The Carnival Is Over…

Posted: February 12, 2019 in F1
Tags: , , , ,

(PA Images)

John Surtees listens to Tony Vandervell’s questions in the Silverstone pitlane- Vanwall VW14, 6 May 1961…

The carnival is over in the sense that this weekend was the last ever race by the Vanwall Team. The first, fittingly was also at Silverstone when Raymond Mays and Ken Richardson contested the British Grand Prix on 14 May 1949, the 1.5 litre V12 Ferrari 125 ’02C’ ‘Thinwall Special’ retired after it was crashed by Richardson on lap 81 of the race won by Emmanuel de Graffenried’s Maserati 4CLT-48.

The result in May 1961 was better, a finish at least- 5th in the Intercontinental Formula 200 mile BRDC International Trophy, the race won by Stirling Moss from Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori in Cooper T53 Climaxes. Henry Taylor was an interloper in 4th aboard a Lotus 18 Climax.

I wonder then, if young Surtees, fixated on his own career, understood the significance of Tony Vandervell’s work in making the breakthrough for the ‘Green Cars’?- the world of GP racing as we know it changed with the Vanwall victories of the late-fifties.

Surtees in more pleasant weather aboard the Vanwall during the BRDC Intl Trophy weekend (Getty)



VW14 was the only mid-engined Vanwall built.

Of 2.6 litres in capacity, three of the nine Vanwall 2.5 litre engines- V5, V6 and V9 were converted to rear-engine specification in 1961 which involved movement of the fuel injection pump and magneto to the right hand side of the cylinder block. In Mk 2 form this car is retained by Vandervell Products.

At Silverstone Bruce McLaren put his Cooper T53 on pole from Moss, Brabham, Hill BRM P48, Salvadori, then Surtees and Ireland’s Lotus 18 Climax.

Surtees drove the car well in tricky, wet conditions holding second between Brabham and Moss and then spun finishing fifth.

Checkout my feature article on Vanwall Cars…


Getty Images, f2register

Tailpiece: Surtees, Vanwall VW14…

Surtees sets off for the grid and the last ‘in period’ race by a Vanwall, 6 May 1961, Silverstone (unattributed)


  1. David E.M. Thompson says:

    That Siverstone race is featured in a YouTube video.

  2. David E.M. Thompson says:

    “three of the nine Vanwall 2.5 litre engines- V5, V6 and V9”
    Sounds interesting, but those are serial numbers, not engine configurations.

    • markbisset says:

      Serial numbers is exactly the point I am making! Shall have a look at the footage- thanks for the heads-up.

      • David E.M. Thompson says:

        Didn’t mean to criticize, Mark. I was admitting my own misinterpretation.
        Great article. I didn’t remember this car, though I had read your 2014 Vanwall post.
        Nor do I remember the Intercontinental Formula, a British protest against the new 1961 1.5L F1.
        Again, great article.

      • markbisset says:

        No sweat David,
        I wasn’t sure what you were getting at! Magic cars and such a story around Vandervell himself. I saw the cars at Donington decades ago but none have ever made their way here for the Phillip Island Historics / Australian GP ‘double’.
        I’ve not got a decent book on Vanwall- which I must address!

  3. Lynton Hemer says:

    I have the Jenkinson Posthumous book on Vanwall. I bought it at some expense on Abebooks. It’s a good read, and quite comprehensive. I can stick it in my bag when I go to the Island if you’ll be there and want a look.

  4. David Wilson says:

    Hello Mark, thanks for more interesting material, especially from your neck of the woods. Jenks runs out of steam in covering 1958 ,strangely enough .I compensate by looking at his reports in Motor Sport that year.

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