Something of everything
Silverstone, April 7th/8th
This year was the twenty-fifth race meeting organised by the BRDC at Silverstone under the title of the International Trophy. The first one was in 1949, when Alberto Ascari won with a supercharged 1-1/2-litre Ferrari from the Scuderia Ferrari, and since that day the BRDC have run this annual event without fail. From the inception the meeting has had the support of the Daily Express and in recent years GKN have joined the BRDC with their support. From the start it has been a day (or two days) of immense activity, with a varied programme of racing in which a miniature Grand Prix has always been the highlight. Referred to as the BRDC Festival of Fun and Speed it has always lived up to this title and this year’s meeting was no exception.
Formula Ford and Formula Three had heats and a final, saloon cars had a 20-lap thrash, Formula 5000 had a 25-lap race, Historic cars had a race, and the International Trophy was held over 40 laps for a mixture of Formula One cars and the better F5000 cars. There was practice on Friday April 6th, as well as Saturday, and just in case there wasn’t enough happening, there was unofficial practice on the previous Wednesday. It was during this practice that things began to happen, for Peterson was out in the works Lotus 72/R6, when he tangled with a Formula Three car and went off into the barriers, wrecking the Lotus pretty thoroughly, but as always, stepping out of the wreckage unharmed. Back at the Lotus factory his second car, 72/R8, was just about as dismantled as it could be, having returned from South Africa to be brought up to 1973 specifications with the new protective sides to the monocoque. Everything was unriveted and dismantled, but continuous shift-work by relays of Lotus mechanics got the car built up in its new form by Friday morning and Peterson was just able to join in the official practice on Friday afternoon.
The much-publicised entry of the new B3 Ferrari failed to materialise, as did the new UOP-Shadow for Graham Hill, and the Ensign, but such was the excitement in the first practice that these things were hardly noticed. Anyone who thinks that Formula One cars are dull or that Grand Prix drivers are not worth watching, should have been at Silverstone for the practice sessions. Of course, this does not apply to the total entry, and never did, but the top handful are still outstanding. The sight of the really fast ones coming through Woodcote Corner at 145 m.p.h. was something that was not to be missed; Fittipaldi (Lotus 72/R5), Regazzoni (BRM), Stewart (Tyrrell 006/2) and Revson (McLaren M23/2) were really terrific to watch. Peterson needed the first afternoon to get his rebuilt car adjusted properly, but the others were really flying. Stewart had a brand new Tyrrell, which was numbered 006/2 and was built to the 1973 specifications, and 006 was there as a spare, this having been rebuilt to the new structural regulations. A really new Tyrrell is due later, and this will take the popular number 007, the new Silverstone car being to the same basic design as 005 and 006, and it had the rear aerofoil mounted very low and very far back, as used in South Africa. Fittipaldi was in the car he used briefly at the Race of Champions, Regazzoni was in a P160 BRM that had been brought up to 1973 regulations with new cockpit sides and designated P160E and Revson’s McLaren was a brand new M23, the second to be built. The other Formula One runners were Hulme with McLaren M23/1, Pace with Surtees TS14A/03, Hailwood with a brand new car, Surtees TS14A/04, which had a lighter monocoque, Oliver and Follmer with the two UOP-Shadows they drove in South Africa, DN1/1A and DN1/2A, respectively, both modified since that race so that the engine doesn’t fall out, Ganley with the Frank Williams Special, called ISO-Marlboro, and L.auda and Schuppan with BRMs, the former on a normal P160 and the latter on a modified-structure P160E.
Just when everyone, or nearly everyone, was getting well and truly wound up, in spite of an icy wind that was so cold that even the brass monkeys stayed in the beer tent, there came a light shower of rain and everything stopped instantly. The top half-dozen drivers had all been scratching away to get pole position on the starting grid, the existing lap record having long since been passed and as there was no point in going slower, they all stopped. The rain did not develop enough to bother putting on wet-weather tyres and as soon as the track was dry they were all out again and driving on the limit of tyre adhesion in the battle for the premier position. Regazzoni was driving with sheer bravery and heroism, the BRM looking as if the outside front tyre was the only one on the ground, Stewart was putting all he had got into his driving and using more of the track than anyone, Fittipaldi never had the Lotus in a stable situation for more than a few yards and Revson did not even look fast.
