HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF IN THE INTERNATIONAL TROPHY
A MAGNIFICENT WIN FOR LUIS FONTES WITH THE ALFA-ROMEO PILOTED BY BRIAN LEWIS TWO YEARS AGO. THE DIXON STABLE TAKES SECOND AND FOURTH PLACES, WITH E. R. HALL (M.G. MAGNETTE) THIRD. MANY RETIREMENTS.
THE Third International Trophy will be remembered for two things : the victory of a driver, Luis Fontes, who has only made occasional appearances in the racing field and was virtually unknown to the majority of spectators, and secondly for his magnificent handling of the 2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo which won this race two years ago when driven by the Hon. Brian Lewis.
With such mighty entries as three new 3.3-litre Bugattis, a 3-litre monoposto AlfaRomeo, the record-breaking 1,2 oo c.c. Maserati, and the new “R type ” M.G. Midgets, the possibility of the winner being a two-seasons old 2.3-litre AlfaRomeo was completely overlooked by the majority of those attending the track. But so it turned out to be, and to Luis Fontes, a wealthy young man of Spanish extraction who divides his time between flying and fast motoring, goes the palm for the most delightful display of driving seen at Brooklands for many a long day.
In common with the Jubilee celebrations in London, Brooklands was blessed with a hot and summery day. Long before the start a vast crowd gathered in all the enclosures, and although no official “gate” figures are available, we can safely say that we have never seen a larger crowd at the track. The hill in the Public Enclosure wa’s a solid mass of people, while the cars in the park behind the pits were tightly packed. An unfortunate accident occurred in the Public Enclosure. Some late-corners, finding it impossible even to get a glimpse of the cars at the Fork, climbed on to the roof of a building attached to the Fork grandstand. In doing so, one of them slipped and fell on to the spiked railings below, sustaining a severe wound in his side. After a call for the ambulance had been broadcast, the injured man was removed to Weybridge Hospital, where he is stated to be progressing satisfactorily. The course was slightly changed this year, in order to include the latest G.P. cars in the form of the Bugattis, the Alfa-Romeo, and the 3.7-litre Maseratiwhich turned out to be a non-starter. An extra ” channel ” was made at the Fork,
and the fastest cars had to negotiate a difficult S bend which necessitated full-lock in ‘both directions. At 2.30 the cars were pushed down to the starting-point, just before the channels, and it was found that there were eight absentees. The 3.7-litre Maserati, which was down to be driven by Rovere and Straight, was actually in Tunis where it was being piloted by Farina in the Tunis G.P. Rose-Richards’ E.R.A. was not ready in time, so he accordingly became spare driver for Mays and Cook. Rayson’s Bugatti, reduced to 1,092 c.c., and Ford’s M.G. Magnette were both missing
from Group 2, nd great disappointment was felt when it was announced that the new twin-camshaft Austin was a nonstarter. Stanley Woods, therefore, stood down to allow Driscoll to take part in the race on one of the side-valve singleseaters. Two of the new ” R ” type Midgets failed to appear, one being Handley’s car in the official team and the other being enterod by Horton. Finally,
Brackenbury was a non-starter on Martin’s 2.3-litre Bugatti. Zero hour grew steadily nearer. Engines were started up and all mechanics were ordered off the track. Only Driscoll’s Austin proved unwilling to start, and he was pushed to the rear of the field. ” Ebby ” climbed up on to his special stand, a figure of imperturbable, immovable calm. He raised his enormous Union Jack without shifting his eyes from the huge chronograph inhis hand. For what seemed an eternity ” Ebby’s ” arm was raised, and then with a slow, majestic sweep the flag was dipped. With a
terrific roar the great pack of cars leaped forward, jockeying for position as they entered their respective channels. The front row had consisted of Lewis (Bugatti 3.3), Hamilton (Alfa-Romeo), Fairfield (E.R.A. x,ioo c.c.), Dixon (Riley), Rovere (Maserati 1,too c.c.), and Kenneth Evans (M.G. ” Q “). Driscoll had lost his place and was far in the rear. By the time the channels were reached
