Teams1952 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
There are team owners and enthusiasts, and then there are real team owners and enthusiasts. Jimmy Richmond was the later. Though physically at a disadvantage due to his size, and therefore not a competitor, Richmond would not be kept away from motor racing. Instead, he did the next best thing he could—he started his own team.
Richmond provided much more than mere funding to get the team up and running. Jimmy Richmond was a contractor from Northampton. He would be hired as a hauler and in other public works. When Richmond started the team he provided not only the funds, but also a transporter in which to haul the team all-around Europe and Great Britain.
Richmond approached Eric Brandon and Alan Brown to come on board as drivers. Richmond knew Brown from his career as a truck salesman for Dennis Bros. throughout the Midlands. Brown had another important connection—he knew John Cooper.
Brandon was the owner of an electrical supply company, but, he too knew John Cooper personally. In fact they were good friends. Because of his relationship with Cooper, he had a Cooper chassis in which he would use to race in hillclimbs and sprint races throughout the late 1940s. Both Brown and Brandon agreed to come on as the team's drivers. Just like that Ecurie Richmond
The consummate gentlemen-racing team, any prize money was split three-ways between Richmond, Brandon and Brown. In addition to splitting the prize money, even victories were a matter of agreement. Often a toss of the coin would determine which driver would go for a victory.
Utilizing a Cooper chassis with a 500cc engine, Ecurie Richmond took part in many Formula 3 races throughout the early 1950s. However, heading into 1952, providence handed the small team an opportunity to step onto the World Championship stage. Because the Formula One World Championship would be run to Formula 2 specifications a number of smaller teams would have the opportunity to enter the Formula One World Championship. Reduced costs and greater availability of cars that easily fit within the regulations for Formula 2 allowed teams a somewhat easy entry into the World Championship. John Cooper was building one of those in anticipation of the new season.
Richmond, undoubtedly with the help of his two drivers, negotiated the purchase of Cooper's new T20 chassis with the 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine for use in the 1952 Formula One World Championship and non-championship grand prix season. The small chassis had the power to not only provide Ecurie Richmond the opportunity to take part in World Championship races, it provided the team with the opportunity for some truly impressive results.
The team's first opportunity to test the Formula 2 grand prix waters would come on the 14th of April at the 4th Richmond Trophy race at Goodwood. Although the Formula One World Championship would run to Formula 2 specifications in 1952 there were still a number of other races that allowed cars that conformed to Formula One regulations of previous years. The Richmond Trophy race was one of those events that allowed the bigger liter engines to roar back to life. This meant Ecurie Richmond, and their tiny Cooper-Bristols, would have to face the might of the Ferrari 375, which became the dominant chassis throughout the 1951 season.
Ever the racing enthusiast, Johnny Richmond had earned the reputation of doing whatever it took to be able to be present to watch his team in action. At least for its foray into Formula 2 racing, the race wasn't across the Channel on the European continent. Goodwood wasn't too far from where he lived in the Midlands.
Named after the Duke of Richmond, the race consisted of 12 laps around the 2.38 mile road course around what was the old Westhampnett Royal Air Force auxiliary airfield. For the race, Eric Brandon was chosen to drive the Cooper T20.
Facing the formidable Ferrari 375, the performance deficiencies between it and Brandon's T20 were more than apparent. Argentinean Jose Froilan Gonzalez, driving a Ferrari 375, would take the pole for the race. The best Brandon could do was to start the race from the third row in 8th place.
Besides the front row, the rest of the field was on rather equal terms when it came to performance. This meant it would take every bit of Brandon's extensive experience to move up the order in only a 12 lap race. Sure enough, the going would be rather tough.
Right from the start, Gonzalez looked good in the Ferrari 375. Mike Hawthorn, in another T20, looked even better. He would come all the way from 7th place and would take position inside the top-three. Brandon was working hard trying to emulate Hawthorn's pace, but was not having the same results.
Gonzalez left the field behind. He would set the fastest lap of the race and would take the victory by thirty-six seconds over Hawthorn, who beat out Duncan Hamilton for 2nd place. Brandon would try hard and would be rewarded for his effort. He would end up 6th overall.
The same day as the Richmond Trophy race, Goodwood hosted another short race. The second race of the day was the 4th Lavant Cup race. The race was another short event, though even shorter than the Richmond Trophy race. In all, the race was only 6 laps.
Money and resources were tight for Ecurie Richmond. However, the short Lavant Cup race would allow the team to afford entering two cars for the race. Therefore, both Eric Brandon and Alan Brown would enter Cooper T20s in the race. Unfortunately for them, another T20 was entered in the race. It was driven by Mike Hawthorn.
