THE• COCKFOSTERS RALLY
THE sight, sound and smell of motor racing having been denied us for nearly six years, it was not surprising that the Cocicfosters Rally, organised by A. F. Rivers-Fletcher for the enjoyment of motoring enthusiasts, was very well attended on July 14th. The weather was for the most part sunny and very warm, torrential rain obligingly waiting until the demonstration runs were over before letting go.
The ” competitors’ ” paddock certainly brought back nostalgic memories. John Bolster was there in his traditional dicing garb, having brought the two-engined “Mary” in his beautiful “Silver Ghost” Rolls-Royce lorry. It was very nice to see Tony Rolt again—he was for so long a prisoner of war in Germany. He had brought Horsfall’s E.R.A. in a Ford van, and it was run up—most tuneful of sounds !—on jacks, to spare the gearbox bands. Veteran racing cars were represented by Heal’s immaculate 5-litre 1919 Ballot and Mrs. Peter Clark’s 1914 G.P. Mercedes, while Monkhouse’s Type 51 Bugatti was in B.O.C. colours and Mortimer’s ” 2.6 ” Monza Alfa-Romeo carried “full road equipment.” Heal’s 1921 Sunbeam was absent, although we noticed the 1914 T.T. Sunbeam 4-seater outside Breen’s that morning, and Parnell didn’t appear, but the Dowson Lightweight Special was an interesting” demonstratee.”
Rivers used a 41-litre Bentley saloon for his Clerk of the Course duties, Eric Giles acted as starter, a chequered flag brought the cars in, and Penny Fletcher patrolled the paddock in her Austin Seven 2-seater. That the B.B.C. took a sound strip of the event is most gratifying and a fine tribute to Rivers-Fletcher. Findon did the commentary for this. The Rt. Hon. the Earl Howe, P.C., opened the event by driving his Type 57 Bugatti coupe round the 10-mile course. That left a grand smell of “R,” and then Mrs. Gerard, after stalling on the line, gave a nice, polished exhibition in her If-litre Riley Sprite,” with its four
Good weather and an excellent attendance at Rivers-Fletcher’s novel event. Racing cars again in action !
Amals and Scintilla ignition. She was well received by the • onlookers. The sports cars were demonstrated first, so Sutherland ran next with the 2-litre semi-streamlined Aston-Martin “Atom.” It ran very well, with little noise but a deal of rolling round the roundabout. The Rt. Hon. Lord Brabazon of Tara appeared next, in his famous 1,100-c.c. streamline Fiat. Snatching a nice handful of second, Brabazon was off well to put up a fast and really splendidlymanaged show, which brought forth more appreciative claps. Drivers were strictly instructed not to go fast, but if the spectators needed any reminder of how safe and controllable the modern car is, Brabazon’s run was it—a very good show, indeed.
Mann’s 31-litre S.S. ” 100 ” then demonstrated a brisk getaway and was blipped round, and Baroness Dorndorf went round slowly in the “402 ” Le Mans Peugeot, which was sick of “Pool.” Next J. James drove round in the ” 38/250 ” ex-Campbell Mercedes-Benz 4-seater. He treated us to both tyre howl and blower whine on a really spirited drive, a most impressive business, indeed good to regard. He and his lady passenger looked quite happy throughout, which gave the spectators confidence. Marcus Chambers now showed off Peter Clark’s Le Mans Meadows-H.R.G., which had carried advertising data in the paddock. It didn’t look very fast—but, then, this wasn’t a speed event—but Marcus leaned out, smoked his pipe and generally looked very comfortable. Claridge next came round in a left-hand-drive 328 13.141.W., with very noisy exhaust. He seemed rather wild under the brakes as he came
in, and the exhaust gave a pistol-shot sound as he lifted his foot. V. S. Biggs in his immaculate 4-seater Allard then did a silent, effortless, if somewhat ” slidy,” circuit. He was followed by the streamline V12 Lagorida saloon, which went round steadily, tyres protesting, and the big car canting over somewhat. An interesting and very fast • car, this.
