Lotus Again in the Ascendency, Beating Cooper in F.2 and F.J. Races
IN spite of the cold weather and coverage by B.B.C. T.V., a big crowd—official estimate 30,000—watched interesting racing at the B.A.R.C. Meeting at the splendid Oulton Park “road” circuit on April 2nd.
Promptly—this was B.A.R.C. organised!—competitors lined up for the Closed-Car Race over 10 laps (27.6 miles). This showed the supremacy of the Lotus Elites, and forecast Lotus successes to follow. Wagstaff’s Elite led for four laps, after which Summers’ Elite got by and, as Wagstaff fell back, the third car of Team Elite, driven by Tom Dickson, also overtook him. They finished in that order, the winner averaging 77.54 m.p.h. and making fastest lap, at 78.89 m.p.h. The only car that gave any challenge was Fletcher’s A.C.-Bristol, which led home the two Twin-Cam M.G.s of Foster and Bridger. Staples’ A.C.-Bristol spun off and retired without completing a lap, and after similar loss of control Hobbs succeeded in overturning his XK140. Elwes’ Sprite retired but Venner-Pack’s Speedwell G.T. Sprite led the 1,100-c.c. category by a clear lap from Scrimegour’s Turner, winning at 72.7 m.p.h. after a lap at 73.63 m.p.h. Bolton was far less impressive than a contemporary’s road-test suggested his Alfa-Romeo Sprint Speciale owned by Atkinson should have been.
A very mixed bag of motor cars contested the 10-lap Sports-Car Race, Dickson in a 2-litre Lotus-Climax pulling out a very substantial lead front the start, and lapping the tail-enders, mostly the big cars, after eight laps. He won at 88.27 m.p.h. (fastest lap, 90.52 m.p.h.), followed home at a discreet distance by Taylor’s 2-litre Lotus-Climax and Jimmy Clark in the Border Reivers’ Aston Martin DBR1. The 1,100-c.c. category was a victory for Rees’ Lotus-Climax at 83.67 m.p.h., from Ashdown’s Lola, which came through the field well, and Brierley’s Elva.
At 3 p.m., under a threatening sky, the 25-lap 69-mile Oulton Park Trophy Race for F.2 cars commenced. As the big field streamed away McKee led Surtees and Ireland, but very soon Ireland was well out in front, the only Team Lotus out of three to start going through the corners in an outstandingly steady manner, exhibiting neutral steer. Behind, Surtees had the Tyrrell Cooper absolutely on the limit, so that he outdrove the next group. which consisted of McKee in Russell’s Cooper, Bristow in the Yeoman Credit Cooper and Salvadori in Atkins’ Cooper. A long, long way behind came Schell in the other Yeoman Cooper. Much had been expected of him, as practice times credited him with fastest lap, but he just never saw the leaders; his car had F.1 double-wishbone i.r.s., which he apparently didn’t like.
Splendidly as Surtees drove, the Cooper was no match for the lap-record-breaking Lotus and Ireland won by 16 sec., at 91.11 m.p.h. Of the “secondary racers,” McKee fell to third on lap 11, Bristow holding off Salvadori until his engine went sick. McKee had forced past Salvadori at the Cascades on lap 21, only to be re-passed. On the 24th lap McKee went over the limit and spun at Lodge Corner, allowing Bristow’s very sick car to take fourth place, and on the last lap McKee rolled the Cooper at Druid’s. So Salvadori was third, Bristow fourth, Schell fifth, Halford’s Cooper sixth. At the start, Taylor (H.) shunted Lewis, both cars retiring, Twisk overturned at Druid’s, Raby’s Hume-Cooper had gear-change troubles, and Charles’ Cooper overheated. This was a good race, full of incident and driving on the limit, and shows that 1½-litre racing isn’t as dull as some of the pundits try to paint it.
Surtees came out again for the 10-lap Formula Junior Race, but bent the Cooper’s gear-lever, and let the car free-wheel up the escape road at the Cascades with engine trouble. From the start the three Team Lotus rear-engined cars swamped everything else in the race. Taylor (T.P.) led for six laps, then Jimmy Clark went ahead, these two finishing 1.2 sec. apart. Clark averaging 85.98 m,p.h. McKee was less brilliant but his Lotus-Ford managed to finish 0.4 sec. in front of Taylor (H. C.) in Tyrrell’s Cooper-Austin, while Venner-Pack in the Speedwell-prepared Cooper-Austin passed Spence’s Coburn Cooper-Austin on the last lap, pipping it to fifth place by 0.2 sec.—close racing! The only retirements were due to spins, on the part of Threlfall (Elva) and Parnell (Cooper). Lotus dominated this exciting race. Carter in the Stanguellini Fiat was notable merely for a crisp exhaust note, and Arundell (Elva) threw away his chances when he took to the Cascades escape road on lap five, when laying fifth. Clark made fastest lap, at 87.5 m.p.h.
The meeting concluded with a 10-lap Marque Scratch Race, led all the way by Bolton’s A.C.-Bristol, which won at 77.34 m.p.h. and made fastest lap, at 78.26 m.p.h. Lawrence’s Morgan was second, Foster’s M.G. Twin-Cam coupé third. Fletcher and Staples crashed their A.C.-Bristols.
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Tom Dickson set a new sports-car lap record at 90.52 m.p.h., Ireland established a new F.2 lap record of 92.03 m.p.h., getting a really good reception from the crowd when he was driven round on a lap of honour, and Clark’s lap at 87.50 m.p.h. represents the Oulton Park F.J. lap record. Colin Chapman must have enjoyed the results as much as anyone!—W. B.