The lap record for the Silverstone Circuit was set last year by Hailwood in 1 min. 18.8 sec., a time that the fastest F5000 car had already equalled, and the Formula One elite were making the record look ridiculous. Revson and Fittipaldi finished up at 1 min. 17.5 sec., with Stewart at 1 min. 17.7 sec. and Regazzoni at 1 min. 17.9 sec. The combination of Revson and the new McLaren M23 was most impressive, because it did not look as fast as the others, being so smooth and stable. These four were lapping at over 135 m.p.h. average speed, and while Fittipaldi, Stewart and Regazzoni looked as if they were, Revson didn’t and there must be a lesson to learn there.
On Saturday two of the F5000 drivers put the cat among the Formula One stars, for in their morning practice Hobbs and Lunger, with the Carl Hogan Team Lola T330-Chevrolet V8s, got well under the lap record. Lunger at 1 min. 18.2 sec. and Hobbs at a staggering 1 min. 17.5 sec., equal to the times of the brave lads of Formula One on Friday. It was obviously a fast day on Saturday, and if it wasn’t there were going to be some red faces among the Formula One teams. The Formula One practice was late on Saturday afternoon, after the F5000 cars had had their 25-lap race, which Hobbs won by one second from Lunger, at an average speed of 132.1 m.p.h., while they both recorded a fastest lap of 1 min. 18.0 sec., so that for the rest of the day the official lap record for Britain’s fastest circuit was held by a Formula 5000 car. It did not take long for the Grand Prix aces to get back in the groove and the pattern was very similar to the day before. Just when they were all really well wound up and any lap time over 1 min. 18.0 sec. was for the also-rans a shower of icy rain put a stop to things. Just as quickly it dried up and the battle was on again, and this time Peterson joined in, having got his newly-built car right, and the select group just went faster and faster. Yesterday’s fastest time was passed and became unimpressive and then even a lap in 1 min. 17.0 sec. was nothing to get excited about. The average speed was now over 137 m.p.h. and they hadn’t finished, though Regazzoni was forced to drop out of the battle when his BRM engine went sick, just as Hulme had been forced out the day before when his Cosworth engine broke.
Anyone who thinks the modern Grand Prix car corners “as if on rails” should have seen them through Woodcote, Stowe or Club corners. The fast ones were looking almost out of control and incredibly exciting, and even the McLarens were beginning to get in a twitch. Those that looked as if they were on rails were pathetically slow, by Formula One standards, though a lap at 130 m.p.h. is still unbelievably fast by normal standards. The two black and gold John Player Team Lotus 72 cars had Stewart’s Tyrrell well and truly on the run, but the little Scot was not giving up and the three of them put on a display of high-speed Grand Prix driving that earned them their starting money. Before the practice was over, another rain shower put a stop to things and the final outcome was Fittipaldi 1 min. 16.4 sec. (137.92 m.p.h.), Peterson 1 min. 16.6 sec., Stewart 1 min. 16.9 sec., Revson 1 min. 17.1 sec., Hulme 1 min. 17.2 sec., Pace 1 min. 17.4 sec. and Regazzoni 1 min. 17.5 sec. The two Shadows were entirely unimpressive, Lauda wasn’t doing badly, Schuppan was out of his depth and Ganley needn’t have bothered to come, while Hailwood was not happy or convinced about his new car, having tried it with wide-track suspension on Friday and standard suspension on Saturday.
The best of the F5000 drivers were invited to join the Formula One cars for the 40-lap race on Sunday afternoon, after Formula Three had run its final, and saloon cars had run their 20-lap race. The thirteen Formula One cars were joined by sixteen F5000 cars, with Hobbs in between Pace and Regazzoni in the third row. Fortunately somebody in high-places has seen the light about starting grids and the fetish for only two cars in a row has been replaced by the normal 3-2-3 grid, so that we had the exciting prospect of a super start with Fittipaldi, Peterson and Stewart on the front row, and if we can’t anticipate that sort of excitement we might as well give up motor racing and play croquet.
Peterson did not jump the flag, he merely made the perfect start from the centre of the front row and was gone, with Stewart chasing after him, while Fittipaldi crept off the line with his clutch burnt out boxing in Pace very effectively in the process. The Lotus was pulling a very high bottom gear and he had made “practice starts” on his warm-up lap to get the feel of it, and overheated the whole assembly. He only just managed to creep along by the pit wall as everyone roared by, except for Oliver who had also burnt his clutch out on the Shadow and followed the stricken Lotus into Copse Corner. The Shadow was lacking first gear in its Hewland box and Oliver had been forced to try and start in second gear, but it was more than the clutch could stand.
