TeamsBritish Racing Partnership: 1959 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
Ken Gregory had great plans for 1958 and beyond. But despite the team's beginnings being strong, they would end with the shock and grief of Stuart Lewis-Evans' death in Morocco. However, instead of fading into despair, BRP would determine to come back even stronger in 1959.
Both Ken Gregory and Stirling Moss' father had started out looking after Stirling's efforts as he made his way up the formulas of motor racing. Free from that concern, both would look to start their own effort, an entity that could even be available for Stirling when he needed the opportunity.
British Racing Partnership would get their start in 1958 and would look forward to a bright future with the talented Stuart Lewis-Evans as their driver of the future. But all of that would get turned upside-down with Lewis-Evans' death in Casablanca. Suddenly, everything would begin to change.
Though they could have given up, Gregory and Moss would see the situation as an opportunity. They had decided to build-up their own team with the purpose of developing new and young talent and to provide an outlet for Stirling to go racing. At the end of the '58 season, Vandervell would withdraw from Formula One. Tony Brooks and Stirling would be without a drive for the upcoming season. Stirling, however, had a contract with Rob Walker and Tony Brooks would make his way to Scuderia Ferrari. Therefore, BRP, which had been established for talented, rising stars and Stirling, was without either. But, they would work on that.
Gregory would be interested in utilizing Borgward engines instead of the Climax that usually powered the Cooper chassis. Gregory would understand that if he could promise Stirling to be driving one of their cars with the Borgward engine the engine supplier would be keen on providing the necessary engines. A deal would be struck, but Moss was not available. BRP needed to make do while Gregory and Tony Robinson, Stirling's mechanic during the early 1950s, worked on the situation to get the Stirling driving for them.
BRP would run two Coopers in 1959. The two received from Cooper would be the first produced by the company in '59. Both would be the newer T51 chassis and with Borgward 1.5-liter engines. Taking easy steps up the racing ladder, especially following Lewis-Evans' death, BRP would concentrate upon Formula 2 during the early part of the season, especially as they tried to negotiate Stirling coming to drive for the team. Therefore, the team would turn to old hands, Ivor Bueb and George Wicken to drive for the team in the early part of the season.
The 1959 season would begin early on in the south of England. Goodwood, near Chichester, hosted its annual Easter Monday Races on the 30th of March and one of the many races held that day would be the 10th running of the Lavant Cup Formula 2 race.
BRP would enter its two brand-new Cooper-Borgwards in the race and Bueb and Wicken would be the pilots for the 15 lap race around the 2.38 mile Goodwood circuit. Jack Brabham would start from the pole and would end up barely holding off Roy Salvadori for the victory while Bueb and Wicken would be virtual also-rans finishing 10th and 12th respectively. Gregory would be intrigued by the Borgward engine option but the top nine finishers would all be powered by Coventry Climax engines.
The next event in which BRP would take part would be the British Empire Trophy race held at Oulton Park in Cheshire on the 11th of April. Rain would fall upon the 2.75 mile circuit as Roy Salvadori prepared to lead the field away around on a 40 lap contest.
On this occasion British Racing Partnership would be much more competitive with Bueb battling amongst the top three. George Wicken would find things much more difficult. He would not be able to stay on the lead lap with Bueb, but he would still be in the running nonetheless.
Though Salvadori started from pole, there wouldn't be anybody faster than Jim Russell. He would set the fastest lap of the race and would cruise to victory by nearly 30 seconds over Tony Marsh. Bueb would finish a little more than a minute behind Russell in 3rd place providing BRP its first podium finish of the season. Wicken would struggle. He would end up more than three laps behind by the end but would still manage to cross the finish line in 15th to provide the team two-straight race finishes for both cars.
Bueb and Wicken were consistent but they would need to be fast and consistent heading into the next race of the season. The site of the British Grand Prix later on in the year, Aintree would host the BARC 200 event on the 18th of April and this would pit Formula One and Formula 2 cars on the track together. Competing against the Formula One cars was an all-but impossible task for Bueb and Wicken. They would also need to be on their very best if they were to compete within Formula 2 as well.
Situated just outside of Liverpool, Aintree had first hosted a grand prix in 1954. The event was a non-championship event and a prelude to the British Grand Prix coming the following year. Alternating with Silverstone, Aintree had managed to serve-up major achievements for British motorsports in Formula One. In 1959, Aintree would see Scuderia Ferrari appear with a couple of its Dino 246s, fully ready to reclaim Italian honor.
While there would be few Formula One entrants, especially British ones, the Formula 2 field would be absolutely busting at the seems and all with British manufacturing and talent. BRP would enter the usual. Bueb and Wicken would handle the driving assignment while the Cooper-Borgward T51 would be their mount.
Rain fell upon the 3.0 mile circuit prior to practice. In the changing conditions, Masten Gregory was the only one to really find a groove and the American would go on to take the pole in his Formula One Cooper-Climax T51. Jean Behra and Harry Schell would join him on the front row.
Bueb would be impressive in the conditions around Aintree. His best lap of 2:06.2 would be less than 7 seconds slower than Gregory's effort and would make him one of the fastest within the Formula 2 field. As a result, Bueb would start a fine 10th place from the fourth row of the grid.
Wicken, meanwhile, would be a further 6 seconds slower than Bueb. As a result, he would end up down on the 10th row of the grid in the 25th position overall. This put him at the tail-end of the Formula 2 field but at 67 laps, there would be plenty of time for the race to come to Wicken.
Bueb had had a good start to the day. He would take part, and win, the saloon race earlier in the afternoon. The overcast conditions would continue to persist but it seemed as though the rain would stay away as the cars lined up on the grid.
Gregory would lead the field at the start of the race. He would be chased by Jo Bonnier and Stirling Moss. A little ways back, Bueb would be in fine shape at the start of the race. The early part of the event would see the BRP lead the way. There would be a good number of lead changes throughout two-thirds of the race, but Bueb would look the strongest and would actually be in the lead heading into the final 20 laps of the race.
Up front, Gregory's lead would be increasing as just Moss would be able to keep pace. Schell sat in 3rd place, but was failing to keep touch with the leading duo. The Ferraris of Behra and Brooks sat comfortably a little further back, but within striking distance if either of the three ahead of them ran into any trouble.
