David and Goliath at Shelsley
Raymond Mays retains his title with a 1½-litre E.R.A.
Hans Stuck finds his Auto-Union “impossible” on the wet surface.
A well-run meeting but few outstanding performances.
In 1930 Hans Stuck bore off the Shelsley record on his Austro-Daimler with what seemed to the spectators the greatest of ease, and ever since that date enthusiasts have spoken with bated breath of the return of the Bergmeister. It was just the worst kind of luck that when Leslie Wilson's efforts had at last met with success and the German driver and his Auto-Union car were brought to the starting line that a sharp shower of rain should ruin all chances of a record-breaking run.
The car brought to England was the special short chassis hill-climb car, fitted with a very wide rear axle and twin rear wheels. The capacity of the engine was 5.3 litres. In practice Stuck had effected some meteoric climbs and by hand-timing had equalled Raymond May's record of 39 3/5 seconds. Mays was as fast as ever on his 2-litre car and everything seemed set for an outstanding battle between the German and English cars. On his last practice run, however, he was reduced to the verge of despair. His hill-climb car had been fitted with a Zoller blower at the rear of the engine, and a down-draught carburetter with a horizontal piston. At the top of the hill this piston stuck in the full throttle position, discharging quantities of fuel into the engine, which caused everything to seize solid. As events turned out, the wet surface nullified the tremendous engine-power of the Auto-Union and Mays won through on his performance on the smaller E.R.A. Apart from these two performers, the entry list was rather lacking in interest.
The classes were sub-divided into supercharged and unsupercharged cars irrespective of whether they were of sports or racing type, and this undoubtedly kept away interesting cars such as 2.3-litre Alfas and Bugattis. The total entries were limited to sixty, of which sixteen were 1,100 c.c. cars and sixteen 1½-litre, while the popular 3-litre category was reduced to a mere three. On the other hand the regulations encouraged a good crop of more or less spidery Shelsley Specials. The most ambitious effort was Glegg's Dorcas II, starting with a front-drive V-twin B.S.A, on an orthodox chassis, last year it became four-wheel-drive, the power being applied to the back wheels by means of chains of astonishing length. In its latest form it has independent springing with wishbone " Schwingachsen " the rear wheels being driven by shaft and fixed differential a la Mercedes.
In spite of clouded skies the crowds of spectators converging on Shelsley were as big as ever, and by one o'clock the stands overlooking the " crossing " and the S-bend were already well filled. " Bira " performed the ceremony of opening the course, by driving up in his attractive blue open Bentley, and the first of the racing cars was then brought to the line, Maclachlan's Austin 7. The performance of the car seemed in no way impaired by its new neat body and Maclachlan reached the top with a snappy climb in 44.4 seconds. Denis Evans' Montlhery Midget sounded very fruity and it shot up in 45.2 and King-Clark's Midget which was misfiring slightly as it left the line, 45.8 seconds. Gannett's blown Austin took 58.8 seconds.
The rest of the class consisted of five single-seater works Austins, two side-valve and the three new o.h. camshaft models. S. C. H. Davis's car sounded a little fluffy at the start but he made a nice clean climb in 47.6 seconds. Baumer, the German driver, who has now purchased one of the side-valves for racing in Germany was much fiercer getting away, actually having to cut out for the Kennel bend. He took the S-bends in a well-judged sweep and finished his astonishing climb in 42.6 seconds, which incidentally is only 2/5 second slower than Stuck's record which stood from 1930 to 1933. It was in fact second best performance of the day, equalled only by Pane on the Frazer-Nash.
Driscoll got away with his usual dash on the twin-camshaft model, but misfiring set in just before the S-bends. His time was 47.6 seconds. The same trouble beset Goodacre and Dodson, though to a lesser extent, their times being respectively 43.2 and 44.6 seconds.
