Gerard lowers the course-record at Bo'ness

An interesting and well-organised S.S.C.C. International Meeting at Kinneil.  Rain spoils the second-half times.

The second round of the R.A.C. Hill-Climb Championship was run off at Bo’ness on June 26th, before an enthusiastic crowd of spectators. Bob Gerard, in his now famous 2-litre twin-rear-tyred E.R.A., made f.t.d. and lowered the 37.2 sec. course-record, established last year by George Abecassis’ “3.3” Bugatti, to 36.3 sec.

In the first half of the programme Denis Poore in his 3.8 litre Alfa Romeo had been fastest, clocking 36.7 sec. to Gerard’s 36.8 sec. Poore was unlucky, for torrential rain wetted the road very soon after Gerard had made his second run and under these conditions Poore took 44.6 sec. on his second run, whereas we had all hoped to see him determined to wrest the honours from the E.R.A. driver. Incidentally, during  “The training” Poore had clocked 36.5 sec., to K. W. Bear’s 36.7 sec. in the course-record Bugatti, Gerard’s 37.4 sec., and Hutchison’s 37.7 sec.

Other high-lights of the day were Bear’s third fastest time, in 37.0 sec., fastest unblown time by the picturesque Spike Rhiando in the golden V-twin Cooper J.A.P. in 37.6 sec., and fastest sports car time by Leslie Allard’s Marshall-blown Allard, in 40.2 sec. The fastest time by a lady driver was Sheila Darbishire’s 38.9 sec. in the 2-litre E.R.A., also handled by Reg. Parnell.

There is something about the Bo’ness Hill Climb that thoroughly justifies the long journey, part of it through some very fine Scottish scenery, to Kinneil. The nature of the day’s sport is informal but efficient. In the grass-grown Paddock are to be found enthusiastically-constructed “specials” that take one straight back to Shelsley Walsh and Dancer’s End of the mid-nineteen-thirties. An air of not worrying too much about trivialities, as when forty marshals endeavoured lightheartedly to capture an active dog that strayed on the course, pervades the place, yet the organisation is quietly efficient, as is to be expected of a Club that contrives to hold a speed event in what is really a public park. A good snappy commentary by Stenhouse and his helpers, via Wm. Steeles’ loudspeakers, was much appreciated and this, again, was friendly and informal. The constables of the W.L. Constabulary dealt alike with intruding small boys and pompous non-pass-holders in a manner that might well set an example in certain Forces farther South!  Indeed, the only snag was the rain, which prevented a battle-royal between Gerard and Poore in the second half.

The course itself is a tarmac road, starting beside the Paddock and climbing in an easy left-hand sweep to a sharp right-hand corner. It continues through a Courtyard in an S-bend, then climbs away to the finish, before which a rather artificial “snake” bend, or chicane, has been formed, to reduce speeds over the finishing line  —  doubtless a wise precaution, for, even so Gerard, Sheila Darbishire and others overshot, Sheila ending up on a main road The return road is a steep, narrow cinder path on which the public in its Park wandered freely, but no one appeared to worry. The event was run through smartly and times were given out promptly, while the spectators stuck it out well, the men’s Scottish golf-umbrellas rivalling smaller umbrellas which protected the fair sex when the weather turned unkind.

The Paddock was a place of unusual interest. Thorne had Borland’s Rapier chassis, presumably linered-down, and using a small triangular fuel tank over the rear axle, four outside exhaust pipes, and precious little else bar the machinery. The Hopper-Special was a futuristic-looking aerodynamic coupé with mica in its more important window apertures and a Triumph Sixteen engine under the bonnet. Chassell’s V8-engined Frazer Nash saved weight by using a one-gallon petrol tin strapped on where the shapely Frazer Nash tank normally lives, while McIntyre’s Type 37 Bugatti carried full road equipment, even to a spare wheel over the tail, and had an outside exhaust system. McGlashan’s Marwyn-J.A.P. was experiencing gear-change troubles, and Reid’s neat Omega, built up from a crashed 319 B.M.W., was having a facia-support welded by the Southern Cylinder and Grinding Company who operated a free competitors’ repair service in the Paddock.

Fisher had evolved a smart Special, using parts from “fifty or sixty different makes,” but basically it was a F.I.A.T. 500 chassis with a “J2” M.G. engine, a Morris rear axle adapted to take hydraulic brakes, and a single-seater body. Murray’s M.G. had an exposed S.U. for its supercharger, while his F.I.A.T. “1,100” had a cowled radiator and big Zenith carburetter. The 1-1/2-litre Lockhart had an old A.B.C. “Scorpion” flat-twin aero engine (alas with two too-small S.U.s) slung on the off side of the gondola body, as was the Blackburn engine of the Gibbons cyclecar of quarter of a century ago. The front end of the Lockhart was undisguised Austin 7 but the chain-driven rear axle had knock-off hubs.