Peterson’s glory lasted for one lap and then Stewart was by into the lead and that was it, with Hulme third, Regazzoni fourth, Revson fifth, Lauda. sixth, Hailwood seventh and then Lunger in the first of the F5000 cars.It looked as though everyone had done their heroics in practice and were now going to settle down in a steady procession and earn their bread and butter. But it wasn’t to be as simple as that for Stewart overcooked it at Beckett’s and spun and while he was sorting himself out Peterson, Hulme, Regazzoni, Revson and Lauda went by smiling. It was said later that a deflating rear tyre had caused Stewart to spin, but anyone who was watching the race and watching the way he outdrove everyone in his pursuit for the rest of the race would have doubted the statement. It was one of those inspired drives that mark the real Grand Prix driver, and the blue Tyrrell was driven to its limit. Lauda was disposed of in one lap, Regazzoni in three laps, Revson took a little longer, HuIme one lap more and at half-distance Peterson was looking in his mirrors more than he was looking at the way ahead.
It was nearly all over, Stewart was silencing all his critics, he was outdriving everyone and showing who was still at the top, even though there might be others up there with him. For lap after lap he hounded the black and gold Lotus, in and out of the “travelling chicanes” made by the slower F5000 cars. Occasionally a slight baulk would let Peterson get away, but not for long and it was just a matter of how long the Swede could stand the pace and not get rattled. He was getting noticeably untidier and on lap 32 it happened. The icy wind that had been blowing all day was turning into flurries of snow and one particularly large one fell across the area of Beckett’s and dampened the track and Peterson spun off, in company with others. Stewart saw this coming and saw that Peterson was heading for disaster and braked earlier and harder than normal, and it was his turn to laugh as he sailed by into the lead.
The Swede recovered to hold second place, and that was it, Stewart romped home to a well-earned victory to the intense displeasure of a lot of people, the enjoyment of many more and with the whole-hearted admiration of anyone who takes his motor racing seriously.
There were some others in the race, but most of them hardly showed, Regazzoni’s BRM was nearly under-steering itself off the road most of the time, but he pressed on regardlessly to finish third, Revson was a neat and tidy fourth, Lauda fifth and Follmer a gentle sixth with the Shadow. Hailwood’s car seemed to have very little adhesion on its front wheels and as he was getting nowhere he called at the pits to see if some different tyres would help. Just as he did this there was a flurry of sleet and it looked as though heavy rain might start so he had full-weather tyres fitted to his Surtees and set off to find the wet weather did not materialise, so he was even worse off than before; at that he gave up in despair.
His Brazilian team-mate Carlos Pace got a flat tyre on his Surtees, stopped to have it changed and in the hurry the wheel nut was not tightened properly and soon after he rejoined the race the wheel came off its driving pegs and that was that. Hulme’s race came to an end in the pits when he saw the oil pressure sinking rapidly on his Cosworth engine and stopped before the engine was ruined and Hobbs had his Chevrolet V8 blow up, having done a lot of work during the previous two days. Lunger who was in the lead of the F5000 cars crashed in the closing stages, leaving the class to Van Lennep.
After the victory celebrations had subsided the cars for the Formula Ford Final assembled and almost without warning a real snow storm started and Silverstone disappeared under a layer of the white stuff. When it stopped and sodden heads emerged again it was decided to reduce the last two races of the day to five laps apiece, so that the Formula Ford race was an instant sprint to victory and the JCB Historic race was a slippery parade of miscellaneous sports, racing-sports, and Grand Prix cars from 1950-1960 led by Neil Corner in his “lightweight” 250F Maserati 2528, followed by Willy Green in 2525, the “offset” 250F Maserati built specially for the 1956 Italian GP. Corner should have driven his Aston Martin DBR4, but it was not ready, so he transferred to his Maserati. A large proportion of the crowd rushed to leave just as the snow came down and the result was a complete and thorough traffic jam that did not clear until after the last two races were over. By the time the JCB Historic finishers had consumed the bottles of champagne that each were given by the importers of G. H. Mumm & Co. and their caravan behind the paddock had nearly burst asunder with the number of people in it, the traffic had gone and we could all drive home in gentlemanly fashion.
It had been a good meeting, well worthy of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the event and one that the BRDC can mark down as quite a classic. – D. S. J.
International Trophy – Formula One and Formula 5000 – 40 laps – 188.4 km.
*1st: J. Stewart (Tyrrell 006/2) … 52 min. 53.2 sec. – 213.75 k.p.h. (132.82 m.p.h.)
2nd: R. Peterson (Lotus 72 R8) … 53 min. 03.6 sec.
3rd: G. Reggazzoni (BRM P160E/7) … 53 min. 16.9 sec.
4th: P. Revson (McLaren M23/2) … 53 min. 21.8 sec.
5th: N. Lauda (BRM P160D/1) … 53 min. 46.2 sec.
