The Castle Combe National Race Meeting
Bob Gerard's Cooper-Bristol Beats Flockhart (B.R.M.) at Pleasant Meeting on August 28th. Two Class Records Fall.
At the risk of being accused of repetition, I will say that the Bristol M.C. & L.C.C. race meetings at Castle Combe circuit, adjacent to the picturesque Wiltshire village of Castle Combe, near Chippenham, are run effectively, yet with a minimum of "red tape." So it was on August 28th. The racing was good, the commentary sensible, the entries of good quality, the races run-off with commendable continuity, and even the weather was on its best behaviour. The F.III and 1 ½-litre sports-car lap records were broken during the meeting, new star J. Russell improving on Stirling Moss' F.III speed by no less than 1.82 m.p.h., leaving it at 83.01 m.p.h., with his smart Cooper-Norton, while Colin Chapman's tail-finned Lotus-M.G. put 3.25 m.p.h. on Gammon's old Lotus lap record, the new figure being 81.18 m.p.h.
B.R.M. entered Ron Flockhart for the 27.6-mile Formule Libre race in a Mark II car, but he was convincingly beaten by irrepressible Bob Gerard, who has never driven better and who, although his Cooper-Bristol won by only 2/5 of a second due to the B.R.M.'s acceleration up the straight, was more than a match for Mr. Owen's vehicle under braking and through the corners. We were disappointed not to see Mr. Vandervell's Thinwall Special Ferrari competing-his mechanics were too busy preparing the Vanwall Special for Monza — but Gerard, in his comparatively mild, unblown 2-litre car, in which he experienced a narrow escape in the F.1 race when the steering failed, cheerfully took on the Bourne projectile and carried the day.
A very well-staged demonstration by the three green Le Mans Bristol coupes took place during the afternoon, but Raymond Maya failed to give his scheduled demonstration run prior to the E.R.A. Anniversary Trophy Race, which was a farce, with but two contestants. A club meeting will be held at Castle Combe on October 2nd; West Country enthusiasts are advised not to miss it. And, for "foreigners," the run down A4 from London is very enjoyable and in direct contrast to traffic-infested A30. — W. B.
10-Lap Scratch Race. 500-c.c. Racing Cars.
Don Parker was back in winning form, leading from lap two onwards in his Kieft-Norton. Russell chased hard, but his Cooper went momentarily into the rough at Old Paddock Bend on lap five and vanished completely on lap seven, but not before establishing a new class lap record of 83.01 m.p.h. Fenning's Staride had a warm duel with Leston's Cooper, just beating the latter into second place, Gerard a steady fourth. D. Taylor's Staride lost a back wheel at Old Paddock Bend when the hub brazing gave way, the car spinning to a standstill and the wheel hitting a spectator's Morris and pushing the driver's door onto the steering column.
1st D. Parker (Kieft-Norton) ... 13 min. 54.6 sec. ... 79.32 m.p.h.
2nd: E. Fenning (Staride) … 14 min. 6.6 sec.
3rd: L. Leston (Cooper) … 14 min. 7.0 sec.
New Class lap record: J. Russell (Cooper-Norton) 83.01 m.p.h.
10-Lap Scratch Race. Sports Cars, Unlimited.
This developed into a fight between Salvadori in the Maserati and Scott-Brown in the very effective Lister-Bristol. Salvadori kept ahead, however, although Scott-Brown's driving was outstanding, both lapping the tail-enders after seven laps. Colin Chapman's well-known Lotus circulated in solitary state in third place, followed by Scott-Russell's Manx-tailed Frazer-Nash, which kept ahead of Biss' Bristol-Warrior. Halford had "moments" in a T.T. Riley Sprite.
1st R. Salvadori (Maserati) ... 13 min. 40.6 sec. ... 80.72 m.p.h.
2nd: W. A. Scott-Brown (Lister-Bristol) … 13 min. 41.0 sec.
3rd: C. Chapman (Lotus) … 14 min. 18.0 sec.
Fastest lap: Salvadori and Scott-Brown, 81.98 m.p.h.
Five-Lap Scratch Race. E.R.A. Anniversary Trophy.
This should have contained four E.R.A.s, a Rolls-Bentley, an M.G. Special, Fuzzi and the 8-litre Bentley "Whale," but only Graham Whitehead's E.R.A. and J. Williamson's older E.R.A. were present, so the event was hastily changed from 10 to 5 laps. Whitehead gained 34 sec. on Williamson in that distance, averaging 79.22 m.p.h. and doing the fastest lap at 81.38 m.p.h.
Seven-Lap Scratch Race. 500-c.c. Racing Cars (Juniors)
This race, for the previously unsuccessful, did not provoke too many episodes, although Bradley spun at Quarry Corner in his Staride. Changing up determinedly at Old Paddock Bend each lap, Boshier-Jones (Kieft) won easily.
1st : D. Boshier-Jones (Kieft) ... 10 min. 16.0 sec. ... 75.27 m.p.h.
2nd: T. Bridger (Kieft) ... 10 min. 29.2 sec.
