Gerard's rebuilt E.R.A. fastest at Prescott

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 Wonderful runs by the Cooper 1,000.   Class records beaten by Cooper and Whincop

After the International Shesley Walsh Hill-Climb was over, many of the cars that had been there wended their way to Prescott,  where the Bugatti Owners’ Club ran one of their perfectly-conducted meetings on the Sunday, in all the friendly atmosphere of one of their smaller events. On the preceding night people bedded down in cars, caravans and the Allard caravan-cum-workshop in Prescott’s picturesque Paddock. On the Sunday the early mist gave way to a really beautiful day and the meeting went through well ahead of schedule and without the slightest hitch  —   as one has come to expect of Prescott  —   although Eric Giles was taking a well-earned holiday.

Interesting cars in the Paddock included Chambers’ Bugatti, which consisted of a blown “Brescia” with Frazer Nash 1/4elliptic front end, a special radiator shell over the cut-down ” Brescia ” element, and a chain-driven Powerplus supercharger on the near side, and Oscar Moore’s single-seater O.B.M.  The latter is based on Moore’s “328” B.M.W., using the same chassis,  and is very beautifully turned out, having the driver’s seat off-set to the off side, a long air-scoop along the top of the low bonnet, a long central gear-lever and a tank beside the driver with two rubber filler-caps shaped like steam-domes. Hobbs had a lowered “K3” Marshall-blown M.G. Magnette,  Baines the re-bodied, tail-less R-type M.G. with twin-cam head and most of its radiator blanked off, Dryden’s Cooper had hairpin valve-springs; Strang had a new H.R.D. engine in his Strang, consisting of one cylinder from a V-twin engine, lubricated by Pilgrim pumps; Perkins’ H.R.G. now had two, in place of three, S.U.’s on its Type 321 B.M.W. engine, and Sarginson  used a vertical-type magneto and a big oil filter on his 1,750-c.c.. M.G., while Miller’s Healey saloon sported a short cylindrical silencer beneath its near-side rear wheel.

Raymond Mays was as present in his Mk. VI Bentley and very keen to attempt to lower Gerard’s course-record, but his entry had not been made and Major Dixon Spain would not let Hutchison stand down in place of Mays, although the former driver had sportingly offered to do this and, indeed, had driven out to the hill in his Lancia the previous night to try to arrange this transfer. We feel, nevertheless, that the club had no option but to leave entries as they closed.

Non-starters comprised Clark (Mercedes), Haddow (M.G.), Marshall (M.G.), Miller (M.G. ), Rowe (M.G.), Wykes (Frazer Nash), the Walters (Bugatti), Prosser (Bugatti), Metcalfe (Bentley), L. Allard (Allard), James ( Bugatti), Clarke (Bugatti),  Imhof ( Allard), Hamillon (Maserati), Mortimer (Maserati), Appleton (Appleton-Special), Johnston (E-type E.R.A.), Foster (Bugatti), Pool (E.R.A.), Norris (Alta), Lady Mary Grosvenor (Bugatti), and McAlpine (Maserati). Major Dixon Spain used a 1934 Austin Ten for his official ride up and down the hill  —  but how nice if he had had a Bugatti!

Class 1 — Veterans

Unfortunately—and it is  unfortunate— only Peter Clark’s Mercedes was entered and he did not appear, probably disgusted by this lack of competition.


Class 2 — Sports Cars up to 1,500 c.c., Non-Supercharged

Pitt’s M.G. had little difficulty in winning this class, tyres flexing horribly and the throttle blipped through the Semi-circle. Delingpole was faster in his own H.R.G. than when Newton drove it, but only by a small margin, while blonde Miss Sylvia Bloomer drove nicely in a Riley to get 4th place. Buckler went up the bank on his first run but continued, Phillip’s M.G. was slow if quiet, and Mrs. Whincop’s red F.I.A.T “Balilla” slowest of all, handicapped on engine size.

1st:  D.C. Pitt (M.G.)  —  53.86 sec.

