TeamsOwen Racing Organization: 1954 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
It would only be fitting that the leading supplier of steel components and car bodies to the booming British motor industry of the first half of the 20th century would become itself involved in motor racing. By 1952, Sir Alfred Owen, one of the heirs to the Rubery industrial empire, would come to take part in World Championship racing. However, he could not have purchased a more troubled entity. British Racing Motors (BRM) had become something of a laughing-stock with its incredible P15. But while just about everyone else in England had given up on the project, Owen would still believe and would still see potential for future success. But they weren't ready yet.
Owen was determined to do things right this time. Instead of coming up with a completely new and radical design as Mays and others had done in the beginning, Owen and his designers would set about creating their own car but would draw heavily on designs and components that already existed. Therefore, instead of creating something entirely new from nose to tail, they would be involved in building a new car featuring tried and proven components and ideas.
Already possessing knowledge of the new Formula One regulations, the team that was formerly BRM, would set about designing a new car for those new regulations that would come into play starting in 1954. However, to get the best feel for how their new car would perform, what components would and wouldn't work, the team, the Owen Racing Organization, needed to take part in some races.
One of the drivers that had been a part of the BRM program almost from the very beginning was Ken Wharton. The year before (1953), Wharton would have to make due in the World Championship races with a Cooper-Bristol T23. While the car was a good one, it could not come close to the power and the pace of the Ferrari 500 and the newer Maserati A6SSG. If the team was going to try and challenge the front-runners in the field then they themselves needed a car capable of running up at the front of the field. Therefore, the team waiting anxiously for its new car that they believed would help them ascend toward the front of the field.
The season, at least for Ken Wharton, had intended to start earlier than what it actually would. There would be some races that would take place earlier on in the spring in which Wharton would put in an entry for. However, he would not arrive at any of these events. Instead, he would wait until the Owen Racing Organization took delivery of its new Maserati 250F.
The debut of the Owen Racing Organization's Maserati 250F would be necessarily delayed. They were focusing on their own car's progress, not so much competing for a World Championship title. Therefore, the team would watch closely the first couple of rounds of the World Championship and the numerous other non-championship races. They would watch these races, particularly to see how the 250F fared. If there was a problem that forced one of the Maseratis out early the team would investigate to figure out what component it was that failed. Once the part, or parts, was identified, Owen's men would come through and remove that part from their own Maserati. So, in many ways, the Maserati 250F that would be fielded by the Owen Racing team would be a Maserati mostly in name only. In most ways it would be nothing other than a testbed for components and ideas that would or would not be adopted into the new BRM chassis.
Therefore, when the Owen Racing Organization would finally be ready to enter its first race of the 1954 season, its new Maserati 250F, chassis ‘2509', would not entirely be all genuine. In fact, it would be a highly modified version of the original. The team would hope that its work replacing suspect components would return dividends right away.
Considering the race the previous year, the team really could not have chosen a tougher race in which to make its start. In 1953, the French Grand Prix would go down in history as one of the greatest grand prix in all of history. Lap after lap, the top half-dozen cars would be within car lengths, even inches of each other, dueling in one of the most impressive displays motor racing fans had ever seen. What made it so amazing was the sheer number of cars that were so tightly locked together for so long. The rest of the field, which would include Wharton, would be decimated by the pace. After the top six finishers, the closest any other competitor was on the circuit was a little more than two laps behind.
But while the '53 edition of the French Grand Prix would see Wharton retire after just 17 laps due to a bearing issue, the team would hope the '54 running of the event would hold much better results. Of course, they would have reason to expect more considering they were bringing one of the best cars of the time to the race compared to an underpowered Cooper-Bristol of a year ago.
Still, at 5.15 miles of sheer flat-out driving, the Reims circuit was not to be trifled with by even the best of cars. Boasting of incredibly long straight that would strain the engine and the gearbox to the tight hairpin turns at Thillois and Muizon that would test the brakes, torque of the engine and the gearbox, the Reims circuit had a reputation for being incredibly tough on cars and it was not unusual to have only a handful of cars finish a race.
Considering the team was gathering information for its own car, the race could go either way for the team and they would be able to draw some positives from it. If the car failed, the team would be able to check out the car, see what part or parts failed, throw them in the bin and then replace them with other components. Of course, if they car ran strongly and Wharton would manage to pull out a top finish then the team would also be encouraged by that as well, obviously.
