The Daily Telegraph rather foolishly used the first appearance of the B.R.M. 2,500-c.c. Grand Prix car in the hope of drawing a large crowd to Aintree. So when the early morning news reported the forcible retirement of the B.R.M. many stayed away from what proved an interesting day’s racing. Practice times showed nothing outstanding, the fastest time going to Moss in his own Maserati. The B.R.M. covered it laps in practice when the scavenge pump packed up and oil breathed out over the rear tyres, causing Collins to leave the road and bend this diminutive Formula 1 contender.
Saturday was a dry, cloudy day and the very small crowd had no difficulty seeing the racing; in fact there seemed to be more police and officials than members of the public.
Event 1 was for sports cars up to 1,500 c.c., with an award for 1,300-c,c. class winners. On the front of the grid were Naylor (Lotus-Connaught), J. Russell (Cooper-Climax) and Chapman (Lotus-M.G.). As the flag fell Chapman shot into the lead, behind him came Leston (Connaught), who had shot through from the third row of the grid. At the end of lap one Chapman’s Lotus-M.G. was leading and each of the succeeding laps enlarged this lead over the second and third cars, which were fighting for the second position. By lap two Brooks’ Connaught had managed to overtake Leston’s Connaught, and for the next three places Salvadori and Russell (Cooper-Climax) and B. Naylor (Lotus-Connaught) were still sorting each other out.. On the eighth lap Leston scrabbled past Brooks into second place, while Salvadori was leading Russell round for fourth and fifth places. For the next four laps Leston’s Connaught held second place, pressed closely by Brooks, who was watching for a chance to overtake. The opportunity occurred on lap 12 and Brooks swept past at the end of Railway Straight. Two laps later Leston also passed at the end of Railway Straight, and these positions looked as though they would remain until the end, but by a skilful piece of driving and anticipation Brooks slipped past Leston on the last corner before the finish (Tatts) and was second by a very small margin. Fourth and fifth were Salvadori and J. Russell in their Cooper-Climaxes. Chapman’s winning speed was 77.96 m.p.h. He also set up a new class record at 79.13 m.p.h.
The next event was the 500-c.c. scratch race. In the front row were J. Russell, D. Boshier-Jones, C. Allison and Cohn Davis, all driving Cooper-Nortons. As the flag dropped the front row roared off to a good start with Boshier-Jones leading for the first two laps. Don Parker in his very well-known Kieft failed to start his engine before. the flag dropped but he got away as the field reached the first corner. As the race settled down the four cars from the front of the grid drew away from the rest of the field and scrapped among themselves for first place. The lead was eventually taken by Russell, who won by 11 seconds from Boshier-Jones. Colin Davis had the misfortune to lose a wheel, putting him out of the race. Don Parker, who had such a bad start, was busy making up time and finished fifth after carving right through the rearguard, who for a long time were contesting for such positions as 15th and 16th. Thc race was exciting without being spectacular although a new 500.-c.c. lap record was set up by Russell at 30.36 m.p.h.
After a very adequate lunch break came the Daily Telegraph Trophy Race for cars up to 2½ litres. The favourite was undoubtedly Moss, driving his own Maserati, which seemed strange after seeing the large number of drivers who had crashed it round the various circuits this year. The front of the grid was dominated by Maseratis, which were the three fastest in practice. Moss with his own car, Salvadori with the Gilby Engineering Maserati, and A. Gould with an early works Maserati he had borrowed whilst the ex-Bira car was being repaired after throwing a rod at Snetterton. Behind these front three were Gerard (Cooper-Bristol) and Parnell (Connaught). There should also have been the B.R.M. but, alas, it was having teething troubles.
The start brought a surprise which brightened up the whole race. Parnell in the works Connaught went into the lead from Moss, Salvadori and Gould, and try as Stirling might he could not catch Parnell. On the first lap J. Somervail in the Border Reivers Cooper-Bristol ran off the road at Melling Crossing and damaged the ambulance parked on the grass. By the 13th lap the positions were the same, Parnell, Moss, Salvadori, and Gould, and then the pace told. Smoke began to appear from Moss’ engine and he retired with a broken piston. Then with the race a certain win for Connaught Parnell pulled into his pit and had to push the car over the line to gain sixth place, one lap behind. Salvadori came in very slowly and was most surprised to find himself the winner instead of third. In second position was Gerard, who passed Gould’s Maserati on the ninth lap.
The unlimited sports-car race was a walk-over for the Ecurie Ecosse D-type Jaguars, whose only challenge came from the DN3S driven by Salvadori. Harry Schell in a Monza 3-litre Ferrari should, on paper, have been up amongst the leaders but he could not keep up and finished fourth. Titterington led to start with but about halfway he dropped to second place, leaving team-mate Sanderson to lead until the end. The Marquis de Portago, in a similar Ferrari to Schell, was doing very well until a tyre burst on Waterway Corner and he retired with a dented car.
To round off the day came the Formule Libre race. As often happens this race suffered from retirements due to mechanical faults incurred during the Formula 1 race.
The B.R.M. (the old 1½-litre supercharged one) seemed a certain winner unless Salvadori could catch it at the corners. On the opening lap Collins went straight into the lead, closely followed by Salvadori and Gerard, but misfortune struck at the Gilby Maserati and it spun at Melling Crossing and was push-started last. Gerard in his old Cooper-Bristol tried gamely to hang on to the B.R.M. but could not and eventually retired with a broken valve.
Despite the spin Salvadori managed to pull back into second place. but the B.R.M. was now too far away to attempt to catch, and he came in at the end of 17 laps in second position.
And so came to an end a very interesting day’s racing, which was watched by a very small crowd. — M. P.