Too often in motor racing it is the driver and the car that gets a great majority of the attention and the credit. This is not without reason. Without a good driver behind the wheel and a good car there will be very little, if any, success. But, behind every driver and car there is a team charged with fashioning a fast and reliable car from which the driver can extract its full-potential. These individuals are in the background, in the shadows, helping to ensure success and victory. In the case of the AHM Bryde there could not be a better example of a team being totally swallowed up by the shadow of its driver. Practically nothing is known about AHM Bryde except for who drove for them—Mike Hawthorn.
Archie Bryde was born in England and, by 1939, was hooked on motor racing. He would finish 6th in the Saloon Car class at the RAC Rally. That was it! From that point on, he would take part in smaller-formula races at Brooklands and at the Lewes Speed Trials. Unfortunately, this newly found passion would be interrupted by the Second World War.
After the war's end, Bryde went straight back to racing. During the early 1950s, Cooper began making chassis for the increasingly popular Formula 2 class. They would turn to Bristol for an engine. At war's end, Bristol had received the BMW 328 engine and began making a Bristol engine based upon the popular model. This 2.0-liter engine would be placed inside the new Cooper chassis and became known as the T20. The first prototype T20 would end up being sold to Archie in January of 1952 for the upcoming grand prix season.
The rules changed going into the 1952 season. Competition in Formula One was declining with the departure of Alfa Romeo. At the same time, costs were sky-rocketing. This was not a sustainable scenario. The World Championship governing-body needed to make some changes in order to provide continued success, even a future in existence.
Upon looking around for adequate measures to be taken to serve as a tentative measure so the governing-body would have the necessary time to come up with some competitive rules, they came upon Formula 2. Formula 2 was becoming increasingly popular because the costs associated were less, but the competition was strong. This was the winning combination Formula One needed. Therefore, it was decided the 1952 and 1953 World Championship seasons would be run according to Formula 2 specifications. This opened the door to teams like Archie's AHM Bryde to compete in the World Championship.
In 1952, there were a number of World Championship and non-championship races all over Europe. Many of these races were also run according to Formula 2 specifications and provided teams opportunities to take part in more races and earn more prize money. In fact, the first time AHM Bryde would make its appearance with its Cooper-Bristol T20 would be very early in the 1952 season.
Toward the middle-part of April, AHM Bryde would travel to Goodwood for the 4th Lavant Cup race. The team would arrive at the race with its new Cooper-Bristol T20 and John Cooper, the car's designer, as its driver.
The race was a short event. It would only be 6 laps of the 2.39 mile circuit. It was just one race of a whole day of smaller event races for many different classes of car. The circuit itself was formed from the perimeter road around the Westhampnett Royal Air Force Station in West Sussex. Formerly an auxiliary landing field for fighter aircraft during World War II, the airfield was built on land owned by the Duke of Richmond. When the RAF closed the facility officially, the field became useful for hosting motor racing events. The road forming the perimeter of the airfield became the perfect road course to use for motor racing.
Generally flat due to it formerly being an airbase, the circuit at Goodwood was wide open and a perfect event for hosting many different kinds of races. Very soon, Goodwood became a popular venue hosting a number of races each year.
AHM Bryde had entered its T20 in the Lavant Cup race, which was just one of the day's races. Named for the small villages just to the west of the circuit, the Lavant Cup race featured a number of talented entries.
AHM Bryde were working to get the car ready for Cooper. Unfortunately, they would not get the car ready for the race. It would end up being an abortive entry for AHM Bryde. However, there was one who would take part in the race that would catch Archie's eye.
A young Mike Hawthorn would take a Cooper-Bristol T20 purchased by his father on to victory in the short race. He wouldn't merely win by a second or two. Over the course of the 6 laps, Hawthorn would manage to pull out a victory of over twenty seconds over Alan Brown. Brown would beat out his Ecurie Richmond teammate Eric Brandon by merely one second. Needless to say, Bryde noticed the talents of Hawthorn. He would look to see how he could get that talent working for his team.
After the failed attempt at the Lavant Cup race, it would be some time before the AHM Bryde team would again compete in a race. The next race in which the team would compete would come toward the middle of May.
AHM Bryde had travelled to the Silverstone circuit to take part in the 4th BRDC International Trophy Race on the 10th of May. While Archie would notice the obvious talents of the young Mike Hawthorn after Goodwood, Bryde would end up being able to employ a favorite driver of his for the BRDC International Trophy race.
Bryde would end up being able to secure the talents of Reg Parnell for the race. This was an important acquisition for Bryde. Parnell had managed to overcome the flooding at Silverstone the year before to earn the victory in the International Trophy race. This offered Bryde confidence coming into the race. John Cooper had come with the team and intended to drive. However, Parnell would give up his ride with Enrico Plate to Harry Schell, and instead, would agree to drive for Bryde.
After World War II, Brooklands was quickly slipping down in its popularity and sense of being Britain's home for motor racing. Silverstone quickly began to overtake that reputation. Another circuit located at a decommissioned Royal Air Force bomber airbase, the Silverstone circuit was another wide-open and relatively flat circuit that provided greater safety and possibilities than the older Brooklands circuit.
