Pre-War E.R.A.s Dominate I.O.M. British Empire Trophy Race

Bob Gerard Wins in Masterly Manner at 70.05 m.p.h. Oscar Moore Victorious in his O.B.M. in Manx Cup Contest, after Retirement of Cooper 1,100s

The B.R.D.C. races in the Isle of Man on June 15th produced very good sport. In particular, the 12th British Empire Trophy Race, won by Bob Gerard, was a most interesting event.

Practice was enlivened by an unhappy episode involving the ever ill-fated E-type E.R.A. Peter Walker intended to take it for one fast lap only but it thought otherwise and broke a drive-shaft. This put it out of control, the tank burst and the fuel vaught fire. Peter jumped for it and broke his ribs, fractured his wrist and suffered severe shock. The car, happily insured, burnt so furiously that the course fire-engine ran out of extinguishers and a hedge caught fire as well, almost involving a house. Walker is believed to have said “This is the dreaded end!”—So that seems to be the end of one E-type E.R.A. Whether he will able to drive a B.R.M. on August 26th is alas, open to doubt.

The Manx Cup Race, over 18 laps of the real road course I.O.M. provides had an interesting field. Baird’s 1,096-c.c. M.G. had a two-stage blower system hung between the front dumb-irons but it seemed to be giving trouble. Meyer had the all-enveloping H.W. Alta. Potts had cut cooling apertures in the tail of his Cooper 1,000, Brandon had an overload tank in the nose of his 1,098-c.c. Cooper. Reece’s 2-litre Riley had Tecnauto i.f.s., and Shillito’s 2-litre Riley its normal strut-damped front axle. Lund, whose Lea-Francis had been suffering from excessive fuel pressure, dented its radiator cowl when it bumped Culpan’s Frazer-Nash ever so gently in the pit area.

As they lined up on the famous I.O.M. grid, Graham, John Cooper and Eric Brandon in the front row with Cooper 1,000s, oil was added to the O.B.M., Brandon checked his wheel nuts for tightness.

The start, when it came, was ragged. Bolton’s Alta was left behind the grid, and Tyrer’s B.M.W. and Shillito’s Riley stalled, seriously baulking Clark’s Vanguard H.R.G.

Brandon made no mistakes and built up a great lead. Graham was second. Moore’s neat O.B.M. third, followed by Jacobs’ blown 1,086-c.c. M.G., Culpan’s “Le Mans” Frazer-Nash, due to be flown to Le Mans that night. Dunham’s Alvis, Lund’s Lea-Francis, Pott’s Cooper, Clapp’s H.R.G., Meyer’s Alta, and Clark’s misfiring H.R.G.

Another lap and Brandon, chased by John Cooper, had established a commanding lead from Moore and Jacobs. Lund had dropped back a bit. Baird had retired and Graham visited his pit. After three laps, Bolton had retired, Reece had gone into his pit and Jacobs’ M.G. sounded unwell.

On lap six Shillito picked up a place on Dunham and a lap later had passed Culpan—making up lost time with a vengance! De Lissa’s M.G. was sick and we noticed an occasion when Cooper was baulked by Meyer and Jacobs, both in sick cars. J. C. C. Mayers’ Lester-M.G. was going well but was later delayed with blower-belt trouble. The leaders kept the same order, but on lap nine Cooper’s Cooper retired while in second place, putting the O.B.M. and Shillito‘s Riley respectively second and third. Then a lap later Brandon’s engine gave a faint suspicion of a misfire and, sure enough, on lap 11, his Cooper sheared its magneto drive–the question, will the Cooper 1,000s last, had been answered.

Moore, driving beautifully, now had the lead in the business-like B.M.W.-base O.B.M., and he retained it to the end, winning at 66.66 m.p.h.–time 1 hr. 2 min. 51 sec. He won by some 1 1/2 miles, for it was 72 sec. before Shillito came over the line in second place, the Riley averaging 65.41 m.p.h. Culpan’s 1949 Frazer-Nash failed to catch the home-brewed car of Moore or the old Riley, but came in third, only a second behind Shillito at 65.39 m.p.h. Lund’s Lea-Francis seemed to have braking difficulties towards the end, Culpan only changed down when he was through Onchan corner, and going into this corner Dunham motored momentarily on the pavement on one occasion, Tyrer’s cornering here was particularly pleasing to watch and it was surprising that his B.M.W. was no higher than fifth, behind Dunham’s very game Alvis.


1st : Oscar Moore, (1,971-c.c. O.B.M.) 66.66 m.p.h.

2nd : G. S. Shillito (1,988-c.c. Riley) … 65.41 , ,

3rd : N. R. Culpan (1,971-c.c. Frazer-Nash) 65.39 , ,

The British Empire Trophy Race, over 36 laps, which followed, proved one of the best races we have watched for a long time. Pre-start interest was provided by de Graffenried’s F.I.A.T. “1,400” saloon with many badges, including an R.A.C. badge, and an I.O.M. flag on the seat. “Bira” arrived driving his Maserati in a lounge suit—it had been rebuilt overnight, after more work after Berne.

