The majority of British race-goers are enthusiastic followers of all forms of motor racing. Others, whilst appreciative of everything that goes round a circuit, have a preference for either International events or Club racing. Advocates of the latter were given powerful arguments in favour of their likes at Silverstone on October and, when the B.R.D.C. held their 4th annual Clubmen’s Championship Meeting. Perhaps that title is something of a misnomer, for there was no race for cars of the Clubman’s Formula, but the programme was nevertheless a mixed bag and was sufficiently, subscribed to hold interests captive in every lap of every race. It is not often that a Club meeting gets the benefit of a full Grand Prix circuit, but this is what happened on this occasion (it happened also at Brands Harch the following day), with the resultant flavour and atmosphere of much bigger things.
Most satisfied partnership at the end of the day was Staffordshire Irishman Sid Taylor and his wife Mary, but their satisfaction was somewhat dampened later when a protest put one of Sid’s two firsts in jeopardy. Mary emerged the winner of the Embassy Trophy for the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club, beating her rival contenders by a narrow margin of points.
Trackside conversations were in a distinctly reminiscent vein when cars lined up before the first race for the Jack Emmott Trophy. Sixteen vintage and venerable sports cars made up the field. In pole position was the 1933 3.5-litre Alvis of P. Venables-Llewellyn, with the similar, but slightly younger, car of E. M. H. Cairns alongside him. John Mudd, in his Monza Alfa, was third on the front row, with Bill Fowler’s 1933 1.5-litre Aston on the outside. Mudd stormed into the lead and by the second lap was 200 yards ahead of second man Venables-Llewellyn, who lost his place in the third lap to the 1938 S.S.100 of A. Peters. One lap later the Alvis burst a tyre and Venables-Llewellyn was out, By the fifth lap, Mudd had a commanding lead over the S.S.100, which in turn was well in front of Cairn’s Alvis. These three cars, with Glydon’s 1932 1.5-litre Aston coming up fourth, finished the 7-lap race in that order.
The 750/1172 Formulae race brought its usual splendid variety of lovingly concocted machines to the grid. David Berry had earned pole position but his U2 broke its gearbox in the paddock during the morning and he ranked among the non-starters. Bill Cooper, in a rear-engined 1172 Aquilla (ex-Tan Tolliway), left the front row and went right through the 5-lap race to take a deserving win. Alan Gould, in what he calls a Dingo II, pressed Cooper very hard but took second place despite his efforts. Jim Yardley in Complexity, a car fitted with a dry sump engine mounted on its side, led the smaller engined cars to win his class.
The 10-lap saloon-car race for the Britax Trophy was held in three classes with 1,000 c.c. and 1,300 c.c. as the dividing lines. Mike Young (1,650-c.c. Ford) was to have been in pole position but non-started due to a roll in practice. Roger Swanton (I,294-c.c. Anglia) and Mick Cave (1,293-C.C. Austin A40) were together on the front row, with Alan Peer in the 1,800-c.c. Anglia of East Anglian Racing Cars on the outside. Peer, whose car sounded extremely healthy, led from the start and stayed there to win, but in the first five laps he was being closely followed by ” Doc.” Merfield in his V8 Cortina. The 4.7-litre engine of the Cortina began to miss badly and on his seventh lap Merfield retired at Hangar Straight. The 1,293-c.c. Austin-Cooper of Simon Saye also gave trouble in the engine compartment and he retired at Woodcote at the end of his fourth lap with smoke belching from his bonnet. Leaving Copse on his fourth lap, Tom Fletcher’s 1,594-c.c. Ford slid off, came back again, touched John Lewis’ 1275 S and promptly rolled, with no ill effects to Fletcher. Lewis went, on, his car still bearing the battle scars of unavoidable excursions at Brands Hatch and Oulton Park and his open boot lid being scorched by its proximity to the exhaust outlet. Lewis finished fourth overall, passing Phil de Banks’ 1,594-c.c. t.c. Ford one lap from the end, his exuberant and extremely polished cornering at Woodcote delighting everyone. Meanwhile, Swanton and Cave were duelling for the lead in their class and the second overall position. They changed places several times but it was Swanton who finally crossed the line ahead of Cave’s A40.
