George Abecassis' HW Motors team had become a mighty force in Formula 2 throughout the early 1950s. And when the Formula One World Championship switched to Formula 2 regulations for an interim period beginning in 1952 the HWM team managed to pull off a number of good results combating the might of Scuderia Ferrari and other larger factory efforts. One Cinderella season is more than possible; two becomes even more the stuff of legend.
A slew of different drivers had competed for the HWM team during the 1952 season.This was both a blessing and a curse. The team was fluid and flexible enough to hire drivers with 'local' talent, but it also hurt because of a lack of continuity. The one constant the team would have going from the 1952 to the 1953 season would be its two main drivers: Lance Macklin and Peter Collins.
Despite pulling off some rather impressive performances, money was still in short supply even before the 1953 season began. The team would retain the services of Macklin and Collins but would reduce the number of different cars and drivers entered in World Championship races. While the team entered four cars in two of the World Championship races the season before, they would only do it once in 1953. The team's founder, George Abecassis would not take part in any World Championship race, but would focus on helping his team from a managerial position.
It was obvious the 1953 season would be a tough endeavor even before the team's first race of the season. One reason for this had been the absolute dominance of Ferrari despite HWM's surprising results the previous season. Another issue was the resurgence of Maserati in grand prix racing. They had really come on toward the later-part of the 1952 season and were expected to be strong. Another bad sign for the team was the failure of either of the team's cars to qualify for the Italian Grand Prix, the last race of the 1952 World Championship season. And finally, one of the last reasons why HWM would have a struggle on their hands simply came down to time. HWM had been strong in Formula 2 before the World Championship made the switch. The problem was HWM didn't really have the capital to design and make a whole new car for the 1953. Basically all that would be done would be to take the 1952 models and update and modify them for the new season. Other teams had come into the 1952 season with a new car and would have a year of Formula 2 experience to help make the car even better. As a result, many of the cars were certain to improve. Therefore, the small HW Motors team would have to trust that despite their small size they too could improve at a rate equal to the larger factory efforts.
The size of the team had been a disadvantage during the 1952 season, and while the team overcame it to do well, it still suffered as a result. 1953 would be no exception. In fact, the difficulties would become apparent right away and would set something of a tone for the rest of the season.
The World Championship would truly become a World Championship during the 1953 season. Yes, the Indianapolis 500 had counted toward the championship since its conception in 1950, but it never really seemed part of the series. However, in 1953, things would change. Some car clubs and associations in Argentina were keenly interested in hosting a round of the World Championship. Never one to miss an opportunity for some positive propaganda, President Juan Peron would induce the governing-body to add Argentina to the World Championship. And in January of 1953, the Argentine Grand Prix would make its first appearance as part of the World Championship. This addition would not only make it an official World Championship. It would also serve to stretch out the grand prix season. But it would end up causing a long delay between the first and third rounds of the championship.
Unfortunately for the small HWM team, Argentina wasn't all that close. Having to travel across the South Atlantic just to go take part in one round of the World Championship and another non-championship was certainly deemed a rather wasteful endeavor, but it certainly also caused some frustration.
While the first round of the World Championship would take place in mid-January, it would be more than a couple of months before the next round of the championship, which would be the Indianapolis 500, at the end of May. It would be even longer before the first round of the championship on the European mainland would take place. While this long gap wasn't the best scenario that's the way things were and HWM would have to deal with the best they could.
Thankfully, while there would be a large gap between the early rounds of the World Championship, there would be a number of non-championship races that would begin to spring up in early April. These were important races in which factory teams, small teams and privateers would enter just to get out and go racing, but also, to compete for that all-important prize money.
HWM's first intended race of the season would have actually been away from its native England. HWM intended on taking part in the 14th Grand Prix de Pau on the 6th of April. However, the team of two cars would not arrive at the race. Instead, of sending Lance Macklin and Yves Giarud-Cabantous to Pau with two cars, the team would stay home and would take part in the 5th Lavant Cup race at Goodwood on the very same day.
Instead of crossing the England Channel and heading to the southern part of France for its first race of the season, the team would decide to save some money and just travel about an hour south to Goodwood for its annual Easter races.
With the English Channel literally just miles away to the south, the Duke of Richmond's rolling Goodwood Estate was an almost perfect location for an airbase to help with the protection of the English mainland during the early years of the Second World War. A portion of the land would be allocated over for the building of an auxiliary airfield known as RAF Westhampnett. The airfield was actually attached to RAF Tangmere and would operate Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfires.
During the war, the perimeter road around the grass landing field would be used to host impromptu motor races consisting of a couple of pilots on their day off. A very enthusiastic racer and supporter of motor racing, the Duke of Richmond was looking for uses for the airbase once it had been decommissioned. And in 1948, the 2.39 miles of perimeter road would host its first motor race. Soon, Goodwood would become known for its Easter day races. The Easter day races consisted of a number of short motor races that would provide crowds an opportunity to see racing of many different classes. One of those short races would be the 7 lap Lavant Cup race.
HWM would arrive with a couple of its Alta-powered HWM chassis. The team would enlist Frank Curtis and Duncan Hamilton to drive for the team. These two would face a gaggle of Cooper-Bristols and Connaughts. They would also face off against one very powerful Maserati.
Practice would see Roy Salvadori set the fastest lap time and take the pole. His time of one minute, thirty-five and four-tenths seconds would end up just two-tenths of a second faster than Emmanuel de Graffenried in his Maserati A6GCM. Bobbie Baird and Tony Rolt would complete the front row but each of their times would be more than two seconds slower.
Frank Curtis would actually be entered in the race under John Heath's name. His best time would end up slower than one minute and fifty-three seconds and would cause him to start all the way down in 17th, which put him on the fifth row of the grid. Hamilton would be entered as driving for HW Motors. His best time would be six seconds slower than Salvadori and would lend to him starting the race from the third row of the grid in 10th.
The 7 lap race was already short enough, but Hamilton's race would be even shorter. In fact, it wouldn't even get started. Problems in preparations would disallow Hamilton from being able to take the start of the race. This left just Curtis as the sole HWM-Alta pilot in the field.
At the start, de Graffenried would be quick off the line and would right up there with Salvadori. The presence of de Graffenried with his fast Maserati would cause Salvadori to step up his pace almost immediately. This would end up sifting the field.
Bobbie Baird had started the race from the front row. However, a poor start and the relatively fast pace of de Graffenried and Salvadori would cause him to slip down the running order. By contrast, Stirling Moss would start the race a rather lowly 18th. However, he certainly wouldn't stay there. He would make a great start and would be powering his way up through the field. Very quickly Moss would be in the top ten and looking for more.
Curtis would end up looking for his race to last longer. While he would start the race, which was more than could be said for Hamilton, it wouldn't go the entire 7 laps. Just a couple of laps from the end of the event, problems would arise that would cause the final HWM to retire from the race.
At the front, a battle raged throughout the early going. The pace of de Graffenried would cause Salvadori to step up his game. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the race. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be enough.
Baron de Graffenried put together consistently fast laps and would end up pulling away from Salvadori before the end. It would take just eleven minutes and thirty seconds for de Graffenried to power his way to victory. He would end up crossing the line some thirteen seconds ahead of Salvadori. Knowing he couldn't catch de Graffenried, and that he had a comfortable advantage himself, Salvadori would just back off and cruise across the line in 2nd. Seven seconds later, Tony Rolt would cross the line to finish 3rd.
The season had not started the way HW Motors had hoped. Its best-positioned car wouldn't even make it to the start while its other would prove incapable of making it just 16 miles. These were not good signs, but at least there was still time to rectify the situation and get the season off in good order.
The decision to start off the season near to home had proven to be fruitless. Therefore, for the team's next race it would decide to head across the English Channel and head into France as it had intended with the grand prix at Pau. Nearly a month after its disappointing season debut at Goodwood, HW Motors was in Bordeaux, France for what was the 3rd Grand Prix de Bordeaux.
The Grand Prix de Bordeaux, held on the 3rd of May that year, would be the first time HWM would have to face the presence, the might, of Scuderia Ferrari and the resurging Maserati factory effort. Sixteen cars would end up taking to the start of a 120 lap race around the temporary 1.52 mile street circuit.
The city of Bordeaux rests at the heart of the world's leading wine industry. It also lies in the heart of region of France that has been contested over all throughout known history. From early Celtic tribes, to the Romans, the Franks and the French Revolution that came years later, Bordeaux has been at the heart of unrest and contestation. This history of unrest and conflict has also been captured in a number of sculptures located in a square known as Place des Quinconces. This square would be at the heart of Bordeaux's 1.52 mile street circuit.
In practice, HWM would get its first reminder and taste of the pace of Scuderia Ferrari. Luigi Villoresi would look quite good in his Ferrari 500 and would end up taking the pole with a lap of one minute, twenty-three and six-tenths seconds. This time would be just one-tenth faster than Alberto Ascari but still fast enough for the pole. The slow nature of the Bordeaux circuit would enable Maurice Trintignant to take the Equipe Gordini T16 and turn in a lap only about a half a second slower than Villoresi, but still only just fast enough to start on the front row in 3rd.
As with the first race of the season, HWM would enter two cars in the race. One would be piloted Yves Giraud-Cabantous; the other by Lance Macklin. In practice, the HWM cars would be close, but not close enough. Girau-Cabantous would be the fastest of the two. His best time would be three second slower than Villoresi, and therefore, would put him 11th on the start grid. This was the inside position of the fifth row. Starting right next to him would be Macklin. His time would be a little more than a second slower and only good enough to start 12th.
The circuit for the 1953 running of the event would remain the same, but there would be some changes. Instead of running in an anti-clockwise direction as it had from 1951 through 1952, the direction would change to a clockwise direction.
Heading a different direction, the sixteen car field would take off along Quai Louis XVIII, which ran along the Garonne River on what was just the first of many laps. Right from that moment on, Ascari was battling his way with his old friend Luigi Villoresi for the lead of the race. Right there with them would be Maurice Trintignant, Juan Manuel Fangio and Giuseppe Farina. Both Fangio and Farina had made good starts to be right up there at the front.
Unlike the first race of the season, the HWM-Altas were proving capable of making it more than just a few laps. In fact, the whole field would make it through the first dozen or more laps without incident. Everyone was settling into their pace and looking to move forward.
At the front, Ascari had taken over the lead and was quite fast. Right there with him was Villoresi and Fangio. Behind them, Giraud-Cabantous was slowly working his way up the order while Macklin was looking for help.
After 25 laps, attrition would begin to come into play. Unfortunately, attrition came calling on HWM. At the same time Peter Whitehead was making his exit, Yves' race was also coming to an end. His clutch was getting oil on it and it would ruin his race.
The front-runners also weren't without their issues. Around the midway point of the race, Giuseppe Farina, Maurice Trintignant and Louis Chiron would all exit the race. However, Ascari still led with Villoresi following. Fangio was beginning to slowly fade.
Coming to the last third of the race, there were only ten cars still running in the race. Thankfully for HWM, one of them was Macklin. Ascari was out front with Villoresi further back. Fangio had faded even further and had actually gone down more than a couple of laps to Ascari.
The 80th lap of the race would end up being the limit for HWM this day. A starter problem would end up finishing the entire race for the team with just forty laps remaining.
Pretty much everybody but the two Ferraris up front had found their day come to an end as well. The dominance by Ascari and Villoresi was so complete that it was shades of the French Formula 2 Championship from one year ago all over again.
