THE IRISH GRAND PRIX.
The Second Day’s Race.
THE second day’s race, for cars over 1,500 c.c., will long be remembered as one of the most thrilling and closest struggles in the history of motor racing. For the first time in these islands we were able to see the tight for supremacy between Italy’s two leading racing firms, Alfa-Romeo and Maser ati. Thundering on their heels were the two great Mercedes of Earl Howe and B. 0. Davis, while it would have only needed a Bugatti entry to show Europe’s fmest road-racers in a replica of the fierce continental struggles which keep these cars in the very front rank of modern development.
The race was in doubt to the very end and the slightest incident to any of the leading cars might have altered the whole complexion of the event. Although Britain could not supply the whining car, both the race and the lap record fell to British drivers. All who have followed Sir Henry Birkin’s racing career thtough all its fine performances and inevitable misfortunes, have long realized that here we have a driver who can rank with the world’s best. Therefore, his fine victory, the result of faultless and accurate driving -under varying and difficult conditions, was immensely popular.
Congratulations are also due to Earl Howe for his wonderful performance in breaking the lap record set up on this circuit last year. His new speed of 91.8 m.p.h. for the lap was attained more than once, and just beats Rudolph Caracciola’s previous record by 1 second. Another great effort was that of the veteran, Campari, hero of many classic races, who, in spite of a badly cut eye from his splintered goggles, took over his car again after receiving medical attention, and drove with only one eye in use for the rest of the race and gained second place.
Brian Lewis on one of the ” 105″ Talbots was the first completely British ” equipage ” to finish, gaining third place by a fine display of accurate driving, and by complete reliability on the part of his car, which in the true Talbot tradition of last season, ran absolutely non-stop from start to finish. His performance is all the better when it is considered that the Talbot is a very normal type of unsupercharged car entirely suitable for ordinary use on the roads without modification.
After a dismal opening, the day brightened towards the starting hour, and the crowds in attendance were vastly greater than for the first day, and by the time the cars were lined up for the start the sun was shining and everyone hoped that the weather would hold.
At 2.30 p.m. the flag dropped, a maroon banged, and the engines broke into a growl, rising to a roar as the whole pack shot down to Mountjoy with Earl Howe in the lead. Silence at the grandstand for a minute or so and then a rising crecendo as Howe’s Mercedes screamed up the straight about 100 yards in front of Davis and shot 1_ ast with his foot hard down, the shrill scream of the blower blending with the low roar of the exhaust to producethat wonderful double note that has thrilled so many. Close behind the ” Mercs ” snarled Canipari’s Maserati, showing a turn of speed from 21 litres that was simply amazing. Then Birkin, Eyston., Lewis and the rest roared by and the race was on in earnest. With 10 laps completed Cam.pari was leading on handicap by I second from Earl
Howe, who soon after lapped in 2m. 47s. or 91.8 m.p.h. He had the blower engaged almost continuously and this is probably the cause of his later trouble with it. Had he kept to the usual Merced s practice of using the blower only on the gears, with an intermittent touch to hold the required speed in top, all might have been well. However, when a driver is man enough to hold such a car so constantly flat out on a road course as to overtax its mighty engine, one can only offer criticism with a feeling of intense respect ! Lord Howe has lately shown himself to be one of the finest drivers of the day, and if it is lap records he wishes, who are we to suggest caution ?
The Invicta was showing up very well and though for the first few laps Field was a little wild on the corners, he soon settled down and gave a fine display of fast yet steady cornering which he maintained to the end. The early promise of a dry race was rudely shattered by a clap of thunder. followed by heavy rain, and conditions immediately became anything but pleasant. The noise of the thunder was so
sharp that several drivers had anxious moments listening to their motors to locate the noise, while Brian Lewis informed us afterwards that a particular clap of thunder coinciding with a gear change made him quite certain for the moment that his gear-box had” burst ” !
In spite of the rain, speeds remained terrific, and there was some lurid work on the corners. Davis was cornering very fast but not too steadily at times, as for instance when he disappeared off the road backwards at Mountjoy, but only lost a few seconds getting going again. After this little mistake his handling of the great car was excellent.
Campari still led at 15 and 20 laps but his lead was gradually being cut down. Howe had dropped from second place to fourth. Eyston pulled up to second with Birkin third. The Maseratis were lapping at just on 90 m.p.h., with Birkin almost as fast. Then the beat of Eyston’s engine became less even, Birkin took second place and a few minutes later Eyston came in to change plugs. This cured his trouble and he was once more going well. He took the opportunity to fill up, and as he was doing so Campari came in and jumped out with his hand covering his face. Ramponi, the Maserati reserve driver, at once took over the refuelling of his car, leapt into the driver’s seat and roared away after Birkin and his Alfa. Campari, while attempting to pass Birkin had taken a flying stone on his goggles and a splinter had cut his eye. He was examined by Surgeon Pringle who ascertained that there was no glass actually in the eye, and as soon as he was bandaged up he was clamouring to take over once more from Rampon,i. The latter was not quite keeping up the cracking pace which Campari had been setting, and which would be required if Birkin was to be caught. The latter had taken the lead at 25 laps from the Maserati, which was second, while Earl Howe
had pulled up once more to third place. Eyston had now dropped out of the first six, showing how in such a hardfought race the least stop can be fatal.
