R.A.C. Hill-Climb Championship—1963

SINCE the last summary on the R.A.C. Hill-Climb Championship for 1963 appeared in last month’s issue, two further qualifying rounds have taken place, one being a newcomer to the contest, the Barbon Manor course at Kirkby Lonsdale, the other, one of the oldest, Shelsley Walsh.

Organised by the Westmorland M.C. on May 25th, Barbon Manor nearly became the event that wasn’t, when H. Murray’s Spikins’ Singer Special deposited its sump contents at the first bend of the narrow, short, three-corner hill, and much hard work was necessary to clean up the course before the event could start. Marsh elected to use both his 2.5 B.R.M. and his 1.5 Marsh-Climax; the latter car still using Weber carburetters instead of forced induction, but Marsh had dispensed with the short stub exhausts in favour of a more orthodox “bunch of bananas” exhaust instead. The target which competitors were aiming for was Jack Cordingley’s course record set up in the ex-Brian Naylor 2.5-litre J.B.W.-Maserati at 30.46 sec. Nobody bettered this in practice (Cordingley being posted as a non-starter), but Marsh soon made nonsense of this time by clocking a best class time of 29.0 sec. with the Marsh-Climax and 29.889 sec. with the B.R.M. Westbury, however, put the cat amongst the pigeons by beating Marsh to first place in the over-1,100-c.c. Racing Car Class with 29.252 sec. Vengeance came for Marsh in the Championship runs; initially with an ascent in 29.172 sec., as against Westbury’s 29.567 sec., Phil Scragg’s 30.034 sec. with his pale blue 2.5-litre B.R.M., and Peter Boshier-Jones’ Lotus-Climax time of 30.591 sec.

Marsh usually has the advantage of running last in the class but this time Westbury had the advantage. Thus it was hardly surprising that his second ascent was in the remarkable time of 28.779 sec., leaving Westbury with the problem of improving his first ascent time by at least 0.789 of a second on his final run! A very brave attempt ended just short of the target with 28.805 sec. Scragg’s final run in the B.R.M. was a marked improvement, bringing him into third place with 29.976 sec., and other scorers in the Championship class were as follows: 4th R. G. Mickel (2.5-litre Cooper-Climax), 30.041 sec.; 5th: I. McLaughlin (1.1-litre Cooper-J.A.P.), 30.065 sec.; 6th: R. Fielding (2.2-litre Lotus-Climax Type 21), 30.422 sec.

Shelsley Walsh, on June 9th, saw the first of two qualifying events to be organised by the Midland A.C. Once again Marsh continued to use his two-car tactics, the B.R.M., holder of the existing course record at 34.41 sec., proving faster than his Marsh-Climax, which was making its debut with a 2-litre engine. Any chance of a needle match between the B.R.M. driver and Peter Westbury was lost when a pinion sheared in the Felday-Daimler’s Lotus gearbox on Westbury’s second run. The record again went to Marsh in the class runs with a time of 33.54 sec. in the B.R.M. Peter Boshier-Jones’ single-cam, 1.3-litre supercharged Lotus-Climax Type 22 made the running in the first ascents in the Championship class with a time of 35.17 sec., but cracked its sump at the Esses, depositing a trail of oil as far as the finish line. Second ascents saw everyone trying to avoid the cement patches covering the oil but in doing so several drivers took the slower lines through the bends and most times were noticeably slower, with the exceptions being Brian Eccles’ Cooper-Chevrolet and Marsh, who was the only driver in the class to break 35 sec., with a time of 34.62 sec. to win the ten points.

Second was Boshier-Jones with only his first run time to score with, and equal third were Phil Scragg and Ray Fielding, with Eccles and David Good (Cooper-Daimler) the only other points scorers, in fifth and sixth places, respectively. In the class runs new records went to the following: Grand Touring (up to 2,600 c.c.): R. Rose (1,455-c.c. Lotus Elite), 39.45 sec.; Sports/Racing (over 1,601 c.c.): Chris Summers (5.4-litre Cooper-Chevrolet Monaco), 35.94 sec.; Formula Junior: J. Macklin (Lotus-Ford Type 20), 37.11 sec.; Racing Cars (over 1,501 c.c.): Tony Marsh (B.R.M.), 33.54 sec.—new hill record. New ladies’ record: Agnes Mickel (2.5-litre Cooper-Climax), 36.30 sec.

Shelsley Walsh once again provided spectators and drivers with an excellent day’s sport, although a total of at least twenty nonstarters makes one feel that a reserve list could be justified at future events!

At the time of going to press the positions in the Championship are as follows: 1st, A. E. Marsh, 51; 2nd, E. P. Scragg, 40; 3rd, P. Westbury, 34; 4th, P. Boshier-Jones, 30; 5th, I. McLaughling, 25. The next four events to qualify for the Championship are as follows: Bo’ness (June 22nd), Rest-and-Be-Thankful (June 29th), Bouley Bay (July 25th), Great Auclum (August 10th).

E. L. W.