ENGLISH CARS SCORE A ” DOUBLE ” AT LE MANS Hindmarsh and Fontes (Lagonda Rapid) winners of Grand Prix d’Endurance in keenly contested duel with Heide’s Alfa-Romeo. Martin and Brackenbury (Aston Martin) secure Rudge Whitworth Cup.
NOT since the Bentley era at Le Mans has there been such a decisive display of British sports cars as was seen in this year’s race on the famous Sarthe circuit. Two 4i-litre Lagonda Rapides successfully kept at bay a host of AlfaRomeos, Bugattis, and other fast cars, and one of them was able to bring north again the coveted award for the greatest distance covered in the 24 hours, 1,868 miles, which gives an average speed of 77.85 m.p.h. In that slightly complicated but no less meritorious affair, the Biennial Cup, Aston Martin scored once again, and out of seven cars all but one qualified for next year’s event, the third car being eliminated through an accident. George Eyston’s team of ladies on their M.G. Midgets finished intact and in good order, and the Singers seemed in good trim till eliminated by electrical trouble. The Rileys were somewhat disappointing, but fine individual performances were made by Von der Becke and also by Trevoux. It was in fact a ” famous victory.”
Looking through the list of entries, it would have been disappointing if English cars had not done something, since 37 out of the 59 cars came from British factories. Of these only two were over if-litres, these being two of the three Lagonda Rapides which won the team prize at Ulster last year, with Hindmarsh and Fontes at the wheel of the one entered by Arthur Fox, and Dr. Benjafield and Sir Ronald Gunter on the other. Below the t,soo c.c. mark there were no less than seven Aston Martins, the three team cars, which differed slightly from last year’s models in being slightly lower, being driven by Elwes and Morris Goodall, Penn Hughes and Fothringham, and Martin and Brackenbury. There were also sundry Magnettes, a team of if litre Rileys and two Frazer-Nashes, one of them blown, and a Singer. The only French car in the category was an Amilcar.
Singers dominated the one-litre class with eight entries, three of them factory cars, then came the M.G. team of three P-type cars with all-women crews, three factory Austins, a couple of Fiats and a B.N.C. The usual crop of rumours went through the British camps during the week of practice, how the Astons were running too rich,
that the Singers were having some bother, that the fuel was appalling, and that Rileys had blown up an engine, and the general uneasiness was not improved by the prospects of unsettled weather. Out of the 59 cars which presented themselves for scrutiny, however, only one was missing, the 4.9 Bugatti driven by Valence which crashed in the last night of practise.
decorated quarter mile line of two-storey buildings, with the Astons and Singers almost out of sight at the far end. Flags of all nations were flying over the brightly painted pits, banks of flowers were set beneath the score-board, and a rosegarden with lawns had been laid out at the top of the pits. The Automobile Club de Ouest had certainly done their best to
Heavy rain greeted the drivers as they looked out of their bedrooms that Saturday morning, and shower followed shower as the cars were brought up to the start and lined up before the pits. The cars were grouped together according to the type of fuel used, and this brought together such strangely assorted machines as the four Austin Sevens and the huge Duesenburg driven by Prince Nicholas of Roumania, in the next pit the 2.3 Alfas of Lord Howe and Heide and a solitary Singer Nine. The Rileys were half way down the gaily
make their circuit worthy of the occasion, and the only thing they could not control was the weather. Meanwhile from every side came lorries and private cars, bearing pit-signals and impedimenta, jacks, spare wheels and funnels, bedding, basket-chairs and hampers of food and drink for the drivers and their aides, part of the spectacle which distinguishes Le Mans from any other race. Order was at length established, and the cars were wheeled to their starting places facing diagonally across the road, with the
7-litre Duesenburg, which was the largest car in the race, at the head of the line.
All engines were stopped, the announcer greeted the drivers in the name of the Club and wished them good luck on the strenuous race before them, and then invited them to take their places on the other side of the road ready facing their cars. The rain had decided to cease, and as the veteran Charles Faroux raised his flag the sky took on a more cheerful aspect. Down with the flag and the drivers sprinted across to their cars, jumped in through doors already open, and pressing the starter buttons, woke the engines into life. Lewis, who was taking the first turn, Chinetti and Hindmarsh were the first away, and then large medium and small cars in streams and groups, the biggest massed start ever known on the Sarthe circuit. Only two cars were left behind, two Bugattis, one of which Vallee’s blown two-litre lost twenty minutes before it could get away.