And they would. Gregory would drop out after 19 laps with clutch failure. Moss would last 30 laps before gearbox failure would bring about the end to his day as well. Schell retired a couple of laps before that making it an easy path for the two Ferraris to move to the front of the field.
Among the Formula 2 runners, Bueb continued to be the strongest. The BRP Cooper-Borgward would not be the fastest car around the circuit but Ivor would set consistently fast laps to retain a slim lead. However, after 50 laps of fine running, the clutch in the Cooper would let go. Lacking all power, Bueb's day would come to an end thereby handing the lead to Brian Naylor.
Naylor would not be able to stay in the lead as he would need servicing a number of times before the end of the race. This meant Michael Taylor took over the lead. George Wicken had not been the fastest car in practice, but this could be partly due to the changing conditions for, during the race, he would be making steady progress up the running order. Heading into the final 10 laps of the race he would be running within the top five. He would be on the same lap as Jack Lewis, but it appeared 3rd within the class would be a little beyond his reach.
Jean Behra would go on to take the overall victory following the collapse of the competition. The Frenchman would manage to come through to take the victory about 14 seconds ahead of teammate Tony Brooks and Bruce McLaren.
Mike Taylor would take the victory in Formula 2. He would end the day a little more than 4 laps behind the Formula One cars ahead of him but he would be well down the road from the rest of the Formula 2 entries. Keith Greene would finish in 2nd place while Jack Lewis would manage to keep Wicken at bay for 3rd.
Considering, it would be a good race for Wicken after starting 25th on the grid. He had pushed when he needed and allowed the race to unfold. His steady and persistent approach would be rewarded with an 8th place finish overall and 4th within the class. Bueb's retirement would be a bitter disappointment after running so long in the lead of the race. Still, it would be a decent day for BRP and very important as the team prepared to leave English shores for another island.
Following the result in Aintree the BRP team would pack everything up and would head immediately to the continent and on to the Mediterranean where they would eventually end up on the island of Sicily. Having hosted non-championship Formula One races for nearly a decade, the ancient city of Syracuse would host the 9th running of the Gran Premio di Siracusa, but this time it would be for Formula 2.
The team would find itself traveling with many of the same teams and drivers that had competed in Aintree just the week before. Bueb and Wicken would make the journey and would prepare to drive for the BRP team against the Jean Behra for Scuderia Ferrari, Jack Brabham for Cooper and Stirling Moss for Rob Walker.
Moss would end up on pole for the 55 lap race around the 3.47 mile circuit situated just to the northwest of the city. During the race, it would be Jean Behra that would post the fastest lap of the event, but the Frenchman would not be consistently fast enough to challenge Moss who would go on to victory over Behra and Brabham.
The best placed BRP driver would be Bueb who would finish the race in 5th place a little more than a lap behind. George Wicken would again run a consistent race, but not quite fast enough. He would finish the event down in 7th place a little more than five laps behind.
Despite not being amongst the top three, BRP was showing well. What's more, Moss would take the victory with a Borgward-powered Cooper and Bueb and Wicken would both achieve good results with the engine, so there was hope that even better results were on the way. However, what the team really needed to make the results come would be a couple of faster drivers.
BRP would make its way back to English shores following the Syracuse race. The season was heading into the month of May and that meant the International Trophy race was soon coming. The team would make its way home and would set about preparing its cars for the non-championship event on the 2nd of May.
The site for the International Trophy race was the usual—Silverstone. First held at Silverstone in 1949, the International Trophy race was celebrating its 11th edition of the race and would make use of the same 2.92 mile circuit it had debuted back at the end of the 1940s decade.
Wide open, flat and fast, the speeds around the Silverstone circuit, even within Formula 2, continued to climb. Its layout and nature called for a driver, especially driving a 1.5-liter Formula 2 car, to be smooth and consistent in order to prevent any loss of momentum.
The BRDC International Trophy race would be a race for Formula One and Formula 2 cars, but it would allow teams to test themselves in another long and arduous test around the Silverstone circuit. Covering 50 laps, the Formula 2 cars would be supremely tested.
Stirling Moss would be at the wheel of a Owen Racing BRM 25 for the International Trophy race and would prove quite quick compared to the Ferrari of Tony Brooks and the new Aston Martins. Moss' best lap would be 1:39.2 and would be eight-tenths of a second quicker than Brooks. Roy Salvadori would be quick in the new Aston Martin and would end up 3rd on the front row. Jack Brabham would complete the front row posting a time just a fraction of a second slower than Salvadori.
British Racing Partnership would bring just a single car to Silverstone and it would be entered for Bueb. Ivor had proven to be the quicker driver over the last few races and seemed the obvious choice if the team was to enter just a single car. Amongst the Formula 2 runners, Bueb would be rather quick. He would be within a second of other Formula 2 drivers like Bruce McLaren. And, as a result, Ivor would start the race from the fifth row of the grid in the 17th position overall.
Juan Manuel Fangio would be on hand to wave the flag to start the race. Amidst sunshine and a large crowd, Fangio would get the race underway and it would be Brabham that would get the best start to lead the way. Behind him, Salvadori and Moss would be close together while Shelby and Brooks would be nip and tuck early on.
Brabham would remain in the lead of the race while Moss would move ahead of Salvadori for 2nd place. Amongst the Formula 2 runners, Bueb would again be quick remaining within reach of the lead throughout the early laps.
Moss would be charging hard in the BRM but would quickly experience the same brake problem that drew the ire of Jean Behra the year before. Moss would be out and Salvadori would be back in 2nd place while Brooks was struggling to keep up a little further back. Attrition was beginning to make an appearance. Moss would be the first out of the race but he would soon be followed by others. Every few laps another would run foul of trouble. Bueb, however, would have no such problems and would continue to challenge for the outright lead in Formula 2.
Brabham was not really challenged at the head of the field. Despite the fact Salvadori would turn the fastest lap of the race, Brabham would keep his head and would stay in front. Bueb would be chasing Jim Russell heading into the final laps of the race. Bueb was quick, but he was much more of a consistent, long distance, driver than one truly capable of stamping authority on a moment. As such, Russell would continue to hold sway in Formula 2 while Bueb eased away from Ian Burgess in a Formula One Cooper.
