Gerard does it again

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At Stanmer Park. But his E.R.A. crashes beyond the finish. Poore’s Alfa Romeo Runner-up. Cooper’s Cooper “1,000” fastest unsupercharged car. Delays hold-up the meeting.

A new course is always of interest, especially in this country, where sprint events are our only solace. The four-fifths of a mile course at Stanmer Park is situated in picturesque surroundings in the best old-time speed trial tradition. The road itself is narrow, abounds in tricky corners, and the 1 to 9 gradient to the finish was bumpy and slippery, the surface having been completed only a day before practice took place. Nevertheless, we hope an annual fixture will be possible at Stanmer Park, where a circuit may eventually be built. Even now a better course could have been used, had not a public right-of-way crossed it at one point  —  an insuperable difficulty in Britain!  

At its first meeting at this venue the old-established Brighton and Hove M.C. made many excellent gestures and some unfortunate mistakes. On the credit side must be put good refreshment tents and lavatory accommodation, a timesboard in the Paddock, a good commentary all along the course, via Antone, given by Messrs. Walkerley, Findon, Denton, Moorey, and Turner, a Press office with refreshments laid-on, and convenient parking for official cars. On the debit side, the police were officious, numerous delays occurred between classes, not all the spectators could command a reasonably close-up view of the course, too many unauthorised persons were permitted on the road-side and particularly in the Paddock, and after Gerard’s accident things seemed to go to pieces, much delay ensuing before it was announced that second runs were to be abandoned in Class 6 due to “poor light making the corners tricky to define.” The entry accepted was a large one, bearing in mind that after each class competitors had to return down the course. The Club sensibly issued armbands to Pressmen and officials, which should have made matters simple for the police, as these are so much easier to distinguish than minute cardboard discs. Notwithstanding, at one period, after allowing numbers of unauthorised persons, some in chairs, to occupy a position, admittedly a reasonably safe one, near Church corner, two policemen ordered everyone, not only away from the corner but out of sight of the event, which was curious treatment from the constabulary of a Corporation, the Mayor of which, to our knowledge, has stated that every mention of “Brighton” in the Press and on the radio is of value to his town. Asked by whose authority they applied this rule to the Press, one constable said “the organiser, and we don’t mean Mr. Avery.” Pressed to enlarge on this ambiguous statement one of them said the meeting was organised by “the Brighton Entertainments Committee, who are putting up the money.”

The Brighton police left us, and many others who registered similar complaints, in no doubt of the fact that we were now closer to Germany than we had been in, for instance, the Isle of Man, where Pressmen and officials, within reason, were allowed to look after themselves. Some spectators apparently regarded 10s. as a high charge for the privilege of parking their cars in a field that would have been a morass had it rained. The meeting started at 2 p.m. and terminated, with no second runs in Classes 1 and 6, at about 8.30 p.m. Who was to blame for parking cars that had completed their runs so close to the course as to be in Gerard’s path when he lost control of his car on the slippery road is a difficult point to discuss, for the Club, the R.A.C. Steward and the drivers themselves might have foreseen the danger. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that this was just one of those unfortunate happenings for which no one can be held responsible, but it cannot be overlooked that it came as a climax to a meeting which had not been run to very high standards for an open event, still less for one of International status.

