E.R.A. WINS THE LONDON GRAND PRIX ” B. BIRA’S ” VICTORY AT CRYSTAL PALACE AT 54.36 m.p.h.
THE second car meeting at the new Crystal Palace road course, held on July 17th, was generally a considerable success. Short races, with almost all the cars on the same lap up to the end, and really famous drivers duelling closely throughout, with no pit-stops to vary the issue, cannot fail to be attractive. And once again E.R.A., four cars strong, supported the Road Racing Club. We found these short heats and a final excellent and hope for many more of them, although fifty or a hundred mile races would be an interesting variation, and possible now that pits, albeit as yet open to the elements and crudely constructed, border the circuit. But perhaps the short twenty and thirty mile races are better, especially as the Palace attracts many spectators who do not appreciate good pit-work and would not see a great deal of the pits in any case. It was sheer bad luck that Dobson.’s crash and Mays’s axle trouble happened in such a manner in both instances as to detract from what was very close and exciting racing.
Practice on the Thursday was pretty devastating, reminiscent of that before the great opening meeting last April.
Fifteen out of seventeen competitors got into some sort of trouble during the torrential rain and Edwards must have prayed fervently for a fine day on the occasion of the actual racing. Particularly unlucky were Brooke’s series of gyrations with the V-radiator 1,100 c.c. M.G.-Riley, and the slap into the earth bank at Stadium Dip could not have done the forward-mounted supercharger any sort of good at all. But the dailyPress camera men just loved it ! A. C. Dobson with the white 1i-litre E.R.A. was cornering like a master, several times smashing the late Pat Fairfield’s lap record, finally setting a new record in 2 mins. 7.6 secs., or 56.43 m.p.h.-4.3 secs. and 1.84 m.p.h. better than Fairfield’s record with a similar E.R.A. The blowing-up of the remains of the Palace ruins, unannounced and coinciding with a fierce thunderstorm, added a grim touch to this practice period. Mrs. Petre came to watch Goodacre on the Austin, and subsequently attended on race-day. Major Gardner was there, and W. E. Wilkinson was with Fleming, who crashed mildly in the Monza Alfa
Romeo at Stadium Dip, complaining of a stone in a brake-drum.
The race day weather fluctuated between sun and cloud, with, fortunately, no rain. The crowd was not as large as previously but was still considerable, although we cannot understand why so many people whose cars are seen in the parks at Brooklands miss the Palace meetings, unless it is that they come by train. In the car parks were some impressive vehicles, including several special Austin Sevens, an early Austin Seven Chummy rejoicing in the title of “Abdul-the-Damned,” a Le Mans 4litre Lagonda and the three resplendent 4i-litre Bentleys of the ” Bira “-Mays equipes. For the first heat of ten laps Goodacre ‘s Austin, H. L. Brooke’s M.G.-Riley and I. H. Nickols’s 750 c.c. blown M.G. were drawn up in the front row with Madure’s Riley outside in row two and Connell’s E.R.A., Mays’s E.R.A., Aitken’s Shelsley Frazer-Nash, now with a stronger rear axle, and Bartlett’s 2-litre Alta beside
him in that order. J. P. Wakefield was a non-starter with the Maserati. In the initial rush as the flag dropped Connell was a trifle ahead of Mays and Goodacre led everyone, while Mays drew right over to get clear. At the close of the first lap Goodacre (Austin) led from Mays (E.R.A.), Connell (E.R.A.), Aitken (Frazer-Nash), Nickols (M.G.), Maclure (Riley), Bartlett (Alta) and Brooke
Maclure thereupon overhauled Nickols. After another lap Raymond Mays led from Goodacre, Connell, Aitken and Maclure and Connell took second place just before commencing the third lap, with Maclure very close to him. Mays pulled away from Connell to the extent of 8, 10, 12, 14 and finally 16 secs. He lapped Brooke by about lap eight. On the very last lap, just as Brooke was flagged to give Connell a clear run at Stadium Dip, the black E.R.A.’s rear axle gave out, but Mays coasted in to win at 52.53 m.p.h. Connell made a great effort and was only .5 of a second behind, the cars appearing to dead-heat. Mays did one lap at 2 mins.
72.3 secs., equal to 54.3 m.p.h. The astonishing Maclure in the Riley, which the programme credited with a 1 i-litre engine, but which did not emphasise as tmblown, had lapped at 2 nuns. 12i secs., and he finished third, 1.1 secs. after Connell. Aitken, whose Frazer-Nash mis-fired about two laps from the end, was fourth, Goodacre, who had engine fluffiness, was fifth, Bartlett sixth and Brooke seventh, these drivers qualifying for the final. While Heat 2 was in progress E.R.A. mechanics, with apparent unconcern and great calm, removed the half-shafts from Mays’s axle, thrust about in the bevelhousing with a jack-handle and walking stick and had the car running again before
Heat 2 was over. Those privileged to enter the area that serves as a Paddock only tore themselves away with reluctance to watch the racing. The immense Zoller compressor in the cockpit, fed by horizontal twin S.U. carburetters of immense dimensions, each with its piston casing wired up for safety’s sake, is a source of undying interest to technicians.