Just a half a second away from two hours and fifty-nine minutes, Ascari would cross the finish line the race's victor. He would beat Villoresi by a margin of about fifty seconds. After Villoresi it was a long way back to 3rd. Fangio would end up coming across to finish the race 3rd, but he would do so some four laps down to Ascari
Even though Fangio had finished well back of Ascari, he at least finished the race, which was more than could be said for either of HWM's entries. In two races thus far on the season the team had failed to even have one car make it to the end of a race, let alone worry about finishing in the top ten or better. The team needed things to turnaround, and quickly.
Another tough test was on the billing one week after the disappointing trip to wine country. The team would make its way back to England and would have little time to prepare for its next race, which would be the 5th BRDC International Trophy race held at Silverstone on the 9th of May.
The International Trophy race was one of those race that followed a different format, especially that of the World Championship races. Instead of a single race a certain number of miles, and, therefore, a certain number of laps, the BRDC race would consist of heats and a final. There would be two heat races that were each 15 laps, and then, a 35 lap final. Usually, larger teams would have their entries split up amongst the two heats. And starting positions for each heat would be determined by qualifying times set during practice.
Frank Curtis and Duncan Hamilton would be behind the wheel for HW Motors and would end up being listed in the first heat. The two would have to duel with Stirling Moss, Baron de Graffenried, Tony Rolt and others. Baron de Graffenried would prove fastest in practice with an incredible time of one minute and fifty-one seconds. Bob Gerard, Tony Rolt and Kenneth McAlpine would all join de Graffenried on the front row of the grid.
Of the HWM drivers, Hamilton would end up the best qualifier. His best time, however, would still be six second slower than de Graffenried's and would leave him 9th overall and starting from the third row. Curtis wasn't even in the same class. His best time would be a sedated two minutes and eight seconds. As a result, he would start from 19th on the grid, which was the seventh, and final, row on the grid.
It was obvious many of the other car manufacturers had improved over the year and the heat race would bear this point out all the more. De Graffenried would lead the way with Stirling Moss right there with him. Prince Bira and Louis Rosier would each make good starts and would be moving up the running order. Meanwhile, both Hamilton and Curtis was stuck right about where they started.
Curtis just could not match the pace of the rest of the field and would continue to hang around at the end of the field. Hamilton would fare a little better, but he just could not move up against the likes of Rosier, Rolt, Moss and de Graffenried.
Baron de Graffenried and Stirling Moss would fight it out through the course of the 15 lap heat. Both would set matching fastest lap times and would enjoy a bit of separation from the rest of the field. In the end, it would be de Graffenried that would prove the faster of the two. He would go on to take the heat win by five seconds over Moss. Prince Bira would finish 3rd but would be seventeen seconds behind.
Curtis remained enchained to the tail-end of the field. He just could not improve. His only movement up the running order came as the result of retirements of other drivers. Thankfully for him there would be a few. He would end up improving five positions and would finish the heat 14th.
The same was true Hamilton, but at least he started out in a better position. He would be helped by Roberto Mieres' retirement and the 60 second penalty given to Bob Gerard as a result of jumping the start of the heat. Hamilton would finish more than a minute behind de Graffenried in the 7th position.
HWM's drivers for the second heat would be Lance Macklin and Peter Collins. Arguably the two better drivers for the team, Collins and Macklin would have to face the challenge of Mike Hawthorn driving his Ferrari 500, Maurice Trintignant and Ken Wharton, along with a number of other talented drivers.
Ken Wharton would end up being the fastest in practice. He would barely edge out Hawthorn for the pole. The rest of the front row would include the former Auto Union driver Louis Chiron and the talented Frenchman Maurice Trintignant.
Collins' and Macklin's time in practice would be quite close. Mackling, however, would be the slighter faster of the two. His time of one minute and fifty-seven seconds was about five seconds slower than Wharton's best time and would position him 8th on the grid, which was the first position on the third row. Collins' best time was just slower than Macklin's. As a result, he would start alongside Macklin in the third row in the 9th starting spot.
The start of the second heat would see a tremendous battle between Wharton and Hawthorn develop. Wharton had barely edged Hawthorn out for the pole and Hawthorn was going to make sure he knew who the better driver of the two actually was. Hawthorn would quickly come out and would set a fastest lap time nearly two seconds faster than his own qualifying effort. This quickened the pace dramatically and would separate the true competitors from those that could only put together one quick lap.
Unfortunately, one of those that wouldn't be a true competitor this day happened to be Macklin. His pace from the start was suffering. He would slip back and would certainly come under threat of going a lap down before the heat finished.
Collins was stuck like Hamilton had been in the first heat. The HWM-Alta just couldn't help him move up the order like some of the competitors. Despite the pace, there would end up being very little attrition to help him move forward. His only hope would be if Hawthorn and Wharton did something terribly wrong and end the race for themselves somehow.
They wouldn't. The battle between Hawthorn and Wharton was epic. All throughout the heat the two were right there next to each other. In the end, Hawthorn would gain some of his revenge as he would take the win by about a second over Wharton. Salvadori would end up in 3rd place but he certainly couldn't match the pace of the two in front of him. Despite finishing 3rd he would end up nearly a minute behind.
A minute would be more than could be said for either Collins or Macklin. Macklin would end up a lap down in 9th place while Collins would finish over a minute and a half behind in 8th place.
With the heat races over with it was time to set the grid for the 35 lap final. The starting grid for the final would be determined by the finishing times of each competitor from their respective heat race. Therefore, the incredible duel between Wharton and Hawthorn would net Hawthorn the pole for the final while Wharton would start alongside in 2nd. Baron de Graffenried's lesser dramatic fight with Moss would earn them 3rd and 4th place starting positions on the front row.
In spite of his sedated pace, and obvious lack of any chance for a top result, Curtis would take part in the final. He would end up starting 26th, which was on the inside of the eighth, and final, row. Macklin would be the next-worse starter for the team. He would start 19th, which was on the inside of the sixth row. Right in front of Macklin in the fifth row would be Duncan Hamilton. His time had netted him a 15th starting position. Just in front of him and to his left would be Collins, the best starter on the team. He would start in the fourth row in the 12th position.
After having witnessed the furious pace in which Hawthorn and Wharton completed their second heat de Graffenried knew he would need to make a great start in order to help control the pace and give himself a chance. As the green flag flew to start the final it seemed de Graffenried had already begun moving. While the officials made their determination he would go on to set the early pace, but he would Hawthorn all over him. And while it had been Wharton running right with Hawthorn in the second heat and Salvadori ended up trailing a good distance behind, it would be Salvadori clinging onto the front of the pack.
All of the HWM entries were in the middle or at the back of the field and would have to be careful while attempting to move forward. Being stuck further back, it was very likely the front-runners would be able to escape. This had the potential of being very frustrating; at least for most of the team members. In the case of Curtis, it wouldn't really matter all that much.
It wouldn't matter all that much to Macklin either. After starting 19th on the grid, his race would last just 8 laps. Mechanical ills would end up striking his HWM and would end his race very early on.
Thankfully for the rest of the team members, trouble would also strike a number of other competitive entries. Trintignant and Chiron would all end up out of the race helping the HWM cars still in the running to move up. They would all receive another boost at about the same time Chiron had departed with a split in his fuel tank. The officials had come back with their decision and it was clear de Graffenried would be penalized for jumping the start. Realizing the race would be over at that point, de Graffenried would retire from the race leaving Hawthorn alone at the front and another opportunity for everyone behind to move up one place.
It was obvious, over the course of the race, that even with such talented drivers as Collins and Hamilton at the wheel, HW Motor's had come to be outclassed. Despite their best efforts, fighting to get inside the top ten was about as good as it could get for either one.
Things couldn't get much better for the man out front either. Hawthorn would end up matching de Graffenried's early fastest lap pace and would casually make his way to the finish line to take the victory. Salvadori would give it everything he had and would look impressive. However, he would still finish 2nd some twelve seconds behind. Tony Rolt would come all the way from starting 8th to finish3rd. However, he too was well back of Hawthorn by the finish.
Only the top six would remain on the lead lap with Hawthorn. None of the HWM cars would end up in the top six. Therefore, every single one of the team's cars to finish the race would be at least one lap down, but still, the team would manage to have three of its four cars make it to the finish.
Peter Collins and Duncan Hamilton would end up running in order out on the track. At the end, Collins and Hamilton would both end up a lap down. Collins would finish in 11th while Hamilton would come in behind him in 12th. There would be a rather large gap back to the team's final finisher. While Curtis would make it to the finish line he would do so many laps behind. In fact, he would be the second-to-last car still running. He would finish 20th and a little more than four laps behind.
One year ago HWM was often a front-runner, or at least could be found up near the front of a field of cars. One year later, the competition had obviously improved at a greater rate than the small team, and now, the team would have to fight hard to stay in the middle of the field.
One week after the hard fought mediocre performance at the BRDC International Trophy race, HW Motors would enter another race consisting of heats and a final. The team would pack up and would head across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland. Their destination would be the countryside just to the west of Ulster. They were on their way to the 7.40 mile Dundrod Circuit to take part in the 7th Ulster Trophy grand prix race.
The Dundrod Circuit was just one of a couple of road course that traversed the countryside around County Antrim. The other circuit, Clady, would be used until 1952, and then, would be abandoned. Dundrod more than fit the bill, however. A road course in the true sense of the word, it featured narrow fast sections, tight slow corners and amazingly quick esses. Every lap around the circuit required technical perfection and incredible courage and bravery.
In 1953, nearly thirty cars would take part in the Ulster Trophy race. The race would consist of two 10 lap heats and a 14 lap final. The field would be include almost everyone that had been at the International Trophy race just a week prior. In fact, it would seem like a re-run of the International Trophy race, just amongst some more beautiful and featured surroundings than a former bomber base.
While the field would include a number of drivers that had been at Silverstone just one week prior the race itself would play out quite differently. After Frank Curtis' dismal performance in the International Trophy race, HW Motors would only come to Northern Ireland with three cars. As with the race at Silverstone, Hamilton would be listed in the first heat. However, he would take part in the heat all by himself. Of course, it hadn't been much different a week earlier.
Things would be quite different from one week to the next. In practice, Hamilton would be fast, at least comparatively. Stirling Moss would be fastest. His time around the 7.40 mile circuit would be four minutes and fifty-nine seconds. John Lyons would end up starting 2nd. His fastest time around the circuit would end up being eighteen seconds slower than Moss. The front row would surprisingly be completed by Hamilton. His best lap would be just two seconds slower than Lyons. This put him on the front row and in a great position to control the pace of the field to a good degree.
If Moss had been fast in practice, he would be even faster in the actual heat. His pace would end up being too much for Lyons. John would be overhauled by Jimmy Somervail and Jock Lawrence before the end of the heat.
Moss just kept getting faster. Then, he would go as fast as he could, and it would be incredible. He would go on to set the fastest time of the heat. But he wouldn't just set a time within a second or two of his qualifying effort. He would go on to beat his qualifying effort by some three seconds! However, it wouldn't be enough.
Although Moss would be quick on certain laps, Hamilton would surprise many and would be consistently each and every lap. He would get in front of Moss and the rest of the field and would certainly dictate the pace. Hamilton would go on to take the win completing the distance in fifty-two minutes and thirty-two seconds. Nine seconds later, Stirling Moss would cross the line to finish 2nd. Jimmy Somervail would complete the top three finishing more than two minutes behind Hamilton.