Six minutes later the boom of an Alfa could be heard and the first car appeared. It was Brian Lewis, closely followed by Sommer and Chinetti and a little behind them the Duesenburg, Helde’s 2.3 Alfa and Veyron’s 44-litre Bugatti. Sommer quickened his pace and gained the lead or. the next lap, but in so doing cooked his plugs and had to call at the pits next lap to change them. Lewis held the lead till the 6th and then come in to cure misfiring, which was traced to a faulty distributor.
At the end of the first hour the order was : Chinetti, Sommer, Heide, all on 2.3litre Alfa-Romeos, then Hindmarsh on the Lagonda, Veyron on the Bugatti and Prince Nicholas on the Duesenburg. The Astons showed an early turn of speed, Penn Hughes and Martin occupying the next two places.
Chinetti was not destined to hold his lead for long, for within the next hour he made two stops and on the second of them changed a wheel and pulled off one of the brake drums to inspect the lining. This let Sommer into the lead again, and after Heide had stopped at the pit to pull up his shock-absorbers, Hindmarsh had stepped into second place with the 4.9litre Bugatti third. The speed shown by the Lagonda was a surprise to most people and we noticed that even so 11 indmarsh was making no attempt at violent cornering and therefore had a good deal in hand. The whole circuit was by now overcast by a dense black cloud not more than no feet
up and at 6 o’clock a heavy shower came thrashing down, to the discomfort of the crowds who were lining the new road curving up from the Stands. Shortly after this People could be seen bunching together at one point as though some accident had happened. No announcement was made, but what had happened was that Elwes, who was driving one of the team Aston Martins, had skidded on a loose patch of gravel and had thumped into the bank, knocking off the pointed tail panel covering the spare wheel but doing no other damage.
Refuelling at Le Mans is not permitted until the cars have covered 24 laps. The first to come in was Veyron who filled up and changed over in II minutes. Then Sommer who had built up a lead of 3 minutes, was waved in. His stop took longer, over 2 minutes, and as his spare driver had fallen ill, he had to return to the wheel again, no pleasant prospect in view of the weather. Lewis was in next and handed over to Howe who got away in r minute 443 seconds. The only retirement after three hours was Connell’s Singer, which was out with
clutch trouble at Arnage. Two of the Bugattis, Chaude’s 2.3 and Vallee’s 2-litre, naid constant visits to the pits, only to emerge again running on six or seven cylinders and emitting car-splitting noises. Maillard-Brune’s M.G. Magnette and Midget, two cars which have done well at Montlhery on several occasions, were completely without silencers, and some of the other foreign cars seemed almost to have been fitted with noise-amplifiers. The great Duesenburg which had been travelling well in sixth place came in just after nine, and after a two-minute stop continued on its way. Unfortunately not for long ; it retired shortly afterwards with magneto trouble. About this time Fothringham’s Aston Martin failed to appear. The car had turned over at White House Corner and the driver flung out, but he escaped with nothing worse than bruises and shock. Mrs. Wisdom’s Riley was out with a melted big-end, and Dixon’s car was in at the pits. After Six Hours :
1. Sommer (2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo S.), 58 laps, 5 h. 58 m. 4 s., 81.87 m.p.h.
2. Hindmarsh-Fontes (4i-litre Lagonda S.), 58 laps, 5 h. 53 m. 47 s.
3. Helde-Stoffel (2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo S.), 58 laps, 5 h. 57 m. 34 s.
4. Veyron-Labrie (4.9-litre Bum:1,M 8.). 56 laps.
6. Lord Howe-Lewis (2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo S.), 54 laps.
6. Benjafield-Gunter (41-litre Lagonda), 54 laps.
Then Van der Beck° (Riley), De Sousa (Bugatti), Paris _(Delahaye), Chinetti (Alfa), • and Martin and Faulkner (Aston-Martins).
In spite of having to drive single-handed, Sommer seemed to have gained a safe lead, but shortly after xi he was reported as being stopped at Mulsanne. He got going again, however, and arrived back at the pits at 11.25, the car proceeding in a series of jerks as though there was something the matter with the clutch. Actually the trouble was a blocked fuel pipe and after 25 minutes of frantic work at the pits he roared away in pursuit of Fontes and the rest. A British car in the lead, and a lap ahead of Heide and Labric !
