TeamsBruce Halford: 1957 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
At the beginning of the 1956 season Bruce Halford had almost purchased himself a few championship points. It would come to naught. As a result, the nomadic life of the man from Birmingham, England would be really just beginning.
Halford would make his Formula One World Championship debut at the 1956 British Grand Prix at Silverstone on the 14th of July. While it would forever be a memorable moment the end wouldn't be as memorable as the beginning as he would be forced to retire before the first quarter mark of the race due to engine-related problems.
However, Halford had enjoyed some early success in Formula One. At the non-championship 1st Aintree 100 on the 24th of June, Halford would come from the middle of the grid to finish the race in 3rd place. It would be a fantastic result for the man that had really only just begun a racing career a handful of years earlier.
Halford's breakthrough in Formula One would come as a result of another rather nomadic grand prix driver—Horace Gould. Gould had gotten his start in Formula One but really increased his investment in his racing career in 1955 and 1956 by moving closer to the Maserati factory in Modena. In 1955 he had come to own Prince Bira's Maserati 250F after he had retired from motor racing in 1954.
Moving closer to the Maserati factory, Gould would negotiate for himself the use of a newer 250F chassis. This left 2509/04 remaining and unused for 1956. Halford, wanting to take the leap into Formula One, would approach Gould and would come to own the car. This would create an interesting and important relationship with Gould that would nearly come in handy over the course of the 1956 season.
Perhaps greatest, and most disappointing, moment during the 1956 season would come in the German Grand Prix. Running as high as 4th place late in the race, Halford would rely upon his relationship with Gould to keep him in the race when he spun and broken his exhaust off of his Maserati. Gould would send Halford back out for another lap or two while he went to his own car to take the exhaust off of it. Attaching the exhaust to Halford's Maserati, Gould would help Bruce stay in the race and climb up to 4th place with just a few laps remaining in the race. It seemed like it would be a storybook 2nd World Championship race for Halford. However, just when he could see the checkered flag in his mind's eye the stewards would come and would disqualify him as a result of learning he had had outside assistance to help him get going again after his spin. Just like that, the potential 4th place would be gone and Halford would end the season having scored no points at all.
In spite of the disappointment at the Nurburgring, Halford had shown himself capable over the course of the 1956 season. It seemed the 1957 season could hold some pleasant surprises for the Birmingham man.
Considering Halford entered races based upon the prize money he had earned from previous races, Halford would not be expected to make the journey across the Atlantic like the major factory teams. He would remain much closer to home in England and would use what money he could earn to travel to races throughout Europe. Living such a life, Halford would be everything to his own team. Not only would he drive the car but he would also drive the transporter as well. And on days when his races came to an early end, such as the British Grand Prix in 1956, he would actually spend more time behind the wheel of the transporter than his Maserati.
Heading into the 1957 season, Halford would already be on the backfoot. The first year, for someone like Halford, always has the potential of being more successful than any follow on year. The reasons for that are two-fold. It is likely, when starting out, that an individual waits until they have enough money to seriously make a go. If the season hasn't been all that prosperous then there is a bit less money for the second year. Secondly, it is likely that the same car will be used the next season. While all the factory teams are evolving or introducing new chassis the individual is left using an outdated example. This was a very true reality for Halford heading into the 1957 season.
The son of parents who ran hotels in the Bournemouth area, Halford prepared for his own life of travel and living out of a suitcase in the late winter and early spring months of 1957. Preparing his heavily altered Royal Blue coach, Halford would set out in early April for his first race of the season. Ultimately, Bruce would make his way across the divide between Italy and Sicily and would end up in Syracuse, for it would be there on the 7th of April that the 7th Gram Premio di Siracusa would be held.
Once the powerful city-state of the ancient Greek Corinthians, Syracuse's history would be both rich and vast and would create an intriguing backdrop for the modern demonstration of speed and power. Literally just a matter of a mile or so from the city center the 3.48 mile road course would make use of roads in the surrounding countryside and some of the streets leading into the city's center.
While the portion just outside the city would feature a tight hairpin turn, the remainder of the circuit would boast of fast, sweeping straights with high average speeds. Running by the communal cemetery filled with graves from soldiers that had died during the Second World War, the circuit would be surrounded by hard, concrete walls that had come into play more than once during a grand prix.
Arriving with his older Maserati, Halford would find the field for the 80 lap filled with more than a few factory teams and top drivers. One major player missing from the field would be Juan Manuel Fangio. Having left Ferrari for Maserati, he would not be present at the race. However, the team would come with three entries. Scuderia Ferrari would arrive with two D50s for Peter Collins and Luigi Musso.
After having been a major contender for the championship the year before, Collins would take over the number one status with the Ferrari team following Fangio's departure. Moss, whom started out the season with Maserati, would be with Vandervell Products for the race in Syracuse and would be the team leader of the two car effort. Being a private entry, it was simple for Halford. He was everything. Unfortunately, this was more of a disadvantage than the other way around.
Going up against the latest editions of the Lancia-Ferrari, Maserati and Vanwall it would a tough go for Halford right from the very beginning. Pushing around the circuit at speeds close to 100 mph average, Halford would be a fair amount off the pace of the front-runners. Posting a best lap time of 2:06.7, Halford would end up on the fifth row of the grid in the 11th starting spot. His best time would end up being a little more than 11 seconds slower than that posted by Peter Collins in the Ferrari. Joining Collins on the front row would be Musso in 2nd place and Stirling Moss with a lap time of 1:56.3.
Being at least 10 seconds slower than the slowest car on the front row, Bruce would have a long 80 laps ahead of him, provided he even made it that far. Lined up on the grid, it was clear much of the attention would be directed toward the front row as the temptation of a battle between the Italian Ferraris and the single Vanwall of Moss proved too distracting. Therefore, Halford could expect a day of being lost in the shadows, unless…
As the race got underway, the people would get just what they expected. Moss would fight heartily with Collins and Musso. It would be a fantastic demonstration filled with drama. The Ferraris would be strong but the speed edge usually went the way of the Vanwall with its Chapman and Costin body and 2.5-liter Norton engine. Further back, Halford would make it through the first few laps without trouble and would be settling into his pace. Unfortunately, that pace meant he would lose ground to the rest of the front-runners.
As usual at the circuit, attrition would play a part. Harry Schell would be one of the first victims retiring from the race after suffering an engine failure after just 1 lap. Then came Jean Behra and Luigi Piotti. Tony Brooks would retire after 20 laps and Hans Herrmann would be out in his return to grand prix racing.
Meanwhile, Halford continued to run and would be certainly aided by the retirements of Fairman, Behra, Brooks and others. Heading into the final 30 laps, Bruce would be just outside the top five, but would be too far back to make a real run unless there were others that retired before the end.
Moss had stayed in the fight for quite a while. Dueling with the two Ferraris, Moss would use his considerable talent to keep with the more dominant chassis. In fact, he would even briefly lead the race. However, as the race wore on to the halfway point, Moss would be losing ground quite rapidly to the stronger Ferraris. The Vanwall had proven to be fast, but over a longer run the Lancia-Ferraris had proven stronger.
Going around on what was the final lap of the race, the event had become nothing more than a processional with Collins crossing the line to take the victory by a margin of a minute and 15 seconds over Musso in the other Ferrari. Stirling Moss' epic performance early on would earn him the fastest lap of the race honors but that would be a rather bittersweet pill to swallow after finishing the race a little more than 3 laps down in 3rd place.
Halford had been en route to a clear top seven or six place finish. He had down most all of the hard work. He had made it through the start and through the halfway mark of the race. However, he just could not make it to the finish. Pushing an older Maserati, the engine just would not be capable of sustaining the kind of pace that was necessary. As a result, Halford's engine would begin to lose power and would ultimately fail with just 14 laps left in the race. So while he had been one of the last seven cars still circulating, he would end up not classified in the results.
The non-classification as a result of an engine failure would make life difficult for the nomadic racer. Surviving on money earned, the failure to finish and the engine-related problem meant very little prize money left over to use for the next race. This would be a difficult beginning to the season but, amazingly, Halford would carry on.
Back in 1901 the very first grand prix would ever be held. Known as the Grand Prix du Sud-Ouest
the circuit featured a starting point in a petite city that would draw its name from the river in which it straddled. From that moment on, Pau would have a special place in motor racing history.