Initially, the site held an impromptu race in which a sheep was killed when it wandered onto the airfield. The Royal Automobile Club would gain a lease to the property to hold formal races. The first evolution of the circuit actually used the runways and was merely comprised of straights and tight hairpin turns. Then, for the 1949 International Trophy race, the circuit switched to use the perimeter road. This would be the same layout used for the World Championship in 1950 and 1951. Then, just prior to the 1952 season, the start/finish line was moved from the Farm Straight to the straight between Woodcote and Copse.
The International Trophy race was slightly unusual to normal grand prix races. It featured two heat races followed by a final. The heat races broke the field up and were each 15 laps around the 2.88 mile circuit. The final race was comprised of the finishers of each heat race and would be 35 laps in duration.
Reg Parnell, the defending champion, would be in the second heat race. The field for the first heat race featured some rather notable drivers. Le Mans winner, Peter Whitehead, was in the first heat with Peter Collins, Jean Behra and the talented Mike Hawthorn.
In practice before the heat race, Hawthorn was the fastest. He would circulate the Silverstone circuit in two minutes flat and would earn the pole for the first heat race. He was joined on the front row by Peter Collins, Jean Behra and Lance Macklin. The entire front row had been separated by only three seconds.
The race ran like an exhibition with the exception of Jean Behra. Behra wasn't content to sit in 3rd throughout the 15 lap race. Jean would get past Collins early on and would begin to pressure Hawthorn for the lead.
Behra would pressure Hawthorn to the point that their pace was too fast for many other competitors. Hawthorn and Behra would fight tooth-and-nail throughout. At the line, Hawthorn would end up holding on to win by two seconds over Behra. Peter Collins would finish 3rd, down thirty seconds to Hawthorn.
The second heat would feature some notable drivers as well, even some notable chassis. Parnell would have to face Robert Manzon for Equipe Gordini, Rudolf Fischer driving a Ferrari 500 and Duncan Hamilton driving a HWM-Alta.
The times in practice before the second heat were much closer. The entire front row would be separated by only one second. The top-nine would be only three seconds apart. Manzon was fastest in the Gordini T16. His time was two minutes and one second. Four drivers would turn in lap times of two minutes and two seconds. Kenneth McAlpine would be the fastest of them. He would start 2nd. Manzon and McAlpine would be joined by Fischer in 3rd and Hamilton in 4th. Parnell's best time in practice was only three seconds slower than Manzon's. However, he would start the race from the third row in 8th position.
Finishing position in the heat races was very important. The finishing time of the competitor would serve to determine where he would start the final race. This meant drivers needed to push if they wanted a good starting position for the final 35 lap race.
Knowing the times of the first heat race, the second heat was a little more furious, but so to was the attrition. Only two would retire from the first heat race. Three would be out of the second heat before 5 laps had been completed. Two of the HWM-Altas would be hit by differential problems within two laps of each other. This caused George Abecassis and Duncan Hamilton to fall out of the running. Though not running as he had the season before, Reg Parnell was still running and looking good to finish. But then, on the 8th lap of the race, troubles hit. Parnell was forced to retire from the race. The defending champion was out of the race and AHM Bryde had lost its hope for tasting victory at the prestigious race.
Manzon and Fischer would push hard. Fischer would turn the fastest lap of the race with a time under two minutes. Manzon would hold on to win, also by two seconds, over Fischer. Tony Rolt would come from 7th place at the start of the heat to finish 3rd fifteen seconds behind Manzon.
Because of finishing times, Robert Manzon would start the final race from the pole. Rudolf Fischer would start 2nd. Mike Hawthorn would end up also on the front row, but in 3rd. Jean Behra would round-out the front row with a 4th place starting position.
The fastest doesn't necessarily mean the best. The 35 lap final would bear this reality. The final began without a problem. Everybody made it through the first corner and got on their way. However, on the 2nd lap of the race the pole-sitter, Robert Manzon, would retire from the race with transmission failure. Just two laps later, Manzon's Equipe Gordini teammate, Jean Behra, would drop out of the race also with transmission failure. On top of all this, Hawthorn's pace slowed dramatically. This threw the race wide open.
Given so much change up at the top of the running order, it seemed possible for just about anybody to win the race. Lance Macklin had the faith to believe this. He would put his head down and charged forward. Macklin had started the final race from 10th position, but, with all of the woes suffered by the other competitors, Macklin found himself out front.
Macklin would go on to win the race by ten seconds over Tony Rolt, who had started the final race in 5th. Emanuel de Graffenried, driving the old Maserati 4CLT/48 would prove there was still a little left in the old chassis as he would finish the race in 3rd, albeit twenty-five seconds back. The highest finisher from any of those that had started on the front row was Rudolf Fischer who would finish the race 4th.
One week after the wild International Trophy race the first round of the World Championship was held at Bremgarten in Switzerland. Unfortunately, AHM Bryde would not be ready for the race and would; therefore, skip the event. Instead, the team would take its time and wait almost until the end of June before it would enter another race.
Instead of being across the English Channel in Belgium preparing for Belgian Grand Prix, the third round of the World Championship, AHM Bryde was at Boreham for the 1st West Essex CC Formula 2 Race on the 21st of June.
Yet another decommissioned Royal Air Force station, Boreham was used by the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II for a medium bomber base. Located about 30 miles northeast of London in Essex, the circuit was 2.99 miles in length and served as host for a number of races throughout the early '50s.
The race was only 10 laps of the circuit and would have only eleven entries. However, AHM Bryde would have the good fortune of hiring the talents of Reg Parnell for yet another race.
