Parnell (Maserati) and Dunham (Alvis) the other I.O.M. Winners
THIS year’s I.O.M. British Empire Trophy Race of the B.R.D.C. was a sports-car race, another in the round of these interesting contests that we shall summarise at season’s end. The small cars were given four credit laps and it looked as if no one could catch Griffiths in a Lester-M.G. Alas, with the chequered flag round the corner, the engine, which for some unaccountable reason had been losing oil, seized-up, causing Griffiths to spin. Moss, who drove a magnificent race, sailed by in the “Le Mans” Frazer-Nash to win both handicap and scratch categories. He actually lapped Bob Gerard, who was second in a sister car, Bob having been delayed a bit, early in the race, in picking his way past a five-car crash. Stirling Moss has certainly assisted in elevating the Frazer-Nash reputation to a very high pinnacle.
Parnell won a very non-competitive Castleton Trophy, and Dunham, his old Alvis as happy in his hands on this difficult 3.88-mile Douglas road circuit as it was in his father’s on Brooklands before the war, took the up-to-2 1/2-litre Manx Cup Race in its easy and very regular stride—nice to see an Alvis victorious again.
Interest in the I.O.M. on June 14th centred mainly on the Empire Trophy race, for the Manx Cup was left with only 14 starters, the Castletown Trophy sub-division of it with only four, reduced to three runners after a lap. In practice, Allard had lost a wheel but held his car, Gale had put the Rob Walker Delahaye through a fantastically narrow gate by way of escape from hard objects when mist obliterated the course, Moss’ H.W.M. wasn’t ready and Brandon had trouble with the J.A.P. engine of his Cooper 1,100 which was tipped a likely winner on the boat coming over.
As the starting lights flashed their message to the waiting drivers for the Manx/Castletown Trophy races the latter was further reduced in interest because David Murray, colours confused for him by his dark goggles, jumped the start, was flagged in at the end of the pits to let the whole field go by, but was still, so commentator Rodney Walkerley told us over the Colebourn loud-speakers, likely to be penalised a lap in addition. This was a pity, because Murray drove one of his best races to date in the Wilkinson-prepared 4CLT Maserati, keeping right on the tail of Reg. Parnell’s similar Maserati, and setting fastest lap at 72.85 m.p.h. As Ashmore’s E.R.A. retired with a fractured brake cam lever on the first lap and John Green’s Maserati, Miles Martin’s car, very soon afterwards with a broken piston, only Murray remained to harass Parnell and his false start spoilt what could have been an interesting issue. Moreover, Murray overdid it at Nursery corner and Reg. very neatly came by—to win the Castletown Trophy race at 70.04 m.p.h., 1 min. 26 sec. ahead of his adversary.
The Manx Cup was more interesting, although the field became very straggly towards the end.
Bill Aston, driving his Cooper 1,100 very ably in third place on the road behind the two Castletown Maseratis, built up a 17-sec. lead on Dunham’s Speed Twenty-engined “12/70” Alvis after three laps, having done his second lap at 69.47 m.p.h. (Parnell’s standing lap was done at an identical speed, his second lap at 71.61 m.p.h.). This continued for eight laps, Aston steadily drawing ahead, when, alas, he was reported walking in—a little-end seems to have let him down. This placed Dunham first and for his succeeding seven laps he varied not by so much as a second from a lap speed of 3 min. 30 sec. (66.5 m.p.h.). Meyer’s 1950-type two-seater H.W.M., not sounding entirely happy, was second, Webb’s aluminium-bodied Turner, which has one of the McEvoy-Pomeroy twim-cam heads on its blown 1,087-c.c. M.G. Magnette engine, and independent suspension all round, third.
Behind, trouble was rife. Jacobs, in his latest M.G., called at his pit after one lap, as did Eric Brandon. Later Brandon retired with, they said, a broken gearlever. Kelly’s I.R.A. and Ruddock in the Peter Clark Lea-Francis, nee Vanguard-H.R.G., both needed fresh plugs, and although Ruddock contituted, oil issuing from each of his car’s long exhaust pipes, he was later delayed by loss of top gear, although he gamely continued in third, as did Kelly in the now very sick I.R.A. The usually fleet Rileys of Richards and and Shillito both suffered plug maladies, Simpson’s Healey “Silverstone” spun round at the difficult Parkfield right-hand blind corner and Lund’s 1,670-c.c. Lea-Francis needed a plug change that cost it 2 1/2 minutes in its pit, only to have a water hose collapse later in the race.
