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Dundrod 1955


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#1 cdrewett

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 12:52

I was reading somewhere, (it may have been another thread on TNF) about the sad accident early on in the 1955 TT at Dundrod, which cost the lives of Jim Mayers and Bill Smith, and eliminated five other cars, including the last works Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica Mk2 of Ken Wharton.
What I don't think has been mentioned is the role of a mysterious continental gentleman who called himself the Comte du Barry. He apparently turned up in a standard roadgoing Mercedes 300SL, and entered, nominating his girlfriend as co-driver.
He then proceeded to cruise along in the middle of the very narrow road, refusing to let anyone past, with a queue of increasingly frustrated drivers behind, until the inevitable happened.
Who was this guy ? Did he have a licence? Was he black flagged? What happened afterwards?

Or should this particular skeleton stay locked in the cupboard ?

Chris

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#2 Graham Gauld

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 13:28

I was at the race and the reason for the accident had a lot to do with the fact that the cars were lined up on the grid not by practice times but by cylinder capacity which meant that de Barry with his 3 litre Mercedes Ben 300SL was up alongside the Jaguars and Ferraris but much faster 1500cc and 1100cc cars were further down the grid. These included Jim Meyers and Bill Smith whom I knew and they were going like trains on the opening lap. Bill had great promise, had been signed by Ecurie Ecosse for the 1956 season and Lofty England was also interested in his progress. He already had raced at Dundrod and won the Ulster Trophy with his ex-Ecurie Ecosse C type Jaguar. He was offered the factory Connaught drive alongside John Young and was given the first stint.
When Meyers came up to overtake de Barry near Deers Leap he found his way blocked and went to the right if I remember correctly but his Cooper hit a stone gate post and burst into flames.
Ken Wharton was the next one along and being an experienced race driver he drove straight through the burning fuel running across the road , crashed and was badly burned . Next person along was Bill Smith.
I remember Billy McMaster one of Ulster's legendary motoring journalists telling me what happened next as he attended the official inquest. Apparently Bill saw the carnage ahead and crashed into the wreckage and was killed. Meanwhile de Barry had carried on and was later disqualified or pulled off the circuit. ( I was out by the hairpin at the time). de Barry had raced other cars and obviously had a full International circuit licence but was very slow on a very narrow circuit with high banks and nowhere to go. As we all know Richard Mainwaring was also killed later in the race with his Elva

Sadly there were no skeletons : it was the wrong guy in the wrong car in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Purely as an aside on this race I have rarely seen it mentioned that a very young new German racing driver called Wolfgang von Trips competed in the event in a factory Mercedes Benz 300SLR. I have attached a photo for those interested.


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#3 Leigh Trevail

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 14:09

Bill Smith’s short life has been documented by Peter Sainty in a book called "An Artist at the Game" and is now available through www.lulu.com as a download at £3.75,( but this does not include the covers), or £9.51(plus P&P) as a perfect bound 56pp book. Alternatively it can be obtained direct from the author: Peter J Sainty, 62 Ashbourne Road, Derby, DE22 3AF for £10.50 inclusive.

#4 Vitesse2

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 14:10

I've just read the report of the inquest in The Times and Graham's memory seems to be correct, although Mayers hitting a stone gate was disputed at the time by a witness who claimed his engine had exploded in flames when changing gear.

The court relied on a written statement from Frederik Kretschmann, who described a green car (possibly a Cooper) passing him on the left and then attempting to pass de Barry's car (20 metres ahead) on the same side. De Barry was at this point in the middle of the road and the green car eventually got past on the right. A second car (Mayers) then passed Kretschmann "very quickly" and attempted to pass de Barry on the right: it seems de Barry might have moved over on Mayers as Kretschmann says he (Mayers) had to brake hard to avoid the Mercedes, skidded, hit a bank and the car exploded.

Kretschmann drove through the flames with his goggles on fire and stopped about 100 metres on. Ken Wharton was presented with a wall of flames - his car caught fire and was burnt out - but escaped with minor injuries.

A flag marshal said he had seen four cars approaching (de Barry, Kretschmann, Mayers, Smith?) and had waved a blue flag, but hadn't seen anything else after a loose wheel hit him on the left leg.

There was seemingly no reliable witness testimony regarding Smith: the spectator who claimed that Mayers' car had caught fire and then skidded said that Smith then collided with Mayers' burning car. But he made no mention of Kretschmann or Wharton.

The conflicting testimony led the coroner to direct the jury to return an open verdict, which they duly did. They later returned a verdict of accidental death on Mainwaring, whose crash was unconnected to the above.

After the inquest, Bill Smith's father said he would be calling for a public inquiry into why there had been "a build-up of cars just before the crash at Deer's Leap". I think Graham has answered that one.

