TeamsLeslie Marr; 1954 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Located in the North East region of England, the picturesque setting of Durham, with its Norman cathedral dominating the skyline overlooking the River Wear, it would not at all be unlikely that such an inspiring setting would give birth to an artist. However, in 1954, Leslie Marr would turn his canvas into one filled with the graceful lines of grand prix machines roaring with life from their untamed horses.
Born in August of 1922, Leslie Marr would become a professional artist by his mid-to-late twenties. However, Marr would be interested in finding a new inspiration. Leslie Marr's racing career would actually start a couple of years before the 1954 season. In 1952, Connaught had come onto the scene with its new A-Type single-seater grand prix car. At the time, the World Championship had been forced to conform to Formula 2 regulations. Therefore, the Connaught A-Type would make it possible for a number of aspiring drivers to make their mark in World Championship history.
One of those to make quite a mark in World Championship history would be Mike Hawthorn. However, before he would become World Champion, even before he would go and drive for Ferrari, Mike's father, Leslie, would acquire one of the A-Type chassis from Connaught and would enter the car for his son in the 1st National Trophy race at Turnberry in 1952. In that race, the young Mike Hawthorn would go on to win the race.
It wouldn't be too much after that Hawthorn would suffer a crash that would keep him out of racing for a while. Nonetheless, Enzo Ferrari would come calling with a contract to drive for Ferrari the following season. Since Hawthorn was injured, and that they already owned a Cooper-Bristol T20, they really would not have a need for the Connaught. Therefore, Marr would find his new inspiration. And at the age of 30, Marr would take part in his first Formula 2 non-championship race when he took part in the 5th Madgwick Cup race at Goodwood on the 27th of September in 1952.
Leslie would take part in only one or two non-championship races throughout the rest of 1952. However, he would be much more prevalent in non-championship races throughout the 1953 season. Marr would take part in a number of non-championship races but still would not take part in any World Championship rounds.
It would seem Marr had missed his opportunity to take part in a World Championship race when the new Formula One regulations would come into effect heading into the 1954 season. However, in spite of the new regulations Marr would pull his Connaught out and would head off to compete against the more powerful Formula One machines.
Not all that concerned with the Formula One World Championship, Leslie Marr's 1954 season wouldn't begin with the Argentine Grand Prix, the first round of the World Championship. Instead of heading to South America in January, Marr would remain in England waiting for what would be the first race of his season. That first race of the season for Marr would come toward the later part of April. On the 19th of April, Marr would be at Goodwood, near Chichester, to take part in the 6th Lavant Cup race as part of the Easter Monday races that were so popular at Goodwood.
Ever since becoming a motor racing circuit after RAF Westhampnett, for which the airfield had been known during World War II, the 2.39 mile Goodwood Circuit would become quite famous for its Easter Monday races. This would be a day filled with racing. On display would be just about every category of motor racing. Each would take part in a short race never really totaling much more than about 20 miles. One of those short races that would take place around the airfield's 2.39 mile perimeter road would be the Lavant Cup race.
Named for a nearby village, the Lavant Cup race would be just one of those that would see some of the best Britain had to offer kick their seasons off. And the 1954 edition of the race would be no different.
On display at the 1954 edition of the Lavant Cup would be the layman's description of the differences between Formula 2 and the new Formula One regulations. And while the numbers clearly favored those conforming to Formula 2 regulations, the power would clearly favor those with the large 2.5-liter engines that would make up the new Formula One regulations.
Practice, however, would not provide a definitive answer to who was favored. For although Roy Salvadori would take the pole with his 2.5-liter Maserati 250F, it would be Kenneth McAlpine that would start the race from 2nd place on the grid in a Connaught A-Type with its 2.0-liter engine. Clearly, Goodwood was not one of those circuits that clearly favored the increased power, at least not over a single lap. But it would be the entire race distance that would count.
Reg Parnell would make it two 2.5-liter machines on the front row when he would start his Ferrari 625 in 3rd place. Being the only two Formula One cars in the grid, Salvadori and Parnell would certainly be joined on the front row by one more Formula 2 car. That honor would go to Tony Rolt driving a Connaught for Rob Walker Racing.
