In 1957, John Brian Naylor would be one of a handful of Formula 2 drivers that would make his Formula One debut as part of the German Grand Prix. The affable motor dealer from Stockport would have an impressive debut finishing 13th overall and an impressive 2nd in Formula 2. This would take the gentleman racer into a whole new, and more serious, realm.
The 2nd place in Formula 2 at the German Grand Prix would cause Naylor to look hard at upping his investment in his motorsport passion. He had taken part in the race in '57 with a Climax-powered Cooper T43. The car was certainly good and very capable. However, Cooper had introduced the T45 and had been using the car for its factory team. Believing the latest car was the way to go, Naylor would purchase a brand new T45 for 1958.
Naylor would take delivery of his T45, chassis number F2-14-58 early in 1958 and would immediately look forward to his first opportunity to put the car through its paces in anger. This first opportunity would come on the 7th of April.
The first race of Naylor's '58 campaign would come on the 7th of April at Goodwood, as was the usual custom for most British drivers of the period. Goodwood was usually the first stop for single-seater racing in England as the circuit would play host to a number of different races as part of its Easter Monday event.
One of those races held at the 2.38 mile circuit would be the Lavant Cup race. This was just for Formula 2 cars but would feature a number of up-and-coming names including Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and Stuart Lewis-Evans.
Formerly RAF Westhampnett during the Second World War, Goodwood was a perfect test for Naylor's new chassis. At just under two and a half miles, the circuit was not overly long and demanding, but it was certainly quick having no sharp, slow bends at really any point around its layout. This would push the limits of the Cooper, but still played to the car's strengths.
Momentum would be very important as the 1.5-liter engine would not offer the greatest amount of horsepower. Momentum would also be very important given the fact the Lavant Cup race consisted of just 15 laps and would take just about 25 minutes to complete. Therefore, an early mistake meant dire consequences later.
Roy Salvadori would be well aware of this point and would push a little too hard in the early stages. He had started on pole and was pushing hard to come away with the victory when a slight error in judgment would lead to an accident taking him out of the race.
Unfortunately, Naylor would follow just a couple of laps later. The brand new Cooper would fail to cover even 10 miles before it expired due to problems. Of course, this was to be expected given it was a brand new car and Naylor was rather limited in his resources to fully prepare the car.
In the end, it would be Brabham that would go on to take the victory, this despite Graham Hill posting the fastest lap of the race in a Lotus 12. Hill would finish in 2nd place just four-tenths behind Brabham. Cliff Allison would also bring his Lotus home on the podium. He would finish about 21 seconds behind Hill in 3rd.
The unfortunate debut for Naylor's T45 would end up hindering his plans. He had an entry in the Glover Trophy race held that same day. That was a race open to Formula One entries but would field its fair share of Formula 2 cars as well. Unfortunately, the problems suffered in the Lavant Cup made it impossible for Naylor to repair his Cooper in time for the race. He would have to look to the next race on the calendar to further shakedown his new car.
That next opportunity; that next race, would come on the 19th of April, some twelve days after the debut race at Goodwood. This race would take place on a different coast. The Goodwood Circuit is located within a short trip of the English Channel. The next race of the season for Naylor, and many others, would come on the coast of the Irish Sea. The race was the 13th BARC '200' and it would be held at the Aintree Circuit just outside of Liverpool.
Aintree had made a memorable debut in the Formula One World Championship back in 1955 when Stirling Moss barely edged-out Juan Manuel Fangio for his first-ever World Championship victory, and on home soil too! This would be followed up by another memorable race in '57 when Moss again shared a drive with Tony Brooks to bring home the first victory for a British car in the British Grand Prix.
Measuring 3.0 miles to the lap, the circuit winds itself inside and outside of the famed Grand National course. A mixture of medium speed corners and other technical sections, the circuit would be all about flow and precision as it offered few spots where horsepower could make up the difference for a poorly driven lap. This would be all the more apparent for the Formula 2 cars as they prepared for the 67 lap race, squaring-off against a number of Formula One entries.
Due to the fact the second round of the World Championship wasn't until the following month and there was no other competing non-championship race, the BARC event would be filled with top-notch drivers and teams. Naylor would have to fully prepared for the event at hand. His Cooper would also have to be ready for a day of hard-charging, or else, both would be left behind.
Jean Behra would end up taking the pole in the Owen Racing BRM 25. His lap time around the circuit would be 1:59.8 and would end up being four-tenths of a second faster than Roy Salvadori in the factory Cooper with a larger-displacement engine. The final spot on the front row would be occupied by non-other than the man that had been victorious in the last two British Grand Prix held at Aintree—Moss. He would end up eight-tenths slower than Behra.