#5 Bauble

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 14:51

I remember reading about this young chap driving a Jaguar and winning a lot of races while doing his National Service, and was really saddened by his death. While it always sad to lose any driver, Bill Smith seemed to have such a future ahead of him, that it just did not seem right somehow.
If you can get a copy of the Shell Film Unit video of the race I suggest you do so, it has not only tremedous footage of the Jaguar V Mercedes battle, Hawthorn and Moss, but also demonstrates just how narrow and tortuous the circuit was, and it is easy to see how accidents could happen.

Motor Sport really was a dangerous sport back then, even as a spectator.

#6 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 17:47

Just a few weeks before the Tourist Trophy race Bill Smith had finished 4th in the Goodwood 9 Hours sharing the Works HWM-Jaguar XPE2 with Lance Macklin. Ironically Macklin was also destined to be involved in the Dundrod crash with his Austin-Healey. He was fortunate to escape unhurt physically, if perhaps, not mentally. After the horror of Le Mans it is hardly suprising that this fine driver lost the heart for motor racing and retired from the sport early in the following season.

#7 Doug Nye

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 18:52

Previously unreleased full-colour footage of the 1955 RAC TT at Dundrod is featured in Motorfilms Quarterly Volume 12 - see <http://www.motorfilm...ows_rs_quart2=3]> - still available. This footage includes some coverage of the Richard Mainwaring accident, plus the scene of the Deer's Leap disaster...and there are many more minutes of happier material too. There is one sequence which shows du Barry broadsiding his blue 300SL into a trackside bank, with the car's right-side wheels riding well up and along it. Had the car been at full racing speed it would surely have flipped. I believe this incident led to the owner/driver finally concluding he was out of his depth, and retiring the car. But for Mayers and Smith that was too late.

Within our Geoffrey Goddard stills archive there are several shots of the unbelievably mangled wreckage which had been dragged clear of Deer's Leap and which lay in the adjacent meadows as Geoff happened upon it.

DCN

#8 EDWARD FITZGERALD

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 20:54

IIRC in the Shell film of the event Du Barry was black flagged in practice for smokiing while driving .

#9 Mal9444

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 17:02

Originally posted by EDWARD FITZGERALD
IIRC in the Shell film of the event Du Barry was black flagged in practice for smokiing while driving .


Vicomte de Barry was indeed black-flagged, but from the race, not from practice (or if from practice then as well as from the race.) According to John S Moore’s excellent booklet The Dundrod TT Races 1950-1955 published by Irish Transport Press this was for ‘alleged unsafe driving’ and not, with the greatest respect to Doug, because he realised he was out of his depth. The black flag was shown quite well into the race, just over halfway IIRC, and in the contemporary Shell/BP film he is indeed shown smoking a cigarette – but this in the paddock, after being DSQ’d and after getting out of the car. He gives every appearance of feeling very hard done by and – in marked contrast to the anguish rightly or wrongly felt by JMH over the Le Mans crash – there is no evidence in the film or, so far as I am aware, anywhere else that he felt in any way responsible for the deaths, or the crash.

In his commentary on the (not to be missed if you haven’t seen it) Motorfilms Quarterly colour footage of the same race Doug comes down pretty hard on the Ulster Automobile Club for the grid-ordered-by-engine-size practice, and lays the blame for the crash fairly squarely at its (and therefore their) door as well as that of de Barry. Graham in his post here repeats this. But how unusual was such a starting line-up for such a race at that time? What was the practice, then, at Le Mans – whose starting procedure was being used? I too was at the race (albeit aged only 11) and assumed then – as I think did most ‘lay’ spectators that the cars were simply lined up in front of their pits. Interestingly, even the race numbers are in engine size order, with the Hawthorn/ Titterington 3.5-litre D-type race number 1, then come the 3-litre Ferraris, then the 3-litre Mercs, Maseratis and Astons. The 1100cc Coopers are 41 – 43.

That de Barry held up quicker cars behind him is vividly shown in the aforementioned BP film: there is a shot taken at the hairpin on lap 2 showing the 300sl going round with a positive queue behind ‘not helped by von Frankenberg spinning his Porsche if front of them’, to quote the Raymond Baxter commentary.

(Edit on 3rd March: Baxter is shown commentating - presumably for BBC radio - in the movie but the narration on the film is by the exquisitley exsented Kenneth Best, in very Pathe News style.)

