The Second Donington Meeting.
he Second Donington Meetin
MANY NON-STARTERS AND RETIREMENTS DETRACT FROM INTEREST. TWO ACCIDENTS AND MANY THRILLS. GOOD DRIVING BY E. R. HALL (M.G.), K. HUTCHINSON (BUGATTI), AND H. J. ALDINGTON (FRAZER NASH).
WHEIST it was announced that no fewer than 51 cars had been entered for the races to be held at Donington Park on May 13th, everyone looked forward to a very good afternoon’s sport. As it turned out, however, 13 cars failed to start at all, and a further 15 experienced trouble of some kind during the meeting which either prevented them from finishing a race, or in some cases, caused them to be withdrawn from later events. This had the effect of reducing the fields—and therefore the interest of the racing—to such an extent that in three out of the ten races only two cars finished. A pity.
Fortunately, the weather was perfect and the grounds of Donington Hall are so beautiful that no one could possibly complain of a wasted afternoon. Added to this there was some very good driving to be seen, notably by E. R. Hall (M.G. Midget), K. Hutchison (Bugatti), H. J. Aldington (Frazer Nash), R. F. Turner (Austin), J. E. Gibson (Riley) and E. K. Rayson (Riley), so that taken as a whole the meeting can be voted a successful one. A sizeable crowd was attracted to Donington Park, and the official figure for the attendance was given as between 9,000 and 10,000 people. One of the great advantages of the place is that the public are free to walk all round the two mile course, so that there is no crowding. The two most popular spots are the stretch from the starting point to ” Hairpin “
Bend, and at Starkey’s Corner. At the latter point R.. 0. Shuttleworth, the Bugatti driver, arrived by air and parked his aeroplane alongside the course.
Before the first race took place one or two competitors who had not had time to practice were taken on a “conducted tour” of the circuit, following a driver who was familiar with the corners.
Among this group was B. Sparrow, on a very old red Austin, of whom more anon. An improvement in the starting system was effected for this meeting, the cars being drawn up in rows of three or four and sent away en masse. In the first race there were only four competitors, Eastwood, Simister and Derrington on J2 Midgets, and Sparrow on the Austin. On the fall of the flag Simister’s white Midget got a clear lead, followed by Eastwood, but by the time the cars came down the hill at the end of the first lap Derrington had passed Eastwood, and was hot in pursuit of Simister. Sparrow was
badly placed at the start, and a hectic moment at Coppice corner put him still further behind. He determined to make up ground and came past the paddock at a fast pace, approaching ” Hairpin ” Bend much too quickly. He might have got round, or at any rate averted an accident, if the left hand rear wheel had not collapsed under the strain. Some women in the crowd behind the palings screamed when it was seen that the little car was going to turn over. With a sickening lurch the Austin lifted onto its left hand wheels, and the ridge of rough grass at the side of the road finished the story. Up went the car, throwing out the mechanic. Then it rolled right over with Sparrow, still clinging heroically to the steering wheel, crushed beneath it. So fast was the car going that it came up onto its four wheels again, leaving Sparrow half in and half out of the car.
Sparrow himself suffered a nasty cut on the head, but was otherwise uninjured. The passenger was not so lucky and sustained a broken thigh. This accident brought to light a lack of drilling in the ambulance men, who tried to bring their vehicle to the corner by way of the soft ground beside the road. The result was that the ambulance became securely bogged, and the injured men, after a delay of about fifteen minutes, were removed on a lorry. It cannot be emphasised too strongly that the ambulance should travel on the road. Competitors can be warned of its presence there by flag marshals, and in any case it is travelling in the same direction and should not be difficult to avoid. The three Midgets continued to lap regularly, in spite of a little misfiring on the part of Simister, who maintained his
lead. to the finish, followed by Derrington and Eastwood. The second event was composed of three Singers, three M.G. Ma,gnas, and four Wolseley Hornets. Martin (Magna) and
Langley (Singer) were first away from the line, but Felix Patrick had taken the lead before the” Hairpin ” corner was reached. The rest of the field were bunched close but avoid together, but miraculpusly avoided any collisions. The manner in which the field took this same corner at the end of the first lap gave an indication that some one would come to grief before the end of the race. Shock asborbers had not been tightened as well as they might, and some of the cars heeled over in an ugly fashion. Patrick, in the lead, was safe and steady but the same could not be said for Briault (Hornet), who was lying second. Bradnock’s Magna seemed in danger of pitching down the slope after a nasty counter-skid. Round they came again, and this time J. T. Ridd went onto the grass. Somehow all the cars got round and we waited for the next circuit. Patrick was well in the lead, followed by Briault, who came up to the bend at a great speed. He clapped on his brakes, the tail of the Hornet decided to become the front, and with a screech of tyres the car turned right round. Briault took his bearings, and set off, but not before Doctor Hawes on another Hornet had robbed him of second place. The crowd, with typical British disregard for the niceties of driv
ing, gave Briault a rousing cheer.
