"BIRA" BEATEN AT LAST
” BIRA ” BEATEN AT LAST RAYMOND MAYS WINS CRYSTAL PALACE CUP AND BREAKS LAP RECORD, WITH HIS 2-LITRE E.R.A. RILEY WINS SPORTS CAR RACE AND BUGATTI THE VINTAGE EVENT
‘IRA’S” recent winning spell collapsed on July 1st when Ray mond Mays, using the 2-litre E.R.A. which he has bought from E.R.A. Ltd., won the race for the Crystal Palace
Cup at 59.93 m.p.h. ” Bira’s ” other great opponent, Hans Ruesch, was a non-runner, having sold his Alfa-Romeo to Robert Arbuthnot before the meeting— it is rumoured for a sum in the region of 000. The weather remained fine for the duration of the racing and an excellent crowd attended. Certainly onlookers get value for money at London’s road circuit and it is the only course at which we never mind watching from the public enclosures, if accompanied by a friend who hasn’t
the advantage of a Press pass. The scoreboards work well, but those watching from the Low Level side of the finishing line would appreciate it if cars could carry on for another lap after finishing, instead of going straight into the Paddock. The programme was, as usual, excellently done, but we preferred the caricatures in the Sydenham Trophy issue to the semi-humorous sketches in this number, and both Cecil Clutton and Dick Nash can rest assured that they are not quite so ugly as they are portrayed to be ! These short races with classic entries grown on one, but someday we hope Harry Edwards will give us a full 200 mile contest— a sort of British survival of Monaco—over this circuit. The first event on July 1st was Heat 1 for the Cup, over 20 miles. Nine started, only Rolt, detained on military duties, failing to appear. Nichols (M.G.) beat Hyde (Riley) on initial acceleration and Hyde’s car soon fell sick. Mays stole a lead over his group, but after a lap ” Bira ” was out ahead, with Mays behind, followed by Abecassis in the Alta. ” Bira ” kept second place until right at the end, when he caught Nichols, winning at 59.07 m.p.h. with his oldstyle E.R.A. ” Romulus” from Mays, with Nichols third. Mays finished 4.7 secs. to the bad, and his best lap was at 2 mins. .5 secs. against ” Bira’s ‘ 1 min. 59.5 secs. Abecassis did a lap in 2 mins. .9 secs., Hampshire’s Maserati retired and Hyde gave way nicely to faster cars
during his trouble. ” Bira ” seemed right on form, cornering right over the kerb at Ramp I3end, a closeness equalled only by Wakefield, later in the clay. Mays kept close in, but off the kerb, while Abecassis liked a central entry at this bend. In the next 20 mile Heat the GrenfellSpecial, which has a 4-litre Mercedes motor, Ruesch’s big Alfa-Romeo and Parnell’s Challenger, failed to run. Hadley got the little Austin off like a shell and no one could catch him. He won at 55.27 m.p.h., 1.2 secs. ahead of Maclure’s blown Riley Six. Aitken’s E.R.A. was third. For a while Wakefield, cornering very close indeed, went very rapidly with the Maserati, with which he won the Piedmont Cup and Picardie G.P. Hz lay third for 2 laps but eased up between Ramp Bend and Maxim Rise B to wave Aitken, and Arthur Dobson on his famous white past, later repassing Dobson.. Hadley hit a sandbank on lap 2 and slightly buckled a front wheel. but was in no wise perturbed. Maclure cut his corners nicely and Brooke managed a ” Bira-kerb-clip ” at Ramp Bend with his Alta-Brooke, though he
finished last. Beadle’s Alta retired. The best lap was Maclure’s. He did
2 mins. 1.8 secs. on his second lap, against Aitken’s 2 mins. 2 sees., and Wakefield and Dobson who both clocked 2 mins.
