TeamsEcurie Ecosse: 1953 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
David Murray began his racing career during the late 1940s. The Edinburgher businessman's passion for motor racing was incredibly evident as he wouldn't just take part in a race here and there. Instead, Murray would throw himself into racing and would earn some very respectable results driving for such teams as Scuderia Ambrosiana. But then, Murray would decide to form his own team. In November of 1951 Ecurie Ecosse was born. One year later, the team would make its World Championship debut.
The team's debut in 1952 wasn't anything to get that excited about. David Murray would drive a Cooper-Bristol T-20 in the race, but would retire with engine trouble. Even though the one round of the World Championship in which the team would take part certainly did not fare all that well, the team would have much greater success in non-championship races, especially towards the end of the season.
The team's improvement toward the end of the season helped to set the stage for the team in 1953. Murray began to operate the team differently. No longer would it be a team built around him. Instead, 1953 would see Ecurie Ecosse welcome other drivers in order to help their development and the team's success. In addition to the Cooper-Bristol T20, the team would also secure the use of a Connaught A-Type chassis.
Armed with new and promising drivers and some rather competitive equipment, the team prepared for the beginning of the 1953 season.
The 1953 season would actually start quite early. The first round of the World Championship would take place in January in 1953. The first round would be the Argentine Grand Prix, which would take place toward the end of the summer in the southern hemisphere. A week or two after the first round of the World Championship, Buenos Aires would also play host to the first non-championship race of the season.
Ecurie Ecosse would not take part in either one of these first couple of races of the season. However, the team from Merchiston Mews, with their flag blue metallic painted cars would make their first appearance for 1953 at the non-championship races held at Goodwood in the early spring.
On the 6th of April, Ecurie Ecosse would unload their flag blue cars in preparation of the 5th Lavant Cup which took place on the 2.39 mile Goodwood circuit. Named for a nearby village, the 7 lap Lavant Cup race was just one of a number of races Goodwood held in the early part of the year. However, it would be the first time in which the Ecosse team would have the opportunity to compete against other teams from around the British Isles, even from the mainland.
The Goodwood circuit came into being in the years after the end of World War II. Originally, the land had been given by the Duke of Richmond to have an auxiliary airfield built in order to provide a safe place to land for damaged fighters or when damage at other airfields got so bad another suitable place was needed.
Known as RAF Westhampnett, the airfield would remain in service until being closed by the RAF during the late 1940s. After being closed, the Duke of Richmond continued to hold the deed to the land and was looking for something to do with the land. Thankfully for the motor racing enthusiasts, the Duke of Richmond was a fan of motor racing and would give permission for the old airfield to become a motor racing circuit. The airfield's perimeter road would become a 2.39 mile road course that would come to host some of the best the British Isles had to offer.
Ecurie Ecosse would come to Goodwood with two cars. They would enter its Connaught A-Type for James Scott-Douglas. Jimmy Stewart would end up being entered with the team's Cooper-Bristol T20.
Twenty cars would end up starting the race. In practice for the 7 lap race, Roy Salvadori would end up setting the fastest lap time and would start from the pole. His time of one minute, thirty-five and four-tenths seconds would end up being just two-tenths of a second faster than Emmanuel de Graffenried in his Maserati A6GCM. These two would be joined on the front row by Bobbie Baird driving a Ferrari 500 for Saipa Modena and Tony Rolt driving a Connaught A-Type for R.R.C. Walker Racing Team.
Among the Ecosse teammates, James Scott-Douglas would end up being the fastest in practice. His best time would be a one minute and forty-five second lap which would place him 11th on the grid. Jimmy Stewart's best time would end up being a little more than three seconds slower than Scott-Douglas' time. Therefore, Stewart would start the 7 lap race from 14th on the grid.
Right from the very start of the race there would be an intense battle between Salvadori and de Graffenried at the front of the field. Toward the back of the field, both Scott-Douglas and Stewart were having to carefully pick their way towards the front. Unfortunately, at only 7 laps long, the two drivers could not take their time.
Salvadori was looking quite fast as he would go on to turn the fastest lap of the race. His fastest lap would only be a little more than a second slower than his qualifying effort, and as the race wore on, would end up being too slow to catch de Graffenried.
Even the short 7 lap race would prove to be too much for a number of competitors. Archie Bryde, Eric Brandon and two others would end up out of the race before the end. Thankfully for the Ecosse team, both of its cars were still running and were looking set to finish their first race of the season. The two weren't running inside the top ten but were running close together and looking good to finish.
Of all the competitors in the field, nobody would look as good as de Graffenried. Emmanuel would use his Maserati A6GCM to good use. He would get by Salvadori for the lead and would actually manage to pull out a slight advantage by the time he set off on the last lap of the race.
Baron de Graffenried would take just eleven minutes and thirty seconds to finish the race in 1st. He would end up beating Salvadori by a margin of thirteen seconds by the end. Tony Rolt would hold on to finish the race in 3rd, albeit some twenty seconds down.
James Scott-Douglas, who had been Ecurie Ecosse's best qualifier heading into the race would also be the team's best finisher. He would finish the race nearly a minute behind de Graffenried in 11th. One spot behind him would come his teammate Jimmy Stewart. Stewart finished in 12th place just five seconds behind Scott-Douglas.
The race was short and the competition was quite tight. Ecurie Ecosse could leave Goodwood with its head held up high as the team ran solidly and just missed having its two cars finish in the top ten, which would have been quite a feat given the short nature of the race and the tight competition. While not the greatest, this was still a good way to start the season.
