TeamsSir Jeremy Boles: 1954 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Motor racing, especially grand prix racing, has always been attractive to the wealthy and affluent. Of course, it would take the fortune of royalty to be able to pay for it and be competitive. Fortunately for Don Beauman, he would know Sir Jeremy Boles.
Sir Jeremy John Fortescue Boles was born on the 9th of January in 1932. The son of Sir Gerald Boles and Violet Blanche Hall Parlby, Sir Jeremy would be educated at the Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, England. By the time Sir Jeremy was 16 years of age, the Silverstone Circuit, just about 5 miles up the road from the Stowe School, would host the first British Grand Prix since before the outbreak of World War II. Undoubtedly, this would fuel the young man's passion for motor racing.
By the early and middle 1950s, Sir Jeremy was just in his early 20s but he was already making his plans to enter the upper levels of motor racing. Sir Jeremy would intend to start out by making his debut in sportscar racing, but it would quickly evolve into a foray into Formula One grand prix racing. But he needed a couple of important elements. One of those was a driver.
Don Beauman was born in Farnborough, Hampshire in 1928. At the end of the Second World War, Beauman would run a hotel in London. In the early 1950s, Beauman would turn his interests to motor racing. Don's career would actually get its start in 1951 and 1952 driving a Cooper. It would be at this time that Beauman would befriend Mike Hawthorn. Both racers being about the same age the two would form a friendship that would see Beauman receiving a Riley TT Sprite from Hawthorn. In 1953, Beauman would take the Riley and would enjoy quite a successful season racing sportscars. He would earn a couple of victories and a number of other top five results. Beauman's success in sportscars would attract the attention of Boles and the two would decide to join forces for the coming 1954 season. Beauman was just four years older than Boles and seemed the perfect fit for this youthful brigade.
Boles had his driver. But grand prix racing was not the initial direction in He intented to go. Sir Jeremy Boles' first race of the 1954 season with Beauman would actually come at the British Empire trophy race on the 10th of April. In that race, Boles would enter an Aston Martin DB3 for Beauman. Beauman would start the race 15th on the grid but unfortunately would not finish due to failed brakes. Nonetheless, a partnership had been forged. And soon, a new direction would be plotted.
The 1954 racing season had just started and Boles would already decide to attack along two different fronts. Instead of just sticking with sportscar racing, Boles would decide to take his team in the direction of Formula One grand prix racing. For that, Boles would need another element—a car.
Boles would go and purchase the car Beauman was to drive throughout the 1954 season. Connaught had come on the scene toward the middle part of the 1952 season and had scored a number of impressive results in its first season of existence. Though obviously down on power compared to the Ferrari 500 and the Maserati A6GCM, the Connaught A-Type was one of just a couple British-made racing cars Boles had to choose from. Therefore, he would purchase a Connaught A-Type and would prepare for what would be his first single-seater grand prix of his team's career.
Even before the grand prix season started the Sir Jeremy Boles team would be at a bigger disadvantage than what it had been over the previous couple of years. The era of Formula 2 regulations being used for the World Championship had come to an end. The new Formula One regulations had come into effect.
The biggest change with the new regulations would be the increase in engine displacement up to 2.5-liters. This meant the power disadvantage suffered by the Connaught only grew worse. However, Boles would have little options. Neither Connaught nor Cooper were prepared with a 2.5-liter chassis. Everyone conforming to the new Formula One regulations would either have a Ferrari or Maserati. However, since many of the British teams would stick with their aged Formula 2 machines in the interests of maintaining lower costs, Sir Jeremy's team would find themselves surrounded by teams operating the same equipment thereby giving them just as good a chance as any.
It would take some time to get all of the elements together and ready in order to go and race competitively. By the time the team took delivery of its Connaught A-Type the first grand prix races of the season, the Easter Monday races held at Goodwood, were out of the question. Instead, the young team's first race would come a month later, and it would be one of the toughest tests a team could have started out with.
On the 15th of May, Sir Jeremy and his team would be at a place in which he was quite familiar. Going to the Stowe School, Sir Jeremy practically grew up in the shadow of the Silverstone Circuit. Half a dozen years later, his first major grand prix would be at the very same circuit. The race was the ever popular and competitive BRDC International Trophy race. The 5th edition of the race, it was one of England's more popular races with international teams and drivers especially since it took place on the same circuit as the British Grand Prix later on in the year.
Silverstone had become England's official home for motor racing very early after the conclusion of World War II. However, unlike many of the road circuits throughout Europe, Silverstone's birth would come through war. Being an island facing a Europe overwhelmed by German and Italian forces, England would have to place its hopes for defense and offense in air forces. This would necessitate the building of numerous airbases throughout much of lower England. When the United States entered the picture in early 1942 many of the bases to be built would be for offensive purposes such as heavy bombing. This would give rise to RAF Silverstone. Though not a base from which bombers would leave to attack targets on the European mainland it would have a very important purpose as a bomber training base for the Royal Air Force.
Soon after the end of the war the base would be decommissioned and sit idle amongst the rolling pasturelands. Then, after an impromptu race in 1947, Silverstone would become the home of the British Grand Prix in 1948. One year later, the International Trophy race would be held for the first time on the 2.88 mile circuit. And from its very first running, the International Trophy race would draw large numbers of foreign competitors. As a result of the competition it would quickly become one of the toughest non-championship races around.
Sir Jeremy and his team couldn't have entered a bigger event for its first race, at least not in England. Besides the British Grand Prix, the International Trophy race would be about the only other event throughout the entirety of the season that would draw Scuderia Ferrari and the Maserati factory effort. In addition to the Italian contingent, the race would also draw the best England had to offer. Therefore, the team would come to realize really quickly where it stacked up against the competition.
The 1954 edition of the race would be no different. Scuderia Ferrari would bring three cars. Officine Alfieri Maserati would support Stirling Moss' entry. In addition to these there would be a number of other Formula One and Formula 2 cars filling the field. It was going to be a very tough race for Beauman and Boles.