It was time, then, for the second heat. As with the International Trophy race, Peter Collins and Lance Macklin would carry HWM's honor. And as with the International Trophy race, Collins and Macklin would have to face Mike Hawthon, Ken Wharton, Roy Salvadori and others.
The front row would be like a case of déjà vu. Hawthorn would be on pole with Wharton starting 2nd and de Graffenried in 3rd. But unlike the race at Silverstone, Hawthorn wasn't about to let Wharton edge him out for the pole. His time of four minutes and fifty-one seconds would be eight seconds faster than Wharton and more than enough to defeat all comers.
The time would also be too much for Macklin and Collins. Collins' best time would be a rather quick five minutes and ten seconds but it would only be good enough to start in the middle of the third row in 7th. Macklin would be a bit slower but would be right there with his teammate. Macklin had been two seconds slower but would still start on the third row as well in 8th place.
The superior pace of Hawthon in practice would offer him a great deal of confidence going into the second heat race. He would lead right from the start and would be immediately on the pace. Emmanuel de Graffenried would be immediately off the pace as his rear axle would fail after just one lap. HWM's hopes would also be 'off pace' after just two laps.
On the very same lap of the race, HWM's hopes in the second heat would go up in smoke. Macklin would end up retiring from the race. At the same time that Macklin was departing, Collins' HWM-Alta developed a misfire that absolutely ended his, and the team's race.
Up front, Hawthorn seemed able to go as fast as he wanted. He knew he had superior pace, and therefore, needed to just go fast enough. 'Fast enough' would still end up being faster than Wharton's fastest lap in practice. Hawthorn's fastest lap of the heat would be a lap of four minutes and fifty-four seconds, which put him comfortably out in front of everybody.
It would take Hawthorn more than two minutes less time to complete the heat's distance and cross the line the victor. Wharton would give it everything he had as well. Ken would fight hard and would be hanging by a thread; but he would still make it to the end. He would end up seven seconds slower, but also, two minutes faster than Hamilton in the first heat. Wharton had been in a tight battle with Bobbie Baird and his Ferrari 500. Wharton would just hang on and would beat Baird by just one second. Therefore, every single one of the top three were at least two minutes faster than Hamilton. However, while finishing times were certainly an expectation of the pace for the final they would not determine grid positioning. After each competitor had driven hard in practice and in their respective heat, each would have to turn around and re-qualify for the 14 lap final.
Despite having already qualified once and each pushing hard in their respective heats, the qualifying effort for the final would be more of the same, but with some minor twists. What would be the same was Hawthorn taking the pole. He had proven to have a pace more dominant than anyone else in the field, and therefore, just needed to put together a decent lap and the pole would be his. Bobbie Baird would surprise and would use his Ferrari 500 to mirror the performance of Hawthorn. While still slower, it would be good enough for Baird to start from the front row in 2nd. Ken Wharton would be slightly slower in his Cooper-Bristol T23 but would still manage to start from the front row as well. Hamilton had looked good in the first heat. He had gone on to win the heat by a few seconds over Moss, but it certainly would become obvious later that his pace wasn't nearly that of Hawthorn. Therefore, it wasn't all that surprising that he would qualify a little further down in the pack. He would start from the third row in 8th place.
The wear and tear of the day would be very appreciable, and it would come to bear before the start of the final. Four drivers, including Stirling Moss and Jacques Swaters would not even start the final due to mechanical ailments. Moss' gearbox would give him troubles while the Ferrari 500 driven by Swaters would have magneto troubles that would end up sidling another favorite. Nonetheless, it would be just Hamilton facing off against a field still filled with a number of competitive drivers, none more so than Hawthorn.
The field would roar away from the starting grid just one more time. Hawthorn would make a good start and would have Wharton and Baird right behind through the first bit of esses leading down to Leathamstown road. Wharton and Baird would be right close together throughout this early stage of the race and their battle, and Hawthorn's pace, would allow the Ferrari driver to pull out an advantage that would only get bigger as time would go on.
Hamilton starting right near the middle of the grid and would be in a fight right from the very start. He and Louis Chiron would run close together on the road and would try and chase down Peter Whitehead. Peter's brother, Graham, would be right behind Hamilton trying to take his spot away from him.
Hamilton would do a great job throughout the majority of the race holding position and not going backward in the order during the tight opening stages of the race. After a while, it would become important that he settle into a pace that would be fast but that would also have the endurance to make it 14 times over Deer's Leap and the Quarry Bends.
Hawthorn had more than enough pace out at the front of the pack. Aided by a fastest lap time of five minutes dead, he would only further pull away from the rest of the field. The battle between Baird and Wharton would remain tight for a little while, but then, even that would begin to work itself out as the race went on.
Averaging a little more than 86 mph over the course of the 14 laps, Hawthorn would come streaking around the Quarry Bends and through Rushyhill to take the final victory. His performance in the final had been absolutely dominant. Ken Wharton would manage to pull away from Baird for 2nd place but would end up more than a minute behind Hawthorn at the finish. Baird would trail Wharton across the line by some thirty-three seconds.
Hamilton would continue to push hard behind Chiron. However, over the course of the race Chiron would hold on to finish 5th. Hamilton would come in 6th place about seventeen seconds behind.
Hamilton had done a great job throughout the whole of the race weekend. He had taken the victory in the heat. But more importantly, he pushed the car just hard enough during the final so as not to lose position, but that would ensure he could make it to the finish of the race. Given the strength of the competition, his result in the final would be quite good for himself and the team, a confidence-builder.
While Frank Curtis would take one of the HWM-Altas and would enter it under his own name in the 1st Winfield Junior Club Formula 2 race, the rest of the team would wait a couple of more days and would head to London in order to take part in the 3rd Coronation Trophy race held at Crystal Palace Park.
Taking place at the quick 1.34 Crystal Palace circuit, which was comprised of park roads that circumnavigated the park, the Coronation Trophy race was yet another race made up of heats and a final.
Situated about 8 miles from Charing Cross, Crystal Palace Park had become a site for many cultural, political and sporting events during the Victorian age. Named for the cast-iron and glass building that once existed in the park between 1854 and 1936, Crystal Palace Park sits at one of the highest spots in all of London and would remain a center for entertainment well into the 1950s.
Despite its short nature, the circuit around the park would be quick as it featured a number of short straights and quick sweeping corners. Lap times around the circuit were never much more than a minute. So the action was always fast and furious.
HW Motors would again come to the race with three cars, but the driver lineup would again change. Lance Macklin and Peter Collins would remain behind the wheel of a couple of the cars. However, Jack Fairman would be yet another driver the team would employ to take part in the race.
Macklin would be listed in the first 10 lap heat. He would have Stirling Moss, Ken Wharton and Tony Rolt to contend with. However, in practice, it would be Archie Bryde that would prove fastest and would start from the pole. The surprises would continue when Bill Aston would take his own design and would be second-fastest. A bit of normalcy would return to complete the front row. Moss would start in 3rd while Rolt would finish the row off in 4th. Macklin would find himself right behind Moss in the second row. He would start 6th.
It would certainly be tough for Bryde and Aston to hold off the talent surrounding them on the grid. Sure enough, Rolt would get a great jump at the start and would streak up to the front. However, he wouldn't be alone. Wharton would also make a great start from the second row and would be all over Rolt. Macklin would also manage to get position on Moss and would be able to control the field behind him for the short 10 lap heat.
Rolt would feel the pressure from Wharton and would respond with the fastest lap of the race. However, he just wouldn't be able to shake Wharton. The field would, however, manage to shake Bryde from off of them. Mechanical troubles would come to strike the pole-sitter thereby ending his heat race with just two laps to go.
Rolt never faltered at any point. He would go on to win the heat by just six-tenths of a second over Wharton. Over the course of the remaining half of the heat, Macklin began to pull away from Moss and would end up crossing the line in 3rd place. While he would be nearly nineteen seconds behind Wharton, Macklin would also enjoy a margin of about nine seconds over Moss.
The field for the second heat would be a little larger than the first. Collins and Fairman would end up going up against drivers like Peter and Graham Whitehead, Bobbie Baird and Leslie Marr.
Fairman would prove fast in his debut with the team. He would end up going out in practice and would take the pole. Graham Whitehead would start 2nd, but he would have Collins right there beside him on the front row starting 3rd. This meant HWM had its two cars on the front row for the second heat! Peter Whitehead would end up making it two Whiteheads on the front row when he would start 4th.
While just one car would not start and another would fail to finish the first heat, the second heat would see a bit more attrition and it would waste no time in hitting the field.
As the field roared away to start the second 10 lap heat race, Alan Brown and Donald Bennett would be left stranded. The fuel pump would fail in Brown's car and the chain drive would break in Bennett's. Just like that, two cars were out of the running before even completing a single lap. Two more would be out before the heat would reach halfway. Tony Crook would retire after two laps while Bobbie Baird would crash his Ferrari 500 in one of the fast portions of the circuit and would be out after just three. In all, five entries would end up out of the race before the end.
The start would see the front row reverse order. Peter Whitehead would make the best start and would hold point. He would be closely followed by Collins. Collins would have troubles of his own as Graham Whitehead would be all over him. And Jack Fairman, the pole-sitter, would find himself fourth in line.
Graham's accosting of Collins was enabling his brother to escape with the lead. Collins would do everything he could but he just could not shake the determined Graham. The pace of the front three was surprisingly leaving Fairman behind.
Once in the lead, Peter Whitehead would check out. He would turn in the fastest lap of the heat to help ensure his escape. The fierceness of the first heat battle between Rolt and Wharton would see the finishing time nearly fifteen seconds faster, but Peter Whitehead would go on to complete the 10 laps in twelve minutes and he would take the win by about twelve seconds over Collins. Collins still had Graham all over him as they came to the line. In fact, Collins would only come in 2nd place six-tenths of a second ahead of Graham. Fairman would trail behind in 4th place by quite a distance. In the end, he would barely hold off Leslie Marr by just four-tenths of a second for 4th.
Unlike the Ulster Trophy race, the starting grid positions would be determined by finishing times from each competitor's respective heat race. The struggle between Rolt and Wharton would end up seeing them take 1st and 2nd for the 10 lap final. Peter Whitehead would be the sole second heat starter to start on the front row. He would start 3rd. Macklin would end up being the sole HWM entrant to start on the front row when he would complete the front row in 4th.
The second row would see Peter Collins starting his HWM-Alta in the 5th position while the third row would consist of Bill Aston, Torrie Large, Jack Fairman in the third HWM-Alta and Leslie Marr.
The short 10 lap final would see everyone in the field give it everything they had. The tension would be high; the potential for mistakes increased. The field would seemingly make it through just fine. However, Leslie Marr was in a tough position and he knew it. Starting last in a short race, he knew he needed to take some chances. Otherwise, he would likely be stuck at the end of the field with nowhere to go. So, he would make his move. Unfortunately, it wouldn't work out. He would crash his Connaught and would be out of the race before it even really got started. Surprisingly, he would be the only one to drop out of the running. This meant the action throughout the field, over the course of the 10 laps, would be packed.
Rolt and Wharton picked up where they left off in their first heat duel. Their battle would be fierce and close. It would also be a little too fast for the rest of the field. Peter Whitehead had managed to hold onto 3rd at the start but he had begun to lose ground to the duo at the front.
