Oulton Park, August 18th.
Rain has been known to fall. Rain has been known to full at Oulton Park. The weather surpassed itself on August 18th however, when almost continuous rain spoilt the BRSCC Daily Herald International Trophy Meeting.
Sports cars and 500-cc racing cars were scheduled to run in the seven-hour programme; but before the lunch interval rain began to fall heavily causing floods at Knicker Brook and so delaying the start of the final heat of the John Bull Trophy Race for 500-cc cars. The duration of the Daily Herald 56-lap International Trophy Race was cut by 16 laps, likewise the Sporting Life Trophy race was cut from 25 laps to 10 laps because of the driving rain and floods.
The first heat of the John Bull Trophy race got off to a flying start at 11 am on a wet track but with no rain falling. Robinson’s Cooper led the field into Old Hall corner, but Stuart Lewis-Evans was first out, closely followed by Russell and Bridger, all in Coopers. Lewis-Evans kept increasing his lead lap by lap, being given thumbs-up signs from his pit as he passed. McHarey and Eccles and Hale and Haigh all had private battles in the midst of the frey, but Lewis-Evans had a very easy win from Jim Russell, who took an appreciable time to appear over the horizon after the winner had long since passed.
Heat two, again of ten laps duration, saw Don Parker and Ivor Bueb lead almost from start to finish, Henry Taylor intervening from time to time in second place, trying very hard indeed to keep up with and overtake the leader, which he did for a short spell on the fifth lap. PJ Mutton, in an Iota unfortunately overturned at Old Hall Corner through poor visibility, but he climbed out unhurt from underneath the car.
The final heat for this trophy, delayed by flooding, took place at 3 pm. Russell and Lewis-Evans leapt off together and kept very close to each other for eleven of the twelve laps. The final lap, however, saw Lewis-Evans just take first place as both cars came down the finishing straight past the pits almost neck and neck. An exciting finish. Don Parker took third place after Bridger had held this post for seven laps, then being forced to retire. This was no disgrace, however, for 12 others also had to give up. Jim Russell made the fastest lap at 75.41 mph.
Then came the big event of the day. The Daily Herald International Trophy. After further delay and investigation of flooded areas by the RAC Steward, Clerk of the Course and other officials. Stirling Moss showed that he was game for anything and struck off into the lead in the Aston Martin with an almost uncanny disregard for the appalling conditions that prevailed. CAS Brooks, Reg Parnell and Roy Salvadori, all driving works DB3S Aston Martins, followed in line astern, but Moss had an enormous lead even by the second lap and he continued to gain ground every time round. Cunningham-Reid HWM-Jaguar) and Archie Scott-Brown (Lister) were lying fifth and sixth respectively by the 15th lap, both going steadily, Moss lapping Archie on his 20th lap. The Moss, Brooks, Parnell, Salvadori procession remained to the finish, a fine Aston Martin success, somewhat diminished. perhaps, by the last minute decision of the Ecurie Ecosse not to race their Jaguars in this event. The Belgian entered Ferrari and Jaguar were disappointingly slow.
Sports-car exponents were catered for by the Sporting Life Trophy Race, reduced to 10 laps from 25. Moss, driving Les Leston’s Cooper-Climax, once more soon took control of the situation after the terrifying mass of cars had slithered for position at Old Hall Corner, stop lights winking merrily. Colin Chapman, down to start on the front row of the grid, failed to appear before the fall of the starter’s flag, havinig sheared a universal joint in his Lotus, so robbing the the community of another star turn in the Lotus v Cooper dice.
MGH Macdowell and Ivor Bueb in Coopers, struggled along so close at one time that they touched one another, but with no illeffects. Less fortunate were Salvadori and Hawthorn, Salvadori “navigating blind” at Knicker Brook behind Hawthorn’s Lotus. Hawthorn spun off and overturned, suffering slight shock. Hall and Allison in Loti came in second and third respectively.
So ended one of the wettest motor races on record. A tribute to the determination of British drivers and organisers.—IG.