THE NEW BRITISH EMPIRE TROPHY
POPULAR VICTORY FOR G. E. T. EYSTON (M.G. MAGNETTE)—WHITNEY STRAIGHT SECOND WITH HIS MASERATI, MAKING FASTEST TIME—J. HOLDSWORTH MEETS WITH FATAL ACCIDENT.
THE process of giving Brookla.nds a resemblance to a road circuit was carried a stage further on Saturday, June 23rd, when the British Empire Trophy Race took place. The B.R.D.C., organisers of the race, aimed at including as many corners, and at the same time making the necessary artificial barriers look as natural, as possible. Instead of sandbanks, hurdles, or strings of flags, trusses of straw were used in the true Continental style, and this innovation certainly gave the impression of a roadrace, especially at the Fork. The cars were started just beyond the Fork, and proceeded round the Byfleet Banking to the Railway Straight, where they had to negotiate a fast and tricky ” double-S ” bend. On reaching the junction of the old Finishing Straight an ” .3 ” bend was the next obstacle, followed by a fast run downhill to the Fork Hairpin. Then a short distance up the Finishing Straight another hairpin brought the cars back to the Fork and so to the Byfleet Banking.
A few minutes before two o’clock a smart blue 4i-litre Lagonda, driven by Sir Malcolm Campbell, with the Amir Abdullah of Trans-Jordan as passenger, made an opening circuit of the course. Unfortunately the race was run on normal handicap lines, so that there was not a massed start—a fact which is apt to give a race a poor “getaway,” so to speak. At 2 o’clock the 750’s (blown) and unsupercharged 1,100c.c. and 1,500c.c. cars, were sent away, comprising Austins driven by L. P. Driscoll and W. L. Thompson, M.G. Midgets handled by E. R. Hall, W. G. Everitt, A. R. Samuel, J. C. G. Low, W. E. Hood, and R. T. Horton, Riley Nines driven by P. G. Fairfield, A. F. Ashby and H. G. Dobbs, and 11-litre Rileys handled by A. W. K. Von der Becke, F. W.’ Dixon and Cyril Paul. Eleven minutes later the following got away : R. J. W. Appleton’s Appleton
..; D. L. Briault’s Alta, ten M.G.
Magnettes entered by C. F. ManbyColegrave, C. E. C. Martin, P. L. Donkin, G. E. T. Eyston, Dudley Froy (W. L. Handley’s substitute), C. Penn Hughes, N. Black, R. Gibson, R. G. B. Seaman, and G. Hartwell, a 2-litre Singer driven by J. S. Hindmarsh, and John Hon Idsworth’s Bugatti.
Five minutes later H. W. Cook took his place on the line with the new E.R.A., being the only starter of his class, and finally the rest of the field set off in pursuit, twenty minutes after the first men had started. The back markers were as follows : T. E. Rose-Richards, A. H. L. Eccles and C. S. Staniland (Bugattis), John Cobb, A. P. Hamilton and J. H. Bartlett (Alfa Romeos), and Earl Howe, Whitney Straight and the Hon. Brian Lewis (Maseratis) ‘ • 39 cars in all, racing on a new Brooklands circuit for a distance of 300 miles. First man to come into the pits was P. G. Fairfield, driving a Riley Nine entered by Fred Dixon. After changing plugs he carried on, and from then on the pits were being visited by one or more cars throughout the race, plug trouble as usual being the most frequent cause of stoppage. The first retirement was that
of A. R. Samuel, at 2.42 p.m., his M.G. Midget suffering from a cracked back axle casing.
Leaving the pits we walked to the Fork corner to see how the drivers were coping with their task. The corner itself was a “square” hairpin, with plenty of room for unwary drivers to extricate themselves from trouble. As a whole the standard of driving seemed to be good, there being a total absence of wildness which, though generally applauded by spectators, is not appreciated by other drivers in the race. Occasionally a driver would graze the straw bales in coming out of the turn, and L. P. Driscoll was forced to use the “escape road ” once or twice. Otherwise the driving here was uneventful. Drivers who struck us as being consistently neat were C. Penn Hughes (M.G. Magnette), G. F. Manby. Polegra,ve (M.G. Magnette),. W. G. Everitt (M.G. Midget), and of course Whitney Straight (Maserati). On the second hairpin an incident occurred when Eyston was baulked by the Appleton Special. So violently did Eyston have to step on his brakes that the engine of his Magnette stalled. Leaping out, Eyston pushed the car, jumped back into his seat and let in the clutch—off again After the first group had been running a half-an-hour, and the scratch men only ten minutes, the order was as follows : 1, Whitney Straight (Maserati), 92.78 m.p.h. ; 2, Brian Lewis (Maserati), 90.44 m.p.h. ; 3, F. W. Dixon (Riley), 81.40 m.p.h. ; and 4th, W. G. Everitt (M.(;. Midget), 80.63 m.p.h. Thus it seemed that those who prophesied a
sweeping victory for the larger cars would be justified in their belief. Now let us take a look at those drivers and mechanics engaged in hurried repair work at the pits, sweating and cursing in their haste. Apart from the rampant plug trouble, L. P. Driscoll came in with the new Austin Seven road-racing model to tighten his exhaust pipe and refuel ; A. P. Hamilton to secure the head of his gear-box ; A. F. Ashby to replace a broken clutch-withdrawal bolt on his Riley ; Driscoll for brake adjustment ;
to enter the “neck,” so to speak, and it frequently occurred that two cars taking different paths would converge at the entrance to the corner, an event which required a quick decision as to who was to give way. While we stood watching at this point Cobb and Lewis arrived at the same moment, Cobb swooping down from the top of the Banking and Lewis keeping a middle path. Lewis waved Cobb on, and so all was well. The second difficulty attached to this corner was that if a wide course was
T. E. Rose-Richards to stop a leaking petrol tank ; and E. R. Hall to repair his silencer, a job which took several stops. Penn Hughes made repeated stops for plugs, as did Manby Colegrave.
