Raymond Mays holds his own at Shelsley
The 2-litre E.R.A. makes F.T.D. in 37.89 sec. Poore and Gerard runners-up. Astonishing runs by John Cooper’s Cooper 1,000.
There is something about Shelsley Walsh that newer sprint venues lack. And on June 12th really warm weather contributed to the happy atmosphere, as racing cars, their vans and tenders and the exciting cars of enthusiast spectators converged on the famous Worcestershire hill. Leslie Wilson, motoring about his official duties in a Wolseley saloon, was in great form, and when Lord Howe arrived in his V12 Lagonda we knew all was set for a typical, and for once a dry, Shelsley.
In the Paddock many interesting things were observable. Gerard had recovered from his unfortunate episode at Brighton and had installed the 2-litre E.R.A. engine in his ex-Fairfield 1,100-c.c. E.R.A. chassis (R4A), the front axle of which was being changed on the Saturday morning. P. W. Neale came in his beautiful ex-Brackenbury Bugatti, with twin copper exhaust pipes beneath its tail, on tow behind a 4-1/4–litre Bentley, Gerard himself attended to the clutch of his wife’s Riley, and Allan Arnold’s Type 51 Bugatti was seen to have chromium-plated hydraulic cylinders on the back plates of its front brakes and twin “hair-drier” exhaust outlets on the near side. The Robin-Jackson-prepared Freikaiserwagen was a centre of interest, having a remarkable new independent rear suspension, the swing axles located by radius-rods running rearwards to the chassis extensions and controlled by rubber cord, the hubs being in one piece with the drive-shafts, so that all thrust is taken by the Hooke-type universals. The exhaust pipe from the rear cylinder of the air-cooled V-twin Blackburn engine embodies a neat curl to allow it to terminate beside that from the front cylinder and yet be of equal virtual length, while two oil tins with adjacent sight-feeds look after lubrication of the Marshall blower. Another ingenious feature is that the chassis tubes hold air so that a sufficient “head” is obtained to pressurise the small fuel tank, inflation being through a tyre valve at the extreme end of the near-side tubular side-member. Fry had climbed in 41.45 sec. in practice but, alas, the clutch pins sheared and he had to scratch.
Ken Hutchison’s Alfa Romeo arrived in its big Ford V8 van that had returned from Switzerland earlier in the week, and the driver’s Lancia “Aprilia” arrived soon afterwards. In practice Mays had clocked 38.12 sec. in the E.R.A., Poore 39.03, Gerard 40.02, Hutchison 40.06, Fry 41.20, Appleton 41.95, McAlpine 42.29, and Strang 45.31 sec.
This period had been enlivened by Lady Mary Grosvenor vanishing into the ravine before the S-bend in her Bugatti, much as Bainton did before the war. Unfortunately Prosser had overturned his Bugatti and hurt his arm, and Newton had likewise inverted his H.R.G., but was able to fit a new front axle in time to run.
Non-starters on the Saturday were rather numerous, namely: Davison (Ardilia), Haddow (M.G.), Fry (Freikaiserwagen), Baring (Maserati), Bradnack (Frazer Nash), Crossley (Alta), Johnson (E-type E.R.A.), Rowland (Maserati), Davenport (Alta), Whitehead (E.R.A.), Antonelli (Maserati), Bolster (E.R.A.), Mrs. Darbishire (E.R.A.), Parnell (E-type E.R.A.), “Bira” (Simca), Rowley (Bugatti), Prosser (Bugatti), Brooke (Vauxhall-Villiers), Salvadori (Alfa Romeo), Fairman (Bugatti), Tyrer (Bugatti), and James (Bugatti). Martin drove Pullibank’s Marwyn and Parnell took over his 2-litre E.R.A from Ashmore.
As zero hour approached the crowd increased in size but did not seem up to the usual standard, although making up for that in obvious keenness not to miss a thing that was going on. The Press arrangements had improved and the organisation generally was good, assisted by the unfailing efficiency of Mr. Antone. Donald Healey opened the hill with a spirited climb in a Healey and the International Shelsley Walsh was on. Timing, incidentally, was by wheel contact at the start and by contact, not light-ray this time, at the finish.
Class 1 — Up to 500 c.c.