The format of the International trophy race included two heat races and a final. Each of the heat races would be 15 laps. The final would be 35 laps in length. The finishing times of each competitor in their respective heat would determine the starting grid for the final.
The format would end up being a little frustrating. The first heat, which would include Beauman going up against the likes of Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Stirling Moss and Jean Behra, would be very wet. The second heat would have he advantage of going out on a track quite a bit drier.
In the wet conditions, Gonzalez would set the fastest time in practice. Driving a Ferrari 553 Gonzalez would set a time of 1:48 around the circuit to take the pole. Jean Behra would line up beside him in 2nd place having a time three seconds slower. Stirling Moss would be the first Brit. He would start 3rd despite starting nearly the same time as Behra. The final position on the front row would go to Alan Brown in the new Vanwall.
Although it was the team's first grand prix race, Beauman would look impressive in practice. His best time around the circuit would be a 1:56 lap. He would be one of five that would set a time in the 1:56 range. However, his time would be fast enough to earn him a 7th place starting position. This meant the team, in its first grand prix, would start from the second row of the grid!
The race was wet. While it would help to neutralize the advantage the 2.5-liter machines had it would also make very clear who was comfortable in wet conditions and who was not. Gonzalez seemed part fish as he would take the lead and would draw out a quick lead over the rest of the field. Behra would struggle in the conditions and would slowly fade in the running order. There would be others that would enjoy the conditions and would overcome poor starting positions.
Louis Rosier had started worse than Beauman but would seem to enjoy the conditions. He would managed to stick his car in front of Beauman and would begin to draw away. Another Beauman had out-qualified was Prince Bira. Bira would make a great start and would just continue to march up the leader board as the race wore on. Soon, he would be battling with Moss for 2nd place as Behra dropped all the way down to 5th place.
The conditions were tough for everyone, except for Gonzalez. He would set the fastest lap of the heat and would maintain a strong advantage each and every lap. Bira would fight hard. And considering he started from the third lap of the grid, he would not let Gonzalez just disappear into the distance. Beauman would be just trying to running smoothly and consistently. It was working. Although he could not make any headway, he was still running very strongly inside the top ten.
Gonzalez would be untouchable. Despite everything the other drivers tried, Gonzalez would power his way to a convincing win. Bira would certainly have to be proud of his performance coming from 8th place to finish the heat in 2nd place just some fourteen seconds behind. Moss would follow along behind Bira by about a couple of seconds in 3rd. Beauman would show his talent and intelligence as he would drive smartly to a 9th place result.
The second heat would see the Brit Reg Parnell going up against Maurice Trintignant driving for Ferrari. Andre Simon would be in the field driving for Equipe Gordini. Another Brit, Roy Salvadori, would be at the wheel of Maserati 250F.
In practice, Trintignant would set the fastest time. He would barely edge out Parnell for the pole. Simon would join the two on the front row. The Frenchman would start in 3rd place in a Gordini T16. The final position on the front row would go to Bob Gerard driving a Formula 2 Cooper-Bristol T23.
By the time the second heat race took to the track the circuit had begun to dry out. This would be evident right from the start as Trintignant and Parnell would leave Gerard behind and would do their best to disappear into the distance. Simon would be doing everything he could just to keep pace, but even he would begin to slowly drop back. Robert Manzon was doing his best to pull off the same result as Prince Bira. Manzon started the second heat in 8th place and would make a great start to be up amongst the front runners. Roy Salvadori would follow Manzon through at the start and would also be amongst the front runners after starting in 12th.
Trintignant and Parnell would be in a class all their own despite others also driving Formula One cars. The pace would keep getting faster and faster. It would all culminate with Trintignant turning in the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:57.
The pace of Trintignant and Parnell was clearly faster than that of Gonzalez in the first heat. As they roared to the line, the only question was just 'how fast'? Trintignant would come roaring around Woodcote and across the line to take the victory. Six seconds later, Parnell would come through to finish in 2nd. The finishing times would be an astonishing comparison. Trintignant would best Gonzalez's time in the first heat by a minute and forty seconds. Manzon would be impressive as he would come from 8th place to finish in 3rd place. Even his time would be faster than Gonzalez's.
Controversy would rage at the conclusion of the two heat races. Gonzalez's engine would seize almost immediately after the first heat. However, instead of taking over Umberto Maglioli's car, which would have been 9th place on the final starting grid, Gonzalez would be given Trintignant's car. Therefore, Gonzalez would start from the pole while Trintignant would have to start from 6th place, the position on the grid where Gonzalez should have started. Reg Parnell would start the final in 2nd. Robert Manzon would be very happy with his performance in the second heat as he would move up to the front row for the final. He would start 3rd. Salvadori would be likewise greatly promoted in the final as he would start 4th, the final position on the front row.
The wet conditions would really hamper Beauman's starting position. Lining up for the 35 lap final, Beauman would find himself looking at the back of a number of cars. He would line up in 17th place overall, which was the fifth row of the grid.
Armed with Trintignant's working, and fast, Ferrari, Gonzalez would lead right from the start and would gradually begin to pull away. Manzon, Parnell and Salvadori would do their best to hold on to Gonzalez but bigger problems would come calling very early on in the race.
While Beauman was trying to be careful and make his way from toward the back of the grid, a couple of front runners were about to exit the race. Manzon would make it through the 2nd lap of the race before transmission failure ended his race. Just 3 laps later, Parnell would be out of the running. He would have a propeller shaft totally come apart. This would throw the door at the front of the field wide open. It would get even wider as Salvadori began to fade.
Jean Behra had started the first heat from 2nd place on the grid. He had started the final from all the way down in 11th place. But he would push hard. And with help of attrition, and providence, he would find himself in 2nd place behind Gonzalez.
Beauman would also look impressive in the final. In the drier conditions he would push his Connaught hard and would manage to get around a number of the other Formula 2 cars that had actually started the final ahead of him. Salvadori would eventually fade to such a degree that Beauman would even manage to get around him to take his position.