Brabham would face little competition in the remaining moments of the race. It seemed as though Salvadori was having gearbox trouble and this enabled the Cooper driver to pull away into the distance. The Australian would take the victory by nearly 18 seconds over Salvadori in an impressive debut for the Aston Martin. Ron Flockhart would complete the podium finishing 25 seconds down in 3rd.
Two laps would be the difference back to the first of the Formula 2 cars. Despite being on the same lap, Bueb would be unable to run down Jim Russell for the victory. Instead, the BRP driver would settle for 2nd place and another strong showing for the Le Mans winning driver. It was BRP's only entry for the International Trophy race and Bueb kept his head, as usual, and brought home one of the best results of the season.
Following a failed attempt by Bueb to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix, BRP, and Bueb, would return to the Formula 2 ranks and would look forward to the 7th London Trophy race held at the quick, but short, Crystal Palace circuit on the 18th of May.
Once again, Bueb would be joined by George Wicken as the drivers for BRP. They would be competing amongst a field filled with Cooper T43s and T51s along with a handful of Lotus 16s.
Jim Russell would set the pace in practice taking the pole around the 1.38 mile circuit just to the south of London with a time of 1:00.2. Among the BRP drivers, Bueb would be much more consistent and this would be important heading into the 36 lap race on the 18th.
The fastest lap of the race would go to Roy Salvadori at the wheel of the High Efficiency Motors Cooper T43. Just six-tenths of a second off of Russell's effort in practice, Salvadori would be in the lead of the race and would have a comfortable margin in hand over none other than Ivor Bueb. Wicken would also show a good deal of promise as he too fought to complete the race within the top five.
Around a circuit in which consistency and no loss of momentum would be paramount, Salvadori would prove the best taking the victory. However, Bueb would show himself well coming across the line just about 13 seconds behind to finish in 2nd. Wicken would be impressive. He would finishing the race nearly a lap behind, but in 4th place just behind a young driver that would soon join the ranks at BRP.
BRP would get an opportunity to enjoy a break of a few weeks following the London Trophy Formula 2 race. It would be the first time in a while in which the team would have more than a couple of weeks between races. However, the team would be on its way back to the continent at the end of the month of June. The ultimate destination would be the same as the Formula One teams, but there would be a couple of events in which the team would be looking forward to.
Reims had returned to the World Championship calendar the year before after a year of the French round being hosted at Rouen-les-Essarts. It would end up being a tragic weekend with the Ferrari driver, Luigi Musso, loosing his life as he tried to chase down Mike Hawthorn. It would also be a bittersweet moment as it would prove to be the last time Juan Manuel Fangio would ever race in Formula One.
One year later, BRP would be on its way to Reims, the team would be making its way to the road course, situated amongst the rolling countryside, with no less than three cars. They would have their two Cooper-Borgward T51s in tow, but they would also have another car on their transporter.
Over the course of the previous couple of months Gregory and Robinson had been hard at work, but not just preparing for upcoming races. They had convinced Borgward that Stirling would be behind the wheel of a BRP. The two men negotiated and maneuvered until they achieved their aim. There, on the transporter, would be a BRM 25 on loan from Owen Racing. It was wearing a pale-green livery and would be for Stirling in the French Grand Prix.
It was to be a busy weekend for BRP. Besides the French Grand Prix, there would also be a Formula 2 race, the 3rd Coupe Internationale de Vitesse. Given that the Formula 2 event would be its own separate race the field would be large for both events.
The team would not only have another car in tow, they would also have a different driver as well. Throughout the last few races there had been a young driver sneaking across the line ahead of the BRP drivers. He was proving to be fast and very talented, and therefore, a must-have for BRP. Gregory would go in search and would come back with the young man under contract. His name would be Christ Bristow. Gregory noticed Bristow throughout the season and asked the young man to test the Cooper-Borgward at Brands Hatch. Needless to say, Bristow would impress. In fact, it would be almost disconcerting just how fast the young 21 year old driver was around the circuit. He would be signed immediately and he would join Ivor Bueb driving the T51s in the Formula 2 event.
The Coupe Internationale de Vitesse would be a baptism of sorts for both Bristow and the Cooper-Borgwards. Lasting 25 laps, the race would take place around the ultra-fast 5.15 mile Reims circuit, one of the fastest on the World Championship calendar. Rather flat and quite wide-open, the circuit was basically nothing more than a triangle with hairpin turns interrupting very long straights. The start/finish straight was a popular viewing point with the spectators as it allowed the crowd a view all the way down to the final hairpin known as Thillois, extended for a mile up the long straight and then even included the first portion of the fast right-hander that started the lap. The circuit was fast and popular, but it was also quite dangerous, as had been proven the year before. What's more, because of the speeds, the circuit also exacted a heavy toll, and this would be a tough assignment for both Bueb and Bristow—keep pace while keeping watch of their cars.
Stirling Moss would compete in the Formula 2 race driving Rob Walker's Borgward-powered Cooper T45. He would go on to set on pole for the race and would be heavily favored heading into the event. However, the field would be filled with more than 20 entries and that would include factory Coopers, Scuderia Ferrari and a handful of Porsche coupes as well.
Reims suited Moss. Moss was all about pushing as hard as he could and, as long as the car would go with him, he would be nearly unbeatable. But, there would be another combatant in the racein which Moss and the others would have to deal with—terrible heat.
Moss was barely recovered from the Formula One race mere moments earlier. But, amidst a crumbling circuit and sweltering heat he would not only lead the way but would set the fastest lap of the race.
The pace and the heat would be terrible for nearly everyone, including the BRP drivers. Bueb would be out of the race at about the halfway mark. Bristow would be hanging in their in his Cooper, but he too would not last much longer. The toll would be terrible as more than 12 cars would end up out of the race either due to damage, mechanical maladies or driver exhaustion.
Amazingly, Moss would appear entirely unfazed by his pushing efforts and near exhaustion earlier and would be uncatchable in the Formula 2 race. He would go on to take the victory by more than 12 seconds over Hans Herrmann in a specially-built Behra-Porsche. Jo Bonnier would complete the top three.
