TeamsConnaught Engineering: 1957 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
It was now more than a year before Connaught had made its mark in Formula One racing. The victory by Tony Brooks at Syracuse seemed to signal Connaught's rise to prominence. But 1956 would be another story. Were it not for a 4th at the British Grand Prix and a 3rd place at the Italian Grand Prix at the end of the year the season would have to be considered a disappointment. Remarkably, the slide was only just starting.
After the victory in the Syracuse Grand Prix toward the end of 1955, Connaught Engineering appeared to be Britain's best hope as a home-grown manufacturer. Vandervell were struggling with their Vanwalls while Owen Racing's BRMs were proving as troublesome as the original BRM act.
Besides the couple of World Championship events where the team had a car finish inside the top five twice and on the podium once, Connaught's success throughout the '56 season would be limited. The team would score a 2nd and 3rd in the International Trophy race at Silverstone. Then, at Brands Hatch toward the end of the year, the team would finally achieve another victory, albeit in a rather unimpressive race. But while the team would come away with some success this would be dampened by the fact the team often started race from strong positions on the grid and could not convert them into more positive results.
There was a greater problem following the end of the '56 season. Connaught had only made the journey to Syracuse when the race's organizers had promised a good deal of starting money for each car entered. The financial situation at Connaught was such that the factory needed every pound it could get. Unfortunately, the '56 season would do little to really help with that situation. Therefore, heading into the '57 season the team would struggle to get top-flight drivers and would be limited in their schedule.
One of those drivers the team had signed to drive for them in 1956 would be Stuart Lewis-Evans. He had shown a good deal of speed and talent and would be signed for the following season. He would be joined by Jack Fairman at times, and then, by Ivor Bueb.
Connaught had introduced its new B-Type in 1955 with a streamlined body-styling. Unfortunately, the streamlined body would prove very difficult for crews to work on and would also be rather difficult to drive. Therefore, Rodney Clarke would set about designing a more conventional monoposto. Initially, Clarke had been designing a car for a Climax engine that would have been rear-mounted. However, Coventry would pull out of the project leaving Connaught having to scramble.
The conventionally-styled B-Type would be a beautiful car that also showed good speed. Tony Brooks would demonstrate this with his victory and fastest lap set during the Syracuse Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the following season would cause more and more bills and expenses pile up on Kenneth McAlpine's desk. In spite of this, Clarke would continue to evolving the B-Type. His latest example would be seen by late-spring. Nicknamed the 'Toothpaste Tude', the latest B-Type evolution would be all about improved aerodynamics.
Maintaining its slender, low-profile radiator opening, the front half of the Connaught B-Type would appear unchanged. However, this would not be the case travelling aft. Just behind the driver's cockpit, the bodywork would not round-off but would be squeezed together in a vertical wedge shape giving the car the look of a toothpaste tube resting on its side.
Armed with their latest version of the B-Type, Connaught Engineering would look forward to the start of the '57 season. Trying to stave off financial ruin, the team would not travel to South America at the start of the new year. Instead, the team would look forward to start of the grand prix season in Europe. The first race of the season in Europe would be familiar and filled with pleasant memories, for on the 7th of April Syracuse would host the 7th Gran Premio di Siracusa.
Connaught's presence in Sicily in 1955 had been as something of a joke by the factory Maserati team. However, when it was all said and done, no quarter would ever be given to Connaught ever again. The factory teams realized the B-Type was capable. Therefore, if the team from Surrey intended on scoring a good result in any race it would have to expect a fight to the absolute end.
Connaught would bring three cars for the 80 lap race. Jack Fairman would pilot chassis B2 while Ivor Bueb would be behind the wheel of B5. The third car would be piloted by Les Leston. The team would end up facing two Lancia-Ferraris entered for Peter Collins and Luigi Musso. Tony Brooks would join Stirling Moss as Vandervell would come to the race with two of the fast Vanwalls.