3rd: A. Eccles (Staride) … 10 min. 37.2 sec.
Fastest lap: Boshier-Jones, 76.84 m.p.h.
15-Lap Scratch Race. Formula 1 Racing Cars.
Horace Gould took the lead and his Cooper-Bristol held it until the sixth lap, when Gerard got by. Parnell surprised everyone by spinning at Quarry Corner on his opening lap and then crawling in to retire, the Ferrari belching clouds of smoke; while Salvadori's Maserati was absent, being, in fact, impounded at Dover by the Customs authorities on its way back from Italy, where Gilby Eng. had sent it for repairs after its Oulton Park crash.
Gerard pulled out it safe lead from Gould, but two laps from the end a steering ball joint failed and the green Cooper-Bristol went straight on at Quarry Corner, luckily stopping safely-could this have been the result of Gerard bumping over the concrete as he took Old Paddock Bend rather too wide on lap 10?
Gould was thereafter unchallenged, winning a well-deserved £75, as he won in a 2-litre car and so took the extra prize for this category.
1st: H. Gould (Cooper-Bristol) ... 19 min. 49. sec. … 83.56 m.p.h.
2nd: W. Whitehouse (H.W.M.).
3rd: J. Riseley-Pritchard (Connaught).
Fastest lap: Gerard, 86.93 m.p.h.
Seven-Lap Scratch Race. 500-c.c. Racing Cars.
On the second lap Parker shot by Russell on the inside at Old Paddock Bend to lead for the remainder of the race. It remains a mystery why Russell, who broke the class lap record in the first race, now couldn't catch Parker, although the latter only pulled out an 81.58-m.p.h. fastest lap.
1st: D. Parker (Kieft) ... 9 min. 41.4 sec. ... 79.54 m.p.h.
2nd: J. Russell (Cooper) ... 9 min. 42.2 sec.
3rd: L. Leston (Cooper) … 9 min. 50.4 sec.
Fastest lap: Parker, 81.58 m.p.h.
15-Lap Scratch Race. Formula Libre Racing Cars.
Parnell was unable to compete in this, but Salvadori sportingly ran the sports Maserati and Gerard had been able to have the Cooper-Bristol's steering repaired.
For the first six laps Flockhart (B.R.M.) had quite a decent lead, while Gerard spent his first three laps coping with Gould. After he had passed Gould he set about catching Flockhart, closing right up on the seventh lap.
Flockhart had been cutting-out more than 150 yards from Tower Corner, but Gerard braked much later and on lap eight the little Cooper-Bristol simply shot by on the off side of the H.R.M. going into this corner. Flockhart repassed along Dean Straight, but on lap nine Gerard was right on his tail again through the corner and on the next lap the Cooper-Bristol nearly passed again going into Tower. Lap 11 saw the intrepid Gerard simply fling the Cooper-Bristol through Old Paddock Bend and repeat his passing tactics under braking into Tower Corner. This time the B.R.M. was less quick at picking up and by lap 12 Gerard had quite a good lead and, moreover, maintained it along much of the straight. Clearly, the finish would be exciting and Gerard, almost caught by the superior acceleration of the H.R.M., by better braking and more skilful cornering kept Flockhart behind by 0.4 of a second. He got the rousing ovation he richly deserved, whereas the B.R.M. vanished towards its funereal-hued van.
Had the B.R.M. faltered, or left the course, the "ifs" could crowd in. Nothing of the sort! It was fairly beaten by a smaller, less-powerful car with "old-fashioned" drum brakes, Gerard not even coming to grips until lap seven. Moreover, if the argument is advanced that Flockhart cut-out early because of his higher speed along the straights, this superior speed and acceleration availed him nothing against his cautious cornering, both he and Gerard lapping at the Same speed. Wharton's old lap record was not challenged, being 1.45 m.p.h. faster, and had he been taming the B.R.M. is the only "if'' we can permit.
1st: F. R. Gerard (Cooper-Bristol) ...1 9 min. 10.2 sec. ...869.25 m.p.h.
2nd: R. Flockhard (B.R.M.) ... 19 min. 10.6 sec.
3rd: H. Gould (Cooper-Bristol) … 19 min. 42.2 sec.
Fastest lap:Gerard and Flockhart, 88.32 m.p.h.
Seven-Lap Scratch Race. 1,500-c.c, Sports Cars.
Chapman ran away with this, although in trying to pass an unsuspecting Jauncey (Otter Cup) on the wrong side out of Old Paddock Bend on lap five he left the road and tore part of the Lotus' undershield amidst much fist-waving. Behind, Fiander passed Coombs on the last lap but was repassed and beaten by 0.2 of a second on the run in.
1st: C. Chapman (Lotus) ... 9 min. 53.2 sec. ... 78.25 m.p.h.
2nd: J. Coombs (Lotus) ... 10 min. 26.8 sec.
3rd: J. Fiander (Tojeiro) … 10 min. 27.0 sec.
Fastest lap: Chapman, 81.58 m.p.h.