At 30 laps Bir kin was leading Earl Howe by 2m.. 44s. on handicap, the other ” Mere ” was up to third, and Ram.poni fourth. Campari, wild with impatience, insisted on taking over again from Ramponi, and, set off in a desperate effort to catch Birkin, now nearly 4 minutes ahead, and driving the race of his life.
The ensuing struggle will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Campari, seemingly unaffected by his injury, was doing all he knew. Lap after lap he shot up to Mountjoy, a slow right angle corner at the end of the two mile straight, and it seemed as if he would never cut out in time. Then close on the corner at something over 110 m.p.h., the car swayed and shuddered under the full power of its wonderful brakes, down through the gears he went, and he was round and away. As he and Birkin appeared each time the soaking crowds cheered and yelled. At 40 laps Campari was second again, 3m. 43s. behind the Alfa. Davis was third and Lewis fourth. The Talbot driver was giving a wonderful exhibition,
and his cornering was very fast and perfectly steady, as his almost silent car purred its way round the course.
All eyes, however, were on the leaders who were driving like demons, the angry roar of the Maserati contrasting with the smoother hum of the Alfa.
At Gough corner, where the width of the road gives scope for variety in styles, it was interesting to note the drivers’ methods. Campari pulled his car in close on the last part of the bend, feeling the throttle all the time as the tail slid outwards in little jerks. Then his foot went hard down and he shot down the straight. Birkin took the corner in. a more even sweep and used nearly the whole width of the road coming out of the corner. Both cars seemed absolutely at the limit and it was quite impossible to say which was the faster on the actual corners, though Campari’s braking was the more violent.
Earl Howe had now stopped blowing owing to a cracked supercharger casing, and though still doing a good 100 m.p.h., and more, was left on the straight by the flying Italian cars. At 45 laps the gap between the leaders was almost unchanged, while Davis had brought his Merced_s back into third
place. Eyston was once more in the picture, being fifth.
50 laps saw no change in the order, but the gap was now down to 2m. 43s. For another 5 laps, the gap remained unchanged, and at 60 laps it was still within a second of the same, and then. Campari had to come in for another refuel.
Eyston was catching up once more and after 55 laps had passed Lewis and taken third place.
The positions were still so close that anything might happen, and no one could afford to have the most trivial trouble. Eyston, with a third place almost within his grasp ran short of fuel. After a momentary stop on the back stretch of the course he managed to get to the pits.
He filled in frantic haste and got away so violently that the mechanic, who was but half in the car, shot over into the rear seat. All was not well yet, however, and the engine coughed and spluttered for many precious seconds before he could get going, and Lewis’ never-failing Talbot took third place once more.
All eyes were now glued to the giant scoreboard to try and see who would, win the Phoenix Trophy-Norman Black and his M.G. whose plaque was moving relentlessly up the board on its previous day’s performance, or Birkin and the Alfa-Romeo.
With only a few laps to go Birkin was just leading the M.G., when his engine started to miss for lack of fuel. He shot into the pits with his mechanic standing ready to jump for it. The car stopped with a jerk, the filler cap was snapped open, the funnel placed and two churns of fuel hurled into it, the 4 whole issue pulled off half em ptied, and, the mech anic leapt into the car as it moved off. Very snappy i n deed ! But 27 valuable seconds had gone, and with them the Phoenix Trophy for the absolute
winner, as the M.G. plaque reached the top of the board 11 seconds before Birkin flashed over the line, to a roar of cheering, winner of the day’s event and the Eireann Cup, after one of the finest races ever seen in these islands.
Less than 3 minutes later Campari followed, after a wonderful fight against odds and a display of driving that was indeed good to see. Then, very close on his heels was Brian Lewis and his wonderful Talbot, which had run without a stop or falter for the entire distance, and averaged 79.92 m.p.h. Earl Howe and Davis were next on the two Merced .s, which had both been compelled to drop back from the leaders owing to minor troubles with their blowers, which meant running without them. Field in the In,victa was seventh after a very excellent performance indeed, only overshadowed by the terrific battle among the leaders. The last place was filled by W. Esplen, who drove a privately owned and entered model ” 90 ‘ Talbot, and
put up a very good show. It was his first big race and he drove steadily and well. We hope to see more of him in later events. The two retirements were R. F. Oats and Dan Higgin, who both very sportingly swelled the entry with cars which did not actually stand a chance of victory. Oats drove an unprepared supercharged O.M. as his Maserati could not be got ready in time, and went well till alcracked
ball race in the engine made him retire. Dan Higgin’s mount was a four year old Austro-Dainder which went out with engine trouble early in the race.
RESULTS. 1. Alfa-Romeo, Sir H. Birkin, 21m. 31s. (83.8 m.p.h.) 2. Maserati, G. Campari, 3h. 24m. 22s. (82.56 m.p.h.) 3. Talbot, B. E. Lewis, 3h. 24m. 31s. (79.92 121.p.h.) 4. Maserati, G. E. T. Eyston., 3h. 25m. 14s. (82.20 m.p.h.) 5. Mercedes-Benz, Earl Howe, 3h. 30m. 13s. (85.13 6. Mercedes-Benz, B. 0. Davis, 3h. 31m. 05s. (84.71 m.p.h.)
7. Invicta, G. Field, 3h. 32=. 39s. (79.31 m.p.h.). 8. Talbot, Wm. Esplen, 3h. 52m. 28s. (70.38 m.p.h.)