Book reviews, August 1973, August 1973
Rolls-Royce Alpine Compendium, 1913-1973 by Christopher Leefe. 160 pp. 9-1/2 in. x 6-3/4 in. (Transport…
SHELSLEY AGAIN Earl Howe fails to lower Von Stuck’s Shelsley Record by 1 secs. after a Magnificent Climb.
GREAT excitement had been predicted for the 1932 Shelsley Walsh Open Hill-Climb, To begin with, next year the length of the hillwill be increased, so that this year’s event was the last chance available of breaking Stuck von Villiez’s wonderful record of 42 2/5th sees. Everyone who was fortunate enough to witness Stuck’s record-breaking run on his AustroDaimler in 1930 realised what a formidable task it would be to improve on his time, but there were some very fleet cars in the long list of entries, and it was just possible that Earl Howe’s doublecamshaft Bugatti, Raymond May’s Villier’s Supercharge, N o r in a n Black’s Maserati, R. J. G. Nash’s famous” Terror,” or Jean Bugatti’s 4-wheel drive Bugatti, —to say nothing of a host of very fast Bugattis and spidery ” Specials ” —would have the honour of becoming the permanent holder of the record for the present course. But it was not to be. In fact, two of the most likely entrants, were eliminated in practice on the day before the race. Poor Jean Bugatti, after three incredibly fast runs (on one he was rumoured to have got within 1 /5th sec. of the record) crashed badly on the first left hand bend after leaving the start, and damaged the front axle of the 4-wheel drive Bugatti beyond repair. Then Harker, on his ” Special ” car consisting of two Austin Seven engines, supercharged, in a very light chassis, had the misfortune to get out of control on the first of the sharp bends. His passenger was catapulted into the road, luckily without damage, but Harker himself was rather seriously hurt by the steering wheel, and was taken to hospital with injuries to his ribs and lungs. This was paricularly hard
luck, for Harker has performed. consistently Well at Shelsley for several years now, and his little car, weighing only 10 cwt., possessed really phenomenal acceleration. On Saturday, June 25th, all roads led to Shelsley, and as the morning wore on the fields at the foot of the hill steadily filled with cars. The Riley, M.G., and Bugatti Owners’ Clubs bad all provided special enclosures for their members, and these too, were full. :n all, 2,500 cars attended the meeting, and 15,000 specta
tors ; a wonderful tribute to the attraction of England’s sole surviving hillclimb. A rustic air dominates the proceedings at Shelsley. The ” paddock ” is an orchard, while the officials’ tent and headquarters are situated in a farm-yard. This year the rural scene was completed by messages being handed to the starter on the prongs of a pitchfork ! . Beneath the gnarled fruit-trees racing cars of all descriptions were being hurried ly their ow no mat long in the work the car in gun, there some be done last mo The long round quickly strewn m u d win d
by ners, for ter how advance of getting trim is be is always thing to at the
m e n t . grass each car became with guards, screens, ILLUSTRATIONS BY
and large and heavy tool-bags, and the air resounded to strangely contrasting exhaust-notes, the crisp, sharp roar of the Bugattis, the deep rumble of the GardinerDiesel, and the short stacatto bark of the 2-cylinder G.N. “Specials.”
With many of the cars in an apparently hopelessly unready state, the proceedings were opened by a demonstration run by A. C. Bertelli on the Aston-Martin which had gained such magnificent honours at Le Mans the previous week. Using an 8 to 1 bottom gear’ Bertelli made a very useful climb, and was handsomely cheered by the crowd as he ascended the hill. Then K R. Hall came to the line with his very hot-stuff M.G, Midget, fitted with twin-rear wheels. The little car made a very quick get-away, its spinning wheels (on a gradient of 1 in 121) giving an indication of the immense reserve of power in its marvellous 750 c.c. engine. Hall has competed at Shelsley for many years now, generally On larger cars such as ” 30/98’s” and Bentleys, and it was no surprise to hear that he had clocked the wonderful time of 49 2/5th seconds. He was
followed by A. N. Maclachlan, on a very well-tuned Austin Seven, who handled his car perfectly, and climbed the hill in 49 2/5th seconds. Then’ came more Austins, all driven very competently by Elwes, Issigonis, Willis and Anderson, the latter’s car with a neat little Arrow body. Mrs. Wisdom’s run on the Mark III Midget was spoiled by an oiled plug, but McEvoy roared up in great style on his Powerplus supercharged Morris Minor.
The first car up in the 1,100 c.c. class was the new Horton Special, which is composed of a supercharged Alta engine in a Frazer-Nash chassis. The car sounded very healthy, and Horton drove in his usual neat fashion, but his time, 49 secs.,-was beaten by E. J. Moor on one of the original spidery “specials.” Making a noise like a machine gun, never cutting out until the last possible moment, Moor put up a very fine performance to win his class—in spite of bearing the unlucky number 13! Special praise must be given to J. V. Bolster, for his fearless handling of the terrifying little car of his own construction—time 51 secs. The 1,500 c.c. class opened with two
excellent climbs by S. H. Newsome (Lea Francis) and R. H. Eccles (T.T. Replica Frazer-Nash). Capt. Davis had his usual misfiring trouble with the 4-litre Delage, but the trouble this time was caused by oil getting past new pistons. Then came that wonderful little car, the Becke Special, in the youthful hands of P. G. Skinner. Van der Becke himself was unable to drive, but Skinner proved a worthy substitute, and handled the car beautifully.
