In 1950 the International Daily Express Trophy non-championship race took place at Silverstone on August 26. Before the start a group got together for a photo on the grid in front of The Motor magazine bridge. On the left is Alberto Ascari with Yves Giraud-Cabantous who would drive a Talbot 26C peeking over his left shoulder, next, wearing a jacket, is Ferrari test driver and occasional racer Dorino Serafini, then Juan Manuel Fangio in the white shirt and finally journalist and broadcaster Rivers Fletcher, then assisting BRM, in the dark blazer.
Because of the large entry of 27 cars, the race was held in two 15-lap heats followed by the finishers going through to a 35-lap final. This format, along with three support races, gave a good value to the thousands of spectators. For many years thereafter the International Trophy became perhaps the most well-attended non-championship F1 race after the British Racing Drivers Club switched its date to early May at the front end of the F1 season.
Ascari was down to drive a supposedly new supercharged Ferrari 125F1 which was being entrusted to Tony Vandervell as its entrant. However, when inspected it was found to be a rebuild of the prior year’s car and not all that competitive. Vandervell sent it back to Maranello after the race and got it back with a 4.5 liter normally-aspirated engine making it the first iteration of his Thinwall Special which proved quite competitive. Ascari spun due partially to engine fumes in his cockpit, and retired from his heat. He had to be happy with a win in the first of the two production sports car races with a Ferrari 166MM, with Serafini behind him in a similar car.
Fangio was not yet World Champion, his first such title coming the following year. Here he drove the second of two Alfa Romeo 158s. In the final he dutifully followed his team leader Nino Farina who would be the 1950 World Champion. The Alfas were definitely the class of the field although Peter Whitehead with his private Ferrari 125F1 did well to finish third overall, albeit a minute and four seconds back.
This race will be remembered by some as the first appearance of the BRM V16 F1 car. Entered for Raymond Sommer, it broke its driveline at the start of the second heat and did not move an inch, being pushed away after a great deal of pre-race fanfare.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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