To Trail or not to Trail . . .
A contemporary magazine has commented editorially on the VSCC’s decision to penalise in future those competitors who bring cars to its trials on trailers by a matter of 10 points. It argues that the VCC does not so penalise pre-1918 cars going on trailers to its events (although on the Brighton Run, quite rightly, there is disqualification for those whose veterans are followed along the route by trailers). The point is also made that the VCC uses easier routes or separate events for the more-breathless motor-cars. Well, that is expressly the purpose of the VSCC’s Light Car and Edwardian Section.
There was a time when we got quite apoplectic on seeing vintage cars coming to driving tests and races and other events on trailers. But in recent times, what with the increase of traffic on our roads, the value of Motorways for reducing time on long journeys, the high cost of tyres for vintage vehicles, and the cost of taxing a car for a one-day event, we have relaxed this view and now stand quite placidly by, as trailed vintage cars roll into VSCC paddocks. So perhaps the rule has been introduced too late? If it is confined, as the contemporary’s editorial says. to vintage trials it makes more sense, because the VSCC includes public roads for such events, so saving on tax does not enter into it. Even so, it may result in fewer entries, and could be difficult to enforce. Of course, if they arrive with a competing car on a trailer they will own up! But how does one interpret the rule, to the satisfaction of both Club and competitor? One entrant may have such a long haul to the event that he stays overnight nearby, and drives his competition entry to the venue the next day. Hand on heart, he or she can say the car arrived under its own power. But the fellow who had intended to hide away the trailer a few miles from the event, but on the same day as the event, may feel the answer to did you or did you not trail may have to be “Yes”. This well-intentioned rule could cause problems and may have come a bit late in the day, although the thinking that prompted it is entirely commendable. — W. B.
A Pioneer Ford Dealer
On November 7th, 1910 Henry Ford disembarked at Southampton after his voyage from America and later the same day — for Ford did not hang about — Percy Hendy appended his signature to a Dealership Agreement with the Ford Motor Company of England, becoming the first Ford Main Dealer in the British Isles. This is recorded in a little booklet “The History of Hendy Lennox — 1910-1985” published by the Hendy Lennox Group, of Chandler’s Ford, near Eastleigh in Hampshire, a group embracing eight companies in the area.
The origins of the Hendy Lennox Group go back to 1859, to Percy’s father’s clothing and bicycle shop in Whitchurch, which he moved to Southampton. There the Falcon bicycles were assembled and when motoring arrived F.A. Hendy was an early owner of a two-cylinder Benz, which the Group still owns. In 1899 the firm took on agencies for Benz and Bollee vehicles. They began to deliver cars all over the country and on one such journey the late Percy Hendy was taking a Benz to the Lake District when, on a hill near Shrewsbury, a belt broke and in turning into the bank as the car ran backwards, it fell on its side. However, some convicts—were working nearby and they lifted the Benz onto the next canter’s dray that came along, and repairs were done in the town. The Company expanded and by 1911, when the £115 Model-T Ford was being made in Trafford Park, Manchester, staff from Hendy’s Above-Bar Garage used to go to Manchester and drive cars and commercials back to Southampton. In 1913 premises were acquired in Bournemouth, and in Southsea the following year, the former still occupied by the Company. During the 1914/18 war Hendys was engaged on Fordson tractor servicing and repair, essential to feeding the Nation, and the subsequent rapid development of the Group is well told and illustrated in the booklet, from the early times, up to the present, when it employs some 600 people and sells 10,000 new and used vehicles annually. We were interested to note that the Chandler’s Ford tractor depot was opened in 1938 by Sir Malcolm Campbell, who was a friend and motor-racing contemporary of Gordon Handy, grandson of the Group’s founder, who raced Austin 7s at Brooklands from 1925 onwards. We do not know if any of these booklets are still available but those who are interested in Ford history might do worse than apply to the Hendy Lennox Group’s Advertising Manager at the Chandler’s Ford address, mentioning MOTOR SPORT
V-E-V Odds & Ends — According to an obituary notice in the Toronto Star, Job Scragg, who died at the age of 101, a master painter, had. before he went to Canada in 1907, painted the first six Rolls-Royce chassis-frames and later put the finely-detailed coat-of-arms on the body of Lady Eaton’s Cadillac. In Canada he founded a chain of body-painting shops, which he sold when spray painting became universal, because of his love of painting with brushes. From another paper, the Andover Advertiser, we learn that when Sqn Ldr Ian Little was testing his Rotabuggy air-and-road machine before the war it was towed by “a supercharged four-litre Bentley”, as the fastest car Little could then find, the jeep becoming airborne when the car was in second gear, before a substitute was found in a Whitley bomber. Four-litre is obviously a misprint for 4 1/2-litre and one wonders whose blower-4 1/2 Bentley this was? A replica of the flying-jeep can be seen at the Wimborne Aviation Group’s Museum at Middle Wallop, the original having disappeared after it was damaged in a heavy landing at Beaulieu aerodrome, following a parachute drop.