In all likelihood, Macklin was probably faster than Whitehead. However, getting by was an entirely different, and difficult, matter. Peter Whitehead would do everything he could and it would be just enough to keep Macklin behind and frustrated. Stirling Moss had managed to make a great start and would end up leaping ahead of Graham Whitehead and Peter Collins. It was pretty much the same for Graham Whitehead and Peter Collins. Collins was probably faster but just couldn't find a way past.
Rolt would lay down the gauntlet. He would turn the fastest lap of the final and it would be enough to gap Wharton for the remainder of the race. The pace of the duo at the front would amazingly be faster than it had been in their first heat race. Rolt's and Wharton's pace would lead to the finishing time to once again be under twelve minutes. Rolt would take just eleven minutes and forty-two seconds complete the 10 laps and take the overall victory. Wharton would finish in 2nd exactly two seconds behind. Peter Whitehead would frustrate Macklin all the way to the finish. Whitehead would end up holding off Macklin for 3rd place. His margin over Macklin would be just six-tenths of a second. Peter Collins would have enough of the other Whitehead. Enjoying enough of an advantage over Bill Aston behind him, Collins would back off slightly and would finish in 7th place four seconds behind Graham. Fairman would end up a rather far cry from his impressive pole-position he earned for the second heat. He would end up being the last car still on the lead lap. He would finish the race in 9th place more than a minute behind Rolt.
Compared to the first few races of the season, the Coronation Trophy would certainly go a bit better for the team. They appeared to be more competitive and resilient over the course of the race than at some of the previous events. This would be important as the World Championship loomed on the horizon and approached rapidly.
Before the test of the World Championship, HWM would have another non-championship test to go through in order just to get to the World Championship rounds. On the 31st of May, HWM would take its team and would be in West Germany preparing to take part in a race on one of the toughest and most dangerous circuits in all the world. The race was the 17th Internationales ADAC Eifelrennen and it took place on the monstrous 14 mile long Nordschleife which happened to be the longest portion of the Nurburgring.
Nestled in the beautiful Eifel mountains of West Germany is the small village of Nurburg. Considered to have once been a Roman fort, Nurburg would certainly become recognizable for its Nurburg Castle that rests high above the small village. A site of constant upheaval and restoration, Nurburg would become home to one of the most demanding racing circuits in the world; a site that would lay waste some talented racers and lift others up to the status of Ringmeister.
Despite its infamous and even hated reputation, the circuit would call drivers from near and far. And while the German racers wouldn't be allow to leave Germany for a few years after World War II, a number of foreign competitors would come to the circuit in order to compete. Besides the German Grand Prix, one of those races in which foreign entries would come and take part would be the ADAC Eifelrennen.
As with most of the other races on the season, HWM would come all the way to the Eifel mountains with three of their cars. Lance Macklin and Peter Collins, the two mainstays, would be present. However, the team would hire something of an expert to drive the third car. While the team would not hire a German racer for the third car the team would turn to the Belgian Paul Frere.
Frere was more than just a journalist. He had proven to be quite fast and capable, but more than anything, he was routinely familiar with driving in adverse conditions. A Belgian, Frere was used to the unusual and unsuspected weather of the Ardennes Forest. This was very similar to the weather found in the Eifel mountains and would certainly be an advantage for the team.
The reigning champions of the race happened to be back, just not its driver. Rudolf Fischer had won the Eifelrennen for Ecurie Espadon the year before. However, one year later, Fischer would take over just running his team and would look to other talented drivers to build upon the strong results earned during the 1952 season. Kurt Adolff would earn the seat in the Ferrari 500 and would immediately look good heading into the 7 lap race.
Using the superior power and performance of the Ferrari 500, Adolff would end up taking the pole. The hiring of Paul Frere would seem to be a stroke of genius as he would end up also starting on the front row right next to Adolff in the 2nd position. The rest of the front row would consist of Hans Klenk in 3rd and Stirling Moss starting 4th.
HWM's other two drivers, Collins and Macklin, would end up putting together solid qualifying performances but each would be a little further down in the field. Collins would end up starting the race from the third row in the 8th position while Macklin would start right behind Collins in the fourth row in the 12th position. Duncan Hamilton would be listed to share the drive of the number 10 car with Lance Macklin, but the race would make it unnecessary.
One of the twenty-one starters wouldn't make it to the start of the race. The competitors would find the conditions much tougher heading into the race. It had been raining and the circuit was wet and dangerous. The real Ringmeisters would certainly come to be realized before the end of the day.
At the start, Baron de Graffenried would show his poise in the wet and would shoot all the way up from the third row of the grid to take the lead away from Adolff even before the first turn. Adolff would give chase but would have Frere all over him. Collins would also make an incredible start. He too would take advantage of the conditions, and the tentativeness of others, and would also come up from the third row of the grid to challenge Edgar Barth and slot in behind Frere his teammate.
Further back, Macklin was intent on settling in and trying to systematically work his way forward. However, he would join a list of drivers that would have his, and Duncan Hamilton's, race come to an end even before completing a single lap. An ignition problem would drop the number 10 HWM-Alta out of the race. Surprisingly, they would be one of a couple that would suffer from ignition ailments.
In the wet conditions, Adolff couldn't do enough to keep Frere behind him. Frere was certainly showing his comfort in the conditions as he would quickly take the fight to de Graffenried as well. Collins would also show a level of comfort in the conditions and with the circuit as he too would get by Adolff to take over 3rd place.
Emmanuel de Graffenried held onto the lead but not by much. The pressure applied by Frere would lead to de Graffenried setting the fastest lap of the race as he tried everything he could to stay in front of Frere. Together with Collins, these three would check out from the rest of the field.
The fight between de Graffenried and Frere would go all the way down to the wire. In the end, Frere would prove to be a great acquisition by HWM. Averaging around 70 mph in the wet conditions, de Graffenried would answer the pressure from Frere perfectly and would remain in the lead. He would streak to the victory completing the distance in one hour, twenty-four minutes and thirty-two seconds. Over the course of more than 14 miles of circuit just less than two seconds would separate de Graffenried and Frere at the finish. Although he would finish in 2nd, it was still a great result for himself and the team. It would get even better as Peter Collins would hold on to finish the race 3rd. He would come across the line about fifteen seconds behind Frere.
Just like that, HWM went from absolutely struggling and looking well over-matched in their first couple of races to coming in 2nd and 3rd at perhaps one of the most demanding and dangerous circuits in the world. This was an incredible result with the third round of the World Championship just one week away.
After a long hiatus, the World Championship would resume on the 7th of June at Zandvoort in the Netherlands. It was actually the 4th Grand Prix of the Netherlands but it was just the second year for Netherlands on the World Championship calendar. The race would be a long 90 lap race around the 2.60 mile circuit.
Zandvoort had hosted the Grand Prix of the Netherlands since its inception back in 1950. It had started out as a non-championship race. However, the nature of the circuit would make it a favorite with drivers and fans alike and it would be added, for the first time, in 1952.
What made the circuit such a favorite with the drivers were the numerous high-speed corners that required a good deal of courage, but that were just so exciting to take as fast as possible. Created amidst the shifting sand dunes overlooking the North Sea, spectators found there to be plenty of viewing opportunities as the sand dunes would give the circuit a sense of being nestled inside a tunnel. And while corners, like 'Tunnel Oost' and others would be incredibly challenging as they were, they would be made even more challenging by the blowing sand that would often come off the dunes and cover the circuit. This would make the circuit slippery and not at all easy to get right.
Alberto Ascari, and Scuderia Ferrari, would get it right in practice as Ascari would take the pole for the race. He would be joined on the front row by one of his Ferrari teammates Giuseppe Farina. Farina would start in 3rd. The middle of the front row would go to the resurgent Maserati factory effort and Juan Manuel Fangio.
For the Grand Prix of the Netherlands, HWM would turn to its two main drivers of Macklin and Collins and that would be it. The fastest of the two in practice would be Macklin. His best time would end up a little more than ten seconds slower than Ascari and would put him down on the sixth row of the grid in 15th position overall. Less than a second would separate Macklin and Collins in time. As a result, Collins would start 16th on the grid, which was in the first position of the seventh row of the grid.
At the start of the race, it would be obvious the Ferraris were seemingly better in the gritty conditions than that of the Maseratis. Heading into the first turn, Ascari held onto the lead. He would be followed by his Ferrari teammates Luigi Villoresi and Giuseppe Farina. After Juan Manuel Fangio in 4th, Mike Hawthorn, another Ferrari pilot, would be right there in 5th place. Peter Collins would make a decent start and would be up to around 10th place at the start. By contrast, Macklin obvious was suffering from some kind of trouble and would be well down in the order even before reaching the first corner.
While Ascari would begin to pull away at the head of the field, more and more trouble just continued coming Macklin's way. The car just wouldn't respond. He couldn't get the car up to speed. Then, after just seven laps, it would all come apart for Macklin. A throttle issue would end up finishing Macklin's race before having reached even ten percent of the total race distance. Nonetheless, the race would go on.
The circuit would be tough on cars. Its short, fast nature would put tremendous strain on engines and transmissions. The fast nature of the corners would also put tremendous strain on suspension pieces as well. Before the day would be over, nine cars would end up retiring from the race and all would be the cause of some kind of mechanical failure. Even the front runners were available for attrition to come calling as well. Jose Froilan Gonzalez and Juan Manuel Fangio would have the rear axle fail on their Maseratis. Luigi Villoresi, despite setting the fastest lap of the race, would end up retiring as the result of a throttle issue like Macklin.
No such trouble seemed to come Ascari's way. He and Giuseppe Farina would check out from the rest of the field. In fact, before the race would end, the two would put the rest of the field at least a lap down.
Ascari seemed indestructible. He would take just two hours, fifty-three minutes and thirty-five seconds to complete the 90 lap race distance. He would enjoy an eleven second margin of victory over Farina. Jose Froilan Gonzalez had taken over Felice Bonetto's car after the trouble with his rear axle. He would end up being a lap down at the end but would still finish 3rd.
With Macklin out of the race, the only hope left for HWM would be Peter Collins. Collins would finish the race, but he certainly wouldn't be all that close at the end. Collins would follow Rosier to the line and would manage to beat Stirling Moss. He would end up a solid 8th place, which wasn't bad considering he started the race 16th. However, he would end up six laps down by the end. That meant just about every 14 to 15 laps Collins would see Ascari come, and go, by him.
No matter. HWM's first World Championship experience of 1953 would have to be considered something of a success. While half of the team would not make it to the end, the team would still have its other half not only finish, but finish inside the top ten. This was still a good result, but the team wouldn't have too much time to reflect upon it as the next round of the World Championship would take place in just a couple of weeks.
Two weeks and about 180 miles would separate the third and fourth rounds of the World Championship. After the Grand Prix of the Netherlands, the World Championship, and HW Motors, would pack up and head south. Its destination was to be the ultra-fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit located a stones-throw away from the small village of Francorchamps in the heart of the Ardennes Forest. The race was the ever-popular Belgian Grand Prix.
What made the Belgian Grand Prix so popular was the long and ultra-fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Although it was officially the 14th Grand Prix of Belgium, it was the fourth season of the Belgian Grand Prix as part of the World Championship. It had been there from the very beginning and was certainly a highlight on the calendar each and every year.