It would be more than a month before Ecurie Ecosse would take part in another race. The Scottish team would wait until the 5th BRDC International Trophy race on the 9th of May before taking part in another race.
From the very first race in 1949, the International Trophy race would take part at the Silverstone circuit located very near the small town of Silverstone in Northamptonshire. Like so many other motor racing circuits in England, Silverstone would be born from an abandoned RAF airfield.
Known as RAF Silverstone, the airbase served to host Royal Air Force bombers during World War II. The airfield opened in 1943 and would serve out the war. By the late 1940s, the airbase would become abandoned. Its runways and perimeter road; therefore, would serve as the perfect setting to host impromptu races. The first such race would be held in 1947. In spite of the incredible numbers of abandoned airbases throughout lower England the Royal Automobile Club would choose to take the lease. The very first road circuit would actually use the runways for a portion of the circuit. However, heading into the 1st International Trophy race it would be decided the 2.88 mile perimeter road would better serve the purpose. From then on, the circuit would utilize the same perimeter road.
The BRDC International Trophy race followed a different format than many other races, especially rounds of the World Championship. The entire field would be split into heats. Each heat would take part in a 15 lap race around the 2.88 mile road course. Finishing times from each heat would then determine the starting order for the 35 lap final.
Ecurie Ecosse would bring its two cars to the race. They would end up having one car in each heat. The team would also have a new driver for the Cooper-Bristol. Though he was a new driver in the car for the 1953 Ninian Sanderson was anything but unfamiliar with the team. He had successfully competed for the team during the later-part of the 1952 season and had earned some rather noteworthy performances.
James Scott-Douglas would be in the first heat with the Connaught A-Type chassis. He would have to face off against drivers such as Baron de Graffenried, Stirling Moss, Prince Bira and Louis Rosier.
In practice, Scott-Douglas would again face the lower end of the starting grid. Baron de Graffenried would end up being the fastest qualifier. His best time would be one minute and fifty-one seconds. This would be around three seconds faster than Bob Gerard, who would start in 2nd place. The rest of the front row would include Tony Rolt in 3rd and Kenneth McAlpine in 4th.
The best lap Scott-Douglas could manage to put together would end up being some twelve seconds slower than de Graffenried. This mean the Ecurie Ecosse pilot would start the race from 12th on the grid, which was the inside of the fourth row.
Gerard was intent on beating de Graffenried off the line, and then, try and hold off the Swiss for the remainder of the heat. He certainly would get the jump, but he would end up getting penalized for leaving too early.
It would end up to be of little consequence as Baron de Graffenried and Stirling Moss would become locked in a battle at the front of the grid. It had been Moss that had actually gotten the jump as he had started the race from 11th but would soon be matching fastest lap times with de Graffenried. Scott-Douglas would also make a rather successful start and would be fighting for a position inside the top ten.
Helped out by the retirement of Roberto Mieres with just five laps remaining, Scott-Douglas found himself inside the top ten. He enjoyed a little bit of an advantage over the car behind him, but unfortunately, was a little too far behind to truly press the issue for a great spot in the running order.
De Graffenried would remain under Moss' pressure throughout the 15 laps but would not give in nor break. Baron de Graffenried would go on to average a little more than 90 mph and would complete the heat in twenty-eight minutes and fifty-nine seconds. He would end up taking the victory by just five seconds over Moss. Another seventeen seconds would separate Moss in 2nd place and Prince Bira who would finish 3rd.
James Scott-Douglas would take and improve upon his 12th place starting position during the heat. He would manage to get by Eric Brandon and Johnny Claes. He would also be helped out by the retirement of Roberto Mieres. By the end of the 15 lap heat, James would end up tied for 8th place. The tie was the result of a 60 second time penalty given to Bob Gerard for jumping the start of the race.
In the second heat, Ninian Sanderson would also have a tough field in which to battle. His heat would include Scuderia Ferrari's Mike Hawthorn, as well as Maurice Trintignant, Ken Wharton, Peter Collins and Roy Salvadori.
A prime starting position was not going to be easy to come by. Ken Wharton would end up surprising many as he would go on to set the fastest time in practice and would take the pole by more than a half of a second over Hawthorn. Louis Chiron would also start on the front row in the 3rd position. Maurice Trintignant would round out the front row by starting 4th.
Sanderson's best time in the year old Cooper-Bristol would be only nine seconds slower than Wharton's time. However, the competition in the field was incredibly tight. Therefore, Sanderson would only manage to start the heat from the 13th starting position in the middle of the fourth row.
As with practice, the race would see a tight battle between Hawthorn and Wharton develop. Throughout the 15 lap race these two would battle nose-to-tail. Their pace was furious. As a result, the two would pull out an advantage over the rest of the field.
Against such tough competition Sanderson would find moving forward to be a rather difficult proposition. Hawthorn's battle with Wharton would send the lap times plummeting. During the first heat the best lap time had been some three seconds slower than the pole. However, in the second heat the best lap time would be turned by Hawthorn and it would actually be a second faster than the pole. Sanderson just couldn't battle against such a pace. While he would move forward it would be as the result of battling against drivers with lesser experience or speed.
The battle between Hawthorn and Wharton would go right on down to the wire. Over the course of the 15 laps Hawthorn would end up averaging over 92 mph and would hold off Wharton to win by just a mere second. Almost a minute would go by before Salvadori would cross the line to finish 3rd. Sanderson remained mired down just outside of the top ten. Against the stiff competition the best Sanderson could do was to finish the heat in 11th.
