RUMBLINGS, August 1953
The T.T. race, revived from early days at Lister in 1928 by the R.A.C., when K. Don won it in a supercharged ” Hyper” LeaFrancis, has had a somewhat chequered NINE-HOUR T.T. history. It went from the splendid Ards
road circuit to Donington Park and, since the war, has again been run over an excellent road course, at Dundrod. but for the past few years it has lacked the interest and stimulation of Continental entries.
This year, when it is run at Dundrod on September 5th, the T.T. is likely to revert to its former status, for two reasons. The first is that the previously-lacking Continental element is likely to enter in force, anxious to avenge the Le Mans debacle and also to set re points towards the important Sports-Car Championship of the world, towards which the Tourist Trophy Race, to give the T.T. its full tide, counts. So we can hope to see Alfa-Romeo, Ferrari, and Lancia engage Jaguar, Aston Martin and Bristol in our own long-distance sports-car classic, just as once we used to see Mercedes-Benz, AlfaRomeo, Bugatti and 0.M. meet Lea-Francis, Bentley and Alvis on the Ards circuit.
The second reason why this year’s T.T. is likely to prove memorable is that its duration, and with it the ” toughness ” of the race, has been extended to nine hours.
This is not entirely correct, for the T.T. remains a ” distance event of 111 laps, or 823.176 miles of the Dundrod circuit, but with handicap averages ranging from 88.99 m.p.h. for the scratch cars to about 67 m.p.h. for the smallest amongst the runners, and all cars expected to refuel once, many twice, nine hours will be the approximate duration, actually rather longer, from 9 11.111. to. say, 6.15 p.m.
54 cars are expected to compete, the first prize is the elegant Tourist Trophy and £500 and the organisers are the Ulster A.C., Donegan Chambers, Donegan Place, Belfast.
It is logical to believe that if the T.T. does not pay this year it may never be held again—remembering it was suspended last year. So let us all make an effort to be in Dundrod on September 5th —those who were at Le Mans will certainly want to see the battle rejoined in Ireland, and keep their fingers crossed for another Jaguar victory.
Sports-car racing really is becoming highly intriguing. Following the Mine Miglia (Ferrari victory), the Tarp Florio (Lancia victory) and Le Mans (Jaguar victory) we have had the I.O.M. Race (Aston Martin victory), the Hyere 12-Hour Race (Jaguar victory), the Lisbon race (Ferrari victory), the Reims 12-Hour Race (Jaguar victory), the 24-Hour Spa Race, and so on.
To come is another Nine-Hour Race, the 13.A.R.C. sports-car event at Goodwood on August 22nd. This, unlike the T.T., will be partly run in darkness, a novelty amongst British races, as it does not commence until 3 p.m. If it gets a truly International entry this year it commends itself for your earnest support.
Then there is the 1,000-km. race at Nurburg on August 30th, all. you see, leading up to a hoped-for exciting climax in the T.T.
The Sports-Car Championship adds interest to the leading sports-car races and is closely contested. Up to and including Le Mans, Jaguar and Cunningham led with 12 points each, Ferrari had scored 10 points. Aston Martin 8, Alfa-Romeo 6.
Spa (too late to report in this issue) will affect matters and to work it out for yourselves, remember that a win scores 8 points, second place 6, third place 4, fourth place 2 and fifth place I point, but only the highest-placed car of each marque, whether ” works” or privately-entered, scores points for that marque.
Incidentally, sports-car races have changed a good deal and most of the International fixtures, far from encouraging ears of near. catalogue specification, let in prototypes. This is perhaps a good thing, for otherwise those valuable and now well-proved Girlingactuated Mintex-lined Dunlop disc brakes would not have been permissible at Le Mans. * * * On the way back to Le Bourget to board the last B.E.A. Viking ” motor-‘bus service to Northolt, after seeing the Jaguars from Coventry wear the green as effectively at MONTLHERY Le Mans as Bentleys did in the past, we
made two slight diversions.
One was to Arpajou, for purely sentimental reasons, to gaze at the stretch of highway where the Land Speed Record was broken for the last time on a public road—when the late Ernest Eldridge averaged 145.9 m.p.h. for the two-way kilometre in the 300-h.p. aviation. motored Fiat in 1924. The other diversion in the Continental Correspondent’s heavily
laden 1,500 Fiat was to Montlhery Autodrome, near Paris—about as far outside the capital as Kingston is distant from London.
It was the Monday afternoon immediately following Le Mans, so you could be excused for thinking that nothing would be happening at the “French Brooklauds.” Not a bit of it ! Two motorcycles, one a Norton of the Parisicnne Monneret, were circulating. A Renault Fregate was going round. A 4-c.v. Renault was towing a heavily-laden Renault van round and round, at the base of the steep banking. A wooden-bodied Siinca made a test run and a homebuilt B.M.W.-base single-seater put in one lap at about 100 m.p.h. before refusing to restart. A very fascinating sports/racing DynePanhard committed lappery, before flitting rapidly back to Paris.
Calling there again shortly afterwards our Continental Correspondent found a special Sahnson, with the new double-choke Solex carburetter, lapping determinedly, various Frigates on test, an English Austin A40 with sand-bag ballast doing consumption tests and a Ford Vedette with a Light Fifteen Citroen engine in t’otherway-round, out on the concrete.
There is a happily informal atmosphere about it all, a pleasant bar, permanent under-banking garages, and that old Brooklands atmosphere of a home from home to anyone with genuine motoring in his or her blood.
The interesting thing is that fees are quoted for using Montlhery, whose history, by the way, dates back to 1924, for periods of one hour, half-a-day or a day, providing record-breaking is not in progress, of course. These fees did not seem excessive and those who find themselves approaching Paris at the close of a Continental holiday with a little French currency to dissipate between them might, if they are in a fast car, do worse than go to Montlhery for some refreshing lappery. We imagine no very stringent check would be made, providing car and tyres were in good fettle and the driver reasonably experienced ; and if you do not fool about on such an expedition, no doubt you would be welcomed and would have contributed your quota to maintaining the most accessible track in all Europe where all-out speed can be held.
Montlhery must never go the way of Brooklands—not that it is likely to, for we have an inkling that Frenchmen think we lost our Track through German bombing and not on account of English bureaucracy !
We now have the banked circuit at Lindley, you say ? Pooh ! The S.M.M.T. had no sooner put up its banked circuit than it issued an edict that single-seater racing cars could not be permitted to use it, a spokesman adding : “The XK120C Jaguar is a difficult case, but I suppose if it can be used on the road we may have to allow it on Lindley. No reflection was cast on the Jaguar as such, except that it could do 150 or more m.p.h. !
Makes you think hard of Silver City Airways and Montlhery, it does ! Anyway, we suspect that after you have seen the banking at Montlhery, where the lap-record stands to the credit of Gwenda Hawkes in the Miller-Derby at 145.94 m.p.h., you will regard Lindley as flat as the proverbial pancake. * * *
Castle Combe circuit is being re-surfaced where considered necessary. This work will be completed in time for the National Meeting on October 3rd and should meet with the approval of competitors.