TeamsHigh Efficiency Motors: 1958 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
C.T. 'Tommy' Atkins had more than made a name for himself in motorcycle racing in the years leading up to the Second World War. Following the war, Atkins would return to motorcycle racing. However, it would be the 1950s and a new series would begin to make its mark. Atkins had to be a part of it.
By the time Atkins' High Efficiency Motors took part in its first Formula One event during the 1958 season, C.T. was already beyond his days of taking to the wheel. However, he would not be able to leave his passion. This would lead the man to entering cars for other drivers.
Taking part in Formula One meant a big budget in order to develop a car. The other option, which was a little less expensive, was to purchase a customer car. Thankfully, there was just such a company that was turning Formula One on its ear.
Cooper would have a break-out season in 1958 coming away with back-to-back victories in the first two races of the season. Within Formula 2, Cooper was the dominant force. Many privateer drivers and small teams would, therefore, turn to the company based in Surbiton to give flight to their grand prix aspirations. Atkins would be no different.
Atkins would enter a 1957 model of the Climax-powered Cooper T43 within the Formula 2 category in the German Grand Prix in 1958. The car would be driven to a spectacular 2nd place finish by Ian Burgess.
This result would come within the Formula 2 category. The nice thing about the Cooper is that it allowed individuals and teams to tweak the design in order to be more competitive. Even without a large engine, the Climax-powered version of the Cooper was certainly competitive, but there were those that believed that more could be delivered. One of those would be Atkins.
It was clear a more powerful engine would be needed to compete within the Formula One category. The factory Cooper team had even pressed Coventry to build a larger version of its four-cylinder engine. By the end of the '58 season the team would be using a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine to power its T45 and it showed a good deal of potential, even at circuits in which sheer horsepower ruled.
There was an opportunity here. Atkins would move forward to purchase a newer Cooper chassis. The chassis would be F2-15-58 and would be based around the usual 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. However, there were some larger engines available.
Maserati was now fully out of Formula One. In fact, the factory would be removed from pretty much every other form of motor racing as well. There were still some privateers trusting in the venerable, but outpaced, 250F. There were, however, a number of other Formula One 250Fs, and 250S sportscars that were no longer being used. The Maserati 250F would be powered by a rather powerful 2.5-liter six-cylinder engine. The 250S would utilize a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and this provided an opportunity. There were some mating issues to overcome, but it certainly seemed possible to take just such an engine, an engine that was of the size of the Coventry powerplant, and mount it to the back end of a Cooper. Atkins would be one of those that would believe.
A 2.5-liter Maserati engine from a 250S would be mounted to the back of F2-15-58 and instantly, Atkins would have himself a Formula One Cooper. In fact, he would have an engine the same size as that which would power the Cooper factory cars for the upcoming '59 season. He now needed to find the driver that could make the most of it.
Roy Salvadori had impressed throughout the '58 season. Teamed with Jack Brabham, there were more than a few occasions when Salvadori looked the stronger of the two. His impressive performances at the British, German and Italian grand prix would leave him 4th in the standings at the end of the season. Still, at the end of the season he would leave the Surbiton outfit. Atkins would move in and would hire the man from Dovercourt. Atkins now had his car, and his driver. It was time to get the '59 season underway.
Unlike the previous year, the grand prix season would not get underway at the beginning of the year. There was no Argentine Grand Prix. Even if there were, it was more than likely High Efficiency Motors would not be there as the costs would be too exorbitant to make the journey. As it turned out, there would be a few months that would pass before the first racing of the season kicked-off.
The first races of the season, at least on English soil, would come at an appropriate location. It would be the end of March, the 30th of March to be exact. It was the Monday following Easter. That meant the Easter Monday Races at Goodwood and that meant the 7th edition of the Glover Trophy Formula One race.
The Glover Trophy race at Goodwood would offer most English racing fans their first glimpses of what the upcoming season would have to offer. It would enable spectators to see who was driving for whom, and in what. Jack Brabham would be at the wheel of a factory Cooper, but it would not be Salvadori joining him. Instead, Bruce McLaren and Masten Gregory would comprise the factory driver lineup. Roy Salvadori would take to his new Maserati-powered mount with High Efficiency Motors.
This was going to be a tough trial for Salvadori with the unproven Maserati engine powering the rear-engined Cooper. He had a competitive, but unproven package. However, throughout the 1950s Italy had been the center of engine production with Maserati and Ferrari producing some of the most powerful. Salvadori and Atkins would rely upon this concentration of engine production to power their Formula One aspirations.
Harry Schell would be at the wheel of a BRM 25. The BRMs had always been fast, but they were incredibly fragile. Schell would demonstrate just how fast the BRM could be by setting the fastest lap in practice with a time of 1:39.0. The man starting right beside him on the front row would be none other than Salvadori in the HEM Cooper-Maserati. Salvadori would set an identical lap time to Brabham in the factory Cooper but would end up starting 2nd as a result of posting it first. The concerning bit would be the fact Roy's time was some three seconds slower than Schell's, but at least there was the confidence the BRM wouldn't be able to make the distance. The other point to the difference in times would be the fact they would be set in wet conditions. This would explain the wide differences in times, but also disguised the true pace of each of the competitors. The rest of the front row included Brabham in 3rd and Jo Bonnier starting 4th in the other BRM.
Tens of thousands would be on hand to witness the 42 lap Glover Trophy race around the 2.38 Goodwood circuit. Not surprisingly, the skies would be overcast as the drivers took their places. It had rained earlier in the day and the circuit would still be damp as the race prepared to get started. Though drying, it seemed destined the damp conditions would affect the race as the flag dropped to start the event.
Amazingly, Moss would make a great start from the second row of the grid and would be all over Schell throughout the early going of the race. Following along behind Schell and Moss would be Brabham. The Australian would have Bonnier following along closely behind while Salvadori would head the rest of the field. The Cooper-Maserati was performing well in its first outing showing good pace, but, it was coming up a little short to the pace being set by Schell and Moss at the front.
Moss would pressure Schell at nearly every turn and the American would be able to turn away every advance for a little while. But then, having posted a fastest lap of 1:31.8, Moss would prove too much for the BRM driver and Stirling would slip into the lead. Schell would continue to slide backward falling behind Brabham soon afterward as well.
Salvadori would be running an impressive race in 5th place. He would not be able to match the pace of those ahead of him and would actually come under threat of going a lap down. Still, Salvadori was in a strong position and merely clicking off the laps. Then, suddenly, as he approached the chicane at the end of the lap, he would lose his concentration for but a moment and would get out of shape. The Cooper would swap ends on Salvadori and would end up going through the rain-soaked infield. Had he merely spun on the track it wouldn't have been too bad. However, he had gone through the infield as he spun around and around. This tore up the sod and threw mud all over his goggles. Roy would come to a rest without any damage to the car, but he would struggle to perceive exactly where he was and which way was forward for a moment. This unfortunate mishap would allow Masten Gregory and Bruce McLaren to slip by. Salvadori would make his way back to the track wiping the mud from his goggles.