In practice; however, Parnell would not be the fastest driver on the track. Kenneth Downing was driving one of the new Connaught A-Type chassis and would prove fast enough to earn the pole for the race. Parnell would start right beside Downing on the front row in 2nd. The grid was wide. In all, five would start along the odd-numbered rows. This meant Downing and Parnell would be joined by three others. Those who would also start on the front row included Kenneth McAlpine, Bill Dobson and John Barber. At only three rows deep, and up to five wide, it was no inconceivable that a driver who qualified terribly could shoot well up in the running order at the start of the race.
No such thing happened. Those on the front row at the start of the race would control the rest of the field. Reg would do his absolute best to make sure he controlled even the whole of the grid. The Boreham circuit was a medium-to-high speed circuit. Parnell would stand on it from the very start. He would power the Cooper-Bristol around the course and would take the lead.
Very quickly in the race, Parnell would turn the fastest lap of the race with a lap time of one minute and fifty-eight seconds. This produced an average speed for the lap in excess of 91 mph and allowed him to begin to draw away from the competition. With every lap the team grew more-tense. Hoping, perhaps looking to the sky, Archie Bryde's team was urging Parnell on.
Parnell would cruise. He would go on to take the victory. He would beat Kenneth McAlpine by nineteen seconds. Bill Dobson would finish the race 3rd. Dobson was well back at the end. He finished the race a minute down.
Over the course of the 10 lap race, Parnell showed he still had the talent behind the wheel. His pace was furious. In just 10 laps, he had managed to lap the field up to 4th place. The 8th and 9th place finishers would end up two laps down. Parnell was a favorite of Bryde. And Parnell would reward the team for their faith in him. Missing the Belgian Grand Prix would end up paying off rather well.
After its success at Boreham with Reg Parnell, Bryde would approach another talent about driving for his team in the fourth round of the French F2 Championship. While Bryde's car would end up not taking part in its first race of the season at Goodwood, he would have the opportunity to witness the sheer talent of Mike Hawthorn. He would approach Hawthorn about driving for his team. Hawthorn agreed. And, at the end of June, Hawthorn and AHM Bryde would head to Reims, France for the 20th Grand Prix de la Marne, which was on the 29th of June.
AHM Bryde would arrive in France with Mike Hawthorn. It was as if Hawthorn arrived all by himself after scoring an incredible 4th place at the Belgian Grand Prix against the like of Scuderia Ferrari and Equipe Gordini. After the race in Reims, Hawthorn would only further help the AHM Bryde name to slip into oblivion.
Bryde had made a huge decision in coming to Reims. Archie had purchased the first prototype of the Cooper-Bristol chassis and it was widely known to be short at least 20-30 horsepower compared to Ferrari's 500. In addition, Reims was an ultra-fast circuit with long straights and sweeping turns, and the French F2 Championship ran its events according to a three hour timed race, the car would go through an incredible beating. However, Hawthorn proved at the ultra-fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit he could take the Cooper-Bristol T20 and keep it running in order to earn positive results.
Located between the town of Reims and Gueux, the Reims circuit utilized public roads for its 4.46 mile road course. Generally flat throughout, the spectators along the incredibly long front stretch had an amazing, almost unhindered, view of the cars coming out of the final Thillois hairpin and straining down the undulating front stretch toward the right-hander at Courbe de Gueux.
In practice, the horsepower differences were obvious straight-away. Around the 4.46 mile circuit no one was faster than Alberto Ascari in the Ferrari 500. He would click-off a lap in two minutes and twenty-six seconds. This would be almost two seconds faster than Giuseppe Farina's best time and would; therefore, earn Ascari the pole. Robert Manzon would join Ascari and Farina on the front row after completing a lap only three-tenths slower than Farina's best time.
In contrast, Hawthorn was pushing hard to try and beat a lap of two minutes and forty seconds. However, he could not. The best lap Mike could do in the Cooper-Bristol was two minutes, forty seconds and one-tenth. This was just under fourteen seconds slower than Ascari's pole time. As a result, Hawthorn would start from the fourth row in the 9th place position.
The French F2 Championship rounds were as much endurance races as they were about speed. Each of the rounds were three hour races, and would require the drivers to take it easy on their equipment in order to finish. This would not be easy at a track like Reims with its high speeds, heavy braking and hard acceleration.
At the start of the race, Ascari looked good leading the way from the point. However, The Equipe Gordinis looked up to the task against the Ferraris.
Trouble would hit right away. Four cars would be out of the race before the completion of 5 laps. Among the four was Luigi Villoresi who had his engine die on him. In a wonderful gesture of friendship, Ascari would allow Villoresi to continue on in the race. In spite of being at the head of the field, Ascari would pull over and hand his car to his friend for the remainder of the race. This move allowed drivers, like Jean Behra, to come up and challenge for the lead of the race.
Two hours into the race, the running order had pretty much sorted itself out. Eleven cars were out of the race, including many of the favorites for top-ten finishes. Villoresi, enjoying Ascari's ride, was working hard to claw his way to the front of the field, but had Behra and Farina in his path. In spite of the incredibly tough conditions, Hawthorn continued to urge AHM Bryde's Cooper-Bristol forward. He was laps behind but still locked in a battle inside the top-ten.
