30/98s at Brooklands

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I was reading somewhere about the 100 best sportscars, which said the 30/98 Vauxhall seldom appeared at Brooklands. Come on! Even before WWI, Laurence Pomeroy’s E-Type 30/98s were doing well at the Track, in company with other types of racing Vauxhall. But let’s just take the period of full-season BARC short handicaps, 1921-1939.

Humphrey Cook, the man who later financed ERA, used his E-Type ‘Rouge et Noir’ 30/98 for 15 races in 1921 (reaching a best lap of 98.62mph) and in 1922 he did almost as many, although concentrating also on a big Ballot and then on a TT Vauxhall. Other regular 30/98 competitors were Major Lionel Ropner MC MP with his beautiful ‘Silver Arrow’ (best lap: 102.27mph) and Major C G Coe’s Wensum (99.85mph). N F Holder ran a boredout E-Type-engined car, and a very regular entrant was E L Meeson in his lavender and purple Velox (103.54mph). He also ran a 30/98 coupe in a long-distance race, with a young boy passenger (lucky kid), until a mild fire had to be put out by a trackside policeman.

Later Coe rolled his handsome new racing two-seater Vixen’ almost as soon as he had begun to race it Another 30/98 regular was Sir Ronald Gunter, in ‘Greyhound’ (103.54mph), while Jack Barclay soon transferred to a TT Vauxhall (that alarming skid!). The General Motors take-over of the Luton marque was hardly noticeable down at Brooklands. Meeson raced continually up to 1927 with a fine number of wins and placings (108.74mph), while R J Munday began his significant 30/98 contribution, in his yellow car (103.74mph) and even did a ‘Mountain’ race (59.83mph).

Geoffery Daybell’s twin-carburettor black ohv OE Velox won its first race and then another (103.11mph), and he had a straight-eight TT Sunbeam as well. He ran a secondhand car business called Modem Cars in Great Portland Street, who were encouraged to put the 30/98 on sale for £365 10/-. Daybell was, I believe, killed in a brawl at his own pub on the London-Oxford Road. EAA Stone did one race, as did a Barclay customer, and Tim Carson who usually drove a TT Vauxhall.

By 1930 Munday was going faster (103.54mph) and Mrs Meeson now entered her husband’s green OE 30/98 (95.05mph), while Oliver Bertram, his great lap-records career ahead of him, tried two ‘Mountain’ races in a maroon Vauxhall (59.32mph). GDM Blackwood, who let me do motoring pieces for the renowned Blackwood’s Magazine, came from Scotland to have fun but very soon blew up his 30/98 (89.74mph); on the other hand H E W Lamplough went very well indeed (103.76mph). Already there were plays like boring out the 98x140rnm (4234cc) engine by one or two mm; and/or using the 150mm-stroke E-Type crankshaft.

Ken Kirton had a brief go with a bore of 98.5mm (86.32mph), and others of the vintage Vauxhall fraternity were Butler and HardwichSewell. After many non-starts Dr R Beaver got it right, with a second on his favourite ‘Mountain’ course (65.41mph) when not racing on the outer-circuit (96.71mph). The peak for one of the greatest vintage sportscars came at Whitsun with the 1932 20-Mile ‘Gold Star’ handicap, which Reg Munday’s stripped four-seater primrosecoloured 98x 150mm (4526cc) Vauxhall won at 109.46mph by 21.8sec from EL Bouts’ GP Sunbeam and John Cobb in the 101A-litre Delage (114.23mph).

Munday’s 30/98 engine was tuned by Laystall, and had two Zenith 48 carburettors, a four-branch external exhaust manifold, a Scintilla magneto with 40deg advance, and a compression ratio of about 10:1. Reg told me that to save the aged engine he had borrowed over-size back wheels from ‘Dunlop Mac’ but, even so, he was surprised to be able to hold some 4000rpm. Utilising this engine, he had made the fastest 30/98 lap of all time. He was less lucky with the aged Leyland-Thomas, which deposited its engine on the Track.

The ‘domestic’ Meeson was still going well (108.03mph) but G B Gush, a friend of Clive WindsorRichards, had a no go-go; but soon Clive became a noted 30/98 exponent, and in 1935 made the best-ever lap in a normalengined OE (112.47mph). He even took to the new Campbell Circuit in 1937 (59.83mph).

Speeds of over 100mph were somewhat exciting in these ageing cars, but Munday took a passenger on his ‘Gold Star’ win. Dr Beaver returned (with a supercharger for one meeting), on the outer (96.90mph) and ‘Mountain’ courses (65.41mph), and R Hughes did likewise (99.15mph) and (63.25mph).

Point proven?

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