The 1952 R.A.C. Trials Championship was contested over a sporting course at Gandalo Camp, Catterick, in Yorkshire, by kind permission of the War Department. The rocky ways were muddy rather than slimy but a lacing of ice made the going difficult. It is a great honour to qualify or be invited to compete in this annual Championship which winds up the trials year, so let us place on record the field for the 1952 event :
List of Entrants
Name — Make of car — Engine capacity (cc’s) — Zone of entrant
E.B. Wadsworth — Austin Special — 1199 — North
C.M. Seward — Freakin — 1099 — South
D.W. Price — Price Special l — 1175 (s/c) — South
P.M. Goodall — Dellow — 1172 — Scotland
R.W. Phillips — Le-Tout — 1100 — North
R.F. Chappell — Cotton lll — 1172 — South
I.D.L. Lewis — Ford — 1172 — South
W.T. Todd — Todd Special — 1200 — Ulster
J.E. Wilson — Austin — 1200 — Scotland
M.H. Lawson — Lotus Mk IV — 1172 — South
J.H. Appleton — Appleton — 1172 — South
A.E. Rumfitt — Cotton ll — 1196 — South
T.C. Harrison — Harford — 1172 — North
C. Corbishley — C.C.S. lll — 1172 — North
R.W. Faulkner — Paul Special — 1172 — South
E.J. Chandler — Chandler Special — 1172 (s/c) — South
E. Harrison — Ford — 1172 — North
H. Sinclair-Sweeney — “Jacquie” Special — 1442 (s/c) — South
A.E.A. Day — Spruce VI — 1172 — South
R.C. McKinney — Dellow — 1172 — Ulster
F. Harrison — F.H. Mk lll — 1172 — North
G.P. Mosby — Ford — 1172 — North
K.P. Murray — MM II — 1286 — Eire
A.D. Alldred — Austin — 1172 — North
E.A. Jauncey — Otter Special — 1172 — South
W.H. Waring — W.H.W. Dellow — 1520 — South
M. Wilde — Ford — 1172 (s/c) — North
Of these, the only non-starter was J. E. Wilson. The Championship is a great occasion and many clubmen have the opportunity of seeing for the first time in the flesh notabilities previously associated only with the Competitions Committee room. Earl Howe braved the elements to watch. Col. Barnes, Ian Appleyard, H. Winter, Guy Warburton, Porter-Hargreaves, Tommy Wise and D. G. Flather were amongst those with heavy official duties to perform. Maurice Toulmin (who does not sell M.G. bits at Hounslow) was lurking about seeing that regulations were conformed to, while Dean Delamont and a Land Rover did valuable work in the field.
There were some notable novelties about the organisation. For example, not only was starting order balloted for, but to make conditions absolutely fair, drivers were divided into three groups of nine each and set to tackle the ten sections in a different order section by section. Another clever scheme was the use of tallies kept by a driver until he failed a section, whereupon the appropriate tally was pinned to a tape at the point of failure, the tape running up the bill and being firmly pegged to the ground. Thus a permanent record was available, rather as with the marked tape of an electrical timing apparatus, for check purposes. A clean climb lost no marks, so no tally was needed in this case. The R.A.C. certainly proved that it can bring some refreshingly new ideas into the organisation of an important trial.
On December 20th the weird trials vehicles went from Scotch Corner, over roads covered in sheet ice with many “heavies” immobile, to Gandalo Camp. Wally Waring’s new car, a Dellow chassis very neatly bodied and with Ford Consul engine with twin S.U.s, had left Portsmouth per lorry on the previous Thursday! Most of the entrants used Ford Ten engines, a few Austin A40, one a Vauxhall, and five had blowers. Many, of course, arrived on trailer’s towed by hermetically sealed transport.
The first set of hills were “straight-up-into-the-clouds” affairs. Lewis broke a steering-arm on the first and so failed to climb the second, losing maximum marks. However, he used a Jubilee clip to effect a repair, which lasted through all the rest of the rough stuff—and some of it was very rough !
