TeamsEcurie Ecosse: 1954 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
David Murray would come to start his own racing team in 1951. He would name the team 'Ecurie Ecosse'. This French flair was intentional given his keen interest in everything French. He also believed it would also help attract money from international race organizers. To attract that starting money the team would have to take part in some major races outside of the British Isles. This would lead the team to take part in sportscar racing and it would also lead the team to the Formula One World Championship.
Although David Murray had taken part in the British Grand Prix, the first ever round of the World Championship, back in 1950, he had done so under the Scuderia Ambrosiana name. Ecurie Ecosse, on the other hand, would make its World Championship debut in 1952 at the British Grand Prix. Interestingly, the team's debut would be when the World Championship was conducted according to Formula 2 regulations. David Murray would be behind the wheel of a Cooper-Bristol T20 but would retire after just 14 laps due to engine failure.
While Ecurie Ecosse's initial foray into championship grand prix racing would be met with failure, the rest of the season would be rather successful. Ninian Sanderson would earn a few top results in the later part of the season in non-championship races around Britain.
1953 would see the team enter two cars in the British Grand Prix. Unfortunately, neither Ian Stewart nor Jimmy Stewart would make it to the end. This would make it four-straight years in which Murray himself, or his team, had failed to finish a World Championship race.
The non-championship races wouldn't fare much better for the Scottish team either. This would lead to the team focusing its attentions on sportscar racing, which it would be quite successful. However, being the first Scottish driver to take part in a post-war race, Murray was certainly still very much interested in doing well in single-seater grand prix racing.
Heading into the 1954 season, changes were coming again to the World Championship. For the first time since the 1951 season, the World Championship would be conducted according to Formula One regulations. Throughout the Formula 2 years (1952 and 1953) the governing-body had been busy confirming new regulations for Formula One and these new regulations would come online for the 1954 season. This would make for an interesting 'adjustment' period.
Many teams that had wanted to take part in the World Championship throughout 1952 and 1953 had to purchase Formula 2 cars to be able to do so. Although these cars were now only a couple of years old, or younger, they would not have the performance the new Formula One regulations were allowing. Many teams could not afford to just throw away cars after a couple years of use and purchase new, more powerful, cars. Therefore, teams, like Ecurie Ecosse, would face a 1954 season of grand prix racing with an inferior car, and therefore, very little chance to compete against some of the cars being produced in Italy like the Ferrari 625 and 553 and the Maserati 250F.
In spite of the disadvantages, Ecurie Ecosse would set to prepare and make do with what they had. What the team had for use going into 1954 was a Connaught A-Type chassis with a Lea Francis 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine. Occasionally, the team would wheel out its old Cooper-Bristol T20.
Although Murray named the team as he had to give it some international appeal it would be the team's sportscar program that would be the most international aspect. The team, in the month of January, would make the trip across the South Atlantic to Argentina in order to take part in some sportscar races.
Although the first round of the Formula One World Championship would take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ecurie Ecosse would not take part in the race but instead would take part in the 1000km of Buenos Aires, a sportscar car. In that race, the team would come away with a 4th place result.
In spite of already being across the ocean, the team's first grand prix race would take place on the English mainland a couple of months later. After the National Castle Combe Formula Libre and the British Empire Trophy races race in early April, the team would head to the southeast to Goodwood in order to take part in the Easter races on the 19th of April.
The Easter races held at Goodwood in April of 1954 would consist of a collection of short races that would feature a number of different categories of racing cars. Often named for surrounding villages, the 6th edition of the Lavant Cup was just one of a number of races held during the Easter event. This was a 7 lap race around the 2.39 circuit.
The Goodwood circuit was by no means a purpose-built motor racing circuit like Brooklands. In fact, its original purpose was for the defense of the English mainland during the Second World War. Located on the Goodwood Estate grounds, the land would be converted over to a turf airfield supporting RAF Tangmere. The airfield station would become known as RAF Westhampnett and would come to host a squadron of Spitfire and Hurricane fighters during the war.
The land used to build RAF Westhampnett was located on the grounds of the Goodwood Estate which was then owned by the Duke of Richmond, Frederick Gordon-Lennox. Gordon-Lennox was anything but a simple man of wealth. He was an avid aviation enthusiast, which would lead to his giving permission to have the auxiliary airfield built on the lands. However, he was also an avid racing admirer as well. This would lead to RAF Westhampnett's second lease on life.
The Duke of Richmond retained the deed to the land all through the war and afterward. When the base was decommissioned after the war, the Duke would have an airfield with little to no purpose. However, he and some other racers would see another use for the abandoned airfield. The perimeter road around the airfield would make a perfect motor racing circuit. On top of that, the Duke of Richmond would re-open the airfield for public use. Therefore, the Goodwood Motor Circuit and Airport would be born.
Ecurie Ecosse arrived at Goodwood with just one of its cars. They would come with their Connaught A-Type chassis. As for the driver of the car, Leslie Thorne would get the nod for the race. He would be going up against Reg Parnell in a Ferrari 625, Roy Salvadori in a Maserati 250F and many others mostly in Formula 2 machines. Thorne would have had to face even stiffer competition had Emmanuel de Graffenried arrived with his Maserati A6SSG or the new Vanwall made its appearance. It had been rumored that Alberto Ascari would have been the driver of the Vanwall had the car been ready in time. Nonetheless, Thorne would find stiff enough competition amongst those that had arrived for the race.
In practice, Roy Salvadori would show the pace of the Maserati 250F. Juan Manuel Fangio had already taken the first round of the Formula One World Championship driving a Maserati 250F, and therefore, it was widely known the car was strong. Salvadori would take the pole for the race. Joining him on the front row would be Kenneth McAlpine in 2nd place in an old Formula 2 Connaught. This surprised many as he would end up beating out Parnell for the 2nd place starting position. The final position on the front row would go to Tony Rolt in another Connaught A-Type. While two Connaught's had made their way onto the front row of the starting grid, it was very clear all of the Formula 2 cars would have a fight on their hands once the race started.
Right at the start of the short race, Parnell would jump toward the lead with Salvadori right there with him. The two men in the Formula One machines would immediately become embroiled in a battle that would rage throughout the race.
McAlpine would get shoved backward a spot. Rolt would be right there pushing his car hard and still giving the Formula One cars some fits in the very early going of the race. Thorne would be trying to settle into a pace but would not be up to the pace of the front-runners, not by any stretch of the imagination.
The battle between Parnell and Salvadori would rage lap after lap. Each would strike a blow. Parnell and Salvadori would be so evenly matched throughout the course of the race that the two men would even set the very same fastest lap time of one minute and thirty-six seconds at an average speed of nearly 90 mph.
This pace would be too much for a number of competitors, including Thorne. John Webb and Peter Whitehead would exit the stage after just one lap due to failures of some kind. Alan Brown's race would last only 2 laps. In all, four cars would retire before the twelve minute race could be completed. There would be a few others that would still remain in the running but that would be forced out of the running by the sheer pace of the two at the front of the field.
