The following year, 1952,
was the great Mike Hawthorn's year. The programme editor,
not having a crystal ball, wrote, 'The fourth new car in
this group (Formula B, or II Racing cars) is the Cooper-Bristol,
to be driven by Mike Hawthorn'. This car is so new that
at the time of writing it is not even finished, but it is
hoped that it will be ready to compete in this its first
race .... although not as powerful as the others, it is
exceptionally light'. Hawthorn, of course, went on to dominate
This meeting also marked
the first appearance in this part of the country of the
famous Ecuria Ecosse team from Scotland. Unfortunately,
they only managed third place behind Sydney Allard and Oscar
Moore in the sports car race.
of the official programme 30th April, 1955
All the remaining motor
cycle meetings were national events with entries rising
from 130 in 1951 to 199 in 1955. A
young John Surtees made his debut here in 1952, finishing
third in his 350cc heat and fourth in the final race. Other
significant names were Ken James (who sadly lost his life
competing on the Isle of Man),
Geoff Tanner, Derek Powell, who later rode for Bob Foster
and was very unlucky not to become a works rider for A.M.C.
Now a sprightly senior citizen, Derek is still a keen rider
and appears regularly in historic events. Other notable
participants at Ibsley were Reg Marsh and Frank Fry (of
'Marsh & Fry' fame), Geoff Monty and Sid Lawton.
sidecars and three-wheelers ('passenger machine' races)
up to 1200cc were introduced and over the next four years
Bill Boddice and 'Pip' Harris has some great scraps. Maurice
Cann was the most successful 250cc rider, although John
Surtees won the final race in 1955 and, of course, a good
many of the 350 and 500cc events in between.
Coronation year for
the car boys saw the Ecurie Ecosse to the fore with their
beautifully prepared dark blue cars driven by Ian and Jim
Stewart (Sir Jackie's elder brothers), Ninian Sanderson
and Sir James Scott-Douglas. The 'C' type Jaguars with their
white 'army type' stripes on the nose were often to be seen.
Another important car
with strong local connection also competed. A Hartwell Sunbeam-Talbot
Alpine (see Hartwell Story in Gear Wheels archives)
was entered in a handicap race and finished third. As the
programme editor said: 'As no one seems to have given due
credit to the origin of this well publicised model, let
justice now be done'.
season, 1954, was the year of the B.R.M. As a mellowed local
racing enthusiast recently said: 'having already been spurred
into riding the 15-odd miles to see my school boy hero,
Mike Hawthorn, in 1952, the latest 3-speed version of my
trusty newspaper-round steed was pressed into service.'The
sight and sound of the V16 B.R.M. is still with me to this
day and was not to be missed under any circumstance as,
ever since it burst into prominence on the cover of Picture
Post, I have been hooked following its ups and downs
(mostly downs, sadly) and here it was, on my doorstep'.
'It didn't disappoint on this occasion, however, and ran
away from the opposition moving the Bournemouth Echo
to say that it could be heard five miles away sounding like
a choir boy in agony'. 'I've since found out it was garaged
overnight at Whites Garage (now Somerfield's supermarket)
in Ringwood. Oh how I wish I'd known that at the time'.
was the final year of racing at Ibsley and Roy Salvadori's
was the main draw. Already a consistent performer throughout
the country, he won both the main races in the Gilby Engineering
Maserati 250F after a thrilling battle with the late Archie
Scott-Brown in a Lister-Bristol. He also set a new lap record
of one minute 21.4 seconds, equating to approximately 88
mph. This meeting also marked the appearance of the rear-engined
bob-tailed Coopers with their Coventry-Climax power units
and driven by Ivor Bueb and Tommy Sopwith; this car was
the fore-runner of the rear engine F1 Coopers.
Nortons head to head in July 1953
Finally a couple
of interesting facts about racing at Ibsley. The means of
charging entry was quiet novel as in the first programme
for the meeting in 1951 officials apologised for charging
10/- (50p) for car parking and 2/- (10p) for a programme.
But they pointed out that entrance to the track was free,
mainly due to the near impossibility of fencing the entire
perimeter and, of course, the need to provide turnstiles,
etc. The 40% entertainment tax imposed by the government
of the day might well have had a bearing on the above charging
Secondly, the great
Geoff Duke was invited by Harry Shutler and the Ringwood
Club to vet the circuit prior to the first meeting. In the
morning the party arrived at the track, Duke mounted his
bike and set off in a clockwise direction. Nothing had been
said, but apparently they had been thinking of running anticlockwise.
You will note, however, from the circuit map that all races
were run in a clockwise direction!
one of this feature detailing the background to
the old RAF Ibsley airfield and the early days of car
and motor-cycle racing at the venue can be seen by
selecting Archives in the left-hand column above,
then 'clicking on' Archive 30.
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