FAST MOTORING AT DONINGTON
CHARLIE MARTIN (MONOPOSTO ALFA-ROMEO) BREAKS TEN-LAP RECORD AND RAISES SINGLE-LAP SPEED TO 71.55 M.P.H. SEAMAN’S REBUILT DELAGE SCORES WIN IN TWO RACES.
After opening with the large-scale spectacle of the British Empire Trophy at the beginning of the season, Donington returned to something of its old ways with the series of five and ten-lap races which took place on May 9th.
But the cars and the course were very different, with Martin’s Alfa, some very rapid E.R.A.s, the Grand Prix Delage, formerly the property of Lord Howe and purchased and refitted by Seaman during the course of last winter, not to speak of Rayson’s Maserati and some fast Rileys, to compare with the unblown ” 750s ” which formed the spectacle only a couple of years ago.
The course is now wide enough to allow a mass start of thirty cars, and something like this number would have been seen in some of the races if so many cars had not been withdrawn with mechanical troubles after blowing up in practice. Unfortunately the organisation of the meeting was marred by long and unnecessary delays between the races, a feature of the old days which might with advantage have been swept away when the other improvements were taking place.
The weather was dull on Saturday, and doubtless many intending spectators were kept away by the threat of rain from the heavy, low-lying clouds. Our sympathy incidentally goes out to the new caterer, who had provided great stores of sandwiches and other eatables, a great improvement on previous meetings, and who was faced with. the prospect of living on ham and tongue for the following week !
The first race was for cars up to 850 c.c., and all the supercharged cars had scratched, leaving five unblown machines to fight it out.
What they lacked in speed was made up for by their smart appearance, StancerBeaumont was driving a particularly neat Ford Special, which had an eight horse chassis reduced in width and fitted with a single-seater body, while Else’s M.G. was trim with its cowling and its red bodywork . Stancer-Beaumont got away well with the Ford, with Else on his tail, followed by Prestwich (M.G.) and Mellor (Balilla Fiat). After two laps the Ford had gained a lead Of MO yards from Else, Mellor had moved up a place, while Wharton (Austin) was fourth. Next lap StancerBeaumont had increased his lead a further 100 yards, while there was a lively struggle between four cars, all of almost identical speeds for third place. Wharton emerged the victor with his little grey Austin, while D. S. Handley hung on
closely to secure fourth position.
RESULT Five Lap race for Cars up to 850 c.c.
Stancer-fieaumont (849 e.c. Ford Special), 13m. 551s. Speed 55.01 m.p.h. 2. N. J. Else (746 c.e. MM.) 14m. 100,
3. K. Wharton (747 c.c. Austin) 14m. 141s.
Event two, a ten-lap handicap race for cars up to 5 litres, promised to be interesting, even though only fifteen out of the twenty-six entries had reached the. starting line. A notable absentee was
Christian Kautz, the Swiss driver, who had entered his Maserati. The exhaust manifold of his car had melted as a result of the Brooklands silencer he had been forced to fit for the International Trophy, and a replacement was unobtainable in England. What most people wanted to see in this race was a comparison between Seaman’s Delage and the E.R.A.s on which he had been so successful last season. There were four of the latter cars in the race, driven by ” Bira,” Scribbans,
Whitehead and Tongue. The blown 11-litre cars received 30 seconds start from C. E. C. Martin with his 3.2-litre monoposto Alfa-Romeo, which shared the scratch mark with the Duke of Grafton’s 2.3-litre, a car which until recently carried comparatively sober saloon coachwork.