Leslie Thorne followed Charles Boulton around the circuit. However, both Connaught's would not be able to keep pace with either Parnell or Salvadori. Therefore, despite being just 7 laps in length, the two men would end up a lap down by the time of the finish.
On the last lap of the race, Tony Rolt would make it three Connaughts that would end up a lap down as magneto problems would prohibit him from reaching the checkered flag.
No such problems would strike either Parnell or Salvadori. The two men would remain locked in a battle throughout the whole of the 7 laps and even while coming around Woodcote for the final time.
Powering their way to the line, Parnell held onto the lead but only just. Parnell would keep his foot firmly planted to the floor and would manage to out-drag Salvadori to the line. Parnell would take the victory by just six-tenths of a second. No slim margin would exist between the two men and McAlpine in 3rd place. As McAlpine came across the line to finish 3rd, he would be no less than thirty seconds behind the two Formula One cars. Thorne would have liked to only be thirty seconds behind Parnell and Salvadori. Instead, Thorne would be the last car still running in the race in 9th position and would end up more than a lap behind.
Ecurie Ecosse had finished its first Formula One non-championship race of the season, but that would be about the extent of the praises that could be heaped upon the moment. The Formula One cars had so thoroughly dominated that the slim hope the teams operating Formula 2 cars coming into the season may have thought they had would be gone after just the 7 lap experience. There had always been a divide between teams on the starting grid. However, after just the 7 lap Lavant Cup race, it was readily apparent that the divide had just gotten a whole lot wider.
It was certainly clear Ecurie Ecosse had providence on their side when it came to sportscar racing. This would be demonstrated the same day as Thorne's retirement from the Lavant Cup race. Jimmy Stewart would lead home Tony Rolt in an Ecurie Ecosse one-two finish in the First Easter Handicap race.
The victory for the sportscar effort at Goodwood would be followed up with another victory a couple of weeks later back at Goodwood. Taking part in the National Goodwood, Jimmy Stewart would take the victory. Ninian Sanderson would not make it to the end suffering from an accident.
While it was clear the sportscar program was rolling right along like an unbeatable freight train, the single-seater grand prix effort still had to build up some steam and get itself rolling. This was difficult to do with the presence of specially-built Formula One machines at each and every race. There would be no exception to this when the team headed to the East Midlands region of England in the middle of May.
The grand prix team was on its way to the Silverstone Circuit in order to take part in the 6th BRDC International Trophy race on the 15th of May. Not only would this pit the team against some of the best Britain had to offer, but it would also see a number of very good foreign entries make up part of the field as well.
Silverstone would follow a similar path of existence as Goodwood. Initially a bomber training base during World War II, RAF Silverstone would serve throughout the length of the war and then would lie abandoned in the years immediately following. The sounds and activities of war had left the area around the sleepy village from whence it drew its name.
The tranquil setting, however, would be forever broken by the sounds of highly-tuned motor racing engines starting with the first impromptu race held in 1947. This would lead to the land being purchased by the Royal Automobile Club the following year and holding the first British Grand Prix the same year, the first since before the war.
Almost immediately, Silverstone would become the home of British motor racing when it would come to host, not only the British Grand Prix but the International Trophy race, in 1949. While obviously the lesser of the two races, the International Trophy race would cause the circuit to assume its familiar shape in 1949 when the organizers decided to abandon the runways and the perimeter road and decided just to use the 2.88 mile perimeter road for its layout instead.
The International Trophy race was similar to the British Grand Prix in that it usually attracted the best teams and drivers from around Europe to compete against a gaggle of British talent. The 6th running of the BRDC International Trophy race would be no different.
Scuderia Ferrari had come to the race with just one car for Mike Hawthorn one year previous. However, in 1954, the team would come with no less than three cars. Officine Alfieri Maserati would bring two cars to the race. Equipe Gordini would also bring a couple of cars to the event. This meant the field would be full with talented drivers in really potent chassis. This, therefore, also meant that the Ecurie Ecosse team would have very little hopes of earning an overall victory.
Ecurie Ecosse would bring just one car to the race. The team would unload its Connaught-Lea Francis and would look to Leslie Thorne to do his best against the might assembled around him.
The International Trophy race was one of those races that did not follow the same format as any of the World Championship rounds. The event would consist of two heat races and a final. The entire field would be split into respective heats. Each respective heat would last 15 laps and cover 43 miles. At the end of each of the heat races a 35 lap final would conclude the event and determine overall results. Ecurie Ecosse's Leslie Thorne would be listed in the second heat. Therefore, he would have the opportunity to watch the first heat and judge the pace.
The first heat would include Ferrari's Jose Froilan Gonzalez and Umberto Maglioli taking on Stirling Moss, Jean Behra, Tony Rolt and a certain Colin Chapman. In practice for the first heat it would be the new Ferrari 553 driven by Jose Froilan Gonzalez that would set the pace and take the pole. In the wet conditions the best lap Gonzalez would put together would equal the pole time set by Ascari in the 1953 British Grand Prix. Starting beside Gonzalez on the front row would be Jean Behra for Equipe Gordini, Stirling Moss driving for Officine Alfieri Maserati and Alan Brown piloting the new Vanwall 01.
As the field roared away on the first lap of the first heat race, Gonzalez held onto the lead of the race. Many of those that had started from the front would have to take it easy in the wet conditions. This also meant there would be a number of those toward the front that would lose positions while others starting further down were able to move forward.
One of those that would lose out over the course of the 15 lap heat would be Alan Brown in the Vanwall. He would lose out and would end up being forced down the order. Umberto Maglioli would end up making a good start in a Ferrari 625 and would be able to move up the order forcing Tony Rolt down into a battle with Alan Brown.
Another that would make a move up the running order would be Prince Bira. Bira had started in 8th place but would be immediately on the move. As the heat race entered the last couple of laps, Bira would be running in 2nd place just a couple of seconds in front of Stirling Moss.
While the running order would go through a thorough mixing, Gonzalez would remain constant at the front. Anchored by a fastest lap time and an average speed of nearly 83 mph, Gonzalez would power his way to victory. His margin of victory would end up being fourteen seconds over Bira. Bira would manage to hold off Stirling Moss. Gonzalez's pace in the wet conditions was such that only the top nine remained on the lead lap and the gap between Gonzalez's time and Don Beauman in 9th place would be two minutes and eight seconds.
The first heat was now over. It was time for the second heat to take to the circuit. One year prior, Mike Hawthorn started in the second heat. He would take the victory in the heat and would go on to dominate in the final. However, one year later the defending race champion and Ferrari driver, would not make it to the race after having suffered a terrible accident that would see him crash into a wall, burst into flames and have to deal with catching on fire himself.
One year later, Leslie Thorne would prepare to do battle with Maurice Trintignant, Reg Parnell, Robert Manzon, Roy Salvadori and others. In practice, Trintignant would record the fastest lap with a time of one minute and fifty-two seconds. Reg Parnell would just miss out on the pole by mere tenths but would have to settle with starting 2nd. The rest of the front row would shape up with Andre Simon starting 3rd driving a Gordini T16 for Equipe Gordini. The 4th, and final, position on the front row would go to Brit Bob Gerard in his own Cooper-Bristol T23.
