The Daily Mirror Trophy was the first race of the 1964 season run to Formula 1 regulations. The race was held at Snetterton Circuit, about 30 kilometres outside Norwich. Like in 1963, the circuit hosted the opening round of the Grand Prix season, though back then it was known as the Lombark Trophy, won by Graham Hill for BRM.
Come race day, the drivers were greeted by the most appalling conditions: rain, cold, hurricane-like wind, you name it. Lotus-Climax pilot Jim Clark would be the first driver to try and tackle these circumstance, as he had taken pole position in the cold and misty qualifying session, with a 0.4s margin over Graham Hill in BRM’s revised monocoque chassis, now known as the P261. Richie Ginther was supposed to drive a second P261 chassis, but BRM couldn’t deliver the car in time. Peter Arundell completed the first row, driving the other Lotus-Climax 25. Ferrari withdrew their entry before the event, making it an all-British line-up.
The second row featured the down-under guys: Jack Brabham would drive last year’s car (the new car hadn’t been delivered in time, which left Bob Anderson without a drive) and Bruce McLaren drove the old T66 Cooper-Climax. The rest of the 17-car field consisted of Lotuses, BRMs, a Brabham, a Cooper, a Scirocco and in last place a BRP-designed monocoque, driven by Innes Ireland. He was making a return to motor racing this weekend after a crash in the United States late last year.
Due to the weather, organizers decided to shorten the race from 50 to 35 laps. The start, which was delayed fifteen minutes, was a bit of a novelty: it involved a ‘dummy grid’, where cars would line up, start their engines and only then move up to the actual starting grid. It was hoped to prevent the race from getting underway with stalled drivers keeping their fingers crossed not to be hit by anyone. The result was a bit of a mess.
Anyway, Graham Hill and Peter Arundell led the way, while Jim Clark fell back after a dreadful start. Hill looked set for an easy victory, but on the sixth lap, he hit a puddle and aquaplaned off the track, became airborne and hit a safety bank. Graham Hill was OK, the car was a write-off. Peter Arundell took the lead, until his gearbox failed on lap 22.
In the meantime, a lot of other big names had dropped out as well: Jim Clark and Jack Brabham had both retired with engine problems. Jo Bonnier took the lead driving a Cooper, closely followed by Innes Ireland in the BRP. Just a few laps later, Ireland moved up the inside of Bonnier into the first corner, braked much later and took the lead convincingly. Ireland was unstoppable that day and took a commanding victory: after 35 laps, Innes Ireland was declared the race winner, with a 20-second lead over Jo Bonnier. More than a minute after Ireland had finished, Bruce McLaren’s Cooper crossed the line in third.
Not a huge amount of conclusions to be drawn from the Daily Mirror Trophy. Innes Ireland was untouchable that day. And the new BRM P261 was no slouch. But arguably the most significant performance that day came from one of the support races: a young Scotsman named Jackie Stewart had won the Formula 3 race in a Cooper (entered by Ken Tyrrell), after he had pulled a 48-second gap… in three laps’ time.
Footage from the race, courtesy of British Pathé: