RAIN SPOILS SHELSLEY WALSH
Raymond Mays (Villiers Supercharge) makes fastest time in 444/5 secs. : The Bolster Special has a sensational crash, without serious injury to its driver : Breakdown of timing apparatus and an entry of 1 14 draw out the event to 61 hours.
SHELSLEY RECORD HOLDERS
THAT it should be a rainy day for the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb has become almost a byword. This year the day of practice before the event was ideal, and we left London early on the Saturday morning at the beginning of what should have been a perfect summer day. But it was not to be, and as we neared Worcester so the clouds gathered. It was raining steadily at Shelsley, that exasperating, confident rain which looks as though it might stop at any moment, but never does.
But it takes more than rain to daunt the Shelsley crowd. Hour after hour they climbed the new pathway through the wood, while the car parks filled to capacity. Indeed, it was a record crowd, and the official figure for the ” gate ” was 15,000—a wonderful testimony to the attraction of hill-climbs among motorists.
The programme opened with the Ladies Class, the first climb being made by Mrs. Lionel Martin (Hornet Special), who was steady and safe with a time of 68 seconds. She was followed by Miss Pay Taylour, once the idol of the speedway crowds, on one of the actual Mille Miglia M.G. 1Viagnettes. Miss Taylour handled the car with determination, and her time of 54.4 secs. was very good considering the rainsoaked surface of the hill. The Harris Special, driven by Miss Victoria Worsley, was very much out of tune, and could do no better than 84.6 secs. Then there was some excitement when Mrs. Harold Goodwin catne up on a pale blue Riley four-seater. Going into the S bend a shade too fast, the rear of the car swung wide and hit the bank a hearty clout. This blow caused a certain amount of over-correction to set in, and it says much for Mrs. Goodwin’s skill that she managed to keep going, in spite of the rather lowgeared steering of her Riley. Throughout it all, her husband-passenger maintained an expression of stoical calm on his face. Time 63.4 secs. The next competitor was Miss B. G. Reece, at the wheel of Porter-Hargreaves’ Frazer Nash. A skid on the first bend was quickly damped out by the Nash’s highgeared steering, and the very good time of 58.2 secs. was recorded. Mrs. Needham came up next on a similar car, but she was over-cautious and took 67.2 secs. Miss Eileen Ellison spoiled her chances of
making a fast time by a poor getaway, although she did her best higher up the hill, controlling her white Bugatti well. One of the best climbs was made by Miss B. Skinner, daughter of Carl Skinner of the S.U. Carburetter Co. Her Morris Six was quiet, fast, and steady, and her time of 56.4 seconds was really good. Miss P. McOstrich did not appear to be at home with the gear-change of her racing Talbot 90, and she took 66.2 seconds. On the other hand a very good performance was made by Miss P. Altharn, driving Whitney Straight’s magnificent closed 8 litre Bentley. The car rolled a good deal, but Miss Altham was equal to her task, and got up in 59.4 secs. Mrs. Gripper was another slow Frazer Nash driver, losing time at the start, but her time of 65 gees. was a good deal better than that of Miss K. Brunell, driving K. Hutchison’s 14 litre Bugatti. After a very poor getaway the car was missing badly all the way up the hill, and in trying to make up time between the bends Miss Brunell nearly came to grief ; time 83.2
secs. Miss M. Allan, looking very frai in her massive 4i litre Bentley, was rather slow, her time being 65.5 secs. Miss Sedgwick is already well known for her prowess at the wheel of a Frazer Nash, having shown that skids have no terror for her by her rapid circling of the Wembley Speedway. At Shelsley she drove true to form, and gave a very polished display, sliding round the corners with easy confidence. Her time of 54.2 secs. was the best yet. Miss Weekes followed on a V8 Ford which seemed to have rather flabby suspension, but was fast and quiet. Finally, the Ladies’ Class was concluded by Mrs. Lionel Martin, who made a slow climb in a 75 Talbot saloon which had crashed in practice through a sticking throttle.