In 1930, Pau would host the French Grand Prix for the first time. This would ultimately lead to a grand prix bearing its own name. The Pau Grand Prix would be inaugurated in 1933 and such drivers as Tazio Nuvolari, Rene Dreyfus, Hermann Lang and Rudolf Caracciola would all be known to race around the tight, twisty city circuit.
By the 1950s, the Pau Grand Prix would take a somewhat lesser place of importance on the stage of grand prix racing. However, the race would still draw its share of top teams and drivers. Not included in the Formula One World Championship, the race would begin to lose the top teams. However, there would be more than a couple of memorable moments during this period, none perhaps more so than the 1954 edition of the race when Jean Behra defeated Maurice Trintignant in an epic battle that came right down to the finish. Before a record crowd the two Frenchmen didn't disappoint as Trintignant would be hounded by Behra in the lesser-able Gordini.
The 1955 race would see Behra triumph once again but it would come at the price of Mario Alborghetti's life. Interestingly, his race wouldn't be announced until after the race. This would be just months before the Le Mans tragedy in which the race would go on so as not to prevent emergency vehicles from getting to the more than 80 dead and hundreds of others injured. While Le Mans would carry on to its finish the tragedy would see a number of events cancelled, some of which would never to be seen again. The tragedy would affect Pau as the 1956 edition would be cancelled to address safety concerns. However, on the 22nd of April, in 1957, the race would be back.
One familiar name would be back in Pau when it returned to the calendar. Jean Behra would be present for the race driving his factory Maserati. He would be the only factory Maserati entry against a field full of talented individuals, and yet, he would have to be considered a favorite right from the moment he arrived. Being one of a few privateer entries it would be difficult to determine Halford's chances heading into the arduous 110 lap race. Having repaired his engine but being short on money, the tight Pau circuit posed a tremendous challenge to the Englishman.
Given the short, twisty nature of the circuit the older Maserati of Halford's had a chance to keep up with the newer cars. Halford would take advantage of the situation and would put together some quick laps during practice. Ultimately, his fastest lap time of 1:41.3 would lead to a third row starting position. Starting 8th on the grid, Halford would have a good opportunity for moving forward if he could make it through the first couple of laps when the traffic was the tightest.
In order to lead the race Halford would have to overcome favorite Jean Behra. Starting from the pole with a lap time of 1:35.7, Behra certainly was in a commanding position to take yet another victory. Starting alongside on the front row would be Harry Schell in another Maserati and Masten Gregory in yet another Maserati.
Taking place around the 1.71 mile street circuit, the Grand Prix de Pau had very little to no places where a car could even come close to reaching its top speed. This gave Halford his best opportunity of the season thus far as the older Maserati would not be called upon to push itself to the absolute maximum. However, the biggest threat Bruce would face over the course of the race would be brake and gearbox problems.
Starting position would be all-important given the tight nature of the circuit. Being the first to the first corner likely meant a victory if nothing else happened over the course of the race. Sure enough, Behra would be in position while Schell would remain right there ready to pounce if the opportunity truly presented itself. Halford would make it through the first couple of laps just fine but would be working hard in the traffic to maintain his position, as well as, move up the order.
Chico Godia-Sales wouldn't really have an opportunity to move up as his race would last just 4 short laps before he suffered an accident that would take him out of the running. Up front, meanwhile, Behra would be in absolute control. The last time he had been at Pau taking part in a grand prix he had been chasing Alberto Ascari in one of the new Lancias. Now, Ascari was gone, along with the Lancia. There would be nobody in front of him that could hold him back and he would demonstrate just that as he would quickly build up an advantage over Schell.
Halford's race would come to an early end. While Behra would be settling into a comfortable pace that would leave everyone else behind, Halford would find his race coming to an end. Pushing hard through the first few laps around the tight circuit the gearbox on the Maserati would be taking an absolute beating. As a result, after just 10 laps, Halford would be out of the race.
Former battler for victory, Maurice Trintignant, would be out of the race. Godia-Sales would try again with Luigi Piotti's car only to have his race come to an end again. Schell and Gregory remained in the race but neither could do anything with Behra who was well out in front and only building upon his lead.
Carefully making his way through traffic, Jean would post the fastest lap of the race with a time just a couple of tenths slower than his pole time and this meant everyone else would be at least one lap down, and the race was far from over.
It would be an incredible, indomitable performance by the two-time winner. Averaging a little more than 62mph over the whole of the 110 laps, Behra would absolutely decimate the field. Crossing the line in just over 3 hours time, Behra would take the victory by more than 2 laps over Schell. Ivor Bueb, who had really came to fame with Mike Hawthorn for winning the tragic 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans, would finish the race yet another lap further down in 3rd place.
It was three-straight victories for Behra in Pau, a remarkable run of dominance and he only seemed to be getting stronger. Unfortunately, it was destined to come to an end when Pau no longer held the grand prix according to Formula One regulations again until 1961. By that time, Behra would be passed away. It would also be a little upsetting to Halford to see the race go as it was one of the few races in which an older car still had a chance. Instead, Bruce would be left looking for other races in which the circuits still played to the strengths of the older car.
Looking at the 1957 racing calendar, there wouldn't be too many circuits that played to the strengths of the older Maserati 250F. Yes, the Maserati 250F was still a very potent racing car, but more so in its more current evolutions. And, with high-speed circuits mostly comprising the schedule, Halford would have few races he could look forward to more than that which would come up on the 28th of April. The race was the 10th Gran Premio di Napoli and it took place on a slow 2.55 street course similar in character and nature to Pau.
Pau was a never-ending array of hairpin turns and short, quick sweeping turns. Its average speed would be boasted mainly by the start/finish straight. The Posillipo Circuit, comprised of streets high atop the cliffs of the residential quarter of Naples, would be quite similar in that it would have a long start/finish straight, but then it would wind its way along the ridge and along the sides of the cliffs. Boasting of some slow, tight turns and many blind corners, the circuit situated in an area known as the 'respite from worry' would be anything but relaxing. However, with tree-lined streets and some truly remarkable views of the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius, Posillipo would not be lacking in appeal.
Back in 1955, Alberto Ascari would earn victory in the new Lancia D50. It would be one of the early events for the Lancia. In spite of the death of Ascari and the Lancias becoming the property of Ferrari they would still be the favorites to win the race the following year. However, Robert Manzon would pull off the incredible surprise victory in the aged Gordini T16 when the Ferraris failed. This would have to give Halford some hope considering that Manzon had pulled off the feat in a much older T16.
Halford would need all the help he could get following his performance in practice. Mike Hawthorn would actually take the pole in one of the Lancia-Ferraris after posting a lap time of 2:08.0. Peter Collins would post a nearly identical lap time but would end up 2nd on the grid by mere hundredths of a second. Third place on the front row would be Luigi Musso in the new 156 Dino.
Compared to the lap times of those on the front row of the grid, Halford would need to pray heavily heading into the 60 lap race. His best lap around the circuit would be a rather pedestrian 2:24.4 and would lead to him starting from the seventh, and final, row of the grid in the 16th position overall.
Although Hawthorn would have the pole for the race, Collins would take over the lead of the race with Hawthorn and Musso following along. Certainly more familiar with the D50 than Hawthorn, Collins would be able to push harder and would end up padding his margin over his two teammates. Meanwhile, Halford was intent on having a better race than that which he experienced in Pau. He would get away well and would steadily make his way up the leaderboard as a result of unreliability suffered by his competitors.
Alan Mann, Ottorino Volonterio and Marino Brandoli would all be out of the race before 10 laps would be completed. Things would be relatively quiet until the last third of the race when Lewis-Evans, Fiordeleshi and Taraschi all retired within three laps of each other. Halford, meanwhile, would still be out there circulating and hanging in there quite well considering his lack of experience on the track.
Hawthorn would push Collins by posting what would end up being the fastest lap of the race but Collins would be by his fellow teammate and only adding to his lead with consistently fast laps. Averaging just over 70mph, Collins would put Halford and others a number of laps down. Despite being in a Formula 2 car, Musso would stay right with Hawthorn throughout the whole of the race using the lighter car to his advantage around the slow circuit.
