TeamsGilby Engineering: 1957 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Gilby Engineering's owner, Sid Greene, had made a huge investment in his racing interests. Purchasing a Maserati 250F in 1954, Gilby Engineering would go from small-time privateer to a consistent threat in the national and international stage. Unfortunately, that is about all the team had proven to be throughout its first three years. The fourth looked even more difficult.
The 1956 season had been a bitterly disappointing season. Roy Salvadori had campaigned well in the Maserati and enjoyed a number of great performances, but none of them turned into results.
Perhaps the team's great and worst moment would come at the 1956 British Grand Prix at Silverstone when a mistake by Juan Manuel Fangio would allow Salvadori to follow Stirling Moss through to the top points of the running order. Within the early portions of that race it would be Moss out front with Salvadori maintaining a comfortable margin in 2nd place. Salvadori would look incredibly strong holding off Fangio and others and for some 30 laps would look to be a strong contender for the podium.
Unfortunately, the race was long. And, as would be experienced throughout the season little things would go wrong to derail the team from a potential result. While holding onto 2nd place in the British Grand Prix a tank strap on the Maserati would break loose and would obviously slow Salvadori down. Fangio would end up going by for 2nd place while Roy pitted. The car would return to the race only to retire some laps later.
A similar story could be retold in the German Grand Prix and then at the Italian Grand Prix. The team had invested heavily into the season and they often looked on the verge of a great result only to be turned away without any real payment whatsoever.
It would be a very frustrating third season for the Gilby Engineering team and their Maserati. The real problem the team faced was that their chassis, 2507, was now heading into its fourth year. Yes, the chassis itself was a bit newer as a result of being rebuilt in the factory following Salvadori unfortunate crash at Oulton Park in late-1954, but still, the car was getting up there in age. Gilby had had the bodywork updated in 1956 and this certainly helped, but the factory cars would be receiving the updates for 1957 and the Gilby team would not have the funds to keep up with the evolutions. On top of everything else, Salvadori had experienced some great success driving for Cooper in Formula 2 races during the 1956 season. Having earned four victories in a row, Salvadori would make the decision to leave Gilby and join Cooper as they made preparations to enter their Formula 2 car in some Formula One events starting in 1957.
So Gilby would be left without a driver and an aging car. This was not exactly the most attractive setting for either a team or a driver looking for an opportunity. Besides all this, Sid was beginning to put some resources behind his son, Keith, and his racing aspirations. This would take away even more from the team's resources and it would lead to a 1957 season that would be nothing like the previous couple of seasons.
Gilby Engineering still retained chassis 2507 but they had no driver. Putting a greater emphasis in his son's racing interests, Sid Greene would not have the resources to take the team international or hire a top-rated driver. As a result, the 1957 season would start relatively late for the team and would feature a rather sparse schedule for the whole of the season.
It seemed to make sense to start the 1957 season when the season started for most British teams and drivers. That meant waiting until the 22nd of April when the Easter Monday Races were planned to be held at Goodwood. Besides being an event in which the spectators had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of many different, and new, racing cars the Easter Monday Races also provided the first Formula One race of the season in England, albeit a non-championship affair. The 5th Glover Trophy race, the event included 32 laps of the 2.38 mile circuit and provided British manufacturers and drivers their first opportunity of the season to competitively stretch their legs.
Situated near the coast in West Sussex, the Goodwood Estate would set aside a portion of the estate for the purpose of building an auxiliary Royal Air Force station associated with RAF Tangmere. Built in 1938, RAF Westhampnett would come to be home to a number of different fighter squadrons including the 145th Squadron operating Hawker Hurricane fighters, Polish and Belgian Fighter Squadrons and even a temporary home for the 31st Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Force.
Following the end of the war, RAF Westhampnett would exist for only a short time before it would be decommissioned. Shut down in 1946, RAF Westhampnett seemed destined for a quiet retirement. In the end, however, its love affair with speed and noise was only just beginning. Reborn as the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit, the former airfield would become home to some flying automobiles and some rather famous races. Host of the Goodwood 9 Hour and, then the popular Easter Monday Races, Goodwood would become a popular venue for teams, drivers and fans.
