No more delightful setting for an afternoon’s sport could be imagined than the wooded banks of the famous Worcestershire hill where, on July 12th, the clock seemed to be set back several years, to the times when these events were a weekly occurrence in the season. Now only Shelsley Walsh is left, but there we recaptured some of the atmosphere of the days when Kop, Aston Clinton, South Harting, and the rest, were names to conjure with.
Again, our one remaining hill climb has risen to the dignity of being one of the series for the Championship of Europe, and for this year’s open event the entry contained many famous names from the Continent, and a good afternoon’s sport was promised. Nor were we disappointed. On the contrary, every feature of the event exceeded our expectations, and the Midland Automobile Club, to whose magnificent organisation the success of the event was so largely due are to be heartily congratulated on their efforts.
The weather could not have been more favourable, and it was indeed a gay scene as the thousands of spectators swarmed over the natural grandstands to take their positions for the opening of the proceedings.
Excellent loud speaker arrangements had been made, and right up the hill could be heard the remarkably clear and interesting remarks of the announcer, blending with the intermittent roar of engines on the starting, line as the drivers anxiously endeavoured to avoid oiled plugs while awaiting the starting signal.
It was typical of the whole event that sharp at 1.30 p.m. came the announcement that all was now ready, and the ruling was “ladies first.”
The Hon. Dorothy Paget, driving a Mercedes, was the first to the starting line, but did not make a very good start, and gave place to Mrs. Hall, who brought her 41-litre Bentley up in good style, while the Hon. Dorothy Paget climbed later on, but was not very fast. There were some good climbs by the ladies, but far and away the best of them was Mrs. T. H. Wisdom, who handled her neat black Frazer-Nash like a veteran, and shot up the hill in 53f secs., thus winning the M.A.C. Ladies’ Cup. After the ladies came the ” babies,” consisting almost entirely of supercharged Austins (and very snappy too). W. E. Harker cornered with nice judgment, and his time was 51.6 secs., which won him the 850 c.c. racing class Then followed the 1,100 c.c. and 1,500 c.c. classes, and with them a solution of the problem,—where did all the old racing G.N.’s get to ? Here they were in various thinly disguised forms, mostly with their (more or less) original twin-cylinder motors, with chain drive to everything possible and a note like a battery of machine guns. But they went ! The fastest was the old Avon J .A.P. which the writer last saw roaring round Brooklands with P. Brewster, of Zenith and Matchless fame, at the wheel. Now, in the hands of R. T. Horton, it proceeded to show that the G.N. designers knew what they were at when it came to making chassis for hill climbs In the same class came sundry other devices of similar origin, and the first three places in this class fell to them. The Rileys were good and neat, and cleaned up the sports car class. The Avon JA. P. on. its second run improved its tune, but even so it had only
the narrowest margin over the second and third.
If Archie Nash was there, what memories must have been stirred by the sight (and sound) of these ghosts of the past returning to the scenes of their old victories, and what is more, remaining victors to-day.
However, although these were good, what came next was better still. Davenport’s” Spider” is the same thing again, only more so. In other words, its two cylinders total 1,500 c.c. in place of the original 1,100 c.c. which this type of vehicle used to have. Most of this model dates back a decade, but to see it climb Shelsley Walsh you might not easily believe it.
Three years in succession, 1926, 1927, and 1928, he broke the record for the hill, and then, last year, it fell to Raymond Mays on the Vauxhall-Villiers. This year he was out for blood, and as he roared up the lower slopes of the hill, it seemed hardly possible that a twin could ” rev ” so fast. Right close to the S-bend it roared, then cut out and swept round the bend in a perfectly judged slide, and, away to the summit. 44# secs.,—a whole second inside Raymond May’s record.