As at Syracuse, Collins would be the class of the field and he would end up taking the victory by a little more than 30 seconds over Hawthorn, who would have Musso just three-tenths of a second behind him at the line. Halford wouldn't be three-tenths, but three laps, behind Collins at the finish. Still, Bruce would come away with a fine 6th place result.
Finally, Halford had something to build upon. Not only had he finished a race but had it been a World Championship event he would have been just outside the points. So, he had some momentum, some confidence, to build upon before the next race of the season. This would be very important as the conclusion of the race also signaled the conclusion of the really slow circuits for the remainder of the year. From now on, he would have to rely upon an older Maserati to be able to stay with newer cars at some very fast venues.
Earning his keep, Halford would already suffer from a limited budget. The limited budget, therefore, limited his travels and, by extension, where and when he raced. Heading into the month of May there was the Monaco Grand Prix on the horizon. However, between travelling and costs to prepare the Maserati it would be an option, albeit one of the better ones for Halford, that he would forego. Then there was to be the Belgian and Dutch Grand Prix on the 2nd and 16th of June. However, those events would be cancelled as a result of money disputes. So now the calendar turned to July. Of course there was the French Grand Prix held at Rouen for the first time since 1952 and then the British Grand Prix at Aintree. Considering his finances at the time, and other factors, Halford would not make the trip to Rouen. Nor would he make the trip back home to England for the British Grand Prix.
So, there would be a number of months in between races for Halford. This would allow him to build up his financial base so that he could finish out the last half of the season strong. But this also meant a long spell in which he was not earning any starting and prize money.
Having the French Grand Prix head back to Rouen for the first time since 1952 didn't mean Reims would go without a grand prix for 1957. Reims had held on its public road course the Grand Prix de la Marne. The first installment of the race would be held all the way back in 1925 and would be a commercial success. This would lead to Reims playing host to the French Grand Prix and the Grand Prix de la Marne somewhat being lost to history until 1952 when it appeared again as part of the French F2 Championship. However, in 1957, with the French Grand Prix lost to Rouen, the Grand Prix de la Marne would return, but not as it had always been known. Instead, on the 14th of July, Reims would prepare to host the 23rd Grand Prix de Reims.
Flat and wide-open, the Reims circuit would be driven just like its surroundings. Basically a triangle in shape, the Reims circuit would have only a handful of sweeping curves that were taken about as fast as the incredibly long straights that connected about two-thirds of the circuit. This meant the most successful car would be one that had the power and the speed to take advantage of the straights. Handling would be of lesser importance.
Had it been a year or two earlier, Halford would have been in a strong position coming into the race in Reims. However, by 1957, his edition of the 250F was outdated and lacked the improvements to be a major threat, especially when he found himself going up against the likes of Fangio, Lewis-Evans, Collins and others in much newer chassis. This reality would be more than obvious just by the results of practice.
Juan Manuel Fangio would take his latest Maserati and would post a lap time of 2:23.3 around the 5.15 mile circuit. Stuart Lewis-Evans would be just two-tenths of a second slower in one of the Vanwalls. The final slot on the three-wide front row would go to Jean Behra with a time just under a couple of seconds slower than Fangio.
Halford's best time in practice has been lost but it is remembered where he started the race. Having done his best in practice, Halford would end up on the sixth row of the grid in the 15th starting spot. Obviously his pace around the circuit was not anywhere near that of the front row starters.
Finances being what they were, Halford had a really tough race ahead of him. Not only did he have to concern himself with trying to gain as many spots as he could over the course of the 61 lap race but he would have to severely balance the urge to push with the need to conserve as he did not have the finances to cover a terrible failure. Therefore, it would be more than likely that Bruce would not take part in the race 100 percent on the edge.
Collins would be on the edge early on in the race. Starting from the third row of the grid, Collins would push hard to overcome his poor starting spot. Unfortunately, this would lead to an engine failure after just 2 laps. Another that would be on the edge would be Behra in one of the factory Maseratis. He would be quite fast in his pursuit of the leaders but he would have his work cut out for him with the presence of Fangio, Lewis-Evans and Roy Salvadori in the mix.
Musso would be quite strong in the race while the rest of the Ferrari drivers ran into problem after problem. Gendebien and Hawthorn would all fall out of the race before the halfway mark. Godia-Sales and Menditeguy would also fall out of contention in their Maseratis.
The pace at the front of the field would certainly be hectic and would leave little room for error. While Bruce Halford would be carrying on at a much more sedated pace, getting lapped just about every 7th or 8th time around, the others would be pushing each other hard seeing who would break or make a mistake. Fangio had a reputation for being spot-on perfect. He had shown some weakness the year before but still came away World Champion. This time, however, he would not be saved. Heading into the final few laps of the race, the Argentinean would be pushing hard and would end up pushing a little too far as he would make a misjudgment and would end up crashing out of the race.
Jean Behra would turn what would end up being the fastest lap of the race with a lap average of more than 125mph, but it would not be enough to give him the lead. Instead, it would be the sole remaining Lancia-Ferrari of Luigi Musso that would be out front and looking formidable.
Averaging a little more than 123mph, Musso would leave Halford well behind over the course of the race. Even the higher-starting drivers like Behra and Lewis-Evans would find Musso's pace too difficult to deal with. In the end, Musso would power his way up the long straight and across the line to take a fantastic victory. Winning the race by a margin of nearly 28 seconds, Musso was well and truly in control despite Behra's strong advances from 2nd place. Lewis-Evans would cross the line a minute and 16 seconds later to take the 3rd, and final, spot on the podium.
Halford's presence would hardly be noticed over the course of the race. Ending the race more than 8 laps behind, Halford would be nothing more than background scenery and it would be quite telling as to his position at the time. Being a little more than 8 laps behind at the end, despite being the 10th car still circulating around the circuit, Halford would end up not classified once again. This fact would put Halford in a precarious position.
Halford likely would have used the prize money to help fund his trip back across the Channel in order to take part in the British Grand Prix the next week. But it is more likely the money he did earn was not enough to help make the trip feasible. Additionally, his non-classified result, being more than 8 laps behind, also likely caused him some reservations about returning home and not having the ability to truly challenge for bigger prize money. As a result, Halford would forego looking back across the Channel and, instead, would look to someplace where he had a good chance at a good result.
A year earlier, Halford had been running well in the Grand Prix de Caen until changing conditions caused him to be one of four that would end up crashing out of the race. Still, he had started that race from 3rd on the grid and it seemed likely he would end the race with a good result. One year later, the Grand Prix de Caen would have a new date. Instead of taking place in August, like the year before, the race would take place on the 28th of July. This presented an opportunity to Halford and he would take advantage of it.
Already in Reims, Halford would load his Maserati onto his coach and he would make his way the three hours west to the coastal city of Caen. Living the life of a gypsy, Halford would likely make his way through Paris on his way to Caen. It would be there in Caen, with visions of England on the pleasant days, that Halford would live and prepare his car for the race two weeks following the unfortunate race in Reims.
It would be a reenactment of the famous Normandy invasion of sorts; a Brit on the Normandy coast waiting and preparing for an assault on Caen. While a strategic target all throughout its history, from William the Conqueror to D-Day, Halford would a very specific target in mind within the city of Caen. He focus was on the 2.19 mile Caen Circuit that comprised itself of city streets and park roads that formed a perimeter around La Prairie.
Literally just to the south of the city center, and running along the Orne River, La Prairie is a wide open area used for horse racing and many other cultural events. Flat and boasting of just one hairpin turn just before the start/finish line along the Boulevard Yves-Guillou, the average speeds around the circuit would be relatively high but still within reason for Bruce's older Maserati.
Sandwiched between the British and German Grand Prix, the entry list for the 5th Grand Prix de Caen would also play into Halford's hands a little bit. The main competition for the 86 lap race would undoubtedly come from Jean Behra in a BRM 25 and the defending winner, Harry Schell, in another BRM 25. Halford would also have to deal with Gould, Jo Bonnier and others but the Lancia-Ferraris and the factory Maseratis would be nowhere in sight.
The BRM 25 had proven to be quite fast but unreliable during the 1956 season. This would hold true in 1957 as Behra would earn the pole for the race with a lap of 1:21.1. Everyone was aware of the speed. The concern was whether or not the reliability had caught up to the speed. Tony Brooks would do his best to test the BRMs. He would start 2nd on the grid with the Formula 2 Cooper-Climax T43.
