TeamsScuderia Ambrosiana: 1954 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Scuderia Ambrosiana would draw its name from the patron saint of Milan, Saint Ambrose. Ambrose had tremendous influence with emperors and with the masses, so much so that his influence would be far reaching. Scuderia Ambrosiana would be formed by three men born near Milan, Luigi Villoresi, Franco Cortese and Giovanni Lurani. Like Ambrose, all three would be talented drivers, but it would be the hope they would give to a man that had truly missed his prime that would be cause for the team to be venerated.
Reginald Harold Haslam Parnell's racing career would start out in the mid-1930s when he would purchase an old Bugatti. He would soon trade that in for a MG Magnette. At that time, Brooklands was considered the home of the British motor racing. Unfortunately, it would be at Brooklands where Parnell would suffer one of his earliest humiliating defeats. During a race there he would make contact with the female racer Kay Petre. The contact would cause Patre to crash heavily leading to her sustaining life-threatening injuries. Though she would miraculously recover from those injuries, Parnell would lose his racing license for a while.
Parnell would gain his license back when a second unkind cut would take place. Right at the moment when Parnell was hitting his prime the Second World War would break out costing Reginald five years of racing. Still, Parnell would look forward to the day when the war would be over and he could return to what he loved doing.
Finally, the war would come to an end and impromptu and organized races would begin to pop up all around devastated Europe. Parnell would be right there with some of the best known drivers of the time like Varzi, Sommer and Villoresi.
Parnell would develop a relationship with Villoresi. Villoresi knew Parnell by his reputation. In the years following the end of the Second World War Parnell would still be the same kind of driver he had been before the start of the war—fast and unflinching. This reputation would lead to the Milanese-based team employing the Brit for many of the grand prix races throughout the late 1940s.
When the governing-body decided to form a new World Championship, Parnell couldn't have been in a better position at the start of the inaugural season. His reputation and skill behind the wheel would earn him a drive for the Alfa Romeo SpA team in the first round of the new Formula One World Championship, the British Grand Prix. Armed with the mighty 158 Alfetta, Parnell would go on to finish the race in 3rd place.
Unfortunately, the drive would be a one-off and the talented Parnell would be without a throughout the majority of the 1950 season. However, Scuderia Ambrosiana would remember its Ambrose roots and would come calling in time for the French Grand Prix. Unfortunately, Parnell's race would come to an early end.
Despite a 4th and 5th place result in the French and British Grand Prix in 1951, it was certainly seemingly as though Parnell's racing career was coming to an early end as well. Scuderia Ambrosiana, mostly due to the change in regulations to Formula 2, would also disappear throughout the 1952 and 1953 seasons.
Over the course of the first two years of the Formula One World Championship Parnell had managed to come away with 9 championship points. But despite the points, Parnell could only take part in races here and there. And with Cortese leaving the sport and Villoresi moving on to drive for Ferrari, Scuderia Ambrosiana disappeared from view as well.
But after all of the success both Scuderia Ambrosiana and Reg Parnell earned throughout the late 1940s, neither of them could be kept down for very long. At some point in time both would return.
The return of Scuderia Ambrosiana and Reg Parnell would come with the return of the new Formula One regulations. Scuderia Ambrosiana had last taken part in a Formula One World Championship race when David Murray failed to started the German Grand Prix in 1951. Reg Parnell would take part in a World Championship race driving a Cooper-Bristol T20 for A.H.M. Bryde in 1952, but he would not take part in any World Championship race throughout 1953.
Both entities were really waiting for the right opportunity to make their return. However, it would be a sad state of affairs that would open the door to both of their returns.
In 1952, Bobbie Baird would come to purchase one of the mighty Ferrari 500 F2 chassis and would campaign it throughout the British Isles mostly. However, in 1953 Baird would be killed in a sports car race at Snetterton. The crash would happen in Baird's sports car. And, as a result, his Ferrari 500, chassis ‘188-F2', would be just left there no longer having an owner. Scuderia Ambrosiana and Reg Parnell would seize the opportunity and would procure the use of the Ferrari 500 F2.
While the 500 F2 was a strong car in its own right it was still powered by a 2.0-liter engine and the new Formula One regulations coming into effect for 1954 would allow a maximum of 2.5-liter displacement. Therefore, the team would send the car back to the factory to have a new 2.5-liter engine placed inside the car. It would now become a Ferrari 625. The engine change would occur soon enough that Scuderia Ambrosiana and Parnell would be present at some of the early events for 1954.
Scuderia Ambrosiana's first event of the season would actually come in the south of England and not on the European mainland. The first test for Scuderia Ambrosiana in its return to Formula One racing would actually be a non-championship event held at the 2.39 mile Goodwood Circuit located near Chichester in West Sussex. The event would be the Easter Monday races. The Easter Monday races consisted of a number of short races composed of a number of different classes of motor racing. Just one of the many short races held on that day was the Lavant Cup race.
The Easter Monday races would be held at the Goodwood Circuit, the cite that had formerly been used as an auxiliary fighter airfield during World War II. During the war years the airfield was known as RAF Westhampnett. After the war, the perimeter road would be turned into a motor racing circuit.
Since the 6th Lavant Cup race would be the first non-championship race of the season in England in 1954, the field would consist of a mixture of Formula One and Formula 2 cars. In many respects, the British motor racing scene was still trying to find its feet after the war made many resources scarce and expensive. Therefore, a good number of those that would prepare to take part in the race would do so with older Formula 2 cars.
There were strong rumors the double World Champion Alberto Ascari would take part in the race driving for Vandervell's Vanwall team. They would have an entry but would fail to show. That meant Reg Parnell's Ferrari 625 would be one of just two Formula One cars entered in the field for the short 7 lap, 17 mile, race. The only other Formula One car in the field would belong to Roy Salvadori driving a Maserati 250F for Gilby Engineering Ltd.
The starting grid for the race is something of an unknown but it is believed Salvadori started on the pole while Kenneth McAlpine, driving a Connaught A-Type, started 2nd. Reg Parnell would take his Ferrari and, it is believed, started the race from the 3rd position on the grid.
Not surprisingly, the race would come down to a titanic battle between Salvadori and Parnell. Having 2.5-liters at their disposal, the two men were able to turn out consistently fast laps without having to push their cars beyond their limits as the Formula 2 cars would be asked to do if a driver wanted to try and keep up with the Maserati and the Ferrari.
Despite being a short race, it was still the first race of the season and attrition would remain relatively high throughout. Two cars wouldn't make it to the second lap of the race. There would be a couple of cars, including one driven by the fast Tony Rolt, that would end up being lapped by the time the 7 lap race came to a conclusion.
Being lapped wasn't as much the result of mechanical woes as it was the result of the sheer pace of Salvadori and Parnell. These two would be locked in an immense battle right from the start of the race. The two men would never be separated by more than a couple of car lengths and would often be even closer than that around the 2.39 mile circuit.