Leslie Thorne would end up being in a good position after practice. His best effort would net him a lap time of two minutes and five seconds. Though it would be thirteen seconds slower than Trintignant, in the rainy conditions, it would earn him a 7th place starting position on the three-wide second row.
As with the first heat race, the second heat would get underway in wet conditions. Trintignant would make a clean getaway with Parnell right there with him. Bob Gerard would struggle right from the start and would begin to lose places, slipping further down the running order.
Thorne would find himself also just holding on in the conditions. This, unfortunately, would make him vulnerable to being pushed down the order by others like Roy Salvadori who had started the race from a poor qualifying position considering he was piloting a Formula One Maserati 250F. Salvadori would recover in the second heat and would be steadily making his way up the order past Thorne, Gerard and even Simon.
Thorne would manage to get by a struggling Gerard and would continue his chase of Ted Whiteaway, Roberto Mieres and Jack Fairman. Each of these men would end up the heat one lap down. Unfortunately for Ecurie Ecosse, Thorne would be the last one in that line and would even come under threat of going two laps down had the heat carried on for another lap or so.
Trintignant would be fastest in the rain. He would set a fastest lap time of one minute and fifty-seven seconds and would put a comfortable gap between himself and Parnell. Robert Manzon had come from 8th place on the grid to find himself up in the top three and running all by himself.
After thirty minutes and nine seconds, Trintignant would come across the line to take the victory. His margin over Parnell would be six seconds at the line. Forty-seven seconds would be the difference between Trintignant and Manzon in 3rd place.
After starting the race from 7th place on the grid Thorne would be shuffled backward. He would be passed by some that certainly had a horsepower advantage. But he would also lose places to those perhaps more adept to the conditions. Though he would undo Gerard, Thorne would finish the heat race a rather lowly 9th, one lap down.
Finishing times from each heat would determine the starting order for the 35 lap final. The second heat had the advantage of not only knowing the pace of the first heat, but also, of a slightly drier track. This enabled Trintignant to turn laps in under two minutes. It would also help make up the difference of the one minute and forty second gap between Trintignant's finishing time in the second heat and Gonzalez's time in the first.
Punishment would be swiftly tendered upon Trintignant, however. After the first heat race, Gonzalez's engine in the 553 had seized. This meant the former British Grand Prix winner's car was not going to be able to be entered in the final. Therefore, Ferrari would take action. Instead of giving Gonzalez Maglioli's car, they would give him Trintignant's. Maurice would then take over Umberto's car for the final. Like it or not, this would be the situation Trintignant would find himself heading into the final.
At least Trintignant's situation was a fair sight better than what it would be for Thorne and Ecurie Ecosse. Given that the starting grid for the final would be determined by finishing times from each heat, Thorne and the Scottish team would be in real trouble.
Gonzalez would be gifted the pole with Trintignant's car. Reg Parnell would line up 2nd. Robert Manzon would start from 3rd place and Roy Salvadori would start 4th. The entire front row for the final would be occupied by cars from the second heat. The only change would be found in the drivers. While Gonzalez would be promoted via Trintignant's hard work, Maurice would start the race from the third row of the grid in the 9th position.
Still, Trintignant's starting position would be better than Thorne's. After ending up a lap down in the second heat, Thorne would find himself starting the race from 18th overall, which meant he started the race from the fifth row.
The start of the 35 lap final would see Gonzalez make a good start and lead the rest of the twenty-five car field. Parnell and Manzon would be right up there with Gonzalez challenging him but that effort would be short-lived. Thorne would be starting the race from the last-third of the grid and would find the going tough in the early laps.
Gonzalez still continued to show the way in Trintignant's Ferrari. After just 2 laps, Manzon would end up out of the race with transmission failure in his Ferrari 625 driving for Equipe Rosier. Just 3 laps later, Parnell would be out of the running with a broken propeller shaft. This left Gonzalez all alone at the head of the field with very little competition to give him any trouble.
Trouble would be the norm for Thorne in the Ecurie Ecosse Connaught. Besides starting at the back of the grid and having to fight his way through the traffic, the suspension on the Connaught would cause him even more trouble. After just 7 laps the suspension would fail on the Connaught causing Thorne to have to retire from the race with more than 25 laps still remaining.
Despite the wet conditions, Gonzalez would continue on without delay or issue. He would set the fastest lap of the race with a time of one minute and fifty seconds and at an average speed of nearly 96 mph. Jean Behra had managed to put together an impressive performance coming all the way up from 11th on the grid to find himself in 2nd place behind Gonzalez, well behind. Andre Simon, who had started the race from 5th place on the grid would be even further behind.
Gonzalez would be untouchable. In one hour, six minutes and fifteen seconds Gonzalez would come through to take the overall victory. Thirty-six seconds would pass before Jean Behra would come through in 2nd place. A whole lap would pass before Andre Simon would finish the race in 3rd place.
The final had the promise of being a real contest. However, the early retirements and the problems faced by many of the leading contenders would lead to the final being no contest. No contest would be exactly what Thorne would experience in the Connaught. After struggling through the heat race, the final would be a truly short affair lasting just 7 laps. This would be something of a far cry from how the team's season would go in sportscar racing. During a sportscar race the same weekend, the team would have a couple of its cars finish 3rd and 4th in a race. For the grand prix side of things, instead of challenging up at the front of the field, the team would languish down in the back of the pack, if the car would actually make it the entire race distance at all.
Three weeks would pass between grand prix races for Ecurie Ecosse. In between that time, the sportscar team would take part in a race at Aintree and would have its three cars finish 3rd, 5th and 8th. Then, in early June, both the sportscars and the grand prix single-seaters would be scheduled for a race in Norfolk in eastern England. While the sportscars prepared to take part in the National Snetterton race, the single-seater Connaught was to be readied to take part in the 2nd Curtis Trophy race on the 5th of June.
The site for the race would be the rather new motor racing circuit at Snetterton. Snetterton had come from an existence similar to that of Silverstone, Goodwood and so many other motor racing circuits to pop up around England after World War II.
During World War II, RAF Snetterton-Heath came into existence in the later-part of 1942. Initially, the three runways would be allocated for the Royal Air Force. However, in 1943, the base would be turned over to the United States Army Air Force to become a bomber base. From this base bomber missions against Schweinfurt and numerous other targets in Germany, France, Holland, Belgium and other nations as far away as North Africa, Hungary and Czechoslovakia would be launched. After the war, the base would lie dormant until a new lease on life would be launched in the early 1950s. In 1952, the former RAF Snetterton-Heath airbase would begin its life as the Snetterton motor racing circuit.
While the sportscar team would come through to finish its race in 1st, 3rd and 4th, the team would not bring its Connaught to the race. The race would have seen Jock Lawrence, a talented driver capable of some very good performances, behind the wheel. This was not to be. Interestingly, Roy Salvadori would be the driver for Ecurie Ecosse that would earn the victory in the sportscar race, and, he would go on to take the victory in the Curtis Trophy race as well but while driving for Golby Engineering Ltd.