With both of the heat races completed the stage was set for the 35 lap final. The incredible pace of Hawthorn and Wharton meant they would start 1st and 2nd respectively. The battle between de Graffenried and Moss would cause the top two from the first heat to start the final 3rd and 4th.
Heading into the final, Ecurie Ecosse would make a switch. Scott-Douglas would not be behind the wheel of the Connaught. Instead, Ian Stewart would earn the opportunity. Sanderson would remain behind the wheel of the Cooper-Bristol.
Stewart would inherit Scott-Douglas' 17th starting position on the grid, which was toward the middle of the four-wide fifth row. Sanderson's finishing time in the second heat meant he would start the final from the sixth row right off of Stewart's right shoulder. Out of twenty-eight starters for the final, Sanderson started 20th.
As the race got underway a battle ensued between Hawthorn, de Graffenried, Salvadori and some others. A number of other top notch drivers would find their races come to an early end. Drivers like Lance Macklin and Maurice Trintignant would find their races come to an end even before 10 laps had been completed.
By the time the race was 10 laps old, the battle between de Graffenried and Hawthorn was well joined. Both would end up matching the fastest lap time of one minute and fifty-one seconds. This pace was certainly too much for most of the rest of the field, including Stewart and Sanderson.
Sanderson's experience would enable him to get by his teammate and was battling with Bobbie Baird in his Ferrari 500. Despite having the Connaught, Stewart had a fight on his hands holding off Eric Brandon in his Cooper-Bristol.
Attrition continued to strike the front-runners. Not only would Macklin and Trintignant fall foul of issues but even Louis Chiron and de Graffenried would end up retiring before reaching halfway. This left Salvadori to take the fight to Hawthorn as Wharton and Moss both faded. In spite of their fading, Moss and Wharton still had the pace to remain up amongst the top ten. Filled with other truly competent drivers, Sanderson and Stewart found themselves stuck and losing ground.
Baron de Graffenried's challenge had fizzled into a withdraw from the competition. This left Hawthorn to just motor his way around the circuit to collect the win. It would take him just one hour and thirty-six minutes to cross the line as the victor. He would end up twelve seconds in front of Salvadori and would be nearly a minute ahead of Tony Rolt who would finish in 3rd.
The talent of the drivers in which Sanderson had to try and chase down was just too good. Those who would finish the race 7th through 13th would all end up just one lap down to Hawthorn. Sanderson; however, would be the first to end up two laps down to Hawthorn. However, Sanderson would manage to beat Claes and Swaters. The same would hold true for Stewart in 17th. He would end up being the first one to be three laps down to Hawthorn at the finish. He would have Brandon and John Webb chasing him from the same lap.
Ecurie Ecosse managed to have both of its cars finish yet another race. Although the pace wasn't enough to earn a top result, the team was still able to have both of its cars finish. If they could find just a little more speed the team would be in good shape.
One week after the BRDC International Trophy race, Ecurie Ecosse would travel to the Dundrod circuit in County Antrim, Northern Ireland for the Ulster Trophy race. The 7th Ulster Trophy race was held on the 16th of May and followed a similar format to the of the International Trophy race held at Silverstone.
While the format of the International Trophy and the Ulster Trophy races may have been similar, their venues were miles apart not just physically, but also, in character. While Silverstone was birthed from an abandoned bomber airbase, and therefore, featured a closed circuit utilizing the perimeter road, the Dundrod circuit was entirely different. The 7.40 mile Dundrod circuit was entirely made of public roads that rose and fell with the surrounding terrain. The circuit travelled along by such small villages as Ballymacward Upper, Budore, and of course, Dundrod. The circuit's most famous sections included Lough Neagh, Leathemstown Road and the Quarry Bends. In spite of the narrow roads, the circuit was fast in many sections and quite dangerous in many others.
Ecurie Ecosse would arrive at the race with yet another different driver lineup. James Scott-Douglas would be at the wheel of the Connaught once again. However, John 'Jock' Lawrence would be behind the wheel of the team's Cooper-Bristol.
Because the Ulster Trophy race followed the same format as the International Trophy race the team's entries would be split up again and placed into different heats. Each of the heats would consist of 10 laps and Jock Lawrence would be listed in the first heat along with Stirling Moss, Duncan Hamilton and Joe Kelly.
In practice before the first heat nobody would be as fast as Stirling Moss around the 7.40 miles. His best time around the rolling circuit would be four minutes and fifty-nine seconds. John Lyons would end up starting the race from the front row as well. He would end up the second-fastest but would be eighteen seconds slower than Moss. Still, Lyons would end up faster than Hamilton. Duncan Hamilton would round out the front row having set a time of five minutes and nineteen seconds.
Although this would be the first major race in which Lawrence would take part with Ecurie Ecosse he would immediately by on the pace. His fastest lap around the circuit would end up being just thirty-five seconds slower than Moss and would be good enough to start the 10 lap heat from the second row in the 5th position.
In spite of Moss's obvious pace in practice, Hamilton would be keen for a fight during the actual heat race. In spite of Moss turning in what would be the fastest lap of the heat, Hamilton would show a tremendous amount of speed and would actually take the lead.
The pace of Moss and Hamilton would effectively drop Lyons from the battle. However, it would lend to a battle ensuing between Lyons and Lawrence. Somervail, who started 4th, would be able to outpace Lyons and Lawrence but still could not do anything with Moss and Hamilton.