Fighting such talented drivers and Formula One cars would be difficult for Naylor and was good reason to look much further down on the grid to find his positioning. However, Naylor would impress in practice as he would set a lap time of 2:08.4. Being a little more than 8 seconds off the pace of those on the front row, Naylor would earn himself a strong starting spot. He would end up on the fifth row of the grid in the 12th position. He would be 6th-fastest amongst the Formula 2 entries!
Being fast over the course of a single lap was one thing. Being fast over the whole of a race would be something else entirely. The Formula One cars would have power in hand. Naylor's Cooper would not. Of course he wasn't really tangling with the Formula One cars, but yet he was.
Things would not look good for the Formula 2 cars early on as Tony Marsh would retire after just 4 laps as a result of mechanical problems. Three laps later, George Wicken would drop out with engine troubles. Five laps after that it was Tim Parnell that retired. All three would be driving Formula 2 Coopers. This did not bode well for Naylor, especially since two of them were T45s.
It seemed the Formula 2 cars were too weak for the pace that Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham were putting together at the head of the field. But then came a slew of Formula One retirements. First would be Bruce Halford in his aged Maserati 250F. This was followed by the retirements of no less than five Formula One cars; all of them happening right in a row.
The pace up at the front was intense over the course of the race. Even though he started from pole, Behra would fade as the race wore on. He would eventually be one of the six Formula One cars to retire. Roy Salvadori would also start the race from the front row but he would soon find himself out-paced and looking to consolidate whatever position he could manage.
The fight would be between Moss and Brabham and it would be tight. This pushed the pace of the race upwards and put a lot of other cars and drivers on their edge. Naylor was a motor dealer and not a professional racing driver, but he would soon find himself pushing harder and harder to see what the Cooper could do, and just to keep touch. Unfortunately, after 37 laps, he would run out of talent suffering a crash that would not only take him out of the race, but also, leave the next few races in doubt.
Naylor's departure from the race would do little to clear up the muddied waters. There were still a large number of cars remaining in the race, but none were as close out on the circuit as Moss and Brabham at the head of the field.
Less than half a second separated the two heading into the final couple of laps. Brabham would set the fastest lap of the race, but Moss would counter his every move keeping the Australian behind him. Coming along the stretch through Melling Crossing and heading into Tatts, Moss had Brabham all over his backside, but he had been in this position before with the great Fangio applying the pressure.
In spite of Brabham's relentless attack, Moss would go on to secure the victory beating the Aussie to the line by just two-tenths of a second. Tony Brooks would have an impressive race in the Formula 2 Cooper. His smooth driving would lead him to come home a fantastic 3rd place, a little more than a minute behind and beating the front row starter Roy Salvadori.
It had been a difficult couple of races for Naylor. He was yet to have a race finish and was now suffering with a badly broken car. It had been a fairytale run around the Eifel Mountains a year ago, and it certainly seemed evident the fairytale had come to an end. After just two races, Naylor was faced with a very hard reality.
Naylor had shown great pace behind the wheel of the T45. However, it now lay broken. The month of April was coming to an end. The next race on Naylor's calendar would be the 10th BRDC International Trophy race held at Silverstone on the 3rd of May. With a broken car and just two weeks to go before the race, it was going to be nip and tuck as to whether or not he would actually make it to the race. Unfortunately, as work progressed, the days progressed much faster. The day of the race would come and Naylor's Cooper was not ready to make a solid effort. Therefore, Naylor would not arrive for the race at Silverstone. His attentions would turn to another race more than a couple of months away.
The start of the 1958 season had been a difficult one. Even though he had a brand new Cooper, the season was such that the great result in Germany the year before was now a long, almost forgotten, memory.
Naylor would look to business and sportscars during the break he would have after the failure in the BARC 200 race. He would take the extra time to prepare his car as he made the move away from English shores and began exploring races on the European continent. And, while his efforts in Formula 2 and non-championship Formula One events may not have gone as he would have liked or planned, sportscars would be another thing entirely.
Naylor and mechanic Fred Wilkinson had already been working on their own chassis for sportscar racing. They would take the basis of the car from a Lotus Eleven but would strengthen the chassis. Furthermore, the design would include elements from Lotus, Ferrari and Aston Martin, and therefore, would be an amalgamation of ideas all in one design.
While Formula 2 would not go so well, success would come Naylor's way in sportscars as he would take class victory after class victory with his JBW design. In fact, over the course of the season he would end up taking no less than 14 class victories. This served as a welcome distraction for the Brit following the frustrations in Formula 2.
