Raymond Mays (E.R.A.) makes f.t.d. Whitehead’s E.R.A. next fastest. Perfect organisation and a big crowd. H.R.G. the fastest sports car.
Heavy rain failed to “wash out ” the first Bugatti Owners’ Club Prescott Speed Hill Climb on May 19th. Indeed, all the old, familiar sights were witnessed again by a large crowd of enthusiasts — feverish attempts to start racing machinery in the muddy paddock, the crowd cautiously making its way up the slippery paths to favourite vantage points, the re-packing of mud-covered racing cars and the unbogging of spectators’ saloons after the meeting.
In spite of the horrid conditions, it was an extremely enjoyable meeting and the organisation was 100 per cent., the programme finishing about half-an-hour ahead of schedule. Entries were wisely limited to 80, and amongst the non-starters were Allard’s Allard, Blomfield’s Invicta, Richards’s Riley, Gilbey’s Alfa-Romeo, Jason-Henry’s Bentley, Giron, who bent the Maserati in practice on May 4th, Mansfield’s M.G., Salvadori’s M.G., the Watkins’-Nash, Miller’s Riley, Geoffrey Taylor’s Alta, Ripley’s Talbot and Jason-Henry’s Riley — we suggest reserves next time. Donald Parker brought a “Brooklands” Riley and his Ford V8-engined Aston-Martin (the latter with s.v. head on the off-side and o.h.c. on the near-side), but, after a series of incidents in practice, the stewards excluded him.
Due to the wet course not a single record fell. In practice, under kinder conditions, Raymond Mays took the 2-litre E.R.A. up in 49.6 see. His differential casing then split but his mechanics rushed from Broadway to Bourne and back on the Saturday night and fitted a new casing, so that the black E.R.A. was on the line on Sunday.
After Eric Giles, Col. G. M. Giles and Earl Howe had opened the course in a Type 57 Bugatti. the veteran cars came up. Peter Clark was fastest, in the 1914 Mercédès, now in authentic white finish and carried his wife with him on the first run. Rodney Clark in the Bugatti “Black Bess,” which Clutton drove to the course, was very impressive, and Bolster’s beautiful 1911 Rolls-Royce equally so in a different manner.
For a new driver, Newton did very well to win the 1 1/2-litre sports class with the ex-Baillie-Hill Meadows H.R.G., using a noticeably earlier cut-off for Orchard corner than Chambers on the Le Mans, H.R.G. Claridge was second in this class, using a Frazer-Nash composed virtually of a G.N. chassis with 1936-type Gough o.h.c. engine. Lind-Walker’s Type 37 blown Bugatti was third, the exhaust noise grand and the driver making determined changes with the outside gear-lever. Maltby (Riley) left the road near the finish on his second run, while Mrs. Gerard (Riley) drove splendidly, making a determined upward change after the start. Abecassis, on two consistent runs, won the medium sports car class for Alta; Heath, a new man, driving very well in his Alta for second place. Flather was fastest of the various 328 B.M.W. exponents and very able through the Esses. Of the big sports cars, Bear deserved his class win, his ex-Le Mans blown 4.9 Bugatti being a handful on this course, even in the dry. Johnson, in his ex-Connell Darracq, using his sliding tactics to excess, was second, and Hutchison, getting real revs., being usefully brutal with the gear-lever and really driving his V8 Allard. richly deserved his third place. Hutch’s was the best Allard climb. Silcock screamed his tyres and wasn’t very fast; Parker was rather wild, touching the inside barrier at Orchard corner and Lady Mary Grosvenor just toured up. Garland was disappointing in the ex-Gerard 3 1/2-litre Delage, and Scott-Moncrieff found his 5,350-c.c. Bugatti saloon too large for the hill. Mrs. Rodney Clarke did two nice ascents in the Type 49 touring Bugatti “Poppy.”
So to the racing classes. Two 500-c.c. cars ran, Strang’s 499-c.c. H.R.D.-engined, Fiat-500-chassis Strang 500, and Lones’s 496-c.c. Tiger Kitten. The latter has a well-finned one-cyIinder J.A.P. engine in an Austin Seven chassis, using an Austin Seven gearbox, an upsidedown Austin “Ulster” front axle, and a cut-down “Ruby” Austin radiator grille. These two cars proved conclusively that 500-c.c. cars are amply fast enough to hold the spectators’ interest, and Strang scored a splendid victory, his time being 59.05 sec. against Lones’s 59.1 sec.
