Letters from readers, April 1943
Sir, Recent conditions here, chiefly sub-Arctic, have led to quite a lot of fun. For…
THE CATALOGUE SPORTS CAR RACE EXCELLENT THREE-HOUR EVENT OF THE LIGHT CAR CLUB AT BROOKLANDS WON BY DELAHAYE AT 63.46 M.P.H. ONLY ONE RETIREMENT.
THE Light Car Club deserves every credit for the new event which it ran at Brooklands on July 16th to replace the old and lamented Relay Race. Although scarcity of entries threatened to spoil this Three-Hour Race over the full Brooklands Campbell road circuit, actually a very well contested event resulted. Entries were confined to truly standard sports-cars running with equipment in place, Hugh McConnell being given the difficult task of scrutineering. Of the field of fifteen, the cars were, in the majority, all obviously the sort of sports-cars you and I use daily. The winning Delahaye was the ” ex-Bira ” car which came over for the 1936 T.T. and which did an official lap at over 126 m.p.h. when stripped for last year’s “500,” and it ran with headlamps faired. Aldthgton’s Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. was the famous white two-seater which has completed over 100 miles in the hour round Brooklands, running on pump fuel. Pane’s B.M.W. was his personal car and the V12 Allard-Special was justified in running because Adlards Motors Ltd. show it in their catalogue, have Vs Allards in production, and a new works capable of supplying the V12 as a normal line—incidentally it ran with the lowratio trials axle and standard fuel tank in place. Many people were surprised at the seriousness of the competitors on the day of the race, which had the good effect of rendering it a proper struggle. And, as a race, quite unexpected tyre trouble amongst the leaders, probably due to the nature of the circuit and the heating effect of wings, made the finish most exciting. About the only people not all out to do big work were the drivers of the AllardSpecial, who openly declared beforehand that they were running experimentally and hardly expected to finish—and very soon this car -was running third, and it did finish. Pit work was often queer in the extreme, and no one had a sufficient stock of spare wheels ; perhaps Hutchison’s was the best managed pit, with Mrs. Hutchison at the chart and R. J. Canham in control. Clerk of the Course Curtis and Chief Marshal Gibson had the organisation -yery well in hand, even if a spectator did attempt to buy a programme from us on the track before the pits a few moments from the start, expressing the hope that he was not trespassing I The free feed for marshals was hardly as comprehensive as last year at the Relay Race, the pre-race officials’ gathering was missed, pre-race publicity was not too well handled, and there could well have been a pile of programmes in the Press box. But on the whole the race was most commendably run, and that it is very probable that it will be held again next year with few alterations is good news indeed. The public must not in future invade the course after the winner is flagged. That only one car retired, and that because spare tyres and a reliable jack were not available, is a splendid tribute to the modern sports-car–no old-school motors ran. Those who are dubious about the scrutineering may be interested to know that the Delahaye and Aldington’s white Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. were not admitted without a very strict examination. The Delahaye had to have
bigger rear wings fitted. The white Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. is faster than other Type 328s because it was the first of the type to come over and English purchasers of subsequent models have insisted on minor modifications to body details which have been detrimental to fiat-out speed—but it was passed as essentially a standard job. In the Paddock on the morning of the race, preparation went quietly on. BakerCarr’s smart drop-head coupe Hotchkiss, borrowed from a private owner by the Hotchkiss Co., had Dunlop Super-BassePression 6.00 x16 tyres and a neat, very small Jaeger rev, counter, reading to 6,000 r,p.m., on the steering column. Hartwell’s 4.3-litre Alvis was having a spell of pinlang looked to by the taking o“.r of a supply of Esso Ethyl in the