Halford would end up on the second row of the grid. His best lap of 1:25.2 would be a little more than 4 seconds slower than Behra, and nearly 2 seconds slower than Brooks in the Formula 2 Cooper-Climax, but a 4th place starting spot would be a welcome sight for the man that had been well down in the grid in just about every other race.
Driving a Formula 2 car flat-out for a lap or two to qualify is one thing. Having the necessary reliability to keep pace over the course of an 86 lap race would be another thing entirely. Therefore, Halford knew he just needed to keep pace and get a good start and he would have a chance at a great result.
Starting on pole in the fast BRM 25, Behra would certainly be a man on the move early on, as long as he made a good start. Sure enough, Behra would have absolutely no problems getting away from the grid and would be fast straight-away.
The problems for the Cooper-Climaxes would start almost immediately. While Halford would be right up near the front of the field challenging Salvadori and Brooks for 2nd place, Jack Brabham would find his engine running rough right from the very beginning. After 2 laps Brabham would retire with magneto problems. However, amongst the front-runners, there would be no kind of problems and the pace would be furious around the circuit.
Wanting to demonstrate just how indomitable he truly was, Behra would turn the fastest lap of the race with a time nearly a half a second faster than his own qualifying effort. This put some strain on his competitors. However, Halford would not suffer from the pace at all. While he may not have been able to keep up with Behra, he remained in the race in a strong position battling for a spot on the podium.
That spot on the podium seemed to be ensured when, on the 30th lap of the race, Tony Brooks retired as a result of clutch failure. This left Salvadori and Halford to give chase of Behra as Bonnier and the others would be well back.
Nobody could challenge Behra. Averaging nearly 93mph over the course of the race, Behra would cruise to victory taking the win by a full lap over Salvadori in one of the remaining T43s. Bruce Halford would take advantage of the Caen circuit, and the absence of the major factory teams, to finish the race about 15 seconds behind Salvadori in 3rd place.
Caen had been a good race for Halford. The year before he had been in a good position to score a top result but it didn't happen. One year later, Bruce gets the result he sorely needed. He had shown good form despite being overpowered by Behra and a Formula 2 car. But Halford wouldn't really mind all that much as the prize money would enable him to look forward to the race in which he had come oh so close to scoring World Championship points.
Heading into the month of August, Halford finally had enough financial resources in hand to take part in a World Championship event. The result in Caen could not have come at a better time as it would enable him to return to the sight where he had nearly pulled off a surprising 4th place the year before. The race was the German Grand Prix. Held on the 4th of August, the race would return to the notorious Nurburgring.
Overlooked by the Nurburg Castle and positioned in the Eifel Mountains of western Germany, the 14 mile long Nordschleife would appear as a daunting fortress protecting the keep. A never-ending gauntlet of elevation changes, blind corners and heavily-wooded forests, the Nurburgring seemed nothing more than a death-trap to many. To others, however, the circuit would be a thing of beauty.
Purpose-built during the 1920s, the Nurburgring was to be a safer alternative to a public road course that had claimed a number of lives. A never-ending array of ascents and descents, twists and turns, it seems more than obvious its creators wanted to maintain that sense of danger. Considered one of the most demanding circuits in all the world, it would seem its creators had managed to get away with murder by building a circuit barely safer than what it was meant to replace.
Speaking of replacing, it would be here, one year earlier, in which Halford would be seemingly on his way to a fine 4th place result after Horace Gould lent him his exhaust from his Maserati after Halford spun and broke off his exhaust. Late in the race it would be determined Bruce had received outside assistance for which he would be disqualified. This would be bitterly disappointing, but it would also give Halford confidence for 1957 knowing that he had come to the Nordschleife and had nearly conquered it all.
Halford would need all the confidence he could get as he would find himself one of just a couple of privateer entries. The rest of the entries would be backed by corporations or were factory efforts themselves. Facing six factory Maseratis and four of the new Ferrari 801s, not to mention the growing number of British manufacturers, and Halford would have a tough fight ahead of him. This was just the competition. He also had to compete against the circuit itself. So the German Grand Prix would be no easy maneuver.
Fangio would take his Maserati and would continue to show his comfort around the Nurburgring as he took the pole with a lap time of 9:25.6. Prior to the grand prix weekend the track had been resurfaced. This would enable the Argentinean to absolutely shatter his own lap record set just a year previous. Mike Hawthorn would start in 2nd place with one of the 801s while Jean Behra and Peter Collins would complete the front row.
The slowest time amongst the front row starters would be Peter Collins with a lap time of 9:34.7. With an average speed slower than that at Caen, Halford could have confidence his Maserati would be capable of keeping up with the front-runners. He really would come down to him. Posting a fastest lap time of 10:14.5, Halford would end up the fastest privateer entry. Starting from the fifth row in the 16th position, Halford would be in a relatively strong position heading into the 22 lap race on the 4th.
The field of Formula 2 and Formula One cars would begin to line up on the grid on what was a bright sunny day. Overseen by hundreds of thousands of fans, the German Grand Prix was about to get underway. Perhaps it would be Halford's opportunity to earn some World Championship points?
At the start of the race, Hawthorn would make one of his usual fast starts and would out-drag the rest of the field into the left-hand south curve for the first time. Collins and Fangio would be right behind while Halford would get away well looking to move up in the early going. Through the early part of the first lap it would be Ferrari-Ferrari, Maserati-Maserati.
At the conclusion of the first lap it would be Hawthorn in the lead by a second or so over Collins. Fangio would come across the line in 3rd place followed by Behra in another Maserati. Looking further down in the field, it would be Halford crossing the line at the completion of the first lap in the 15th position, having moved up one spot from where he started on the grid.
The strain of the Nurburgring at full race pace would begin to tell up and down the leaderboard. Horace Gould would be an early casualty again as his race would come to an end after just a single lap due to a wheel issue. Over the course of the next five laps the Formula 2 runners would begin to take a hit. Dick Gibson, Paul England and Jack Brabham would all be out of the race. Halford, meanwhile, kept soldiering on having been able to hold off Brabham before his troubles hit. And so, by the 10th lap of the race, Halford would remain in 15th but would be looking quite strong.
Up at the front of the field Fangio would take over the lead of the race. Having started the race on lighter tanks, Fangio would quickly move by the heavier Ferraris who had started the race with more fuel. This would be very interesting to watch over the course of the race. Collins would end up getting by Hawthorn for 2nd place while Behra would remain in 4th place.
The order would change some by the halfway mark of the race. Fangio would still be in the lead but he would have a pitstop coming up. Collins and Hawthorn would continue to battle as Hawthorn would retake 2nd place and would hold it until the 11th lap when Collins took over the position. Behra, who had been running in 4th place, would make his stop and would drop down the order to 8th place initially, and then, would try and climb back up. Meanwhile, Halford remained in 15th place, but was about to move up as more and more attrition began to change the complexion of the race.
Stuart Lewis-Evans would crash out of the race. Roy Salvadori would retire with transmission failure, Godia-Sales, Umberto Maglioli and Hans Herrmann would all retire by the 15th lap. As a result, Halford would be up to 12th place and would be looking for more if providence wanted to provide it.
The 12th lap of the race would see the start of what would be held as Fangio's finest drive. Stopping for fuel, Fangio would drop down to 3rd place by the time he reentered the race. Collins would be in the lead with Hawthorn not all that far behind. Fangio had built up time prior to his stop. Doing all he could to break the lap record over and over again, Fangio would build upon his lead with every lap, but his stop would cost him. Not only would it be a normal lengthy stop for the day but the one mechanic would have trouble replacing one of the wheels because the spinner hub had disappeared under the car. The delay would enable Collins and Hawthorn to go by and would lead to Fangio rejoining the race over 45 seconds behind the Ferrari duo. Thus would start one of the most memorable moments in Formula One history.
While Fangio would continuously smash his own lap record in an attempt to catch the Ferraris ahead of him up the road, Halford would continue hoping there would be many others that would fall out of the race before the end. By the 16th lap, Halford would be up to 11th place following Barth's stop that dropped him down the order and behind Halford. Still, if Bruce was to end up in the points this time he would need a whole lot more attrition before the end of the race.
