Teams1951 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
In the grand scope of grand prix racing history Philip Fotheringham-Parker appears to be nothing more than a small-role player; one who had been given a couple of lines, but mostly remained in the background; obscure almost. But to British racing fans, the initials P.F.P were quite well known.
Born in Beckenham, Kent in 1907, Fotheringham-Parker was a son of a wealthy family. By the time he was in his mid-twenties he had purchased his first car and started to compete around the country at places like Brooklands and others.
Having a big accident in motor racing is inevitable; it just becomes a matter of timing. The accident will either happen early on in one' career, or, later. In Philip's case, it happened early in his career. In 1932, Philip lost control of his car in the wet and disappeared over the top of the banking. Surprisingly, he escaped with only minor injuries. But, he was reminded of racing's dangers before his career even got started.
Undeterred by the incident Philip went back to racing through the rest of the 1930s. He had competed in an ERA, and, had even purchased a Maserati 4CL. However, the Second World War would put a halt to his racing plans.
After the war's end, Philip returned to his career as a company director. Slowly he returned to auto racing. When he did return he still tested the waters instead of jumping right in. In 1947, the year of his return to auto racing, the British driver took part in only one race in the higher-classes.
In July of that year, Philip took part in the National Gransden Formula Libre race in an Alfa Romeo. While he didn't set the world on fire or anything, the result was still rather good. While void of many bigger names, the competition was still tough. In the end, Philip finished the race 7th.
After the war's end much of Europe and Britain were in a shambles, both structurally and financially. Racing was a luxury; an expensive one at that. Therefore, Fotheringham-Parker needed to look after business interests before he could look after racing interests. Whether entirely the reason or not, Philip only took part in one race again in 1948.
The race in which Philip took part didn't take place until the very early part of October. He purchased an ERA A and travelled to Towcester, England to take part in the 1st British Grand Prix at a place called Silverstone.
Continental drivers took the first-three spots on the grid. Louis Chiron had the pole. The race was 65 laps of the 3.67 mile road course that incorporated the taxiways and the runways in the course that year. New that year was Maserati's 4CLT/48 chassis. Driven by Liugi Villoresi and Alberto Ascari, two 4CLT/48s took the top-two spots at the finish. Englishman Bob Gerard was able to finish 3rd. Fotheringham-Parker repeated his performance from the year previous and finished the race 7th, though five laps down to Villoresi.
That was it for 1948. 1949 wouldn't prove to be any busier for the Englishman. Other than minor local hillclimbs and other such events, Philip only took part in one race again in 1949. The event was the Goodwood International Formula Libre race.
Facing off against drivers such as Reg Parnell, David Hampshire and others, Philip would have some good competition. Philip would push his Maserati 6CM but would finish a steady 5th place.
By 1950, Philip was forty-two years old, and, obviously on the other side of his career. Despite this fact reminding him every morning when he got out of bed, he increased his racing schedule that year. He would end up taking part in more grand prix and sports car races.
Unfortunately for him, he didn't have anything real positive to show for the increased schedule. Though he started 6th at Goodwood in April of that year, he would end up retiring from the Richmond Trophy race after only four laps.
He would receive some encouragement toward the end of July when he would finish the 12 Hours of Paris race in 7th place. Philip had co-driven with Tom Meyer in an HW Alta at Montlhery. Though 7th overall, in their class they actually finished 3rd. Luigi Chinetti and co-driver Lucas took the venerable Ferrari 166MM to victory. Gerard and de St. Didier finished 2nd in a Delage D6-3L, and, another 166MM, piloted by Roosdorp and Pilette finished 3rd.
The forty-two year old had finally limbered up and hit his stride a couple of weeks after the race at Montlhery. At the National Goodwood races Fotheringham-Parker entered his Alfa Romeo 8C. In the first race he would come close to victory but would have to settle for 2nd. Guy Templar had beaten him for the win driving a Fiat 500 Coupe.
In the second race, Philip finally got what he had been chasing all through the years. He was able to out-duel Paul Pycroft and Alistair Baring for the victory. Riding high in the clouds, Philip would come crashing back down to reality during what was his last race of the 1950 season.
Philip was a likable guy and many considered him a good friend. One of those was Duncan Hamilton. Duncan had decided to miss the 2nd BRDC International Trophy race in August that year, but, he gave his Maserati 6CM to Fotheringham-Parker to use in the race.
Philip wasn't able to get a good lap out of the car during practice and would be relegated to the rear of the starting grid. He would start the 35 lap race from 16th on the grid. Quite a few feet in front of him, Juan Manuel Fangio sat on the pole in the Alfa Romeo 158, and, Giuseppe Farina was right beside him in another 158.
While Fangio and Farina would battle it out for the win,