Yet another Special was Thompson’s twin-cam Salmson-engined Frazer Nash chassis, with four stub exhausts, a tiny fuel tank over the central steering column, and an S.U.. carburetter. Frame’s R-type M.G. had a McEvoy-Pomeroy twin-cam head, Carmichael’s M.G. a Jamieson blower and cables to steady the front axle, while Stuart Brown’s T-type M.G. possessed a standard Marshall blower-rig. We noticed that Bear now allows racing numbers to be painted on his Bugatti’s tail, the number-dics having been removed. Page was experiencing difficulties with the throttle-linkage of his Bee, which came adrift in the event. This is the ex-Souter single-seater, with Frazer Nash chassis, a 22-h.p. Ford V8 engine, having three stub exhausts each side, and a chain-driven McCullough centrifugal blower drawing from two downdraught S.U.s. A flexible pipe was necessary from the off-side head to the radiator to clear this imposing superchargery, a motor-cycle battery on the facia looked after ignition, and the tail of the body carried not only the number, but a bathing-girl transfer. Twin 4.50 by 17 Dunlops were used at the rear. Bellingham arrived in the imposing Mercedes (1908 chassis, 1912 engine) too late to practice but was permanently surrounded by an awed crowd in the Paddock. Gilbert Harris, a keen Pole, had an Alvis with 1,100 c.c. engine, home-made wire wheels, and doors that he fabricated on the morning of the event to comply with International regulations. Parnell still had the I.O.M. axle ratio in the Hampshire E.R.A. The best times in practice, during which Rhiando and Bear hit the bank, were Poore 36.5, Bear 36.7, Gerard 37.4, Hutchison 37.7, Rhiando 38.0, Parnell 38.1 and Fry 38.9 sec. In the following report the event is dealt with class by class and below the placings are given the achievements of the “also-rans.” In actual fact the racing car classes were run off in the middle of the programme. (Times in seconds.):

Class Zero – 500-c.c. Cars

Aikens came up fast, inner rear wheel lifting through the Courtyard, and hit the off-side bank at the snake, with some damage to his rear axle, so that he did not run again. McGlashan, adopting an odd, lying-down driving position, seemed to lose revs, going through the Courtyard and experienced a nasty slide in his Marwyn on his second run. Coldham went slap into the bank at the r.h. bend on his first run, but was neat on his second. Clarkson’s Iota took a nice line through the bends. Brandon non-started.

1st: S. A. Coldham (Cooper)  — 42.9 .

2nd: R. K. N. Clarkson (Iota) — 43.2

Also ran: McGlashan (Marwyn)  —   45.7 


Class 1(a) Racing cars, 501 – 750 c.c.

This class was graced with but two runners. Frame’s R-type M.G. experienced really vicious tail slides at the Courtyard on both runs, but beat the determined Carmichael’s M.G., the tyres of which smoked and the throttle position of which fluctuated rather a lot through the corners.

1st:  G. M. Frame, Junr. (M.G.)  —   42.2.

Also ran:  J.R. Carmichael (M.G.)  —   43.8


Class 2(a) –Racing Cars, 751-1,100 c.c.

Rhiando’s V-twin Cooper came up sliding about very fast to win this class. Alas, on its second run the brakes locked approaching the r.h. bend and the little car went head-on into the bank, shaking Spike in more senses than one and appreciably damaging the Cooper’s nose and front suspension. Fry stopped at the Courtyard with his fuel turned off on his first appearance, but thereafter he fought the rebuilt Freikaiserwagen through the bends in fine style to take second place  —   incidentally, the angle of the rubber-suspended rear wheels at take-off must be seen to be believed, and they do say this wonderful special is to be rebuilt yet again, one of these days. Lund tended to blip his Lund-Special’s throttle but placed his car nicely, to net third position. Weir’s Monaco-prepared M.G. came very wide from the r.h. bend and it looked a real handful as it left the Courtyard. Thorne’s Lagonda-Rapier sounded healthy, but, like the Fisher-Special and Salmson-Nash, wasn’t fast.

1st: S. Rhiando (Cooper)  — 37.6

2nd: J. G. Fry (Freikeiserwagen) — 38.8 

3rd: T. Lund (Lund Special)  —  41.0 

Also ran: J. Weir (M.G.) — 41.4,  Thorne (Lagonda) —  47.0,  Fisher (Fisher-Special) — 50.0,  Thompson (Salmson-Nash) — 56.2.


Class 2(b) — Sports Cars, 751-1,100 c.c. Non-supercharged

Again only two runners. MacPhee’s “Brooklands” Riley beat the Polish driver’s Alvis, although no-one can deny that the latter did all he knew!

