Racing drivers Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio were quietly confident when they arrived at Aintree in July 1955 to contest the eighth British Grand Prix.
Both were on top form and competing for a Mercedes team whose cars were dominating Formula One.
Fangio was pushing for his second championship in a row, while his new team-mate, British driver Moss, was eyeing his first Grand Prix victory.
It was not a time for celebration though. Hanging over the event was the disaster at the Le Mans 24 Hour race in June which saw French driver Pierre Levegh and 80 spectators lose their lives.
As a result, the French, German, Spanish and Swiss Grands Prix had been cancelled.
Back on the track at Aintree, Moss recorded the fastest practice lap to take pole position on the starting grid ahead of his Argentinian rival Fangio.
It was a coup for the British driver as Fangio was already regarded as a racing legend with a nickname to match – el Maestro!
As the race got under way on the circuit laid out on the Grand National site, it quickly became a two-way tussle between Moss and Fangio.
The pair were neck and neck until Fangio, Moss’s friend and mentor, appeared to let the British driver win in front of his home crowd.
Moss himself later asked Fangio what had happened. The Argentinian ace merely replied: ‘You were just better than me on the day’.
Either way, it was Moss’s first Grand Prix triumph with Mercedes taking the top four places. Third was German driver Karl Kling with Italian Piero Taruffi fourth.
Fangio went on to become 1955 world champion while Moss won the RAC Tourist Trophy – the Targa Florio – with co-driver Peter Collins.
From 1955 to 1962, the Aintree circuit shared the British Grand Prix with Silverstone. The Liverpool track hosted in odd-numbered years as well as 1962.
In 1957, the race was again won by Moss, this time in a British-built Vanwall. Moss had to pass most of the field to claim victory in his team-mate’s car after Tony Brooks fell ill.
Australian Jack Brabham triumphed in a mid-engined Cooper in 1959 – and then came the drama of the 1961 Grand Prix.
Heavy rain had made the track treacherous with continuous spray a hazard throughout the 75 laps of the 225-mile race.
British driver Henry Taylor crashed his Lotus-Climax on the fifth lap, coming sideways out of the Melling Crossing and hitting an advertising hoarding.
He was badly injured when a wooden stake from the hoarding pierced the side of his car. The accident made him give up single-seater racing altogether to concentrate on rallying.
The 1961 Grand Prix would prove to be the last race on British soil for Moss too. His career was ended by an accident in a non-championship race prior to the 1962 season.
Moss ended up being disqualified in 1961 after getting a push start in the pits. The race was won by Rhineland nobleman Wolfgang Alexander Albert Eduard Maximilian Reichsgraf Berghe von Trips – better known as Taffy von Trips.
The Ferrari-driver was diabetic and had to eat high-sugar snacks during races.
In second and third place were Americans Phil Hill and Richie Ginther, both in Ferraris. Brabham was fourth in a Cooper-Climax.
Von Traps was killed two races later in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza when his car collided with Jim Clark’s Lotus on the first lap.
The popular German aristocrat was described as ‘a great driver and a great loss to sport.’
In 1962, Aintree’s final Grand Prix saw British driver Clark take the chequered flag in his Lotus-Climax. It was the first of Clark’s five British Grand Prix wins.
British driver John Surtees, driving a Lola-Climax, started and finished in second place while Australian Bruce McLaren, in a Cooper-Climax, finished third.
Graham Hill pushed hard in his BRM but had to settle for fourth place after being threatened by Brabham who finished fifth, again in a Lotus-Climax.
It was later revealed that Brabham had been driving with burns on his right foot since lap 40 and was in a lot of pain.
Aintree favoured the light and powerful Lola and Lotus cars. They were helped enormously by Ferrari being sidelined due to an Italian metal workers’ strike.
The Italian giants managed to get one car to Liverpool for Phil Hill, but he was forced to retire with engine trouble on the second lap.
The Aintree racing circuit was decommissioned in 1964 with the British Grand Prix moving to Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
*Fascinating wartime images of Merseyside feature in Clive Hardy’s latest hardback book, The Home Front – Britain 1939-45.
It’s now on sale for £14.99 plus UK postage and packing. Just go to inostalgia.co.uk/shop to order or call the order hotline on 01928 503777.