#10 Peter Sainty

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 17:57

Leigh Trevail has pointed me towards this thread.
The order of the cars coming over Deer's Leap towards de Barry was Mayers, Kretschmann, Smith, Wharton - this took some establishing, but I think it's correct, and why Ken Wharton had a bit more warning than Bill. There was a report in Autosport a week or two after the inquest, saying that some cine film had been found which showed the sequence of events right up to Mayers' crash (when the photographer naturally stopped filming to go to help); Autosport said this proved that Kretschmann gave the only reliable evidence at the inquest, and it is this which I have followed. Whatever happened to this film?
The reason de Barry was black-flagged so late seems to have been that it was Kretschmann who laid the complaint, I think from hospital where he had been taken for treatment to his burns. Rodney McComb kindly sent me a set of the Stewards' bulletins, and de Barry was late for scrutineering (which shows how seriously he took things!) and much slower in practice than his car would allow. Kretschmann said that "this man swerved from side to side all over the road". De Barry did indeed refuse to accept any responsibility, and really upset Bill's father (my uncle) by implying that Bill was incompetent (when at the time he was Ulster Champion).
Bill's father never did get the public enquiry he wanted, but I believe the RAC laid down new rules as to who would be eligible for International races in future (I get the impression that, up to the Dundrod TT, as long as you had a licence and could afford the entrance, you could race!).
I have been trying to find more information about Kretschmann, who was apparently a well-known racing driver in Germany, but have come up with very little - there are several spellings of his name, and he's even called Franz in one reference (but the rest tend towards Friederick or Friedrich, and I think the former is correct). Does anyone have any details of this driver?
By the way, Graham, Wolfgang von Trips was third in the 1955 TT, and Motor Sport already classed him alongside Moss and Fangio!

#11 Mal9444

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 21:51

Originally posted by Peter Sainty
Leigh Trevail has pointed me towards this thread.
I get the impression that, up to the Dundrod TT, as long as you had a licence and could afford the entrance, you could race!.


Unless, of course, your name was Archie Scott-Brown.

The UAC did itself no favours by refusing Archie's entry on what would now be called 'Elfin Safety' grounds, which makes the acceptance of the de Barry entry even more bizarre.

BTW - it was mentiond earlier that de Barry listed his fiance as co-driver, but I recall my brother (who was 18, and thus clearly would have then known more about contemporary motor racing than anyone else on the planet) told me (and this a day or two before the race) that de Barry was going to drive the entire race by himself 'like Pierre Levegh at Le Mans'. I, at 11, assumed it was a French thing!

On this site:
http://www.classicsc...scc/ms1955.html

Henri de Barry is listed as the sole driver, and is scored as 'DQ: too slow'.

#12 Mal9444

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 22:05

There is something whimsical here:
http://www.newslette...ends.3206274.jp
although, like most newspaper articles, it does not add anything authoritative to the debate.

#13 Mal9444

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 23:44

This is all quite interesting (or maybe it's not).

Had the starting line-up order been in order of engine size, which looking at John S Moore's list would have been in race number, this would have been the line-up (the times listed are practice times, and I have used whom I believe to have been the first-stint drivers in each case).

1 Hawthorn D-type 04:49
2 Berry D-type 05:20
3 Whitehead Cooper-Jag 04:55
4 Castelotti Ferrari 05:03
5 Trintignant Ferrari 05:07
7 Swaters Ferrari 05:20
9 Fangio Merc 04:50
10 Moss Merc 04:48
11 von Tripss Merc 04:58
12 de Barry Merc 300sl 05:59
14 Behra Maser 06:16
15 Musso Maser 05:01
16 Colins Aston 06:11
17 Parnell Aston 05:01
18 Walker Aston 05:02
19 Flower Healey 05:44
20 Macklin Healey 05:28
21 Dicksom TR2 06:02
22 Maunsell TR2 05:04
23 (Ian) Tiiterington TR2 05:09
24 Bellucci Maser 06:01
25 Wharton Nash 05:39
26 Joe Kelly Fraser Nash 06:09
27 Adams Kieft 06:24
28 Shelby Porsche 550 05:21
29 Glocker Porsche 05:21
30 Frankenberg Porsche 05:43
31 Kretschmann Porsche 05:28
34 Flockhart MG 05:56
35 Fairman MG ex182 05:55
36 Lund MG 05:03
37 Baxter Kieft 04:56
38 Coombs Lotus 7 6.22
39 Smith Connaught 05:42
40 Jopp Lotus IX 05:12
41 Bueb Cooper 05:25
42 Russell Cooper 05:09
43 Mayers Cooper 05:04
44 Plunkett Kieft 05:43
45 Mainwaring Elva 05:10
46 Chapman Lotus IX 05:19
47 Steed Lotus IX 05:22
48 Rudd DKW 05:09
49 Cornet Panhard 06:08
50 Armagnac Panhard 05:41
51 Mougin Panhard 05:43
54 Chancel Panhard 06:49
55 Faure Stanguelline 05:46
56 Bonnier Maser 06:03

