RAYMOND MAYS RECAPTURES THE SHELSLEY RECORD
TWO MEMORABLE ASCENTS BY THE 2-LITRE E.R.A. A NEW LADIES RECORD BY MISS DOREEN EVANS ?M.G.) ALAN BAINTON,CRASHES WITHOUT INJURY
FOR the first time since 1929 the record for the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb stands to the credit of a British car driven by a British driver. The authors of this happy combination of events are Raymond Mays and the 2-litre E.R.A. who, on Saturday, May 18th, delighted the crowds on the famous hill by clocking the magnificent time of 39.6 secs.—as compared with Whitney Straight’s previous record of 40 secs. dead, established with a 3-litre Maserati in June, 1934.
In the face of the most depressing weather reports, with snow-blocked roads to many parts of the country, the usual big crowd of spectators concentrated on She’sley Walsh, filling the car parks with their cars, and thronging the right-hand side of the hill throughout its length. Meanwhile the orchard-paddock and the farmyard resounded with the crackle and roar of engines as their owners made lastminute adjustments. Many of them had been at the hill the day before for the official practice ; others, not so fortunate, arrived during the morning. Herr H. Berg, a German entrant of a magnificent White Mercedes-Benz, arrived from the Continent on Friday night, and ‘made his first acquaintance with the hill on Saturday morning. He was returning down the hill after a run when he touched the bank at the point where spectators used to cross the road. The great car stewed across and hit the opposite bank, and then turned completely round in the narrow road, which is just about as wide as the ” Mere” is long. Fortunately, the car was not damaged, and Herr Berg was able to take part in the event. The sun came out during the morning, and for the rest of the day the weather was fine—save for a few spots of rain which did not seriously affect the surface of the road. After Sir Malcolm Campbell had ” opened ” the hill-climb with a sort of triumphal drive on the 4-litre Sunbeam, the programme began with climbs by three members of the same family, Kenneth, Doreen and Denis Evans. All drove M.G.s and all made good ascents ; Kenneth clocking 45.4 secs. on his ” Q type” Midget, Doreen 49.4 secs. with her independently sprung ” R type,” and Denis being the slowest of the three on the
Montlhery Midget, raced last season by Donald Letts. His time was 5o.8 secs. R. F. Turner showed what a combination of good tune and driving skill can do by getting up in 46.4 secs. on his by-no-meansnew Austin, his slides being as usual a delight to the eye. Then came a team of three ” works ” Austins, three marvellous little single-seaters which look like miniature Mercedes-Benz G. P. cars. Driscoll’s
time was 45.4 secs., exactly the same as Kenneth Evans’ ; Walter Baumer, the wellknown German driver, was two-fifths slower, and it was left to Charles Goodacre to make the fastest time in 42 secs. dead. The” R type ” Midget driven by S. C. H. Davis was misfiring at high revs., and clocked 48.8 secs.
Three non-starters, among whom was Miss Peggy Blathwayt, greatly disappointed at not being able to compete owing to a major breakage on her Midget. And so A. N. Maclachlan (Austin) and J. C.
