The Daily Telegraph-sponsored, B.A.R.C.-organised Aintree Automobile Racing Company’s Meeting on October 2nd was a well-deserved Stirling Moss benefit. The British driver won the Formula III race in Beart’s Cooper-Norton and the Formula 1 and Formule Libre races (all were over 51 miles of the three-mile circuit) in his Maserati, and there was no other driver who could get anywhere near him. The Vandervell Thinwall Ferrari driven by Peter Collins led for a while in the Formule Libre race and might have held the Maserati off had it not suffered from tired internals.
The meeting was well organised and some very close racing for the places resulted, but only a moderate-sized crowd was present to appreciate this, in spite of pleasant weather conditions. The races were on this occasion run in a clockwise direction and the new lap record was established by Moss, at 2 min. 0.6 sec. (89.55 m.p.h.).
Saloon-Car and Sports-Car Race (5 Laps)
Run concurrently, this event consisted of three separate races, for saloons up to 1,600 c.c., saloons over 1,600 c.c., and those sports cars which had not been fitted into the later 17-lap sports-car race.
In the saloon-car category W. H. Aldington had wisely entrusted his 1,500-c.c. Porsche to C. A. S. Brooks. Although Brooks was left on the grid as the other cars disappeared towards Waterway Corner, due to having depressed the brake pedal in mistake for the clutch, he rectified this “cockpit-error” by his usual skilled driving and was soon in the lead, with Rogers’ 2 ½-litre Riley in pursuit, blowing its horn, followed by Wadsworth’s Porsche and Gelberg’s Riley. Behind the Simca Aronde of A. E. Marsh had got comfortably ahead of de Mattos’ Ford Consul, which led Peter Reece’s new M.G. Magnette saloon, which should provide food for thought for the saloon-buying public.
Meanwhile, out ahead of the weatherproof-racers, Dick Shattock held a comfortable lead in the sports-car category in his Jaguar-engined R.G.S. Atalanta, until Page’s H.W.M. with 5.4-litre V8 Cadillac engine took it from him a lap from the finish. However, in his exuberance Page damaged his back axle after leaving the road and Shattock ran in to win a well-driven race from Goodhew’s game old Darracq and Deeley’s Austin-Healey. Buckley’s Bristol 403, much fancied for the saloon-car race, retired with a cracked brake drum.
500-C.C. Race (17 Laps)
Stirling Moss ran right away from the field from the start and, displaying his brilliant virtuosity, pulled out an ever-increasing lead in the Cooper-Norton. J. Russell, who has been known to provide some opposition to Moss, started from the back row of the grid due to having failed to practise because his Cooper-Norton had clutch trouble. He drove a fine race, but never got amongst the place-men, and the real interest lay in the battle for second place and the subsidiary battle between Parker and Leston which was to decide the 500-c.c. Championship.
Parker held second place from his rival on laps two and three, then both Bicknell in the Revis and Leston passed him. On lap five Bicknell took Leston and one round later Bueb got by Parker.
This order held until the 11th lap, when Bueb moved up ahead of Leston. These four — Bicknell, Bueb, Leston and Parker — were in a close bunch, none giving an inch, but Bicknell damaged the off side of his car and paid a brief visit to his pit on lap 12, after which he never regained his opening form. Parker now began to pull out the stops, getting the Kieft past Bueb and Leston on successive laps, but the battle still raged furiously, so that the order — Parker, Leston, Bueb, at the end of lap 15 — changed to Bueb, Leston, Parker on lap 16, and that is how they finished, with only some three seconds between the three, and Russell, who tied with Moss for fastest lap, coming up fast. But as all this duelling terminated with the chequered flag Moss had been comfortably home for over a quarter of a minute. His negotiation of the fast S-bend at Milling Crossing was an object lesson in making a small motor car do as it was told — Stirling never relaxed the power for an instant, whereas Bicknell cut-out momentarily and even Russell arched his throttle-foot ever so slightly.
The Aintree “Daily Telegraphy” Trophy Race — F. 1 (17 Laps)
This race, major event of the meeting, lacked Wharton in the Owen Maserati, which had been internally-ruptured in a big way while practising for Goodwood a week-end earlier, the Turner, Chase’s Cooper-Alta, Young’s Connaught and Whiteaway’s H.W.M., but the field was still a good one, of 19 cars.
Moss and Mantovani had the latest Maseratis, Rosier his new car of this make, Parnell his “Reg” Ferrari, Hawthorn the 2 ½-litre Vanwall Special which had gone so well at Goodwood. Salvadori the repaired Gilby Eng. Maserati, Harry Schell his 1953/4 Maserati, Behra and Pilette were driving five-speed Gordinis, and there was a strong supporting cast of Connaughts, Cooper-Bristols and the fuel-injection Emeryson.
Moss immediately took the lead, followed by Hawthorn and Behra. Mantovani was in fourth place at the end of the first lap, followed by Schell, who was pressing on hard in his blue and white. Maserati.
This order held for nine laps, Hawthorn never able quite to close up on Moss, but Schell hard on the tail of Mantovani, so that places were swapped between these two on lap 10. One lap later Schell passed Behra and went in pursuit of the Vanwall Special. Three laps from the finish the American, hunched over his steering wheel, passed Hawthorn, and on the same lap Behra stopped on Sefton Straight with clutch failure, making the order of the leaders, Moss, comfortably out in front, Schell, Hawthorn, Mantovani, Pilette and Rosier.
Hawthorn did not allow this order to stand, taking second place from Schell on the final lap — again a race which showed up the splendid style and skill of Moss but was interesting on account of the battle for second place.
