Ascari (Ferrari) Wins Production-Car Race and Farina (Alfa-Romeo) the International Trophy Race
Moss (Cooper) Upholds British Prestige in 500-c.c. Race, Hotly Chased by Sommer. Splendid Showing by H.W.M.s and E.R.A.s. B.R.M. Fiasco.
A vast crowd saw Italy dominate four of the six races at the B.R.D.C. Daily Express Silverstone Meeting on August 26th. They had expected to see the much-publicised B.R.M. contribute something to British prestige, but this it signally failed to do.
No B.R.M.s practised on Thursday or Friday. On the Thursday evening Raymond Mays made excuses on behalf of the B.R.M. Trust at a Press conference, during which Donald McCullogh, Trust Chairman, made some tactless references to how embarrassed an individual firm would be if their contribution should cause the B.R.M. ro retire from the race and how speedily they would seek to correct things. On the Friday evening the race stewards agreed that if the B.R.M. could do three fast laps before 10 a.m. on race-day, it could stll run.
Trouble with the oil-pump gears had been continually experienced. Another trouble seemed to be that to improve acceleration from slow corners the low-speed boost of the B.R.M. engine had been increased. This gave rise to faulty mixture distribution (fuel-injection, billed last year as ready for adoption, seems to have been abandoned) which caused local overheating, resulting in cracked cyclinder liners, etc. One engine was wrecked in consequence and we believe a rod went on the other as it was started-up on the Friday. The tired mechanics toiled on one engine, fitting new oil-pump gears, etc., for the fifth successive night, while Silver City Airways flew a Bristol “Freighter” to Bourne at dawn on race day. With a hastily rebuilt engine a B.R.M. was flown to Bicester, when its Austin van awaited it. Mays beside himself with anxiety, awaited the car at Silverstone, where it arrived at 9.20 a.m. with police escort – warm congratulations to all concerned. Mays started the car, which was supposed to lap at 80 m.p.h. to qualify, Richardson insisted that hard plugs were necessary and, these fitted, Sommer went out. His speeds were: 78.78, 81.24, 79.99 m.p.h. He said the car slid about a bit, the course being damp. A ball-race in a back hub was found to be faulty, but was changed in time for the car to come late to the line for its heat. The great crowd, which had shown warm appreciation that the B.R.M. was present, waited in awe as Sommer, in blue overalls with a tiny “S.R.” and French flash on the pocket, and blue linen helmet, took his place on the grid. The flag fell, the roar of the V16 engine rose to a war-cry, the clutch came in – and all the British Racing Motor did was to shudder. The reason was given by Designer Berthon as transmission trouble. We saw no more of the B.R.M. The Daily Express has issued a nicely produced 2s. 6d. booklet “B.R.M., Ambassador for Britain, the Story of Britain’s Greatest Racing Car.2 This is surely premature as was the B.B.C. broadcast on the Friday, entitled “British Achievement – The Story of the B.R.M.” Both should have been withdrawn, ebcause, unless drastic steps are taken within the Trust, the B.R.M. story will have to be re-wrtitten as “The Story of Another E-Type.” Our condolences go out to the volunteer supporters of the B.R.M., its hard-worked mechanics, to Sommer, and to Mays
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Practice closed with Farina and Claes making fastest lap, 92.85 m.p.h., the performance of the latter’s unblown Talbot almost too good to believe. Fangio and Whitehead did 91.22, Ascari 90.43 m.p.h. Of the Production cars, Harrison’s Cadillac-Allard clocked 85.24, Ascari (Ferrari all-enveloping 2-litre) 84.55, Rolt abd Walker (Jaguard) 83.19 m.p.h. It was splendid to see Nuvolari go round at 75.91 m.p.h. in a hard-used Jaguar demonstrator, using his gearbox where others trod on their brakes, but on Friday he was said to be ill from methanol fumes – odd, for the Production cars were on petrol – and Whitehead drove for him. The fastest “500” was Moss’ Cooper, now with “double-knocker” Norton engine and megaphone exhaust which, in spite of gear selection bothers, did 83.86 m.p.h., Sommer and Carter 81.88 m.p.h. There were few incidents but Porsser’s Cooper lost a wheel at Abbey
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