TeamsTony Marsh: 1958 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Known as the 'King of the Hills', Tony Marsh climb every hill and descend every dale of the Nurburgring in 1957 to make his World Championship debut. Showing an astute mechanical mind, Marsh would combine this with his racing talents to finish strongly within the Formula 2 class. He would be back climbing the mountain the following year looking for even more.
Marsh would quickly recognize the strengths of the Cooper chassis and the coming revolution within motorsport. Therefore, the man from Stourbridge would put in an order early for the new T45 Cooper would debut in '57. Marsh would receive chassis number F2-3-58 from the factory very early in 1958 and would immediately set about preparing it for the upcoming season.
Being a brand new car, the T45 would need ample track time to be able to work out any niggling issues and to help Marsh find that all-important groove. By the time he received his Climax-powered Cooper there would be just a matter of a handful of weeks before the '58 racing season would begin in England and the European continent.
The season would begin in early April with two races in two different locations. There was the Pau Grand Prix. This was usually a Formula One event but it would change in 1958 and would be a Formula 2 event. This would seem like the perfect place to kick-off a season had it not been for Goodwood playing host to its annual Easter Monday races.
The Easter Monday races would provide Marsh a good barometer of his early performance. Held on the 7th of April, the Easter Monday races were comprised of a number of different short races. There would be the Lavant Cup, which was for Formula 2 entries, and then there would be the Glover Trophy event which would be open to Formula 2 and Formula One entries. Therefore, on one day, Marsh would have the opportunity to test himself and his car up against fellow Formula 2 competitors, but he would also have the chance to judge his relative performance to the Formula One cars. This barometer would be too good to turn down and he would arrive at the Goodwood Circuit ready for a day full of racing.
During the Second World War, RAF Westhampnett was an auxiliary fighter airfield attached to RAF Tangmere. Though it would play host to a number of fighter squadrons over the course of the war, including the Polish and Belgian fighter squadrons, the airfield would take on a much more prominent role in the years after the war when it became the site of the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit.
While the airfield would be comprised of a couple of turf runways, the 2.38 mile perimeter would serve perfectly as a motor racing circuit. With the exception of Lavant Corner, the circuit would be comprised of fast kinks and sweeping corners. This gave the circuit at high average speed and a reputation for danger.
The factory Cooper team would enter just one car for the Lavant Cup Formula 2 race. Surprisingly, the car would be a T43 and it would be driven by Jack Brabham. Marsh's T45 would be just one of four in the race and would provide a good measure of the difference between the two versions.
Roy Salvadori would end up taking the pole with a T43. The race would be 15 laps covering a total distance of just 36 miles. It would be an opportunity for Marsh to push his T45, but, with the other races on the day, it would be important to strike that balance between performance and reliability.
Salvadori would be unable to strike that balance as he would suffer an accident after just two laps. He would be out of the race and the fight up at the front would be between Jack Brabham and Graham Hill. Hill would be in a Lotus 12 and would be quite quick throughout the whole of the race. In fact, he would go on to set the fastest lap of the race and would harry Brabham throughout the race.
Marsh would look strong in the race. Battling with Jack Lewis, Tony would hold onto the 5th place position in the running order late and looked to finish his first race of the season. This would be a strong result and would be very important in building confidence.
The battle for the lead would go down to the very end. Hill's fastest lap would suggest he was actually faster than Brabham. However, the Aussie would not bend and would continue to hold onto the advantage. Rounding Woodcote for the final time and driving on towards the checkered flag, Brabham would maintain control and would actually go on to win the race by four-tenths of a second over Hill.
An even-closer battle would be for 3rd place. Cliff Allison would be in another factory Lotus and he would have Stuart Lewis-Evans all over him heading to the line. As they approached they would be nearly side-by-side. However, it would be determined that Allison barely edged Lewis-Evans out for the position.
The fight for the first four positions in the results would be incredibly tight. However, Marsh would round Woodcote with a comfortable margin to finish the race a rather quiet, but efficient, 5th. The T45 had survived its first test. An even greater test loomed soon afterward.
