Matters of Moment, October 1952

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67

The Demise of the B.R.M.

An attempt has been made in some quarters to glorify the victory of a B.R.M. driven by Parnell in the Scottish Express Formule Libre race at Turnberry last August. After the fearful debacle of these cars at Silverstone and Boreham some boost for the morale of B.R.M. personnel was badly needed, but intelligent spectators must have realised that the Turnberry race did not provide it.

Fifty thousand spectators, most of them hearing the inspiring exhaust-noise of a B.R.M. for the first time, not unnaturally became temporarily carried away and when Parnell netted his hollow victory they surged on to the course to acclaim his success, a few of them getting pressed on to the exhaust pipes and thus unwittingly experiencing a little of the discomfort which Parnell and Walker suffered in these cars at Silverstone earlier this year.

Let us debunk any idea that Turnberry was the turning point in B.R.M. fortunes. Mike Hawthorn in the Ferrari Thinwall was experiencing serious gearbox trouble, but before his retirement lapped in 1 min. 16 sec. (83.6 m.p.h.), whereas the best B.R.M. time was 1 min. 17.6 sec. This was slower than Hawthorn’s best Formula II lap in the Cooper-Bristol! In this race of 35 miles Wharton’s B.R.M. fell out after less than 12½ miles with a recurrence of steering trouble, while Parnell’s finished with a broken gear lever and suffering from noticeable fuel starvation. Its speed was 79.5 m.p.h. and Gaze’s pre-war 2.9 Maserati was always about 300 yards behind the B.R.M. in spite of possessing very tired brakes. There was, in fact, no modern opposition at all to trouble this sick B.R.M. of Parnell’s.

We must express surprise at reading a rather feeble article by Parnell in the Sunday Express some time ago, expressing satisfaction about the B.R.M. and of finding him back in the cockpit of one of these cars, in view of the harsh, but justifiable, remarks Reg made in a speech and to the Press about the Bourne project earlier this season.

It is not surprising that the B.R.M. Trust has at last thrown-in the sponge and has offered the B.R.M. concern for sale. This offer is open only to Englishmen and with the proviso that the name British Racing Motors will no longer be used in connection with these cars. Meanwhile, the B.R.M. is entered for Goodwood on September 27th and for Crimmond on October 11th so, metaphorically, they end this season hung with “For Sale ” placards. Raymond Mays’ idea was an excellent one, but his ability to put it into practice was, like the cars which he fathered, not so hot.

— And of the T.T.

If the above-discussed hollow victory of a B.R.M. is no cause for rejoicing, the fact that the Ulster T.T. race, scheduled for September 13th, was abandoned is a matter for deep regret.

The reason given is lack of sufficient International entries. But we feel that the manner in which the R.A.C. handed over the organisation of this historic race to the Ulster A.C., as earlier it handed over the management of Silverstone and the organising of the British Grand Prix to the B.R.D.C., may have influenced the capable Irish Club, and certainly such matters will not pass unnoticed.

While we deeply regret the cancellation of this year’s T.T., which would no doubt have seen the battle between Jaguar and Aston-Martin rejoined, we are glad to note that the Ulster A.C. hope, with the R.A.C.’s permission, to hold a Coronation T.T. next year.

This year, when the R.A.C., no doubt weighted down with paper-work, calmly told the Irish Club that it would have to raise the finance to cover the race, this was assured by the generosity of Harry Ferguson, the Belfast newspapers, the Northern Ireland Tourist Association and the S.M.M.T. It is a thousand pities their good will and, better, hard cash, were of no avail in saving a race which has been sometimes dull, often exciting, but which is now historic and one of our few important races held over a proper road circuit.

Let those concerned with our greatest sports-car race remember that generous starting money is more important than prize money when announcing the Coronation Tourist Trophy over the fine Dundrod circuit. They might, if the practical difficulties are not too great, appreciate that novelty brings the crowds (alas, not too easily rendered revenue-producing on this particular circuit) and that if the duration of this 1953 T.T. is increased not from three to six hours, as was the intention this year, but to 12 or even 24 hours, public support should increase materially.