Moss' Hollow Victory at Aintree
Five Finishers out of 13 Starters in B.A.R.C. "International 200"
Aintree, April 21st.
THE B.A.R.C. International Meeting at the three-mile Aintree circuit consisted of the 67-lap "lnternational 200" Race for F.1 cars, called after the old J.C.C. 200-Mile Races, the distance being 201 miles, with a series of short, sharp, accompanying races, the shortest over 24 miles, the longest of 30 miles, for saloon, sports and F.III cars. Practice took place on Friday, the 20th, in perfect weather, the only complaint being that the F.1 cars did not have much time in which to prepare for a 200-mile race.
The original entry list for the big race consisted of 18 cars, but even before practice began this was down to 16 when, two days before the race, Vandervell sent a telegram withdrawing the Vanwalls which Schell and an un-nominated driver were to have had -- the reason was given as "mechanical confusion."
This left two B.R.M,s, for Hawthorn and Brooks (and sure enough, at lunch time, the three B.R.M. transports arrived, followed by a smart Osca-Maserati four-cylinder twin-cam coupe), two Connaughts for Scott-Brown and Titterington, Moss' own Maserati, Parnell with Rob Walker's Connaught, two F.II Connaughts of J. A. Young and R. Gibson, the Emeryson, Gerard's Cooper-Bristol, now of 2,244 c.c., and five more Maseratis. The Maseratis had been having a game of general change-about, for Brabham had the Owen-modified, disc-brake car, Salvadori the Gilby car, but Gould had a new one and so Halford was driving his ex-Bira car, while Rosier brought his blue "starting-money-special," which is said to have been slow at Goodwood because it had only 2 litres of engine, which is probably why Wharton, although entered, didn't drive it at Aintree, which left Wharton without a car.
The programme proudly announced that this would be the first occasion when "all three types of British G.P. cars" would compete together but, of course, Vandervell's telegram made this a false prophecy.
Practice started with the saloons, which confirmed that Parnell in Rob Walker's first Mercedes-Benz 300SL could dispose comfortably of the opposition. It clocked 2 min. 30.4 sec., Bonnier's 1,900 Alfa-Romeo being 37.8 sec. (sic) slower, and Maude, in an XK120 Jaguar of the Anglo-Italian Racing Co., 0.2 sec. slower still, so that Potter's little Porsche got within 2.4 sec. of it. Curiously, Bueb's XK140 was 4.4 sec. slower than the Porsche. After Reg. did his quick laps he had them remove all plugs from the 300SL, which was pushed away, giving the impression it had blown up! Buckley's Bristol 403 covered less than a lap before its gearbox burst.
The sports-car session was mainly notable for Moss running-in his Cooper-Climax, which is his own property and which he had seen for the first time that morning and, unlike the one he drove at Oulton Park, with disc brakes. He managed third best lap time, 2 min. 13.8 sec., compared with 2 min. 13.2 sec. by Hawthorn (Lotus) and 2 min. 10.6 sec. by Salvadori (Cooper). Scott-Brown's Lister-Maserati was 1.2 sec. slower than Moss, although the Cooper was giving it 515 c.c. Wharton found the big Alfa-Romeo entered by the handsome bearded J. Bonnier very fast and accelerative but it set its brakes on fire after a few laps. Piper continued the wild driving he was flagged off for at Oulton Park, spinning off in his Lotus at Tatts Corner, while Ashdown (Lotus) went ploughing on the opposite (out) side. Head crashed his Cooper-Jaguar without damaging himself and the E.R.A. (E-type) Jaguar didn't go far before its complicated transmission broke. Salvadori and Wharton made best times, in 2 min. 10.2 sec., Sanderson doing 2 min. 11.8 sec. and Flockhart 2 min. 12.2 sec.