It was certainly obvious that providence was certainly with the team in the sportscar races but to be competitive in grand prix racing was requiring a commitment of time and resources that the team neither really had nor wanted to put forth without some assurance of results. The Curtis Trophy race perfectly demonstrated the reality in which the team was finding itself.
Competing with a Formula 2 car against a Formula One machine would not give the team the results it needed. Therefore, while the team would put in an entry for a race it was certainly not going to be at all surprising if they decided to pull out of the race and just focus on the sportscar race instead.
The team's good fortunes in sportscar racing would continue just a couple of days later when the team would take part in the National Goodwood sportscar race. In that race, the team would pull out yet another victory and a 2nd place result.
The same day the Ecurie Ecosse team took victory and 2nd place in the sportscar race, the team would be busy preparing its Cooper-Bristol T20 for Jock Lawrence. Finally, after nearly a month away, the team would be taking part in another grand prix race. The race was the 1st BARC Formula One race. As with the sportscar race, it too took place at Goodwood on the 7th of June and would be a very short race. At just 5 laps, the race would cover just 12 miles and would certainly last less than ten minutes.
Ten cars would prepare themselves to take part in the short event. Unfortunately for Lawrence, a couple of those in the small field would be Reg Parnell and Roy Salvadori. These two, with their Formula One cars, had pretty much dominated any of the races around England and gave any Formula 2 car little to no chance of earning a victory.
A surprise would happen in practice, however. Gerry Dunham, driving a DHS-Rover would end up setting the fastest lap and would take the pole. John Webb would also beat out the two Formula One cars in his Lea Francis-powered Turner chassis. However, the rest of the company on the front row would include Salvadori in 3rd place and Parnell sitting in 4th.
Lawrence would be occupying the wrong end of the grid after practice. Never able to match the pace of even some of the other Formula 2 cars in the field, Lawrence would start the very short race from the last row of the grid in the 8th position.
Starting from the back was going to certainly hinder Lawrence's chances in the race. The race would be too short to mount any kind of comeback that would take time to develop. Any mistake at the start would certainly spell the end of any hopes of a top result. Therefore, Lawrence would have to bet it all on the start of the race. If he could make a good start he would have a chance at a good result.
The field would roar away with Parnell and Salvadori setting the upset world aright. Lawrence would make the good start he needed and would be quickly making his way up in the running order. John Webb and Gerry Dunham would be absolutely shoved out of the way and pushed down the order. Even Lawrence would manage to get by these front row starters. This was just how good Lawrence's start had been.
Even at only 5 laps in length, Parnell and Salvadori were pulling away from the rest of the field hand over fist. The two of them were locked together running nose-to-tail and would be untouchable for any other cars in the field.
While Parnell and Salvadori were disappearing in the distance, Lawrence was putting together an impressive run of his own. After starting from 8th place, Lawrence would find himself running near the top five after almost the first lap. And he would just keep pushing lap after lap. Webb would totally fall off the pedestal and would be in trouble of staying in the top nine before the race would be over. Even the pole-sitter, Dunham, would be fighting to try and finish in the top five. Had Lawrence had more time, he could have been battling for a top three finish.
Salvadori would turn the fastest lap of the race at a one minute and thirty-five second lap. However, Parnell would counter his blow with consistently fast laps that would hold the charging Salvadori at bay.
Averaging nearly 88 mph, the two men would be separated by just a second heading around on the final lap of the race. Given the fact the two men had more than twenty seconds in hand over 3rd place after just 5 laps it was abundantly clear the battle for the win would come down to just those two.
Despite everything Salvadori would try and do, Parnell would come across the line in just eight minutes and twelve seconds to take the victory a second and a half in front of Salvadori. A little more than twenty-five seconds would be the gap between Parnell and Jimmy Somervail in 3rd place.
The BARC Formula One race would fare almost entirely different than had just about every other grand prix. Lawrence looked to be on the attack instead of looking the part of a victim. As a result of his hard-charging, Lawrence would earn a 4th place finish for the team. Lawrence would come through forty-nine seconds behind Parnell, but it would still be a good result for a team that had been truly suffering in grand prix races. This result was, therefore, certainly more indicative of the true ability of the team if they had competitive equipment.
The tail of two teams would continue. The team's Jaguars would be unloaded in Oulton Park so to take part in the National Oulton Park Formula Libre and unlimited races. The result would be a 1st, 2nd and 3rd. It was obvious around Great Britain that Ecurie Ecosse was one of the most dominant sportscar teams, but in grand prix racing, the team was one of the weakest.
Just before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone the team would take part in yet another sportscar race, the National Charterhall up at Charterhall in the Borders region of Scotland. At that race the team would achieve yet another one-two-three finish. If only its grand prix team could expect just performances as it made its way to the fifth round of the Formula One World Championship.
Toward the middle of July, Ecurie Ecosse would make the journey to Silverstone in order to take part in the British Grand Prix. Coming into the race, the team had been enjoying a couple of sportscar races in which it had been able to achieve a total sweep of the podium. However, coming into the 1954 edition of the RAC British Grand Prix, it was certain the team would only get about as close to the podium as that of a spectator there to cheer on the top three.
Not only would Scuderia Ferrari be present at the race but so would the factory effort from Maserati. In addition to these two, another powerhouse had emerged onto the scene. Mercedes-Benz was back in grand prix racing for the first time since before the outbreak of the Second World War. And with Juan Manuel Fangio behind the wheel of its sleek and elegant W196, the team had proven itself dominant at Reims just a week or so earlier. In fact, so impressive was the victory by the German team that the atmosphere leading up to the British Grand Prix was electric as everybody strained to see the new cars and were busy taking bets as to how dominant it would actually be in the 90 lap race.
While Mercedes-Benz success had been immediate, Ecurie Ecosse would be simply hoping to finish a race. The team had taken part in its first World Championship race back in 1952 and would leave it with an early retirement. The following year the team decided it would try and double up its chances. Instead, the team would just leave with a double failure. The most unfortunate aspect of those previous couple of years for the team had been the fact that they were the Formula 2 years. And though they certainly were by no means favorites coming into those races, many would admit providence likely would have been with the team then, not so much now in the return of Formula One. Nonetheless, the team would bring its Connaught A-Type chassis to the race. And though Lawrence had earned the team a very respectable 4th place finish at Goodwood a few weeks beforehand, it would be Leslie Thorne that would have the honor of taking to the wheel.
While it wouldn't be a surprise that Ecurie Ecosse wouldn't be one of the favorites coming into the race, there would be plenty of 'shake-up' in the field. For one thing, the two-time defending winner, Alberto Ascari, would be present at the race but not with Ferrari. He had left due to the uncertainty at Ferrari. Unfortunately, the new Lancia project would not be ready in time, and so, he would arrive at Silverstone driving for Officine Alfieri Maserati. Ascari had come to drive for Maserati basically about the time that Juan Manuel Fangio departed to drive for the Mercedes-Benz team with their new W196. Scuderia Ferrari would turn to a former driver for the 1954 season. Jose Froilan Gonzalez had earned Ferrari its first World Championship victory back in 1951. However, after that time, Gonzalez had spent most of his time driving for the resurgent Maserati team. With all of the shake-up and the loss of Alberto Ascari and his friend Luigi Villoresi, Gonzalez would be back.