2nd:  K.C. Delingpole (H.R.G.)  —  55.34 sec.

3rd:  E.J. Newton (H.R.G.)  —  55.52 sec. 


Class 2 (S) –  Sports Cars up to 1.500 c.c. Supercharged

Only three cars ran and Leonard’s M.G., wildish but very fast, had things easily its own way,  although he was 0.16 sec. outside his previous class-record time.

1st: P. Leonard  — 50.78 sec.

2nd: F.J.A. Hobbs (M.G.)  54.27 sec.


Class 3  –Sports Cars, 1,501-3,000 c.c., Non-Supercharged

Tony Crook’s “328”  B.M.W., tyres howling, scored here, although on its second run it died at the Esses, smelling fearfully hot. The Perkins brothers fought it out for second place, the faster lifting his B.M.W.-H.R.G.’s inner front wheel leaving the Esses and making healthy snap gear-changes. Mrs. Sarginson was neat but slower than her husband in the M.G. It was very nice to see Peter Hampton driving again. His very beautiful Type 30 Bugatti, with very Continental touring body, went up sedately in 74.28 sec.

1st:  T.A.D. Crook (B.M.W.)  —  52.33 sec.

2nd: J.M. Perkins (H.R.G.)  —  53.48 sec.

3rd:  W. S. Perkins (H.R.G.)  — 54.36 sec.


Class 3 (S) –  Sports Cars, 1,501-3,000 c.c., Supercharged.

Whincup’s  ex-Shuttleworth Type 51 Bugatti not only won this class but set up a new class record, beating Heath’s 2-litre Alta figure by 0.15 sec.  Pierpoint really made the wheels of his Type 55 Bugatti spin, and Dix drove his rather cumbersome 1-3/4-litre Alfa Romeo into 3rd place, getting a real tail-slide from the Esses on his first run.

1st:   A. C. Whincup (Bugatti) — 50.15 sec (new class record)

2nd:  D.A. Pierpoint (Bugatti)  —  53.99 sec.

3rd:  G.C. Dix (Alfa Romeo)  —  61.10 sec.


Class 4 — Sports Cars over 3,000 c.c., Non-Supercharged

Torn Cole, driving his 3-litre Jaguar with light wings, won this class and even contrived to better his time on his second run, in spite of inadvertently switching off the ignition in the Esses. On his first run he experienced a full-lock slide, but kept control. Mansell’s Allard was 2nd, its tyres suffering badly on the corners, but on his second run came too wide from the Esses and just contacted the bank. Symondson’s very nice open two-seater Type 57S Bugatti, howling its tyres and going really well, was 3rd. Price also caused the tyres of the Price-Special to protest on his runs. Baines clipped the bank in his Allard, Sir David Gamble’s 4-1/2-litre Invicta was faster than those driven by Monro and Blomfield, and Dryden’s Jaguar sounded very sick.

1st:  T. L. H. Cole (Jaguar) — 53.20 sec.

2nd:  G. N. Mansell (Allard) — 53.90 sec.

3rd:  R. C. Symondson (Bugatti) — 53.93 sec.


Class 4 (S)  — Sports Cars over 3,000 c.c., Supercharged

Only Burgess and Appleton were left to contest this class in their blown Allards, and, tail sliding and tyres smoking, the former was the faster.

1st:  K. E. O. Burgess (Allard) — 52.97 sec.


Class 5 — Racing Cars up to 750 c.c.

The 3/4-litre brigade felt rather sore at having to compete against the 500s, and certainly there was nothing they could do about it!  Brandon’s Cooper had things its own way and beat Lones’ 500-c.c. class record established at the May meeting by 0.76 sec.  —  whether this will be officially allowed, as there was no 500-c.c. class, as such, on this occasion, remains to be seen. Brandon’s brakes helped him to win this class, but he also got his car extremely rapidly through the Esses.

