Doug Sharp posted a series of paddock photographs on Facebook, all taken by his father - Wilf Sharp - at the Charterhall racing circuit in Scotland. The year is believed to be 1955. At the time he worked for a company called Small and Parks. They specialised in the re-lining of brake shoes, and also supplied new brake shoes. From time to time, he'd get an invite from Girling to help in the pits at different race meetings, which is how he found himself at Charterhall, looking at a pair of cars produced by British Racing Motors, namely the mighty, ear-splitting, BRM V16s.
The supercharged, 1.5 litre, V16 engine was, and still is, a spectacularly complex and immensely powerful piece of engineering. Sadly though, in period it proved to be far from reliable, and even now causes many a furrowed brow within the workshops of companies tasked with keeping the running examples actually running. The cars were developed to take the fight to the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati, in post-war Grand Prix racing. Patriotic company founder Raymond Mays, the man behind the pre-war ERA (English Racing Automobiles) racing cars, wished for cars sporting the British Racing Green colour to be triumphant in top-level, single-seat, motor racing. With no such cars in production after WW2, he and a small team of engineers at BRM set to design, build and race their own.
The BRM's first race was set to be in August 1950, but the car failed on the starting grid. Such disappointments would beset the project throughout its life. In 1952 the car was noticeably re-designed, resulting in the larger radiator intake that can be seen in Doug's excellent photographs. Many well-known drivers of the early 1950s tried their hand at taming the V16 - these included Reg Parnell, Ron Flockhart, Juan Fangio, Peter Collins and Ken Wharton. I think it's Parnell behind the wheel in the following photograph.
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
I find paddock scenes to be often more interesting than views of cars out on track. There's often so much detail to pick up on. The BRM - car number 34 - is shown here stationary, while its driver discusses something with the chap in a jacket. Note the front tyre tread. In the background is a smart two-tone Austin K8 van, in use with Dunlop tyres. An MG TD and an Austin Somerset, can be seen parked in the background.
The second photograph shows car number 35, parked close to the BRM team's custom-built Commer mobile workshop. Note the "20 MPH" plate attached to it, and the unusual directional indicators set into the rear corners. A transporter must be parked alongside it, judging by the position of the ramps.
BRM's Commer mobile workshop.
The second of Doug's photos includes a tantalising glimpse of the Commer-based mobile workshop used by BRM. A very stylish device, the following photograph better shows the Commer, alongside Mays sat in one of the V16 BRMs. Throughout its life, the team used a number of different transporters. In the mid/late 1950s they had at least three Austin-based transporters (one of which may be seen in the transporters section of OCC).
Other references to the BRM on OCC.
As a fan of front-engined Grand Prix cars, various examples of the V16 feature across the OCC site. The following pages are a sample of them: