THE LONDON-EXETER RELIABILITY TRIAL. Well Supported by Amateurs The Winter Classic proves a Great Success.
FOR the habitual trials enthusiast, the Christmas holiday would fall somewhat flat but for the excitement of the London-Exeter trial, and though many familiar faces were absent at Staines on the evening of Boxing Day, owing to the trade ban, a very encouraging amount of support was accorded by amateur competitors.
One always expects sonic kind of record in connection with the ” Exeter,” sometimes it is the worst on record for bad weather conditions, sometimes “the great midnight motor race,” as the lay press so often describes it, attracts record entries, and many other things are called in to make this particular event memorable in the annals of sport.
The recent Exeter was certainly a record in that the weather throughout was extraordinarily good and though everyone was looking forward to a drenching or two, the familiar gale across Salisbury Plain, and a selection of fogs, nothing more exciting occurred than a little mist over the moors and a bite in the wintry air.
Sharp to time the first of the competitors was sent off, the entries being made up as follows :-134 solo motor cycles, 111 sidecars, 23 three-wheelers and 107 cars. Amongst the car class, the sporting type was very much in evidence, the minimum speeds required up the test hill having the effect of keeping out many of the closed types. With the exception of a few early retirements in the motor cycle class, there was little to occasion comment during the first part of the run to Salisbury, where the
first stop was made and where those who had neglected to sup at Staines found refreshment at the White Hart.” Here the marshalling arrangements were excellent and though the stop was longer than could be desired, the time was wiled away with exchanges of experiences and discussions as to whether one’s car would be fast enough to do the knots up Salcombe Hill. Many drivers were quite sure that their cars could not possibly do the speed, but though a” gold” was a practical impossibility for such, the thrills of the Exeter were sufficient to justify the outing. Soon after leaving Salisbury, several defective lighting sets were noticed and those who had been using their cars for some nights previous to the start, found
that batteries were somewhat lacking in juice and dim headlamps were the result.
Many secret checks were expected even at the early stages of the outward journey and several drivers seriously jeopardized their chances by indulging in little bursts of speed on the clear stretches of road.
The procession was welcomed at Shaftesbury by a large gathering of local enthusiasts, who turned out in numbers at a late hour. Once again this trip demonstrated that the public interest in trials is as great as ever and everyone seemed to be on the alert to watch the appearance of their favourite cars. At Yeovil, Mr. P. W. Moffat again gave his hospitality and turning part of his garage into a big canteen, dispensed coffee,eakes and cigarettes, which were very much appreciated. From thence onward, those who knew the
ropes did their best to run as close to schedule as possible and made up a few minutes:to have in hand at Honiton,
in order to replenish before tackling the route across the moors, where the belated driver is apt to have a very worrying time in making up any lost minutes. The tortuous roads leading to the bottom of Peak Hill, often led one to believe that they were on the wrong
track and as it is very easy to lose sight of the preceding and following cars at this part of the run, one had to keep a very sharp look out for the route-maiking arrows, which, thanks to the M.C.C. were located at convenient places. Peak Hill, though a little rough in places, offers no real resistance to the well tuned car and most of the sports cars literally roared up with plenty of power to spare. The trouble with such hills nowadays is that they are often taken so fast as to engender skids, liable
to cause the over eager competitors to come to a standstill. ; whereas those who plod up in a leisurely fashion generally come off best. By this time, one began to look forward to the respite at Exeter and to the breakfast so well deserved. Dellers Cafe was very well patronised and the service of busses from the Garage to the Town had few idle moments during the stop. Of all the breakfasts in the year, the
one at Dellers goes down best and it was a freshened crowd that trickled back to Goulds to re-start on the homeward journey.
For seventeen miles after leaving the cathedral city, the roads are good and enable one to make up a few more minutes in hand for tackling Marlpits Hill, where many spectators had gathered. The hill itself, however, proved to be in good condition and occasioned very little trouble, but served to indicate the powers of one’s car to make the speed for the timed climb at Salcombe. Great interest was displayed in the performance of the solo motor cycles, which went up at very high speeds, the riders showing that amateurs can perform just as well as professionals. The three-wheelers waggled up in frantic style and though it was obvious that many
of the cars were not fast enough, the spectators found their fill of thrills by watching the sporting cars as they tore round the bends, throwing up showers of stones in their passage.
At the top of Salcombe many of the drivers paused to glance at the beauties of the scenery, which was looking its best with a thin mantle of frost spread over the landscape, then continued on by narrow lanes to Colyford and Axminster. A further spell of narrow lanes brought Beaminster in sight, near which lies White Sheet Hill and arriving at the foot one was called upon to make several unofficial stops and re-starts until the road was clear to run up • to the starting line. Here again, the surface, though a little chewed up by the motor cyclist, caused but little anxiety with regard to wheel spin.
From the top of White Sheet Hill to Dorchester, some bad pieces of road were traversed, but after that the conditions improved and many drivers fell to the temptation of blinding across the plain. Once a very good race between a batch of sports cars was in progress and from a hill top, they could be seen careering along at something not far short of sixty-five miles per hour. Not a few continued the speed a little too far, for snugly sheltered in a corner was an official car with an official taking toll of those who arrived ahead of time. Others were fortunate in stopping just a few yards short of the secret check, but it is not known whether the eagle eye of the observer caught their number in the distance and awarded bad marks.
The last stages of the journey were easy, as well they might be considering the weariness of the drivers and their passengers and the run from Salisbury to Staines seemed interminable; for the fear of further checks made it necessary to refrain from a little fast travelling that would have refreshed the jaded’ travellers. By the time Staines ? vas reached, things Feetn&I
brighter and those who signed claim cards for golds felt that the trip had been fully justified. Indeed, one heard but little from those who always turn up at the Exeter, though professing that they will never do so again.
Our Cover. The cover illustration this month S. Wallace (s.s. 100 Brough-Superior and sidenegotiating Whiterock Hill in the Motor Cycle of IrelandBoxing Day Trial. Wallace is the Reliability Champion of Ireland.