The attrition wouldn't come. Halford would be forced to look behind in the closing stages of the race as Edgar Barth was closing up ground lost due to his stop. Being much lighter on fuel by this point in the race, Halford merely needed to keep the car pointing straight at all times and his 11th place would be his.
While Halford's attention was behind him, Fangio's attention was out in front as he pushed harder and harder in an effort to catch Hawthorn and Collins. Hawthorn had the lead at this point and memories lent back to the French Grand Prix in 1953 when he and Fangio dueled in one of the most amazing races in history. Would there be a repeat performance?
Heading into the final two laps of the race, Fangio had absolutely demolished the lead the Ferrari drivers enjoyed. Posting the fastest lap of the race with a time more than 8 seconds faster than his own qualifying effort, Fangio had Collins and Hawthorn squarely in his sights. There was enough time, but could he get by them on the twisting circuit? Pushing harder and harder, Fangio would be right up behind Collins down the long straight before the start/finish line. It was clear Fangio had everything in control.
Just past the line and coming out of the south curve, Fangio would dive down the inside of Collins to take 2nd. Over the course of the 21st lap, Fangio would retake the lead and would begin to draw away from Hawthorn. The Maestro had done it again.
Heading around on the final lap of the race, Fangio would be greeted in just about every corner by waving fans, truly appreciative of the performance they had just witnessed over the course of the remaining half of the race. Meanwhile, Halford would be holding onto his 11th place position looking behind him from time to time to see if he would catch glimpses of Barth giving chase for the position.
Crossing the line for the final time, Fangio would take what was to become his final grand prix victory. In addition to winning the race by a three and a half second margin over Hawthorn, Fangio would clinch his fifth, and final, World Championship title. It had been a dominant year for the Argentinean, about as dominant as the performance in Nurburg would suggest. Peter Collins would have a smashed goggle and a frozen gearbox and he would be barely able to limp home to 3rd place crossing the line more than 35 seconds behind.
Bruce Halford would show his worth over the course of the race. Though he would finish the race a lap and a half behind Fangio, the performance would still be impressive given Fangio performance over the last half of the race. Finishing in the 11th spot as a privateer, Halford would come home ahead of more than one factory entry and would certainly earn every bit of his prize money for his effort.
While everyone would be reveling in the performance of Fangio on that day, Halford's performance would be a great one in its own right. Driving an older Maserati as a privateer entry against numerous factory and corporately-sponsored teams, he would hold on and perform exceedingly well suffering no dramas whatsoever. It had been two good races back-to-back. Halford would have greater confidence heading into the final few races of the season.
Not only would Halford have confidence heading into the final few races of the season, but he would also have finances heading into the final few races of the season. This would enable him to look forward to the next race on the Formula One calendar. Leaving Germany, Halford would travel the 900 miles south to Italy where, on the 18th of August, the Pescara Grand Prix would be held.
From the moment it had become a part of the World Championship the Nurburgring had been the longest, most arduous circuit on the Formula One calendar. That would all change in 1957 with the addition of the Pescara Grand Prix. Taking place over public streets and roads throughout the Pescara Province, the circuit would measure a daunting 15.9 miles in length and would feature just about every possible feature a road course could throw at a driver.
Considered probably the most dangerous circuit ever to be used by Formula One, the circuit would go from the flat, straight roads near the coast to the twists and turns of the Abruzzo hills that featured steep drops of more than 500 feet just off the edge of the circuit, Pescara was certainly a circuit that dealt with its drivers harshly if they made even the slightest of errors. Out of the same mold as the Targa Florio or the Mille Miglia, the circuit would need to be approached in very much the same manner.
Boasting of straights that stretched for miles, not feet, drivers had to be careful not to push their cars too hard. And then came the issue of gearing as the tight twisting portion in the hills required a car with good acceleration. The straights needed less acceleration and greater top-end gearing. All the way around, the Pescara Grand Prix would be a supreme test each and every one of its 18 lap race distance.
Halford would take his prize money from Germany and would make his way to Pescara. Given the nature of the circuit the field for the 285 mile race would be relatively small compared to the German Grand Prix just two weeks earlier. Considering the circuit to be similar to the Nurburgring, Halford would arrive and would begin to prepare his car for the race.
Having lost the World Championship to Fangio and Maserati, Ferrari would dispatch just a single car to Pescara. Maserati would come with no less than five cars. The only other team to bring more than two cars would be Vandervell Products bringing three of their Vanwalls to the circuit.
Having shown himself to be superior in just about everyway at the Nurburgring, Fangio would go on to earn the pole in Pescara. His fastest lap time would be 10 seconds faster than Stirling Moss' effort in one of the Vanwalls. Luigi Musso would claim the 3rd, and final, front row spot having been more than 15 seconds slower than Fangio.
Going up against newer evolutions of the Maserati as well as the fast Vanwalls and the Ferrari 801, Halford would be well off the pace. His inexperience wouldn't help him much either as he would post a personal best of 11:16.3 and would end up on the sixth row of the grid in the 14th starting spot.
Measuring nearly 16 miles in length, a lot could happen over the course of a single lap. It would be entirely possible that some of the 200,000 spectators that were reported to attend the race would not even catch a glimpse of all the cars that qualified for the race. Still, the enthusiastic crowd would be ready for a truly special event.
The crowd would be on their feet as the race got underway. Musso would jump off the grid and would hold onto the lead. While the attention would be at the front of the field a horrific scene would play out further back as Horace Gould, who had started right in front of Halford, would end up hitting a mechanic who had been slow to remove himself from the grid. Halford would not have a problem as he would be slow getting away and would be last almost immediately.
Over the course of the first lap it would be Musso holding onto the lead over Moss. This would be intriguing given the fact Musso had to convince Ferrari to lend him a car for the race. Fangio would be sitting still in 3rd place in no hurry whatsoever. Jean Behra, the ever-consistent driver, would by lying in 4th place.
At the end of the first lap it would be Musso in the lead with Moss following along closely in 2nd place. Fangio would be in 3rd place following his former Mercedes teammate while Halford would bring up the rear in 14th spot. Tony Brooks's race would come to an end on the very first lap as a result of engine problems and Gould's run-in with the mechanic meant his race would also be over.
By the 2nd lap of the race Moss would be in the lead with Musso now in 2nd and Fangio still in 3rd. Behra would drop out after 4 laps as a result of engine troubles as the heat of the day was truly beating up on the cars and the drivers. Halford would make up time after his poor start and would begin challenging the Formula 2 cars in the field. By the 2nd lap he would be up to 12th place and then up to 10th one lap later. The struggles of the Formula 2 cars and the retirements of Brooks, Behra and others would help his forward progress.
Heading into the halfway mark of the race and not much would change. Due to the length of the circuit separation between drivers didn't necessarily mean a loss of position in the running order as there could be minutes between drivers in line on the leaderboard. Halford would ride the wave of attrition and would be up to 8th place by the 9th lap but he would have problems of his own as the differential would cause him great strife. Ultimately, Halford would retire from the race having had a points-scoring position possibly within his sights.
At the same time Halford was retiring from the race, Musso's oil tank would rupture taking him out of the race and dropping a fair amount of oil on the circuit. Fangio would come upon the oil and would spin as a result. The spin would lead to Fangio damaging a wheel and needing to limp back to the pits to have it replaced. By the time he reemerged from the pits Moss would be way out in front enjoying a nice leisurely drive in the Italian countryside.
Two weeks earlier, Fangio had put together one of the most spectacular driving performances in motor racing history shattering lap records and erasing a deficit of nearly a minute. But this time Moss' lead was nearly 10 minutes. There was a limit, even for someone like Fangio.
Heading into the final couple of laps, Moss would be enjoying a huge lead over Fangio. The long straights and the tight, twisty turns were actually playing to the strengths of the Vanwall instead of its weaknesses. High-speed and slow corners were perfect for the Vanwall. And, after posting the fastest lap of the race on the same lap that Fangio lost time as a result of Musso's oiling of the track. Stirling had more than enough in hand to defend his lead. He would be so confident of his position and coming victory that he would even pull into the pits to have the oil topped off and him to have a drink. He would then carefully climb back into his car and would set-off once again.