• Miss Chaff on a Balilla Fiat and Maclure on a special 1-litre four cylinder Riley were the first to be sent off, with a
handicap of 160 seconds. Maclure’s car seemed to choke just over the line losing him seconds which would have been valuable later on. Lord Avebury’s Alta went off on two cylinders with a wake of steam and was soon afterwards jostled by the speedy fifteen-hundreds. As these latter went out of sight, ” 13ira ” was in the lead, with Tongue. (E.R.A.) and Seaman on the Delage following. At the end of One lap Maclure had overhauled Miss Chaff, then came Hadley on the side-valve works Austin, which screamed like a miniature ” Mere.” as it came tiQw11 to Starkey’s Corner. Parnell led the 1,100 c.c. category and Dobbs on the off-set Riley the unblown 11-litres. The ” Bira ” blue E.R.A. still led its group, though its exhaust note seemed to lack its usual hearty crackle. Whitehead went rather wide on Starkey’s and Seaman
neatly annexed second place, the other 11-litres being Tongue (E.R.A.) Rayson (Maserati) and Scribbans (E.R.A.).
Second time round Maclure had wideLed his lead over the Fiat to 300 yards, while Dobbs was close on Parnell for fifth plate. An announcement from Coppice corner Stated that ” Bira ” was still leading ljis gang, but by the time the cars appeared over the bill, the black bonnet of the Delage was several lengths ahead, a full justification of Seaman’s faith in his tenyear-old car. Rayson had passed Tongue,. who was treating his brand-new E.R.A. with respect, and Martin’s efforts on the Alfa-Romeo had brought him up to the tail of the 20 sec. starters. At half-distance, Maclure, who was cornering in magnificent style, was still leading the field, 500 yards ahead of Hadley on the Austin, 50 yards behind came Dobbs on his surprising Riley, with
Seaman another 50 yards in rear, then ” Bira,” Whitehead, Parnell (Magnette), and Rayson. Charlie Martin continued with the good work, having now overtaken Scribbans and Tongue, but in spite,of his. very rapid lapping it seemed doubtful whether he could get to grips with Seaman in the five laps that remained.
Eight laps Saw .Seaman in second place, and ” Bira,” who had just caught Dobbs, third. Seaman never looked like being caught by the E.R.A., but fear of Martin’s. Alfa kept him on the alert till the end. He passed Maclure’s Riley coming down to Starkey’sat the end of the ninth lap and swinging very wide across the tarmac past the pits set off on his last lap an almost certain winner. ” Bira ” leung on grimly till the end, while Charlie Martin finished a mere five seconds behind. In his efforts to catch the Delage and the E.R.A. Martin had pushed his car to speeds previously unattained on the Donington circuit, and at the end of the
race was announced to have demolished three course records, the one lap, which he broke three times, the best figure being 2m. 80., (71.54 m.p.h.), Is, faster than Eccles last year on the 3.8-litre Bugatti. His five and ten-lap were 11m. 7s. (68.86 m.p.h.) and 21m. 58s. (68.7 m.p.h.) as compared with those put up by Chris Staniland (2.3-litre Bugatti), 68.62 m.p.h. and 68.69 m.p.h. A very fine effort !
RESULT Ten-Lap Handicap up to 5,000 0.0. 1. R. J. B. Seaman c.c. S.) rec.
1. R. J. B. Seaman (1,500 c.c. Delage, S.) rec.
$3s., 24m. 29s., Speed 68.55 m.p.h.
2. “B. Bira ” (1,488 c.c. E.R.A., S.) rec. 30s., 24m. 33s.
