Southsea M.C. Speed Trials

(May 27th)

The Southsea M.C. held speed trials (called, more discreetly these days, timed trials!) at Thorney Island R.A.F. Station, near Emsworth), on May 27th. The course was a straight s.s. 1/2-mile up one of the runways, not so picturesque as the private drives and seaside promenades of olden days, but a very safe course, fair to the competing machinery, while the grass surrounds and sailing craft in the bay adjacent lent colour to the scene. This event, in fact, timed by the rather complex Brighton and Hove M.C. electrical apparatus, deserved a far better entry – remember to support it next time!

The most exciting car present was F. Wilcock’s 27-litre Rolls-Royce Merlin-engined Spitfire Special. Unfortunately, during his practice runs he had damaged the second gear selectors and on his first run had to go direct from first to third gear, while on his next run, attempting to start in second gear, time was lost because the gear wouldn’t stay in, and third had to suffice all the way. Nevertheless, the sight of the immensely long, silver, four-wheel-drive monster devouring the runway, a great puff of black smoke denoting each gear-change, made our journey to Thorney Island worth while. Incidentally, the Merlin goes up to 4,000 r.p.m. when Wilcock is in a hurry.

A. Burnand made excellent starts with the rather difficult E.R.A./ Delage, which remains in the form in which Rob Walker ran it, but may one day be converted to single-stage boost to conserve the engine. For Thorney Island the only preparation was “to blow the dust off.”

Dr. Good’s E.R.A. did not perform while we were present, but C.T. Atkins ran his special Mercedes-Benz 300SL and a 2-litre Connaught. The Mercedes-Benz was matched with Miss Hockenhull in E. Alexander’s 5.4-litre Cadillac-Allard, but as the “go” signal came on she stalled her engine. She ran again, to make best time of the ladies. Later the Allard’s owner, B. Alexander, made a polished run, to record fastest time of the day, a very meritorious performance in view of the racing cars present.

Another interesting car was G. Coles’ 746 c.c. M.G., for this well-known single-seater has been converted into an all-enveloping aluminium-bodied two-seater with Fiat 500 front suspension, 1/4-elliptic back springs and using an Arnott blower.

Of the 500 c.c. racing cars R.F. Mayne’s Cooper fairly jumped off the line and F. Finucane made a splendid start in his Cooper. This course should be ideal for Cooper 1,100s but none was present, but two aerodynamic Loti graced the sports-car classes, Havard and his wife driving a Bristol-engined Lotus. The Fishers ran their Kieft-Climax and J. Burke the Revis-Borgward, and Heatley his multi-carburetter V8 Grenfell Special with unusual independent system patented by J.G. Grenfell.

In the interval four police Riley saloons driven by members of the Portsmouth City and West Sussex Police Forces gave a display over a course which any rally driver would have thought cissy; even so, they proved singularly incompetent. – W. B.