Beauman's upward movement would be aided by the retirement of some of the stronger competitors in the field including Moss, Prince Bira and Alan Brown. Their misfortune would be free gifts up the leader board, as long as Beauman could stay out of trouble himself.
Gonzalez was well clear of any trouble. He would pick up the pace and would set a fastest lap time of 1:50 at an average speed of nearly 96 mph. This would only help the Argentinean lengthen his gap over Behra in 2nd place. The pace also meant there would be very little Beauman, and other Formula 2 drivers, could do to keep from going at least a lap down.
Gonzalez had been dominant at every moment throughout the weekend. The final would be no different. He would perform absolutely brilliantly and would take the victory after completing the final in one hour, six minutes and fifteen seconds. Thirty-six seconds would be the gap back to Behra finishing in 2nd place. Behra would be the sole remaining car still on the lead lap with Gonzalez, such was the dominance of Gonzalez in the final. Andre Simon would make it two Equipe Gordini on the podium when he finished a quiet 3rd.
Beauman would make some noise. In spite of starting all the way down in 17th place on the grid, he would push hard in the final. Driving as though there was absolutely nothing to lose, Beauman would continue to move up the running order when many others would become stalled because of an unwillingness to push just that little bit harder. He would eventually be rewarded with a 9th place finish. He would be the first of those that would be two laps down. This would be an incredible result considering those directly ahead of him on the road were multiple race winners in Tony Rolt and Bob Gerard.
Boles' team had started out its season on a very strong note considering the strength of the competition surrounding them. This would give the team a lot of momentum early on in their season. It would also give the team the confidence to take its act on the road.
While many of the small British teams remained on home soil, Boles would not. In early June, Boles' team would be on the European mainland. Once the team landed on the coast they would continue into the heart of Belgium. The team was headed to Chimay to take part in the 24th Grand Prix des Frontieres on the 6th June.
Nestled along the Belgian and French border, the Chimay circuit, at one time, would be one of Belgium's greatest road courses. Almost stretching into France itself, the 6.73 mile circuit would feature just about everything a driver could ever want in a circuit. Technically demanding sweeping curves, long, fast straights and a few tight corners would challenge a driver and force him or her to become the best in every discipline of road racing.
At 20 laps or 134 miles, the Grand Prix des Frontieres would be, as it always had been, a real test for the field of Formula 2 cars. The Connaught had always performed well at Chimay and Beauman and Boles would hope the same would be true as they unloaded everything to prepare for the race.
Twelve cars would be unloaded and prepared for the race. First, these twelve cars would have to qualify for their starting positions. And in practice, Jacques Pollet would be fastest setting a time of 3:55 in his Gordini T16. Prince Bira would take his Maserati A6GCM and would set a time eight seconds slower than Pollet to garner the 2nd place starting position. Throughout practice, Beauman would look impressive. And despite the inexperience of Beauman and Boles' team they would go on to earn the 3rd, and final, position on the front row of the grid.
All of the cars lined up on the grid. The quiet pastoral setting would quickly be shattered by the roars of engines and screeching tires. However, the race would start out with some ill-favored signs. Roger Meunier wouldn't make it very far as a mechanical problem would end his race before one lap had even been completed. Three others would fall out before the race was half over. However, the worse was yet to come.
Beauman would remain up near the front of the field despite being outpaced. In spite of his best efforts, Beauman would gradually drop further and further back until he would come under threat of being lapped. Nonetheless, Beauman was still running strongly and in a position to take advantage of any miscue. Unfortunately, the miscue coming would have dire consequences.
The race would be hotly contested. Bira would be fast. However, Pollet would be faster, setting the fastest lap of the race with a time just three seconds slower than his own pole-winning time. Right there with Pollet, however, would be Andre Pilette. And this would end up being a recipe for disaster.
Pilette would end up spinning right in front of Pollet. Pollet would have to react quickly to avoid hitting Pilette. Unfortunately, Pollet's decision to avoid Pilette would end up turning out worse as Pollet would leave the circuit and would plow through a crowd of spectators gathered nearby. Pollet would end up hitting a number of spectators before coming to a rest. Two of those that would be hit would be killed by Pollet's car. The worst part of the whole thing may just have been the fact that Belgian Pilette managed to get his car righted and carried on to the end of the race.
The truly tragic events would be the kind of promotion Beauman and Boles would not have liked to have happen in order for them to move up the order. Nonetheless, Beauman would find himself in 3rd place, just a lap down. The tragic events would also mean that Bira would take over the lead of the race.
Bira would carry on in the lead of the race. And averaging a little more than 98 mph, Bira would have more than enough pace to hold onto the lead of the race all the way through to the checkered flag. Thirty-five seconds behind Bira, Pilette would come through Vidal and across the line to finish 2nd. Beauman, despite being a lap down, would drive an impressive race in the team's Connaught. Beauman would make it two straight finishes and would earn the team's first podium finishing in 3rd place.
In spite of the team's excitement over the result, the mood around the whole of the circuit was quite subdued and mournful. Nonetheless, Sir Jeremy's team had managed a 3rd place and a 9th in its first two races in grand prix racing. This was quite the record for the team and only offered even greater confidence moving forward.
Sir Jeremy Boles' team would pack everything up and would head back to the English Channel coast. From there, the team would head back across the Channel to England. Back on English soil, the team would have just two weeks between races. Then, on the 19th of June, the team would be on the south side of London preparing to take part in the 2nd Crystal Palace Trophy race.
Situated to the south overlooking downtown London, the Crystal Palace Park had once been nothing but heavily-wooded forest. In fact, it would be widely believed the timbers for Sir Francis Drake's ship, the Golden Hind, had been taken from the vast number of trees in the park. Then, in the middle of the 19th century the area would become the site for the cast-iron and glass building that had been originally erected in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition. This would lead to the name Crystal Palace Park.
Being situated on top of a hill, the 1.35 mile Crystal Palace Park Circuit would be anything but flat. The circuit would feature a gradual climb toward the back straight. The impressive climb toward the back straight would only be eclipsed by the spectacular descending right hand bends back to the start/finish line.