Of the 750-c.c. racing cars, the Dowson Lightweight, when it was finally unbogged, easily beat Wharton’s well-handled M.G.-engined, Austin Seven chassis Wharton-Special – 56.1 sec. against 58.45 see. Marcus Chambers’s single-place Austin Seven boiled furiously on its first run and nearly left the road on its second ascent.
Whitehead’s E.R.A., really motoring and doubtless aided by a Z.F. differential, won the 1 1/2-litre racing class in 52.4 sec., and made fastest ascent of the second runs. Gerard’s white E.R.A. was 1.05 sec. slower for second place, and Ansell, selecting the left-hand side of the road for starting and still getting much spin, completed the E.R.A. domination of this class. Raymond Mays, on what can only be put down as a typical Mays’s ascent, recorded 51.7 sec. on his first run, easily fastest time of the day. He wore blue overalls and a cap — how nice to see the famous black E.R.A. in full cry once again! His second run, in 53.8 see., also bettered all other class ascents. Bob Cowell, with the black, all-independent, ex-Mary Grosvenor Alta, made unsensational, well-judged runs, keeping a steady throttle through the Esses, and was rewarded with second place – 54.8 sec. Harrison’s ex-Dixon silver Riley, emitting much smoke and resounding on the over-run, was third.
Peter Monkhouse, with the road-equipped Type 51 Bugatti, won the big racing class on a truly polished ascent — it actually looked slow in comparison with Whincop’s run in a sister car, which was actually over 2 1/2 sec. slower. Peter’s second run, however, was much slower than his first. Northway’s old “Spook,” now very neatly Mercury-powered, was second – 54 sec.— in spite of a bad slide at Orchard corner, well held. Northway then chuntered up fast on a fearless ascent, a fine show. Bear, using his brakes purposefully before Orchard, was third, driving his twin-rear-tyred Type 51 Bugatti splendidly. Kenneth Evans was disappointingly slow with the monoposto 2.9 Alfa-Romeo, although cornering well, and Hutch just failed to better his previous time. Whincop did a very neat change-down while dicing out of the Esses. Yates. slid badly from the start with the Maserati, Giron crashed and was very cautious, and Wallington’s “half Bimotore” 2.9 Alfa-Romeo spun its wheels a lot and snaked on the straight bits, clocking an identical time on both runs. No extra runs were used to decide the Handicap Class, but Mrs. Gerard’s excellent run with the Riley won her this additional prize, with Flather’s B.M.W. second and the Mercury-Nash third.
Considering the weather there were few incidents, and new drivers did not get into difficulties. Mortimer’s Alta showed excellent acceleration, Williams was restrained with the ex-Hunter 1 1/2-litre Alta, Hampshire came out of Orchard wide with the 1 1/2-litre Maserati on a very fine run, and A. R. Parnell handled the famous 1 1/2-litre Delage very effectively. Davenport displayed fine get-away from corners with the ex-Dixon Riley. Vaughan made a very skilled recovery from a series of nasty slides at Orchard with the Becke-Powerplus. Parnell put his 1 1/2-litre Maserati carefully through the lower bends, but was excitingly vicious at the Esses, and here Peter Monkhouse actually accelerated hard. There were no real accidents, although Tony Crook slightly dented his “328” B.M.W. when he hit the bank at Orchard, and Fry’s A.C. Six-engined Kaiserwagen, a car with fierce getaway, left the road at the same place, recovered, and broadsided at the Esses.
The B.O.C. deserves the very greatest credit for getting the cars up probably quicker than at any other sprint event, announcing times very promptly indeed, and keeping the course efficiently marshalled. The loudspeaker system was made full use of to address marshals, spectators and competitors, and a few minutes after descending the hill at the conclusion of this well-run meeting we were handed a programme with all the times inked in. Congratulations, Eric Giles! Other clubs please try to copy! Earl Howe broadcast thanks to all helpers. — W. B.
Veteran Cars*. – 1st, P. Clark (1914 Mercédès), 61.5 sec.; 2nd, R. Clarke (1913 Bugatti 63.5 sec.
Sports Cars Up To 1 1/2-Litres. — Ist, E . Newton (H.R.G.), 55.3 sec.; 2nd, G. Claridge (Frazer-Nash), 56.8 sec.; 3rd, G. Lind-Walker (s/c. Bugatti), 56.95 sec.
Sports Cars – 1 1/2 to 3 Litres.- 1st, G. Abecassis (s/c. Alta), 56.25 sec.; 2nd, J. Heath (s/c. Alta), 56.9 sec.; 3rd, D. Flather (B.M.W.), 57.1 sec.