Measuring 3.48 miles in length, the Syracuse circuit was all about one thing—speed. Relatively flat along the start/finish straight, the circuit would bend to the right before climbing and descending quickly just outside of the ancient city's center. Making the turn left at the hairpin, the driver would be greeted with a climb that would continue gradually until on the backside of the public road course. Suddenly, the circuit would descend before making the left-hand toward back toward the finish line. In spite of the sudden elevation changes, the Syracuse circuit would be fast having just the one hairpin turn slowing the average speed down.
In practice, it would be the Lancia-Ferraris that would set the pace. Peter Collins would take the pole with a lap time of 1:55.5. Luigi Musso would start alongside in 2nd place having been just four-tenths of a second slower. Stirling Moss would complete the front row in one of the Vanwalls. He would be just under a second slower than Collins.
Both of the Connaughts could be found on the fourth row of the grid. Posting a lap time of 2:05.0, Fairman would start in the 9th position while Bueb would be 10th being just two-tenths slower than his teammate. The third Connaught, piloted by Leston, would not start the race as a result of crashing his car in practice. This would be more money McAlpine would have to pay out.
At the start of the race, Moss would be following along behind the Ferraris of Collins and Musso. The Vanwall driver would not yield to the pressure and would actually keep the pressure on the two Ferrari drivers. Harry Schell would end up retiring after just a single lap with a failed engine. Then, on the 18th lap of the race, Jean Behra would retire with front brake issues on his Maserati. Tony Brooks would retire after 34 laps with a water leak. Rapidly the field was being reduced by attrition. However, both of the Connaughts remained in the race and were looking in good shape for a strong result.
Moss continued to battle with the Ferraris. Momentarily taking the lead, Moss would be pushing the Vanwall hard. It would end up being that he pushed too hard. In time, Moss would lose contact with the two Ferraris and would continue to fall steadily behind.
After 35 laps, Connaught would suffer its first casualty. Jack Fairman had been running strong until the fuel injection on the B-Type failed leaving him well down on power. It would lead to his retirement and it would be left to Ivor Bueb to bring home a good result for the team in order to ensure that the trip had not been in vain.
Moss' struggle with the Ferraris had been in vain as Collins and Musso disappeared into the distance. Unable to match their pace, just the two Ferraris would end up on the lead lap by the end of the race. Bueb's pace would not be very fast either but at least he was still in the race and on track for a top five result following the unfortunate retirements of many other top drivers.
Averaging 102mph over the course of the race, Collins would go on to take an easy victory crossing the line a minute and 15 seconds ahead of Musso in 2nd place. Despite posting what would end up being the fastest lap of the race, Moss would finish an incredible distant 3rd. Finishing more than 3 laps behind, Moss' early pace would be quickly forgotten.
Ivor Bueb would not be accused for pushing the Connaught too hard. Still, he would complete the race and would uphold Connaught honor. Despite finishing a little more than 5 laps behind, Bueb would finish the race in 5th place providing the team at least a little bit of good news.
The trip to Syracuse in 1957 would be a far cry from '55. Instead of setting the pace, Connaught would be struggling to maintain a pace that kept them in the results by the end. It was clear the team needed more than just a new aerodynamic body to help them leap back up to the top. Honestly, the biggest thing the team needed was something they had in very short supply. And, after needing to repair two of their cars, Connaught would have even less of what it needed most.
While the team would not come away with a victory in Syracuse they would still at least come away with a top five result. The prize money, however, would not quite cover the cost of needing to rebuild the car destroyed by Leston and to repair the fuel injection problem suffered by Fairman. Suddenly, the 5th place would not seem all that good of a result. Nevertheless, the team would continue to race in an effort to earn some sorely needed prize and starter money. The team's next race would come on the 22nd of April. It would be in the home of grand prix racing—Pau.
