Tenth R.A.C. Trials Championship
Cuth Harrison’s Harford wins by one point from B. H. Dees’ P.A.B. Special
(“Click to Zoom” for pictures indicated.)
Trials of the slime-storming kind are now a highly specialised branch of motorsport in which the same drivers and machines compete for the R.A.C. Championship year after year. They are accompanied in some cases by a special brand of womanhood which sits beside its menfolk enduring all the agonies of open-air winter motoring with the addition of much adhesive mud, in return for a chance appearance on the T.V. screen or of hearing such proud words as ” Can’t the little woman bounce.”
Last year, on December 13th, one and a half dozen of these trials specials assembled at the Stewponey Hotel at Kinver to fight out the title up 22 “sections” on farmland kindly made available for the occasion by E. E. Marsh, J.P., and J. H. Folkes.
All these “specials” follow a similar pattern, and all save two, Davis’ 747-c.c. Austin and Alldred’s Bassinet with s.v. air-cooled 990-c.c. J.A.P. engine, were powered with the staunch Ford Ten engine, supercharged in the case of Marsh’s T.M.S.I.
The contest was held in appropriate cold and occasionally wet weather but lacked some of the excitement of previous Championship Trials from the onlookers’ viewpoint, because the object this year was to obtain traction on muddy gradients rather than to storm twisting rocky mountain terrain. The competitors found these conditions, which called for great skill, very much to their liking and warm congratulations are due to popular “Cuth” Harrison, for winning by one point from B. H. Dees, who is seen (left) coming well up one of the five Ridge hills, this one in the form of a narrow gulley. Note Dees’ passenger ensuring that there is as much weight as possible over the back wheels.
The skilful throttle work, now full-bore to spin the wheels, now trailing throttle to gain a grip on slime, was not entirely Harrison’s prerogative — he won by a mere point, and Chappell (right), who is shown getting to terms with the Ridge gulley which bears to the right beyond the marshal, took third place in the Championship another point behind Dees. Moreover, cheerful Reg Phillips (below table) tied with Chappell for third place, losing it only because his Fairley was fractionally slower than the S.C.S. in the test in the yard of the Stewponey Hotel which was held specially to decide ties.
If conditions were difficult for the competitors, the Press and other privileged spectators were in clover, thanks to Rover! Five Land Rovers were kept busy taking loads of onlookers out to the various “sections,” the long-wheelbase, all-enclosed version in which we rode (bottom left) being so ably driven by Gethin Bradley that it was defeated only at the very top of a long lane of slime, in which the trials cars had difficulty in re-starting, and that when carrying eleven persons.
To ensure fair play even numbers took one set of “sections,” odd numbers another set, this process being reversed before lunch and the same conditions prevailing, with minor changes to some of the hills in the afternoon, when conditions generally were becoming easier.
The Champion’s son, Edward Harrison (above), is seen trying to get his Cannon into No. 5 sub-section, each “section” being divided for marking purposes as the markers indicate. This picture shows a typical modern trials special and a passenger who really is bouncing to aid tyre adhesion. Note that this Cannon carries a spare wheel and registration plates.
The remaining three pictures show (below right) J. F. Harrison watched by interested spectators as he brings his Harford up the Ridge gulley, and (bottom right) R. W. Faulkner using power to promote wheeIspin and bring his Paul Special round one or those corners which trials organisers put in to make a difficult “section” impossible — or impossible to all save Ford Ten Specials and Land Rovers. The driver on the left is E. Jackson, whom many people thought would win the Championship in his Cannon. In fact, after successes in recent tials, he was placed 13th.
The event concluded in the early afternoon and the Stewponey Hotel witnessed the well-known spectacle of drivers and passengers (in these modern trials they don’t call them navigators), attired in all manner of weird wind-defeating garments, trailing mud and water as they made a bee-line for the bathrooms.
They must have got themselves clean eventually because later that day the prizes were presented at a dinner/dance at Chateau Impney, before the cars, victorious and otherwise, went their various ways on the Sunday.
Results [Place — Driver and Car — Total Points — Test Points (to decide ties)]
1. T.C. Harrison Harford) — 117 — 11.5
2. B.H. Dees (P.A.B. Special) — 118 — 11.3
3. R. Chappell (S.C.S.) — 119 — 10.4
4. R.W. Phillips (Fairley) — 119 — 10.9
5. R. W. Faulkner (Paul Special) — 120 — 13.9
6. G.J. Newman (Cannon XX) — 123 — 10.4
7. M.H. Lawson (M&L Special) — 127 — 11.8
8. F.T. Lewis (Cannon) — 128 — 11.8
9. J.F. Harrison (Harford) — 130 — 10.7
10. R. Kemp (Cannon 9) — 130 — 11.4
11. A.W. Francis (Cannon) — 130 — 12.1
12. A.E. Marsh (T.M.S.I.) — 132 — 10.6
13. E. Jackson (Cannon) — 132 — 11.4
14. P.F. Highwood (ex-Spence) — 132 — 11.7
15. R. Davis (Austin) — 135 — 14.1
16. E. Harrison (Harford) — 148 — 11.4
17. N.H. Coates (N.C.H. II) — 153 — 11.2
18. A.D. Alldred (J.A.P. Bassinet) — 187 — 16.5