TeamsOwen Racing Organization: 1958 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
The 1957 season would end up being a tale of two halves. Heading into 1958, Owen Racing would hope the narrative would follow the latter instead of the former. The departure of Maserati from the scene would certainly help.
Throughout the first half of the 1957 season, Owen Racing and their P25 was nothing but a disappointment, again. While Vandervell's Vanwalls went on to score victories at the British Grand Prix, and then again in the Pescara and Italian races, the P25 was nothing short of an embarrassment through the first half of the season. The car was notoriously unreliable and unstable. This was not exactly the combination a driver needed to inspire confidence. And there would be very little, if any, until the end of July.
Maserati would announce that they would leave Formula One as a factory effort. This would leave a number of top drivers having to think about their futures. A couple of those that would really be in need of a good drive would be Jean Behra and Harry Schell.
Both drivers were incredibly talented, but amongst the two, Behra was the more consistent. The Frenchman would also demonstrate his abilities in car design when he agreed to drive for Owen Racing in the Grand Prix de Caen at the end of July. Behra would have an opportunity to test the BRM 25 before the race and he would immediately make design change suggestions. Colin Chapman had already been hired to do some changes to the car. Chapman had been involved with the Vanwalls and they would become the main British challenge to the Italian might. Therefore, he seemed like the perfect person to help Owen Racing restore the BRM name in the minds of British fans.
Chapman would make improvements to the car, but there would be some aspects of the car, particularly the brakes, that would be notoriously unreliable and difficult. Chapman would improve the car, but it wouldn't be until Behra came to race for the team at the end of July that the 25 turned a major corner and became one of the fastest, most capable cars on the grid.
Prior to Caen, the BRMs had showed some speed but this was heavily tempered with unreliability. However, leading up to the race in Caen, Behra would fine-tune the car even more. And, with the help of Schell, Owen Racing would shock just about everyone as the two BRMs battled for the lead lap after lap. Though Schell would end up retiring with an expired engine, Behra would go on to victory in the race causing many to stop and wonder.
But while many would wonder whether Owen Racing had become a different team there were certainly a large number of detractors, and rightly so. Throughout BRM's history there had been brief flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately, these brilliant flashes would be followed by incredible dark holes that embarrassed and destroyed any bit of credibility with the fans. But then came the International Trophy race at Silverstone.
The date of the International Trophy race had been changed for 1957 as a result of the Suez Crisis. The date would change to the week following the Italian Grand Prix and it would appear, when it was all said and done, as though it had been a date reserved especially for Owen Racing.
The Italian Grand Prix completed the World Championship for 1957 and the fact there were only non-championship races to follow meant Behra would be back with Owen Racing for the International Trophy race. Following the success at Caen, the team would work hard on the cars confident of the direction they were going. Behra would come back to the team and would continue providing his input as to the direction of the car as well and the team was quite confident of a good showing in the race.
Even without the presence of teams like Vandervell's Vanwalls, there was still plenty of competition capable of ruining the day for the BRMs. This had been proven on a number of occasions throughout the season and the years prior. But this would be a different day. The race would be run in two heats with the team's cars being split amongst the two. It wouldn't matter as the BRMs would dominate both heats and then would complete the final positioned in the top three spots. Owen Racing had swept the podium. It seemed Raymond Mays' promise was finally coming good.
In spite of the good results toward the end of the year, there was a lot of pressure put on the team from Alfred Owen to start winning some 'meaningful' races. This meant winning rounds of the Formula One World Championship. He threatened the team needed to start winning races or else the team may not be around for much longer. Those within the team would take the words seriously although they would also downplay the potential for the team to close down outright. Most would cite the fact the team had hired Jean Behra and Harry Schell for the 1958 season as reason enough for the confidence. Still, money talked, and if there wasn't any or much, then there was nothing more to say.
The team would set to work preparing for the upcoming season. This meant converting the engines to run on avgas. The shorter race distances meant the cars would be lightened as a result of smaller fuel tanks. The team would also work hard at simply improving the chassis. These changes and updates would not be easy and would leave many teams, including Vandervell's Vanwalls, at a bit of a disadvantage at the beginning of the year. As a result, Owen Racing would not be ready in time to make the voyage across the Atlantic to the Argentine Grand Prix. Instead, the team would focus on the first race of the season on English shores.
The first race of the 1958 season would come in a rather usual location for English teams and drivers. Following the end of the Second World War, one of the more popular places for teams and drivers to race and to test would be Goodwood. And, besides its nine hour race, the circuit would be best known for its festival of racing that would take place over the Easter holiday weekend. The races, in fact, would take place on the Monday following and would be called the Easter Monday races. This event would be held on the 7th of April in 1958 and would offer Owen Racing its first opportunity to go up against the other top Formula One teams.
The rise of British teams meant the Easter Monday races would play host to some of the best teams in Formula One. Cooper would come with their Climax-powered upgraded versions of their T45s and T43s. Connaught would also be present as it was now owned by Bernie Ecclestone. Then there would be Team Lotus, and, of course, Owe Racing.
Owen's team would arrive at its first race of the season with two cars. Both of these cars would be entered for their top drivers, Behra and Schell. The team would arrive and the mechanics would set about preparing the P25 for the 42 lap Glover Trophy race. It was the 6th edition of the race and was one of the longer races of the day.
Not only were there a number of top British teams coming to the fore in Formula One, but there were also a large number of talented British drivers as well. This fact enabled Goodwood to draw Scuderia Ferrari to the fold as it would enter a single car, one of its new Dino 246, for Mike Hawthorn.
As usual, the race would take place around the 2.39 mile circuit comprised of what had served as the perimeter road for the auxiliary airfield known during the war as RAF Westhampnett.
Behra would be impressive in practice but he would prove incapable of taking pole away from Stirling Moss in the Rob Walker Cooper T43. Behra would still line up on the front row in the 2nd position. Hawthorn would occupy 3rd place on the front row while Roy Salvadori would complete the front rank in the 4th position. Schell would just miss out on the front row and would have to be satisfied with starting on the second row in the 5th position. This was right behind his teammate and a strong position for the Owen Racing team.
For all of the excitement within the team surrounding the race, the weather would give nothing but a picture of doom and gloom. There would be rain, even snow, over the course of the weekend. The grass would be like a swamp and the skies would be overcast and depressing. Still, the events would go on and the Glover Trophy race would be about to begin.
The flag would wave to start the race and Moss would stall at the start dropping down a good distance before he really got going. This mistake at the start would allow Behra to streak into the lead of the race, which he would do throughout the first few laps of the race. Behra and the BRM looked strong throughout the first few laps, but soon there would be trouble. The biggest problem the P25 had suffered from its very first moments had been brake unreliability. Sure enough, after a brilliant start to the race and the season, brake failure would leave Behra absolutely defenseless. The Frenchman would careen into the chicane wall that had been built of bricks. Behra would crash hard and would suffer some injuries but his life would not be in danger. Schell would carry on, but ever-aware of the troubles.
But while Behra's brakes wouldn't come on, Schell's would soon fail to come off. Behra would complete just four laps before his troubles visited. Schell would make it 7 before he too retired. This was not the start to the season the team neither expected nor wanted, especially with Owen himself in the grandstands watching.
Moss would get his race going but it would all fall apart after 22 laps. This left Hawthorn to battle it out with a couple of Coopers being driven by Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori. Hawthorn would turn the fastest lap of the race in the new Ferrari and this would be more than either of the Coopers could handle. The Ferrari driver would pull away with ease while Brabham and Salvadori would be in comfortable positions of their own ahead of the rest of the field.
The retirement of Moss and Behra would give Hawthorn a rather easy cruise to victory. Mike would complete the race distance in a little under one hour and four minutes taking the victory by 35 seconds over Brabham. Salvadori would make it a good day for Cooper as he would finish in 3rd place more than a lap behind Hawthorn.
All of the excitement from the end of the previous season had carried Owen Racing through the winter. And though the double failure in the first race of the season was not out of the realm of possibilities, it certainly wasn't even close to how the team wanted to start their 1958 campaign. Suddenly, Owen's ultimatum really began to ring in the ears of everyone within the team.
Owen Racing had more problems than just the P25. The accident in the race left Behra injured with some broken bones. He would rest for a few days and would be soon declared ready to drive, despite the fact he still had some cracked ribs.