Lewis was leading by a few yards from Paul (Bugatti) who had made a marvellous getaway, Hamilton (Alfa-Romeo), Rovere (Maserati) Mays (E.R.A.) and Martin (3.3 Bugatti). The rest went by in a jostling pack, and then right at the end Briault moved away slowly with his misfiring Alta. ” Tim Davies ” did not get more than a few yards, and pulled his ” Q ” Midget into the side with engine trouble. Then Driscoll’s Austin fired, and he shrieked away in pursuit of the field, which by this time was sorting itself out on the Byfleet Banking. All eyes turned to the far end of the Finishing Straight, striving to catch a glimpse of the cars as they swooped off the banking. The wise birds who had
loudly asserted that Lewis would be leading were crushed to see a black 2.3litre Bugatti scuttling through the S bend, and in a moment Cyril Paul had roared by with a clear lead from Mays (E.R.A. 2-litre), Staniland (Bugatti 2.3), Lewis (Bugatti 3.3), Hamilton (Alfa-Romeo), Rovere (Maserati), Everitt (driving Sir M. Campbell’s” R “type Midget), Fontes (Alfa-Romeo), and Eyston (” R ” type Midget). On the next lap the first six cars were un changed, but Kenneth Evans (M.G.”Q”) had pushed his way into seventh place and was having a great duel with Everitt. Behind him came Rovere, McClure (Riley), Fontes (Alfa-Romeo), Martin (Bugatti 3.3), Eyston (M.G.), Jarvis (Alfa-Romeo), Eccles (Bugatti 3.3), Dodson (Austin), Shuttleworth (Alfa-Romeo), Cook (E.R.A.), Hall (M.G. Magnette) and Doreen Evans (M.G. ” R ” type). The remaining fifteen cars were stretched out in a ragged procession, Benja field (Alfa-Romeo) and Briault (Alta) bringing up the rear. The former was crawling through the corners at touring speed, although his 2.6-litre Alfa was running perfectly. He was possibly conserving his energy owing to the fact that his spare driver, Dr. Roth failed to cover
a qualifying lap within the specified 2 minutes. The first material change in the order took place on the fifth lap, when Hamilton was passed by both Everitt and Evans, who thus became 5th and 6th. By this time the leaders were already lapping the
tail of the field. As the cars roared by ” Tim Davies ” at last got his car to fire, and set off on a rather hopeless chase. Then came the first ” incident ” of the
day, when von der Becke misjudged the ” S ” bend in the straight and skidded right round. It was some time before he got going again. Meanwhile pit stops were being made by many competitors, the first man to come in being A. R. Samuel (M.G.), who changed his plugs. Others to stop in the first half-hour of the race were von der Becke (Riley), Letts (Magic Magnette), Martin (Bugatti), Eyston (M.G.), Maclure (Riley), Everitt (M.G.), ” Tim Davies ” (M.G.), Driscoll (Austin), Lewis (Bugatti), Evans (M.G.), Cook (E.R.A.), Jarvis (Alfa-Romeo), Esplen (M.G.), and Dobbs (Riley).
Brian Lewis’s stop was his first and last, for a con-rod had broken with dire results. A large section of the crowd was promptly cast into deepest gloom, for the beautifully finished green Bugatti was the favourite for the race. Changes in the order were coming fast and thick. Staniland suddenly spurted on Mathieson’s 2.3 Bugatti, and passed Mays and Paul to take first place. A few laps later Cyril Paul pulled in with engine trouble, and then pushed his car to the cemetary behind the pits. His had been a fine run while it lasted, and with reasonable luck he might have been a dangerous rival to Fontes in the closing stages of the raced Yet another leader fell when the petrol tank of Hamilton’s Alfa-Romeo was pierced by a blow from the rear axle. To complete the list of retirements in the first half-hour, Eyston withdrew his” R “type Midget owing to a mysterious loss of power. After 20 laps had been covered the order was as follows : Staniland (Bugatti), Fontes (Alfa-Romeo), Mays (E.R.A.), Dodson (Austin), and Shuttleworth (AlfaRomeo). It will be seen that the handicapcorners seemed to be favouring the cars in Group 3, but it was early yet to form a reliable judgment. An immense quantity of plugs was being consumed at the pits, although it was not always certain that this readily-blamed component was to blame. Cook (E.R.A.) and Rose (Alfa-Romeo) had to stop to wipe their goggles, while Dobbs was flagged in by the officials and warned that he was driving his Riley too high on the Byfleet Banking. The new Midgets, with the exception of Doreen Evans’s car, were suffering from loss of water due to a slight fault in the release-valve, but were gaining valuable experience in their first race. They were uncannily steady on the rough stretch at the Fork, floating along without a trace of
wheel-spin. In the S bend they looked most unusual, as the body and wheels banked over in the opposite directions, but they were fast and controllable.