3. C. E. C. Martin (3,205 c.c. Alfa-Romeo, S.) ser., 24m. 388.
4. P. Maclure (999 c.c. Riley), rec. 160s., 24m. 40/s.
5. H. G. Dobbs (1,486 c.c. Riley) rec. 50s., 24m. 510. Fifteen ran.
At the end of the second race there occurred rather a tedious incident, furnishing another instance of the lack of liaison between officials and drivers which makes racing in England less pleasant than it could be. Several cars which had been taking part in the second race were also due to start in the third event. Instead of changing plugs or trundling their cars by hand 300 yards up a slope to the Paddock, the drivers concerned ran their cars on to the grass at the edge of the course and waited there within 30 yards of the starting line. This did not meet with the approval of the officials and the waiting cars were hustled off back to the” official pen, ” Bira,” who ventured a protest, being greeted with such unpleasantness that Prince Chula, who acts as ” Bira’s ” team manager, withdrew” Bira’s “entries for the rest of the meeting as a protest. We know that orders is orders,” and that the regulations stipulate that all cars are to return to the Paddock between races, but when it is a matter of speeding
up the programme and making easier the work of drivers and attendants it seems unfortunate that parking in close proximity to the starting line could not have been permitted as an act of grace. Half the cars in the next event, a fivelap handicap race for cars up to 1i-litres, had scratched for one reason or another, including Seaman’s Delage, The fastest
cars were Rayson’s Maserati, and the E.R.A.’s of Tongue and Whitehead, while an interesting newcomer was the Duke of Oral ton’s light two-seater Squire.
Maclure who as limit-man with Prestwich (M.G.) and Stancer-Beaumont (Ford Special) made no mistake about his start this time, and shot away round Red Gate Corner in a fashion which suggested he would take some catching. On the first lap the order was Maclure, StancerBeaumont, Prestwich, Parnell (M. 0. Magnette) and Tongue (E R.A.).
On the second lap Maclure had got clean away from the field, while Tongue, now apparently quite at home on his E.R.A. had come through the field in fine fashion to hold second place 45 seconds in rear. Parnell had come up into third place, Rayson was fourth and Whitehead fifth.
Tongue fought hard to reduce Maclure’s lead in the third round, while ‘Whitehead speeded up in pursuit to such effect that he captured third place. On the fourth round excitement grew higher, with Tongue 9 secs. behind the Riley, and Whitehead a mere three lengths behind, while the last lap saw them shooting doNn Starkey’s Hill, half-a-dozen lengths covering all three, ending with a meteoric corner by Maclure which secured him first place by less than 2 secs. RESULT
Five-Lap Handicap up to 1,500 c.o.
1. P. Maclure (099 c.c. Riley) rec. 60s., 12m. 18/s. Speed 62.29 m.p.h.
2. R. E. Tongue (1,488 c.c., E.R.A. S.) ser., 12m. 20s.
3. P. N. Whitehead (1;488 c.c. E.R.A., S.) set., 12m. 21s. 4. E. K. Rayson (1,496 c.c. Maserati, S.) scr.,
5. R. Parnell (1,087 c.c. M.G.. S.) 13m. 13s.
Eleven ran. Martin’s Alfa was again on the line in the next race, in which unsupercharged cars received a flat start of 60 secs. irrespective of capacity. Dobbs with his 1i-litre Riley established an advantage of 50 yards from Maclure who was giving away 500 c.c. of capacity, with PowysLybbe on his rare old 2.5-litre Alvis in third place. Tongue actually led Martin
as far as the Hairpin, but the Alfa shot in front coming over the hill down to the start, only to fall out before completing two laps with a broken halfshaft in the back axle. Dobbs increased his lead to 200 yards in the second lap in spite of Maclure’s utmost efforts, with Powys-Lybbe run• fling third, but in the third lap Tongue had so far overcome his handicap as to displace the Alvis. Except that the
E.R.A. closed up on the leading two cars, the order remained the same on the last two laps, when the crankshaft of PowysLybbe’s Alvis gave up the ghost, letting Caldwell into fourth place.
RESULT Five-Lap up to 5,000 c.c.