Were Hawthorn not there, the Lavant Cup could have been a glorious one-two finish for Ecurie Richmond. It would have been an incredible result for the team in its first year of Formula 2 racing. However, Hawthorn would end up setting the fastest lap of the race and would go on to take the victory. Alan Brown would finish the race 2nd, some twenty-one seconds behind. Brandon would finish the race 3rd. He followed Brown to the line; behind by only one second. Though victory could have been possible, a 2nd and 3rd for the young team was still a glorious result.
Though entered in the race, neither Brown nor Brandon would appear for the 1st Aston Martin Owners Club Formula 2 Race at Snetterton on the 3rd of May. Therefore, the next race in which the team would compete would be one week later at Silverstone.
On the 10th of May, the 4th BRDC International Trophy race was scheduled. The BRDC Trophy race consisted of two heat races followed by a final. The entries would be split up to take part in the two heat races. In the case of Ecurie Richmond, they would only end up being entered in one heat race as they would only enter one car. The car would be driven by Alan Brown.
Brown would be entered in the second heat race. In the first heat race, Mike Hawthorn continued to impress in the T20 as he took the win by two seconds over Jean Behra in his Equipe Gordini T15. Peter Collins finished 3rd in his HWM-Alta.
The second heat race featured some tough competition for Brown. Robert Manzon was amongst those in the second heat. He drive a T16 for Equipe Gordini. Rudolf Fischer was also entered in the second heat race. He was driving a Ferrari 500 for Ecurie Espadon. In addition to the T16s and the Ferrari 500, Connaught had built it's a-Type chassis and it was proving to be a very capable Formula 2 race car.
Manzon would set the fastest lap during practice with a time of two minutes and one second around the 2.90 mile road course. Kenneth McAlpine, Rudolf Fischer and Duncan Hamilton would complete the front row having each recorded a time one second slower than Manzon's. Brown's best time was some five seconds slower than Manzon's. This relegated the Brit to the third row in 11th.
The important thing was to finish the heat race. Manzon and Fischer would battle it out at the front for the lead and the victory of the heat race. McAlpine couldn't keep up with the pace and would end up slipping down the order. Brown would push hard, but would also drive smartly in order to finish.
Manzon would end up getting the best of Fischer and would take the victory in the 15 lap heat race. Fischer would finish 2nd, two seconds behind. Tony Rolt, driving an HWM-Alta, would finish the race in 3rd, almost twenty seconds down. Brown would ascend the order from his 11th place starting position to finish the heat race 6th.
Starting grid positions for the 35 lap final race were based upon the finishing time of each competitor in the heat race they each took part. Therefore, Robert Manzon would start the final race from the pole after he completed his 15 lap heat race faster than what Hawthorn did in the first heat. Rudolf Fischer would start 2nd since his time was also faster than what Hawthorn's was. Hawthorn and Behra finished off the front row. Brown's time in the second heat allowed him to start the final race from a better position than what he had started his heat race. Brown would start the race from the third row in 9th. Twenty-six cars would start the 35 lap race.
Manzon appeared on the verge of taking the victory. However, his race would come to a very sudden and quick end on the 2nd lap of the race. Robert's race was over when his T16 developed transmission troubles. Robert's Equipe Gordini teammate, Jean Behra, would also fall out of the race after completing only three laps, due to transmission ailments as well. This opened the door for many of the front runners, except for Brown. While Peter Whitehead and Mike Hawthorn were setting fast laps of the race, Brown's pace wasn't anywhere close. Troubles and ailments within the Richmond T20 greatly hindered the team's performance in the race.
Lance Macklin would end up coming from 10th place to take the victory. Tony Rolt would finish 2nd. Emmanuel de Graffenried would finish off the podium in 3rd for Enrico Plate. Brown's troubles meant he would not end up classified at the end of the race. He would not complete enough laps to be considered still running at the end. Brown would only complete 23 laps. This was a tough result for the team right before its planned appearance in its first-ever World Championship grand prix.
Ecurie Richmond's first World Championship grand prix took place across the Channel on the European continent. The first World Championship grand prix for the 1952 was in Switzerland at the 4.52 mile Bremgarten road circuit.
The race would be the first time Ecurie Richmond would face off against talent and teams like Scuderia Ferrari and Alberto Ascari. Thankfully for the team, Ascari wasn't present for the race. He was in the United States preparing for the Indianapolis 500. No matter whether Ascari was present or not, there were more than enough capable competitors present that would make the race tough for the small Midlands team.
The pace of the elite teams became more than apparent during practice. 1950 World Champion, Giuseppe Farina, would take the pole for the 62 lap race with a time of two minutes and forty-seven seconds. Farina's Ferrari teammate, Piero Taruffi, would start alongside in 2nd with a time two and a half seconds slower than that of Farina's. Equipe Gordini pilot, Robert Manzon, would end up starting 3rd.
Ecurie Richmond would go all out in its first-ever World Championship race. The team would enter two cars driven by Brown and Brandon. In practice, the pair would push hard. Given the level of talent present, each of their starting positions weren't all that bad for basically gentlemen racers. Brown would set the fastest time of the Richmond teammates. His best time was fifteen seconds slower than Farina's. This gap in time meant Brown would start the race from 15th on the grid. Brandon's best time was over eighteen seconds slower. This meant he would start the race from 17th.
The team realized it wasn't going to be able to compete with Ferrari, even Equipe Gordini. Its focus was on running smart and staying out of trouble. Then, at the end of the race, they would see where they were at.
Right at the start of the race, the Ferraris of Farina and Taruffi pulled away from the field. Farina would lead throughout the first 16 laps. Out of the twenty-two that started the race, the attrition began to reduce the number hand-over-fist. Farina would retire his car on the 16th lap of the race with magneto problems. His retirement from the race was already the eighth retirement of the race. There were still more than 40 laps still to go in the race. Thankfully for Brown and Brandon, they were still running without too many problems. They were being helped as a number of the retirements were those who qualified ahead of them on the grid.
By the halfway point of the race, both of the Richmond team cars were poised around the top-ten. By running consistent, trouble-free, laps, they looked poised to move forward even further. Out front, Taruffi took over for Farina and would set sail into the distance. By the end of the 62 lap race Taruffi had recorded the fastest lap of the race and had more than enough of an advantage over 2nd to ensure he would take the victory. In fact, Rudolf Fischer had barely started his last lap in 2nd place when Taruffi was coming across the line to take the victory. Jean Behra would finish 3rd for Equipe Gordini.
Alan Brown thoroughly impressed for the Ecurie Richmond. He would stay out of trouble and would push hard enough to be rewarded with a points-paying result. Brown would finish the race 5th and would earn two points toward the Driver's World Championship. Brandon wasn't too far away from making it two Richmond team cars in the points when he finished the race 8th. Brown would finish three laps down to Taruffi, whereas Brandon would finish seven laps down. While in race pace there was quite the separation between Ecurie Richmond and Taruffi's Ferrari, all that mattered were the results. And the facts pointed to the fact Ecurie Richmond had one of its cars finish in the points in its first-ever World Championship grand prix!
After the surprising and tremendous results at the Swiss Grand Prix, it would be almost a month before the team would take part in another grand prix. The team's next race was on the 8th of June and it was the 5th Grand Prix of the Autodromo of Monza.
The Grand Prix of Monza was similar, and yet different, to the BRDC International Trophy race held at Silverstone earlier in the year. The Monza race also consisted of two heat races. However, the final results were based upon the aggregate times of both heat races. Therefore, the field would not be split up. All would take part in the heat races in order to determine the final results.
Seeing that the race took place in the heart of Italy, the field would be full of Italian makes and models. That also included Italian drivers as well. Most notably present was Alberto Ascari, who was back after taking part in the Indianapolis 500. One other late arrival for the race would be another of rather incredible quality. Though arriving only a half-hour before the start of the race, Juan Manuel Fangio would start the race in a new A6GCM; a third chassis entered by Maserati. Ecurie Richmond would enter both cars for the race. In all, twenty-nine cars would be entered in the race.
In practice before the first of two 35 lap heat races, Ascari would mark his return to the grand prix racing by taking the pole to start the first heat race. With the exception of Gonzalez driving a Maserati A6GCM in 3rd position on the front row, it was all Scuderia Ferrari. Farina started 2nd, while Luigi Villoresi would start 4th. Brandon impressed behind the wheel of the T20. He would start the race from the third row in 10th position. Brown wouldn't be able to match the pace set by his Richmond teammate and would only start the race from the fifth row in 20th position.
Right from the start of the first heat, Ascari was dominant. His pace was untouchable. The problem for each of the Richmond team members was that they were surrounded by many cars that were close in performance. This made moving up the order difficult. Brandon, though starting 10th, would languish around that position throughout the course of the race. Brown; however, was able to push up the order.