Lones tried very hard in Tiger Kitten, going really close to the barrier on the inside of the Esses on both runs, and whipping neatly out of tail-slides; alas, on his second run the car cut-out and came to rest before the Semi-circle. Strang just couldn’t beat Lones, experiencing a man-size slide out of the Esses on his second, slower run. He no longer uses a megaphone on the exhaust. The Lion Cub wasn’t very fast, but smelt like a dirt-track meeting, the inner rear wheel of the Aikens lifted unpleasantly out of the Esses on its first run but even then its driver didn’t cut out, Dryden put real load on to the back tyres of his Cooper on the corners, Bowles’ Austin went up neatly, boiling, and Baines’ M.G. was a sick car. Protheroe was quite fast, changing gear determinedly, in the rebuilt ex-Chambers’ Austin.

1st:  E. Brandon (Cooper) —  49.22 sec.

2nd:  H. C. Lones (Tiger Kitten) — 49.98 sec.

3rd:  C. N. Strang (Strang) — 50.04 sec.


Class 6. – Racing Cars, 751-1,500 c.c.

John Cooper, in his Cooper 1,000 with its “two-of-everything” J.A.P. engine, did the most prodigious things in this class, the car accelerating amazingly, handling superbly and being ideally suited to Prescott’s difficult corners. It did, in fact, not only beat all the blown cars in this class  —  the “real racers” but, giving away half a litre and a blower (two blowers to be precise!), broke the late A. F. P. Fane’s class record with the “Shelsley” Frazer Nash by 0.66 sec. 

By reason of some all night motoring on the part of Robin Jackson in his F.I.A.T. 500  the re-vamped Freikaiserwagen was able to run at Prescott. It displayed excellent acceleration and would have been faster had the brakes been more effective; as it was, Joe Fry was second. Ansell got third place in the E.R.A. and the “specials” are to be congratulated on beating him. Newton drove his special H.R.G. very nicely, Thomson brought his twin-rear-tyred Salmson-engined Special fast through the Esses, nearly hitting the bank on his first run and going better and faster thereafter, while Chambers placed his smart Bugatti neatly. Baring got down to 50.80 sec. on a wild and woolly run in his 6C Maserati, the Buckler Special tended to pink and protest by way of its tyres, on two consistent runs, and Leonard also did two very nice runs in the M.G., in 51.31 and 51.39 sec., respectively.

1st:  J. Cooper (Cooper 1,000) — 47.06 sec. (new class record)

2nd:  J. G. Fry (Freikaiserwagen) — 49.02 sec.

3rd:  G. E. Ansell (E.R.A.) — 49.35 sec.


Class 7 – Racing Cars, 1,501-2,000 c.c.

Gerard made f.t.d. in taking this class, but he was obviously not feeling too happy in the rebuilt E.R.A., and on his first run he beat John Cooper’s time by a mere 0.01 sec.!,  coming up faster next run, but still 0.57 sec. outside his record run in May. Noel Carr tended to saw at the inoffensive steering-wheel, but he took second place, being appreciably faster than Merrick, in the same car, the latter driver placing his car wrongly for the second bend of the Esses on his first run and generally being rather wild. Christie was quite untroubled by the antics of the A.C.Nash as he wrestled with the gear-lever, Moore’s O.B.M. sounded very efficient and spun its wheels from the corners  —  it should go faster very soon  —  and Crook’s B.M.W. and Rowley’s Aston Martin made good ascents.

1st:  F. R. Gerard (E.R.A.) — 46.24 sec.

2nd:  N. Carr (Alta) — 47.87 sec.

3rd:  J. W. Merrick (Alta) —  49.33 sec.


Class 8 – Racing Cars over 2,000 c.c.

Sydney Allard won this class, although he had the air-cooled Allard up the bank momentarily on his first run. He did a really rapid ascent to atone. Hutchison was second, the red Alfa Romeo seeming to fill the road and really going whenever any straight presented itself  —  this car is always a fine sight going up Prescott. The brakes were used between the Esses so that a front wheel locked momentarily, and we caught the smell of hot rubber as the driver fairly swung the car round in a surge of controlled power.