Unfortunately for BRP, the Formula 2 race would not provide a happy ending to a truly frustrating day. Moss had gone on to win, but he had done so while back driving for Rob Walker's outfit, not BRP. The trouble suffered by Bueb and Bristow meant the team would leave Reims utterly empty-handed.
Earlier in the day, BRP would be filled with great hope. Stirling Moss would be at the wheel of their 'on loan' BRM 25. It was the team's first proper participation in a World Championship event. The team had made an appearance in the Moroccan Grand Prix at the end of the season last year, but they had done so as a Formula 2 entry, and therefore, incapable of scoring any World Championship points. Less than a year later, however, and BRP could not only score championship points, but, with Stirling Moss behind wheel, were in the running for an overall victory as well.
Even though BRP had reason to be confident, Scuderia Ferrari would be even more confident arriving at the circuit with no less than six cars. The powerful Dino 246 was tipped to be the class of the field given its power and the fact Hawthorn had dominated the race the year before in one.
Practice would kick-off on Wednesday and immediately Brooks would be quick in one of the Ferraris. Down the long Route Nationale 31 straight he would reach speeds of nearly 190mph and it would become clear it was highly-unlikely another car would be really able to challenge the Ferraris.
By the end of the final practice session on Friday, everyone's fears would be confirmed. Jack Brabham would end up in the middle of the front row in his Cooper, but he would be flanked by two Ferraris. Brooks would be on pole with an astounding lap time of 2:19.4 and Phil Hill would complete the front row having set a time just four-tenths slower.
As for BRP, Moss would still be among the quickest around the Reims circuit. His best effort would be a 2:19.9. Just half a second slower than Brooks, Moss would start behind his former teammate on the second row of the grid in the 4th position. Though the Ferraris seemed to have the edge on everyone, BRP was still in a good position having Moss lined up right behind the pole-sitter.
There would be a 12 hour race scheduled for the Saturday before the grand prix on Sunday. The temperatures would be so bad that it would be delayed, and then, cancelled. As dawn broke on that Sunday, there would be little relief. The temperatures were beginning to climb as high as they had the day before, but another race just couldn't be cancelled. And so, preparations for the start of the 50 lap race carried on.
As the temperatures continued to soar ever higher, the cars would be wheeled out to their positions on the grid. The drivers would take their time, not wanting to expose themselves to the heat anymore than what was necessary. Finally, amidst the terrible heat vortices rising from the baking tarmac, the flag would be shown to the field and all would go rushing off toward the fast right-hander that bypassed the old route that headed into the village of Gueux. Brabham would actually get the jump on Brooks and Hill, but it would be short-lived as Brooks would be in the lead heading through the first part of the first lap. Moss would get a good start and would be among a group of five that led the field. The BRP BRM would be within striking distance, but it was early, and it was hot.
Most of the drivers had had cold buckets of water dumped on them prior to getting into their cars. By the end of the first lap that cool wet feeling would be replaced with searing heat and oppression. Brooks would be leading the way. Moss had gotten away from the grid well but had dropped a spot heading into the first couple of corners. However, powering down the long straight leading to the Thillois hairpin, Moss would use the power of the BRM to his advantage. He would also put his trust in the most fragile part on the BRM—its brakes.
Brooks would appear from the Thillois hairpin in the lead. Right behind him, having poured everything into the disc brakes of the BRM, would be Moss who had performed a daring move to climb into 2nd place at the end of the first lap. This was extremely risky for Moss as the BRM had a terrible reputation for brake failure. He would get away with it and would quickly set his sights on the Ferrari straight ahead.
Brooks continued in the lead unabated. Moss, however, would quickly come under threat from Masten Gregory in one of the Coopers. He would pull-off a similar move on Moss at the same hairpin to take over 2nd place.
Moss continued to run right around the top five throughout the first 10 laps of the race. It would be an enthralling battle behind Brooks as no less than five drivers would trade positions back and forth. Jean Behra, who had complained about his Ferrari team before the race, would stall on the grid and would be driving like a man possessed as he tried to prove he was the strongest driver in the Ferrari lineup. He would recover and would join the fray as well, but his race would last only about 30 laps before he would become victim of engine troubles as a result of the terrible heat.
The heat would be so bad the grip from the tires would be literally ripping the track apart. Graham Hill would end up retiring from the race once he had a pebble from the track ripped up and launched into his radiator by a car passing him. Dan Gurney would suffer the same problem after 20 laps of running. But while the track breaking-up was certainly a concern and a problem, the heat was the greatest problem of all. Leading to overheating of car and driver, the heat would be the greatest combatant to the competitors.
Brooks continued in the lead without any problems whatsoever. The Ferrari driver continued to press his advantage, pulling out an even greater margin over the rest of the field. Moss, meanwhile, slipped back. He was still well within striking distance of the points, but was certainly looking more and more out of the picture for the win unless Brooks ran into trouble.
After falling back a fair distance, Moss would seem to find a way to cool himself. He would be back on the charge quickly closing on Brabham's tail. Less than 20 laps remaining in the race, Moss would manage to get by Brabham for 3rd place. A spot on the podium was now within reach. Despite the heat, Moss was hotter. He would soon set the fastest lap of the race with an incredible lap of 2:22.8 and this would enable him to close right up on Phil Hill's Ferrari. Moss would be pushing Hill hard, but not all would be well with the BRM.
Just past half-distance Moss' BRM began to suffer trouble. Surprisingly, it would not be the brakes of the car that would cause the trouble. Instead, it would be the clutch. And, as Moss approached Hill to try and fight for the position, the clutch trouble would come to the fore in one of the most memorable ways.
Flying toward the Thillois hairpin, Moss would try and duplicate his move on the first lap of the race. Unfortunately, he would push it too deep and would end up unable to make the turn. Most unfortunate would be the fact he had buried it so deep into the hairpin that the engine stalled when he went to try and make the turn. The clutch was gone. There was virtually no way for Moss to restart the car without outside assistance. In one of the most iconic moments, Moss would climb from his pale-green BRM and would begin pushing it amidst the terrible and exhausting heat. Soon help would arrive and Moss would get back on his way. Pushing the car up the long straight from the Thillois hairpin was not only exhausting and time consuming, it was also right in front of the stewards and the outside assistance would come to ruin Moss', and BRP's, day.
