Tuesday, 4 December 2012

More digitised photographs

Goodwood Easter Monday April 2 1956, and the Richmond Formula 1 race for the Glover Trophy was extended to 32 laps (76miles). BRM was getting over its dog days with two of the cars introduced the year before, driven by Tony Brooks and, looking a bit as though he had anticipated the starter’s flag’s first twitch in Bill Henderson’s photograph, Mike Hawthorn. The first lap was Hawthorn’s but on the second was overtaken by Archie Scott-Brown in number 6, the Syracuse Connaught. In October 1955 Brooks had covered Connaught in glory by beating nine Maseratis and two Ferraris to win the Syracuse Grand Prix. It was applauded as the first grand prix win by a British car since Segrave’s Sunbeam in 1924. Not quite a championship race but it was the best all-British win in a big race for a long time.

In the Glover Trophy Brooks was in a second BRM starting from the second row, but went out after 10 laps with low oil pressure. Hawthorn disputed the lead with Scott-Brown and Moss, whose Maserati No 1 was now fuel-injected. Les Leston and Bob Gerard (Connaughts) were in the running until by half distance Moss was in the lead and drew away by 2sec a lap. The Maserati gained on acceleration, the Connaughts drawing away on the straights. On lap 22, according to a contemporary account, “something went wrong with the BRM suspension and the car slid off the road upside down. Hawthorn escaped with a shaking. Moss was now without a rival, leading by half a lap, the steady Gerard third a lap behind Salvadori. Moss averaged 94.35mph, the fastest race yet seen at the circuit.”

Result: 1. Stirling Moss (Maserati) 48:50.4; 2 Roy Salvadori (Maserati) 49.53.6; Les Leston (Connaught) 50.25.8; FR Gerard (Connaught) 31 laps; Reg Parnell (Connaught) 31 laps; Robert Manzon (Gordini) 30 laps. Fastest lap Moss 1min30.2sec (new record).
The 8-cylinder Gordini No 2 is the pretty one with the cowled front on the left of the picture. Among the other starters were Le Mans winner Louis Rosier (Maserati) and Ken Wharton driving Rosier’s Ferrari. WK Henderson had an outstanding career as Scotland’s photographer for Autosport and his great archive is available on http://www.thebillhendersoncollection.co.uk.

Hawthorn “escaping with a shaking” was not the only mishap of the afternoon. Compare race reporting then with now. “Two fatal accidents marred the day. APO Rogers (Sun-pat Special) and AFF Dennis, driving Hamilton’s D-type Jaguar, both sustained fatal injuries.”

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