Collins, Parnell, Whitehead, Russell and Scott-Brown Win at W. Essex C.C. Race Meeting
Although Snetterton circuit in Norfolk is divorced from industrial areas, a very big crowd assembled there on August 14th for the W. Essex C.C.’s first International race meeting at this venue. The International element was confined to Hutchinson and Beels of Holland, Hoffman from Germany, the Belgian Swaelens and the French driver Texidor, all with Cooper 500s. The meeting was run-off efficiently and enthusiastically and produced some interesting racing, Russell, Parnell and Collins demonstrating their complete command, respectively, of the F. III, F. 1 and Formule Libre races, and Peter Whitehead convincingly leading the big sportscar contingent, while Scott-Brown displayed the Lister-Bristol sports car to great effect in the up-to-2-litre sports-car race. The B.R.M., of which only one was entered for the Formule Libre race, soon ran out of stopping-power, so that although Flockhart drove this uncertain car courageously he was easily lapped by Peter Collins in the Thinwall Ferrari and beaten, also, by Nuckey’s Cooper-Alta.
20-Lap Sports-Car Race
This was sub-divided into 11/2-litre and over-1 1/2-up-to-2-litre classes. Salvadori led for seven laps, then misjudged matters, allowing Scott-Brown with the new Lister-Bristol to lead and win easily, J. G. S. Sears in the Lister-M.G. discreetly letting him by at the corners as required. C. A. S. Brooks drove his usual steady race in the Le Mans Replica Frazer-Nash to take third place, followed by Stoop, who was very enterprising on the corners with his Mille Miglia Frazer-Nash, and Rogers in a rather scruffy Cooper-Bristol.
Of the smaller chaps, McAlpine (Connaught) and Coombs (Lotus) had a fine ding-dong, swapping places frequently until Coombs established a lead, only to run out of fuel. He stopped to refuel, and still managed second place, ahead of Sears’ Lister-M.G., and the Loti of Anthony, carrying number 13 and sawing at the tiller, and Digby, Chapman’s Lotus mis-firing. Flower’s Porsche just trundled and Rippon’s Kieft was disappointingly slow.
20-Lap Formula III Race
Russell led from Start to finish in his smart Cooper-Norton of latest type, sans engine cover, pulling out early a commanding lead. Behind, Bicknell’s Revis came up to second place on the fifth lap and Brandon and Leston had a fine scrap for third place, Leston a yard or so ahead until lap 17, when Brandon got the advantage, only to be promptly re-passed.
Bueb was in the picture, passing Bicknell into second place on lap 10, only to retire with a broken primary chain, the hairpin being the scene of half-a-dozen defunct F. III racers at one time.
Beels’ Cooper shed its carburetter bellmouth, which cost him 300 r.p.m., and then broke a chain, while Bridger’s Kieft clouted Barrett’s Cooper when it slid sideways-on at the hairpin. Don Parker was left on the line with a damaged gearbox.
40-Lap Formula 1 Race
Never was Reg Parnell headed. The spectators were given one of his impeccable driving displays, out on his own, unchallenged, in the red Ferrari. Gerard put up another of his spirited displays in second place, but challenging less strongly than he had Moss’ Maserati the previous week-end at Oulton Park. Beauman drove very nicely to fill third place in Sir Jeremy Roles’ Connaught, pursued by Gould, whose Cooper-Bristol led Nuckey’s Cooper-Alta. Whitehouse (Connaught) was in fourth place when he retired on lap 25. Brooks damaged his H.W.M. on a marker barrel on the very first lap, Marr fell out on the next lap with a damaged de Dion tube on his Connaught, and the Turner succumbed to fuel-feed maladies. Unfortunately a marshal had his leg fractured when Whiteaway’s H.W.M. ran off the course with a steering defect. On lap 37 Boulton’s Connaught spun twice at the Esses and was applauded as it carried on without stopping; on the next lap it spun again coming into this corner and left the course, to retire.
20-Lap Sports-Car Race
This was divided into two classes, 2-3 litres and over-3-litres. Everard’s old-type DB3 Aston Martin, of the Vermin Stable, was a match for three Austin-Healeys in the smaller class, Capt. Weaver, of the U.S.A.F., looked like a man from Mars in a space-helmet as he circulated very slowly in his Austin-Healey, whereas Tucker went so fast in his red left-hand-drive model that strong men felt weak and said how horrid it looked.
Peter Whitehead was never challenged in the bigger category, driving his Cooper-Jaguar nonchalantly to beat Sopwith’s Sphinx, which didn’t handle at all well and retired. He went on to beat Head’s C-type Jaguar by 1 min. 32.6 sec. Unfortunately, J. W. Whewell was fatally injured after his Jaguar had left the course at Sear Corner, and, in trying to avoid the rough, he swerved back onto the road and overturned.
40-Lap Formule Libre Race
This was a fine exhibition of the faith G. A. Vandervell now has in the Thinwall Ferrari and how well Peter Collins drives this very fast car. He shot away at the start with a great burst of acceleration, followed by Parnell’s Ferrari and Flockhart in the ear-shattering B.R.M. After 17 laps Collins had lapped the British Racing Motor but he proceeded to continue as rapidly as ever, lapping at 94.37 m.p.h. Every lap Vandervell would give him a thumbs-up signal with both hands, and Peter would acknowledge. He drove round Snetterton as if corners scarcely existed. In contrast, the unhappy Flockhart left the course on three occasions, these new-fangled disc brakes proving quite unpredictable. Watched by a sad-faced Raymond Mays and no doubt by those O.R.M.A. subscribers who were present, Flockhart came to his pit on lap seven to see if he had damaged the B.R.M. and to have its bonnet properly shut. He stopped again on lap 18 because a distributor cap had been cracked when be hit a marker tub. He was now last in the field, but was told to pick up all the places he could, surely an unwise order in view of the temperamental brakes on this very fast car? Bravely he did so, and, Parnell’s Ferrari having blown up on lap seven and Beauman’s Connaught retiring when running third, the B.R.M. finally finished third, but four laps behind the winning Thinwall Ferrari, and a lap behind Nuckey’s Cooper Alta.
Nuckey drove almost naked, his shirt torn from his body by the wind. Three old E.R.A.s ran very well, Birrell’s leading until an ominous puff of smoke from the cockpit foretold of retirement, whereupon it was pushed over the line in sixth place as Collins was flagged in. Gerard, who faltered early on, finished a determined fourth, and Jack Williamson, less at home in his E.R.A. than in his Bentley, was fifth. Only other finisher was the Hon. E. G.. Greenall in his Cooper 1,100, who was placed seventh.
The duels between the Vandervell and Owen Formule Libre cars used to be interesting, but now the B.R.M. seems quite out of the running and Alfred should look for another exponent. We may have to eat these words, because the B.R.M. is due to run at Castle Combe before this is published; however, the final issue should be fought at Goodwood on September 25th. B.R.M. pleaded for suitable races in which to run these out-dated cars and it seems sad that only one badly-prepared example was available for Snetterton — and that after two or three years its Girling disc brakes are still inefficient, whereas the Goodyear disc brakes on the Thinwall appear entirely satisfactory, at high speeds.