requisite sealed cans. The V12 AllardSpecial—Hutchison’s famous ” Tailwagger I “—had double stays for the wings, Dunlop 6.00 x 16 covers, and hoped to go through without refuelling. Some of the drivers’ wives displayed devastating fashions at the pits. To revert to cars, Hunter’s B.M.W. was carefully covered over, Murray’s B.M.W. had Dunlop racing covers, and Charles Follett’s light sports Railton used 6.50 x 16 racing Dunlops front and back. As course cars Gibson used a Lancia Aprilia saloon and Major Gardner his Mercedes-Benz. With the cars lined up before the road-circuitconcrete-pits for the start, a rubber pad was hastily made up for the Allard’s radiator stay, work was done on the Railton’s bonnet while R. F. Oates suggested that another pint of oil be added, and Firth’s SS 100 was having air inserted in its off rear tyre by hand-pump, and the plugs changed. At last the cars were drawn up facing the pits, hoods erect. At the fall of the flag the drivers commenced lowering the hoods. The Delahaye had been well placed across the course. Hutchison was soon seated in his car, working thus at the hood. The B.M.W.s had very simple hoods, and Aldington got going first, in spite of stalling his engine. Pane followed, then Murray, Matthews, Hunter and Hutchison. ” Bira ” roared away in the H.R.G., braking heavily to avoid this bunch. The Delahaye and Railton remained and eventually Follett just beat Ronnie Jarvis and the Delahaye, the Railton screaming its tyres on accelerating off. The race was on, with fourteen runners, the non-starter being Burmss’s Frazer-Nash. Jarvis got off slowly, forgetting to raise his screen, but the Delahaye sounded beautifully fit. After one lap Aldington, Pane, Murray, Matthews, Hunter, Hutchison, Firth, ” Bira,” Baker-Carr, Hartwell, Truett, Huxham, Follett and Jarvis went by in that order, their cars, respectively, the white Type :328 B.M.W., Pane’s own Type 328, a privately owned Type 328 B.M.W., a 34–litre SS 100, a privately owned Type 328 B.M.W., the Allard, a 81-litre SS 100, the green works H.R.G.. the 3i-litre Hotchkiss, the 43litre Alvis, a 2i-litre SS 100, a 414 Morgan, the Railton and the Delahaye. Places changed a little the next lap and by lap 3 Alcly and Pane were at the Members’ banking as Murray entered the straight by the pits, with Matthews fourth, Hutchison fifth, ” Bira ” sixth, Hunter
seventh and Firth eighth. After only four laps the Morgan was almost lapped by the leading B.M.Vv”.s, but actually it lead on handicap, having six credit laps, while ” Bira’s ‘ H.R.G. had three, a handicap advantage not washed out until half-way through the race. On lap 3 ” Bira ” had passed Hutchison inside at the Members’ Hill turn, but the Allard drew past on acceleration before the banking was reached. At this corner the .Alvis screamed its tyres and several times went wild. After only four laps Truett’s SS came in for inspection of the ignition system and all plugs were changed. Jarvis was going really fast with the 3,557 c.c. Delahaye and, gaining 5 secs. per lap on the leaders, took the lead from Aldington on lap 16, passing inside as the B.M.W. took the banking turn. Aldy lapped the Railton after 10 laps and the average was well over 60 m.p.h., under a sultry sky from which short, heavy showers fell intermittently. Hartwell was finding the big Alvis a handful at times and once baulked an SS. Truett’s SS went on misfiring, and came in for further attention, ” Bira ” visited his pit to report loss of third gear, and the Alvis had a brief stop with clutch trouble, the screen having to be raised before the bonnet would open. ” Bira’s ” trouble was put right after a long stop, Powell’s H.R.G. being pounced upon without its owner’s knowledge for a spare gear-shift. The oiled plugs were also changed. Incidentally, someone suggested that this bears on the ” I3ira “-Dobson controversy, inasmuch as he believed Dobson had never bent a gearbox—one way of judging
who is the better driver, perhaps. By lap 18 Jarvis led from Aldington with Pane third, Hutchison fourth, Murray fifth, Hunter sixth and Matthews seventh. Then Hutch had rotten luck, his fan belt chewing up, so that there was no drive to the twin water-pumps. Hutch climbed out, the screen was cleaned and a whittle belt put on, after which the radiator took much water. Nearly two laps were lost, but the V12’s tail slid into the combat. ” Bira ” returned to the race, waving other cars on and crashing his gears as he left the pit. Follett baulked the Delahaye one round, but it had a commanding lead. At 3.20 p.m. Truett’s SS started to miss again and Murray and Hunter were keeping close station. Aldington was going all he knew, the white B.M.W.’s exhaust crackling on the overrun and the little car very steady and consistent. Follett’s Railton steamed, and the Morgan had a brief stop to swop