The older cars look like being committed to some long runs this year with the RAC having a marathon for Classic automobiles, the VCC reenacting the Prince Henry Trial, and the MCC celebrating its 85th Anniversary by holding a run from John O’Groats to Land’s End. This is due to happen during the last week in May over a 1,017-mile route, pre-1931 vehicles starting on the Monday, post-1931 vehicles on the Thursday, and all having to arrive at Land’s End on the Saturday to qualify for an award. The run for the older cars and motorcycles will embrace a night and day route of 348 miles. to Moffat, then a journey of 162 miles, to Harrogate, a 188-mile run to Warwick and a 163-mile haul to Exeter, for the final 154 miles to the finish, an impressive performance for any vintage car or motorcycle that accomplishes it. The more recent cars and motorcycles will have to run right through to Warwick before their night halt. Sponsorship is to be permitted, it is hoped to keep entry fees to those of trials-level, and the three-foot-high Schulte Cup, first awarded in 1908, will be one of the awards. This JO’G to Land’s End Run is a replica of an actual MCC event that followed the Club’s famous reliability trials, of which the London-Edinburgh-London started in 1904. the London-Land’s End-London in 1908 and the London-Exeter-London Trial in 1910. It is well worth joining this oldest of British Motor Clubs and applying now for entry forms, mentioning MOTOR SPORT, to H. M. Tucker-Peake, Upper Stonecroft, Finmere, Near Buckingham. MK18 4JA. Entries for the End-to-End Run are already coming in, from a 1911 Renault to a 1985 Porsche.
Apart from all that, in the forthcoming Mille Miglia re-enactment Lord Montagu intends to partner HRH Prince Michael of Kent in the ex-Count Lurani Austin-Healey saloon that won its class in 1948. Returning again to the article on model cars in last December’s issue, Ted Inman-Hunter has sent us a most interesting copy of a booklet listing the Meccano Prize Models that won awards in a 1914-15 Meccano competition. One of the winning models is a Meccano chassis with slightly-vee radiator, a simulation of a fan-cooled four-cylinder engine, half-elliptic suspension, and working steering, clutch, gearbox and brakes, etc. Wheels of suitable size were apparently not then available, so these were made up and bolted to Meccano pulleys. The interesting part is that the builder was none other than F Gordon Crosby, of Leamington Spa who was to become the famous motoring artist. No wonder that in later times he built his small son a petrol-engined miniature car in which he could ride! — W.B.
The VSCC at Enstone
It has been said somewhere that any proof the present-day Frenchman needs to endorse his view that the English are mad is provided by the annual Boulogne Bicycling Weekend of the Vintage SCC. Even the English themselves get some confirmation, on seeing owners of stark, weather-protectionless sports-cars of aged lineage taking part in apparently pointless driving-tests in mid-winter, as on the Enstone plateau between Oxford and Chipping Norton on December 7th. Fortunately, this time the sun shone from a cloudless sky and it was quite warm, encouraging some interesting kinds of flying machines (I will not use the term aeroplanes) to join in overhead.
There were 63 pre-war cars entered for the eight tests, but seven of these had more than one pilot. The weather, and the midday punctuation for a very good lunch at the Crown Inn at Church Enstone, made it all very enjoyable. One cannot really report driving tests but goes to see the cars and to meet people. So let us lust say that first there were the Edwardians to look at, with Hickling in his racy 1917 Dodge Four Roadster, Roger Collings on his Mercedes (which is actually a veteran only its performance makes one forget this), Hamilton-Gould with his 1909 2.1-litre 14/16 hp Darracq tourer with big exhaust-whistle and the “reversed-Ds” radiator-badge, and the Collings girls sharing the impressive 1912/13 4.7-litre Zust torpedotourer. Watching the last-named doing one test, we observed that one daughter clouted a marker-pylon whereas the other daughter didn’t: but high compression horses will not drag the name of which one was which from us. . .!