Lap after lap these two would duel it out. Parnell looked stronger than Salvadori as he would maintain a slightly faster average lap speed. However, Parnell just could not shake Salvadori loose. Roy would remain right there just waiting for Parnell to make a mistake.
Parnell would keep his head down, focusing on the corners each and every lap of the race. In the end, Parnell would drive a flawless race and would come through the left-hand kink and across the line to take the victory. Still, Salvadori was going to make him earn it as he too would remain right there just waiting for Parnell to bobble. At the line, Parnell would take his first victory of the season, in his first race of the season, by just six-tenths of a second over Salvadori. McAlpine would hold onto the 3rd place position and would cross the line thirty seconds back of Parnell.
What a return for the team and for Parnell! Victory the first time out! What was more, despite the fact the race was only 7 laps, Parnell looked focused and fit. And that translated into fast. This would be a good sign for the then forty-two year old.
After such an amazing and terrific return to racing, Scuderia Ambrosiana and Parnell would have nearly a month between races. This would give the team the time it needed to prepare for its next race. They would need the time too as the next race would not be a short sprint. The next race would severely test the driver's and the car's endurance for the next race in which the team would enter would be the ever-popular BRDC International Trophy race held at the Silverstone circuit.
The BRDC International Trophy race had first been held at Silverstone in 1949. The year before that, Silverstone would play host to the British Grand Prix, but would do so on a much different circuit layout. It would then be suggested, in time for the International Trophy race the following year, just to use the 2.88 miles of perimeter road. Like the Goodwood Circuit, Silverstone had been birthed from a former Royal Air Force bomber training base used during the Second World War. After the war, the base was lying dormant until the British Grand Prix came along in 1948. That year, the circuit utilized some of the perimeter road and portions of the three runways. This would all change the following year and it would be what everyone would come to recognize when someone says 'Silverstone'.
The 6th BRDC International Trophy race would take place on the 15th of May and would by no means be an easy race like the Lavant Cup. The race consisted of two, 15 lap, heat races followed by a 35 lap final. The entire entry field would be split up and separated into the two heats. Finishing times from each heat would determine the starting order for the final.
The International Trophy race would draw some of the biggest names and teams in racing, and therefore, it was not at all surprising when Scuderia Ferrari arrived with three cars. Two of those three would be listed in the first heat. Reg Parnell and Scuderia Ambrosiana would be listed in the second heat.
Practice for the first heat pretty much confirmed what most everyone expected. Ferrari's Jose Froilan Gonzalez would be fastest in the Ferrari 553 and would take the pole with a best lap time of 1:48. France's Equipe Gordini team would also be present at the race and their driver Jean Behra would end up 2nd after posting a best time of 1:51. Stirling Moss would delight the British fans by starting 3rd in a Maserati 250F. Alan Brown would complete the front row starting 4th in the Vanwall.
Changing weather conditions had played a part in practice. But during the race, rains would come down pelting the track making the circuit very difficult. Nonetheless, the race would go on. And in the wet conditions, Gonzalez would show his talent as he would lead the way right from the start. Behra would fade in the conditions along with Brown. Moss, however, would manage to hold station. Prince Bira, driving a 2.5-liter powered older Maserati A6GCM chassis, would absolutely shine in the wet conditions and would make his way up from 8th on the starting grid. Soon, he would be battling with Moss for 2nd place overall.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez would set the fastest lap of the race and would be looking as if to be on cruise control going around the circuit. Averaging nearly 83 mph, Gonzalez would cruise to victory in the Ferrari. The battle had been for 2nd place but Bira would manage to make his way by Moss for the position. Bira would cross the line fourteen seconds behind Gonzalez while Moss would come through just two seconds behind Bira.
With the first heat out of the way it was time to set the stage for the second heat. During practice, it would be realized that Maurice Trintignant, driving for Scuderia Ferrari, would take the pole with a lap time of 1:52. Reg Parnell would start right beside him in 2nd place after he would be mere hundredths of a second slower in his Ferrari 625. Andre Simon for Equipe Gordini and Bob Gerard, driving an older Cooper-Bristol T23 Formula 2 chassis, would complete the front row.
Unlike the first heat, the rain ceased in time for the second heat and the circuit even began to dry out in time for the race. Therefore, the pace, as the cars rolled away from the grid, would be much faster than that had been seen in the first heat.
Trintignant and Parnell would hold station right from the start, but the racing would be a little bit closer than what it had been in the first heat with Gonzalez leaving everyone in his wake. Trintignant would hold onto the lead but Parnell would only trail by a matter of a few seconds as the heat approached its final moments.
The sheer pace of the Formula One cars compared to the Formula 2 machines would be very apparent in the drying conditions. All but the top five would be a lap down by the end. But there would so some that would start the race well down on the grid that would manage to make their way toward the front.
The only cars remaining on the lead lap would be Formula One cars. Heading up the field would be Trintignant. He would lead from the very beginning of the heat and would never look back at any time. He would cross the line having completed the 15 laps in just thirty minutes and nine seconds. Parnell would follow along in 2nd place. He would finish just six seconds behind Trintignant. Robert Manzon and Roy Salvadori would put together the most impressive performances in the second heat. Manzon would start the race in 8th place but would manage to finish in 3rd place, some forty-one seconds behind Parnell. And then there would be Salvadori. He would start the race in 12th position but would make his way up to 4th place by the end.
With both heats concluded it was time to look at the finishing times to determine starting positions. This would create some controversy in that the first heat had been in wet conditions while the second took place on a dry track. More controversy would come when Gonzalez's engine apparently seized right at the end of his heat. But instead of giving Gonzalez Umberto Maglioli's car for the final, the team would make the decision to give Trintignant's car to Gonzalez and Trintignant would start in Maglioli's position. Therefore, Gonzalez would be promoted from 6th place on the starting grid to the pole while Trintignant would be sent back from the pole and would end up starting the race from 9th place because starting position was determined by the finishing time of the car, and Maglioli's finishing time in the first heat would be just ninth-fastest for the final.
Reg Parnell and Scuderia Ambrosiana, however, would be in good shape heading into the final. Parnell had no such political situation to deal with and his finishing time would end up being a minute and thirty-four seconds faster than Gonzalez's effort from the first heat. Therefore, Parnell would start in 2nd place.
Heading into the 35 lap final, Parnell had already gone beyond his longest race of the season when he took part in the second heat race. He was truly in unknown territory now, but he at least had a reliable Ferrari with him heading into the unknown.
Right from the very start of the final it was clear Gonzalez was going to take advantage of the promotion he had received. He was fast and would only pick up his pace. Parnell would also be quick right from the start but he would not be able to keep touch with Gonzalez for very long.
Gonzalez would only look to get stronger as the race continued. Parnell's race would come apart after just 5 laps. While running up near the front of the field, the propeller shaft on the Ferrari would come apart thereby ending Parnell's day. His race nearly went three times the length of his first race at Goodwood just a month earlier.