The 6th Glover Trophy race would consist of 42 laps of the Goodwood Circuit and was for both Formula One and Formula 2 entries. This would be important for Marsh as it would enable him to gain a feel for just how hard he could push the new T45 against the Formula One cars. The race distance of 42 laps would also help as he would have to control his urges to compete with the need to last. And with the likes of Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Jean Behra and Harry Schell all entered in the race this would not be an easy task.
Moss was just coming off his first round World Championship victory with the Rob Walker Racing team. To win the Argentine Grand Prix he had used a mid-engined Cooper chassis. Therefore, Moss knew the car had the performance to compete and he would prove that point quite emphatically in practice as he would end up taking pole over Behra, Hawthorn and Salvadori. Against the Formula One cars, Marsh would find the going much more difficult. Still, he would start a respectable 12th, which meant he started the race from the fourth row of the grid.
The battle at the front during the early part of the race would be hectic to say the least. Both Moss and Hawthorn would set the same fastest lap times and would end up leaving just about everybody else behind. Hill had challenged in the Formula 2 race but would come up short in the Glover Trophy race retiring after just two laps. Behra would suffer from brake problems and would crash out of the race after four laps. The same fate would befall Schell in the second BRM.
Hawthorn and Moss would push hard. Unfortunately, just past the halfway mark the Cooper would show signs of weakness and would be forced to retire with engine troubles. This would give Hawthorn the lead outright. No one else could battle him for the position.
Marsh certainly couldn't battle Hawthorn, but he was absolutely showing well with his new car. Despite already having taken part in a race, the Cooper looked strong. Marsh would find himself well inside the top ten and would actually be amongst the top in Formula 2.
Hawthorn would cruise to an easy victory. Enjoying himself over the last half of the race, Hawthorn would be unhurried and would end up taking the win by 36 seconds over Brabham. Roy Salvadori would take 3rd place finishing a lap down. Marsh would look strong over the course of the race. Following behind the B-Type Connaught driven by Archie Scott-Brown by just a little more than 40 seconds, Tony was showing well in the Formula 2 Cooper. He would end up finishing the race in a strong 7th place.
It was a very strong start to the season for Marsh. Two race finishes in and of themselves were good for confidence and momentum. However, to finish inside the top ten in both, especially when one includes Formula One entries, would certainly be uplifting and confidence-building. He just needed this to continue over the course of the whole season.
After enjoying a strong start to his '58 campaign, Marsh would head to Aintree looking for the success to continue. Unfortunately, his run would hit a snag as he would end up out of the BARC 200 race early. However, he would then head to Silverstone for the 10th BRDC International Trophy race on the 3rd of May. He would be looking to get things back on track and headed in the right direction.
It had been ten years since the first International Trophy race, yet, the same 2.92 circuit that had been agreed upon for the first race would still be in use ten years later. In fact, it would be the face of British motor racing in the years following the Second World War.
The International Trophy race would be back to its usual date in May but it would return to the format of qualifying and just a single long-distance race instead of two heats and a final. What wouldn't change would be Formula One and Formula 2 cars going at it at the same time.
Roy Salvadori would take the pole for the race and he would be joined on the front row by Brabham, Moss and Peter Collins. Marsh would find the pace around the fast Silverstone Circuit difficult for the 1.5-liter Cooper. As a result, he would start the race from the seventh row of the grid in the 24th position overall.
The race would be similar to the German Grand Prix the year before in that it would be a race within a race and Marsh would need to manage this properly, especially over a distance of some 50 laps. A number of competitors would not. Ron Flockhart would crash out after just a couple of laps. He would be joined by Tony Brooks, Stirling Moss and Maurice Trintignant as all drivers to be out of the race.
