The English Racing Season Opens

The English Motor Racing season opened at Goodwood in bright sunshine on March 17th, when the B.A.R.C. held the first of its four 1956 Members’ Sports-Car Meetings. Eight races, some of them exceedingly exciting, were contested before a sizeable crowd. These counted towards the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy contest, in which R. D. Steed (Lotus-Climax) and P. J. S. Lumsden (Lotus-Climax) now lead with seven points each from B. Baxter (Aston Martin DB3S) with five points. The handicapping was excellent, the driving of a high order and the cars most commendably clean and smart. — W.B.

5-Lap Scratch Race (Cars up to 1,250 c.c.)

“Dickey” Steed kept his Lotus-Climax ahead of Lumsden’s sister car, but these two had a spirited duel. Barnard’s Lotus-Climax held third place all the way and Ashdown drove his Lotus-Climax well to pass K. A. Greene’s new works Cooper-Climax into fourth place.

1st: R. D. Steed (Lotus-Climax), won by 8 sec., at 80.3 m.p.h.

2nd: P. J. S. Lumsden (Lotus-Climax).

3rd: T. P. Barnard (Lotus-Climax).

Fastest lap: Steed and P. Ashdown (Lotus-Climax), 81.82 m.p.h.

5-Lap Ladies’ Handicap

Mrs. Ashby got away from the limit mark in her 6/80 Wolseley saloon and handled it so well that she led for two laps and was displaced from third place only on the final lap, which the crowd applauded. Mrs. Bluebelle Gibbs brought her old, special-bodied H.R.G., which now has a twin o.h.c. engine, home to a well-deserved victory, for she obviously knew what she was doing, which many of the girls did not, although even she was hard on her gearbox. Mrs. Jean Bloxham was coming up well in the Lotus-M.G., from scratch, when she spun out of the chicane; she kept her engine running and spun again as she drove onto the grass, continuing the run after some strange manoeuvres, still in fifth place. Rosemary Seers kept second place, on her Zephyr-engined Cooper with M.G. gearbox, and Mrs. Seed’s Austin-Healey managed third place, by grace of the time the Lotus lost when out of control.

1st: Mrs. R. B. Gibbs (H.R.G.), won by 7:2 sec., at 67.52 m.p.h.

2nd: Miss R. Seers (Cooper-Zephyr).

3rd: Mrs. M. Seed (Austin-Healey).

Fastest lap: Mrs. J. Bloxham (Lotus-M.G.), 74.23 m.p.h.

5-Lap Scratch Race (Cars up to 1,500 c.c.)

This was a very exciting race, with the aerodynamic Lotus-Climax cars of the first race all battling strongly again. Steed tried all he knew how to catch Ashdown, but the latter’s car was faster along Lavant Straight and also braked a shade later. On the last lap Steed made a big effort, and got by, to lead neck and neck into Woodcote. It was absolutely anybody’s race, and then, leaving the chicane, both drivers turned on the power too soon, both cars sliding round, side by side, in exactly the same manner. As they came to rest Lumsden, who had been waiting to find a way through, accelerated round them and on to take the chequered flag. Steed restarted a fraction before Ashdown and led his rival over the line by a mere 1.8 sec. Yet the official bulletin said ” Race incidents — None”! Bloxham was fourth in his aerodynamic Lotus-M.G. with de Dion rear-end but early-type brakes, ahead of Barnard, followed by Bicknell’s Revis, which had been coming out of the chicane on considerable right-lock and which had “moments” when Young’s smart Weldangrind, built mainly of M.G. components with a 1,500-c.c. TF engine, slid in front of it. Two of the new twin-cam disc-braked H.R.G.s ran, Fletcher’s having twin Solex and Culvert’s, the second car to be built, twin S.U.s — and a noisy exhaust.

1st: P. J. S. Lumsden (Lotus-Climax), won by 1.8 sec., at 79.3 m.p.h.

2nd: R. D. Steed (Lotus-Climax).

3rd: P. H. Ashdown (Lotus-Climax).

Fastest lap: Steed, at 82.76 m.p.h.

First Novices’ Handicap (5 Laps)

It took Syd Greene’s son only three laps to get through the field in his Cooper-Climax, from scratch. Jameson was second in Cramp’s A.C. Ace, the cornering of which confirmed the instability of these cars, Jameson needing the full width of the course to hold the A.C. when leaving the chicane on lap two. Portman’s DB3 was third, and Fleming’s TR2 an unhappy fourth, its bearings rattling ominously. Three Jaguar XK140s started from scratch and the odd way in which their drivers hauled on the wheel, both hands together at “8.45,” out of corners, startled us.