Parnell's existence in the race would matter very little as Gonzalez would be absolutely dominant in the final. Gonzalez would continually stretch out his lead lap after lap. His pace would be such that only Jean Behra, running in 2nd place, would manage to remain on the lead lap before the end. Absolutely dominant, Gonzalez would come streaking across the line having averaged nearly 93 mph this time around as he took the victory by thirty-six seconds over Jean Behra. 3rd place would end up going to Andre Simon in another Equipe Gordini car. He would finish a lap down.
The second race of the season was setting up to be yet another great result for Scuderia Ambrosiana, but unreliability would cause the team to come crashing back down to reality. The 7 lap Lavant Cup race had proven not to be the great testing ground. The International Trophy race, however, would make it clear the team would have a fight on its hands all year long, especially when it went up against the likes of the other major teams like Ferrari and Equipe Gordini.
Heading into the late spring months of the year the racing season would really begin to kick into gear. But in the case of Scuderia Ambrosiana, there would be nearly another month that would go by before the team would prepare to take part in another race. Not surprisingly, the team's next race of the season would come at a track where it had already scored success. On June 7th the 1st BARC Formula One race would be getting ready to start and Reg Parnell and Scuderia Ambrosiana would be back there looking for a repeat to the success it had scored back in April.
And like the Lavant Cup race back in April, the BARC Formula One event would be yet another short race. The race would consist of merely 5 laps of the 2.39 mile circuit, just 12 miles. So while the car would not be severely tested over a long run, it would be another opportunity for the team to rebuild its confidence before it really headed into its busy part of the season.
Unlike most races, the grid positions for the 5 lap race would be determined by ballot instead of lap times. As a result, Gerry Dunham would be on pole driving a DHS-Rover, John Webb would start in 2nd place driving a Turner-Lea Francis. Roy Salvadori would draw the 3rd place starting spot. The final spot on the four-wide front row would end up going to Reg Parnell.
With just ten cars preparing to start the 5 lap race, Parnell would find himself in a strong position starting from the front row. But still, he would need to make a great start and not make any mistakes at any point during the race. Otherwise, the race would be over. Parnell knew his greatest competition during the race would come from the man that would start right beside him on the grid. Therefore, if he could make a good start he would have a chance of taking the victory.
And when the flag waved to start the race, Parnell would make a great jump off the line and would be immediately challenging for the lead. Dunham and Webb would both lose out at the start leaving just Parnell and Salvadori to do battle once again.
As with the last time the two were at the circuit, Parnell and Salvadori would battle nose-to-tail with never more than a couple of seconds between them. Salvadori would be following along in 2nd place but would keep the pressure on Parnell setting the fastest lap of the race with a lap time averaging almost 91 mph around the circuit. Still, Parnell would be consistently fast each and every lap and would manage to keep Salvadori behind him.
In spite of the pressure, Parnell's average speed of almost 88 mph would be more than enough to keep Salvadori at bay over the course of the race. Parnell would keep his head down and would push hard all the way to the finish. As he rounded Woodcote for the final time and headed through the left-hand kink for the final time, Parnell would pull out a little bit of a margin as Salvadori realized Parnell would again better him. Parnell would cross the line to take the victory. A little more than a second and a half would be the difference between himself and Salvadori at the line. Jimmy Somervail, who had started the race in 5th place, would come through to finish in 3rd place some twenty-six and a half seconds behind.
Scuderia Ambrosiana, and Parnell, had gained some confidence and momentum as a result of going back to Goodwood and scoring another victory. But the team still had a problem. Between the Lavant Cup and the BARC races there were just a total of 12 laps. Parnell and the Ferrari needed to convert such results after going much longer distances. But as the busy part of the season loomed for the team, those opportunities were sure to come.
The team's next race would pose a greater challenge. However, the next race would not be anywhere near the length of a regular World Championship event. Still, the 2nd Crystal Palace Trophy race held on the 19th of June offered Scuderia Ambrosiana and opportunity to build up its mileage in preparation of the longer races.
Situated in the south of London, the Crystal Palace Park was once a haunt for gypsies and other of London's more fringe population. However, by the 19th century, Crystal Palace Park had turned into a place of recreation and sport. Therefore, it would be concluded that the 1.35 miles of roads winding around and through the park would serve as the perfect location to host the pinnacle of motor sport.
The Crystal Palace Trophy race would actually first take place in 1953 when Formula 2 regulations ruled the World Championship. One year later, however, Formula One would return and Formula One would make its way to Crystal Palace for the race.
Like the International Trophy race held at Silverstone, the Crystal Palace Trophy race would consist of a couple of heat races and a final. Each of the heat races would be 10 laps, as would the final.
Reg Parnell and Scuderia Ambrosiana would be listed in the first heat along with Peter Collins in a Connaught. Parnell's great challenger, Roy Salvadori, had been listed in the entry list but would not arrive to take part in the race. Surprisingly, Collins would set the pace in practice. He would take his Connaught and would earn the pole. Les Leston would keep the surprises coming as he would be second-fastest in practice. Reg Parnell would find the short course challenging as it would offer just enough corners and kinks so as to prohibit the power from his 2.5-liter Ferrari. As a result, Parnell would start 3rd with Horace Gould completing the front row in his Cooper-Bristol T23.
Parnell knew he had the power. It was just a matter of whether he could get into a rhythm that would enable him to use it so that he could get to the lead and pull away? Parnell would waste no time in trying to find out. He would push right when the flag waved and would be quickly on the pace. In fact, having the 2.5-liter engine at his disposal, Parnell would go on to set the fastest lap of the heat and would actually draw away from the rest of the Formula 2 cars that were having to drive on the absolute limit to match his pace.
Parnell would stretch his margin and would gradually pull away leaving Collins and Leston to battle it out. Besides Parnell, the finish would look very similar to the starting grid. Parnell would throw everything off taking the victory by nine seconds. But it would be Peter Collins that would finish in 2nd place followed by Les Leston and Horace Gould.
The second heat would see drivers like Rodney Nuckey, Jack Fairman and Don Beauman get set to battle it out. Beauman would have the pole heading into the second heat being fastest in practice. Nuckey would start 2nd followed by Paul Emery in 3rd place and Charles Boulton in 4th.
Unlike the first heat, there would be two cars that would not make it to the finish in the second heat. Jimmy Somervail would have it the worse of the two when he crashed his Cooper-Bristol T20 after completing 4 laps.
Nuckey would be on the gas straight off the grid. He would be fast, setting the fastest lap of the heat with a time that was just a second slower than Parnell's fastest lap in the first heat. While Don Beauman carried along in 2nd place, Bill Whitehouse would put together the most impressive performance of everyone in the second heat. Despite starting 9th, Whitehouse would be clearly in 3rd place keeping Jack Fairman at bay.
Nuckey's pace would carry him to the victory. He would come through four seconds ahead of Beauman who would finish nearly nine seconds ahead of Whitehouse.
Just like the International Trophy race, the final starting grid positions would be determined by finishing positions by each competitor in their respective heat. As a result, Parnell would be on pole with Peter Collins starting in 2nd place. Nuckey's finishing time of eleven minutes and thirty-six seconds would be just a couple of seconds faster than Les Leston's time giving Nuckey 3rd place on the front row.