There was some controversy, of the nicest kind, as to whether drivers were intended to put both wheels or a back wheel only between close-set kerbs in test-6 and Anthony Rawlings did the former, very quickly and neatly, in his large 1929 Talbot 14/45 tourer. Jane Tomlinson must be a weather-prophet, as she had changed her saloon A7 for a Chummy, and its was evident that 30/’98s don’t mind trials but seemingly are careful to avoid the dts, for not one was to be seen, although Julian Ghosh arrived late, in a car with a V12 engine, but not of the VSCC kind. . . Alison Moores was going well in her Ulster A7 with the big back boots, Ward used an Alvis Silver Eagle Special thus shod all round and with a special two-seater body, Smalls had a 1 1/2 litre Riley called a “Redstart”, to puzzle, the Riley Register historians perhaps, and anyone who wanted to be sure of not getting lost on the approaches to Falmouth had only to study the blanked-off “radiator” of the Threlf all-family BSA, or maybe they could have indulged in a little target practice for Bisley, using the BSA bulls-eye on the dickey-lid. As if to cock-a-snoot at the absent 30/98s. Sanders nice 1926 3-litre boattailed Bentley sported a bonnet-strap. The Upstons, predicting the weather correctly, drove a hoodless A7 Chummy. In the first test, called “Lexington Avenue” for a reason that escapes us, drivers had to sprint quite a long way to the finish after parking their cars, but whether this is a new move on the part of the VSCC to contribute to the Nation’s fitness, or was done to ensure that only active competitors took part in the rest of the frolics, we do not know.
There was interesting variety among the entrants, with Pritchett in a smart side-valve 11.9 hp Riley, Bntnell in his back-anchored Type IS 1926 De Dion Bouton. the Lees with a flat -nose Morris Cowley, Dearden-Briggs proving that his 1922 900 cc Amilcar is less frail than it appears, Rosoman with his 9/20 hp Humber. Conway Junr in the Type 44 Bugatti tourer, President Marsh in flying helmet and Type 13, Binns in his HRG (do they perform better in their Anniversary year?), while it was nice to observe the good Amicar attendance, with Lee’s Salmson “1 1/2-seater” to support them, or vice-versa, and to see Knight’s OM and Tony Jones’ Cup Model A7 out again, and we can confirm that even the Edwardian Zust did not hold up modern traffic on the run home.. . — W.B.
First Class Awards: C. Hamilton-Gould (1909 Darracq), P. J. Livesey 11922 Amilcar), D. R. Marsh (925 Bugatti), D. J. Lee (1927 Salmson), M. R. Garfitt (1937 Frazer Nash BMW), E. C. Leith (1930 A7)
Light Car: B. Dearden-Briggs (1924 Amilcar).
Edwardian: Miss A. Collings (1912/13 Zust).
Touring: C. S. A. Lees (1927 Morris).
A forlorn French race track
With forthcoming plans for the partial restoration of the old Brooklands Motor Course likely to come to fruition in the not too distant future. I feel tempted to recall another track that was nothing like as popular or successful as the one at Weybridge, yet which ironically has survived. it could be said in a more complete, if derelict, state. I refer to Miramas.
The Miramas Track, a good 30 miles from Marseilles in France, was the idea of racing-driver Paul Bablot. When I wrote about those drivers with exceptionally long racing careers I might well have included Bablot. He took third place in the 1906 Targa Florio and was still driving for Hispano Suiza up to about 1923. In between he had been a member of the Brasier, Lorraine-Dietrich, and Delage teams. Indeed, he finished in 12th place for Brasier in the 1907 French Grand Prix, even if the car was only able to average 51.8 mph, to the winning Fiat’s 70.5 mph. Driving one of the big chain-drive 15-litre Lorraine-Dietrich GP cars in 1912 Bablot failed to finish. He then transferred to the ever-improving Delage team and in the Grand Prix, he came home 4th, although he failed to finish in 1914. Before this he had vanquished Peugeot’s driver, Boillot, in the 1911 Voiture Legere, for Delage.
After this Bablot put it all behind him and concentrated on the building of a race track not too far from his native city of Marseilles. Perhaps the successes of Hugh Fortesque Locke King’s Brooklands had spurred this ambition, coupled to the fact that close to Paris the MontIhery Autodrome was being built, and with motoring on a post-war ascendant, a race venue by the busy port of Marseilles, and far from the other course at Paris, no doubt seemed an assured winner. What was more, this track, at Miramas, was easy to construct. The barren piece of land called La Cray, between Salon and St. Charnas, consists of a dead-level plain with a floor of sound stones, some 20 miles long by 20 miles wide. In this desolate place, which is crossed by the main PLM railway line from Paris, Bablot proposed to build his track, in the Eastern corner. The ground was already level, concrete could be made readily from the stones that lay all about, and the value of the land for any other purpose was almost nil.