On the 22nd of April the tiny city of Pau welcomed the 17th Grand Prix de Pau. The home of the first grand prix right around the turn of the 20th century, Pau's involvement in motor racing would reach much further than just the 17 grand prix bearing its name. Initially starting out as a grand prix event stretching all along the French countryside running parallel to the Pyrenees and the Gave de Pau, the city of Pau would be the starting and ending point to this grand races. Then, by the 1930s, the tight, twisty streets of Pau would become the setting for the renamed Grand Prix de Pau.
Situated in the Aquitaine region near the Pyrenees Mountain, the city of Pau is certainly a picturesque setting. Mountains looming in the distance and the Gave de Pau running alongside, Pau has the look of a miniature Monaco and would be settled by some of the most affluent of the world. Pau would be the birthplace of Henry IV, the 16th century king of France. Known as a harbor for artists and those looking for a place of relaxation, the city boasts of everything needed to inspire and to provide a respite from the busy world around.
Of course when the grand prix came to town the normally demure city would become abuzz with activity and a cacophony of engine noise and speed. Still, it would be a very special event and the surrounding cliffs would be filled with spectators fighting to get a view of the latest in grand prix racing.
The Pau Grand Prix would not be held in 1956 as a result of the tragedy in Le Mans the year before that. But, one year later the race would be back. So too would be Jean Behra. He had won the race the previous couple of times and would be back with a factory Maserati looking to extend his streak. Connaught would come to the race with just two cars. Les Leston would drive one while Ivor Bueb would be at the wheel of the other.
Behra would look on course to keep his streak intact when he set the pace in practice. The 1.71 mile circuit was not about speed as much as acceleration and handling. Filled with tight, sharp hairpin turns, the average speed around the circuit would be slow. Still, Behra would show his mastery of the circuit posting a lap time of 1:35.7. Harry Schell would end up 2nd on the grid posting a best lap over 2 seconds slower. Masten Gregory would complete the front row in another Maserati 250F.
Bueb would be impressive around the circuit. Having expressed fears at the incredible speeds run around Le Mans in 1955, the slower speed circuit suited Bueb perfectly and he would end up on the second row of the grid in the 5th position having been just under 4 seconds slower than Behra around the circuit. Leston would be nearly as quick as Bueb. Ending up on the third row of the grid in the 6th position, Leston would be just two-tenths off of Bueb's time.
Behra had proven to be the best over that last couple of grand prix at Pau and he would look unbeatable again when the three hour event got underway. Immediately Behra would be in the lead and looking incredibly strong going up and down the circuit. Very quickly he would begin to draw away from the others in the field. Schell would provide the pursuit but even he wouldn't be able to match Behra's pace for any length of time.
Ivor Bueb would be amongst those giving pursuit of Behra. The circuit suited Bueb and he would get ahead of Gregory and would be looking incredibly strong when Maurice Trintignant stopped as a result of an engine failure. Bruce Halford, Francesco Godia-Sales and Andre Simon would all fall out of contention. This would help Bueb, but it would also help Leston, who was still in the race and running a controlled pace.
Behra seemed entirely out of control. Driving on the edge each and every lap, the Frenchman would leave the others behind. It would become merely a matter of whether or not he would be caught by attrition. Bueb would do his best to chase after Schell but he too would be unable to keep up. Still, the two Connaught drivers were looking incredibly strong.
Behra would post the fastest lap of the race with a time just two-tenths off of his best in practice. This would utterly destroy Schell in 2nd place and would cause Behra to be all by himself on the lead lap. Leston's pace would be such that he would have a couple of laps in hand over his closest challenger. Therefore, all the Connaught drivers had to do was bring their cars home.
Behra would be incredible. Indomitable, Behra would cross the line having averaged a little more than 62mph. The pace would result in Behra taking the win by more than 2 laps over Schell in 2nd place. Ivor Bueb would bring smiles to the faces at Connaught as he would come home in 3rd place another lap behind Schell. It would be a great podium result for Connaught desperate for some really good news.
The day would finish well for Connaught as well as Leston would ensure that both B-Types made it to the finish. Although Leston would be more than 4 laps behind Behra at the end, the 5th place result would be utterly fantastic for the struggling team.
