Bill Blydenstein’s recent letter certainly knocked the old cobwebs round in my memory regarding the 1961 British Empire Trophy meeting.
It was my first-ever motor-race meeting as a very impecunious apprentice engineer (£2 14s a week!) Six bob to get in, 2/6 for the programme, but what a superb collection of racers and cars.
Bill was dead right, the morning was pretty foul, but the chance to see F Juniors – headed inevitably by Trevor Taylor in the works Lotus 22 – was too good to miss.
Then the saloons in that storm… It was every bit as bad as described and, as Bill writes, the incredible sight of Herbert Linge’s BMW (going at the same speed in the wet as in the dry), not to mention one of the Jaguars – was it Sir Gawaine Baillie or Mike Salmon – miles behind the small fry, and never getting any nearer.
The fact that most of the top names also appeared in the support races just added to the fun, and there were a lot of real and potential champions: Moss, Hill, Brabham, McLaren, Clark, Gurney, Surtees, Ireland, Bonnier, Brooks and so on. Cor!
The only disappointments were the non-starting of the rear-engined Vanwall (the ‘Whale’) and – inevitably – the Scarabs, but this was somewhat compensated by the 4WD Ferguson, which was then promptly downgraded to 1.5 litres for the British Grand Prix at Aintree a couple of weeks later.
After that, you couldn’t keep me away!
I am, Yours etc,
David Walker, Coventry