Jean Behra would set what would end up being the fastest lap time but he would be unable to sustain that pace over the course of the race. Instead, Peter Collins would be flying along at the head of the field in the new Ferrari Dino 246. He would have Roy Salvadori hanging on well behind in 2nd place and Masten Gregory cleaning up the extras in 3rd. Marsh would drive a controlled race, pushing when and where he could, but always with an eye on the whole picture.
While no less than six Formula 2 entries would fail to finish the race, Marsh would be amongst the few still remaining in the race. Though he would be at the tail-end of that train he was still one of the few still in the race.
Peter Collins would take the fading of Behra and the early retirement of Moss to power his way to victory completing the race distance in a little more than an hour and 26 minutes. Salvadori would hold on to finish 2nd while Gregory would cruise to an easy 3rd place. Marsh would ease his way through the final portions of the race. He had more than a minute in hand over his nearest challenger. Therefore, Marsh would recover from his poor showing at Aintree to come home in 14th overall, 6th in Formula 2.
After recovering at Silverstone in the International Trophy race, Marsh would go on to enjoy some mixed results in succeeding Formula 2 races. He would struggle at Silverstone one week later but would recover quite nicely at Brands Hatch the week after that. Another top ten result would come his way at Crystal Palace before he headed across the Channel to Montlhery for the 3rd Prix de Paris on the 15th of June.
Battling for 16 laps around the Montlhery Circuit, Marsh would come away with an impressive 5th place result. This would be an important result as it would help Marsh's momentum as he faced a number of races on the continent, the next one coming on the 6th of July.
The heat of the summer months would see the racing calendar also heat up. For Marsh, he would make a trip to Reims, but it would not be to take part in the French Grand Prix. Instead, he would take part in the 2nd Coupe Internationale de Vitesse. Throughout the 30 lap race Marsh would look strong for a decent result. However, transmission failure late in the race would end the solid run.
Thankfully for Marsh, he would recover from the failure at Reims beautifully with his strongest performance of the season. The result would come in the 1st Trophee d'Auvergne held at the Charade Circuit in Clemont-Ferrand. The race, consisting of 20 laps, would see Maurice Trintignant cruise home to an easy victory. However, Marsh would finish in 4th place and would garner a lot more than prize money for the performance. This would be important given the next race on the calendar.
It was now the end of July. Marsh would pack his car and equipment up and would start his journey northeast. He would pass through the Low Countries and would carry on into the Eifel Mountains of western Germany. Arriving in Germany, Marsh would make his way to the tiny village of Nurburg, the site of the famed Nurburgring and the German Grand Prix.
The village of Nurburg, it is believed, served as the site of a Roman fort given the discovery of Roman coins around the area. But while this piece of history is shrouded in mystery and doubt, there would be no doubting the place of Nurburg within the annals of motor racing history.
The area around Nurburg would host grand prix races on public roads around the area through the Eifel Mountains. Not surprisingly, this would be a dangerous endeavor as a number of fatalities would bludgeon the area. The answer would be remarkable and a true gem in the world of motor racing.
It is difficult not to recognize the differences between a true road course and a purpose-built circuit for road course racing. However, when the track was finally completed in the spring of 1927, it would be quickly discovered Gustav Eichler, the lead architect for the project, had succeeded in blurring those lines. Rising and falling some thousand feet over the course of the lap, the circuit certainly flowed with the terrain. Furthermore, its 14 mile length and more than 170 corners made every lap an epic journey. Just one lap of the circuit had the feel of those one lap races that covered hundreds of miles of countryside. When completed, the designers would also manage to include another important element—the danger. The circuit had been built to address the concern for safety. It would certainly be an improvement, but it would still have the ability to scare at every moment and that would also be a very strong and important element in the mystique of motor racing.
The 1957 German Grand Prix had provided a race for the ages. Fangio's famous storm to the front would go down in Formula One history. In Marsh's case, he was much less concerned with Fangio's progress, though he would have more than a couple of opportunities to witness first hand just how he was doing over the course of the event.