Staniland’s lead came to an end when the exhaust manifold of his Bugatti broke away, and a long stop at the pits put him right back. Mays was now leading by a good margin from Fontes, Shuttleworth, Froy’s ” Q ” Midget and Austin Dobson’s Bugatti. But cruel luck was already at work destroying Mays’ chance of success. A tiny leak in the carburetter float was growing larger and larger, and at last the engine of the E.R.A. spluttered and stopped far away on the Byfleet Banking. By the time fresh supplies had been obtained the car had dropped a hopeless number of laps.
Fontes now slipped into the lead, from which he was only to be deposed for a short period while refuelling. His Alfa-Romeo had been beautifully tuned by Thomson and Taylor, and he was handling it in a classic manner. His corners were strongly reminiscent of Chiron, for he seemed to glide through them without any wrestling with the wheel or binning of the throttle pedal. The 2.3-litre Alfa is renowned for its perfect weight distribution, and Fontes made full use of this in a way that has never been seen in this country before. He approached the top corner much faster than anyone else, very high up on the banking, and eased his car down into the straight in an effortless, just discernable, slide. Through the ” S ” he was smooth and polished, while he took his” channel ” much faster than anyone else in his group, with the possible exception of Staniland. On every lap his technique was exactly the same, the weight of. the car being changed from a slight slide one way to a precisely similar slide the other way, all accomplished by a nicely timed lift of the throttle, followed by a steady power-slide out of the corner. Seldom have we seen in England such a perfect example of driver and car being in complete sympathy. This method has the fundamental advantage of taking the least amount of wear and tune out of a car—an important point in a race of 37 starters and 12 finishers !
Incidents at the pits at this time were Shuttleworth hurling off his crash helmet opposite his own pit; a long-drawn-out struggle to restart Dodson’s Austin ; E. R. Hall being called in by the stewards ; Lace’s retirement with lack of oil pressure on the Alta, and Briault’s exit with a burst petrol tank. Eventually it was found that Dodson’s Austin was leaking water into the cylinders by way of its gasket, and this was accordingly remedied. Refuelling stops were being made, some of them quick, others being leisurely. Several cars were taken over by relief drivers, Walters deputising for Letts on the Magic Magnette, Rose-Richards for Raymond Mays (E.R.A.). ” Tim Davies withdrew his ” Q ” Midget with ignition trouble, and Staniland got away once more with a repaired exhaust system. Rose had to retire when his Alfa-Romeo sheared its blower drive, and Martin’s 3.3-litre Bugatti went out with a broken chassis lug. This was the last of the new Bugattis, for Lindsay Eccles had previously retired after a terrifying
experience on the Byfleet Banking. A torque-rod broke and dug into the track, throwing the car into a real broadside at high speed. Eccles was fortunately equal to the occasion and brought his car to a safe standstill. One or two people behind had a quick-thinking moment, but all was well. At half-distance, or so laps, the order was as follows :