E. R. Hall opened Class I, for cars up to 850 c.c. with a neat climb on his twinrearwheeled M.G. Midget. The car was not so fast as usual, taking 54.6 secs., owing to an experimental distributor which failed to cope with high revs. A. N. I,. Maclachlan was next, his single seater Austin making a magnificent climb in 50.8 secs. Dorcas I caused a certain amount of amusement as it came to the line, being very ” naked ” and having a cable-operated gear change. Unhappily the car was out of sorts, but with true Shelsley spirit Donal Glegg hid his disappointment under a smile. Peter Skinner then made his ascent at the wheel of the identical Morris Minor which once attained 100 m.p.h. at Brooklands. The little red car looked very neat with its sloping radiator, and made a first class climb as far as the S bend, when the engine suddenly cut out. G. H. Goodson was excellent with a blown Austin, recording 54.8 secs., and another sound show was that of W. T. Platt on a J.3 Midget, time 55.1 secs. K. W. C. Dobson never gave his J.2 Midget a chance, changing up between the bends, and then failing to engage the lower ratio when he realised his mistake. His time was 87.2 seconds. Class 2, up to 1,100 c.c., was heralded by two very consistent climbs by Singers, driven by F. S. Barnes and R. Baker, who recorded 69.4 and 69.2 secs. respectively. The next climb might very well have ended in tragedy. J. V. Bolster, constructor and driver of the famous Bolster Special?, has set his heart on one day breaking the Shelsley record. To do this requires a car
of tremendous accelerative powers, and perfect cornering ability. The Bolster Special possesses the first, but the second requisite is not yet one of its good points. After a good start the car came up to the S bend very quickly indeed, its 2 cylinder J.A.P. engine emitting that sharp, staccatto note so beloved of Shelsley enthusiasts. Bolster seemed to leave braking until very late, and we wondered . . . but he is nothing if not courageous, and we hoped for the best. No sooner had he touched the brakes,
however, than the little car took charge. Sliding broadside for some distance, the front wheels finally hit the bank and some tyres burst. In a moment the car had rolled right over, coining up onto its wheels again with Bolster still in the cockpit. The ambulance was soon on the scene, and Bolster was taken off to hospital—but not before he had reminded the marshals to turn off the petrol of his battered ” Bloody Mary.” Of such is the true Shelsley competitor made ! We are glad to say that Bolster’s injuries were confined to •a rather badly cut head, and that he was out and about a few days after his accident. Once more the roar Once more the roar of a car on the starting line was heard, and G. E. T. Eyston came up on the M.G. Magnette previously driven by Miss Fay Taylour. Actually, Eyston was to have driven the car with which he and Count Lurani won the 1,100 c.c. class of the Mille Miglia, but he was involved in a collision with another car just before the event started, and badly damaged the front axle. Eyston’s time was 52.6 seconds. Dick Bolster received a well-deserved cheer from the crowd as he pluckily made a good climb with his skeleton G.N. B. J. Moor on his famous Wasp III was fast and steady, climbing in 53.2 seconds. C. E. C. Martin was the victim of one of those trivial troubles which can yet ruin many months’ work on a Shelsley Special. In this case the throttle of his G.N. ” Gehenna” broke, so that his time was 83.4 secs. Horton’s Magnette was very fast, and would have been faster if the engine had not spat back a good deal. As it was his
time was 58.4 secs. E. R. Hall, also on a Magnette, made fastest time in this class, his driving being absolutely perfect, and the car giving so much power that the wheels were spinning between the corners. M. B. Watson made a clean, steady climb on an M.G. Magna, but Count Lurani was very disappointing on the Mille Miglia Magnette. His time was 57 seconds— nearly 3 seconds slower than Miss Fay Taylour on the same car. J. C. Davis made a well-judged climb
in 51.2 secs. on his veteran 1 litre G.P. Delage, and he was followed by two good Bugatti climbs made by W. E. Whadcoat and J. D. Jevons, whose times were 52 and 49.1 seconds respectively. Everyone was anxious to see how Allan Arnold would handle ” the Terror “—a disturbing factor for the driver. The car looked very smart in its coat of new dark red paint, and came up to the S bend at a great pace. After a fairly wide skid, which Arnold corrected quite firmly, the car was put at the next corner at high speed, and the” Terror” roared away to the summit in 47.2 seconds—fastest yet ! The Harker Special was disappointing, but a magnificent climb was made by Lt. Cmdr. R. T. Grogan on a blown Frazer Nash in 49.4 seconds, with hardly a trace of skidding. J. L. Burton is well known at Shelsley for his very fine handling of a 4 litre Bugatti. This year his time was spoiled by braking too hard as he approached the corner, with the result that
the wheels locked and the car slowed more than was necessary. In spite of this his time was 48.4 secs. R. H. Eccles showed just how the hill should be climbed, clocking 53.2 seconds with his Frazer Nash. F. J. Fielding made a fierce ascent on his Bugatti, minus bonnet, plus twin rear wheels, much noise and wheelspintime 53.8 secs. Then everyone settled themselves for a thrill, when it was „heard that R. G. J. Nash was on the line with his new car “The Spook.” Round the
first twist of the S’ the car was steady, but for a slight skid, and then it accelerated rapidly towards the second bend. Here it looked as though the car would come to grief, a front wheel mounting the bank, but Nash remained in complete charge and tore up to the finishing line in the splendid time of 46.4 seconds. Frank Hallam’s old front-drive T.T. Alvis caused a certain amount of amusement when it came to a standstill with fuel starvation on the first bend ; when a restart was attempted the front wheels spun madly, sending upclouds of steam. The last man in the class was K. Hutchison, the Doning
ton lap-record holder.