Eric Brandon (Cooper 500) had this class in his pocket, although on his first run, in 44.46 sec., he had a nasty slide at the “S,” went over the drain in the road and had to hold a long power-slide leaving that corner. On his next run he just touched the off-side edge near the start but this time came wide and very fast through the “S” to clear the drain and clock best time, in 44.16 sec. Colin Strang made a couple of brave efforts to defeat the Cooper opposition but to no avail — his first run took 44.78 sec. and his second run was delayed by a real slide, skilfully held, entering the “S.” Lones was third in Tiger Kitten, holding slides nicely as they developed, but his little car an obvious handful as it snaked to the finish and tending to misfire at high r.p.m. Incidentally, one of the announcers insisted that the “500s ” were “coming up steadily” — has he ever driven one? Of the others, the Aikens was sick, the Speedway J.A.P.-engined White-Lloyd experienced a nasty slide from the “S”, Hartwell nearly bought it when the Monaco hit the inside bank and bounced high off the road on its first run, but went very well the next time; Truman was another whose car was sick, his Marwyn sliding badly for all that; while Lord Strathcarron drove his Marwyn very nicely its tyres flexing appreciably. Coldham’s Cooper seemed handicapped by early and slow gear-changes, and Martyn also changed up early on Pullibank’s Marwyn, the rear suspension of which looked very soft, the car sliding badly at the start.
1st: E. Brandon (Cooper) — 44.16 sec.
2nd: C. Strang (Strang) — 44.78 sec.
3rd: H. C. Lones (Tiger Kitten) — 46.05 sec.
Class 2 — 501-1,100 c.c.
This class was quite sensational, for John Cooper, using the truly immense acceleration of his J.A.P. V-twin Cooper to full advantage, clocked 41.81 sec., only to be disqualified because a mechanic had forgetfully laid a hand on the car as it left the line. This gave Appleton the first-half honours in 42.42 sec., in spite of the twin-rear-wheeled Appleton-Special hitting the grass verge as it left the line and sliding from the “S” on a fine ascent. Then things happened. Cooper got right down to it on his second run, really power-sliding the blue car through the “S,” leaving it wide and accelerating prodigiously to the finish so that the little machine juddered under the stress of it. He clocked 40.70 sec., a truly magnificent time, which broke the Shelsley Walsh unsupercharged record, held by Wilkinson in the ex-Dobbs 2-litre Riley, by 1.34 sec. Ken Wharton, hampered by a sprained ankle he had acquired on his way home from the Lisbon Rally, had met trouble after the “S” on his first ascent and, in spite of very fine handling of his M.G.-engined Wharton-Special on his next run, couldn’t beat Cooper, although he beat everyone else. Appleton also had trouble on his second run, coasting to the finish, after a real dice through the “S”, seemingly with an axle-shaft broken. But his first run had been fast enough to secure third place.
Symonds blipped his Austin Seven, its number carried on the scuttle to leave the small radiator clear, fast through the “S,” Moor’s old Wasp was for once really on form and we were delighted to see it clock a very fine 43.62 sec., after being quite a handful for a moment at the “S” on its earlier run while Richards’ Riley, which started life as a 1929 “Brooklands” model, howled its tyres and squealed its brakes but generally motored very well. Maclachlan’s Austin narrowly missed third place, the front wheels sometimes airborne, a slide held at the Kennels, but the little car always looking under control and the off-side rear tyre smoking as it spun leaving the “S.” Murray’s Q-type M.G. wasn’t entirely happy and experienced immense wheelspin in the wet tar on the starting area; the Carlmark, wearing twin rear tyres, spluttered on its first run and didn’t run again, and Southon just toured along in the Becke-Powerplus, its old Wolseley engine not going properly. Sir Clive Edwards’ runs in the 1,100-c.c. pointed tail H.R.G. were described as “gentlemanly.” He rather mixed his ratios at the “S” at first, but drove very well thereafter, the engine sounding grand up to the finish, with a dramatic rasp on the over-run.
Frame’s R-type M.G. lost time through wheelspin, and Instone’s Martyr was obviously ill at ease. Incidentally, it has a J.A.P. engine, not a 1921 push-rod G.N. as announced. We waited expectantly for the Lightweight, which had clocked 43.22 sec. on its first run, avoiding the drain in a neat negotiation of the “S” but its experimental Nuffield engine once again let it down and it failed near the start of run two.
1st: J. Cooper (Cooper 1,000) — 40.70 sec. (new record)
2nd: K. Wharton (s/c Wharton) — 42.17 sec.
3rd: R.J.W. Appleton (s/c Appleton-Special) — 42.42 sec.
Class 3 — 1,101-1,500 c.c.
