We are on the starting grid at Silverstone for the second heat of the Daily Express International Trophy on August 20, 1949. Grids were far more relaxed in those days. In this Ferrari 125/F1 is Luigi Villoresi while his teammate Alberto Ascari stands just to his left next to the car. The Trophy was run in two 20-lap heats and a 30-lap final, thereby giving the spectators three Grand Prix races while not over-straining the often prewar cars which would usually made up most of the field in the immediate postwar years. These early Grand Prix Ferraris had a 1.5-liter supercharged V12 with transverse leaf front suspension and swing-axle rear. They were tricky cars to drive with their very short wheelbase. Note the electric starter on the ground in front of Villoresi’s car.
In its early years the start/finish at Silverstone was located on the straight after the sweeping Abbey Curve and before Woodcote. Subsequently, and for many years thereafter, the line was moved around Woodcote just before the pits and opposite the new grandstands.
Ascari has recently finished second in his heat with his 125/F1, less than a second behind Prince Bira in Enrico Platé’s Maserati 4CLT/48. Ascari’s great pal Villoresi will soon achieve a similar result in this heat, second place five seconds behind Giuseppe (“Nino”) Farina who drove another 4CLT/48. To the left of Villoresi’s Ferrari is the ERA E-type driven by Peter Walker who will finish fourth while behind is another ERA, a C-type driven by David Hampshire, to finish eighth.
In the final it was Ascari getting the win, ahead of Farina and Villoresi. Not a bad day for Ferrari. However, the race was marred by a serious accident to the ERA of the well-known and popular British driver St John Horsfall who rolled over a straw bale marking the outside of Stowe Corner and was killed.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com