In fact, looking again at the BP film, this appears to have been the line up:


1 Hawthorn D-type 04:49
2 Berry D-type 05:20
3 Whitehead Cooper-Jag 04:55
unidentified
unidentified
12 de Barry Merc 300sl 05:59
7 Swaters Ferrari 05:20
4 Castelotti Ferrari 05:03
5 Trintignant Ferrari 05:07
16 Colins Aston 06:11
9 Fangio Merc 04:50
10 Moss Merc 04:48
11 von Tripss Merc 04:58
14 Behra Maser 06:16
15 Musso Maser 05:01
etc


and this is the line-up order had practice times been used (de Barry in bold, those in the crash in italics).

10 Moss Merc 04:48
1 Hawthorm D-type 04:49
9 Fangio Merc 04:50
3 Whitehead Cooper-Jag 04:55
37 Baxter Kieft 04:56
11 von Tripss Merc 04:58
15 Musso Maser 05:01
17 Parnell Aston 05:01
18 Walker Aston 05:02
4 Castelotti Ferrari 05:03
36 Lund MG 05:03
22 Maunsell TR2 05:04
43 Mayers Cooper 05:04
5 Trintignant Ferrari 05:07
23 (Ian) Tiiterington TR2 05:09
42 Russell Cooper 05:09
48 Rudd DKW 05:09
45 Mainwaring Elva 05:10
40 Jopp Lotus IX 05:12
46 Chapman Lotus IX 05:19
2 Berry D-type 05:20
7 Swaters Ferrari 05:20
28 Shelby Porsche 550 05:21
29 Glocker Porsche 05:21
47 Steed Lotus IX 05:22
41 Bueb Cooper 05:25
20 Macklin Healey 05:28
31 Kretschmann Porsche 05:28
25 Wharton Nash 05:39

50 Armagnac Panhard 05:41
39 Smith Connaught 05:42
30 Frankenberg Porsche 05:43
44 Plunkett Kieft 05:43
51 Mougin Panhard 05:43
19 Flower Healey 05:44
55 Faure Stanguelline 05:46
35 Fairman MG ex182 05:55
34 Flockhart MG 05:56
12 de Barry Merc 300sl 05:59
24 Bellucci Maser 06:01
21 Dickson TR2 06:02
56 Bonnier Maser 06:03
49 Cornet Panhard 06:08
26 Joe Kelly Fraser Nash 06:09
16 Colins Aston 06:11
14 Behra Maser 06:16
27 Adams Kieft 06:24
54 Chancel Panhard 06:49
38 Coombs Lotus 7 06:52

However, it should be noted that in the Le Mans-style start used, the starting order changed dramatically in the opening seconds of the race. Watching the film again Berry, then Hawthorn were first 'away' – but Moss, at no 10, (as was his wont) was first to move and was third 'away'. De Barry, despite having had to get into a closed car (he was allowed to leave it with the gull-wing door raised), is by my count the eighth car to move and despite being overtaken by some of the big cars further down the line is certainly in the vanguard as the pack moves out of frame.

Did the 300sl coupe have a bigger engine than the 300 slrs (and why, if the line-up is in engine size order, is one – and only one – of the DB3s in front of the Mercs)? Perhaps the line-up was even more bizarre and random than has already been suggested.

#14 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 06:26

Originally posted by Peter Sainty
I have been trying to find more information about Kretschmann


Some results here:

http://www.oldracing...s...schmann (D)

Vince H.

#15 Hse289

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 11:20

Hi, has anyone got a picture of the Jim Mayers Cooper before the crash, please.
Thanks, Paul

#16 Bauble

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 11:50

I looked at the BP film again last night and the commentator says that Du Barry was called into the pits by the organisers and not allowed to continue. Ay what stage it is not clear.

#17 cdrewett

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 12:13

Blimey, Baxter in a Kieft fifth quickest in practice, ahead of all sorts of Astons and Mercs. Who was he and was that local knowledge at work?
Chris

#18 Mal9444

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 12:40

Originally posted by cdrewett
Blimey, Baxter in a Kieft fifth quickest in practice, ahead of all sorts of Astons and Mercs. Who was he and was that local knowledge at work?
Chris


All it says (http://www.classicsc...scc/ms1955.html) is Berwyn Baxter/ Martin Trimble GB. (Oooops - Freudian typo. Max , not Martin - see next post.)