Hamilton looked very impressive throughout the heat. He would go on to beat Moss for the victory by some nine seconds. Jimmy Somervail would end up finish a distant 3rd. In the battle between Lyons and Lawrence, Jock would show some tremendous poise despite his obvious lack of experience with the team. He would end up outdueling Lyons and would finish one lap down in 4th place.
With the first heat out of the way it was time to set the stage for the second heat. Mike Hawthorn was again Ferrari's sole representative, but he would be more than enough as he would take the pole for the second heat. His time would be an incredible four minutes and fifty-one seconds. Ken Wharton, who battled with Hawthorn in the International Trophy race, would again battle with Hawthorn at Dundrod. Hawthorn's incredible time would end up eight seconds faster than Wharton. However, Wharton would end up starting from 2nd place, or, in the middle of the front row. Baron de Graffenried, another name from the International Trophy race, would finish off the front row with a time just ten seconds slower than Hawthorn.
The second heat was filled with incredibly talented drivers. Compared to the first heat, the top eight from the second heat would all qualify with a better time than the 2nd place Lyons had in the first. This did not bode well for Scott-Douglas unless he was one of those that had unleashed an incredible lap. Unfortunately, he wasn't. James' best lap would end up being thirty-seven seconds slower and would be only good enough for the 12th starting position in the middle of the fifth row.
Even though there were a number of talented drivers with some incredible machines positioned ahead of him on the grid, Scott-Douglas knew very well that finishing was something else entirely. Even the fastest, if unable to finish, mean nothing. This would be the case in the second heat.
The field would tear away at the start. Hawthorn held the lead and was chased by Wharton and de Graffenried. After just the first lap of the race it was obvious trouble was visiting de Graffenried. He had withdrawn his car during the International Trophy race, and here at Dundrod, he would again retire early because of a rear axle failure on his Maserati A6GCM. He wouldn't be alone. After just two laps Lance Macklin and Peter Collins would run into problems with the HWMs. Later retirements by Jacques Swaters and Prince Bira would only help Scott-Douglas move forward in the running order as his Connaught continued to run without issue.
Another running without issue was Hawthorn. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the heat and would enjoy a small advantage over Ken Wharton. Once again these two were locked in a duel, but over the 7.40 miles of the Dundrod circuit it wouldn't be as tight as what it was at Silverstone.
Hawthorn's superior pace would enable him to complete the 10 laps in fifty minutes and twenty-four seconds and take the victory. Hawthorn's time would end up seven seconds faster than Wharton in 2nd place. Wharton, who had been battling with Hawthorn, found himself in a fight with Baird coming down to the finish. Wharton would fight hard and would manage to hold off Baird by a mere second.
Scott-Douglas would manage to get by Graham Whitehead to improve his position in the later-stages of the race. In addition, he would keep behind him everyone that qualified worse than what he had. Therefore, with the help of the retirements of many of the front runners, Scott-Douglas would find himself running inside the top ten despite not having qualified there. By the end of the 10 lap heat, James would go on to finish the race 7th.
Both heats were completed. It was time to set the grid for the 14 lap final. The final grid would be determined differently than from the International Trophy race. Instead of finishing times from each heat determining starting position, the grid would be determined by qualifying times set in one final practice.
This would end up making little difference as to who would start on the front row. Once again, Hawthorn would prove to be the fastest and would start from the pole. He would be joined on the front row by the other two gentlemen that finished in 2nd and 3rd in the second heat. The only difference would be the arrangement. Instead of being that Wharton started in 2nd it would be Baird that would gain the 2nd place starting position. Wharton would start 3rd.
The two Ecurie Ecosse teammates would start the final right alongside each other. In spite of his 4th place performance, Lawrence had to re-qualify for the final. Because of this reality he would find himself back down where he would be most expected to start. Lawrence would start the final from the inside of the fifth row in 11th. Right beside him in the middle of the row would start Scott-Douglas.
Heading into the final, Ecurie Ecosse's teammates would receive a little bit of help. In spite of qualifying for the final in 4th , Stirling Moss would fail to start the final. Gearbox related problems would end up causing him to withdraw his Connaught.
The pace of the top three in the second heat certainly had been an indication of the pace Hawthorn, Baird and Wharton were capable of compared to the rest of the field. Sure enough, as the race got underway, it would be these three that would gradually break away from the rest of the field.
Jock Lawrence was intent on proving his 4th place result in the first heat was no fluke. Although not nearly as fast as the top three, Lawrence still managed to make his way forward. Meanwhile, Scott-Douglas was stuck. He would end up giving up ground to a couple of starters that would qualify worse than what he had. He would only be saved by Moss' withdraw and Roy Salvadori's retirement after 8 laps due to a rear axle failure.
Hawthorn was quick right away. In no time at all he was turning out fastest lap times and would go on to set what would be the fastest lap of the race with a time of five minutes flat. This would be more than enough as he would begin to enjoy something of a lead over Wharton who had made his way past Baird.
The battle between Hawthorn and Wharton would not materialize. Hawthorn would use his superior Ferrari 500 to earn a second-straight victory. He would average a little more than 83 mph and would take just one hour and twelve minutes to earn yet another victory. By the time Wharton would come through to finish the race 2nd it was clear Hawthorn enjoyed a margin of victory of more than a minute and fourteen seconds. Thirty-three seconds would separate Wharton in 2nd and Baird in 3rd.
Jock Lawrence would put together an impressive performance and would bring his Cooper-Bristol T20 home in a very solid 9th place. He had managed to hold off a charging Geoff Richardson in his RRA-Riley who would finish just one second behind. In the case of Scott-Douglas, he wouldn't manage to keep pace in the Connaught. He would end up going a lap down before the end and would finish the race in 12th place. However, once again, both of the Ecurie Ecosse team cars managed to finish a race.
