Connaught had said, 'Enough'. Their season was over. It had been a difficult season with very little success in light of all of the frustration. The company was barely hanging on as it was. It didn't need the expense of travelling anywhere and not having any assurances of coming away with a victory or a top result. But, the organizers with the Gran Premio di Siracusa would be desperate.
The year before, Scuderia Ferrari would be just one of a number of Italian teams to enter the race just outside of the ancient city of Syracuse. The race would see an unfortunate incident where Hawthorn would crash and his car would explode into flames. Hawthorn would fight to extract himself but not before suffering from some burns. Meanwhile, Scuderia Ferrari would end up losing a second car as Jose Froilan Gonzalez's car would erupt into flames as well as he stopped to help his teammate. Just like that, Ferrari would lose two cars in a matter of minutes.
Now, whether as a result of the previous season or not Scuderia Ferrari would not have an entry for the Sicilian race. Therefore, the organizers for the race would be rather desperate for competitive teams to come and take part in the event. Mercedes-Benz would withdraw from Formula One at the end of the Italian Grand Prix, and with Scuderia Ferrari out of the picture, organizers would be desperate for any team. Thus, the organizers would approach Connaught.
Connaught would be barely hanging on as a team and a company, and therefore, would initially balk at the idea. However, when the organizers promised £1,000 per car…well, that would be too good to turn down. And so, toward the later-part of October, Connaught would pack up its cars and equipment and would head across the English Channel for the first time all season long.
When Connaught arrived in Syracuse nobody would take the small English manufacturer seriously. Everyone knew they were in trouble financially and that they were only there as a result of the starting money offered. They were never considered a threat; not by any stretch of the imagination. The team would be considered even less of a threat given what time the team arrived at the circuit.
The cars and equipment had left England a week before the start of the first practice session but were nowhere to be found. The drivers were present, but not the rest of the team. And if the team itself didn't seem to be much of a threat, then one of its drivers must have seemed like a joke. Just a few days before, Tony Brooks had been at dental school studying. And now, here he was representing the absent Connaught Engineering team.
Brooks, and the other driver Les Leston, would learn the 3.48 mile road and street circuit by borrowing scooters and riding around the circuit at a much more sedated pace. Meanwhile, their competition was taking to the circuit in their grand prix cars and setting some scorching lap times. Both Luigi Musso and Luigi Villoresi would be behind the wheel of Maserati 250Fs and the two of them would continually lap the circuit with around an average speed of 100 mph. Having a clear advantage over everyone else already at the circuit, the two Italian drivers would be satisfied with their performances and looked forward to the next practice session with relative ease.
For Tony Brooks, there would be a lot of firsts he would have to deal with. He had some time behind the wheel of a Formula 2 Connaught and had done well. However, this would be his first race in a Formula One car and at a circuit he had never before been to. Oh, and to top everything off, there was the competition that did include some very good and talented drivers. The bad part to the whole thing was that the rest of the team, and the cars, still had not shown up. So now Brooks would have the incredible pressure of having a condensed period of time in which to learn and adapt to the new car and an unknown circuit.
Finally, the team would arrive on Saturday. Unfortunately, with each driver limited to just 15 laps in practice, Brooks and Leston would find themselves at a serious disadvantage. Brooks and Leston would take to the circuit. And, surprisingly, Brooks would find himself to be quite comfortable on the circuit in a short amount of time. This was not an easy thing to achieve when the Syracuse circuit was known to be fast and bumpy, usually an uncomfortable combination for most. But Brooks seemed to like it. Brooks would like it so much that in the short amount of time he had behind the wheel he would still manage to grab a front row starting position.
Neither of the eight Maserati drivers in the field really took the green cars seriously. Therefore, Luigi Musso would not turn as quick a lap as he had during practice the day before. He was confident of his pace and his ability to deal with the British team that had just arrived. Therefore, Musso would still grab the pole, but with a slower time than that which he had posted before. As with Friday practice, Villoresi would be second-quickest. But then, Brooks would crack off a lap time of 2:05.4, a time just seven-tenths of a second slower than Villoresi. This would grab the attention of the Italians, but it still wouldn't worry them a whole lot as they had participated in races against the Connaughts before. They knew they had the power, even with their 2.5-liter four-cylinder Alta engines. But, they were also well aware of their struggles with reliability throughout the year. Therefore, neither Musso, nor Villoresi would be all that concerned. And, when Les Leston would end up starting all the way down in 11th place, on the fifth row of the grid, it seemed they were justified.
Toward the later-part of the season, chassis B1 and B2 would be updated with the more conventional layout that would utilize an open-wheel design. This change had proven to be a good one as Connaught managed to perform well enough in the later races to garner some attention. But, against no less than eight factory and privateer Maseratis, it seemed the Connaughts had little to no chance as the cars lined up on the grid for the start of the 70 lap, 243 mile, race.
The engines would come to a roar, and then, the cars would power away from the grid fighting for position. A beautiful sunny day peered down on the thousands of spectators as they fought to catch a glimpse of the cars heading into the first turn. And to the amazement of spectators and the Maserati drivers, there would be this young dental student running in 4th place.
The surprise would continue lap after lap as Musso, Villoresi and Schell would be unable to shake the Englishman. On top of that, Leston would come all the way up from his 11th place starting spot to finish the first lap in 5th place. But considering the unreliability Connaught had experienced throughout the season, no one, even at Connaught, was getting all that excited.
But then, something happened. Brooks would make a move and would get around Schell for 3rd place. From then on, Brooks would continue to take chunks of time out of the advantage Villoresi held over him. It was clear Brooks was on a charge, a purely astonishing charge really.
In time, Brooks would reel in Villoresi and would eventually pass him for position. Villoresi would have a surprised look on his face when he found himself running behind the upstart green Connaught driven by a dental student. By the time the race was just 10 laps old, Brooks would find himself in 2nd place behind Musso. Leston had been running quite well but would push a little too hard and would spin on the 5th lap and would drop well down the order. This would take the fight out of Leston and he would pretty much just hold on from that point onward. That would be anything but true of Brooks.
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