While Behra was doing all he could to get back into racing form, the team would be working hard to get the P25 into pure racing trim. The team would be absolutely confounded by its brake problems although the system devised would be anything but straight-forward. As a result, the team would do its best to abandon any innovative design and would try its best to revert to a conventional arrangement. With the help of Lockheed, the team would alter the front and rear brakes in an attempt to come up with the simplest design possible.
The next race on the calendar for the Owen Racing team would again come on English shores. There had been the Syracuse Grand Prix on the 13th of April. However, because of finances and the brake problems, the team would choose to stay on home soil and look toward the next race coming on the 19th of April, one week later. The race was the 13th BARC 200. It was called by some, very simply, the Aintree 200.
Neither of the BRMs had managed to finish the British Grand Prix held at Aintree the year before. That race had come just before the turn around at Caen. Therefore, the team was interested in having a good race at Aintree just to get a feel of where it was in relation to its competition, and in regards to its improvements to the brakes systems on the front and rear of the car.
Aintree offered the team a good test. Measuring 3.0 miles to the lap, the circuit, which would be designed within and without the Grand National course, would feature heavy braking, some fast straights and some fast corners. All aspects of the car got a workout around the circuit and the continuous braking would really give the new braking systems a workout. This wouldn't be so exciting for Behra who, though he was declared fit to drive, was still showing some obvious signs of his broken ribs.
Just one car would be entered in the BARC 200 and it would be Behra that would be the driver. He would be going up against mostly Formula 2 cars but there would be a number of privately-entered Formula One cars and those Coopers that had enlarged engines. It was going to be a difficult race, but an important test for Behra, the car and the team.
It seemed as though all was aligning when, at the end of practice, Behra found himself on pole having set a lap time of 1:59.8. Starting beside Behra on the three-wide front row would be Roy Salvadori in 2nd place and Stirling Moss in 3rd.
In many respects Behra was looking for some retribution after he had the victory in the British Grand Prix at Aintree nearly sown up the year before until his gearbox exploded and greatly changed the complexion of the race. He felt he was due something, but the circuit wouldn't see things that way as it would be Moss that would lead Behra heading into the first turn.
In spite of losing out on the lead, Behra found the BRM to be running well. He would be quick, though not quite as quick as Jack Brabham. Behra would make it through the first 10 laps of the 67 lap race and carried on, seemingly without a problem. However, after having completed 27 laps Behra would appear in the pits. He would bring the car to a stop and would emerge from behind the wheel. He would get out of the car and would relay the fact he had suffered more brake problems with the car. The car hadn't suffered an accident like that experienced at Goodwood, but with broken ribs, Behra wasn't about to take a chance. So once again, even with a much simpler arrangement, mysterious brake problems would bring about the end of a race for the team.
The loss of Behra would be easily forgiven as a result of the titanic battle that would ensue between Moss and Brabham for the lead and the victory. Brabham would turn the fastest lap of the race and would be all over Moss throughout the latter-part of the race. However, Moss' composure behind the wheel would offset Brabham's pace and Stirling would remain right there throughout. Even heading into the final couple of laps these two would battle it out for the lead with both taking the lead many times, even over the course of a lap.
These two would leave everyone else behind, but they just could not break free from each other. Finally, coming out of Tatts for the final time, Moss would maintain the upper-hand and would take the victory. The margin would be a mere two-tenths of a second. Tony Brooks would complete the podium but he would be a very quiet 3rd as he finished more than a minute behind.
Owen Racing desperately needed to get its brake problems rectified. The team's only hope after Aintree would be the fact they were heading to the place of their greatest triumph.
Owen Racing would duplicate its performance in Caen with a demonstrative sweep of the podium in the International Trophy race. On the 3rd of May in 1958, the team would be putting finishing touches to their BRMs in hopes of being able to repeat the performance.
The 10th International Trophy race would be back to its more usual date in May. Because the British Grand Prix would take place at Silverstone in 1958 the race would also be overrun with top teams and drivers. This would present Owen Racing's toughest test of the season.
Following the end of the war, RAF Silverstone would become the first home of the British Grand Prix hosting the race in 1948. One year later, the site would also become the home of the BRDC International Trophy race. This popular non-championship event would almost count as a round of the World Championship, especially on the years in which the circuit played host to the British round of the championship.
Due to the brake problems, and the sheer force going against them, Owen Racing could not appear at Silverstone with just a single entry. So the team would bring two cars to the race. One would be driven by Jean Behra while the other by Ron Flockhart.
The cars would take to the circuit for practice and Behra would be turning in some good laps in an updated car. However, it wouldn't be good enough for the Frenchman as he would come in complaining the car could give him more but seemed unable. The crews would work through the night to try and find that elusive performance. And, while neither car would be as strong in practice as what it seemed the year before, both would start from the second row of the grid when it was all said and done.
Behra would end up in 5th place being a little more than a second and a half slower than pole-sitter Roy Salvadori. Ron Flockhart would end up 6th being just two-tenths slower than Behra. The front row consisted of Salvadori on pole, Jack Brabham in 2nd, Stirling Moss 3rd and Peter Collins 4th.
While neither of the BRMs started from the front row, both would be in a rather strong position heading into the 50 lap race. That position would get even stronger when, at the fall of the flag, Behra streaked forward into 2nd place behind Peter Collins and his Ferrari. While Flockhart held position near the front of the field, Behra would be locked in a battle with Collins for the outright lead. The crew with Owen Racing had found the issue and the car was proving to be faster, just like Behra believed it could. Behra would use this superior pace to pass Collins on lap four and he just pulled away from then on.
Behra continued to build upon his lead, but, as was usual with BRM, there would be always something that would ruin the performance. In this case it was a stone. A lapped car kicked up a stone and it flew right into Behra's face striking his goggles over his eye. Behra already had a prosthetic ear as a result of goggles tearing his natural one off years earlier, now a rock had come and shattered his goggles and gave him a big cut just above his one eye. Behra would try to continue but the bleeding would cause him to have to pit from the lead to gain some attention and some new goggles. While in the pits, Collins would go into the lead of the race.
Behra would rejoin the race and would put together an impressive performance in a bid to try and track down what he had lost. He would set the fastest lap of the race in his effort but he was well down and certainly unlikely to overhaul the Ferrari before the end.
At the same time, Flockhart had made his way up to 3rd place and was looking quite strong. However, he would approach a corner only to find marshals pushing a stricken car right in his path. He would swerve to miss the marshals and would end up picking the car up into the air as it caught a earthen bank just off the circuit. Flockhart would emerge unharmed but vehemently livid. There had been no signal that he was aware of and he would make that point abundantly clear.
Behra's performance in spite of the rock in the goggles episode would be remarkable. He would be flying throughout the last half of the race but it would prove to be too late. The rock had destroyed a near certain victory and repeat performance after his performance made it clear the updated car had the speed in hand to challenge the best.
Collins would go on to take the victory over Roy Salvadori and Masten Gregory. It would be a strong performance by the Ferrari driver but it would not quite be as impressive as Behra's performance as he would come through to finish in 4th place after the bitterly disappointing setback earlier in the race.
In spite of the fact a rock had stolen certain victory, the BRM's performance at Silverstone made it clear the evolved P25 was one of the fastest cars in all of Formula One. Heading into the next race, the team didn't need their car to be the fastest. They needed it to be something it had always struggled to be—the most reliable. The reason for this was simple: the next race would be the Monaco Grand Prix, the second round of the championship. But not only was the race the second round of the championship, the race took place on a circuit filled with nothing but tight, slow hairpins and some quick corners with very unforgiving margins. The car could not suffer any brake problems, not on the 18th of May.
Even by the end of the 1930s, motor racing on the streets of Monaco already appeared an oxymoron. The Silver Arrows of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union had been built with superior horsepower and were meant to run. Seeing the big, powerful cars tip-toe their way around Monte Carlo seemed out of place, but even then, Monaco was a jewel within the motor racing world. And though it would disappear from Formula One for more than a few years after its debut, the race was still the treasure all drivers and teams wanted to gain possession of.
The 1958 had seen a surprise when Moss scored victory for the privateer Rob Walker Racing team in the Argentine Grand Prix. This was seen as something of a fluke and everyone believed the natural order would be restored around Monaco. But the Coopers had an advantage with their small size and lighter weight. They were nimble and light on their feet, something that was a plus around the tiny principality.