The Bugatti VMS not going well at the start, however, though he took the S bend probably faster than anyone else, and his time was 58 secs.
Class 4, up to 2,000 c.c., produced a crop of different vehicles, both ancient and modern. H. Rose, on a very smart 1,750 c.c. Alfa Romeo, was slow in 61.6 secs. as were J. J. Dykes (blown Lagonda) 65 secs., D. Bird (Amilcar 8 cyl.) 90 secs., R. A. Beaver (Alvis) 62 secs., F. Neville (Bugatti) 66.1 secs., G. Marlowe (Allman Bond Special) 74.4 secs., and H. S. Gardner (Morris Cowley ” bullnose “) who nevertheless put a very good show of 69.2 seconds with a well-tuned car. Esson Scott was not as fast as was expected with his 2 litre Bugatti, taking 57 seconds, and it was left to Noel Carr to provide some real driving when he shot up the hill in 47.1 seconds. Second fastest was the special Frazer Nash 6 cylinder car driven by C. M. Needham, who climbed in 54.1 secs., while third came J. A. M.
Patrick who drove well to record 56.1 seconds with his 1,750 c.c. Alfa Romeo. The next class, 5, up to 3,000 c.c. was sure to provide some excitement, and first man up was Whitney Straight, With the
Brooklands Mountain-record Maserati. Unfortunately, the car made a false start, the rear wheels moving more than two inches from the chocks—a fact which was duly recorded by the timing apparatus. Apart from this, Straight’s time was 48.2 seconds—not fast enough to be any good. The car was obviously a “handful,” possessing so much power that wheelspin was almost inevitable, and nearly hit both banks coming out of the top corner. Then came Count Prem.oli, of whom much was expected, for he had towed his car, a Maserati chassis with a Bugatti engine, all the way from Milan. He gave a neat, steady, but unenterprising display, and took 50.2 seconds to climb the hill. T. S. Fothringliam, on the other hand, was first class with his green single camshaft Bugatti. His cornering was effected almost without any Skid, with great acceleration between the bends, and this polished driving was reflected in his time of 46.6 seconds. 14. G. Bachelier, on a 4-seater car of the same engine size, was much slower, taking 54 seconds. A. H. L. Eccles was very fast with his 2.3 Bugatti, getting up in 47.8 secs., but Baines, on another Bugatti, took 63 secs. G. M. Cavendish on an M.G. Tiger Mark III was unaccountably slow, taking 72 seconds but that brilliant ” old-timer,” C. M. Harvey, showed just how smoothly the hill can be climbed when he brought up an open S.S.1 in 61f2 secs. Interest was robbed from Class 6 by the non-appearance of Sir Malcolm Campbell with the 4 litre Sunbeam, as he had had to leave the country to attend a Conference of Journalists at Budapest. Norman Black gave a pretty exhibition of quiet acceleration with an open Essex Terraplane Eight, his time being 57 seconds. He was soon eclipsed, however, by J. W. Whalley, in his famous green V8 Ford, with a time of 55.2 seconds. Next came a different Shelsley Special, called the Luttman Special, consisting of a Coventry Premier chassis, a 23 ’60 Vauxhall engine, large wire wheels in front, and small discs at the back. The car was not as fierce as it looked, and climbed in 67.4 secs. Then came a crop of the 30:98 Vauxhalls without which Shelsley would not be Shelsley. Fastest was G. T. B. Way’s car, in 58.2 seconds, while the
slowest was G. R. Sanders in 63.8 secs. Finally, W. Esplen thundered up the hill on a blown 4+ litre Bentley, his time being 57 secs., the same as the Essex Terraplane. The last class, for cars over 5,000 c.c., produced two Mercedes-Benz, Straight’s 8 litre Bentley, and Bertram’s 10+ litre
Delage. All made good climbs, considering the difficulty of handling a big car on a narrow road in the rain, fastest being Whitney Straight in 63.8 seconds.