Elwes (M.G. Midget), both of the Cresta Motor Co., roared up the hill in quick succession, fastest time being made by the former in 46.2 secs.—amazingly good for a car which was once a 1926 ” chummy.” The 750 c.c. class was brought to a close by Miss Barbara Skinner, who drove her “Q type” Midget up in 50.4 secs. Of all classes, the ‘,too c.c. is most prolific of ” Shelsley Specials.” The first climb, however, was made by E. R. Hall with a normal K3 Magnette, holder of the sports car record in 43.2 secs. On this occasion the car was not in quite such good form, but the time of 46.8 secs. was nevertheless a good one. E. J. Moor’s Wash III. was the first of the ” Specials,” taking 52.6 secs., followed by R. V. C. Bolster (Bolster Special II.), 6o.8 secs., Mrs. J. Houldsworth (Houldsworth Spetial), 69.8 secs., and J. A. Thompson’s G.N. Martyr, which was the fastest so far with 48.6 secs. After P. N. Whitehead
(Alta) had made a neat ascent in 50.2 secs., Bishop’s G.N. J.A.P. clocked 54.2 secs., the Bartlett-Salmson took 53.8 secs., A. A. Rigby’s M.G. Magnette 51 secs., Glegg’s Dorcas II. (now boasting fourwheel-drive) 61 secs., bucking on the starting-line like a genuine Wild West ” broncho,” and Hippesley-Cox crackled up on “Grasshopper” in so secs. Once again Miss Skinner brought the class to a close when she piloted the Morris Minor Special to the top in 47.8 secs. The first of the ” fifteen hundreds” proved to be that interesting little car, the Becke Powerplus, driven by its new owner, S. H. Newsome. His time of 44.8 secs. was quickly beaten by the next man, E. R. Hall, with a car designated an M.G. Special (1,287 c.c.). Hall is one of the finest Shelsley drivers, holding his car on the corners in a wonderfully confident style, and he made the splendid time of 43.8 secs. But he, too, had to give way to a yet faster time, when Mays and the 1,5oo c.c. E.R.A. roared up in 41.2 secs., skimming the banks on the lower slopes with accurate artistry. Alan Bainton (twin-rear-wheel Bugatti) equalled Newsorne’s time of 44.8 secs., and he was followed by a bunch of “over so secs.,” some of whom were competing in the sports class. Then Fielding (Bugatti) set the ball rolling again with yet another 44.8 secs. climb. A. F. P. Fane was now on the line with a red supercharged FrazerNash, which was emitting a pleasant highpitched whine.He drove magnificently, slidihg the fast corners at the foot of the hill without lifting the throttle, swinging through the S bend and scurrying away to the finish in 45.6 secs.—the fastest I ‘500 c.c. sports car of the day. “Tim Davies” on a smiilar car was nearly 3 secs. slower, and great disappointment was felt at the non-appearance of R. G. J. Nash’s new
car, the Frazer-Nash Union Special. G. Casswell (unblown Nash) made an unobtrusively good climb in 49.2 secs., and Miss Fay Taylour (Frazer-Nash) clocked 52.2 secs. after a spot of bother with her
clutch soon after the start. Miss Ellison drove nicely to get up in 48.6 secs, with her Bugatti, and J. F. Powers brought up his Special in 56.2 secs. The more nervous section of feminine spectators buried their. heads in their
progranunes when the crackle of J. Bolster’s” Mary ” was heard getting away from the line. The broadcast news that he was nearly hitting the banks the whole time did not encourage them to raise their eyes, and in a moment the little projectil came into sight, swaying from side to side and doing its level best to leave the road. The S bend gave the driver a lot of quick work with the tiny steering-wheel, his elbows stuck out and shoulders
hunched, and his progress up the finishing straight was a sight to behold. His time of 44.2 secs., exactly equalled his best ascent last year. The aforesaid spectators watched with relief a steady ascent by W. K. Faulkner
on a two-seater 1,750 C.C. Alfa, entered by L. G. Bachelier. His time of 51.2 secs. proved the fastest in the 2-litre sports class. Then Mrs. Petre gave a typically neat performance in clocking 48.4 secs with an unblown 2-litre Bugatti. A. S. Whiddington’s 6-cyl. Frazer-Nash did a quiet 54.6 secs., and then A. Esson-Scott made a very quick climb on his black Bugatti, clocking 44 secs. dead. Thorpe’s Nash was 4 secs. faster than Whiddington’s, and then the news that Raymond Mays was on the line again brought the crowd to a pitch of expectancy once more. This time it was a 2-litre E.R.A., and although a faster time was expected the score-board revealed that his time of 41 secs. dead was enly one-fifth faster than the 1,5oo car.
