THRILLING EVENTS AT SHELSLEY WALSH.
A FEW IMPRESSIONS BY A CASUAL SPECTATOR.
WHEN a rich acquaintance invited me to accompany him in his car to the Annual hill climb of the Midland A.C. at Shelsley Walsh, I accepted—not so much with a desire to attend the hill climb, as to view the country round about, for Shelsley Walsh is situated some twenty miles from Worcester amidst the show country of the Midlands. Let me say, however, that after a most enjoyable and thrilling day, I would have considered a zoo miles journey through the desert fully justified by the sport provided at this event. My previous experience of hill climbs had consisted mainly of cheerless waiting on some bleak, cold hill, where at more or less lengthy intervals a car would come streaking up—often the same car coining up two or three times, and slower usually each time. At Shelsley, however, the organisation was almost perfect. Each car came up but once
only, and in quick succession. There was but little waiting and no dearth of thrills, for to climb this hill fast, calls for the very highest driving skill. In fact, at the end of the day, I concluded that the brakesmen on the Wembley racers, whose job I had hitherto thought to be the world’s worst, in reality have a very dull time. I should imagine that the hill at Shelsey was originally laid out by some sporting cave man for the purpose of chariot racing down hill. Anyway, it is admirably suited, so far as the spectators are concerned, for fast work in the usual direction. The first half is practically straight, there is then an acute left hand corner, and hardly has this been negotiated when a right hand bend, slightly less acute, claims the immediate attention of
the competitor. This second bend is slightly banked the wrong way, presumably, as the old lady in the story said : “to make it more difficult.”
The day’s sport on this occasion was opened by Miss Pink (Aston-Martin), who ascended in great style, cornering very steadily, this no doubt being due to the fact that she had as passenger the benevolent designer and manufacturer of these wonderful cars ! His example is one that might well be followed by other manufacturers. What, for instance, would be of more interest to the enthusiastic onlookers than for some lady driver to make a fast climb in a Ford, with Henry himself in the tonneau, or alternatively a Chevrolet full of General Motors’ Directors. I commend this idea—free of all cost—to the companies concerned. Its effect on sales would be immediate. Miss Pink was followed by R. F. Summers (also Aston-Martin) who made an even quicker climb.
Next a 4-litre Sports Darracq came up extremely well in the hands of Mr. Harold Heath, incidentally winning the President’s Cup—and followed by a Bean in touring trim and with a full load. There was considerable enthusiasm when Captain Waite in a four-seater Austin came up steadily and fast, averaging 31.5 m.p.h. Coe and Summers followed on 30.98 Vauxhalls which, as usual, were extremely well handled and fast, their speeds being approximately 35 and 33 m.p.h. respectively. Hecton on a Bentley ran Coe very close, being only 2/5 second slower.
The next event for engines of i litre, brought forth three Austin ” Sevens ” and a Gwynne “Eight.” The Austins were all surprisingly steady, and for their size, remarkably fast ; the winner, Mr. L. T. Kings, averaging 35 m.p.h. With the class, the real excitement of the day commenced. Harvey on the new Alvis racer approached the corner with a roar, was a little too fast, skidded sideways, made a gallant effort to straighten out, failed to do so, and turned right round, his off side back wheel hitting the bank with a thud. After an instant’s delay, and as the spectators started to pour on to the course, he pulled out, turned round, and amidst the warning shouts of the marshals sending the spectators back to safety, he finished his climb, with one back wheel
wobbling in an alarming fashion. In spite of his bad luck and the consequent delay, he averaged 22 m.p.h. from which it may be gathered that had he successfully negotiated the corner his time would probably have been a factor to reckon with. Better luck, next time to this intrepid exponent of a popular British car.
Raymond Mays, on a Brescia Bugatti, then made one of the star climbs of the day. Wearing, as usual, a radiant smile (as well as a few other things), he handled his little car magnificently, stifling each skid at the moment of its birth. His time 50 4/5 seconds, beat his own record for the hill, and won him the event. He came up later in his same inimitable fashion on a similar car, but was not quite so fast.
Beardsell, on a Hodgson, having no doubt heard that one or two spectators were feeling drowsy, decided to enliven things. He took the first corner well, corrected the skid, went into another one on the next bend, corrected that, hit the bank, burst three tyres, and disappeared in a cloud of dust, running off the road on to the grass a little further on. Hall (Aston Martin) concluded events in this class with a fine climb, cornering steadily and skilfully, and gaining third place.