There followed a selection of Bugattis, some fast, some very fast, but none could approach the fastest ” 1500.” Second in this class was another resurrected G.N., the Becke special, driven very ably by A. W. van der Becke. This, however, had departed considerably from standard practice, and. had a four cylinder supercharged engine, and on his second run he managed the remarkable time of 471 secs. Newsome’s Lea-Francis was particularly good, as was also T. H. Wisdom (Frazer-Nash). Phillips (Bugatti) was
wild in the extreme on the bends, and swung from side to side in a sickening manner. However, he got away with it and made a fairly fast climb, but it was xoticeable that he was very much more cautious on his second run. Then came the announcement that Von Stuck, the Austrian champion, was about to leave the starting line. His getaway was terrific, and the speed of the car on the lower slopes of the hill made even the most hardened spectators sit up and. take very special notice. The car was remarkably steady, and Von Stuck’s cornering on the famous S-bend was a model of neatness. One of the most noticeable things about his performance was the terrific acceleration of the AustroDaimler between the 2 curves of the S. Whereas, most cars which took the first corner fast only held their speed up to the second, Von Stuck simply leapt forward and had to brake hard for the second turn. Everyone expected a good time, but when it was announced that he had taken only 42 4/5 secs. for the climb, a burst of cheering greeted the result. Three whole seconds inside Raymond May’s record of last year, and two seconds inside Davenport’s time accomplished a few minutes earlier The next climb of importance was that of the 38-250 h.p. Mercedes driven by the famous Caracciola. It seemed incredible that this little, low, handy car
could be what is so often referred to as the ” giant ” Mercedes. What a wonderful feat of engineering it is to house that immense power in such a beautifully compact and well proportioned chassis. The ” Mere’s ” climb, punctuated by a shrill intermittent scream, as the blower was cut in and out for the bends, made a most impressive sight, and as he cut in between and after the corners the wheelspin on the hard tarmac surface gave an idea of the terrific power available. His time was 46 4/5 secs., fastest sports car time of the day, but not up to the times of Von Stuck, and Davenport’s wonderful old “Spider,” which in spite of its age, and the fact that it is only 1,500 c.c., can still claim a proud place among the fastest hill climb cars in the world.
Among such a collection of racers some of the more standard cars were liable to be overlooked, but some of their climbs were very good in a more sober way. The Invictas showed up well for acceleration, while the M.G. Sixes were particularly impressive, by reason of their steadiness on the corners, and the effortless, unfaltering purr of their engines. Another performer, who by reason of his accurate driving is always faster than he
looks, was R. F. Oats on the 2-litre supercharged O.M.
All those who had beaten 60 seconds on their first run, and those 850 c.c. cars Which had beaten 65 secs., were then started on their second climbs. As was to be expected, they were out to improve their times, and things began to happen. Harker, whose Austin had made fastest racing car time in the class with 51 3/5 secs. went into the corner too fast, turned round and charged the fence. Although his model looked rather bent, its chief damage consisted of a wrecked back wheel, and at the end of the proceedings was driven down the hill with anotner wheel, and, from the look of things, a slightly bent axle shaft. Sharp’s G.N.A.T. (alias Frazer-Nash G.N., etc.) turned completely round, and went calmly down the hill again. Tinker, apparently satisfied with a neat first climb, took his ‘ AlfaRomeo broadside into the bank with a heavy thud, but continued placidly to the summit Davenport made another beauti
I al climb, but was not quite so fut as before, while Caracciola was also slightly slower, due to skidding wider.
Von Stuck was againkery neat and performed the remarkable feat of equalling his previous record. He is now leading in the racing car hill climb championship of Europe, while Caracciola is leading in the sports car class. Spottiswood brought his Bugatti up very fast on his second climb, and after the last bend got off the road, but regained it successfully and won the 2-litre class.
Thus ended one of the finest day’s sport ever held in this country, and non everyone will be anxious to come again and see the Amateur Climb at Shelsley on September 13th.
(Subject to confirmation).