Leslie Marr would unload his Connaught and would begin his 1954 campaign. In the Lavant Cup race, Marr would find himself not too far behind the front runners on the starting grid. The race had the potential of being a very agreeable way in which to start the season.
Starting position and the start would be all-important in such a short race as the 7 lap Lavant Cup event. A slip up at the start could throw away a potential victory. However, a good start had the benefits of making it possible to hold up others, and thereby, earn a strong result when really not in a position before the race had started. Expected to take only about twelve minutes for the best to complete, each driver would prepare to race with their heads down and completely focused. There could be no relaxing; only every part of an individual giving it everything he had.
The start would see Salvadori and Parnell make great getaways. McAlpine would be quickly thrown back a position as Parnell and Salvadori would immediately go at it for the outright lead of the race. Lance Macklin would make a great start from further down in the field and would actually find himself right there with Marr battling for position.
Marr would be pushing hard and would actually be pulling away from a number of competitors. However, Macklin would be right there and would actually move ahead of Marr, ever so slightly pulling away.
The race, despite being only 7 laps long, was beginning to make evident the differences between Formula One and Formula 2. Salvadori and Parnell would pull away into the distance amidst their own personal battle. There really was nothing McAlpine could do except continue to fight as hard as possible in order to hold onto 3rd place.
The laps were clicking off. Marr would fight with everything he had to keep pace with, and, even try to reel in, Macklin up the road in front of him. However, Macklin was vastly more experienced and he would continue to inch away with every passing half and full lap.
The battle at the front was fierce. Each was trying to knock the other out by increasing the pace. Pushing their cars to the limit, Salvadori and Parnell would actually match fastest lap times. It was a terribly even match between the two. However, Parnell was enjoying the advantage, what advantage he may have had. Even on the final lap the two were running, at most, a car length apart. Coming out of Woodcote and powering toward the line, Parnell knew his foot just had to slip off the accelerator a little bit and Salvadori would take the victory. Salvadori, however, wouldn't be so fortunate.
Pushing each other all the way, averaging nearly 89 mph, Parnell would edge out Salvadori for the victory by just six-tenths of a second. It would then be a long thirty seconds of waiting before McAlpine would come out of Woodcote and across the line to finish in 3rd in a Formula 2 Connaught.
In spite of his relative inexperience, Marr would push hard throughout the course of the 17 mile race. Although he would lose ground, he would not trail Macklin by all that much at the line. Marr would finish the race in the 5th position just four and a half seconds behind Macklin.
The season had started off strongly for Marr, no doubt about it. For a man with little experience driving an under-powered Connaught A-Type, the 5th place result would be an incredible achievement and a certain confidence-builder heading into the next race. And Marr would need all the confidence he could get heading into his next race.
The 5th place result at Goodwood would quickly become a distant memory as Marr would prepare for his next race on the season. A little less than a month after Goodwood Marr would travel north to Buckinghamshire. Straddling Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire was the Silverstone Circuit. And on the 15th of May, Silverstone would play host to the well known BRDC International Trophy race.
Once a proving ground for Royal Air Force bomber crews during World War II, RAF Silverstone would come to be a proving ground for motor racing's best toward the later part of the 1940s. It would host its first impromptu race in 1947. The following year, just three years after the end of the Second World War, the airbase would host, for the first time, the British Grand Prix. In that race, the layout would make use of a couple of the airfield's runway. The following year (1949), Silverstone would become the home to the new BRDC International Trophy race. Before that race, it would be suggested changing the layout of the circuit. The suggestion was to move the circuit from off the runways and just use the 2.88 miles of perimeter road as the circuit. This would give birth to the Silverstone Circuit for which it would become famous.
The 1954 running would be the 5th edition of the International Trophy race and it would still attract a large number of strong entries from across the British Isles and Europe. As Marr unloaded his Connaught, he would undoubtedly find himself surrounded by such teams as Scuderia Ferrari, Equipe Gordini and Officine Alfieri Maserati. In addition to these factory efforts, the race would attract a number of very strong smaller teams and privateers. Surely Marr would not be considered a favorite.
But Marr, like a number of other Formula 2 entries, would have one thing going for them. As the cars unloaded and prepared for practice, the weather was wet and cold. The wet conditions could help to equalize the advantage the 2.5-liter cars had over the Formula 2 cars. But as Marr would find out in practice for the first heat, it wouldn't really help all that much.