This class suffered from non-starters. Richardson won it by a grand second run in spite of cutting out momentarily in mid “S” in order to hold the E.R.A.Riley, which, on its first run, had contacted the far-side bank at the Crossing bend. Richardson’s runs were outstanding, especially as his engine was still fairly stiff after recent assembly. Tye’s smart ex-Williams’ Alta, on twin rear tyres, was slow on its first run, but went faster next time, to take second place, the Norris-Special skidding to the off side of the road from the start but coming nicely through the “S”, avoiding the drain, on a run that was third fastest in this class. Newton’s H.R.G. seemed to be using plenty of Notwen, and almost hit the near-side bank as it came out of the “S” on its first run, coming out wide again, throttle blipped, on a very fine second ascent. Geoffrey AnselI’s I.O.M. E.R.A. went on to too-few cylinders after a fast run up to the “S” on its first run, and, the same trouble hampering it to a lesser extent on its second run, couldn’t better 45.59 see. Mrs. Gerard drove really well in her cream Riley, tyres squealing from the line, but, the car proved very unpleasant along the finishing straight, bouncing and snaking so badly that Joan wisely eased up momentarily. She deserves credit for her consistent runs: 45.97 and 45.95 sec., respectively.
1st: G.N. Richardson (s/c E.R.A.-Riley) — 43.05 sec.
2nd: B. Tye (s/c Alta) — 44.08 sec.
3rd: A. .Norris (s/c Norris-Special) — 44.77 sec.
Class 4 — 1,501-3,000 c.c.
Ken Hutchison’s Alfa Romeo won this class and his runs were both very fine to watch and commendably consistent, 39.82 and 39.85 sec., respectively. He used the acceleration of the twin-rear-tyred Alfa Romeo to full effect and cornered very close to the bank at the “S”, going over the drain fair and square each time. John Bolster deserves a very big hand for beating all the other illustrious blown racing cars in this class, in “Mary.” His starts were an example; he had a mighty dice at the “S”, yet “Mary” sat down well on a really fast run up to the finish — a wonderful show. In actual fact these are the M.A.C. placings in this class, but actually, of course, no one could approach Raymond Mays’ time, which gave him f.t.d. He took a central line away, held a slight slide at the Kennels, hit the drain, had quite a moment leaving the “S”, to clock 38.39 sec. on his first run. On his second run he came close to Vox Villa as he got away, only just touched the drain as he came more wildly through the “S”, and roared away to the finish, the green E.R.A. clocking 37.89 sec., only 0.52 sec. slower than his record. The wet tar at the start probably cost Mays a new record.
Gerard, having to “learn to drive all over again” in his rebuilt E.R.A., was second fastest in this group, but, although taking a special prize for that fine achievement, doesn’t figure as such in the class placings. He used twin rear tyres, hit the bank low down and just cleared the drain at the “S” on his first run, and held a mid-road course through the “S”, once clipping the bank going up to the finish, on his second run — 40.80 and 39.41 sec., respectively.
As for the also-rans, Stubberfield ‘brought his Bugatti really wide from the “S”, grazing the bank; Lady Mary Grosvenor drove her Bugatti very neatly, displaying useful acceleration; Noel Carr had a spirited run in the ex-Beadle Alta, its front wheels flailing, the gearchange causing some anxiety and the engine inclined to misfire, while Allan Arnold lost time when his modified Type 51 Bugatti slid from the “S” and he didn’t take another run. Norris’ ex-Taylor Alta misbehaved on both its runs, the A.C.-Nash lost a chain, nearly found the bank and was a bit off colour, and McAlpine’s ex-“Biro” Maserati suffered really bad trouble. Neale went close to the bank going into the “S” in his new Bugatti and drifted out of these corners unpleasantly on his second run, the starting handle swinging madly, as on the other Bugattis. The announcer then spoke of a sound “as of an air-raid about to begin ” and we knew that Davenport’s famous 2-litre Spider was due. It was most exciting to watch, sliding at the Kennels and the Crossing, and viciously so going into the “S” on its second run. But Davenport knows how to tame it and clocked 44.17 sec., quite unperturbed when it hit the bank twice in snaking to the finish.
Nixon’s I.O.M. Riley (ex-Brooke Special, now Riley and not E.R.A.-engined) wasn’t well, fluid pouring from it, and although Parnell cut as close to the inside bank, over the drain, as anyone at the “S” and drove his E.R.A. really well, using twin rear wheels, he couldn’t better 42.53 sec. and didn’t run again.
1st: K. Hutchison (s/c Alfa Romeo) — 39.82 sec.
2nd: J. Bolster (“Bloody Mary”) — 40.97 sec. (new record un-s/c Specials)
3rd: N. Carr (s/c Alta) — 41.48 sec.
F.T.D.: Raymond Mays (s/c E.R.A.) — 37.89 sec.
Third F.T.D.: F. R. Gerard (s/c E.R.A.) — 39.41 sec.
Class 5 — Over 3,000 c.c.