Looking at the other times for the 1.5 litre class, the Porsches were next quickest at 5:21 and the other Kieft (John Fisher/ Ronnie Adams) did 6:24. The John Cooms/ Ian Burgess Lotus-Connaught did 6:22. Given that Messrs Baxter and Trimble finished 26th overall (65 laps) and Shelby/ Gregory were 9th (75 laps) the listed practice times look more like a typo, on e would have to say.

I too would be delighted to see any pictures anyone has.

#19 cdrewett

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 12:44

Baxter's co-driver was actually my Shelsley co-commentator Max Trimble, who later on had a horrible accident at Spa in a D-type, which cost him a leg.
Happily he is still with us on good form and in good voice.

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#20 Mal9444

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 12:50

Originally posted by cdrewett
Baxter's co-driver was actually my Shelsley co-commentator Max Trimble, who later on had a horrible accident at Spa in a D-type, which cost him a leg.
Happily he is still with us on good form and in good voice.


I don't suppose he can remember how quickly he got round Dundrod 54 years ago? :D :wave:

#21 Graham Gauld

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 13:08

I know it is not the Berwyn Baxter/Maxc Trimble car but this is Alan Rippon in the Kieft-Climax 1100 so that you know what that model of Kieft looked like. Taken, obviously, at the Dundrod hairpin with a standard 50mm lens so he was pretty close.


[URL=http://img80.imageshack.us/my.php?image=weekieft.jpg][IMG]http://img80.imageshack.us/img

#22 Graham Gauld

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 13:09

Why did it not show the pic ?

[URL=http://img80.imageshack.us/my.php?image=weekieft.jpg][IMG]http://img80.imageshack.us/img

#23 Graham Gauld

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 13:14

Two times I have tried now lets try this

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#24 Mal9444

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 14:08

Originally posted by Bauble
I looked at the BP film again last night and the commentator says that Du Barry was called into the pits by the organisers and not allowed to continue. Ay what stage it is not clear.


I think we can agree that the commentary ('called in for questioning and not allowed to continue') is worded so as to spare anyone's blushes and minimise anything that might be deemed unpleasant or controversial (rather like the dismissive words used over the the pictures of the upturned burning Elva: 'sadly killing its driver'). That was the norm those days. The movie clearly shows the black flag, and all results that I've ever seen record him as Dsq, although the quoted reasons vary ('erractic driving'; 'dangerous driving'; 'too slow').

Following the chronology of the movie, this was just before the end of Titterington's stint in the D-type: i.e. just before the two-thirds stage of the race. Moss is already back in the Mercedes, Fitch having done but the minimum stint. It was an 84 lap race, and Lofty England split the race in three for his two drivers, so de Barry (Du Barry was a different French aristocrat altogether) must have been black-flagged somewhere around lap 50 - 55. Mind you, he himself would have presumably completed not nearly so many.

#25 Bauble

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 14:11

Just a thought, but if you add one minute to Berwyn's time it would look about right!!

#26 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 19:15

This is what Geoff Goddard saw of the cavalcade behind de Barry's Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe on the opening laps of the Golden Jubilee RAC TT at Dundrod, '55:

Posted Image

Leading the queue behind the blue Mercedes is Ivor Bueb in the works Cooper 'Bobtail' he co-drove with Mike MacDowel. Ivor found a way past the mobile chicane. Behind him is Kretschmann in the Raymond Flower-entered Porsche 550 Spyder, followed by (I believe) Jim Mayers in the 'Bobtail' Cooper he was sharing with Jack Brabham (almost hidden behind the Porsche), then Ken Wharton in the special-bodied Frazer Nash, probably Peter Jopp in the Lotus Mark IX and then white-helmeted Bill Smith in the Connaught ALSR.

-----------

Subsequently, as Geoff walked through the meadow adjoining Deer's Leap/Cochranstown, he came upon these scenes:

Posted Image

This is the rear half of the Mayers Cooper (right), with its Coventry Climax engine and what little remained of its front end assembly in the background. What I believe to be the burned out remains of the Wharton Frazer Nash has been dragged into the meadow, left background.

Posted Image

Bits of the shattered Cooper. Note the instrument panel... Over the bank, on the opposite side of the road, Kretschmann's abandoned Porsche can just be seen where he left it, on the verge.

Posted Image

What was left - I think - of the Frazer Nash. Fortunately Ken Wharton had scrambled clear before the fire took hold.

Posted Image

Wreckage of the Jim Mayers Cooper front-end assembly. The impact against that gate pillar was plainly unsurviveable...

Posted Image

His engine.

Geoff had travelled over on the ferry with his friend Pat Stephens of Stonehams Motoring Bookshop and 'Building and Racing my 750' fame, together with the Elva team, which Pat was managing. The group included driver Richard Mainwaring...killed later in this race, when the Elva struck the bank at Tornagrough, overturned and ignited, with him trapped underneath, and at first audibly unharmed.