In the early spring of 1924 concrete-mixers and armies of steamrollers moved in, to begin work on the almost flat five-kilometre circuit. The form was symmetrical, the corners being at a radius of 475 metres, giving them a length of almost 1/3rd of a mile, which was deemed sufficient to obviate the need for more than a 3% banking. (At the Indianapolis Speedway in America. where the bends are much tighter, with a radius of 840 ft. a 16,3%. banking was deemed sufficient for the first 50 ft of the track-width the top 10 ft being banked at 36 2/3 % with a 2% banked approach to these turns). The Miramas straights ran into the bankings on 250-metre parabolic curves. The surface was formed of a thin layer of cement over the stones, which apparently made for an uncomfortable ride. The track, the first in France, was in a private park of 988 acres surrounded by a seven foot high wall nearly five miles round with a tunnel in the course.
Confident that with a race course in such a promising location and with the growing interest in motor-racing large crowds would be attracted. Bablot arranged for very large and well-appointed grandstands to face one straight, able to hold some 50,000 people and garages for the racing cars were provided. A four-storey control-tower faced the other straight, behind the row of permanent pits. Miramas Track which had cost perhaps £100.000, was ready by July 1924 and it was opened in the presence of the Minister of Public Works, the President of the ACF and the Prefect of the Bouches-du-Rhone Department. An all-embracing programme was planned for the first meeting, as was to happen at Montlhery later that year, French logic suggesting presumably that the crowds might be won over if every kind of racing, from motorcycle events to those for big racing-cars was provided, even though at Miramas this meant starting at 7 am and not finishing until the evening. Miramas had stolen a considerable march on Montlhery, for the Paris Autodrome wasn’t opened until October 1924, with a two-day mixed meeting, composed of 100-mile class events that bred monotony, although Parry Thomas in the Leyland-Thomas lapped at 131.89 mph, whereas at Miramas lap-speeds, it seems, were at that time in the region of only 95 mph. The stands at Miramas on that opening day were but half-full, suggesting an attendance of only 25.000 or less.
At that inaugural Miramas meeting the 101-mile Autodrome Cup all-comers’ race had been won by the Argentinian driver d’Algaza in his Sunbeam, at 91.34 mph, from Arthur Duray driving a D’Aoust and Albert Guyot in a Guyot, and the onlookers had to watch an even longer, 155-mile, contest for the Cyclecar Prize, which was taken by the Amilcar of Orello, at 61.75 mph, with Asdrubal’s Amilcar in second place, beating Bacs Salmson. An attempt was made to liven up the featureless 3.1-mile circuit in 1925 by staging the 313-mile Provence GP there. The regulations stipulated atmospherically-induced cars, so the STD racing department removed the blowers from the team of “Invincible” Talbot-Darracqs and sent Segrave, the amateur Count Conelli, and George Duller down to do battle.
The race apparently attracted 42 entries, divided into four classes, the top category for cars of unlimited engine-size. To give a very faint flavour of road-racing an artificial hairpin bend had been built, of solid concrete on one of the straights. which, it is said, took out many of the entrants, it presumably being difficult to judge approach speeds on this flat and otherwise full-throttle track. Turning sharp-right into the track, Duller hit a milepost and bent his T-D’s front axle, but this was rectified, and the STD team finished 1,2,3 in the 1 1/2-litre class, and 1,2,4 overall, against far bigger-engined cars, Segrave winning at 78.8 mph, with ConeIli following him in, but Vidal’s 2-litre Bugatti occupying third place after Duller had been slowed by some of the T-D’s h.t. leads coming off. Some accounts of the race say it was intended for standard sportscars, which is why the blowers had to disappear from the T-Ds, but, if so, they must be reckoned among the more improbable “sports-cars” ever to get round any race regulations. Especially as they ran in stripped racing-trim,
Comdr. Glen Kidston, RN drove very well, to take fifth place in his Bugatti. The 1,100 cc-class was a Salmson walkover, Didier winning at 62.7 mph, from Buc. The Bugattis of Vidal, Kidston and Cozette took the 2-litre class. Massias in an Alfa Romeo tied up the 3-litre class, but at only 66.5 mph. and other finishers included Magnter in a 1 1/2-litre Bugatti, De Bremont in a Mathis, and Jonan’s La Licorne. The 24-hour record Bignan broke a valve and the roughness of the track’s surface eliminated the Bugattis of Savon and Dufour. Incidentally, there had been a flying-start, the competitors paced by the great French aviator Sadi-Lecointe, and the main award was the Hartford Cup, which suggests that the Andre-Hartford shock-absorber people had been persuaded to get involved. It all sounded rather inviting, had not Miramas been badly placed, for the wild mistral to blow across it, accentuating its bleakness; they say that, to protect its trains, the PLM had erected a screen of cyprus trees beside the line to the Riviera where it crossed the La Crau plain. . .