While it would be the Owen Racing Organization's first race of the season, there would be another team that would also make its debut at Reims that would greatly overshadow Owen's team. For the first time since before the outbreak of World War II, a Silver Arrows from Mercedes-Benz would be seen at a race track. Mercedes-Benz would emerge from the destruction and the ruin of World War II and would bring their sleek-bodied new W196s to the race.
In practice, the advantage of the new W196s would be more than obvious as Juan Manuel Fangio would set the fastest lap with a time of 2:29.4 with an average lap speed of over 200km/h. Karl Kling would be exactly a second slower than Fangio but would end up being second-fastest amongst the other competitors in the field. Alberto Ascari would be at the wheel of a Maserati 250F and would end up being just a tenth of a second slower than Kling but would have to settle for the 3rd, and final, spot on the front row.
Wharton had not taken part in a grand prix, either championship or non-championship, the whole year. Therefore, he would be a little slow as he tried to knock the rust off. Unfortunately, the rust that had built up would prove to be quite thick as he would be a tenth under forty seconds slower than Fangio around the same 5.15 mile circuit. As a result, Wharton would start from the seventh row of the grid in the 16th position.
In this case especially, starting position mattered little to finishing position. Therefore, the team would remain upbeat as they wheeled the car out onto the grid in preparation for the start of the race on the 4th of July. Before Wharton, and the rest of the field, awaited 61 laps, or, 314 miles. Everyone expected the pace to be similar to that of the year before. In fact, thousands upon thousands would be at the race hoping and praying for a repeat of the sensational race from a year previous. Unfortunately, it was highly unlikely. Everyone expected the pace to be fast straightaway as the sky was beginning to cloud up and rain was expected at some point during the race. Therefore, while it was dry, all of the competitors would be pushing like mad to get the best possible position in the running order before the rain started to fall.
And as the revs came up and the cars leapt forward to start the 61 lap race, it would become quite clear, within the first hundred yards, or so, that it was going to be a chase of the Mercedes W196s. Alberto Ascari's gearbox would fail him right at the start. This would bunch up the field starting right behind him, which would allow Kling and Fangio to fly off with a clear advantage over the rest of the field.
But while it was clear the cars were fast and more than capable of leading the way, there were some drawbacks that allowed the competition to catch up and stay with the two flying Silver Arrows, but not for long.
Wharton would get away well from the grid despite being well back in the pack. He would need to be careful on the narrow circuit and at such high speeds. Just one errant step defending or trying to get around another and his race would be over before it even got started.
The race would be nothing like the year before. Strong competition would find the circuit unforgiving this year and would eventually drop out one by one. Ascari would be out after a lap, Jose Froilan Gonzalez would last just 13 and Mike Hawthorn just 9. Even the W196s would run into trouble. Hans Herrmann would be out of the race after 16 laps as smoke poured from the exhaust as a result of a blown engine.
Wharton continued on and was running comfortably, but his race was about to come undone as well. After completing 19 laps of the scheduled 61, Wharton would come upon a problem. All of a sudden he would lose power to the wheels. It was apparent, almost immediately, the propeller shaft had broken. Wharton and Owen Racing were out of their first race of the season. The question was whether or not they would throw the propeller shafts from Maserati into the bin as well?
The rain would come and the two W196s at the front only disappeared into the distance. Despite strong reactions from Neubauer to slow down, Fangio and Kling would be locked in a tremendous duel in the cars' first race. The two men would run nose-to-tail delighting the French crowd. By the time the rain stopped and the race was in its closing moments, only Fangio and Kling remained on the lead lap. The battle for the win would come down to them.
Kling had led the penultimate lap, but Fangio had won both the Argentine and Belgian Grand Prix. Undoubtedly because of this factor, Fangio would be in the lead as the two cars rounded the Thillois hairpin for the final time. Heading up the sloping main straight, Kling would pull alongside his teammate but would trail just slightly as the two Mercedes Silver Arrows flashed across the line to take 1st and 2nd in its first race.
Fangio and Kling had dominated. Fangio would win the race beating Kling to the line by a mere tenth of a second. More than a lap would be the difference back to Robert Manzon, who would slide by Prince Bira for 3rd place. Bira was in good shape for the final podium spot but would run out of fuel on his last lap.
