Raymond Mays (E.R.A.) Fastest at Wet Shelsely Walsh International Meeting
Hutchison a magnificent Second. “Bira” Third. Bolster’s “Mary” fastest Special
Shelsley Walsh really is unlucky with the weather. On June 21st heavy rain commenced just as the international Hill-Climb started, left off for the interval, and fell again for most of the second runs. Under the circumstances records did not fall, but Raymond Mays, his once-black 2-litre E.R.A. now international-green, gave his usual polished exhibition, clocking 42.06 sec. and then 41.50 sec. Second fastest time went to the R. R. Jackson-tuned, ex-Ashby, Alfa-Romeo, fearlessly handled by Kenneth Hutchison. On his first run he was neat, steady and very impressive up the finishing straight (44.17 sec.). On his next ascent he locked a wheel going into the “S,” then used all he had through that notorious bend and up to the finish, to clock 43.21 sec. “Bira,” in his 2.9-litre Maserati, was slow away on his first run, fast into the “5,” and, rear axle juddering, accelerated off to the finish (43.39 sec.). His second run was even neater, the supercharger blow-off valve popping as he left the “S,” and his time third fastest, in 43.30 sec. Gerard’s E.R.A. was but .01 sec. slower than “Bira” on its first run, but slower (43.76 sec.) on its second. John Bolster put up a simply terrific show in “Bloody Mary,” driving all he knew how, to clock 44.80 sec. on his first appearance, and then, on a wild ride, clipping a whole second off this, on his second run, really accelerating in the “S.” This was fifth fastest time and gained the “Shelsley Special” award for one of the most consistently successful and astonishing “specials” ever built. The fastest lady driver was Mrs. Darbishire (47.55 sec.), whose Riley sounded very healthy but was taken cautiously through the “S.”
As usual, the Paddock, carefully screened from the public, was a most interesting spot. We noted that the G.N. “Wasp” now has a new channel-section chassis frame, with Morgan i.f.s., a front cross-member made from a Ford Ten prop.-shaft, a steering box from a James 3-wheeler actuating a transverse drag-link, relinered cylinder barrels, a new crankshaft machined from the solid, Norton cylinder heads and Rudge motorcycle wheels. Davenport’s famous G.N., “Spider,” had its new air-cooled 2-litre V-twin engine, with the barrels raised on distance pieces, while, in looking for better brakes, Davenport had used an H.R.G. front axle. He had only recently finished assembling this astonishing new engine, was using the old gear-ratios and was worried by a tendency to cracked heads. But was as keen as mustard, nevertheless.
Wallington’s Frazer-Nash was the ex-Fane record car, with the special tail, and other “mods.” incorporated in 1939. Gilbey’s Maserati was a six-cylinder once run by Graffenreid and it was very nice to see the ex-Powys-Lybbe Talbot straight-eight in Radford’s care. Of the 500’s, Aikens had blanked off part of his air-scoop and moved his gear-lever from his pocket, while the Bosisto had a Morgan front-end, B.S.A.f.w.d. rear-end and a d.t. Douglas engine. The Mephistophelgatti came towed behind an old Delaunay-Belleville coupé, but did not run because its recently-overhauled engine was still too stiff, and its carburetter was not fitted. Stubberfield’s ex-Eyston, ex-Duller, G.P. Bugatti had a four-branch, non-standard water manifold down one side of its engine, probably a Duller “mod.,” and the Alfa-Aiken now had its pre-selector lever on the outside of the scuttle.
Bear had brought a spare back axle for his Type 51 Bugatti — he drove to the venue in his 5-litre Bugatti with Stafford-East — while Crossley’s Alta was the ex-Cormack car. Chorlton’s G.P. Bugatti had Luvax shock-absorbers front and back, Major Money’s M.G. was neatly covered over and Baird’s Riley-Special was the ex-Avery car. Stromboli had a steering box reminiscent of the “Wasp’s,” a tubular frame, a motor-cycle fuel tank and a d.t. Douglas engine, while the Appleton-Special still employed an Arnott blower delivering through a Clayton-Still inter-cooler. The “white mouse” symbol on “Bira’s” Maserati was being touched up with white paint, Freddie Dixon was discussing form with Wallington and Penny Fletcher was cleaning her husband’s very smart M.G. Tony Brooke had brought the re-vamped Vauxhall-Villiers, not yet given a body. Its new chassis has the David Brown rear axle, Lancia “Dilambda” front-end and a Bentley steering column, and beside the high-placed driver’s seat was a “Jerrycan” as fuel tank. The triple carburetters on the big blower are retained and two Vertex magnetos were located horizontally at the end of each camshaft. Unfortunately, Brooke was troubled by water entering the cylinders; his tender car was a closed Lancia “Dilarnbda.”