At 8.77 miles long, the circuit was anything but short. And besides the La Source hairpin, the circuit was anything but slow as well. Located in the heart of the Ardennes Forest, the circuit boasted of some spectacular sights, none more brilliant than the quick left flick and then climbing right-hand curve known as Eau Rouge. But besides the breath-taking speeds and fast corners, the circuit was also known for its unpredictable weather. In fact, the only thing for certain around the circuit was the uncertainty of the weather.
The year before, Alberto Ascari would struggle a little in the wet but would gather everything together and would dominate throughout the remainder of the race to take yet another victory in his truly remarkable season. One year later, Ascari was gunning for yet another World Drivers title, but it seemed the weather would certainly be more pleasant.
The Ferrari squad would have some serious competition in 1953. Maserati had been reborn and was proving a good match to the performance of Ferrari. While Ferrari continued its winning-streak, it seemed destined to end at any moment. After practice for the 36 lap race, it seemed it would come to an end at Spa.
Juan Manuel Fangio would be the fastest car on the circuit. His best time of four minutes and thirty seconds would end up being two seconds faster than Ascari's best time in the Ferrari. Therefore, Fangio would start from the pole with Ascari alongside in 2nd. Jose Froilan Gonzalez would make it two Maseratis on the front row when he qualified 3rd. In fact, Ascari barely edged Gonzalez out for the 2nd place spot.
HW Motors would come to the race with its now customary three cars. The lineup of Lance Macklin, Peter Collins and Paul Frere had worked so well at the similar Nurburgring that it would be brought to Spa. It was believed things would go even better for the team given the fact this would be Frere's home race at a circuit he knew even better. Practice would seem to prove this notion correct as Frere would be the best-qualified of the HWM drivers. He would qualify 11th and would start the race from the fifth row of the grid. Peter Collins and Lance Macklin would end up occupying the seventh row together. Collins would start 16th while Macklin would start 17th.
The day of the race would be a sharp contrast to the year before. Instead of rainy and rather mild, the day would be sunny, hot and dry. As the field streaked away toward Eau Rouge for the first time, Fangio seemed to be in no hurry and would let Gonzalez lead the way up the hill. He knew he had the pace after setting a record-breaking lap in practice of more than 117 mph. Therefore, he was in no hurry to battle with Gonzalez into the first turn and potentially knock each other out. Gonzalez would take over the lead and would roll like a Juggernaut afterward. At the completion of the very first lap of the race, Gonzalez was already averaging more than 110 mph and was only getting faster. In fact, he would end up setting the fastest lap of the race on the 2nd lap of the race.
This pace would be too much for a number of others in the field. Arthur Legat wouldn't even pull away from the grid when his transmission broke right at the start. Three laps later, Georges Berger would fall out with an expired engine. One lap after that HWM would take a hit. In order to keep pace, a driver needed to make quick shifts, drop the clutch and go. It would be easy to blow out a clutch and this would happen to Collins after just four laps.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, just kept going fast. He would match his fastest lap time from the 2nd lap of the race again on the 3rd, 9th and 11th laps of the race. However, it would be a little too much. Fangio was running nearly a minute behind Gonzalez just waiting for his moment to come and it would come after Gonzalez matched his fastest lap time for the fourth time. The accelerator pedal would give Gonzalez troubles forcing him to retire after such an impressive performance. It seemed now was Fangio's time, and Maserati's time, to take over Ferrari's reign. But even Fangio's lead would be short-lived. After just two laps in the lead his engine would expire handing the lead and the opportunity for another victory to Ascari.
Being toward the back of the pack, Macklin had to push right from the very beginning. With the troubles many of the competitors were experiencing, he was able to move his way up the order. Unfortunately the movement up the order would only last through half of the race. After 19 laps, the hot day would get to his Alta engine and would expire and would force him to retire. This would leave just the local-hopeful, Paul Frere, in the race for HWM.
The problem Frere would have is that the pace of the guys at the front of the field would be so much faster than what the HWM would be capable of performing. The HWM had been designed more for twisting, short circuits where acceleration and handling were of greater importance that outright speed. And on this day, outright speed was catching him up and passing Frere numerous times.
Although the engine let go in Fangio's Maserati he wouldn't let that stop him from trying to take the victory. He would end up taking over Johnny Claes' Maserati for the remainder of the race. Once in the car, Fangio would step down hard on the car in an effort to haul Ascari and Villoresi back in.
Fangio continued to keep coming. There was just one lap remaining and Fangio was lying in 3rd place. Unfortunately, that would be the closest he would get. On the last lap, the steering would break in the car and Fangio would end up crashing out of the race.
The threat extinguished, Ascari was free to cruise to yet another World Championship victory. He would complete the distance in just two hours, forty-eight minutes and thirty seconds and would average around 112 mph en route to his victory. His pace would end up giving him a nearly three minute advantage over Villoresi in 2nd place. Onofre Marimon would be gifted with a 3rd place result, but he, like the rest of the field, was at least one lap down.
It would be worse for Frere. While the Belgian Claes would have his Maserati taken away from him by Fangio, and could then blame the Argentinean for wrecking it, Frere would be solely responsible for his performance in the HWM-Alta. Frere would make it to the end of the race and would be running in 11th place at the time of the race coming to an end. However, he wouldn't just end up one lap behind. Instead, he would be six, or what would amount to about thirty minutes that he was behind Ascari at the finish.
After its second World Championship race it had become quite clear to HWM that they were officially outclassed. Against the might of Ferrari and Maserati there was practically no chance. Yet, despite this fact and the costs associated with racing, the team would soldier on, and another World Championship race would be next for the team.
The World Championship rounds were beginning to come in rapid succession. Just two weeks after HWM's frustrating Belgian Grand Prix the team would be preparing for another round of the championship. This time the series moved to the west of the Low Countries. The series pulled into Reims for the French Grand Prix on the 5th of July.
The first two years of the World Championship would have the French Grand Prix held at Reims. However, the 1952 season would see the French Grand Prix move to Rouen-les-Essarts. Reims would still host races throughout the season but just wasn't ready to host the World Championship with a new circuit layout. However, one year later, the circuit layout would change again but Reims would be ready to host the French round of the World Championship. Therefore, the championship would return to the circuit situated amongst the wide-open rolling countryside of the Champagne-Ardenne region of France.
Once the capital of the ancient tribe of Remi, and the province of Champagne, Reims would also be a capital for technological marvels as well. In 1909, it would host the first international aviation meet. Then in World War II it would be the site of the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht to General Eisenhower and the Allies. After World War II, Reims would become a capital of motorsports for France.
Heading into the 1953 season the Reims circuit would have its layout further changed. The overall length of the circuit would be lengthened from 4.44 miles to 5.15 miles. It would include a fast sweeping right-hander called 'Annie Bousquet', as well as, another hairpin turn known as 'Muizon'. The addition of the Muizon hairpin would effectively increase the 'Route Nationale 31' straight by almost a third. This meant higher speeds and higher average speeds over the course of a lap. It would also, as the race would bare out, lead to some incredibly close racing.
HWM would come to the French Grand Prix again with three cars. As usual, Macklin and Collins would be with the team. However, the third car would again be made available to someone of 'local' talent. Therefore, the team would hire Frenchman Yves Giraud-Cabantous to drive the third car.
The Belgian Grand Prix had seen Maserati dominate the speed charts on the ultra-fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Reims was another ultra-fast circuit. Therefore, Ferrari knew they would need to make some adjustments to claw back to at least an equal status. Changes would be made to the radiator opening and it would be immediately successful. Alberto Ascari wouldn't just be closer; he would end up taking the pole. Surprisingly, he wouldn't beat out Fangio. It would be Felice Bonetto that would be the second-fastest driver in practice. Luigi Villoresi would end up completing the front row showing that Ferrari had for sure clawed back into contention.
The question for HWM would be whether or not they could even come close to being in contention. The answer would be—no. However, at the end of practice, the team would look like an impressive phalanx ready to go to war. The entire seventh row would be HW Motor's. Lance Macklin would start 16th while Collins and Giraud-Cabantous would start 17th and 18th.
On a hot and sunny afternoon, twenty-five cars would line up on the grid and would prepare for a 60 lap contest. Little did any of the teams, drivers or spectators know, it was the pause before one of the most epic performances in grand prix history.
Gonzalez would take off at the start with half full fuel tanks. Behind him would begin one of the most dramatic sights ever at a grand prix race. The Ferrari teammates would hook up and would practically run in echelon formation throughout the course of each and every lap. Right there with them, also locked together wheel-to-wheel would be the rest of the Maserati pilots.
These elite drivers would immediately begin to draw away from the rest of the field, which would include the HWM drivers. The pace and the heat of the day would also start to take its toll. A number of drivers would find their race come to an end even before ten laps had been completed. Unfortunately, one of those happened to be Macklin. His clutch would fail on his car and would cause him to retire from the race.
The scene at the front was incredible. The best in the world were putting together one awesome display of driving skill and of respect. Often never more than inches away from each other, the race would carry on like this each and every lap. It also seemed with each and every lap of the race that the pace increased. This increase in pace would help to drop even more from the field. By the halfway point of the race the field had been reduced by eight, but none of the front-runners would be affected at all, and therefore, the awesome display of wheel-to-wheel action would just continue.
Halfway through the race, Gonzalez would be swallowed back into the field when he stopped for another half a tank of fuel. By this point in time Yves Giraud-Cabantous had come to see the front-runners come by to lap him at least five times. Peter Collins was one of the next higher in the running order and he would be lapped more than a couple of times himself by this point. But the top six or so would remain on the lead lap and within seconds of each other.
The last half of the race would see a titanic battle between Fangio and Hawthorn develop. The two would consistently run side by side down the long straights. The two would give room for the other and would be seen staring at each other heading down the long straights as they sized each other up but showed nothing but respect for the other.
Behind these two the fighting was furious and tight as well. As the race neared the last few laps only the top six remained on the lead lap. And the 7th place runner Emmanuel de Graffenried would end up facing going down two laps before the end.
The pace and the scene at the front of the field were truly incredible to witness. The crowd was on its feet cheering and screaming because of what they had been witnessing. Even the rest of the drivers, including the front-runners, would recognize just how special a race it had been, and it still wasn't over. The lapped traffic, including Giraud-Cabantous and Collins, would even slow on the straights to be able to witness the special sight.
Heading into the last lap of the race, it was still Hawthorn and Fangio neck and neck. It had been that way for each and every lap since the halfway point of the race. Now it would come down to one last lap.
Hawthorn had been sizing up his older and more experienced competitor and would make his move during the last couple of laps. The move would lead to Hawthorn holding a better position going into Courbe de Gueux and throughout the fast sweeping turns of the circuit. However, when the two spilled out onto the Route Nationale 31 straight Fangio would manage to pull alongside for yet another drag race down the straight. Heading to the Thillois hairpin, the final turn before the long straight to the start/finish line, Hawthorn still had the better position on the inside. Fangio would try and outbreak Hawthorn and go around him through the turn.
The crowd was on edge. Spectators strained to see down the sloping terrain to the Thillois hairpin. They were all eagerly waiting to see who would come through the turn first. Then they would see what they were all waiting to see. Hawthorn would go toe-to-toe with Fangio and would end up having the advantage through the turn. Fangio would get out of shape having waited to the very last to break. As a result, he would lose a lot of momentum and would even come under pressure from Gonzalez who had made his way back up after dropping to 5th after his fuel stop.