Since the circuit was quite short and featured very few straights in between some fast sweeping corners the Formula 2 cars entered in the field would have an opportunity to keep things close with the Formula One cars allowed in the field.
The Crystal Palace Trophy race would be similar to the International Trophy race held at Silverstone back in May. It too would consist of two heat races and a final. However, each of the heat races, and the final, would be the same length of just 10 laps.
Beauman would be listed in the second heat. Therefore, he would watch as the first heat competitors would gear up to do battle. The first heat would include such drivers as Reg Parnell, Peter Collins and Les Leston.
In practice, Peter Collins would prove to be fastest in the Rob Walker Racing Connaught. Les Leston would keep the surprises coming as he would qualify 2nd. Reg Parnell would finally get on the front row starting in the 3rd position. Horace Gould would complete the front row starting 4th.
While the circuit enabled Formula 2 cars to remain close, the natural power advantage Parnell enjoyed in his Ferrari 625 would see him naturally rise to the top over the course of the 10 lap race. Once in the lead, the only thing left for Parnell to do was carry on and make no mistakes. Behind him, the rest of the field seemed contented to finish where they started.
Powered by the fastest lap of the heat, Parnell would enjoy a comfortable margin over the rest of the field. Parnell would carry on to the victory. Finishing the heat in eleven minutes and twenty-six seconds, Parnell would have a margin of nine seconds over Collins at the finish. The 3rd place position would go to Leston.
Having seen the first heat race, Beauman would prepare to take part in his heat. Beauman would look to forward to his heat with great excitement as he would line up on the grid in the pole position. Beauman had beaten out Rodney Nuckey for the position. Paul Emery and Charles Boulton would join Beauman and Nuckey on the front row.
The start would see Nuckey get the advantage off the line. And as the field rounded the right hand bend and started its climb up toward the Terrace Straight, Nuckey would edge ahead of Beauman into the lead. Beauman would hold station in 2nd place right behind Nuckey. Bill Whitehouse would start the second heat from the 9th, and final, starting position. However, at the start, Whitehouse would make a great getaway and would be quickly picking off cars that had started ahead of him on the grid.
Once Nuckey was in the lead he would begin to pull away from Beauman, but it wouldn't be by large margins. However, because Whitehouse was on the move and attacking those behind Beauman, Don would be able to pull away from the rest of the field and enjoy a much larger margin than what Nuckey had over him.
It was clear Nuckey wasn't to be beaten. He would open up enough of a margin that he would lap comfortably until the end. In eleven minutes and thirty-six seconds Nuckey would come across the line to take the victory. Just four seconds would be the difference between Nuckey and Beauman in 2nd place. Bill Whitehouse would put together one impressive performance coming all the way from 9th place on the starting grid to finish the heat in 3rd some eight and a half seconds behind Beauman.
The heat races were over. The finishing times were then compiled and a final starting grid determined. Reg Parnell would obviously be given the pole since he finished with a time that was at least nine seconds faster than anybody else. The rest of the front row would look like this: Peter Collins would line up 2nd. Rodney Nuckey would be 3rd. And Les Leston would complete the front row with a 4th place starting position. Beauman would actually find himself in a strong position starting in the 5th position on the second row. Beauman would be situated right in between Collins and Parnell, just one row behind. This was a good position.
Beauman would use the good positioning to his advantage as he would follow Collins and Parnell off the line at the start of the 10 lap final. He would manage to get by both Nuckey and Leston. Of course, Leston wouldn't even really make it off the line when his JAP engine let go.
Seizing his opportunity, Beauman would tuck himself in behind Parnell and Collins the best he could. Bill Whitehouse would continue his impressive run as he too would get by Nuckey for 4th.
Despite having an average speed slower than his effort in the second heat, Beauman continued in 3rd place behind Parnell and Collins. In constrast, Collins would increase his pace in the final. And while he would still lose ground to Parnell over the course of the final, he would not lose ground at the same rate. By the halfway mark of the race it would become abundantly clear he could not catch Parnell, but he was more than safe from Beauman. And as a result, Collins would keep fighting, but, would just focus on making sure he would make it to the finish.
The model of consistency, Parnell would achieve an average speed exactly the same to that of his first heat win. He knew he had the advantage. He knew he needed to just run consistently fast laps and he would be the race's winner. He couldn't have been more right. As he crossed the line for the final time, it would become clear that Parnell had taken the victory in the final with the same exact finishing time as his victory in the first heat. Collins followed along a little more than five seconds behind. Beauman continued to keep the good results coming as he would drive a solid race to finish in 3rd place some seventeen seconds behind Parnell.
Beauman had kept the incredibly run going. The team had entered just three grand prix races and had managed to finish in every single one of them. And while that, in and of itself, would be quite an achievement, the fact they team had finished no worse than 9th in any of them would be truly remarkable. And yet, while the confidence and momentum was surely rolling in the favor, the team would need a great work of providence to pull off the same kind of result at the team's next race.
There was a good reason for cautious optimism as Sir Jeremy Boles' team headed into July. The reason for the caution was simple. The next race on the team's calendar would be its first Formula One World Championship race. It was the British Grand Prix and it would take place on the 17th of July.
The greatest reason for the caution was the simple fact that the competition the team could expect in the fifth round of the World Championship would be to a whole different level than that which they had experienced, even at the International Trophy race earlier in the year.
And this expectation would be more than right. Scuderia Ferrari would again bring three cars to the event. Officine Alfieri Maserati would also bring three cars but would have the double World Champion Alberto Ascari driving one of them. Equipe Gordini and Ecurie Rosier would also be present. In all, there would be twenty-one Formula One cars on the entry list. The remaining twelve would be Formula 2 cars like that used by Boles' team.
Two of the twenty-one Formula One cars would be the new Mercedes-Benz W196s. The first new Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows since before the start of World War II, the W196 had made its debut at the French Grand Prix just a couple of weeks earlier. In that race, the W196s of Fangio and Kling would absolutely dominate. And coming into the British Grand Prix, many believed there would be a repeat performance.