While Mercedes would be busy celebrating a nearly improbable victory, the Owen Racing team would be busy packing up its broken Maserati. But this would be why the team came to take part in the race in the first race. If it could find all of the possible weaknesses, they would be much stronger moving forward. Of course, overcoming any problems before the next race on the World Championship calendar would certainly be very welcome to the team.
The next round of the 1954 Formula One World Championship would be an important one for the Owen Racing Organization. The reason for this would be quite simple. The race would be the British Grand Prix, the home grand prix for the Lincolnshire-based team.
In 1950, BRM had planned to make its much-heralded debut as part of the brand-new Formula One World Championship. However, the worse debut that could have ever happened would. Right at the start, the sole P15, driven by Raymond Sommer, would break its driveshaft and would be out of the race. This unfortunate moment would only be the beginning of the fiasco.
Thankfully for Owen's BRM, the prop shaft of the Maserati broke in Reims. This meant the team had a good chance of not repeating the same embarrassment as that which haunted the team from 1950. But this was a different team from that which tried to make its debut four years prior.
Where they would be racing would be no different. As with the first ever round of the Formula One World Championship, the World Championship for 1954 would return to the 2.88 mile Silverstone circuit. The former Royal Air Force bomber training base still boasted its fast sweeping corners that demanding a great deal of skill and bravery. And with the exception of Becketts, the whole of the circuit played out like a high-speed circuit, as long as the drivers were brave enough for Woodcote, Copse, Stowe, Club and Abbey corners. In fact, the only change in the circuit from that fateful day in 1950 to when the Owen Racing team arrived in 1954 would be in the placement of the start/finish line. No longer was the start/finish line located along the Farm Straight. It had been moved to the run between Woodcote and Copse, the location which generations would become familiar.
Heading into the race, many believed there would be little change in the order of things, let alone the circuit. Mercedes had been so dominant at Reims that many had wagered the same result awaited at Silverstone. And after practice, such assumptions would be well founded. Juan Manuel Fangio would go on to set the pace in practice but would do so breaking the track record and being the first to break the 100 mph average speed around the circuit. Fangio's time of 1:45 would easily earn him the pole by a whole second over fellow countryman and Ferrari driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez. Mike Hawthorn would make it two Ferraris on the front row setting a time merely tenths slower than Gonzalez. The British fans would go wild knowing they would have two Brits starting from the front row when Stirling Moss placed his Maserati 250F 4th on the grid.
Unlike at Reims, Wharton seemed to have the Maserati suited. He also seemed to have all of the rust knocked off as he would set a best time four seconds slower than Fangio. Though four seconds slower, the time would be good enough to see Wharton put his Maserati on the third row of the grid in the 9th position.
Similar conditions to those that had been experienced during the French Grand Prix prevailed as the cars were rolled out to their starting grid positions. Therefore, a similar pattern to the two races could be expected. However, as the flag waved to start the 90 lap race, a totally different scene would be seen at the front of the field.
Gonzalez would get away from the line incredibly well. He would have a couple of car lengths advantage over Stirling Moss. Fangio would get away poorly from the grid and would actually be nearly run into in the back by Jean Behra in his Gordini T16. Karl Kling would even get away better than Fangio. He would squeeze Behra off and would be right beside Fangio at the start. Just behind Kling, and to his left slightly, would be Wharton. Wharton would get away well and would certainly be in a better position than his 9th place starting spot.
Gonzalez would be the class of the field. While Wharton fought hard to stay within the top ten and even fight for the top five positions, Fangio would have to collect himself in order to do battle with Moss and Hawthorn, both of whom had managed to get around Fangio right at the start.
The incredible throng of spectators would be overhanging their seats overlooking the pits and in the grandstands in order to glimpse the field racing around the former airbase. All they would see was a Ferrari piloted by Gonzalez continually stretching out his lead over the rest of the field. However, Fangio would recover and would soon get by Moss for 3rd place. Hawthorn would manage to get by Moss after a few laps and would do his best to set off after his teammate.
Amazingly, the Mercedes cars were not running away with the race. It was another Argentinean in a Ferrari. But there were problems with the sleek W196s. The fenders would cause Fangio to lose sight of the apexes of the corners. Kling would suffer from the same problem. This would result in both cars striking oil barrels placed to the inside of the corners causing considerable damage to the bodywork of the cars.