The race went on, and then Ridd, who had failed to benefit by the experience of a bad skid at Starkey’s Corner on the fourth lap, turned right over at the same corner on the next without injury to himself or his passenger. Patrick continued to drive with quiet regularity and finally finished a well-deserved winner from Doctor Hawes and Briault. Martin (Magna) was fourth and Baker (Singer) fifth. The third event produced driving which was as good as some of that in the previous race had been bad. E. R. Hall (M.G. Midget) and R. F. Turner (Austin)
were great rivals at the first meeting at Donington, and with a level start in this race were given a chance to fight their battles over again. Turner got away first and was still in the lead when the cars passed us at McLean’s corner. Then Hall got ahead, and remained in front until the end of the five laps. These two drivers outstripped the rest of the field, composed
of Anderson’s Austin and Derrington. and Mansell on M.G. Midgets. Their driving was a joy to watch, and McLean’s corner was taken by both in a rapid slide without a trace of over-correction. The next race was a 10 lap affair, and was divided into two heats. The first was notable for a great tussle between H. J. Aldiugton, on the pale blue Frazer Nash with which he competed in the International Trophy race, and T. P. Cholmondeley-Tapper on a 1 litre Bugatti. For many laps these two cars were close together, Tapper getting nearer and nearer on every lap to the barricades as he came out of Coppice Corner. Then an error of judgment at Starkey’s Corner sent him on to the grass for a moment and he lost more ground, and his downfall was finally completed when misfiring set in. In spite of this trouble he finished second by dint of good driving. Powys Lybbe, on a modern 12/60 Alvis with an old 1925 body, drove consistently well in
third place for the whole race. A good scrap was waged by the cars in the rear. Porter Hargreaves (Frazer Nash) had a momentary lapse on the third lap and lost fourth place to Ward (Riley) and Whittaker (4-seater unblown Magnette). Gradually he overhauled these two cars, however, and on the eighth lap was back in fourth position. The second heat produced four Frazer .Nashes, one Hornet, and two J.2 M.G. Midgets, Roy Eccles (Frazer Nash) led for three laps from Casswell (Frazer Nash) and Henderson (Frazer Nash). Then Casswell got by and held first place for three laps, until his car passed out at Starkey’s Corner. This let Eccles back into the lead, followed by Henderson and Briault (Hornet) who was driving steadily and well after his exciting first attempt. Templer, on an old Frazer Nash, after coming into contact with the sandbags on the first lap at Coppice Corner, had a narrow shave at that point on the last lap. His left-hand brake cable snapped as he approached the corner, the car turned round, and finally headed for the bank on the inside, coming to rest without
the inside, coming to rest damage. The final placings were those of the first heat, namely Aldington, Tapper and Powys-Lybbe.
Event 5 resulted in another victory for E. R. Hall (M.G. Midget). Turner did not run, so it was left to Eason Gibson and Rayson on Rileys to provide the opposition. Although they had a good scrap between themselves they could not hold the Midget, which forged steadily ahead and won very comfortably. Gibson kept ahead of Rayson for the whole race, the two cars being so evenly matched that Rayson could not pass, try as he might. By this time the number of non-starters
was considerable, and for the sixth event there were only 9 starters out of 19 entrants. Among the non-starters were ” Freddie ” Dixon, whose Riley had not recovered from the International Trophy Race, Cholmondeley Tapper’s Bugatti, Graham’s Harris Special, Casswell’s Frazer Nash, Gold’s Bugatti, and jucker’s Frazer Nash—all of them good cars capable of adding greatly to the interest of the race. For the first heat five cars came to the
line. They were Hutchison’s Bugatti, Eccles’ Bugatti, Briault’s Hornet, Hossell’s Bugatti, and the Brayshaw Special. At the start Hutchison and Brayshaw shot away together, and roared up to the first corner. Round together they went, on through the Archway to McLean’s corner, which they approached side by side. Then the Special, a combination of Alvis engine and G.N. chassis with a very narrow rear track, got into a broadside skid. Hutchison cleverly avoided the spinning car, which went backwards off the road into the trees. Brayshaw got going again, only to blow up with great 4cla1 right in front of the grandstand at the starting point. Meanwhile, Hutchison held his lead from Briault (Hornet) and Eccles (Bugatti) who got into second place on the second lap. Then, just as it looked as though a Bugatti duel might develop Eccles had to retire. The only other car running was Hossell’s