Sports Cars Over 3 Litres. – 1st, K. Bear (s/c. Bugatti), 55.7 sec.; 2nd, L. Johnson (Darracq), 56.3 sec.; 3rd, K. Hutchinson (Allard), 57.7 sec.
Racing Cars Up To 500 c.c. – lst, Strang (Strang 500), 59.05 sec.
Racing Cars, 501-750 c.c.- lst, J. Dowson (s/c. Lightweight-Special), 56.1 sec.; 2nd, F. Wharton (s/c. Wharton-Special), 58.45 sec.; 3rd, M. Chambers (s/c. Austin), 61.1 sec.
Racing Cars, 751-1,500 c.c.- 1st, P. Whitehead (s/c. E.R.A.), 52.4 sec.; 2nd, F. Gerard (s/c. E.R.A.), 54.04 sec.; 3rd, R. Ansell (s/c. E.R.A.)„ 54.45 sec.
Racing Cars, 1,501-2,000 c.c.-1st, R. Mays (s/c. E.R.A.), 51.7 sec.: 2nd, R. Cowell (s/c. Alta.), 54.8 sec.; 3rd, T. Harrison ( Riley), 56 sec.
Racing Cars Over 2 Litres. – 1st, P. Monkhouse (s/c. Bugatti), 53.5 sec.; 2nd, J. Northway (Mercury-‘Nash), 54 sec.; 3rd, K. Bear (s/c. Bugatti), 54.3 sec.
Handicap.- lst, Mrs. Gerard (Riley); 2nd, D. Mather (B.M.W.); 3rd, J. Northway (Mercury-‘Nash).
Prizes. – £50 and Silver cup: Mays (E.R.A.), fastest time. £10 and Silver Cup: P. Whitehead (E.R.A.), second fastest time. £10 and Silver cup: Northway (Mercury-‘Nash), fastest unblown car. £10 and Silver Cup: E. Newton (H.R.G.), fastest sports car. £5 and Silver Cup: Mrs. Gerard (Riley), fastest lady-driver. Also silver cups to class-winners, etc.
*Formula result not yet available.
“Bira,”” Baron, H. L. Brooke and RowIand were interested spectators.
Whitehead’s Alfa-Romeo was started on the starter as the flag fell.
Silcock kept his Allard’s radiator covered until the moment of get-away, and Chambers had his pipe removed from his mouth on the line.
Stafford-East was attending to Bear’s three Bugattis. Bear wore tennis shoes and Bugatti-blue overalls.
Earl Howe came in his V12 Lagonda. Great enthusiast that he is, he watched all the afternoon from divers vantage points, in spite of the rain.
Johnson’s Darracq was boiling on the line and purposely took to the grass as it left the start, close to the right of the road.
Len Parker used two pairs of glasses and goggles before he could see properly where he was going – did we say it was wet?
Garland (Delage) professionally lowered his goggles after leaving the start.
Lones changed the plug of Tiger-Kitten before the start. The car has Austin Seven wheels and, we believe, 3.50 x19-in. tyres.
Strang’s motor-cycle gearbox in the Strang 500 allowed him to make rapid gear-changes.
In the racing Alta Abecassis was into second gear at the start in two car’s lengths, using the engine’s urge low down to good purpose to avoid wheelspin in bottom gear.
The ex-Seaman Deluge was handle-started at the line.
Mud was a problem in many ways, and Mays’s mechanics thoroughly wiped the wheels of the black E.R.A. before it left the line.
The rear wheels of Dowson’s Lightweight looked to lean inwards.
Weir thoroughly warmed the Monaco M.G.’s transmission before his run.
Lund’s blown PB M.G. had competition rear tyres. Those using twin rear wheels were: Mortimer, Abecassis on the racing Alta, Yates, Gerard, Ansell, Whitehead, Bear on his 3-litre and Type 51 Bugattis, Davenport, Northway, Williams, Cowell, Vaughan, Woodall and, of course, Raymond Mays.
Mays’s fuel smelt beautifully of “boot polish” and Woodall, whose twin-blower “Shelsley” Frazer-Nash was sick (of mis-firing), nearly gassed us with exhaust fumes.
Adams’s Bugatti has a twin o.h.c. Anzani engine and used small rear wheels to reduce its gear-ratio, while Mansell’s M.G. was an ex-“Musketeer” T-type.
In spite of the rain, Mrs. Gerard looked as unruffled as ever. She made fastest time of the ladies-incidentally, did she recover her umbrella which, ladylike, she mislaid during the afternoon?