Still, Fangio would fight on and would even make his way to 2nd place. Wharton, meanwhile, remained inside the top ten and was looking quite strong. He was experiencing no problems with the Maserati. But at the same time, Ron Flockhart would be running into trouble in another Maserati 250F, one owned by Prince Bira. The wet conditions would help Flockhart lose control of the car and crash out of the race after 44 laps. This would be very important for events after the conclusion of the race.
Having already won in wet and dry conditions in the International Trophy race back in May, Gonzalez would be in a class unto himself on this day. His steady fast pace would enable him to only further stretch out his advantage over the whole of the field. Fangio, meanwhile, would find his race in a whole lot of trouble. Nearly as soon as he passed Hawthorn for 2nd place, Fangio's W196 would develop gearbox problems effectively leaving him with just one good forward gear. This and the incredible damage to the car would cause him to immediately begin to fall back in the running order.
When Moss retired after 80 laps with gearing problems it was clear the Ferrari was the class of the field at this circuit in those conditions on that day. Heading to the finish line, only Ferraris remained on the lead lap. And while Wharton had been running a strong race, his strong race was only good enough to be a couple of laps down heading into the final lap.
Gonzalez would run away with the race. He would complete the race in two hours and fifty-six minutes and would enjoy a minute and ten seconds advantage over his British teammate Mike Hawthorn. The 3rd place man of Onofre Marimon would actually cross the line ahead of Hawthorn but would be a lap down. Marimon, another Argentinean, would end up beating out Fangio for the final podium spot.
No fewer than seven drivers would end up setting the identical fastest lap time. And while three of those seven would either end up out of the race or well down in the running, it would go on to prove the kind of pace the competitors were setting during the race. Therefore, though Wharton would start out strongly, he would have a fight on his hands remaining in the top ten.
Unfortunately for Wharton and the team, he would not be able to keep up the pace through the rain and everything else. Still, heading into the final lap of the race, he would be locked in a great battle with Karl Kling in one of the W196s. Unfortunately, Kling would have a lap in hand over Wharton. Still, it would be a good day for the Lincolnshire team. Their car would be reliable and Wharton would bring it home to a very strong 8th place finish four laps behind Gonzalez. With thirty-one seconds in hand over Andre Pilette in his Gordini T16, Ken would cruise to his 8th place finish and would give Owen Racing its best result in Formula One.
Race results were rather secondary to the team as it focused on building its own chassis. The team needed every imaginable scenario to take place so they could identify every possible weakness of a grand prix car. Therefore, it would be of little surprise what Owen and his team did after the race.
It would appear as if the challenge of finishing a race in 8th place wasn't enough of a challenge for Owen and his team. In a question to identify every weakness, Owen would give up his perfectly healthy Maserati for one that was anything but.
Ron Flockhart would be in Prince Bira's doghouse as he had been loaned Bira's Maserati for a shared drive in the British Grand Prix. However, Flockhart would do the unthinkable. He would lose control of the car and would crash heavily. The impact of the crash would be such that there was nothing really of value that could be salvaged, except perhaps the engine.
For a team intent on combing through a car and throwing out all of the suspect and flawed components this was the perfect car to procure. And, sure enough, Owen's team would trade ‘2509' for Bira's wrecked ‘2504'. Bira would leave happy. So too would Owen and his team.
Immediately the team would set to work building a Maserati 250F literally from the ground up. This also meant there would be some changes to the team's calendar. The German Grand Prix was scheduled to take place on the 1st of August, just two weeks after the British Grand Prix. It would be an absolute miracle for the team to get a car ready in that amount of time, especially one as destroyed as what Bira's former Maserati was. Therefore, the team would withdraw its entry for the German Grand Prix and, instead, would take the month they had before the next race to build a proper race car.
Besides the engine, there were only parts of the chassis from ‘2504' that were still usable. The team would work long and hard, putting in long hours to get the car ready before seventh round of the Formula One World Championship. The Swiss Grand Prix would be their goal. And in preparation for the race on the 22nd of August, the Owen Racing team would pull into the Bremgarten circuit near Berne, Switzerland ready to go.
In a little more than a month, Owen Racing had turned what was really nothing more than scraps into a proper 250F, with some changed out components. They had their opportunity to totally go through and change whatever they believed needed to be replaced to make the car even better. And the Swiss Grand Prix, held on the 22nd of August would be their opportunity to prove themselves right.
