VSCC at Loton Park
Loton Park hill-climb has much in its favour. The course is 1478 yards long, with…
For their IoM meeting this year the BRDC concentrated on a single event, a 200-mile race for sports cars. Griffith (Lester-MG) led the race from start to finish, ably supported by his team-mate Gerry Haddock, a newcomer to the Island. Hawthorn (Frazer-Nash), driving fast and consistently, nearly overcame his 3-lap handicap and finished less than a minute behind the winner.
High spots of the event were the early duels between Geoff Duke, Moss and Duncan-Hamilton, while private dog-fights between the various groups of MGs, Jupiters, Frazer-Nashes and Jaguars kept up interest throughout the race.
Twenty-seven cars came to the starting line, as follows :- Up to 1,500 cc (4 credit laps).—MG TD : Llewellyn, Lund and Lime. MG TC : Jackson, Lester-MG : Ruddock, Mayers and Griffith. Cooper-MG : Davis and Leonard. Jowett Jupiter : Kelly, Skelly and Robinson. Up to 3,000 cc (one credit lap).–Frazer-Nash TT. Moss, Salvadori and Mitchell. Frazer-Nash : Mille Miglia : Hawthorn, Healey : Buncombe-Aston-Martin DB3 : Duke. Over 3,000 cc (scratch).—Jagnar Type C : Duncan-Hamilton. Jaguar XK120 : Holt, Boshier, Swift, Black, Sir James Scott Douglas, Murray and Stewart. Allard (5,4 litre) : Hitchings.
The narrow section of the course leading down to Onchan, where last year’s multiple crash took place, had been much widened, and so the course was considerably faster. Duncan-Hamilton, driving on wet roads during the first night of practising, had brought down the lap-record by seven seconds, to 3 min 16 sec. Geoff Duke, already a firm favourite on the Island through his exploits in the TT races, had hurled the Aston-Martin round in 3 min 17 sec, while Stirling Moss was only a second slower on a Frazer-Nash. These three drivers thus took the first position on the starting-grid, with Mitchell and Hawthorn in the second row.
When the flag dropped, Duncan-Hamilton in the Type C Jaguar shot off the mark in fine style, while Duke, Hawthorn, Moss, Mitchell, and Salvadori jostled for position in close formation down to Parkfield Corner. First time round, Duncan-Hamilton had gained a lead of 150 yards on the Aston, with Hawthorn, Salvadori, Mitchell and Moss at 50-yard intervals. lan Stewart and JH Swift were the first of the XK Jaguar group, while Griffith and Mayers led the smaller cars. All eyes up the course again, watching for Duncan Hamilton and Duke. When they appeared the cars were dead level, but Duke had just that extra bit of speed, and passed Duncan-Hamilton going down to Parkfield. Hawthorn still held third place, while Moss had overhauled Salvadori and Mitchell. Mayers, who had been running second on handicap, pulled into the pits and lost several minutes clearing a stuck oil relief-valve.
Lap three saw Duke 200 yards ahead of Duncan-Hamilton, with the other leading cars as before, and next lap Duke consolidated his position by putting up a record lap in 3 min 18 sec (70.53 mph). A fourth lap increased his lead, while Moss passed Hawthorn to take third place on the road at lap five.
Duncan-Hamilton’s fast run came to a sudden finish on lap five. His back axle and brakes went out of action before Governor’s Bridge, and he narrowly missed coming into contact with an unfriendly stone wall. Hitchings (Allard) dropped out with a damaged gearbox, while Ted Lunds (MG) had bearing troubles.
Moss was pressing Duke hard, recording a time of 3 min 19 sec, but Duke replied with two more laps which equalled his record time of 3 min 18 sec. The Frazer-Nash slowed. and Moss paid two visits to the pits, changing first a plug and then a coil in an effort to cure the misfiring. Hawthorn thus reverted to second position on the road, with Salvadori on another Frazer-Nash now third.
In the 11/2-litre class Griffith was still firmly in the lead. Mayers had dropped right back, but his team-mate Ruddock was going great guns and on the ninth lap passed Leonard (Cooper-MG) to take second place. Davis lay fourth, while Kelly (Jupiter) came into fifth place.