Owen Racing Organization would make the long overland trip to the south of France with three cars. Behra and Flockhart would make the trip. They would be joined by Schell once again. This provided the team with a strong effort. Behra had been pleased with the car at Silverstone and maintained that joy as he equaled Tony Brooks' fastest lap in Thursday practice. When practice would come to an end Jean would miss out on the pole by just a second as Brooks went on to set a lap time of 1:39.8 around the 1.95 mile circuit. Jack Brabham would complete the front row in the rear-engined Cooper. Schell would be back but wouldn't quite be up to speed with the new BRM. He would end up on the fifth row of the grid in the 11th spot. Flockhart would take part in practice but would not end up qualifying for the race as the third car would be used as a spare.
The weather throughout the course of the weekend would be beautiful and another brilliant day would greet the many thousands that would gather for the race. The race distance would be 100 laps and would be one of the very few that still pushed the three hour mark. The 16 cars would be assembled along the grid as the Gazometre hairpin loomed in the distance just a couple of hundred yards away. A good start was needed by all and that it exactly what Behra would get as he would lead the field through the first turn. There was a little concern for Behra as his car needed to be push-started just before the start. Schell would also make a good start and he would be up a couple of positions before the completion of the first lap.
At the end of the first lap it would be Behra leading the way. Schell would make up for his poor grid position by crossing the line in 9th place, a couple of spots further up. Behra, however, would be in the lead and would stay right there throughout the first quarter of the race. The Frenchman looked good and the car appeared to be very strong; validation of Behra's feelings following Silverstone. Behind him, Brooks, Moss and Hawthorn would battle it out for 2nd and 3rd. Schell would stay put just around the top ten until he was able to make his way up to 7th place a little later on.
Schell's forward progress would be aided by Behra's misfortune. At Silverstone the BRM had showed no signs of its penchant for brake problems. However, around the tight Monaco circuit the brake problems would again come to the fore and Behra would be forced to retire from the lead after 27 laps. Brooks too would also falter. The retirement of the first two starters meant Hawthorn was now in the lead and Schell was up to 7th.
However, Schell's forward progress would be short-lived. Carburetor troubles would see the American drop to the end of the field and remain there until the halfway mark when he was able to move forward one position. The troubles continued but Harry was also able to continue. While Maurice Trintignant would benefit from the troubles of the other front-runners and would again find himself in the lead at Monaco, Schell would be at the back of the field fighting just to make it to the end of the race.
In spite of the fact he wasn't able to go very fast, the attrition with others would enable him to continue to rise on the leaderboard. Ten laps from the end of the race he would be in 6th place, just out of the points. But then, with less than ten laps remaining, Wolfgang von Trips would fall out of contention. Despite struggling all throughout the race, Schell was now in 5th place and championship points awaited as along as he too made it to the end of the race.
Trintignant would shock everyone again as his second World Championship victory would again come on the streets of Monaco. He would defeat Ferrari's Luigi Musso by 20 seconds while Peter Collins discreetly crossed in 3rd. Despite his carburetion concerns, Schell would fight his way to the end of the race. He would manage to finish in 5th place earning two points for himself and the team in the process.
Schell's hard-fought two championship points would be of little consolation after Behra had been leading and pulling away while in the lead of the race. The nagging brake issues had erased the opportunity to meet Owen's demands at the most famous race of the season. This would be terribly frustrating, especially since the team struggled to identify the source of the trouble.
The Dutch Grand Prix on the 26th of May would give the team very little time to identify the source of the problem for the brakes. Still, the car had proved itself to be extremely quick and the Grote Prijs van Nederland would take place at Zandvoort, a place that rewarded speed and handling.
The Zandvoort circuit is located within yards of the North Sea coast and was often blustered by heavy winds coming from the sea. Surrounded by long grass-covered sand dunes, a portion of the circuit had been nothing more than a road the German Army created to help get to its defensive shore batteries. Its location meant the circuit also had the potential for sand blowing over its surfaces making the circuit very slippery. While fearsome in its own right, the blowing sand was especially fearsome around Zandvoort with its 2.60 miles of fast tarmac.
Blustery winds greeted the teams as they took part in practice and prepared for the 75 lap race on the 26th. Around the fast circuit the Vanwalls would prove the quickest of the entire field and would go on to capture the entire three-wide front row. Stuart Lewis-Evans would start on pole while Moss and Brooks would complete the row. Jean Behra would not be all that happy despite the fact he would earn the 4th starting spot on the second row. Harry Schell was still coming to grips with the P25 and he would end up rather happy with his performance after he ended up in the middle of the third row. Starting 7th, Schell was still in a strong position for the start of the race.
Heavy winds blanketed the circuit on the day of the race. Some 75 laps awaited the field as they assembled on the grid. Schell had been happy with his performance in practice and would be thoroughly delighted with his start as he would power his way from the third row of the grid ahead of his teammate and into 3rd as the field wound into Tarzanbocht for the first time. Behra would jockey for position and would in 5th place after the first few corners.
The first time by, it was Moss in the lead with Lewis-Evans in 2nd place. Schell remained in 3rd place with a BRM that sounded and looked strong. Behra was locked in a battle with Salvadori and Mike Hawthorn for 5th place. Both BRMs were in the points and turning laps as quick as the other top teams.
Schell would continue to impress. Schell had not been comfortable with the car but that would quickly pass as he would get by Lewis-Evans for 2nd place. Behra would also be on the move as he would put Hawthorn and Salvadori behind him. At the end of the 25th lap it was Moss in the lead and pulling away. However, Owen had his cars running in 2nd place with Schell and 4th place with Behra. If Moss had any kind of troubles Owen Racing was going to be able to capitalize in a big way. Of course, the team needed their cars to last as well.
Moss would run away with the race. At the wheel of the Vanwall, Moss was nearly unbeatable as long as the car continued to run. Schell's lack of familiarity with the BRM appeared a thing of the past as he continued to run strongly in 2nd place. Trouble for Lewis-Evans would promote Behra. The Frenchman was now up to 3rd place. It would be an incredible sight for the team after so many years of frustration. Their two cars were running 2nd and 3rd and both sounded strong each and every time around. Furthermore, there was no hint of the brake problems that had plagued them so often.
Moss' Vanwall would not be vanquished. Stirling would remain in control over the course of every single one of the 75 laps. He would take the victory completing the race distance at an average speed of nearly 94mph. There was nothing Schell could do with that pace but he would still be pleased to finish in 2nd place about 48 seconds behind. This would be another great result for Schell and the second in a row to end in the points. The team would be further delighted when Behra made his way to finish in 3rd place about a minute further behind his teammate.
It would be, by far, the best result for BRM in the World Championship. Standing on 8 points, Schell would be in 3rd place in the Drivers' Championship standings. Behra would be in the points for the second time as well. His four points would add to what he had earned in Argentina. He would be in 6th place then having earned 6 points. As far as the team was concerned, the two podium finishes in the Dutch Grand Prix meant the team leapt up into a battle with Vanwall while Cooper and Ferrari continued to lead the way. Victory had not come the team's way but they were certainly finding success along the journey now. They only needed to continue to build upon that success.
Owen Racing had enjoyed their greatest success with their result in the Dutch Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the team would find their momentum inhibited by logistical and theoretical distance. The next round of the World Championship was the Indianapolis 500. Owen Racing wasn't about to make the trip all the way to the United States. Furthermore, the distance between cars made taking part in the race all but impossible. Therefore, the team would have to look forward to the fifth round of the championship and pray momentum would still be on their side. That fifth round would come on the 15th of June and it would be a high speed affair much like the Indy 500. It was the Belgian Grand Prix.
Located in the heart of the Ardennes, Malmedy had become part of Belgium following the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Not far from there, one year after the annexation, a couple of men would layout a race course using public roads running between the towns of Francorchamps, Malmedy and Stavelot. This original circuit would be a little more than 9 miles in length but it would have the triangular pattern that would later become synonymous and known by just three letters—Spa.
As the Formula One World Championship arrived in the middle of June in 1958, the circuit would be much the same. The only major difference would be the famous bend known simply as Eau Rouge and then the long right-hand bend that leads the circuit away from the small village of Stavelot. Both changes would make the circuit shorter, but it would also make it faster.
Owen Racing would have three entries for the race with Fockhart again listed beside Behra and Schell. But, once again, just Behra and Schell would actually take part in the race. The BRMs had never been to Spa before. With the French Grand Prix to follow after at Reims, the team had done some testing during the break following the Dutch Grand Prix in an effort to find more top speed.