Salvadori's biggest problem after just such an episode would be getting right back on the pace. Sadly, it would take Roy more than a moment and this would allow Jack Fairman to slip by as well. Fairman would be driving an older 250F and should have been beaten by Salvadori rather handily, but the swapping of ends would have a greater effect than what it merely seemed.
Salvadori would recover and would consolidate his position in the running order, but it would be much further down than what he had been enjoying earlier. Another that would not be enjoying his day so much would be the race's leader.
Chased by Jack Brabham, Moss would be clearly in the lead in the Rob Walker Cooper. However, not all was well with the car in Moss' estimation. The engine was running rough and the handling only seemed to get worse as the race wore on.
Moss would manage to get past his frustrations with the Cooper and would hold on to score the victory finishing a little more than 16 seconds ahead of Brabham by the end. Harry Schell would recover and would prevent his slippage the best he could. He would trouble Brabham throughout the latter-stages of the race and would end up 3rd, finishing just a second behind the Cooper.
Salvadori's unfortunate spin would be severely detrimental. He had been running in the top five at the time of its happening. Struggling to regain his confidence and frame of mind, the HEM driver would only slip further down the running order. He would finally get himself righted and back up to speed, but it would be a little too late. Following Jack Fairman home, Salvadori would cross the line 8th and a little more than three laps behind Moss. The race finish would be a good one, but it would be a bittersweet result given what could have been possible.
Though the result at Goodwood was rather disappointing, not all was lost. The damp conditions had made the circuit tricky and such a result could be overlooked as having been an unfortunate happening that wasn't likely to happen again. To put such a theory to the test, High Efficiency Motors would be entered in the next race on the calendar for the 1959 season. It would be another non-championship event, but a very important one as the season unfolded.
The next race on the calendar would take place at the 3.0-mile Aintree racecourse. The event was the 14th BARC 200 and provided a bit of a glimpse of the upcoming British Grand Prix still to come a few months down the road.
Unlike the previous season when Scuderia Ferrari dispatch just a single Dino 246, the Scuderia would arrive with two cars for the '59 BARC 200. One would be entered for the Frenchman Jean Behra. The other would be for the popular British driver Tony Brooks. The dissolution of the mighty Vanwalls meant Brooks and Moss would no longer be paired together as teammates. And, for the first time ever, Brooks would be going up against his former teammate from a position of strength.
High Efficiency Motors would take a cue from everybody else and would actually enter two cars of its own. They would make use of their older T43 Formula 2 car as the race would feature and Formula One and Formula 2 race held concurrently. Roy Salvadori would be at the wheel of the Maserati-powered Formula One Cooper. But who would drive the Formula 2 Cooper? Jack Fairman had beat Salvadori in the previous race as a result of Roy's spin, so who better to take to the wheel of the Formula 2 Cooper?
Measuring 3 miles and featuring a number of technical corners and portions, the Aintree circuit nearly perfectly suited the Cooper with its rear-engine arrangement. Having the extra power from 2.5-liter engines, the Cooper presented a huge challenge, but the Dino 246 had been driven by the now deceased World Champion Mike Hawthorn. It was clear it was going to be a tough car to beat.
Masten Gregory would demonstrate just how potent the Cooper could be by setting the fastest lap time in practice. His best of 1:59.6 would be four-tenths of a second quicker than the 2nd place man, Behra. Behra would set an identical lap time to his former BRM teammate Schell but would manage to earn the 2nd position on the grid for having set it first.
Salvadori would be slightly off the pace. Compared to Gregory on pole, Roy would be more than three seconds slower. As a result, Salvadori would start the 67 lap race from the third row of the grid in the 7th position.
Among the Formula 2 runners, Fairman would find himself firmly in the middle of the pack. The fastest of the Formula 2 runners would be Jim Russell setting a lap time of 2:05.8. Fairman's best would be a 2:10.0. The difference would be that Russell would start from the fourth row of the grid while Jack would find himself on the eighth row of the grid in the 19th position overall.
Overcast skies shrouded the area, yet the forecasts suggested the rains would stay away. They had not during practice, and therefore, were expected to play a part at some point in time. Nonetheless, the grid formed up for the start.
At the drop of the flag, Gregory would get away well and would lead the field. Bonnier would make a great start and would follow the American ahead of Stirling Moss, Harry Schell and Brabham. Salvadori would make a tremendous start from his position on the third row of the grid. He would come through to complete the first lap not far behind Brabham and leading Behra and McLaren. It appeared, at least in the early going, Salvadori was intent on making up for his mistake at Goodwood.
Bonnier would drop out of the race with his engine cutting-out on him. This handed 2nd place over to Moss and the rest of the chasing pack. And, despite being pressured by Moss, Gregory seemed equal to the task. In fact, Masten appeared more than willing to have Moss come with him and leave everyone else behind.
One of those being left behind would be Salvadori in the Cooper-Maserati. He would be running within the top five in the HEM Cooper. He was looking to be in great shape until, after 10 laps, the gearbox on the car failed leaving him out of the race. He had been running a fine race, and yet, would be heartbroken again.
Atkins and his team would have to rely upon Fairman to make up the difference within Formula 2. Jack would be not the fastest of the Formula 2 category, that honor would be shared amongst Ivor Bueb and Brian Naylor, at least in the early going.
Gregory and Moss disappeared into the distance. It was a remarkable demonstration by the American as he was chased by the ever-talented Moss. Gregory would not only have an answer for Stirling, he would actually begin to pull away. Sadly, this would take a heavy toll on the Cooper and the taxes would come due after 19 laps. Moss would inherit the lead and would only make it bigger in the following laps.
A little further back, the Ferraris were finally starting to reach their stride. Behra and Brooks would be making their way forward. Aided by retirements and their own pace, both Ferraris would be well within the top five as the race neared the halfway point.
Despite a large lead, Moss would not make it to the halfway mark. Gearbox failure would also cost the popular driver taking away his huge lead and handing it to Behra. Jean had only managed to make his way by Harry Schell a few laps before but would gladly take what was given to him and would set off with it. Brooks would be promoted to 2nd place and would be in pursuit of his Ferrari teammate longing desperately to win on British soil, and at the very track he had earned victory in 1957 with Moss.
Once in front, the two Ferraris would prove incapable of being caught. Behra would be chased by Brooks and both would have an insurmountable lead over Bruce McLaren in the factory Cooper. Within the Formula 2 category, Fairman had been making his way forward, mostly as a result of attrition. He was still in the running heading into the last half of the race, but wouldn't make it much further. Gearbox issues would cost High Efficiency Motors yet another race car. Fairman's race would come to an end after 42 laps, but the battle within the category had been such that even he likely would not have come away with a result of any note.