Two cars in the top five, with one of them on the podium, it would be a good day for Connaught. It had probably been the brightest moment for the team since the surprising 3rd place result in the Italian Grand Prix the year before. The result would be just one part of a successful weekend for Connaught.
At the same time that Ivor Bueb was bringing his B-Type home in 3rd place and that Leston was crossing the line in 5th at Pau, two other Connaught B-Types would be in a fight, but for the win of the 5th Glover Trophy race at Goodwood.
Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit was well known for a couple of events: its 9 hour endurance race and the Easter Monday Races. Comprised of a number of events showing off the latest in grand prix and sportscar races, the Glover Trophy was just one of the many events held over the course of the day.
Goodwood certainly seemed like the perfect setting for a showcase of racing. Formerly an auxiliary fighter airfield attached to RAG Tangmere, RAF Westhampnett, as it had been known in the days of the Second World War, would play host to a number of fighter squadrons. However, following the conclusion of the Second World War, the air base would be decommissioned and would lie dormant. The Duke of Richmond, Frederick Gordon-Lennox had an expansive piece of property of which he really could figure out no use. Being an avid racing fan himself, the suggestion of making its perimeter road into a motor racing circuit would more than make sense and the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit would be born.
Measuring 2.39 miles in length, the Goodwood Circuit would be another fast airfield circuit. With the exception of Lavant and Woodcote, the vast majority of the circuit would be comprised of fast, winding straights and quick bends keeping average speeds quite high around the circuit. In time, the circuit would become a popular destination of teams for testing and evaluation. But in April of 1957, people would descend upon the circuit in preparation for a day of motor racing.
In spite of the team's financial situation they would pull out all the stops in an effort to earn some valuable prize money. Two B-Types had gone to Pau and had come away with top five results. Three more B-Types would not have to travel as far. They would make their way toward the Channel coast and would end up in the hands of Jack Fairman, Archie Scott-Brown and Stuart Lewis-Evans.
Connaught would find themselves surrounded by talented drivers and teams. Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks would be present with two Vanwalls. Roy Salvadori and Ron Flockhart would be at the wheel of a couple of BRM 25s. Reality would certainly sink in as practice got underway.
Moss would be the fastest in practice posting a lap time of 1:28.2. Tony Brooks would prove the two Vanwalls were going to be tough to beat when he grabbed 2nd on the grid with a time just eight-tenths slower. Archie Scott-Brown would show good form in one of the Connaughts. He would end up taking 3rd place on the front row while Ron Flockhart would complete the four-wide first rank.
The other two Connaught drivers would be found on the second row of the grid. Lewis-Evans would be a little more than 5 seconds off Moss' pace but would find himself in 5th position while Fairman would complete the second row in 7th place having been 2 seconds slower than Lewis-Evans.
The 32 lap race would be no easy endeavor. Despite having Scott-Brown on the front row, Vandervell had Moss and Brooks in the first two positions on the grid. It was obvious who had the pace. As the race got off to a roaring start, it would be obvious the main threat on the day would come from the Vanwall drivers. This would be reinforced when Roy Salvadori retired on the very first lap of the race with brake problems. One lap later, Paul Emery would be out of the running.
Just 12 cars had lined up on the grid and Connaught had all three starting the race and still running throughout the first 5 laps of the 32 lap race. However, none would be as quick as either Moss or Brooks. Brooks would go on to set what would end up being the fastest lap of the race, but his pace wouldn't last long as he would be forced to slow and would drop out of the battle for the lead. Stirling Moss' throttle linkage would have a problem and he would find himself out of the running after just 13 laps.
The favorites were out of the running. Unfortunately, Connaught would have one of their own out of the race as well. Scott-Brown's potential would come to naught when oil pressure problems forced him out of the running after just 7 laps. With such a shake-up at the front of the running order it was difficult to know for sure who was in the lead. Then it became abundantly clear. Lewis-Evans would be in the lead followed by Fairman. These two would be out front of Flockhart and looking to be the favorites throughout the final stages of the race.
