The Sound of 16

BRM, Fangio, Silverstone, klemcoll

Here is a rare early color photograph of an even rarer car and driver combination: a V16 BRM and Juan Manuel Fangio. This is at the Daily Express International Formula Libre Race which was a support race for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 18, 1953. This race took place at the end of a full day’s racing with the Grand Prix for Formula 2 cars, a 500cc Formula 3 race and a sports car race coming first and the Formula Libre event starting at 5:20 pm over 17 laps.

Two of the former F1 1.5 liter V16 BRM 15s were on hand for Fangio and Ken Wharton as kind of relics from the recent past. Tony Vandervell entered Nino Farina in his 4.5 liter Thinwall Special Ferrari, a kind of locally-modified older F1 Ferrari but now fitted with a 4.5 liter Ferrari motor, and Scuderia Ferrari brought an extra 500F2 car but with a 2.5 liter version their four cylinder motor installed for Mike Hawthorn, it being a trial run of what would become their 625F1 for 1954 under the announced 2.5 liter rules. The rest of the field was made up of several prewar ERAs, a Maserati 4CL and some two liter British F2 cars.

BRM, Fangio, Silverstone, klemcollFangio is here seen to the left during the race. He had taken pole position but blew the engine of his BRM (not at all a rare BRM event) and required a replacement overnight. Next in the four-car front row was Farina with the Thinwall, Wharton’s BRM and Hawthorn’s Ferrari. Farina went quickly into the lead followed by the two BRMs. Farina then set a lap time a few tenths faster than Fangio’s pole time and thereby achieved the first 100 mph lap ever turned at Silverstone. Hawthorn was up with them until he retired due to overheating during the fourth lap.

The leading three continued in order to the finish with Farina almost 12 seconds ahead of Fangio.

Photos by Tom March ©The klemantaski Collection –

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