ANOTHER WIN FOR SEAMAN
DRIVING HIS TEN-YEAR-OLD DELAGE, SEAMAN GAINS 11-LITRE INTERNATIONAL CAR RACE AT DOUGLAS, I.O.M. ” BIRA ” AND PAUL (E.R.A.$) THE RUNNERS-UP-NEW AUSTIN IN GOOD FORM—ROUGH COURSE AND HIGH SPEEDS CAUSE RETIREMENT OF NINE OUT OF EIGHTEEN RUNNERS
Seaman’s success in the Isle of Man, following closely on his win in the British Empire Race, Donington, put him firmly in the forefront of English road-race drivers. Possessing both the coolness and the lightning decision which form the make-up of the successful racing driver, he piloted his 1-litre Delage to victory at 69.76 m.p.h., keeping at bay the official E.R.A. team and the six ” independent ” drivers of that marque. Five E.R.A.s figured in the list of finishers, while Dodson on the 744 c.c. Austin actually lay fifth during the early part of the race and but for persistent carburetter flooding should have ranged alongside the ” fifteen-hundreds ” in the final order. After three years of “Round the Houses” races the R.A.C. changed over for 1936 to a short road-circuit, based on the motor-cycle T.T. Grand Stand, on the outskirts of Douglas. The course, which measured four miles in circumference, was roughly speaking four-sided, with right-angle corners at St. Ninian’s and Willaston and a hairpin with adverse camber at Cronk-ny-Mona, where it followed for a quarter of a mile the T.T. course. Running straight on past Signpost Corner, it dropped abruptly through an S-bend into Onchan village, down to another right angle, thence running straight past Governor’s Bridge back to the start bn a well-surfaced road which allowed speeds up to 130 m.p.h. The twisty section between Willaston and Cronk-ny-Mona was narrow and bordered
by high hedges, and in spite of a wellorganised system of flag-marshals it would have been difficult to avoid a collision had a car gone broadside round one of the blind corners.
The road was surfaced with sharp granite chippings, and as the race went on, overtaking drivers were subjected to a bombardment of flying stones whenever they approached a car in front. pelage
Twenty-seven cars were entered, a record field for an Isle of Man event,
but only twenty reached the Island. These were : CAR Alta Austin Bugatti
0.0. 1,485 744 1,496 DRIVER
A. J. Cormack, J. P.
Wakefield. C. J. P. Dodson T. K. Humber 1,460 R. Seaman
1,486 P. G. Fairfield, C. Paul,.
W. G. Everitt, R. Mays M. Lehoux, Lord Howe’13. Bira,” R. E. Frazer-Nash 1 496 P. K. Sucker Maserati 1,496 E. K. R.ayson M.G. 1,087 L. R. Briggs, H. Williams Rapier Special 1,084 R.. H. EwJes Riley 1,486 F. W. Dixon
With the exception of Humber’s old. Bugatti, all the cars were supercharged.
The E.R.A.s, and Seaman’s Delage were expected to make the running, and this was borne out by the practice times.. Lehoux lapped in 3m. 16s., ” Bira ” im 3m. 19s., and Seaman in 3m 20s., whileDodson on the little Austin was only one second slower. Following wellestablished team tactics, the E.R.A. manager had thus secured a place in the’ front line for his fastest driver, leaving the stayers Mays and Lord Howe tofollow up the attack, but by bad luck. or had management, Lehoux was driving Lord Howe’s car when he made the fastest lap. This put Lord Howe in the front. line at the start, while the dashing Algerian was relegated to a place in the. fifth row.
Dixon’s best lap was 3m. 41s., a contrast to his usual position near the top. of the list. During practising he expressed_ strong disapproval of the course, which. he considered dangerous, and on the day. of the race decided not to run.
The sun shone brightly on Thursday• afternoon, tempered by a cold east wind. and the scene at the Grand Stand waseven more animated than is usual at theT.T. races. Almost all the seats were occupied,. and record crowds were reported rounct the four-mile circuit. In order to leave. Tongue, Manby-Cole grave and Feather
the full width of the’ road clear for passing cars, openings had been made at the beginning and end of the motor-cycle pits, and a concrete strip laid down between pits and stand, and here, in full view of the spectators, re-fuelling and pitwork was carried out.