This change of fortune was the clue for a fresh attack by Brian Lewis, who passed into second place at z a.m. and an hour later was in the lead. The Lagonda had been held up somewhat by damage to the lamps, the glasses and lenses of which were smashed in spite of the wire-mesh guards. Fortunately the ingenious Arthur Fox had provided himself with celluloid-fronted covers, so the car continued without much delay, secure in fourth place. Order after Twelve 1-lours:
1. Lord Howe-Lewis (2.3-litre AlfaRomeo S.), 113 laps, 11 h. 55 m. 25 s., 79.45 m.p.h.
2. Veyron-Labrio (4.9-litre Bugattl S.), 113 laps, 11 h. 57 m. 43 s.
3. Helde-Stoffel (2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo S.), 112 laps, 11 h. 57 m.
4. Hindmarsh-Fontes (41-litre Lagonda), 112 laps, 11 h. 57 in. 2 s.
5. Chinetti-Castaud (2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo S.), 108 laps.
6. Benjafleld-Gunter (41-litre Lagonda), 106 laps.
Followed by Martin (Aston-Martin), Millean (11-litre Riley), Paris (Delahaye), Von der Backe (11-litre Riley). The Bugatti was less than two minutes behind the leading Alfa, after twelve hours of running, but shortly after four Veyron was forced to retire with a broken back axle, and the same thing happened to Chinetti a little while afterwards. Sommer had long since disappeared, so this left only four really fast cars of a capacity larger than if litres, the Alfas of Howe and Heide, and the Lagondas driven by Hindmarsh and Benjafield. Heide put on speed but Howe replied to the challenge, only to go out at five in the morning with a hole
through a piston. Alfa-Lagonda-Lagonda was the order for an hour, then Benjafield dropped back, to be replaced by Charlie Martin on the leading Aston Martin.
The night had been chilly but free from rain, and by eight in the morning spirits were revived by a wash and shave at the barber’s shop at the back of the pits or under the cold-water supply laid on in the enclosure. The fragrant smell of eggs and bacon gladdened the hearts of Englishmen, and people began to take an intelligent interest in what had been happening during the night. Altogether there had been 23 retirements out of the 58 starters, and the foreign cars seemed to have come off considerably worse than the English ones. All the Bugattis except Villeneuve’s blown ri-litre had retired, the last one being De Souza’s “3.3 ” with gear-box trouble. The Lorraine, the Derby and the Amilcar had also disappeared. On our side we had lost the two Singers, both with defective starters, Herzberger’s and Baumer’s Magnettes and Maillard-Brune’s blown 750 C.C. Midget, the latter with a broken supercharger drive. Tim Davies’s Frazer-Nash was out with a damaged radiator, and Goodacre’s Austin had some unknown “accident de route,” according to the official bulletin.
Meanwhile the Hindmarsh-Fontes Lagonda had been pressing hard on the Alfa and was only a minute behind, and when Stoffel pulled in to his pits the English car passed into the lead. It was going to be a battle to the death between these two, for they were both 9 laps ahead of Martin on the Aston. Then came another piece of news, Sebilleau on a 1+-litre Riley, who had been running in sixth place, had turned over at Arnage, the driver being uninjured. Just at that moment Dixon brought his Riley in to the pits, and before one realised it, flames came shooting out of the bonnet, and Freddy dismounted in very quick time. The flames were quickly swamped in floods of extinguisher fluid, but the car was too badly damaged to continue. Order at Eighteen Hours :