For some, that was indeed a bad, bad day.

All Photos Strictly Copyright: The GP Library

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 05 May 2009 - 18:01.


#27 Leigh Trevail

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 19:54

Thank you Doug, the 'Cavalcade' photo puts it all into perspective!

#28 Peter Sainty

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 20:24

Just to add to the photos Doug posted: the aforementioned amateur cine film, according to Autosport, was filming from Cochranstown back up towards Deer's Leap. It showed Ivor Bueb just straightening up after getting past de Barry. The three other cars (in shot) behind de Barry, were Jim Mayers' Cooper, Freiderick Kretschmann's Porsche and Bill Smith's Connaught, in that order. Ken Wharton was apparently not in shot. Mayers had still been behind Kretschmann as they approached Wharton coming up to Deer's Leap, implying that Mayers overtook Kretschmann immediately after both of them (and Bill) had passed Wharton. There's no description of the exact sequence of Mayers' crash, as shown by the film, only that he skidded and hit the stone gatepost; but other witnesses (and I think this included Kretschmann - I'd have to check) stated that he tried to overtake de Barry, braked hard when he couldn't get past, the car skidded left and hit the left banking, shot back across the road and hit the gatepost on the right, whereupon it exploded. Nobody could do anything for Mayers, but one of the marshals went to the aid of "one of the competitors, later identified as Smith", who had been thrown out of the car, and "gave him into the hands of the St John's Ambulance".
The BP film of the race include a rather distasteful shot of the burning wreckage of the Connaught, which was still at the side of the road. But this judgement is probably personal prejudice coming through!

#29 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 20:34

Peter - unfortunately the colour footage of the burning Elva is probably worse. And we had the bad taste to use it, after much thought and consideration, since it starkly emphasises how different were the safety, rescue, marshalling and fire fighting standards of that era. On a brighter note, your family have much of which to be proud in Bill Smith's capabilities and evidently huge potential.

DCN

#30 neville mackay

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 20:46

Truly sobering pictures which serve to remind that the good old days weren't always as good as we like to pretend.

Rather than dwell on the tragic events of the day, what do people recall of the personalities, talents and careers of Jim Mayers, Bill Smith and Richard Mainwaring? Quite a lot has been written about Bill Smith who seems to have a well deserved reputation as a talented and promising youngster, but what about the other two? Jim Mayers was presumably well regarded in order to drive a works Cooper alongside Black Jack, but Richard Mainwaring is a complete unknown to me at least.

#31 Peter Sainty

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 21:00

Jim Mayers was a well-known and successful driver: the 1955 TT was the fourth he had entered, though his 1953 entry was a non-starter. He was a member of the "Monkey Stable", which had a bad year in 1955, as Mike Keen, another member, was also killed.
I spoke to Rob Mackenzie-Low, who was Richard Mainwaring's co-driver in the TT, while I was researching Bill's history, but I didn't find out a great deal about Mainwaring, I'm afraid.

#32 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 21:04

Geoff recalled him as just a nice enough bloke, with a bit of money, racing for fun...

DCN

#33 Peter Sainty

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 21:20

Going back to Mal9444's post, the practice times he quotes aren't the same as the list posted by the UAC. The lap record time then (broken in the race!) was 4 mins 48s, and the Kiefts are recorded as 5m43s and 6m48s (though Baxter isn't mentioned by the UAC).

(There's a photo of Fisher's Kieft on page 40 of Maurice Rowe's "Track Record".)

The line-up was indeed in engine size, de Barry's Merceded was 2996cc, the works Mercedes 2984cc (don't ask me why, someone will know!). Hence, the line up was (in race no. order): 1,2,3,4,5,7,12,14,15,16,9,10,11,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,56,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,
45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,54,55 (this from the UAC TT Bulletin, and excludes the non-starters). This was
according to engine size, if John Moore's book is to be believed.

#34 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 21:28

Originally posted by Peter Sainty
The line-up was indeed in engine size, de Barry's Mercedes was 2996cc, the works Mercedes 2984cc (don't ask me why, someone will know!).


Totally different designs, the production 300SL was a six-cylinder, the works 300SLR a straight-eight.

DCN

#35 Peter Sainty

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 22:59

OK Doug, thanks - John Moore lists them both as 8-cylinder, shows my lack of knowledge of the Merecedes!

#36 Buford

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 03:54

I think I have a fair knowledge of racing in my lifetime, having been an avid reader since my childhood in the early 50s, and something of a participant in various ways from the 60s through the 90s. But I had never heard of any of these drivers or this accident and knew very little about Dundrod. Thanks to everybody who have contributed to this thread.

