THE twenty-first trial of this series, which took place on the 12th of last month, was chiefly of interest in showing that, although cars have improved in the last few years, the standard of driving has not been raised.
In fact, a large proportion of the entry showed a lack of knowledge of the requirements of trials work which was surprising. It is said that we live and learn, but in some cases it is evident that the second part of this dictum is considered superfluous, and the experience of others in the past has been of no benefit to such as these.
The excellent performances of the comparatively few who have taken advantage of the more suitable cars made to-day, and have set themselves to get the very best out of them, showed up the incompetence of some of their fellow competitors in a most painful manner, and it is the violent contrast in the performances which seems to make the present-day trial so different from its predecessors.
The London-Gloucester trial has for some time since ceased to have any marked connection with either city, and the first man left Staines just after midnight and occupied the small hours of the morning in getting to Cheltenham, where a welcome breakfast was served at the Cadena Café.
The only observed hill on the outward run was Maidens Grove near Henley, which caused practically no trouble to anyone, being dry.
The 116 competitors, of whom all but 30 were driving cars, had little to complain of in the way of weather, which remained fine and dry for the whole event, and they had nothing to bother about till the serious work of the trial commenced after breakfast. The route then led to the first batch of observed hills, commencing with Stancombe, which is the sort of country lane which anyone might be expected to include in a day's work without more than a comment that it did not leave much room, and this is how it was treated by the majority of the entry. One or two failures occurred, but these merely demonstrated that if enough motor-cars are gathered together one or more will have minor trouble of some sort. The 1100-1500 class. consisting mainly of the Wolseley Hor
THE NORTH-WEST LONDON CLUB'S WINTER CLASSIC.
nets, M.G. Magnas and Frazer-Nashes, was the most convincing.
The next hill, Bismore, proved unexpectedly troublesome. It had been earmarked for a 50 yards acceleration test, the distance having to be covered in 18 secs., but the re-start proved too much for the small cars, and considerable delay ensued. Many clutches suffered severely as a result of being used as an "extra gear," and_Fairtlough (Salmson) was among
those whose efforts to overcome the too high bottom gear of their cars permanently weakened their motors for the rest of the trial.
The early cars having rshovvn that the job was beyond them the test was washed out, though some cars, notably some M.G. Midgets, completed the test with flying colours.
The next three hills produced little incident and a cross-country route led to the check at the White Swan, where supplies for man and machine were available. There was considerable comment when it was learnt that Bushcombe had just been resurfaced, and many seemed to think that its inclusion would therefore be quite pointless.
This trial was one of unexpected difficulties, however, and those who scoffed at Bushcombe spoke too soon. A stop and re-start test was staged here, in which competitors were required to pass the second line, 20 yards distant, 8 secs. or less after leaving the first.
This seemed easy enough, especially after some of the motorcycles had treated it like a speed event, but when the cars appeared, a general attack of exhaustion seemed to overcome many of the engines, and. the tow-rope ceased to be ornamental, and gave plenty of chance for the tow gang to keep warm.
The Morgans were good and had ample power, those driven by R. T. Horton and G. C. Harris being particularly quick off the mark, having twin rear wheels to assist their grip.
H. S. Linfield on a" blown " Montlhery Midget was fast, and the larger cars climbed well on the whole. It was in the small class that the lack of " horses " was most apparent. Marshall's Austin with a very lightened body had to be towed up, as did, among others, F. M. Shepherd and W. G. Rushworth also on Austins.
Outstandingly good performances were made by Hollinghurst and Foster on M.G. Magnas, and Olive on his Standard Avon, while Hunter and Vaughan on Rileys, and Bryden on a B.S.A. 3-wheeler, and the Wolseley Hornets, were also good. A further spell of cross-country work brought the drivers to Iles Lane, the first hill of the last batch of hills, and one which was destined to cause a lot of trouble. At the start the surface was quite firm, and
in spite of the two bends and the 1 in 4 gradient the early arrivals got up without trouble. The surface very soon began to suffer, however, and before long it had become a
really worthy obstacle, which was not, however, bad enough to stop a suitable car properly handled. A slimy hill with sharp corners and a roughish surface is always a good test of skill, and in this trial proved the lack of it in many competitors. The chief cause of failure was wheelspin, although lack of power accounted for a few, but in each case bolder tactics in the way of speed on the lower slopes would have done much to
help, while the former trouble would in many cases have been overcome by more attention to tyre pressures. C. W. B. Marshall atoned for his failure on Bushcombe by making a good climb,
while Taylor and Mere (M.G. Midgets) made fast ascents. Fairtlough's Salmson was still suffering from attempts on Bismore, and. petered out. The hill was rapidly becoming worse
and the volunteers assisting the cars to the summit were having a hard task when relief arrived in the shape of a pair of first-class horses, which proceeded to deal with the failures in a most effective manner. The Riley contingent mainly failed with wheelspin, honourable exceptions being Hunter and Lawford.
The Wolseley Hornets made an excellent showing, all being good and steady, with the two McEvoy Specials probably the fastest of all.
Olive's little sports Standard was excellent, as was Poster's M.G. Magna, but the failures far exceeded the successes.
King's very old Frazer-Nash made a good steady climb, but this make was not up to its usual form. J. Windle (Frazer-Nash) failed with wheelspin after approaching too slowly
and then proceeded to run back and make several more unsuccessful attempts. He seemed to resent the suggestion that his board-hard tyres would serve him better with less air in them, and he was eventually removed by the horses so that the event could proceed.
The long list of failures is not worth recording, the only bright spots in the later part of the entry, being C. Mann's Ford, and R. J. Morley's A.C.
Nothing important occurred before the final hill, Ferris Court, on which a timed section was in operation. This hill itself was dry and in excellent condition though the main hairpin was rather loose.
The only failures were those who neglected to treat this corner with sufficient respect, and hit the outer bank in consequence. These included the FrazerNashes driven by Windle and Vickers, and Raymond Way's speed model Rover.
The finish was at Birdlip, and although the delay was considerable, this was no fault of the organisers, as none of the hills could be placed in the freak category, and were perfectly fair.