E. R. A. WINS MANNIN BEG RACE WELL DESERVED VICTORY FOR P. FAIRFIELD AT 67.29 M.P.H. WITH FREDDY DIXON (RILEY) THE ONLY OTHER SURVIVOR OF A FIELD OF THIRTEEN.
HISTORY repeated itself with a vengeance in the Mannin Beg race, held last month at Douglas, Isle of Man. In the first of the series, which took place two years ago, the tortur.us course then in use weeded out all but two of the cars which took part, and this year the same thing happened on a faster circuit, largely owing to the rough state of the roads.
From the spectators’ point of view, therefore, the race was sadly lacking in interest, but deserves to be remembered as the scene of the first success achieved by the new E.R.A. cars in a long-distance race. To finance and foster the production of a car built solely for racing in a country where racing on the public roads is forbidden argues foresight and confidence in no small degree, and Mr. Humphrey Cook, who supplied the backing for the little company, must have felt well pleased when he saw Fairfield’s white car flash over the finishing line.
The new overhead-camshaft Austins were to have made their first public appearance in the Beg race, but were not far enough advanced to allow them to take part, and other cars which failed to arrive were Donkin’s 1,100 c.c. Maserati and Horton’s R-type Midget. Interest was therefore focussed on the official team of R-Type Midgets, with their torsion-bar springing, driven by Eyston, Handley and Black, and the E.R.A.s with Mays and Fairfield up.
The engine of Mays’ car was fitted as an experiment with a large Zoller supercharger, gear-driven from the rear end of the crankshaft, and two down-draught carburetters under the scuttle. Fairfield’s ,engine followed the original pattern, with a Rootes-type blower. The course this year was almost identical with the one used in io34, but continued a further zoo yards along the Promenade, doubling back round a lamp-post in an acute hair-pin corner which led the tars back to the bottom of Broadway. From the Grand Stand, which was set up between the hair-pin and Broadway, Summer Hill, most of the Promenade, the pits, and the hair-pin itself could be seen, so that spectators really had ” value for money ” this year. The new circuit
measured just over 4 miles round, and had to be covered so times. The surface of the course was distinctly rough, especially at Broadway, Summer Hill, and Bray Hill, and on the first day of practice Black’s M.G. broke one of the universal joints in the back axle at this latter point, and Eyson and Baird suffered similarly on the second day. Handley fared better and equalled Fairfield’s best
lap of 68.8 m.p.h., whilc Dixon was also well to the fore.
Wednesday morning was fine but cloudy, with a cold East wind blowing directly into the Grand Stand. Down in the pits, which had been built at the edge of the Promenade so as to leave the whole width of the roadway clear, conditions were even less pleasant, for it was high tide, and the sea was nearly level with the pavement. The inshore wind drove clouds of spray over the railings, and there seemed a fair chance of tools and mechanics being washed out to sea before the floods subsided. After a tour of inspection by Sir Hum-. phrey Butler, Lieut.-Governor of the Isle of Man, the cars were wheeled to the places marked out for them on the outside track of the Promenade, facing the hairpin. The starting positions were determined by the lap speeds set up in practise, and the cars were drawn up in alternate rows of three and two, in the following order :
Dixon, Handley and Fairfield, Black and Hall, Eyston, Baird and Eccles, Humber and Manby-Colegrave, Lace, Mays and Ford. Roy Eccles took the place of Lord Avebury at the wheel of one of the Altas.