Excitement ! Nash was on the line with the “Terror,” the British-record holder. Standing at the S bend we heard the sharp note of his exhaust through the loud speakers, but no sooner had he left the line than a plug oiled up, and Nash wisely ran backwards to the start. Derrington slid rather wildly on the corner in his Supercharged Hornet “Special,” and it was left to two Bugattis, driven by Fothringh.am and Burton, to make the best performance in this class. Another thrill of anticipation ! Noel Carr was due to come up with his earsplitting dark red Bugatti. He did not disap point us, for with judg combined that bit to make spectacurecorded est time 3/5 secs. daz’s his pink
perfect merit, with just of dash’ his climb lar, he the fastyet, 46 Mar en time on “Special”
was 8 4 3/5 secs. Miss Hedges’ Talbot ’90’ had crashed in practice, so first man up in. the 3,000 c .c. class was R. J. Mtmday on his very fast Rover Speed Model, who made a neat climb, as did Donald 1VIonro (Talbot ‘ 90 ‘) and Prank Hallam (Speed Twenty Alvis). Particularly good was Ivan Waller, on an old Silver Eagle Alvis ; his driving at the ‘ S ‘ bend was masterly. On the other hand L. G. Bathelier (Bu
giatti) seemed slow at t h is point. A glance at the p r gramme showed that, in view of the ” T e r r o r’s” indis posi tion, the honour of fastest time of the day would probably fall to one of the three three cars which were then due to start, Norman Black’s Maserati, the Brooklands Mountain lap record holder, Earl Howe’s Bugatti, and Ray mond Villiers charge. brought erati up d e a d , time so he was overby Earl magnifi
formance. ing the
M a ys’ SuperBlack the Masin 46 secs. fastest far, but quickly shadowed Howe’s cent per Approach S bend at terrific speed, he made full use of his powerful brakes, took the first corner with hardly a skid, accelerated fiercely
between the bends, and roared up the straight to the finishing line in the wonderful time of 44 secs. Raymond Mays made a great effort, the car-shattering roar of the Villiers Supercharge coming in short, sharp bursts as he cut out on the lower curves. With his usual tense smile, Mays swept through the bends, but his time was 3/5ths sec. slower than Howe. Then complete H. Hill one of V e e 8 Dead save for of the the car the cor in ade a pressive
came a contrast, coat on the new
Fords. silent, tyres as thesqueal rolled on ners, he most im perfor
mance. Sundry Invictas and 30/98 Vauxhalls followed, fastest time being made by Mays on his white Invicta. Jean Bugatti, smiling and debonair, handled the Type 55 Bugatti (the identical car tested by MOTOR SPORT last month) in masterly fashion, time 49 1/5th sec.
In the Unlimited Class, an interesting entry was the Gardiner-Diesel, which was surprisingly fast and steady. It smoked rather badly at the start, but was better up the hill. Then Gardiner made a very well judged climb on the 5-litre pelage racer, a car which has performed well at Brooklands this season, and Earl Howe brought the first part of the programme to a close by recording 47 1/5 secs. on his blue Mercedes-Benz. Interval, while G. E. T. Eyston and E. R. Hall drove up the hill in. formation on Midgets, and the competitors came down the hill in a procession. Then to everyone’s disappointment a sharp shower of rain fell, and it seemed exceedingly unlikely that any of the first times would be improved upon. Only those competitors who had docked under 60 secs. were allowed to have a second run, and little
incident occurred until Nash came up on their Terror.” Staying in 2nd gear all the way up, he skidded badly on the second bend, and bounced from bank to bank as he accelerated up the straight. In spite of all this, he succeeded in recording 46 3/5
secs_ Then Burton confounded the pessimists by improving on his previous run, and won the 1,500 c.c. Racing Class in 46 2/5 secs. He braked really hard before the corner, and went through the S bend with perfect judgment.
Carr also reduced his time, to 45 3/5, after a really hectic climb. He took the first bend of the S’ very fast, and then put his foot hard down, with the result that the car made a series of leaps, like a bucking broncho, right across the road and hit the bank. Still smiling, Can retained control, and hurtled up to the finish. The next excitement was caused by Frank Hallam. His Speed Twenty Alvis got into a series of swinging skids between the bends, and when the road narrowed after the second corner there was no room for the car to continue its antics
without hitting something. He climbed the right hand bank about three feet, dropped with a thud, and charged the opposite bank. By a superhuman effort Hallam regained control, and reached the finish ing line unscathed.
Neither NOrman Black, Earl Howe or Raymond Mays could better their times on the slippery surface of the road, although their runs were postponed as long as possible in order to give the road a chance to dry.
Then the enormous crowd made its way slowly down the hill, stopping to admire the pack of hounds in the kennels near the start. One by one the racers were towed out of the orchard “paddock ” ; Earl Howe ” tucked up ” his Bugatti in his Commer ” Challenger ” travelling garage, and himself departed at the wheel of the Mercedes, and the car parks gradually emptied.
Once more rustic peace and quietude descended on the Court House and farm-yard. No sound but the rustle of wind in the trees-until the Amateur in September !
Rolls-Royce Alpine Compendium, 1913-1973 by Christopher Leefe. 160 pp. 9-1/2 in. x 6-3/4 in. (Transport…
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