If someone asked Juan Manuel Fangio, one of the drivers of the Mercedes chassis, it was anything but a given the cars would dominate at Silverstone. The streamlined body would block the Argentinean's view right at the apex of the corners. This was causing Fangio great consternation, but he wouldn't give up.
Despite his visibility problems, Fangio would be incredibly fast in practice. He would go on to set a lap record around the 2.88 mile circuit. Fangio would take the pole with a lap time of 1:45. Jose Froilan Gonzalez would be a second a second slower and would start from 2nd on the grid. The rest of the front row would include Mike Hawthorn in 3rd place and Stirling Moss in 4th.
Boles' team would unload its Connaught and would prepare it for a tough race against an overwhelming list of Formula One and Formula 2 cars. In practice, Beauman would use his experience in the International Trophy race to good effect and would be one of the fastest throughout practice. In fact, Beauman would end up being the fastest Formula 2 car in the field. He would start the race from 17th on the grid which was the middle of the four-wide fifth row.
The day of the race would see the skies overcast and the air quite cool. On top of everything it was expected that rain would fall at some point during the 90 lap, 263 mile, race. As the cars lined up on the grid for the two o'clock start, the track was dry under overcast skies. This would cause all of the competitors to push as hard as possible at the beginning before the rains came.
As the field roared away, it would be Gonzalez that would get the best jump and would be in the lead ahead of Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn. Fangio would make a poor start and would be side-by-side with Kling heading into the first turn at Copse. Beauman would find himself right in the middle of a mess of cars all collecting to the left side of the straight heading into the first corner. This would make it very dangerous for Beauman and he would need to be very careful heading through the first turn. Thankfully, for Beauman and Boles, there would be no incident through the first turn and first couple of laps involving their car.
Gonzalez was out front and pulling away. He was looking as formidable as he had during the International Trophy race. Hawthorn still followed Moss but was absolutely stalking his fellow countryman. Fangio had finally gotten up to speed and was slowly gaining ground on Hawthorn.
Eight cars would only make it 25 laps or less before they would fall out of the race. Beauman, however, continued on without too many problems. He was actually looking quite strong considering he was piloting a Formula 2 car. He would follow Gerard almost from the very beginning. He really couldn't have been following a better driver than Gerard since he was also fast in a Formula 2 car. Amidst the Formula 2 field, these two would remain at the front setting the pace. It was truly impressive for Beauman considering his very little experience.
Fangio was back up to speed, which meant he would get by Moss and Hawthorn. Hawthorn had worked his way past Moss and had been running in 2nd place for a while before Fangio unseated him. This would be delightful for the crowd as they would get to see the two Brits battle it out some more.
The race carried on, and a number of others would fall out. By the halfway mark of the race, eleven cars would be out of the running. This still left twenty cars still running; at least for the time being.
Fangio was having a terrible time of things. Despite oil barrels being placed on the inside of the corners to aid in visibility, Fangio would continue to struggle. In fact, he would continually sustain damage with each passing lap as he would hit the barrels because he would lose sight of them. The damage to either fender on the car would just get worse and worse until the car started to look like an open-wheel car. This, and a gearbox problem, would slow his pace thereby allowing Hawthorn to reassume 2nd place.
Gonzalez's pace was substantial. Such was his pace that only Hawthorn, in 2nd place, seemed to have any hope of avoiding being lapped. In Beauman's case, he would be visited a number of times by Gonzalez, especially when the track became wet as the race wore on. By the end of the race Beauman wouldn't find himself mere minutes behind. He would be fighting hard to make sure it didn't reach a quarter of an hour.
The conditions were very reminiscent of International Trophy race. And in that race Gonzalez dominated. He would do the same in the British Grand Prix. In two hours, fifty-six minutes and fourteen seconds, Gonzalez would come across the line to take the victory. A minute and ten seconds would be the gap back to Hawthorn in 2nd place. Everyone else still running in the race was at least a lap down at the finish. Yet, while a lap down, Onofre Marimon would achieve his best result in the World Championship with a 3rd place result.
Sir Jeremy Boles' team could be absolutely ecstatic. In spite of their inferior car, Beauman would be fast throughout the race and would be one of the fastest amongst the Formula 2 field. Following along behind Gerard, Beauman would climb the running order. Aided by the retirements of many of the Formula One competitors, Beauman would continue to climb the running order until he ended up 6 laps down, but in 11th place. He would be 2nd amongst the Formula 2 cars in the field!
It had been an amazing result for the young team. In each first attempt, and against an incredibly large field of cars with more powerful engines, Beauman would bring the car home just outside of the top ten. And amongst the Formula 2 cars, the result was a 2nd place finish. It had been a good race for the team. It was yet another race finish and a near miss on another top ten. But for all intents and purposes, it was more than just a top ten result. The team would leave Silverstone with even more confidence.
Full of confidence and momentum after the result in the British Grand Prix, it would be three weeks before the team would prepare to take part in another race. Then, on the 7th of August, the team was making final preparations for another non-championship race. This one would take place at the Oulton Park Circuit and was the 1st International Gold Cup.
Located in Cheshire in the western part of England, Oulton Park Circuit would become a very popular venue for both driver and fan alike. However, before the circuit came into existence the park and the vicinity would be used as a staging area during World War II. It would welcome such famous names as General George Patton and Joe Louis. But once it became a motor racing venue in the early 1950s, the former Grey-Egerton estate would welcome some of the best motor racing teams and drivers in motor racing.
The field would be quite large for the first International Gold Cup race. While more would be expected, twenty-one cars would be present for the 36 lap, 99 mile, race around the 2.76 mile circuit. As with the team's last race, the British Grand Prix, the field would be a mixture of Formula One and Formula 2 cars. And after the performance in the fifth round of the World Championship, the Sir Jeremy Boles team would have to be considered one of the favorites, even amongst the Formula One cars in the field.
Bob Gerard would help the Boles team's chances as he would outduel the Formula One cars assembled. Setting a lap time of 1:59.4, Gerard would just edge out Jean Behra for the pole. Reg Parnell would make it also onto the front row with a 3rd place starting position. Beauman would continue to impress. In practice, he would remain one of the fastest amongst the Formula 2 cars. His best lap time of 2:03.6 would enable the team to enjoy a 7th place, third row, starting position.
