Vintage Postbag, January 1995

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Brighton Run 1994

Sir,
I know that you like to mention the early arrivals at Brighton, and as I will no doubt be listed as a nonfinisher (You were – WB) I thought you might like the following information:

I was driving my 1901 single-cylinder, 7½ hp Type-E Renault again this year. After coming in first and second and being disqualified on my last two runs, I had decided that if I was early, then I would stop short of the Pylons control this year.

However, I forgot about the dual-carriageway, and with there being nowhere to stop I went through the control, first again, at 10.05am. In order to avoid further upset with the RAC. I turned back at the next roundabout and returned to Hyde Park arriving there at about 1.15pm. I am enclosing a photo showing the Renault on Westminster Bridge for the second time that day with the clock showing nearly 1.30pm.

Our day had in fact started at 4.00am, when we landed at Gatwick from an overnight flight from Seychelles which was delayed by 24 hours. We then drove the 12 miles to Hyde Park in the dark, this being the only way to get to the start on time. At the end of the day, we drove home having covered some 130 miles without any problems.

Roger R E Heminway,
Beckenham, Kent.

The Routes Payee

Sir,
Once again you are responsible for bringing back to my memory old souvenirs. This time the cause is your article on the ‘Circuit des Routes Payees’.

I raced there, on the 20th September, 1925, on a 2-litre Georges Irat. In those days the order of the start was that of the entering date for the event. I believe I was on the third line and after a few hundred yards (was it just leaving Pont a Marcq?) I was faced with a Bignan skidding in front of me (Pilote: Marie or Mary?) To avoid it I had to climb up on the pavement without any apparent trouble. For 28 laps of the 31 I was in second position and then the back axle gave up, very possibly due to the above incident.

Dealing with the 1925 race you state “in later times the winning marque (Georges Irat) used sophisticated rubber suspension.” This is rather misleading as it was only at a later date and due to monetary trouble that the production of the 2-litre model was stopped and that a small two-seater with a Ruby engine was produced; this was the one with rubber suspension.

The former Hispano driver you mention was Boyriven, not Boriven.

Edward A Bret,
Mougins, France.
(The rubber-sprung Georges Irat I drove in 1940 had a 2-litre engine. W B)

That Barbara Cortland Race

Sir,
Recently I have been collating archive material and memorabilia of the late Bill and Ruth Urquhart Dykes for presentation to the Alvis 12/50 Register. Inter alia, I came across material relating to that infamous race for women drivers organised by Barbara Cartland.

Adam and Joan Chetwynd were close friends and I was present at a lunch party when Joan bemoaned her participation in that event. I remember Ruth saying “You should never have agreed to take part, Joan. They didn’t invite drivers like Jill Thomas, Gwenda Stewart or Ivy Cummings”. Later, Ruth added “I wonder how many of that lot could have survived one lap of the Boillot Cup course, let alone three hours”. Ruth was the only woman driver to complete the Boillot Cup course and was invited to become an Honorary Member of the BRDC in 1928 for that performance.

F E P Lord,
West Wittering, Chichester.

The best of all

Sir,
I must write and say how much I enjoyed your articles in the November issue regarding the Earl Howe and Stirling Moss. I was racing my MG and Bugatti right after the war, and at most events (attended the “Noble Earl” was there, cap cocked at the “Beattie Angle”, button-hole, always ready to talk. He was my idea of a true “racing motorist”. I remember one time we were on our way to Prescott with my Bugatti on the back of my father’s new 2-ton Austin, when up behind us came the Earl in his lovely Bugatti 575C, blowing his horn and waving as he went by; great days.

And Moss: he was already doing wonders in the Cooper 500. I remember the opening day at Goodwood, Reg Parnell’s Maserati 4CLT/48 arrived right from Italy and was unloaded by “Wilkie” and started up and Moss came over and sat in it; great things to come. I always thought Moss the best of all. Whatever the car, racing, sports or saloon, whatever the position on the grid, he went out to win. That to me was a racing driver. Oh so different today.

Robert Foster,
Nova Scotia, Canada.