In the Formula Three race for the Gordon Glenn Trophy, Piers Courage added to his list of victories by getting well ahead in the early stages and staying there throughout the ten laps in his Charles Lucas-entered -Brabham. Mike Costin, the Cos half of Cosworth, also had rather a lonely ride in his Brabham in second place. Third place was at a premium with the Brabhams of Jonathan Williams and Harry Stiller very closely bunched with the Lotuses of Peter Gethin, Morris Nunn and Melvyn Long. These five continually changed station but it was Williams who finally made third place, with Stiller and the other three behind.
The Paddy Hopkirk Trophy race for sports cars, in classes of up to, and over, 1,600 c.c., saw Sid Taylor’s Climax-engined BT8 in pole position, but it was Max Wilson in the ex-Hugh Dibley Brabham who took the lead in the first lap. On a wet track caused by a sudden shower before the race, Taylor gradually closed up on Wilson and ” took him ” on the last lap after a thrilling race. Meanwhile, a similar battle for third place resolved itself in a like manner. Robin Widdows (1,001-c.c. Lotus-B.R.M.) led Peter Sadler in the ex-J. C. B. modified Lotus 30, but Sadler got by in the last lap to take third place.
Chris Meek (1,598-c.c. Ginetta) took the honours in the Grand Touring Car race after being continually harried by Johnny Blades in a similar car. Blades spun at Beckett’s on the eighth lap, touched the tail of Meek’s car, and let Jeff Edmonds’ 1,594-c.c. Lotus through into second place as a result.
The W. D. & H. O. Wills Trophy was won on the road by Sid Taylor in what the programme described as a race for Historic and Modern Racing Cars, Formule Libre. Peter Sadler’s Lotus 30 was similarly second. At the end of the day a protest against the eligibility of the 2-seater sports/racers was firstly rejected on the grounds that it did not materialise within the requisite time after scrutineering. But an hour later the stewards announced that they were reconsidering the matter and we were left with an unconfirmed result. Times, and not placings, are therefore given in the results of this race below. First historic car home was the beautiful 25OF Maserati of Nobby Spero, being driven by his son John in his first year with the car. Chris Summers (5,360-c.c. Lotus) started well from pole position but coasted into the pits after two laps, still in the lead, with a broken shaft in the gearbox.
The last race, for the Newton Oil Trophy, was for the big GT cars and resulted in yet another win for Ron Fry in his 250LM. Another Ferrari on the grid was the front-engined I,h.d. car a Vitafom. This was to have been driven by Harry Ratcliffe but was sportingly given to Gabrielle Konig so that she-could battle for vital points for the Embassy Trophy. Her final total was nor quite enough. The third Ferrari was in the hands of Peter Clarke having his first drive in a rear-engined car from Modena. Not far behind Fry at the end of the 10-lap race was the ex-Coombes lightweight Etype of Brian Redman, fitted with fuel injection. Three such cars appeared in the race. Alan House (Morgan), who had been scrapping throughout the race with Lionel Mayman’s ex-B.M.C. Rally Team Austin Healey 3000, tried desperately, but vainly, whilst rounding Woodcote on the last lap to pass the big Healey on the outside. He took to the grass, came back on again to cross the line, only to crash into the banking at the far end of the pit grandstand just ‘before the footbridge. House was thrown out and at first appeared to be seriously injured. Happily, after a few days in hospital, he was allowed borne with all bones intact.
Despite the slightly damp blanket which was lowered on enthusiasm as a result of the Formule Libre exchange, everyone left Silverstone well satisfied with a good day’s racing. A very engaging little ceremony took place outside race control when Mrs. Mary Taylor received the Embassy Trophy, her charming rivals gathered around her.—G. P.