Marsh would be embroiled in the Formula 2 battle and would end up 4th in the category. It was going to be hard to replicate the feat one year later with the concurrent race with the Formula One cars. He could shoot for the same result in Formula 2, but even that would be quite the performance given the number of talented drivers really beginning to make their mark in the series.
The German Grand Prix would take place on the 3rd of August. The race, as with every other, would be shortened in length. Instead of 22 laps like the year before, the '58 edition of the race would see a race distance of just 15 laps. This was encouraging and tempting for Formula 2 drivers like Marsh. The shortened distance tempted drivers to really push their Formula 2 cars hard. However, the race distance was still long enough that the 1.5-liter Formula 2 engines would be stretched thin.
Marsh would enter his Cooper T45 in the race and would bare number 30 on his car. The field would be large, just as it had been the year before. The resurfaced track proved to be even faster than what it had been the year before. By the end of practice, Mike Hawthorn would end up going faster than Fangio's previous lap record by more than three seconds. Joining Hawthorn on the front row would be Tony Brooks in 2nd place with Stirling Moss in another Vanwall starting 3rd. The final spot on the front row would go to Hawthorn's Ferrari teammate and friend Peter Collins. Only a little more than 7 seconds separated the entire front row.
Marsh had started the race the year before from the last row of the grid having posted a lap time of 10:48.2. One year later, Marsh would be brimming with confidence as he would go out in practice and set an incredible lap time of 9:57.5. Being just over 50 seconds quicker than the previous year, Marsh would start the '58 German Grand Prix from the fourth row of the grid in the 14th position. Amongst Formula 2 entries, he would start 5th!
Marsh would need to find that knife-edge between performance and reliability. This was not going to be easy, but the season had been a good one to that point. He had suffered some unreliability but he had followed those setbacks up with strong performances. And the 4th place earned at Charade would be very important for his confidence and momentum as his car was wheeled out into position on the grid just prior to the start of the race.
After the enthralling performance the year before, the crowd would swell and all would be eagerly hoping for and expecting a repeat performance. As the cars roared away down the straight toward the Sudkurve for the first time there would be some similarity to the year before. A couple of major players, Hawthorn and Collins, would be right up there near the front. However, it would be Moss leading the way throughout the early portions of the lap. Moss would be followed closely by Hawthorn and Collins while Brooks' poor start would see him struggle to hold onto 4th place.
Marsh would suffer an absolutely terrible start and would only go backward from then on. He would be down a number of places before the first turn and would struggle to settle into the right pace over the course of the first lap.
At the end of the first lap it would be Moss in the lead with Hawthorn and Collins right behind. Marsh would start the race from 14th on the grid. However, by the end of the first lap he would be down in 19th place and struggling to make his way back up because of the close pace of the Formula 2 cars.
Moss would hold onto the lead through the first three laps of the race while Hawthorn and Collins swapped positions behind. Marsh would finally get his wits about him and would make an incredible leap up to 14th by the 5th lap of the race. His upward movement on the leaderboard would be aided by the misfortune of others, including the then leader Moss who would retire as a result of magneto troubles.
Marsh would be making his way forward while Collins would hold onto the lead over his teammate Hawthorn. Marsh would make his way up to 13th place at the same time a tragedy would be enacted at the front of the field.
Brooks would finally find his legs and would end up passing Hawthorn, and then Collins, to take over the lead of the race. Collins would be surprised by the move and would immediately pick up the pace to try and counter. Unfortunately, Collins would crest a small rise unfamiliar with the fact the circuit turned sharply right immediately afterward. Collins would miss the apex and would fight with the car to keep it under control. Unfortunately, he would slide off the circuit and the car would then somersault through the air. Collins would be thrown out into a tree right when his friend went by. Hawthorn would see the whole thing and would retire at the end of the lap citing 'clutch' problems as the reason. Collins would perish as a result of the injuries sustained. Brooks would be left all alone out front.
Not wanting to profit from tragedy, Marsh would still be promoted up to 8th place as a result of attrition and the tragedy that would actually lead to two cars being out of the race. Marsh was sitting in 8th place and 4th amongst Formula 2. He just had to hold on through the three remaining laps of the race.