1st: J. MacPhee (Riley) –  47.2

Also ranE. G. Harris (Alvis)  —  56.0


Class 2(c) — Sports Cars, 751-1,100 c.c. Supercharged

Only entrant, Clarkson’s Ausford, did not run.


Class 3(a) — Racing Cars, 1,101-1,500 c.c.

Hampshire, using twin rear wheels, made the E.R.A.’s tyres howl at times and lifted his foot momentarily as he placed the car for the Courtyard-S, which all the fast cars had to treat with caution. He spoilt his second run with a bad start, but left the snake very neatly. Brooke, relying on single rear wheels on his E.R.A., came so wide from the first bend of the Courtyard that he very nearly cannoned off the bank and, although correcting skilfully, was then wrongly placed for leaving the S. His next run was much neater, and half a second faster. Lockhart turned round at the Courtyard on his second run, without touching anything.

1st: D. Hampshire (E.R.A.) — 37.6

2nd: H. L. Brooke (E.R.A.) — 39.0 

Also ran: J. G. Lockhart (Lockhart-A.B.C.) — 50.2


Class 3(b) — Sports Cars, 1,101-1,500 c.c. Non-supercharged

Holt, in an H.R.G. with his own conception of streamlining, deserved his success in this class, for he drove fast without fireworks. A 1-1/2litre Singer, handled by two different drivers, contrived to fill the remaining places, in spite of sliding and pinking its way up. Moorfield removed some rubber from his M.G.’s tyres but, in general, cars in this class were slow, Alexander and Kennedy driving beneath hoods and behind wipers when the rain came. A fascinating little door opened and shut in the back panel of Laycock’s M.G. as it cornered.

1st:. E. W. Holt (H.R.G.)  — 45.3

2nd:  N. E. M. McCartney (Singer)  — 46.4

3rd:  A. T. McDonald (Singer) — 48.6

Also ran: T. B. D. Christie (M.G.) — 47.3,   G. B. Scott (Morgan 4/4)  — 48.1,  W. S. Webster (M.G.) — 48.4,  A. H. B. Craig (M.G.) — 49.8,  E. N. R. Hewitt (M.G.) — 49.9,  T. S. Alexander (Riley) — 51.7,    N. A. Kennedy (M.G.) — 52.2,   H. Moorfield (M.G..) — 52.7, S. Laycock (M.G.) — 61.3.


Class 3(c) — Sports Cars, 1,101-1,500 c.c. Supercharged

Mort’s M.G. beat Stuart Brown’s M.G., but neither could be called fast.

1st:  F. S. Mort (M.G.) — 49.6

Also ran: C. W. Stuart-Brown (M.G.) — 53.6


Class 4(a) – Racing Cars, 1,501-2,000 c.c.

Gerard made good use of his E.R.A.’s brakes, its immense acceleration and its good road-holding (aided by twin rear wheels) to break the Bo’ness course record in 36.3 sec. He was lucky in making this second run on a dry course. Parnell made one of the neatest ascents of the day and even on his second run, when he slid unpleasantly from the r.h. bend, he took only 0.4 sec. longer than on his first run. Sheila Darbishire obviously found herself fully occupied in the same 2-litre E.R.A., but did a very fast run for all that.

1st: F. R. Gerard (E.R.A.) — 36.3

2nd:  R. Parnell (E.R.A.). 37.3

Also ran: Mrs. Darbishire (E.R.A..) —  38.9


Class 4(b) –  Sports Cars, 1,501-2,000 c.c. Non-supercharged

Tyrer’s well-known B.M.W., its tyres really screaming and its exhaust popping on the over-run, won by a small margin from Weir’s 328 B.M.W., which lost time at the Courtyard, precious fuel leaving the filler as the car’s tail slid about. Gilbert’s B.M.W., also with tyres protesting, was 3rd. Goodall’s type 55 B.M.W. indulged in a vast slide from the r.h. bend, Reid was neat, even in the wet, in the Omega, Hopper did a very nice, momentarily-exciting run, and Hendry was trying hard in his Riley, winding away at the tiller.

1st: G. Tyrer (B.M.W.) — 42.4

2nd: J. R. Weir (B.M.W.) — 42.8

3rd: Gilbert (B.M.W.) — 43.5

Also ran: A. Reid (Omega) — 43.9,   N. H. Buckley (B.M.W.) — 44.7,   M. W. L. Goodson (Aston Martin) — 40.4,  J. M. Hendry (Riley) — 40.5,  I. J. Hopper (Hopper) — 49.4,  P. M. Goodall (B.M.W.) — 50.1,  Mrs. Alfold (A.C.) — 52.6,  J. H. White (Aston Martin coupé) — 54.8.