very old Brescia Bugatti, which retired after a lap accomplished sometimes on one, sometimes on two and very occasionally on three cylinders. From then on the race was a procession of Hutchison and Briault, the latter finally being lapped right at the end. Heat Two was decided between Aidington (Frazer Nash), Eason Gibson (Riley), Rayson (Riley), Powys-Lybbe (Alvis) and Ward (Riley). For the first few laps Gibson and Rayson clung to the Frazer Nash, but then Aldington put on. a little speed and by dint of a shade faster cornering began to widen the distance between himself and the Rileys. Once again Rayson was unable to make any impression on Gibson, in spite of the greater age of his rival’s car. In the end Rayson lost all hope of catching Gibson by getting into a broadside skid at Coppice Corner, a proceeding which cost him much valuable
time. Fourth came the steady PowysLybbe, whose Alvis ran quietly and safely throughout the meeting. Final placings were Hutchison, Aldington. and Gibson. The last event was also divided into two heats, which was really unnecessary for only 6 out of 21 entrants actually ran in the two heats. In the first, R. Mere was making his first appearance at the wheel of a brand-new supercharged M.G. Magnette. With him were R. C. Vickers (Lea Francis) and C. Wagstaffe on an odd looking Lea Francis built speciMly for Kaye Don to drive at I3rooklands, and G. N. Crowther on the 8 cylinder O.M. driven last season at Brooklands by H. Widengren. Vickers was away first, but he did not stay there long, for Mere completely swamped the field on the first lap. On the second lap he still further consolidated his position, but on the fourth he lost control of his car at the ” Hairpin”
bend and turned right round. So far ahead was the Magnette, however, that he got away again before anyone else came in sight. Then Mere became overdue, and some anxiety was felt as to his safety, but all was well, for his car had come to a standstill with mechanical trouble believed to be due to the supercharger at Starkey’s Corner. Another retirement was Crowther on the 0.M., so Vickers and Wagstaffe were left to fight it out. On the 6th lap a cheer went up when it was seen
that Wagstaffe was ahead. His car, painted bright red, was reminiscent of the old Continental Town-to-Town races, the driver and passenger sitting very high up. Wagstaffe knew the limitations of his car for fast cornering to a nicety, and held his. lead to the end. The degeneration of the ” fields ” reached its fitting end when only two cars. turned out for the second heat and final race of the day. They were the two Riley’s. of Gibson and Rayson, who had fought two close battles before. Rayson led at the start and was first round ” Hairpin” Corner, but at the end of the lap Gibson was in the lead. For two laps he led, and: then as the cars came down the hill past the Paddock Rayson drew level. Very. sportingly, Gibson braked and waved him on, but on the next lap he passed Rayson once more. Again Rayson tried to pass in front of the Paddock. Although Gibson waved him on Rayson had not sufficient speed, so on they went to the Straight before Starkey’s corner where Rayson got ahead. From then on Gibson could not regain the lead, and Rayson crossed the
Event 1 (5 laps, for M.G. Midgets and Austin Sevens unsupercharged) : I, T. Sirnister (M.G. Midget j2), 13 mins. 42 2secs. ; 2, V. W. Derrington (11,1.G. Midget 32), 14 mins. 1 3-5 sees.; 3, R. Eastwood (M.G. Midget 32), 14 mins. 7 4-5 sees.
Event 2 (5 laps, for M.G. Magnas, Wolseley Hornets, Singers and Rileys other than Brooklands models) : 1, F. Patrick (Wolseley Hornet), 12 mins. 53 2-5 secs.; 2, Dr. E. Hawes (Wolseley Hornet),. 13 mins. 2 1-5 sees.; 3, D. I,. Braiult (Wolseley Hornet), 13 mins. 3 1-5 secs.
Event 3 (5 laps, up to 850 c.c. in any trim):111, E. R. Hall (M.G. Midget 5), II ruins. 28 secs.; 2,. R. P. Turner (Austin 5), 11 mins. 31 2-5 secs.; , 3, M. G. Anderson (Austin 5), 12 mins. 55 secs.
Event 4 (10 laps, unsupercharged sports cars up to 1,500 c.c.) : 1, H. J. Aldington (Frazer-Nash),. 23 mins. 14 secs.; 2, T. P. Cholmondeley Tapper (Bugatti), 23 mins. 27 4-5 sees.; 3, A. Powys-Lybbe(Alvis), 23 mins. 57 2-5 secs.
Event 5 (5 laps, for 1,100 c.c. unsupercharged and 850 c.c. supercharged) : 1, E. R. Hail (M.(;. Midget S), 11 mins. 24 3-5 sees.; 2, 3. Eason Gibson (Riley), 11 ruins. 35 sees.; 3, E. K. Rayson (Riley), 11 ruins. 35 2-5 secs. Event 6 (10 laps, for cars up to 1,500 c.c. tinsupercharged) : I, K. Hutchinson (Bugatti), 22 mins. 28 1-5 secs.; 2, H. J. Aldington (Frazer-Nash), 22 mins. 53 4-5 sees.; 3, J. Eason Gibson (Riley),
23 mins. 3 4-5 secs.
Event 7 (10 laps, for 1,500 c.c. supercharged or unsupercharged) : 1, E. K. Rayson (Riley), 22 mins. 48 2-5 secs.; 2, 3. -Eason Gibson (Riley), 22 rains. 54 secs.; 3, C. Wagstaffc (Lea-Francis 5), 24 mins. 47 2-5 secs.