Hawthorn would put his foot on it and would power his way up the straight to cross the line and take his first-ever World Championship victory! Fangio would do everything he could to hold onto 2nd place. He and Gonzalez would fight it out all the way to the line. In the end, Fangio would cross the line just half a car length ahead of Gonzalez.
Only a little more than a minute would separate the top six. Seventh and on down through the remainder of the field would be at least two laps behind. Collins and Giraud-Cabantous would wish they were only two laps down at the end. Instead, Collins would cross the line in the 13th position and a little more than eight laps behind Hawthorn. It would be even worse for Yves. While he too would finish the race in 14th he would be ten laps down. In fact, he would go ten laps down just within the last couple of laps of the race.
It had been a truly epic race, at least for the front of the field. It had been such an incredible display that many of the crowd forgot there were other cars out on the circuit besides the Ferraris and the Maseratis. And while HWM would have two of its cars finish the race, they still would end up being nothing more than background for the truly epic battle at the front of the field. After playing the part of a small part extra in a big epic production, HWM would pack up and would head back across the English Channel after three-straight World Championship races.
It had been a rather disappointing World Championship experience for the team. After three-straight races, the best the team managed to garner was an 8th place finish in the Grand Prix of the Netherlands. Even though two of its cars had finished the French Grand Prix they would be so far behind in the end that it would be of little matter.
The sixth round of the World Championship was rapidly approaching, but there was still time to take part in a non-championship race. Therefore, HW Motors would head back to Crystal Palace Park in order to take part in the 1st Crystal Palace Trophy race held on the 11th of July.
HW Motors would come to the race with just two cars. Peter Collins was supposed to come to the event as well but would not. This would leave Lance Macklin to partner with Duncan Hamilton as the team's two drivers.
In practice, neither of the HWM drivers would make it onto the front row. It would end up being that Tony Rolt would take the pole. He would have Roy Salvadori alongside in 2nd and Les Leston completing the front row in 3rd. Macklin would end up just missing out on a front row spot, and instead, would have to settle with starting behind Rolt in 4th. Hamilton would end up starting in the third row behind Macklin in 7th place.
At just 15 laps, the Crystal Palace Trophy race would be a short endeavor. Rolt and Salvadori would get away at the start and would set a very quick pace at the front. Behind these two, practically the rest of the field was running just as they had qualified. Macklin was chasing Leston. And Macklin had Peter Whitehead trying to chase him down. One of the few differences would come with Hamilton. Kenneth McAlpine would end up retiring from the race in his Connaught. This moved Hamilton up to 6th overall and in pursuit of Peter Whitehead.
The fight at the front was rather intense. Salvadori would end up setting the fastest lap of the race in his attempt to overhaul Rolt. But Rolt would match him blow for blow and would not give up his position.
After just seventeen minutes and twenty-three seconds, Rolt would cross the line to take the victory ahead of Salvadori. Les Leston would also manage to hold on to finish 3rd. Lance Macklin would keep the pattern going having started and finished in 4th. The only one to break up the pattern would be McAlpine and Hamilton. McAlpine's departure would promote Hamilton to 6th place; a position he would not relinquish over the course of the race.
Though against a relatively small field, and an even smaller field of talented drivers, the result for the team still had been a welcome one. It was important to do well in race where it is expected that the team would do well. And to have both cars finish and running up near the top was certainly important before the next round of the World Championship the following week.
On the 18th of July, HW Motors prepared to take part in what was perhaps the most important World Championship race of the season for the team. The team would make its way back to Silverstone for they were on their way to take part in the British Grand Prix.
The race in 1953 would be the 8th British Grand Prix. Ever since the end of World War II and the rebirth of motor racing Silverstone had been the home for the British Grand Prix. Just one of many abandoned airbases, the RAF Silverstone airbase, and its 2.77 miles of perimeter road, would come to be the property of the Royal Automobile Club in 1947 and would host the British Grand Prix for the first time the following year.
Although it would be the fourth year for the British Grand Prix as part of the World Championship, it would only be the second year in which HWM would compete in the home grand prix and the third year in which the team had even been a part of the World Championship.
The previous year had been the first time in which HWM had taken part in the British Grand Prix and it ended with two of the three cars retiring from the race and Lance Macklin coming in a lowly 15th. One year later, HWM would come with a fleet of four cars and with a fervency to do better. Peter Collins, Duncan Hamilton and Lance Macklin had competed in a number of races with the team. The fourth car would go to Jack Fairman, who had taken part in just one race with the team prior but had looked rather good at the time.
Though more ideally suited to a circuit like Silverstone, neither one of HWM's chassis would find their way to the front row of the grid. Not surprising, it would be overrun with Ferraris and Maseratis. Ascari would take the pole with a lap time of one minute and forty-eight seconds. Gonzalez would start 2nd while Hawthorn and Fangio would complete the front row in 3rd and 4th.
Macklin would represent the highest-placed HWM in the field. He would end up nine seconds down to Ascari and would end up on the fourth row of the grid and 12th overall. Duncan Hamilton would be next. He would be in the fifth row and would start 17th. There would be a row between Hamilton and Collins. Collins would start 23rd. And Fairman would end up at the wrong end of the grid. He would start the race 27th, which was in the middle of the eighth, and final, row of the grid.
In usual English fashion, the day of the race would be greeted with cloudy skies and the promise of rain. With the threat of rain coming it would be important for the teams to take advantage of the dry weather and hopefully build up an advantage. This way, when the rain would come the advantage would act as a cushion against others perhaps more adept in the wet conditions.
This approach would be evident right from the very start of the 90 lap race. Fangio would make a great start and would actually lead heading into Copse. However, he would approach the turn a little too fast and would end up losing his lead to Ascari. Once in the lead, Ascari began to push, and push hard.
Behind Ascari, the only real race that would develop would be the race against attrition. A couple wouldn't beat it to the first corner. Both McAlpine and Tony Crook would break on the grid and wouldn't go much further. Another couple wouldn't make it past ten laps. HWM's cars, however, were running well during the initial stages of the race and were just looking to gradually make their way up through the field.
In the dry conditions, Ascari was on the pace and would push hard. Very quickly he would set what would be the fastest lap of the race. It would later be matched by Gonzalez, but Ascari consistently ran fast laps and this enabled him to gradually pull away from the rest of the field.
This fast early pace, necessary with the approaching rain, would end up causing even more retirements. The stress, the pressure to keep up on a circuit that required some heavy braking, quick acceleration and numerous gear changes would take its toll. It would, unfortunately, take its toll on Hamilton's car. It would be out after just 14 laps due to clutch failure. Just 31 laps into the race, the team would lose Macklin when a clutch housing would break in his car. Clutch problems would continue to strike the team when Fairman, after 54 laps, would also be out because of a failed clutch. The carnage was everywhere. And it would only be made worse with the rain.
Ascari had the advantage he didn't need. He was out front, but seemed unfazed when the rain really began to fall. Others up at the front of the field, including the fan-favorite Hawthorn, would still find the going rather tough. Hawthorn would lose many places when he would spin off the circuit and through the grass. Although he would return to the track he had lost a number of positions. Jimmy Stewart would end up spinning out after completing 79 laps.
The field was being demolished by either the rain, mechanical ailments or just by Ascari's incredible pace. Collins would be the sole remaining HWM driver in the race. The pressures of Ascari, the rain and the mechanical maladies were becoming too much. And although the team had come to the race with four cars, when Collins would spin out in the wet after 56 laps, HWM would be left with no more bullets in its gun and there were still more than thirty laps remaining.
The race, however, was over as soon as Fangio overcooked his entry into the first turn on the first lap of the race. Once in the lead, Ascari checked out. And whatever the wet and the mechanical troubles didn't get, Ascari finished off.
It would take him exactly two hours and fifty minutes to complete the 90 laps and take yet another victory. He would beat Fangio by exactly one minute, but he would beat the rest of the field by numerous miles. Giuseppe Farina, a Ferrari teammate, would finish the race 3rd but he would be two laps down by the end. In fact, Farina had just gone down the second lap on the very last lap of the race. The damage had been catastrophic. Between Ascari, the rain and the mechanical troubles, only ten of the twenty-eight starters would actually finish the race; just thirty-five percent of the field.
Of course HWM would have like to have at least twenty-five percent of its field finish the race instead of the zero the team actually suffered. The team had come with a dominant four-car entry and perhaps would leave the biggest loser. Almost every single one of their cars dropped out before halfway or just a little past it. Being that it was also the home grand prix, it would be tough to recover from such a catastrophic failure.
To regroup after the epic failure at the British Grand Prix the team had intended to take part in the United States Air Force Trophy race held at Snetterton one week after the home grand prix. However, perhaps out of a little embarrassment, the team would pack up and would head back across the English Channel to take part in a non-championship race in France.
The team would head on down to the Rhone-Alpes region of France and the popular quaint and quiet shores of Lac du Bourget. The team was on its way to take part in the 5th Circuit du Lac held on the tight and twisty streets of Aix-les-Bains on the 26th of July.
Deriving its name from the Latin Aquae meaning 'waters', Aix-les-Bains had been a popular destination for the Romans because of its hot sulfur springs. As time would pass, the small town would continue to be a popular destination for tourists and people looking for a tranquil setting offering some fun and recreation. With the lake and the foothills of the Alps overlooking the lake, Aix-les-Bains certainly was a special and popular place to go racing.
The Circuit du Lac race was yet another race that consisted of heat races but the format was still slightly different. Instead of the field being split up into separate heats, every competitor would take part in two 50 lap heat races and the aggregate time of the two heats would determine the winner of the entire event.
HW Motors would come with three cars. Since it was a race on French soil, the team would turn to Yves Giraud-Cabantous to join Macklin and Collins as the team's three drivers.
In practice, it would be the French Equipe Gordini squad that would look tough. Harry Schell would put one of their cars on the pole. Maurice Trintignant would put another on the front row in 3rd. Onofre Marimon would take his Maserati and would break up the hold on the front row by qualifying 2nd.
Things would not look good for Giraud-Cabantous. He just could not come to grips with his car and would end up starting dead-last, all by himself in the fifth row and 11th overall. Collins would do only a little better. He would start one row ahead of Yves in the 9th position. Macklin would obviously be the best starter but even he wouldn't have too much to be excited about as he would start on the third row in 8th.
Of course where one started wouldn't be nearly as important as where one ended. This would give the team hope going into the first heat. Emmanuel de Graffenried, Maurice Trintignant and Onofre Marimon would also do their part to provide HWM and other teams hope as they would all drop out of the race and before even 15 laps had been completed. These retirements, and Schell's drop off of the pace, would throw everything wide open.
At the start, Jean Behra, another Equipe Gordini driver, would look strong. He would lead the way after everyone else retired or dropped off the pace. He would come to be chased by Elie Bayol and Louis Rosier. Rosier's movement up the order, as well as, John Fitch's descent down the order, would put the HWM cars in line in the running order but just not on the same lap
Behra's pace over the course of the first heat would be too much for the ailing HWM team. It was entirely obvious they were outclassed by the Gordini T16 and other chassis, but nonetheless, they were still running in the race.
Bayol would do his best to harass Behra but it would do very little to upset the order. Behra would average just a little more than 62 mph around the slow and twisty 1.49 mile circuit but he would take the victory by more than twenty-three seconds over Bayol. Rosier would finish in 3rd but nearly a minute behind.