There was nothing, besides the hot tarmac and stones, that could disrupt Brooks' day. Leading the race from the very first circuit, Brooks would take a commanding victory crossing the line nearly 30 seconds ahead of Phil Hill in 2nd. It was a one-two for Scuderia Ferrari. And, had it not been for Jack Brabham finishing 3rd, it would have ended up being a clean sweep, just as many predicted.
Moss would lose out terribly having to push his car up the long straight after the Thillois hairpin. Not only would it be exhausting, and, therefore, difficult to get back up to pace whence the car did start, but it would also take a lot of time. Fighting for 2nd place at the time of his mistake at Thillois, Moss would finally get going and would end the race over 8 laps behind in 8th place. Most unfortunate would be the fact the assistance had come right in view of the race stewards. Outside assistance was not allowed, and, after all of that exhausting effort, Moss would be disqualified from the race results. A chance at the podium would not only be lost, right along with a finish in the points, but it would be as though the team never took part in the race in the first place.
Despite the terrible turn of events that ended the race and set the stage for a double-failure in the Formula 2 race that followed, BRP's first full-fledged attempt in a Formula One World Championship race had been something of a success, even though the results wouldn't demonstrate the fact. It would be a rather bitter trip out of Reims later that night, but at least the team knew it had the potential.
Leaving Reims frustrated and extremely hot, BRP would not venture back home, or even out of France. Instead, the team would carry its whole lot three hours to the west to the city of Rouen. Rouen would host the Grand Prix de Rouen-les-Essarts Formula 2 race on the 12th of July.
This was a perfect opportunity for the BRP team. Not only was it a Formula 2 event, of which the team had been doing quite well, but it was on the way toward the French coast. The British Grand Prix was just a week away and this would provide the team an opportunity to put the frustrations of Reims behind them before landing on English soil preparing for the biggest race of their season.
Rouen-les-Essarts would be a quick circuit but it would be quite different than Reims. Whereas Reims was basically just a triangle circuit, Rouen would be a much more technical circuit. It was still made up entirely of public roads but it would boast hairpin turns, fast bends and medium-speed corners. This was not a circuit in which drivers just planted their right foot to the floor and hoped the car's engine could last the torture. Here in Rouen, the driver had a much bigger role to play.
Measuring a little more than 4 miles in length and boasting of elevation changes and blind entries to corners, the Rouen circuit was certainly challenging. However, with its location along the riverbank of the Seine, it was also a very popular circuit as well.
The BRP outfit would quickly set to work making the necessary repairs to their two Cooper T51s in order that Bueb and Bristow would have cars ready to compete in the 35 lap event.
They would need to be competitive as Hans Herrmann would prove quickest in practice taking the pole in the Behra-Porsche. But then there was Stirling Moss in the Rob Walker Cooper and Jack Brabham in one of the factory Coopers. It was to be a large field, and a highly competitive one at that with more than a dozen Coopers in the field.
Trouble would visit the competitors early. Three cars, including the Cooper driven by Roy Salvadori, would be out of the race before the race reached the five lap mark. The pole-sitter would even run into trouble. After 8 laps of running, Herrmann would find the transmission without drive thereby ending his day. It seemed nobody was immune and Bueb would prove this fact on the very same lap. An oil pipe of the Cooper would crack ruining Bueb's race. Only Bristow remained in the race for BRP, and he would be fairing rather well in spite of the attrition.
The man best coping with the trouble would be Stirling Moss. He had taken the victory at Reims and seemed well on his way at Rouen as he would go on to set the fastest lap of the race and pulled away from those following him. The real battle on the track would be for 2nd place and for 5th.
Heading into the final couple of laps, Harry Schell and Masten Gregory, the two American drivers in the race, would be going at it tooth and nail. There would be no more than a couple of tenths between the two and there was very little indication as to who would come out on top.
It would become quite evident Moss was going to come out on top. He would cruise to victory having more than 30 seconds in hand. All eyes would peer up the road toward the final right-hand kink to see just who would have the upper-hand for 2nd place. Then, finally, the two cars would appear. Both would have their foot firmly to the floor but it would be Schell that would end up taking the place by just two-tenths of a second over Gregory.
Following along behind Bruce McLaren in 4th place would come Christ Bristow in the sole remaining BRP Cooper. It would be an impressive performance for the young man finishing just nine seconds behind McLaren. However, he would not be able to relish over who was in front of him as he would find himself in an even closer battle with Maurice Trintignant than what Schell and Gregory had had coming to the line for 2nd. Despite heavy pressure from the two-time Monaco Grand Prix winner, Bristow would hold his own and would manage to cross the line just a tenth of a second ahead of the Frenchman.
Bristow's performance to hold off Trintignant would be very good news for the team as they closed up shop and prepared to make their way to the Channel coast and on to England. The British Grand Prix was looming large and to have fought back such heavy pressure certainly had to encourage the team heading into the following weekend.
The last time BRP had been to Aintree, Ivor Bueb had been in a strong position to take the win in Formula 2. As it turned out, Bueb would not finish the race but George Wicken would come through to save the team. He would finish 3rd. Now, the team would be returning to Aintree not just to take part in a Formula 2 event, but the biggest race of the grand prix season on English soil.
British Racing Partnership had taken part in the French Grand Prix with its first Formula One car. Piloted by Stirling Moss, the team came within a dozen laps of a possible 2nd place finish. As it would turn out, they would leave Reims with nothing more than an iconic moment of what might have been. Now, as the team arrived back in England, they would be keen on turning around what might have been to what would be.
The British Grand Prix would return to Aintree after a year at Silverstone. The last time the race had been held at the circuit it would prove a monumental moment in British motor racing as Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss would combine to provide the country with the first victory by an English manufacturer. That had come in the Vanwall. Since then, the rear-engined Coopers had begun to make their mark. BRP would arrive at the Aintree circuit with a couple of Coopers, but they would also arrive with one very important BRM.
The British round of the '59 World Championship would be open to both Formula One and Formula 2 cars. British Racing Partnership would enter its three cars in the race. The two Formula 2 Coopers would be entered for Ivor Bueb and Christ Bristow. The sole Formula One entry for the team would again be entered for Moss. It would be a truly special moment for BRP having Moss at the wheel of their BRM for the British Grand Prix. If ever there was a time for things to go right it was now.
