In using the AFN Archives to find a picture for last month’s article on car dirt-track racing my attention was drawn to a further onslaught on the cinders by four-wheelers. I have seen somewhere that car dirt-track probably originated in Manchester. But the purpose of last month’s article was to recall the first full-scale car meeting of this kind, which the Junior Car Club organised at the Greenford trotting track in 1928.
It was not an immediate success and so was not pursued by the JCC, in spite of its ambitious and usually successful endeavours. But by 1931 the cars were back on the cinders, at the Wembley Stadium quarter-mile track. Not for a race-meeting, but making demonstration runs at the conclusion of a normal motorcycle speedway occasion. This sport was by then in full flood, run on football lines, with league matches between teams of riders on specially designed machines.
So it was on an October Thursday evening in 1931 at Wembley, that the home team was to meet Stamford Bridge and Lea Bridge, and it was anticipated that the championship might well go to Wembley. It was an action packed evening, to which it was reported that 60,000 spectators turned up. Some newspapers billed it as the first time cars had appeared on the cinders, conveniently forgetting the Greenford meeting. The three cars that were to demonstrate were Mrs “Bill” Wisdom’s supercharged sports Frazer Nash with which she had broken the ladies’ record at Shelsley Walsh, a similar supercharged Frazer Nash which H J Aldington had raced at Brooklands in 1930, hastily prepared for its ordeal in the dirt,and R G J Nash’s famous single-seater Frazer Nash Special “The Terror” with a blown side-valve Anzani engine, which held the record for the Craigantlet hillclimb among other successes.
It is reported that the spectators gave the first car a fine reception as Mrs T H Wisdom entered the arena. She skidded her car round successfully, and clocked 24.0 sec on her flying circuit. She was followed by “Aldy”. who also slid round in spectacular fashion, avoiding hitting the retaining wall as Mrs Wisdom had done, the ‘Nash’s tail well out, to record exactly the same time. Dick Nash’s “Terror” was thus eagerly awaited. In practice he had done a lap in 20.0 sec and it was to be seen whether he could better that of Wembley’s captain, Colin Watson, who held the motorcycle lap record.
Unfortunately, the “Terror’s” supercharger seized up. So Dick borrowed Mrs Wisdom’s car, taking with him RAFVR man Berry as his passenger. He drove as if in the racing car, which resulted in the ‘Nash overturning after a broadside skid. Dick remained in the car and was unhurt; Berry was flung out and suffered a dislocated arm. It was a spectacular end to an exciting evening, at which “Bill” Wisdom and “Aldy” were both presented with large silver cups, as joint holders of the car lap record. Nash’s accident had some repercussions. Harold Biggs, who was present and later contributed to MOTOR SPORT, was unhappy with a drawing of the incident by The Light Car’s artist, who was defended by the magazine’s sports editor “The Blower”, and MOTOR SPORT itself indulged in a long discourse about the different forces acting on a car being cornered fast on a cinder track, as distinct to on the road. Later Dick Nash and “The Terror” apparently had another attempt on the Wembley car lap record. Fay Taylour, who raced an Alfa Romeo, etc, at Brooklands, meanwhile had raised the ladies’ two-wheeler lap record on her Douglas to 20.8 sec. long before any of this occurred. But enough of the dirt!