But Naylor couldn't stay away the rest of the year. The success in sportscars enabled him to repair his Cooper and get it ready for the busy summer months. Readied and all sorted, the Cooper and Naylor would head across the Channel to France. Upon reaching the French coast, he would carry on to the famous and quite old city of Reims. For on the 6th of July would be held the 2nd Coupe Internationale de Vitesse.
The Formula One World Championship had returned to Reims after spending a year at the Rouen Circuit in 1957. While most attention would be given to the Formula One cars and the French Grand Prix, Naylor would be much more concerned about the Formula 2 race the same day.
The Coupe Internationale de Vitesse would not be an easy race, especially after all of the troubles Naylor had been experiencing to that point in the season. At 5.15 miles and boasting of just a couple of hairpins to slow down the action, the Reims circuit was every bit a gauntlet over 30 laps as just about any other circuit over the course of 12 hours. Everything would be beaten within and without the car. The long, long straights would strain the engine to its breaking-point each and every lap. Many other components would go through similar torture.
France had been good to Naylor to that point in '58. He had won a sportscar race at Montlhery nearly a month earlier. He had even combined with Bruce Halford to finish the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 15th in a Lister. So he certainly knew how to get around. The problem would be whether or not his new car would be willing to go with him.
Things wouldn't be any easier for Naylor, not with the likes of Stirling Moss, Jean Behra and Peter Collins in the field. Sure enough, Behra would take the pole for the race while Moss would be up toward the front of the field with the R.R.C. Walker Cooper.
Naylor's chances would go up in the very early going as Jack Brabham's Cooper would fail without even having completed a single lap. Just two laps later, Roy Salvadori would be out in another Cooper factory car as a result of mechanical problems.
The race distance would be 30 laps or 154 miles. And over the early part of the race there would be none faster than Moss in another Cooper. He would post what would end up being the fastest lap of the race. His time would be about two seconds slower than Behra's pole-winning effort, but it still applied a great deal of pressure up front.
The speeds would be tough on everything, even those components of a car that often get overlooked. Unfortunately for Naylor, it would be the relatively overlooked component, the tires, that would end up doing him wrong. After just 5 laps the tires would go on the Cooper leaving Naylor no chance of carrying on.
But Naylor could feel bad, and yet could be confident as well as a result of the fact many other top drivers would suffer from problems over the course of the race. Moss would battle in the early going on the race and would even manage to set the fastest lap of the race. However, the pace would do his Cooper more harm than the Porsche RSK that Behra was piloting or the Ferrari Dino 156 that Collins was behind the wheel of. The pace of Moss would lead to oil pressure problems and his eventual retirement after 11 laps. His Rob Walker teammate, Maurice Trintignant, had already retired from the race after 6 laps.
The loss of Moss would leave Peter Collins to take up the fight with Behra. He would pursue, but the Frenchman would have a comfortable margin in hand on home soil. Completing the race distance in just under one hour and twenty minutes, Behra would cruise home to an easy victory holding 20 seconds in hand over Collins in the Ferrari. George Wicken would complete the podium finishing in 3rd place some two minutes and 13 seconds behind.
The Formula 2 season was going disastrously wrong for Naylor. The new T45 would continue to suffer from unreliability. Confidence, at least behind the wheel of single-seaters, would be waning for Naylor. As with the sportscar effort, he believed he could do better.
Following another disappointing Formula 2 race, Naylor would remain on the continent and would look further south for his next race. While he could have returned to his native England to take part in the 3rd Vanwall Trophy race for which he had an entry, Naylor would decide to travel five hours south to the city of Clermont-Ferrand, right in the heart of France and the Auvergne region. It would be here, on the 27th of July, that the Charade circuit would play host to the 1st Trophee d'Auvergne.
It was rather fitting the Charade Circuit would come to play a more prominent part in the world of motorsport given Clermont-Ferrand was the headquarters for the French tire manufacturer Michelin. And, measuring at 5.0 miles in length and boasting of tight twists and turns, as well as, hard and fast corners, drivers and teams would need to have confidence in their tires around Charade.
After Reims, tire reliability had to be added to Naylor's growing list of concerns. The Charade circuit then did not promise to provide any kind of confidence. The 100 mile long race would absolutely put the Cooper chassis and Climax engine through yet another supreme test. Unfortunately for Naylor, the car and engine had failed every test to that point in the season. There was absolutely no reason for it to stop in Clermont-Ferrand, but Naylor would be hoping and praying.
