E.R.A. CARS DOMINATE BRITAIN’S MOST IMPORTANT RACE “BIRA ” WINS IN THE I.O.M. AT 70.69 m.p.h.—E.R.A.s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th
In practice for the R.A.C. I.O.M. 11-litre race the fastest laps went to the credit of ” Bira ” and Raymond Mays, both of whom lapped in 2 min. 59 secs., equal to 78.45 m.p.h. ” Bira ” started a warm favourite. Inevitably, there were non-starters. ” Bira’s ” Delage was not used, as he chose to handle the E.R.A., although in earlier practice he had lapped at 75.10 m.p.h. in the Delage against
74.70 m.p.h. in the E.R.A. Dixon’s Dixon-Special did three practice laps and succumbed to supercharger trouble and although Dixon worked all night on the car that trouble could not be overcome. Incidentally, Dixon was in the Island on sufferance, as it were, for his motoring charge had been postponed, it Is said, because his solicitor had pleaded that he had designed a car that might have a profound effect on design of the future and that Dixon was due to compete in an International event for which a strong German contingent was coming over. Although the German contingent existed only in the imagination of Dixon’s solicitor, the case was duly postponed, but subsequently a fine of .tiO and disqualification from driving for two years was imposed for dangerous driving on the road. Poor Earl Howe had not recovered from his Brooklands crash sufficiently to drivehis E.R.A., Powys-Lybbe’s Talbot and Charles Martin’s MartinJ.A.P. were not ready, and Peter Aitken did not appear for practice with the Maserati. Then P. F. Jucker met with a fatal accident during his fourth practice lap on the Tuesday, driving the new, fully independently sprung Alta which was said to have attained 144 m.p.h. at 13rooklands before being shipped to the Island. Reports of the accident vary, but it would seem that Jucker approached Port Jack corner too fast, hit a kerb, went into a series of skids and in taking to the escape road at Onchan. corner left the course and hit a lamp standard. The cockpit was crushed and Jucker removed with difficulty, though without delay, and taken to hospital with injuries
from which he never recovered. M. Hudlass, the R.A.C. engineer, said that he examined the car afterwards and found a tendency for the accelerator to stick in the full-throttle position but that he did not think this had any bearing on the crash. We wish to express our deepest sympathy to Jucker’s relatives and friends. Incidentally, a London Daily journalist published a sensational sorc of story, describing the Alta as having been built regardless of cost specially for the I.O.M. race. Actually, it had run in the Campbell Trophy Race at Brooklands and was not the most expensive car in the field. The enthusiasm of the I.O.M. towards motor and air-racing is certainly most encouraging. A leading Editorial in the race report issue of the ” Isle of Man Weekly Times” emphasises the splendid spirit of sportsmanship and enthusiasm that abounds there. It was, in consequence, all the more unfortunate that only three out of ten drivers took the trouble to appear at the prize-giving, at
which His Worship the Mayor of Douglas, His Excellency the Lieut. Governor of the I.O.M., Lady Butler and the Mayoress of Douglas attended. Those who did go up to receive their cheques were Raymond Mays, ” Bira ” and Pat Fairfield. “The Isle of Man Daily Times” published a strong article on this unfortunate fiasco. In his speech His Excellency showed unrestrained enthusiasm for motor-racing in the Island and a letter subsequently appeared in the “I.O.M. Times” from the Chief Constable of Douglas indicating that he was thoroughly satisfied with the arrangements. To return to the race. Most regrettably Thursday dawned wet and cold, which made the course extremely difficult and reduced the number of onlookers very materially. Ebby was in command at the start, where the cars were drawn up in rows, ” Bira ” (E.R.A.) and Mays (E.R.A.) in the front rank, Fairfield (E.R.A.) behind, Whitehead (E.R.A.) and Villoresi (Maserati) in the third rank, A. C. Dobson (E.R.A.) behind, Tongue (E.R.A.) and Graffenxied (Maserati) in rank five, Connell (E.R.A.) behind, Austin Dobson (Maserati) and Parnell (M.G.) in rank seven, Hanson (Maserati) behind, Du Puy (Maserati) and Madure (Riley) in rank nine and Hughes (M.G.) behind. These starting positions were determined on practice lap times. The lack of protection in the grandstand was largely to blame