Small Cars Dominate 18th B.R.D.C. British Empire Trophy Sports-Car Race
Cooper Beats Lotus at OuIton Park with Stirling Moss Victorious at over 83 m.p.h. Heat Winners: Lotus, Aston Martin and Maserati
The British Empire Trophy Race, now for sports cars and held at Oulton Park on April 14th, differs from many races in being a classic with a long history. It is also notable for being a short, sharp contest, run in three heats and a rather longer final, in which pit-work plays little or no part. In overcast, cold weather last month the smallest cars dominated the race in spite of a drastic re-adjustment of handicap -- a further convincing demonstration of the remarkable speed of our specialist 1½-litre sports cars. After Chapman (Lotus), Parnell (Aston Martin) and Musy (Maserati) had distinguished themselves in the heats, Moss won the final in a Cooper-Climax at 83.72 m.p.h., although he would probably have been unable to catch Chapman's Lotus had this car not spun at a corner. Salvadori (Cooper) was third, Hawthorn (Lotus) fourth -- a Cooper/Lotus/Cooper/Lotus finish! Moss drove an unfamiliar car with his usual skill, emphasised by four laps at the sports-car record speed of 84.95 m.p.h., which was twice equalled by Chapman but only by one of the big cars, Musy's Maserati.
We regret to report that the American driver of an Aston Martin DB3S, Lt.-Comdr. A. H. Bryant, was killed when his car was running last but one in a heat. Bueb had a remarkable escape when his Cooper turned end over end. -- W.B.
Heat 1. Cars Up to 1,500 c.c. -- 16 Laps (44.17 miles)
All 23 started and Chapman in the latest Lotus-Climax led all the way, his car steady and convincingly fast. Moss, in a Cooper-Climax with ordinary brakes, lay second for seven laps, then Salvadori's disc-braked Cooper-Climax went by. Hawthorn was driving a Mk. II Lotus but didn't seem too happy, holding fourth place for most of the race, until he opened up and took third position from Moss as they rushed towards Knicker Brook Corner, three laps from the finish. So fast was this 1½-litre heat run that Parnell's old sports-car lap record of 84.23 m.p.h. was equalled on no fewer than 19 occasions, seven times by Hawthorn as he worked up through the field, five times by Chapman as he fended off all challengers, four times by Salvadori and three times by Moss.
In spite of the speed at which it was run, incidents were few. Ashdown's Lotus retired with a broken fuel pipe, Hayles (Lotus) spun off, Bueb's Cooper went end over end at Druids without serious damage to Ivor, and Piper found his new Lotus Mk. Il a handful and received the black flag after some heart-stopping moments. We counted six Mk. II Loti in the race. Salvadori drove with his lights on. Back in the field, Brandon handled his Halselec with notable verve, using the Cascades escape road on lap five. Naylor's Maserati emitted much noise but beat Bonnier's Maserati. Leston (Cooper) fell back, his brakes squealing, from fifth to 10th place within ten laps. Incidentally, ten Coopers and eight Loti dominated the field, with the two Maseratis, Brooks' Connaught and the Halselec to complete it.
1st: Chapman (Lotus-Climax) 31 min. 56 sec. 83.00 m.p.h. (133.57 k.p.h.)
2nd: Salvadori (Cooper-Climax) 32 min. 01 sec. 82.78 m.p.h. (133.22 k.p.h.)
3rd: Hawthorn (Lotus-Climax) 32 min. 02 sec. 82.74 m.p.h. (133.15 k.p.h.)
Fastest lap: Chapman, Salvadori, Hawthorn and Moss. 84.23 m.p.h.
Heat 2. Cars from 1,500 c.c. to 2,700 c.c. -- 16 Laps (44.17 miles)
With Swaters' 2-litre Ferrari, Horridge's Lister-Bristol, Deeley's Austin-Healey. Young's Lotus-Connaught and Anthony's Lotus-Bristol non-starters, the field was reduced to nine. Everyone wanted to see what Scott-Brown would make of the Lister-Maserati on its first appearance. This rakish-looking car with its long snout went well but seemed difficult to handle and the body appeared to foul the tyres on corners. Parnell, driving Salvadori's 2½-litre normal-braked Aston Martin DB3S, led all the way, and although Scott-Brown closed up on the corners for the first five laps, thereafter Parnell had a commanding lead. A long way behind, Kasterine's smart Lotus-Bristol held third place, safely ahead of Scott-Russell's sister car, in spite of sounding unhealthy, while alone in fifth place ran Threlfall's Tojeiro-Bristol, which had punctured its large fuel tank in practice.