The W196's first World Championship race had been the French Grand Prix held at Reims, France. Reims had always been one of the ultra-fast circuits on the Formula One World Championship calendar. It had also kept one of the weaknesses of the W196 still rather well hidden. However, at the 2.88 mile Silverstone circuit, the weakness would become apparent but not enough to deter Fangio from taking the pole.
From the first moments the car had been unloaded from the transporter, Fangio had complained about not being able to see the apexes of the corners because of the elegantly-shaped fenders that blocked his view. Nevertheless, Fangio would still go on to take the pole with a best lap of one minute and forty-five seconds. Fangio's fellow Argentinean, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, would put his Ferrari 625 on the front row in 2nd place after setting a time just a second slower than Fangio. The British crowd would rise with excitement and anticipation as Mike Hawthorn would put his Ferrari on the front row in the 3rd position and Stirling Moss would complete the front row with a 4th place start for his Maserati 250F.
Thorne could complain all he wanted. But, the Connaught simply did not have the pace to hang with the Formula One cars, and therefore, negated any reason for debate. Instead, Thorne would have to focus on being the best Formula 2 car in the field. In practice, he would come rather close to achieving that goal.
The fastest Formula 2 car in the field would be Don Beauman in a Connaught-Lea Francis. His best lap would be ten seconds slower than Fangio and would earn him a fifth row starting position. Leslie Thorne would end up starting two rows further back after setting a best time fourteen seconds slower than Fangio. This would place Thorne 23rd on the grid overall.
It would be yet another typical wet and cold British Grand Prix. These weather conditions would certainly make things interesting for Fangio in a car that blocked his view going into the apex of corners. And sure enough, it would be Jose Froilan Gonzalez that would take the lead of the race right from the start. Fangio would make a poor start and would lose out to Hawthorn as well. This left Fangio with a bit of ground to try and make up.
Thorne had a couple of problems to deal with at the start of the race. First of all, the wet conditions would make handling difficult. In addition, starting in the back-third of the grid had its own dangers that would only be magnified in the wet conditions. Thankfully for Thorne and the team, the car would make it through the first lap without any problems. From then on, Thorne would try to get into some kind of rhythm that would enable the team to move up the running order, but more importantly, finish its first World Championship.
The first lap would see an incredible start made by Onofre Marimon in his Maserati 250F. After starting a row behind Thorne in the 28th position, he would be on an absolute charge up through the field and would be running 6th after just the first lap of the race. He would then become stalled behind the train led by Gonzalez.
Gonzalez had been untouchable in the wet at Silverstone during the International Trophy race and seemed to be on the same form for the British Grand Prix. He would continually edge out more of a gap over Hawthorn who had Fangio new breathing right down his neck similar to the French Grand Prix the year before. Unfortunately for Hawthorn, he would not be able to hold off Fangio. After just a few laps into the 90 lap race, two Argentineans were running 1st and 2nd. Another Argentinean, Marimon, would be right around the top five.
Gonzalez would seem to be totally unaffected by the wet conditions. He continued in the lead and would continue to add to his lead by setting the fastest lap of the race with a lap of one minute and fifty seconds. However, he would not be the only one capable of churning out the fast lap times in the wet conditions. In fact, by the end of the race, there would be seven drivers that would share in the fastest lap time. Nonetheless, Gonzalez continued in the lead and continued to pull away.
A number of competitors wouldn't be bothered by Gonzalez's pace because they would already be out of the race. A couple of drivers, one of them being Louis Rosier, would be out of the race after just a couple of laps due to mechanical ailments. Seven would be out of the race before the race reached the 25 lap mark. One of those seven would be the two-time defending champion Alberto Ascari. Valve failure would end the race for his car, but not for him, at least not when he had his good friend Luigi Villoresi. After the retirement of his car, Ascari would take over Villoresi's car for the remainder of the race. The remainder of the race, for Ascari, would be less than 20 laps more. Oil pressure problems after 40 laps of running would finally end the day for the good friends.
Reg Parnell, the victor of so many British grand prix events on the season, would also be out of the running after just 25 laps because of water jacket problems. Parnell had been one of those that Ecurie Ecosse just could not beat on terms of performance. But as Thorne kept ticking off the laps, it was clear they would gain the upper hand this day.
Thorne continued to steer clear of trouble. The Connaught kept ticking along and kept moving up the order with the retirements of so many due to mechanical problems. Perhaps for the first time the team would manage to finish a World Championship race. But the race was still a long way from being over.
Gonzalez seemed untouchable in the wet once again. He continued to add to his lead over Fangio. Fangio would help Gonzalez as he would hit oil barrels placed on the inside of the corners numerous times. Ironically, these barrels were to serve as visibility aids. Smacking these barrels multiple times would cost a lot of damage to the bodywork of the Mercedes. While the bodywork damage slowed Fangio, gearbox problems would slow him even more. This would allow Mike Hawthorn, who had been locked in a glorious scrap with his fellow countryman Stirling Moss, to back through into 2nd place. Fangio would continue his slip down the running order and would end up behind Marimon in 4th place.
The retirements would keep coming as the race wore on. When Stirling Moss retired from the race with just 10 laps remaining due to a reduction gear failure, fifteen of the thirty-two cars that had started the race would be out. And while Thorne seemed to be years behind, he was still out there circulating the track benefiting from the retirements and moving up the running order.
Despite having his Ferrari teammate chasing him, Gonzalez would be absolutely untouchable. In two hours, fifty-six minutes and fourteen seconds, Gonzalez would come across the line to take the victory. It would be his second British Grand Prix victory, both having come with Ferrari. They would just be separated by a little more than two years.
A minute and ten seconds would be the difference. After overtaking Fangio for 2nd place, Hawthorn could just take it easy and make sure he made it to the finish for he would nearly have a lap in hand over Marimon in 3rd place.
Gonzalez would have a lap in hand over Marimon. In fact, only Hawthorn would finish the race on the lead lap with Gonzalez. In spite of this, Marimon would be delighted crossing the line in 3rd place for it would be his first podium finish in a World Championship race. Better yet, he would beat Fangio, his fellow countryman, by twenty-seven seconds.
Despite the car damage and gearbox problems, Fangio would still finish the race 4th. Of course, his ability to do so would be helped a great deal by the fact that Maurice Trintignant, in 5th place, was a little more than a lap behind him.
Thorne would be miles behind. Over the course of the 90 lap race, Thorne averaged a visit from Gonzalez about every 7 to 8 laps. This would translate into being 12 laps behind at the finish. Nonetheless, the team would finally finish a World Championship race! Thorne would earn a 14th place result for all of his effort out there on the circuit. He would even finish ahead of Moss in the results though Moss would be further up the road before he fell out with his reduction gear problems.