Brooks could not get the measure of Behra. The Frenchman would race home to victory defeating his Ferrari teammate by 10 seconds. Behra had earned yet another Formula One victory, yet he was still winless when it came to the World Championship. Brooks had come close to a victory on home soil. Undoubtedly his poor starting position slowed his progress. Bruce McLaren would complete the top three finishing nearly two minutes behind Behra.
In the end, it wasn't rain or any meteorological condition that ruined the race for any particular driver, especially for Salvadori and Fairman. Progress and speed early on in a race was not something HEM struggled with. In each of the team's first two races they had gotten off the line in fine fashion. Though not the fastest car in the field, the Maserati engine seemed powerful enough to be competitive, and at the front of the field. The major problem the team was experiencing was avoidable mistakes and poor reliability. Sadly, this trumps great starts nearly every time.
High Efficiency Motors had showed great promise through the first two races of the season, and yet, had practically nothing to show for it. The team needed a turn-around. It seemed, heading into the next race of the season, just such a turn-around was unlikely to happen.
David Brown was leading Aston Martin's assault on Le Mans. He had turned the factory effort into a perennial challenger. Though still coming up short in its aim of winning at Le Mans, Brown and his associates believed such success could be attained in single-seater racing as well. Therefore, a single-seater would be created for Formula One. Brown needed a driver.
The Aston Martin sportscar effort already employed Roy Salvadori as one of its factory drivers. Salvadori had been quite successful with Aston Martin and David Brown. The same could not be said with High Efficiency Motors and their new Maserati-powered Cooper. Therefore, it seemed a no-brainer that Salvadori would choose to drive for Brown's outfit leaving Atkins to find a suitable replacement for him in his Cooper.
It was now early May. The start of the '59 Formula One World Championship was right around the corner in Monaco. However, there was one more test; one more opportunity for Atkins and his crew to test and refine its new Cooper. That opportunity would come on the 2nd of May with the 11th BRDC International Trophy race.
The year before, Roy Salvadori had finished the race 2nd overall in a Cooper-Climax. This could have held high hopes for Atkins and HEM. However, Salvadori was now entered in the race driving the new Aston Martin DBR4/250 and High Efficiency Motors was having to look to a substitute to carry its hopes around the 2.92 mile Silverstone circuit.
Actually, HEM would be looking to a couple of drivers for hope as the International Trophy race would again feature and Formula One and Formula 2 race running together on the circuit at the same time. In the Formula One Cooper, Atkins would turn to Jack Fairman. As far as the Formula 2 category would go, Ian Burgess would be given the responsibility of carrying the team's hopes.
The former bomber training base would only be getting faster with the years. It wasn't until 1954 that an average speed of 100mph would be reached over the course of a single lap in practice. By 1959, the average speed over the course of the whole of a race would be approaching that number. Come the end of practice for the 50 lap non-championship event, that 100mph mark would seem a distant memory as Moss would set the pace with a lap reaching above 105mph in a BRM 25. Tony Brooks would be present in the Dino 246 again and he would be less than a second slower than Moss to start 2nd on the grid. Salvadori would be frustrating to HEM as he would end up 3rd and on the front row of the grid. Jack Brabham would complete the four-wide front row in the first of the factory Coopers.
Fairman would prove his worth in practice. He would take the Cooper-Maserati and would turn a lap of 1:43.0. This would be a decent time by the new full-time driver and result in an 8th place starting spot on the third row of the grid.
High Efficiency Motors would enter its older Cooper T43 with a slightly enlarged Climax engine. It wasn't the fastest of cars, especially considering most of the Formula One entries were now running engines at the maximum displacement. The short-comings would be obvious in practice.
Ian Burgess would be hired to wring the absolute best from the T43. However, the lack of pace would be evident as Burgess would struggle and would appear on the grid among the Formula 2 entries. If he were a Formula 2 entry he would have been among the fastest. As it was, he would end up on the fifth row in the 15th spot overall.
Juan Manuel Fangio would be back at Silverstone. The multiple-time World Champion would be preparing for the start of the race, but not from behind the wheel. Instead, the Argentinean would wave the Union Jack to get the 50 lap race underway. Brabham would get the jump at the start and would lead Salvadori and Moss through the first portions of the first lap.
By the third lap of the race, Moss would be in the lead over Brabham and Salvadori. However, upon coming over to drive the BRM, Moss would find out first-hand the difficulties the car had with maintaining its brakes. Sure enough, on the fourth lap of the race, the brakes would go on the BRM and Moss would end up in a ditch out of the race. Brabham would then retake the lead with Salvadori sitting in 2nd place.
Fairmain, meanwhile, would be struggling for power in the Maserati. He would be well back in the running order and would be under pressure from a couple of the Formula 2 runners. Burgess, meanwhile, would be running, and that would be about the only exciting news for the team's second car. Lacking the power, Burgess would be unable to make much headway and would actually be no faster than a good number of Formula 2 cars. However, there would be a silver lining to the situation. Because both were still in the running, both could vault up the order into a more advantageous position if any of those ahead of him ran into trouble.
A number of competitors would run into trouble. Joining Moss out of the race would be seven others, including Tony Brooks in one of the Ferraris, Bruce McLaren, Graham Hill and the female Marie-Therese de Filippis. As a result of the attrition both of the High Efficiency Motors cars would make headway up the order. Heading into the final laps of the race Fairmain would be looking at a top ten result while Burgess would finally be within the top ten.
Brabham had been closely followed by Salvadori for a good portion of the race. However, as the event wore on Salvadori would seemingly have trouble selecting gears. The slight delays would allow Brabham to disappear into the distance while Roy would work hard at consolidating 2nd place. This was not going to be easy with Ron Flockhart at the wheel of another BRM.
Heading into the final couple of laps, it looked the best that would result for Fairman would be a 6th place. However, as a result of Salvadori's good run in 2nd place, the Aston Martin team would not choose discretion as the better part and would actually urge Carroll Shelby forward. Shelby was closing on Flockhart in 3rd place at the time. The American would pick up the pace when he should have disobeyed his team and thought about the end. Just a couple of laps from the checkered flag, the engine would let go in the Aston leaving Shelby out of the race. Fairman would now find himself in 5th place.
Brabham would cruise home to victory by more than 17 seconds over Salvadori in 2nd place. Ron Flockhart would be free from all pressure and would finish in 4th place about a lap ahead of Phil Hill in one of the Ferraris. Jack Fairman would provide HEM a pleasant surprise finishing 5th place in a race in which the Maserati-powered Cooper was just not quite on the pace. This was certain a welcome result after the first couple of races of the season and given the fact Fairman had to step into the lead role within the team.