Ahead of the Owen Racing Organization was a 4.52 mile Bremgarten circuit fraught with cobblestone roads, constantly twisting and turning roads and incredible dense woodlands that would make an already dangerous circuit all the more hazardous. Still, for a number of the drivers, Bremgarten was a favorite, possessing all that a pure road course should.
Even on the sunniest of days portions of the Bremgarten circuit could be damp because of all of the overhanging trees. Situated along the Wohlenssee River, moisture would always be a problem around the circuit. However, as the teams unloaded and set off for practice they would find the circuit absolutely wet as the rains come pouring down all over the circuit.
As with Silverstone, Gonzalez would shine in the wet conditions and would streak to the pole after setting a lap time of 2:39.5. Gonzalez would end up beating Fangio in practice by no more than two-tenths of a second. The final position on the front row would end up going to Stirling Moss in a Maserati. His best time around the circuit would be nearly two seconds off of the pace of Gonzalez.
The crew at Owen Racing Organization would do a magnificent job as Wharton wouldn't find himself too far off the pace throughout practice. His best effort around the circuit would be a lap of 2:46.2. This would earn him another third row starting position, 8th overall.
Despite the muddy conditions around the circuit, a great crowd would assemble for what would be the final Swiss Grand Prix. The start was set for 2pm on the 22nd of August and the skies looked threatening as the car were rolled through the mud out to their respective starting positions on the grid.
The Swiss flag would be shown to the field and the race would roar into life. Fangio would make a great getaway from the grid and would be right beside Gonzalez through the first right-hander. Wharton would also make a strong and steady start holding position off the grid and heading off on the first lap.
Fangio and Kling would lead the way at the front of the field followed by Gonzalez. Wharton would be running quite strongly, one of his performances in his short season. He would be running in the 6th position throughout the first few laps of the race and would be looking more than able to challenge for higher positions.
Fangio would continue to head the field but he would soon be chased by Gonzalez and Moss as Kling would make a mistake in his W196 and would end up spinning. As a result, Kling would drop down the running order. In fact, Wharton would even get by him for position.
Fangio would be behind the wheel of the new fender-less W196. Able to see the apexes much better, Fangio would use his usual precision to pull out a comfortable margin over the Ferrari of Gonzalez. Moss would be out of the running after 21 laps with an oil pump failure. Two laps later, Harry Schell would retire from the race in his Maserati. His problem would also be an oil pump. The oil pump would seem to be one of the components Owen's group changed out for Wharton continued to circulate out on the track without much of any kind of problem.
The only problem Wharton seemed to have was not being able to go fast enough. Early on in the 66 lap race Wharton would be right up there amongst the top five and looking strong enough to challenge for even better. However, as the race wore on, he would soon be joined by Roberto Mieres and Sergio Mantovani, also driving Maserati 250F. Wharton would be unable to really battle with the two and would end up being swallowed by them. Mieres and Mantovani would continue their battle throughout the majority of the race. Wharton, however, would remain on task and would not push as hard as one might have expected. Heading into the final few laps of the race, Wharton would have a three lap advantage over Umberto Maglioli driving one of the Ferraris. Therefore, Wharton would focus on finishing the race and gaining valuable testing experience for the team and their highly anticipated new P25.
Despite a charge made by Kling back up through the field after spinning, only to have it all come to naught because of fuel feed problems, the remainder of the race would be rather uneventful. Similar to Gonzalez at Silverstone, Fangio would lead every single lap of the race and would power his way to an easy victory. Gonzalez would finish the race a very quiet 2nd place nearly fifty-eight seconds behind. Hans Herrmann would earn his best result in a World Championship race. He would finish the race in 3rd place, but unfortunately, would be a little more than a lap behind at the end.
Wharton would be impressive in so many ways. Not only would he manage to start the race from the third row with a car that had been rebuilt from the ground up after the Flockhart crash at Silverstone, but he would remain competitive throughout the first half of the race. The second half of the race would see Wharton fall down the order somewhat but he would still be running strongly in the highly-repaired car. He would end up finishing the race in 6th place some fifty-five seconds behind Mantovani in 5th place. He would end up two laps down to Fangio by the end, but, he would also have a little more than three laps in hand over Maglioli who would finish in 7th place.