At 3.6 p.m. the second retirement was announced, Rose-Richards’s Bugatti, one of the fastest cars in the race. The trouble was concerned partly with fuel and partly with transmission. Some time later A. F. Ashby pushed his Riley to the ” dead ” car park with a broken clutchwithdrawal bolt.
By now Freddie Dixon had worked his way into the lead, and at 3,30 p.m. his aluminium Riley was 57 seconds ahead of Straight’s Maserati, on handicap. C. S. Staniland, driving Mathieson’s Bugatti, was in third place, with Brian Lewis (Maserati) fourth. An interesting point on Dixon’s team of Rileys was the provision of hand-throttles, to enable the drivers to use their brakes to the full when changing down before the corners. Dixon had his on the steering column, while Fairfield’s car had a Bowden control on the gear lever.
The ” snake-bend ” on the Railway Straight was interesting, being a very fast series of curves which could be taken at speed in top gear. It was difficult to estimate relative performances here, but Whitney Straight seemed to be a shade faster than anyone else ; of the smaller cars W. G. Everitt’s Midget was quite the fastest. All the cars went very close to the centre tub, but the method of entering the corner seemed to vary a good deal, some grazing the first tub and others steering a middle course. There was little incident at this point until A. P. Hamilton (Alfa Romeo), who for some time had been engaged in a prolonged dog-fight with John Cobb on a similar car, misjudged the bends and hit the centre tub, carrying on unperturbed. The bend by the Members’ Bridge was complicated by the fact that the cars had to come down the banking in order taken after passing the first tub it was possible for a car to get on. to the reverse camber of the old Finishing Straight, rendering it extremely difficult to control. Fortunately the greatest care was taken by drivers to avoid this occurrence, but it seems possible that it was this fact which caused John Houldsworth to meet his death. Shortly before 4 o clock his blue Bugatti developed a bad skid, charged through the straw barricades and shot up the banking in a treble somersault. The driver was thrown out on the second inversion of the car. He was immediately taken to hospital in a critical condition, his principal injury being a fractured skull. Unhappily John
Houldsworth died a few hours later, and his many friends at Cambridge, where he owned a garage, and elsewhere will deeply regret his untimely death. Freddie Dixon continued to lead the race, and at 4 o clock his margin in hand over Whitney Straight was 1 min. 1 sec. Staniland was still in third place, exactly two minutes behind the Maserati, followed at 23 secs. interval by Brian Lewis. The refuelling stops did not materially affect the positions, for all were executed quickly and neatly. Brian Lewis, as usual, was extremely quick, taking on 16 gallons of petrol in three-quarters of
a minute. Straight made a slightly longer stop, changing his rear tyres in addition to refuelling. George Eyston, too, was very fast, taking a fresh supply of petrol on board in half-a-minute. Penn Hughes and Manby-Colgrave, on IV1agnettes, continued to make innumerable calls at the pits for plugs.
The field now began to thin, five cars dropping out in 20 minutes. Staniland had the bad luck to develop back-axle trouble with the Bugatti, which up to that moment had held third place. The Roy Eccles-C. E. C. Martin M.G. Magnette was withdrawn with a zero oil-pressure, Everitt s Midget blew a gasket, E. R. Hall’s Midget had to stop because the silencer had burst and the car was making a noise like a howitzer, and Fairfield’s Riley fell out with transmission trouble. Some excellent performances were being put up by cars which, although not in the first four, were nevertheless ready to fill the gap should any of the leaders develop trouble. G. E. T. Eyston (M.G. Magnette) was one of these, and on Staniland’s retirement he took up his position in fourth place. The E.R.A. in its first race was making a good impression. H. W. Cook handled the car for the first half of the event, handing over to Raymond Mays at the refuelling stop. The car had that characteristic shattering exhaust note which distinguishes all Raymond Mays’s mounts. It accelerated well on leaving the second Fork hairpin, but it was somewhat difficult to gauge how much this apparent acceleration was due to its terrific noise. The two M.G. Midgets driven by J. G. C. Low and W. E. Hood were putting up an unobtrusively sound show, their only troubles being concerned with silencer breakage and the adjustment of a gear-box. P. L. Donkin’s Magnette, with a cowled radiator, was running regularly and fast, the only stops at the pit being for plugs and some extra support for the steering
column. Seaman’s Magnette, entered by Whitney Straight, barring the plug trouble which seemed to assail all the Magnettes, was having a good run. Another Magnette, entered by George Hartwell and driven by him in the first half of the race, was also travelling well, but developed plug trouble after the refuelling stop, when J. C. Elwes took over. The 2-litre Singer in the hands of J. S. Hindmarsh was running with the utmost regularity, cornering well and producing a good turn of speed. A. H. L. Eccles was driving splendidly, just behind the
leaders, and his Bugatti never gave a hint of faltering. He only made one pit stop — for refuelling — throughout the entire race. The 2.3-litre Alfa Romeos, driven by John Cobb, A. P. Hamilton and Charles Brackenbury, were all going well, the latter being relieved by Jack Bartlett at the half-way mark.