The race provided Naylor with an opportunity. While many grand prix teams would be busy preparing for the German Grand Prix coming up just a week later, Naylor would decide to throw caution to the wind and would head to the Charade circuit instead. There was a clear risk the German Grand Prix would suffer even if he managed to finish the race in the center of France. But he had to be rather desperate for a strong result in his new Cooper. Therefore, he would take that chance and would prepare for the 20 lap race.
The race would see Stuart Lewis-Evans and Ivor Bueb battling it out for 2nd place while giving chase of Maurice Trintignant in the lead. Naylor would make it through the first few laps and would settle into a decent pace looking to stretch the Cooper when he could, while also concentrating on making it home to the finish.
Though he may have been able to push harder, Naylor would run strong inside the top ten. His greatest battle was against unreliability and he was winning that race. Therefore, he would ease up just a bit in an effort to finish his first race of the season.
Lewis-Evans would not ease up on Bueb, not for one moment. Bueb would respond by setting what would end up being the fastest lap of the race. This helped to manage the gap to Lewis-Evans but it was still within one mistake of being lost.
Concerned that his first race finish of the year would be lost, Naylor would sit just outside the top five, but with a comfortable margin over those pursuing him. This enabled his focus to entirely shift to preservation and making it to the finish. With just a couple of laps remaining, it certainly seemed as though he would finally have his breakthrough.
Trintignant would have his breakthrough with the Walker Cooper. Completing the race distance in one hour and twenty-one minutes, the Frenchman would take an easy victory. The only battle left out on the circuit would be for 2nd place between Bueb and Lewis-Evans. In spite of Lewis-Evans' relentless pressure, the fastest lap and consistent pace by Bueb would enable the Lotus 12 pilot to cover Lewis-Evans' advances and take home 2nd place by just a second.
Naylor would be no speed demon on this day. That wasn't his focus. And, though he would finish over five minutes behind in 6th place, the important thing for him would be the fact that he had finally managed to finish a race. Finishing had been as difficult to come by as a victory and in no small way he would manage to achieve both at Charade on that day.
The 6th place result at Charade would be very important, mostly for the race that followed a week later. Though he had suffered from half a season of failure, the race finish at the difficult Charade Circuit offered some confidence before heading to another circuit of a similar nature.
The next race on the calendar would be perhaps the toughest test of the whole season. Not only would the race distance be difficult, but the race itself would take place at a circuit that was considered the most demanding in all the world. It was now August, and that meant it was time for the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.
The Nurburgring had a fearsome reputation with many racing drivers. To others, it was like heaven. Measuring just over 14 miles and boasting of more than 170 corners and a thousand feet of elevation changes, the circuit was a true road course even though it had been purposely-built. However, because its designers managed to create a circuit still very closely related to an actual public road course, the Nordschleife was anything but safe. In fact, danger loomed around every corner and blind crest. Almost impossible to memorize, the circuit punished those that lost their way or their focus for even a split second's worth of time.
Naylor had made his debut at the infamous 'Green Hell' in 1957. In many respects it would be a fairytale debut. He would finish the race 13th overall but would be 2nd in Formula 2. This was no small achievement racing for 22 laps, or some 311 miles.
One year later, the race distance would be shortened by some 100 miles. Nevertheless, this, by no means, guaranteed Naylor would repeat his performance from a year ago. In fact, it would be no small miracle if he did given his struggles over the course of the season. No, just another race finish, wherever it was in the final standings, would be a welcome sight for him.
The conditions would be difficult for just about every Formula 2 car and driver. The race would again run concurrently with the Formula One cars, and this meant a great deal of temptation to push harder than what a car is particularly capable over the course of a long 15 lap race distance.
If there was going to be a repeat performance of the incredible march to the front that everyone witnessed the year before it was not going to include Juan Manuel Fangio as he had already retired, the decision being further confirmed by Luigi Musso's death at the French Grand Prix.
Still, even with the absence of Fangio, the entire field would be strong in both Formula One and Formula 2. Naylor would be just one of no less than fourteen Formula 2 entries for the German Grand Prix. There would be about an equal number of Formula One entries in which he would have to contend as well.
Fangio had made good use of the resurfaced circuit to better his own lap record by some 16 seconds in practice. In practice in 1958, Mike Hawthorn would go on to better the lap record Fangio would put together in his unbelievable charge to the front to take the victory and his fifth World Championship. At the end of practice it would be Hawthorn sitting on the pole having turned in a lap of 9:14.0. Tony Brooks would also show great speed around the circuit in the Vanwall. He would end up just a second short of Hawthorn and would start 2nd. The remainder of the front row would include Stirling Moss starting in 3rd place alongside his Vandervell teammate. Hawthorn's teammate and friend, Peter Collins would serve to bookend the Vanwalls by placing his Ferrari 4th on the grid.