850 c.c. RACING CA.R5.-1, W. E. Harker (Austin S.), 51.6 secs. ; 2, B. L. Byrom (Austin S.), 54.4 secs. ; 3, G. H. Hartwell (Austin S.), 59.6 sees. SPORTS CARS.-1, H. Beacon (Austin S.), 60.2 secs. ; 2, P. II. Moreton (Austin), 66.6 sees.; 3,. B. Cooke (Austin S.), 67.6 sees.
1,100 C.C. RACING CARS.-1, R. T. Horton (Avon-J.A.P.), 49.6 secs. ; 2, J. F. Parker (Parker Special), 50.4 sees. ; 3, E. G. Sharp (G.N.A.T.), 51.4 secs. SPORTS CARS.-1, F. D. H. Burcher (Riley), 59.8 secs. ; 2, D. Eveson (Salmson), 60 secs. ; and P. G. Sturgess (Riley), 60 secs.
1,500 C.C. RACING CARS.-1, B. H. Davenport (Spider), 44.6 sees.; 2, A. W. van der Becke (Becke Special S.), 47.4 sees.; 3, H. Batlavala (Bugatti S.), 55.8 4ecs. SPORTS CARS.-1, S. H. Newsome (Lea-Francis S.), 52.4 sees.; 2, T. H. Wisdom (Frazer-Nash S.), 52.6 sees. ; 3, J. D. Heath (Bugatti), 52.8 secs.
2 LITRE RACING CARS.-1, A. M. Spottiswood (Bugatti), 47.2 sees.; 2, IL. S. Pearce (Bugatti), 51:4 secs. ; 3, E. J. Moor (Wasp), 52.4 secs. SPORTS CARS.-1, D. Tinker (Alfa-Romeo), 52.8 sees.; 2, A. J. Mollart (A.C.), 60.4 sees.; 3, Donald Munro (Star); 74 secs. 3-LITRE RACING CARS.-1, DavidBrown
(Vauxhall-Villiers), 47 secs. SPORTS CARS.-1, R. F. Oats (0.M.), 59 see.; 2, H. G. Scott Jones (Sunbeam), 64.4 sees.; 3, Donald Monro (M.G. Six), 71 secs. 4,500 C.C. RACING CARS.-1, Hans von Stuck (Austro-Daimler), 42.8 sees.; 2, E. R. Hall (Bentley), 51.8 secs. SPORTS CARS.-1, E. R. Hall (Bentley), 51.8 secs. ; 2, K. E. Gormly (Invieta), 52.6 sees.;
3, K. E. Gormly (Invicta), 54 secs.
UmmiTED C.C. RACING CARS.-1, R. Caraceiola (Mercedes-Benz S.), 46.8 sees. ; 2, J. Dunfee (Mercedes-Benz S.), 50.4 secs. SPORTS CARS.-1, R. Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz S.), 46.8 sees.; 2, H. F. Clay (Mercedes-Benz S.), 59 secs.
FASTEST TIME OF THE DAY (SHELAIISY Cup).—Hans von Stuck (3,500 c.c. AustroDaimler), 42.8 sees. =47 m.p.h.
FASTEST TIME BY A LADY (M.A.C. LADIES’ CUP).—Mrs. ‘1’. H. Wisdom (1,496 c.c. Frazer-Nash), 53 sees. =38.6 m.p.h.
PRESIDENT’S CUP.—E. It. Hall (4,398 c.c. Bentley), 51.8 secs.= 40 m.p.h..
M.A.C. OPEN CUP.—B. H. Davenport (1,493 c.c. Spider), best aggregate on two runs, 89.6 secs.
M.A.C. CuP (FOR FASTEST TM/O-CYI4INDER CAR.—B. H. Davenport (Spider), 44.6 secs. =46 m.p.h. M.A.C. ” T.T. ” Caracciola
(7,069 c.c. Mercedes-Benz), 46.8 secs.= 43.8 m.p.h.
GARVAGH CUP.—E. It. Hall (4,398 c.c. Bentley), 51.8 secs.