The International Trophy race would consist of two heat races and a final. Marr would be listed in the first heat along with Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Stirling Moss, Jean Behra and other well known drivers.
In spite of the wet conditions, Gonzalez would be fastest in the Ferrari 553. His best time would be a very strong 1:48. This would end up being three seconds faster than Behra's 2nd place time in a Gordini T16. Stirling Moss and Alan Brown would complete the front row starting 3rd and 4th respectively.
Fourteen cars would take part in the first heat race and Marr would show himself to be quite capable as he would out-qualify a number of them with more experience than he. He would take his Connaught and would line up on the third row of the grid after setting the 9th-fastest time.
Each heat race would be 15 laps of the 2.88 mile circuit. And heading into the heat race, the conditions would be quite wet. Gonzalez would seem unaffected by the wet conditions as he would leave the grid with the lead and would only continue to pull out a larger margin with each and every lap. Marr had started ahead of Louis Rosier and some others with more experience. And in the wet, his inexperience would show itself. Rosier would get by, as would Jimmy Somervail.
Gonzalez would leave everyone else behind. Moss would end up becoming engaged in a battle with Prince Bira, who had started the race in 8th place. Behind these two, the only other battle that would rage throughout would be found between Alan Brown and Tony Rolt. Their battle would be for 6th.
In the wet conditions, Marr would be fighting just to hold on. This would enable Gonzalez to come around and put him a lap down before the end of the heat. But this was the least of Marr's concerns.
Gonzalez would look incredibly strong. In spite of the wet conditions, it would take Gonzalez just thirty-one minutes and forty-nine seconds to complete the distance and take the win. Prince Bira would manage to take over 2nd place from Moss and would trail Gonzalez at the line by some fourteen seconds. Two second later, Moss would come across in 3rd. After being shoved backward at the start, Marr would run consistently, despite the wet conditions, and would finish the race in 11th place.
The second heat would see Maurice Trintignant, in another Ferrari, on pole with Reg Parnell joining him on the front row in 2nd place. Andre Simon would take his Gordini T16 and would start from 3rd while Bob Gerard would start from the 4th, and final, position on the front row.
In drier conditions, Trintignant would lead from the start and would be incredibly fast. Parnell would do his best to keep pace. Due to the drier conditions the Formula One machines naturally floated to the top of the order. Soon, Robert Manzon, also driving a Ferrari 625 like Trintignant and Parnell, would be in 3rd place followed by Roy Salvadori in a Maserati 250F. Although Simon was in a 2.5-liter Gordini he would be forced out of the way and would be in 5th place just ahead of Jack Fairman. Bob Gerard would fade drastically and would be in 10th place, and a couple of laps down, before the end.
In spite of Parnell pushing as hard as he could, he could not keep pace with Trintignant. Aided by a fastest lap time of 1:57 at an average speed of 90 mph, Trintignant would gradually pull away into the distance. It would take the Frenchman a minute and forty seconds less time to complete the 15 laps and take the victory. Six seconds behind Trintignant would come Parnell in 2nd place. Then there would be a gap of forty-one seconds between Parnell and Manzon in 3rd.
Both heats being completed, it was time to set the stage for the 35 lap final. The stage would be set according to finishing times from each competitor in their respective heat. This would be a rather frustrating aspect to the whole proceedings as the first heat would deal with much more wet conditions than the second. Therefore, Trintignant's finishing time would have earned him the pole, but… Apparently, right after the end of the first heat race, Gonzalez's engine would seize. However, instead of giving Gonzalez Umberto Maglioli's car and a 9th place starting position, the management would decide to give Gonzalez Trintignant's car instead. This gave Gonzalez the pole. The controversy would continue as Trintignant would start from 6th place despite the fact he would use Maglioli's Ferrari.
Besides the politics surrounding Ferrari, the rest of the starting grid would be straight-forward. Reg Parnell would start 2nd while Robert Manzon and Roy Salvadori would start 3rd and 4th. In the case of Leslie Marr, his lap disadvantage would really come to hurt him heading into the final. He would start from the sixth row of the grid in the 20th position overall.
