When three drivers lost their lives in the 1955 RAC Tourist Trophy race at the Dundrod road circuit in Ulster, their passing also spelt the end of road racing, where cars were concerned, in the province.
APR 26th 2017
Doug Nye: Goodwood's period TT at its peak
The RAC TT itself was not contested at all in 1956 and 1957, before being revived at Goodwood in 1958 to full FIA Sports Car World Championship status, as a classical four-hour race constituting the series’ final round. Without works Ferraris entered, it proved to be a classic Aston Martin clean-sweep with the works team’s DBR1/300 cars parading home first, second and third – headed by Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks in the winning car.
In 1959 the second Goodwood TT – extended to six hours duration – became the deciding round of that year’s World Championship, and of course, it passed into history as a great classic. Aston Martin won again – indeed Stirling Moss won again – this time with Carroll Shelby and Jack Fairman co-driving the winning works team car after a fumbled refuelling stop had burned out their original leading machine, which had been leading the race in the hands of Moss and Roy (by this time singed) Salvadori. Both Ferrari and Porsche works teams contested that year’s edition of the great race, and both had been defeated – not just in the TT itself but in the year’s Sports Car World Championship too – which Aston Martin won, of course.
Into 1960, however, major change engulfed the FIA Championship, and the TT. For some years the Continental Europe-dominated FIA had wanted to run a Grand Touring Car World Championship instead of open-cockpit sports-prototype car competition. It would be churlish – but not entirely unjustified – for a Brit to look scornfully upon the decision-making, which led to that change. But suffice to say that while Ferrari, Porsche and Abarth – for example – had loud voices, fine representation and a lot of clout within the decision-making committees of the FIA – the British industry did not. We had never been much good at infiltrating the corridors of International governing body power, to influence the rules and regulations from within. It wasn’t really part of our national mindset. We liked to invent new sports and games and introduce them to the world – our game, our rules – rather than mediate and finesse our way around constitutions and committees. Anyone who grew up with a motor sporting background could hardly fail to view our EU associates, and their often smoke-obscured, accommodatory, possibly (if not probably) palms-greased ways, with – at best – scepticism – or at worst, with suspicion.
Whatever – for 1960 GT cars were In and open-cockpit sports-racing cars were Out – until the great race organisers at Sebring, Le Mans and the Nurburgring woke up to what was happening, viewed the sudden elevation of roofed-in “publicly recognizable” pseudo-production cars with crowd-displeasing dismay, and invented a prototype class for their races in the hope of salvaging some ticket-sales appeal. For the Goodwood TT, thankfully, the more open-minded interest of private owners such as Rob Walker, Dick Wilkins, “Noddy’ Coombs, Tommy Sopwith, John Ogier and others saved the day. Rob’s white-banded dark-blue Ferraris for Moss would triumph in back-to-back TT victories through those two years, and the run would continue with Innes Ireland’s UDT-Laystall team Ferrari 250 GTO winning in 1962, and Graham Hill in Colonel Ronnie Hoare’s Maranello Concessionaires’ GTO following suit in ’63.
I came to adore those great races back in period and have done so – pretty much – ever since. Last weekend, hunting through our GP Library photo archive for some endurance-racing images, I came across a small cache of TT photos – which we offer here. Their special interest, to me, is that they concentrate in subject matter upon the small-capacity class chargers in those GT World Championship TT races – rather than the now zillionaire-level exotica of 250 GTs and GTOs, Aston Martin Project cars and DB4 GT Zagatos, etc.
Now, here instead, (leading this article) was a humble looking, narrow-tyred, Porsche 356 Carrera 2 (No 29). I recognised it instantly from its UK road registration number, ‘HOT 95’, as British Porsche enthusiast Dickie Stoop’s, being driven in person by the ever-enthusiastic ex-RAF fighter pilot from Hartley Wintney. There he is, sailing round en route to 12th place overall – and in this image about to be gobbled-up by No 10 – Jack Sears in ‘Noddy’ Coombs famous ‘Lightweight’ Jaguar E-Type – its road registration ‘4 WPD’ similarly familiar – heading for its fourth-place finish that day.
Next shot showed No 30 – Lancastrian Tommy Entwhistle’s Grantura Engineering-entered TVR Grantura ‘TE 2’ – heeling out of St Mary’s ess-bend anxiously leaving room for the rampaging Innes Ireland to slam past in his works Aston Martin Project 214. Innes was really in a foul mood that day, having been forced to start the race on dangerously under-sized wheels after a major scrutineering row, and slewing his way round to seventh place. But Entwhistle’s TVR would wave the flag for the Blackpool marque – only 1600cc, and placing 18th at the final flag.
Another print – another mixed pair – Nos 33 and 26 – Bob Duggan/Mike Johnson in their T.J. Parker-entered Lotus Elite, waving its inside front wheel out of the chicane, with Adrian Dence’s Morgan Plus-4SS looking out-of-era (of course) in hot pursuit. The Elite would finish 13th – the Moggie a lowly 17th.
Another 1216cc Lotus Elite in the next shot – No 32 – Tom Threlfall’s Farnborough Racing-entered ‘plastic fantastic’ heeling under chicane-entry tweak with Dickie Stoop’s Porsche behind – neither man had needed to come far, from Hartley Wintney and Farnborough to the Sussex circuit. Tom Threlfall finished 14th overall that day.
And in the pits – here’s road registration ‘444 RAR’ – ooh, I know that one as well (how sad!) – it’s Ken Mackenzie’s Royal Air Force Motor Sports Association-entered Turner-Ford GT – rear jacked-up and some difficulty evident around its left-rear wheel. Result – hmm – 19th…
And to cap this little batch of bygone images – three of these tiddlers, the supporting cast, the indispensable also-runners who made the big star cars look so magnificent – Entwhistle’s TVR, leading Threlfall’s Lotus Elite, ahead of Dence’s Morgan: Three all-British Grand Touring cars in our most Britannic of great road races – the RAC Tourist Trophy. Might I propose “The Queen – God Bless’er”…
Images courtesy of The GP Library
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