Poore had things all his own way in this category, the big Alfa Romeo starting well, sliding only slightly at Kennel bend, being held skillfully at the crossing, then coming through the “S” wide, Poore pulling over to leave this corner in an individual manner. Up to the finish the red car was really travelling and needed a great deal of holding. On the second attempt Poore threw his arms into the air to indicate he had muffed the start — 39.93 sec. against his previous 39.16 sec. This was beaten only by Mays, so Poore does not figure in the class placings. Lloyd-Jones was first, in the Triangle-Skinner-Special, driving calmly and obviously in full control, and very consistent. Sydney Allard in the fearsome air-cooled Allard caused a diversion by selecting reverse gear going into the “S” and pulling up in the best brake-test fashion. He sorted things out and rushed on, goggles flying out behind his helmet. Next time he made no mistakes with his gear-changes but hit the bank near the start and came wildly through the “S”, the car bouncing off the drain to be nicely held as it slid out of the corner.
Boothby, in his excitingly wide twin-tyred J.B.M.,was consistent but slow, and the terrifying eight S.U.-carburetted Meph’gatti clearly frightened Norton as much as it did the spectators on its only run, which occupied 51.82 sec.
1st: E. Lloyd-Jones (Triangle Skinner-Special) — 42.42 sec.
2nd: S. H. Allard (Allard) — 42.50 sec.
3rd: J. R. M. Boothby (J.B.M.) — 48.21 sec.
Second F.T.D.: R.D. Poore (s/c Alfa-Romeo) — 39.16 sec.
Placings for R.A.C. Hill-Climb Championship Special Awards
1st. Mays — 10 marks
2nd. Poore — 9 marks
3rd. Hutchison — 8 marks.
F.T.D., Shelsley Challenge Trophy and £100: Raymond Mays.
Second F.T.D. and £50: R.D. Poore.
Third F.T.D. and £25: F.R. Gerard
Fastest Shelsley Special — Rossiter Trophy: J. Bolster
Fastest Time by Lady — Ladies’ Trophy: Mrs. Gerard
Fastest Non-Supercharged Car — M.A.C. Trophy: J. Cooper
Team Prize — Fray Trophy: Mays, Ansell, Gerard
Some Finishing Straight Times
(These times were taken as cars left the “S”, up to finishing line, and are unofficial but instructive.)
2nd run — seconds:
K. Wharton — 10.4
J. Cooper — 9.1
E.J. Moor — 10.1
H.A. Richards — 10.0
A.N.I. Maclachlan — 10.0
D. Murray — 12.5
A.P. Southon — 11.3
Sir Clive Edwards — 12.8
G.M. Frame — 11.4
E.J. Newton — 10.8
F.A. Norris — 10.0
Mrs. Gerard — 10.7
G.N. Richardson — 10.0
1st run / 2nd run — seconds:
P.J. Stubberfield — 10.0 / 9.6
Lady Mary Grosvenor — 10.1 / 10.3
N. Carr — 9.8 / 10.8
J. Allan Arnold — 9.4 / –
K. Hutchison — 9.4 / 8.9
M.A.H. Christie — 10.4 / 11.0
R. Mays — 8.4 / 7.8
K. McAlpine — 8.4 / –
J. Crampton — 11.4 / –
P.W. Neale — 11.2 / 10.9
A.T. Darbishire — 10.8 / 10.2
B.H. Davenport — – / 10.7
G. Nixon — 11.2 / 10.4
J. Bolster — 9.6 / 9.5
F.R. Gerard — 9.0 / 8.5
R. Parnell — 10.0 / –
R.D. Poore — 8.8 / 8.3
J.R.M. Boothby — 12.0 / 11.6
E. Lloyd-Jones — 9.4 / 9.5
S.H. Allard — 9.0 / 9.4
The Best Dozen Times (seconds)
R. Mays (s/c 2-litre E.R.A.) — 37.89
R.D. Poore (s/c 3.8-litre Alfa Romeo) — 39.16
F.R. Gerard (s/c 2-litre E.R.A.) — 39.41
K. Hutchison (s/c 2.9-litre Alfa Romeo) — 39.82
J. Cooper (998 c.c Cooper 1,000) — 40.70
J. Bolster (1,962 c.c. :Bloody Mary”) — 40.97
N. Carr (s/c 2-litre Alta) — 41.50
K. Wharton (s/c 746 c.c. Wharton) — 42.17
R.J.W. Appleton (s/c 1,087 c.c. Appleton Special) — 42.42
E. Lloyd-Jones (4,168 c.c. Triangle-Skinner-Special) — 42.42
A.t. Darbishire (s/c 2.3-litre Bugatti) — 42.48
S.H. Allard (3,500 c.c. Allard) — 42.50
J. Allan Arnold (s/c 2.3-litre Bugatti) — 42.75