The standard Jaguars were no match for the mailer ears on this twisty circuit, and judging from the smell 150/11O or the brakelinings were getting pretty hot ! Ian Stuart, of the Emile Ecoiise, put up a polished performance and led his class for the first twenty laps. Swift pressed him hard, likewise David Murray. who overshot the corner at Parkfield later on. Meanwhile Duke was lapping fast and consistently on the Aston
Martin, only two or three seconds down on his record lap time, and when Davis retired with bearing trouble on the 18th lap he climbed into fourth place. He was then less than a lap behind the leader. Griffith, and unless the Lester-MG could produce some more speed would catch him at just over half distance.
Hawthorn was Duke’s nearest challenger. The bolt securing his exhaust pipe and silencer had snapped and the whole thing was dangling under the car. Luckily for him the pipe fell off without a visit to the pits to remove it, giving the car a most fruity GP note—and doubtless cooler exhaust valves.
Lap 22—Hawthorn but no Aston-Martin. What had happened to Duke ? Groans from the grandstand when it was announced that he had stopped at Onchan with ignition trouble. Actually the ammeter lead had jumped off and had apparently done a bit of “shorting.” He struggled back to the pits later on but continued for only a few laps. Anyhow his run was a fine introduction to long-distance motor racing.
After Dukes retirement, Hawthorn moved into fourth place, while Salvadori lay fifth. Moss had a further series of pit-stops, first to replace a broken fan-belt and then to change a broken fuel pump. Fuel starvation may have been the cause of his troubles all along, but anyhow he was obviously not in the running and retired after struggling some further laps. Other drivers were having trouble too. Murray retiring after smiting the sand-bags at Onchan, Swift with a burnt-out clutch, while Holt had an anxious moment at Willaston when his throttle return-spring broke.
At 37 laps Leonard (Cooper-MG) retired with a blown gasket, so the struggle was now between the Lester-MGs of Griffith and Ruddock and Hawthorn on the Frazer-Nash. The little cars were amazingly fast through the twisty section on the back leg of the course. Hawthorn was gaining about 22 sec a lap on Griffith, the respeetive speeds over 35 laps being 67.9 and 65.01 mph.
The Jaguar pits were kept busy during the last half of the race. Boshier was in adjusting brakes, Stuart, who had lost the lead in his class to Scott-Douglas, was bothered with a leaking tank, and Black with dynamo loose and no belt to his water-pump.
Hawthorn made a quick pit-stop, taking on five gallons of fuel in 18.5 sec, and set off again in hot pursuit. However, unless Griffith had some misfortune in the last few laps, he would make first place comfortably and later, flagged down by his pit for the last few laps, scored a well-deserved win. Haddock was close behind him in second place, but only just, as he ran out of fuel a hundred yards beyond the finishing line, while Hawthorn, Salvadori and Mitchell made a consistent showing for Frazer-Nash in the next three places. Scott-Douglas made no mistakes on the first Jaguar home and well deserved his finishing position.—TGM
Over Whitaun, the News-Chronicle undertook a journey from London to Bournemouth via the New Forest in E Rowe’s 1903 Renault town carriage. We are not at all averse to such journalistic adventurings, for sensibly written-up they constitute excellent publicity for the vintage movement. True, the Renault broke a half-shaft and had to be towed into Lyndhurst on Whit-Sunday, thereby bracketting itself with the BRM. But a repair was speedily put in hand and the old car came home in triumph on the Monday. 851/2 miles in 7 hours, at 20 mpg. The whole adventure was very entertainly described by Arthur Brittenden and given generous space. Perhaps the News-Chronicle will now consider a more ambitious journey, perhaps over August Bank-Holiday week-end in a suitable Edwardian car.
No 2 in Temple Press’ “Modern Car Easy Guide Series” is “Taking Care of a Car” by EP Willoughby BSc, MI Mech E etc. It costs 2s for 54 well-illustrated, instructive pages.
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