Brooks would have absolutely no pressure over the last three laps of the race. Completing the race distance at an average speed of just more than 90mph, Brooks would cruise to what would be his third Formula One World Championship victory on his career. Roy Salvadori would end up finishing in 2nd place right around three minutes and 30 seconds behind. Maurice Trintignant's performance in another of the Cooper factory cars meant Cooper would have two of its drivers and cars finish on the podium.
Marsh would drive an incredible race. After faltering at the start, the 'King of the Hills' would tame the hills and valleys around the Nordschleife to finish in 8th place overall and 4th amongst Formula 2. It would be an incredible performance the man he beat for 4th place in Formula 2 would be future World Champion Phil Hill at the wheel of a Ferrari Dino 156.
In spite of the tragedy, the German Grand Prix would provide a number of highlights for Marsh. His recovery and his result were certainly the more pleasant memories from what was nothing less than a forgettable day.
Germany had been good to Marsh. Two years in a row the 'King of the Hills' had managed to tame the Nordschleife. This presented Tony with an interesting opportunity. He would return home and would set about preparing his Cooper for there was an important race approaching at the end of September. The World Championship had come to an end for Marsh in 1958, but there was another important race in Germany for which he was busy preparing.
On the 21st of September, just outside of Berlin at the Avus Circuit would be the 4th Grosser Preis von Berlin. It would also be the 14th AvD Anusrennen. It would be a race for sportscars, but it would also allow Formula 2 cars to enter as well. The driver lineup for the race would be international in scope. The race itself was deemed important given it was to replace the Nurburgring on the World Championship calendar in 1959 as the site of the German Grand Prix.
The Avus Circuit would be on the other end of the spectrum from the Nurburgring. While the circuit would be a true road course, its nature would be vastly different. Where the Nurburgring would be designed giving the look and the feel of powering back and forth, up and down the back roads around the countryside, the Avus circuit would give the impression of powering down a long highway without any hindrances. That is exactly what it was. The circuit was comprised of a section of motorway running between Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Steglitz-Zehlendorf.
While not as straight as an arrow, it would be pretty close. The circuit's most interesting features would come it either of its ends. To the south would be a tight hairpin turn that would exit off to the right-hand side of the road first before making the rounds back onto the highway to head north. The most prominent feature would be on the north end of the circuit. There, paved with bricks, would be a banked teardrop-shaped turn that swung back around to the start/finish line and the southbound side of the highway. The banked turn was both dramatic and dangerous, especially in wet conditions.
The event would take place with the format consisting of two heat races and a final. Each of the heats would be 20 laps of the 5.15 mile circuit. The final would also be 20 laps in length.
Marsh would be listed in the first heat along with other such drivers as Masten Gregory, Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren. In spite of the presence of such strong competition, Marsh would perform well in his heat. Not only would he overcome attrition, which a number of his competitors would fail to do, but he would also manage to finish in 5th place, a very strong performance indeed. Gregory would take the victory in the heat with Jim Russell and Jack Brabham finishing 2nd and 3rd.
Jean Behra had always proven himself to be strong around the Avus Circuit. And, in the second heat he would do it again by taking the victory by just four-tenths of a second over Jo Bonnier. Edgar Barth would finish in 3rd place a little more than 30 seconds behind.
Having completed both heats, it was time for the final. Of course, Behra had to be seen as a favorite heading into the final. Still, Bonnier had put together a fantastic performance himself and challenged Behra right to the very end. If his car could last, it was likely there would be more of the same in the final. As Marsh was concerned, he had enjoyed a strong showing in the first heat. He just needed to make sure he finished the final and a strong placement in the final standings seemed ensured.
Behra and Bonnier would go at it again in the final. Behra would hold onto the advantage but Bonnier would not allow the Frenchman to escape his grasp. Bonnier would remain right there, close enough to pounce if Behra made even the slightest of mistakes.
