A Series of Interviews with Personalities famous in the Realms of Motoring Sport No. 6 — Col. Goldie Gardener
Goldie Gardener commenced his racing career with a “Gordon England” Austin Seven in 1929, later graduating to one of those very fast 750-c.c. M.G.s which were first raced unsupercharged. In one of these remarkable little cars he achieved third place in the under 1 1/2-litre class in the Irish Grand Prix of 1931. In 1932 he had the distinction of being the first to lap Brooklands at over 100 m.p.h. in a 750-c.c. car.
Driving in conjunction with Dr. Benjafield he attained a third place in the 1934 B.R.D.C. 500-mile race, this time in a blown 1,100-c.c. M.G. K3-type Magnette.
But it is in his record-breaking exploits that he has earned justifiable fame. At a time when a certain section of the Continentals were regarding this country as decadent he took, first of all, the special single-seater Magnette and later a fully streamline development to Germany, and on sections of Autobahn shattered international records in the G. and F. Class. The national prestige value of these exploits was tremendous, and the Germans, then at the peak of their high-speed motoring achievements, freely acclaimed this worthy success.
The ultimate records as they now stand are as follows: —
Speeds achieved on the Dessau-Leipsig Autobahn, June, 1939:
Class G. (1,100 c.c.): — Flying Kilometre, 203.5 m.p.h.; Flying Mile, 203.2 m.p.h.; Flying Five-Kilometres, 197.5 m.p.h.
Class F. (1,500 c.c.): — Flying Kilometre, 204.2 m.p.h.; Flying Mile, 203.9 m.p.h.: Flying Five-Kilometres, 200.6 m.p.h.
The only unpleasant sensations that Gardener can recall on his record-breaking runs were whilst going under the bridges, which crossed the Frankfurt-Darmstadt Autobahn. On approaching them at around 200 m.p.h. the feeling was that he could not get under and the tendency was for him to duck his head.
We were pleased to learn that Goldie Gardener has big plans for the not too distant future. Readers will be interested to hear that the M.G., having, survived the war by a small margin (many of its spares were destroyed in a fire at. Abingdon), is now being rebuilt and a 750-c.c.engine is being installed. Gardener has a host of spies reconnoitring for a suitable venue to attempt the H.-Class record. He is hoping, if possible, to find a suitable place within the Empire.
Still using the 6-cylinder layout, the bore and length of stroke being the same, i.e., “square,” a low C.R. is being employed with a very high boost. The method of carburation has not yet been decided upon, but a new system of petrol injection is under consideration. According to this scheme the fuel is injected into the manifold between the supercharger and the engine. A metering device, controlled by a radio valve which analyses the exhaust gases, increases or decreases the mixture strength as is necessary. It is not intended to alter the chassis or body as they have given such outstanding stability. A remarkable thing is that the body, as designed by Reid Railton and produced by E. G. Brown without any wind-tunnel testing, gave such a high degree of stability at speed and such a low drag-coefficient.
However, a small amount of cleaning up is to be effected, notably to the wind-screen, which is now to become a cockpit cover according to the latest practice on fighter aircraft. Gardener is also toying with the idea of cowling off the cooling-air intake whilst actually on the measured distance.
It is hoped that 150 m.p.h. will be exceeded with this smaller engine, which suggests about 135 b.h.p.
Amongst Goldie Gardener’s other achievements we find: —
1936: Winner, Locke King Trophy, Brooklands.
1936: Officially lapped Brooklands’ Outer Circuit on 1,100-c,c. at 120 m.p.h.
1936: Brooklands’ Outer Circuit 1,100-c.c. record, 124.5 m.p.h.
1937: Officially lapped Montlhèry at 200 k.p.h. and awarded Gold Button.
1938: Awarded Segrave Trophy for greatest achievement on land, sea or air.
1938: Awarded a special B.R.D.C. Gold Star.
During the war Gardener commanded R.A. M.T. Training Batteries and later he became the Deputy Chief Instructor at the R.A. Mechanical Traction School. In 1944 he went overseas on Field-Marshal Montgomery’s General Staff in the 21st Army Group. He was demobilised in September, 1945.
Throughout his army life in this country he has used his very smart 1 1/2-litre M.G., with utility bodywork, for going on leave. His views on improving motoring as a Sport are largely concerned with the attitude of the Government. Motor racing, he feels, should be given some national support — whilst it remains entirely up to private enterprise it will never get very far. On the Continent they are allowed to use the public highway. If anybody ventured on to the road in a racing car over here they would be bowled down. Manufacturers will naturally be loath to sponsor a racing team if they are not to achieve general approval. Motor racing and the use of sports cars tend, in this country, to be bound up with the accident figures. Accidents are not due to fast driving, but to the fact that our roads are not mainly suitable for motor travel. How many accidents ever occur on an Autobahn? Hardly any! — because people are not allowed to walk on them. It would be interesting to know the number of accidents which occur on the few real motor-roads that we do possess over here.
On the subject of horrifics Goldie Gardener has been involved in some spectacular contretemps.
One in particular which stands out in his memory occurred in 1931. He was racing on the Ards circuit in a Montlhèry 750-c.c. M.G. His was the smallest car in the race and at a point on the Comber section, just after the bridge, where there is a right-hand bend, an S.S.K. Mercédès-Benz (the largest car in the race), powersliding with blower “in,” locked its front nearside wheel in Gardener’s offside front wheel. Gardener was hauled along in this condition for some yards when the wheels became unlocked, only for his front wheel to engage the rear wheel of the Mercédès. When he finally became disengaged, he was thrown to the left and ended up in the ditch in an inverted position. Neither he nor the passenger were hurt in this melange. However, the M.G. was bent in all places. Asking his advice for those who are newcomers to racing, Gardener remarks: “I started on a motor-cycle, but whereas there is no parallel in control, it teaches you road sense. Don’t start on a small car and work up. Start on a machine of the size that you intend to continue with. The driving technique on different sizes of car is very great.” Major Gardener is running up the engine for test purposes in the middle of June. He will be sailing in the last week of July for Italy where he will make an attempt for the record on the Brescia Milan Autostrada.