Spikins with his tiny supercharged 972 c.c. Singer failed to get away from the line and gave place to Instone on the supercharged G.N. Martyr. He got away with fine acceleration and a shattering exhaust note, hit the bank at the Kennel bend and was so fast that he had to ease higher up. He climbed in 47 seconds. Richard Bolster on his Magnette-engined Special took matters further by going broadside at the Kennel but came up unscathed in 249.6. In contrast Miss Skinner made a neat and undisturbing climb on her blown Morris Minor, in 49 dead.
Monkhouse with a well-turned-out Amilcar and thousands of revs took 51.2 seconds, and Maclean's Magnette (S) firing on five, 60.6. Hippisley-Cox also lost one of his two cylinders and took 63.8 seconds. Whitehead's Alta sounded well till it reached the S-bend and then conked out apparently through lack of fuel, and Moor's Wasp, trembling with the urge of its two cylinders, just died at the same place, the owner apparently unable to get it into a lower gear. Sulman enlivened things with his dirt-track Sulrnan Singer which buzzed up the hill like a bumble-bee and reached the top including a broadside at the bends in 55.4 seconds. The Lagonda Rapier by " K.O. Biaritz " went up with its rev-counter well over the red sector and frequent tunes on the self-change gearbox in 56.6.
Rain had long been threatening and now began to fall, but in compensation the 1,100 c.c. class concluded with three entertaining runs. After a slow start Lindsay Glegg brought up Dorcas II in great style. The front wheels as usual flapped wildly, but Clegg proved himself thoroughly competent to deal with his difficult mount and climbed in 51.4 seconds. Appleton's supercharged Appleton Special had so much power that the driver had to keep cutting in and out on the lower stretches of the hill, but swept round the S-bend with an exhaust note which shook the midriff, climbing to the time of 45.6 seconds. Carlmark (G.N. Jap) earned a round of applause for a fast steady climb, and undeterred by his crash-hat falling off half-way up, reached the summit in 48.4 seconds.
Some of the best times in practice had been made by A. F. P. Fane on his single-seater Frazer-Nash and he was now on the line, awaiting the famous "six pips" of the starting signal. He got away with a rush, controlled a slide on the Kennel bend, and in an incredibly short time was streaking faster than anyone yet up to the S-bends. These he negotiated without a trace of a slide and shot -to the finishing line in 42.6 seconds, a magnificent effort made more creditable by the damp surface of the hill.
Mrs. Petre's supercharged Riley was not up to its usual form, misfiring all the way and almost stalling on the bends. Her time was 55.8 seconds. Bagratouni was unexciting on an ex-T.T. 1,287 c.c. Magnette. Ivo Peters (Frazer-Nash) was adequate with a climb in 54.8 seconds, but was quite overshadowed by Goodwin on a similar car. He approached the bends at high speed and fairly shot through to the tune of 49.6 seconds, a highly satisfactory time for an unsupercharged sports car. He was followed by Symonds (Davenport Special); the oar suffered from misfiring and could only make it in 52.8 seconds.
With the 2-litre E.R.A. hors de combat all Raymond Mays' hopes were centred in the 1½-litre car which he had driven in the Isle of Man. He made his usual perfect get-away, took the Kennel bend in a way which made the announcer lyrical, and simply rushed up to the beginning of the esses. Snicking in a lower gear without a break in the exhaust note he hurtled through, went through the bends with an absence of effort which only perfect control and a long acquaintance of the hill could make possible and streaked away to the finish to record, 41.6 seconds, fastest time of the day.
The starting line by this time had become distinctly, slippery and G. S. Griffiths (Anzani-Nash) had a broadside as he got away but was quite safe on the higher slopes of the hill, climbing in 47.4 seconds. After him came Mangoletsi in an old but very well preserved T.T. Lea Francis. He got off the mark in great style with yellow flames shooting from the short exhaust stubs, and gained the summit with a healthy sound and smell of methanol in 48.2 seconds. Miss Allan was rather slow through the bends on " Tim Davies " single-seater Frazer-Nash, but her time of 48 seconds put her in the lead for the Ladies' Cup.