The following year, in 1926, this GP de Provence was repeated at Miramas. This time it was definitely for racing cars, so the STD team reinstalled the T-D’s superchargers. Segrave, now the fastest-man-one-earth by reason of his LSR with the 4-litre V12 Sunbeam at Southport, was entered, and 12 days after his record run he travelled down to Marseilles, picking up engineer Bertarione at the Suresnes factory in Paris on the way. The new straight-eight Talbots were not ready, so the old four-cylinder, eight-valve T-Ds were entered, for Segrave, the young French driver Bourlier, and ex-mechanic Moriceau. A good entry had again been received, necessitating 50 km eliminating trials on the morning of the race. Segrave found these rather farcical, and he disliked this very cold track and the way spectators wandered about on it. Chief Engineer Louis Coatalen had gone down to see his cars perform, perhaps because, with STD money running out, he felt this might be nearly the last time he would see them race. He was a true enthusiast for motor-racing who enjoyed just seeing and hearing racing-cars inaction, as we all do.
Segrave was again winner of the Harford Cup, in one of the 1924 200 Mile Race Darracqs, but at first his car wouldn’t run properly (too cold?) and, when it did, inaccurate pit-signals almost cost him the race, as Grover-Williams’ Bugatti was closing up fast: but this was rectified at the very last moment, and Segrave won the 155-mile Hartford Cup race at 81.8 mph, with Moriceau second in the yellow single-seater record-breaking 1 1/2-litre Talbot-Darracq. Williams was third, and again the Salmsons wiped-up the 1,100 cc category. Zubiaga’s Austin 7 was victorious in the 750 cc class, beating the Octo driven by Berthe a make from a factory by the Seine which, unlike the Reber and the Vagova, was never specified as a competitor for the British baby in England. Miramas had shown itself to have a surface very hard on tyres, but it is interesting that the single-seater Talbot managed second place without the advantage of front-wheel brakes, although the hairpin bend had been retained. Segrave, having won twice, was now the permanent holder of the Hartford Cup.
It had been customary for the French GP to be held in different parts of France each year, to spread the benefits to various regions, so in 1926 the Grand Prix was due to go in late June to Miramas, it having been run in 1925 at the just-completed, interesting Montlhery road-circuit that joined the banked Paris track. Unfortunately, the changed GP formula of 1 1/2-litres had caught out the leading contestants, whose cars were far from ready, and the only entries promised to Miramas were teams of STD and two-stroke Sima-Violet cars. The Montlhery GP had been a financial failure and with Miramas solar from the centre of the French Motor Industry there was little enthusiasm for the 1926 race. The President of the AC de Marseilles pleaded that success or failure meant life or death to the new track, and the President of the ACF and the influential Chevalier Rene de Knyff both slated the French newspapers and the Press in general for showing too little interest. Disaster was in sight when STD withdrew. Deluge was known to be unlikely to enter after the close of normal entries (at 5,000 francs per car). and only a lone Sima-Violet was promised, which itself failed to materialise. The regulations omitted the usual cancellation-clause should insufficient entries by received and so it was agreed that even if only one starter came forward, the race was on! As it transpired. Ettore Bugatti sent three Type 39A straight-eight GP Bugattis. But that was all, for this once-so-prestigious race. . .
It was even worse than it seemed. Few spectators were prepared to spend a whole hot summer day at the dismal circuit, even less so when Vizcaya retired with piston failure after 46 of the 100 laps (310.8 miles). The fuel was blamed, as it was for the poor showing of Costantini’s Bugatti. That left Jules Goux, and to his credit he drove more or less as if pursued, in an attempt to entertain such onlookers as had stayed to watch. It took just over four hours and 38 minutes for Goux to be declared the winner of this pathetic French Grand Prix, at an average speed of 68.16 mph, his best lap having been at 79.4 mph. His only surviving team-mate and the only additional runner, after Vizcaya had dropped out, was flagged-off 15 laps in arrears. This must rank as the most farcical premier motor race of all time. . .
