At the drivers’ briefing before the start of the Six-Hour Race B.R.S.C.C. Secretary Nick Syrett cast a doleful eye towards the empty car parks and said to the assembled drivers : “Enjoy yourselves boys and girls because it looks like the first and last time you’ll have the chance.” This may have been unduly pessimistic as the crowd did fill out during the day, but the final figures could have done little to convince the B.R.S.C.C. that long-distance racing is wanted by the British public.
As the race catered for Appendix J, Group 2, cars the field was dominated by those cars which have been contesting saloon car races all over Britain this season, with a sprinkling of Continental invaders plus one American car. The Continental cars included two works Lancia Flaminia coupes, three 220SE Mercedes-Benz, two of which withdrew because they were in need of a great deal of mechanical work after a hard rally season, a Swiss-entered Volvo PV544, an Alfa Romeo Giulietta TI, also from Switzerland, a VW from Germany which withdrew after lapping 7 sec. a lap slower than the M.G. 1100 in its class, Gunnar Karlsson’s extremely noisy Saab 96, and two B.M.W. 700s, one very quick one from Herbert Linge and a team of lady drivers from Luxembourg. Due to withdrawals the Equipe National Belge 122S Volvo came on to the starting grid but mercifully the Simca 1000 was too low down the reserve list to qualify. Although officially only one British works car was entered, a Rapier for Harper/Procter, the competition departments of Ford, B.M.C., Rootes, Jaguar and Standard/Triumph were all represented, and in some cases the competition managers were taking a hand in race tactics.
Naturally, barring accidents, a Jaguar win was inevitable and as the flag dropped at noon on a misty Saturday morning Mike Parkes in the Equipe Endeavour 3.8 stormed off into the lead from five other 3.8s, while the rest of the field sorted itself out down Paddock Hill. After a few laps’ dicing most drivers settled down to steady pre-determined lap times, with Parkes leading from Mike Salmon, with three other Jaguars, Bruce Johnstone’s Ford Zodiac, the two Lancias and Jeff Uren’s Zodiac being next in line. The Triumph Vitesse, driven rather gingerly by John Sprinzel, came into the pits after only a few minutes with punctured carburetter floats and left after a longish stop. After an hour Parkes still led from the rest of the Jaguars while Peter Harper’s Rapier was sixth overall behind the Jaguars and just about holding off Dennis Hulme’s Mini-Cooper which was leading the Zodiacs and Flaminias. Shepherd-Barron’s Chevrolet Corvair looked unstable when cornering and he eventually spun at Clearways, while Peter Procter also spun in the Rapier he took over from Harper. Most of the cars stopped during the second hour and placings fluctuated wildly according to the duration of pit stops. However, Parkes made a quick stop, keeping at the wheel, and building up a lead of over a lap after two hours. The Lancias were looking remarkably stable on the corners although slower than the Zodiacs, but this was paying off in reduced tyre wear, and at two hours Frescobaldi was leading the 3-litre class while the Foster/Hedges M.G. 1100 was leading the 1,300-c.c. class from the Alfa and Miss Taylor’s Ford Super Anglia. Ackerman’s 122S Volvo lost a wheel at Druid’s and rolled spectacularly while the Hopkirk/Hutcheson Riley 1.5 and the Halford/Pierpoint 3.8 Jaguar had already lost wheels.
Parkes handed over to Jimmy Blumer after a near 3-hour spell, but a very long stop dropped the car behind the Salmon/Sutcliffe car. Shepherd-Barron had by now retired the Corvair with a broken rear hub and Christabel Carlisle had stopped at the pits to change a punctured tyre in her Mini-Cooper. During the next hour two more cars had wheel trouble, Linge’s quick B.M.W. which had been third to the Mini-Coopers in the 1,000-c.c. class losing a front wheel at Druid’s and Sprinzel’s Triumph Vitesse was down to its last two studs on a rear wheel and wisely retired, while Pauline Mayman had experienced a loud bang from the engine of her Mini-Cooper at Paddock, and retired with a suspected broken crankshaft.
Another spate of lost wheels occurred between 4 and 5 p.m. First the Heylen/Culf-Miller Rapier lost a wheel and rolled at South Bank Bend while the Byrne/McLaren Mercedes spun at Paddock and was contacted lightly by Aley’s Mini-Cooper; both continued. Next to lose a wheel was Mike Costin, who rolled into the ditch at Clearways when his Super Anglia lost a rear wheel. The Dodd/Fowler Jaguar lost a wheel at South Bank Bend but came to rest against the bank without overturning.
Jimmy Blumer gradually overhauled the Salmon/Sutcliffe car and the two cars drew into the pits together at around 5 p.m., but the Salmon/Sutcliffe car had collapsed front wheel bearings and could go no further, presenting the race to Parkes, who went out to complete the last hour. The consistent Germans, old hands at long-distance saloon-car racing, were now in second place in their 3.8, while the Aley/Hulme Mini-Cooper had proved to be more reliable as well as quicker than a lot of bigger cars and was in third place, ahead of the quick Don Moore-tuned Mini-Cooper of Belgians Vernaeve and Harris. However, Harris did it all wrong at Paddock with only a few minutes to go and roiled spectacularly. This let the Harper/Procter works Rapier into fourth place ahead of the Frescobaldi/Fiorio Lancia and Christabel Carlisle/Peter Galliford (Mini-Cooper). Bruce Halford took out his Jaguar with only overdrive top gear left to try to cover a lap within five minutes to qualify the Jaguar team for the Team Prize.
At 6 p.m., in gathering darkness, the flag fell and the Parkes/Blumer Jaguar was flagged in the winner from Lindner/Nocker and the fleet Aley/Hulme Mini-Cooper.
The anti-climax came when the winning car was stripped down after the race for verification and was found to have non-standard front hub carriers. At a meeting of the stewards some 10 days after the race it was decided that the provisional results would stand, leaving Parkes and Blumer as the winners.—M. L. T.
1st : Jaguar 3.8 (Parkes/Blumer) 171 laps 75.37 m.p.h.
2nd : Jaguar 3.8 (Lindner/Nocker) 167 laps 73.63 m.p.h.
3rd : Austin-Cooper (Aley/Hulme) 164 laps 72.00 m.p.h.
4th : Sunbeam Rapier (Harper/Proctor) 162 laps 71.36 m.p.h.
5th : Lancia Flaminia (Frescobaldi/Fiorio) 161 laps 71.05 m.p.h.
6th : Morris-Cooper (Miss Carlise/Galliford) 161 laps 71.04 m.p.h.
7th ; Sunbeam Rapier (Jopp/Pilsworth) 161 laps 70.75 m.p.h.
8th : Ford Zodiac (Uren/Haynes) 159 laps 70.06 m.p.h.
9th : Morris-Cooper (Sir J. Whitmore/Blydenstein) 159 laps 69.91 m.p.h.
10th : Vauxhall VX 4/90 (Aston/Addicott) 159 laps 69.79 m.p.h.
It’s nice to see that 1,000 examples of the M.G. 1100, Triumph Vitesse and Ford Super Anglia have been produced. All the more mysterious why the manufacturers of the M.G. and Triumph have been unable to find one car for the Press to road test.
Seven cars lost wheels, A Jaguar, a Triumph Vitesse, a Sunbeam Rapier, a Riley 1.5, a B.M.W. 700, a Ford Super Anglia and a Volvo 122S. Several others had wheel bearing trouble.