Just one of the many races held on the eventful day, the Glover Trophy Formula One race would be the first opportunity for many British drivers and teams to square-off against each other. Gilby Engineering would come to the circuit with its single Maserati and Jim Russell would be contracted to drive the car in the race. They would have to face the Vandervell Products team and their impressive Vanwalls as well as Connaught Engineering firm with their B-Types.
Little surprise it would be in practice that Stirling Moss would take the pole in one of the Vanwalls. Posting a qualifying lap of 1:28.2, Moss would lead a Vanwall one-two that would see Tony Brooks starting in 2nd place. Archie Scott-Brown would take one of the B-Types to the front row with the third-fastest time in practice. And then there would be Ron Flockhart in one of the Owen Racing BRMs in the final spot on the front row.
Being in an aged man-o-war and lacking the necessary experience, Russell would struggle in practice and would come away having found himself down in 12th place on the grid, dead-last in the field. This did not seem to promise much for the team heading into the race.
Being at the head of the field, good money could have been wagered on Moss. And, as the race got underway he would certainly look like the surest bet as he and Brooks would lead the way. Both of the Vanwalls would be fast around the circuit and this posed a great challenge to the rest of the field as the Vanwalls were really beginning to come up to their full potential.
This all spelled bad news for Russell who had already shown his inexperience in practice. Doing his level-best at the wheel of the Maserati, Russell would find himself being left further and further behind with each passing lap. Still, he had improved to such a degree that it seemed like he may have an opportunity to remain on the lead lap with Moss and Brooks if there were no problems with the Maserati.
Russell would have no problems with the Maserati, not as much could be said for the man who left Gilby for Owen Racing. Roy Salvadori had left Gilby for Owen Racing, and later, Cooper. On this day, Salvadori had started the race from the second row of the grid. However, over the course of the first lap, the brakes on the BRM would lock and would lead him to make the decision to retire from the race. Ron Flockhart would soldier on but would be off the pace as well.
Russell continued to suffer no problems whatsoever. Unfortunately, over the course of the first 10 laps of the race neither did either of the Vanwall drivers. Moss would be disappearing into the distance and Brooks would actually be having trouble keeping up. In an effort to regain touch with his teammate, Brooks would demonstrate his quiet speed as he would turn the fastest lap of the race with an average speed of more than 96mph. This seemed to be too fast for Russell and everyone else in the race.
But the race was not even halfway. There was still plenty of time for twists in the plot, and, the first would come not long after it seemed Moss had crossed the Channel to take part in another race. Moss and Brooks had been pushing so hard that their throttle linkages began to stick. Moss' would be so bad that he would end up retiring after 13 laps. Brooks would do his best to soldier on but he would be well off the pace and following along well behind even Russell.
All of a sudden, it would be Stuart Lewis-Evans that would be in the lead of the race with his teammate Jack Fairman following along a little further behind. This offered Russell a little bit of help, but not much.
Averaging a little more than 96mph over the course of the race, Lewis-Evans would cruise to victory over his teammate. Ron Flockhart would carry on with the still troublesome BRM 25 and would finish a distant 3rd. Jim Russell would take advantage of the retirements of the faster competition and would make his way up to 5th place by the end of the race. Unfortunately, he would not be able to remain on the lead lap and would end up a little more than a lap behind by the end.
This quiet 5th place result would be a very frustrating and discouraging start to the 1957 season for the team. It was more than obvious Russell's inexperience and the aging Maserati were not going to get things done and finally make the team as successful as they once had believed possible.
Things were shifting for Gilby Engineering. Though it was a few years removed from the Formula 2 era in the World Championship the lower formula was rapidly evolving when it came to technology and design. All of a sudden, Formula 2 cars were becoming more and more competitive. On top of all that, Greene's investment in his son was taking precedents both financially and in time. As a result, the team would look to take part in very specific Formula One events. Of course, one of those that could not be missed would come up in the middle of July.