Burgess would do what he could with the aged T43. Clearly off the pace within Formula One, Ian would actually finish behind a couple of Formula 2 runners. In the end, he would bring the Cooper home to an 8th place finish a couple of laps behind the race winner.
High Efficiency Motors would come away from the International Trophy race with a couple of pleasant results, but they would not come as a result of sheer pace and of strength within their car. In many respects they would be gifts…certainly welcome…but gifts all the same.
Accepting the gifts offered them at Silverstone, High Efficiency Motors would quickly turn its attentions to the start of the Formula One World Championship that would come the following weekend. The team would quickly need to switch its attentions for the Monaco Grand Prix was the first round of the World Championship for 1959, and it would be a terrible challenge just to get into the field.
The entry field for the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix would have no shortages of competitors. The number of Coopers would nearly fill the sixteen car field by themselves, but then there would be fleet from Scuderia Ferrari, Owen Racing and others all vying for those all-important positions in the crown jewel of Formula One. But among this incredible throng of entries, High Efficiency Motors would come with just one shot, just one car for one driver.
The competitors would be squaring-off on a 1.95 mile circuit that was anything but fast and wide-open. Constantly twisting and turning, the Monte Carlo circuit would be filled with pitfalls where any lapse in concentration would spell disaster. To be fast around the circuit requires being on the ragged edge and having a car a driver feels comfortable taking there.
A year earlier, Roy Salvadori had barreled his way into the Gazometre hairpin intent on leading the first lap of the Monaco Grand Prix. Unfortunately, he would go in too deep and would come out with a damaged car and last in the running order. Nevertheless, it was clear Salvadori had the ability to perform well around the streets of Monaco. Thankfully for Atkins, Salvadori would be available to take the Cooper-Maserati for a spin around the circuit in hopes of the team making its first Monaco Grand Prix.
The previous year, British cars dominated the first couple of rows of the grid. One year later, the Ferrari Dino 246s would be surprisingly stronger and no such British dominance would be that evident. Stirling Moss would take the pole in a Cooper T51 with a lap time of 1:39.8. However, Jean Behra would start 2nd, as he had the year before, but this time at the wheel of a Ferrari. The final spot on the front row would go to Jack Brabham in the factory Cooper. He too had started from that position a year earlier.
Salvadori would find the HEM lacking a little as he would still end up on the third row of the grid in the 8th position, but this would be a bit of a letdown after he had started the previous season from the second row in a Cooper T45.
The usual pageantry and ceremony would lead up to the start of the 100 lap race. There was the usual driver meeting right there on the grid and then the drivers taking their places behind the wheel. It was time for the Monaco Grand Prix. The weather was beautiful and a new World Championship was about to get underway.
The flag would drop to start the race and immediately Behra would jump to the fore leading the charge to the hairpin for the first time. Salvadori would find himself suffering a poor start this time as he would get bottle-necked up on the run to the hairpin. The result is that Behra would lead the first lap of the race over Moss and Brabham. Salvadori, who had started the race from the 8th position on the grid, would find himself out of the top ten and struggling.
Behra would be quick in the Ferrari. The Frenchman would be able to use the power of the Ferrari engine, and the circuit itself, to keep Moss at bay in the Cooper. This would be the scene at the front of the field through the first 20 laps of the race. A little further back, Salvadori would be stuck behind Masten Gregory's Cooper until it ran into gearbox trouble in the early laps of the race. Salvadori would move up the order but would keep running into roadblocks. Unable to use sheer pace to get by, the HEM driver would have to wait and let the race come to him, pray that providence would open doors of opportunity.
Doors would begin to open, at least for Moss and the others at the front. Behra would lead the way through the first 21 laps. Then, his Ferrari would begin to develop engine troubles and he would be unable to fend off Moss any longer. Stirling would be in the lead and would be soon followed by Brabham as he too would get by Behra when the Ferrari's engine finally expired. Maurice Trintignant, the defending winner of the race, would run into trouble and would end up slipping down the order enabling Salvadori to move up the order. The HEM car would be still in the running and would benefit from the trouble of others. Salvadori would find himself inside the top ten then, but a long way to go, even to get into the points.
Moss would be in the lead of the race and would be in dominant form as he would lead more than 55 laps over Brabham in 2nd place. The pace had settled down and everything looked in favor of Moss. Attrition would continue to make its presence known of the course of the event. Three cars had been taken out of the running on the first lap of the race due to an accident. Then there would be Behra's engine failure and the failure of others. In total, half of the field would be out of the running by the halfway mark of the race. Salvadori was not one of those suffering unreliability and this resulted in the HEM car running as high as 3rd place with less than 20 laps remaining in the race.
Another twist of drama would take place just a couple of laps before. Moss had been in the lead and had built up a comfortable advantage over Brabham in 2nd place. But not all was well with the Cooper. Moss would make a dash into the pits to see what the crew could do about his transmission troubles. Finding there to be little that could be done, Stirling would take to the circuit again but would falter nearly as soon as he restarted. Jack Brabham would now be in the lead. He had been sitting quietly in 2nd place for nearly the whole of the race. His patience would be rewarded.
HEM would be hopeful Salvadori's patience would be rewarded as well. This time Roy had not tried to go straight on toward Nice. He had been shuffled to the back but he had kept his head and allowed the race to come to him. He was a long way behind, but he was in 3rd place and looking strong. A points finish seemed a bit of a stretch. Now, with less than 20 laps remaining, the team was wondering if it was possible they could come away with a podium finish as well?
Sure enough, the answer to the question would prove to be no. After barely two laps in the 3rd place position in the running order, Salvadori would notice something not right with his Cooper. He too was struggling to deliver power to the road and this would enable Maurice Trintignant to make his way past, along with Phil Hill and Bruce Mclaren. Salvadori would finally come to a stop with transmission failure. The podium would slip out of the team's reach, but it had been an impressive performance nonetheless.
Brabham would secure the victory defeating Tony Brooks' Ferrari by about 20 seconds. Just a total of five cars would still be running at the end of the race. Salvadori would find himself as being classified in the results but some 17 laps behind. This would be the most heartbreaking performance of the season for the team. They had done all the hard work, except finish and that proved too much after negotiating 83 laps of the Monaco circuit.
Salvadori and High Efficiency Motors would barely miss out on a podium and some very valuable points at the most prestigious race on the Formula One calendar. The team had come up short. It would be disappointing, and yet, encouraging at the same time. High Efficiency Motors had proven so far that their engine was strong enough and truly fitting of the team name. They just needed the other components on the car to be as reliable. Skipping the Dutch Grand Prix at the end of the month, HEM would actually have a couple of months in which to work on their car in order to ensure the best result possible. The team would certainly needed the time to prepare given the site of the next race.