The BRMs lacked the outright power Ferrari and Vanwall seemed to have in hand and this bothered both men, but especially Behra who would have a scary moment in practice when oil leaked onto his rear wheel causing him to spin a couple of times around the Masta Kink. He would live to tell about the tale but his confidence would be shaken. The crew would work all night to try and help but it would only result in Schell starting from the third row of the grid and Behra the fourth. Hawthorn would start on pole. Luigi Musso, Hawthorn's teammate, would start 2nd, and Stirling Moss would complete the front row starting 3rd.
On the downhill run into Eau Rouge, Moss would be the clear leader but Behra would also make an incredible start from the fourth row. Behra would be amongst the top three heading out through the woods. Then, out along the long circuit Behra would amazingly take the lead. Unfortunately, the lead wouldn't last very long as Moss and a number of other cars flash by. Though he would complete the first lap in a still remarkable 5th place, Behra's great excitement would be mooted. Schell would hold steady still inside the top ten while Moss would come coasting to a stop before heading up Eau Rouge for the second time. This would hand the lead of the race over to Collins but he would be closely followed by Tony Brooks in his Vanwall.
Hawthorn would recover from a less than inspiring start and he would soon take over 2nd place as Collins faded and Brooks took over the point. Behra would climb back up to 4th place about the same time Hawthorn would take over 2nd place but the Frenchman would soon fall out after his engine gave way. This left just Schell running for Owen Racing. The incredibly friendly relationship between Behra and Schell had changed slightly after Harry finished 2nd in Zandvoort. And now, with Behra out and Schell still running, that friendship would be further tested.
Once in front, there was really very little anyone else, even Hawthorn, could do to challenge for the victory. Hawthorn would try with all his might, even going so far as setting the fastest lap on the 24th, and final, lap. But, it would be too little too late.
Over the course of the race there was really very little Schell could do in his BRM given its lack of power. His race was well and truly at the mercy of attrition and he would have to hope for a good deal of it if he had any illusions of finishing in the points. Salvadori would help, right along with Collins. Then, of course, when Behra retired, Schell was promoted. The end result would be the American would head into the final lap of the race in the 5th position a little ways ahead of the Belgian Olivier Gendebien and his Ferrari.
Gendebien had run the first few laps up near the front to the delight of the Belgian crowd. However, as the race drew to a close, Schell would be doing everything he could to oppress the Belgian. And it would work.
Brooks would ease to victory completing the race in a little more than an hour and 37 minutes. Some 21 seconds later Hawthorn would come through to finish in 2nd place. Stuart Lewis-Evans would make it two Vanwalls on the podium as he finished in 3rd place three minutes behind. Schell would finish the race a little more than a lap behind. However, he would still finish the race, and he would do so in the 5th position. This meant another two points toward the championship. So even though Behra ran afoul of engine troubles, Owen Racing still left Belgium with championship points.
Consistency would see Schell up to 10 points in the championship while Behra was left depressed. Jean had a reputation for having his days of brilliance, as well as, his days of disinterest. While Schell continued his streak of points finishes, Behra seemed to continue his streak of indifference.
The team would leave Spa and would have a couple of weeks in between rounds of the World Championship. Then at the end of June, the team would make their way just to the west of Spa to the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. In that region of France lay one of the country's most important cities—Reims. It would be just outside of the city, on the 6th of July, that would be French Grand Prix would be held.
The French Grand Prix would return to Reims in 1958 after it had made an appearance in Rouen. Reims had been the traditional site for the crowning of kings of France and it had served as the traditional site for the French Grand Prix. Therefore, it would be seen as right to have the race return to Reims in 1958. Owen Racing had only made the trip to Reims once before. That time had come in 1954 when the team arrived in Reims with a Maserati 250F entered for Ken Wharton. Unfortunately, that one experience would result in yet another failure to finish. However, the team would return to Reims with a much larger attack. In 1958, the team would arrive with enough cars for three drivers. The British team would employ mostly French drivers for the race. Jean Behra would be joined by Maurice Trintignant. Harry Schell would be the only non-French driver but the fact he owned a bar in Paris meant he was about a French as one could get.
The mood surrounding Behra wasn't necessarily a good one. It was believed he could have carried on in Spa, and probably come away with some points. It would be important he give the French round of the World Championship his all as it was one of the best for starting and prize money. Behra wouldn't be in a good mood however when Schell went on to set the fastest lap time on Thursday. This would lead Behra to demand Schell's car for the remainder of the weekend. This would upset Harry terribly and would terribly fracture the friendship. Still, because of his lap time, Schell would start the best of the BRM drivers.
Mike Hawthorn would end up on pole while Luigi Musso earned 2nd. Schell's incredible lap time in the apparently under-powered BRM meant he would complete the front row with a 3rd place starting spot. Maurice Trintignant would end up on the third row of the grid in the 7th position right beside Juan Manuel Fangio in his last ever Formula One race. Jean Behra would be found on the fourth row of the grid in the 9th position.
A brilliant day awaited the start of the race. All of the cars would be assembled on the grid and the drivers would take their places behind the wheel before being flagged away at the start of the 50 lap race. At the moment the cars streamed away from the grid, Schell would get the best jump and would actually lead the way through the fast right-hander. However, when the field finally made it way around to the long Route Nationale 31 straight, Musso would lead a large fleet of cars all attached together slip-streaming their way over the top of the rise toward the Thillois hairpin. Left hanging out to dry, Schell would be quickly passed and shoved well back of a pack that even included a fast-starting Behra armed with Schell's car from practice.
Hawthorn would come through to complete the first lap in the lead and would actually begin to pull away from the rest of the field going through the fast esses during the early part of the second lap. Schell had managed to hold onto 2nd place coming along the start/finish straight but would be quickly shoved backward heading into the first turn once again. Behra would be hooked in and staying put looking for his opportunity to slingshot forward. Trintignant would be right there with Behra completing the first lap one spot behind Behra.
Throughout the next 15 laps Hawthorn would only add to his margin over the rest of the field. Musso would then lead the gaggle of cars that would include Schell, Behra and Trintignant. Behra would use the draft to his advantage and would soon be up to 6th place and then 5th as he slip-streamed his way toward the front.
Musso would be desperate to get up to the front with his teammate. Unfortunately, he would lose control of his Ferrari. It would overturn a number of times causing terrible injuries to Musso. He would later die at the hospital. At the same time of the tragic events, Behra would find his moment to move forward. Streaking along, Behra would be up to 2nd place by the halfway mark of the race while Schell and Trintignant would be sitting just outside the top five.
Behra would become embroiled in an incredible slip-streaming battle with Moss. These two men would exchange position a number of times over the next 20 laps. It would be an enthralling battle in which Behra would both delight and surprise. Schell had surprised everyone during practice, and with the same car, Behra's confidence also grew and he too was able to compete with faster cars. Trintignant, meanwhile, had been running his normal consistent race. But, an oil pipe failure would end up robbing him of a race finish. He would retire just prior to the halfway mark.
Schell would have his own troubles. Instead of oil leaks, like that which Trintignant dealt with, Schell's problem would be water leaks. This hurt the cooling of the car and required him to stop in order to keep the water levels topped. Schell's race would take a hit, just when he had been running near the points. It would be terribly frustrating when he knew Behra was fighting Moss for position up near the front.
Schell's struggles would come to an end after 41 laps when the engine succumbed to overheating. It would be terribly disappointing for Harry after he had a streak of points finishes going. However, he likely felt better, vindicated perhaps, when Behra retired from the race as a result of a fuel pump failure. He would retire at nearly the same time as Harry.
Hawthorn would go on to win the race with Stirling Moss finishing in 2nd place about 24 seconds behind. Wolfgang von Trips would make it two Ferraris on the podium when he finished in 3rd a minute behind his teammate.
Ferrari would lose a driver. BRMs' drivers would be squabbling. This would not be good for either team, but it would be easier for Ferrari to get on knowing it had the car to compete at each and every round. Alfred Owen demanded his team to do much better the next round.
As far as Alfred Owen was concerned, the seventh round of the Formula One World Championship meant everything. Back at the time of the inaugural season of the new Formula One Championship Raymond Mays would make some rather lofty claims about British manufacturers dominating motor racing. Of course, he was speaking about BRM. By 1958, British marks were leading the way but it was Vandervell and Cooper that were making the biggest splashes. Owen hoped and prayed the British Grand Prix, held at Silverstone on the 19th of July would provide the perfect opportunity for BRM to join that list of victorious British manufacturers.