#37 fines

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 09:05

I was also hardly aware of these tragic happenings. I don't know, but maybe with this all happening "in the slipstream" of the Le Mans disaster, perhaps even the media of the day were somewhat "oversaturated" with racing tragedies... :(

#38 Catalina Park

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 09:29

1955 was a shocking year, Le Mans, Dundrod, Indy and Bathurst had crashes where either drivers or multiple spectators were killed. It is almost surprising that the sport was allowed to continue at all.

#39 Mal9444

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 19:33

Originally posted by Peter Sainty
Going back to Mal9444's post, the practice times he quotes aren't the same as the list posted by the UAC. The lap record time then (broken in the race!) was 4 mins 48s, and the Kiefts are recorded as 5m43s and 6m48s (though Baxter isn't mentioned by the UAC).

(There's a photo of Fisher's Kieft on page 40 of Maurice Rowe's "Track Record".)

The line-up was indeed in engine size, de Barry's Merceded was 2996cc, the works Mercedes 2984cc (don't ask me why, someone will know!). Hence, the line up was (in race no. order): 1,2,3,4,5,7,12,14,15,16,9,10,11,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,56,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,
45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,54,55 (this from the UAC TT Bulletin, and excludes the non-starters). This was
according to engine size, if John Moore's book is to be believed.


Thanks. The practice lap times I quoted are those on this stie: (http://www.classicsc...scc/ms1955.html)

which is the only place on the web (and apart from John Moore's book) I've ever been able to find detailed results of the race since my interest was re-kindled in 2005. Are the UAC records still generally available?

And may I repeat an earlier question: was the practice of arranging the line-up for a start and race of this type in engine size the norm at the time, an abnormality - or indeed an aberration of and by the organisers?

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#40 Allan Lupton

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 19:45

Originally posted by Mal9444

And may I repeat an earlier question: was the practice of arranging the line-up for a start and race of this type in engine size the norm at the time, an abnormality - or indeed an aberration of and by the organisers?


I'm sure it was a widely used system - pretty sure it was used at Le Mans.
When two or more drivers share a car, gridding by practice time is a safe way to do it only if you know the best practice lap of the driver who will take the start. The Le Mans start adds another variable, so I suppose it was simplest to start in competition number order, and as comp. nos. were allocated by engine capacity the rest follows.

#41 Peter Sainty

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 19:58

The system was, I believe, started at Le Mans, who right from the outset in the 1920s lined the cars up in capacity order, and made the drivers run over and start them at the fall of the flag. The idea then seems to have been that the larger the capacity, the faster the car (which was almost certainly a good rule of thumb in those days!). I've heard the TT described as "the UK Le Mans" (the Goodwood Nine Hours was another attempt to emulate Le Mans, by combining day and night driving), so perhaps there was a belief that it was necessary to try to meet the "standard" for sports car racing set by Le Mans, by copying as much as possible. "Motor Sport" (DSJ) described the Le Mans start as "a thoroughly bad practice" in terms of Dundrod (report of the 1955 race).
I wouldn't like to say that the UAC Bulletins are widely available, I was kindly sent a copy by a UAC stalwart. But I can send a copy to anyone who cares to e-mail me their address!

#42 Doug Nye

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 20:17

Originally posted by Buford
I think I have a fair knowledge of racing in my lifetime... But I ... knew very little about Dundrod. Thanks to everybody who have contributed to this thread.


Bewf - take a look at <http://www.youtube.c...feature=related> or indeed any of the various YouTube 'Dundrod' movies. The roads have in part been much sanitised in recent years making the circuit rather faster than it was in 1950-55 form as used by cars, but you will get the picture! Some of the most stunning motor-cycle racing footage I have ever seen has come from the Ulster GP there.

DCN

#43 Mal9444

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 22:41

A couple of years ago I was 'home' on a visit and drove up to the circuit. The roads have not changed that much, save for the bit between Leathemstown corner and the top of the Deer's Leap. Leathemstown Bridge (the first photo in Doug's photo sequence above) has been bypassed and a (relatively) wide, smooth road runs from a re-fashioned Leathemstown cross-roads (the old Leathemstown corner) more or less straight up to the top of the swooping downhill run still called 'The Deer's leap' to the X-shape cross roads at Cochranstown that create the right-hander that on the circuit map is called Cochranstown corner. It was on the lower part of this swooping downhill run that the accident that has concerned us all occurred. Driving the circuit from time to time in the Sixties before I left Northern Ireland, and again those few years ago, I had often tried to work out just where it had all happened. The third of Geoff Goddard's photos (the one with Kretschmann's Porshe just visible on the far side of the road) looks as if it must have been (or finished up) much further down, and nearer Cochranstown corner, than I had realised - or maybe that is not the corner itself just beyond the Porsche.