Parnell knew, even before his first heat race, that his Ferrari 625 would be the only Formula One car in the field. Therefore, if he made it to the final, he knew he would have a big advantage in hand over the rest of the field despite the short 1.35 mile circuit.
Parnell's main concern heading into the 10 lap final would be making a good start and praying that there would be no mechanical woes to strike his car throughout the twelve minute race. Parnell would achieve one of the goals by making a good getaway from the grid. Despite some early pressure by Peter Collins, Parnell would be in the lead and looking strong. Rodney Nuckey would slip down the order while Don Beauman would be on the move up the order. Reg would have to keep his car under control and rely on his power advantage to keep his lead throughout the first few laps of the race. Then, he would rely on that same advantage to pull out a comfortable margin over the rest of the field.
Some would not be in such an advantageous position. Les Leston would even complete a single lap of the final before his JAP engine blew retiring him from the race. Jack Fairman and Ted Whiteaway would all be casualties of the race.
Despite having a clear advantage, the layout of the circuit would keep things close between the Formula One car and the other Formula 2 cars in the field. And with Peter Collins behind the wheel of one of the Formula 2 cars, the racing would be even tighter.
Parnell would need every bit of his 1:07 fastest lap to help maintain an advantage over Collins, but as the race headed into the final lap, it seemed abundantly clear Parnell's nearly 73 mph average speed would be more than enough to carry him through to victory. He would go on to take the victory by a little more than five seconds over Collins in 2nd place in the Connaught. The 3rd place finisher in the race would be Don Beauman. He would take his Connaught and would climb up the order from his 5th place starting spot to finish seventeen seconds back of Parnell in the Ferrari.
Parnell and the Ferrari proved strong in the slightly longer race distance of the Crystal Palace Trophy race. This would be a good sign as the probably the most important race of Scuderia Ambrosiana's 1954 season was waiting just about a month away.
In spite of the fact Scuderia Ambrosiana was an Italian team founded by a handful of Italian drivers, the most important race of the team's 1954 season would actually take place on English soil on the 17th of July.
In May of 1950, the Formula One World Championship would make its debut with the British Grand Prix held at Silverstone. In that race, Reg Parnell would drive for Alfa Romeo SpA and would earn his best result to date in Formula One finishing the race a fine 3rd. Five years later, Parnell would be back at Silverstone with another solid car looking and praying for a repeat performance.
Back in 1950, Parnell would be driving for the best team driving the best car available at the time. Five years later, Parnell would be back driving for a strong team with a very strong car, but he would find the top of the running order filled with many other strong teams, drivers and cars. And heading into the British Grand Prix, Parnell knew things were only going to get more difficult with the return of Mercedes-Benz to grand prix racing.
The last time Mercedes-Benz had been the dominant team in grand prix racing, Silverstone didn't even exist as the Second World War had not started. But in 1954, Silverstone, the new home for British motor racing, would welcome the Silver Arrows of Mercedes. Of course, Parnell knew of the Silver Arrows as his racing career was just beginning to take off right at the time of their greatest domination. But now, on the downward trend of his career, he would have the opportunity to see Mercedes return. And after their dominant win in the French Grand Prix just a couple of weeks prior, he likely believed he would see shades of the former Silver Arrows flashing around the Silverstone circuit.
And neither Parnell nor the incredible number of spectators would be disappointed. Juan Manuel Fangio would be at the wheel of one of the W196s and he would manage to be the first to break the 100 mph average speed barrier at Silverstone thereby setting a new track record. His time of 1:45 would give him the pole by a whole second over fellow countryman Jose Froilan Gonzalez. The British faithful would not be feeling left out, however, as Mike Hawthorn would take his Ferrari and would start from the 3rd position while Stirling Moss completed the front row in 4th.
Against some of the best cars, drivers and teams of the era, it would be difficult going for Parnell despite having the use of a Ferrari 625. Parnell would be fast in practice but his best effort of 1:52 would only be good enough for a fourth row starting spot. Parnell would start the race from the 14th position overall.
Though the race would take place toward the end of July the weather would feel more like when the British Grand Prix was the first round of the new Formula One World Championship back in 1950. In that year the race was held in May instead of July. Well, as the teams prepared to roll their cars out to the grid to prepare for the race the weather would be cold and the rather usual English overcast. In fact, there was even the threat of rain at some point during the 90 lap, 263 mile, race.
The weather had the potential of playing into the hands of Parnell. During the International Trophy race held back in 1951, Parnell would be in the lead in a Ferrari 375. Despite the presence of Fangio driving an Alfa Romeo 159 and other such drivers as Giuseppe Farina, Parnell would manage to hold onto his car on what would be quickly characterized as a flooded circuit. The rains would be such that after just 6 laps the race would be called and Parnell would take the victory.
So while Parnell had experience in wet weather at Silverstone and had come out the victor, Gonzalez had dominated the International Trophy race back in May under very similar conditions. And as the flag waved to get the race underway, the engines would come up to a roar and Gonzalez would shoot into the lead followed a couple of car lengths back by Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn. Fangio would get away poorly from the line and would be doing what he could to hold a strong position heading off on the first lap of the race.
Despite starting on the row behind Peter Collins in the new Vanwall, Parnell would get by his challenger from the Crystal Palace Trophy race and would be charging toward the front right from the start. Heading into Copse for the first time Parnell would be following along behind Maurice Trintignant and Ken Wharton but would be inside the top ten and looking strong for a long afternoon of racing.
Although Fangio would break the track record in the sleek W196 he wasn't without his complaints. The biggest problem Fangio would have would be visibility. The sleek, tall fenders would cause him to lose sight of the apexes and this would slow his pursuit of Gonzalez, Moss and Hawthorn. Moss and Hawthorn would be locked in an early duel of their own. All of this would enable Gonzalez to stretch out an advantage. Parnell would be sitting in a strong position looking for his opportunities, but no doubt also waiting on attrition to throw a helping hand.
It wouldn't take too long before attrition would begin to reduce the field. Three cars, including Brit Peter Whitehead, would be out before even 5 laps had been completed. Then, by the time the race reached the 20 lap mark, some three more would be out. Alberto Ascari would lose his car after 21 laps due to valve problems but would take over Luigi Villoresi's.
The pace would be furious as everyone fought for position before the rains came and really played havoc on the events of the day. Indeed, before Ascari retired from the race he would be just one of seven that would end up matching the fastest lap of the race time. This incredible pace would put tremendous pressure on the whole of the field, but it seemed Gonzalez had no troubles out front in his Ferrari.
One Ferrari that would not be so fortunate would be that surrounding Parnell. Not long after Ascari lost his car, Parnell was noticing his car was experiencing overheating issues. He would try to carry on but he knew it was likely terminal. Sure enough, after completing 25 laps, Parnell's fourth British Grand Prix would come to a premature end.