drivers. For some laps Matthews, Hutchison and Firth went by in that order, but eventually Hutchison drew away by quite a bit. The Railton came in on its twenty-ninth lap, 5 gallons of fuel from cans, a quart of oil and a little water going in in 51 secs.’ Follett forgetting to stop the engine, but doing so at McConnell’s request. Ron Jarvis now brought the Delahaye in and Willing, the entrant, who had occupied the pit counter with Miss Willing, took over. We noticed that the main screen was shattered. Fuel was added and the car left with the bonnet straps undone, amid some excitement, for it had been hesitant on the starter (all cars had to restart thus—a good ruling) and Aldington had gone past. Matthews now had his off rear tyre flat and, having no decent spares, retired the SS—remarkably enough the only retirement throughout—leaving thirteen runners. Firth came in on his thirtyseventh lap to change a tyre, and give over to K. Firth. Newton, driving the Alvis, turned right round at the Test Hill hairpin, and motoring down over the grass verge to regain the course. J. Firth, by the way, did not use second gear at all, and had left the reverse catch up when K. Firth took over. S.S. stop lights blinked at the Test Hill corner, Hutch varied his methods considerably, the Allard now going very high up the Members’ Banking, and the Morgan 4/4 slid about quite a bit. ” Bira ‘ overhauled the Railton between these bends, Follett being now troubled by a locking off rear brake, and the Alvis had another short pit-stop. By lap 49 Willing was close up to the leading B.M.W., but as he passed on the Railway Straight he overjudged the coming corner and spun round, leaving ” H. J. ” to motor on in the lead. Murray now spent a moment at his pit. Hutchison found the Allard losing a little speed, but still led Firth’s SS 100 and the Railton. Aldington and Willing were holding a low course at the banking turn and Hutch was keeping lower, but Murray liked a high route. Willing was waved on furiously by his staff on lap 51, and not gaining on Aldington, it was decided to put Jarvis back. He used to
race a 3-litre Maserati. Hunter and Truett made brief stops hereabouts, the Alvis needed brake adjustment, and in the Hotchkiss pit they began to worry about tyres, Baker-Carr, in leather helmet, taking the most touring car in the race round consistently and fast. ” Bira ” now gradually drew away from the AllardSpecial, which oiled up at refuelling
stops. The Delahaye came in on its fifty-sixth lap and Jarvis took over very rapidly, the starter functioning well. In taking the Members’ bend he slid badly and sent up a cloud of sand, fortnnately without damage to the car, which Cannot have made Willing feel any happier. Thereafter, Jarvis got down to some real motoring in pursuit of Aldy., lapping regularly in 2 min., and doing one lap (the best in the race) at 1.59, or 68.58 m.p.h. Follett now braked early, the Morgan had a brief stop, and Hutch came in after about fifty-six laps for more water and oil two new rear covers. Sydney Allard took over, wearing a cap and driving more slowly to ensure finishing. The Alvis was also in again, and on lap fifty-eight the Railton stopped for fuel, oil, screen cleaning and a refresher for Charles, when the off rear brake was seen to be definitely burning. The Hotchkiss pit had been puzzled to know, as Baker-Carr took an imaginary drink, whether he was tired, wanted a drink, or wanted water for the cat. He came in on lap fifty-five for fuel and the somewhat worn near rear cover was changed, the driver absent-mindedly selecting reverse when restarting. The race now became very exciting, for it was seen that the breaker-strip was showing on J arvis’s near rear cover. On lap sixty-eight J arvis came in amid .a fever of expectancy, and the wheel was changed in 57 sees., some bother being experienced in sliding the wheel off (hubs should be greased before a race). W. H. Aidington watched with interest, the radiator dripped water, and someone yelled about oil, but Jarvis was soon off. Aldy., however, now led, by about 63 sees. a lap after the Delahaye’s stop. Allard called for more oil and then it became evident that Jarvis’s Off side rear tyre was going, a mechanic observing it from the opposite side of the track. Imagine the excite ment when we saw the breaker strip showing on Aldy’s near side tyre after seventy-one laps . . . Aldy slid inside the Allard at the Test Hill bend and kept on fast, to come in on lap seventy-three. The stop was not a good one, taking 2 mins 6 secs. for change of both rear tyres and refuelling-the first .stop. The Delahaye now led, and in the pit they had no spare when McConnell insisted on a