for the poor attendance as the flag fell, while the Press worked under very unpleasant conditions. Sir Montagu Butler arrived as the Ring’s representative, but the National Anthem was not played. As the flag went down, the fifteen starters got off in a crash of sound and showers of high-flung spray, Mays taking the lead from ” Bira ” and Villoresi. On the twisty piece at Broadway Pat Fairfield got into third place and along the front the E.R.A.s drew steadily away from the Maseratis. Past the pits it was ” Bira ” who led, with Mays three lengths behind and Fairfield third. Whitehead brought Walker’s E.R.A. in and Du Puy, the American driver, retired thus early with lubrication difficulties worrying his Maserati. W. Hughes also came in with his M.G. and came in a good many times later on, finally going out on his twenty-sixth lap with a blown gasket, after making the slowest of the “best laps ” at just over 61 m.p.h. ” Bira’s ” E.R.A. did its second lap at 69.87 m.p.h. and began to draw away from Mays’s E.R.A. by 6 to 7 secs. per lap. On lap four Fairfield took second position and Mays fell to fourth place behind Tongue’s E.R.A. Lap five saw Walker making up on the pit-pause by lapping at 70.57 m.p.h, whereupon ” Bira ” hit up 70.93 m.p.h. Parnell came to the pits with his M.G. and was frequently in thereafter. Now the race became distinctly exciting, with the rain still descending in torrents. By ten laps Walker (E.R.A.) was up to sixth place, and Villoresi (Maserati) had come steadily through, cornering like a master, to second place, 40 secs. behind ” Bira’s ” leading E.R.A., and only
lengths ahead of Fairfield’s E.R.A. The leaders were averaging over 70 m.p.h. in spite of conditions, and Tongue did his ninth lap at 72.02 m.p.h. Mays and Fairfield had feared weakening brakes for the trouble that had dogged the works E.R.A.s from the commencement of the season had not been. overcome, although the drums had been changed
after practice. Nevertheless, on lap twelve Fairfield got past the Maserati and three laps later Villoresi’s very fine drive most unfortunately ended through so trivial a bother as a choked fuel pipeline. The Maser, came to a standstill at Port Jack and its driver tramped through the rain to the pits.
At twenty laps ” Bira ” led by 47 secs. at 70.39 m.p.h. with Fairfield second, Tongue third and Raymond Mays fourth, a fine sight for supporters of the marque E.R.A.—and who these days is not ? Mays now set the lap record to 73.15 m.p.h. (3 mins. 12 secs.), and five laps later ” Bira ” had a lead of 45 secs. at 70.81 m.p.h. Lap twenty-eight saw Mays establish the final race lap record for the course at the very fine speed of 73.92 m.p.h. (3 mins. 10 secs.), a very fine effort
under dreadful conditions. Two laps earlier Graffenried (Maserati) had tanked up in 1 min.., chewing gum as he left, and Ian Connell (E.R.A.) had taken on fuel in 55 secs. At thirty laps Reggie Tongue put his fuel in in 23 secs. and Walker did likewise in 45 secs., handing over to Whitehead. So often we overlook these great moments at the pits . . . ” Bira ” now had a lead of 55 secs., having averaged 70.92 m.p.h. On. the next round he came in, to take on 20 gallons of fuel and a gun of lubricant in 45 secs., but, even so, Mays and Fairfield went past at speed to take the leading positions. Fairfield was now seriously troubled with his brakes and ” Bira ” caught him easily in three laps and dealt likewise with Mays in the next three laps, though he now led by only 8 secs. or so. On his thirty-seventh lap Mays came in to refuel and was away in 25 secs., enough time, nevertheless, for Fairfield to snatch his place. Nevertheless Mays repassed almost at once, while ” Bira ” had built up his former unassailable lead, to the extent of 40 secs. at thirty-eight laps and 45 secs. at forty laps, at an average
speed of 70.68 m.p.h. Tongue and Whitehead ran behind the place men and Percy Maclure was going beautifully in the unblown Riley, but poor Co/melt had serious plug bother and had lost all real speed. A. C. Dobson’s Maserati was functioning well, but Fairfield had his work cut out to maintain third place owing to almost entire loss of retardation. Mays, on the other hand, actually picked up slightly on ” Bira’s ” very comfortable lead. So, in pouring rain, they finished, ” 13ira ” in 2 hrs. 45 min.s. 34 secs., the victor, Mays second, 42 secs. later, in 2 hrs. 46 mins. 16 secs., Fairfield third, 37 secs. after Mays, in. 2 hrs.