The French Grand Prix would be the fourth round of the World Championship in 1959. Once again the Belgian Grand Prix would be missing from the calendar and this meant a long break between the Dutch Grand Prix at the end of May and the French round of the World Championship held on the 5th of July.
Measuring 5.15 miles, the Reims circuit utilized public roads traversing the French countryside just to the west of Reims. Wide open and with only very little in the way of elevation change, the circuit would be all about speed. This was never more true than along the long Route Nationale 31 straight that ran between the Muizon and Thillois hairpins. Though technically straight-forward, the circuit was certainly demanding and very tough on man and machine.
The Formula One World Championship would be returning to Reims after the loss of Luigi Musso the year before. It would also be the first time in which the French Grand Prix would be run without the presence of Juan Manuel Fangio who had made the race his last the previous season.
HEM would arrive with a lone entry. Roy Salvadori would again be behind the wheel of the car as the Aston Martin effort would not appear for the race. Though running a Maserati engine displacing 2.5-liters, the race was far from comforting for Atkins' crew. Every entry knew the reputation of the circuit. There was no guarantee of finishing, let alone with points or a victory.
Scuderia Ferrari would come to Reims in force fielding no less than five cars. They knew the circuit suited their Dino 246 much more than either the Coopers or the BRMs. This would be proven in practice as Tony Brooks would take the pole by three-tenths of a second over Jack Brabham's Cooper. The final spot on the three-wide front row would go to another Ferrari, this one piloted by Phil Hill.
Realizing just what an arduous test laid before him, Salvadori would seem to take things easy in practice. It was clear the Maserati-powered Cooper just didn't have the legs and Roy would look toward the end-game instead of trying to set the world on fire in practice. His best lap of 2:26.4 would be seven seconds slower than Brooks. This would result in the HEM Cooper starting well down in the field within the seventh rank of the grid. Starting 16th wasn't the greatest position to begin a grand prix, but at Reims, starting meant nothing.
Brilliant sunshine bore down on the area as the beginning of the race approached. The wide open countryside and relative flat terrain meant there was no escaping the sun and the heat and everyone knew, just knew, this factor would come into play over the course of the 50 lap event. The temperatures reached such levels that other supporting races would be cancelled. But the people had come to see the grand prix; it couldn't be cancelled. Sure enough, the cars and the drivers would take their places. One of the most arduous races in Formula One history was about to get underway.
There were some very real concerns as the flag dropped on the 5th of July. The heat had become so bad the circuit began to crumble in spots as a result of the great heat. Nonetheless, the flag would drop to start the race and Brooks would lead the show into the first corner. By the time the cars were entering the Muizon hairpin, Moss would be up to 2nd place as a result of late braking into the hairpin. He would be followed by Brabham and Masten Gregory. Salvadori would get away well. He would not make a flying start but he would complete the first lap inside the top fifteen.
Brooks would continue to lead the charge. Behind him, Moss would begin to become embroiled in a fight that would include Gregory, Braham, Phil Hill, Harry Schell, Jo Bonnier and Maurice Trintignant. It seemed as though each spent time between 2nd and 8th in the field as each would use the slip-stream to battle back and forth throughout the first ten laps of the race. This would be enthralling the crowd, helping them to forget about the terrible heat bearing down upon them.
All of this early fighting would begin to take its toll. Bonnier, the winner at Zandvoort, would be the first out of the race. He would be followed by a couple of retirements. Most of these would be the result of engine overheating, radiator problems or sheer driving exhaustion. A number of the retirements could be put down to the incredible heat, but some of the others were the result of the track breaking up in the heat. Whatever the cause, the result would be that Brooks continued to lead the way and Salvadori slowly clawed his way forward.
Approaching the 20th lap of the race, Salvadori would be just outside the top ten. He had not been setting any record laps. But, in the record heat, such pace would have been severely detrimental. As it turned out, Roy's consistent pace would prove to be more than enough. Completing 20 laps, Salvadori would soon find his engine failing taking him out of the race. It was later found a burnt and failed piston was the cause of the retirement. It would be a similar problem that would take out the Frenchman Behra in one of the Ferraris. Behra had been on fire during the first half of the race. Looking to put on a show, the Frenchman would break the lap record in the record heat, but this seemed to suggest he too was suffering from the heat as such a pace was sure to end in disaster.
Brooks seemed anything but hot under the collar leading the way in one of the other Ferraris. Tried as they did, nobody seemed capable of reeling in the Ferrari in the terrible heat. Moss would come and go. Trintignant would even put up a fight before he too faded. Brabham appeared to be the most consistent threat, but his pace was so consistently slower than Brooks the Ferrari driver would never really be challenged. No, the greatest challenge Brooks would face over the course of the event would come from the environment, not the competitors.
Brooks seemed at total ease at the front of the field, but that would be far from true as well. Closing in on the win, the Ferrari's throttle would begin sticking causing the Englishman to shut the ignition off more miles each lap just to ensure he would be able to slow the car when he needed. But everyone else would be so broken by the searing heat that it appeared to matter little as the Scuderia would go on to finish one-two with Brooks crossing the line some 28 seconds ahead of Phil Hill. Jack Brabham would slip to 3rd by the end of the race but he would still earn some good points, which would become very valuable over the course of the season.
HEM would suffer yet another retirement, but given the conditions nobody could really fault the team or the mechanicals of the car. It was a survival test more than a race, and not many would pass the test. Sadly, this meant little and did little to encourage the team and help with the bottom line. Atkins' crew needed a good result. Perhaps heading home would provide just such an opportunity.
There would be a problem heading home. The British Grand Prix would be the next race on the calendar and this provided the British teams an opportunity to delight the home crowd, but that opened up a wide door of opportunity.
The entry list for the British round of the championship would be large and it would include privateers and brand new teams as well. One of those British teams keen on impressing the home folks would be David Brown's Aston Martin team. Unfortunately, the presence of the team on the entry list meant HEM would have to turn to another driver for the upcoming 75 lap race at Aintree. Salvadori would have been the team's best option at Aintree as he had been successful there before. Instead, the team would call upon Fairman to drive their lone entry. But not all was lost as far as the team was concerned. There were obvious teething issues with the Maserati engine in the Cooper. Therefore, the team would choose to convert their T43 to use the new 2.5-liter Climax engine. It was believed this sense of continuity could help the team to see a checkered flag.
Located within and without the famed site of the Grand National, the Aintree circuit had provided England a bit of home domination it had not experienced at any other point in Formula One history. In 1955, Moss would not only win his first race at Aintree, it would be the first by a British driver in the British round of the World Championship. Then, in 1957, Moss and Brooks would unite to bring home a Vanwall to the win given the British the first victory on home soil by a British-made car. And, considering the strength of the British manufacturers, the absence of Ferrari and the nature of the 3.0-mile circuit, many expected the run of British dominance to continue.