As the teams arrived to prepare for the beginning of practice there would be one very notable absence. Scuderia Ferrari would fail to arrive. This was interesting, especially when a mothballed Vanwall appeared for Tony Brooks. Then it would become apparent. Strikes in Italy had prevented the team from being able to leave Italy. It was going to be a mostly British affair as just a single Maserati 250F would arrive ahead of practice.
The start of practice would be marked by periods of rain. In the damp conditions, Moss would prove quickest offering the BRP a lot of hope. Friday practice would be dry. This enabled the cars to reach their true potential around the circuit. Not surprisingly, the factory Cooper of Jack Brabham would prove quickest around the technically-demanding circuit. His best lap of 1:58.0 would enable Brabham to grab the pole while Roy Salvadori would be impressive in the new Aston Martin to take 2nd place on the front row. The final spot on the front row would go to Harry Schell in one of the Owen Racing BRM 25s.
Despite setting the fastest lap time in the first practice session on Thursday, Moss would not be able to equal the times. Having failed to finish even one of the World Championship rounds to that point in the season, Moss would find himself down on the third row of the grid having posted a time a little more than a second and a half slower than Brabham. Therefore, Moss would start the race 7th, sandwiched in between Carroll Shelby and Bruce McLaren. The third row would actually set identical lap times, just like the fourth.
Among the Formula 2 runners, both Bristow and Bueb would be in strong contention. Bristow would really be impressive as the young driver would end up the fastest of the Formula 2 runners and would start from the seventh row of the grid in the 16th position. Meanwhile, Bueb would be impressive in his own right qualifying just four-tenths slower than Bristow. As a result, Bueb would end up on the same rank as Bristow but in the 18th position.
The day of the race, the 18th of July, would break with overcast skies and rain. The forecast said the rain would stop and that it was entirely likely the sun would shine before the end of the day. Sure enough, as the mechanics set about making final adjustments and preparing their cars along the pitwall, the sun would be shining at moments suggesting a superb day was in store.
The cars would soon take their places on the grid along with their drivers. Moss' BRM was by no means difficult to spot with its pale-green color. And, as the race would unfold, the British fans would have plenty of opportunities to cheer the driver and the car on.
The flag would drop to start the race amidst brilliant sunshine. Brabham would get the jump and would clearly lead the way into the first turn. Moss would be another that would get a great start. He would be amongst the top five heading into the first turn. Trintignant would have a slow start but would recover to get by Moss, but it was very early on in the 75 lap race.
Brabham would lead the way while Moss was getting up to speed just outside the top five. This situation would soon change as Stirling would quickly make his way up to 2nd place by the time the first 10 laps came to an end. Further back, Bristow would be looking incredibly strong leading the Formula 2 field. Bueb, on the other hand, would suffer a terrible start to the race and would be left having to regain lost ground throughout the early going.
Brabham continued to edge out an advantage as Moss ran comfortably in 2nd place. Stirling had suffered terrible results throughout the first half of the season, and therefore, seemed out of place taking it easy in 2nd place. Harry Schell would follow but would fade. Maurice Trintignant would mount a challenge, but would also fade. Soon, it would be Brabham's teammate, Bruce McLaren, taking up the challenge of chasing after Moss.
Bristow continued to carry on in the lead of Formula 2. Bueb would recover well and would be soon up to 3rd place. Things were looking wonderfully marvelous for BRP as the race headed into the final half.
Moss had allowed the gap to Brabham to get as far as he was comfortable. Then, when he sensed it was time, he would begin pushing, hunting after Brabham's lead. In the two other British Grand Prix held at Aintree, Moss had come away victorious. He certainly wanted to keep that streak alive and well. Stirling was picking up the pace and was drawing in Brabham. It seemed as though BRP and Moss would have their moment.
Stirling continued to close in, however, with about 25 laps remaining, would dash into the pits. He had pushed so hard that he needed new tires fitted to the BRM. The work would be done and Moss would return to the circuit, but with Bruce McLaren closing. Brabham's lead was now appearing to be safe. The same could not be said for Moss' 2nd place.
McLaren would close the gap and would actually take over the position from Moss with less than 10 laps remaining in the race. After the difficult season he had been experiencing, Moss wasn't about to lose out on 2nd place. He would pick up the pace once again posting the fastest lap of the race and retaking 2nd from McLaren. But, the race for 2nd place wasn't over.
There was nobody to challenge Brabham who would cruise to another victory on the season. Crossing the line at the end of the 75th lap, Brabham would have more than 20 seconds in hand over the battle for 2nd place. Moss would find himself in familiar territory. In 1955, he had held off a hard-charging Fangio to take his first-ever World Championship victory. The year before, in a non-championship race, he had managed to hold-off Jack Brabham for victory. Now, with Bruce McLaren all over his backside, Stirling knew exactly what to do as he headed into Tatts. Powering off the final corner, Moss would get the drive he needed. Though McLaren was right there it would be Stirling that would take 2nd place. It was a fantastic drive for Moss, and a truly special one for BRP. The team had arrived at the vision for its very establishment. They had a competitive car and it was Moss taking it to a top result.
But the good news would just keep coming for BRP. Ivor Bueb would fade slightly among the Formula 2 runners. He would end the day 4th within the category. But, in the case of Bristow, there would be nobody within his class. Trailing along behind Graham Hill's Formula One Lotus 16, some five laps behind the overall race winner, Bristow would have no competition at the end of the race. He would perform flawlessly to take the win by more than a lap over Henry Taylor in a Climax-powered Cooper T51.
The day just couldn't have gotten much better. It would be a great moment, a bright and shining moment; one last special moment of sunshine before the darkness settled in.
Leaving the bright and brilliant shores of England, BRP would be making its way back to the European continent. The team would be on its way into the heart of France to Clermont-Ferrand and the new Charade circuit. It would be there, on the 26th of July, that the 2nd Trophee d'Auvergne would be held.
The Formula 2 race had the potential of being another great moment for the team. Ivor Bueb and Christ Bristow were proving to be a strong combination. Bueb would pull from his vast experience to help encourage and mentor Bristow and, as a result, the two men became good friends.