At 4.30 p.m. Straight was still ahead, followed by Dixon, Lewis and Eyston, but a few minutes later blue smoke began to belch from the cockpit of Lewis’s red Maserati, and the car pulled into the pits, where it was found that a con-rod had broken. A little earlier L. P. Driscoll had given up a long struggle with adversity with the new Austin, a broken exhaust manifold and silencer finally proving insuperable. Retirements were becoming more frequent, and the ” dead” car park at the Fork gradually filled. Hamilton’s Alfa Romeo broke a camshaft, and the Appleton Special bent a valve. Then at ten past five came the news that Earl Howe had met with an accident at the Railway Straight “snake.” His Maserati had snicked one of the tubs, turned right round and gone straight through the straw palisades. By good fortune the driver was unhurt. At about the same time Whitney Straight also had a slight contretemps at the same point, demolishing a barrel into small fragments. Dixon was following closely behind, and drove through a cloud of hoops and barrel staves. Cyril Paul had a nasty moment at the Fork when thf. bonnet of his Riley flew off. He replaced it and continued:
Just when the race was looking a comfortable victory for Whitney Straight, the white Maserati developed a fuel feed trouble which was to cost the American the race. Work was carried on at high speed under the direction of Ramponi, but valuable seconds ticked by which must have been extremely irritating for Straight, who did not leave the cockpit. While the Maserati was motionless at the pits, Ey-ston’s Magnette slipped ahead and was nearly two laps ahead before the Maserati rejoined the fray. Straight lapped at terrific speed during the last stages of the race, and was reducing Eyston’s lead at the rate of nearly 20 seconds per lap. It was at this stage that the inadequacy of the scoring arrangements became a pressing matter. Those who chose the Fork hairpin and the second hairpin for their vantage points, as well as the spectators at the Members Bridge and Railway Straight curves, were completely in the dark as to who was winning. The single scoreboard just before the beginning of the Home Banking was available, but could
only be seen by those who were prepared to stand. In this respect the organisation was definitely bad, for the public cannot be expected to derive much entertainment from merely watching cars iound a
number of corners, for hours at a stretch, without knowing the progress of the race. Brooklands organisers have a lot to learn !
The result was that the appearance of the flag was the first sign to most of the spectators that the race was actually finishing, and the dramatic effect of the end of a long race was completely lost. Eyston held a comfortable lead of a lap over Straight with two or three to go, and he eventually came home first at an average speed of 80.81 m.p.h. Every follower of motor sport will join in congratulating George Eyston on his success, which has long been overdue. There is no more consistent driver, both in record breaking and actual racing, and his victory at Brooklands was tremendously popular. When he stopped he asked, “Why have they flagged me in ? What, I have won ? Well, I’ve been racing for about a hundred years, so it is quite time I won something ! “
Whitney Straight was unfortunate to miss first place, but mechanical troubles are all in the luck of the game. A. H. L. Eccles finished third, his first big-race “place,” which he thoroughly deserved for a fast, uneventful performance.
1. G. E. Eyston (M.G. Magnette, 1,087 c.c. S), 3h. 56in. 38s., 80.81 m.p.h.
2. Whitney Straight (Maserati, 2,992 c.c. S), 3h. 58m, 19s., 82.45 m.p.h.
3. A. H. L. Eccles (Bugatti, 2,263 c.c. S), 4h. Om. 38s., 81.70 m.p.h.
4. John Cobb (Alfa Romeo, 2,336 c.c. S), 4h. lm. 13s., 81.36 m.p.h.
5. R. Gibson. (M.G. Magnette, 1,087 c.c. S), 74.80 m.p.h.
6. P. L. Donkin (M.G. Magnette, 1,087 c.c. S), 74.61 m.p.h.
7. J. H. Bartlett (Alfa Romeo, 2.34itre S), 77.20 m.p.h.
8. J. S. Hinchnarsh (Singer, 2-litre), 74.38 m.p.h.
9. N. Black (M.G. Magnette, 1,087 c.c. S), 72.87 m.p.h.
10. C. Penn-Hughes (M.G. Magnette, 1,087 c.c. S), 71.29 m.p.h.
G. E. T. Eyston’s M.G. Magnette Team.—G. E. T. Eyston, D. Roy and C. Penn-Hughes.