It happened today

Reginal "Reg" Parnell dominates in Silverstone deluge

5 May 1951

On 5th May 1951, the third BRDC International Trophy, a non-championship Formula 1 race was held at Silverstone. Ferrari should have turned up with two 375 F1s for Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, but unable to reach an agreement with the organisers, the Scuderia sent just one car, the 375 Thin Wall Special entered by the GA Vandervell team owned by the eponymous millionaire Tony, who having acquired the car had it extensively modified.

Vandervell, who would go on to set up the Vanwall team, entrusted the car to the expert driver Reg Parnell, who was soon on the pace, setting the second fastest time, beaten only by Juan Manuel Fangio in an Alfa Romeo. A few minutes after the start, with 27 runners on the grid, there was a torrential downpour, which meant drivers struggled to stay on track. In these extreme conditions, Parnell was soon in the lead, getting ahead of Duncan Hamilton in a Talbot and Graham Whitehead in the ERA.

On the sixth lap, BRDC president, Earl Howe had to stop the race with only Parnell and Hamilton having crossed the line, but given the race was due to be restarted, not much heed was paid to the classification as it would only be used to establish the grid for the restart. However, the weather had the upper hand and with heavy rain continuing to fall, Howe, after a long wait, had no option but to declare the result as of those first six laps as final. Third place went to Whitehead, who was a lap down on the top two.