Our Paddock prowlings revealed Sir Clive Edwards to have a nice stark 2-seater body on an 1,100-c.c. H.R.G. chassis, with twin inclined S.U.s and a Scintilla Vertex magneto, and Hukin’s “2.3 ” Bugatti to possess an effective straight-through exhaust system. Bingley’s Attenborough-Special was a very nice-looking car, having the Aston Martin “Atom” engine in a Frazer Nash-type chassis, the drive passing through a pre-selector box from an M.G., retaining an M.G. quadrant central remote-control, and thence via  two chains to the back-axle. The driver sat to the offside, with a small tank beside him. A broken steering bracket was being replaced on Hartwell’s Monaco 500, and Bolster was cleaning plugs while his mecaniciens  replaced new brake drums with the original ones, these new drums having distorted in practice, resulting, as John said, in the brakes becoming like cotton-wool, and sending him off the road in practice. Two motor-cycle hand oil pumps, one labelled “front,” the other “rear” (referring to the engines) are the sole protuberances on “Mary’s” facia. Much admired was Pitts’ red blower 4-1/2 Bentley 2-seater, an ex-Paget car, recently owned by Fairman and Richardson. It has a streamlined tail, undershielding, and the Mk. IV Villiers blower. Another very smart and desirable road car was Crampton’s ex-Oliver “2.9” Maserati 2-seater, which is the actual car Birkin was driving when he suffered fatal burns on his arm. A narrower battery carried externally on the near side now supplies the starter and an oil-cooler is set transversely ahead of the radiator. N. H. Mann had foresaken his Healey for a genuine “Monza” Alfa Romeo, Barker’s Austin Seven was a “manxed”  “Ulster,” Moss’ Cooper 500 arrived in a white horsebox towed by a 20 Rolls utility and John Cooper had a V-twin J.A.P. in his Cooper. Tony Crook was running his Alfa Romeo stripped and had time to picnic with his family in the shadow of his Bristol before the event. A Jeep towed “Bloody Mary” to the course, the famous little car neatly shrouded. Lord Howe drove down in a Railton saloon, but opened the course in a current Armstrong Siddeley, while the Medical Officer used an M.G. Magnette saloonette. In practice, Gerard made fastest time in his 2-litre E.R.A., in 53.0 sec., Poore being second fastest in the Alfa Romeo, in 53.36 sec. Practically the only excitement was when Norris contacted a tree in the Norris Special. Non-starters comprised: The Orlebar, Lewis’ Alfa Romeo, Ayrton’s Bugatti, Ainsworth’s Triumph, Murray’s M.G., Marshall’s M.G., Owen’s Austin, Kempe Roberts’ Frazer Nash, Whitehead’s E.R.A., Pool’s E.R.A., Fairman’s Bugatti, Brooke’s Vauxhall Villiers, Hutchison’s Alfa Romeo, still in Switzerland, Hamilton’s  Bugatti, Bear’s Bugatti, it was said because the owner was moving house, Butterworth’s A.J.B. and Metcalfe’s Barnato-Hassan. The course dried nicely before 2 p.m. Timing was by wheel-contact at the start and ray at the finish. The results follow, class by class, times in seconds:

 

Class 1.  Handicap for B. & H.M.C. Members Only

Handicaps ranged from 24.17  for Barker’s Austin to the scratch “position” of Leonard’s M.G.  Finch, driving his modified “TA” M.G. none too swiftly in spite of his crash hat, carried the class, beating Smith’s “PB” M.G. by 0.01 of a second. Third place went to Parker’s Jaguar. Fastest actual time was by Leonard, who clocked 61.37., his vizor trailing behind his helmet and some hand-over-hand work at the wheel being needed in negotiating Church Corner. Of the others, Brierley’s modified, and some would say sacrilegious, 4-1/2 -litre Bentley was slow and stopped beyond the finish, causing a delay after the very first ascent. Charnock’s “Speed Twenty” pointed-tail Alvis needed 80.07, Jay in the monoposto  J.B.M., 71.46., while Miller’s Healey saloon rolled and pinked up in 75.9.  Parker drove his Jaguar fast, accelerating, well, tail sliding slightly, nearly contacting the infamous tree at Church Corner, to clock 64.71, and Buckler drove his Buckler Special nicely, front wheels pattering, to record 68.66.  Gordon Woods’ Frazer Nash gave trouble and there was a delay while it was moved from the course beyond the finish, and Christmas appeared to shear his blown “PB” M.G.’s crown-wheel-and-pinion at the start. Palmer managed to “dog” and “de-dog” properly in his Meadows Frazer Nash, in contrast to Ruddock, their respective times being 76.76 and 75.05, nevertheless. Collins, in a blown M.G. Magnette built for the 1934 Monte Carlo Rally, lost a plug going into Church Corner and took 71.43. over his ascent, and the rest were mainly touring, although Matthews’ 3-1/2-litre Jaguar took only 64.23  and Gale’s 2-1/2litre Jaguar with modified front suspension, going close to the tree, 66.25.  Smith, in spite of white helmet and goggles, was slow in his M.G., and another in virginal garb was C. le S. Metcalfe, whom, the announcer said, competed in the 1922 200-Mile Race. We do not recall that, but do remember this driver in later Brooklands’ races in the Abbott-Nash. At Brighton he drove a sports “Balilla” F.I.A.T. and clocked 70.73 sec.

1st: R. Finch (M.G.).

2nd: K. G. Smith (M.G.).

3rd: D. Parker (Jaguar).

 

Class 2.- Racing Cars up to 500 c.c.

S. Moss, son of Mrs. Moss, who used to drive a very special Marendaz-Special in competitions, proved his worth in spite of being a newcomer, by winning this class in his Cooper 500. He used real revs on his getaways, held quite appreciable slides as they developed, and pulled out just enough to beat Brandon, who was temporarily in the lead after his second run. Brandon had quite a day, getting a real tail slide from Church Corner on his first run and going broadside on his second. Hartwell missed his change after Church Corner on his first run, but, helped by the Monaco’s immense acceleration, was fast enough to get third place on his next appearance. Lord Strathcarron’s J.A.P.-engined, Burman-ratioed, Marwyn was well handled (63.66), Coldham got his Cooper off well but entered the corners slowly and let the revs, drop to those of a “P” Triumph thereafter (67.72) , and Samuelson’s Cooper was sick (66.18). Pullibank spun his Marwyn completely round near the start on his second run after a first ascent in 66.92. Sparrowe tail-slid his S.M.S. at Church Corner on his first run (66.41 sec.) and didn’t take his second run.

1st: S. Moss (Cooper) — 58.78

2nd: B. Brandon (Cooper)  —   59.20

3rd: G. Hartwell (Monaco)  —  60.79

 

Class 3 – Racing Cars 501 – 1,100 c.c.

John Cooper, in his V-twin J.A.P.engined Cooper, in possession of really immense acceleration, won this class, placing his wonderful little car beautifully through the bends. He needed his second run to do it, however, so well did Maclachlan’s Austin Seven travel. Having an engine built largely for a 500-mile race and blown at 18 lb., vide  the Antonians, the little car didn’t look  fast, but it was; and fractionally faster again on its second run, when Mac got very close to that  tree. Appleton’s noisy Appleton Special was third, having to be blipped round the bends in spite of twin rear wheels, but going mighty quickly up to the finish. Kennington’s M.G. was only slightly slower, and its brakes were used to good effect as well as its acceleration (59.34), Finch placed his Amilcar Six nicely, particularly at Orchard Twist (60.06), and Sir Clive Edwards drove his H.R.G. neatly (70.09),  Martin’s M.G. was sending out clouds of smoke (78.95 sec.), Quirico’s oddly-bodied Austin Seven failed to complete the course and delayed things while it was towed off, and de Lissa’s ex-Mortimer off-set single-seater N-type M.G. Magnette had trouble near the start but for some reason unexplained was allowed two more runs.

1st: J. Cooper (Cooper)  —   55.95

2nd: A. N. L. Maclachlan (Austin)  —  57.81 

3rd: It. .1 W. Appleton (Appleton Special)  —   69.10

 

Class 4 – Racing Cars, 1,101 – 1,500 c.c.

Geoffrey Ansell, fresh from winning the British Empire Trophy race, won this class comfortably in his blue B-type E.R.A. Alas, something went sadly wrong as he let in the clutch for his second run and he drove straight back to the Paddock.  Gordon’s mysterious 6C Maserati was second, misfiring somewhat, and Bradnack took third place in the monoposto  Frazer Nash, a car which displayed grand acceleration, even if its driver did hold the steering wheel as if it were piping hot.  Tye took his corners slowly in his smart Alta (64.91), Mortimer’s 6C Maserati was cautiously handled (63.99), while Salvadori, driving his four-cylinder Maserati instead of his Alfa Romeo, couldn’t better 61.3.  Leonard spun his M.G. round 180 deg. to enter Church Corner tail first on his initial run, but thereafter clocked a very creditable 59.23.

1st: G. E. Ansell (E.R.A.)  —  56.97

2nd: J. Gordon (Maserati)  — 57.57 

3rd: B. E. Bradnack (Frazer Nash)  —  58.85

 

Class 5- Racing Cars, 1,501  – 3,000 c.c.