Parnell would not be the only one that would struggle that day. Fangio had recovered from his poor start and would even manage to split Moss and Hawthorn. Hawthorn was running in 2nd place after having gotten around Moss, but even he wasn't safe from Fangio in the fierce Silver Arrows. Soon, Fangio would make his way by Hawthorn for 2nd place. However, just when it seemed Fangio would set off on a chase of Gonzalez it would become painfully obvious he would be lucky just to make it to the end of the race. The reason for this was simple: the bodywork continued to give Fangio such fits that he kept hitting oil barrels placed on the inside of the corners. Those barrels were meant to offer greater visibility, but on this day all they were doing were severely damaging the corners of the W196. It would take everything Fangio had just to hang on to 2nd place. Holding onto the position would soon become impossible though when he would lose gears from his gearbox and would be forced to limp around the circuit with only a couple of gears.
Even despite the wet conditions, Gonzalez would be untouchable. While others seemed to be slowed down for one reason or another, Gonzalez would only seem to go faster. Heading into the final couple of laps of the race, Fangio had faded and would no longer even be on the lead lap with Gonzalez. This left Hawthorn chasing his teammate, but too far back to cause Gonzalez any consternation.
Gonzalez would cruise through the final couple of corners. He would round Woodcote and would power his way toward the line to take yet another victory at Silverstone. Gonzalez had won Ferrari's first Formula One World Championship victory back in 1951. He had also won at Silverstone just a couple of months earlier with the International Trophy race. Surely Silverstone was a favorite circuit of his and this would be never more clear than realizing he had a minute and ten second advantage over Hawthorn at the finish. Onofre Marimon would have reason to celebrate as he would get by Fangio to take the final step on the podium. He and Fangio would finish the race a lap down.
1954 would be an unfortunate edition of the British Grand Prix for Parnell, but it would be business as usual for Scuderia Ambrosiana. Scuderia Ambrosiana had entered the British Grand Prix now three times. And out of those three attempts they would only manage to finish the race one time. That would come all the way back in 1950 with David Hampshire in a Maserati 4CL. In that race, David Murray would retire early from the race but Hampshire would manage to hang on to finish a rather sedated 9th. Parnell's record at Silverstone, on the other hand, had been quite good. Besides his 3rd place in 1950 while driving for Alfa Romeo SpA, Parnell would go on to earn a 5th place in 1951 and a 7th in 1952. Therefore, to come up short in 1954 would be one of the few letdowns Parnell would experience at the former bomber training base.
Unfortunately, for 1954, it was proving to be quite the norm. This would mark the second time in which a race covering more than 50 miles would come to a premature end. If the team could not fix its reliability issues it would prove to be a long season, perhaps too long to even desire to continue on afterwards.
Back in June, Parnell and Scuderia Ambrosiana had scored success at the Crystal Palace Park circuit. Taking part in the Crystal Palace Trophy race the team not only stretched its endurance but would come out victorious on top of it all. Looking for confidence moving into the later-half of the season, the team would return to Crystal Palace Park and the 1.35 mile circuit to take part in what would be the 1st August Cup race.
The race would see a rivalry renewed. The last time Parnell had been at the circuit his Ferrari 625 would end up being the only Formula One car in the field. And despite a brief battle with a desperate Peter Collins in a Connaught, Parnell would comfortably take the victory. This time, Parnell would likely have no such comfort as Roy Salvadori would be present at the race with his Maserati 250F. This would give the race a bit of excitement as the crowd expected battles amongst the two Formula One cars and the numerous other Formula 2 cars also entered in the race.
As with the Crystal Palace Trophy race, the 1st August Cup race would consist of two heat races and a final. Each would be 10 laps in length. And, as with the Crystal Palace Trophy race, the final grid would be determine by the finishing times of each competitor in their respective heat race.
Parnell and Salvadori would be listed in the first heat. And in practice, the two would renew their rivalry proving to be the two fastest. Parnell would end up taking the pole for the heat with Salvadori starting alongside in 2nd. Horace Gould and Keith Hall would make up the rest of the four-wide front row.
Heading into the heat, Parnell had an advantage. He had raced at the circuit just a couple of months earlier. He too had to come to grips with the circuit in the slightly more powerful 2.5-liter machine. And as the first heat race got underway, it seemed this advantage was going to play out. Parnell seemed comfortable on the circuit while Salvadori was still getting a feel for the car at the circuit. This, and Parnell's fastest lap time, would allow the man from Derby to open up a comfortable margin over Salvadori.
Horace Gould would gallantly fight to keep in touch with Salvadori and Parnell but it would be to no avail. The heat would come down to Parnell and Salvadori in the Formula One cars. But during this heat race, not even Salvadori would be able to challenge Parnell.
Parnell would take his Scuderia Ambrosiana Ferrari out to a comfortable margin and would never look back from then on. He would push throughout the 10 laps and would come across the line nearly ten seconds faster than what he had back in June. Had he taken part in the race back in June, Salvadori's finishing time would have had him finish just two-tenths of a second behind Parnell. However, this time, Salvadori would follow Parnell to the line some eight seconds in arrears. Gould would finish 3rd twenty-eight seconds back.
The second heat would consist of all Formula 2 cars but it would feature some very talented drivers like Tony Rolt, Jack Fairman and Tony Crook. Rolt had even dominated at Crystal Park when the Formula 2 cars ruled. Therefore, the second was not inconsequential and unimportant to Parnell and the team.
Not surprisingly, Rolt would start the heat from pole with Crook, Ted Whiteaway and Jack Fairman all joining him on the front row. Rolt's pole was something people had come to expect from the man at the circuit. And when he led the way in the race, it seemed just like shades of the glory days of just a year or so previous.
Driving a Connaught A-Type, Rolt would go on to dominate the second heat race. Crook would manage to hold onto 2nd place over Fairman but neither would be able to mount a challenge against Rolt in the lead.
Rolt would cruise to the victory finishing the race in eleven minutes and forty-seven seconds, some seventeen and a half seconds ahead of Crook. Fairman would be a further nine seconds back in 3rd place.
The second heat being finished it was time to set the grid for the 10 lap final. It was very evident given the finishing times that the two Formula One cars would take the top two spots on the front row with Parnell grabbing another pole position. Beside Salvadori in 2nd place would be Horace Gould starting 3rd and Tony Rolt completing the front row in 4th.
It seemed a foregone conclusion before the start of the final that it would be a Formula One car that would take the victory, it was just a matter of which one of the two? And as the field roared away, the crowd would see what they expected with Parnell and Salvadori right there at the front of the field and already beginning to draw away foot after foot from the Formula 2 cars. Tony Rolt would make a great start and would try his best to push as hard as he could to keep touch. Though he would slip back from the fight with the two Formula One cars, he would draw away from the other Formula 2 cars in the field. It would end up with Rolt running all by himself while Gould and Keith Hall battled it out behind.
Salvadori would be a little bit more keen to race Parnell since it was the final. Parnell would be pushed hard but he would respond by setting what would be the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:06 dead. This, in turn, would put the pressure right back on Salvadori, not only to try and keep up, but have to think about getting by if he could.