So this rather pitiful race ran on, livened only by Dunham’s splendidly consistent driving in his “outer-circuit” Alvis and the pleasure of Seeing an H.W.M. in second place.
MANX CUP RACE :
1st: C. G. H. F. Dunham (Alvis), 63 min. 19 sec., 66.16 m.p.h.; 18 laps completed.
2nd: T. M. Meyer (H.W.M.), 64 min. 35 sec., 64.87 m.p.h.; 18 laps completed.
3rd: J. H. Webb (Turner, s/c.), 63 min. 36 sec., 62.21 m.p.h.; 17 laps completed.
4th: G. S. Shillito (Riley), 63 min. 44 sec., 62.08 m.p.h.; 17 laps completed.
5th: R. J. Simpson (Healey), 65 min. 27 sec., 60.45 m.p.h.; 17 laps completed.
6th: E. C. Stapleton (Aston-Martin), 65 min. 59 sec., 56.44 m.p.h.; 16 laps completed.
7th: H. A. Richards (Riley), 69 min. 31 sec., 50.22 m.p.h.; 15 laps completed.
8th: J. Kelly (I.R.A.), 65 min. 50 sec., 49.49 m.p.h.; 14 laps completed.
1st: Reg. Parnell (Maserati, s/c.), 59 min. 49 sec., 70.04 m.p.h.; 18 laps completed.
2nd: David Murray (Maserati, s/c.); 61 min. 15 sec., 61.60 m.p.h.; 17 laps completed.
The British Empire Trophy Sports car race, over 136 miles, promised better fare, although no XK 120 Jaguars were running, those of Binns and Moore being posted non-starters. The 1 1/2-litre cars were thought to have a fine chance, with four credit laps, whereas the 1 1/2-3-litre cars received one only, bigger cars being on scratch.
Stirling Moss led from the start, handling his Frazer-Nash beautifully and without apparent effort, although fully conscious that he had to go very fast indeed to wash out the three-lap advantage of the smaller fry.
Unfortunately, two accidents assisted in altering the complexion of the race. Right at the start Gale, driving Rob Walker’s beautiful 3 1/2-litre Delahaye, felt himself smote in the rear and, spinning under the impact, rammed the radiator cowl against a gateway, to its considerable detriment. He wasn’t aware what had hit him-answer, Hill’s Healey “Silverstone.” Gale leapt out, levered the battered off-side rear helmet wing clear of the tyre, and continued. But the blue French car had brakes inadequate to making up the time lost, and at the end the oil pressure fell away and the water boiled furiously.
Then, at Grange corner, near Nursery corner, Sidney Allard’s Cadillac-Allard skidded, was rammed by D. A. Clarke’s Fraser-Nash, these two blocking the road. Pitt, limping along on a flat tyre, sought to go through a gap, when W. H. Murray’s Fraser-Nash came on the scene, and literally flew over the wreckage, involving Pitt’s car. A wheel of Murray’s car actually ran up Pitt’s back, tearing his shirt and denting his helmet, yet he merely suffered a bruise on the back of his head. Peter Collins’ Allard also hit the wreckage and Gerard, hard in pursuit of Moss, and other drivers, were delayed by much yellow flag waving. Only Clarke was taken to hospital, with head injuries, but all five cars were out of the race.
The order on the road was Moss, Gerard, Culpan (Frazer-Nashes) but on handicap Griffiths had a big lead in the 1 1/2-litre Lester-M.G., followed by “Joy 500,” Leonard’s very pretty all-enveloping Cooper-M.G., Recce’s more normal Cooper-M.G., Litnd’s “TD” M.G. Midget and Jacob’s M.G. Later Leonard fell back to fourth place, behind Griffiths, Reece and Lund. Moss pulled out 66.5 m.p.h. on his third lap.
Mayers couldn’t find the required revs. on his 1 1/2-litre Lester-M.G., due to an un-pinned magneto lead, and the exhaust pipe had fallen off and doubled back on to the road. Nevertheless, impressively noisy, Jim worked up to fourth place on handicap after 20 laps, Moss then 13 sec. behind him and 6 min. 27 sec. behind the leading Lester-M.G., so that Griffiths, his car going impeccably it seemed, looked unassailably the winner.