Jean Behra enjoyed the door opened by Ascari's kind gesture and would go on to take the win at the end of the three hour race. He would manage to complete 71 laps (one more than Farina in 2nd place) and would have an average speed of over 105 mph en route to the victory. Villoresi would end up making it to the end of the race, but could get no higher than 3rd in the running order.
Hawthorn would also manage to make it to the end of the race. He would manage to be the only Cooper-Bristol car still officially still running at the end of the race. At the end of the race, Hawthorn was seven laps down but still impressed by finishing the tough race in 7th.
This result by Hawthorn in the Cooper-Bristol would encourage Bryde to seek to keep Hawthorn on through the next race on the calendar, which was the fifth round of the French F2 Championship and the fourth round of the World Championship. The race was the French Grand Prix. Hawthorn would agree.
AHM Bryde's first World Championship effort would come at Rouen at what was the 39th Grand Prix de l'A.C.F. on the 6th of July. The previous couple of years the World Championship race had taken place at Reims. However, in 1952, it would be the 3.16 mile Rouen-Les-Essarts road course that would have the honor.
The road course used for the circuit was found southwest of Rouen in the Foret de Rouvray ('Forest of Rouvray'), which was a heavily wooded oak forest in the Normandy region of France. The circuit itself, using public roads, wound through the valley and had some absolutely wonderful sweeping curves. Perhaps most famous for the Nouveau Monde hairpin which was paved with cobblestones, Rouen-Les-Essarts was a popular venue for the teams and the drivers. The circuit was rather wide and the pits offered more modern amenities.
The race at Rouen would count toward two championships. It would count toward the World Championship. But it would also count toward the French F2 Championship. Since the race was part of the French F2 Championship the race would be a timed event. The race would last three hours instead of it being a specific number of laps.
AHM Bryde arrived with Hawthorn as its driver for the race. Hawthorn had performed wonderfully at Reims to bring the car home after three hours in 7th. The team would be looking for that same kind of 'feel' from Hawthorn at Rouen. After practice, Hawthorn would have to rely upon consistency (and providence) to get him to the front of the field.
Around the 3.16 mile circuit, Scuderia Ferrari's pilots were the fastest of the field. Ascari would end up being the fastest of the Ferrari contingent. Lapping the course in a little under two minutes and fifteen seconds, Ascari would earn the pole. Once again, Giuseppe Farina would be the second-fastest in practice. His best time was a second and a half slower. Piero Taruffi would turn in a lap of two minutes and seventeen seconds and would start 3rd; an all Ferrari front row.
Hawthorn would end up closer to the back row than the front row. Hawthorn would do what he could but his best was only good enough for a lap time of two minutes and thirty-two seconds. This was a little over seventeen seconds slower than Alberto on the pole. This pushed the Brit down in the starting field. He would start from the 15th position in the sixth row.
Three hours of racing at Rouen would not be any easier than at Reims. In some ways it would be more difficult, especially on gearboxes, clutches and brakes.
At the start of the race Ascari was under pressure from his fellow Ferrari teammates, but also Robert Manzon and Jean Behra of Equipe Gordini. Ascari would push hard. Two competitors would drop out of the race before twenty minutes had even passed. Hawthorn was looking good, steadily marching the T20 around the circuit and looking for opportunities to move up.
A little over an hour into the race Ascari was really pushing his advantage. He had been leading every lap since the start of the race. Now he wanted to absolutely distance himself from the rest of the field. On his 28th lap he would turn in the fastest lap of the race. It would only be a little over two seconds slower than the time in which he had come to earn the pole.
Everything for Hawthorn was running well up until two and a quarter hours into the race. The engine started to have problems. It wasn't producing the power and it wasn't running right. He would come into the pits to have the problem looked at. It was an ignition problem. Hawthorn's and AHM Bryde's day was done. He had been looking good just prior to the problem, but the European fans would miss out seeing Hawthorn finish, perhaps in the points, in an AHM Bryde chassis.
What the world would witness was Ascari running away with the race. Alberto would complete 77 laps over the course of the three hours. This was one more than what Farina would cover in 2nd place. Another lap further back was Piero Taruffi. Just as with qualifying, Ferrari had swept the podium as well.
AHM Bryde had their man. However, their car just could not handle the distance. After arriving hopeful, the team would leave the continent ultimately disappointed. An opportunity had slipped through their hands.
AHM Bryde wasn't just heading back to England because they were not going to take part in any more races on the continent. The fact was, the next race in which the team would take part would be the British Grand Prix on the 19th of July.
Skipping the sixth round of the French F2 Championship, Archie's team was back in England preparing for the fifth round of the World Championship, the British Grand Prix. The race would take place at Silverstone, and therefore, offered the team an opportunity to overcome its failure during the International Trophy race. It wouldn't just be an opportunity for redemption for the team. Reg Parnell would again pilot the car, and so, would also have an opportunity to turn things around after the earlier misfortune.
The race would run different than the International Trophy race. It would be just a regular single race consisting of 85 laps around the 2.88 mile circuit. The starting field was full. In all, there would be thirty-two entries for the race on the 19th of July.
With the exception of the tail-end of the starting grid, the times posted during practice were rather tight. Only ten seconds would separate the pole-sitter's time and that of the driver in 21st position on the starting grid.