The remainder of the field tagged along behind, that is, those which had not run into trouble, some of the English racers clearly being now rather sorry for themselves and not up to running a 51-mile race. The Ecurie Ecosse Connaught had severe fuel starvation and spent most of the race in its pit, Hall in the Border Reivers Cooper-Bristol lost oil pressure due to a sticking oil relief valve and retired with loss of water, the Emeryson was losing oil, Boulton’s Connaught, after a bad start, retired with erratic ignition, Whitehouse’s Connaught broke an oil pipe, and Parnell appeared to have gearbox trouble and retired — a sorry story.
Sports-Car Race (17 Laps)
This was sub-divided into 1 ½-litre, 1 ½-2-litre and over 2 ½-litre categories, but as all ran together a most interesting race resulted, with a total field of 25 mixed, road-equipped cars.
The American newcomer to British racing, Masten Gregory, held the lead from lap two onwards in his blue and white 4 ½-litre V12 Ferrari, the 22-year-old family man showing sensible restraint in the handling of this fierce machine, relying on its superior acceleration and speed to keep ahead of Collins in a works DB3 Aston Martin.
Collins tried very hard but never quite got to grips, although he left his team-mate Parnell well behind, both these drivers spinning their inside back wheels until the tyres smoked leaving the corners.
Peter Walker’s Ecurie Ecosse XK120C Jaguar occupied a steady third place, followed for seven laps by Peter Whitehead’s compact Cooper-Jaguar, which thereafter fell back, displaced by Roy Salvadori in Graham Whitehead’s DB3 Aston Martin. Behind, and in sixth place as Whitehead fell back, was Scott-Brown, leading the 1 ½-2 ½-litre section in the Lister-Bristol, with Tony Crook in the Cooper-Bristol looking up his exhaust pipe.
On lap 13 Crook got by and then went in pursuit of Salvadori, getting right up to the bigger Aston Martin but just not having the extra ½ m.p.h. to draw away. This exciting duel was watched by Wharton, at a discreet distance in third place in this category, at the wheel of the works de Dion Frazer-Nash with a new cowled radiator. Quite as absorbing a battle was being waged in the 1 ½-litre class, for Ken McAlpine in his Connaught was having an almighty tussle with Colin Chapman in the Lotus-Nuffield, which was going splendidly after catching fire on the warming-up lap. Chapman may have been misled by incorrect pit-signals early in the race but towards the end must have been aware of the Connaught challenge, notwithstanding which McAlpine passed the Lotus three laps from the end, to a close finish-to the downfall of those who report races from the bars, for the official result gave No. 38 as second in error for No. 35.
Alan Brown suffered from a slipping clutch on the Coombs Lotus-Connaught, Rogers’ Cooper-Bristol broke its fan-belt, McMillan’s Cooper-Bristol blew its gasket, Brooks’ Frazer-Nash lost its clutch-linkage, Baxter’s XK 120C Jaguar was very slow, and Cliff Davis found the Gilby Eng. Maserati too-fast-for-temporary-owner, spinning off at County Corner on one lap, while Riseley-Pritchard was getting the feel of the H.W.M.-Jaguar and Peter Reece ‘s 1 ½-litre Osca and Horridge’s Jehu-Riley were outclassed. An interesting race!
Formule Libre Race (17 Laps)
This consisted of those cars which had survived the Formula 1 race, with the addition of Wharton and Flockhart in the short-chassis Mk. II B.R.M.s, running with long exhaust pipes, and Peter Collins in the Thinwall Ferrari Special.
Hawthorn again drove the Vanwall Special. There was some doubt as to whether the Thinwall Ferrari would last the distance and, sure enough, after keeping in front of Moss’ Maserati for five laps, Peter Collins lost some of the twelve cylinders and fell back, to retire after nine laps.
Moss led from then on. He had been second previous to this, with Schell in third place, followed by the B.R.M.s and the Vanwall.
Wharton had been in trouble again with the Girling disc brakes during practice and on the opening lap he had gone wide at Cottage Corner, while Collins had pushed Flockhart out at the same place. Both B.R.M.s then went in pursuit of Schell and Wharton passed the blue and white Maserati to take third place on lap three. On the next lap the back brakes locked on, and refused to unstick, as Wharton came into County Corner. The B.R.M. spun and Schell ran into it, both cars sliding onto the grass on the outside of this left-hand corner. The Maserati burst its off-side front tyre and broke a steering connection, forcing Schell to walk in. By adopting trials tactics Wharton recovered from his Girling-gyration and drove to the pits with the exhaust pipes on the near side stove in, to “interview” the brake company’s representative!
This removed much of the excitement from the race. Moss continued to drive in his impeccable style, followed by his teammate Mantovani and, after Collins had retired, by Flockhart, who was bringing the other B.R.M. along gently in third place.
Much was expected of the Vanwall Special, which had easily vanquished the Gordinis in the Formula 1 race and shows extreme promise of effectively “wearing the green.” Alas, on this occasion Hawthorn spun off when chasing Mantovani and the oil-cooler became filled with earth, which caused the oil temperature to soar, the oil pressure to drop, and Hawthorn to retire after six laps. Moss pulled out real speed along Railway Straight (here Wharton had got up to nearly 160 m.p.h.) and was well ahead of his Italian team-mate. Flockhart held an unchallenged third place, while Pilotte’s Gordini was fourth and Salvadori’s rather sick Maserati fifth, just ahead of Beauman, who was pressing on very nicely in Sir Jeremy Boles’ Connaught. Gerard followed, then Rosier, and Lawrence was driving well in the Ecurie Ecosse Cooper-Bristol.
Graham Whitehead’s E.R.A. had differential trouble, Riseley-Pritchard’s Connaught broke its transmission, and Boulton’s Connaught and Edwards’ E.R.A. were both delayed while plugs were changed.
Moss set a lap record for the clockwise lap of 89.55 m.p.h.