In July of 1954, Roy Salvadori would wield a new Maserati 250F around the 2.9 Silverstone Circuit and would come away with a second row starting spot just behind the greats of Moss, Hawthorn, Gonzalez and Fangio. However, like many other moments over the course of three years of competing what could have ended up great would, actually, become a nightmare. Making it just past the halfway mark, Salvadori would find himself out with a broken oil pipe.
One year later, the first for Aintree hosting the British Grand Prix, Salvadori would already fall down to the middle of the starting grid and would barely get going in the race when gearbox problems ruined yet another run at a World Championship event. And then there was 1956.
But now, Salvadori would be gone and the Maserati would be another year older. It seemed hopes for a World Championship point was slipping through the team's grip. Nevertheless, on the 20th of July the Gilby Engineering team would make the journey back to Aintree for the RAC British Grand Prix.
Measuring 3.0 miles in length, and still Britain's only purpose-built grand prix course, the Aintree Racecourse notion would be supported by the racecourse's owner Mrs. Topham and would open late in 1953. Immediately popular with drivers and spectators because of the tall grandstands giving a grand viewing area, Aintree would host the World Championship for the first time in 1955 and would provide the British fans a brilliantly memorable moment as Stirling Moss managed to hold on over Fangio for his first World Championship victory and first for a British driver in the home grand prix.
As for Gilby Engineering, there were no real sweet memories of the British Grand Prix, only bitter disappointments, none worse that the previous year when Salvadori was running strongly in 2nd place. But, nonetheless, here they were again, looking forward to the British round of the World Championship.
Because Salvadori had departed for Owen Racing, the team would be left looking for a competitive driver that had the kind of experience in the upper levels of motor racing the team would need to make its older Maserati competitive. At the time, there was a driver available that made a whole lot of sense. Starting out the year driving for Connaught, and fresh from his second Le Mans victory, Ivor Bueb seemed like the perfect chap to have sit behind the wheel of the Gilby Maserati. And so, Bueb would arrive at Aintree and would begin preparations for practice.
The last time Stirling Moss had been at Aintree in a World Championship event he was holding off Fangio to secure his first-ever World Championship victory. Two years later, Moss would be with the British team Vandervell and would be showing his form in practice posting the fastest lap time of 2:00.2. Jean Behra would show that he really enjoyed Aintree as well as he would take 2nd on the grid with a time just two-tenths of a second slower than Moss. Tony Brooks would complete the front row giving Vandervell two cars starting from the front.
Being rather unfamiliar with the team and the car, it was not all that surprising that Bueb was not on the same kind of pace as the rest of the competitors. However, when Bueb posted a personal best of just 2:15.4 it would become apparent just how far off the pace the team and the driver truly were. Starting 19th and all alone on the eighth row of the grid it was more than obvious the team could not hope for the same kind of performance they had witnessed the year before.
The crowds would flock to Aintree preparing for the European and British Grand Prix. The last time the World Championship had come a British driver had gone away the victor. Could the same happen again? While certainly a wonderful Cinderella story, it was more than likely it would not be Bueb and Gilby that would provide the drama.
Leading up to the start of the race rain had fallen on the circuit and had left the area damp. However, it was forecasted the weather would improve and the conditions would be great for a masterful day of racing. Lined up on the grid, the engines would come up to full song and would reverberate off the tall grandstands. And then the flag dropped and the 90 lap race would come to life.
Powering their way down the straight toward the first corner it would be Behra in the lead having sprinted ahead of the Vanwalls of Moss and Brooks. Starting last on the grid Bueb had to be careful at the start as it would be very easy to become involved in an incident through the first couple of corners. He would make it through just fine but would be no closer to the front.
Up at the front of the field, and at the end of the first lap, it would be Moss that would be in the lead having gotten around Behra over the course of the first lap. Brooks would hold onto 3rd place for a short time until passed by Hawthorn on the 2nd lap. Bueb would make it through the first lap but would still be last in the field and not making up any ground on the rest of the cars ahead of him.
