1. Amazing Mays
The sensational career of Raymond Mays as driver and co-founder of ERA before the war. Peter Berthon as friend and engineer. Their wartime thoughts about the creation of a Grand Prix car that would do justice to Britain. Mayss approach to Britains industry in 1945. Announcement of the project in 1946, and Britains high hopes for her new GP challenger.
2. Building a BRM
Designing and building the BRM Type 15. Engineers Richter, May and Mundy with Berthon. The choice of its wide-vee sixteen-cylinder engine and two-stage Rolls-Royce supercharging. Drive line and gearbox inspired by pre-war Mercedes-Benz. Delays in getting components from the industry. Cars under construction and hopes of being on the track in 1948.
3. Great Expectations
Not until late 1949 is the first BRM revealed. Fears of rivals about the vaunted BRM. Humiliating start-line failure at Daily Express Silverstone in 1950. Heartening wins in short races at Goodwood but two cars retire in a Grand Prix in Spain. Is the BRM a world-beater or a resounding flop?
4. Race Against Time
Persistent problems with the BRMs engine, exploding its cylinder liners, defy diagnosis. In 1951 two BRMs finish in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone but an effort to race in the Italian GP at Monza is a fiasco, with both cars withdrawn. Cartoonists ridicule the BRM.
5. Flattering to Deceive
Before and after the 1951-52 winter BRM tests intensively at Monza. Some of its problems seem solved. But failure to appear at a race at Turin turns organisers against Formula 1 to which the V16 was designed and most 1952 races are run to Formula 2. Rolls-Royce engineers Stewart Tresilian and Tony Rudd arrive and Fangio races the BRM, which starts to show impressive form. Promise at Albi is followed by a fiasco at Dundrod.
In 1952 and 53 Fangio, Gonzalez and Wharton race the BRM in Britain and abroad whenever events permit. Fangio wins his heat at Albi in 1953 but retires in the final, all cars plagued by tyre trouble. Developed engine installed in a shorter, lighter Mark II chassis for 1954. Shows great pace driven by Ron Flockhart, Peter Collins. Acquired by Alfred Owens Rubery Owen, BRM carries on with a new four-cylinder car in 1954. The V16s legacy.
If a racing car could disappoint an entire nation, that was the dramatic fate of Britains BRM. Conceived in 1946 as a world-beating Formula 1 car, the BRM V16 was built by the nations leading auto companies and suppliers to put Britain at the forefront in Grand Prix racing. Yet it failed so publicly and sensationally that the V16 BRM has gone down in history as one of motor racings most spectacular flops. Award-winning author Karl Ludvigsen brings to life the travails and triumphs of this exotic Formula 1 car, whose amazing engine was the first in history to rev above 10,000 rpm with a shrill scream from its exhausts that captivated all who saw, heard and drove her.
A bright beacon of hope and promise for Britains motor-sports enthusiasts during the drab and rationed post-war years was their knowledge that the countrys leading auto companies and suppliers were banding together to create an amazing new car that promised to put Britain at the forefront in Grand Prix racing.
Declaring its intent with its name, British Racing Motor or BRM, the car was a veritable wonder machine shot through with fascinating and revolutionary features. Yet it failed so publicly and sensationally that the V16 BRM has gone down in history as one of motor racings most spectacular flops.
Few cars of any kind have a more exotic and exciting reputation among enthusiasts than the first BRM, a 16-cylinder wonder machine that was a bright beacon of promise in Britains drab post-war years. Heralded as a certain race winner and backed by the nations motor industry, exploiting the seized secrets of the 1930s Germans, the British Racing Motor bid fair to put the UK at the top of the Grand Prix tree. It did come good producing more than 500 horsepower from 1_ litres but only after the Formula 1 for which it was built had expired. From the files of the Ludvigsen Library come more than 150 rare photos of the BRM, one of the handsomest, indeed sexiest, racing cars of all time. Related articles and ephemera round out the story of a bold but ultimately misguided British venture that delivered too much too late.