Ascari would set the fastest lap of the heat and would take the victory by more than a minute over Giuseppe Farina. Andre Simon, another Ferrari team member, would finish a lap down in 3rd. Eric Brandon was absolutely stuck in his 10th place starting position. He would start and finish in that position. However, he would end up three laps down to Ascari at the end. Ascari's pace around the 3.91 mile road course was such that Brown would end up four laps down by the end of the 35 lap heat race. However, Brown would come up from 20th to finish 13th.
With their results after the first heat race, the team had a decision to make. They were more than out of the running for the overall victory. However, if there were to be a number of retirements throughout the second 35 lap heat race, then either Brandon, or Brown, could be in a position for a top-ten result. The team decided to hope in providence. Their faith would be rewarded.
Since Ascari was untouchable in the first heat race, he would start from the pole for the second and final heat. He would be joined by Farina, Simon and Felice Bonetto on the front row. Brandon would start from the third row again in 10th. Brown; however, would start from the fourth, and final, row in 13th.
At 35 laps each, neither one of the heat races were short endeavors. Attrition could be expected. Sure enough, only eight of the sixteen that would start the final heat would actually finish. This played into the hands of Ecurie Richmond, if, they too stayed out of trouble. Speed meant nothing if it wasn't matched with endurance. This would be the case for Ascari in the final heat.
At the start of the final heat race, Ascari disappeared into the distance as he had during the first. However, the pace wouldn't be matched by endurance. And, on the 14th lap of the race, his Ferrari 500's camshaft broke, thereby ending his race. Just like that, the fastest car on track was out of the race.
Even though there was attrition during the second heat, both Brandon and Brown didn't either wait for, or, rely upon it coming and striking other competitors in order to help them out. Right from the start of the last heat, Brandon and Brown were on the move. Brandon would be able to move inside the top-ten. Brown would follow.
Giuseppe Farina inherited the lead after Ascari's departure from the race and would not relinquish it. He would take the victory in the second heat by almost a minute and a half over Andre Simon in 2nd. Rudolf Fischer, of Ecurie Espadon, would finish the heat 3rd, two laps down. Alan Brown put in an amazing performance toward the second half of the heat race and would end up finishing 5th, also two laps down. Eric Brandon, who was following thirteen seconds behind Brown, would follow his Richmond teammate home in 6th.
The race had ended up the way they had hoped it would. By having faith, Ecurie Richmond would be rewarded when it seemed there was very little chance. Farina would end up being declared the overall race winner. His advantage was more than a lap over Andre Simon. Rudolf Fischer would end up 3rd, four laps down to Farina. Although Brown beat Brandon in the last heat race, Eric would end up finishing in front of his teammate in the overall results. Brandon would finish in 5th. Alan, who had originally started the race from 20th position would end up coming all the way up to finish the race 6th. Once again, the incredibly small team based in the English Midlands had proven more than capable of racing with the larger factory efforts. This was of little surprise to those who had followed the team throughout its early existence in Formula 3.
Two weeks after Monza, Ecurie Richmond would have another opportunity to put their good blessing to the test once again. The third round of the Formula One World Championship took place on the 22nd of June at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Belgian Grand Prix, in 1952, took place on the 8.77 mile public road course near Francorchamps, Belgium. The circuit was not for the faint of heart. Practically all of the almost nine miles of public road course was fast. Almost eighty-five percent of the track was taken with the gas-pedal flat to the floor. The track featured some of the most famous corners and straights in all of grand prix racing. Each one caused reactions of different sorts. The breathtaking climb up through Eau Rouge and the courageous Masta Kink were not to be taken lightly, especially in the usually unpredictable Belgian weather.
Scuderia Ferrari's true pace became more than apparent with the presence of Alberto Ascari. The World Championship runner-up the previous season would promptly go out and take the pole for the race after traversing the almost nine miles of Belgian hills and countryside in four minutes and thirty-seven seconds. Farina couldn't match the pace and would have to settle for 2nd on the starting grid. Though also not capable of keeping up with Ascari, Piero Taruffi would end up making it Ferrari one-two-three on the starting grid. Alan Brown showed he was courageous behind the wheel of his T20. The brave-Brit would push hard and would be rewarded with a 9th place starting position on the grid. Brandon would prove not to be a slouch either. He would push his T20 hard as well and would start the race from 12th on the grid.