Averaging a bit more than 74 mph throughout the 10 lap final, Parnell would keep the pressure on Salvadori forcing him to respond. Roy would give it everything he had by the wily veteran would prove to be a little too much.
Parnell would be too much and would power his way to yet another victory at Crystal Palace. Completing the race distance in eleven minutes and ten seconds, Parnell would cross the line three seconds ahead of Salvadori in 2nd place. Another twenty-six seconds would pass before Rolt would come through to finish in the 3rd position.
As it had been for Tony Rolt during the Formula 2 years, Crystal Palace would become a favorite scene for Parnell and Scuderia Ambrosiana. In their two trips to the temporary circuit the team would come away with two victories. Still, the race distances were not all that far. So while the team would be delighted with the victories, they would quickly try to build upon the success so that their reliability in order to challenge in the longer races.
The team would have just five days before it would find out whether or not they finally had the reliability to last longer distances. On the 7th of August, Scuderia Ambrosiana would be just outside the small village of Little Budworth preparing for the 1st International Gold Cup race held at the 2.76 mile Oulton Park Circuit.
Once a staging grounds for troops during the days leading up to the Normandy Invasion, Oulton Park would be situated on grounds that were once part of the Oulton Estate. Then, in the early years of the 1950s the Mid-Cheshire Car Club would get together and would develop a circuit on the estate grounds. Full of elevation changes and quick corners, Oulton Park would offer drivers great challenges each and every lap that would make it a favorite with drivers and spectators alike.
An estimated crowd of around 40,000 would descend upon the circuit preparing for the start of the 36 lap, 99 mile, race. And as the cars were rolled out onto the grid, there would be a surprise awaiting onlookers. Instead of one of the Formula One cars occupying the pole position on the grid it would be the Cooper-Bristol T23 of Bob Gerard that would be positioned in the 1st position. Filled with high-speed turns and short straights, the Formula 2 car driven by Gerard would be able to challenge the Formula One machines over the course of a single lap. As a result, Gerard would take the pole by a matter of mere hundredths of a second over Jean Behra and his Gordini T16. Reg Parnell would occupy the 3rd, and final, spot on the front row.
Heading into the race, Parnell seemed to be in a strong position despite Gerard's performance in practice. Despite Behra starting 2nd, Roy Salvadori would be down in 6th place on the grid and Stirling Moss would start his Maserati 250F from 21st, dead-last.
And as the engines came up to full song and the cars tore away to start the race, it wouldn't be too long before Parnell had to feel really good about his chances. Parnell would be challenged hard by Gerard. And, Gerard just would not give up despite having to drive his car on the absolute limit each and every lap. This only pushed the pace ever faster, which would prove too much for a number of cars.
Behra would be out of the race after just 2 laps. Magneto problems would force an early end to his day. Joining Behra would be two others that would drop out without even having completed a single lap.
But just when things were looking good for Parnell up from dead-last came Stirling Moss in his Maserati. Moss would be on an absolute tear right from the start. Anchored by a fastest lap time that would be two and a half seconds faster than Gerard's pole-winning effort, Moss would find himself in the lead of the race in no time at all. All of a sudden, Parnell would have to change his mindset. He would need to try and break away from Gerard as soon as possible and try to go after Moss.
There would be problems. First of all, Gerard would not let go. Secondly, Moss was in a class unto himself on this day. Therefore, it was sizing up not to matter that Salvadori crashed out of the race after 14 laps. If Parnell couldn't pull Moss in there was no chance of winning the race.
It seemed not even Pegasus could have caught up with the thoroughbred carrying Moss around the circuit that day. Coming from dead-last on the grid, Moss would be unbeatable. Averaging nearly the same pace as Gerard in his pole-winning effort, but for the whole of the race, Moss would easily take the victory. Twenty seconds would be the gap over the 2nd place car.
Parnell had been harassed by Bob Gerard throughout the whole of the race. However, coming into the final few laps of the race, Parnell would manage to break away slightly, but it would be too little too late to try and reel in Moss. Parnell, nonetheless, would come across the line about three and a half seconds in front of Gerard to take 2nd place in the results.
Scuderia Ambrosiana and Reg Parnell had finally gained the result for which they were looking and longing. While the team would not come away with a victory, Parnell would manage to guide the car through its unknown territory and would come out on the other end with a fantastic result given the trouble they had been experiencing in races over even just 30 miles. The team would be hoping this would be the momentum they needed to head into the final few races of the season confident of top results.
Confident they had their unreliability woes addressed Scuderia Ambrosiana would really kick its season into high gear. The team's next race, then, would be just the following weekend. Therefore, the team would pack up and would leave the western region of the Midlands and would head toward the east coast. The team's destination would be the Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit situated in Norfolk. The team would be headed there to take part in the RedeX Trophy race.
Snetterton would be just one of many motor racing circuits that would be birthed from decommissioned airbases used during the Second World War. However, unlike RAF Silverstone, RAF Snetterton-Heath would be right in the middle of the bombing effort. Boasting a main runway measuring 6000 feet in length, RAF Snetterton-Heath would become home to the United States Army Air Force's 96th Heavy Bombardment Group. The famous Regensburg shuttle missions and the Schweinfurt raids of October 1943 would all be led by the 96th based at Snetterton-Heath. However, like Silverstone, the decommissioned airfield would come to be used for motor racing starting in the early 1950s. But, while the circuit would change throughout the years, the 2.70 mile perimeter road circuit would be the layout used for the RedeX Trophy race as with every other race up to that time.
At 108 miles, the RedeX Trophy race would be another good test for Scuderia Ambrosiana. And considering the only Formula One car in the field belonged to Parnell greatly increased the team's chances. Were it not for the terrible accident at Oulton Park the week before the crowd would likely have been treated to another spirited battle between Parnell and Salvadori, but it wasn't meant to be for the race on the 14th of August.
Unfortunately, the starting grid is unknown, but it is more than likely that Parnell started up near the front of the field, perhaps even starting on the pole. But starting position in a race of this distance was certainly secondary in the thinking of the team after all of the trouble it had been experiencing throughout the season.
Though Salvadori would not be present at the race, Bob Gerard would be with his Cooper-Bristol T23. And if he could do what he did the week before, Parnell would be hard-pressed to just waltz to the victory. He would be harassed all the way.
Trouble would start right away as the field headed off on the first of 40 laps. Leslie Marr and Anthony Brooke would have a coming together after completing just the 1st lap of the race and would be out. Jack Fairman and Ted Whiteaway would not make it past 16 laps.
Some of the favored challengers were falling out of the running. However, Parnell would be up at the front of the field leading the way, but due to the nature and layout of the Snetterton circuit, Gerard would have a tough time keeping in touch with him. In fact, with each passing lap Parnell would open up his lead a little bit more every time.
