The Whitsuntide Meeting.
Naturally the disaster which befell Captain Toop during the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club’s Meeting at Brooklands on Whit Monday, cast a gloom over everybody, not only at the classic racing centre, but amongst the wide circle of the driver’s friends. The story of how Captain Toop, on Mr. C. G. Brocklebank’s Peugeot, unaccountably swerved over the Byfleet banking when travelling at a speed estimated at no miles an hour, and thus met his death, has already been told.
Those who have competed in motor races will know something of how it all came about. He was overtaking Captain R. C. Gallop, on Count Zborowski’s Ballot, and was near enough to the latter machine to get into its windage, when the swerve began, and although it is conjecture, it may be assumed that this alone had some bearing upon the disaster.
There was, of course, no more racing that day. Seven events had been decided, but after the fatal seventh, nobody, not even the competitors themselves, had heart enough to continue the sport.
Spectators and competitors collected in little knots in the paddock and discussed the disaster, which, fortunately, is only the second fatal occurrence since the war. The competitors had a particularly trying time for a while, although Brooklands enthusiasts are usually thorough sportsmen and sportswomen.
On this occasion some members of the crowd, with what looked like a foolish curiosity, seemed bent upon gathering details of the accident at all costs, and regardless of the feelings of the racing men, they worried them for details which they were not able or inclined to discuss. It is to be hoped that the particularly foolish woman who seemed more intent upon her monetary gain as a result of the race than the seriousness of the sad fatality, has realised by this time that J. G. P. Thomas, one of the bravest and most courteous drivers of racing cars, was extremely patient with her.
He was pestered for some time by a lady who wished to know whether the result of the race would stand, or whether she would lose her money, and it says much for his self-control that Mr. Thomas contented himself with, in the end, walking away from her. Apart from the accident which marred the meeting, it was an extremely interesting and a successful day’s racing.
There was an even larger crowd than usual, though Brooklands is fast becoming a popular rendezvous of the holiday maker. When the Whitsun Private Competitors’ Handicap opened the proceedings at one o’clock there must have been over ten thousand people present, and this number was added to as the afternoon went on, until something like fifteen thousand were enjoying the sport when it was brought to its unhappy end.
There were twenty-one entrants for the first race on the programme, but no more than fifteen were allowed to start, the remainder being put in as reserves. Dr. J. D. Benjafield (Bentley) who received 35 seconds start, drove magnificently, to win by nearly a quarter of a mile, though the scratch man, Capt. J. E. P. Howey (Leyland), overhauled the rest of the field, to finish a comfortable second. J. G. Goodenough, driving H. S. Baton’s G. N.,. did well to get into third place, though he had nearly a minute-and-half start.
V. Gillow was rather fortunately handicapped with his Riley in the second race. He was on the limit mark, and from the time he was sent away, there never seemed to be the slightest danger of his being caught. (1corge Duller, the well-known steeplechase jockey, driving a Thomas Special and receiving 21 seconds start, made a great effort to get into the running, but he was not able to pick up at all, and finished nearly three-quarters of a mile behind the winner. J. A. Joyce, on F. S. Edge’s A. C., was the scratch man, but had more handicap than he could comfortably carry, though he did well enough to fight his way into third position.
In the 100 m.p.h. Long Handicap, which was won by Captain Gallop, the fastest time of the day was reached, the eight-and-a-half miles course being covered at an average of nearly 107 m.p.h.
With four seconds start, Count Zborowski’s car, driven by Captain Gallop, was never challenged until toward the end, when Captain J. Toop looked like rushing past him at more than 110 m.p.h. ; while J. G. P. Thomas, on F. L. Rapson’s Lanchester, and A. Ellison, on the most powerful car in the race, a 15.095 c.c. Lorraine-Dietrich (” Vieux Charles III.”) starting from the same mark, had a great tussle for second place. Thomas managed to secure this position in the end, only a few yards behind the winner.
C. G. Brocklebank, with 22 secs. start, put up a magnificent performance in the Twenty-fourth Lightning Short Handicap, winning this with his Peugeot, which later met with such a sorry fate, at an average of 103 m.p.h., the second fastest time of the day. It was a thrilling spectacle to see Brocklebank dashing away from the field at such an enormous speed, but it was one of the best finishes of the day. As he flashed over the line, E. A. D. Eldridge, driving the scratch Fiat, and Captain J. E. P. Howey on the Leyland, were both within a few yards of him. This was one of the best finishes seen at Brooklands for some time.