Wet conditions would persist into the final. At the start, Gonzalez would make a clean getaway and would lead the field ahead of Parnell and Manzon. Gonzalez's lead would only increase when Parnell and Manzon would exit the race early on with troubles to their cars. Jean Behra, who would start the final from 11th, would charge hard in the final and would be up amongst the top five very quickly. Andre Simon would also benefit from Manzon's and Parnell's troubles. Marr would take things easy from the start. He would do his best to find a steady pace all while fighting for better positions in the running order. Over the course of the race he would be helped out as attrition would take a number of competitors out of the race.
Gonzalez was out front and fast. Quickly, Gonzalez would be putting competitors laps down all while expanding his advantage over Behra, who had come to be in 2nd place. A number of others would fade as the race wore on. This would only help to widen the gap to Gonzalez and open the door to those, like Marr, that had started further down on the grid.
Gonzalez wouldn't care what happened behind him. Anchored by a fastest lap time of 1:50, the Argentinean was in a category unto himself; he was untouchable. And after one hour, six minutes and fifteen seconds, he would take the controversial victory. Jean Behra would hold on to come from 11th to finish 2nd, despite being thirty-six seconds in arrears. Everyone else still running was at least a lap behind Gonzalez, even Simon in 3rd place.
In spite of being at a power disadvantage, Marr would follow Salvadori across the line to finish the race in 11th place. This was a very strong performance for the man from Durham, especially considering he was driving a 2.0-liter Connaught. Of course, the result would be tempered slightly by the fact he would be two laps down to Gonzalez by the finish.
Against international competition, Marr had managed to show himself quite capable even though he may not have been one of the fastest of the Formula 2 competitors. However, the result would surely offer a great deal of confidence heading to his next events, which would come on the very same day.
On the 7th of June, Marr would be at Davidstow, in the southwest of England, preparing to take part in a couple of races. Davidstow, or more specifically RAF Davidstow-Moor, would be the site of the 1st Cornwall M.R.C. Formula One and Formula 2 races.
RAF Davidstow-Moor had a much less intense, but just as important, existence as some of the other bases scattered all throughout England. Constructed in 1942, Davidstow-Moor would become used as part of the Coastal Command. And while the base would host some fighters and bombers like the Bristol Beaufighter and the B-17 Flying Fortress, the majority of the aircraft the base would host would be those used in air sea rescue. When it was clear England was under much less of a threat with the allies on the European mainland, Davidstow-Moor would be closed in December of 1945. Then, when the former airbase would come to be used for motor races, only a very small portion would be used. Despite its miles of perimeter road, only 1.85 miles would be used and it would consist of portions of perimeter road and runway.
Marr prepared to take part in both races. And both races were to be 20 laps, or, 37 miles. And even though there would be a clear delineation between Formula One and Formula 2 events, there would only be Formula 2 cars in the field for both. This would be partly because of the BARC Formula One race held at Goodwood on the same day and the Gran Premio di Roma held the day earlier.
In the Formula 2 race, Marr would be just one of four driving Connaught A-Type chassis. And despite the presence of five Cooper-Bristol T23s, it would be three Connaughts that would be leading the way in the 20 lap race. Among those three would be Marr.
Horace Gould would set the fastest lap of the race but would run into trouble and would be out of the running for the victory. John Riseley-Prichard would have the lead over Marr and Charles Bouton. In spite of his lack of experience, Marr was performing beautifully. And he would manage to carry it on to the finish.
Riseley-Prichard would take the victory but it would be Marr earning a very well deserved 2nd place ahead of Boulton. Certainly, the performance at the International Trophy race had built the man's confidence and the momentum was obviously rolling in his favor. He would hope that it swinging in his favor as be prepared for the Formula One race.
The Formula One race would seem like a case of déjà vu as John Riseley-Prichard would hold onto the lead. Unfortunately for Marr, it would not be him in 2nd place. In fact, he would not end the event even in the top five. Problems would cause him to retire early in the race thereby causing the momentum to slow somewhat.
John Riseley-Prichard would pick up where he had left off in the Formula 2 race and would be unable to be beaten despite Jack Walton and Anthony Brooke giving chase. It would take John just twenty-nine minutes and fifty-four seconds to complete the distance and take the victory over Walton and Brooke.