There was a renewal of interest as R. G. J. Nash, now holder of the Lewes Hill Record, came to the line, but his car was out of sorts and made a bad start and his time was only 51.8 seconds.
The rain had now started again in earnest as Pane opened the 2-litre class with a well-judged climb in 52 seconds on his Frazer-Nash B.M.W. sliding it through the first bend and changing down at the same time. He took 52 seconds. Once more the spectators braced themselves, this time on hearing that John Bolster's Special, with its two V-twin engines and its wooden chassis, was on the line. Incidentally it is now christened with a nice disregard for the finer points of French syntax, " Sanglant " Marie.
On the lower slopes of the hill it gave little evidence of its bloodthirsty nature, reaching the crossing in 17 seconds, one of the best times yet and avoiding an incipient broadside coming through the S-bends caused by too much throttle, John swayed up the finishing stretch to record 45.8 seconds. This was the fastest time made by an unsupercharged car. Dobbs on the off-set Riley lost time at the Kennel bend and had a snake on the wet surface through the S-bends, completing his climb in 49.2 seconds.
In the 3-litre class Newsome brought up his short chassis S.S. amid clouds of smoke. His time was 58.2 seconds, his rival in the class being Powys-Lybbe in the old 2.5-litre Alvis, its chassis stripped of all possible accessories and even the doors ; he clocked 55.4 seconds. The surface by now was distinctly slippery and the two blown cars, both Bugattis, treated it with respect. Whadcoat (twin-camshaft G.P.) did 49.6 as against Bainton's 50.8 on the older type "2.3." The entries in the 5-litre class were equally lean, the only supercharged car being the 3.3-litre Bugatti driven by Lindsey Eccles. He suffered from wheelspin on the line but was steady higher up, climbing in 50.6 seconds. Marker was driving Strang's Hudson and sailed up silently and well in 53.4 seconds, while Hughes, the only survivor of the once popular 30/98 brigade, took 57.6 seconds.
Given good weather Stuck and his Auto-Union should have provided a perfect climax to the meeting, but with every inch of the hill soaked with rain, he obviously was going to have a stiff task even equal to Mays' time on the smaller E.R.A. From the top of the hill the low pitched rumble of the 16 cylinders could be heard, then "he's off." Colossal wheelspin from the line all the way up the hill, with the tail swinging about in dangerous proximity to the high banks on each side of the road, and under these conditions Stuck could do nothing more than give the throttle an occasional dig, which produced either a fresh bout of wheelspin or occasionally a tremendous forward spurt. He treated the S-bends with the greatest respect, and an attempt to give a touch of throttle on the last stretch brought about further unsteadiness as he crossed the finishing line time 45.2 seconds. It must have been a great disappointment after coming so far, but Shelsley weather is no respecter of Bergmeisters ! The car, or rather the back-axle, was so wide that Stuck was unable to use the return road, but received a great reception as he toasted back down the hill.
The first part of the programme concluded with runs by Burness and Mrs. Darbishire on a stripped and shortened 33-180 Mercedes-Benz. Their first runs, in 61.2 and 72.8 seconds respectively were somewhat hampered by plug leads jumping off. Second time up, the supercharger blared to better effect, giving times of 58.8 and 62.2 seconds.
In two-and-a-half hours nearly sixty cars had been sent up the thousand yards of the Shelsley climb, a feat of which Mr. Wilson and his colleagues of the M.A.C. may well be proud. The half-hour tea interval then provided a welcome break, and we returned to find the rain had ceased, though the surface showed little signs of drying.