In the 3,000 c.c. class two foreign sports models led off with exactly the same times, R. F. Oats (Maserati) and L. Bachelier (Bugatti) both clocking 48.6 secs. The latter’s car was a smart Type 55, and by a strange coincidence bore the number ” 55.” Then C. S. Staniland roared up on Mathieson’s 2.3-litre Bugatti, having an exciting passage on the undulating bit before the S bend. His time was 43.8 secs., a good deal faster than Austin Dobson’s 46 secs. made with a similar car. The latter seemed to put in a good deal of unnecessary energy into the matter of c9rnering. Whitney Straight was now due on the line with his black single-seater Maserati, the record-holder which has climbed in 40 secs. dead. Unfortunately Straight did not turn up, and so H. Rose drove instead. He made a good job of handling an extremely fast and unaccustomed car, and clocked 45.6 secs. Brian Lewis drove one of the new S.S.
models, a nice-looking green two-seater, which recorded 55.8 secs.
Sir Malcolm Campbell handled the big Sunbeam, which was really a size too large for the road, with splendid confidence, and his time of 44.4 secs. was outstandingly good. Uttering a crisp almost crackling exhaust note, E. R. Hall’s green Bentley easily won the 5,000 c.c. sports class with a time of 47.6 secs. R. M. Strang was the next man to come up, driving a now Hudson sports Model finished in pale blue, with a cowled radiator. In almost complete silence he swept to the top in 52.8 secs. Marker’s Railton Terraplane made a nice climb in 54 secs. dead, and precisely the same time was recorded by A. R. Samuel on the Chitte.nden Special. W. Esplen’s blown 4k-litre Bentley literally rumbled up the hill in 59 secs. Three 30/98’s closed the class with typically hearty climbs, the fastest being P. H. jacot’s black two-seater, with a time of 50 secs.
The unlimited class contained but three entries, two ” Mercs ” and a Bentley. H. Berg made the fastest of the first runs in so secs. on his Merc4des-Benz, described as a ” r6o12oo.” I) . Scott-Moncrieff’s MerOdes-Benz clocked 53.2 secs., and Forrest Lycett’s quiet 8-litre Bentley so.6 secs.
So far the record had not been touched, Mays being a whole second slower, but second runs are notoriously faster ! Of the 750’s, Kenneth Evans was prevented from improving on his time by ping trouble—to say nothing of a bout of influenza and a temperature of 162°. Not so Doreen, who was out to get that Ladies’ Record (Miss Skinner, 46.6 secs.), .come what may. All the way up she was much faster, and she persevered in keeping her foot down round the last corner in spite of some fairly .hair-raising skids. She straightened out at last, and roared to the
finish in 45.4 sees. Driscoll realised that something would have to be done. He did it, recording the magnificent time of 43,4 secs. in a perfectly judged climb. Baumer, the German driver, misjudged his start, much to his own annoyance, and completed the rest of his 47 secs. ascent with one -hand on the .steering-wheel ! Goodacre atoned for his error, however, by clocking 44.2 secs. and taking second place behind
Driscoll in the racing class. Maclachlan did even better with his ex-chummy Austin in 45.6 secs.—a marvellous effort.
Elwes toured up very rapidly, wearing a felt hat and looking very comfortable in his fully-equipped j.4 Midget—time, 48.2 sees. Finally Barbara Skinner shot the first of her two bolts by clocking 46.2 sees. .on the Q Midget.
