|Silverstone 20/21st April 2013
Once Upon a Time
The idea for a 100 mile race for 500 cc racing cars came from Commander Tony Yorke RN, who, tragically, was killed in a motorcycle accident just a few weeks before the first running in July 1949. Forty one entries were received for a race over forty-four laps of the then 2.278 mile Silverstone Circuit. Drivers included Bill Whitehouse, "Curly" Dryden, John Habin, John Cooper and Eric Brandon, in the new production Cooper Cars, Jack Moor in his Wasp, Don Parker in his Parker Special and a seventeen year old Peter Collins. After three preliminary races of 3 and 10 laps, 17 cars car came to the grid for the gruelling 100 mile main event.
Don and Peter, a classic duel
There were few changes amongst the regular racers. Team Shackleton had hoped to have the ex-Gordon Jones Kieft they had purchased at the Goodwood Revival, but had reverted to the Cooper Mk XI. Darrel and Carol Woods had bought Martin Sheppard’s Cooper Mk XII (Martin awaiting arrival of his new toy, the Brynfan-Tyddyn Effyh-Cooper hybrid, form the USA). Xavier Kingsland was back with the Fenning Staride, now completely restored to its original ex-factory format. And John Potts had forsaken the Monaco to try David Baldock’s latest purchase. Also from the Revival auction, this car claims to be one of the Ken Wharton Cooper Mk IVs. Apparently very original, your reporter set to it with a tape measure for some co-incidental research into the early Cooper models, only to find that nothing seemed to match with what it was supposed to. This might turn out to be a much more interesting beast than expected, and an even craftier buy than the Robin and George managed at the same auction…
In the battle for the final place on the podium, Simon Frost seemed to have the upper hand, but John Turner was moving, and Roy too was motoring, passing Mike Fowler for fifth going into the Becketts hairpin for the fifth time. A gap had opened to Mark Woodhouse, who had been passed by, then repassed a storming Nigel Challis, but that came to an end on lap seven when the latter pulled off with a loss of power. That left Ian Phillips in a highly creditable seventh as the Cousy picked up a misfire and held back the Stuart and Darrell – both would pass JB on the sixth lap only for him to steam back past both in a cloud of tyre smoke at Becketts. Pat was hanging in close behind, and as the Dastle started to really sound rough he was ready to take the position. James Gray followed but would retire on lap 10 – this after hitting a set of car keys dropped from Darrell’s Cooper…
Commander Yorke Trophy Part 1 Classified Finishers
Saturday Afternoon & Evening
Commander Yorke Trophy II
Steve Jones led the pack of twenty nine over the line, but didn’t get it quite as perfect as race 1. It was John Turner who led through Copse, half a car ahead of Simon Frost, Nigel Ashman, and Steve, with David Woodhouse in close attendance. From the back of the grid, Darrell Woods, Richard Bishop-Miller and Gordon Russell were rushing to get through the pack to their ‘rightful’ positions in the order, George Shackleton being a little more cautious in the borrowed car.
As the race passed half distance, the lead two were well away, already lapping cars. After a couple of attempts, Ian Phillips made a move for third that seemed to stick, taking the place from Roy. But a lap later Roy returned the favour and their battling had allowed David Woodhouse back into the frame and he also displaced Ian back to fifth. Simon Frost seemed to have dealt with Challis and Turner only to be dragged back into it. Nigel would get back ahead but on lap 12 the car cried enough and he retired. John was also in trouble as the gear selector rod came adrift in the cockpit leaving him stuck in top gear. For a while he had hung onto the Frost and Challis battle – unable to offer resistance in the slow corners but occasionally able to take advantage when they tripped each other up – but with Nigel off he was left behind, and gradually fell into the grasp of first Gordon, then Richard de la Roche and then more. By now Mike Fowler had also packed up (magneto)
The VSCC were left to determine the overall results, but the top three were clear. Humphrey Collis presented Steve Jones with the new trophy, to be held until such time as we next organise a Commander Yorke event. Commemorative medals were also presented to all starters. Particular thanks have to go to Richard Utley for the idea (and trophy), to Nigel Challis and Gordon Russell for making it happen, and to Xavier and Angie Kingsland who did an awful lot of work in the background co-ordinating activities and making sure all the details were sorted properly
Commander Yorke Trophy Part 2 Classified Finishers