Shortly before two o’clock the cars were wheeled out to the road, and drawn up in two-one-two formation according to the lap speeds recorded in practice, the first five being, therefore: Lord Howe, ” Bira,” Seaman, Dodson and Mavs. The high-pitched clamour from the exhaust pipes of the eighteen cars became unbearable as the starting flag was raised, and the boom of the traditional maroon was almost lost as they tore off down the course towards St. Ninian’s Corner. At this point Lord Howe had a slight lead from Seaman, then came ” Bira,” Mays and Dodson. A mile away on the far side of the circuit the cars could still be heard, and two minutes later they were round again with Lord Howe leading by a few lengths from Seaman. Paul had forced his way into third place, with ” Bira ” behind him, Dodson was fifth, and Mays sixth, Fairfield seventh and Lehoux eighth,
The fastest cars were passing the Stand at at least 120 m.p.h. and what-ever One might think of the course, the spectacle being staged on it was one of motorracing at its best. As early as this however there were two absentees from the Big Parade. Humber (Bugatti) had stopped at St. Ninian’s with a faulty hand-brake, and persistent flooding of the carburetters made it impossible to restart. The supercharger drive on Rayson’s Maserati snapped as he left the line, hard luck indeed, and he toured in to retire after a single lap, While one of the shock-absorbers on ‘Williams’ Magnette broke on the way to the start and he also had to give up after a few laps. Lord Howe was certainly setting a cracking pace, and second time round had gained perceptibly on Seaman. ” Bira ‘ was in hot pursuit of Paul, and Dodson on the amazing Austin seemed to have no difficulty in keeping up with the other four. Mays led the next group and Lehoux had succeeded in overtaking Fairfield, cornering at St. Ninian’s with an expression of fury and concentration which showed he meant business. On the third lap the order of the leading five was the same, with Lehoux now a length ahead of Mays, and another good dog-fight
between Fairfield and Everitt. Apart from Seaman and Dodson, the first nonE.R.A. car was the Alta driven by J. P. Wakefield, who was making an excellent showing in his first big race. Once again glasses were focused far up the road for the first sight of the leaders, and this time there was another car almost abreast of Lord Howe’s E.R.A. Seaman was making a bid to obtain first place, and as the two cars shot past the stand, after completing their fourth lap, those present had the thrill of their lives as the black Delage slowly forged ahead and reached St. Ninian’s Corner plainly in the lead. What would Lord Howe do about this challenge was the question in everyone’s mind, but after another lap in which the E.R.A. had dropped thirty yards behind, the green car slowed and came into the pits, the exhaust note now irregular in contrast to its former healthy roar. The air pressure in the fuel feed system had suddenly risen to double its correct figure, making the carburetter flood, and by the time the necessary adjustment had been made, Howe had dropped from first place to last. At five laps the position of the leaders was as follows :—
Seaman’s speed was 09.82 m.p.h., equivalent to a lap time of 3m. 26s. Jucker (Frazer-Nash) was reported in trouble on the far side of the course, and a later bulletin stated that the car had
a connecting rod through the crank-case. R. E. Tongue was in at the pits with his E.R.A., the car on which he won the Cork race, investigating a spot of misfiring. Eccles (Rapier Special) also indulged in plug-changing, possibly occasioned by his volte-face at Onchan Hairpin earlier on.
Seaman continued to lead the field, a few seconds ahead of Paul, who was still hotly pursued by ” Bira.” Until the eighth lap Dodson gallantly held on to fourth, but then misfiring set in and cornrelied him to visit the pits. Like Howe, who was now almost lapped by Seaman, his trouble was excessive air pressure, which was causing the carburetter to flood. Ten gallons of fuel were flung in in quick time as adjustments were being made.
At this stage Tongue gave up the struggle on the E.R.A. the misfiring being traced to a faulty magneto, Cormaek (Alta) retired at Governors Bridge with low oil pressure, and Eccles dropped out with supercharger trouble.
At ten laps, twelve seconds covered the first three, which was exciting enough.. Fastest laps so far stood to the credit of Lehoux in 3m 22s. or 71.29 m.p.h. Dodson in his efforts to make up time had hit the bank at Willaston, but the car was undamaged. He stopped at the pits next lap to change a plug, the insulator on one of them having been broken by a stone which was flung through the bonnet louvres. Fairfield, winner of last year’s Mannin Beg Race had meanwhile worked his way, up to fourth place. The order at twenty laps was the following :—
After two stops for re-fuelling, adjusting brakes and changing plugs, the remaining Alta, driven by Wakefield was now hors de combat with -a broken valve spring.
