ANOTHER BIG VICTORY FOR ” BIRA ” INTERNATIONAL TROPHY RACE WON AT 77+ m.p:h. ITALIAN CARS FIRST, THIRD AND FOURTH. THE BROOKE-SPECIAL SECOND. E.R.A.’s OUTCLASSED
THE J.C.C. International Trophy Race, handicapped on the famous three channel system which makes this race virtually a scratch race in appearance, was contested in sun and torrential showers over the combined road and track course at Brooklands on May 0th. Chief topic of pre-race interest was whether the new E.R.A. would run. It appeared on the day before the race, when Mays completed two laps with it. The faster was at 3 mins. 18 secs.-a hope lessly slow speed. The car was then posted as a non-starter, with the explanation that Brooklands’ silencing did not suit the new engine ; a great disappointment to those who had subscribed to the British Motor Racing Fund to further the future of these cars. The car was exhibited in the Paddock, but everyone wanted to see it on the course. Mays took over the works’ older Zoller E.R.A. and interest shifted from the Bourne marque to Reggie Tongue’s new fourcylinder sixteen valve Maserati of the latest type. It has the valves at 45%, operated by twin o.h. camshafts, and all eight exhaust ports on the near side, each port with a separate off-take pipe. The pistons are steeply domed, and there
is a single blower. The engine revs. to 8,000 r.p.m. and gives some 220 b.h.p. and the car weighs just over 12 cwt. It has unit gearbox and a conventional rear axle sprung on quarter-elliptic springs. Front suspension is by torsionally damped transverse links and the brakes are hydraulic. We should hear lots more of this 13-litre Maserati in this season’s races, for T. & T. are servicing it, completely ex-raying it between races, and Reggie Tongue is a very steady, ex-E.R.A.
driver. Against it in this classic J.C.C. race were eleven E.R.A.s, to he handled by Mays, Dobson, Earl Howe, Aitken, Ausell, Cotton, Hanson, Horsfall, Humphreys, Wakefield and Whitehead. Evan’s and Ashby’s Alfa-Romeo, with their Ashby-designed brakes, both 3-litre cars ; Beadle’s Alta ; Parnell’s 5-litre Bugatti-engined B.H.W. ; ” Bira’s ” old Maserati ; Mathieson with a 3-litre Maserati ; Abecassis’s li-litre Alta; Wilson’s ” eleven-hundred ” E.R.A.; Gerard and Percy Maclure with Rileys ; Smith’s M.G.; Nichols’s M.G.; Charlie Dodson’s little Maserati, and the 1,725 c.c. unblown Brooke-Special. This last car was known by the knowledgeable to have a Dixon-Riley engine in its independently-sprung frame and was regarded with some awe in consequence, albeit 200 miles is 200 miles they said. Actually, when the cars lined up, Beadle, Mathieson, the new E.R.A., Smith’s M.G., Dodson’s Maserati and Humphrey’s E.R.A. were seen to be non starters. Ashby’s Alfa-Romeo had an improvised fire-proof bulkhead fitted at the last minute by its mechanics, at the forceful request of the scrutineers. ” Bira’s ” ever-so famous Maserati, appearing in the new Siamese colours and protected by a ” Bira “blue umbrella, was proof enough that another great race was due. The cars did a most imposing Indianapolis rolling lap behind Cobb and Eyston in an equally imposing V12 Lagonda, and the contest was on. Mays went right out ahead ; he had been in the front line in company vath Tongue, ” Bira,” Evans and Maclure. Evans and ” Bira ” were on his tail and past the pits, in. a swirl of sun-kissed concrete dust reminescent of the first race on the Campbell circuit, ” Bira ” lay second. After a lap it was still Mays, ” Bira ” Evans, then Tongue, Whitehead (glad he is back again !) Horsfall, Aitken and the rest, Ashby last. Another lap and Mays had a nice lead. Pour laps and Mays was at his pit, the engine drenched in oil. Mays, overalls and collar oil spattered, was calm, as mechanics used rag and cleaned off the engine, yelling to the Esso pit for more oil, which was put in. Two and a half minutes were lost and two laps later the car was retired. Evans was cornering near the lip of the banking and lots were not cornering at being already stationary at their
pits-Wakefield’s E.R.A. for plugs, Abecassis’s Alta for an examination and then for fuel and oil (why so early ?) Cotton to work on a gear selector, Wilson for fuel pressure failure and Dobson’s white E.R.A. for attention to carburetter body, rear shock-absorbers and brakes. Ashby now retired with a locking front brake, after snaking nastily-yet we believe he did lots of trouble free miles in practice. Cotton and Dobson both worked in person, likewise Abecassis. By ten laps ” Bira ” led by 2.2 secs. from the redoubtable Percy Maclure and Tongue sat happily, 2.8 secs. behind the Riley (which was urtblown for this race) with Kenneth Evans fourth. On the 11th lap Maclure led and he built up a nice advantage. Abecassis was in again and Geoffrey Taylor tapped the glass out of the screen, which had cracked, with a hammer, while Dobson’s E.R.A. didn’t want to restart. ” Bira ” noted a thermometer climbing and spent 40 sees. having the radiator of the blue and yellow
