Reports of Recent Events, April 1948
N.Z.S.C.C. Plimmerton Hill-Climb
On January 31st the N.Z.S.C.C. held a hill-climb on a new half-mile course at Plimmerton, near Wellington. The surface was loose gravel and rather bumpy, while three right-hand and three left-hand corners plus a rather twisty 800yard ” straight ” necessitated due concentration by drivers and provided very adequate spectator interest.
The weather was atrocious, with the result that clay worked up through the gravel surface with disastrous results to tyre adhesion, but the remarkably high standard of driving provided no untoward incidents.
The event was notable for a terrific battle between H. Hollis (TA M.G. Midget) and G. Easterbrook Smith (12/50 Alvis), who finally tied for f.t.d.
H. M. Allmand set the ball rolling with a neat climb in his remarkably well preserved M-type M.G. in 69.2 sec., followed by King (“Le Mans” Singer) in 72 sec. Next came Hollis with his fast T-type M.G., who made no mistakes in a climb occupying 56.4 sec., while Easterbrook Smith with the Alvis replied with 56.6 sec. Freeman’s Triumph ” Dolomite ” took 63.2 sec. and W. Easterbrook Smith manhandled his long-wheelbase Sunbeam 16 to the summit in 62.8 sec. Cresswell followed to put himself at the top of the 3-litre class with a climb in 60.8 sec. in his Sunbeam 16.
Next came R. Clapperton with his much-modified, outside-piped model-A Ford, clever handling of a difficult car returning a time of 58.8 sec. Bill Cope found the rear end of his Ford V8 inclined to wander and needed 62 sec.
The second round saw Allmand reduce his time to 68 sec. and King to 71.2 sec. Hollis came to the line next and nervous spectators climbed higher up the banks, but a flawless climb brought his time down to 55.6 sec. Easterbrook Smith followed with the Alvis, easily the noisiest car competing. In spite of a bad overslide on one of the lower bends, 5,000 r.p.m. up the “straight,” and steady cornering through the final bends; resulted in 55.2 sec. Vintage characters smiled freely and Hollis and Easterbrook Smith could be seen head to head making guarded inquiries as to how hard the other was trying!
Freeman reduced his time substantially to 60.6 sec., handling a difficult car well, and W. Easterbrook Smith reduced his time to 61.6 sec., which was equalled by Cresswell. Clapperton, with 59.4 sec. was a shade slower, but Cope improved to 61.4 sec.
With f.t.d. in the balance the final runs started in an atmosphere of real excitement. Allmand made his usual steady climb in 69 sec., but King was much slower, with 74,2 sec. Hollis, really trying, overdid things slightly and hit the bank, but continued unruffled to reduce his time again, to 54.8 sec.
Receiving this news at the start, Easterbrook Smith assumed a suitably grim expression and departed at speed, kept the slides in check through the first corners, eased the throttle a couple of times on the straight out of respect for a 23-year-old crankshaft, swept through the final bends, and registered the same time as Hollis.
Freeman followed, to record his personal best-time of 60.4 sec., W. Easterbrook Smith, faster than anyone round the difficult left-hand corner at the end of the straight, took 62.6 sec., and Cresswell, with remarkable consistency, occupied 61.2 sec.
Clapperton brought the model-A Ford to the top again in 59.8 sec., the action of his transversely-suspended front axle being remarkable, and Cope, with three spare wheels over his rear axle to hold the Ford’s tail down, and far less fireworks in his driving, reduced his time to 58 sec.
Fastest Time of Day Trophy: H. Hollis (M.G.), G. Easterbrook Smith (Alvis).
Consistency Trophy: A. Cresswell (Sunbeam).
Handicap Trophy: W. J. Cope (Ford).
Wimille has started the 1948 season well. In a 1,220-c.c. Simca he won the 80-mile Rosario G.P. at 56.69 m.p.h. from Landi’s 3-litre Alfa-Romeo and Villoresi’s Maserati. Fangio’s Simca made fastest lap, at 58.06 m.p.h., but blew-up after having at one time led Wimille. Farina, now in a 1 1/2-litre Maserati, retired with brake trouble and Galvez broke his 3.8-litre Alfa’s back axle. Varzi, who had forsaken his V12 Alfa-Romeo for a 3.8-litre, broke the prop.-shaft a few yards from the start.
Buenos Aires —Second Round
On February 25th the second Buenos Aires race, over 150 miles of a 3-mile circuit, was held. At first a. ding-dong battle took place between Galvez (3.8 Alfa-Romeo), Varzi (4.6 V12 Alfa-Romeo) and Luigi Villoresi’s 16-valve Maserati. After Galvez had had a prolonged refuelling stop and Varzi had suffered misfiring and then retirement, Villoresi won at 67.07 m.p.h., 39.3 sec. ahead of Galvez. Raph’s Maserati was 3rd, 2 laps behind, followed in by Pessatti (3.8 Alfa-Romeo) and Firpo, Campos and Rosa (Maseratis). Farina’s 3-litre Maserati retired with a split fuel tank.
Durban’s Fairfield Handicap
B. W. Beall won this event from scratch in his 1 1/2-litre E.R.A. at an, average of 67 m.p.h., clocking 1 h. 39 m. 50 sec. D. Cockerell’s Austin Seven was second, E. R. Hall’s 4 1/2-litre third, the remaining places being occupied by a 1 1/2-litre Alfa-Romeo, an M.G. midget and a Plymouth with V8 Ford engine. The interesting thing from our point of view is the appearance and excellent performance of E. R. Hall’s Bentley, which was the 1936 T.T. car, and which lapped at about 72 m.p.h., compared with the E.R.A.’s fastest lap of the 84-mile course, incidentally in the rain, of 73 m.p.h.
Future Fixture — Prescott Open Hill-Climb
The first of this year’s Bugatti O.C. Prescott Open Hill-Climbs is scheduled for May 9th, commencing at 2 p.m. Arrangements are very much as in previous years, with eleven classes, entry fees ranging from £3 to £5 according to class and the prizes consisting of cash awards and cups. £50 is offered for f.t.d. Entries close on April 21st and if “basic” petrol rations have not been restored by then, cars will have to be run on methanol. Full details from the B.O.C., Little Chantry, Winchcombe, Gloucester.