Two cars would not start the race. And as the field roared away from the grid to start the race, two more would be left relatively stranded. Jean Behra's race would last just a couple of laps before magneto failure ended his race. This would leave Parnell and Gerard to do battle at the front of the field.
Beauman would make a good start as well and would be doing everything he could to keep touch with Salvadori, who had started on the same row as he. Stirling Moss would be putting together the most impressive race to that point. Although he had started from dead-last in the field he would make a great start and would continue to move his way up the order quickly until he was past Beauman and inside the top five.
The battle between Parnell and Gerard would enable Moss to catch up to the front of the field. Moss was on a charge and wasn't to be denied. He would work his way by Gerard, and then, Parnell to take the overall lead of the race.
Beauman would continue to run strong in the race. Then, on the 14th lap of the race, Salvadori would have the throttle stick wide open in his Maserati. Unable to stop, Salvadori would careen off the circuit and would plow into some trees destroying the car. While he would be fine, the race was certainly over for the Gilby Engineering team. This enabled Beauman to move further up the running order. And when Alan Brown retired after 18 laps because of a failed fuel pump, Beauman would find himself in a strong position running again inside of the top five.
Once again, Beauman would be following along behind Gerard. Parnell had finally gained the upper hand and managed to pull away in 2nd place. Moss was enjoying the lead of the race and would set the fastest lap of the event so to ensure his position at the head of the field.
Averaging a little more than 83 mph throughout the course of the race, Moss would complete one incredible performance coming from the tail-end of the field to earn the victory. Despite his stronger starting position, Parnell would finish the race a very quiet 2nd one minute and twenty seconds behind. Bob Gerard would complete the podium finishing the race in 3rd place just a little more than three seconds adrift from Parnell. This was an incredible performance considering he had started from the pole and was driving a Formula 2 car.
Equally impressive would be Beauman's performance. Showing incredible pace and bravery, he would start the race a very respectable 7th and would only ascend the running order. In the team's fifth grand prix, Beauman would manage to come home in 4th place all while remaining on the lead lap with Moss. The team had a perfect record to that point in the season and was causing Boles to dream of something even bigger.
The result in the International Gold Cup, and those of earlier races, would lead Boles to think seriously about purchasing a car truly capable of competing with the best teams and drivers. Boles would look into purchasing a Ferrari 625 and had intended to enter it in the team's next race of the season, the RedeX Trophy race held at Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit on the 14th of August. There were notoriously a lot of strings attached to a purchase of a grand prix car from Enzo Ferrari. And for whatever reason, the deal would not be completed. And the team would arrive at Snetterton with its Connaught.
The one thing the team had going for itself was the simple fact the team had been able to turn in some truly incredible performances without having the best and most competitive equipment. Therefore, if they could just keep it up through to the end of the season they could look forward to something even better the next year.
Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit would be one of those circuits in which the team would wish they had the extra power. Measuring 2.70 miles in length, the circuit consisted of a number of rather long straights and some fast sweeping corners. Born of the same purpose as Silverstone, Snetterton would be heavily involved in bombing operations over the whole of Europe during World War II. When it was decommissioned at war's end it would just lie dormant for a number of years. But an airbase that played such a prominent role in the war couldn't just disappear and the 2.70 miles of perimeter road would serve as the perfect motor racing circuit.
Fifteen cars would qualify for the 40 lap, 108 mile, race. And while the actual starting grid arrangement would be unknown it would be widely believed Beauman started up near the front of the field.
The field would make its way on around the circuit on the 1st lap of the race. The start of the 2nd lap would see the trouble show up. Anthony Brooke and Leslie Marr would come together in a crash ending the day for each of them.
While trouble found its way into the back of the field, Parnell would be in the lead and would be turning some fast laps. Bob Gerard would again be demonstrating great determination and would be in 2nd place doing his best to keep pace with Parnell. Beauman and Horace Gould would be running rather close together fighting it out for 3rd place in the running order.
Trouble continued to come upon the field. In all, seven of the fifteen starters would drop out of the race before the end. This would not make things any easier for Beauman, however, as he would still have Gould running near him.
Parnell was proving to be too tough for Gerard's Formula 2 car. Aided by the fastest lap of the race, Parnell would extend his lead to such a margin that attrition would be Gerard's and Beauman's only hope.
Providence would see to it that no attrition would come upon Parnell and he would cruise to victory completing the race in one hour, thirteen minutes and sixteen seconds. He would enjoy a margin of victory of forty-eight seconds over Gerard in 2nd place. Beauman would keep the surprises coming as he would again put in an incredible performance to finish in 3rd place down just a lap to Parnell at the end of 40 laps.
The season remained perfect for Boles' team. And with just a few races remaining on their calendar, they would hope they could keep the record going till the end. Their next opportunity to put the record to the test would come just two weeks later.
On the 28th of August, the Sir Jeremy Boles team had arrived and was preparing to take part in its next race. The team had travelled to the west of England, just about 20 miles away from Bristol. They had come to the Castle Combe Circuit to take part in the 3rd Joe Fry Memorial Trophy race.
Held in honor of the late Joe Fry, one of Britain's brightest motor racing drivers in the years before World War II and immediately after, the Castle Combe circuit was just miles away from the home of the departed. Another former airbase during World War II, Castle Combe would become one of the earliest airbases-turned motor racing circuits. And despite being just 1.84 miles in length, it was also one of England's fastest.
In spite of the season Beauman had been having at the wheel, the Boles team would arrive at Castle Combe with a different driver. It had been intended, if the deal for a new Ferrari chassis went through, John Riseley-Prichard would take to the wheel of the Connaught while Beauman would drive the Ferrari. The deal didn't happen and Riseley-Prichard lost his opportunity to drive for the team. His time would come at Combe.