During the course of the race, Bueb would have an accident on a portion of the circuit that would result in his being vaulted out of the car. Bueb laid beside the terribly twisted Cooper in the fetal position fighting for his life while workers slowly responded. Both drivers would go on to fail to finish the race, but, some six days later, Bueb would lose the battle for his life.
Bristow would be deeply impacted by Bueb's death. Bristow had been in the lead of the race at Charade until he was forced to retire. However, following the news of Bueb's death it appeared as though the young man had lost all desire to go racing. It wasn't clear if Bristow would come back to race at all. There were a couple of races coming up within days and, while the team would be on its way to Germany for the German round of the World Championship, Bristow would be left to himself to decide his future.
British Racing Partnership, rather fresh from Moss' performance at Aintree, had decided to enter the German Grand Prix held on the 2nd of August. The decision to take part in the race was a brave one, but mostly business. The German Grand Prix, in 1959, would not be held at the infamous Nurburgring. No, instead the race would be held at another sinister circuit known as Avus.
Gregory had managed to get Borgward engines through the persuasion that Stirling Moss would drive cars powered by the German powerplant. That had not happened over the course of the year though he had piloted the team's on loan BRM in the French and British rounds of the World Championship. Heading into the German Grand Prix, there would be a good deal of pressure for German engineering and drivers to be showcased. Porsche would be on hand with a factory car, and then there would be Jean Behra in his own Porsche-powered car. But, when it came to German drivers, the field was pretty thin. BRP would be in a position to help. With Bristow out with conscious challenges and Stirling Moss back driving for Rob Walker, there was an opening within the team behind the wheel of the BRM 25. Therefore, Hans Herrmann would earn the ride for what would be a memorable grand prix.
The German Grand Prix would take place at the unusual Avus circuit situated to the west of Berlin between Charlottenburg and Nikolassee. The circuit would be nothing more than a portion of highway running northeast to southwest. A lap of the circuit was virtually nothing more than heading down one of the long straights, turning around, and then heading back on the other side of the road in the opposite direction. However, on the north side of the circuit there would be one menacing turn that garnered quite a bit of attention.
In an effort to make the circuit the fastest on earth the north curve would be changed in 1936. Instead of a flat, teardrop-shaped curve a steeply-banked corner would be built. Measured at 43 degrees it would be more than ten degrees steeper than the banking at Daytona, but it would be even more dangerous. Completed entirely with bricks, the 'Wall of Death', as it would become known, would be terribly dangerous, especially in wet conditions. This fact would be proven the day before the German Grand Prix when Jean Behra would lose control of his Porsche on the banking and would end up running up the banking, hitting a concrete block at the top and being catapulted into a flagpole at the very top of the banking. Behra would be killed, but the race would go on.
It would be a difficult time for Formula One following Behra's death. For BRP it was tough as it would come on the heals of Bueb's death in France. Nonetheless, Herrmann would set his sights toward the double heat race the following day.
Herrmann would have some work to do as he prepared for the race in front of his home crowd. Though he had the support of his countrymen and women Herrmann would still start the race from the third row of the grid in the 11th position. This was not a terrible starting spot given the nature of the Avus circuit and that he could use the slip-stream to move forward, but that would be dependent upon whether or not he had the speed in the first place to stay there once up toward the front.
In essence, Hans would get two cracks at it. Unlike most races on the World Championship calendar, the German Grand Prix at Avus would consist of two 30 lap heat races and aggregate scoring for the overall results. Not unlike Reims, Ferrari would be tipped to take the victory around the fast Avus circuit. And, as the first heat got underway, it would be Brooks and Dan Gurney fighting it out for the lead of the race. Moss would be up there at the beginning but it would be Masten Gregory that would make an impression fighting with Gurney for 2nd place and even leading a couple of laps utilizing the draft to sling-shot his Cooper forward. Herrmann, meanwhile, would find himself at the back of the field all race long. Though the BRM was known to have good horsepower, Herrmann just didn't seem capable of getting the most out of the car.
Brooks would continue to have to fend off Gregory and it seemed the Cooper driver may be able to pull off an upset. However, with less than 10 laps remaining in the first heat, the engine in the Cooper would give up the fight and Brooks would be on his own well out in front.
Brooks would cruise to an easy victory defeating his Ferrari teammates. Dan Gurney would end up 2nd finishing a little more than a second behind while Phil Hill would finish 3rd more than a minute adrift. Herrmann would be focusing on the long-game it would seem. He would end up a lap down to Brooks but he would still manage to come through in 8th place, within striking distance of the points if others struggled in the second heat.
The second heat would see some surprising changes. Bruce McLaren would get away from the grid in fantastic fashion and would lead the field. However, the Ferraris would use the long straights to their advantage and Phil Hill and Tony Brooks would soon get by with Jo Bonnier and Dan Gurney also making forward progress.
The pace would be quick and there was always concern that attrition would show up in dramatic fashion. Unfortunately, it would be Herrman that would provide the biggest spectacle, a moment in Formula One history that would live on forever.
Having completed seven laps, Herrmann was on his way south toward the tight hairpin before making the turn and heading back toward the steeply-banked north curve. The BRM had a terrible penchant for brake trouble, and, after traveling the road at nearly 200mph, Hans would arrive for the slow hairpin without any brakes. Herrmann would try to downshift to slow the car but this would only result in him losing control of the car. The car would strike some hay bales and would result in a series of spectacular somersaults. This would be a terrible sight following Bueb's death and the death of Lewis-Evans the year before. Thankfully, Herrmann would be thrown out of the car and he too would watch as the car virtually destroyed itself.
Sadly, for most people present, this would be about the only drama seen in the whole of the second heat. The three Ferraris, led by Brooks, would absolutely disappear into the distance over the course of the final heat. With mere tenths of a second between them, the Ferraris would run in formation throughout the whole of the heat with each taking turns in the lead. It was a great show of force from the Italian squad. Then, with less than 10 laps remaining, the order settled out. It was a processional tour de force with Brooks taking the victory by three-tenths of a second over Hill, who was another three-tenths ahead of Gurney.
In the final results, it would be Brooks taking the victory. Gurney would end up 2nd overall, but a little more than a minute behind. Hill would finish 3rd, still another three seconds behind Gurney. But even though Brooks would win the race and help his championship aspirations, it would be the dramatic episode of Herrmann's accident that would be the first and lasting memory of the 1959 German Grand Prix. BRP would just be happy they didn't have another death on their hands.