It would seem as though all of the reliability question marks had been resolved for Parnell would push his Ferrari hard throughout the race. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the race with a lap time of 1:48.4 and would only increase his lead as the race wore on. As long as the car held together it was more than clear Parnell would enjoy perhaps his greatest victory of the season given the race distance he would cover.
On such a course as Snetterton, the Formula 2 cars would have literally no chance to keep up with Parnell and his Ferrari. The only chance any of them stood would be if attrition stepped into the picture. But, despite the fact Parnell would average a little more than 88 mph throughout, he would be on the side of Providence and he would not run into any kind of problems.
Parnell's pace would be detrimental to the rest of the field. By the end of the race, only Gerard would manage to remain on the lead lap. As it were, Parnell would lead Gerard home with an advantage of no less than forty-eight seconds. A little more than a lap would be the difference back to Beauman who would finish in 3rd place.
Finally! Scuderia Ambrosiana had managed to combine performance and reliability together to come away with a formidable victory, albeit against Formula 2 cars. Still, the victory would only increase the confidence of the team. It seemed as though Scuderia Ambrosiana was like its old self when it would come away with race wins during the later-part of the 1940s. This would certainly be encouraging for Parnell considering he was in the downward trend of his career.
The races would keep coming in rapid succession. On the 28th of August, two weeks after the victory at Snetterton, Scuderia Ambrosiana would be back on the western side of England. Just a matter of miles away from Bristol, the Castle Combe circuit was yet another of the Second World War airbases turned into a motor racing circuit. And on the 28th of August Castle Combe would host the 3rd Joe Fry Memorial Trophy race.
Parnell knew Joe Fry rather well as both were racing at about the same time, especially in the years following the end of the war. Fry would become famous for his hillclimbing talents while Parnell would remain a name recognizable on the grand prix circuit. But of course, Parnell would be very familiar with Fry as both men would take part in the British Grand Prix in 1950. While Parnell would go on to earn his 3rd place finish, Fry would finish a very respectable 10th in a shared drive with Brian Shawe-Taylor.
Located only a matter of a few miles away from his home town Castle Combe would serve as the perfect venue for a memorial race for a fellow fallen racer. Castle Combe, however, was anything but a sedated circuit where cars would simply make the rounds in procession. At just 1.84 miles with no real sharp bends, the circuit would play out like a high speed circuit where it would be easy to make a mistake and become amongst those to have lost their life as well.
Salvadori and the Gilby Engineering Maserati would still be out of the picture. Therefore, Parnell would arrive at the circuit with the only Formula One car in the field. Preparing to match up against Formula 2, it seemed that there would be yet another no contest, especially given the 1.84 mile Castle Combe circuit.
Practice, and therefore, starting grid positions would be unknown. But given the fact Parnell was driving the only Formula One car in the field it would not be much of a stretch to believe Parnell started at least from the front row of the grid.
As with the Crystal Palace races and the race at Snetterton just a couple of weeks before, it seemed more than apparent the Formula 2 cars were fighting a losing battle. Many, most likely, believed the race to be over even before it started. And at just 15 laps, or 28 miles, it seemed certain Parnell's Ferrari would be able to dominate the miles and would take an easy victory.
In the early part of the race, those thoughts would be well founded as Parnell would be fast. But Gerard would be even faster. Gerard would actually go on to set the fastest lap of the race with his Cooper-Bristol. However, a short time later, Gerard's steering would fail him and he would be out of the race. This seemed certain to hand Parnell an easy win. And it would have if his Ferrari had not managed to have a piston fail after just a few laps.
All of sudden, what seemed to be a certain Scuderia Ambrosiana win would be thrown wide open so that the race would become just about anyone's. And the man that would take advantage of the opportunity the most would be Horace Gould. Perhaps realizing what was possible with a Cooper-Bristol T23, Gould would push his car hard and would be in the lead heading into the final few laps of the race.
Gould would remain strong throughout the remainder of the race. Bill Whitehouse would be in 2nd place but would continue to lose ground. In only nineteen minutes and forty-nine seconds, Gould would come through to take the surprise victory by eleven seconds over Whitehouse. Six seconds would be the difference behind Whitehouse in 2nd place to John Riseley-Prichard finishing in 3rd place.
What seemed certain to be a sure thing would turn into a flop and it would put in jeopardy the remainder of the grand prix season for Parnell and the team. September was right around the corner and having to rebuild an engine would cost man hours and finances the team really didn't have. All of a sudden, what looked like Scuderia Ambrosiana re-emerging from its slumber would turn into questions about the team forever disappearing from the grand prix scene.
It would be a little more than a month after the blown engine at Castle Combe, but Scuderia Ambrosiana would emerge yet again. The team would have good reason to do so. The Goodwood circuit, where the team had scored earlier success, would host a series of races throughout the weekend of September 25th. One of those races would be the 7th Goodwood Trophy race for both Formula One and Formula 2 cars.
At 21 laps, or 50 miles, the race seemed to fall right in the car's range for reliability. Therefore, Parnell would have the opportunity to push hard and really challenge for the lead against the likes of Stirling Moss, Roy Salvadori, Peter Collins, Louis Rosier and others.
The Goodwood Trophy race was one of the longer races of a weekend filled with racing and it would be one of the more popular grand prix races held at Goodwood. This would be clearly evident as Stirling Moss would push hard in practice and would take the pole by no less than four seconds over Peter Collins in the Vanwall. Bob Gerard continued to impress taking his Cooper-Bristol and earning the third-fastest time in practice. Reg Parnell would end up six seconds slower than Moss around the circuit but would still be fast enough to take the 4th, and final, spot on the front row.
Heading into the race, Parnell would need to be careful. The engine had to be rebuilt after its piston failure at Castle Combe. And while the car performed well in practice, there was still a bit of unknown heading into the race where the engine would be tested in full anger.
Moss wouldn't make things easy either. As soon as the race started, Moss would be in the lead and would be fast. He knew he had a couple of seconds in hand over the rest of his competition and he would use this to great advantage. Pushing hard, Moss would put tremendous pressure on the rest of the field. His fastest lap time that was a mere nine-tenths of a second slower would severely stress the other cars.
Unfortunately, it would be the rebuilt engine under the Ferrari's hood driven by Parnell that would feel the strain the most and would give up first. Just 3 laps into the race piston failure would again bring and early end to Parnell's day. It was clear Scuderia Ambrosiana had deeper problems then they realized.
Averaging over 91 mph throughout the course of the race, Moss would keep the pressure up trying to break all of his competition. And, heading into the final moments of the race only Peter Collins managed to remain within a minute of Moss and his Maserati. Everyone else would be thoroughly destroyed by Moss' pace.
Only five cars would remain on the lead lap with Moss, but none would be in contention for the victory. Moss would cruise to victory beating Peter Collins by no less than twenty seconds. Roy Salvadori would follow along nearly a minute behind Collins in 3rd place.
Moss' performance was so dominant that it was highly unlikely that Parnell could have even challenged for the victory. Still, another piston failure was not what Scuderia Ambrosiana wanted to face after having just rebuilt the engine over the course of the month after the Joe Fry Memorial race.