Averaging more than 95mph en route, Moss would cruise to an easy victory acknowledging the enthusiastic crowds along the way over the last couple of miles. Crossing the line to take the victory, Moss would ensure Vandervell would be the first British marque to ever win more than one World Championship round in a season. The performance would be a dominant one as it would take more than 3 minutes for Fangio to emerge and take 2nd place. Harry Schell would delight himself and the crowd finishing in 3rd place about two and a half minutes behind Fangio.
After enjoying two strong performances in the Caen and German Grand Prix, Halford would face a setback on the long Pescara circuit. However, with just seven cars making it to the finish, he wouldn't be the only one. This would be little consolation for the man that would need all the finances he could get to keep racing.
Thankfully for Halford there would be a period of three weeks in between rounds of the World Championship. And, considering the next, and final, round of the World Championship was the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Halford would not have to worry about traveling so far. This would allow him to put more time and resources into repairing his Maserati.
The problem Halford would have was that he really did not have the financial resources to repair his Maserati in time to take part in the Italian Grand Prix on the 8th of September. Therefore, Bruce would be left begging for a ride in the final round of the World Championship for 1957.
John du Puy would come and would purchase a 1956 factory Maserati for use in Australian and New Zealand Formula One races. By early 1957, chassis 2521 will have made the return trip to Italy and would be available. And so, after some negotiating and begging on Halford's behalf it would be decided that Bruce would have rights to use the car one time in the Italian Grand Prix.
This was a great opportunity for Halford in that he would have a much newer Maserati for his use in a very fast race. However, upon traveling the 350 miles to the northwest to Monza, Halford would be greeted by an old sight. After having been used for two consecutive seasons the steeply-banked oval would be gone and the 3.91 mile road course would be back. This would be a very interesting decision and certainly had to be put into the context of the 1956 race in which Scuderia Ferrari struggled with thrown tire treads. Of course, considering its high average speeds, the blown tires made for some very dangerous situations and in itself would have been reason enough to revert back to just the road circuit.
Even without the banking, the Italian Grand Prix looked to be a promising event right from the very moment the teams began arriving and unloading their cars. The factory Maserati team would come to the race with five cars. Four of the five would be powered by the normal 6-cylinder engine. However, the car entered for Jean Behra would be powered a 2.5-liter 12-cylinder car. After protesting the Pescara Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari would be back in full force bringing four of their 801s. And then there would be the Vandervell team with their three Vanwalls. Despite being powered by just 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engines, the lightweight Costin/Chapman design would be fast.
Arriving with his borrowed Maserati, Halford would have his best opportunity of the season since the 250F he would be driving would have been constructed for the factory team in 1956. Unfortunately, going up against the mighty factory teams there would be little hope of Halford earning a top spot.
The Saturday morning practice would be a very hot affair and would leave many teams, like the factory Maserati camp, unwilling to venture out and run the risk of damaging equipment. There would be a couple of cars that would take to the circuit however and it was clear the Vanwalls had the best pace.
The Vanwalls would be incredibly impressive in practice as Stuart Lewis-Evans would capture the pole with a lap time of 1:42.4. Stirling Moss would keep the roll going for Vandervell as he would lap just three-tenths of a second slower to capture 2nd on the grid. Vandervell would bring three cars and all three would end up on the front row when Tony Brooks lapped just two-tenths of a second slower than Moss and captured 3rd on the front row. This would be a bit of a shock for the Italian crowd but Fangio would give them hope when he captured the 4th, and final, front row spot in his 6-cylinder Maserati.
Halford would not be able to start on either the first or second rows of the grid. However, he would put the newer Maserati to good use and would lap the circuit just about 9 seconds slower than Lewis-Evans. This respectable performance would allow Halford to start from the fourth row of the grid in the 14th position. Being in line with Fangio, Collins and Gregory, he would have a good opportunity to jump to the front if he could make a good start.
Unlike the previous year, the weather would be sunny and quite warm. This would put a lot of stress on the driver and the car over the course of the 87 lap race. The previous season had seen the Vanwall perform well in the hands of Harry Schell. Therefore, the dominant performance of the Vanwalls in qualifying appeared entirely legit. The stands would be filled with Italian fans awestruck by the sight of British cars in the first three positions on the grid. Halford would be much less concerned about the front row as much as he would be about just having a strong race.
Engines roaring, about to be released into a wave of noise and speed, it would be Moss that would make the best start off the grid. He would leap into the lead while Behra would use his 12-cylinder engine to split the other two Vanwalls to come up to 2nd place. Fangio would get away poorly and would be well outside the top five within the first hundred yards.
Heading into the Parabolica for the first time, Moss would still be in the lead with Behra coming along in 2nd. Fangio would recover and would quickly make his way up to 5th place following the two other Vanwalls. And so, that is how they would cross the line for the first time. Moss would be in the lead with Behra, Lewis-Evans and Brooks following along. Halford would suffer from a poor start himself and would struggle to regain what he lost over the course of the first lap. At the conclusion of the first lap he would be down in 16th position but would be following along behind Godia-Sales looking for an opportunity to move forward.
While Halford would hold steady around the 15th and 16th positions in the running order, the front of the field would see an absolute scramble for the lead. Moss would lead for a few laps and then Behra for a couple. These two would battle for a couple of laps before Fangio would come up and join the battle, taking the lead for a handful of laps before Moss and Brooks handed the lead back and forth. Then Lewis-Evans got into the act and the first 20 laps of the race would be an incredible performance very reminiscent of the 1953 French Grand Prix.
Halford would be unaware of what was going on at the front of the field as he would be doing his best to move up the leaderboard. Gould would have a moment and would lose some positions, which would enable Halford to move up to 15th. Then, Jo Bonnier would succumb to overheating issues and would drop all the way back to the end of the field. This would help Bruce move up to 14th.
It would be an amazing battle at the front of the field, but if it remained as it was, Halford would have reason to believe he could move up the order. Of course that all depended upon Halford knowing what was happening at the front and taking care of his Maserati in order to take advantage of the situation.
It would be an incredible sight at the front of the field. It would be an incredible scrap, but it was destined not to last all that long. The first to fall would be Brooks. He would have to stop into the pits to have a stuck throttle addressed. This would drop him all the way down to outside the top ten. Still the battle raged between Moss, Lewis-Evans, Fangio and Behra. But then, just when Brooks was making his way back up through the field, Lewis-Evans would be struck by engine problems and would end up out of the race on the 50th lap as a result of a cracked cylinder head. Obviously the pounding experienced by the 4-cylinder engine put the Vanwalls at risk.
Halford would benefit from Schell's retirement and Lewis-Evans' unfortunate engine problems. Brooks would continue to suffer from his throttle problems and would again drop to the end of the order. All of this would enable Halford to move up to 9th in the running order. Unfortunately, he wasn't entirely aware of all that was happening, and instead of slowing a bit to ensure making it to the end of the race he would continue to push and would end up paying for it when his own engine developed problems and ended up giving up the fight after 47 laps.
The heat and the pace would take their toll. Just a few laps after Halford's retirement Jean Behra would have his 12-cylinder engine give out leaving Fangio and Collins to chase Moss. However, after 59 laps Collins would be out of the running himself having suffered a crack in his cylinder block. This helped Mike Hawthorn to move up to 3rd place after having started the race from the third row.
In spite of the torrid fighting going on throughout the first-third of the race, Moss would use the rapid Vanwall to his advantage and he would pull out an excessive margin over Fangio and Hawthorn. Moss would need this margin as he would stop with a little less than 10 laps remaining to have tires replaced on his Vanwall. The work would be rapid enough that Moss would be able to rejoin the race in the lead, and with fresh rubber. Just prior to this, Brooks would be fighting hard to make up for his earlier lost time.
Moss would be leading the race with just a handful of laps remaining before the end. It seemed all of the drama had ended, but that was not entirely true. After 83 laps of hard running, Hawthorn would pull into the pits. He would suffer from some kind of misfire and would lose a lot of places while his crew tried to determine the cause. Rejoining the race, Hawthorn would drop from 3rd and would be in a fight to hold onto 6th place from the rapid Tony Brooks who had earlier set the fastest lap of the race while having no clutch.