Owen was necessarily daft in his thinking about the team's chances at Silverstone. Back in May, Behra had been leading the way, and was even adding to his advantage when a rock not only shattered Behra's goggles but the team's hopes for victory. And, as the race approached, the team had two drivers in Behra and Schell that were running really strong. The team looked poised for a points result, maybe even something better.
The Silverstone circuit played to the strengths of the BRM 25. The circuit held a high average speed but didn't really allow those with great horsepower to reach their absolute top speeds. The better handling of the P25 allowed it to maintain those higher average speeds, which meant it was much more competitive around the 2.9 mile circuit.
Officially, Owen Racing would have three entries, the two for Behra and Schell and then a third for Masten Gregory. However, Gregory would crash in a sportscar and would suffer injuries. As a result, Owen Racing would be limited to just its two main cars.
Schell would be determined after how everything went down in Reims. He would be a man out looking for blood and he would demonstrate just how suited to the circuit the P25 actually was as he would end up second-fastest in practice. Once again he would be faster than Behra who seemed uninterested. Stirling Moss would take the pole in the Vanwall. His lap time would be 1:39.4. Schell would end up just four-tenths slower and in 2nd place on the grid. Roy Salvadori would start 3rd while Mike Hawthorn would complete the front row in 4th. Behra's best lap around the circuit would result in a lap time of 1:41.4. Two and a half seconds slower than Schell, Behra would end up on the third row of the grid in the 8th position.
A beautiful day greeted everyone as they gathered around the circuit. It was highly likely a British driver, or a British car, or both would win the British Grand Prix so hopes ran high amongst the British faithful. The warnings would go up, the engines would be started and the drivers would be readied. Then there was the flag to start the race, the cars, in a haze of sound and fury, would sprint into the distance. Peter Collins would make a tremendous start and would end up in the lead by the time the field reached the first turn. Moss followed in 2nd while Hawthorn and Schell gave chase.
Collins would lead the way at the end of the first circuit while Moss and Hawthorn flashed by in 2nd and 3rd. Schell would complete the first trip in a strong 4th place while Behra was well down in the field looking entirely unenthused.
Collins continued to open up his lead over Moss while Behra was running into trouble as he ran around 10th place. Schell had been running in 4th place but then would steadily lose places for more than five laps before he got himself righted. Behra had really done nothing throughout the early going of the race, but then, after 19 laps he would come into the pits complaining about an ill-handling car. Upon further inspection it would be suspected Behra had struck a rabbit at some point in time and that a bone from the rabbit had pierced one of the tires causing a slow leak. Nonetheless, Behra was out of the race. It all fell on Schell's shoulders.
At this point in time Schell was out of the points but he wasn't about to give up. The retirement of Moss because of a blown engine would help but there would still be a huge task before the American if Owen Racing was even going to end up in the points by the end of the day.
Ferrari sat first and second with Collins leading the way over his friend Hawthorn. Salvadori would be in 3rd place followed by Lewis-Evans. Wolfgang von Trips would retire as a result of a bearing issue and Schell would be gaining ground on Jack Brabham in one of the Coopers. If he could by the Australian 5th place would be in the offering.
Mike Hawthorn would set the fastest lap of the race but would soon have to make a stop in the pits as a result of a need for more oil. The stop would be made as quickly as possible so to get the Ferrari driver out before Salvadori flashed around to take over 2nd place. The oil would be added and Hawthorn would be on his way still in 2nd place. Meanwhile, Schell would be gaining more and more ground on Brabham, more points were in reach. Harry wasn't in the mood. He wasn't going to be denied.
Nothing would deny Collins. From the very start of the race he had led the way and wouldn't be thwarted at any time following that. Cruising along, the Ferrari driver would take the victory defeating his friend by some 24 seconds. Roy Salvadori would have a fight on his hands as he would beat Lewis-Evans by a mere two-tenths of a second for 3rd. Schell would get his man and would disappear into the distance from then on. Harry would finish on the lead lap in 5th place about a minute and 14 seconds behind Collins. It wasn't a victory but it was two more points for Schell and the team. Though Behra was still very much considered the number one driver within the team, the number two driver had earned far more points in far more consistent performances.
Owen Racing would have no time to celebrate Schell's achievement in the British Grand Prix. Immediately the cars would head to a garage in nearby Brackley. They needed to be prepared for a non-championship race the following day. While perhaps risky and unadvised, the BRMs would be prepared to defend their honor. They were on their way across the Channel to the French coastal town of Caen. It would be there, on the 20th of July that the Grand Prix de Caen would be held. It was the race that demonstrated the P25 had turned a corner. The team believed they needed to be there.
The year before, BRM had surprised just about everyone as it controlled the race and won easily. One year later, the surprise would be gone. BRM would be expected to repeat its performance. However, there would be some strong competition the team would have to face it didn't the year before. So it was by no means a done deal. The one big concern would come in the presence of Stirling Moss.
Behra would be quick around the 2.19 mile Caen circuit, however, it would be Moss that would take the pole in a Cooper. Behra would line up on the front row of the grid in 2nd place. Schell would have a much more difficult time in practice. His best lap would be only good enough to line up on the fourth row of the grid in the 8th position.
The start of the 86 lap race would be filled with drama. Moss would be right up at the front of the field along with Behra, but a little further back, trouble would stir. Les Leston would lose his engine and would end up crashing out of the race. Keith Ballisat would lose a wheel and would drop out of the race. Just one lap would be in the book and two cars would be out of the race.
Schell had started well down in the field but his consistent driving had translated into a number of points-paying finishes in World Championship races. Unfortunately, that consistent driving would be useless as an oil leak in the gearbox would ruin his day.
Behra would be pushing hard to defend his victory. He would go on to post the fastest lap of the race. However, just past the halfway mark of the race the engine would give up and Behra would be left without hope. This opened the door to Moss to run away with the race, which he would promptly do.
Moss would destroy the field en route to victory. Averaging nearly 94mph, Moss would indomitable taking the victory by more than a lap over Jo Bonnier. In 3rd would be Bruce Halford, also a lap behind.
While the temptation to defend a victory would be difficult for anyone to turn down, the limited time, and the fact the race did not count toward the World Championship, would have suggested it was one temptation that needed to be denied. Unfortunately it wasn't and the team was in a much tougher place as a result.
The disaster in Caen would leave Owen Racing a bit on the back foot with the German Grand Prix just ahead on the 3rd of August. Not only would the team need their cars in top working order to take on the competition, but they would also be in a competition against the circuit itself. Taking place on the notorious Nurburgring, Owen Racing needed every one of their aircraft in the best possible working order because a gauntlet awaited.
Measuring 14 miles and boasting of more than 170 corners, the Nurburgring was by no means a straightforward circuit. Demanding the absolute from the driver and the car, the circuit would take advantage of even the slightest lapse in focus or weakness in a component. This was not good for the BRM with its notorious Achilles Heal—its brakes. Not kind to the experienced or the uninitiated, the Nurburgring presented an interesting challenge to Owen Racing since it had never taken part in a Formula One race at the circuit before.
The team would come to the race with just two cars as a result of the troubles experienced in the last couple of races. While the friendship between Behra and Schell would be treading on thin ice, the two presented the hottest pairing BRM had since the early days when Juan Manuel Fangio drove for the team.
Unfortunately, for Owen Racing, neither of the two would prove all that hot around the Nurburgring. A brief rain shower would cause Behra to lose control and drive down over a bank. Mike Hawthorn would break the lap record as he grabbed the pole with a lap time of 9:14.0. Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss would put both of their Vanwalls on the front row in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Peter Collins would complete the front row bookending the Vanwalls with his Ferrari. Amongst the BRM pilots, Schell would again prove the faster competitor as he would capture 8th place with a time of 9:39.6. Behra would start 9th, right beside Schell in the third row, but his lap time would be over seven seconds slower.
Sunshine again shone down on the circuit in the Eifel Mountains. The flag would wave and the immense crowd would watch the large field of Formula One and Formula 2 cars stream away into the distance. Schell had planned to drive right down along the pits to leap forward in the order. This he would do and would, for a brief moment, sit in 2nd place. However, the faster Vanwalls and Ferraris would pass by before the first corner. Moss would actually be in the lead with Brooks right behind. Brooks would have Hawthorn and Collins right behind pushing hard to take over the position. Meanwhile, Schell and Behra would be running nearly nose-to-tail throughout the first lap. At the end of the first tour it would be Moss in the lead with Hawthorn and Collins now in 2nd and 3rd. Schell would come through in 6th place a little ahead of Behra in 7th.