Having just one Maserati 250F entered in the field, British dominance was all but ensured. Jack Brabham would take his factory Cooper to the pole with a lap time of 1:58.0. Roy Salvadori would match Brabham's time in the new Aston Martin. Brabham would get the pole and Salvadori would line up 2nd. Harry Schell would put his BRM on the front row in 3rd. This meant three different makes of British cars would sweep the front row at Aintree.
The field would be close in competitive form. In fact, only nine seconds would be the difference between pole and dead-last. As a result of the close times, even a couple of seconds difference would be very important. Fairman's best effort in practice would be a little more than five seconds slower than Brabham's. As a result, Fairman would be found on the sixth row of the grid in the 15th starting spot.
A grid awash in green would assemble for the start of the British Grand Prix on the 18th of July. Strikes in Italy had prevented Scuderia Ferrari from making the trip, and, therefore, adding a splash a red, but this wouldn't mind the home fans all that much. The bigger concern would be the presence of rain. Rain had fallen consistently throughout the week and early weekend, but the weather would be beautiful as the large crowd awaited the start of the race.
Following a drivers parade the drivers and cars would take their places. The flag would drop and Brabham would get the jump heading into Waterways for the first time. Brabham would not only get a great jump, the circuit itself suited the Cooper and he would begin to open up a gap even before the first lap would come to an end. Behind the Australian there would be no less than six cars battling for 2nd place.
Brabham led the way while both Salvadori and Shelby would come into the pits complaining of fuel spraying them in the face. But though both Aston Martin drivers would squander their good starting positions, all would not be as bad as that suffered by Fairman. The HEM driver would find himself unable to get going when the flag dropped. The crew would push and push the car while Fairman fought to get the Cooper in gear and on its way. Finally the car would fire, but looking on the run down toward Waterways, the last of the cars that had gotten away from the grid would be disappearing around the corner. Fairman was at the back of the field now and would have a lot of hard work to do.
Brabham continued to open up his lead. The three BRMs of Schell, Bonnier and Moss would all be fighting it out for 2nd place. Schell would hold the position for close to 10 laps before Moss would assume the position. Stirling sorely needed a good result as he had yet to finish a grand prix in '59.
A third of the way through the race, Brabham would still be extending his lead over Moss. Trintignant and Bruce McLaren would be embroiled in a great battle for 3rd while Fairman would be steadily making his way back up the field. There would be a number of other Maserati-powered Coopers in the field. However, each of these would retire and would help Fairman to move up inside the top fifteen by the halfway mark.
Despite Moss' best efforts, Brabham would push his lead out even further. A little more than 20 laps remaining in the race, and just 10 seconds behind, Moss would be storming into the pits in need of a new rear tire. The change would be made and he would rejoin the race. Brabham would slip back into the distance and out of reach of all but attrition, but he would have more than enough in hand over McLaren, who was running in 3rd place. HEM could have hoped such late problems could have forced Fairman even further up the order but he would already be out of the race having retired with gearbox problems about 10 laps earlier. It would be yet another retirement for the HEM team and very disappointing given the fact they had switched to the 2.5-liter Climax engine for their T43.
All of the problems and issues would be happening behind Brabham. The factory Cooper charged on ahead and toward the victory. McLaren would run strongly in 3rd place, challenging Moss for his position. The pressure from McLaren, and his own efforts to pick up the pace, meant Moss would actually be catching Brabham as the Cooper driver desperately fought to keep his tires alive enough to make it to the finish. It had been a rather processional affair, but with the laps dwindling, Moss and McLaren would be eating into Brabham's lead.
But it would not be enough. Car after car would struggle to keep form, even stay in the race. Brabham had backed off to preserve his car and tires, and yet, would not be challenged at any moment during the event. Leading every single lap, the Australian would charge home to victory more than 20 seconds ahead of Moss in 2nd place. Bruce McLaren would finish the race in 3rd place having put together a charge of his own. He would cross the line just two-tenths of a second behind Moss.
Yet again, HEM had shown flashes of brilliance, moments of just what could be possible. But in the end, reliability would cause yet another failure in what had already been a difficult season. Not surprisingly, the team would take a break to, hopefully, right the ship before the end of the season.
Following the British Grand Prix, HEM would forego the German and Portuguese grand prix. This meant the rest of July and the whole of August would be used by the team in preparation of the next race on the calendar. The year was heading into the month of September. The Italian Grand Prix would take place on the 13th of the month. Atkins' crew would put in an entry for the race. Being powered by a Maserati engine, the team could not miss the Italian round of the World Championship.
Located in the Royal Villa of Monza, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza was quick and quintessentially Italian, a circuit for which the Maserati engine had been designed for, at least that is what everyone at HEM hoped. Covering 3.56 miles, the circuit was relatively straight-forward being composed of basically three straights intervened by some fast curves. Handling was not necessarily of the greatest importance around the circuit, but horsepower certainly was.
Compared to the BRMs and the fleet of five Ferraris in the field, HEM's Cooper had the handling. Their car also had a 2.5-liter engine. But, it didn't quite have the horsepower and speed. This was a little concerning. What had to be even more concerning was the race distance of 72 laps. Reliability had not been the team's strong suit all season and a trip to Monza was certainly a trip behind enemy lines as far as the team was concerned.
What was not surprising in practice was that Stirling Moss was the quickest. What would be rather surprising is that he would be quickest behind the wheel of a Climax-powered Cooper. His pole-winning lap of 1:39.7 would be just a tenth quicker than Tony Brooks' time in the Ferrari, but it still meant a British car would be on pole for the third-straight year. Jack Brabham would bookend the Ferrari with yet another Cooper. Fairman would find it mattered very little his Cooper was being powered by a Maserati. His best effort in practice would be nearly 10 seconds off the pace resulting in the HEM driver starting 20th overall, or, in what was the 8th rank of the grid.
All of the practice sessions had been shrouded in heat. There were suggestions that fuel savings would be most important around the circuit, but it would quickly become apparent that tires were going to be the biggest factor in the race come the 13th of September.
Once again, brilliant sunshine poured down upon the circuit as the driver took part in a rather unusual parade piloting small two-stroke midget cars. The grid no longer overwhelmingly painted red with Ferraris and Maseratis, the passionate Italian racing fans still showed up in great strength expecting still that a Ferrari would rise to the fore by the end of the day. Cars and drivers took their places.
At the start of the race, a large plume of blue smoke would rise out of Brooks' Ferrari. His race wouldn't even include one lap of the circuit. Ferrari was already reduced to just four cars. Another engine would let go a lap later when Graham Hill found his Lotus was unable to cope with the high speeds of the Monza circuit.