Located deep in the heart of Ardennes Forest, the Spa circuit was, and still is, famous for one other thing—unpredictable weather. The only thing predictable about the weather was expecting its presence at some point in time during a race. In the case of the third round of the World Championship, the rain had already started falling before the 36 lap race got underway. This made the track treacherous. It would; therefore, test the nerve of many of the drivers.
Ascari would lead right from the very start of the race and appeared absolutely unaffected by the weather. Everyone else seemed to be tip-toeing around the track. Meanwhile, Ascari seemed as though he was at a full sprint. Two drivers who decided they would put it all out there on the line were the two Ecurie Richmond pilots.
The rain would help catch out a number of drivers. Three drivers, who had qualified inside the top-ten would fall out of the race after about a dozen laps due to accidents. This only promoted both Brown and Brandon who were driving hard, but smart, in the wet conditions. Being British, they were used to the wet and were comfortable driving on the edge in such conditions. Though Italian, Ascari also seemed part duck in the conditions.
Ascari would end up leading all but one lap of the race and would go on to score the victory. Farina would finish the race 2nd, but, almost two minutes down to Ascari. Robert Manzon would finish the race in 3rd. He had just started his 36th and final lap when Ascari came into view to take the checkered flag. Alan Brown almost made it two-for-two for Ecurie Richmond. Brown had come forward from his 10th place starting position and was chasing after local Belgian, Paul Frere, for the 5th, and final, points-paying position. Unfortunately, Brown wasn't able to chase down Frere and had to settle for a very good 6th place finish. Brandon would finish one lap behind his teammate, and three behind Ascari, in 9th place. Although the team would not have one of its cars finish in any of the points-paying positions, it would be the second-straight World Championship race in which the team would have both cars finish in the top-ten.
In preparation for the fourth round of the World Championship, and, since the team was already on the continent, Ecurie Richmond entered its two cars in the 20th Grand Prix of the Marne at Reims, France.
The Grand Prix of the Marne was the fourth round of the French F2 Championship and took place on the 4.46 mile public road course between Reims and Gueux. This was an important test for Ecurie Richmond. The Grand Prix of the Marne provided the team with valuable experience testing the car's pace and reliability for the rest of the season.
In addition to gaining valuable racing and testing experience, the top grand prix teams of the day were also regularly taking part in the French F2 Championship. This enabled the team to get more experience against the top teams. Coming all the way across the Channel, Johnny Richmond came to see how his team would fare.
The presence of the top teams and drivers meant Alberto Ascari and Ferrari were present for the race. Both would make their presence known in practice. Ascari would record the fastest time in practice with a lap of two minutes and twenty-six seconds. His Ferrari teammate, Farina, would be the next-best qualifier. His time would be two seconds slower. Frenchman, Robert Manzon, would start from the front row in 3rd with a time over two seconds slower.
The Richmond team entered its two cars in the race. Both of its drivers would impress during practice. Brown would end up being the most impressive. As with Spa, the Reims circuit required brave pilots willing to keep their foot on the gas. Alan was one of those brave souls. He would push his T20 hard and would end up in the middle of the third row in 7th. His time; however, was over eleven seconds slower than Alberto's time. There were only two types of chassis that qualified in front of Brown. They were Ferraris, or, Equipe Gordinis. Brown had even managed to out-qualify the very impressive Brit, Mike Hawthorn.
While Brown deserved much laud and praise for his bravery during practice, Brandon didn't fare all that bad either. Eric's best time put him in the middle of the starting grid in 12th. The little team was again proving to be bigger than its size. The race would; however, give the team a dose of reality.
The pace right from the start of the race was furious. Unfortunately for Brown, his Bristol engine had decided it had given everything it was going to give during practice. On the 5th lap of the race, the Bristol engine let go and brought Brown's race to an end…almost.
While the front-runners disappeared into the distance, Eric Brandon's pace wasn't anywhere near that which was necessary to remain in touch. In an attempt to try and make up the difference, Alan replaced Brandon behind the wheel for the remainder of the race. Unfortunately, the change didn't help. Eric Brandon and Alan Brown would end up not classified at the end of the race.
Alberto had given up his car to Luigi Villoresi after Villoresi's car retired on the 4th lap with an engine problem. Jean Behra, of Equipe Gordini, proved to be more than capable carrying on in the lead. Behra would end up completing one more lap than the rest of the field by the end of the three hours. Farina and Villoresi would finish 2nd and 3rd.
The failure of Brown's engine, and the limited financial resources at Ecurie Richmond's disposal, led the team to miss the fourth round of the World Championship at Rouen-Les-Essarts. Instead, the team headed back across the Channel to rebuild and prepare their cars for the World Championship's visit to home soil on the 19th of July.
