Here is the then well known British driver Bob Gerard pulling into the pits after winning the Ulster Trophy which was run on the Ballyclare open road circuit on August 9, 1947. In the immediate postwar years there were few available private circuits in England and racing on public roads was prohibited. Therefore, racing sometimes took place in Northern Ireland as here, or on Jersey in the Channel Islands. Ballyclare was located in County Antrim near what is now Belfast Airport and was made up of a series of public roads creating a triangular shape with a lap distance of about 4.1 miles. The Ulster Trophy was a listed Grand Prix event in the period before the creation of the Formula 1 Championship.
There should have been more cars but only nine showed up and, after Raymond Mays had his engine blow spectacularly in practice, only eight took the start. Bob Gerard, here seen at the left, drove his ERA B-type and won the 36 lap race by over 2 laps in just over two hours, even with a pit stop to replace a burnt spark plug. Second was Barry Woodall in a Delage 15S8 with third place going to George Abecassis with an older ERA A-type.
Bob Gerard who partnered as a garage owner with his father in Leicester had started in competition in the prewar years with a Riley and took on an active career as a privateer driver after the conflict, having acquired three ERAs during the war years. His first major postwar race had also been at Ballyclare in 1946 when he had finished third. Gerard also raced at the Grand Prix des Nations in Geneva in 1946, but with engine woes preventing a finish. After the 1947 Ulster Trophy Gerard had a very active season with the ERAs. In later years Gerard graduated to more modern machinery such as a Cooper-Bristol and even had a “ride” in the Maserati 250F owned by Stirling Moss when its famous owner was otherwise engaged. Gerard continued to be active in top level racing in the 1950s until he retired in 1961. Nevertheless, he remained active as an entrant for many more years.
Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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