At the wheel of one of the 'toothpaste tubes', Lewis-Evans would be fast around the Goodwood Circuit and would have a comfortable margin in hand over Fairman in 2nd. Flockhart's best was not enabling him to really gain anything on Fairman and it looked entirely possible Connaught would come away with a one-two finish. They just had to finish.
Unlike the other favorites in the field, Lewis-Evans would suffer no kind of problems over the course of the race and would eventually take the victory having completed the race distance at an average speed of more than 90mph. Jack Fairman would absolutely delight the Connaught crew as he would ensure a one-two finish having more than enough in hand over Flockhart finishing in 3rd.
In total, Connaught could not have asked for a much better weekend. A 3rd and 5th in Syracuse and a 1st and 2nd at Goodwood meant Connaught covered the field well in both events. Having taken the victory with Lewis-Evans, Connaught believed they could overcome their desperate situation. They had momentum on their side, and so, would try and capitalize as much as possible.
It was hard not to look at what Connaught had been able to do on the track over its last couple of races and think the team could really turn things around financially. However, McAlpine knew the reality of the books. The team was barely hanging on. The team, however, had only a couple of options left. Either they could keep entering races and pray for huge miracles to happen, or, they would need to get out of racing and sell everything to cover any outstanding debts. The people at Connaught were racers and competitors. They couldn't give up just yet, not when they had just experienced perhaps one of the best weekends of the company's history. However, reality overshadowed the situation. They could keep going, but they could not send more than one car all over Europe. Therefore, the team would dispatch just a single car, and driver Lewis-Evans, to Naples, Italy for the 10th Gran Premio di Napoli.
The Naples Grand Prix would take place on the 28th of April and would take place around the 2.55 mile Posillipo Circuit. This appeared to be another race that suited the Connaught in that the circuit did have one proper straight that was of decent length. The remainder of the circuit wound back and forth about itself along the tops and sides of the cliffs of Posillipo. This seemed ideally-suited to the new B-Type chassis.
The Naples Grand Prix held high atop Posillipo to the west of the city was yet another beautiful setting for a motor race. Overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, and with Mount Vesuvius looming in the distance, it would be a remarkable setting and fitting for the elite of Naples. Sporting commanding views and some truly remarkable architecture, Posillipo would be a popular spot for a place of relaxation and renewal. In spite of this, the site would also be home to a non-championship grand prix and provided an interesting challenge for the drivers.
Concrete walls and steep cliff walls seemed to line the circuit at every turn. There would be very little room available to the drivers and mistakes were paid for at a heavy price. Boasting of some interesting elevation changes, these cliff walls gave the circuit a similar feel to Pau but did offer higher average speeds.
Unlike Pau, the Gran Premio di Napoli offered one big difference. At Pau, Behra had come representing the Maserati factory team. The factory Maserati team would not be present at Naples, but Scuderia Ferrari would be and they would come with three cars entered for Peter Collins, Mike Hawthorn and Luigi Musso.
Not all that surprising, the three Ferrari drivers would dominate in practice and would end up securing the entire front row for themselves. Hawthorn would end up on pole with a lap of 2:08.0. Collins would be in 2nd place and Musso would start in 3rd.
In order to compete, Connaught needed a fast driver that was capable of fighting hard against the Ferrari trio. Lewis-Evans would be their man and he would be rather impressive in practice ending up on the second row of the grid in the 5th position. This was a good starting spot for Lewis-Evans and the team. However, the fact he had been more than 6 seconds slower than Hawthorn around the circuit certainly didn't make the prospects look any better.
The cars would be lined up on the grid preparing for the run down to the left-right chicane that then led around the cliffs. The engines would be brought to life as the drivers readied themselves. The flag would drop and the race would be underway with a mighty roar of 17 engines.
Heading into the first couple of turns it would be Collins and Hawthorn with Musso right there with them. Lewis-Evans would be up towards the front with Horace Gould right there as well.
