SNETTERTON, March 27th
MOTOR SPORT’s Formula Three Championship, organised in association with Shell, could not have had a more exciting start than it did at the BRSCC Snetterton International Meeting on Good Friday. The record books show that after two eliminating heats Tony Trimmer, the 27-year-old former racing mechanic who last year received the third Grovewood Award, won by 0.2 sec. from Gold Leaf-Team Lotus member, Australian David Walker.
But there is far more to the result than that, for on the previous day Trimmer had virtually destroyed the Brabliam BT28 which he has been driving for his team-mate and sponsor, Irishman Brendan McInerney, since the end of last season. Apparently the throttle stuck open on a fast bend and, although Trimmer climbed out shaken (but otherwise unhurt), there seemed little likelihood of him racing on Friday. A series of phone calls then followed, in the course of which Trimmer was Offered a Lotus 59 by the factory and, although this particular car is the oldest 59 of them all, Trimmer’s mechanics embarked on an all-night session to fit the car with his Holbay-Ford engine and bring it to the line in trim for racing. The point was not lost on Gold Leaf-Team Lotus that this enabled Trimmer to beat one of the Team Lotus drivers and put himself in an early lead for the 12-race Championship !
Weather conditions on race day were far from pleasant, with a cold, dank mist hanging over the featureless circuit. Nevertheless, there was a good International entry for the first Championship round, including drivers from Brazil, Sweden, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and from throughout the length of Great Britain. In fact, it was a Scot with the appropriate name of Richard Scott who demonstrated that a couple of seasons spent learning about racing with less up-to-date cars are more than useful by taking the first 15-lap heat from Californian Steve Matchett, who is returning to F3 after a period in Formulae Ford and Vee. The second heat was delayed by a serious power failure : undaunted by a long wait for the start Brazilian sports-car champion Carlos Pace took his Lotus into an early lead, only to lose a couple of places to fellow Lotuseer David Walker and then recover to take second. Trimmer’s Lotus was placed fourth as its driver scrubbed in a new set of tyres.
The racing had been uncomfortably close at times in the heats and it promised to be even more so in the final. The first lap was completed without incident, with Trimmer and Walker narrowly leading the unruly pack. Incidents abounded, one of which involved heat 1 winner Scott, Pace and Gerry Birrell, who was keeping his end up well in his first drive with a works-backed Brabham, on the second lap. Before that same lap was over a second power-cut again occurred and in order to maintain communications it became essential to stop the race. In such circumstances the correct flag signal for a re-run is to show the black and chequered flags together, but unfortunately the start-line officials barely had time to unfurl their flags as the howling pack sang past the pits, and very few of the drivers saw or understood the signal.
After a rather exciting moment spent stopping the F3 traffic, there was another delay while the power was restored, but with the sun rapidly disappearing the race had to be cut by ten laps to 20. With several gaps at the front of the grid it was two Chevron-mounted Northerners, Norman FonIds and Barrie Maskell, who got away particularly well to head the works Lotus 59s for a brief period. Maskell’s engine promptly blew up and Walker was through with former Brabham Formula Two mechanic, New Zealander Bert Hawthorne, holding a hard-fought second place. But while Walker successfully edged away in the lead, Trimmer was making a great effort to come through from the rear of the field, making up places left, right and centre in a rare display of fierce but controlled driving in his much-raced borrowed Lotus.
Both Foulds and Hawthorne spun early in the race and Hawthorne later left the track spectacularly when his new Chevron rolled at the hairpin, so Trimmer had the red and gold works Lotus in his sights. The Lotus pit kept Walker informed, hut Trimmer left his great effort right to the end and got past the Australian on the last lap. Walker lost a moment trying to slipstream his opponent and when the flag came out Trimmer crossed the line to win amidst considerable applause by a car’s length.
Walker’s team-mate Bond spun when well placed and others to fall by the wayside were Mike Beuttler, who took a couple of wheels off his Brabham, and Gerry Birrell, who lest a nosecone damaged in the earlier incident. So third after a long battle was Keith Jupp (Brabham BT28) from the similar cars of Swede Ulf Svensson and Mancunian Cyd Williams. The other Gold Leaf Lotus, Bev Bond’s, was not far behind in sixth.
Trimmer is doing a great deal of racing this year, for on the Monday after Snetterton he was in Holland winning the first round of the Formula Ford Johnson Euro-Trophy and the week afterwards he came second at Pau in the F3 race which annually supports the round-the-houses F2 event.—M. G. D.
GUARDS TROPHY-Snetterton-Formular Three-20 laps-54.2 miles-Cold and misty
MOTOR SPORT/Shell Formula Three Championship-Round 1
1st: T. Trimmer (Lotus 59-Holbay Ford) .. 32 min. 14.6 sec.-100.86 m.p.h.
2nd: D. Walker (Lotus 59-Holbay Ford) .. 32 min. 14.8 sec.
3rd: K. Jupp (Brabham BT28-Lucas Ford) .. 32 min. 45.6 sec
4th: U. Svensson (Brabham BT28-Lucas Ford) .. 32 min 45.8 sec.
5th: C. Williams (Brabham BT28-Lucas Ford) .. 32 min 46.2 sec.
6th: B. Bond (Lotus 69-Holbay Ford) .. 32 min. 48.4 sec.
Fastest lap: T. Trimmer (Lotus), 1 min. 34.2 sec (103.57 m.p.h.) (equals class record).