A year earlier, Naylor would prove to be one of the faster Formula 2 qualifiers. One year later, he would end up one of the slower. His best lap would actually be a couple of seconds slower than his time from the previous year. He was behind the wheel of a new car but it certainly wouldn't look like it. As a result, he would start the '58 German Grand Prix from the seventh row of the grid in the 25th position overall.
The start of the race would see Moss power his way into the lead with the much better handling Vanwall. A year ago he had been struggling just to keep touch. This time he would be in the lead and able to hold on relatively easily throughout the first few laps of the race. At the end of the first lap it would be Hawthorn and Collins running 2nd and 3rd while Brooks controlled 4th. Starting last on the grid, Naylor would remain right there through the first lap of the race. He looked to settle in and repeat the performance he had achieved the year previous.
But it was not meant to be. The year before, Naylor and his T43 Cooper had complete an entire race distance around the Nurburgring. One year later, he would only manage to complete a single lap of the circuit before a fuel pump failure would sideline him for the remainder of the event. His race had lasted barely 15 minutes. It would take him longer to pack up and get ready to leave.
The same would be nearly true for Moss as his race would come to an end after just three laps. Magneto troubles would hinder the car's performance and the regulations for that season would prohibit him from jumping in another Vanwall and trying to pull off the same feat as Fangio.
Moss' failure handed the lead to the two Ferraris of Hawthorn and Collins. These two good friends would battle it out with Collins leading by far the most laps of the two. However, Brooks would finally get settled behind the wheel of the Vanwall and would begin to mount a challenge on the two Ferraris. By the 11th lap of the race the Vanwall would make its way past both Ferraris into the lead of the race.
Brooks' effort to take over the lead of the race would infuriate Collins as he had led the most laps to that point in the race. Therefore, he would gather himself and would set about counter-attacking Brooks. Increasing his pace meant he could challenge for the lead but it also made him more vulnerable to a mistake around the circuit that heavily penalized driving errors of any kind.
Tragically, Collins would push too hard at the wrong time. Cresting a blind rise in the circuit, Collins would quickly come to realize he was too fast for the right-hand bend that immediately followed. He would go wide trying to scrub off the energy. The back-end would step out and he would fight with the car attempting to save it. He would nearly have everything under control when he would hook a ditch causing the car to overturn. Collins would be thrown out of the car and head-first into a nearby tree. Hawthorn would see the whole thing happen and would be sickened by what he thought for sure were going to be terminal injuries. He would complete the lap and pull into the pits apparently with 'clutch' problems. Collins would later die from the injuries sustained in the crash.
It would be a great tragedy. Brooks would be out front, all alone with just four laps remaining in the race. The Vanwall driver would settle down and would look to the finish taking his third win and first in the German Grand Prix. Roy Salvadori would be the beneficiary of the tragic events. He would finish three and a half minutes behind in 2nd place while Maurice Trintignant made it two factory Coopers in the top three finishing in 3rd place a further minute and a half behind Salvadori.
In light of the tragic events, Naylor's day would not be all that bad. Any day a driver left a race with his life was a good day. However, the fact the factory Cooper team ended the day with two cars on the podium would not be an uplifting scene for the Stockport motor dealer. He had the same car, just a smaller engine, and his car could not make it two laps while both of the factory cars complete all fifteen.
It had been a very frustrating season in Formula 2 for Naylor. The frustrations with the new Cooper would be such that the failed effort in the German Grand Prix would end up being his last in Formula 2 for 1958. He would turn his focus back to sportscars.
This would continue to provide solace for Naylor as he continued to win races and achieve strong results. This would get him seriously thinking about the future. He wasn't thinking about giving up on Formula One and Formula 2. In fact, he was thinking that he could do better.
The factory Coopers finishing 2nd and 3rd at the Nurburgring would cap a truly frustrating season. He had the same car practically. And, while he would struggle just to get his car to finish a race, they would be finishing on the podium. Naylor believed he had a good car in the Cooper. But he also believed he could do better. He was achieving great success in sportscars, and he was a gentleman racer. Therefore, he believed that, with the right car, he could do better in Formula One. Therefore, he and Wilkinson would set to work for the remainder of the 1958 season designing and building what would become known as the JBW F1 car.