Moss would be in the lead and would hold it well through the first 20 laps of the race. Behra would remain in 2nd place and Hawthorn would hold onto 3rd. Bueb would find himself up to 17th place at the end of the 18th lap by virtue of Jo Bonnier retiring with transmission trouble. This would be just the beginning of the attrition that would affect the course of the race.
Bueb would not find his race legs to be any faster. Struggling mightily with the Maserati, he would find himself visited by Moss and the rest of the front-runners very routinely and it would quickly become apparent the team might not even end the race classified in the results if Bueb could not pick up the tempo any. Of course, the team's first concern was actually finishing.
Finishing would not be that easy for any of the drivers in the field. Moss was absolutely destroying his competition and had soon built up a huge lead over the rest of the field. But then, just when it seemed like Moss would absolutely run away with the race, Moss would pull into the pits with an engine problem. The stop would take quite a long period of time and would drop Moss out of the lead of the race. However, a prior agreement with Brooks would result in Tony soon pulling into the pits and handing his car over to Moss for the remainder of the race.
Behra would now be in the lead with Hawthorn trailing along behind in 2nd place. Peter Collins, a World Championship challenger the year before, would be in 3rd place. Moss, now in Brooks' Vanwall, would be back in the race but would be down in 9th place seemingly out of contention for the victory. Surely out of contention for the victory would be Bueb, who was still in 17th place and last.
Behra looked ever-consistent and unbeatable in the lead. He would hold onto that lead for more than 40 laps while Hawthorn remained right there still in 2nd place. However, behind them was lurking Stirling Moss in the Vanwall. Resetting fastest lap times and breaking the track record with seemingly every passing lap, Moss would be quickly gaining ground and would be up to 4th place by the 60th lap of the race.
At the same time Moss was making his way forward out of sheer determination, Bueb would be making his way forward out of sheer providence. Benefiting from the retirements of Harry Schell, Juan Manuel Fangio and Peter Collins, Bueb would be up to 10th place just passed the halfway mark of the race. However, his pace was by no means any quicker and he was already, by this point in the race, miles upon miles behind. Gilby Engineering sincerely looked overmatched.
Moss would continue to post fast lap times and this continued to eat into the lead Behra enjoyed. And then, on the 70th lap, one major twist in the plot would take place. After having pushed so hard to maintain his lead Behra would retire from the race with a failed clutch. At the same time, Hawthorn would suffer a puncture from debris from Behra's clutch failure. Just having gotten around Lewis-Evans, Moss was now back in the lead of the race and the already charged atmosphere turned absolutely explosive as Moss roared by in the lead.
Tense moments would then ensue as the usual problems of poor reliability from the Vanwall flooded the hearts and minds of every British spectator. Many would be close to a heart-attack when Lewis-Evans rolled to a stop due to a broken throttle linkage. Could a British driver in a British car win the British Grand Prix? According to Ivor Bueb, it may have been the only noteworthy news he would receive all day. Now one of less than 10 cars still remaining in the race, Bueb was so far back that to say Gilby Engineering was an 'also-ran' would actually be paying the team a compliment.
British hopes and dreams would come true. Tense moments throughout the final couple of laps would turn into sheer elation as the young Moss guided the Vanwall across the line to take the victory by 25 seconds over Luigi Musso in the Ferrari. Mike Hawthorn would recover from his tire puncture issue to finish the race in 3rd place providing the British public two of their own on the podium. Ivor Bueb certainly could not help. Though the Maserati would be one of the few to make it to the end of the race, the pedestrian manner in which Bueb would conduct it would lead to the team not being classified in the results. The reason for this was simple. Despite the fact he was still running and was one of just 8 cars doing so at the end of the race, Bueb would end the race some 57 miles behind Moss. It was as if he had taken a wrong turn out of the course somewhere and had gotten lost in Wales.
Needless to say, the European and British Grand Prix would not be a memorable affair for the Gilby team in 1957. But instead of looking to be on the verge of a top result, it was more than obvious the team was on a very steep downward trend that threatened to put an end to Greene's racing ambitions.
