Born on this day, Frederick Roberts “Bob” Gerard, a racing driver and businessman from England, who participated in numerous top-level motor racing events on either side of World War II, including eight World Championship Formula One Grands Prix


Monday 19th January 1914

Born on this day, Frederick Roberts “Bob” Gerard, a racing driver and businessman from England, who participated in numerous top-level motor racing events on either side of World War II, including eight World Championship Formula One Grands Prix. He scored no championship points.

Towards the end of the war Gerard purchased his first true racing car, paying Reg Parnell £1000 for ERA R4A. Using his engineering background and immaculate attention to detail, and by cannibalising sister car R6B for spares, Gerard managed to get R4A running in time for the Cockfosters demonstration in mid-1945. At the same run Gerard’s wife Joan also demonstrated the old Riley Sprite.

Prior to the 1946 season Gerard decided to equip himself with a more potent mount. While both Bob and Joan Gerard continued to use R4A for a string of hillclimbing and sprint victories, newly purchased ERA R14B was rebuilt and modified for circuit racing. Gerard’s major changes to the pre-war design were to fit a preselector gearbox and to change the Zoller-type supercharger for a smaller, but more efficient Murray-Jamieson design. He also later changed the car’s outward appearance, switching the old-fashioned upright radiator to one with a far more raked cowl, lowering the bonnet line to accommodate this.

Over the next five years Bob Gerard used R14B to great effect. He scored three consecutive victories in the Empire Trophy and two victories in the Jersey Road Race between 1947 and 1949, as well as regularly finishing in the top ten in many international standard events. In the first British Grand Prix, in 1948, Gerard drove the decade-old R14B to third place, beaten only by the brand new works’ Maserati 4CLT/48s of Italian greats Luigi Villoresi and Alberto Ascari. The following year he went one better, taking second, again to a Maserati, this time driven by Swiss ace Toulo de Graffenried. His two wins and a Grand Prix second placing, along with seventh in the 1949 International Trophy race at Silverstone, earned Gerard the British Racing Drivers’ Club’s prestigious Gold Star award for 1949.

Gerard continued to campaign R14B for the first year of the new FIA World Championship in 1950. Despite the ever-increasing age gap between his car and the majority of the rest of the field, Bob Gerard’s meticulous preparation of his cars, and his emphasis on increasing their reliability, meant that he often finished a race much higher in the placings than expected. At the very first World Championship event, the 1950 British Grand Prix, the Gerard-R14B pairing only narrowly missed out on the points, finishing in sixth place, despite having started as low as 13th on the grid. He also finished in sixth in R4A at the Monaco event later in the season, this time from 16th at the start.

However, the rapid evolution of racing machinery, inspired by the rewards offered from the Championship, meant that for 1952 Gerard would have to abandon his old ERA in favour of something more modern. Retaining a degree of patriotism, Gerard bought a Cooper T23-Bristol, which he would continue to use for both Championship and non-Championship races until 1957 when he upgraded to the new, mid-engined T43 chassis. While he only twice finished in the top ten in Championship races in his Coopers – in 1954 and in his final Championship event at the 1957 British Grand Prix – Gerard remained a force in UK national level race events. During the 1950s he won many races, at most British circuits, and was a widely respected competitor.

Bob Gerard’s achievements were honoured by the owners of the Mallory Park track, in his native Leicestershire, when they named the circuit’s most prominent bend Gerard’s. Gerard himself continued to race into the 1960s, in a Turner sports car, and used his preparation expertise for the benefit of other drivers by acting as entrant for many promising newcomers right into the 1980s. Bob Gerard died, one week after his 76th birthday, in 1990.


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