After lunch the G.P. cars had their go, and soon nearly everyone was in trouble. Moss, who had the ordinary brakes back on his Maserati, was undergeared in spite of the customary 6.50 back tyres and also found the tail sliding about. Gerard's usually meticulously-prepared Cooper-Bristol was misfiring miserably and he had to admit that only further tests would reveal the cause, although on the bench the enlarged engine had run satisfactorily. Salvadori's Maserati lacked oil pressure and Walker's locked up solid, with a suspected seized magneto-drive. Salvadori changed to well-worn Avon front tyres, with new tyres on the back, his fuel filler being wired-up meanwhile, Moss helped Francis to adjust the front brakes and reported an unreliable rev.-counter, and at first Halford's Maserati just wouldn't start. Both B.R.M.s were soon in dire trouble, Hawthorn finding the brake pedal down on the floor with no front brakes to speak of and Brooks' misfiring and blowing oil out of the breather.
In contrast, happiness prevailed in the Connaught pits for, with, as Rodney Clarke said, "the only two cars left after Syracuse," Scott-Brown put in fastest lap (2 min. 3.8 sec.) in the normal model and Titterington managed 2 min. 6.2 sec. in the streamlined car. Between these came Hawthorn, with 2 min. 6.0 sec. before the B.R.M. lost its brakes, while Moss was fourth fastest in 2 min. 6.6.sec., with which Salvadori tied, Brooks doing 2 min. 7.4 sec. and Rosier 2 min. 11.8 sec. Next in order were: Parnell (2 min. 12.4 sec.), Young (2 min. 15.2 sec.), Brabham (2 min. 18.2 sec.), Gerard (2 min. 24.4 sec.), Halford (2 min. 27.2 sec.) and Gibson (2 min. 28.6 sec.). In contrast, best 500 was Russell's Cooper, in 2 min. 15 sec.
Gould and Emery had not appeared and at the end of this short practice session there has seldom been a higher proportion of gloomy drivers or more all-night work facing the mechanics! Even Moss' new Cooper-Climax was found to have suspension too stiff for his liking. Incidentally, motor-racing pools have arrived, which is, we suppose, inevitable if you take racing cars to Aintree!
The fine weather held for race day. In the morning the first "curtain-raiser" was the Saloon-Car Race over eight laps (24 miles). Maude's XK120 led for a short distance but soon Parnell was out in front, building up an unassailable lead in the Mercedes-Benz 300SL. How nice to see one of these cars in the hands of a driver not afraid to use its power! Bonnier drove his Alfa-Romeo Zagato with great verve in third place, doing all he could to pass Maude, although he was leading his class. Potter did well to keep his Porsche Super in sight of Bueb's XK140 Jaguar, and Grace's Riley Pathfinder was followed by Naylor's normal Porsche 1,500. Gelberg's Pathfinder retired at Anchor with clutch failure and Mitchell's Ford Anglia handsomely beat Buckley's D.K.W. As neither the Bristol 403 nor Wadsworth's old Riley-Healey passed Naylor's Porsche the spectators may well have asked themselves if large cars are worth while.
Saloon-Car Race (24 Miles)
Up to 2,500 c.c.:
1st: J. Bonnier (Alfa-Romeo) 20 min. 32.6 sec. 70.10 m.p.h.
2nd: L. Potter (Porsche) 21 min. 50.8 sec.
3rd: G. H. Grace (Riley) 21 min. 57.6 sec.
Over 2,500 c.c.:
1st: R. Parnell (Mercedes-Benz) 20 min. 20.0 sec. 70.82 m.p.h.
2nd: J. G. Maude (Jaguar) 20 min. 31.4 sec.
3rd: I. Bueb (Jaguar) 21 min. 44.2 sec.
Fastest lap: Parnell, 72.58 m.p.h.
The race for sports cars up to 2,000 c.c. followed. The field included ten Cooper-Climax, Moss' new car arriving on a trailer behind the Vanguard saloon with which he has been presented by the Standard Motor Co., and five Lotus-Climax. Colin Chapman drove Allison's Lotus. For two laps Salvadori led but Hawthorn then went into the lead in Bueb's Mk. II Lotus-Climax. Bicknell held third place in his Lotus, passing Scott-Brown's Lister-Maserati along Railway Straight, fell back, but came up strongly again. Scott-Brown was a comfortable third but ran wide out of Cottage Corner and, although he kept his foot down as the Lister bumped over the grass, Bicknell seized his opportunity and went by. Moss never ran higher than fourth and was overtaken by Leston's Cooper, which, however, was unplaced. Threlfall's Lotus and Nixon's Cooper retired and Kasterine (Lotus-Bristol) crashed at Waterway, being taken to hospital with severe facial injuries.