1st: K. A. Greene (Cooper-Climax), won by 15.6 sec., at 75.42 m.p.h.

2nd: R. Jameson (AC. Ace).

3rd : E. H. B. Portman (Aston Martin DB3).

Fastest lap: Greene, 77.42 m.p.h.

10-Lap Scratch Race (Cars over 1,500 c.c. up to 3,500 c.c.)

George Abecassis, holder of the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy, was in great form, driving last year’s H.W.M.-Jaguar with style, lapping at 86¾ m.p.h. to lead throughout and win at a shade over 84¼ m.p.h. After two laps Head, in a Cooper-Jaguar, passed Blond’s Jaguar XK120C into second place. George looked carefully at his instruments on the last lap but all seemed well. Ogier pranged the front of his Jaguar XK120 and Baillie’s D-type Jaguar retired near the end. Various two-car duels developed farther back in the field, Everard’s Cooper-Aston disposing of Sargent’s Jaguar X.K120C, for instance.

1st: G. Abecassis (H.W.M.-Jaguar), won by 6.0 sec., at 84.26 m.p.h.

2nd: M. W. Read (Cooper-Jaguar).

3rd: P. Blond (Jaguar XK120C).

Fastest lap: Abecassis, 86.75 m.p.h.

Second Novices’ Handicap (5 Laps)

Dore drove his 1½-litre Morris Minor tourer to victory from the 50-sec. mark. Its engine size mystified, but, in fact, it has a Jowett Jupiter engine, Standard Fourteen gearbox and Wolseley 4/44 back wheels. The neat installation of the engine is a pungent reminder that designer Issigonis intended the Minor to have a flat-four power unit, only B.M.C. said no. Acland’s TR2 got second place, closely pursued by Nisbet’s non-aerodynamic Lotus-Ford which under-steered on bent tyres, in Contrast to Beaty’s TD M.G., which over-steered noticeably. Cochrane’s Morgan Plus Four four-seater was fourth and made fastest lap.

1st: R. Dore (Morris-Jupiter), won by 4.6 sec., at 65.14 m.p.h.

2nd: D. Acland (Triumph TR2).

3rd: B. Nisbet (Lotus-Ford).

Fastest lap: A. G. Cochrane (Morgan Plus Four), 71.4 m.p.h.

5-Lap Handicap “A”

Interest centred on whether Abecassis, rehandicapped to “owes 10 sec.,” could pull off another win. He left as Cole’s limit 747-c.c. M.G. had nearly completed a lap, but although George lapped at nearly 87½ m.p.h., he had to be content with fifth place, although he thrust manfully through the large field. On the last lap Baxter’s DB3S came up well to lead Bryant’s American-entry DB3S, a smart car, over the line. It transpired, however, that Commander Bryant, U.S.N., had jumped the flag and he was duly penalised 5 sec., so that he fell to third place behind Nott’s ex-Anthony Lotus-M.G. Lewis’ Cadillac-Allard was sixth, behind Howard’s TR2. Forbes took the smart Beart-Rodger Climax through the chicane very neatly.

1st: B. Baxter (Aston Martin DB3S), won by 4.0 sec., at 81.02 m.p.h.

2nd: P. Riley (Lotus-M.G.).

3rd: A. H. Bryant (Aston Martin DB3S).

Fastest lap: G. Abecassis (H.W.M.). 87.45 m.p.h.

Closed-Car 5-Lap Handicap

All eyes were on P. A. Everard’s Mercedes-Benz 300SL, on scratch, but he drove it sedately, omitting to use the revs, and gears as he might have done, in which case he could have won. As it was he failed to catch Sparrowe’s M.G. coupe, the German car lapping at 76.19 m.p.h. Pool’s Lester-M.G. coupe was third, followed by Potter’s Porsche 1,600 Super. As the field came down Lavant Straight for the last time it looked like the Brighton Road on a hot Sunday; interesting unplaced cars were Playford’s ex-Moss l.h.d. Jaguar XK120 coupe. Barke’s Porsche 1,500 (alas, Steed’s Porsche Carerra had non-started in an earlier race), Crawley’s Mercedes-Benz 220A and Threlfall’s Standard Ten which he cornered on the limit. For three laps Moore’s Renault 750 led the lot and was faster than H. E. Moss’ Renault 750 in an earlier race.

1st: J. M. Sparrowe (MG.), won by 10.4 sec., at 69.03 m.p.h.

2nd: P. A. Everard (Mercedes-Benz 300SL).

3rd: E. Pool (Lester-M.G.).

Fastest lap : Everard. 76.19 m.p.h.