Thirteen started —Gerard’s E.R.A. with normal radiator cowl, the 4CLT Maserati’s of Parnell, Hampshire, de Graffenried and “Bira,” Rolt in the rebuilt 1927 Delage, Watson’s Alta, Graham Whitehead’s B-type E.R.A., D. Murray’s E.R.A., Harrison’s, i.f.s. C-type E.R.A., C. Murray’s 6C Maserati, Shawe-Taylor’s B-type E.R.A., and Kelly’s 6C Maserati. Rowley’s Delage, the E-type E.R.A., H.W.M., Tornado 1 and A.J.B. were absent.

Rain fell before the start and rendered the course slippery, a pot-hole at Onchan and tar at Parkfield being additional hazards.

The initial lap, as viewed from Onchan, saw Gerard and Parnell well ahead of “Bira,” de Graffenried, Shawe-Taylor, Murray’s E.R.A, Rolt, Hampshire, Kelly, Whitehead, Harrison, who had overshot Parkfield corner, Maserati-Murray and Watson, whose Alta’s tank was leaking. Gerard had lapped in 3 min. 27 sec. Reg in 3 min. 28 sec. Parnell had the lead at the end of the second lap, which he completed in 3 min. 20 sec., Gerard hanging on grimly, and de Graffenried was fifth at Onchan, fourth by the end of that lap, behind “Bira” and Shawe-Taylor. Then the Baron spent 20 sec. at his pit and the commencement of the third lap produced one of those which alter races. Kelly’s Maserati, Murray’s E.R.A. and  “Bira’s” Maserati collided at Parkfield, eliminating all three cars, although the drivers escaped injury.

After five laps, Gerard, who had re-passed Parnell on lap three when Reg’s clutch began to slip, led by 17 sec. at 66.43 m.p.h., from Shawe-Taylor, driving a very fine race, Parnell third, 17 sec. behind the second E.R.A. De Graffenried was now hurrying in rather an untidy manner and Murray’s Maserati was suffering wheel judder when brakes were applied. Hampshire never seemed to get going as a man in a 4CLT should and was passed by Harrison. Parnell let his car’s tail slide about al Onchan. Here, as everywhere, Gerard was driving superbly. His car sounded grand. De Graffenried’s acceleration was quite something. Rolt was driving the Delage manfully but Harrison and the Baron went by on lap nine. After ten laps Gerard had averaged 66.62 m.p.h., and he led Shawe-Taylor by 29 sec. Parnell was third, right on Shawe-Taylor’s tail.

Rolt wavd Hampshire on but wasn’t caught by him until lap 11, when Gerard had to follow through Onchan. Rolt had rather a rough ride and many slides to correct. Fifteen laps gone, and Gerard had averaged 67.85 m.p.h., keeping 25 sec. in front of Parnell, who was also going faster (67.31 m.p.h.), Shawe-Taylor still third. Harrison fourth. Watson’s AIta had retired at Parklield with a broken piston. Gerard was neater than Parnell through Onchan, in accelerating from which de Graffenried made his tyres smoke. Parkfleld corner was getting very slippery, Gerard overshooting it on lap 19, an error which cost him 20 sec., leaving him a second’s lead only from Parnell.

Sure enough, Reg. took the lead, but Gerard was right on his tail, one second behind, and by lap 21 was back in the lead, the Maserati’s clutch full of sludge and slipping badly. On the home straight Shawe-Taylor waved Harrison on, and he streaked by on lap 22. Purnell had fallen to fifth place by lap 23, the order now Gerard, Harrison, Shawe-Taylor, de Graffenried—pre-war E.R.A.s. all sounding very healthy, all beautifully driven, ahead of a Swiss ace in a late-type Maserati! Hampshire passed the stricken Parnell on lap 25.

Still the speed rose, Gerard averaging 69.28 m.p.h., and leading Harrison by 1 min. 53 sec. Four seconds seperated the second and third E.R.A.s. De Graffenried, unlike the others, stopped to refuel, losing 22 sec. in the pit. Whitehead had a nasty experience on lap 26, when his E.R.A. lost a wheel due to a broken hub. He was unhurt and walked in. Rolt passed Parnell on lap 27.

Gerard had averaged 69.7 m.p.h. after 30 laps and led by 1 min. 39 sec., so Harrison meant business. Indeed, he had drawn 35 sec. away from ShaweTaylor. Reg.’s luck was certainly as bad as ever, for suddenly his clutch ceased to slip and on lap 33 he raised the I.O.M. lap record to 3 min. 8 sec. (74.28 m.p.h.). Gerard having previously put it to 3 min. 9 sec. (73.88 m.p.h.). But it was too late and he failed to finish higher than sixth. Gerard drove sensibly and fearlessly—the E.R.A. taking the “kink” in the home straight, front wheels airborne, was a sight we shall long remember. Harrison and Shawe-Taylor put up truly notable performances, but the latter slowed and was just pipped on the last lap by de Graffenried.—W. B.


1st : F. R. Gerard (1,488-c.c. s/c. E.R.A.)  70.05 m.p.h.

2nd : T. C. Harrison (1,488-c.c. s/c. E.R.A.)  69.17 , ,

3rd : Baron de Graffenreid (1,490-c.c. s/c. Maserati)  68.45 , ,

4th : B. N. Shawe-Taylor (1,488-c.c. s/c. E.R.A.)  68.34 , ,

5th : D. Hampshire (1,490-c.c. s/c. Maserati)  67.33 , ,

6th : R. Parnell (1,490-c.c. s/c. Maserati)  66.82 , ,