The parade of Anciens Pilotes

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The idea of having a demonstration of historic racing cars driven by members of the Club Internationale des Anciens Pilotes des Grands Prix at Silverstone on July 15th, before the start of the British G.P. was an excellent idea, for which credit must go to the C.J.A.P. and the B.R.D.C. But such inaccurate accounts: have been published about it, due to confusion over who drove what car and so on, that for the record it is as well to sort things out.

Twenty drivers had been invited and appropriate cars found for them, Neil Eason-Gibson being largely responsible for the arrangements. Of these drivers, Cortese. Count Lurani, Carroll Shelby, Gordini and Jean Lucas failed to make the journey. But Louis Chiron was there, having a real race in G. St. John’s Type 35B Bugatti with Philippe Etancelin, who, typically, wore his cap back-to-front, in Crabbe’s Maserati 250F. These two circulated in close company and proved to have lost little of their driving ability. Perhaps it was unnecessary to have painted the gear positions on the Bugatti in case Chiron had forgotten them!

In the absence of Cortese, Prince Bend of Sweden (who with Prince Meternich and M. Maurice Baumgartner, President of the represented the Comite d’Honneur) lapped very fast and steadily in Sievwright’s 2½-litre Ferrari 625, a car which should be seen more often than it is in V.S.C.C. races. Tony Brooks went racing again in a Vanwall from the Vandervell museum, prepared by former Vanwall mechanics, a bearded Duncan Hamilton was seen driving No. 6 of the early-series D-type Jaguars owned by Peter Skidmore, and Roy Salvadori was enjoying himself in Brewers well-known GT. Aston Martin DBR4/250.

Rob Walker had his immaculate rebuilt straight-eight G.P. Delage, Daimler-Benz A.G. produced a W196 Mercedes-Benz for Fangio and the last 300SLR, No. 10, a car never raced, for Moss, passengered by Jenkinson, these great drivers scorning crash-hats and Fangio refusing to be drawn into any sort of high speed.

Because Tony Rolt is so long he found he couldn’t get into Kergon’s E.R.A. “Hanuman II,” so it was driven by David Murray and Rolt, in his blue crashhat, conducted Glydon’s Aston Martin DB3S, intended for Shelby. Very happily, H. Brooke was re-united with Marsh’s E.R.A. R1B which he used to own, when he raced this first production E.R.A. abroad in the late 40s, and Leston was in an H.W.-Alta. Lance Macklin had Major Lambton’s H.W.M.-Jaguar, as the nearest he could get to the H.W.M. team-cars he once raced, but came in after a lap as-the engine seemed spent. Raymond Mays, who would be entertaining the drivers at his house at Bourne on the Monday, got the V16 B.R.M. on to full-song or thereabouts in the gears and made us wonder if this car, now owned by the Owen Organisation, will ever be raced at a V.S.C.C. meeting, perhaps its competition with the Vanwall?

Von Hanstein took Hutchings’ 328 B.M.W. and Tommy Wisdom might well have won had this been a race, for he was very quick, at the wheel of Day’s E.R.A. R14B. Baron de Graffenreid, who also wore his cap back to front, was going well in the Hon. P. Lindsay’s Maserati 250F.

That is how it was, but the cars came out haphazardly and went by so last that they defeated the commentator and were difficult for the crowd to recognise. Further confusion was caused because Gahagan drove his own single-seater K3 M.G. Magnette in the absence of Lurani, until the cylinder liners shifted and showered him with water, and Giovanni Sapone brought up the tail-end of the parade in a sports Fiat Balilla, this being in reality George Liston-Young in his own car! It was a great occasion, which should be repeated. — W.B.

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