The field would be relatively small but would still consist of a couple of Formula One machines. Once again, the starting grid would be something of a mystery. But as the race got underway, some important changes would take place that would throw the results up in the air.
Early on in the race, Parnell's engine in his Ferrari would suffer piston failure and would fail in a big way. Bob Gerard, who had been chasing Parnell through a number of races throughout the season would have his best opportunity for victory but wouldn't be able to take advantage of the opportunity since steering issues in his Cooper-Bristol would end his race as well.
The doors were wide open for many in the field, including Riseley-Prichard. However, the one who would take the greatest advantage would be Horace Gould. He would take over the lead of the race and would manage to put some space between himself and Bill Whitehouse running in 2nd. Riseley-Prichard would be putting in a solid performance in his first drive for Boles' team. He would be in 3rd place coming down to the end of the 15 lap race.
Gould had too large of a lead to be denied. Averaging over 83 mph, Gould would power his way to victory and would enjoy a victory margin of eleven seconds over Whitehouse. Riseley-Prichard would keep Sir Jeremy Boles' record intact as he would drive beautifully to finish in 3rd place some seventeen seconds behind Gould.
The race had not looked so good for Boles' team from the beginning but its incredible record of reliability gave Riseley-Prichard the confidence that he could pull out a good result in the end. Aided by Gerard's and Parnell's retirements, Riseley-Prichard would provide the team another podium finish.
Nearly another month would pass between races for Sir Jeremy's team. Then, on the 25th of September, the team would be at Goodwood Circuit preparing to take part in two of its three final races of the season. The races, the 7th Madgwick Cup and Goodwood Trophy races were just part of a weekend of races held at the 2.39 mile circuit.
RAF Westhampnett had served as an auxiliary airfield for RAF Tangmere. However, when the Second World War ended, the Duke of Richmond, the title holder to the Goodwood Estate, was busy looking for a use for the decommissioned airfield. A motor racing enthusiast himself, the Duke would agree with some suggestions the airfield should be turned into a motor racing circuit. Soon, the 2.39 miles of perimeter road would become one of England's most popular venues.
The Madgwick Cup race was just for Formula 2 cars. This meant Boles' team would be one of the favorites coming into the race. Of course, Boles' team would have to deal with the presence of Bob Gerard. With Don Beauman back at the wheel, the Boles' team would have to fight with everything it had to overcome Gerard.
In practice, the battle would be very well involved. Gerard would end up getting the best of the rest of the field and would take the pole for the short, 7 lap, race. Second place on the starting grid would end up going to Beauman who continued to be impressive and prove his talent at the wheel of a grand prix car. The rest of the front row would consist of Leslie Marr in 3rd place. John Riseley-Prichard had entered his own car in the race and would end up garnering the final starting position on the front row.
As they had at a number of different races throughout the season, Gerard and Beauman would lead the way at the front of the field involved in their own battle. The two of them would fight it out with just a few car lengths in between themselves.
Behind Gerard and Beauman, Mike Keen had started in the 5th position but had made a great start and was battling with Riseley-Prichard for 3rd place as Marr faded down the running order.
Being pushed hard by Beauman, Gerard would increase his pace. He would end up turning the fastest lap of the race and would pull out a little bit more of an advantage over Beauman, but Beauman wouldn't let him break contact.
In spite of Beauman's best efforts, Gerard would prove his worth by scoring the victory completing the race in just eleven minutes and thirty-six seconds. A little over three seconds would pass before Beauman would cross the line in 2nd place. Although he would lose the victory to Gerard, Beauman had managed to push Gerard until the two had managed to pull out an impressive margin over the rest of the field. Mike Keen would beat out Riseley-Prichard for 3rd place in the results and would be a little more than twelve seconds behind Beauman at the line.
The good results just kept coming, but the team would quickly have to turn the car around and prepare it to take part in the Goodwood Trophy race. This would be a real test for the team's incredible run of reliability. On top of everything else, the Goodwood Trophy race was open to both Formula 2 and Formula One cars.
The Goodwood Trophy race was one of the bigger races of the weekend. At 21 laps, the race distance would be a little more than 50 miles of the 2.39 mile circuit. And while Beauman had been become used to starting races toward the front of the grid, he would be seeing a lot of cars in which he would have to contend if he wanted to keep the string of incredible results going.
Stirling Moss would be fastest in practice and would start on the pole. The rest of the four-wide front row would consist of Peter Collins in 2nd place in a Vanwall, Bob Gerard in 3rd and Reg Parnell in 4th.
Over the previous few races, the Boles team hadn't really started all that far back in the field. However, the Goodwood Trophy race would see Beauman well down on the grid and by no means one of the fastest Formula 2 cars. He would start the race from the fourth row of the grid in 13th place.
Moss started well and would hold onto the lead of the race right from the start. Peter Collins would hold onto 2nd place and would be giving chase of Moss. Roy Salvadori would follow Moss through and would be able to unseat Gerard for 3rd place. Parnell would be right there battling but his fight would soon come to an end.
Just 3 laps into the race, Parnell would suffer an engine failure that would bring about the end of his race and would open the door to Beauman who had made a great start from 13th on the grid. Beauman had made a great start and would keep his foot on the gas from then on. He would quickly climb the running order with an impressive driving performance. And with Parnell's departure, and other happenings, Beauman would be harassing Gerard once more.
The fight behind Moss and Collins was truly impressive. Salvadori was at the wheel of a 2.5-liter Maserati, and therefore, had a power advantage over Gerard. However, Gerard followed close behind and never allowed Salvadori to really escape too far ahead. Gerard's fierce determination to stay in touch with Salvadori would help Beauman stay in touch. Beauman would doggedly hold onto Gerard, and therefore, would be less than eight seconds behind Salvadori.
Moss was strong form. He would set the fastest lap of the race with a time just nine-tenths of a second off his pole-winning time. He would leave Collins to complete the race distance all by himself. Salvadori would not be able to keep touch as a result of his battle with Gerard and Beauman.
