THE VARSITIES AT SYSTON PARK
ENTHUSIASM UNDAMPED BY STEADY DOWNPOUR. OLIVER BERTRAM (DELAGE) MAKES FASTEST TIME. GOOD PERFORMANCES BY .EVANS AND DAVIES ON Q-TYPE M.G. MIDGETS AND H. W. COOK (E.R.A.)
Ti IF;downpour w hich attended the inter-Varsity Speed Trials was all the more unfortunate in that it was the one Not on a prolonged spell of good weather. The day before and the day after were both really fine, so the fact that the weather should chose to break up on the very day of the” race ” looked almost in the nature of a judgment !
It was decidedly draughty in the grounds of Syston Hall when we arrived on Saturday, the 23rd of last month. The ” Paddock ” was spread out on each side of the return road, and presented a wide contrast in the methods of preparing for the event, from the owner-drivermechanic to the racing service-vans of the Bellevue Garage, R. R. Jackson, and the E.R.A. concern. An exact half-mile was measured on the main-drive, starting at the foot of a slight rise.. Rather more than half-way came a fast curve, beyond which a slight dip in the road caused a good deal of unsteadiness. The road was narrow, and paved with a crumbling macadam surface. The timing apparatus was kindly supplied by Mr. L. G. Ba.ch(ber, and recorded
one-hundredths of a second. An ingenious method was employed to start the apparatus. A 0-in. section of rubber timing-strip was attached to the end of a long handle, and this was placed in front of the off-side front wheel of the i’unpeting car. Neat, quickly reset, and positive.
The bikes opened the proceedings at 11 o’clock, and almost immediately a few spots of rain began to fall. The paucity of motor-cycle entries was in marked contrast to these events a few years ago. R. Laird (Brough) 3/.8 secs., A. R. Westmacott (Velocette) 31.14 secs., and Eric Fernihough (Brough) 31.28 sees, made the fastest first runs in the sports, racing and side-car classes respectively. E. G. Brettell made the first sports car run, but his Austin faded away on the line and barely managed to climb the initial gradient. Another sufferer was A. I. S. Debenham (Hillnian Aero Minx), and someone murmured ” Is my face red ? ” I. F. Connell (Austin blown) was the fastest in the first two classes, clocking 39.34 secs. P. R. Monkhouse
(M.G.) won the 850 c.c. in 41.41 secs. The 11-litre class, which included the blown 1,100 c.c. cars, was well filled. L. J. Turner, on a very smart blue K.3 Magnette, made the best time to date with 35.31 secs., but he soon lost it to E. G. Hughes (Frazer Nash) 33.67 secs. Then P. N. Whitehead appeared on the line with his supercharged Alta, with Wilson gearbox. He streaked away in fine style to clock 32.06 secs. and win the class. G. Lind Walker’s decrepit old Brescia Bugatti was some 20 secs. slower. R. G. Percival’s Frazer Nash, with compression ratio of 12 to 1, was fancied to win the class, but it was not in good form and took 36.73 secs.
T. S. Fotheringham pulled off the 2-litre class, driving A. C. Fairtlough’s A.C., while M. W. B. May did the same in the 3-litre division, his Silver Eagle Alvis beating Bass’s Speed Twenty. Some big stuff came out for the unlimited Class. R. C. V. Bolster’s old 30/98 Vauxhall set the pace with 33.39 secs. D. Scott Moncrieff’s 38/250 MercedesBenz was in poor condition and rumbled along without its blower being used. Time 46.99 secs. Then we heard the one and only sound of the ” Mere ” blower, and with a shrill whine J. F. Cardno tore along in 32.86 secs. His slide on the curve was most impressive. Woolf Barnato’s entry on the programme turned out to be the 8-litre Bentley in which Clive Dunfee met his death. The car now has a beautiful dark red coachbuilt saloon body, and was driven by Oliver Bertram. It was not too
quick off the mark, but had gained speed at the curve, where it was really fast and amazingly steady. His time was 33.78 secs. Cholmondeley-Tapper had to work hard with the steering wheel of a Lagonda Rapide to record 35.86 secs. R. E. Tongue, on an early Ford V$ coupe, was surprisingly quick in 34.56 secs. ; Dr. J. D. Benjafield’s blue Railton saloon did 36.71 sees.; R. R. K. Marker’s open
The racing classes began with a fast run by Tim Davies on a Q type Midget. After a slow getaway he took the curve flat out in magnificent style, but his time of 33.68 secs. was beaten by K. D. Evan’s single-seater ” Q” (31.89 secs.) and P. R. Monkhouse on a special Austin in 32.84 secs. The latter car, in spite of its diminutive size, was very steady. R. E. Tongue’s M.G. Magnette was in
Railton recorded 33.7 sees., and Tim Davis rounded off the class with a run in 38.77 secs. on his 41-litre Lagonda saloon. Everyone was disappointed that Whitney Straight did not turn up with his Maserati in this class. He has fitted one of the 3-litre Maseratis with a 2-seater snorts body. What a car
grand form in the 1,100 c.c. class, getting down to 31.68 secs., fastest time so faw The 1,100 c.c. Bolster, by the way, nor. has a Darracq radiator, set farther back in the chassis than any other car in history.
The bigger Bolster, “Bloody Mary,” looked very neat with its little aluminium body, in which the driving seat is as low as it is high in the 1,100 c.c. car I It was terrifyingly unsteady, except when accelerating, and clocked 33.86 secs. Dr. Benjafield made an inauspicious start with the 2.6-litre Alfa-Romeo lately acquired from Penn Hughes, and the car misfired the whole way. Bertram, in spite of a little trouble with his gearbox at the end, made fastest time of the morning in 29.93 secs. The Delage benefited greatly by having twin rear wheels. Then, just as everyone was turning away to have lunch, the loudspeakers announced that Humphrey Cook was on the line with the 1,500 c.c. E.R.A. By now the surface was quite slippery, and the astonishing power of the engine could not be given full rein. Even so a time of 31.99 secs. was recorded.
The refreshment arrangements were well carried out, and duly fortified, the competitors returned to the attack. Although it was originally intended that two runs should be held, it was found possible to allow three. Fastest bike time was made by R. Laird (Brough) in 30.97 secs. Conditions were all against the two-wheelers, a bumpy surface and rain. The afternoon programme was chiefly notable for a keen struggle for ” fastest time of the day.” At the luncheon interval Oliver Bertram was leading with 29.93 secs., being the only competitor to get below 30 secs. Then Kenneth Evans had a better run on his single-seater Midget, and brought it down to 29.69 secs. Jubilation in, the Evans camp ! Tim Davies was determined to do his stuff, however, for he had clocked 28 secs. dead