Vanwall’s signing of Stirling Moss was meant to be the final piece in its puzzle. This patriotic racer’s racer, long desperate to win a Grand Prix in a home-grown machine, had put pen to paper on the basis of its car’s potential – for niggling problems had curtailed his tests of it. The potential, however, would continue to be wasted.
The Suez Crisis had caused the BRDC to postpone its International Trophy, scheduled for Silverstone in May, and so Vanwall instead embarked on a 2000-mile round trip to Sicily’s Syracuse. There, on April 7th, Moss led ‘those bloody red cars’ of Ferrari and Maserati until a fuel injector pipe broke. Replacing it cost him four laps and relegated him to third after a sequence of lap records.
A fortnight later, and much closer to its bases in Acton and Maidenhead, Vanwall faced a showdown against British rivals BRM and Connaught in Goodwood’s Glover Trophy, a relative sprint at 77 miles. Moss qualified on pole, eight-tenths faster than team-mate Tony Brooks, and fully 3 seconds faster than the best of the rest, and burst into an immediate lead. Chaos ensued in his wake. Roy Salvadori and Ron Flockhart spun their apparently unmanageable BRM P25s on laps one and two respectively – the former retiring because of braking issues – and Archie Scott Brown, fastest of Connaught’s three drivers, stopped after seven laps due to a lack of oil pressure. Nor were Vanwall immune, Brooks pitting early when his throttle linkage succumbed to the powerful vibrations of the bike-based four-cylinder engine. The same fate befell Moss after 13 laps. The latter retired, but Brooks resumed, five laps down, and set a new lap record. More wasted potential.
Actually, however, the seeds of British success were everywhere if you cared to look.