The pace of the Vanwall would be truly impressive as Moss would rebuild his lead and would come around the Parabolica for the final time to take the checkered flag and the victory. It had been the first non-Italian car to win since the two years of Mercedes domination in 1954 and 1955. It would be such a dominant performance by Moss that Fangio would come through more than 40 seconds behind in 2nd place. Wolfgang von Trips would drive a quiet race but would end up being rewarded with a 3rd place result, albeit 2 laps down to Moss.
In the incredible heat of the day, and the competition around him, Halford would lose out on a tremendous opportunity. Looking to be en route to a top 10 result with a borrowed car, he would have to return the broken car to Puy and would have to look to his own Maserati for the final couple of races for the 1957 season.
Halford had been running well during the Italian Grand Prix and continued to be impressive despite his lack of experience. This would earn Halford enough money to repair his Maserati and head home for the next race on the calendar. For the first time since it was first introduced in 1949 the BRDC International Trophy race would be held outside the month of May. Still held at Silverstone, the race would move to the 14th of September and would have a field of a handful of Formula One cars and a large gaggle for Formula 2 machinery.
The International Trophy race held the previous year would feature factory Ferraris and Maseratis along with the Vanwalls and the Connaughts. The event would boast of such entries as a result of the circuit playing host to the British Grand Prix later on that year. One year later and the British Grand Prix would be back to Aintree. And, considering the International Trophy race had been moved to a date following the conclusion of the World Championship, the entry list would be relatively void of factory teams. However, there would be no shortage of factory Formula 2 entries and privateer Formula 2 entries.
In addition, after having gone more than a couple of years in the more normal format of practice and the race, the 9th edition of the International Trophy race would revert back to two heat races and a final.
It would be suggested, and highly possible, the rescheduling of the International Trophy race happened as a result of the Suez Crisis that took place at the end of 1956 and would drag on into early 1957. This threatened oil supplies and stability and would end up having far more reaching effects than just delaying a motor race.
Heading into the event the temperatures would make for a very cold day, but at least the sun would be shining. Halford would be listed in the first heat along with the majority of the Formula One entries. Already being at an advantage since he was one of only a few Formula One cars in the field, Halford would be able to qualify well for the 15 lap heat race. Posting a lap time of 1:49.0, he would end up on the second row of the grid in the 6th position.
Just ahead of Bruce on the front row would be Tony Brooks in a T43. He would earn pole having posted a fastest lap of 1:43.0. Jean Behra would show good speed in the BRM 25 and would capture 2nd on the grid while Ron Flockhart, another BRM driver, would be 3rd. Masten Gregory would round-out the front row positioning his Maserati in the 4th position.
While he would start the race from the pole, Brook's heat race would be anything but spectacular. In fact, it would end up bitterly disappointing as he would fail to make it even a lap before problems with a wheel brought his race to an end. Jean Behra would have the lead and would be quite quick in the BRM.
Just a little further back, Halford would be running well having made a solid start. He would manage to move up with Brooks' problem but wouldn't be able to move up as far as he would have liked as a result of an incredible start by Horace Gould. Despite starting the race from 15th position on the fifth, and final, row of the grid, Gould would make a meteoric start and would actually get ahead of Halford over the course of the heat race. These two, joined together by the Maserati in which Halford was driving, would end up lapping the circuit time and again with nothing more than a couple of car lengths between them.
Posting a fastest lap time a full second faster than Brooks' qualifying effort, Behra would be all but untouchable. Despite the short distance of the heat race, Behra would open up a very comfortable lead over Flockhart and would merely need to focus on making it to the end of the race. Halford, on the other hand, would be pushing hard in an effort to catch Gould for 4th place. Salvadori, who had started the race 4th, would fall well off the pace and would be well down in the order leaving 4th place a possibility for Halford if he could get by Gould.
Nobody was getting by Behra. Averaging a little more than 101mph, Behra would cruise to victory in the first heat race defeating his teammate Flockhart by a margin of 44 seconds. Masten Gregory would have a strong performance in the older Maserati. He would end up 8 seconds behind Flockhart in the 3rd position.
The tightest battle on the circuit would come down to the battle between Gould and Halford for 4th place. However, in spite of Halford's best efforts, Gould would finish the heat race in 4th place having held off Bruce by a margin of 4 seconds.
The first heat race completed it was time to set the stage for the second. The second heat race would see just three Formula One cars against half a dozen T43s and one older Cooper-Bristol T23.
At the wheel of a BRM 25 as well, one of the favorites heading into the second heat race would be Harry Schell. Then there was Jo Bonnier and Ivor Bueb, all at the wheel of Maserati 250Fs.
In practice, Schell would show why he was one of the favorites as he would post a lap time of 1:44.8 and would take the pole by a comfortable margin of nearly 4 seconds over Keith Hall in a Lotus-Climax 12. Ivor Bueb would line up 3rd on the front row while George Wicken would defeat Henry Taylor and Jack Fairman for the 4th, and final, spot. Starting down in 16th position on the grid would be a future double World Champion Graham Hill.
Schell would look strong and in control throughout the course of the second heat race, but he would have some pressure. Jack Brabham would start the race from the fifth, and final, row of the grid. However, right from the start he would be on the move and would be quickly up to the front of the grid chasing after Schell.
Through Schell had the pace, Brabham was showing the tenacity. Chased by Bonnier and Bueb, Brabham would get by and would put a little bit of pressure on Schell. Bonnier would end up putting pressure on Brabham.
Despite pressure from Brabham, Schell would be in control of the race and would not be flustered at all for he knew his BRM had the pace to put Brabham away if he really needed to. Looking toward the 35 lap final, Schell would drive a steady and controlled race and would keep more than enough distance between himself and his pursuers.
Heading into the final lap, Schell would have a comfortable enough margin over Brabham. Brabham, however, was under some fire from Bonnier who remained within just a couple of seconds of the Cooper-Climax driver. So, Brabham could make no mistakes over the course of the final lap or he would lose 2nd.
Averaging a rather sedated 97mph, Schell would be under no pressure to dominate. Instead, he would cruise to an easy victory defeating Brabham by a margin of 7 seconds. Brabham would not be so fortunate. Sure, he would hold onto 2nd place but he would do so by just 3 seconds over Bonnier.
Having both heat races completed, it was time to set the grid for the 35 lap final. As usual, the starting grid for the final would be determined by finishing time for each driver in their respective heat race. Therefore, Behra would start the final from the pole having completed the first heat race in 25 minutes and 58.8 seconds. Second in the starting order would go to Ron Flockhart. He finished the first heat in 26 minutes and 42.2 seconds. Masten Gregory would also be on the front row of the grid in the 3rd position. Driving controlled all throughout the 2nd heat race, Schell would finish with a time of 26:58.0. This would earn him the 4th, and final, front row spot.
Completing the first heat race with a time of 27 minutes and 35.6 seconds, Halford would find himself in the 8th position on the third row of the grid. He would join Innes Ireland, ivor Bueb and Tony Marsh on the third row and would have Behra and Brabham right in front of him.
Heading into the final, the BRMs looked strong. After years of frustrating disappointment and embarrassment, the BRM cars looked unstoppable. And, as the race got underway, Behra would look the most indomitable of them all.
Behra would be out front chased by Schell and Flockhart. Bonnier would make a good start and would be challenging Gregory for 4th place in the order. In spite of starting behind Brabham and Behra, Halford would not really be able to take advantage of the start and would be right around where he lined up on the grid. Once again, he and Horace Gould would lock horns in a rather interesting battle amongst privateer entries.
Tony Brooks would make it into the final but would suffer nearly the same fate as he would be the first to retire from the race with engine problems. Then, nearly all of the front-running Formula 2 cars ran into problems of some kind or another. Ireland, Russell, and even Brabham would end up out of the race. Salvadori would manage to make it through the early problems and would soon be up inside the top ten. However, up against the Formula One cars he would have no answer. Chasing Halford for his position, Bruce would have enough in reserve that Salvadori would not be able to really challenge him for the position.
There would also be no battle for 1st place as Behra would absolutely disappear into the distance over the course of the race. However, the battle for 2nd, 3rd and 4th would be well joined and could end up going to either Schell, Flockhart or Bonnier.