The team had been managing some incredible reliability. Even Scuderia Ferrari had had failures by this point in the season. While their pace may not have been anywhere near as fast as Ferrari, the team's longevity was certainly something many other teams and privateer entrants would be envious of.
The races would just keep coming. Only a week after bring home both cars at the Ulster Trophy race, the Ecurie Ecosse team was back on the English mainland and was on its way to native Scotland for the 1st Winfield JC Formula 2 race to be held at Charterhall in Berwickshire, Scotland.
Charterhall was yet another decommissioned airbase turned motor racing circuit. Charterhall had actually started out its existence as a landing-strip during the First World War. Then, during the Second World War, RAF Charterhall would be cut out of the countryside near the village of Greenlaw. The station came to host the 54th Operational Training Unit, which was a night-fighter training unit. Because of the dangers associated with night-fighter flying, and the fact it was a training base, Charterhall would soon earn the dubious nickname 'Slaughter Hall'.
As with Silverstone in its very early stages, Charterhall would come to host motor racing using both the runways and the perimeter road. The long, east and west running runway would serve as the start/finish straight. The circuit would then turn sharply right onto the perimeter road at the end of the runway, continue sweeping around the north and south running runway and would end up turning sharply back onto the start/finish straight. Because the motor racing circuit only really used half of the airbase the circuit length would be just 1.99 miles and would be a medium-speed circuit.
Seeing that the race took place on Scottish soil the Ecurie Ecosse team would bring its two cars to the race. The cars would be piloted by a lineup of Stewarts. Jimmy Stewart would be back with the team and would be behind the wheel of the Cooper-Bristol. Ian Stewart would then also join the team to drive the Connaught A-Type chassis.
Even though the field was rather small it wouldn't lack talent. The small field would end up including Ken Wharton and Bobbie Baird, which meant the 20 lap race would be anything but easy.
In practice, everyone would be surprised by Frank Curtis in an HWM-Alta. He would end up turning the fastest lap and would take the pole. Jimmy Stewart would give Ecosse reason to get excited as he would start the race 2nd. Baird and Wharton would start 3rd and 4th. Ecosse had even more excitement as Ian Stewart would put the second team car on the 5th, and final, spot of the front row.
Ecurie Ecosse had a number of things riding on the race. Not at any other point of the season had the team been in the starting position it was before the 1st Winfield JC Formula 2 race. However, the team also had its reliability record on the line. If either one of its drivers pushed too hard the cars had the potential of failing and all the promise would fly right out of the window. Unfortunately, Ian Stewart would find this out first-hand as the race got underway.
Ken Wharton looked fast right from the start of the race. Bobbie Baird would also look fast as he too was part of the threesome at Dundrod that dominated the rest of the field. This would be too much for Jimmy Stewart, who, despite starting 2nd, just could manage to keep pace with the older Cooper-Bristol T20.
Frank Curtis, the pole-sitter, would run into troubles and would drop out of the running. Of course, he had little chance when comparing the pace of Wharton and Baird. Ian Stewart would do everything he could do to keep pace in his Connaught but he would end up also running foul of trouble and would end up out of the race. Just like that Ecurie Ecosse's perfect streak was over. Now the team turned its attention to Jimmy Stewart and prayed his Cooper-Bristol would not follow suit.
There really was very little that Stewart could do with Wharton and Baird. He would; therefore, back off just slightly to save the car. Baird and Wharton would battle to the bitter end but there really was very little contest.
Wharton looked in control throughout and would come through to take the victory over Bobbie Baird. In spite of Ian Stewart's retirement, Jimmy Stewart would give Ecosse its best result of the season as he would bring his Cooper-Bristol across the line in 3rd place.
Although the perfect finish streak had come to an end the team still had a 3rd place result to celebrate. While the season had not produced incredible results for the team, its reliability and solid performances were certainly nothing to sneer at especially as their one and only World Championship race was quickly approaching in just a couple of months.
After the race at Charterhall, it would be just one week before the team's next race. After earning a 3rd place in the Winfield JC Formula 2 race, the team packed up and headed to Snetterton in Norfolk, England. The team was to compete in the 1st Snetterton Coronation Trophy race on the 30th of May.
With the exception of the Ulster Trophy race, Snetterton would be yet another race for the Ecurie Ecosse squad on what was a former airbase. Formerly known as RAF Snetterton Heath, the airfield was opened on May of 1943 and would be used by the United States Army Air Force during the war. Snetterton shared a similar layout to Silverstone in that it was the traditional triangular-shaped layout, but like Silverstone, when it started hosted motor racing events, its perimeter road would be used instead of the runways. This gave the wide open circuit a total distance of 2.70 miles and was yet another medium-speed circuit.
The Coronation Trophy race wasn't to be a long affair. The race consisted of just 10 laps around the 2.70 mile circuit. Because the race took place just one day before the ADAC Eifelrennen and the Grand Prix de l'Albigeois the field would be light for the race. This would provide yet another opportunity for the Scottish contingent to earn a top result. Since the race was just one week after the race at Charterhall, the Stewarts would again be behind the wheels of the Cooper-Bristol and the Connaught.
Even though many of the British drivers like Moss, Collins and Wharton were at other races, Ian and Jimmy Stewart would still have to face Bobbie Baird and Roy Salvadori. Then there was Alan Brown.