Coming out of the final right-hander and powering their way down the straight toward the line for the first time it would be the three Ferraris leading the way. Lewis-Evans would look in good position with Gould right up there along with Masten Gregory.
It wouldn't take too long before attrition came and visited the field. The first to fall out of contention would be Alan Mann. His race would come to an end after magneto trouble caused his engine to misfire. Ottorino Volonterio would make it 4 laps before his cylinder head cracked thereby ending his day. In all, three cars would be out before the 10th lap. Some 60 laps was to be the total race distance. This meant there was plenty of time for more drivers to suffer problems before the end of the race.
Connaught's hopes continued to rise with each and every lap. Unfortunately, Lewis-Evans just could not do anything with the Ferrari trio. Collins would be leading the way despite Hawthorn's fastest lap time. And then there would be Musso in the new Dino 156. It was more than obvious Lewis-Evans was going for a strong result instead of pushing for a victory.
Then, after 44 laps, the team would come to realize Lewis-Evans wouldn't be pushing for anything as he would end up retiring from the race as a result of a problem with a wheel hub. This left Connaught with its first non-finish of the year by at least one car and it could not have come at a much worse time.
Nothing bad would be happening to Ferrari. Collins continued to carry on in the lead of the race and he began to pull out an advantage over Hawthorn, who was closely followed by Musso in the third Ferrari.
Chased by Gould in a privately-entered Maserati, the three Ferrari drivers would be under no threat heading into the final lap of the race. Collins would make his way around the circuit without a problem and would end up taking the victory by 31 seconds over Hawthorn, who would barely hold off Musso by two-tenths of a second to take 2nd. Ferrari would not only sweep the podium, they would be the only cars on the lead lap by the end of the race.
The disappointment with the wheel hub would cut Connaught deeper than one would consider. They had their choice of cars to choose from to send. They had picked the one they believed had the best chance of being able to compete. They also sent their best driver. They had been off the pace a little but a lot could happen over the course of a race. What would happen is that Connaught would spend a good deal of money making the trip to Naples and would end up coming away spending more than they would take in. This was not good for a team clinging on for dear life.
Connaught's future didn't particularly look bright. In many ways, the team only had enough for one last hurrah before it would all come to an end. Fittingly, that last hurrah would come at a Formula One World Championship event, the crown jewel of the series.
Connaught's last race had been on the 28th of April in Naples when Lewis-Evan suffered a problem with his front wheel and would be forced to retire from the race after 44 laps. Financially, this latest retirement would be tantamount to the final nail in Connaught's coffin. But that wasn't quite the way Connaught wanted to bow out of the grand prix scene. It had been a multiple race winner. To go out as a retiree just didn't seem right. And so, McAlpine would scrounge up enough money to take part in one last race. And, on the 19th of May the team would be busy preparing its cars for the 15th Grand Prix de Monaco.
Situated right along the coast of the Mediterranean with the slopes of Mont Agel looming from behind, Monaco could not have been a better place for a team to take part in its final grand prix. What's more, its twisty, winding streets provided a good opportunity for the team to go out with a strong result.
Clarke had continued to revise his ‘Toothpaste Tube' design even despite the financial situation. The latest iteration of the design would make its appearance in Monaco. The vertical wedge, or, ‘Toothpaste Tube' tail had already been in place since the beginning of the season. However, there would be one other change to the car heading into Monaco. The start of the race in Monaco consists of a short blast down to the very tight Gazometre hairpin. Almost without fail cars come together in the corner and the long noses on the cars would end up getting severely bent compromising the cooling of the radiator. The 1956 race would be a prime example of this as Trintignant would have his nose practically smashed all in by just the first corner. And, as the cars began to arrive and were being unloaded from their transporters it would become immediately obvious many teams were conscious of this issue.
Connaught would be one of them. The B-Type would arrive in Monaco with a very blunt nose that barely reached past the front of the front wheels. This would make it much easier for the drivers to judge distance and avoid bending some sheetmetal.