The season and the trouble had truly come to take its toll on the team. Needing to rebuild an engine after each of the last two races was not what Scuderia Ambrosiana wanted to deal with and it really would bring into question whether the team would even exist heading into 1955.
At least for 1954, there would only be one other non-championship Formula One race in Europe and it would be on the 2nd of October at Aintree. The race was the 1st Daily Telegraph Trophy race and it would be the last opportunity Scuderia Ambrosiana would have to finish the season with a bright moment. Otherwise, the team faced the prospect of a long winter. And that is when the doubts really begin to take hold.
Expected to be the site of the British Grand Prix in the upcoming Formula One World Championship season, the Daily Telegraph Trophy race at Aintree would end up drawing a number of strong teams with some of the best drivers. Stirling Moss, Jean Behra, Mike Hawthorn, Harry Schell, Roy Salvadori and others would all make their way to the Aintree Racecourse for the 17 lap, 51 mile race.
Coming off of two engine failures back-to-back, it seemed the weakest part of Scuderia Ambrosiana's attack was to be found under the hood. Unfortunately, given the fact it would be the final race of the season for the team, there would be even more pressure placed on every other component, including the driver, to deliver one more good result.
Stirling Moss had consistently proven to be the fastest in the field over the last few races. And at Aintree, the rule would continue to dominate over the exception. Despite the presence of some teams and drivers not normally seen around the English countryside, it would be Stirling Moss that would lead the way in practice taking the pole with a time of 2:03.6. Nearly a second and a half would be the difference between Moss and Jean Behra, who would start in 2nd. Mike Hawthorn would be present driving the Vanwall. He would be a second slower than Behra but would still start in 3rd place. Harry Schell would complete the front row driving another Maserati 250F.
Facing off against many more Formula One cars than what he had become used to in other non-championship races around England, Parnell would be fast but not fast enough to make it to the front row. In fact, Parnell would start the race from the second row of the grid in the 7th position after posting a time seven seconds slower around the 3.0 mile circuit.
The cars would be rolled out onto their grid positions for the final time. With only the Spanish Grand Prix remaining, the Daily Telegraph Trophy would be the final grand prix on English soil and it would be the final non-championship race in Europe. All of the drivers would give the race their all in hopes that they would manage to pull off a great victory giving a lot of momentum heading into the off-season. And it would seem nobody wanted that final victory more than Moss.
The field would roar into life. The race was on. Immediately, Moss would be on pace but would be chased closely by Hawthorn, Behra and Schell. Moss would respond picking up the pace and putting the pressure on the rest of the field. Still, Behra, Hawthorn and Schell would remain right there. Sergio Mantovani would also be right there keeping the racing tight amongst the top five.
Parnell would find moving up the order rather difficult. Besides, all of the troubles the team struggled with over the past couple of months would lead to Parnell focusing on finishing the race, and not, trying to fight for the lead thereby running the risk of breaking the car.
It seemed the more pressure Moss felt from behind the faster he would go. Hawthorn would match the fastest lap pace of Moss but would continue to lose ground. As a result, Hawthorn would have to switch his focus to behind himself as Harry Schell was right there giving him fits.
Attrition would remain relatively light over the course of the race. There would be nineteen cars that would start the race. And as the race headed into the final 7 laps, there would only be four cars out of the race. Thankfully, Parnell would not be one of them. His Ferrari would continue to lap the circuit without much issue. But just when it seemed the Ferrari would make it, another issue would arise that would cause that thought to be thrown away.
Parnell was just 3 laps away from the finish when he would experience some real problems. He wouldn't just lose a gear or so. He would end up losing the whole thing. Bitterly disappointed and filled with disbelief, Parnell would park his Ferrari for the final time of 1954.
One lap later, Behra's race would come to an end as well with clutch failure. This would leave Hawthorn and Schell to take up the chase of Moss over the final couple of laps. But unless Moss suffered some serious issues over the course of those final couple of laps there would be little to no hope for either.
Moss would do his best to make sure Hawthorn and Schell had no hope at all. He had pushed hard throughout the race and was enjoying a comfortable margin heading into the final lap. And as he rounded the final corner and made his way toward the finish line, he could have gotten out of the car and pushed it across the line and still took the victory. Moss would not need to worry about his car. The Maserati would propel its self across the line to give the Brit yet another non-championship victory for 1954. It would be a indomitable performance as he would cross the line with fourteen seconds in hand over Hawthorn who would edge out Schell by a mere second for 2nd.
The season had totally fallen apart after Parnell's victory in the RedeX Trophy race. Just when it seemed the team and its driver were hitting its stride everything would come up lame due to injury after injury. As a result, Parnell and the team would have to look seriously at the future instead of getting excited about the prospects.
By the end of the season, Parnell would be 43 years of age. It was clear his chances of finding a top ride with one of the factory teams had come and gone. The mechanical woes at the end of the season, and the costs associated with constantly repairing them, made going forward even more of a question.
However, while Scuderia Ambrosiana and Parnell were finished taking part in Formula One World Championship events, the pair would make one final appearance in a non-championship race in 1955. That one appearance would come at the BRDC International Trophy race at Silverstone, the site of Parnell's incredible victory back in 1951. Unfortunately, the 1955 edition would end up with Parnell out early with transmission failure. That would be the end for Reg Parnell and Scuderia Ambrosiana.
And while it would be the end for Scuderia Ambrosiana, Parnell's racing career would continue on for a few more years. By the time he would finally retire in 1957, he would still be known as a race winner taking the odd non-championship race. And though he would retire from racing as a driver, he would remain around the sport as a team owner and team manager.
In more ways than one, Parnell would guide Aston Martin to victory in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. Then, in 1962, he would set up his own sportscar team under his own name. This would be a follow-up to the Yeoman Credit Racing Team Parnell would take over the management of in 1961. During 1961, Parnell would employee a former competitor he would have a number of epic battles with during the 1954 season. Roy Salvadori would come to Parnell's team after periods with Owen Racing and Cooper Car Company. Paired with his old rival, Salvadori would go on to score a couple of 6th place finishes at the British and Italian Grand Prix.
The following season, John Surtees would give Parnell his first podium as a manager at the British and German Grand Prix. In addition to the success earned in Formula One as a manager, Parnell was looking forward to his own sportscar effort that he would found in 1962. Unfortunately, the project would never really take off as Parnell would pass away in 1964 after complications resulting from an appendix operation.
In spite of how it would end, 1954 would offer glimpses of the former greatness of both Scuderia Ambrosiana and Reg Parnell. And in that way, the two were perfect partners for their last assaults of the Formula One World Championship. And though the two would slip out of the running with what appeared to be a poor showing, the history of the two entities would be too strong to ignore and could not easily be forgotten amongst the great stories of grand prix history. And given Scuderia Ambrosiana's performance throughout the late 1940s, the team would certainly have to be venerated amongst those that helped give birth to the World Championship. Scuderia Ambrosiana