1. Fontes (Alfa-Romeo), 88.16 m.p.h.
2. Dobson (Bugatti), lm. 21secs.
3. Shuttleworth (Alfa-Romeo), 2m. 6sees.
4. E. It. Hall (M.G. Magnette), 2m, 36sees. 5. Mr. & Mrs. Wisdom (Riley), 3m. 7sees. The pits were being constantly visited
for refuelling, in addition to meals of plugs. Sir Malcolm Campbell took over the ” R ” type Midget which had been ably handled by Bill Everitt, and Tommy Wisdom relieved his wife at the wheel of their Dixon-Riley, which she had driven quietly and quickly to such purpose that it now lay in fifth place. Froy took off the radiator guard of the streamlined Midget entered by Manby-Colegrave, in an effort to Cure persistent over-heating, while Dodson finally acknowledged defeat to the leaking gasket of his Austin. Featherstonhaugh took over I?lanby-Colegrave’s Magnette, and Norman Black (” R ” type Midget) retired with blower trouble. At 70 laps Fontes was still leading ahead of Dobson, on Earl Howe’s old 13ttgatti, the Wisdoms’ Riley, Hall’s Magnette and Freddie Dixon himself. The scoring officials found great difficulty in deciding who was lying fourth. On the main leaderboard in the Public Enclosure Dodson (Austin) was posted fourth in spite of having spent 40 minutes at the pits ! On this being politely pointed out, Dodson’s number was rubbed out and substituted by Horton ‘s, who, of course, was a non
starter ! Now the retirements were growing to alarming numbers. Frov dropped out with
lubrication difficulties, Benjafield fractured a piston, Driscoll’s magneto packed up, and Fairfield’s E.R.A. was another piston sufferer. Shuttleworth came in with a loose exhaust pipe on the monoposto AlfaRomeo, an event which he had been anticipating with avowed pleasure, for he was anxious to retire and go home to present the prizes to schoolchildren in his village. However, the trouble was not as serious as he thought, so he carried on in the hope that something else would go.
Dixon was putting on speed, having been unobtrusive during the first part of the race. At 70 laps he was third, and at 81 laps second, but Fontes was way out ahead in first place. Dobson was putting up a good show on the veteran Bugatti, Hall was doing his usual smooth and consistent race, and Wisdom was handling the Dixon-Riley in first-class form. At oo laps the order was still the same..
There were several other drivers who were putting up a game fight, but whose exact position cannot be given owing to the bulletins showing only the first five cars. Kenneth Evans was driving his ” ” Midget with characteristic alertness, but was handicapped by several stops for plugs. Doreen Evans was astonishing everyone by her confident handling of the ” R ” type Midget, being not in the least overawed by her first big race and even finding time to look at the spectators in the little Fork stand. She possesses the valuable knack of reducing the strain on herself and her car to a minimum, without sacrificing anything in the way of speed. We had good proof of this when we timed several people round the top corner, with the folowing results : Fontes (on every lap) and Staniland, 9.2 secs. ; Rovere and Driscoll, to secs. ; K. D. Evans, Miss Evans and Dobson, 10.4 secs. ; Fairfield, to.6 secs. ; Rose and Dodson, io.8 secs.
Rovere deserved the greatest possible sympathy for having to retire. The Maserati was very fast, and he drove a steady race without any fireworks. Unfortunately its suspension was of the type least suited to Brooklands bumps, and he was forced to retire from sheer physical discomfort. A drink at his refuelling stop gave him a violent stitch, and as Whitney Straight did not arrive at the track, Rovere was obliged to withdraw a perfectly healthy motor-car. Donald Letts was making good use of the Magic Magnette, which gave him a very comfortable ride. Dobbs had a busy afternoon at the pits, but was not losing ground