It wouldn't just be the nose of the cars that had to be able to withstand the seemingly endless race around the principality. The entire car, especially the engine, brakes and gearbox needed to be thoroughly prepared for more than a hundred laps of severe punishment. In spite of the beautiful surroundings, the Monaco Grand Prix was as much a torture test as anything else.
Connaught would arrive in Monaco with just two cars. Stuart Lewis-Evans would be behind the wheel of the ‘Toothpaste Tube' chassis while Ivor Bueb would be behind the wheel of the more conventionally-designed B-Types. A third car would be brought but only as a spare. It would be a shame the company could not bring more cars to their final race, but at least they would be able to come with more than one.
The race presented a challenge. Not only did the race itself, with its 105 lap race distance, pose a problem, but the starting field would be filled with very competitive teams. Scuderia Ferrari, Officine Alfieri Maserati, Vandervell Products, Owen Racing, Scuderia Centro Sud, Cooper Car Company and many other privateers would all be on the entry list.
Just as the cars would be prepared for the event, the circuit itself would need to be constructed. The grandstands would be built and the circuit lined with advertisements and protective barriers. In time, the circuit would be ready and the cars would take to the circuit. It wouldn't take too long before the multiple World Champion, Juan Manuel Fangio, would post the fastest lap time around the 1.95 mile circuit. His time of 1:42.7 would earn him the pole while Peter Collins would end up taking 2nd place. Stirling Moss, the previous year's winner, would end up in the 3rd position, the final spot on the front row.
The fastest of the Connaught drivers would be Stuart Lewis-Evans. His best time around the circuit would be a 1:49.1. Being six and a half seconds slower than Fangio, Lewis-Evans would end up on the fifth row of the grid in the 13th position. The second Connaught of Ivor Bueb would be only three-tenths of a second slower than Lewis-Evans. Still, Bueb would find himself on the seventh row of the grid all by himself in the 16th position.
The weekend had been a beautiful sunny affair. The day of the race would be more of the same although the night hours would be filled with heavy rain. The cars would be rolled out onto the grid amongst crowded stands and the buildings lined with onlookers. The drivers would take their places and the engines brought to life. And then, with the drop of the flag, the race would be underway, the final event in Connaught's grand prix history.
Heading into the first turn it would be Moss and Fangio fighting it out for the lead. Bueb would trail along starting from dead-last while Lewis-Evans would get away well and would actually be ahead of the lone Cooper in the field.
Over the course of the first lap Moss would pull out an advantage and would actually have a lead of a couple of car lengths over Fangio as the field streamed across the line for the first time. Collins would be in 3rd place while Lewis-Evans would be running in 11th place. Bueb would still be in 16th, and last.
Moss would lead the first few laps of the race. Collins would overtake Fangio and Lewis-Evans would remain in 11th place. Bueb continued to motor around in 16th looking as though he were taking part in a 24 hour race instead of a 105 lap event.
The 5th lap of the race would be the most dramatic of the whole event. Moss would lose control coming out of the tunnel heading into the chicane and would end up crashing into the barrier. Collins would be close behind and would swerve to miss the flying debris as a result of Moss' accident. Unfortunately, falling debris would hit Collins' car resulting in him losing control and crashing out as well. Fangio would make it through, along with Brooks. Hawthorn would end up being collected by Collins' crash making it three British drivers out of the race in one spectacular moment.
Lewis-Evans would be far enough back that he would be able to pick his way through the debris. As a result of the trouble suffered by his fellow countrymen he would move up to 8th place and Bueb would find himself, rather surprisingly, up to 13th.
Things would settle down for a few laps until the 10th lap when Lewis-Evans would find everything he had going for him early on being nearly taken away. Bueb had already come into the pits as a result of his fuel tank rupturing and spilling fuel all over the circuit. Bueb would make it into the pits and it would be found that his exhaust had also broken. Repairs would be quickly made to the car. The exhaust would be removed and repaired and Bueb would be back on his way. Lewis-Evans, however, had been running in 8th place and looked to springboard further up the order if the opportunity presented itself. Unfortunately, it would be he that would suffer.