1. H Indmarsh-Fontes (41-litre Lagonda), 169 laps, 17 h. 56 m. 24 8., 78.96 m.p.h.
2. Helde-Stoffel (2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo S.), 169 laps, 17 h. 57 m. 61 s.
3. Martin-Braokenbury (14-litre AstonMartin), 160 laps, 17 h. 64 m. 15 s.
4. Beniafield-Gunter (41-litre Lagonda). 160 laps.
5. Paris-Mongin (3.2-litre Delahaye), 160 laps.
6. Guy-Desvignes (1,750 c.c. Alfa-Rorneo S.), 155 laps.
Followed by Elwes and Faulkner (AstonMartins). Von der Becke (11-litre Riles?), Trevoux (1.100 c.c. Riley). There just seemed time to take a last look round the course before the hectic period which generally occurs at the end of the 24-Hour race. We had already learnt that the corner into the new road was difficult and the long straight down to Mulsanne highly cambered and rather rough, so we decided to visit the other side of the course. The surface was cut up in places round by the “Esses,” while at Arnage the corner was so slippery that about t5 m.p.h. seemed to be the limit. Tail-wagging was frequent as the cars accelerated away. One of the least successful at this point was Bodoignet on the closed Talbot. Shortly after we arrived he overshot the corner completely and had to take to the slip-road, There was no harm in that, of course, but then he backed out at a furious pace and
completely blocked the road, and the wretched F. S. Barnes, who suddenly arrived on the scene, was forced to dive into a two foot deep ditch to avoid a head-on collision. Luckily his momentum carried him right out of it again, breaking off short a concrete warning post as he went, and he regained the road with no damages except a smashed wing-stay.
Mulsanne was still damp but everyone treated it with respect. There were not so many cars on the course now, but the Lagondas, the AlfaRomeo and the Aston Martin came round closely bunched for some time, and except for Benjafield’s car, which was dropping back, the speeds of the group seemed pretty evenly matched. The Alfa pulled up for some time, then, after coming into the pits to change drivers, another long call was made to try to stop a water leak, so that
Talbot saloon which had been going splendidly pulled into the pits and was surrounded by a swarm of helpers, then was pushed out of the way into retirement. Von der Becke’s Riley which was running fifth came into the pits to have its front wings lashed up. Trevoux on the ‘,too c.c. car, the only other Riley still going, was progressing steadily in eighth place. It is worth noting incidentally, that Von der Becke’s car was fitted with one of the new 4-cylinder engines. ” Benjy ” then appeared with the second Lagonda, and stopped at the pits, tore out the back seat, the floor boards, the tools and everything else, and dumped them on the ground, and the mechanic dived inside in an endeavour to get at the works. Nothing could be done to repair the fault, which was a damaged gear-box, but with only four laps to go to qualify for next year’s Rudge
by two o’clock the Lagonda was nearly three laps ahead. Benj afield had dropped right back, allowing Paris, who had been
making excellent progress on his Delahaye. to move into fourth place, Meanwhile what of the Coupe Biennale, which is contested for amongst the cars which have two years in succession exceeded their set distance? The performance on the
second year naturally is the deciding factor. The Lagonda and the Alfa were credited respectively with an index of 1.041, and t.o48, Maillard-Brune’s M.G. Magnette 1.146, but highest of all was the Aston Martin driven by Martin and Brackenbury, with 1.163. All the Aston Martin had already qualified for the next year’s event, and the ladies on their M.G.s had just reached their qualifying lap. The Austins’ team had been rather disappoint ing, the car driven by Dodson being now The only survivor, but Carr’s privately entered car had passed its minimum dis
tance. The stage was now set for the final struggle. Could the Alfa catch the British car? With a lead of over two laps it did not seem likely. To divert us a little, the Cup the learned doctor climbed back into the car and with a beaming smile set out to complete the distance on top gear. He managed it quite comfortably, thanks to a
flexible engine. With an hour and a half to go Hindmarsh came in to have a front wheel changed, which was carried out in 30 seconds and Stoffel stopped as well, possibly to find out his position. Another stop by Hindmarsh, with the Alfa only 3 minutes behind, then Stoffel stops once again, this time to let Held 6 take the wheel. The Alfa equipe clearly think their man is in the lead, and the announcer clearly was of the same opinion. For a moment nobody knows how things stood, then too late the Frenchman realised their mistake and united in urging on their man as he passed the pits. It was too late then, and in a few minutes Hind marsh pulls up triumphantly at his depot,
winner of the 13th Grand Prix d’Endurance. It was a fine piece of work for drivers en trent and car, and Britain’s prestige was further maintained when Brackenbury crossed the line on the Aston Martin to take third place in the Grand Prix Race,
also winning the Rudge-Whitworth Cup. LE MANS 24 HOUR RACE-continued,
THE RESULTS. General Classification.