While the 2nd place result in the Formula 2 race would be great for Marr's confidence, it would be tempered slightly to a certain degree by the retirement in the Formula One race. And for Marr's racing schedule, he would need all the confidence he could get before his next race.
It would be more than a month between races for Marr. However, the extra time would be potentially good for him so that he could get his Connaught in top order, because he would need it. He would need it because he would plan to take part in his first ever Formula One World Championship race, the British Grand Prix, on the 17th of July.
If the International Trophy race consisted of a number of top teams and drivers, the British Grand Prix would be a whole other level of competition. Each of the factory efforts would bring numerous entries driven by the best drivers in the world. And in addition to the normal competitors like Ferrari, Maserati, Equipe Gordini and a number of other smaller teams and privateers, the British Grand Prix would see Mercedes-Benz make its second grand prix start since before World War II.
While Marr had been around the grand prix scene for the previous couple of years, he would be walking amongst some of the greatest drivers of all time when he unloaded his car at Silverstone on the weekend of the 17th. Alberto Ascari, Luigi Villoresi, Juan Manuel Fangio, Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss would all be there. Plus, there would be many others within the field that were very talented drivers and that had earned their fair share of championship and non-championship victories.
In such an environment it would be easy to become overwhelmed and drawn into the battle of which Marr would have very little part. Coming into the race, Juan Manuel Fangio had already earned three victories on the season and was certainly the favorite to take the World Championship after two years of domination by Alberto Ascari and Ferrari. But with his 2.0-liter Lea Francis-powered Connaught, Marr could not expect to mix it up with such drivers, and therefore, would need to keep his head focused on what it was that he could achieve.
In practice, Marr certainly wouldn't be able to achieve the pace Fangio was laying down in the Mercedes-Benz W196. In spite of visibility problems he would set a new lap record and would be the first to average more than 100 mph around the circuit. This, obviously, would give Fangio the pole. A second would be the difference between Fangio and his fellow countryman and Maserati teammate from a year ago Jose Froilan Gonzalez. The British fans would be overly delighted when Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss would make the front row in 3rd and 4th respectively.
Marr would be one of ten Formula 2 cars entered in the field. Just ten, out of thirty-one, would be Formula 2 cars. Amongst those nine, Marr would find himself right in the middle of them. Don Beauman would be the fastest in a Formula 2 car. He would start 17th on the fifth row of the grid. Marr's best around the circuit would be 1:58. This would earn him a 22nd starting spot, which would be on the seventh row of the grid.
The day of the race would see the skies overcast with the very real threat of rain. Therefore, as the cars roared away to start the 90 lap race, almost all of the front runners would be pushing hard for position before the rains came. Gonzalez would get the jump on everybody and would lead the field away through Copse. He would be followed by Moss, Hawthorn and Fangio, who would make a very poor getaway. Being at the back of the field, Leslie would need to be careful picking his way through the first few laps. He would need to stay out of trouble and settle into a pace as quickly as he could.
Gonzalez would be on it hard. He had scored a victory here during the International Trophy race so he knew just how hard he could go. Hawthorn would get by Moss for 2nd place and Fangio was beginning to come to grips with his W196. Marr would still be mired down in the field amongst the other Formula 2 cars.
After some early retirements, more attrition would follow before reaching the 20 lap mark in the race. Seven cars, including those of Robert Manzon, Peter Collins and Alberto Ascari, would be out of the race by the 25th lap. Marr would still be in the race comfortably lapping the circuit, but by no means threatening any of the Formula One cars. He would wait for the race to come to him. If it would come to him.
Gonzalez would take the race by the throat. He had led every lap throughout the first half and looked unaffected as the circuit became damp. Fangio had recovered and had made his way up to 2nd place. However, the visibility problems he would complain about in practice would revisit him in the race. The sleek fenders of the streamlined car would make it impossible for Fangio to judge the apexes of the corners because he would lose sight of them at the last moment. Ironically, he would strike a number of oil barrels placed at the apexes to help with visibility. The only thing the oil barrels would do for Fangio's visibility would be to make it visibly apparent the damage to the bodywork they were causing as he continually struck them. This, and a gearbox problem, would cause him to slip back down in the order.