One of the features of the race right from the start had been the duel between ” Bira ” and Paul, who had been lapping for nearly an hour with only a dozen lengths separating them. At last on the twenty-first lap, the Prince saw his chance and leaving his braking to the last minute just managed to tuck in ahead of Paul at St. Ninian’s. This new challenge was not lost on Seaman, who completed his twenty-fifth lap at a record speed of 71.64 m.p.h. The average Speed of the Delage was now 70.11 m.p.h., which (=aye him a lead of 21 seconds. On the twenty-seventh he speeded up further, recording 3m. 20s. (72 m.p.h.), which put him temporarily at any rate safe from pursuit. Petrol stops are all-important in a short race like this and some snappy work was seen at the pits. Lord Howe was the first of the E.R.A. team to come in but after three laps he was forced to retire with a burst petrol tank. Mays took on eighteen gallons in 40 seconds and Lehoux, all excitement, 50 seconds for the same amount, which lost him fourth place. The organisation in the Siamese pit worked like clockwork, and ” Bixa ” took on board 12 gallons of fuel, and also oil and water in 50 seconds. Of the leaders
Seaman and Paul alone had to come in, so that the order at the thirtieth lap was considerably modified.
Everitt, who had never been far behind the first six, was now reported stopped at Cronk-ny-Mona, adjusting the engine and the petrol-filler cap. Whatever the trouble was it cost him 17 valuable minutes, though the car sounded as good as ever when it reappeared.
Dodson On the Austin Was as fast ;1 ever as long as he could keep his plu.!_s clear of soot, and was particularly exciting on the corners, though he had one close call when the car touched the sandbags at Onchan. Flooding continued however. and he had to take on another twenty-five gallons of fuel at four o’clock. Paul was in at the same time, and took on twentyfive gallons in 40 seconds.
The hopes of the official E.R.A.. team were still further lessened with the retirement of Mays who went out with a broken axle shaft. Lehoux, the third member of the team was still driving with undiminished fire, but on the fortieth lap made a miscalculation at Onchan and bumped the Sandbags. He was pushed
off again by a gang of marshals and proceeded at reduced speed to the pits. The only damage was a bent radius rod, which was quickly hammered straight, but the delay allowed Paul and Fairfield to overtake him. The only complete team still running, incidentally, was the One nominated by A. C. Dobson, consisting of Fairfield, Paul and Everitt. Petrol churns were piled Seaman’s pit-counter, but he sien of coming in, and his pit high on made no attendant
contented himself with chalking ” 1/1″ a cabalistic though satisfying sign meaning ” you’re running first with one minute in hand.” After 40 laps his average had dropped to 70.03 m.p.h.., with a lead of inn 15s., and it now became evident that barring accidents he intended to complete the course non-stop. The last few laps were uneventful, with Seaman and ” Bira ” both evidently easing up. The only driver who seemed really pressed for time was Featherstonhaugh, who had taken over from ManbyCOlegrave at half-time. He had lain sixth for the last ten laps and was taking no chances of not .finisihing within the allowance of 15 minutes. Dodson was still cracking round merrily, and Briggs carried on the struggle gamely with his
At last the final lap, and the black Delage came rumbling down the road, to the finishing line.
A non-stop run of 200 miles at nearly 70 m.p.h. on a ten-year-old car deserved a great reception, and ,Seaman certainly got it, likewise ” Bira,” whose smart turn-out and dashing driving had captured the favour of the spectators. Cyril Paul finished a gallant third, his face badly cut by flying stones, and the starred and broken windscreens on all the cars which finished spoke of the unpleasant conditions which had to be faced on the back-stretch.
1. R. Seaman (Deluge) n. .52m. is. (69.76 m.p.h.). 2.” B. Bira “,(E.R.A.) 2h. 53m. I*. (69.23 m.p.h.). . C. Paul (E.R.A.) 2h. 55m. 2s. (68.57
4. P. 0. Fnirfleld (E.R.A.) 2h. 55m. 238. (68.40 m.p.h.).
5. M. Lehoux (E.R.A.) 2h. 55m. 47s. (68.27 m.p.h. 6. 0: F. A. Manby-Colegrave and R. B. L. Featherstonhaugh (E.R.A.) 3h. 4m. 57s. (64.90 m.p.h.) The following ears were flagged off after the time
limit oi 13 minutes had expired :W. G. Event I ( E. R . A . ) 17 laps.
C. J. P. Doison (Austin) 44 laps.
L. R. Briggs (M.G.) 43 laps.
Fastest lap : -R. J. B. Seaman (Delage) completed his 27th circuit in 3m. 20s., (72 m.p.h.).
The team prize was awarded to Dobson’s team, consisting of Paul, Fairfield, and Everitt, no other team having three cars running at the finish.