The annual race meeting of the 8-Clubs organisation was, as usual, a great success, 13 five-lap races and two ½-hour High-Speed Trials being run off most commendably to time-table. Handicapping was in the capable mind of Charles Bulmer and the considerable crowd which attended must have gone home feeling that if G.P. drivers were on strike the non-professionals at least were having a jolly good go! The entry exceeded 150, and a good commentary was sent out by Kenneth Best and Barclay Inglis, via the Antoneary.
The High Speed Trials were fun — each lasted half-an-hour, during which some pit-stops had to be made to enliven matters for spectators and pit personnel and the qualifying speeds were such that the boys had to hurry.
Most people elected to change plugs rather than wheels, which delayed Mitchell’s Sunbeam Rapier in particular a long, long time. Denison was wild in a Peugeot 403, Marsh’s Austin Seven retired, and a Lotus shed a wheel, causing its driver a brief sojourn in hospital.
Star turn of the second trial was Pope, who weaved a way through the field in his Mk. VI Lotus-Ford to the great delight of the crowd. Mitford spun his Lotus X at Woodcote but soon got the hang of it, some of the cars smoked after the compulsory addition of oil at the pit-stop and Herbert’s Riley retired, as did Bridges’ TR3.
Racing commenced with the 750 Formula scratch event, in which Lee showed the outstanding superiority of his L.R.M. and won at 59.61 m.p.h. from Harris and Abbott. Mixed Lagondas then had a race, Mrs. Naylor’s well-known and “breathed-on” Rapier leaving the field far, far away, to win at 58.29 m.p.h., Hare’s 1937 LG45 4½-litre d.h.c. second and Page’s 1931 blown 2-litre tourer third. Then it was the turn of the A.C.s, Fletcher’s modest-looking 1937 saloon foxing the handicapper into another runaway victory, at 52.93 m.p.h. from Inwood’s 1936 tourer and Kemp at the head of a gaggle of Aces.
The first of a series of five-lap scratch races was won by Brierley’s Jupiter, at 60.25 m.p.h., Newman’s nice 3-litre Lagonda tourer with ever-increasing clean tail slides, just pipping Inwood’s A.C. into second place. Nancy Mitchell’s M.G. Magnette had a hard task to keep ahead of Copeman’s smaller, sliding D.K.W. 3-6. The Naylor Rapier broke a petrol pipe.
Venn’s Austin-Healey won the first five-lap handicap at 67.25 m.p.h. from Prior’s Lotus and Lawry’s Lotus, both Ford-propelled Mk. XIs. Sgt. Cornish had his Tojeiro-Climax well wound up, but White’s Austin-Healey retired. The next handicap was won by Cramer’s remarkably staid-looking closed Wolseley-Hornet, at 54.98 m.p.h., Copeman’s astonishingly rapid D.K.W. saloon just beating Brierley’s Jupiter on the run-in.
Two scratch races followed, Sir G. Baillie, Bt., winning the first, at 75.22 m.p.h., in Tommy Sopwith’s C-type Jaguar in a photo-finish with Len Gibbs’ gleaming Lotus-Climax, and Thomas’ rare Jupiter R4 going and handling splendidly to win the second at 65.22 m.p.h. from Mrs. Scott-Moncrieff, who was driving her Lotus-M.G. with real and unexpected fire. Tomei’s TD M.G. was third and Mason’s 4½ Bentley was a fine sight chasing Overy’s red 4½ Lagonda. Sir Baillie made fastest lap of the day, at 78.87 m.p.h.
Two more handicaps produced wins, respectively, for Anstice Brown (Lotus IX), at 68.69 m.p.h. and Denisen (limit Peugeot 403) at 59.19 m.p.h. The 1,172 Formula scratch race was a reminder that this is no longer poor men’s racing, but it was very stirring! Broadley’s Lola-Ford put it across Prior’s Lotus XI Ford as they braked into Woodcote, to win at 70.08 m.p.h. Lawry’s Lotus XI finished third. Prior made fastest lap, at 73.09 m.p.h., whereas fastest in the 750 race for the less affluent had been Lee’s 61.32 m.p.h. B. de la Porte’s Ace-Bristol won the final scratch race, at 69.88 m.p.h. from North’s TR2 and Seagrove’s Lotus-M.G.
Seven-and-a-half hours’ sport concluded with the chaps trying really hard in the Motor Sport Handicap, which Threadgold’s absolutely standard Sunbeam Rapier (even to its jets), rolled round to win at 59.75 m.p.h. from Mrs. Naylor in the Lagonda Rapier (which may soon get petrol injection) and Prior’s Lotus-Ford. Hurrell (TR3), Tearle (Standard 10) and Webb (Jensen) also qualified. Copeland’ s (Copeman’s) D.K.W. decided it had had enough of cornering on three wheels and shed a back one in mid-track at Beckett’s, the shaft having shorn off after much racing, which put out many yellow flags and may have slowed the faster stuff too much for the backmarkers to come into the picture. But Thomas’ Lotus XI lapped at 75.37 m.p.h. — W. B.