Such a long lap with such varying corners, straights and other elements meant there would be a number of position changes over the course of just a single lap. However, it would remain Moss up front throughout the first couple of laps. Schell and Behra would move up as von Trips struggled. Trouble with Schell's car would enable Behra to leap up to the top five while Schell dropped a couple of places.
Moss continued in the lead until his race came to an end as a result of engine troubles. This handed Collins the lead, who had gotten by his friend and teammate. Behra was looking strong but he would soon come into the pits complaining about some kind of vibration issue that made it difficult for him to carry on. This would be frustrating to the team as it appeared to be a condition which Behra could contend. However, it was left to steady Schell. Schell would remain right around 5th place throughout the first half of the race. The team was hopeful for yet another points-paying result. Unfortunately, Schell would come into the pits after 8 laps. His race was over as a result of the rather usual problem—brakes.
Collins carried on in the lead of the race for more than five laps around the circuit. Brooks would get his dander up and would end up passing both Hawthorn and Collins for the lead. Unfortunately, this would only seemingly anger Collins and he would set off after the Vanwall in an attempt to retake what he had lost. Tragically, Collins would lose focus in his pursuit and would end up being thrown out of his car up against a tree when it overturned going around a rather blind right-hander. Hawthorn would witness the whole thing and would realize his friend stood no chance. At the end of the lap he would pull into the race. His race was also done. He couldn't go on. This handed Brooks a very comfortable advantage.
Brooks would be in the lead with four laps remaining in the race. His advantage was truly too strong to overcome as long as he remained on the circuit. Brooks would have no such struggles and would go on to an easy victory completing the race distance nearly three minutes and 30 seconds ahead of Roy Salvadori. Maurice Trintignant would finish in 3rd a little more than five minutes behind.
When the race came to an end, the Owen Racing team would be a little upset with Behra as it was believed he could have struggled on and come away with a points-paying finish. Instead, the team left with nothing to show for its effort. Behra was seemingly becoming more and more of a liability. Schell would at least show that if he had a car that was capable of carrying on to the finish he was likely to finish in the points. It wasn't where Owen demanded the team finish, but it was still much better than not finishing at all.
Thankfully for the team there would be a couple of weeks before the next round of the World Championship. The team would head back home and would tear down every single one of the cars. They would then rebuild them and prepare them for the Portuguese Grand Prix, which was to take place on the 24th of August.
The Portuguese Grand Prix would be another new addition to the Formula One World Championship and one of two that would make its debut over the course of the 1958 season. But even though the race was new to the World Championship, the circuit itself was familiar with most of the top teams and drivers.
Located along the Douro River, Porto first came to be known as a Roman post. The city would even be attributed as the source for the country's name as its Latin name, Portus Cale, translates into 'Portugal'. Situated right along the estuary leading out into the Atlantic, shipbuilding would be an important element to Porto's growth and it would be from here that Prince Henry the Navigator would embark on his conquest of the port in Ceuta in Morocco. It would be rather fitting, then, that the two new additions to the World Championship in 1958 would be in both Portugal and Morocco as these two nations would seemingly be linked in more than one way.
Besides shipbuilding, the wine industry would be Porto's other claim to fame and would be the source for the particular type called by the name of the city—Port wine. This industry would make Porto a rather affluent city within Portugal and would lead to it becoming the second-largest city in the country. It would be amongst this setting of wine and shipbuilding the Boavista would be carved.
The circuit itself would be located right along the coast with the grid facing the waters of the Atlantic. The circuit measured 4.6 miles and would be relatively flat right along the coastline. However, that elevation would rise when it turned inland and ran along an incredibly long straight where the cars were able to reach their top speeds. Featuring a couple of long, fast straights, the Boavista circuit certainly didn't seem as a circuit that favored the BRM 25s. However, the other half of the circuit was nothing but twisty, sweeping esses and this would favor the 25. So, overall, Owen Racing had a chance.
Both of the BRM drivers would be on good form around the circuit. Surprisingly, it would be Behra that would be the quicker of the two this time. Stirling Moss would take the pole. Mike Hawthorn and Stuart Lewis-Evans would join him on the front row. Jean Behra's best lap in practice would be just about seven-tenths of a second slower than Moss. As a result, he would start from 4th place on the inside of the second row. This would be one of the best starting spots for Behra in a long time. Schell would be a little more than two seconds slower than Behra. However, he would find himself on the third row of the grid in the 7th position. So, sure enough, the BRMs proved to be almost ideally suited to the Boavista circuit.
The circuit had tramlines, cobblestones and some very high curbs in some places and this was made even more difficult in wet conditions. Rain would fall in the overnight hours before the race on the 24th. Thankfully, however, the rain would stop in the morning and portions of the circuit were even dry by the time the cars and drivers took their places on the grid.
Still under grey skies, the field would be ready for the start of the 50 lap race. At the start, it would be Moss that would take the lead. Hawthorn would follow along in 2nd place while von Trips would be in 3rd. In spite of the fact Behra started further up on the grid, it would be Schell that would make the best start. He would be well inside the top five throughout the first lap while Behra would be fighting with Lewis-Evans to get into the top five.
At the completion of the first lap it would be Moss leading the way. However, Hawthorn would be keen on getting by and trying his hand at the point. He would supplant Moss and would look good at the front. Schell would begin battling with von Trips for 3rd place and would actually enjoy a lap in the position before he would begin to slip down the running order. Behra, meanwhile, would be just beginning his ascent up the order. The two would trade places around five laps into the race. And, while things were only looking worse for Schell, Behra would find the skies clearing over his race.
Hawthorn's time in the lead would come to an end just prior to the 10 lap mark. Moss would be back in the lead and would begin to immediately draw away from the Ferrari. About the same time Moss moved back to the lead, Behra would be making a move on von Trips for 3rd place. Schell only kept falling down the order and would end up all the way down in 9th place before the halfway point of the race.
Moss would be leaving everyone behind as he negotiated the drying Boavista circuit. Behra would be enjoying the conditions as well as he ran in 3rd place. Unfortunately, the Ferrari driven by Hawthorn would be just out of his reach, or so he thought. Schell's race had bottomed-out in 9th place about the halfway point. He would remain stuck in that position for a number of laps but would then begin to battle with Maurice Trintignant and Jack Brabham for position. Schell appeared to be relying upon attrition to help his cause. However, there would be very little attrition throughout two-thirds of the race and his forward movement would be late in happening.
Behra, on the other hand, would suddenly find himself in 2nd place! Mike Hawthorn would lose control of his Ferrari at one point and would go off the circuit. His Ferrari would stall and he would be hard-pressed to find a means to get it restarted. While Hawthorn struggled to get back into the race, Behra would glide by into 2nd place.
Moss was well up the road and out of reach for Behra. But, the possible 2nd place he now held in his hands would go a long way to restore his passion for racing and the team's confidence in him. He just needed to hold onto the position. This would prove more difficult than he thought.
Hawthorn would use a portion of tarmac off the edge of the circuit. He would get the car rolling in the opposite direction of the circuit and would re-fire the car. Spinning the car back around, Hawthorn would be back in the race. He would lose out on 2nd place to Behra but he would be in 3rd and not without a chance at regaining his lost position. He would go on to set fast lap as he pushed hard to keep his championship hopes alive.
Behra was running consistently fast laps but they would not be as fast as what Hawthorn was turning at the wheel of his Ferrari. Going up against fast lap times, Behra would have very little hope of holding onto his position. And, after half a dozen laps in 2nd place, the Frenchman would lose the position back to Hawthorn. This would gut Jean and he would soon come dangerously close to losing out on the podium.
Schell, meanwhile, was beginning to head in the right direction again. Unfortunately, the ground he lost early on in the race was coming back to haunt him in the latter stages. Those that retired in the first 10 laps of the race had all been competitors well behind him on the grid. Cliff Allison's retirement after 15 laps was just another retirement by a competitor that started further down. The only help Schell would get throughout the whole of the race would come in the form of Tony Brooks when he crashed his Vanwall after 36 laps. Therefore, it was left to him. He needed to push, and not break, the BRM. He would begin to do just that. He would soon make his way up to 8th and then to 7th. He would be stuck right there with the laps dwindling away.
