A COMPETITOR’S LOG IN THE R.A.C. RALLY
It’s a long run from Leamington Spa to Hastings when one has to go via Wales, the Cumberland Lake District, the Yorkshire Coast, Oxford and Henley-onThames, especially when the Clerk of the Weather has decided that R.A.C. Rally or no, we must have snow.
The weather reports displayed in the Control Office provided competitors with their first shock for according to “information received,” conditions around Dinas Mawddwy were anything but pleasant while the Lake District promised its quota of hazards in the shape of ice and snow. Actually our misgivings were scarcely realised as will be seen later.
Punctually at 8.47 on Tuesday night “Number 107,” the Austin Twelve New Ascot saloon driven by the author of this article, W. S. Sewell, and W. H. Scriven, left the garage at the Regent Hotel after a considerable amount of manceuvring to get out of the confined parking place to which it had been banished on arrival. The exertions ensured the writer being warmed to a ruddy glow for a considerable portion of the run and probably the remarks passed, obviated any necessity of car flaps for some of the officials responsible.
Snow was falling heavily as we commenced our journey and continued through Stratford and Worcester but had cleared by the time we reached Hereford. Here the rest of the Austin team joined us and we stopped and took in petrol from a filling station that had the unique distinction of having the petrol pumps prominently displayed in the shop window. The weather was now being kind and we made good time to Tenby where the food and welcome at the Royal Gate House Hotel prepared us for the next stage of our journey.
By W. S. SEWELL
At 3.35 a.m. we were off again and very soon were experiencing some of the snow we had read about earlier in the evening. Dinas Mawddwy was reached about 6 30 a.m. on Wednesday and here the roads were banked high with snow and the road over Bwlch-y-Groes which should have been taken was impassable so a detour had to he made through Dolgelly to Bala. This was one of the most trying sections of the route as the surface was frozen and as we got near to 13ala we ran into a thick mist which froze on the screen and made driving a difficult business.
After Wrexham the weather cleared and the run via Chester, Birkenhead, the Mersey Tunnel, Preston, Lancaster, Kendal to Keswick was uneventful. Snow was encountered again on the lakeland roads but any disadvantages were more than counteracted by the beautiful scenery passed through.
At the Keswick Hotel the reports for the journey to Scarborough were anything but reassuring and an alternative route through Brough, Boroughbridge and York was suggested in preference to the Darlington. or Thirsk routes which were under snow.
The control was left sharp on time at 3.25 p.m. and we were agreeably surprised by the state of the roads to Pen.rith across Brough Moor to Scotch Corner. Much snow had fallen and practically single line traffic was in vogue but the path which had been cleared was dry and enabled us to make good time. Scarborough was reached at 8 p.m. and the meal and rest at the Grand Hotel was very welcome. By now most of us were beginning to feel the strain of twenty-four hours’ driving and the prospects of yet another night did not exactly fill us with joy. At 10 p.m. we left on our southward journey and after passing through York again, where we noticed near the cathedral a firm by the good old Yorkshire name of ” Fung Choo & Son,” we struck the Great North Road at Doncaster and made good time to Stamford. After Stamford, the road via Kettering and Northampton was taken to Oxford and this section. of the journey proved the most trying of the whole rally as a snow storm raged for practically the whole distance, making the roads treacherous and visibility very bad. Fortunately the Henley-on-Thames Control was reached without any mishaps at 6 a.m., and here we rested and fed, leaving again on the final stage of our
journey to Hastings at 8 o’clock. B now the snow had changed for heavy rain and practically all the way to Hastings via Guildford we passed through a deluge. After clocking into time at the final control, the first test was carried out on the front with the waves breaking over both competitors and spectators. The weather at Hastings proved no kinder for torrential rain fell all the afternoon making the bed at the hotel a doubly welcome sight and a very acceptable comfort after forty hours’ driving.
As an endurance test we could not help feeling that it was much more of a trial for the drivers than of the cars, which made light of their continuous run of 1,030 miles.