3 secs. Hadley’s best was 2 mins. 7.4 secs.—the group handicap system was naturally in operation. A 10 Miles sports-car race followed,
the Road Racing Club being noted for these interesting events. The cars had to carry equipment and run on pump fuel and were strictly scrutineered by EasonGibson. Twelve started, the only nonrunner was Pelham-Burn’s Rapier, which, we were told, was not run-in. Arthur Dobson, driving his Ii-litre Riley that brother ” F,.W.H.” has so often put into the bank, got the lead on lap 2 and won easily at 50.14 m.p.h. from Pane’s B.M.W. and Abecassis with an Alta that looked to us like Bennett’s familiar car, though the Commentator told us that .Abecassis goes to work in it every day. Crozier’s blown Frazer-Nash retired on lap 2. Shakespeare’s beautiful Type 55 Bugatti beat Aitken’s Delage away, but finished
nowhere. Aitken did the best lap, in 2 mins. 12.1 secs., followed by Pane, in 2 mins. 13 secs.—Dobson’s best was lap 3, at 2 mins. 17 secs. The handicap Vintage Cup Race followed, and, really, Edwards deserves great credit for recognising the strong appeal of the EdwardianS and near-Edwardians. We should have liked four laps instead of only two. Incidentally, we would dearly love to see these old cars in action again over the Brooklands outer-circuit, but ” A.P.B.” says that, in view of the Ten Year age limit, a fatal accident might result in an unsympathetic Press— Fleet Street would fail to grasp the idea and would have no sentimental understanding. However, the Vintage S.C.C. might well raise the matter now that the big veterans compete regularly at Shelsley, Prescott and the Palace. All nine started,but Hill’s ” Alphonso ” Hispano, which we illustrated last June, did not last long. Most of the cars are well known to our readers, but Heal’s Fiat, which baffled ” Baladeur,” is now said to have been built for M. Mathis as a sprint car, Hampton’s little Bugatti was in use up to 1929, the 1913 Mors was owned by G. Willeby the Invicta designer, and the Enfield has four speeds and overdrive transmission—as the programme aptly said” What Redditch thinks to-day, Detroit thinks in twenty years time !” Nash started late in the Lorraine-Dietrich and though Heal, from scratch, was immense with the Fiat, he could only manage’
third place. Hampton’s splendid little Bugatti won at 39.32 M.p.h. from Clutton’s Itala (now with body in place). Nash is given as lapping in 2 mins. 19.3 secs., which is faster than five of the sportscars and one racing-car ; over 51 m.p.h. We should have like to have seen Lycett’s Hispano, Morris’s Benz—now repaired— and Wilkes Fiat present. How astounding these Edwardians are is evident when you reflect that the Lorraine lapped at less than 10 m.p.h. below May’s lap-record speed, on a course calling for 100 per cent. acceleration and brakes. Asked what speed he reached along the straights, Nash told us he could not tell, but said he reckoned as fast as he has ever_ gone at the conclusion of a sprint course
in his Union-Special “Terror H “— and that must be over 100 m.p.h. In the Final, Hadley got off like a bomb, in something of a smoke cloud, beating Nichols and Hyde. Of the bigger cars, Mays led from Abecassis and ” Bira ” and these three were soon lapping at a greater speed than the old lap record. Actually, Mays had set up a new lap record in practice on the Thursday, at 60.56 m.p.h., and on his second lap in the race he went round in 1 mins. 58.1 secs., or 60.97 m.p.h. Maclure’s Riley soon retired, and Wilkinson landed the white Riley up the bank at Stadium Dip and cracked the sump. Walker wilder than ever, in his E.R.A., although running far back, slid round at the Ramp and took to the Bank, but he was able to restart, aided by officials, after he had leapt out to help push. Mays was drawing away from push. ” leading by almost the length of
the short straight, and in a close pack behind ” Bira ” came Abecassis, Dobson, Wakefield, Aitken, and Beadle. It was extremely interesting to observe driving tactics as the cars took Ramp bend. Mays did a lot of wheel-sawing, ” Bira ” made one clean, insignificant corrective movement, and Arthur Dobson appeared to hold the wheel quite still, locked over, through the corner, his muscles taut.
By 8 laps Hadley had the little Austin 45 secs. in’the lead, and Mays was third and ” Bira ” fourth, Hyde’s Riley having been passed, by Mays on lap 7 and by ” Bira ” on this lap. Nichols had the M.G. still in second place. ” Bira ” was doing all he knew how to close with the 2-litre E.R.A. and from the 11th lap he began to reduce May’s lead, although not be.coming in the least bit unsteady or wild. Mays caught the M.G. on lap 13, and Wakefield, troubled by a locking front brake, left the course at Stadium Dip— his Maserati suffered brake trouble at Rheims.
As the end drew near, Mays was obviously the winner, and, sure enough, caught Hadley, to win at 59.93 an average faster than the old, standing lap record. ” Bira ” closed on Hadley on the last lap and was right on his tail at Sticlum bend, shaking his fist excitedly at the flag-marshalls. But the Austin proved too much for him, and Hadley finished in second place at 56.54 m.p.h., mere inches from the Siamese, ” Bira ” being third at 59.82 m.p.h. This was racing at its very best. When he addressed the spectators through the microphone, Hadley said be could do nothing short of driving through the wall, to give ” Bira ” more room. The onlookers certainly had their money’s worth for, apart from first-class racing, Major Gardner’s 200 m.p.h. record-holding M.G. was on view until almost the end of the meeting, and
Sir Malcolm Campbell, following a broadcast appeal for support of motorised units of the Territorial forces, led a parade of motorcycle volunteers for a lap, riding his Triumph motor-cycle–amongst the machines we noticed a Scott.
During the afternoon, Lord Howe, in an emotional speech, called for one minutes silence in memory of Dick Seaman.
The next meeting at London’s road. circuit will be held on August 26th, the date when the 200 Mile Race was to have been run. Again there will be sports-car and pre-war car races, and the race for the Imperial Trophy, the meeting starting at 3.30 p.m. Admission is extremely good value at 2/6; or 1/for schoolboys, who represent quite a bulk of the intelligent section of our motor-racing gates.
We hope to see another Mays-” Bira ” duel, and we hope the Vintage race will be of somewhat longer duration.