Moss would be running away. From the moment he retook the lead from Hawthorn, the Vanwall driver would only add to his advantage pulling away well into the distance. In fact, he would even witness Hawthorn recovering from his error. He would be so far out in front he had no challenge throughout the last half of the race except to keep the Vanwall pointed straight and the wheels on the circuit.
Moss would take an easy victory. Crossing the line in two hour, 11 minutes and 27 seconds, Moss' margin of victory would be more than a lap over Hawthorn. The pass by Hawthorn on Behra would be demoralizing to the point he would be unable to defend himself against the last-minute assault assembled by Lewis-Evans in another Vanwall. Just four laps from the end of the race Lewis-Evans would make his move and would take over 3rd place. Behra would slip down to 4th in the final order. This would be terribly disappointing, but still a strong points-paying result.
Carroll Shelby would have problems late. Brake problems would lead to the American crashing out of the race with just about two laps remaining in the race. The crash would benefit another American. The attrition Schell would be looking for would come really late in the race and in the form of just one—Shelby. Shelby's accident would allow Schell to move up. Unfortunately, it would only result in a 6th place finish. This too would be disappointing for Schell and the team after he had been running right around the top three within the first few laps of the race.
Behra would finally add more points to his championship tally, but it was still Schell that had proven the far more consistent driver within the team. Though he would miss out on points by one position, the 6th place would be Harry's fifth race finish of the season. He was stuck on 12 championship points to Behra's 9.
Owen Racing was running a firm 4th place in the Constructors' Championship following the race in Portugal. Unfortunately, the only constructors to be running behind Owen were mostly privateer teams. The success Owen demanded before the start of the season was still not coming the team's way even though they managed many more points-rewarding finishes than they ever had before.
Only two rounds of the 1958 Formula One World Championship remained. Immediately after the race in Porto, the Owen Racing team would pack everything up and would head off across Europe to arrive in time for the next race. The team would travel across Spain and France and then would arrive in northern Italy. There were a couple of weeks before the next race but the team would settle in and take the time to prepare the BRMs for another important race. The race was the Italian Grand Prix. It would be held at Monza on the 7th of September. It would be a high-speed race, a race in which the BRMs needed to be at their very best if they were even to compete.
Besides the team travelling with the transporter, there would be another contingent of BRM team members arriving from England. They would be bringing with them two more cars. The team would become a fleet of four cars to be entered for Behra, Schell and Jo Bonnier. Bonnier had just signed to drive with the team after spending the majority of the season driving his own car or for other privateer teams. He had shown himself to be a talented driver. Ron Flockhart had injured himself and Bonnier appeared the perfect replacement. He just needed a car capable of utilizing his talents.
The Monza circuit would be located in the Royal Park just to the north of the city's center. This flat swath of land would be selected as the site of one of the first purpose-built circuits in the world. The circuit itself would be ahead of its time in that it would offer a number of different layout options to be used with different types of racing. The original circuit measured 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles, and featured an oval track and a routine road course. The circuit would open in September of 1922 and would play host to just the second Italian Grand Prix a few days later.
Even from its very first days, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza would be all about speed. This fact would lead to the circuit's layout being changed a number of times. It would be changed to a combination of the road circuit and a portion of the oval to just a 3.91 mile road course being used. It wouldn't be until the mid-1950s that the banked oval would be brought back into the equation. Resurfaced, the updated circuit would be little better than its original since it was both fast and terribly bumpy. Thankfully, the banked oval would be abandoned once again. The 1957 Italian Grand Prix would take place on a re-profiled road course that introduced the now famous Parabolica.
All four cars would be prepared for practice and they would soon take to the circuit for practice. Perhaps looking to the future and another ride, Behra would be suddenly quicker than Schell in practice. In the sunshine conditions, Behra would set a fast time early on that would only be beaten by the Vanwalls and Ferraris. Schell would also set a fast lap but he too would be beaten by the other factory teams and his teammate.
The end of practice would look a rather familiar sight as Moss started from on pole with a lap of 1:40.5. Tony Brooks made it two Vanwalls on the front row starting in 2nd. Were it not for Mike Hawthorn qualifying in 3rd place in the Ferrari, Vanwalls would have occupied the first three positions on the grid, just like the year before. Instead, Lewis-Evans would line up 4th.
Behra and the rest of the Owen Racing team would have been pleased with 4th place. Instead, the majority of the team's drivers would line up on the third row of the grid. Schell would post a time just hundreds of seconds slower than Behra, so it made it Behra starting 8th, Schell starting 9th and Bonnier lining up 10th. It had been an impressive performance by Bonnier considering his inexperience with the car. He would end up being just about a second and a half slower than Schell.
Unlike the Portuguese Grand Prix, the day of the Italian Grand Prix would be filled with nothing but sunshine. The temperatures were comfortable. It was a nearly perfect day for racing, and, despite their struggles for out-right speed, the BRMs looked capable of providing the team with another strong finish.
As usual, a large crowd of Italian racing fans would assemble for the race on the 7th. Even Enzo Ferrari would be present to watch his red Italian cars go. Three cars starting from the third row of the grid, Owen Racing appeared ready to go as well. At the drop of the flag, the performance disadvantage suffered by the BRM would appear to be more than obvious as Stirling Moss and Phil Hill led the field away while Behra, Schell and Bonnier struggled to stay within the top ten.
Schell's struggles would come to an early end, however. Rounding Curva Grande for the very first time, Harry would be holding position until von Trips moved down on him. Knocking into him, von Trips would send Schell sliding off the circuit. The team would have no idea what happened to their driver until the rest of the field made it around to complete the first lap. Slowly word would reach the team that he was alright but that wasn't entirely the case as he had a number of lacerations to his skin and clothes. His car had unfortunately plowed through a briar patch before coming to a stop.
Schell's race would be over. However, Behra and Bonnier would be in strong positions at the conclusion of the first lap. Hill would lead the first lap of the race while Moss and Lewis-Evans crossed 2nd and 3rd. Ferraris and Vanwalls occupied the first five positions on the track. It was clear the BRMs just didn't have the pace. Still, Bonnier would complete the first lap in 6th place while Behra would be right behind in 7th.
Bonnier would lose position to Behra after the first couple of laps. However, he would remain in the hunt running right around 7th place on the track. It was a strong debut race for Bonnier in the BRM. The team would only hope it carried on to the end of the race.
After swapping positions with Bonnier, Behra would suddenly find pace none of his teammates, nor the other teams, believed possible. Jean was in the mood to go racing and it would quickly translate into the Frenchman running as high as 2nd place throughout the first 30 laps of the race.
There would be a tremendous slipt-streaming battle that would ensue at the front of the field. It would result in Hill, Moss, Hawthorn, Lewis-Evans, Brooks, and even Behra, swapping positions a number of times each lap. It would be an incredible sight and highly enthralling to the legion of fans all around the circuit. Everyone would be intently watching the head of the field as the two main championship contenders, Moss and Hawthorn, battled it out for the lead early on. However, the race and the championship would take a turn when Moss retired after 17 laps with gearbox problems. The race was 70 laps. This was another early exit for the Vanwall and it only helped Hawthorn's championship hopes.
Hawthorn would take over the lead of the race. Lewis-Evans would battle with Behra for position behind. This was important for Behra after suffering a disappointing season. It was also important for Lewis-Evans who needed to try and get ahead of Hawthorn in the hopes of keeping his teammate's title aspirations alive. The two would battle it out and this would only delight Hawthorn even more as it would allow him to escape further into the distance.
While Behra would be doing battle with Lewis-Evans, Bonnier would be doing battle with his car. He had been running well inside the top ten when a prop shaft failure would leave him defenseless and unable to carry on. This was the second BRM out of the race. All hope rested on Behra.
It would soon prove to be a weight too heavy for the Frenchman's car to bear. Jean had been running right around 2nd place when he would soon come to realize the brakes on the car were not working properly. Within reach of a podium, or, at the very least, championship points, Behra wouldn't be so quick to give up the fight. He would come into the pits to have the situation looked over. He would soon take back to the circuit in hopes the situation had been rectified. Unfortunately, he would soon be back into the pits suffering from the same problem. To compound the problem the clutch in the car was going. Returning to the pits once again, Behra would determine the fight was lost and would retire the car. That was it. All three cars were out of the race.
Hawthorn remained in the lead. Lewis-Evans assault would come up short after overheating problems brought his race to an end. The championship, potentially, was over right then and there if Hawthorn took the victory. However, Tony Brooks would offer his two cents into the equation and it would change everything.