That completed the first runs, and the 15 minute interval was reached well behind schedule time. The ingenious starting mechanism, giving seconds up to 8, had given trouble two or three times, probably due to the rain, and Bolster’s crash had delayed the programme slightly. The rain continued to fall with steady persistence, and the farmyard at the start beeame inches deep in mire.
A notable absentee from the first runs had been Raymond Mays, with the Villiers Supercharge, who had not arrived. To everyone’s great joy, for no Shelsley is complete without this magnificent driver, he turned up during the interval, and with praiseworthy absence of” red-tape” the organisers allowed him to make his first run at the beginning of the second half of the programme. With that distinctive shattering roar from the exhaust, the white car hurled up the hill. A quick lurch at the first corner, a few short ” blips ” of the engine, and it was round the next corner and accelerating hard for the finish. Time, 45.6 seconds, and fastest so far. Miss Fay Tay-lour, wearing a brown crash helmet, looked very determined as she set off to beat Miss Sedgwick’s time of 54.2 secs. In this she was successful, improving her own time by 3.2 seconds, a remarkable achievement. Miss Reece clipped 1.4 secs. off her previous time with Porter Hargreaves’ Frazer Nash, while Miss Skinner and Miss Sedgwick both improved their times. The Ladies’ Cup
went to the latter, whose Frazer Nash was unblown, this factor excluding Miss Taylour’s M.G. Magnette from participating. Most people managed to effect a slight imwovement, notably R. V. C. Bolster (G.N.) 51.8 seconds, R. G. Nash, who equalled Mays’ time of 45.6 seconds,
G. E. T. Eyston (Magnette), 51.8 secs., who could not quite get down to Miss Taylour’s time of 51.2 secs. with the same car. R. ‘I’. Horton (Magnette) 52.6 secs. and J. L. Burton (.Bugatti) 47.6 secs. E. R. Hall on the other hand, waS 1/5 sec. slower with the Midget, although his time with the Magnette was exactly the same as in the first run, 48 seconds. J. Allan Arnold (the ” Terror”) had the disappointment of coming to rest with engine trouble between the bends, but Noel Carr (Bugatti) improved his time by a fine run in 46 seconds dead. Straight was still unable to use the power of the Maserati, and recorded 47.8 seconds, and Count Premoli made a better run in 47.2 seconds. Then came Mays once more, and a really magnificent piece of driving resulted in fastest time of the day, 44.8
seconds. Last of all, Oliver Bertram came up with the big Delage, masterfully controlling the eager power of the 10 litre engine, and clocking the good time of 52 seconds.
Down the hill surged the great crowd, down the slippery slope past the kennels, and so to the soggy car-park. The weather had behaved abominably, but everyone had kept extraordinarily cheerful. It had been a good Shelsley, but just a little too long. There were a lot of gaps in the ranks of cars in the park long before the finish-and that is a thing that should never happen.
Shelsley International Championship Cup and 1100.–Raymond Mays..
M.A.C. British Championship Cup.–E. R. Hall. M.A.C. ” T•T•” Cup.-T. S. Pothringham.
M.A.C. Open Cup (Ruin g).-R ayntond Mays. M.A.C. Open Cup (Sports).-I.t..-emdr. Grogan. C.P. Type Challenge Cup.-E. R. Hall.
Carvagh Challenge Cup.-Z. 0. Bachelier. M.A.C. Ladies’ Cup.-Miss Sedgwick.
Souvenir Ladies’ Cup.-Miss Fay Taylour. ” Frey ” Team Challenge Cup.-Bugatti Owners’
Club (Noel Carr, J. 1). jCV0115, T. S. Fothringham).
M.A.C. Cups for Class Fastest Times. Class 1.-(A) A. N. I.,. Maclachlan (Austin 8),
50 I /5s.; (B) R. F. Turner (Austin S), 52s. Class 2.-(A) and (B) E. R. Hall (M.G. Magnette
Class 3.-(A) R. G. J. Nash (Nash Special S), 45 3/5s.; (13) Lt.-Cnidr. Grogan (Frazer Nash 8), 49 2/5s.
Class 4.-(A) Noel Carr (Bugatti S), 46s.; (B) C. M. Needham (Frazer Nash), 54 1/5s.
Class 5.-(A) Raymond Mays (Villiers 5), 44 4/5s. ; (B).1,. G. Bachelier (Bugatti 5), 51 4/5s.
Wins 8.-(A) Count Premoli (Maserati-Bugatti S), 47 1/5s. • (B) J. W. Whalley (Ford), 54 2/5s.
Class 7.-(A) No award ; (B) H. H. Stisted (Mercedes 5), 53 2/5s.
(A) Racing. (B) Sports.