Denis Evans opened the second runs with his Midget, and quite unperturbed by the wet made an excellent climb in 48.6 seconds: Less successful were King-Clark with 52.2 seconds and Garman (Austin) 78.2. The works Austins were being held over for the benefit of the B.B.C. listeners later on so we then saw Appleton (un/s Appleton Riley) who took 56.2 seconds. The first real victim of the wet surface was Richard Bolster on the smaller Special. He got off the line with a broadside but recovered, but when just short of the S-bend swung right round and charged the sandbags. He "kept his prop " and shot down the hill again right away. Instone's blown G.N. did 52.2 seconds and Monkhouse a steady climb in 52.4 seconds, Sulman a level and the Lagonda 59.2 seconds. Carlmark, another G.N. enthusiast took most of the road, but got up in 51 seconds and Bagratouni (Magnette) improved on his first run with 55.2. Two good sportscar runs were made by Mangoletsi (supercharged Lea Francis) and Goodwin (Frazer-Nash) in 53.6 and 53.4 respectively while Symonds (Davenport) made a slow get-away, time 57.2 seconds. Fane was characteristically neat on the B.M.W. climbing in 53.2 seconds.
Driscoll led off the " official " Austins, but the tremendous blare of power was interrupted by misfiring, time 51.4 seconds. Dodson, whose car was fitted with twin wheels did better, with 48.6, seconds, but the star ascent was made by Goodacre who was very fast through the bends and held a slide at the top. He clocked 47.2 seconds against Baumer's 49.2, Davis's time on the other side-valve being 52.4.
Next came Mrs. Petre on the blown Riley, intent on securing the Ladies’ Prize. Her car sounded better this time but she had wheel spin all the way up, the hill, clocking 51. Then came a sensation. Dobbs on the off-set Riley came up the hill at tremendous speeds and quite unmindful of the wet, but when he came to brake for the S-bend the car just shot straight on and plunged into the earth bank guarding the outside of the bend. He was unhurt, but the front axle of the Riley was completely " written-off."
There was a spot of delay as the Morris six-wheeler dragged the remains to the top of the bill and then Stuck once more took his place on the line. Once more there was frantic wheelspin as he let in the clutch, and he had to slow down almost to stalling point before he could get the car on the move. Light pedal work got him up to the S-bend which he again took cautiously. In a final desperate effort to show what the car could do, he ventured to put his foot down on the last stretch. He was rewarded by the most ferocious series of tail-wags we have ever witnessed, his elbows in turn rising high above the car's side as he corrected the skids, and finished the run with a skid across the line which must have made the timing officials jump for their lives. But it was no good, this time he only clocked 48.4 seconds.
Eccles (Bugatti) came up with jets of spray from his wheels in 51, and Pane (Frazer-Nash) was .6 seconds slower, slowing down at the Kennels after an excellent start. The second run of the E.R.A. once more showed Mays as a stylist. Getting away from the line with smoking tyres but holding it, he lost no time on the lower slopes of the hill, took the S-bend with a couple of easy sweeps and shot to the summit without any fuss in 48 seconds.
Appleton was slow away from the mark, but fast on the upper stretches – time 51 seconds. Powys-Lybbe made an appearance on the Alvis, now further lightened by the removal of the bonnet and was cheered as he recorded 57 seconds. Other times were Newsome (S.S.) 52 seconds, Miss Skinner (s/c Morris Minor) 54.2 seconds, Moor on the Wasp 54.4, Whatcoat (Bugatti) 52, and Bainton (Bugatti) 51.2 seconds.
Fresh sensation as John Bolster met with a side-slip at the Kennel bend, mastered it, and came steadily to the summit in 49.2 seconds, a surprising performance with the hill still wet. Griffiths (Anzani Spook) had a nasty skid through the bends but corrected it and finished in 54 seconds. Glegg's Dorcas filled the public address system with its clamour, and got round the Kennel bend with difficulty, finishing with 1½-cylinders in 56 seconds.