Besides a brief interlude where Phil Hill regained the lead, Hawthorn would lead more than 40 of the 70 lap race. However, with 20 laps remaining in the race, Brooks was on a charge. At the halfway mark the Vanwall driver was running in 4th place. Twenty laps from the end, Brooks would be up to 2nd place and closing on the Ferrari driver. Just a little less than 10 laps to go to the finish, Brooks would make his move and would take over the lead of the race from Hawthorn. Moss' championship hopes had a chance as long as Brooks could hang on.
It would be a remarkable performance by Brooks. Crossing the line 24 seconds ahead of Hawthorn, Brooks would take the victory and save Moss' championship hopes. Phil Hill would be impressive for Ferrari finishing in 3rd place just four seconds behind Hawthorn.
Moss' championship hopes would be saved, if only slightly. Still, he would have more reason to be excited about the time between the penultimate and final round of the championship. Owen Racing would get about packing up their cars and equipment and would head off on the long journey back to England and Bourne. There was more than a month before the final race of the season and the team would need every moment to make sure its final assault of 1958 would be a successful one.
It had been a good, and yet frustrating, season. The team had enjoyed some of its best results ever in the Formula One World Championship. However, the team also endured some of its usual lows. The BRM 25 had truly turned a corner but it had done so with the scars, the reminders of the recent past. With such strong memories it seemed very difficult for the car and the team to truly overcome.
The team would set about preparing its cars for the final round of the World Championship. Having a month in hand, the team would work meticulously. Those within the team would go all out providing four cars for the team in an attempt to overwhelm and come away with something positive before the end of the season.
Making the trip to the final round of the championship would not be easy. The final round would be the Moroccan Grand Prix. It would be held on the 19th of October just outside the popular city of Casablanca. However, because the race would take place on the African continent there would be some extra logical issues the team would have to deal with. A cargo plane would be hired to transport the team but it would require some rather unique and rather amusing stacking preferences in order to get all four cars and all the equipment onto the plane. Nonetheless, all four cars and equipment would neatly fit onto the plane and it would set off for Morocco.
Casablanca had hosted a non-championship grand prix the year before as a prelude to being confirmed as part of the World Championship for 1958. It had been a popular event with some 50,000 spectators believed to have made the journey to just outside the city to watch the race.
It was not the first grand prix ever to be held in Morocco, or Casablanca for that matter. Casablanca would actually host the first-ever grand prix back in 1925. The race would continue for a couple of years during the 1930s, but it would not resurface again until 1954 when the city of Agadir hosted a race for sportscars. That race would be won by the inaugural Formula One World Championship, Giuseppe Farina. Not long after that a new circuit would be laid out using a portion of the old Anfa street circuit in Casablanca. The new circuit, located in and known by Ain-Diab, would be literally right beside the old Anfa circuit. However, the circuit length would be nearly twice that of the old circuit used in the 1930s.
Coming into the race, BRM had reason to be excited and a little confident. Jean Behra had competed in the non-championship event the year before in a factory Maserati. He would prove to be the class of the field nearly the whole weekend. The BRM was about as fast as the Maserati. The team believed there could be a repeat performance. Or, at least that is what they were hoping and praying for. How great would it be to fulfill Owen's request just in the nick of time.
The teams would arrive and the cars and equipment unloaded. Owen's four drivers would arrive and would prepare to take part in practice. After some initial adjustments, the drivers would really begin to put the coals to the fire and would soon see where they stood in relation to their competition.
Mike Hawthorn would take the pole in his Ferrari turning a lap of 2:23.1 around the 4.72 mile circuit. Stirling Moss, the other combatant vying for the championship, would line up 2nd. The final spot on the front row would go to Stuart Lewis-Evans in a second Vanwall. This put two Vanwalls on the front row, and this would be important to help fight against Hawthorn.
Behra would turn an incredible lap of 2:23.8. Just seven-tenths of a second slower than Hawthorn, Behra would start the race from 4th place, or the inside of the second row of the grid. Jo Bonnier would continue to impress behind the wheel of the BRM. His best effort would be 2:24.9. Just a second slower than Behra, Bonnier would line up on the third row of the grid in the 8th position. Harry Schell would be a second and a half slower than Bonnier. He would end up on the fourth row of the grid in the 10th position. Ron Flockhart was mostly healed from his injuries suffered earlier in the year. Demonstrating he was healed, Flockhart would find himself on the sixth row of the grid in the 15th position. All-in-all, Owen Racing looked to be in a strong position leading up to the start of the race. They just needed to turn those good starting positions into top finishing positions.
There would be a good deal of ceremony leading up to the start of the race with the whole affair capped off by the parade carrying King Mohammed V to his spectator viewing location. The mechanics and the rest of those within a team would keep their focuses turned toward their cars and the upcoming 250mile race.
The flag would wave to start the race. Moss needed a great start and would perform one taking the lead right from the very beginning. Phil Hill would also make a great start and would be up to 2nd. Bonnier would make an incredible start from his spot on the third row. He would be in 4th place behind Hawthorn while Behra ran just outside the top five. At the completion of the first lap it would be Moss in the lead with Hill following along in 2nd place. Hawthorn ran just ahead of Bonnier while Behra ran in 7th. Schell would come through in 9th place but would then slip a spot over the next couple of laps. Flockhart would be feeling things out throughout the first few laps. He would complete the first circuit around 15th but would soon begin to move forward.
Hill would try and make some moves on Moss but would end up sliding off the circuit at one point. He would recover and would find his way back up to 2nd place before too long. Bonnier remained right around 4th place unable to make much more forward progress while Behra remained right around 7th. Schell would gain from Trintignant's troubles and would be back up to 9th before too long while Flockhart would find himself just outside the top ten before a camshaft failure dropped him out of the running.
Behra's return to Casablanca wouldn't be Hollywood-like as he would suffer engine problems after 27 laps and would end up out of the last race of the season. Owen Racing was left with just Bonnier and Schell. Thankfully, both were running well as the race reached the halfway point.
Moss continued in the lead and only added to his advantage over Phil Hill. Bonnier would lose out in the battle between Tony Brooks and Mike Hawthorn but would still be in a points-scoring position. This position would improve when Brooks' race came to an end after an engine failure. He would be back up to 4th place while Schell would be up to 6th place chasing Lewis-Evans.
Vandervell knew that Moss wouldn't win the championship, even if he won the race. Moss had set the fastest lap of the race, but, with Hawthorn moving into 2nd place, there was really no chance left unless Lewis-Evans could put together a last minute charge to take the position away. Lewis-Evans would respond and would give it his all. Unfortunately, the engine would fail throwing the Vanwall into the air. It would then catch fire and would burn Lewis-Evans terribly. Moss' championship hopes would go up in smoke but it would mean very little a few days later when Stuart succumbed to the terrible burns he suffered.
Moss would remain in the lead and would enjoy a sizable margin over Hawthorn. Hill had been in 2nd until he had been given the signal to move over and allow Hawthorn carry on to the title. The loss of Lewis-Evans would actually end up being a promotion for Bonnier and Schell. Bonnier would still be in 4th place and looking remarkable behind the wheel of the BRM. Schell would move up from 6th into another 5th. The team was en route to its best performance since the Dutch Grand Prix all the way back in May.
Moss would win the race and would set the fastest lap but he would not win the championship as Hawthorn would cross the line in 2nd place an unflustered 52 seconds back. Phil Hill would again impress as he would finish in 3rd place just eight-tenths of a second behind. Owen Racing would really only be concerned with those finishing in 4th and 5th. Sure enough, Bonnier would ride his BRM all the way to a 4th place finish while Schell would come across the line to finish in 5th.
It was a good way to end the season. The team would have liked to have Flockhart and Behra to finish as well, but to have two cars finish in the points would certainly be a highlight nonetheless. Earning five championship points as a team meant BRM would end the season solidly in 4th place. The two points scored by Schell would be his fifth points result of the season. The two points would give him a total of 14 points and would help him to end the season in a tie with the deceased Collins for 5th place in the championship. Behra would end the season with 9 points and would be in a tie for 10th.
Owen Racing Organization would end the 1958 season not having reached the goal, the ultimatum put before it by Owen himself. Still, the results achieved by the team were, by far, the best season the team ever experienced. It seemed to suggest the team had finally turned a corner and was on its way to better results in the coming years. Perhaps the team would reach that lofty goal some day very soon. Owen Racing Organisation