Lance Macklin would lead home an HWM one, two, three. Macklin would end up two laps down in 4th place. Collins would be a further lap down in 5th and Giraud-Cabantous would come across the line thirty seconds behind Collins three laps down to Behra in 6th. It was obvious neither one of the team's entries would be in a position to take the victory, unless something absolutely drastic happened. However, they were still running strongly and looking good for a decent result, which is what the team needed.
The starting grid for the second heat would be determined by finishing position in the first. Therefore, HWM's drivers would occupy the second row with 4th and 5th, and also, the first position on the third row with Yves starting 6th. Jean Behra would be on pole with Bayol and Rosier alongside.
Things were looking up for the team until five laps into the race. Collins would have his clutch go out on his car bringing an end to his race. This left just the other two. Of the two, Macklin was looking the most promising. He wasn't able to keep up with Behra's pace throughout the early going but he was hanging in there.
Behra would be fast in the second heat. He would go on to set what would be the fastest lap of the heat. However, his pace wouldn't be matched by reliability. The weakness of the Gordini T16 had been its rear axle, and the same problem would show up after Behra completed 20 laps. This threw the race a little more wide open, but not far enough for HWM's two remaining entries to take advantage.
Giraud-Cabantous had ended the first heat down by three laps. In the second heat, he would be even more off the pace. He certainly wouldn't be in the running for the top three. Macklin was only a little better.
Elie Bayol would thankfully take the gift handed him by Behra. He would go on to take the win in the second heat. He would be followed more than a minute and a half later by Louis Rosier in his Ferrari 500. Lance Macklin would be the 3rd place finisher but he would be two laps down over the course of the 50 lap heat. Yves would also finish. He had been running in the 5th, and final, position in the running order. While he would hold on to finish he would be nine laps down and well out of the running.
When the results were tallied, Bayol would come out on top. His margin of victory over the course of the two heats would be a little more than two minutes over Rosier. Lance Macklin would put together a strong enough performance to salvage a 3rd place result for the team. However, in the final results he finished some four laps down. It was worse for Giraud-Cabantous. Despite finishing both heats he would be officially listed as 'Not Classified' for he would be a little more than twelve laps behind in the aggregate scoring.
Once again, HWM was outclassed. While the team would thankfully take Macklin's 3rd place
result it certainly didn't come without some help. The team knew they were unable to compete, but money was an issue. Therefore, they would take such gifts gladly and would move on.
Two weeks after taking part in the Circuit du Lac event, HWM headed across to the other side of France. Their destination was Sables-d'Olonne. They were headed that way in order to take part in the 3rd Grand Prix de Sables-d'Olonne on the 9th of August.
French for 'the sand of Olonne', the seaside town's name comes from a rather ruthless source. Francois l'Olonnais had been a French indentured servant in the Caribbean. When his years of service would be completed he would become well known as a pirate that especially targeted Spanish ships and settlements. He would become infamous for the sacking of the Maracaibo. His brutal tactics and expertise in torture would make him greatly feared throughout the Caribbean. From him Sables-d'Olonne would draw its name.
During World War II, the port city would be under siege itself by the occupying German army. Upon leaving at the end of the war, the German army destroyed the port and actually mined the harbor. However, by the early 1950s, the port city was flourishing again and set to host more motor racing.
The 1.82 mile circuit was situated to the southwest of the actual port city. The circuit surrounded Lac de Tanache and ran along the Boulevard de l'Atlantique and back around along the Avenue Rhin et Danube heading to the start/finish line. While mainly a triangle in layout, the circuit featured an interesting descent through the esses along Avenue du Lac toward the shoreline. The numerous tight turns and sweeping bends would help to counter the speeds achieved down the straights. As a result, the circuit would be considered a medium-speed circuit.
The Grand Prix de Sables d'Olonne would follow the same format as the Circuit du Lac that had taken place a couple of weeks prior. The race would consist of two heat races in which every competitor took part and the final results would be determined by aggregate scoring.
As with the Circuit du Lac, the Sables d'Olonne circuit would play to the strengths of the Equipe Gordini team. The first heat would see them sweep the front row. Schell would start on pole with Maurice Trintignant and Jean Behra in 2nd and 3rd.
Macklin, Collins and Giraud-Cabantous would be back for HWM. And in practice, all three would struggle compared to the rest of the field. However, the finishing results would be more important than starting position.
When the first heat started, Behra would be a man driving in anger. He had victory within his grasp two weeks earlier and he certainly was driving as though he was still angry. His pace would end up leaving Schell, the pole-sitter, behind. It would also put a tremendous amount of strain on his other team member Trintignant.
Trintignant would find the going tough. He would retire after just 20 laps due to transmission failure. The race had been quiet on the attrition front all the way until Trintignant's failure, but after that, trouble would continue to come. Macklin, unfortunately, would be the next one out of the running. His engine would develop problems and would force Macklin out of the heat, but not out of the race. After Macklin, two more would be out of the race. In total, there would be four entries that would drop out in a matter of six laps.
Up front, Behra continued to lead over Louis Chiron and Louis Rosier. These three would leave everybody else behind, including Giraud-Cabantous and Collins. Of course just about anything would have left Collins behind.
Behra would cruise to the victory. He would enjoy more than twenty-eight seconds of lead over Chiron at the finish. Chiron would hold on by about five seconds over Rosier in 3rd place. Over the course of the 45 lap heat, Yves would go down two laps and would finish 6th. This would be better than what Collins would manage to do in his HWM-Alta. Just about every five laps of the heat, Behra would come by Collins to put him a lap down. By the end, Collins would still be running but would be a very distant nine laps behind; well out of the running with one more heat still to go.
Undaunted, Collins would start the second heat. Macklin would also decide to take part in the second heat despite being out of the running. Macklin would start from the last row in 9th. Collins would start one row better in 8th. HWM's only hope, which was really nothing at all, would be Yves. Yves would end up starting in the third row with Collins and in the 6th position, but already a couple of laps in arrears. Behra would occupy the pole. He had Chiron and Rosier on the front row with him, but it certainly was Behra's to win or lose.
The pressure upon Behra in the final would be strong. Louis Rosier would get a good start and would be right there battling with Louis Chiron early on in the race. Against Chiron, Behra had been strong and seemingly not under threat. However, if Rosier could get by, Behra would have a tough time being followed by a Ferrari 500. The most remarkable start of the second heat would be made by the person with the least to gain. Trintignant would be on fire at the start and would right up there with the leaders, but a certain non-factor in the results.
Some others that would be certain non-factors would be the HWM drivers. Giraud-Cabantous continued to be the most impressive of the group. While he still wasn't able to keep up with the pace of the front-runners he was still doing a whole lot better than the rest of the team.
It was obvious Macklin was out of the hunt even before the heat would start. However, during the race, he would look as though he was out for a little stroll. He would be well down and out and it begged to question why he was even out there in the first place. The same could almost be said for Collins. If the first heat had gone rather bad, then the second would go terribly for the Englishman.
Of course, HWM's drivers knew they were out of the running. Behra was right at the head of the running and looking on track to take the victory. That is, until he threw it all away on the 34th lap of the race. He would end up loosing his concentration for a moment, and that was all it took. He would end up slipping off the circuit and would crash out of the event with victory within sight once again. This threw the race into Rosier's lap.
Though Trintignant would streak across the line to take the victory, Rosier would be just six seconds behind in 2nd place. Louis Chiron would end up finishing the race in 3rd around thirty seconds behind Rosier. Giraud-Cabantous would hold on to be the best finisher amongst the HWM team. He would finish two laps down in 4th place. Peter Collins would also finish, but he would be three laps down. Macklin would also finish the second heat but would be more than twelve laps down.
When the results were tallied, Rosier would be gifted a win by Behra. Chiron would finish in 2nd place just about thirty seconds behind Rosier. Stirling Moss would pull out a 3rd place finish despite being three laps down in the aggregate scoring. Giraud-Cabantous would finish in 4th place but would be four laps down. And although Behra would crash out of the second heat he would still beat Collins in the standings. Behra would finish in 5th while Collins came in 6th in the results. Macklin would end up 'Not Classified' after finishing more than twenty-two laps down.
After two similar races, HWM came away having scored two similar results. Neither one of its cars would challenge for a top result, but it would have a number of its cars finish well down in the results. HWM was certainly in trouble despite finishing races. Unfortunately, the season wasn't over and HWM wouldn't call it quits.
Against all the odds, HWM would pack up its cars and equipment and would head out of France on its way to take part in yet another World Championship race. The destination would be Switzerland and the eighth round of the championship, the Swiss Grand Prix held at Bremgarten on the 23rd of August.
Heading into the 65 lap race, HWM would make some changes. Peter Collins would sit out the race. Instead, his car would be given to a Swiss driver by the name of Albert Scherrer. Paul Frere would also be back driving for the team. Lance Macklin would be the only hold-over on the team's driving roster.
Berne is the capital of Switzerland, and yet, just the fourth largest city in the country. Possibly named after the celtic word for 'cleft', the city surely is a jewel hidden in the cleft of the Swiss Alps. Nestled along the banks of the Wohlensee River, the heavily-wooded and tree-lined roads of the Bremgarten forest served as the site of the Swiss Grand Prix and the 4.51 mile ever-changing Bremgarten circuit.
The Bremgarten circuit was another true road course in that it was entirely comprised of public roads, but also, roads that were always changing direction and rarely, if ever, just going straight. While a treat for the drivers, the circuit was also quite dangerous, especially in the wet.
Heading into the eighth round of the 1953 World Championship, the drivers would not have to worry about the rain, only the heat. Another thing the field of cars wouldn't have to worry about was the fight for the World Championship. That had already been decided at the last race in Nurburg, Germany.
In practice, Juan Manuel Fangio would let his Maserati A6SSG go and would take the pole with a lap of two minutes and forty seconds. Six-tenths of a second would separate Fangio and Ascari in 2nd place. Giusppe Farina would make it an all World Champion front row when he would qualify 3rd.
All three of the HWM drivers would remain close together on the starting grid, but unfortunately, the huddle mass would be toward the tail end of the grid. Macklin would be fastest, albeit seventeen seconds slower than Fangio. He would start from the sixth row in 15th position. Paul Frere would be just a bit slower than Macklin and would start 16th, which would be in the first position on the seventh row. Albert Scherrer would complete the seventh row when he qualified 18th.
The race would see Ascari get a better jump off the line and he would lead the field right from the very first corner. He would be followed by Fangio and the rest of the field. Farina would make a terrible start and would come calling on the middle of the pack before he would really get going. Louis Rosier and Jacques Swaters would tangle on the very first lap of the race and would be out of the event. The next lap would be truly unkind to Paul Frere. The Belgian was looking forward to doing the best he could. Unfortunately, a connecting rod would break after just one lap and would bring Frere's race to a premature end. Trouble wouldn't just be reserved fort the tail end of the field though either.
With Ascari out front and actually pulling away, Fangio would run into trouble with his Maserati. After just 12 laps, he would stop and would take over Felice Bonetto's Maserati for the remainder of the race while Bonetto would take over Fangio's car. Things would end up being worse for Fangio after having made the switch. His race would end up lasting just 29 laps before he would finally retire with engine failure. If Fangio was having trouble in the tough conditions than it was almost a certainty that HWM wouldn't be able to handle things any better. And sure enough, on the same lap in which Fangio retired from the race, Macklin would retire, also with a blown engine. This left just the Swiss driver Scherrer in the race for the team.