E. R. Hall walked off with the 1, too c.c. racing class when he performed another of his well-judged climbs, this time on a K3 M.G. Magnette in 44.4 secs. Barbara Skinner, shooting the last of her bolts on the Morris-Minor Special, was a second slower than the first time. For some time past the ingenious Shelsley timing apparatus, with its loud-speaker “pips” and flashing traffic-signals, had ceased to function. The proceedings were held up for some time by Alan Bainton. This is the sequence of untimely events which befell this luckless
driver ; (a) a false start, the driver curiously imagining that a raised flag is a signal to depart, (b) the flag falls, and I3ain ton finds himself still on the line, with a stalled engine, (c) this time all goes well—until the approach of the S bend, where the Bugatti goes sideways, leaves the road and disappears down the steep bank of undergrowth and trees. But the debacle was quickly forgotten in the excitement of witnessing and listening to a marvellous ascent by Raymond Mays
on the E.R.A. Everything went perfectly, his speed on the lower stretches was awe-inspiring, and the corners could not have been taken faster. Cheering broke out when his time of 39.8 secs. was announced, the record had fallen to an English car driven by an English driver! Fane was a fifth slower, the cockpit of his Frazer-Nash exuding a haze of blue
smoke. Fay Tayfour was going well on her Nash, and was just about to change gear after the second bend when the engine flatly refused to go any farther. The result was a field-day for souvenir hunters. J. Bolster was 1.4 secs. slower on his second run. Could that hurried wave of the hand to friends on the bank have had anything to do with it? And now Raymond Mays was due once more with the 2-litre E.R.A. He left braking late for the corner, was round and away, shattering our car-drums as he passed below
our vantage point on the bank. All eyes turned to the score-board, and a spontaneous burst of hand-clapping went up when the magic figures “39.6 secs.” were seen, thus beating Whitney Straight’s record for the second time. This superlative climb naturally overshadowed some otherwise excellent performances which followed immediately in its wake. For example, C. S. Staniland clocked 43.8 secs., the same as his first run, and Bachelier improved by a fifth. Austin Dobson did 45.2 secs. to the accompaniment of some strenuous steering, Rose clip
ped two fifths off his previous best with Straight’s Maserati, while Shuttleworth on the tnonoposto was a fifth slower in 43.8 secs. Sir Malcolm repeated his first time of 44.4 secs, giving everyone a thrill when he nigh charged the bank at the S bend. Strang was a fifth slower on the Hudson, and Marker got down to 51.6 secs. on his Terraplane—.a time equalled by Samuel on the Chittenden-Lancia.
Only the three “unlimited” cars remained, and of these Berg’s ” Mere ” was .2 secs. slower, Scott-Moncrieff a second quicker, and Forrest-Lycett rounded off the programme with a nice 49.6 secs. on his short-chassis 8-litre Bentley.
750 c.c. Sports.-1, 3. C. Elwell (M.G.),
48.2secs. 750 c.c. Racing.-1, L. P. Driscoll (Austin), 43.4secs.; 2. C. L. Goodacre (Austin), 3. P s 1). Tvnns ( M. G. “R”) and
K. D. Evans (M.G. “G ‘), 45.4seca.
1,100 c.c. Sports.-1, P. N. Whitehead (Alta), 47.4secs.
1,100 c.c. Racing.-1, E. R. Hall (M.G.
Magnate), 44.4secs.; 2, A. A. Rigby (M.G. Magnette), 45.4secs,; 3, Miss B. Skinner (Morris Minor Spc1.), 47,8sees. 1,600 c.c. Sport8.-1, A. F. P. Pane (Frazer; Nash S.), 45.(secs.; 2, “Tim 1). Davies ‘
(Frazer-Nash S.), 48.2secs.: 3, Cassell (Frazer-Nash), 49.2secs.
1,500 c.c. Racing.-1, R. Mays (E.R.A.).
39.8sees.; 2, E. R. Hall (M.O. Spc1.). 43.8 sees.; 3, F. J. Fielding (Bugatti). 47.2secs.
2,000 c.c. Sports.-1, W. K. Faulkner (AlfaRomeo), 51.2secs.; 2, T. A. W. Thorpe (Fraser-Nash), 52.2secs.; 3, A. S. Whiddington (Frazer-Nash), 54.8sees.
2000. c.c. Racing.-1, R. Mays (E.R.A.). 39.8secs.: 2, A. Esson-Scott (Bugatti), 44 sees.: 3, J. Bolster (Holster Spc1.), 44.2sees.
3,000 c.c. Sports.-1 L. G. Bachelier gatti), 48.4secs.: 2, A. F. Oats (Maserati). 48.0secs.; 3, Hon. B. E. Lewis (8.8.) and D. N. Letts (Talbot), 54.8sees. 3,000 c.c. RacIng.-1, R. 0. Shuttleworth (Alfa-Romeo). 43.6secs.; 2, C. S. Stanila,nd (Bugatti), 43.8secs.; 3, H. Rose (Maserati) and A. Dobson (Bugatti), 45.2seco,
5,000 c.c. Sports.-1. E. R. Hall (Bentley 31), 47.6socs.•’ 2, R. R. K. Marker (Railton Terraplane). 51.6sees.; 3, R. Hughes (Vauxhall), 52.2secs.