Both Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari posted lap times of one minute and fifty seconds. However, Farina would actually turn the slightly quicker lap time and would end up on the pole. Ascari started alongside in 2nd. The grid was arranged 4-3-4. And so, Piero Taruffi and Robert Manzon would also end up on the front row. Reg Parnell had taken over the seat occupied by Mike Hawthorn at Rouen and would end up showing up the youngster a little during practice. Parnell would end up impressing the British fans by qualifying 6th for the race, and thereby starting from the middle of the second row. Hawthorn would qualify 7th and would start right beside Parnell.
Though beaten out for the pole, Ascari would win the race to the first turn. Farina would have a little too much wheel spin at the start and would actually fall down the order a fair bit right at the start. Hawthorn would get the better start over Parnell and would be in position inside the top-five very early on.
Only 9 laps into the race Ascari proved he wasn't fooling around with anybody. He was out to dominate. He would back this up by setting the fastest lap of the race with a time only two seconds slower than his best practice time. This helped the Italian to gap the rest of the field and begin to draw away.
Trouble would end up striking Ferrari's main competition, Equipe Gordini. This opened the door for other talented drivers to make their mark on the race. The Connaught chassis was strong at Silverstone and helped Dennis Poore and Eric Thompson to move up into the top-five despite starting 8th and 9th. Hawthorn was on his way toward a podium if he could hold on till the end. Parnell was also impressing in the Cooper-Bristol T20. He remained in the top-ten and was possibly in position to collect some points toward the World Championship if a couple of key drivers had troubles or made a mistake.
Ascari was out front, way out front. All he needed to do was be careful not to make a mistake and the race was his. It would only take him two hours and forty-five minutes to complete the race distance. In the process, he would lap the entire field at least once. Piero Taruffi would finish 2nd, one lap down. Mike Hawthorn would bring the British fans to their feet as he would finish 3rd, albeit two laps down. Reg Parnell would help guide the T20 to the finish. He would end the race down forty seconds to Giuseppe Farina. Parnell had seen quite a bit of Ascari throughout the course of the race. Being short 20-30 horsepower, Parnell would be down three laps to Ascari by the end. In spite of being a few laps down, Parnell would vindicate himself and the team a fair bit after the International Trophy race failure. He would finish the race 7th. He would miss out on two championship points; however, by only about a minute.
Although the team failed to score any points, this was the type of result the team was looking for. Facing larger factory efforts like Ferrari and Equipe Gordini, especially with their multiple car operations, a top-ten finish is a small victory. To earn just a couple of points would be like winning the World Championship. The AHM Bryde team had earned a small victory at the hands of Reg Parnell. This offered the team a boost in confidence going into the later-part of the busy grand prix season.
AHM Bryde would not take part in any more of the World Championship rounds after its 7th place result at the British Grand Prix. However, there were a number of non-championship races still left on the season's calendar and Archie Bryde wasn't through racing just yet.
A couple of months prior, the team had travelled to Boreham and had scored a victory in a Formula 2 race at the decommissioned airbase. Then, on the 2nd of August, the 2nd Daily Mail Trophy race was set to run also at Boreham. Having already scored a victory once, it wasn't all that surprising Bryde would want to return to the site for; hopefully, more success.
Mike Hawthorn was also at the race, but was driving for his father's own team. Reg Parnell wasn't available. So, Archie decided he would have to do things himself. He would be taking on the might of not only Formula 2 class machines, but also, Formula One spec machines. The Daily Mail Trophy race was one of a number of races that still allowed Formula One cars to compete. This meant Bryde would be taking on the mighty Ferrari 375, as well as, the older Talbot-Lago T26C. In addition to the Ferrari 375 and Talbot T26C, BRM was also present at the race with their P15 and its 16-cylinder engine. If being short 20-30 horsepower to the Ferrari 500 offered obvious performance deficiencies than what could he expect against the Formula One cars?
Practice would soon bear out any deficiencies. Thankfully for the Formula 2 runners, the circuit at Boreham played more into their hands than it did Formula One cars. The circuit was almost three miles, but didn't offer a lot of long straights to allow the bigger cars to accelerate as they were capable. In addition, not being an ultra-fast circuit, more of a premium was placed on handling than outright speed. This also played into the hands of the Formula 2 cars.
Nothing; however, can beat sheer performance. And, in practice it wasn't all that surprising to see the Formula One cars at the front of the grid. Ferrari had dispatched a couple of its 375s, along with Luigi Villoresi, Chico Landi and Louis Rosier to take on Jose Froilan Gonzalez and Ken Wharton in the BRM P15.
The front row would see a perfect alternating placement of the Formula One cars. Luigi Villoresi had turned the fastest lap in practice and would rightfully start from the pole. Beside him would be Gonzalez in one of the P15s. Landi would start in the middle of the front row in another 375. The front row would finish up with Wharton starting 4th followed by Rosier, in the other 375, starting 5th.
Hawthorn looked mighty in practice despite being short on horsepower. He would manage to start the race 6th with his father's Cooper-Bristol T20. Bryde didn't fare anywhere near as good as Hawthorn. Archie would start the race well down the grid outside of the top-fifteen.
One of the biggest neutralizers to heavy cars with a lot of horsepower is rain. And prior to the start of the 67 lap race, the rain had been falling on the circuit making it slippery. This is when handling becomes of greater paramount than power. The ability to grip the circuit and move on down the road becomes easier for lighter, more nimble machines than those with big engine that produce a lot of torque and wheel spin.