The race, judged by the leaders, was dull, but the back-markers made up for this. Moore's Lister-Bristol was hotly pursued for many laps by Nurse's Lister-Bristol, and right at the rear of the field Murray (Frazer-Nash) thrilled the spectators at the Cascades by passing Dalton's Austin-Healey 100S on laps 5, 6, 7 and 8 going into this downhill left-hand corner, the Austin-Healey going into the lead again every time before they got to Knicker Brook. On lap nine, however, Dalton's larger car was able to draw away a little, although Murray was within half a length of him along the Cascades/Island Bend straight a lap from the end, by which time Moore had passed Threlfall, although this didn't last because the Lister's distributor lead fell off.
1st: Parnell (Aston Martin) 32 min. 51 sec. 80.68 m.p.h. (129.84 k.p.h.)
2nd: Scott-Brown ( Lister-Maserati) 33 min. 03 sec. 80.19 m.p.h. (129,05 k.p.h.)
3rd: Kasterine (Lotus-Bristol) 33 min. 08 sec. 80.00 m.p.h. (128.75 k.p.h.)
Fastest lap: Parnell, Scott-Brown, Kasterine and Scott-Russell, 81.47 mph.
Heat 3. Cars Over 2,700 c.c. -- 16 Laps (44.17 miles)
Only Margulies' Jaguar non-started, leaving an interesting field of 13. These were: five D-type Jaguars, including Flockhart and Sanderson in the disc-brake Ecurie Ecosse cars, Musy's splendid 3-litre Maserati, three 3-litre normally-braked Aston Martin DB3S, Wharton in Bonnier's 3½-litre Zagato-bodied Alfa-Romeo, Mackay Fraser's big 3-litre Ferrari in American colours, and two H.W.M.-Jaguars in the hands of Cunningham-Reid and Fairman. And good value they provided!
Berry upheld his good showing at Goodwood by leading the lot for seven laps, after which Flockhart's Jaguar took the lead. But this was no Jaguar picnic, for the little Swiss driver Musy was going great guns in the big Maserati, closing up on the blue machine as they braked for Knicker Brook. And on lap 13 the Italian car got the lead and drew away to win by a comfortable 10 sec., collecting a new sports-car lap record of 85.68 m.p.h. on two occasions en route. Berry hung gamely on to third place in front of Sanderson, and Blond held off Wharton. Graham Whitehead, troubled in practice by the wrong axle ratio, kept his Aston Martin ahead of Fairman's H.W.M.-Jaguar, and Hamilton's Jaguar and Cunningham-Reid's H.W.M.-Jaguar both found the pace too hot and retired.
Right at the tail of the race Bryant's Aston Martin DB3S, in its American colours, showed up Mackay Fraser's big Ferrari by closing up on it on the corners and passing it on lap 11. Alas, on the very last lap Bryant lost the car at Druids' Corner, hit the bank, overturned and hit a tree broadside on, the driver succumbing to his injuries.
1st: Musy (Maserati) 31 min. 44 sec. 83.54 m.p.h. (134.45 k.p.h.)
2nd: Flockhart (Jaguar) 31 min. 54 sec. 83.09 m.p.h. (133.72 k.p.h.)
3rd: Berry (Jaguar) 32 min. 09 sec. 82.44 m.p.h. (132.67 k.p.h.)
Fastest lap (new sports-car lap record): Musy. 85.68 m.p.h
It is a compliment to the small cars that the handicap for the final, contested by a selection of the best-placed finishers in the heats, was adjusted to a 40-sec. start for the 1½-litre cars and a 25-sec. start for those in the 1.5-2.7-litre class, from the big fellows. Before this the handicap was to have been, respectively, two credit laps minus 1 min. 40 sec., and one credit lap minus 1 min. 10 sec. It is a bigger compliment that in spite of this adjustment the first six places were occupied by 1½-litre-class cars.
The spectators had to wait rather a long time before the race started. When it did, if the wind was cold, the pace was surprisingly hot. Moss made no mistakes, getting off to an excellent start. After his none-too-convincing display in the heat -- he was, of course, not used to a Cooper-Climax and found the rear-end damping rather supple -- he never looked like losing the final. Yet by lap 12 Chapman had come right up in his Lotus-Climax and went by Moss and away out ahead, lamps blazing. There seemed little that Stirling could do, but he never eased up and on lap 18 Chapman made a fatal mistake, spinning at the notorious Druids' Corner -- he restarted without aid, but Moss was then as far ahead as for some six laps he had been behind the new Lotus. Salvadori tried hard to close on Moss in his Cooper, without succeeding, and Hawthorn had to be content with fourth place.
