The 25th running of France’s most famous motor race was almost entirely British: three-quarters of the top 16 was UK machinery. All four Lotus Elevens finished, for goodness’ sake, the brace of works cars winning the 1100cc and 750cc classes, scoring a one-two in the Index of Performance and securing the Rudge-Whitworth Biennial Cup.
Ecurie Ecosse had little time for its celebration, however. Charismatic boss David Murray enjoyed new challenges – he was the first Scottish driver to contest a World Championship Grand Prix – and could not, therefore, resist the lure of the following Saturday’s Race of Two Worlds at Monza, a supposed showdown between the best from both sides of the Atlantic. While his transporters were loaded, he, Lawrence and Wilkinson went ahead to recce the route, some Alpine passes having being shut by storms. Their advisory message was to be sent to the Automobile Club Lyon, where the team would collect it. It never arrived: the message, not the team. Erring on the side of caution, those hard-pressed transporters had to take the long way round, via Nice and Menton, a journey that took three days – and included the replacement of a broken suspension spring.
Europe’s only representative in the 500-mile race (comprised of three heats) on Monza’s bankings, the Jaguars were outgunned by the lighter, smaller and more powerful Indy roadster single-seaters, but again they proved reliable, finishing 4-5-6 in the hands of Jack Fairman, Lawrence and Sanderson.
Tired but satisfied, the long return journey could, at last, be undertaken – once one of the transporters had had a broken pin in its steering box repaired. Only when Scotch Corner was navigated did it begin to feel like a homecoming. At least now there was time for celebration. Albeit not much. The D-Types needed to be readied for the next round of the World Sportscar Championship: the Swedish GP at Kristianstad.
Photography courtesy of LAT Images