After the Cochranstown right-hander the road runs through a wooded area to Quaterlands (another cross-roads) and the circuit swings right (onto the road that runs through Dundrod itself, the village being bypassed by the circuit) before going left at Ireland's corner to begin the long pull up through Budore (is it just me, or are the names magical still?). I mention all this because to my knowledge and belief that part of the circuit is exactly as it was: the road has not been widened, the solid Ulster banks are still there, and the trees. It was sufficiently puckering, thank you very much, to be driving it briskly early one morning in a hire car: to be doing it at racing speeds in a Mercedes 300 slr or D-type - indeed any of the sports cars we've discussed - must have taken something that certainly I for one do not possess. Geoff's most salutary pictures show only too starkly what was most ultimately at stake and Doug does us all a service by posting them. I hope I am not offending anybody if I say that the phrase 'lest we forget' comes to mind. By the same token, Doug, I think you were absolutely right to include the Tornagrough crash in the MFQ footage: from our current perspective it is unsettling to see (to put it no more strongly - one does one's best to keep the imagination in check as one watches) but it records not merely the technology of the time, but the attitude of mind of the time. We might well wonder, now, why after a year like 1955 motor racing wasn't simply banned altogether. At time the attitude was 'the race must go on' - and this not just from safely blazered officials but from the drivers and managers themselves - vide Lofty England's response to the suggestion that he might consider withdrawing the Jaguar team after the Le Man's crash.

There is no memorial there to the drivers who died that day but the way this thread has developed at least serves for something in that regard. I wonder should there be? Is it too late?

#44 lil'chris

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 23:13

The only other major change that I'm aware of and, that is only for the bike racing, is that the "hairpin" is somewhat closer to Tornagrough these days than was the case when the cars were racing there.

Chris

#45 Mal9444

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 23:21

Yes, that's right - although the original hairpin is still there of course. What has been done is that what was a staggered cross-road that involved the old hairpin and then a T-junction has been re-jigged to create a genuine cross, just a hundred yards or so up from the original hairpin (which itself was formed round what was just the main road up from Belfast bifurcating at that point to form what, coming the other way, is simply a fork in the road).

I think but am not entirely sure that this is the area called, deliciously, 'the Flowbog Cross'.

#46 Doug Nye

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 23:27

In period what most unsettled the drivers brought up on, and acclimatised to, British mainland aerodrome circuits was the fact that the rainswept heights at Dundrod promoted the use of quite steeply cambered road surfaces, merely to ensure adequate drainage. This made almost every curve and corner positively cambered near the apex, then washing out into adverse camber on the exit...where the roadside banks and assorted obstacles simply rushed out at you. Think about it.

Roy Salvadori - in particular - detested the place. In contrast young Moss - admirably well-schooled by the HWM team all around Europe's public road circuits - took to the place like a duck to water; starting off well there in 1950 and getting ever better through to '55...

It was certainly no place for the faint-hearted and when you imagine the works Alfetta and the 'ThinWall' Special Formula 1 open-wheelers there in the Ulster Trophy, not to mention the V16-cylinder BRMs, it quite makes the short hairs bristle... Amongst British road circuits it must have been the supreme challenge, even taking nearby Ards into consideration pre-war. Omitting the Isle of Man, that is...which surely stands upon a plinth of its own.

DCN

#47 lil'chris

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 23:31

Mal,

I think Flowbog is actually a bit further towards Quarry. Great name for a corner though isn't it :clap:

Cheers

Chris

#48 Mal9444

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 23:39

Originally posted by lil'chris
Mal,

I think Flowbog is actually a bit further towards Quarry. Great name for a corner though isn't it :clap:

Cheers

Chris


I am told they grow rice there. Presumably it's where the expression 'Paddy field' originates. ;)

#49 Mal9444

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 23:45

Originally posted by Doug Nye
... there in the Ulster Trophy, not to mention the V16-cylinder BRMs, ...

DCN


epitomised by the story of Moss, having had to be push-starterd and rushing to try and catch up, arriving late at the hairpin and coming nose-to-nose with Fangio in the other one, the latter having spun at Tornagrough and now reversing down to the hairpin to sort himself out.

Naive question - but you would know, having famously driven the thing yourself: did it have a reverse gear, or had Fangio de-clutched and was free-wheeling backwards?

#50 lil'chris

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 23:54

Forgot other Dundrod names like Tullyrusk, Joeys Windmill.

See here.

http://www.trilon.co...map-dundrod.pdf