The result, or lack thereof, in the British Grand Prix had well and truly forced the hand of the Gilby Engineering team for the rest of the 1957 season. The team would not take part in any other round of the World Championship and the non-championship events would be avoided as well…well except for one.
Often, people will turn to sport as a means to escape the realities of the everyday. In May of 1957 the news in Britain would be dominated by the Suez Crisis. Many would turn to sport to escape from that news. Turning to motorsport, however, provided no such escape and the BRDC International Trophy race would be just one example.
The International Trophy race had its usual placement in the racing calendar in the month of May. However, the circumstances surrounding the events in the Middle East would lead to the event being moved. Instead of its usual May date the race would be moved to the 14th of September, one week after the final round of the Formula One World Championship.
The move of the date wouldn't just be the only change that would happen with the International Trophy race. Around the time of the reintroduction of Formula One regulations to the World Championship the format of the International Trophy race would change. The race originally had a two heat format followed by a final. This would change to a more normal qualifying and single race. After a handful of seasons, this format would again change reverting back to the double heat race and final.
In spite of the team's performance in the British Grand Prix, the team would pack up and make the trip to Silverstone. Joining the team would be Ivor Bueb. He would have his best chance to date given that most of the entry list for the non-championship affair would be filled with Formula 2 entries.
The International Trophy race would take place at what had become Britain's new home for motor racing. Before the Second World War, Brooklands had been the home for British motor racing. In a fitting memorial for the war, the former Royal Air Force bomber training base, RAF Silverstone, would become the adopted home. Initially utilizing the perimeter road and the multiple runways, it would be the first International Trophy race in 1949 that would make use of only the iconic 2.9 miles of perimeter road.
Already playing host to some truly memorable moments in motor racing and Formula One history, the trip to Silverstone would be a special moment for team and spectator alike and it would offer Gilby Engineering its last chance at a good result for 1957.
The first heat race would see two BRM 25s piloted by Ron Flockhart and Jean Behra. These two would be squaring off against more than a half-dozen Formula 2 cars and the couple of Maserati 250Fs of Masten Gregory, Horace Gould and Bruce Halford.
Having proven himself more than a couple times throughout his young career, Tony Brooks would end up being fastest around the circuit in a Formula 2 Cooper-Climax T43. He would take pole with a lap time of 1:43.0. He would be joined on the front row by Behra in 2nd place, Flockhart in 3rd place and Masten Gregory in 4th.
All would be interested in seeing how Brooks could do against the mighty Formula One cars with a 2.0-liter Formula 2 car. Unfortunately, nobody would get the opportunity as Brooks would fail to make it through the first lap before the wheel on the car came apart and left Brooks stranded. From that moment, Behra would assume command and would be thoroughly unstoppable.
Setting the fastest lap over the 15 lap heat and maintaining an average speed of greater than 101mph, Behra would cruise to an easy victory taking the win by a margin of more than 43 seconds over Flockhart. Third place would end up going to Gregory. He would end up crossing the line just under a minute behind Behra.
The first heat would be over. Now it was time for the second heat to prepare. While the vast majority of the second heat would be crowded with Formula 2 cars, Bueb would still find Harry Schell and Jo Bonnier behind the wheel of Formula One cars. This was not going to be an easy task.
Practice times would show just how difficult a task it would actually be. Schell would turn the fastest lap in practice posting a lap time of 1:44.8. Keith Hall would be second-quickest in a Formula 2 car with a time nearly 4 seconds slower. Bueb would end up 3rd on the grid and on the front row. However, his lap time of 1:50.4 would show just how far the Gilby Maserati was off the pace. George Wicken would complete the front row driving a Cooper-Climax T43.
Knowing that he was certainly the fastest of the field and in position to easily make it into the final in a strong position, Schell would not take part in the 2nd heat race anywhere near as fast as he could have taken it. Getting a good jump off the line, Schell would lead the way with Jack Brabham making an incredible start to come all the way up from his position on the fifth row of the grid. Bueb would get away well from the line but he would be overcome by Brabham and Bonnier for position.