With three minutes to go, engines were started and drivers took their seats, mechanics and managers striving to shout last-minute advice through the clamour of exhaust noises, those of the E.R.A.s and the M.G.s being particularly pungent. At last the starter raised his flag, red with the golden ” Three Legs of Man ” emblazoned on it, the engines sounded a rising note, and with a fine roar eleven out of the fourteen cars rushed forward towards the hair-pin. Manby-Colegrave’s M.G. Magnette and Humber’s Bugatti were delayed for a short time on the starting line, and Lace’s Alta refused to start at all and was pushed back to the pits for further investigation. Reports received from stations round the course gave some idea of the struggle
which took place during the first lap. Fairfield was the first to double the hairpin, followed by Dixon and Hall, and this
order was unaltered as far as Bray Hill. Hall gained second place by the T.T. Grand Stand, dropped back again at Governor’s Bridge and finally snatched the lead from Fairfield opposite the Grand Stand after a furious chase along the
Promenade. Mays, on the second E.R.A., had made up for his unfavourable position at the start and was in third place close behind Fairfield, while Dixon and Handley were fourth and fifth. The acceleration of the ” official ” E.R.A. was terrific, and Mays was almost abreast of Fairfield at the bottom of Broadway, passing him before he reached the sharp turn up Bray Hill, and not con
tent with this, mounted the hill with such effect that he caught Hall as well in the short stretch before the T.T. stand. By the time the cars reached the pits again on the third round, Mays had ob tained a fifty-yard lead from Hall, and the
latter driver was straining every effort to keep ahead of Fairfield. The E.R.A.
would not be denied, however, and with a terrific spurt Fairfield passed the Magnette at the corner leading up Broadway, and continued to gain on the way to Bray Hill. The order continued the same on the fourth lap, with Fairfield and Mays pulling
away from Hall. On the fifth Mays was still in the lead, coming down the Promenade, but instead of roaring down to the hair-pin, he turned off into the pit channel, a move which at once stirred the E.R.A. pits into activity. The green car pulled up with Mays pointing to his visor, which was covered with oil, and while mechanics peered under the bonnet, he made a quick change of visor, setting out again just as Fairfield came round in the lead on his fifth lap. Mays was not the only one in trouble. On the second lap petrol was observed to be pouring from the back of Ford’s M.G. Magnette, which had been converted into a single-seater, and after a short time the car was forced to retire. The tank was punctured by the back-axle dip-stick, which had worked loose. Manby-Colegrave made an early visit to the pits to change plugs, and retired shortly afterwards with a broken back-axle, while
Eccles brought in his Alta to join its teammate at the pits.
The rot soon began to attack the survivors. Handley, who had been lying fifth on his R Type Midget, retired on Bray Hill, while Black and Eyston, also on the new M.G,s, now moved up a step into fifth and sixth places.
Hall was the next driver to encounter misfortune, and after five laps of fierce pursuit behind Fairfield, pulled into his depot and pumped furiously on the pedal of his self-changing geai-box to try to cure the slip on top gear. He was out again in a short time, but only for a couple of laps, then back again for a change of plugs. Black was in at the same time, and changed plugs and examined contactbreaker and brakes. Considering the number of pit-stops and retirements already recorded, it might be supposed that the circuit was by now deserted, but this was by no means the case, the only complaint made by most of the
The bare figures above by no means give all the story. Mays paid several visits to the pits to change visors, and as could be seen his clothes were completely smothered with oil. A crack had developed in one of the main oil pipes, and all attempts to patch it were unsuccessful. After being almost blinded coming down Summer Hill and nearly running into the sea, the driver had no choice but to retire.
Eyston’s M.G., which had run troublefree for the first few laps, suddenly lost all its power and was brought to rest on the Promenade opposite the pits. Eyston rocked it backwards and forwards for some time, peering into the bonnet. The fault was diagnosed as a sheared magneto drive, and the car was thereupon retired, and Black, the only survivor of the official team, was eliminated soon afterwards by the breaking of a universal joint in the back axle. With only a third of the race completed, there were only five cars on the course,
Riley in the Beg race, in which spectators being that they had no idea how many laps the various cars had accomplished. Meanwhile Fairfield was continu ing with undiminished speed, setting up a record lap of 3 min. 24 secs. or 71.21 Hem.p.h., on his sixth round. e braked, cornered and accelerated away from the Promenade hair-pin each time with almost mathematical accuracy, and though his method of cornering at Onchan Hairpin, where he usually took his front wheel over the kerb, caused some anxiety to the marshals stationed at that point, there seemed no reason why he should not main tam n his lead to the end of the race. Freddy Dixon, who was running second, was cornering and driving with his accustomed accuracy, but his car was not equal to catching the E.R.A., which came round each time nearly a quarter of a mile
in the lead. Order at 10th Lap,
1. P. Fairfield (E.R.A.), 68.78 m.p.h.
2. F. W. Dixon (Riley), 67.25 m.p.h., 48a.
3. R. Mays (E.R.A.), 58.89 m.p.h., 5m. 54s. behind leader, 4. T. K. Humber (Bugatti), 57.23 m.p.h.,
7m. 6s. behind leader.