Bolstered by a fastest lap time of 1:43.0, Behra would be untouchable over the course of the race. Aided by the power of the BRM 25, Schell would manage to pull out a rather comfortable cushion over Flockhart and Bonnier, but those two would find themselves within a couple of car lengths of each other well into the later-part of the race. Halford would be giving chase of Gould but unfortunately even he wouldn't be as close.
Completing the race distance in one hour, one minute and 30 seconds flat, Behra would take an easy victory. He would have nearly a lap in hand over Harry Schell who would finish the race in 2nd place a minute and 30 seconds behind. The battle would be for 3rd place and it would come right down to the wire. However, it would be a magical day for Owen Racing as Flockhart would hold on by merely a second to give BRMs 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the finishing order.
Following Masten Gregory in 5th place, one of the sole remaining battles still going on around the track would be for 6th place. Unfortunately, despite Halford's best efforts, Gould would hold onto the position and would finish in 6th place one lap down. Although he would also finish a lap down and wouldn't be able to catch and pass Gould, the 7th place result earned by Halford would be a welcome result following the double-failures suffered in Italy. This would be a good result and would enable Halford's season to hang on for one more race.
Having finished the International Trophy race in 7th place, Halford would earn enough money to think about one final race. Though from England, Halford had enough money for one more race and he would look back across the Channel to his options in mainland Europe since all of the non-championship Formula One events had drawn to a close in England. The answer would come on the 22nd of September back in Italy. For on that day, the city of Modena, the base of Maserati, would host its 5th Grand Premio di Modena.
Literally blocks from the city center of Modena, what is now the Enzo Ferrari Park had actually started out with a story similar to that of the many airbases-turned motor racing circuits of England. Home to small aircraft and gliders, the rolling field used to be home to a small aerodrome that would quite busy given its location near the city center.
An early aerodrome in the area, and since Ferrari had called Modena home until the late 1940s, the perimeter road and runway would become a popular testing site for Ferrari and Maserati when it moved to the city. It wouldn't take too long before organizers realized they could hold a motor race on the same temporary circuit. And so, the Gran Premio di Modena would be born and would see some truly special moments, including one of the last victories for the great Luigi Villoresi in a Ferrari 500 in 1952. Then there would be Juan Manuel Fangio's dominant performance in 1953 in the new Maserati A6GCM. That edition would be overshadowed somewhat however when Charles de Tornaco lost his life when his Ferrari 500 rolled in a pre-race practice session.
Situated just blocks from the tightly-pressed Modena city center, the Gran Premio di Modena would be a popular event given that it brought some of the best Italian machinery of its day and was within walking distance for more than most residents.
The 5th Gran Premio di Modena, held on the 22nd of September, would follow a format similar to the International Trophy race except that its heat races combined into an aggregate time, and thus determined the results. So there was no final race. It was just two, 20 lap, heat races.
Fresh from their dominant performance in the International Trophy race, Owen Racing would make the trip to Modena. Hiring Jo Bonnier and Ron Flockhart to drive, Owen Racing would enter the only foreign marque in the race. Scuderia Ferrari would deliver a couple of their new Dino 156s and of course there would be the usual fleet of factory and privateer Maserati 250Fs.
Luigi Musso would take a liking to the 1.47 mile circuit and would earn the pole for the first heat race. Harry Schell would be driving a Maserati this time and would capture 2nd place on the grid. The final spot on the front row would go to Jean Behra in another Maserati.
Halford would make his way into the race, but just barely. When it was all said and done he would make it onto the fourth, and final, row of the grid in the 10th starting spot. And, considering the times were aggregate, he would need to make some progress throughout the course of the first 40 lap event to have a chance in the end.
The start of the race would see Behra and Musso battle it out right from the very beginning with Schell also playing a part. Peter Collins would also be right there in another of the Dino 156s and these four cars would push the pace right from the very first lap.
Given the nature of each of the heat races, the factory drivers would push hard each and every lap around the short circuit. This would end up hurting Halford's much more steady approach to the race. The 40 lap race distance for each heat race would be tough on privateers like Halford who had to keep the end constantly within their sights. Musso, Behra and the others could really rely on the resources of the factory team to help overcome any kind of problem in between the heat races. Halford didn't have that luxury and it would show over the course of just the first heat.
Behra and Musso would give each other no quarter as each would push harder and harder. Collins would end up losing touch slightly while Schell would also lose some ground. However, with both Behra and Musso setting matching fastest lap times of 1:02.2, it was clear neither was going to give up.
The first heat race would come down to which of the two drivers would be able to keep their focus for the whole of the time to remain right on the very edge. Musso would blink and would end up losing ground to Behra as the race wore on. Chasing Horace Gould, as usual, Halford's long-term approach meant he could do little to nothing to catch the man that had sold him his chance at Formula One. Lapped more than a couple of times by Behra and Musso, Halford would seem more interested in making it to the end of his final race of the season than to push for a top result.
Averaging just a little more than 80mph over the whole of the race, Behra would not be catchable. Crossing the line to take the first heat victory, Behra would have just a little more than 20 seconds in hand over Musso who, in turn, had 26 seconds in hand over Harry Schell who finished 3rd. Though he would cross the line just ahead of Schell and Collins, Halford would be more than 3 laps down in 9th place. Yes, he was still in the race, but if he couldn't pick up his pace a little bit more he ran the risk of not being classified in the end anyway.
The starting grid for the 40 lap second heat would see Harry Schell on the pole with Luigi Musso starting in 2nd place. Starting in 3rd place would be Jean Behra. Proving his lack of pace and good fortune around the circuit, Halford would start the final from 9th place on the grid, all by himself in the 4th row.
Already starting the event from the tail-end, Halford would certainly have to think about making good progress to not only make it to the end of the race, but also, to be classified in the results. Too slow and he would likely still be in the race but too far out of contention.
Right from the start, Behra would not make it easy on anybody. Chased by Musso, Schell and Collins once again, Behra would still look the stronger driver. However, the battle for 2nd place would be tightly contested by the three other drivers.
Behra would push hard and this would make life difficult for Halford who certainly wanted to ensure that he finished the last race of the season. Already unable to keep up, Behra's fastest lap time of 1:02.6 would only make matters worse…for everybody.
In spite of the performance at Silverstone, the BRMs would be unable to challenge the might of Maserati and Ferrari in either of the heats. Finishing the first heat a lap or more behind, Bonnier and Flockhart would find their second heats come to an end after suspension and fuel problems. This provided Halford with a great opportunity, but he would not be able to take advantage.
Behra's superior pace would lead him to break away from the rest of the field. However, the battle for 2nd and 3rd would be just as tight as it had been when the race started. Only a second off of his finishing time in the first heat, Behra would cruise to a rather easy victory having averaged nearly 81mph throughout the whole of the race. The gap back to the 2nd place finisher would be 20 seconds, but who would be in 2nd place?
Even into the very last lap of the race who would finish 2nd, 3rd and 4th was still very much in doubt. Coming around the final corner, however, it would become clear that Musso had managed to pull out enough of an advantage to finish in 2nd. However, there was absolutely nothing between Schell and Collins for 3rd. Powering their way to the line, Schell would manage to keep his Maserati just ahead of Collins and would take the position by a mere three-tenths of a second.
Behra's superior pace would destroy Halford's hopes of finishing the season in the results. Despite still circulating at the end of the race, his pace would be such that he would be 6 laps behind Behra this time. This caused him to be non-classified just in the second heat alone.
Scoring in the aggregate meant Behra took the victory having completed the entire race distance in a total time of under one hour and 25 minutes. Luigi Musso would end up 2nd in the results having completed the distance in one hour, 25 minutes and 28 seconds. Third in the results would go to Schell finishing just about 28 seconds behind Musso.
Bruce Halford would be credited with completing 71 out of the total 80 laps. Despite having a finishing time just over an hour and 25 minutes, he would be too far back to end up in the results. As a result, Halford would end his 1957 season with a non-classification. This would be heartbreaking after his strong earlier scores.
Halford was staring reality right in the face. His Maserati was already severely outdated and the British cars were really coming into their own. On top of all that, the life of the privateer was becoming harder and harder to live without an exorbitant amount of funds handy to pay a larger crew and purchase a newer chassis. Halford's days in Formula One were certainly numbered and they were rapidly approaching the single digits. He could only live the life of a nomad so long before he would find he had no home at all.