Harry Schell at The Palace

Harry Schell, Crystal Palace, Vanwall

Crystal Palace was a short circuit in South London and a scene of many British National Races in the 1950s and 60s. Part of the circuit ran through a somewhat forested left-bending section called The Glade before diving downhill through a right hand bend onto the lower straight. Here going through The Glade in this dynamic image is Harry Schell driving an early Vanwall which was just beginning to show some real potential.

The race was called the International Trophy and was run in two 10-lap Heats and a 15-lap Final with the top six finishers in each Heat being allowed to start the Final. Schell’s main competition was Mike Hawthorn who had the loan of Stirling Moss’ Maserati 250F. Hawthorn and Schell each were easy winners in their Heats. In the Final Hawthorn held off Schell by 1.4 seconds and also lowered the lap record during the day by 2.6 seconds of a just over one minute lap. Crystal Palace rarely saw modern Grand Prix cars, so that new record was perhaps understandable.

The early Vanwalls built in 1954 used a chassis built by Cooper, based on the Ferrari chassis of the earlier Thinwall Special. The Vanwall engine was, in effect, four Norton Manx 500 heads mounted on a single crankcase cast in alloy but copied from a Rolls-Royce unit. In 1956 the chassis was redesigned by Colin Chapman and a new body was designed by aerodynamics expert Frank Costin. These changes and further development led to real success.

Photo by Alan R. Smith ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com

To see more photos from our archive go to: http://www.klemcoll.com/TheGallery.aspx


  1. Yes, i remember this early victory early on for Vanwall
    despite being a minor event, Harry Schell; would
    demonstrate the speed of car in 1956 at Rheims and Monza
    but then following year only British drivers welcome..!

    Mr Vandervell made this very clear , and when a world GP
    race was finally won I asked him if the people of England were
    proud but he replied something like ” I doubt the man on the
    street appreciated the accomplishment,” That comment as
    he and i watched out on far section of Nurburgring as they
    did some badly needed practice

    Seems to me Vandervell was on the Board of Directors’
    at Norton factory when they came up with scheme to use
    four of their Manx motors,

    Lovely photo of ” Our Man in Paris ”


    Jim sitz

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A pleasure, always, to read another Jim Sitz example of his detailed recall from the period. His word scenes “pop to life” in the best of ways as they illustrate their moments in time. Thanks, Jim, for bringing them to us, and thanks to Peter for the site that has these stories and photos of such interest and style.


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