Gerard Beats Rolt in Formule Libre Race
The British Racing and Sports Car Club, in conjunction with the B.R.D.C., put on a good day’s racing at Silverstone over a new 2 ½-mile circuit on September 17th to entertain those not at the T.T. This club believes in brighter motor-racing, having introduced the Boxing Day Races at Brands Hatch, with a roast ox and Stirling Moss dressed as Father Christmas; on September 17th it held the first Junior Grand Prix for children in Austin pedal-cars, which arrived in a big B.M.C. van labelled AUSTIN JUNIOR GRAND PRIX, which is about as close to Grand Prix racing as Austin is likely to get. Eight-year-old E. French won at the unbelievable speed of 16.61 m.p.h. over 250 yards. The officials were to have indulged in an egg-and-spoon contest, but declined. The big race was the 100-Mile Commander Yorke Trophy for F. III cars; J. Westcott’s Cooper-Norton gained an unexpected win when Boshier-Jones had half-shaft trouble after leading for most of the way; the latter driver managed to finish and was placed second on the disqualification of naughty George Wicken. Gerard’s old Cooper-Bristol thrashed Rolt in a nearly-new G.P. Connaught in the Formula Libre race.
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Heat 1 of the F. III race saw Boshier-Jones lead all the way in his splendidly-handled, Newton-lubricated Cooper-Norton, from Wicken, who caught Tyrell’s Cooper about half-way. Raby’s Cooper had no bother winning the next heat, in which Burgoyne’s interesting four-cylinder Kieft-Turner circulated noisily and slowly. The 10-lap Second Final saw Harrison’s Cooper-Norton displace Eccles’ Staride from the lead after three laps. The Final looked a convincing victory for Boshier-Jones, who led after four laps until lap 35, when half-shaft trouble allowed Westcott to take the lead. Two laps later, on 38 out of the 40 laps, Wicken also passed Boshier-Jones in his Cooper and thus they finished. However, Raby claimed that he had been pushed out 300 yards from a corner by Wicken on lap three when in the lead, causing him to hit a marshal, who was removed to hospital with leg injuries. Raby entered a protest, which was upheld, Wicken being excluded from the results, which became Westcott, Boshier-Jones, Howlett, all in Cooper-Nortons. (We expect to hear at any minute of a duel in the dewy dawn between Wicken and Raby, using double-barrell J.A.P.s, with the marshal as referee!)
Naturally, many retired before the finish of this, the longest 500-c.c. race. Retirements included P. Luke (Cooper), R. Spreckley (Cooper), P. Robinson (Cooper), M. Thomas (Mackson), C. Lones, whose Tiger Kitten seized-up, F. Mays (G.M.), D. Melhuish (Iota), R. Porah (Cooper) and, of course, Raby (Cooper). Higham broke a universal joint but managed to continue in his Cooper, the R.G.R. ran out of fuel, Tyrrell lost time removing bits of broken half-shaft from his Cooper — it was rumoured that in all eight cars slaughtered half-shafts — and L. Lewis-Evans had a long stop by Woodcote while a leaking petrol union was secured, only to stop later with the carburetter partially adrift-but like others he pushed his car over the line to be placed. W. Howard (Cooper) was fourth, S. Bloor (Cooper) fifth and L. Taylor (Cooper) sixth.
Apart from the 500s, the other races were good, taking one’s mind off the smell of silage which now abounds at Silverstone.
The Epsom Downs Bowl Race for 2-litre and unlimited sports cars saw Duncan Hamilton walk it in his D-type Jaguar, enjoying power slides out of Woodcote, discreetly followed by Head in another Hamilton-entered D-type. Jack Sears, forsaking 1914 Sunbeam for his Lister-Bristol, had a grand race to win the 2-litre category, for although McMillan’ s D-type Jaguar finally passed him after 14 of the 20 laps it retired three laps from the finish, while Alan Moore had a fine run in his Lister-Bristol, holding off, amongst others, Barber’s C-type Jaguar, Bradnack’s Cooper-Jaguar and Ogier’s well-driven XK 120 Jaguar. Wild retired his Triumph TR2 after 13 laps with overheating which is what some spectators suffered who saw his negotiation of Woodcote, and on the same lap Gaze’s H.W.M. came to rest, with clutch trouble. Cliff Davis’ Lotus-Bristol got nowhere, stopping first with a broken throttle spring, then with ignition trouble. The race for 1,200-c.c. and 1.500.c.c. sports cars produced a huge field, in which aerodynamic Lotus were driven by Ashdown (Coventry-Climax engine) and Page (Coventry-Climax), non-aerodynamic Lotus by Stacey (Coventry-Climax), Gibbs (Ford Ten, spats covering the back wheels), Lt.-Col. R. White (M.G., a curious extension on its tail, for no apparent purpose; it didn’t even hide a barrel of cider), Harris (Coventry-Climax.), Prior (M.G.) and Digby (1 ½-litre Ford). Amongst all this all-enclosure and aerodynamics only Strickland’s Riley, with cycle-type wings, and Barrow’s B.B.S.-M.G. with long flowing wings, represented sports cars of the real old order.
Leston, who is to be invited to drive in the works Connaught team, led almost from the start in the non-aerodynamic Connaught, chased hard but never quite challenged by Peter Gammon in a Cooper-Climax, with A. E. Marsh a discreet distance away in his new Cooper-Climax. Watling-Greenwood’s Cooper-Climax was farther back but in fourth place, its registration number on its flat tail, and Stacey’s Lotus gave him a good run, being passed by Brandon’s Halseylac only after eight laps of the 20.
Leston snaked round Woodcote on his last lap, winner of a race dominated by 1,100-c.c. cars. Liddell worked hard at the wheel of his Coventry-Climax-engined Buckler-incidentally 14 entrants for this race used these excellent engines-and Harris drove his Lotus on the limit, which involved him in a long ride on the grass at Woodcote on lap seven. Page drove his Lotus with style but had gearbox trouble. Fastest lap was made by Gammon, at 76.01 m.p.h.
Last event on the programme was a 12-lap Formule Libre race. Gerard, who should have been in the T.T., brought out his bored-out Cooper-Bristol and although he found the hairpin and some of the new corners “so and so’s,” he put it across Tony Rolt good and proper, closing right up on the G.P. Connaught under braking after seven laps, staying there for the next circuit, then taking the lead, to win by 5.6 sec., in spite of giving away 315c.c. and goodness knows how many horses to Rolt, whose sun seems to be setting. Richardson gave his usual fearless performance to bring his E.R.A.-engined R.R.A. home third, 5.8 sec. behind Rolt. Leston in the sports Connaught passed Kyffin’s Cooper-Bristol single-seater two laps from the end to finish fourth, and the D-type Jaguars of Duncan Hamilton and Head were some way behind these two, with A. E. Marsh’s Cooper-J.A.P. 1,100 literally hiding under Head’s tail, until by a fine effort he passed going into Woodcote on the last lap, pipping Head to seventh place by 0.2 of a second.
After this there was nearly two hours’ delay while the Stewards heard Raby’s protest and disallowed Wicken’s appeal, before we came home along 72 miles of by-roads at an average speed of 40 m.p.h. and 41 m.p.g. of Cleveland Special alcohol petrol in the VW, including negotiation of an unmarked diversion round Thame, where a fair annually closes the main road for about a week; which should be of interest to those who seek to close public roads for occasional motor-racing! — W. B.
Rally Review, December 1978
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