Gerard was an object lesson, his cream 2-litre E.R.A. absolutely steady, even looking slow, yet clocking first 52.05, then 50.87,  nearly 2-1/2 seconds faster than anyone else. Alas, after crossing the finishing line on his second run the twin back wheels of the E.R.A. commenced a series of slides. There was nothing Gerard could do, and the car hit the bank and then, bursting a front tyre, shot across the road and into the A.C. Nash and Crampton’s beautiful Maserati which were parked there. All three cars suffered considerable damage, the E.R.A. having a bent front axle, considerable damage to the front-end generally and, it was feared, damage to the engine. Gerard was fortunately unhurt except for a burn on his hand where he had contacted the E.R.A.’s exhaust pipe as he jumped out quickly in case the car should catch fire. This unhappy episode led, eventually, to the Stewards closing the meeting. Gerard was very upset about the whole thing but it was definitely not any fault of his  —  merely one of the hazards of motor-racing, accentuated by the slippery road and proximity of parked cars to the course.  Mrs. Gerard went up in the van to console her husband and was visibly as disappointed as he was, for it seemed impossible that the E.R.A. could be ready for Shelsley Walsh the following Saturday. Poore was quick to condone with Gerard and ask if he were hurt, and Gerard, in his turn, very sportingly apologised to Major Stanley Barnes, of the R.A.C., for causing the meeting to be abandoned. Before the accident, McAlpine, in the “Bira” Maserati, had driven this difficult car nicely into second place, and Bolster, after whose passage a spectator had literally fainted (more unfortunate delay), got things really going the next time and beat many blown multi-cylinder cars for third place. Bathgate was hard on the front tyres of the unsteady A.C.Nash at Church Corner (59.76), Hukins drove his Bugatti consistently and steadily (63.56), while Crampton’s Maserati was very well handled indeed (61.57), in contrast to Mond’s clumsy ascent in the Autovia-engined Bentley-Special (64.86). The Attenborough-Special tended to be wild and woolly, but improved, to clock 60.51;  Norris, careful, took 60.59  in the Alta, and Crook drove up nicely in 59.61 in his Alfa Romeo, relying on single rear tyres. Mann toured up in the Monza Alfa Romeo (67.37), and Stubberfield gave us the thrill of the afternoon, bar Gerard, by going head-on into the straw bales at Church Corner with such force that his Bugatti could not extricate itself. It was able to run again, and clocked 60.14.   Pierpont’s black and red Type 55 Bugatti, in spite of an episode with the said bales, did a beautiful second run, water coming from the radiator, in 59.48, whereas Whincop couldn’t better 59.8 in his Type 51 G.P. Bugatti.

1st: F. R,. Gerard (E.R.A.)  —  50.87

2nd: K. McAlpine (Maserati)  —   55.77 

3rd: J. Bolster (‘Bloody Mary’)  —   56.99

 

Class 6- Racing Cars over 3,000 c.c.

Poore won this class with a courageous drive in the big Alfa Romeo, and Lance Macklin’s newly-engined and newly-bodied four-wheel-drive Fuzzi was second, wheels lifting and much dust around. Matthews was third in his 3-1/2-litre Jaguar. Boothby took 60.62 sec. in the J.B.M., Pitts 68.51 in his still-stiff blower Bentley. No second runs were permitted.

1st: R.D. Poore (Alfa Romeo)  —  53.36

2nd:L. Macklin (Fuzzi)  —  61.33 

3rd: G.E. Matthews (Jaguar)  —  62.60

 

Team Event

1st: Bugatti Owners’ Club (Gerard, McAlpine, Maclachlan).

2nd: B.H.M.C. (Poore, Ansell, Gordon).

 

The Under 60 sec. Men

Gerard (E.R.A. s/c)  —  50.87

Poore (Alfa Romeo s/c)  —  53.36

McAlpine (Maserati s/c)  —  55.77

Cooper (Cooper)  —  55.95

Ansell (E.R.A. s/c)  —  56.97

Bolster (“Bloody Mary”)  —  56.99

Gordon (Maserati)  —  57.57

Maclachlan (Austin s/c)  —  57.81

Moss (Cooper)  —  58.78

Bradnack (Frazer Nash s/c)  —  58.85

Appleton (Appleton Special s/c)  —  59.10

Leonard (M.G.)  —  59.23

Brandon (Cooper)  —  59.30

Kennington (M.G. s/c)  —  59.34

Pierpont (Bugatti s/c)  —  59.48

Crook (Alfa Romeo s/c)  —  59.61

Christie (A.C.-Nash)  —  59.76

Whincop (Bugatti s/c)  —  59.80    

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