WITH Croft Autodrome becoming increasingly established after re-opening in 1964, the venue started to see some of the leading drivers contesting some prestigious championships around the 1.75-mile perimeter circuit.

The mid-summer International Trophy meeting was one of the highlights which usually featured a round of the F3 Championship which back in those days was regionalised and usually sponsored by a tobacco company.

The WD & HO Wills two-day meeting in July 1969 saw victories for Chris Craft (Lola T70 Chevrolet) and the similar car of Syd Taylor before a young Carlos Pace from Brazil, later to become a Formula 1 star, won the Guards International Trophy at Croft in 1970 on his way to the title.

1971 saw the F3 rules change from the highly-tuned one-litre cars to the new 1600cc rules and the Rothmans International Trophy Race Meeting in mid-July saw Croft host round five (and later in the summer, round eight also) of the 11-round series, whereby Forward Trust were again title sponsors of the series.

As usual it was a truly international affair and arriving in North Yorkshire with an eight-point lead was 30-year-old Australian Dave Walker in the Ford-powered works Gold Leaf Lotus. Second was up-and-coming British driver Roger Williamson in his first season of single-seaters in Tom Wheatcroft’s Holbay-engined March with little-known American Sandy Shepard (Brabham Holbay) third.

With the British GP at Silverstone and following F3 round at Cadwell Park the week after, the meeting saw a 41-car grid assemble for the two heats and 30-lap final with prize money of £200 for the winner.

The opening ten-lap heat saw Walker ease to victory ahead of Swede Ulf Svensson’s Brabham and the factory-entered Chevron of Barrie Maskell in third.

Fourth went the way of a 23-year old by the name of James Hunt (March) with Shepard in fifth. Sixth place went to Swedish driver Conny Andersson with British ace David Purley in seventh and Dr Joe Ehrlich’s unique prototype EMC 606 driven by South African Jody Scheckter.

Heat two saw Williamson take the win ahead of British driver Andy Sutcliffe (Lotus 69 Holbay) with Brazilian Rikki Von Opel in third in a similar car as they headed into the final.

With Walker on pole position, 30 fast and furious laps followed and at the flag, Walker took the victory to extend his lead in the series.

Hunt came home in second place ahead of Maskell and the Ensign of late replacement driver, Alan Rollinson, as Svensson and Shepard completed the top six.

Frank Gardner (5700cc Chevrolet Camaro) won the supporting 35-lap RAC British Touring Car Championship race at the same meeting with John Miles (Chevron B19) victorious in both Jock Leith Trophy Races for Sports Cars.

Of course both Hunt and Scheckter would go on to be crowned F1 World Champions later in the decade, whereas Roger Williamson would tragically lose his life at the Dutch GP just two years later in harrowing scenes beamed live on television as David Purley tried to upright the burning car on his own without success. Purley, heir to the LEC Refrigeration empire was awarded the George Medal for his heroic efforts to save Williamson, but died in an aerobatic plane crash in 1985.

Date: July 10, 1971

Location: Croft Autodrome

Meeting: Rothmans International Trophy Race Meeting

Organiser: British Automobile Racing Club

Cost/Pages: 15p/28