The first lap would go to Moss who would be followed by Brabham and Phil Hill. This would quickly change as the two Americans, Phil Hill and Dan Gurney, would pilot their Ferraris to the front of the field having Moss mingle in and amongst them throughout the first 30 laps of the race.
Fairman's race would begin rather conservatively. By the second lap of the race he would be coming close to challenging for a position inside the top fifteen. That would quickly change though and he would be running dead last before the field even reached the 5th lap of the race. Running last would not be so bad for the team if it meant they would actually see the checkered flag for once. Even that would be too much to ask however.
While Hill led the way at the front of the field with Moss and Gurney following along not all that far behind, Fairman would find his Maserati engine was not necessarily built for the Monza circuit. Down on power, the Cooper would soon come to a stop after 18 laps. The engine was lost. It didn't know its way around the Monza circuit. Perhaps it had been built only for Modena.
Despite brief moments in which Moss and Gurney led, the race was firmly under Hill's control. It appeared as though either of the cars in the top four positions could win the race. But sometimes having an advantage can cause one to be more conservative.
A year earlier, Moss had pulled out a surprise by taking a Rob Walker Cooper to victory in the Argentine Grand Prix by not stopping for tires. The victim that day would be Luigi Musso in a Ferrari. Tire wear had proven a concern over the course of practice. The speeds of the circuit, combined with the temperatures, were thoroughly destroying tires. Aware of this, Ferrari would call Hill and Gurney into the pits around half distance for new tires. The expectation was that the Coopers, driven by Moss and Brabham, would have to do the same.
Moss and Brabham would carry on past the pits, but it seemed assured it was just a delaying tactic for the inevitable. But even more laps would pass, and still, neither of the Coopers would appear in the pits. Once again, it would become apparent; Moss and Brabham were going to try to go the distance.
Despite the concerns, Moss would pull out a huge lead. The better handling Cooper was much gentler on its tires and this gave Stirling the confidence he could repeat his Argentine surprise. He would have some help. Fitted with sportscar tires, his Cooper had much more tread than usual and he would tuck himself in behind cars he was approaching to lap in order to preserve the tires even more.
The ruse would work. The conservation effort would do little to slow down Moss' pace. He would be well out in front and untouchable to the Ferraris desperately looking to save face after being doped. Moss would take the win, having more than 45 seconds in hand over Phil Hill, who would charge back up the order to finish ahead of Jack Brabham in 3rd place. Dan Gurney would finish in 4th place and would be the final car on the lead lap.
The Italian fans, and the HEM team, would leave Monza terribly disappointed. It appeared as though each had a lot going for them. It was their circuit. It was their home soil, but it mattered little. In the case of the Italian crowd, they would be sold a dummy and would some up short. In the case of HEM, it appeared national pride prohibited powering a British car to success on Italian soil.
The team would return to home soil looking to recover from its bad nightmare suffered in Italy. Just a couple of weeks after the Italian Grand Prix there would be a non-championship event held at Oulton Park in Cheshire. The International Gold Cup race was an immediately popular event when it came into being during the middle of the decade. It had switched to become strictly a Formula 2 event soon afterward, but, with the success of the Coopers and the Lotuses traversing both categories, the race would be back as a Formula One event in 1959.
Located on the site of the old 18th century Oulton Estate, Oulton Park Circuit wouldn't be anything like the aerodrome circuits that would pop up throughout the country following the end of the Second World War. Full of undulating terrain and blind corners, the 2.75 mile circuit bristled with blind corners and crests that made it very difficult to have a fast lap, and yet, that is just what the circuit was—fast.
Stirling Moss had enjoyed a great deal of success around the Oulton Park circuit and it appeared there was more success to come in the 6th International Gold Cup as he would take pole for the 55 lap race. Joining him on the front row would be Jack Brabham, Chris Bristow and Graham Hill.
HEM would enter just one car for the race, but would have two drivers listed. Fairman would be listed but Roy Salvadori would be available to drive. Salvadori had also enjoyed some success around the Oulton Park circuit and he would demonstrate that by putting the Cooper on the second row of the grid in the 6th position.
Everybody favored Moss heading into the race. He had won the two previous Formula One International Gold Cup races. This seemed to be on Brabham's mind as he would dump the clutch and takeoff clearly before the drop of the flag. Immediately, Rob Walker would go to the organizers to protest, but it seemed of little matter as Moss would be all over the back of Brabham throughout the early going of the race.
A little further back, Salvadori was running a consistent race. It was good news for the team to see Salvadori running so high. Not only had the team been suffering from a terrible season but the car itself was not producing the power it could as it had suffered from fuel-feed problems throughout practice. Roy would be running amongst the top five, but could do little about the pair leading the way.
It seemed evident everyone saw the race as being a two-car event. The backmarkers would seemingly jump out of the way of the two as Moss would rectify the jump start by taking the lead from Brabham over the course of the first portion of the race. Moss was smooth and fast. Brabham would be tail-sliding at nearly every corner. Moss was just that fast.
Moss and Brabham would lap everyone except for Bristow in 3rd place. Moss would charge to the victory having pulled out five seconds on Brabham by the end. Bristow would hang on to finish in 3rd place while Salvadori would finally bring some delight to the HEM team as he would fight with his car to make it finish 4th place, 3rd in Formula One, and just a lap down to the leaders.
Finally, HEM had a fine result to its credit. It had been a long time in coming. There had been signs all throughout the season, but those signs were closely followed by failure, but not this time. This time, car and driver would prove more than a match for the troubles that tried to ruin the day. They would finish behind a Formula 2 car, but it wouldn't really matter at all.
Atkins' team had finally some good news, some momentum upon which it could build. The problem was that there was no World Championship event, at least not for another couple of months. Therefore, the team would look to keep things rolling by entering the Silver City Trophy race at Snetterton on the 10th of October.
Located about 12 miles from the town of Thetford, the village of Snetterton would become well known, mostly, because of the Royal Air Force base that would be constructed in 1942. Initially built to host the Royal Air Force, the airfield would soon become home to the United States Army Air Force's 386th and 96th Bombardment Groups. It would be from there that aircraft would depart to take part in such famous missions as the Schweinfurt Raid and the breakthrough at Saint-Lo. By 1948, the circuit would be decommissioned and would fall into disrepair. A few years later, the aerodrome would become Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit, a circuit still used extensively to this very day.
In 1959, as it did its first year of existence, the circuit would be made up of the perimeter taxiway of the old airfield and would cover 2.70 miles. The circuit was flat and fast with cars routinely pushing above the 100mph average.
Having missed the International Gold Cup, the BRMs would be on a charge around Snetterton. Ron Flockhart would provide some surprise taking the pole with a lap time of 1:34.8. Roy Salvadori would be back at the wheel of the Cooper-Maserati for HEM and it seemed as though, surely, the team had turned a corner after the result in Oulton Park. Salvadori's best effort of 1:35.0 put him just two-tenths off of Flockhart's best and gave him the second position on the front row. It would be a five-wide front row and joining Flockhart and Salvadori would be Graham Hill, Bruce Halford and Innes Ireland.
