Owing to the disinclination of the snow to melt, the early season speed events have been sadly interrupted and, in fact, the Southport Speed Trials were postponed from Boxing Day until March 3rd. Even so the event proved to be the first speed event of the 1963 British season and in consequence attracted a huge crowd to Marine Drive, Southport.
This is the first time this particular event, organised by the West Lancashire M.C., has been held and the Club had secured the use of Marine Drive for the speed trials. This is a bumpy stretch of road running along the sea front which has two right-angled corners, one immediately after the start and the other running under the pier near the finish, the total distance being exactly a kilometre. Practice took place in the morning, when one or two drivers discovered that they were motoring too fast at the final bend and spun to a standstill, but no damage was incurred.
By the time the official runs commenced after lunch the sun was shining strongly but a stiff breeze had sprung up to give competitors trouble when they passed in and out of the shelter of buildings. Cars were allowed to park on the beach and a crowd of several thousands was watching at the start and on the pier at the finish line.
The first runs saw the sports cars on the line and it soon became clear that J.T. Butterworth in the ex-Rodney Bloor Ford-engined Lotus 23 had things under control, his first run of 31.66 sec. being the fastest time of the day. Another Lotus 23 was present but it was forced out of second place by E. Williams’ very well preserved central-seater Cooper, which did 33.29 sec.
In the sports-car classes both sports/racing and road/sports cars were lumped together, so it was a surprise when J. G. Sharp, driving an ordinary-looking M.G.-A, clocked 35.87 sec. to win the over-1,500-c.c. class from Charnock’s Elva Courier. The 1,000-c.c. saloon-car class was dominated by Mini-Coopers and V. Cocker won in 38.42 sec., but B. H. T. Redman drove very hairily in a well-tuned Morris Minor to take second place in the class after using up most of the pavement on the final bend.
A very hot Anglia and an equally hot A40 came together in the 1,500-c.c. saloon class and Poole’s Anglia came off best, beating Middlehurst’s A40 by just under half a second.
In the GT. class up to 1,600 c.c., Cedric Brierley driving his special Lotus Elite with 1-litre single-cam Coventry-Climax engine and Hobbs automatic gearbox made a fine run of 34.5 sec. in practice, but misfiring set in during the afternoon and his best run was 35.65 sec., which was, however, good enough to win the class. Lambe’s T.V.R.-Alpine was second, while J. Scott-Davies managed to spin his horribly tatty Sprite under the pier.
The unlimited G.T. class saw a covey of E-types on the road and hill-climb expert Phillip Scragg led them all home with his very quiet-sounding car in 33.06 sec. Edgar Wadsworth’s E-type was second in 34.84 sec.
The racing-car class was poorly supported and those that did turn up were running badly after their winter lay up. Bateson’s pre-war Alta died after the practice runs and Statham’s Q-type M.G. stuttered its way for one slow run then gave up the ghost, leaving the class to be won by Moore’s Fairley Special in 35.10 sec., from P. Williams’ Formula Three J.P. Special.
All in all, a pleasant event, informally run, which should encourage the Southport Corporation to sanction similar events in the future.—M.L.T.