In many ways Ecurie Ecosse had achieved a victory. They had finished a World Championship race. After trying and trying and facing retirement after retirement, the team had finally achieved what seemed so elusive. Therefore, the team could carry on with the rest of the season perhaps at peace with whatever would happen for it was certainly clear sportscar racing was where the team's talent truly lied.
The team's switching focus totally to sportscar racing would become more and more evident. One clear piece of evidence would be the length of time between grand prix races leading up to the British Grand Prix and then afterward. Three weeks would pass between races for the grand prix arm of Ecurie Ecosse.
Then, in early August, the team would head to the North West England region. The team's stop would be near the small village of Little Budworth in Cheshire only miles away from the Welsh border.
The Oulton Park Circuit would open in the very early 1950s. It had been developed by the Mid-Cheshire Car Club on the grounds of the former Oulton Estate that had been owned by the Grey-Egerton family. Before becoming a motor racing circuit, Oulton Park would have the distinction of being a staging camp for General Patton and would host a number of exhibition bouts for the boxer Joe Louis.
When the circuit was built it would come to host a number of popular races that would routinely draw tens of thousands of fans. One of those races in which Oulton Park would become famous for would be the International Gold Cup races. And in 1954, the 1st International Gold Cup race was scheduled to be run on the 7th of August.
Heading to the race, it was fully expected that the International Gold Cup race would be something special, a real highlight on the year for non-championship grand prix races. Therefore, Ecurie Ecosse would bring its two cars to the race. Leslie Thorne would be behind the wheel of the team's Connaught A-Type chassis while sportscar star Ninian Sanderson would make a return to grand prix racing at the wheel of the familiar Cooper-Bristol T20 that he had raced in the later part of the 1952 season.
The team knew the race would be anything but easy, but it could have been a whole lot worse. While Stirling Moss, Roy Salvadori, Jean Behra and Reg Parnell all came at the wheel of Formula One machines, a couple of notable entries would be absent. Robert Manzon would not arrive driving the Ferrari 625 for Equipe Rosier. Nor would Mike Hawthorn come to the race with his Ferrari 625. While this was a disappointment for the race fans it would be something of a relief for the other smaller teams like Ecurie Ecosse.
While everyone expected the Formula One cars to be dominant it would be feisty Bob Gerard that would take the pole in his Cooper-Bristol T23. He would just clip Behra by hundreds of a second after turning a lap of the 2.76 mile International Circuit in one minute, fifty-nine and four-tenths seconds. The final spot on the front row would go to Reg Parnell. His time would also be in the one minute and fifty-nines but he would be around two-tenths of a second slower.
After being dominated throughout the majority of the season, the two Formula 2 cars for Ecurie Ecosse would look impressive in practice and would actually find themselves in decent starting positions for the 36 lap race. Ninian Sanderson would take the Cooper-Bristol T20 and would turn the fastest lap of the team's cars. His best lap would be about five and a half seconds slower than Gerard's but would earn him a fourth row starting position. His 9th place starting position would be one spot better than Thorne who would set a nearly identical time to Sanderson. Therefore, Ecurie Ecosse would have both of its cars starting right beside each other on the fourth row of the grid. This presented some very serious challenges heading into the race that the team would need to deal with.
Two cars, those of Tony Crook and Albert Wake would not start the 36 lap race. As the field roared away on what would be the first lap of the race, two more would fall out of the running before completing the first lap. Paul Emery would retire with a cylinder head problem and Jack Fairman would have a broken half shaft that would force him out. Thankfully for Ecurie Ecosse, both of its cars would make it through the first couple of laps without incident and would be doing their best to try and hold onto the top ten.
Neither Thorne nor Sanderson would make anywhere near as good a start as what Moss would. Arriving late, and therefore, starting from the back of the twenty-one car grid, Moss would be on an absolute tear through the first couple of laps. Just like that, he would be up with the leaders at the head of the field.
When Jean Behra's race came to an end after just 2 laps because of magneto failure, Moss would be looking in even better shape. This kept the pressure on at the front of the field. Then, Moss would turn up the wick even more setting the fastest lap of the race with a lap time nearly three seconds faster than the pole effort of Gerard who was doing his best to hang on for dear life against the Formula One cars.
Gerard would continue to hold tough, but the pace would claim its share of victims. Roy Salvadori would make a mistake and would crash out of the race with his Maserati. A couple more cars would be out of the race when there was still about 15 laps remaining in the event.
In the case of Sanderson and Thorne, their battle was with the best of the Formula 2 cars as each would find themselves more than a lap down to the Formula One cars before the end of the race. Thorne would outshine Sanderson in the race and would be challenging Charles Boulton toward the later part of the race. Sanderson would be quite a ways down and would find his biggest fight would be with remaining classified in the running order.
Stirling Moss had put together one of the most impressive drives in history coming from dead-last on the grid, and against other Formula One cars as well. Averaging a little more than 83 mph throughout, Moss would head off on the last lap of the race with a comfortable advantage over Parnell and Gerard.
It would take Moss just one hour, eleven minutes and twenty-seven seconds to come through and take a resounding and emphatic victory. One could only imagine what the margin would have been had he started the race from the front row for he would end up taking the victory by twenty seconds over Parnell in his Ferrari 625. Another impressive performance would be put together by Gerard in the less-powerful Cooper-Bristol T23. Though he lost out on the victory after starting from the pole, he would still cling onto the back of the Formula One pack and would finish in a fine 3rd position just four seconds behind Parnell.
Considering, Ecurie Ecosse would have another good day at a grand prix race. Sanderson would hang on to finish the race but would not be classified in the results. He was running 11th out on the circuit. The day would fare better for Thorne. Though he would not be able to haul in Boulton by the end, Thorne would still bring a fine top ten result home for the team when he crossed the line in 9th place, only a lap behind Moss.
While again the team would have nothing for the Formula One cars, they would still another good result against some tough competition. This would offer some confidence and momentum as the team looked toward finishing off the grand prix season in another month or so.
The number of grand prix races in which the team was taking part in toward the later part of 1954 became fewer and fewer, and therefore, more spread out. It would be about a month and a half between races for the team. This would not be the case for the team when it came to sportscar races, however. In fact, the team would take part in the Zandvoort International race on the 15th of August and would come away with another 1st and 2nd place finish. A couple of weeks later, in early September, the team would take part in the National Charterhall race and would score yet another one-two finish. Then, at the end of September, the team would again prepare to take part in a sportscar race. Given the format of the event, it would seem to be a perfect time for the grand prix cars to take part in another race as well.
On the 25th of September, Ecurie Ecosse would be back at Goodwood preparing to take part in a number of motor races at the 2.39 mile road circuit. While the team's sportscars were being prepared for the Goodwood International race, the Connaught and Cooper chassis would be prepared in order to take part in the 7th Goodwood Trophy race. A great opportunity would present itself at Goodwood as it would still also host the 7th Madgwick Cup race, which was strictly a Formula 2 race in which Ecurie Ecosse would be eligible to take part in with both cars. Therefore, the team would enter both of the cars in both races.