Hutchison’s Alfa-Romeo had long stoneguards horizontally behind its front wheels, Geoffrey Taylor’s Alta used small front mudguards and Heath ran his Alta sports-equipped. The Triangle-Special had a new radiator-cowl and four S.U.s, Allen Arnold had fabricated twin rear wheels for his rebodied, road-equipped, Type 51 Bugatti by much welding, and Abecassis started Gilbey’s Maserati for him. The Carlmark-Special was seen to have a new Fiat front-end, twin carburetters, and duplex primary and final-drive chains, while it now had rear suspension of G.N. type. The only “bodywork” was a seat with safety-belt. Twin 3.25 by 19 rear tyres, hydraulic front and G.N. cable rear brakes and twin motor-cycle carburetters were other features. Wharton had a very neat body on his M.G. engined Wharton-Special, and four stub exhausts, while the tail of Poore’s 3.8-litre Alfa-Romeo was covered with a plastic sheet while it was fuelled. Lowrey had removed the radiator cowl from his Mercury-Nash, revealing the radiator of the old Frazer-Nash, “The Slug.” He had broken seven chains in practice. The Steyr-Allard was bothered by bent valves.
In the tea-tent we nearly fell over a yellow midget, apparently from Lea Bridge speedway. It turned out to be the tiny front-drive Bond 500 with no suspension and so little ground clearance it could not use the return road. It went fast (54.0 sec.) and looked entirely safe. The non-runners were: — The Shenton 500, Frame’s M.G., the Carlmark, the “Tiger Cat,” the “Martyr,” Margulies’ Bugatti, Leo Davenport’s Alta, Woodall’s Frazer-Nash, the “Challenger,” Pool’s Bugatti, Mrs. Dryden’s (nee Dorothy Stanley Turner’s) Alta, Carr’s Alta, the “Mephistophelgatti,” and Johnson’s Darracq.
To return to the hill. We discovered that, although it was three-quarters of an hour before the start, we had to walk up on the enclosures-side and cross back to the Press area. That was merely inconvenient, but, sitting on the bank before the Press tent, we were told by a marshal that we couldn’t stay there. This seemed odd, as the spot is one of the safest and the one we always occupied before the war. We asked should we be inside the tent? The marshal concerned then said he didn’t know if we could go there. We then offered to go wherever he wanted us and he said he didn’t know where he did want us. Odd! Later our photographer asked permission of the Chief Marshal to stand by Kennel bend, which was granted. Arrived there, and in spite of explaining matters, another marshal said he had control of this area and couldn’t permit photography. A bad case of over-organisation; we believe that S.U.N.B.A.C. and not the Midland A.C. were responsible. Otherwise all was excellent bar the rain and the inability of quite a few of the cars to keep firing on all their cylinders.
The commentary, well put over by Antone, was great fun — we were told of drivers “pumping up boost,” Mrs. Wisdom changing down from bottom gear, etc., while Bolster “went through the kennels like a scalded cat” and Lady Mary Grosvenor was “making a gear” as she came up the hill. With typically British phlegm the announcer also gave out cricket scores . . .