While Fangio would continue in the race, albeit visibly slowed, many others would not. And by the time there were just 10 laps remaining in the race, just fourteen cars still circulated on the track. One of those still in the race would be Marr.
Marr had not gotten lost amongst the company he was keeping. He would remain focused on doing what he could. He would settle into a nice pace and would allow the race to come to him. And it would. Although he would be visited by Gonzalez and the rest of the front runners about every eleven laps, he would still be running at the end, which is more than could be said for Stirling Moss, Alberto Ascari, Luigi Villoresi and others.
Even amongst the changing weather conditions, Gonzalez would be untouchable. With an average speed of a little more than 89 mph, Gonzalez would complete the 90 laps in under three hours and would enjoy a minute and ten second gap on Hawthorn at the finish. The advantage would be more than a lap over Onofre Marimon, who would manage to get around Fangio for the final spot on the podium. Leslie Marr would complete 82 laps and would finish his first World Championship race in 13th position.
This would be a very strong result for Marr given the factors involved. This was certainly confidence-building despite being more than fifteen minutes behind Gonzalez at the finish. What mattered was he finished. The reliability was there and he remained calm throughout, even in the changing weather conditions. This was positive momentum for him as he looked to the rest of the season.
There would be another long break in between races for Marr. After the British Grand Prix in the middle of July it would be another three weeks before Leslie would take part in a grand prix. It would be on the 7th of August, at Oulton Park Circuit, that Marr would next participate in a race. He would be at Oulton preparing to take part in the 1st International Gold Cup race.
Situated on the Grey-Egerton estate, Oulton Hall, as it once was known, would be an important staging location for the Normandy landings during World War II. Oulton Park features some lovely rolling terrain that made for a perfect grand prix circuit. A grand prix circuit in the truest form, the 2.79 mile circuit developed by the Mid-Cheshire Car Club would feature rapid ascents and descents filled with blind crests and fast, sweeping corners that provided drivers with great challenges and many moments in which bravery would be the difference between being fast or an also-ran.
The combination of the fast corners and dramatic changes in elevation would provide spectators some amazing points of view. This would make Oulton Park very popular. Of course, one of those races that would make Oulton Park popular would be the International Gold Cup.
Featuring some of the best drivers England and Europe had to offer, the race would attract tens of thousands to the race. They would come to watch the best navigate the ever-changing circuit. And the best in practice would surprise just about every one. Bob Gerard, driving a Formula 2 Cooper-Bristol T23, would manage to out-pace Jean Behra and Reg Parnell for the pole. Both Behra and Parnell would be driving 2.5-liter Formula One cars, and yet, Gerard would be the fastest.
Marr would be just one of seven Connaughts entered in the 36 lap race. In practice, the fastest of the Connaughts would be none other than the artist, Leslie Marr. His best time around the circuit would be 2:02.4 and would be just three seconds off of Gerard's time. Amazingly, Marr would start the race from the second row of the grid in 5th place!
Having a great starting position meant very little. Leslie knew that finishing the race with a strong result was all that was important. However, the good starting position would help with keeping ahead of the competition.
Finishing was absolutely the most important thing and a couple of competitors would have gladly given up all thoughts of victory if it meant they would just complete a single lap. Paul Emery and Jack Fairman would be done before completing a single lap. Jean Behra would complete just 2 laps before his day would come to an end.
Although Marr posted a very fast lap in practice, he would quickly find himself overwhelmed by those with more experience maintaining such a pace lap after lap. He would begin to get thrown down the running order by other Formula 2 cars. But he would still be running quite well.
The best runner of them all would be Stirling Moss. Starting 21st, dead-last, Moss would be on a charge and would get by both Gerard and Parnell for the lead of the race. Once in the lead Moss wouldn't just sit back and cruise either. He would continue to push hard and would open up a substantial gap over Parnell and the rest of the field. The pace would be such that Marr would end up a lap down before the end.
Marr would continue to fight hard and would remain in the top ten. His position in the top ten would be helped by the failure of others. Roy Salvadori would have his throttle stick and would crash into some trees destroying his car. He would be fine. In all, two would not start the race and seven would not make it to the end.