Brown had earned some World Championship points the year before in a Cooper-Bristol, and therefore, knew how to get a job done. This all would make perfect sense when Brown would come on and set the fastest lap time in practice and grab the pole.
Unlike Charterhall, not one of the Ecosse cars would make it onto the five-wide front row for the Coronation Trophy race. Instead, Brown would be joined by Salvadori in 2nd, Baird in 3rd Bill Black in 4th and Rodney Nuckey in 5th. Not even the fast Tony Rolt would make it onto the front row of the grid.
At the start of the race, Rolt would show his speed. He would make a good start and would be very quickly up with Alan Brown challenging for the lead of the race. Ian Stewart would also make a good start to the race and would be right up there amongst the top five.
The battle at the front continued to rage throughout the first few laps of the race. Behind them, trouble struck some of the competitors. Ben Wyatt and Torrie Large would both fall out of the race after just 4 laps. Roy Salvadori would end up dropping out just a lap or two later. This promoted Baird who was too busy trying to hold off Nuckey who was all over him.
Throughout Ecurie Ecosse's first three races it had gone without a retirement. In its last race, Ian Stewart had to pay the penalty and be the team's first retirement of the season. One week later, it would be the other Stewart's turn to pay the piper. Just three laps away from the end of the race the race would come to an end for Jimmy Stewart as his Cooper-Bristol T20 would suffer from front axle failure. Thankfully for the team, Ian Stewart was still running well and was in striking distance of a top five finish.
Another that was running well was Tony Rolt. He would go on to set the fastest lap of the race and would cruise to a ten second victory over the pole-sitter Alan Brown. Bobbie Baird would gladly take Savladori's failure and would turn it into a 3rd place finish.
In spite of not starting from the front row, Ian Stewart would put together an impressive performance. He would manage to take his Connaught A-Type chassis and would make his way through to a 5th place result.
And so yet again, Ecurie Ecosse suffered a failure but managed to overcome with a top five result. The unfortunate part for the team was very simply the fact the team had now faced two-straight retirements by one of its cars. Only one race remained before the team would take part in the British Grand Prix. They well and truly needed to get things right before then.
Ecurie Ecosse's sole remaining race before the sixth round of the World Championship would be the 2nd West Essex CC Formula 2 race back at Snetterton on the 27th of June.
The 2nd West Essex CC Formula 2 race would be another just like the Coronation Trophy race. It would consist of 10 laps of the 2.70 mile Snetterton circuit and would host a number of racers from around the British Isles.
The squad from Edinburgh would only bring one car to the race and it would be driven by Ian Stewart. By this time there was less than a month before the British Grand Prix but the team still needed to focus on the task at hand.
The task at hand would not be an easy one. Roy Salvadori was just one driver that would make up the starting field for the race. Salvadori was driving along with Kenneth McAlpine and John Coombs for Connaught Engineering.
The Connaught Engineering squad would absolutely come to dominate the 10 lap race. Salvadori was at the one of the Connaughts and would manage to turn in the fastest lap of the race with a time of one minute and fifty-one seconds. Although Salvadori was certainly fastest amongst the field his Connaught teammates would remain right there with him.
Thankfully for Ian Stewart, he too was at the wheel of a Connaught A-Type. Throughout the race Stewart looked to be in a good position for a strong result. Unfortunately, all of Ecurie Ecosse's hopes would be dashed with just two laps remaining in the race.
At the team's last race, which also happened to be at Snetterton, Jimmy Stewart would run foul of front axle failure that would end up ruining his race. Then, at the West Essex CC Formula 2 race, it would be the rear axle that would fail on Ian Stewart's Connaught.
Not all was well for the other Connaughts in the field as well. Despite setting the fastest lap time amongst all of the competitors in the field, Salvadori's run in the race would come to an end on the very last lap of the race as his engine would expire.
While not great for Connaught Engineering as a team, Kenneth McAlpine would prove more than capable of bringing home a win for the team. The big let down would be the fact John Coombs managed to bring his Connaught home for the team in 2nd place. Salvadori's retirement meant the potential sweep was ruined. Instead, Rodney Nuckey would come through to finish the race some nineteen seconds behind McAlpine in 3rd place.
This would end up being Ecurie Ecosse's first race all season long that it did not have a car finish an entire race. While not devastating since the team only brought one car to the race, it was still a difficult result in which to overcome with the British Grand Prix just a couple of weeks away.
Three weeks after the disappointing result at Snetterton, Ecurie Ecosse prepared to take part in its one and only round of the World Championship. The race was the sixth round and it was the British Grand Prix.
Prior to World War II, Brooklands was considered the center of British motor racing. However, after the war, Silverstone would quickly take over that title. In 1926, Brooklands would host the first ever British Grand Prix. It would also host the race the very next year. The race would not be held again until after the end of the war, at which time, it would switch to Britian's new home for motor racing, Silverstone.
Ecurie Ecosse would arrive at the event with its two cars. As with the last couple of races, the team would turn to the Stewarts to battle the likes of Alberto Ascari, Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio.
By the time of the race on the 18th of July Alberto Ascari was looking to get back on track toward his second World Championship. At the previous race, the French Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari had managed to keep its winning streak alive, which by now, stretched to eleven-straight World Championship victories (if not counting Indianapolis). However, it was the young Briton, Mike Hawthorn that upheld the team's honor at Reims. Ascari would finish an incredibly close, and yet, distant 4th. If Ascari could turn things around at Silverstone and come out a winner then he certainly would be well on his way to the championship's first repeat title winner.