6th: G. Follmer (UOP-Shadow DN1/2A) … 1 lap behind
*7th: G. van Lennep (Lola T330-Chevrolet V8) … 2 laps behind
8th: T. Belso (Surtees TS11-Chevrolet V8) … 2 laps behind
9th: V. Schuppan (BRM P160E/5) … 2 laps behind
10th: K. Holland (Trojan-Chevrolet V8) … 2 laps behind
11th: A. G. Dean (Chevron B24-Chevrolet V8) … 2 laps behind
12th: C. Santo (Lola T330-Chevrolet V8) … 3 laps behind
13th: R. Brown (Chevron B24-Chevrolet V8) … 3 laps behind
* Class winners
F1: R. Peterson (Lotus 72/R8), in 1 min.17.5 sec. – 218.81 k.p.h. (135.96 m.p.h.)
F5000: B. Lunger (Lola T330), in 1 min. 18.8 sec. – 215.20 k.p.h. (133.72 m.p.h.)
Retired: E. Fittipaldi (Lotus 72/R5), lap 1; J. Oliver (UOP-Shadow DN1/1A), lap 2; I. Ashley (Lola T330), lap 4; G. McRae (McRae GM1), lap 5; R. Allen (Surtees TS8A), lap 6; T. Pilette (Chevron B24), lap10; C. Pace (Surtees TS14A/03), lap 16; S. Thompson (Chevron B24), lap 17; J. Russell (McRae GM1), lap 17; R. Evans (Trojan T101), lap 20; D. Hobbs (Lola T330), lap 23; D. Hulme (McLaren M23/1), lap 24; H. Ganley (Williams Special), lap 26; M. Hailwood (Surtees TS14A/04), lap 27; D. Oxton (Begg FM5), lap 30; B. Lunger (Lola T330), lap 32.
29 starters – 13 finishers
Formula Ford – 5-lap final – 28.5 kilometres
1st: R. Parson (Royale) … 9 min. 56.0 sec. – 142.26 k.p.h. (88.40 m.p.h.)
2nd: R. Bruce-White (Dulon) … 9 min. 56.2 sec.
3rd: D. Lawrence (Dulon) … 10 min. 06.0 sec.
Fastest lap: R. Bruce-White (Dulon), in 1 min. 55.6 sec. – 146.69 k.p.h. (91.45 m.p.h.)
Formula Three – 20-lap final – 94.20 kilometres
1st: R. Wood (March 733) … 31 min. 18.6 sec. – 180.54 k.p.h. (112.18 m.p.h.)
2nd: L. Taylor (March 733) … 31 min. 20.0 sec.
3rd: M. Harness (Ensign LNF3/73) … 31 min. 28.8 sec.
Fastest lap: L.Taylor (March 733), in 1 min. 32.2 sec. – 183.93 k.p.h. (114.29 m.p.h.) Class record.
Formula 5000 – 25 laps – 117.75 kilometres
1st: D. Hobbs (Lola T330-Chevrolet V8) … 33 min. 14.2 sec. – 212.59 k.p.h. (132.10 m.p.h.)
2nd: B. Lunger (Lola T330-Chevrolet V8) … 33 min. 15.2 sec.
3rd: A. G. Dean (Chevron B24-Chevrolet V8) … 33 min. 41.0 sec.
Fastest lap: D. Hobbs (Lola T330-Chevrolet V8) and B. Lunger (Lola T330-Chevrolet V8), in 1 min. 18.0 sec. – 217.41 k.p.h. (135.09 m.p.h.) Class record
Saloon Cars – Group 2 – 20 laps – 94.20 kilometres
1st: B. Muir (BMW 3.0 CSL) … 34 min. 03.4 sec. – 165.98 k.p.h. (103.13 m.p.h.)
2nd: A. Rouse (Ford Escort 1,950 c.c.) … 34 min. 51.0 sec.
3rd: F. Gardner (Chevrolet Camaro) … 35 min. 08.6 sec.
Fastest lap: B. Muir (BMW 3.0 CSL), in 1 min. 35.0 sec. – 178.50 k.p.h. (110.92 m.p.h.)
JCB-Historic Cars – 5 laps – 28.5 kilometres
1st: N. Corner (Maserati 250F) … 10 min. 07.4 sec. – 139.59 k.p.h. (86.74 m.p.h.)
2nd: W. Green (Maserati 250F) … 10 min. 10.4 sec.
3rd: N. Faure (Lister-Jaguar) … 10 min. 17 sec.
Fastest lap: W. Green (Maserati 250F), in 1 min. 57.2 sec. – 144.69 k.p.h. (89.94 m.p.h.)