Sixteen cars climbed the first hill, but the second defeated everyone, although Harrison got within one mark of victory, Wadsworth losing two marks, Mosby three. F. Harrison did best on the third section, but Mosby lost only one mark more. There was a nasty bump at the foot, over which Jauncey’s Otter Special aviated and then McKinney broke the altitude record !
The fourth of these sections had a nasty mud bath near the start, which proved the undoing of McKinney’s Dellow which was singularly gutless. Mosby failed early, spoiling his previous chance of success, Alldred stopped even sooner, Jauncey sooner still. All praise, however, to the vigorous ” bouncing” on subsequent hills by Alldred’s girl passenger, who practically stood up before going down.
Wilde’s Ford went onto three cylinders, troubled perhaps by forced induction, and Jauncey failed a section because his near-side front wheel locked on.
Wally Waring, in his familiar Sidcot inner suit and woolly cap, was explaining failures by the tendency of the suspension of his new car to go up solid.
A. E. A. Day earned applause for a fine ascent of the curving steep section with a left-hand bend at the top known as “C2,” and here the soft back suspension of F. Harrison’s F.H. Mk. lll lent itself to sensible “bouncing” by the occupants. Mosby went very nicely here to climb clean, and Waring was outstanding.
As the afternoon wore on and rain began to fall, gently at first, then in torrents, some very choice sections had to be tackled. “C4” involved a very tricky right-hand turn on to a gradient immediately after the start. No one managed this, although two tries were allowed, the better to count, but Corbishley lost only one mark. All sorts of hummocks and hillocks followed, one with a stream at the foot. another with a right-hand slippery bend halfway up, to the downfall of McKinney, in spite of negative pressure in his back tyres. Wilde and Alldred recovered after nearly losing the prop. at the corner, Day was neat and Jauncey made a splendid climb. F. Harrison’s rough device proved to have ample urge here.
The last hill was long and steep, although we would guess no steeper, though probably more slippery, than those freak gradients, also in Yorkshire, which Jowett light cars, amongst others, used to climb so easily in the early ‘twenties. Here we had the delightful sight of Earl Howe watching the antics of the rope-squad and chock-boys, as they sought to prevent failures from hurtling backwards to destruction. A rope was necessary to lower cars down. and Dave Price’s Price Special I ran away and nearly rolled over, an ugly incident. Yet here was the Chairman of the R.A.C. Competitions Committee, who sells us medicals and racing-car log-books and crash-hats and blood groups, at the annual meeting of the clubs, watching all the excitement with apparent equanimity! Has he a secret admiration for the gallant trials drivers and their intrepid passengers?
Joking apart, lots of concerted “bouncing” got many cars up this section and many front-ends aviated over the rocky outcrops, sending boulders hurtling downwards; 13 climbed clean. But already the Championship had been won by the Northern driver T. C. Harrison and his Ford Ten-engined Harford by reason of clean climbs of A1, C2, C3, and this last D2, together with loss of one mark on A2, five on A3, two on B1, five on B2, one on C1 and seven on C4.
The runner-up, Chappell, also had four clean climbs, but lost 16 more marks, and the third man, Mosby, had only three clean ascents.
It was a good trial, followed by a good party. I am told, at Scotch Corner. The toughness of the modern trials special is nicely proved by the fact that only one car retired, Murray’s M.M. II with a broken differential—W. B.
The R.A.C. Championship Trophy (for the best performance) —T. C. Harrison, 21 marks lost.
Special Award (for the second best performance) — R. F. Chappell, 37 marks lost.
Special Award (for the third best performance) — G. P. Mosby, 39 marks lost.
Souvenir Awards (for the seven next best performances) — F. J. Chandler, 48 marks lost; M. H. Lawson, 75; C. Corbishley, 77; F. Harrison, 77; E. B. Wadsworth, 83; C. M. Seward, 83; R. W. Faulkner, 89.
Special Area Award (for the best performance by competitor from each of the following areas): North England, T. C. Harrison; South England, R. F. Chappell; Scotland, P. M. Goodall; Northern Ireland, W. T. Todd.