Interest was well maintained to the end with a varied selection of cars, Miss Allan recording 55.6 seconds on Davis's single-seater Nash, Mrs. Petre on Fane's ditto 52, Marker on the Hudson 56, and Hughes on his two-seater 30/98 Vauxhall 57.6 seconds.
M.A.C. Cup and £200 (best time of the day) : Raymond Mays (1½-litre E.R.A.), 41 3/5s.
M.A.C. Cup and £50 (second fastest): Tie between A. F. P. Fane (1½-litre Frazer-Nash) and W. Baumer (747 c.c. Austin s.v.) 42 3/8s.
M.A.C. Cup (fastest British car): Raymond Mays (E.R.A.).
£25 (second fastest British car): C. L. Goodacre (744 c.c. Austin o.h.v.) 43 3/5s.
Cup (fastest unsupercharged car): John Bolster (1,962 c.c.. Bolster Special), 45 3/5s.
C.P. Type Challenge Cup and Replica. (fastest unsupereharged car under 1,500 c.c.): H. D. Carlmark (998 c.cG.N.-J.A.P.), 48 3/5s.
Garvagh Challenge Cup and Replica (fastest unsupercharged car over 1,500 c.c.) H. G. Dobbs (1,986 c.c. Riley), 49½s.
M.A.C. Cup and £25 (fastest car driven by a woman): Miss Margaret Allan (1½-litre Frazer-Nash, S.), 48s.
Pray Challenge Cup and Replica (team prize) : Austin team-L.P. Driscoll and C.L. Goodacre (o.h.v.) and Walter Baumer (s.v. model).
(Note.–No driver is entitled to more than one cash award. Where a British car wins the £200 prize the second fastest is awarded the £25 prize).
750 c.c. Supercharged : Walter Baumer (Austin s.v.), 42 3/5s.
750 c.c. Unsupercharged : No runners.
1,100 c.c. Supercharged : R. J. W. Appleton (Appleton Riley), 45 3/5s.
1,100 c.c. Unsupercharged : H.D. Carlmark (G.N.-J.A.P.), 48 3/5s.
1,500 c.c. Supercharged : Raymond Mays (E.R.A.) 41 3/5s
1,500 c.c. Unsupercharged : B. L. Goodwin (Frazer-Nash), 49 3/5s.
2-litre Supercharged : No runners.
2-litre Unsupercharged : John Bolster (Bolster Special), 45 3/5s.
3-litre Supercharged : W. E. Whadeoat (Bugatti),
3-litre Unsupercharged : S. H. Newsome (SS Jaguar), 52 3/5s.
5-litre Supercharged : A. H. L. Eccles (3.3 Bugatti), 50 3/5s.
Unsupercharged : R. R. K., Marker (Husson) 53 3/5s.
Over 5 Litres Supercharged : Hans Stuck (5.3 Auto-Union), 45½s.
Over 5 Litres Unsupercharged : No runners.
The Times of the first Ten Competitors.
1. Raymond Mays (1½-litre E.R.A., S.), 41 3/5s.
2. Walter Baumer (Austin s.v., S.) and A. F. P. Fane (1½-litre Frazer-Nash, S.) 42 3/5s.
3. C. L. Goodacre (Austin o.h.v., S.) 43 1/5s.
4. A. N. L. Machlachlan (Austin s.v., S.) 44 2/5s.
5. C. J. P. Dodson (Austin o.h.v., S.) 44 3/5s.
6. D. G. Evans (M.G. Midget., S.) and Hans Stuck (5.3 Auto-Union, S.) 45 1/5s.
7. R. J. W. Appleton ( 1,089 c.c. Llewellyn Appleton, S.), 43 3/5s.
8. R. King-Clark (M.G. Midget, S.), and John Bolster (2-litre Bolster Special U/s), 45 3/5s.
9. C. R. Istone (G.N. Martyr, S.), 47s.
10. G. S. Griffith (1½-litre Anzani-Nash " The Spook " S.) 47 3/5s.