Thirty-five cars would roar away at the start of the race. It was obvious, right from the start, the advantage was with the smaller Formula 2 entries as Hawthorn managed to come up and take the lead away after Gonzalez crashed out of the race on the 3rd lap. Once in the lead, Hawthorn began to slowly pull away from Villoresi and the others in the field.
It would remain Hawthorn at the front of the field throughout the majority of the race. Archie Bryde wasn't capable of turning in the same kind of performance but was merely focusing on hitting his marks and not making any mistakes.
Mistakes were easy to make in the conditions. Gonzalez had crashed out on the 3rd lap of the race. Many others would get their cars loose, or, would even spin. If the weather wasn't tough enough, attrition also ran high. Before the end of the race, thirteen entries would end up retiring from the race. Still, this left over twenty still running.
Unfortunately for Bryde, and especially Hawthorn, the Formula One cars began running as well. The rain had ceased early on in the race and the track began to dry out. This meant drivers, like Villoresi and Landi, could put the power down without fear of the car stepping out on them. Villoresi began to catch back up to Hawthorn, and fast. But did Hawthorn have enough to hold them off for the few remaining laps?
The answer would be, no. Villoresi would end up catching and passing Hawthorn. In fact, Chico Landi would also get past. The two began to pull away from Hawthorn. Villoresi would go on to take the win. Landi would finish 2nd, ten seconds behind. Despite leading a good majority of the race, Hawthorn would finish 3rd. This would still be an incredible result for the small T20.
Unlike Hawthorn, Bryde wouldn't just get passed in the closing stages for the victory. Bryde would end up being passed multiple times over the course of the race. Once the track began to dry out, Bryde really began to lose touch with the field. Twenty cars would be classified as having finished by the end of the race. Bryde was still running on the circuit by the end, but was some eight laps down to Villoresi, and therefore, would end up not being classified.
This trip to Boreham had not gone anything like the team's previous visit. But it was difficult going up against such powerful cars. At least the one thing Bryde and the team could take away from the race would be the fact the car finished the race. This was no small achievement considering the number of entries that had become stricken by troubles.
The Daily Mail race at Boreham took place on the 2nd of August. Only one week later, Bryde had decided to take his team back across to the continent to take part in the seventh round of the French F2 Championship. On the 10th of August, Bryde was preparing to take part in the 16th Grand Prix de Comminges.
The St. Gaudens circuit, in 1952, was quite different than some of its other iterations. The circuit changed for 1952. The route used was only 2.73 miles in length. The original circuit used between 1925 and 1932 extended for over 17 miles. Located in southwestern France, Saint-Gaudens is a picturesque town in the rolling plains at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains. Changed for 1952, St. Gaudens had been using an evolution of the circuit that was 6.84 miles in length and basically looped from St. Gaudens to Villeneuve and back. Being much shorter, it was expected the average speeds would be considerably less than either of the earlier iterations.
In practice, drivers were fighting to turn in lap times under two minutes around the 2.73 mile circuit. Then, a number of drivers cracked the mark and began to set lap times even low. Not surprising, Ascari would be fastest of them all. His fastest lap around the circuit would be one minute and fifty-one seconds. Nobody would be within two and a half seconds of his time. What was rather unusual was the fact Ascari was all-alone on the front row. None of the other Ferrari drivers could turn in times fast enough to beat out the drivers for Equipe Gordini. Maurice Trintignant would start 2nd. Robert Manzon would start 3rd. Farina would start 4th but would be joined on the second row by Jean Behra, another Equipe Gordini driver.
Bryde's pace was much slower. He would not be one of those to crack the two minute barrier around the circuit. In fact, he could not even turn a lap inside two minutes and ten seconds. Bryde's best time was two minutes and seventeen seconds. This placed the Brit second-to-last on the starting grid, 18th overall.
Since the race was part of the French F2 Championship, the race would be a timed, three hour, race. The race would be tough on the cars especially. Each lap around the circuit featured a good number of gear changes, hard acceleration and hard braking. All of this wear and tear for three hours would truly test the car's endurance.
Even the best teams weren't immune to things going wrong. Ascari would prove even the points leader in both the World Championship and the French F2 Championship still had to deal with adversity such like the smaller teams. On the 2nd lap of the race, Ascari would retire from the race. His steering was broken in his Ferrari 500. Now, unlike smaller teams, Ascari had more resources to pull from than many of his competitors. Ascari would not be out of the race for long. The team would order Andre Simon to come in and give his car to Alberto for the remainder of the race.
Other teams and drivers were not as fortunate as Ascari. While Equipe Gordini was one of the bigger teams, Manzon would suffer retirement from the race after only about forty minutes due to valve failure in his Gordini T16. Another not as fortunate as Ascari would be Bryde. A little over an hour into the race, the magneto drive in his T20 failed, thus ending the Brit's day. In some ways, Bryde was fortunate. The rest of the field still had two more hours of torture still to go, hoping the whole time to be able to make it to the end.
Ascari would take advantage of his second chance. In no small way helped by the failure of two of Equipe Gordini's cars, Ascari set about on a blistering pace trying like mad to catch up to the leaders. It wouldn't take him too long.
In what seemed like no time at all, Ascari was back in the lead and pulling away authoritatively. The only other entry to challenge Alberto over the course of the remainder of the race would be Farina. In an effort to gap Farina, Ascari would turn in the fastest lap of the race. His time would actually be one-tenth faster than his own pole-winning time. He wanted the victory.