In the sportscar Goodwood International race, the team would come away with a 1st and a 4th. The best opportunity the team would have of copying those results would be in the Madgwick Cup race, the 7 lap Formula 2 event. This would not be eligible for Formula One cars, and therefore, would place the team's Connaught and Cooper on somewhat even-footing with the rest of the competition in the field. However, after practice it would still seem as though the team was at a disadvantage.
Bob Gerard had put together an incredible scrap with some of the Formula One cars at the International Gold Cup race at Oulton Park a few weeks before. That same feistiness would carry him through to claim the fastest lap in practice, and therefore, the pole for the nearly 17 mile race. Joining Gerard on the front row would be Don Beauman in 2nd, Leslie Marr in 3rd and John Riseley-Prichard in 4th. With the exception of Gerard on pole, the rest of the front row would consist of Connaught chassis.
Jock Lawrence would be back with the team and he would prove to be the fastest of the team's two cars. His lap time would enable him to start from the second row of the grid in the 7th position.
Another newcomer to the team would be at the wheel of the Cooper-Bristol T20. That car would be driven by Peter Hughes. Hughes would be rather impressive for the team as he would be just a little slower than his teammate, but would still start 8th, just one spot down from Lawrence. This placed Hughes on the inside of the third row.
Going into the race, Gerard no doubt had the confidence to win. He had stayed within touch of the Formula One cars just weeks before. Therefore, Gerard would lead from the start and would look in command throughout. Beauman would give it everything he had and would not go down without putting up a fight.
One of those in which the fight would be lost early would be John Webb. He would not start the 7 lap race. Another would also find the 17 miles long enough. Unfortunately, it would be Lawrence. He would be out of the race with problems as well. This left just Hughes to try and salvage a good result for the team.
Leslie Marr would get absolutely shoved right out of the way and would drop down the running order. Michael Young and Charles Boulton would each make strong starts and would only try and build upon them throughout the course of the race. While Young would continue to ascend the order a little bit further, Boulton would mostly just unseat Hughes for his position. Hughes would lose a couple of positions, but with attrition, would remain relatively stuck right around the top ten.
Gerard would be anything but stuck. He would set the pace throughout the whole of the event. He would turn the fastest lap of the race with a time of one minute and thirty-seven seconds. This would more than anchor his bid for victory despite at Beauman desperately trying to hangon.
In just eleven minutes and thirty-six seconds, Gerard would come through to take the victory. Nearly three and a half seconds later, Don Beauman would come through to finish in the 2nd position. The gap back to 3rd place would be a little more than fifteen and a half seconds and it would be Mike Keen that would have the honor of completing the race on the podium.
Ecurie Ecosse certainly wouldn't have the same result its sportscar effort had managed to garner. Instead of a 1st and 4th, the team would have one of its cars go out early on and the other would finish a good distance back in 10th position.
While one race of the weekend would be over with, another was just about to get going. The other race on the weekend would be the 21 lap 7th Goodwood Trophy race that would include Formula One and Formula 2 cars competing for 50 miles.
Nineteen cars would prepare to take part in the race. Among those present would be Stirling Moss, Peter Collins in the new Vanwall, Reg Parnell, Roy Salvadori and others. Again, Ecurie Ecosse would enter both of its cars in the race and Jock Lawrence and Peter Hughes would again be at the wheel.
In practice, Stirling Moss would be quickest around the 2.39 mile circuit. His time of one minute and thirty-two seconds would grab the pole for the 21 lap race. Joining Moss on the front row would be Peter Collins in the Vanwall. Collins' best time around the circuit would be more than four seconds slower than Moss'. The rest of the front row would include Bob Gerard starting 3rd and Reg Parnell finishing it off in 4th place.
The two Ecurie Ecosse teammates would actually fare pretty good in practice. Of the two, Peter Hughes would be the highest starter. His time would net him a 9th place starting spot on the grid, which meant he started from the third row of the grid. Jock Lawrence would be a few seconds slower but would start on the same row as Hughes. Lawrence would start 11th.
It was obvious after practice that Moss had an advantage in overall pace over the rest of the field, even those sitting behind the wheel of Formula One cars. Therefore, as the race started, Moss would go into the lead and would look strong right from the very beginning. Peter Collins would hold down the 2nd position. Gerard would again fight hard but would look like a man trying to hold back an avalanche.
A little further back, the two Ecurie Ecosse cars would be running rather close together right around the top ten. However, compared to those that had started just ahead of them on the grid, the two would need some help to move forward in the running order.
Moss continued to move forward in the lead of the race. He would turn the fastest lap of the race with a time just a few tenths slower than his own qualifying time. This helped to slightly increase his lead over Collins in 2nd place.
Despite being in a Formula 2 car, Gerard would push his Cooper-Bristol hard and would hang in there against Roy Salvadori who would come forward from starting 5th place. Salvadori would be helped in his efforts to move forward when Reg Parnell retired form the race with engine failure after just 3 laps.
As with Moss, the two Ecosse teammates would run consist lap times and would maintain their position right around the top ten. Unfortunately for them and the team, attrition would be rather light. This would not help them move forward at all. Instead, their main fight would be against holding others back and staying on the lead lap with Moss.
Anchored by the fastest lap time and an average speed just over 91 mph, staying on the lead lap would be difficult for a good many of the competitors. Heading into the final lap of the race, only the top five remained on the lead lap. And yet, of the top five, only Collins in 2nd place would be anywhere close to Moss, and even then, not so much.
After thirty-three minutes and three seconds, Moss would come across the line to claim yet another victory in his Maserati 250F. More than twenty and a half seconds would pass before Collins would come around Woodcote and across the line to finish in 2nd place. The gap between Moss and Salvadori in 3rd place would end up being rather close to a minute and twenty seconds.
The gap back to Lawrence and Hughes would be even more. Over the course of the 21 lap race, Lawrence would gain the upper hand on Hughes and would maintain his advantage throughout. In the end, Lawrence would come through more than a lap down but in 10th place. Hughes wouldn't be too far behind him in 11th position.
Once again, while the results would not suggest so, the Ecurie Ecosse team had another rather successful grand prix outing. While Gerard's 4th place finish was certainly indicative that the team could have earned better, compared to the earlier part of the year, a 10th and 11th place finish would still be quite good, especially considering the top three were out of the team's league.
While the results would be rather good for its grand prix effort, it would be a far cry from the effort and the results the team would earn in the sportscar races on the very same weekend. Fully aware of the team's more obvious success in sportscar racing, the team would take part in just one more grand prix race in 1954.
The final non-championship grand prix in which Ecurie Ecosse would take part in 1954 would not happen until early October. On the 2nd of October, in Aintree, England, the 1st Daily Telegraph Trophy was set to take place. Amazingly, while there would be a sportscar race intertwined with the events of the weekend, the team would not bring any of its sportscar despite having an entry. Instead, the team would focus on its last grand prix of the season, maybe even their career as a team.