Salvadori's impressive pace in practice could not be replicated during the race as it would be Flockhart that would jump to the lead at the start of the 25 lap race. Flockhart would dare anybody to challenge him. Jack Brabham would take up the challenge. Salvadori would also do his best remaining in touch during the first half of the race.
However, the last half of the race would prove too much for Salvadori's Cooper. Mechanical problems, and not engine related problems, would be the cause of Roy's retirement after 11 laps. This left Brabham to challenge Flockhart.
On any other day, Brabham would have been the safe bet, but not this day. Though pressed on every side, Ron would just increase his pace breaking the track record more than once and becoming the first to lap the circuit with more than a 100mph average. All told, it would be more than enough to hold off the Australian. Bruce Halford would have the opportunity to drive a BRM and he would make the most of it finishing in 3rd place, the last still on the lead lap.
The momentum had been with HEM before the start of the race. One could even argue it was with them during the first half as well. But, complete grand prix distances were proving beyond their reach. The 25 lap race at Snetterton should have only increased the team's confidence. Afterward, however, it had to feel as though the team were back to where they had been.
In spite of the struggles and terrible lack of success over the course of the season, Atkins would not give up on Formula One. In fact, he would demonstrate his commitment and dedication by making the longest haul of the season.
The final round of the '59 Formula One World Championship would take place at a brand new venue and within a country that had, but had not, been a part of the World Championship before. The United States had had a race that was included as part of the World Championship. That race was the Indianapolis 500. However, the country had not had a road course on the calendar. That would all change on the 12th of December.
The United States would have the privilege to host two races that counted toward the World Championship. The first would be Indy. The second would be the United States Grand Prix held at Sebring.
A race at Sebring at the end of the year made sense. Many teams and drivers headed to South America and the Caribbean over the winter months to take part in sportscar races. Then, in the early part of each year Sebring would host their 12 hour race. Therefore, a grand prix at Sebring just seemed to make sense. It seemed to make enough sense that Atkins would send his Cooper-Maserati across the pond.
Sebring was of the same ilk as many of the circuits that popped up in Britain following the end of the war. Starting life as an Army Air Force training base, Sebring would actually serve the forces training crews to fly the B-17 Flying Fortress. By 1952, Sebring would host its first 12 hour race and would become a very popular stop within the sportscar ranks, the world-over. The circuit would be 5.38 miles in length and was not short of bumpiness.
High Efficiency Motors arrived at Sebring unconcerned about the championship battle that had been on hold for more than three months. Jack Brabham still held onto a slim lead over Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks. HEM still held out hope they could at least end their season with a strong result. This would have been like winning the championship to them.
There would be some intrigue heading into the race. Brabham would crash his Cooper during practice and would be forced to spend a night rebuilding it and the suspension. In spite of this, Brabham would start the race from 2nd on the grid. His closest championship rival, Stirling Moss, would start from the pole. Harry Schell would complete the front row of the grid in another Cooper.
Since Aston Martin did not make the journey across the pond, Roy Salvadori would be at the wheel of HEM's Cooper-Maserati. His best effort around the circuit would be a lap some 12 seconds slower than Moss'. As a result, Salvadori would start the race from the fifth row of the grid in the 11th position. Being right in the middle of the grid would be some cause for concern at the start, but that would be the least of the team's concerns.
The race would be all about Brabham and Moss. Sure enough, the team would be at the head of the field as the grid stormed away at the start of the race. Brabham would actually be away first, but Moss would get by the Australian to lead the lap and keep his championship hopes alive. Salvadori was another that would get away well at the start of the race. Around the bumpy circuit the HEM driver would be well inside the top ten at the end of the first lap and sitting quite comfortably right there amongst the Ferraris and some of the other Coopers.
Moss would lead the first few laps of the race but his championship hopes would come undone when his Cooper suffered a mechanical failure enabling Brabham to slip through into the lead of the race. Not far behind Brabham would be his young teammate, Bruce McLaren. McLaren had been impressive throughout the season and seemed in strong form despite being just 22 years old.
Salvadori would continue his impressive form as well. He would be closing in on a points-paying position through the first 10 laps of the race. The race was a tenth of the way. The car just needed to stay together for three more tenths.
Salvadori's Cooper would make it through the halfway mark and was still within reach of the points. Perhaps HEM could take a breath and look forward to the best result of the season in the World Championship? The answer to that question would be 'no'.
Salvadori would make it through 23 laps. However, on the 24th the transmission would turn its last leaving the HEM Cooper incapable of going forward any more. The disappointing and difficult season would again come to an early end with a car unwilling to cover a whole distance. It had been a long trip across the pond. It was going to be an even longer trip back.
Brabham continued to lead the race. The championship was within his grasp. The only other challenger, Tony Brooks, had not been well coming into the race. He was making steady progress but an early collision with his teammate and a resulting stall would cause him to have to make up a lot of lost ground.
Brabham was leading the way but was coming under a good deal of pressure from his teammate McLaren. Bruce wasn't entirely without pressure himself. Maurice Trintignant was showing good pace in another Cooper and he would be pushing McLaren hard. Both would be gaining on Brabham heading into the final couple of laps of the race.
Then, heading into the final corner on the very last lap of the race, McLaren pulled out behind Brabham to take over the lead of the race. Trintignant also passed through. Immediately thoughts were that Brabham didn't need to take the win to earn the championship and that it was a sporting gesture. However, Trintignant passing through for 2nd place suggested something else. Then the Cooper would come to a halt with just hundreds of yards to go to the finish line and the Australian's first World Championship. Immediately, Brabham would leap from his car and would begin pushing the car toward the line. He had been 41 and ¾ laps driving the car around the bumpy Sebring circuit. Now he had to get out and push the car the last few hundred yards. Head down and working hard to put one foot in front of the other, Brabham would gradually close the distance. Brooks would come by to finish in 3rd place, still Brabham pushed his car. Then, finally, the Cooper would cross the line. Collapsing from exhaustion, Brabham would collapse World Champion.
Those within the HEM team would only be able to watch the drama unfold during the final lap of the race. They were not able to be a part of the story, just as they had not been a part of the drama in any of the other rounds. It was a terribly difficult and disappointing season for High Efficiency Motors. The team headed back across the Atlantic no doubt thinking hard about their future within Formula One.
Atkins wasn't one to give up. A racer in every way, he knew there would be ups and downs. Unfortunately, his team would suffer nothing but downs over the course of 1959. Of course, this meant things could only improve. At least this is what Atkins and his team would tell themselves as they prepared for 1960. High Efficiency Motors