Sports Cars up to 2,000 c.c. (24 Miles)
Up to 1,100 c.c.:
1st: C. Chapman (Lotus-Climax) 18 min. 39.4 sec. 77.25 m.p.h.
2nd: P. D. Gammon (Cooper-Climax) 18 min. 46.0 sec.
3rd: M. G.H. MacDowel (Cooper-Climax) 18 min. 55.2 sec.
1st: M. Hawthorn (Lotus-Climax) 17 min. 39.4 sec. 77.25 m.p.h.
2nd: R. Salvadori (Cooper-Climax) 17 min. 45.6 sec.
3rd: R. G. Bicknell (Lotus-Climax) 18 min. 030 sec.
Fastest lap: Hawthorn 82.82 m.p.h.
The last pre-luncheon race was for F.III cars, over 10 laps (30 miles). Colin Davis in the Beart-Cooper led the first three laps but Russell's Cooper-Norton proved faster until, on the last lap, with victory in sight, he overdid it at Tatts, hitting the bales and cutting his nose, while Davis went past to a long-awaited major victory. Beart's other entry, S. Lewis-Evans' Cooper-Norton, maintained a steady third place, and behind a three-car duel was fought out, Bueb finally leading in Parker and Allison. Eight cars retired, apart from Russell's.
500-c.c. Race (30 Miles)
1st: C. C. H. Davis (Beart-Norton) 22 min. 49.0 sec. 79.41 m.p.h.
2nd: S. Lewis-Evans (Cooper-Norton) 22 min. 56.4 sec.
3rd: I. Bueb (Cooper-Norton) 23 min. 17.4 sec.
Fastest lap: Russell (Cooper-Norton) 80.60 m.p.h.
After lunch the big sports cars raced over eight laps (24 miles). Wharton put in a surprise appearance at the back of the grid, in a 3-litre Maserati which Musy had brought to replace the one which "blew up" after winning its heat at Oulton Park, consequently Bonnier drove his own 3-litre Alfa-Romeo. Duncan was amongst the non-starters. Salvadori was expected to out-corner the three Ecurie Ecosse D-type Jaguars (Sanderson, Titterirtgton and Flockhart) but it was thought they might do him down along the straights. However, the Aston Martin DB3S got away to a fine start and thereafter the Scottish Jaguars could do nothing about it. Titterington passed Sanderson on lap four and gave chase -- Flockhart had motored off the course at Melling Crossing and gone to his pit but the Aston Martin was driven with superb coolness, setting a new sports-car lap record of 2 min. 8 sec. (84.38 m.p.h.), beating Collins' former speed in the same type of car by 1.05 m.p.h. The three leaders soon out-paced the field, Cunningham-Reid's H.W.M.-Jaguar heading the next group ahead of Berry's D-type Jaguar (its boot handle wired up since the Oulton Park flappery!) and Wharton in the big Maserati. In this brief race Mees' Cooper-Jaguar, Graham Whitehead's Aston Martin and Richardson's Aston Martin failed to last the distance.
Unlimited Sports-Car Race (24 Miles)
1st: R. Salvadori (Aston Martin) 21 min. 38.4 sec. 83.20 m.p.h.
2nd: D. Titterington (Jaguar) 21 min. 47.0 sec.
3rd: N. Sanderson (Jaguar) 21 min. 55.0 sec.
Fastest lap (new sports-car record): Salvadori, 84.38 m.p.h.
So to the big race, but as the G.P. cars came out for the International 200 the troubles of the practising period showed up in the vacant places on the grid. With both Vanwalls, Gould's new Maserati and the Emeryson non-starters and Wharton without a car, the field, billed to include "all the top-line Continental drivers," was reduced to an ominous 13.
As the flag fell Hawthorn got away clear of the rest, Scott-Brown's 1955 Syracuse Connaught behind him, followed by Brooks in the other B.R.M. Scott-Brown commenced his famous sliding technique on the corners and Ied the second lap, and, already, on lap one, Salvadori, a brake locking on, had gone ploughing at Cottage, circling round to resume at the end of the field.