46 mins. 53 secs. Their average speeds were, respectively, 70.69 m.p.h., 70.39 m.p.h. and 70.04 m.p.h. for the 200 miles, a remarkably consistent effort. Tongue was fourth at 69.63 m.p.h. and Walker and Whitehead fifth at 68.64 ni.p.h.-E.R.A.s in the first five places. The remainder of those running were
flagged off. In spite of the adverse conditions and high speeds there were only the three retirements already mentioned, whereas last year retirements were high. The best lap-speeds by the leaders were as follows :” Bira ” : 73.53 M.p.h. Mays : 73.92 m.p.h. (race lap record). Fairfield : 72.77 m.p.h. Tongue 72.02 m.p.h. Whitehead : • 73.13 m.p.h. The best Maserati lap was that of Villoresi at 72.77 m.p.h.
” Bira’s ” E.R.A. was the first E.R.A. supplied to a customer by E.R.A. Ltd. -his faithful ” Romulus,” now fitted with De Ram shock-absorbers all round. The next E.R.A.s were the familiar works cars, Zoller supercharged to about 25 lb. per sq. in. The other E.R.A.s were 1936 cars with Hartford shock-absorbers.
The E.R.A.s ran on Shell fuel mixed in S.U. carburetters and supplied via Zoller or Murray-Jamieson superchargers to be fired by Scintilla magnetos, energising Bosch plugs, or K.L.G. plugs in the case of Walker’s car. They relied on Shell oil for purposes of lubrication, and were braked by Ferodo-shod shoes via Girling actuation, with Lockheed hydraulic operation on the works cars. Naturally all ran on Dunlop tyres. It was a most interesting race, very closely contested and had Mays’s brakes been working properly things would have been extremely uncertain until the
chequered flag had flown. As it was, ” Bira ” drove with remarkably fine judgment throughout, admirably controlled by Prince Chula from the pit. After the race he was called to the ” mike ” and, wet and deaf from driving., gave a brief speech, ending by saying he must be off for a bath. He confessed to being very tired, but otherwise all right and paid a tribute to Raymond Mays’s driving. One wonders what would have been the outcome had he run the Delage, with which Seaman last year covered 200 miles at nearly 70 m.p.h. non-stop, or others besides Fairfield had carried sufficient fuel to go through like this, this year. The reason why the Delage did not run was because ” Bira ” felt happier in his E.R.A., especially over the rough parts of the course, although to onlookers the Delage seemed very stable.
Incidentally, so heavy was the rain that one paper suggested that the Antifyre tenders were quite unnecessary! There was one incident of a regrettable nature, when the R.A.C. stewards called Humphrey Cook before them and fined him L-2 for allowing three mechanics to refuel Mays’s E.R.A., when only two were stipulated in the regulations, although it is believed that Cook acted on information given by an official. Officials who are
not acquainted with the regulations should never give a ruling.
A member of the staff of MOTOR SPORT tuned in for the commentary arranged by the B.B.C., to hear that the race had finished earlier than the B.B.C. anticipated and that the studio orchestra would oblige instead. No result was announced until almost the end of the first news, much later in the day, which made our listener very “lit-up.”
The new course seems excellent, but is distinctly uneven in places, notably at On.chan. The Team Prize was taken by ” Bira,” Mays and Fairfield for E.R.A.
RESULTS 1. “B. Bira ” (E.R.A.), 2h. 45m. 34s., 70.69
2h. 45m. 34s., 70.69 m.p.h.
2. Raymond Mays (E.R.A.). 2h. 46m. 16s., 70.39 m.p.h.
3. P. G. Fairfield (E.R.A.), 2h. 46m. 53s., 70.04 m.p.h.
4. R. E. Tongue (E.R.A.), 211. 48m. 5s., 69.63 m.p.h.
5. P. N. Whitehead-P. D. Walker (E.R.A..), 2h. 50m. 30s., 68.64 m.p.h. at Finish
Running at Finish 6. De Graffenried (Masemti), 49 laps, 66.73
6. De Graffenried (Masemti), 49 laps, 66.73 m.p.h.
7. A. C. Dobson (E.R.A.), 48 laps, 66.50 m.p.h.
8. Austin Dobson (Ma.serati), 48 laps, 64.87 m.p.h.
9. R. Hanson (Maserati), 48 laps, 64.66 m.p.h.
10. P. Madure (Riley), 48 laps, 64.41 m.p.h.
11. I. F. Connell (E.R.A.), 46 laps, 61.08 m.p.h.
12. R. Parnell (M.G.) 36 laps, 47.61 m.p.h.
Retired Mores! 15 Choked fuel feed.
L. Mores! (Maserati) 15 laps. Choked fuel feed. Du Puy (Maserati), 1 lap. No oil pressure. W. Hughes (M.G. Magnette), 26 laps. Blown gasket