Class 5(a) — Racing Cars, 2,001-3,000 c.c.

Hutchison won easily, his too powerful Alfa Romeo kept well under control through the Courtyard. The rain spoilt his second run. Tyrer, in the ex-Bear “2.3” Bugatti was extremely polished, wet and dry alike, while Page nearly lost the Bee at the Courtyard on his first run, and had his throttle control come adrift on his second.

1st: K. N. Hutchison (Alfa Romeo) — 37.6

2nd: G. Tyrer (Bugatti) — 39.5 

3rd: I. B. Page (The Bee) — 43.8 

Also ran: A. T. Darbishire (Bugatti) — 45.0


Class 5(b) — Sports Cars, 2,001-3,000 c.c. Non-supercharged

McGlashan’s 2-1/2-litre S.S. rather naturally vanquished a 3-litre Bentley  —  or should we not say that ?

1st: A. McGlashan (S.S) — 47.9

Also ran: I. L. Struthers (Bentley) — 59.4 


Class 5(c) — Sports Cars, 2,001-3,000 c.c. Supercharged

Mrs. Goodson’s “2.3” Alfa Romeo appeared in practice but not in the event.


Class 6(a) — Racing Cars, 3,001 cc. and over

This class promised to be very interesting, for Poore, on his first very neat run, got his big Alfa Romeo up 1/10th of a second faster than Gerard’s E.R.A. Then Bear clocked 37 sec. in his Bugatti, taking his corners wide, and Allard 38.2 sec. in the Steyr-Allard. Unfortunately, the course was very slippery for the second runs, so that Poole was 7.9 sec. slower, Bear 7.8 sec. slower, Allard took only 4.4. sec. longer on his second run.

1st: D. Poore (Alfa Romeo) –36.7

2nd:  K. W. Bear (Bugatti) — 37.0

Also ran: S. H. Allard (Allard) — 38.3


Class 6(b) — Sports Cars, 3,001 c.c. and over, Non-supercharged

Dr. Chassell’s V8-Frazer Nash won this category with a very neat first run that ended up the escape road; the multi-cylinder exhaust beat sounded really crisp. In spite of blipping his throttle, Bean was adequately fast in his 3-1/2-litre Jaguar, beating Parker’s well-known sister car.

1st: M.R. Chassells (Frazer Nash V8) — 41.6 sec.

2nd: N. Bean (Jaguar) — 42.0 

3rd: D. Parker (Jaguar) — 43.1

Also ran: T. Carruthers (Carruthers-Special) and W. Lamb (Ford) both 47.3,  G. Hendry (Ford)  — 49.5.


Class 6(c) – Sports Cars, 3,001 c.c. and over, Supercharged

Only Leslie Allard contested this class but his Allard, now North Downs Marshall-blown at 9 lb/sq. in., made best sports car time of the day.

1st:  L. Allard (Allard) — 40.2



–  The course was closed by Mrs. Joan Gerard driving a Rolls-Royce. After the interval, Col. Barnes, the R.A.C. Steward and W. L. B. Callander, secretary of the S.S.C.C., did likewise in a Meadows-H.R.G.

–  Darbishire’s Bugatti, attended by Giron, went home in a trailer behind a vintage Stutz tourer.

–  Bellingham was allowed to do a demonstration run in the Edwardian 9-1/2-litre Mercedes. Healthy enough in the Paddock, it went temperamental on the hill and took 73.5 sec., misfiring lustily.

–  Rhiando was sensationally garbed and came in a sensational American car, his Cooper on a trailer behind it.

–  Hendry had to visit his wife in a nursing home, but was allowed to do his first run later in the programme.

–  Mrs. Gerard has a new umbrella this year!

–  A Clergyman was seen inspecting the cars in the Paddock with intense interest.

–  The hair-raising antics of the Carruthers-Special led to the remark “Don’t cut down your Railton”

–  Side-valve Aston Martin, Amilcar and 3-litre Sunbeam were amongst spectators’ vintage cars.


The Best Dozen

36.3  —  Gerard (E.R.A.), f.t.d. and Course-Record.  £200

36.7  —  Poore (Alfa Romeo).  £125

37.0  —  Bear  (Bugatti).  £75

37.3  —  Parnell (E.R.A.)

37.6  —  Rhiando (Cooper), fastest unblown car.

        —  Hampshire (E.R.A.)

        —  Hutchison (Alfa Romeo)

38.3  —  S. Allard (Allard)

38.8  —  Fry (Freikaiserwagen)

38.9  —  Mrs. Darbishire (E.R.A.), fastest lady driver

39.0  —  Brooke (E.R.A.)

39.5  —  Tyrer (Bugatti) 

Gerard is now in the lead for the R.A.C Hill-Climb Championships.