The Filton Speed Trials

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Half-Mile Airfield Course. F.T.D. by Gerard’s E.R.A.

On Sunday, October 28th, the Bristol Aeroplane Company Motor Sports Club held a speed trial, open to members of local clubs, at Filton Aerodrome. As the first official sprint event to take place on one of the many perimeter tracks built during the last five years it was an occasion of some importance. The general public was not admitted, a wise precaution, since the arrangements for dealing with even the few non-competing members present left much to be desired.

The course used gave a straight and slightly downhill run of about 600 yards, a slight blind curve to the right then leading to the finish of the 1-mile course. The surface, tarred concrete, seemed to give quite good adhesion, but undulations and an adverse camber made the fast curve to the finish decidedly trying for a fast car or motor-cycle.

Fortunately, a soaking wet morning cleared up just in time for the first runs, which were by the 2-wheeler brigade, St. John Horsfall now being among this number. After the rider of a Triumph Speed-Twin had succumbed to a highspeed wobble and been removed in the (push-started!) ambulance, the sports cars began to perform.

Of the 1,100-c.c. class, Morrish’s blown M.G. was far too quick for the unsuper-charged Austins of Mallock and Allen. The sports regulations for this meeting imposed no penalty on supercharged cars, and, in fact, even the mild requirements for windscreens and spare wheel were not strictly enforced. The 1,500-c.c. sports class was opened by a 6-cylinder Singer “Le Mans,” followed by the blown MG. Midget once again, and then Richards’s abbreviated Rover, the latter healthy sounding and usefully brisk. Baillie Hill, with the H.R.G. which he drove so successfully at Naish House, went very well (aided by Eason Gibson, a broken push-rod was duly changed between runs), but had insufficient speed to beat Gerard’s four-carburetter Riley “Sprite” on this course. McCormack had the blown Frazer-Nash, complete with hydraulic brakes, but appeared to suffer from clutch slip.

In the over 1 1/2-litre class, Howard Rowson ran a low-chassis 4 1/2-litre Invicta of pleasing aspect. Northway’s departure in his immaculate Jaguar coupé seemed more Bond Street than Filton, but he reached the finishing line with reasonable expedition. Allard, running a touring-bodied Ford V8, with windscreen erect, was unspectacularly brisk. Parker, with cap reversed, handled his Jaguar 100 in brutal style, but got results, including several turns of a spin on one run!

First of the racing cars was Dowson’s beautiful Lightweight Special, which was in excellent form. Poore’s R-type M.G. had oil injected into the blower as it awaited the starter, but ran imperfectly and was slightly slower than the Austin-engined Lightweight. The Watkins-Nash ran well after initial hesitancy, but failed to repeat its Naish House success on this fast course; on the starting line the whole car rocked intriguingly as the engine was blipped!

Gerard’s E.R.A., with de Ram shock-absorbers, plain gearbox and twin rear wheels, was in fine form, and made a series of excellent runs despite remarkable rear axle judder and spring flexing on the getaway.

A big draw for the spectators was John Bolster with his twin-engined Special. Careful stage management avoided any delay on the line for “No. 100,” and “Bloody Mary” departed briskly down the course.

Decreasing visibility caused second runs to be taken in reverse order of classes, the retrogression from E.R.A. to unblown ” 750’s ” providing an inevitable anticlimax. – J. L.

Results: –

Sports Cars Under 1,100 c.c.
1. A. W, Morris (847-c.c. M.G. S.) … 36.2 sec.
2. D.F.Allen (747-c.c. Austin) … 46.8 sec.
3. (F/Lt. A. R. Mallock (747-c.c. Austin) … 48.0 sec.

Sports Cars Under 1,500 c.c.
1. F. R. Gerard (1,406-c.c. Riley “Sprite”) … 33.0 sec.
2. K. V. Baillie Hill (1,496-c.c. H.R.G.) … 33.2 sec.
3. R. E. Richards (1,496-c.c. Rover) … 35.0

Sports Cars (Unlimited)
1. L. Parker (3,485-c.c. Jaguar 100) … 31.6
2. K. V. Baillie Hill (1,496-c.c. H.R.G.) … 32.6 sec
3. F. R. Gerard (1,406-c.c. Riley “Sprite”) … 33.1 sec.

Racing Cars Under 1,100 c.c.
1. A Issigonis (747-c.c. Lightweight Special S.) … 32.0 sec.
2. W. O. Watkins (996-c.c. Watkins-Nash) … 32.7 sec.
3. D. Poore (746-c.c. M.G. S.) … 34.2 sec.

Racing Cars Under 1,500-c.c.
1. F.R. Gerard (1,496-c.c. E.R.A. S) … 26.3 sec,
2. W. O. Watkins (996-c.c. Watkins-Nash) … 32.7 sec.
3. D. Poore (746-c.c. M.G. S.) … 34.3 sec.

Racing Cars (Unlimited)
1. F.R. Gerard (1,496-c.c. E.R.A. S) … 27.1 sec,
2. J. V. Bolster (1,962-c.c. Bolster Special) … 29.9 sec.
3. S. H. Allard (3,622-c.c. Allard) … 31.0 sec.

Jottings

The cars were got away very promptly indeed, Aldis lamp signalling (supplemented by radio) being used from the airfield control tower to start and finish lines. Starting was “when you’re ready,” 12 in. behind the “shoe.” But the actual starting and finishing lines were quite unmarked!

Paddock organisation was negligible, cars parking wherever they chose and coming to the line when (and if) they heard the loud-speaker car at the start call for their class. As for scrutineering, if sports cars are specifically required to carry screen, spare wheel, etc., then such sights as Baillie Hill leaving both items in the paddock should be discouraged.

The R.A.F. fire and ambulance services, when called on, came promptly. But a belated call for the St. John’s ambulance scarcely galvanised the crew into activity (it rather seemed to petrify them !); the engine would not start on the button or handle (wound by spectators), and the ambulance was finally pushed to the unfortunate motor-cyclist.

John Bolster has resolutely turned his back on the 4-J.A.P. Special, as life ls too short to tune and drive it. Instead, he will turn his back (but in the Fry manner!) on a V8 Mercury engine.

Adams’s Bugatti-Anzani was interesting, though it went very slowly indeed. the twin-cam engine is like Teddy Worthington’s, with twin S.U.s, Lucas magneto on the rear of the off-side camshaft, L.10 plugs, oil tank on the crank-shaft nose linked to a scuttle tank. The clutch is by Borg and Beck; the gearbox is Molsheim.

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