1. H. G. Dobbs (1,486 c.c. Riley) rec. 60s., llm. 54/s. Speed 64.24 m.p.h.
2. P. Maclurc (999 e.e. Riley) rec. 60s., 12m. 9/s.
3. It. E. Tongue (1,488 c.c. E.R.A., S.) scr., 12m. 18s.
4. W. B. Caldwell (1,486 c.c. Riley) rec. 60s., 12m. 55s. Nine ran. The fifth race, a scratch event for 11litre cars, promised another DelageE.R.A. duel, though made less exciting by the absence of ” Bira.” The E.R.A.s made terrific get-sways, and Scribbans and Walker, who was driving ‘Whitehead’s car, actually reached the Hairpin in front of the low black Delage. Seaman caught Scribbans before completing the first
• lap, but Walker by prodigious efforts held on to the lead until he reached the Hairpin, on his second lap, when he eased back and allowed Seaman to pass. Tongue third, Rayson (Maserati) fourth,
and then Dobbs and Parnell. Dobbs dropped out on the fourth lap but the order otherwise remained unchanged, 150 yards covering the first five, while Seaman was evidently roused by his duel earlier on and executed some startling slides down the slope to the Old Start, any hope of securing a record lap being however spoilt by the earlier efforts of Martin. He won by some 150 yards.
RESULT Five-lap scratch up to 1,500 c.c.
1. R. J. B. Seaman (1,500 c.c. Delage, S.) 11m. 10s. Speed 68.55 m.p.h.
2. P. Walker ((1,488 c.c. E.R.AS.) Dm. 111s.
3. R. E. Tongue (1,488 c.c. E.R.A.A, S.) Urn. 20s.
4. E. K. Rayson (1,496 c.c. Iklaserati, S.) urn. 27s. Seven ran. The final event was a ten-lap handicap race, the handicap being determined on
performances in previous races. This involved the working-out of fourteen handicap times, and well over half-anhour passed before the figures were settled and the cars placed on the starting grid. There had been considerable delay in the running off of previous races, and spectators, wearied of this final period of inactivity, protested loudly by keeping their fingers on the horn-buttons of their cars.
The limit car was Miss Chaff’s Fiat, which received no less than 6 min, 24 secs. from Tongue and Whitehead (E.R.A.$) on scratch, and cars were still being started when the early starters had completed two rounds. In two laps Else (M.G.) had picked up his ten-sec. handicap on the Fiat, and led the field. At the other extremity Whitehead got away from the line with a slight advantage over Tongue, but Tongue squeezed round Red Bridge Corner just
in tront. Richard Bolster on the M.G.G.N.-Bolster Special, had been doing some dashing corners on Starkey’s, one of which ended excitingly near the turf safety-wall when the track-rod broke.
While the slower cars were sorting themselves out, interest concentrated on Tongue and Whitehead. Tongue had the advantage each time as the cars reached Starkey’s but ‘Whitehead pulled up alongside-somewhat unnecessarily as it seemed and with no hope of getting round first. At the sixth lap Stancer-Beaumont overtook the M.G. while the TongueWhitehead duel came to an end when Whitehead spun round three times at
Red Gate Corner. In the confusion Rayson slipped by on his Maserati. Caldwell and Briggs, on Riley Nines, had been keeping in close company and by the seventh lap had worked their way to third and fourth position. Caldwell then started to put on speed, got well’ away on the eighth, and on the ninth lap caught up Else and pipped the Ford
at Starkey’s. He held off the Ford without much difficulty and finished with. a lead of 200 yards, with Parnell and Ray-son pounding along a quarter of a mile behind. And so the meeting ended. The course has shown itself capable of attracting fast cars and skilful drivers, all that is. needed to produce a worth-while spectacle. Attention to organisation and the avoidance of unnecessary delay would secure as permanent race-fans those who are accustomed to the slick presentation which characterises other forms of high
speed sport. RESULT
Ten-Lap Handicap up to 5,000 c.c. 1. W. B. Caldwell (1,486 c.c. Riley) rec. 3m. 21s.,
1. W. B. Caldwell (1,486 c.c. Riley) rec. 3m. 21s., 27m. 45/s. Speed 54.41 m.p.h.
2. J. Harrison (849 c.c. Ford), rec. 5m., 28m. Is.
3. R. Parnell (1,087 c.c. M.G., S.) rec. 47s., 28m. 25/s.
4. N. J. Else (746 c.c. M.G.) rec. 6m., 14s. 28m. 40s.
5. E. K. Rayson (1,496 c.c. Maseratl. S.), rec. 22s., 28m. 47s. Fourteen ran.