unduly. He was troubled by his brakes and shock-absorbers, and once sent the tub flying at the S bend. Samuel fell out after an hour and a half’s run on his ” Q ” Midget. Esplen’s “R” type Midget was suffering from teething troubles, and packed up with engine trouble after many stops. The end drew near. Fontes looked and was unassailable, in spite of a hectic spurt by Dixon. The latter had a bad moment right at the end, when he had to take on more fuel and change a tyre, but he kept his place. The bulletin announced his departure from the pits as being at Maclure’s Riley was out with engine trouble, and others to fall out in the closing stages of the race were von der Becke (Riley) with engine trouble, Staniland (Bugatti) with a breakage in the front axle assembly, and Austin Dobson (Buga t i)
with a defunct gearbox. The last-named had particularly bad luck, for he was lying a safe and certain third with four laps to go And so ‘Fontes came round for the last time, a thoroughly deserving winner. His single-handed drive had not been marred by an error of any sort. A new ace has risen in our midst. Sixteen cars were still running, and the fight to complete the necessary too laps within half-an-hour went on. Freddie Dixon was the next to be flagged, a popular second ! Then came Hall, consistent driving and a reliable twoyears old M.G. Magnette seeing him into third place. Fourth came Mr. and Mrs. Wisdom, completing a fine team performance by the two Dixon-Rileys. Shuttleworth was next, followed by Sir Malcolm Campbell, Doreen Evans (a great show, this), Manby-Colegrave and Featherstonhaugh, the persevering Dobbs, Letts and Walters, and finally Cook, whose E.R.A. was making extraordinary noises as it
braked for the corners. E. Maclure (Riley) was still running, but was flagged off, having done 75 laps. Kenneth Evans had appalling luck, for with Only 4 laps to cover and 13 minutes in which to do them the battery fell off his Midget. His presence in the list of finishers was necessary for the team award, hut in view of the lack of other teams this prize was eventually awarded to the Bellevue Garage team consisting of K. D. Evans, Miss D. Evans and Donald Letts. Good tuning, Wilkie ! RESULT
1. Luis Fontes (Alfa-Romeo 2336c.e. S.), 3h. Om. 31s., 86.96m.p.h.
2. F. W. Dixon (Riley 1,986e.c.), 3h. 2m. 59s.
3. E. R. Ilan (M.G. 1087e.c. S.), 3b. 3m. 638.
4. Mrs. E. M. and T. H. Wisdom (Riley 1808e.c.), 3h. 6m. 30s.
5. R. 0. Shuttleworth (Alfa-Romeo 2,904 0.0.8.),, 3h. 7m. 4s.
6. Sir Malcolm Campbell and W. G. Everitt (M.G. 746e.e.S.), 3h. 9m. 9s.
7. Miss D. Evans (M.G. 746c.o. 8.), 3h. 14m. 43s.
8. G. F. A. Mariby-Colegrave and R. E. L. Featherstonhaugh (M.G. 1087o.c. S.), 81. 16m. 5s.
9. H. G. Dobbs (Riley 1808c.o.), 3h. 16m. 308.
10. R. Mays and T. E. Rose-Richards (E.R.A. 1,980e.c. S.), 3h. 16m. 46s.
11. D. Letts and P. M. Walters (M.G. 1,980 c.c. S.), 3h. 17m. 4s.
12. H. W. Cook (E.R.A. 1,4880.o. S.), 3h. 27m. 9s. Also Ran: Hon. B. E. Lewis (Bugatti 3,257c.c. S.), A. H. L. Eccles (Bugatti 8,257 c.c. S.), C. E. C. Martin (Bugatti 3,257 c.o. 8.), J. D. Benjafield (Alfa-Romeo 2,637c.c. S.), A. P. Hamilton (Alfa-Romeo 2,336c.o. S.), H. Rose and R. Jarvis (Alfa Romeo 2,336c.c. 8), C. Paul (Bugatti 2,263c.c. S.), A. Dobson (Bugatti 2,263c.c. S.), C. S. Staniand (Bugatti 2,263e.c. B.), D. L. Briault (Alta 1,074c.e. S.), A. C. Lace and Lord Avebury (Alta 1,0740.e. S.), P. G. Fairfield
( 1,091c.c. S.), G. Rover° (Maserati 1,0960.o, S.), E. McClure (Riley 1,986e.o.), A. W. K. von der Beeke (Riley 1,498c.o.), C. J. P. Dodson (Austin 747e.c. S.), L. P. Driscoll (Austin 747c.c. S.), G. E. T. Eyston (M.G. 746e.e. S.), N. Black (M.G. 746c.c. S.), K’ . D. Evans (M.G. 746e.o. S.), D. Fray (M.G. 746c.c. S.), ” Tim D. Davies ” (M.G. 746c.e. S.), A. R. Samuel (M.G. 746c.o. S.), W. Esplen (A.G. 746e.e. S.). P. Maelurs (Riley 1,089c.c.).