Strang’s Strang 500 won the 500-c.c. class in 49.43 sec. the little car really well handled. Second fastest was Aikens, who just beat Brandon’s Cooper 500, both the Coopers nicely placed, close to the banks of the “S.” Appleton blipped his way upwards in a finely-controlled climb, off-side rear tyres smoking out of the corners, to win the 1,100-c.c. class in 45.88 sec. from Wharton, who took 46.8 sec. on his second run and was very steady in spite of motoring over the drain at the “S” and losing water from the radiator vent. Weir’s M.G., sounding beautiful, was third fastest (47.8 sec.). Of the others in this class, the Lightweight, Leathart’s R-type M.G., Baird’s Riley and the Lund Spikins Special, all had trouble, and Rivers Fletcher, skilfully correcting a slide in the “S,” also appeared to lose a cylinder. Major Money changed up early after the start to kill wheelspin, his M.G. slow thereafter; Turner’s Riley clipped the banks of the “S,” and then the “Wasp,” after spitting on its first run, seemed to seize-up going into the “S” on its second, Moor being clapped for skilfully holding the ensuing slide. The Becke slid twice but was well held on its first run, then came up all over the road on its second ascent, sliding into the “S” and proving a real handful thereafter, clocking 49.5 and 49.87 sec., respectively.
The 1 1/2-litre. class saw f.t.d. go to Ansell’s E.R.A. On its first run it was fearlessly handled but seemed to mis-fire, clocking 45.2 sec. On its next run it was again hurled into the “S,” taken close in to the right-hand bank, over the drain, and, sliding badly, was well held and directed on to the finish, all in 43.81 sec. on the streaming wet course. Bolster, in Bell’s E.R.A., was really dicing, and using a lot more r.p.m. than many, up to the finish. He used the correct ratio through the “S,” reaching down to change up on the normal gearbox about halfway to the finishing banner. He certainly deserved 2nd place, clocking 45.65 sec. and 44.78 sec., respectively. Mrs. Darbishire’s Riley was third fastest, in 47.55 sec., and Wallington in the Fane Frazer-Nash, was very consistent (48.13 sec., then 48.16 sec.), although he seemed to miss a change up on his second run and the car snaked somewhat as he took a hand from the wheel to use the gearlever. Gilbey was trying hard in the Maserati (48.37 sec.), yellow gloves twirling the wheel, the old Talbot-Darracq ran nicely but lacked revs. (50.29 sec.), Crossley’s Alta did not complete its first climb and went on to three cylinders after the “S” on its second, and the Norris Special needed concentration to keep it off the banks (49.71 sec.). Spollen lost time in the Triangle at Vox villa and used all his weight in correcting a skid out of the “S” (48.87 sec.), while Chorlton’s Bugatti was in dire trouble, sounding fully retarded. Newton’s H.R.G., twin aero-screens and rear wings in place, got down to 48.58 sec., showing up many of the racing cars.
The 1 1/2-3-litre class saw the fine ascents of Mays, Hutchison, “Bira,” Gerard and Bolster. As all these drivers qualified for other prizes, the class first prize went to Rowley’s Bugatti. He showed no concern when he hit the right-hand bank out of the “S,” accelerating away with rear axle juddering, and a crisp note from the eight exhaust stubs, to clock 44.76 sec. Next quickest was Geoffrey Taylor’s Alta, which snaked fast up the last straight, to clock 45.13 sec. Heath (Alta) seemed to lose time changing gear at the “S” (46.71 sec.), Fairman came to rest at the kennels after missing a gear on his first run, but handled his Bugatti well thereafter (48.62 sec.). The front wheels of Bear’s Type 51 Bugatti were frequently in the air and the starting handle was revolving merrily, while a really fierce slide happened to this man as he left the “S” on his first run (46.07 sec.). Lady Mary Grosvenor (Bugatti) improved by nearly ten seconds on her second ascent (47.75 sec.). Grey (Bugatti) seemed troubled when engaging gear (46.77 sec.), but Heal drove grandly in the old 1924 2-litre G.P. Sunbeam, offside rear tyre smoking under acceleration. His second run was one of the most spirited of the afternoon and he certainly hurried through the “S” (46.08 sec.). Allan Arnold was obviously anxious not to damage his road-equipped Type 51 Bugatti, but did a run in 46.75 sec., in spite of one wicked power slide near the start. The Vauxhall-Villiers stopped with flames spitting from it, in clouds of steam, the crowd rudely laughing and Brooke rather unwisely trying to rev, his sick engine. The G.N. “Spider” was immense, almost getting into a front wheel slide at the “S” the second time, but Davenport keeping full control (46.76 sec.), after an even faster first run in 46.57 sec.