This did not prevent Miramas being used that same year for the Voiturette Race of the ACF. Salmson won the 1,100 cc section, an Austin 7 the 750 cc class. In 1926. too, the Carcassonne Renault agent, who was the President of the Marseilles AC, took a 951 cc 8.3 hp Renault and a team of drivers to Miramas and broke several longdistance class records, including the 10,000 miles at 49.17 mph, the ploy being a six-day marathon, which was accomplished at 50.4 mph. Even then there was unpleasantness, for a thunderstorm stopped the little car for an hour just after it had averaged 51.44 mph for 10.000 km, and later two hours were lost when the replenishment depot caught fire…
Miramas then lay dormant until revived for the Marseilles Grands Prix of 1932 and 1933. The great drivers came again to Miramas for these two GP events, Sommer, Nuvolari, and Moll (whose Bugatti challenged their Alfa Romeos by finishing third in 1932) and Chiron and Fagioli, who with Moll, achieved the 1, 2, 3 Alfa victory of 1933. Bonuses had been offered that year to those who led at five-lap intervals and Nuvolari netted ten of these before his 2.9-litre Maserati retired with back-axle trouble. The year before his 2 6-litre rnonoposto Alfa Romeo had set what seems to be the all-time Miramas lap-record, of just under 125 mph, the hairpin bend presumably having been deleted: this was a commendable speed on this virtually unbanked track. The place ran true to form in 1933, the day very hot, spectators. as Segrave had found in 1926, still wandering onto the course, one of whom caused Pierre Felix to spin in avoiding him, and maybe It was the rough surface that resulted in a wheel coming on Dreyfus’s Bugatti, causing slight injury to another spectator.
The presence of such drivers had brought large crowds out to Miramas in 1932. Unfortunately, the 1933 race resulted in a fatal accident to Baron de Waldhausen, who died in near-by Salon hospital after his Alfa Romeo had overturned, seemingly the only Miramas fatality.
This support might have looked like a turn-up for this unfortunate track, yet when a well-known motoring author visited it a year later, during a tour of racing circuits old and still current, in his MG Magnette, he wrote: “After an hour’s run (out of Marseilles) over narrow and winding roads, following the uncertain guidance of derelict signposts, a battered-looking concrete wall was seen at the side of the road. Two barred gates were found, their approaches thick with grass and weeds, then the main entrance to the track was reached. It was blocked by a flimsy barricade of wire, and behind this lay what, at first sight, appeared to be a typical French farmyard, with chickens pecking about the littered ground and a black dog sleeping in the sun. Only a small girl was in sight, and when she had been persuaded to remove the barricade, the Magnette was driven on over a grass-grown road, passing executive offices that had become the residence of the family to whom the little girl belonged. The way led across a field and through a row of trees to an open space, at the far side of which reared what must be one of the finest grandstands in all Europe. It is as splendid as it was on the day Miramas was opened in 1924. but it looks out on a scene of complete desolation.
“Its bars are filled with cobwebs and dust; its grimy windows are broken. The control tower has been gutted, its electrical-wires and all its fittings torn out, every floor is heavy with grit and dust, and the only life is that of the giant moths which, when disturbed, batter themselves against the windows. The once-splendid sheds, built to garage racing-cars, now form shelters for farm tools and what should have been a well-equipped workshop is now a byre.”
It seems odd that this is how the British traveller found Miramas, so soon after some of the greatest racing drivers in Europe had contested a major race there, especially as others, of similar fame, were to race there in the Three-Hour Sports-Car events of 1936 and 1937, the Delahayes of Paris, Schell and Brunet dominating the first of these and the Talbots of Sommer, Comotti and Divo finishing in 1,2,3 formation in the latter…
The Miramas track was never much used for record-attempts, although a Peugeot 301 did take the Class-F 24-hour record there in 1932. But by the time WW2 had broken out 90% of World and International Class records had been made or broken at Montlhery and the score for Miramas was — nil. Yet, derelict though it had become, Miramas survived intact as a motor-course. It was used by Simca to set some long-distance records with an Aronde in 1953, and unless my memory is at fault a new-car release was staged there within quite recent times. It may be that, if you are holidaying in the Carmargue this summer, you will want to try to find this forlorn and forgotten French race track, which has, after all, outlasted others far more famous.