Ascari knew full well what was at stake coming into the race. He would take the opportunity in practice to give himself the best opportunity possible as he would end up setting the fastest lap with a time of one minute and forty-eight seconds. By the way, this time was some three seconds faster than the fastest time turned in the International Trophy race back in May.
Ascari wouldn't outpace the rest of the field by much, however. Jose Froilan Gonzalez would end up within a second of Ascari's time and would end up starting from 2nd on the front row of the grid. Mike Hawthorn would bring some delight to the British crowds as he would end up posting a time just a few tenths of a second slower than Gonzalez. As a result, Hawthorn would start the race also from the front row in 3rd. The final position on the front row would end up being occupied by the 1951 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio.
There was little that could be done against the sheer pace of the Ferrari 500s and the Maserati A6SSGs. Therefore, the battle, for most of the other teams would be for top positions in the middle of the grid. In that fight, Jimmy Stewart wouldn't disappoint.
Jimmy Stewart's best lap in practice would end up being a time of one minute and fifty-eight seconds. While this time would be ten seconds slower than Ascari's pole-winning effort it would still be good enough to start the 90 lap race from 15th on the grid. This would be a better starting position than Felice Bonetto in his Maserati A6SSG, Jean Behra in his Gordini T16, Louis Rosier in his own Ferrari 500 and Baron de Graffenried in his own Maserati A6SSG. Among the British starters in the race, Jimmy would end up the seventh-best starting Briton in the field. As a result, Jimmy would start from the inside of the fifth row.
In the case of Ian Stewart, he wouldn't start much further down in the order. Ian's best time of two minutes and four seconds would earn him 20th place in the starting grid, which pitted him in the middle of the sixth row. Even his times would beat those set by Behra, Rosier and de Graffenried.
As is typical for England, the day of the race would be greeted with overcast skies and the very serious threat of rain. Under such a threat it was important to try and get out front early so as to avoid the spray and to be able to set the pace.
Fangio would try and make this a high priority as the field roared away at the start of the race. Fangio would get an incredible jump at the start and would actually be the first car heading into the first turn at Copse. However, Fangio would go into the corner at little too fast and would miss his turning in point. Running wide through the corner, Fangio would end up opening the door for Ascari who would gladly take advantage and would come through into the lead of the race. Fangio would recover. He would slot in behind the Italian and would begin to give chase.
Behind the duo of Ascari and Fangio, the rest of the field was in the midst of just trying to make around the first lap of the race cleanly. And while there would not be any incidents of crashes taking competitors out, the first lap of the race wouldn't be free of retirements. Both Kenneth McAlpine and Tony Crook would run foul of mechanical woes that would end their 90 lap British Grand Prix before having even completed a single lap.
Both of the Ecurie Ecosse cars would make it through the opening laps and would soon settle into a comfortable pace challenging other competitors running right around the same pace as themselves. Both the Scottish cars would be helped out by the retirements of top drivers like Hamilton and Trintignant. But as with the last couple of races, not even Ecosse would have a trouble-free British Grand Prix.
After 26 laps, an ignition problem arose with Ian Stewart's Connaught. Unfortunately the team would be unable to do anything about it and what would be Ian Stewart's one and only World Championship race would end in a retirement.
Ian certainly would not be alone. Although of little consolation to himself, Ian would be joined by fifteen others that would drop out before there were even twenty laps remaining in the race. Thankfully for the team, Jimmy Stewart continued to run in the race. And while he had the misfortune of seeing Ascari and Fangio go by more times than he would wish to admit, he was still on course for what looked to be a top ten result. This was, of course, helped out by the retirements of many other competitors like Emmanuel de Graffenried, Onofre Marimon, Luigi Villoresi and many others.
Heading into the last couple of laps of the race, Jimmy Stewart was locked in a battle with Ken Wharton for what was 8th place. However, he needed to take precaution as Peter Whitehead was running right there with them just a lap further down in his Cooper-Alta T24. On top of the battle between himself and Wharton, Stewart realized he needed to not only watch out for Whitehead, but also, Ascari who was coming through yet again to put him another lap down. The wet conditions were certainly treacherous. Ascari would end up getting by Stewart, but just a lap or so later things would go wrong for him.
Earlier on in the race, Mike Hawthorn had spun in the rain and lost a number of positions. Stewart wouldn't be so fortunate. In the rain, Stewart would lose control of his Cooper-Bristol and would be out of the race on what was the very last lap of the race. Although he wouldn't end up classified as having finished in the official results, he would have, in all reality, come across the line in 9th place had he finished.
While things would go wrong for Jimmy Stewart on the last lap of the race, things would go almost perfect for Alberto Ascari. With the exception of the jump off the line by Fangio, Ascari had dominated every other portion of the race. He would match the fastest lap time of the race with Jose Froilan Gonzalez with a time just about two seconds off of his own pole effort. It would end up taking him two hours and fifty minutes to complete the 90 laps at an average speed of more than 92 mph. And in the end, Ascari would cross the line exactly a minute in front of Juan Manuel Fangio in 2nd place.
After an early part of the season in which neither of the Ecurie Ecosse cars could fail, the run up to, and the actual running of, the British Grand Prix could not have gone any worse for the team. They had not had a double retirement in any race of the season, and yet, at the British Grand Prix the team would fail to have even one car finish.
Needless to say, the team would not score any points in the 1953 World Championship as the British Grand Prix would be the team's only attempt in a race. And as the troubles began to mount, the disappointing experience at Silverstone would signal the end of the team's season save for one more race.
