Bobby Baird was a driver from Ulster in Northern Ireland who raced primarily in England during the early 1950s. Here he is driving his 3 liter Ferrari 250MM Vignale spider in the Production Sports Car Race during the International Trophy Meeting at Silverstone on May 9, 1953. He would finish tenth behind several Jaguar C-Types, a pair of Aston Martin DB3s and the larger-engined 340MM Ferraris driven by Mike Hawthorn and American Tom Cole which finished first and second.
Baird’s family had owned the successful Belfast Evening Telegraph since the 1870s and once he inherited the ownership he was able to indulge his interest in some serious motor racing. He had done some racing in small cars during the 1930s, so postwar he had had some experience and believed he was able to handle the challenge of the Ferraris. He had acquired a 500F2 single-seater, a pair of barchettas – a 166MM and a 212 Export – and a 225 Sport and then the 250MM. Like some other private owners, he used the Italian nominee company S.A.I.P.A. which had been set up by Nando Righetti, also a Ferrari customer, as a way of avoiding British tax.
In June 1953 Baird purchased the 1953 Mille Miglia-winning Ferrari 340MM and would now be able to challenge the faster sports cars which had beaten him at Silverstone. The 340MM with the power if its 4.1 liter motor was generally regarded with caution at the time as the power and forward weight bias from the heavier motor led to questionable handling. Baird entered his 500F2 for the U.S. Air Force Trophy race at Snetterton in late July and brought along the 340MM for the over two liter sports car race. Unfortunately, during practice with the 340MM he understeered off the road, the car dug in on the soft earth next to the circuit and overturned, throwing him out. Baird refused medical attention at the scene and started to walk back to the pits. However, he soon collapsed and died from a broken rib which had punctured his lungs. He was the first driver to be killed at Snetterton.
Photo by Tom March ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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