Last month’s Donald Healey appreciation correctly said he was a successful Monte Carlo Rally competitor in Invicta and Triumph cars, but a gremlin got in the works in calling Healey the first British driver to win the event.
That honour, as I well knew, belongs to the late Hon Victor Bruce, who started from John O’Groats in an AC with a three-speed gearbox incorporated in the back axle, and broke the foreign stranglehold which had been imposed on this great winter rally by Turcat Mery, Berliet and Bignan, and by Renault cars.
Bruce’s victory increased the Monte’s popularity with our drivers, and the next British win was by Healey in 1931, starting from Stavanger in Norway in a 41/2-litre Invicta. It was not until 1952 that another Briton came through to win, this being Sydney Allard in an Allard saloon after departing from Glasgow in a particularly tough winter.
It was Donald Healey’s very long and eventful competition career which perhaps caused errors such as this to creep in. I see that his old friend Peter Gamier says he raced Triumph Super Sevens at Brooklands, but if he did I think these events must have been those one or two-lap races held on JCC/MCC Members’ Days rather than BARC handicaps (although the racing motorcyclist Vic Horsman and his mechanic Quinn did run a Super Seven single-seater in the latter, as they did a two-seater in the TT).
I am reminded by this that when I was a motor-mad schoolboy I once got up early to stand outside the RAC premises in Pall Mall, where the Monte contingent from Scotland had paused for breakfast before continuing to the coast. I feel sure it was Healey who had parked an ordinary Triumph Super Seven outside, with just a shovel and spare wheels on its roof! Even at that young age I regarded this as somewhat optimistic, but then Donald Healey was a man of such determination that he usually got through in any sort of car. WB