Against these two Peter Stubberfield could do nothing, but his 48.36 sec. in a single-cam “2.3” Bugatti is something of which he should be proud. Peter Monkhouse, driving Allan Arnold’s Type 51 Bugatti, went into the bank in between the Esses on his first run, but was able to continue, accelerating furiously. He made no mistake next time but was obviously finding the car light for its power  —  time, 48.53 sec. Whincop wasn’t quite so fast as when his Bugatti ran in the sports car class; Cole, too, was slower, but his Jaguar just beat Marechal in the J.B.M., the latter now on twin rear tyres, giving it immense width.

1st: S. H. Allard (Allard)  — 47.22 sec.

2nd : K. Hutchison (Alfa Romeo) — 48.02 sec. 

3rd: P. J. Stubberfield (Bugatti) — 48.86 sec.


Class 9 – Handicap

Previous runs counted for this class and handicaps ranged from Buckler at 12.13 sec. to Merrick, who was “scratch man.”

1st:  C. D. E. Buckler (Buckler).

2nd:  Miss S. Bloomer (Riley)

3rd:  E. Protheroe (Austin).


Class 10 – Specials

Joe Fry got his reward here, beating Strang and Christie, and going appreciably faster than he had in his other class; in fact, he equalled Hutchison’s time in the big racing cars class.

1st:  J. Fry (Freikaiserwagen) — 48.02 sec.

2nd:  C. H. Strang (Strang 500) — 49.71 sec.

3rd: M. A. H. Christie (A.C.-Nash) — 52.08 sec.


Class 11 – Bugatti Saloon Cars

We have long felt that the B.O.C. might put on a Bugatti class at the Club Meeting, perhaps handicapping in groups, by Type. Alas, this class for saloon Bugattis attracted only J. Carter’s Type 57  —  it blew its horn as it motored upwards.

lst: J. G. H. Carter (Type 57) — 64.34 sec.


Class 12 -Teams

The teams rather broke up, but Allard did 47.55 sec. in the air-cooled Allard, Whincop 50.63 sec. in his Bugatti, and Monkhouse 48.04 sec. in Allan Arnold’s Bugatti. Only the Cooper and Invicta teams were intact, and the former won the day, although individual times were slower than in the respective classes.

1st:  Team No. 1 (Brandon, Cooper, Dryden).


The Best Dozen Times (seconds)

Gerard (s/c 2-litre E.R.A.)  —  46.24

Cooper (998 c.c. Cooper 1,000)  —  47.06

Allard  (3,500 c.c. Allard)  —  47.22

Carr  (s/c 2-litre Alta)  —  47.87

Hutchison (s/c 2.9-litre Alfa Romeo)


J. Fry  (s/c 1,098 c.c. Freikaiserwagen)  —  48.02

Monkhouse  (s/c 2.3-litre Bugatti)  —  48.04

Stubberfield  (s/c 2.3-litre Bugatti)  —  48.36

Brandon  (497 c.c. Cooper)  —  49.22

Merrick  (s/c/ 2-litre Alta)  —  49.33

G. Ansell (s/c 1-1/2-litre E.R.A.)  —  49.35

Strang (499 c.c. Strang)  —  49.71

Lones  (496 c.c. Tiger Kuitten)  —  49.98  


A truly enjoyable meeting came to a close when Gerard drove up on a tour d’honneur  —  alone in a new Riley saloon. He had sportingly released his mechanics and the E.R.A. as soon as his class-runs finished, explaining that they had been up most nights since Brighton!  The inevitable packing up began and vehicles, many fast, some odd, gradually drained from the enclosures, home along those pleasant roads that lead away from Prescott. There is certainly a greater sense of freedom now that a little pleasure petrol has been released, and a greater desire to work harder “for the old country” than seemed to be the case during the bad days of complete Gaitskell control. If you or your family or your girl-friend have yet to attend one of these meetings, make a point of getting there on July 18th  —  the atmosphere is so exactly right,  the organisation first-class, and we have an idea that Mays will be present, anxious to annex Gerard’s recently-established course record.