For a team focusing on testing and finding out what components worked and not, Wharton's result in the Swiss Grand Prix would be quite impressive. Obviously he would be focused on the race, but still, the he and the team were looking toward the future. It seemed, at least with this result, if the team could improve upon the Maserati they were currently employing, they would be strong in the future.
Always with their eyes on the future, the Owen Racing Organization would take Wharton's splendid 6th place result at Bremgarten and would immediately withdraw from racing over the next month. The team would not take part in the Italian Grand Prix in the early part of September. And, of course, the team was yet to take part in any non-championship races.
Heading into October that fact seemed about to change. The team would put in an entry for Wharton and the car in the new 1st Daily Telegraph Trophy race held at Aintree on the 2nd of October. This would have many people stirring as Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn and Louis Rosier were all expected to come with their Formula One cars. In addition, Equipe Gordini would enter a couple of T16s for Jean Behra and Andre Pilette. It was shaping up to be a very good and very competitive field.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. Despite having an entry in the race, neither Wharton nor the Owen Racing Organization would appear for the race. And seeing that it was the last Formula One non-championship race in all of Europe, everyone would have to wait and see whether or not the team would take part in the final round of the Formula One World Championship.
Only one major race remained on the calendar in Europe. It was the ninth, and final, round of the 1954 Formula One World Championship. For the first time since Fangio had won his first World Championship in 1951, the Spanish Grand Prix was back on the calendar. But unlike the race back in 1951, the '54 edition of the Spanish Grand Prix would not determine the World Championship. That had already been decided with Fangio's victory at the Swiss Grand Prix.
All that was left was the pride of the drivers and teams. And a victory at the 3.91 mile Pedralbes Circuit would certainly be a bright way to end any season. A mixture of public roads and city streets, the Pedralbes Circuit didn't play out like a tight city street course precisely because it wasn't a tight city street circuit. Consisting of multi-lane streets, the layout of the Pedralbes Circuit would be wide, and therefore, would enable higher entry speeds into the corners. This would help to keep the average speeds around the circuit well above 95 mph.
Although the circuit did feature some slower corners to bring the average speed south of 100 mph, the main straight was incredibly long and favored those cars that could maximize the horsepower generated by their 2.5-liter powerplant. In the minds of many this would seem to favor the Mercedes-Benz W196s. However, there would be a new team present for the final race of the season. Like the Owen Racing Organization, Lancia had been developing its own chassis for use in the Formula One World Championship. Unfortunately, Lancia's car would be ready and Owen's would not.
At the wheel of the new D50, Alberto Ascari would be fastest around the circuit. His lap time of 2:18.1 would be exactly a second faster than Fangio in his W196. Mike Hawthorn would be at the wheel of his Ferrari 553 Squalo. His best effort would be a second and a half slower than Fangio but would be good enough to him 3rd place on the front row. Harry Schell, the American-Parisian, would be surprisingly quick in his Maserati 250F. He would be mere hundredths of a second slower than Hawthorn and would take the 4th, and final, spot on the front row. The front row would be something special. It would feature four drivers of four different nationalities, but it would also boast of four different manufacturers occupying the top positions as well.
At the British and Swiss Grand Prix, Wharton had looked strong all throughout practice and would end up with a third row starting position. Yet, in Spain, even with a four-three-four grid arrangement, Wharton would not be amongst the top three rows. Wharton would be slightly off the pace. His best would end up being about seven and a half seconds slower than Ascari. This would cause Wharton to start from the fourth row of the grid in the 14th position.
In 1951, the race day would be incredibly hot and it would be a deciding factor in the race and the World Championship. The incredible heat would cause tires to delaminate and come apart. In 1954, the weather would again be sunny and warm, but it would not be oppressively hot. So while the tires would not be an issue during the race, the engines would still have to face the heat and the punishment and would have to last 80 laps, or, 313 miles.
The field of twenty-one cars would form up on the long, long Generalisimo Franco straight. The field would come to a roar awaiting the start. And, at 2pm on October 24th, the final round of the World Championship would get underway. The cars would power their way down the long straight. Harry Schell would take advantage of his front row starting position and would surprise nearly everyone as he would be the clear leader heading into the hairpin at the end of the long straight.
Schell would manage to lead the first couple of laps of the race in front of Ascari and Hawthorn, Fangio would fall back at the start of the race and would seem absolutely content following Schell and the others. Wharton would start further down in the field and would carefully make his way through the first couple of laps trying to settle into a rhythm.