1. J. S. Hindmarsh and L. Fontes (4litre Lagonda), 1,868.42 miles, 77.85 m.11-11.
2. Heide and Stoffel (2.3-litre AlfaRomeo), 1,863.16 miles.
3. C. E. C. Martin and C. Brackenbury (11-litre Aston-Martin), 1,805.52 miles.
4. Von der Becke and C. Richardson (11-litre Riley), 1,746.71 miles.
5. Paris and Mongin (3.3-litre Delahaye), 1,739.07 miles.
6. Don and Desvignes (1,750 Alfa-Romeo). 1,717.43 miles. 7. Riley (J. TriSvoux and Carriere)
8. Aston-Martin (M. Falkner and T. Clarke).
9. M.G. (Maillard-Brune and Druck).
10. Aston-Martin (C. Thomas and M. Kenyon).
11.Aston-Martin (P. Donkin and M. Hamilton).
12. Aston-Martin (j. Elwes and M. Morris).
13. Lagonda (Dr. Benjafield and R. Gunter).
14. Bugatti (L. Villeneuve and Vagniez).
15. Aston-Martin (R. P. Gardner and A.
16. Singer (F. S. Barnes and A. H. Langley).
17. Singer (A. He’non and R. Res).
18. Fiat (Mme Hier and M. jacob).
19. Singer (G. Bendy and J. Boulten).
20. Singer (A. Marsh and T. Guest).
21. B.N.C. (P. Duval and Treunet).
22. Singer (R. Gaillard and Aim).
23. Singer (J. Savoye and G. Lapchin).
24. M.G. (Miss Richmond and Mrs. G. Simpson).
25. M.G. (Miss Evans and Miss Skinner).
26. M.G. (Miss Allan and Mrs. C. Eaton).
27. Austin (J. Carr and J. Barbour).
28. Austin (C. Dodson and R. Richardson).
CLASS RESULTS. Over 4 Litres.
1. Hindmarsh and Fontes (Lagonda 44litre), 77.85 m.p.h.
2. Dr. Benjafield and Sir Ronald Gunter (Lagonda 44-litre), 1,646.66 miles, 68.61 m.p.h.
1. Heide and Stoffel (Alfa-Romeo), 1,863.16 miles. 2. Paris and Mongin (3.3-litre Delahaye), 1,739 miles. 3-litre Class,
1. Guy Don and Desvigne (Alfa-Romeo), 1,717.43 miles.
2. Villeneuve and Wagniez (Bugatti), 1,635.83 miles.
1. Maillard Brune and Druck (M.C. Magnette), 1,699.01 miles, 70.79 m.p.h. (Running in this class because the car is supercharged).
1,500 c.c. Class.
1. Martin and Brackenbury (AstonMartin), 1,805.52 miles, 75.22 m.p.h.
2. Von der Becke and Richardson (Riley), 1,746.52 miles.
3. Trevoux and Carriere (Riley), 1,710.87 miles.
4. Faikner and Clarke (Aston-Martin).
5. Thomas and Kenyon (Aston-Martin).
6. Donkin and Lord Hamilton (AstonMartin).
7. Elwes and Morris Goodall (AstonMartin).
8. Gardner and Beloe (Aston-Martin).
9. Henon and Res (Singer). 1,000 c.c. Class. 1, F. S. Barnes and A. H. Langley (Singer), 1,540.03 miles, 64.17 m.p.h.
2. Mme Hier and Jacob (Fiat Salina), 1,446.87 miles.
3. Gordon Hendy and Boulton (Singer), 1,437.49 miles.
4. Marsh and Guest (Singer).
5. Duval and Treunet (B.N.C.).
6. Gaillard and Arnie (Singer).
7. Samoye and Lapehin (Singer).
8. Miss Richmond and Mrs. Gordon Simpson (M.G.).
9. Miss Evans and Miss Skinner (M.G.).
10. Miss Allan and Mrs. Eaton (M.G.).
11. John Carr and Barbour (Austin).
12. C. Dobson and R. Richardson (Austin), Eleventh Biennial Rudge-Whitworth Cup1934-1935.
1. Martin and Brackenbury (AstonMartin). Figure of merit, 1,31.
2. Barnes and Langley (Singer 973 C.C.). Figure of merit. 1.28.
3. Von der Becke (14-litre Riley). Figure of merit, 1.26.
4. Trevoux and Carriere (11-litre Riley). Figure of merit, 1.25.
5. Tie between Elwes (Aston-Martin) and Mme. ltier (Fiat Balilla 993 c.c.). Figure of merit, 1.19.
6. Tie between Hindmarsh (44-litre Lagonda). and Gardner (11-litre Aston-Martin). Figure of merit, 1.16.