The team's next race would be the British Grand Prix, which was held at Silverstone near Towcester, England. This was the 5th British Grand Prix at the 2.88 mile road circuit surrounding an old World War II Royal Air Force base. Silverstone had become of the official 'home of British motor racing' and would be the home World Championship round for the British-based Ecurie Richmond team. This would be the best opportunity the team would have to display its good fortune in front of the home crowd.
Unfortunately, no matter what Brown or Brandon would end up putting together during practice or the race, it would likely be eclipsed by Ascari and Ferrari. During practice; however, even Ascari would be eclipsed. Giuseppe Farina would record the fastest lap during practice and would start the 85 lap race from the pole. Ascari would start 2nd. Ferrari would sweep the top-three starting positions when Taruffi recorded the third-fastest time in practice.
The best of Ecurie Richmond would end up being Brown. His best time would enable the Brit to start the race from 13th on the grid. Richmond's other entry; that of Brandon's, would end up further down in the thirty-two car field. Brandon's best time would only be good enough for him to start the race 18th.
Thirty-one cars would end up being able to start the race. Right from the start, Ascari took the lead and left everybody behind. The only hope the other entries would have would be if Ascari had a failure, which wasn't all that likely to happen.
The pace was fast and the competition, close. Both Brown and Brandon would be stuck down in the field unable to mount any effort to move forward. Battling with other competitors actually slowed the pace of the pack down. Meanwhile, Ascari was flying. Within laps, Alberto was coming up behind the back of the pack looking to already put cars a lap down. The pace was such that neither Brown nor Brandon could truly keep up. They were truly being overshadowed by the other competitors.
Ascari would go on to lead every single lap of the race and would take the victory by more than a lap over Piero Taruffi in 2nd place. Mike Hawthorn did provide the British faithful something to cheer about when he was able to take his Cooper-Bristol to a 3rd place finish. Despite driving the same car as Hawthorn, Brandon and Brown could do nothing to match the pace. Eric would end up the highest finisher amongst Ecurie Richmond. He would end up over nine laps down in 20th place. Brown's race was even worse. He would end up over sixteen laps down and not classified by the end of the race. It had turned out to be a totally different race than what the team had been able to achieve at both Bremgarten and Spa. It could be argued the engine failure at Reims, and the subsequent financial position the team was in, subconsciously slowed the team's drivers down a fair bit.
There was not that much time between the bitter disappointment of the British Grand Prix and the team's next race. On the 2nd of August, Ecurie Richmond was preparing its two cars to take part in the 2nd Daily Mail Trophy race at Boreham. The Daily Mail Trophy race was another of those races during 1952 that allowed Formula One cars to take part in the 67 lap event around Boreham's 2.99 mile road course.
Richmond was desperate for another good result. The going would be tough with the presence of Villoresi with a Ferrari 375 and Jose Froilan Gonzalez and Ken Wharton behind the wheel of BRM P15s. Practice would be indicative of the struggle the team had on their hands.
Luigi Villoresi would record the fastest lap time in practice and would start the race from the pole. Gonzalez, in the first of the BRMs, would start the race 2nd. Chico Landi, in another Scuderia Ferrari 375, started 3rd. And, Ken Wharton, in the other BRM P15, started the race on the front row in 4th. Louis Rosier, driving another privately-owned Ferrari 375, would finish out the front row in 5th. The best Richmond qualifier would be Brown. Brown's best lap would only be good enough to start the race from the third row in 13th. Brandon would end up starting much further down.
There would be one variable that could help Richmond's team—the weather. Rain had come through the area before the start of the race. This would play havoc with the more-powerful BRMs and Ferraris. Smaller, more-nimble machines were on more of an equal footing as a result. As long as the track stayed dry.
The rain would play into the hands of a number of competitors, many of whom were British and used to being wet. Mike Hawthorn would come up from his 6th place starting position to take the lead. He would hold onto the lead almost throughout the entire length of the event. Brown and Brandon would also improve upon their starting positions.
The race's toll on the field would be considerable. In all, fifteen cars would either fall out of the race, or, would end up not being classified by the end. Unfortunately for the smaller cars, the rain stopped and the track began to dry out. This swung momentum back in favor of the big liter engines like that of the Ferrari and BRM.