On the third lap of this 67-lap (201 miles) contest Hawthorn passed the leading Connaught down Railway Straight, but the B.R.M.'s triumph was short-lived, for at Cottage on lap five Hawthorn ran straight on, his brakes having quitted. That was retirement No.1.
The order was now Scott-Brown, Brooks, Moss and Titterington in the streamlined Connaught. Scott-Brown led the B.R.M. by a fair margin, although sometimes Archie would overdo the sliding and motor off the road. Titterington was pushing Moss and Gerard's Cooper-Bristol was leading Brabham's Owen Maserati. Parnell wasn't happy in Walker's blue Connaught and lost 34 sec. looking for the cause of overheating, to drop out for good on lap eight. Two laps earlier Salvadori, no doubt troubled by low oil pressure, but reporting loss of power, retired the Gilby Maserati.
That left ten runners and after 12 laps Scott-Brown led Brooks, Moss was tailed by Titterington farther back, and Brabham had disposed of Gerard, who had also been passed by Halford in the ex-Bira Maserati.
Then, two laps later, the leading Connaught suddenly slowed half-way along Railway Straight and came to rest. Archie leaping out to announce a seized engine, probably from piston failure. So a B.R.M. led the race and by 20 laps Brooks had averaged 84.38 m.p.h. and had lapped Gerard, whose Cooper-Bristol had stopped for fuel and was audibly unwell. After 19 laps Young's 2-litre Connaught retired with a seized gearbox and Halford was finding a G.P. car a handful, Ieaving the road at Anchor and spinning at Country Corner.
Thus, at just over quarter-distance, only eight cars were running. Moss now began to speed up -- he had shaken off Titterington's Connaught -- and for the remainder of the afternoon he gave a magnificent exhibition of driving. He really was hurrying, clipping the corners so fine that he dislodged the markers on the inside of Cottage Corner on one occasion. Brooks speeded up a little, averaging 84.51 m.p.h. after 30 laps, but Moss was gaining fast, being then 27.2 sec. behind. Titterington held third place, Brabham and Rosier in his blue Maserati were a lap in arrears, Halford two laps and Gerard and the Gibson/Berry 2-litre Connaught three laps behind the B.R.M.
At 40 laps, with Moss a mere 10.2 sec. behind, the B.R.M. was obviously lacking brakes, and smoke was rising from the cockpit. Titterington had fallen a lap behind, due to a plug change, and Gerard had retirewd with a seized engine, so that at just beyond half-distance the race was between seven cars, of which only Moss' Maserati was really fit! On lap 44 Rosier got past Brabham but the Maseratis changed position again the next time round. Berry's Connaught was banging and spluttering through the corners and Rosier was trailing oil smoke. Only Moss was motoring at all fast and, pressing on relentlessly, he took Brooks on lap 49. Brooks then stopped to confer about his failing brakes but resumed, and so the race was a matter of seven runners, reduced to six when Halford, who had been called in for erratic driving, hit the wall at Anchor -- he was luckily unhurt.
On lap 55 Titterington, who had been driving with failing brakes, shot straight through the barrier at Anchor Crossing, suffering concussion and a sore back. That left five, and when Rosier stopped to see if he was dropping oil he was hastily shooed back into the race! Moss gave no quarter, setting out to lap Brooks, which he accomplished on the last lap. Three laps behind, Brabham drove cautiously, third in his first race with his Maserati, Rosier had fallen five laps behind the leader due to his stop, and eight laps behind Moss Berry banged away in the Connaught. So ended the Aintree Old Crocks' Race -- in 1921, when the 200-Mile Race was regarded as a daring experiment, because small cars were in a comparatively undeveloped state, there were 27 finishers, and this cannot be attributed to low speed, for the winner averaged over 88 m.p.h.!
"International 200" (201 Miles)
1st: S. Moss (Maserati) 2 hr. 23 min. 0.64 sec. 84.24 m.p.h.
2nd: C. A. S. Brooks (B.R.M.) 66 laps
3rd: J. Brabham (Maserati) 64 laps
4th: L. Rosier (Maserati) 62 laps
5th: R. Gibson/B.Berry (Connaught) 59 laps
Fastest lap: Brooks 86.68 m.p.h.