A mistake-free run had to be on Marsh's mind. He was in position for a strong result. He just needed to make sure he stayed on the gas, but looked after the car. This was easier said than done around a circuit like Avus, but as the race headed into the last portion, he was still performing strongly and in a good place overall.
The battle between Behra and Bonnier would go right down to the very end. Less than a second would separate them throughout their battle. Behra's Porsche RSK would hold on to the lead, but only just. Behra would end up setting the fastest lap of the race and he would need it in an effort to hold off Bonnier. Coming around and down off the banking for the final time, the fight would remain close.
Behra would manage to nip Bonnier once again. The gap of four-tenths of a second would remain the same. The two men ran, overall, thirty seconds slower than what they had in the second heat, but their race-long battle would certainly be consistent.
The crowd would be thoroughly enthralled by the spectacle of the battle for the lead. Marsh's performance would be almost entirely overlooked. Marsh would come through to finish the final in a solid 10th place. It wasn't exciting, but it certainly got the job done.
When the results were tallied, they confirmed what everyone knew about the victor. It was Behra the winner. Bonnier would come in 2nd having finished just eight-tenths down in the final results. Masten Gregory would be in 3rd place at the end finishing about 50 seconds behind Behra.
Marsh wouldn't be the quickest car out on track over the course of the race. In fact, by the time it was all over, he would finish two laps behind in the final results. Still, he would finish 10th overall, which would be a good result at such a demanding and difficult circuit as Avus.
Tony had managed to string together some very strong results from the end of July through to the end of September. There were still a couple of races left on the calendar. Marsh had the confidence and momentum had certainly been on his side. Therefore, he would look to take part in yet another race before the end of the season.
Overall, racing on the continent had proven well worth Tony's time and effort. The Coupe Internationale de Vitesse did not go particularly well as he was forced to retire late in the race with transmission problems. However, on the flip-side, the retirement came late in the race. So actually he had performed well until the car let go on him. There was still reason for confidence and this showed when he followed that unfortunate setback with his best result of the season, the 4th place at Charade.
From Charade on, Marsh had been on a roll. Each of the races following, and that would include the German Grand Prix, would see Marsh finish inside the top ten overall. His season had been a strong one. One more race wouldn't hurt. Furthermore, it was on the continent, where he had performed well.
The next race for Marsh would come on the 5th of October at Montlhery just outside of Paris. Montlhery was the first stop for Marsh's 1958 invasion of the continent. The race was the 3rd Prix de Paris and Marsh would come through that event in 5th place. It was the start of a strong run throughout Europe. Therefore, Montlhery seemed the ideal spot to bring the European season to an end—right where it all started.
The race was the 12th Coupe de Salon and would take place around the 3.8 mile layout of the Montlhery Circuit. What would end up being Marsh's final race of the '58 season would be just 20 laps in length totaling close to an hour's worth of hard racing.
Jim Russell would start on pole and would look very strong throughout the early going of the race. Jack Brabham would give chase in another T45 Cooper but would actually lose ground to Russell over the course of the event.
A number of drivers would suffer early exits. Mike Parkes would be out without having completed a single lap as a result of a gearbox failure. Marsh would remain in the running having momentum on his side. However, momentum would turn on Marsh just a handful of laps later as a tire puncture would take him out of the race altogether. It was his last race of the season and after everything else he had gone through, even the infamous Nordschleife, it would be Montlhery that would bring his season to an end.
Jim Russell would bring everybody's hopes to an end as he would not only start from pole, but he would also set the fastest lap and take the victory beating Brabham by nearly 20 seconds. Norman Barclay would finish in 3rd place two more minutes behind Brabham.
It would be a difficult end to the season for Marsh, but it would not be overly disappointing. His greatest tests of the season had seen him and his car perform their most brilliantly. Despite being at the wheel of a Formula 2 car, he had almost come away with a couple of championship points at the most demanding circuit in the world. It was, by and large, a good season for Marsh and it would cause him to keep coming back for more, although not right away.