Hawthorn was unable to hold off Villoresi and Chico Landi. Villoresi would go on to win the 67 lap event by ten seconds over Landi and by more than a minute over Hawthorn in 3rd. Alan Brown would take advantage of the conditions and moved up the order. He would then barely hold off a charging Stirling Moss to finish the race in 6th. Brown's margin over Moss for 6th was only four tenths of a second! Brandon could breathe a little easier. He had a lap advantage over the Talbot-Lago T26C of Alberto Crespo and was able to easily finish the race 9th. This was yet another top-ten for both of Ecurie Richmond's cars and a good source of encouragement after the embarrassment in front of the home crowd at Silverstone.
After skipping the German and Dutch Grand Prix, the next race Ecurie Richmond would enter was back over on the continent and part of another championship. During the later-part of August, the team travelled to La Baule, France for the eighth and final round of the French F2 Championship. This would be the team's last try to rectify its only other experience in the French F2 Championship.
The team would bring both cars for the race. In practice for the three-hour timed race, Ascari was the class of the field. He would lap the 2.64 mile La Baule circuit in one minute and fifty-seven seconds. Robert Manzon would start on the front row in 2nd after recording a time one second slower. The Richmond team had reason to be excited. Both of their cars would start the race from grid positions inside the top-ten. Brandon turned in the fastest lap of the two. His time was just under eight seconds slower. As a result, Eric would start the race from the fourth row in 8th position. Brown would be over a second slower than his teammate and would start the race from the fifth row in 9th place.
Speed in practice is never as important as pace during the race. From the drop of the green flag, Ascari was in control of the 6th Grand Prix of La Baule. Driving a whole race at qualifying pace is never comfortable. However, the pace Ascari was putting together would have forced Richmond's teammates to do just that in order to stay in touch. Unfortunately, in order to finish, Brown and Brandon had to find a slower pace. This pace, though more comfortable, would put them in jeopardy of not being classified at the end.
Villoresi would end up recording the fastest lap of the race. However, Ascari consistently put together the fastest laps of any competitor. As a result, he would end up completing one more lap than the entire field at the end of the race. Villoresi hung tough but would finish 2nd. Louis Rosier would end up four laps down in 3rd.
Thankfully, for Ecurie Richmond, neither of its cars suffered a failure as it had during the last French F2 race in which the team contested. However, neither of the team's cars would be classified at the end of the race. Ascari's pace was such that neither of the Richmond entries completed enough laps. Brandon was running 9th at the time of the finish. However, he was eleven laps down. Brown's race fared even worse. He was the last car still running on the track but would end up not classified when he would end up over twenty-six laps down.
Though the team missed the German Grand Prix held on the Nordschleife at the beginning of August, the team travelled to the Grenzlandring for what was the 5th DMV Grenzlandringrennen on the 31st of August.
Ecurie Richmond would square-off against a gaggle of Veritas RSs and Meteors. The race was a 12 lap event around the 5.58 mile Grenzlandring. Unfortunately, Germany would prove to be rather hostile toward the British team. But, it wasn't just them. Fourteen entries would end up retiring before the end of the race. Eric Brandon had the dubious honor of being one of the first ones out of the race. He wouldn't be left alone. Brown would be the last car to retire before the end of the race. His fan belt broke and ended his day.
The trip back across to the continent had proven to be a rather expensive one. The team had only one more chance to cover some of its costs. The eighth, and final, round of the Formula One World Championship took place on the 7th of September.
The Italian Grand Prix was the final round of the World Championship and it took place at the 3.91 mile Monza road course, a place Ecurie Richmond had been able to earn a good result earlier in the season.
To that point in the season, the team had been able to score two points in the World Championship (the first points ever scored by a Cooper chassis in the World Championship). The team had come really close to scoring more at the Belgian Grand Prix. Interestingly, the only embarrassment the team suffered throughout 1952 had been its home grand prix at Silverstone. The question, and the hope, was, 'could the Italian Grand Prix provide the team with another good result?' The answer would become clear after 80 laps of the fast road course.
Things didn't look good at the start. Ferrari dominated throughout practice. Alberto Ascari would earn yet another pole. He would be joined on the front row by his Ferrari teammates Villoresi and Farina. Then there was the new Maserati A6GCM. Their drivers would start 5th and 13th. Not to be lost for consideration, a fleet of three Equipe Gordinis would also be present. However, earlier in the season, Ecurie Richmond faced the same teams and still earned a good result.
Once again, Alan Brown proved to be the pace-setter amongst the team. His best lap in practice enabled the Brit to start the race from 12th on the grid. Brandon struggled mightily. His best time only enabled him to start the race from 20th on the grid.
Richmond's drivers needed to drive another smart race in order to give themselves the best chances for success. They would drive consistent laps, but not at the pace of Ascari and the small pack chasing him at the front.