Maser. filled and the cowl =taped. Maclure did not manage a non-stop run, in spite of double fuel tanks, and on lap 20 he lost 49 secs. refuelling. This put Tongue in the lead with the new 1i-litre Maserati, at 82.15 m.p.h., Maclure second, Whitehead third and ” Bira ” fourth. Abecassis finally retired when it was found that the Alta had a broken carburetter needle seating and Horsf all, in whose pit Dixon advised, retired Rolt’s E.R.A. with faulty valve springs. Dobson was also in again, looking rather tired, and Aitken came in because the off side rear brake drum was working loose. In Tongue’s pit Ken Taylor solemnly removed his shoes. Rain now fell in torrents and the course became more than water-logged. Hanson spun unpleasantly at the Pork, losing valuable time before restarting. and Whitehead snaked about at the hairpin before the pits. Maclure did a clever bit of work in slowing to snatch a new pair of goggles at his pit without stopping. Excitement was intense when the leader stopped to refuel. The splash apron was not ready, but soon Tongue was completely covered. Taylor snatched up the off side of the bonnet, fuel went in, and both rear wheels were changed. A rag was used over the exhaust pipe as a fire precaution and, although the mechanics got rather excited, it was good work-but it cost 2 mins. 5 secs. Whitehead was in too, but to retire his E.R.A. with engine maladies. ” Bira” slowed, merely to snatch a lump of rag with which to clean his visor. Torrential rain continued, reducing speeds materially. Maclure
now led from “Bira ” by 21 secs., Brooke found that a consistant, non-stop run had brought his Brooke-Special into third place, and Earl Howe was fourth. ” Bira” had another brief stop for more water and Maclure stopped again to change wheels. Troubles reduced the field. Earl Howe, tricked by wet brakes, hit the wall and damaged his E.R.A. at the Hill turn, poor Maclure had rear axle failure, and Gerard went out with plug and shock absorber trouble. At 40 laps ” Bira” was 80 secs. ahead of Brooke, who smiled at everyone and tried to really believe he was second in a classic race Evans held third place and Tongue was fourth ; the Maserati hampered by weakening brakes in the wet. Nevertheless, Tongue eventually passed the big Alfa. Brooke, helped, by the handicap, held grimly to second place, though his pit were uncertain whether or not he needed more fuel. ” Bira ” had put on a new visor while Shura had filled up the radiator, leaving his goggles behind—he had an anti-glare shade under the visor. The race was now virtually over and in a drizzle of rain ” Bira” continued faultlessly in the old Italian car, to win at 77.25 m.p.h. Princess ” Bira ” and Princess Chula, who had been in the pits throughout the race stood patiently and alone in the rain as officials and fellow drivers showered congratulations on ” Bira,” who, in his fifth driving season had scored his seventeenth win—with
effortless efficiency. One min. 23 secs. behind came Brooke, to his first big success, although without his lower gears iu the closing stages. Tongue brought the new 1/-litre Maserati in third, 23 secs. after the Brooke-Special. Kenneth Evans, in the Bellevue AlfaRomeo, drove steadily into fourth place, and, in the following order, finished Hanson, Nichols, Aitken, Wilson, Ansell (partnered by Brackenbury), Cotton (aided by ” Wilky “), and Parnell, who struggled manfully with a very sick B.H.W. Brooke, Aitken and Ausell took the Team Award, and Brooke, Tongue and ” Bira” won their respective classes. It was not a big day for British motor
racing prestige. Brooke lost the prize for the best all-British car because he had foreign ignition equipment, and Robin Hanson’s E.R.A. took this prize— incidentally, we have heard that on every E.R.A. and almost every British racingcar there is a tiny part of a component not made in this country and actually stamped with the country of its origin. . . Against ” Bira’s ” 77.25 m.p.h., Brooke averaged 76.48 m.p.h. over his more easily arranged course and Tongue 76.38 m.p.h. The wet obviously slowed everyone. This finishing order does great credit to the J.C.C. handicapping system. There is one interesting point. Of the eleven finishers the E.R.A.s all refuelled once, Tongue’s Maserati re fuelled once, the B.H.W. refuelled twice, so did Nichols, whereas “Bira,” Brooke and Evans did not stop for fuel ; only Brooke ran non-stop. The big cars always, used to need to refuel in 200 miles, but ” Bira’s ” Maserati and Evans’s Alf aRomeo have big tanks—Ashby had prepared for a refuel. E.R.A.s always refuel in a 200 mile race, so one would expect the 11-litre Maserati to do so. But Dick Seaman’s famous Delage could run a race of this distance non-stop, and if Tongue’s car could have do so, he would have been 19 secs. ahead of ” Bira ” at the finish I Certainly ” Bira’s ” two stops for water cost much more than this, so if both Maseratis had rim non-stop ” Bira” should still have won, but this racing game is full of “ifs,” isn’t it ? A quick refuel only might have got Tongue in before “Bira,” and if 8-litre cars do not require a tyre change, a if litre should certainly go through without. However, doubtless Chula would have hung out the requisite Siamese signals to speed his man up I
Poor old Brooklands collects the puddles during a rain-storm and not much can be done about it, but the river in the pits must not happen again, while we suggest a few loads of clinker on the slush between the pit-grandstand and the bridge over which the public regain the Paddock.
” Bira. ” won a very fine race and is likely to meet his rivals again in a contest of this nature in the 200 Mile Race on August 26th, if the J.C.C. does not cancel this historic fixture—though 1i-litre cars. will then have no handicap equality.