The re-handicap did not enable the big cars to catch the small ones, but they displaced the middle-class runners, of whom Scott-Brown this time led Parnell for three laps after passing him by a fine spurt into Knicker Brook on the second lap. However, this didn't last and Parnell was not troubled thereafter, especially as the Lister-Maserati started to boil and went to its pit for 14 sec. for investigation. Kasterine ran steadily and sensibly in third place in this category.
Interest centred not only on whether the big cars could beat the 40-sec. handicap, but on whether the Maserati could again beat the disc-brake Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar. Flockhart led the group for three laps, followed by Sanderson, then Musy moved to second place, to go into the lead on lap seven. He seemed to be safe from all class opposition but on lap 11, as Chapman took the lead in the entire race, Musy spun off at Druids' and retired with the sump torn off and serious engine trouble, poor reward for a magnificent drive by this slightly-built Swiss. Berry took Sanderson, who was troubled by breakage of a rear-suspension stay-rod, the green Jaguar's boot-lid springing open to flap disconcertingly up and down.
So the 18th British Empire Trophy Race ended in a well-driven victory for Moss in one of the amazing (but normally-braked) 1½-litre Cooper-Climax rear-engined cars, at a speed equalling Musy's best lap before his retirement. Scott-Russell had a pit stop, fatal in such a short race, to change plugs in his Lotus-Bristol, losing 60 sec., on lap four, Bicknell spun at Lodge Corner and retired with no oil pressure and a bent near-side rear wheel, and Whitehead's Aston Martin fell out on lap 10 with back-axle trouble.
1st: Moss (Cooper) 49 min. 28 sec. 83.72 m.p.h. (134.74 k.p.h.). 25 laps
2nd: Chapman (Lotus) 49 min. 38 sec. 83.44 m.p.h. (134.28 k.p.h.). 25 laps
3rd: Salvadori (Cooper) 49 min. 42 sec. 83.33 m.p.h. (134.11 k.p.h.). 25 laps
4th: Hawthorn (Lotus) 50 min. 13 sec. 82.47 m.p.h. (132.72 k.p.h.) 25 laps
5th: Leston (Cooper) 50 min. 33 sec., 81.92 m.p.h. (131.84 k.p.h.), 25 laps
6th: Russell (Cooper) 50 min. 35 sec., 81.87 m.p.h. (131.76 k.p.h.). 25 laps
Fastest lap: Moss, May and Chapman, 84.95 m.p.h.
Oulton Park "Ooglings"
Most impressive was the huge Bonnier Scania Vabis van, accompanied by a magnificent Alfa-Romeo coupe. Wharton drove the 3½-litre Alfa-Romeo to the course and reported that it handled splendidly on the wet track in practice --"They can still make motor cars in that country!" he observed. Its brakes seemed to trouble it in the race.
Musy used a small converted Dodge 'bus, into which the Maserati had to be loaded after it had "blown-up."
Much quiet running-in of Bicknell's Mk. II Lotus occupied the morning of race-day.
In spite of the B.R.D.C.'s good intentions about not permitting noisy cars we didn't detect much difference! Could you drive Parnell's Aston Martin across London without occasioning comment for instance?
George Eyston, only man living to have motored at over 300 m.p.h. who won the race in 1934 and was acting as a steward, went round the circuit as passenger in Earl Howe's Mercedes-Benz 300SL.
Although cold weather kept the crowd small, John Eason-Gibson can feel well pleased with his first meeting as B.R.D.C. Secretary Desmond Scannell was standing by and Nevil Lloyd was an efficient Press Secretary.
After the meeting those who followed the R.A.C. signs along deserted lanes for Whitchurch found themselves, in the course of a nine-mile detour leading almost back to where they began, at an obscure crossroads with no indication of how to proceed -- not a very good advertisement for the R.A.C. Touring Department!
In the course of our 200-mile journey home we admired the excellent lighting, except for a short black-spot, along the Wolverhampton-Birmingham road, although the surface isn't so good.
The winning Cooper-Climax used Shell fuel and oil, an S.U. carburetter, Lodge plugs, Dunlop tyres, Ferodo brake linings, Lucas ignition, Armstrong shock-absorbers and Cooper wheels. Although we used a Scroll Liquid-Lead pencil for lap-scoring we do not know what Moss used for signing innumerable autographs after his victory!