The over 3-litre class went to Abecassis in the “3.3” Bugatti, its pre-selector control, incidentally, now brought near to the steering wheel rim. On his first run George spun round going into the “S,” very deftly prevented his car from charging the inside bank, changed down, and completed his climb, all in 47.85 sec. On his next run he made no mistakes, clocking 44.08 sec. Poore’s big Alfa-Romeo went momentarily off the road near the start and was steady thereafter, but did 46.07 sec. nevertheless, third fastest time, Lloyd Jones’ Triangle-Skinner was sliding and boiling (46.27 sec.), Lowrey was hampered by loss of 3rd-gear chain in the Mercury-Nash, but held tail slides well, cornered close to the bank at the “S” and got up to about 70 m.p.h. in top speed at the finish (49.6 sec.), while Peter Clark raised smoke from the tyres of his “3.3” Bugatti (49.27 sec.). McAlpine looked slow in the 3,062-c.c. Maserati but did 47 sec., Earl Howe looking on with interest at this car, which he once owned. But Sydney Allard was second fastest, clocking a rousing 44.8 sec. in spite of a sick car. Mrs. Wisdom (Jaguar) was slow but ran off the road after the finish.
That concluded a wet but enjoyable Shelsley Walsh. Times within parenthesis in this report are the faster of competitors’ two runs, of course. The faster cars were very fast considering the conditions, and their times were very close. Raymond Mays, well-pleased, motored away in his Mk VI Bentley — his excellent run in 41.5 sec. (approx. 49 m.p.h. average speed) compares with his fastest times of 42.95 sec. and 39.57 sec. made in June and October respectively last year, and is 4.13 sec. under his record made in the dry in June, 1939. The next meeting will be an Invitation Meeting for cars and motor-cycles on September 27th, which should be very interesting indeed.
Runs Under 45 Sec., in Order of Merit:
1. R.. Mays (E.R.A.), 41.50 sec. — f.t.d., £100, Shelslev Trophy and plaque.
2. K. Hutchison (Alfa-Romeo), 43.21 sec.— 2nd fastest: £75 and trophy.
3. “B. Bira” (Maserati), 43.30 sec. — 3rd fastest: £30.
4. F. Gerard (E.R.A.), 43.31 sec. — 4th fastest: £20.
5. J. Bolster (“Bloody Mary”), 43.80 sec.— 5th fastest: £10 and “Shelsley Specials” trophy.
6. R. Ansell (E.R.A.), 43.81 sec.
7. G. Abecassis (Bugatti) 44.08 sec.
8. J. Rowley (Bugatti), 44.76 sec.
9. J. Bolster (E.R.A.), 44.78 sec.
10. S Allard (Allard), 44.80 sec.
Ladies’ Tophy: Mrs. Darbishire (Riley), 47.55 sec.
Up to 500 c.c.: 1st, C. Strang (Strang 500), 49.43 sec.; 2nd, F. Aikens (Aiken 500), 50.52 sec.; 3rd, B. Brandon (Cooper 500), 50.60 sec.
501 – 100 c.c.: 1st, R. Appleton ( Appleton Special), 45.88 sec.; 2nd, K. Wharton (Wharton Special), 46.80 sec.; 3rd, J. Weir (M.G.), 47.80 sec.
1,101-1,500 c.c.: 1st, R. Ansell (E.R.A.), 43.81 sec.; 2nd, J. Bolster (E.R.A.), 44.78 sec.; 3rd, Mrs. Darbishire (Riley), 47.55 sec.
1,501-3,000 c.c.: 1st, J. Rowley (Bugatti), 44.76 sec.; 2nd, G. Taylor (Alta), 45.13 sec.; 3rd, A. P. Rolt. (Alfa-Romeo), 45.92 sec. (Placing on actual times: Mays, Hutchison, “Bira,” Gerard, Bolster, Rowley, Taylor, Rolt.)
Over 3,000 c.c.: 1st, G. Abecassis (Bugatti), 44.08 sec.; 2nd, S. Allard (Allard), 44.80 sec.; 3rd, R. Poore (Alfa-Romeo), 46.07 sec.