Gonzalez tried to get the jump on Ascari at the start of the race by starting with light tanks. This tactic worked initially, but backfired when he had to stop for fuel. Once Gonzalez had to stop for fuel, Ascari had the lead and absolutely grabbed it by the neck from that point on. The pace was incredible, and devastating, to Ecurie Richmond's cars.
Ascari would go on to win the final race of the World Championship season and by more than a minute over Gonzalez. Villoresi would finish more than two minutes slower in 3rd. Despite being lapped seven times by Ascari, Brandon put in a truly impressive performance. He would come up through the field from 20th to finish the race 13th. Comparatively, Brown would struggle. He would end up slipping down the order. He would end up twelve laps down in 15th. This was nothing like what the team experienced earlier in the year and was indicative of how the momentum had swung against the team during the last half of the year.
The team would have a couple of chances to swing momentum back in their favor before the end of the season. With the World Championship over, the only races left for the team were more-local non-championship races.
The first of those potential momentum-changing races would come on the 27th of September. The team entered its two cars in the 5th Madgwick Cup race at Goodwood. Earlier in the season, Brandon had been able to earn a 6th place finish at the circuit. The team hoped there would be at least a repeat performance when it returned at the end of September. It would be better.
The race was short; only six laps. Therefore, grid position at the start of the race meant everything. This fact wasn't lost on Brown. He would push hard and would end up establishing a time during practice that would be good enough for him to start the race from the front row in 4th. Eric Thompson would take the pole. Ken Downing and Duncan Hamilton would join Thompson and Brown on the front row. Brandon struggled slightly. He would end up starting from the third row in 9th. Brandon would have a hard time getting on the podium when the race was only six laps long. It wouldn't matter anyway.
Andre Loens and Stirling Moss would crash on the first lap of the race. Pole-sitter, Thompson, would suffer from crash damage and would retire on the first lap. Brandon's race was over after only two laps. This left Brown to fight it out for Richmond. He would do the team proud. Ken Downing would end up winning the race by nine seconds over Dennis Poore. To the delight of the team, Brown would finish four seconds later in 3rd place! This was the team's first podium in Formula 2! The result was good for the team as the off-season lurked not too far away.
Only two races remained on Ecurie Richmond's calendar. The first of those two was the 1st Joe Fry Memorial Trophy race held at the 1.83 mile Castle Combe circuit on the 4th of October. The race was only 20 laps, but featured some truly competitive teams and drivers.
Stirling Moss would take the pole for the event. Peter Whitehead and Roy Salvadori would start on the front row in 2nd and 3rd. Alan would earn his second-straight front row starting position when he set a time less than two seconds slower than Moss', which was good enough to start 4th. Brandon fared better than he had at Goodwood. His time was a little over four seconds slower, but good enough for him to start the race from the second row in 7th. In fact, he would start just off Brown's right shoulder.
In the race, Whitehead and Moss were out of the running before 10 laps had been completed. A curse had come to rest upon Eric as he too would retire from the race. Roy Salvadori would make his way to the lead and would not look back. Roy would win the race by twelve seconds over Ken Wharton in his Frazer-Nash. Brown started in 4th and that was where he would end up. He would end up just getting lapped right before Salvadori crossed the finish line.
The final race for the team in 1952 occurred a little further north at Charterhall. The race was the 1st Newcastle Journal Trophy race and was 40 laps of Charterhall's 1.99 mile road course.
Ecurie Richmond was looking for just one more good result before the off-season. They should have quit while they were ahead.
The race would not be kind to a great number of the entries. Only seven cars would end up as still officially running by the end. Nobody was safe. Tony Gaze would record the fastest lap of the race and would then retire from the race himself. After a slew of Frazer-Nashs retired from the race, Brandon continued in his misfortune and was out of the race. Brown wouldn't have any ability to brag though. Almost at the finish, Brown would end up retiring from the race. The season would end up not quite as the team would have hoped, but the season still had a number of highlights.
Ecurie Richmond would end up 1952 having earned a number of top-ten results. In its first season in Formula 2, the team would also score a podium finish, and of course, points toward the World Championship. In fact, Alan Brown's two points at Bremgarten enabled the Brit to finish the World Championship in 16th. This wasn't that bad of a result considering Ecurie Richmond wasn't at all as big an operation as even some of the other small teams. Its freshman season had proved to be expensive, but still rather successful and exciting. The team would look forward to 1953 and the opportunity to do even better. Ecurie Richmond