A photo in a recent issue of the Alvis 12/50 Register’s magazine reminded me of the unfortunate accident to C M Harvey’s car in the 1926 JCC 200-mile race at Brooklands.
Alvis had won this race in 1923 after the dramatic retirement of the two Fiats and for 1926 it had now built two very advanced straight-eight cars with which it seemed possible it could impose a challenge to the “unbeatable” Talbots of Segrave, Divo and Moriceau. Moreover, these new Alvises had front-wheel-drive, as Alvis was about to make a few cars of this kind as catalogue models and racing could show their superiority. Its drivers were the professional Alvis racer Harvey (below) and the Earl of Cottenham – I never understood why he was able to drive the works Alvises; he was keen and had written a motor racing novel, but he was hardly an experienced choice.
Alas, in the race Harvey came fast out of the artificial bend to find Longden’s slow little Fiat 501 in his path – to be fair, the Fiat was “race-tuned”. Harvey braked and slid backwards across the Track. A telegraph pole and railings which bent over but did not collapse saved the spectators, who had fled anyway. Harvey was hurt only in spirit and I thought the fuel tank was damaged, until I remembered that the fuel and oil tanks were at the front. So why was the Alvis not restarted? In the Register picture the off-side front wheel looked to be not quite upright, and a push start would have led to disqualification. Cottenham also retired and Segrave won.
In our review of Freik – the Private Life of the Freikaiserwagen we omitted the purchase details of this interesting book, price £15 inc P&P. To buy a copy contact the Midland Automobile Club, Shelsley Walsh, Worcs WR6 6RP. Tel: 01886 812211.