Schell would be under absolutely no pressure. Unfortunately for Bueb, he would neither be able to apply or escape from pressure over the course of the 2nd heat race. Coming under threat from Wicken in the Formula 2 T43, Bueb would manage to hold on to his position and would make sure he made no mistakes to ensure his place in the final.
Schell would average a little more than 97mph and would take an easy win in the BRM 25. Jack Brabham would look impressive finishing 7 seconds behind in 2nd place. Bonnier would complete the top three finishing just 3 seconds behind Brabham. Bueb would hold on to finish the heat in the 4th position. Unfortunately, the minute deficit to Schell would not promise very much heading into the 35 lap final.
As in the past, finishing time would determine the grid for the final. This did not bode well for Bueb, but it would be good for Behra who would find himself in pole position. Ron Flockhart would start beside Behra in 2nd place while Masten Gregory and Harry Schell would complete the front row.
Despite being behind the wheel of a Formula One car, Bueb's rather pedestrian performance in the second heat race would lend to the Gilby team starting the final race from the third row of the grid in the 10th spot.
Bueb had enjoyed a strong showing in the sportscar car race having earned a 3rd place result behind Mike Hawthorn and Duncan Hamilton. However, given his performance in his heat race it was highly unlikely he could emulate the same kind of result in the Formula One race.
Having three BRM 25s starting from the front row seemed to signal Owen Racing was finally getting things right. And, as the flag dropped to start the race this seemed absolutely true as Behra took over the lead with Schell and Flockhart following along behind in 2nd and 3rd. Ivor Bueb would get away well and would look to make his way forward as well. However, he would have a gaggle of Formula 2 cars right there with him that would use him as a target.
Behra would do his best to make sure he was no target. Posting the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:43.0, Behra would begin to draw away from his teammates and the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Bueb would be mired down in the field unable to make any headway toward the front of the field. Even passed by Roy Salvadori in a Formula 2 Cooper T43, it would be utterly disappointing to realize the Maserati could not climb up the order any better.
Sandwiched in between a couple of Formula 2 cars, and despite the retirement of a number of faster Formula 2 drivers, Bueb could not make any forward progress and would even fall more than a lap behind Behra who was absolutely tearing up the track.
Having been the class of the field the entire race, Behra would run away with the victory. Averaging nearly 100mph over the course of the 35 lap race, Behra would cruise to an easy victory enjoying a gap of a minute and a half over Schell. Following along behind Schell would be the third BRM of Flockhart. This would give Owen Racing a sweep of the podium and would absolutely delight Alfred Owen.
The same delight would not be shared by Sid Greene. Unable to fight with Salvadori for position, Bueb would bring the Maserati quietly home to a 9th place finish. What would make matters worse for Bueb and the team would be the fact that Ivor would finish the race some 2 laps behind Behra.
The team, once again, had been soundly beaten. The reality is the team wasn't even in the same category as the other Formula One cars in the field. In many ways, Bueb and the Maserati looked like a Formula 2 car. It appeared as if their Maserati was as underpowered as the 2.0-liter machines that made up so much of the grid. The team would have been in good shape had it been competing in Formula 2, but they were not. This would emphatically bring an end to the season for Gilby Engineering.
It would be rather interesting Bueb and the Maserati could not do any better than the best of the Formula 2 cars. Following the end of the 1957 season, Greene would abandon Formula One for the following season and would focus entirely on sportscar and Formula 2 racing. By then, Keith, Sid's son was ready to make the leap and Sid would throw his support in behind him. What this all meant in the near future was the simple fact 1957 would be the final time the Gilby Maserati would be seen in Formula One. Following its campaign in Formula One chassis 2507 would end up in a museum. The retirement of the Maserati also meant Gilby Engineering would come no closer than its 11th place in the 1956 Italian Grand Prix. Such is the difficulty of Formula One racing. Gilby Engineering