5. N. Black (la.G.(R).), 56.91 m.p.h., 7m. 1a. behind leader._
6. E. R. Hall (M.G. Magnette), 12m. 50s.
he finished second to Fairfield. namely Fairfield, Dixon, Hall, Humber, and Baird. After a slow start Humber had been making good progress on his old four cylinder Bugatti, and as a result of a non-stop run was lying third with an
average speed of 59.55 m.p.h. Hall who had lost nearly twenty minutes in pit stops was fourth, while Baird had been detained at the pits for some time replacing a broken shock-absorber. He was 15 minutes behind Hall, however, and it was doubtful if he would complete the circuit. Dixon had been making great efforts to pull up on Fairfield, and as he intended to complete the race without a pit-stop, there was quite a chance that he would snatch the lead when Fairfield pulled in to refuel. Fairfield had a lead of 11 minutes when he came in on the 24th lap, and
filled up with 22 gallons of petrol in im. i ;secs. The tyres showed little sign of wear which rather upset calculations, and the E.R.A pulled out again all ready for the remaining distance with still a few seconds in hand. Fairfield put on speed again, and was 55 seconds ahead at the
3ot h lap. All quiet then except for the announce meat that Lace on the Alta had officially retired. As he had spent the morning push THE MANNIN BEG RACE—continued. ing his car up and down in front of the pits in the intervals of rebuilding it, it was high time that something of the sort happened. Then came the end of a gallant effort. Humber’s Bugatti which had been running consistently in third place suddenly belched forth clouds of smoke when pa,sing the pits, and came to rest in Broadway with a split petrol tank and a broken connecting rod. Hard luck after a fine
performance. Then there were four !
With ten more laps to go Dixon was int. 295ec5. behind Fairfield and was certain of being second if all went well, but Hall was 21 minutes behind the leader, and unlikely that he would be able to make up the four minutes which would enable him to qualify for third position. However, at the 45th lap there was a fresh development, Dixon was in at the pits ! As the car came to rest Freddy sprang out to the front of the car, covered the radiator cap with a cloth, and opened it, to be greeted with a cloud of steam six feet high. Quantities of water went in, a moment of consultation as the bonnet of the car was lifted off, and some shaking pi’ heads. However, back the bonnet went, and the mechanics started to heave the car with a will. It spluttered and then stopped Had those last strenuous laps been too much for the gasket? It seemed so, but after another effort the Riley fired once more, and Dixon was on the fairway again, starting off with such violence that he turned broadside at th,• hair-pin
right in the path of Fairfield, who was close behind.
A tame finish after a hopeful beginning, and what a massacre of good motor-cars !
The pit-stop cost Dixon sixminutes, .so Fairfield took it easy over the last laps, completing the 201.75 miles in just under three hours. Dixon eased up too, while Hall was flagged off at 48 laps and Baird after 4 t, both of them deserving credit for a struggle against considerable mechanical handicaps.
1. Fairfield (1,090 c.c. E.R.A. 8.), 2h. 59m. 64s., 67.29 m.p.h.
2. F. W. Dixon (1,486 c.c. Riley), 3h. 8m. 46s., 64.13 m.p.h.
E. R. Hall (1,087 c.c. M.G. Afagnette 8.), completed 48 laps, 8h. 18m. 20s., 58.60 m.p.h.
W. R. Baird (746 c.c. M.G. (R). S.), completed 41 laps, 311. 12m, 25s., 51.60 m.p.h.