GRR

Video: Remembering Connaught's remarkable Syracuse Grand Prix win

14th June 2024
Simon Ostler

Connaught Engineering fills a very small but very substantial corner of British motorsport history. It was a small-scale manufacturer based in Surrey that made its name in Formula 2 and Formula 1 throughout the 1950s. Although never particularly successful in world championship competition, Connaught does have one remarkable story to tell.

During its early years, the marque offered opportunities for Stirling Moss and Roy Salvadori to compete in F1 grands prix in 1952 and ’53, but after limited success a gradual deterioration of funding, the racing team looked set to fall by the wayside.

By 1955 Connaught only planned to compete in the British Grand Prix, that was until it received an invitation to attend the non-championship Syracuse Grand Prix with the promise of a significant amount of money. With limited time to prepare, the team decided to send two cars to Sicily, but without an idea as to who would be driving them.

One car was taken by 1954 British Formula 3 champion Les Leston, the other, by a dental student by the name of Tony Brooks, whose racing career up to that point was limited to several club racing events.

The team arrived at the circuit later than planned and missed the opening practice session, so Brooks had to learn the track on a Vespa before finally getting into the car on Saturday for second practice. Amazingly, Brooks qualified in third place behind two of the dominant Maserati 250Fs.

On race day, Brooks put on a stunning performance to see off the Italian giants. He made the most of the Connaught’s superior power from its 2.5-litre, inline-four Alta engine, and the durability of its disc brakes to win the race by a massive 50-second margin, setting several lap records in the process.

We were lucky enough to have a car very much like Brooks' Syracuse winning B-Type in attendance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard, and we caught up with its current owner, Spike Milligan, to find out more.

  • Event Coverage

  • Tony Brooks

  • Connaught

  • B-Type

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Formula 1

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