This amusing image was taken in the paddock at Goodwood on September 29, 1951. The car is a now three-year-old Maserati 4CLT/48 which was entered for this Goodwood September Meeting by its Swiss owner/driver Antonio Branca. Branca is crouching next to the right front wheel, probably looking at his car’s supercharger while his mechanic changes the spark plugs. Branca had been on the grid for the first of three races in which he was entered to participate on the day. The Maserati 4CLT, introduced in 1948 at the non-championship San Remo Grand Prix, was an up-rated version of the prewar 4CL, but with a new stiffer tubular chassis (indicted by the “T”) and dual supercharging of the 4CL’s 4 cylinder 1496cc motor.
Interestingly, this would be the first Goodwood Meeting where the grids would done by practice times rather than by lot. That first race for Branca, The Woodcote Cup, was a five lap formula libre affair with a wide-ranging entry. Branca had had starting problems on the grid (he was at the back), tried a plug change and had then been pushed away to the paddock where this photograph was taken. The crowd in the background is waiting for the start which included a works-entered Alfa Romeo 159 driven by Giuseppe “Nino” Farina, a further pair of 4CLT/48s, Tony Vandervell’s Thinwall Special Ferrari driven by Reg Parnell, several ERAs, a prewar gaggle of two Alfas and two Maseratis, a Talbot, and even a Cadillac-Allard J2 driven by Sydney Allard. Farina was the winner with Parnell second.
The next race for these cars was another five-lapper, but with the starting order arranged by handicap. Farina and Parnell were at scratch. Branca was given a 21 second starting advantage but it did him little good as he would retire on lap four. The field for this race saw the addition of Stirling Moss, driving one of John Heath’s HWM-Altas and given a 47 second head start. Farina won but only by passing Moss just before the finish.
Sixteen cars came to the grid for the final race of the Meeting, limited to cars eligible for the then-current Formula 1, a 15-lapper for the Goodwood Trophy. The cars would really be approaching at high speed out of Woodcote, the final corner, as Goodwood’s famous Chicane would not be inserted until 1952 in order to slow the racers as they approached the pits. The winner would again be Farina’s Alfa, seen here at the left at Woodcote before exiting in a power drift, again with Parnell second just a little over 5 seconds behind, with the ERAs of Tony Rolt and Bob Gerard third and fourth, the others having been lapped. Once again our friend Branca retired, this time on the second lap having been involved in a collision with the ERA driven by Brian Shaw-Taylor. Branca was unhurt but Shaw-Taylor suffered a head injury and would not race again.
Branca would continue to race in smaller events such as hillclimbs and even entered Le Mans in 1955 but did not take the start and then retired from racing.
Photos by Alan R. Smith and Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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