Schell's place at the front would be short-lived as Ascari would pass to take over the lead of the race. With Ascari in the lead, everyone set about focusing on the task at hand thinking it was the new D50 everyone would have to chase. And for the next seven laps that would be the case. However, things weren't going all that well for Lancia.
Luigi Villoresi would only manage to make it a couple of laps before his race came to an end due to brake failure. The next to fall out of the running would, unfortunately, be the other Lancia driven by Ascari. Ascari would make it 10 laps before clutch failure would not only take the lead, but also, the race away from him.
Ascari's retirement from the race would set up a terribly entertaining and titanic duel between Harry Schell and Maurice Trintignant. The two would trade the lead back and forth throughout the next dozen laps making for some incredibly interesting racing.
While Lancia would run into trouble early on in the race, the Owen Racing team would be carrying on without an issue. Still, Wharton would not have the pace to compete for the top positions. Instead, he would have to focus on fighting hard to remain inside the top ten.
Wharton would have more than enough pace to pull away from those behind him, but he would fight with everything he had to try and keep up with Louis Rosier driving another 250F. He would push hard keeping in mind the end result being another race finish. Therefore, while he would fight hard he would gradually lose ground to Rosier. He would need some help to take the position away from him.
Hawthorn was running right up there with Schell and Trintignant. Still, he too needed some help in order to get by and take the lead. The needed help would come. Trintignant would run into trouble and would begin to fade. Then, Schell would make a mistake and would end up spinning out of the lead.
Schell's race would come to an end. After the spin, he would later suffer rear axle failure and would be out of the race entirely. Trintignant would also fall out of the running with engine failure. This practically left Hawthorn all alone at the front of the field despite Luigi Musso pushing as hard as he could in a vain attempt to try and catch the Englishman.
Although Ascari's fastest lap on lap 3 would stand throughout the race, Hawthorn's pace throughout the last half of the race would be such that all but Musso would be at least a lap down. And even Musso wouldn't be all that close either.
Wharton's fastest times in practice were about five seconds slower than those of Hawthorn and it would be even worse during the race. Hawthorn would come around to pay visits to his fellow countryman a number of times before the end of the race. Still, Wharton was in the race and doing rather well considering the level of attrition that would decimate the field by the end.
Even Fangio would be a distant memory as Hawthorn rounded the last corner for the final time. Hawthorn would power up the straight and would cross the finish line for the final time. It would be his first World Championship win of the season and his second in his career. It would be a demonstration in patience and raw speed as he would await Schell, Trintignant and Ascari all to depart the scene. And when he had the lead within his grasp, Hawthorn would be the model of consistency turning in fast lap after fast lap leaving Musso to finish a distant minute and thirteen seconds behind in 2nd place and Fangio to finish over a lap down in 3rd.
Wharton's distance behind Hawthorn could be measured by quarters of an hour. When it was all over, Wharton would cross the line some 6 laps behind, or, what translated into about 15 minutes. Still, the 8th place would be another good result for the team basically running rolling tests. Wharton had six laps in hand over the man behind him and he would manage to finish when many other top competitors were not so fortunate. Really, it hadn't been that bad of day for the team that only took part in four races on the whole of the season.
Wharton had managed to give the Owen Racing team another strong performance. The completed race distance would be invaluable for the team's new car's development. And if the team could manage to produce a strong car, Wharton had proven capable of running with the best. In a season that was used more for evaluation than race results, the Owen Racing team would have to pack up the car and equipment after the final race of the season with something of a smile on their faces.
The new P25 would still be more of a concept than a reality by the end of the '54 season. Still, the season would be very important to the team in determining what a successful car needed. The consistent runs by Wharton in the majority of the races would only set Owen Racing Organization on a strong course for the future. Unfortunately, it was very likely the 1955 season would see the Owen Racing team have to make do with the Maserati yet again.
And while this reality had the potential of being very frustrating for the team, it would provide them more opportunity to test out new and untried components the team would apply to the new car when it was finished. It was clear Owen was coming to BRM's rescue. He would try and do everything right so that when the team did debut its new car it would not become the embarrassment it had once been. He fully wanted British Racing Motors to be England's dominant team. And 1954 was just a step in that end result. Owen Racing Organisation