tyre change t Willing went over to Dunlops and returned with a newlyfitted cover, Jarvis meanwhile wondering why he was Signalled to slow so much. A wheel and hammer had to be shown to him before he came in. With a. lead of about three-quarters Of a lap. that off side tyre was changed in 47 sees. on lap 77 and Jarvis was dispatched with a lead of a mere 32 secs. Thereafter Jarvis drove carefully and very fast and Aldy. did his utmost, until the Delahaye won by 34 secs. from the Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. Pane came in third after a Splendidly steady run, Hunter fourth, Murray fifth, the Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.s taking both the One-Make and Club Team Awards. Right at the end the H.R.G. had a rapid tyre stop, changing both rear wheels in only 40 sees., and Hunter refuelled. Then the Alvis had its off rear tyre fiat just before the Test Hill corner on the last lap and as it had to change before the line the Hotchkiss got in first, to the great delight of Baker-Cares friends. The race had thus been a vast success, rendered really exciting by unexpected tyre trouble at the end, which seems to prove the Campbell circuit as hard on tyres as it was found to be on brakes last year-especially as the lightweight B.M.W. suffered, Speeds were surprisingly high. Unquestionably the win will further enlarge the Delahaye following that is arising in this country and the Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. must benefit from this demonstration of high-Speed relia bility. The little Morgan 4/4 Won its class and stopped twice only, for change of drivers and water, and the Hotchkiss Put up just the unflurried, impressive display its entrant intended. The big V12 Allard-Special showed extreme performance in its first racing event and finished healthily in ninth place and ” Bira ” had no trouble With the H.R.G. after the gearbox selector was changed. Firth’s 31-litre SS 100 also gave an ex cellent account of itself. The
naturally *On the 1/-litre category. So little real trouble was experienced that the race was less instructive than expected. The Alvis and Railton had brake Worries, both the Railton and Allard needed oil, but the latter slowed at the end through oiled plugs and fuel shortage. Truett’s SS was slowed by ignition trouble.
An extremely good event and one which the Light Car Club must certainly repeat next year, when Muth better entries should be forthcoming if they announce the date early, keep it clear of all other road-car fixtures and retain the low entry fee, that really was remarkable value. The Delahaye took 2 hrs. 57 nuns. 54 secs. for seventy-three laps, or 68.46 m.p.h., and Aldington’s B.M.W. 2 hrs. 58 mins. 28 secs: for the same number of laps, an average of 63.26 m.p.h. The Delahaye spent 1 min. 44 Sees. in two pit stops, which affected the issue, and the B.M.W. .2 mins. 6 sees. for one stop, which shows how close a finish it was. And we all said to ourselves beforehand that the Delahaye was advertised for sale in the programme and, in consequence, would be driven too slowly to win . . . Actually we believe that Jarvis’s slide into the bank hastened the failure of the off side cover, which might otherwise have lasted out.
RESULTS General Category
1. J. Willing: and R. Jarvis 03i-litre Delahaye), 83 laps in 2h. 57m. 54s. Speed 03.46 m.p.h.
2. IL J. Aldington (2-litre Frazer-No.sh-B.M.W.), 83 laps in 2h. 58m. 28s. -03.20 m.p.h.
3. A. F. P. Pane (2-lit re. Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.), 82 laps in 2h. 5SM. 51s. (2.35 m.p31.
4. H. limiter (2.11tre Frawr-Nash-B.M.W.), 79 laps in 211. 57m. 528. 60.43 m.p.h. 5. 1). Murray (2-lit n. f’razer-Nash-B.M.W.), 79
laps in 211. 58m. Os. 60.31 mph. .
0. J. D. Firth (34-litre Ss 100 “), 79 laps in 2fi. 5ihn. 55s. 50.7 m.p.h.
7, C. Follett (4.1-litre Railton), 77 laps at 58.20 m.p.h. ; 8, E. P. Iluxham and T. Bryant (1,098 c.c. Morgan), 75 laps at 52.73 it 11. ; 9. K. N. Hutchison and .8. H. Allard (4.3-litre Allard Special), 74 laps
at 56.41 m.p.h.; 10, ” 11. 111ra ” ( H.R.6,,), 71 laps at 61.62 m.p.h. ; I I. y. T. Uaker Carr (3litre Hotchkiss), 71 laps at 53.62 m.p.h. ; 12, Peorge Hartwell and R. S. Newton (4.3-litre Alvls), 70 laps at 54.0$ m.p.h. ; 13, C. E. Tmet t (2i-litre 58″ 100 ‘), 60 laps at 50.19 m.p.h.
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