And he would get it. Ascari would go on to complete 95 laps in the three hours of running. He would complete one more lap than Farina, who would finish in 2nd. Behind Farina, the gap was enormous. Jean Behra would finish 3rd, but would be soundly beaten. He would end up six laps down to Ascari.
What was most interesting about the race, from AHM Bryde's perspective, was the fact Reg Parnell was available and listed as an alternate driver for the race. However, Bryde obviously wanted to compete in the race. In the end, the mechanical troubles made any argument about whether Bryde should have let Parnell drive a moot argument.
Over the course of the French F2 Championship rounds in which AHM Bryde had compete, the team had managed to only finish one time and had failed to collect any points. Determined to at least return to England with something to show for his efforts on the continent, Bryde would skip the 1st National Trophy race at Turnberry in Scotland, and instead, would head to La Baule for the 11th Grand Prix de la Baule on the 24th of August.
La Baule is located along the Atlantic coast in the western part of France. The site of the La Baule grand prix circuit was just to the northeast of the town's center. The circuit utilized the road that ran around the perimeter of the field and was 2.64 miles in length. The circuit itself was rather slow, but it was made to lap faster by the long start/finish straight that ran along the northern part of the airfield.
A bit more narrow than some of the other airfield circuits, the grid was arranged 2-by-2. Heading the field from the pole-position was Alberto Ascari. He would prove fastest yet again. 1952 had literally turned into a record-setting year and Ascari's pole positions, just in the French F2 Championship were a testament to the records he would set before the season was over. Robert Manzon would start from the front row as well. He would lap the circuit only a second slower than Ascari, but still not good enough to earn the pole.
Bryde had noticed the obvious talents of Mike Hawthorn. Willing to give young talent a try, AHM Bryde's Cooper T20 would be pilots, not by Hawthorn, Bryde or even Parnell. Bryde would give Jean Lucas the opportunity to drive the car. Lucas was better known for his efforts behind the wheel of sports cars. He had managed to win at Montlhery and Spa-Francorchamps in 1949. Bryde would give the Frenchman the opportunity to take part in the French F2 Championship for the first time.
It was obvious Lucas didn't have much time behind the wheel of small grand prix cars. Lucas would carefully lap the circuit during practice. His best time would be twenty seconds slower than Ascari's. As a result, Lucas would start the race from dead-last. He would start 19th overall an all-alone on the tenth row of the grid.
Seeing as the race was three hours, Bryde wasn't as concerned with starting position as ending position. Unfortunately, Lucas should have gone for the best starting position he could manage, for it would be the only consolation AHM Bryde would take with them from La Baule and the French F2 Championship.
At the drop of the green flag, Lucas had problems. He could not get the car going much at all. AHM Bryde's race didn't last three hours. It wouldn't even last one minute. They were done.
They would be joined by a couple of the front runners on the very next lap. Robert Manzon and Giuseppe Farina were locked in an intense battle up near the front. Unfortunately for them both, they would suffer crashes and would be out of the race. This left Villoresi to take up the pursuit of Ascari one last time.
Villoresi would push hard. Ascari could control the pace of the race being out front as he was. In an effort to catch, and pass, his friend, Villoresi would turn in the fastest lap of the race. Over the course of the three hours Villoresi would relentlessly pursue Ascari. But Alberto was just too fast.
Ferrari 500s would sweep the podium, but not all were Scuderia Ferraris. Alberto would go on to win the race completing one more lap than Villoresi. Louis Rosier, driving his own Ferrari 500, would go on to take 3rd place after Manzon, Farina, Behra and Trintignant failed to finish. Rosier would finish down four laps at the end.
In spite of their best efforts, AHM Bryde would not score a single point in the French F2 Championship. Just as with the World Championship, the closest the team would come to the points would be a 7th place finish at Reims with Hawthorn at the wheel.
Ascari would go on to win the championship easily. He would score 43 points and would have a dominant advantage of 21 points in-hand over Farina. Luigi Villoresi would finish 3rd.
After two championships AHM Bryde didn't have a single point to show from either of them, and this despite having Hawthorn and Parnell driving for the team. While Hawthorn had launched into super-stardom over the course of the season, AHM Bryde, one of the teams which gave Hawthorn the opportunity to increase his reputation, was slipping into obscurity as the season progressed. The team would not take part in the final round of the World Championship. Instead, the team would quietly take part in a couple non-championship races before the end of the season.
AHM Bryde would take part in only two more races before the end of the 1952 season. The first of those in which the team would take part would be on the 4th of October.
AHM Bryde would travel to the western part of lower England to the circuit Castle Combe for the 1st Joe Fry Memorial Trophy race. The race consisted of 20 laps around the circuit's 1.83 mile road course. The race was a memorial to Joe Fry. Fry was a racing driver best known for his record at hill climbing events. He was tragically killed less than two months after taking part in his one and only Formula One World Championship event, the British Grand Prix.
Castle Combe opened in 1950. It was first an airfield used by the Royal Air Force during World War II. Built on the Castle Combe estate, the airfield would be decommissioned in 1948 after seven years of service. Though rather short, Castle Combe would always attract the best competition as it was always a fast circuit, one of the fastest in Britain.
After providing Jean Lucas the opportunity to drive the T20 at La Baule, Archie was back behind the wheel for the 20 lap race. Though facing mostly British talent, the field was still filled with fierce competitors.