Located in Merseyside, England, the village of Aintree would become most well known for its world famous Grand National steeplechase. The steeplechase was first run in Aintree in 1839. Before that, the event had been held in nearby Maghull.
Then, in 1954, Aintree would open up to allow horses of another kind to lap its circuit. Dubbed the 'Goodwood of the North', the grand prix course would mostly follow around the outside of the Grand National course. It would be 8 turns and 3.0 miles in length. However, the circuit could be broken up in to a smaller Club Circuit measuring 1.5 miles. Able to utilize the same grandstands used for the steeplechase, the full 3.0 mile circuit would be used for the Daily Telegraph race.
The race distance would be 51 miles, or, 17 laps. While the steeplechase race was certainly world famous, the Daily Telegraph would attract an international audience of its own, most of them driving Formula One chassis.
Equipe Gordini would come with their 2.5-liter Gordini T16 chassis. The Officine Alfieri Maserati team would up its number of cars beyond just Moss. Sergio Mantovani would run with Moss for the Maserati team. One of the surprise entrants in the race would be Mike Hawthorn. While it would not be surprising to see Hawthorn at a British event it would be surprising to see him at one without Scuderia Ferrari, which was what happened at Aintree. Instead, Hawthorn would be behind the wheel of the Vanwall 01. Then, in addition, there would be a number of other privateers and small teams that would populate the field with the new 2.5-liter machines.
In the case of Ecurie Ecosse, the team would enter both of their cars. The driver lineup for the two cars would be a familiar one. Leslie Thorne would drive the Connaught while Jock Lawrence would have to contend with the Cooper-Bristol T20.
Stirling Moss had been on a roll lately and it would seem to continue throughout practice. Turning out a lap time of two minutes, three and six-tenths seconds, Moss would grab yet another pole position. About a second and a half slower, Behra would garner the 2nd place starting spot. Mike Hawthorn would take the Vanwall 01 and would end up about two and a half seconds slower. But it would be good enough for him to start 3rd on the front row. The final spot on the front row would go to the hard-charging American-Parisian Harry Schell. Schell was driving his own Maserati 250F and was about five seconds off the pace.
Both of the Ecurie Ecosse cars would be well off the pace. Leslie Thorne would start from dead-last on the nineteen car field. Jock Lawrence would start only a little better. Nearly twenty-five seconds off the pace, Lawrence would start the race on the fifth row, just one in front of Thorne who would start all by himself in last place. Overall, Lawrence started the race 16th.
Stirling Moss would lead the field at the start of the race but Hawthorn, Behra and Schell would be right there challenging. The fight for the lead would be tight and very exciting. While it seemed that Moss had an advantage over the rest of those challenging him, he would still have a huge fight on his hands trying to break free.
The pressure would push Moss to press the issue hard and right from the very start. He would go on to turn the fastest lap of the race with a time just a little more than a second slower than his qualifying effort and it would help him to gap his pursuers by a little bit. But when Hawthorn later matched the time in the Vanwall, it was clear Moss would have to carry on consistently fast each and every lap.
The pace and the race would begin to take its toll on the field. Charles Boulton would only make it a lap before retiring. Then, 8 laps into the race, more trouble would strike the field. Unfortunately, it would include one of Ecurie Ecosse's cars.
Keith Hall would retire from the race in his Cooper-Bristol T20. On the very same lap, Leslie Thorne would have his grand prix season come to an end in the Connaught. This left just Lawrence to try and uphold the team's honor in its last race of the season, and probably, the team's career.
Despite the pace of Moss, Hawthorn and others at the front of the field, Lawrence would fight hard and would look quite good considering his lacking performance. It was painfully obvious Lawrence couldn't complete the race distance without being lapped. However, he was still faring much better than he had at previous races though the running order wouldn't suggest it.
Just a couple of laps away from the finish of the race, more attrition would strike at the field and it would end up getting some of the Formula One cars this time. Reg Parnell would suffer from another early retirement. This time, gearbox problems in his Ferrari 625 would be the culprit. Jean Behra had had so many chances for victory and top results get washed down the drain because of poor reliability in the Gordini chassis. This race would be no exception as he would be forced to retire just two laps from the end with clutch failure. These two failures were rather big in the terms of things. This enabled Lawrence to move up the running order even more; just what the team would hope for in its final race of the season.
Helped along by his fastest lap and consistently fast laps, Moss would pull out something of a comfortable margin heading into the final couple laps of the race. Hawthorn would lose touch with Moss and would become embroiled in a battle of his own with a charging Schell.
It would take just thirty-five minutes and forty-nine minutes for Moss to cross the line and take yet another victory. He was on an incredible run. A little more than fourteen seconds would be Moss' advantage over Hawthorn at the line. The gap between Hawthorn in 2nd place and 3rd place would be much less than that. While Hawthorn appeared to be in control of the situation, he would still finish the race just a second ahead of Schell.
More than a lap would be the gap between Lawrence and Moss, but at least the team would have one of its cars finish yet another race. After starting all the way down in 16th position, Lawrence would come through to finish the race in 12th position. While not seemingly impressive, the team would take solace in the fact that the top seven finishers were all driving Formula One cars.
The grand prix season had come to an end for Ecurie Ecosse. However, not surprisingly, its sportscar season would not yet be finished. It was clear the team was transitioning to sportscar racing full-time. And with 2nd and 3rd place results at Penya-Rhin, it was obvious the team was making the best choice.
In many ways, the result at the British Grand Prix would make their grand prix experience complete. Given the costs and dedication of resources needed to make a serious run against the teams like Ferrari, Maserati and Mercedes-Benz made grand prix racing a rather unsustainable proposition for the team, especially when the sportscar effort was going so well. Therefore, it would not be at all surprising that having gained the finish at the British Grand Prix that Ecurie Ecosse would walk away from grand prix racing. And this would be exactly what they would do.
The 1954 season would be the last time in which Ecurie Ecosse would take part in a Formula One World Championship race. The team had finally earned a finish; it was then time for the team to move on. And the move would be met with nothing but success.
Ecurie Ecosse was a dominant force in sportscar racing and everybody knew it. They were anything but in grand prix racing. Therefore, when the team switched its focus entirely to sportscars, they would become even more dominant. This dominance would be best demonstrated by the team's back-to-back victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1956 and 1957. The 1957 effort perhaps was the team's best performance in the endurance classic as the team would end up finishing the race 1st and 2nd.
By the early 1960s, the team would really begin to struggle and would even drop out of competitive racing before the end of the decade. The team would try a comeback during the 1980s but it would be brief. Then, in 2011, it was announced that the team would return to sportscar racing after nearly 25 years.
While its record in single-seater grand prix racing would not suggest it, Ecurie Ecosse has the distinction of being one of the most successful privateer teams ever to take part in sportscar and grand prix racing. And while the team would not be all that successful in David Murray's interest of grand prix racing, it would be more than fitting that the Scottish team with the French name would become one of the most dominant forces in France's biggest, and perhaps most famous, race. Ecurie Ecosse