Setting a fastest lap nearly three seconds faster than Gerard's pole time, Moss would be unable to be caught. En route to the victory he would average a little more than 83 mph and would enjoy a minute and twenty second advantage over Parnell in 2nd place. Gerard would fight hard and would earn a well deserved 3rd place finish. Marr would be another that would fight hard. Though he would get shoved backward a couple of places, he would fight hard and use the attrition to his advantage. He would finish a lap down in 7th place.
While it would not be a top five finish, it would still be a good race for Marr. He had qualified extremely well and had fought hard over the 36 laps to remain inside the top ten. Amongst the Formula 2 cars in the field, which were many, Marr would finish an impressive 5th. Leslie appeared to be getting stronger as the season rolled on. And this was a good thing to see with just a handful of races remaining.
There would only be a week break in between races for Marr this time. After packing and leaving Oulton Park, Leslie would travel east. He would head to Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit to take part in the RedeX Trophy race.
Snetterton would be another new circuit for Marr during the 1954 season. While he had surely been to the circuit before, it would be his first visit in 1954. He would come to the circuit to take part in the RedeX Trophy race, which was to be a 40 lap, 108 mile, race around the 2.70 mile circuit.
Snetterton was yet another in a long line of Royal Air Force bases that had been turned into motor racing circuits after the end of the Second World War. During the war, it was one of those bases in the midst of some of the most important bombing missions carried out by the United States Army Air Force. Home to the 96th Heavy Bombardment Group, Snetterton would see missions to Germany, France, Holland, Poland, Hungary and many other countries all launch from its three runways. Closed in 1948, the airbase would sit idle until the early 1950s when it would be purchased and turned into a motor racing circuit. The circuit's organizers would follow the example of Silverstone and would turn its 2.70 miles of perimeter road into the circuit.
1953 would be the first year for the RedeX Trophy race. The 1954 edition had the promise of drawing a large field, but many, like Tony Crook, Peter Collins and John Riseley-Prichard would not attend the event. Roy Salvadori and Gilby Engineering would have been at the event were it not for their Maserati being destroyed in the crash at Oulton Park. Nonetheless, Marr would find a very strong field surrounding him.
The first corner of any race is always the most dangerous. But even the first couple of laps of a race are almost as dangerous as everyone is still jockeying for position, trying to find that perfect combination of highest running position and comfortably fast pace. Marr would find this out during the RedeX Trophy race.
The field would tear away from the grid. Parnell would be up front with an invigorated Bob Gerard clinging right onto him. Behind these two the racing was tight. Marr would be fighting with Anthony Brooke for position right from the start. These two would end up coming together after just one lap. Their collision would be hard enough that it would knock both competitors out of the race after completing just a single lap. This would leave Marr plenty of time to pack everything up and watch the remainder of the race.
Like the thousands of spectators at the race, Marr would witness Parnell dominate the field in his Ferrari 625. Although Gerard would put up a spirited fight, Parnell would draw away at a rather steady rate over the course of the race. Aided by a fastest lap time of 1:48.4 around the 2.70 mile circuit, Parnell's lead would be much more than a couple of seconds over Gerard. It would be more than a lap over the rest of the field.
In one hour, thirteen minutes and nearly seventeen seconds, Reg Parnell would power his way across the line to take the victory by forty-eight seconds over Gerard in 2nd place. Don Beauman would come in 3rd place more than a lap behind.
The crash would be Marr's one serious mistake of the year. The trip to Snetterton had come to be a costly affair. Instead of any prize money, Marr would have a large expense to cover. Not only would he had the trip to pay for, but the crash after the first lap would cause much more than the normal wear and tear with which he would have to deal. On top of it all, the damage to the car would take his season down to some of the final races of the season.
The damage suffered to Marr's car would take him to the end of September before he would take part in another race. Then, on the 25th of September, Marr would be some place familiar. On the 25th Marr would be back at Goodwood preparing to take part in two races, the final two races of Marr's season. One of those races would be a Formula 2 race, the 7th Madgwick Cup. The other would be a Formula One race, the 7th Goodwood Trophy race.
The Madgwick Cup race would be just one of a number of minor races. It would be just 7 laps in length, totaling just 17 miles in length.