Moss was untroubled throughout the 21 laps. He would come flying around Woodcote and would power across the finish line to take the victory. About twenty seconds later Collins would come through to take a very quiet 2nd. The real battle on the circuit would come down to the three cars running 3rd, 4th and 5th. It had been a hard fought race and Salvadori would hold on to take the final spot on the podium. A little more than four seconds would separate Salvadori and Gerard. Another three and a half seconds would be the difference between Gerard and Beauman finishing in the 5th position.
Yet another top five finish for Boles' team. The fortitude displayed by Beauman and the team was a credit to the young team. And just one race remained in which to keep the incredible season intact.
With the exception of sportscar races, Sir Jeremy Boles' team had taken part in nine grand prix races throughout the 1954 season. Throughout those nine races the team had not suffered a retirement, or, a finish worse than 11th. On top of everything else, Boles' team had not suffered a result worse than 5th in all but two of those nine. There had been five podium finishes for the team. It truly had been a special season, but just one race remained. Just one more opportunity to maintain the perfect season.
The final opportunity would come on the 2nd of October. The final major grand prix of the season on English soil would come at the Aintree Racecourse. The race was the 1st Daily Telegraph Trophy race.
Just outside downtown Liverpool, nestled in Merseyside, rests the famous Aintree Racecourse famous for the Grand National steeplechase. While filled with such famous names as The Chair, Canal Turn and Becher's Brook, Aintree was well known for horsepower of another kind. However, Raymond Mays and Earl Howe would recognize the racecourse was more than capable of hosting horsepower of a slightly different kind. Utilizing the same grand stands and start/finish line as that used in the Grand National, a 3.0 mile purpose-built circuit would be built to host the best motor racing had to offer.
A good deal of the best motor racing had to offer would make their way to Aintree for the 1st Daily Telegraph Trophy race on the 2nd of October. Officine Alfieri Maserati would enter a couple of Maseratis in the field. Equipe Gordini would also have a couple of cars in the race as well. In total, there would be nine Formula One cars entered in the field of nineteen. This would be one last tough test for Beauman and the Sir Jeremy Boles team.
As expected, the Formula One cars dominated in practice. Stirling Moss would be fastest and would take the pole with a time of 2:03.6. Jean Behra would be second-fastest with a time a second and a half slower. One second would be the difference between Behra in 2nd and Mike Hawthorn in 3rd place. Harry Schell would take the final starting position on the front row with a time just under five seconds slower than Moss' pole effort.
Recording a time under the 2:10.0 point would be no easy achievement. But Beauman would give it his best effort. Pushing the Connaught to the edge just one more time, Beauman would set a fastest lap time of 2:12.4 and would end up being the fastest of the Formula 2 entries. This meant Beauman would start the race from an impressive 8th place on the grid, which was the first position on the third row.
The field would tear away from the grid on the start of the 17 lap, 51 mile, race. Moss would have the lead. Behra and Hawthorn would be right there battling with Moss for the outright lead. Beauman would have some very tough competition starting right behind him on the grid and it would come to bear at the start of the race. Gerard would fight his way by, as would John Riseley-Prichard. Beauman would try and recover by settling in and battling back.
Up front, Moss was really beginning to hit his stride and was pulling away from Hawthorn in 2nd place. Harry Schell would make Moss' escape a little easier by being all over the back of Hawthorn's Vanwall. This duel would just continue lap after lap and would be great for the spectators to witness.
Moss and Hawthorn would set matching fastest lap times which would only increase the pace of the race. This meant Beauman and the other Formula 2 cars in the field would likely go a lap down before the end of the race. Nonetheless, Beauman would continue to be embroiled in a battle with Riseley-Prichard and Horace Gould, and therefore, wouldn't be all that concerned with remaining on the lead lap. Besides that, the main goal of Boles' team would have to be remaining in the race until the end thereby preserving their perfect record of race finishes on the season.
Averaging more than 85 mph, Moss was worried about anything but reliability. While it was still in the back of his mind, he was going to push with everything he had and this would only widen the gap between himself and Hawthorn and Schell.
The race was thrilling at every moment. Moss' Maserati would bound the last couple of fences effortlessly and would power its way to a demonstrative win some fourteen seconds in front of the battle for 2nd. The battle for 2nd would still be raging throughout the final lap of the race. Hawthorn would hold onto the advantage rounding the last corner. He would put the power down and would beat Schell to the line by just a mere second. What was even more spectacular was the fact Sergio Mantovani trailed Schell home in 4th place just two seconds back.
The entire Formula 2 field had fallen a lap down to Moss but they would all be embroiled in their own battles. Beauman would recover after losing positions to Gerard and Riseley-Prichard and wouldn't lose another throughout the rest of the race, at least not to a Formula 2 car anyway. At the end of 51 miles, Beauman would bring the season to an end for Boles with a 10th place result. It was another solid result for a team that had had so many throughout the entire year.
The 10th place result, while perhaps not as good as what the team had hoped, had sealed something even better. The 10th place ensured that in every race the team had entered, they had finished. It also ensured that, with the exception of the British Grand Prix, which could be forgiven, they had not finished a race anywhere outside of the top ten. Five podiums, seven top fives and nine top ten results would bring the curtain down on what had been a phenomenal first year of grand prix racing. And were it not for the fact they were competing in the fifth round of the World Championship with a Formula 2 car, the team could have even come away with points in its first attempt at a World Championship race.
It had truly been a remarkable first season for Boles' team. And it would only build the excitement for the 1955 season. However, the off-season would bring a number of tough decisions. Nonetheless, the entire team would be certainly excited about its prospects heading into 1955. It would be, therefore, truly gut-wrenching and sickening the hole that would be ripped through the team when, just one week before the British Grand Prix, Don Beauman would be pronounced dead after he crashed his Riley sportscar in the Leinster Trophy race.
Just like that, the life and the hope that had seemed so prevalent in the team throughout the 1954 season would vanish instantly. Boles would no longer seem to know the way forward and the team would disappear from grand prix racing, and racing from a whole, almost immediately. The tragic death had taken more than just the life of Beauman. It had taken the hope and the promise of the young team's life as well. Sir Jeremy Boles