Lewis-Evans had been running up in 8th place but would end up suffering a problem and would drop well down the order, even behind his teammate Bueb for a short spell. Still, he and Bueb were both in the race providing Connaught some little ray of hope.
Fangio would be out ahead with Brooks giving chase. Fangio would stretch his lead, but not as much as many expected as Brooks would fight hard and would keep the Argentinean honest throughout the first third of the race. Lewis-Evans would recover and would be gradually making up for lost ground. The retirements of Horace Gould, Harry Schell, Carlos Menditeguy and Ron Flockhart would all help in this endeavor as he would be up to 7th place by the 61st lap.
Bueb's race had continued after his initial visit to the pits. However, it would not carry on all that much longer. Bueb would make it 47 laps before it became painfully obvious the ruptured fuel tank would not be able to hold together for the whole of the race. Therefore, one of the Connaughts would be out of the race. The other would be within striking distance of one last points-paying position. Lewis-Evans just needed some more help.
Brooks would need a whole lot of help in his quest to try and reel in the World Champion. In spite of his best efforts Fangio would continue to build upon his lead over the dental student. Wolfgang von Trips would be running in 3rd place before he turned to car over to Mike Hawthorn. Hawthorn would drive the car for only a short period of time finding the car too cramped for his size. It wouldn't matter as the engine in the Ferrari would end up giving up the fight with just 10 laps remaining in the race.
Attrition was the only hope that Brooks had. Unfortunately for him, Fangio was more than 5 seconds slower than what he was capable of achieving in the Maserati. Therefore, it seemed highly unlikely that he would break his car before the end. Thankfully for Lewis-Evans, Harry Schell would break Giorgio Scarlatti's Maserati and von Trips retired in his Ferrari. This not only enabled him to climb into a points-paying position, he would be just a lap off of landing on the podium.
Connaught would hold out hope, praying Masten Gregory could retire and provide the team with one last highlight before it drew the curtain on its grand prix program. Posting the fastest lap of the race, Fangio certainly seemed to put away any drama about who would win the race. So, the only real drama left, at least as Connaught was concerned, was whether or not they could end up on the podium.
In a little more than three hours and 10 minutes, Fangio would cross the line to take the victory. Tony Brooks would fight valiantly to finish the race in 2nd place just a little more than 25 seconds behind. Unfortunately for Connaught, the race for 3rd place would not become anything more than a dream as Masten Gregory would hold on with a lap in hand over Lewis-Evans to take the final spot on the podium.
It would be a bittersweet moment for Connaught. In many ways, Lewis-Evans had achieved a victory. Considering the fact the team had no budget and it had scrounged together what it could just to take part in the race, to finish 4th was no little achievement. Lewis-Evans had even managed to finish ahead of the 1955 winner Maurice Trintignant. But still, it was the end for the team. In spite of the incredible performance, it would prove to not be enough.
Very few people outside of the team knew the condition Connaught was really in. Some believed the result in Monaco had the potential of signaling the true rise of the company. However, the result would signal the end.
The season had not even reached the halfway mark, but the team had achieved one final great result. They had nothing more to give, and if they did, there was no guarantee it would end as it had in Monaco. It was certainly heartbreaking in many ways. Tony Brooks' first win had come with Connaught. The company would shutter the doors on its grand prix effort before he would win again with Stirling Moss in the British Grand Prix.
In spite of it all, Connaught had still managed to make its mark in grand prix history, and it would turn out that it was not quite done making a mark in Formula One. Bernie Ecclestone would buy the effort for the following season and Paul Emery would partner with the team to come back in 1959. But it just wouldn't be the same. Connaught's time in Formula One had certainly seemed to have come and gone. Its remembrance, though perhaps vague at times, would remain, however. And, fittingly, it is the achievements of the company that would far outlast its ultimate failings. Connaught Engineering