Fifteen cars would qualify for the race. Over the last number of non-championship races on English soil, Bob Gerard had proven himself to be a fierce competitor, even against the more powerful Formula One cars. Gerard's determination would lead him to earn the pole for the race. Occupying the front row with Gerard would be Don Beauman in a Connaught. Leslie Marr would show little to no effects of the crash at Snetterton as he would be third-fastest and would also start from the front row. The final position on the front row would go to John Riseley-Prichard making it three Connaughts on the front row.
Gerard would lead the way at the start of the race. Mike Keen would make a good start and would be fighting with Riseley-Prichard for 3rd place. Marr would not get the best start off the line and would end up losing positions to Horace Gould and Michael Young, who had started the race from 9th place on the grid.
In spite of his strong starting position on the front row, Marr would be well out of the running for the podium. The poor start and pace in such a short race would end up costing him dearly.
In contrast, Gerard would make a great start and would be in the strongest position. Despite Beauman's attempts, Gerard would continue to edge away from Beauman. Keen and Riseley-Prichard would be locked in a battle as well until Keen would gain the upper hand.
Gerard would continue his formidable form and would ride his fastest lap all the way to victory. Beauman would follow behind Gerard by a little more than three seconds. Mike Keen had battled hard with Riseley-Prichard and had managed to pull away. He was clearly in 3rd place when he crossed the line a little more than fifteen seconds after Gerard.
After starting the race from the front row, Marr would lose out during the race. He would not be able to fight off the advances of other competitors. As a result, Marr would end the race a rather bitter 7th place.
One other race would remain for Marr on his season. It would be the 21 lap Goodwood Trophy race. If Marr had a hard time of things in the Formula 2 Madgwick Cup race then he would have an even greater struggle on his hands in the Goodwood Trophy race.
The field would consist of nearly a half a dozen Formula One cars. However, with nineteen cars in the field, the vast majority in the field would be at the helm of Formula 2 cars. This meant Leslie would have really tough competition all around him and that it was very likely he would be battling for position within the middle of the field.
In practice, the 2.5-liter cars would lead the way. Stirling Moss had come on strong throughout the last half of the season and he would lead the way in practice with a lap time of 1:32.1. Peter Collins would end up being the second-fastest in the field but with a time more than four seconds slower. Bob Gerard would continue to impress as he would again find his way to the front row with a Formula 2 car. His best time would be a second and a half slower than Collins' but would be good enough for 3rd. Reg Parnell would occupy the final spot on the front row. His time would end up being four-tenths of second slower than Gerard.
Leslie Marr would continue to impress during practice. Without the competition around him he continued to turn in some fast laps. This would turn into a 6th place starting position on the second row of the grid. Being that this was his last race of the season, he would need to convert the strong starting position into a season ending highlight.
Stirling Moss would lead the way at the start of the race. He would be pursued by Peter Collins. Roy Salvadori, who had started from the second row of the grid, would make a good start and would battle with Gerard to take away his position. Leslie Marr would lose out and would drop down the running order.
Parnell's race would come to an end after 3 laps when his engine let go. Louis Rosier, in a Maserati 250F, would fight from a 10th place starting position and would force his way past Marr displacing him another spot.
Salvadori would also break free from his battle with Gerard and would solidly take over 3rd place. The pace in which Moss was lapping the circuit would be more than 91 mph. This would put even more distance between himself and Collins. The battle with Gerard would enable Collins to pull away from Salvadori. And after Beauman in 5th place, every other still running in the race, including Marr, would be at least a lap down.
Moss was formidable. He would power his way to yet another victory and would enjoy a twenty second margin over Collins in 2nd place. Salvadori, freed from his battle with Gerard, would come across the line nearly a full minute after Collins.
Marr lost out from his 6th place starting position. Even despite Parnell's retirement early on in the race, Marr would fall down the running order. Before it would be over he would be down a lap to Moss and would finish just inside the top ten in 9th place. Although it wouldn't be the result that would have seemed possible, it would be yet another top ten result for Marr amongst very talented competition.
In spite of his inexperience, Marr would achieve some very respectable results throughout the season. His championship and non-championship experience would have him coming back for more the following season. He had battled tough competition and had proven himself to be quite a capable driver. The artist had turned his talent to a new canvas and showed his promise.