Griffiths was lapping at 62.9 m.p.h., holding this speed for three consecutive laps, and Moss had increased to 67.45 m.p.h., then to 68.12 m.p.h., and was visibly washing out his handicap. W. H. Robinson’s ugly Jowett Jupiter saloon, its coachwork surely designed, said wag in the crowd, by a relation of Heath Robinson, seized its engine and raced no more. Jacob’s M.G. retired with piston trouble. Reg. Parnell broke the gear-shift lever of his not-so-slow Nash-Healey, and Lund’s M.G. lost 80 seconds refuelling. Whitehouse’s Aston-Martin DBII suffered from clutch slip and George Abecassis, afterwards flown home in David Brown’s D.H. Dove, driving Rob Walker’s brand new DB II, bent the front of that motor car appreciably at Nursery Corner during a spell of brake-fade, which, as he bedded-in the Mintex linings, later became less troublesome.
Moss, pulling out a lap at 68.78 m.p.h., climbed to third place, then to second on handicap, but at 30 laps, with five to go, needed 8 min. 42 sec. to close with the Lester-M.G.
Whitehouse had succumbed to his clutch trouble, Dave’s diminutive Dyna-Panhard saloon toured round very sick, driver eating a gasper, and although Curtis was third on the road in his blue Ardun-Allard, Culpan obviously now sadly lacking anchorage in his “original” “Le Mans” Frazer-Nash which hit something in consequence, on handicap Reeee’s Cooper-M.G. held third place, Bob Gerard’s Frazer-Nash was fourth, Lund’s “TD” M.G. fifth.
Then, as everyone. was declaring the race virtually over poor Griffiths felt the Lester-M.G.’s engine, which throughout the race had been using up its oil at a great rate, go solid and this put the car into a spin on a corner, from which it proved reluctant to re-start. So once again, deservedly so, much honour and prize money went to Moss, modest in spite of it, as his Frazer-Nash, going as well as on lap 1, was flagged in, the ghost of the green Lester-M.G. beside it.
BRITISH EMPIRE TROPHY RACE:
1st : Stirling Moss (Frazer-Nash), 1 hr. 57 min. 38 sec., 67.27 m.p.h.; 35 laps completed.
2nd : F. R. Gerard (Frazer-Nash), 2 hr. 1 min. 2 sec., 65.38 m.p.h.; 35 laps completed.
3rd : J. G. Reece (Cooper), 1 hr. 58 min. 40 sec., 58.84 m.p.h.; 34 laps completed.
4th : Ted Lund (M.G.). 1 hr. 59 min. 39 sec., 58.30 m.p.h.; 34 laps completed.
5th : R. F. Peacock (Frazer-Nash), 1 hr. 59 min. 10 sec., 62.50 m.p.h.; 33 laps completed.
6th : F. G. Curtis (Allard), 1 hr. 58 min. 10 sec., 63.03 m.p.h.; 32 laps completed.
7th : M. J. Pople (M.G.) 1 hr. 59 min. 12 sec., 54.67 m.p.h.; 32 laps completed.
8th : N. R. Culpan (Frazer-Nash), 2 hr. 1 min. 3 sec., 53.83 m.p.h.; 32 laps completed.
9th : J. T. K. Line (M.G.), 2 hr. 1 min. 15 sec.; 53.75 m.p.h.’ 32 laps completed.
10th : P. Scott Russell (Allard), 1 hr. 58 min. 46 sec., 60.73 m.p.h.; 31 laps completed.
11th : G. Abecassis (Aston-Martin), 2 hr. 1 min. 14 sec., 57.59 m.p.h.; 31 laps completed.
12th : L. Leonard (Cooper), 1 hr. 59 min. 5 sec., 50.81 m.p.h.; 30 laps completed.
13th : G. Gale (Delahaye), 1 hr. 59 min. 31 sec., 54.53 m.p.h.; 28 laps completed.
14th : “Dave” (Dyna-Panhard).
Fastest lap : Stirling Moss (Fraser-Nash), on his 24th lap, in 3 min. 23 sec., equals 68.78 m.p.h.
Dunham’s Alvis was assisted in its regularity by Castrol oil, Esso fuel, Girling shock-absorbers, Dunlop wheels and tyres, and Ferodo brake linings. Moss was aided in his prowess by Esso fuel, Ferodo brake linings, Lucas ignition, and Dunlop wheels and tyres.
The I.O.M. is rather a remarkable place. Apart from its police with sticks, horse trams and racing cars allowed to mingle with the traffic on the prom., it closes its roads by Act of Parliament and can fine anyone who trespasses thereon up to £20.
Geoff. Duke did a job for the B.R.D.C. as a flag-marshal, which we thought a nice gesture. He seemed variously to use an XK 120 Jaguar and an Austin A90 in Douglas.
Poor Rob Walker flew over to spectate, only to see Abecassis bend his new DB II Aston-Martin, Gale suffer dents in the Delabaye.