M.C.R.C. has a big motor-cycle meeting there on May 15th.
Alan Brown drove a very neat race, but Salvadori was the fastest driver at Oulton Park.
Why was the programme so mysterious over the sizes of cars running in the three heats?
Colin Chapman’s new Lotus, with cocked-up tail fins which make it look like a fearsome insect (one spectator improved on this description!), arrived on the Saturday morning for scrutineering and practice. It spun round at Old Hall Corner on its first, practice lap and retired in heat one with a blown gasket — a trouble which prevented it from demonstrating the extended Brands Hatch Circuit to the Press two days earlier.
Another car in trouble in the Paddock was the. R.G.S. Atalanta.
Head’s Type C Jaguar received an enthusiastic pre-race polish.
A. P. O. Rogers’ Cooper-Bristol carries its nickname “Mucky Pup” in discreet lettering on the front wings.
Sally Weston, in the Moss equipe, was giving Lucozade some free publicity. Father and mother Moss watched the racing.
Dick Stoop (Frazer-Nash) amused us by remarking that he hoped he wouldn’t get higher than eighth in his heat as he did so want to watch the final as a spectator.