Following the German Grand Prix, BRP would be without a Formula One car, and they would still have a driver dealing firmly with his conscience. However, the team would soon find out Bristow's response, and it would be a powerful one.
Returning home, BRP would take a single Cooper T51 to Brands Hatch for the 1st John Davy Trophy Formula 2 race on August 3rd. It was a day after the BRM had been written-off in the spectacular crash at Avus, and this followed along closely behind Ivor Bueb's death at Charade. Therefore, the team wasn't sure Chris would even appear for the race at Brands. But Bristow would be there and he would be more determined than ever.
Though Bruce McLaren would start the two heat race event from the pole it would be Bristow that would take a commanding victory over Roy Salvadori in the first heat. Then, in the second, all he needed to do was command the situation. He didn't need to win; he just needed to keep his closest rivals as close as possible. And, though he was chasing Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori, Bristow would manage the gap brilliantly to come away with the overall victory over Salvadori and Brabham. It was the ultimate response the crisis of conscience the young driver had been facing.
The good times would not keep rolling as the team returned to Brands at the end of the month for the 2nd edition of the Formula 2 Kentish ‘100'. Though Bristow would make a challenge of it, ultimately, the Cooper would let him down and he would not be able to earn back-to-back victories. Instead, Jack Brabham would take victory honors over Graham Hill and Stirling Moss.
The season was beginning to wind down. Heading into late September, there was only one round of the Formula One World Championship remaining and that was on the other side of the Atlantic. There were, however, a couple of big races remaining in Europe, and both would be on English soil.
The first of these would be a popular race that would become open for Formula One cars again for the first time in a few years. Held at Oulton Park on the 26th of September, it was the International Gold Cup race.
BRP would be left with just Chris Bristow as their driver, but he was quickly proving to be a very talented racer able to keep pace with the likes of Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss. He would be behind the wheel of the team's Cooper T51 and would be squaring-off against a number of other Coopers and Lotuses around the 2.75 Oulton Park circuit situated near Tarporley in Cheshire.
Bristow would be impressive again as he would be quick in practice. Moss would set the pace with a lap time of 1:42.4. Jack Brabham had been third-quickest with a time just two-tenths off of Moss'. Bristow would line up 3rd on the front row after having posted a time about a second and a half slower than Moss. Graham Hill would complete the front row in his Lotus 16.
Moss was virtually dominant around Oulton Park and many expected him to take the victory even before the 55 lap race got underway. There would be just 13 cars that would make it to the grid after problems in practice saw the BRM effort pack it up and leave and then a couple of others suffered mechanical troubles and accidents.
At the start of the race, Brabham would get a huge jump on the others and it was clear he had jumped the start. Moss would be in hot pursuit, but not as hot as Rob Walker would be as he ran to the officials to have Brabham penalized for the start.
Given that Moss had won the previous editions of the Formula One International Gold Cup, Brabham likely knew he would need the start of his life if he was to even have a chance against Moss. Bristow, who would be found not far behind the Coopers of Brabham and Moss, would continue to impress as he stayed right there holding of the likes of Roy Salvadori, Bruce McLaren and others.
Walker's protests would not be needed as Moss would make his way by Brabham to take over the lead of the race. Brabham's clutch was weak and would cause the Australian to struggle putting up a fight. Once in the lead, Moss would begin to edge-out an advantage. Posting the fastest lap, it was clear he was going to be near impossible to catch. Brabham would be on the limit as far as he could get, and yet, Moss still drew further away.
Meanwhile, Bristow remained in 3rd place, but he would find it difficult to keep pace with the other two. The pace was furious and the rest of the field would find it difficult just to stay on the lead lap. In light of this, Chris would be running quite well.
Moss would cruise to yet another victory around Oulton Park. Averaging 96mph, Moss would defeat Brabham by a margin of 5 seconds. Chris Bristow would be a long distance back by the end of the race, but he would end up the final driver on the lead lap, and, therefore, had had a good run to finish a minute and a half back in 3rd.
The International Gold Cup race at Oulton Park would not be the final Formula One event in which BRP would take part in during the 1959 season. Though they would not make the trip to Sebring, Florida in December, there would be one more non-championship race and that would come about on the 10th of October.
The BRP team would make its way from its base in Hertfordshire and would head northeast the hour and a half until reaching the airfield circuit of Snetterton. It would be at this 2.70 mile circuit the final race of the season would be held. It was the 4th running of the Silver City Trophy race and it would be an event open for Formula One and Formula 2 cars. Though the team competed as a Formula One entry in the International Gold Cup race, at Snetterton, the team would be entered within the Formula 2 category.
Having Cooper and Owen Racing present within the Formula One category, Bristow would have a great opportunity to end the season for BRP with a great result. He would prove this point when he took the top spot within Formula 2. As a result, Bristow would start the 25 lap race from the second row of the grid in 8th place overall. He would be positioned behind a front row that would include Ron Flockhart on pole and Salvadori, Graham Hill, Bruce Halford and Innis Ireland all completing the remainder of the front row.
There were many that didn't give Flockhart a chance in the race. However, when the flag dropped it would be the BRM driver in front. Brabham would be all over the Scot and the pace would pick up furiously. But instead of folding, Flockhart would respond by setting lap records. Before the race was run, the lap record would be reduced by more than 4 seconds!
Within Formula 2, Bristow would be in the lead at the start and would look like a seasoned professional as he maintained his gap over 2nd place. Bristow was a raw talent known for speed, but not so much maturity. This would not be the case this day as he would dominate the entire race and would not put a wheel wrong at any time.
Despite the heavy pressure from Brabham, Flockhart would power his way to an impressive, and record-braking, win. Bristow would look every bit the champion as he would end the season with a class victory for himself and the team. After a season of good results, but enough heart-break, it was the perfect way to end.
Following the victory at Snetterton, BRP looked strong for the immediate years to come. The loss of Lewis-Evans and Bueb would be hard but the team would discover an incredible talent in Bristow. The once dream of Ken Gregory and Alfred Moss was rapidly becoming a major player in the grand prix scene. British Racing Partnership