Stirling Moss would be able to guide the troublesome ERA G-Type chassis to a pole time of one minute and eighteen seconds. He would just manage to beat out Peter Whitehead in his Alta F2. Roy Salvadori and Alan Brown would also start from the front row in 3rd and 4th respectively. Bryde's best time during practice would be a good indication of him struggling. Around the short circuit, Bryde's best time would only manage to be within ten seconds of Moss' time. This would place Bryde in the 13th position overall and on the fourth row of the grid.
Travelling at speeds upwards of 85 mph around Castle Combe was not an easy endeavor. It was easy to make a mistake and end up off the circuit and out of the race. This would happen to Peter Whitehead right at the start of the race. He would push a little too deep and would suffer an accident that would knock him right out of the running. Unfortunately for Bryde, he would end up doing practically the same things just a couple of laps later. Archie would suffer from an accident as well and was out of the race. There were still around 15 laps still to go in the race.
With Moss' retirement 6 laps into the race, Salvadori was free to pull away in the Ferrari 500. Facing the Frazer Nash of Ken Wharton, Roy would rely on the extra horsepower available in the Ferrari and would be able to stretch his advantage. In his effort to pull away while in the lead, Salvadori would set the fastest lap of the race with a time faster than Moss' pole time from practice.
Salvadori would streak around the 20 laps of Castle Combe at an average speed of 83 miles and would take the victory by a comfortable twelve seconds over Wharton in his Frazer Nash. Wharton was being pushed by Ninian Sanderson driving a Cooper-Bristol T20 for Ecurie Ecosse. Sanderson would finish just four seconds behind Wharton in 3rd. Only half of the sixteen car field would manage to make it to the end of the 20 lap race.
Only one race would remain for AHM Bryde. This would be the last opportunity the team would have to end the season on a positive note. The team had not managed to finish a race since its 'Not Classified' at the 2nd Daily Mail Trophy race at Boreham back at the beginning part of August.
AHM Bryde's at one last positive result for 1952 would come just one week after the failure at the Joe Fry Memorial Trophy race. The event was the 1st Newcastle Journal Trophy race held at Charterhall in the Scottish Borders region of Scotland.
Being only one week after the accident at Castle Combe, AHM Bryde would have a short amount of time to get the car back together, and in good working order, before the race at Charterhall.
Charterhall had a long and notorious career in the Royal Air Force. The airfield was first used as a landing-strip during the First World War. Then, for World War II, the airfield was increased in size and played much more of an influential role.
During World War II, Charterhall was used as a night-fighter training center. This is where the base would earn its reputation as 'Slaughter Hall'. Night-fighting is not an easy maneuver. As a training center with inexperienced pilots the airfield would have a number of fatal accidents. This gave the base a notorious reputation amongst the pilots in the Royal Air Force.
After the base was decommissioned by the RAF, it began to be used for motor racing events. A 1.99 mile circuit was created using the long runway for the start/finish straight. At the end of the runway, the circuit had a double-apex right-hand corner that merged onto the perimeter road. The circuit would follow this perimeter road all the way back around to the start/finish straight.
The entry list for the 40 lap race was long. In all, twenty-nine cars would arrive for the race. Almost all of the drivers in the field were from some part of the British Isles. Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn and Ken Wharton were among those entered in the race.
The season, especially during the middle of the summer months, had been a busy one. In many cases, the drivers at this race had been competing in races almost each week during the late-summer months. This wore the equipment down. Failures were much more common by the time October came around.
Hawthorn would end up being a victim of the late-season mechanical woes. He would not be able to start the race with his father's Cooper-Bristol T20. Mechanical difficulties would prevent the car from being ready in time for the race.
The race itself would be littered with failed cars. A gaggle of Frazer Nash chassis would be some of the first out of the race. One-by-one, attrition was claiming its victims. Soon, the race came to be about survival more than about scoring a good result. A victory at this race was turning out to be merely finishing.
Finishing was something Bryde severely wanted before the onset of the off-season. The race; unfortunately, wouldn't oblige. Toward the late stages of the race, the season for Bryde, and for his team, would come undone. That was it. Over the course of the last two months, the team had managed to only finish one race. It was known the BMW 328 engine, of which the 2.0-liter Bristol had been based, was a pre-war design and could not handle being stretched upwards of 130 horsepower. This created a weakness that made the T20 very vulnerable. After a season of racing, the engine had reached its limit.
Out of the twenty-nine that had entered the race, only seven would finish the last race of the season in Europe. The first-three finishers were all driving Connaught A-Type chassis. Dennis Poore would take the final victory and would have bragging rights going into the off-season. His winning margin would be more than thirty seconds over Kenneth McAlpine. Another six seconds separated McAlpine in 2nd and Mike Oliver in 3rd.
The end of the 1952 season marked the end of the AHM Bryde's history in the Formula One World Championship. It had taken advantage of the situation, and the talent, to come and take part in racing history. Forever would Mike Hawthorn be easily recognized in Formula One history, but AHM Bryde would slip into forgetfulness. This served as a testament to Archie Bryde. Never too proud to recognize when another was faster than himself, Bryde would recognize the obvious talents of Hawthorn and would enable him to further forge his career in Formula One. In addition to Hawthorn, Bryde would give Parnell one of his last tastes of glory. Talents such as Hawthorn and Parnell will receive the glory, but it is important to remember who else should get some of the credit. AHM Bryde