There was, however, no truly greater finish than that in the Twenty-eighth 75 m.p.h. Short Handicap. It was a great tribute to the genius of the handicappers that E. C. Gordon England, with 30 seconds start for his baby Austin, Captain A. G. Miller, driving C. Bloch’s Bianchi off the four seconds mark, and G. J. Allday, on another baby Austin, entered by J. P. Dingle, and also on the 30 seconds mark, all finished within a matter of twenty yards. Gordon England won by only a few feet at 75.5 m.p.h.
The backmarkers had a thin time in the 90 m.p.h. Short Handicap, and soon after the start it was nothing more than a contest between G. Blackstock, driving J. O’Day’s Bugatti, and J. G. P. Thomas on Duller’s Thomas-Special. They started from the 30 seconds mark and at once shot ahead of the field, and though pressed, had no great difficulty in alone fighting for first and second places. Captain Miller, on C. Bloch’s Bianchi, had an advantage of four seconds in the start, but could not hold his place.
Count Zborowski won the Brooklands Gold Vase on his Mercedes, with George Duller (Bugatti) with 33 secs., second, and A. Ellison (Lorraine-Dietrich), from the same mark, third.
Zborowski had a start of 37 seconds, in fact, he was only giving a lead to C. M. Harvey, driving T. G. John’s Alvis, who went off four seconds ahead of him. Before a lap was over Zborowski had overhauled him, and from that point seemed content to drive with something in hand, for he always looked to be the winner. When he finished a somewhat disappointing race at an average speed of 98.5 m.p.h., he was almost a quarter of a mile ahead.
A new finishing line was brought into use at this meeting, and it afforded a great deal of satisfaction so far as the competitors were concerned, though it detracted something from the spectators’ interest as regards the spectacular. Starting on the railway straight the fast events had a finishing line half-way down the railway straight, and for this reason comparatively few of those present at the meeting saw the magnificent finishes when, in one or two races, the cars flashed across the line quite close together, and “all out.” The results were :
The Whitsun Private Competitors’ Handicap (Distance about 5.75 Miles).
1. Dr. J. D. Benjafield (Bentley) .. 35 secs.
2. Capt. J. E. P. Howey (Leyland) … Scratch
3. J. G. Goodenough (G.N.) (Entrant : H. S. Eaton) … 1min.20 secs.
Won at 90 m.p.h.
The Whitsun Light Car Handicap (Distance about 5.75 Miles).
1. V. Gillow (Riley) … 52 secs.
2. G. Duller (Thomas-Special) … 21 secs.
3. J. A. Joyce (A.C.) (Entrant : S. P. Edge) Scratch
Won at 77.5 m.p.h.
The 39th 100 m.p.h. Short Handicap for the Brooklands Gold Vase (Distance about 5.75 Miles).
1. Count L. Zborowski (-Mercedes) … 37 secs.
2. G. Duller (Bugatti) … 33 secs.
3. A. Ellison (Lorraine-Dietrich) … 33 secs.
Won at 98.5 m.p.h.
The 28th 75 m.p.h. Short Handicap (Distance about 5.75 Miles).
1. E. C. G. England (Austin) … 30 secs.
2. Capt. A. G. Miller (Bianchi) (Entrant : C.Bloch) … 4 secs.
3. G. J. Allday (Austin) (Entrant : J. P. Dingle) … 30 secs.
Won at 75.5 m.p.h.
The Twenty-Fourth Lightning Short Handicap (Distance about 5.75 Miles).
1. C. G. Brocklebank (Peugeot)… 22 secs.
2. E. A. D. Eldridge (Fiat) … Scratch.
3. Capt J. E. P. Howey (Leyland) … 12 secs.
Won at 103 m.p.h.
The Thirty-Eighth 90 m.p.h. Short Handicap (Distance about 8.5 Miles)
1. G. Blackstock (Bugatti) (Entrant : J.O’Day) … 30 secs.
2. J. G. P. Thomas (Thomas-Special) (Entrant :G. Duller) … 30secs.
3. Capt. A. G. Miller (Bianchi) (Entrant : C. Bloch) … 34 secs.
Won at 86 m.p.h.
The Thirty-Eighth 100 m.p.h. Long Handicap (Distance about 8.5 Miles)
1. Capt. R. C. Gallop (Ballot) (Entrant : Count Zborowski) … 4 secs.
2. J. G. P. Thomas (Lanchester) (Entrant : F. L. Rapson) … 27 secs.
3. A. Ellison (Lorraine-Dietrich) … 27 secs.
Won at 106.58 m.p.h.
It was in this race that Capt. Toop met with his fatal accident, and. the meeting was abandoned.