In spite of the fact the British Grand Prix had taken part in July and there were still a couple of months of busy racing left on the calendar, Ecurie Ecosse would emerge from seclusion just one more time in 1953. It would be about one month after the debacle in the British Grand Prix. The race would take place at the same place in which the team had earned its best result on the season, 'Slaughter Hall'.
Not all that far down the road from its base in Edinburgh, Ecurie Ecosse would head back to Charterhall for what was the 2nd Newcastle Journal Trophy race. The race took place on the 15th of August and consisted of 50 laps of the 1.99 mile old airbase circuit.
By the end of a season cars have the tendency to fail more often and become more costly to repair. In the case of Ecurie Ecosse, they were using chassis that were at least a year old and that had already failed at different times throughout the season. Therefore, the Newcastle Journal Trophy race was by far no easy test for the team. But it was an opportunity for the team to return to a place it had enjoyed some earlier success to perhaps repeat the performance and end the season on a positive note.
Unlike the Winfield Junior Club Formula 2 race, the Newcastle Journal Trophy race would attract a larger field of talented drivers. This was not good for the team looking for a sure thing. But to pull out a great result against such talent would certainly liven the team's spirits.
The team had brought its two cars to the race. As usual, Ian Stewart would be given the Connaught A-Type to drive in the race. In the case of the Cooper-Bristol T20 there was something of an uncertainty. Both Ninian Sanderson and Jimmy Stewart had been entered in the field driving the same car. The question was who would actually get the drive. In spite of the troubles the team had been having over the last couple of races, the team would choose consistency and would stick with Jimmy Stewart piloting the T20.
The field of eighteen cars would be almost entirely made up of Cooper-Bristols and Connaughts. The only departure from the theme would be Jack Fairman driving a Turner, Bill Skelly, Peter Bolton and Bill Black in Frazer Nashs and Austen Nurse driving an HWM.
The race was to cover 100 miles. Against the likes of Ken Wharton, Roy Salvadori, Tony Rolt and others, both of the Stewarts would need each one of the miles to be memorable. As the race would begin, the miles would become forgettable for a few of the drivers.
Every single one of the Frazer Nash entries would end up falling out of the race rather early on. The only HWM in the field, the one piloted by Austen Nurse, would also fall out of the race. This left, with the exception of Jack Fairman in his Turner, a field totally comprised of Coopers and Connaughts.
Unfortunately for Jimmy Stewart, he wouldn't get the opportunity to make every mile of the race a memorable event as his Cooper-Bristol would end up out of the race. However, Ian Stewart continued in the running and was looking quite fit.
The men at the front were obviously looking fitter. Ken Wharton, Ron Flockhart and Roy Salvadori would end up being the men at the front of the field pressing the action forward. Each one of them was intent on breaking the other and the rest of the field. Each one would end of setting the same fastest lap time during the race of one minute and twenty-one seconds. While; however, it wasn't proving to destroy either one of them, the pace was certainly opening up the gap the three men enjoyed over the rest of the field.
The rest of the field would continue to dwindle. While it wouldn't include Jimmy Stewart, it wouldn't also include Stirling Moss who would retire from the race with fuel injection problems. It also would include Horace Gould or John Coombs. It; unfortunately, wouldn't even include Jack Fairman in the sole Turner in the field. But at least as Ecurie Ecosse would be concerned, the rest of the field did include their other driver Ian Stewart.
After the disastrous last couple of races the team had experienced, Stewart wouldn't be pushing as hard as he could have over the course of the remaining laps. He knew he had a lap advantage on Eric Brandon running behind him, and therefore, would settle in and let the laps run out.
Ken Wharton had settled in to a very nice pace at the front of the field. But in the case of Roy Salvadori following in 2nd place, he could do anything but relax as he had Flockhart within just a couple of seconds of him.
Wharton would go on to cruise to the victory averaging a little more than 79 mph en route. As he crossed the line to take the win, the seconds continued to tick, waiting to see who would finish in 2nd place. Heading into the final tight right-hander it was obvious Salvadori had the advantage he just couldn't make a mistake and throw it all away. Salvadori would pick his way through the final corner carefully and would be hard on the gas power his way toward the line. He would go on to finish the race 2nd some four seconds in front of Flockhart.
Stewart; meanwhile, was rounding what was the last corner, in the last car, at the last race of the season. Knowing he had a large margin behind him, Stewart would get on the power carefully and would go on to cross the line a respectable 6th place.
While the team hadn't returned to its early season dominance it had at least returned to the point where it managed to have at least one of its cars finish a race. The team had managed to salvage something of what had been a nightmare of a later-half of its season.
Heading into the off-season and 1954 there were a lot of unknown. It was known the new Formula One regulations would take effect. This meant the Formula 2 cars would be deemed illegal going from 1954 forward.
In the case of the team's drivers, Ian Stewart would be done competing in the World Championship after the 1953 season. Instead, he would go on to work in his family's agricultural business in Perth and Kinross.
Jimmy Stewart would also be done with the World Championship after his 1953 experience. However, his younger brother would go on to make an incredible name for himself and would become a three-time World Champion.
Ninian Sanderson and Jock Lawrence would remain with Ecurie Ecosse and would rise to fame as they would be part of back-to-back victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the team in 1956 and 1957.
While it was obvious Ecurie Ecosse would stick around motor racing and would take sports car racing almost literally by storm, the question was whether or not Ecurie Ecosse would be back in Formula One World Championship racing in 1954? And the answer would be… yes. Ecurie Ecosse