Hugh Hunter’s ” 2.9 ” Alfa-Romeo, with Denis Evans as passenger, ran next. It was boiling on the line, its clutch was traditionally tricky and it appeared to lose a plug, looking a bit pathetic on a course very definitely not suited to its idea of motoring. F/Lt. Crook in his black 328 B.M,W. followed and made what was probably the best show yet, including a very fine exhibition of how to change from 1st to 2nd at speed. Giron then had a motor-race in the ex-Whincop Type 55 Bugatti, all very impressive, with howling blower, odd puffs from the inlet tract relief valve, the car really sliding, looking dangerous even, yet skilfully kept under full control. Inspiring ! H. G. Symonds in his R-type M.G. followed, and again we had a momentary taste of the real thing, the exhaust note and revs, at getaway being truly impressive.
Gerard now did some lappery in the white E.R.A., watching his rear wheels as the clutch went in—clearly these cars could not be given any throttle at all on this course, with spectators at the road’s edge. Mortimer in the Alfa-Romeo, wearing gloves, was sedate, and then Heal treated us to the Ballot—he looked stern, but actually lifted a hand to acknowledge Klemantaski at the roundabout. A magnificent spectacle, this 1919 racing car and its smoke screen. Came Rolt. And this was probably the most restrained and commendable run of the day, the E.R.A. having far too much urge to be given its head. Pomeroy then brought out Mrs. Peter Clark in her 1914 Mercedes, which really was wound up by its monocled driver, who, as Tubbs, now
at the microphone (which Pomeroy himself had manipulated in the earlier part of the programme) said, “disappeared in its own smoke cloud.” The Bedford silencer kept the 4/-litre engine very quiet, but the torque rocked the old car in an impressive manner on the line, and it went really splendidly throughout. Peter Monkhouse started the Type 51 Bugatti really viciously, to leave the only decent black line of the day ! Came Bolster. John was warned on the line of the terrible things that would befall him if he knocked over any of the spectators (does anyone dare do terrible things to the intrepid pilot of ” Mary ” ?) and, in consequence, he was restrained and even gentlemanly, but how good it was to see the little car in action again, front wheels flapping, twin J.A.P.s cracking lustily. Horsfall followed in the E.R.A., doing a really fine run with most potent exhaust accompaniment. Dowson then showed how well his Dowson Special handles, especially from a suspension
standpoint, while its getaway, off rear wheel spinning fast momentarily, was good to see. Stewart Marshall had the ex-Lionel Phillips’s Leyland Eight, but it was suffering chronic clutch slip and failed to complete the course. Parry Thomas must surely have turned in his grave to see this grand old car, which has put up some fine performances in its time, going so badly. Dunham, having cured some fuel pump bothers, did a clean, very fast run in his ” 12/70 ” Alvis track car, with plenty of hot rubber odour. Ballamy came out in his special Ford Ten, but skidded round at the corner out of the roundabout, which was really rather naughty, because this event, in particular, was one at which no car should have run away with its driver. Tubbs later sampled this car, showing sensible restraint. Sqd./Ldr. Boothby, wearing cigarette in a long holder, and his open Railton, did a wildish but fast run, nicely displaying the car’s
urge—and it wasn’t the Light Sports model. Issigonis also drove the Dowson with skill and verve.
That, then, was Cockfosters, and a fine thing it was. Almost everyone of note was present, and Raymond Mays telegraphed his regrets for not attending. The spectators’ cars were a study in themselves. Several fine 3-litre Bentleys, Canham’s Allard, a ” better-than-showroom ” M-type M.G. Midget, an M.G. Magna with Vauxhall-type i.f.s., John Cooper’s Riley ” Gamecock ” from Leicester, Cowell and Mrs. Cowell in their H.R.G., a Type 40 Bugatti, two 2-litre Lagondas, a Lancia ” Lambda ” saloon, many smart Rileys„ and others too numerous to mention, come to mind. Altogether a most stimulating afternoon, making us look forward to the first real post-war meeting. And, for our part, a 200-mile run back to Harrogate in the 8-cylinder, 2-stroke Scott-engined Morgan 4/4, at an average not far short of 50 m.p.h.—but that is another story.—W.B.