The heat and the nature of the circuit spread the field out. There would be very little close racing like that seen at Reims. Although still running in the race, Scherrer's pace certainly didn't put him up near the front of the field. In fact, the pace of the race was such that there were few at the front of the field.
Bonetto had rejoined the race and was enjoying a trouble-free run in Fangio's car, but he was a lap down to Ascari who held onto the lead until he ran into trouble past the halfway mark in the race. Cooling troubles would force Ascari into the pits for a lengthy stop. This handed the lead to Farina with Hawthorn following in 2nd place.
Once Ascari headed back out on circuit he would do so under orders from Ferrari to hold position. It was decided Farina would win with Hawthorn coming in 2nd. That would never do with Ascari and he would set off tracking down his teammates and passing them back for the lead of the race. Somewhat caught off guard by the maneuver, Ascari managed to slip into the distance before Farina and Hawthorn could really defend their honor.
After setting the fastest lap of the race with 15 laps remaining, Ascari would settle-in and would cruise to the victory averaging a little more than 96 mph en route. Farina would finish rather perturbed in 2nd place a little more than a minute and ten seconds behind. Equally perturbed was Hawthorn, who would finish in 3rd place nearly two minutes down.
Scherrer continued to circulate the track although he wasn't merely seconds or minutes, but miles behind. The lone consolation for HWM, Scherrer would complete his first World Championship race, but would be listed as 'Not Classified' as he would end the race some sixteen laps down.
Compared to the season before when the team managed to put together some rather surprising performances, the only real surprise for HWM in 1953 was just how quickly the team had become overmatched. Their limited funds and other resources certainly were hindering the team against the competition. The one bright spot the team had left was that the season would be over soon.
But before the season would come to an end, the team would take part in a couple more races. Despite rapidly diminishing funds, HW Motors packed up and would remain in Europe for yet another week. They quickly packed and headed back to France. The team had a couple of entries in the 5th Circuit de Cadours event, which was yet another race with heats and a final as part of its format.
The Circuit de Cadours took place on the 30th of August in the rolling countryside just to the northwest of the small village of the same name. Similar to Reims, the circuit was situated amongst the wide-open and undulating farming fields of southcentral France. However, unlike Reims, the circuit was anything but ultra-fast. A medium-speed circuit at best, the Cadours circuit was technically challenging. Featuring a number of sweeping esses of different radii, it was difficult to get into a flow and a pace around Cadours. But it was the technical challenge and the bravery required to go fast around the numerous sweeping corners that made this rather small-time 2.54 circuit a favorite with many drivers.
Unlike the last couple of races in which HWM had taken part on French soil that featured heat races and a final, the Circuit de Cadours event would see the field broken up into heats, and then, brought together again for the final. In HWM's case, it would have two cars listed in the first heat. Yves Giraud-Cabantous would be back and in one of the cars. Lance Macklin would be in the other in the first heat.
Practice would see the two HWMs occupy the second row of the grid. Macklin would start 4th while Giraud-Cabantous would start 5th. The front row would consist of Maurice Trintignant on pole followed by Emmanuel de Graffenried starting alongside in 2nd and Charles de Tornaco lining up 3rd.
The heat race would see Trintignant out front and looking quite dominant. He would turn the fastest lap of the heat and would seem untouchable. Jean Behra would give his teammate the best challenge since both de Graffenried and de Tornaco would retire from the heat with mechanical problems. If Yves and Lance could keep their cars operating and on the road the retirements were set to help them out as well.
Despite having Behra just a little ways behind, Trintignant would march to the victory in the heat. He would cross the line eight seconds in front of Behra, who came from starting 6th to finish 2nd. Giraud-Cabantous would manage to get the better start and would also take advantage of Macklin over the course of the 15 lap heat. He would finish 3rd, a little more than a minute and twenty seconds behind. Macklin would cross the line to finish 4th about forty seconds in arrears to Yves.
The second heat would see one of HWM's founders, John Heath, take to the wheel. He would be in a heat that would also include Harry Schell, Louis Rosier, Ken Wharton and others.
In practice, Heath would prove to be rather good behind the wheel of the HWM-Alta. He would end up starting the second heat race from the third row of the grid in 6th place. Louis Rosier would start on pole with Elie Bayol and Harry Schell lining up 2nd and 3rd.
Schell would be absolutely on the fly during the race. The circuit favored his man-handling, cursing style rather well as he would go on to take over the lead of the race from Rosier and would even go on to set the fastest lap time during the heat.
Further down, Heath would also make a good start pushing on by Marcel Balsa and taking away 5th place from him. Ken Wharton would also be the other winner at the start of the race. Despite starting dead-last, Wharton would get a great jump at the start and would be inside the top five very quickly.
Schell would be strong over the course of the 15 laps. Rosier would do his best to counter and fight back but he just couldn't unseat Schell's hold on the lead. Schell would go on to complete the heat fifty seconds faster than his teammate Trintignant in the first heat. Rosier would finish 2nd about twelve seconds behind. Bayol would follow Rosier to the finish and would come 3rd another thirty seconds behind Rosier. Schell's fierce pace would put everybody 5th or worse at least a lap down. This meant Heath would come across the line a lap down since he would finish 5th.
Only the top four from each heat would advance to the 30 lap final. While Macklin and Giraud-Cabantous made it into the field, Heath would just miss out, or would he? The Circuit de Cadours event featured one other short heat race called the repechage. This was a second chance for those that just missed out, including Heath.
In the 10 lap second chance race, Charles de Tornaco, who had his oil pipe repaired and replaced, and John Heath would lead the way. These two would defeat Rene Duval for the final two spots in the ten car field for the final. Therefore, all three HWM entries would make it into the final.
The front row of the grid would see Schell on the pole. He would have Rosier and Bayol on the front row with him. Giraud-Cabantous would line up on the third row in 7th while Macklin would start right beside him in 8th. John Heath would start right behind Macklin and Giraud-Cabantous in the fourth row in the 10th, and final, starting spot.
The final would see the field roar away in an incredibly close match. Rosier would be shuffled back down the order and Bayol would be out after just one lap due to transmission failure. This meant the three Equipe Gordini cars of Trintignant, Schell and Behra were running 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Charles de Tornaco had also made an incredible start in his Ferrari 500 and had gotten by the HWM pilots to be running right around the top five.
Although all three of the HWM cars had made it into the final, getting all three to finish would be something not short of a miracle. And the miracle wouldn't happen this day as Macklin would drop out rather early on. He would be followed by Heath's retirement just mere laps later.
The Equipe Gordini cars were not to be denied. Trintignant would pave the way setting the fastest lap of the heat. Only about five seconds would separate all three of the cars, but more than thirty seconds would be the gap to the next car behind them.
After just short of one hour and one minute, Trintignant would come across the line just four seconds ahead of Schell to take the victory. Schell would come in 2nd just one second in front of Behra. On that last lap of the race, the final blow to HWM's 'race to ruin' would happen. The tire on Giraud-Cabantous' HWM-Alta would suffer a puncture and would deflate rather quickly giving Yves little time to react. As a result, he would crash the car and would not cross the line.
Amazingly, but not that surprising, there would only be four cars that would end up out of the race by the end. And three of the four would be HWM-Altas. Whether by mechanical failure, mistakes, or for whatever other reason, HW Motors just could not get one of its cars to finish a race up near the front of the results. As the season wore on it had become clear that just having a car consistently finish would be reward enough. In spite of it all, the team would not give up on its season. Instead, the team would make its way to Italy for the final round of the World Championship.
The ninth and final round of the World Championship in 1953 would be the Italian Grand Prix held at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza on the 13th of September. It would be the final 80 laps of a World Championship season still largely dominated by Scuderia Ferrari and Alberto Ascari. For HWM, it would be the final chance of the season to score a decent result in a World Championship event.
The last chance for HWM would not be an easy one. An ultra-fast circuit, the 3.91 miles of mostly flat-out racing certainly favored the Italian marks of Ferrari and Maserati. However, the race had also been something of a car-breaker throughout its history. This would be the only chance HWM would really have when Ferrari would show up with six entries and the factory Maserati effort would add another four.
Laid out in the forests of the Royal Villa of Monza Park, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza would open in September 1922 and would be one of the first purpose-built circuits anywhere in the world. From its very earliest moments one adjective would describe the circuit—fast. Even without the 2.64 banked oval included, the 3.91 mile circuit boasts of average speeds amongst the highest of any of the other circuits that would be part of the World Championship in 1953. It would be the perfect place to watching the prancing horse run and see the power of the trident released.
The Italian crowd would be treated to a very special front row. The now repeat World Champion, Alberto Ascari, would take the pole in his Ferrari 500. He would edge out the talented Juan Manuel Fangio in his Maserati by just a half a second. Giuseppe Farina would make it an all World Champion front row when he would start the race 3rd in another Ferrari.
HWM would have some familiar drivers, as well as, a new pilot. Lance Macklin and Yves Giraud-Cabantous would be the familiar drivers on the team. However, the American John Fitch would also be a part of the team for this round of the World Championship.
Unfortunately, by this point of the season it had become more than abundantly clear the HWM was outclassed. And in qualifying it would be on full display for all of the Italian faithful. Despite being in his first race with the team, Fitch would be the fastest of the HWM pilots. His best time, however, would be more than fifteen seconds slower than Ascari, and therefore, only good enough to start from the ninth row of the grid and 26th overall. Right beside him in the ninth row, and just one-tenth slower, would be Macklin in 27th. Yves would struggle. He would end up more than eighteen seconds slower and would start from the tenth, and final, row of the grid in the 28th position overall.
The race would see Ascari make a great start and lead the field away with Farina, Onofre Marimon and Luigi Villoresi right there with him. Fangio would make a poor start and would be busy digging himself out of an early hole. The rest of the field would make for one large mass snaking its way around Curva Grande.
Very quickly, Fangio would catch up and there would be a four car train develop that would begin to roll like a runaway train throughout the circuit and through the field. This train of four would have some stragglers like Villoresi and Hawthorn, but soon even they would lose touch.
Just as the train of four would get hooked up and would really begin to pull some weight around the circuit, the wheels started to come off for HWM. Just six laps into the race the engine would let go on Macklin's car. A little more than a dozen laps into the race and the Alta engine would let go in Fitch's car. Just like that, before even twenty laps had been reached HWM was down to just one car and it didn't look promising since the race was to be 80 laps.
The front four continued to haul around the circuit. Cars began to go down laps hand over fist. The front four would circulate the track in a similar fashion to the French Grand Prix. They would often be wheel-to-wheel and never separated by more than a car length or two.
Lap after lap, the same four drivers would run incredibly tight. These were the best in the world and the respect they had for each other gave them the confidence to run that close each and every lap. The crowd would be appreciative of the sight. Unfortunately for the lapped traffic, like Giraud-Cabantous, it would be rather demoralizing. In fact, just about the time Macklin retired with an expired engine, Yves was going down his first lap, and they would just keep coming.
Halfway through the race the team at the front would lose one of its cars. Marimon would run into radiator problems and would be forced to pit for a lengthy stop. While he would return to the race he would not be much of a factor, at least not until the very end.
There was no backing down by either of the drivers. Ascari, Farina and Fangio, the three World Champions, were putting on a display that brought the crowd to its feet. These three champions raced each other hard and fair; never was there any concern of a mistake being made. But that would all change on the last lap.
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