John Bolster was another centre of attraction with the Bolster-Special ” Mary.” We have the greatest respect for Bolster, who is proving that his quite unadorned, truly stark home-built cyclecar is as suited to road-racing as to straight sprints. John’s tennis-shoes were even dirtier than those effected by the vtiter, while his flannels—well, they would never be tolerated at Weybridge. But then, we doubt whether ” Mary” would be tolerated, either, though we should dearly love to see her in a Mountain race. Incidentally, how did Bolster get on over Supplementary Regulation 7c, calling for “an effective bulkhead between the driver’s seat and the engine” ? ” Mary ” has nothing like that ; indeed, John still bandages his left elbow as protection from pipes and chains I Arthur Dobson, thought a possible winner, warmed the E.R.A. ‘s transmission on the jack, beforehand. They were lined up with Appleton’s Appleton-Riley outside in the front row with Parnell’s M.G., Mrs. Eccles’s Rapier-Special, and Sinclair’s 1,100 c.c. Alta next to him in that order. In row two, Dobson (E.R.A.) was outside and next to him were” Bira” (E.R.A.), Hanson (Maserati), and Bolster (Bolster-Special). Behind stood Fleming’s 2.6-litre Alfa-Romeo. A small class handicap was in force for all races and this time Mrs. Eccles jumped Edwards’s Union-Jack and the other front-liners went off after her. They were flagged In, Parnell coasting neatly to his square, and after the Alta’s bonnet had been lifted and replaced and engines allowed to cool, the race began. Mrs. Eccles and Sinclair led group one and Bolster and ” Bira ” group two, with Hanson very close. Coining into Stadium Dip after one lap Parnell’s M.G. led, followed by ” Bira,” Mrs, Eccles, Appleton, Dobson, Sinclair, Hanson and Bolster. Fleming had left the course. By lap two ” Bira ” led, followed by Parnell, Dobson, Appleton, Hanson, Bolster, Mrs. Eccles and Sinclair. The last two duelled strongly until Mrs. Eccles overturned the RapierSpecial on lap four after a skid. She was lrought: in in Charles Follett’s Alvis, suffering from a dislocated shoulder. ” Bira ” held his lead comfortably with his blue E.R.A., but Dobson was driving magnificently, holding the white E.R.A. in slides reminiscent of Seaman’s tactics, and recording the Lest lap of the day so far, at 56 m.p.h. He closed on ” Bira ” at the end, finishing second 1.9 secs. to the bad, ” Bira’s “
time being 22 Mins. 4.2 Secs, Parnell was third, after a good thive, 1 min. 3i secs. behind Dobson. Hanson, whose handling of the six-cylinder Maserati has much improved, was fourth and Appleton fifth. Bolster pleased the crowd, sliding vigorously on the corners, but a magneto went duff and he withdrew. Incidentally, he used Dunlop Sports covers on the rear wheels.
Between the heats Major A. T. Gardner did a demonstration lap in the very wellstreamlined, very smart 140 m.p.h. M.G.
Magnette, and had told us Via the microphone that he had found it difficult to get round. We now had a motor-cycle combination race, notable for thrilling cornering, but a straggly finish.
So to the final of the London Grand Prix. Everyone was delighted that Bolster was invited to run, as otherwise there would have been thirteen runners. The start was held up while he changed a magneto. The start was most impressive, Bolster, from row two, actually being bulked on initial acceleration by the E.R.A.s, amid much arm-waving on John’s part. Lap one saw Parnell, on J. H. T. Smith’s M.G., in the lead, followed by ” Bira,” Appleton, Dobson, Sinclair, Connell, Hanson, Goodacre, Maclure, Bolster, Bartlett, Aitken and Brooke. The handicap did not affect the closeness of the runners. Mays was missing and came coasting in, the axle having failed on the getaway. Soon ” Bira ” led, with Dobson cornering like one possessed and dosing visibly. ” Bira” responded by breaking the lap record on his third circuit. The new figure is 2 mins. 71 secs.-56.47 m.p.h. —the Palace is still a very slow circuit. This gave the blue F,.R.A. an 8 secs. lead. Sinclair’s Alta broke an oil-pipe and, with oil on the pedals, Sinclair hit the safety sleepers and retired. Goodacre’s engine was still unwell and the Austin came in after only one lap. However, all eyes were on the leading F,.R.A.s. Dobson was closer now ; now right on ” Bira’s ” tail. Then he passed ! But in the excitement of doing so he overdid the loud-pedal Stuff and spun round at Big Tree Bend on lap eleven, that on which he had taken the lead, to smash his tail against the wall of the lily-pond. Fuel gushed out and, though he restarted, Dobson had to come in and retire. He took it smilingly, and few men could smile as naturally under the circumstances. So ” Bira” won easily, over a minute ahead of Council’s E.R.A., and Maelure’s unblown Riley was third from the thirteenth (out of fifteen) laps, after a very tough scrap with Parnell’s M.G. and Hanson’s Maserati. The FrazerNash had had plugs changed in the line, but still had misfiring trouble. ” Bira,” Hanson, Appleton, Parnell, and Dobson wore helmets and visors, Bolster crash hat and goggles, Sinclair and Maclure drove bare-headed. This Crystal Palace racing is excellent and the short races ensure some very exciting duels, much of the success of which is dependent upon the E.R.A. drivers appearing. Longer races with bigger fields would be an interesting development but one the success of which it would be difficult to assess beforehand. The result of the London Grand Prix reads as follows :
1. “B, Bira” (11-litre E.R.A.) 33m. 3.7s. 54.36 m.p.h.
2. 1. F. Connell (.11-litre E.R.A.) 34m. 3.9s 53.02 m.p.h.
3. P. Maclure (11-litre Riley unsupercliarged) 34m. 33.58. 52.26 m.p.h.
4. R. Parnell (11-1itre M.G.) 34m. 38.9s.
5. R. Hanson (11-litre. Maserati) 34m. 39.7s. Distance : 15 laps (30 miles).
Record Lap : “B. Biro,” on his third lap, in 2m. 7.5s. 56.47 m.p.h. Handicapping
Heats 1 & 2 : 750 e.e. receive 10s. start; 1,100 c.c. receive 5s. Over 1,100 c.c. scratch.
Final : 750 c.c. receive 15s.; 1,100 c.c. 8s. 0v 1,100 c.c. scratch.