Prescott Spring Hill-Climb
Sydney Allard beats them all in his new car. Five Class records fall. Magnificent ascents by John Bolster.
The weather was perfect at Prescott on May 11th and at this popular venue, set in beautiful hill-country, a large crowd saw five class records fall and Sydney Allard make f.t.d. and come within 1.11 sec. of Raymond Mays' record, with the new racing, but unblown, Allard.
The veterans opened the meeting and were in fine form. Marcus Chambers seemed to find the Hutton's gear-lever ill-placed for this kind of work, but Dr. Ewen gave a really polished exhibition in the wonderful Itala and Peter Clark was very steady in the 1914 Mercédès, which, on its second run, set a new class record of 54.71 sec., beating Heal's old record with the Fiat by .11 sec. Gibbs was very consistent in the latter car.
The class for unblown 1 1/2-litre sports cars was definitely the property of Newton's H.R.G. No one could come near to it, Newton climbing first in 52.1 sec., then in 51.29 sec., both these ascents beating Claridge's Frazer-Nash record, the second run by a clear 2.16 sec. The H.R.G. had a cover over the passenger's seat and light strip wings. Claridge, trying hard, had a "moment" at the Esses on his first attempt, and was slower on his second run; he could not better 53.98 sec. Staddon was neat in his H.R.G. Mrs. Hague, in blue ski-cap, seemed to suffer slight brake snatch in her blue Riley, which howled its tyres and Hellyar, snatching a handful of 2nd after the first corner, put lots of load on his Singer Six "Le Mans" rear tyres. Ansell drove his wife's red "Aerodynamic" 1 1/2-litre H.R.G. nicely, keeping the screen up. But it was left to Mrs. Gerard to set third best time, in 55.22 sec., her familiar Riley in fine form and its driver making good use of revs, and brakes.
Only three cars contested the class for blown 1 1/2-litre sports cars, of which Leonard's very-normal-looking 1,408-c.c. M.G. beat the noisy 1,086-c.c. of Kennington's by .01 sec., although it was also quicker than its rival on its second run. The tyres protested loudly! Against these two cars Trowbridge's Austin hadn't an earthly. Adams had broken the oil pump drive of his Anzani Bugatti in practice and was obliged to spectate. Times did not improve much when the unblown 1 1/2- to 3-litre cars ran and, indeed, were slower than Newton's in the unblown 1 1/2-litre class. Jason Henry carried the day in Miller's beautiful 2-litre Riley, which had small lamps and a most stirring note on the overrun. A very fine drive on his second run clocked 52.72 sec., and both Jason Henry's ascents were faster than the owner's. Tyrer's B.M.W. went up wildly for second place (53.81 sec.), and Miller's second run was 3rd fastest, in 54.56 sec. Of the others. Rowe's 2 1/2-litre Jaguar suffered immense slides, Sievwright's 2-litre Aston-Martin, fully equipped and aero-screen erect, was slow. Poor Crook, who had been running-in his "328" B.M.W.'s engine before the event and who had had to change the gasket three times on Saturday, was slower still on his only run, and it was left to Prosser to make the next best "328" run, cornering really fast, in 54.75 sec. Finnemore, hand on external gear-lever through the Esses, clocked 57.03 sec, in his Frazer-Nash. Again only three cars contested the supercharged version of this class. Heath setting a new record in his Alta, in 50.82 sec., beating James' Alfa-Romeo record by .78 sec. He drove splendidly, rather cramped, in the ex-Cowell car in which he merely had his "spare" engine. He said afterwards that he could have done with better brakes and this car will probably appear with Lockheed or Girling anchors, and torque members for its front axle. The sports-car record was beaten on both runs. Whincop, working hard, was second, in 52.41 sec., in his blue Type 51 Bugatti, now road-equipped, his wife servicing it between runs. Fry's road-equipped Type 51 couldn't better 55.18 sec., but was handled consistently.
Times still remained sober when the big sports cars ran. Leonard Potter, on a wild run, made best time in his Allard, in 53.34 sec. and he deserves his success. Leslie Allard, in a magnificent white cap, drove the V8 Allard which Sydney Allard used last year, but now with s.v. Mercury engine, and handled it extremely well, making second best time in 53.89 sec. He had a slight confusion at the top bend on one run — but watch this man next time! Dryden's Jaguar, also very well handled, was next best. Mansell's Allard was another car that was driven decently, its tyres protesting. Campbell's Invicta came wide out of the Esses, as did McAlpine's quiet Allard. Marechal smote the outside bank going through the Esses in Sir D. Gamble's Invicta and indulged in some real trials' work in extracting the somewhat bent motor-car — time, 80.2 sec. The owner had ascended in 55.67 sec. Butterworth drove his 4 1/2-litre Bentley up very neatly, but Parker was untidy in the Parker-Martin, now boasting queer light-alloy wheels. Wharton, in C. A. N. May's Ford, experienced the dreaded sideslip on a fast run. Emery's blown Hudson, tyres smoking, appeared at first to have won this class (52.31 sec.), but obviously it had to be transferred to the supercharged category, in which it was swamped by Bugattis.
Indeed, Rodney Clarke, in his too-perfect, red, ex-Craig, "3.3" G.P. Bugatti, equipped fully for road-motoring, but in G.P. form save for a smaller fuel tank to increase luggage space and an exhaust system rather kinder to the passenger's legs, went up in 51.23 sec. on its second run. This beats Bear's record with the Le Mans "4.9" Bugatti by 1.07 sec. Bear, horn-blowing as he cornered, couldn't better 51.92 sec., although, running before Rodney, the "4.9" momentarily beat its own record. Oliver, in the almost equally perfect road-equipped ex-Burton "3.8" G.P. Bugatti, was slower, Appleton's Allard slower still, but Imhof, urging his Allard upwards, clocked 53.89 sec..
So to the racing classes, opened by the "500s".
Lones, using lots of revs., was excellent in "Tiger Kitten" (53.0 sec.), but could not cope with Strang. The lusty Strang "500," its transverse front spring liberally cord-bound, the front wire wheels comp.shod, discs on the rear, went away carefully, Strang controlling the spin. Then the H.R.D. engine took hold and we held our breath as he roared into the Esses, seemingly far too quickly to avoid the banks. But Colin knew his car, and crackled onwards to the finish. His second ascent was the faster, in 52.49 sec., a new class record, as his old figure was beaten by .49 sec. Brandon and Cooper handled their Cooper "500s" well, but a surprise item was the great urge displayed by Aikens' new Aikens "500." The driver, knees in chin, searched for his gears, but nevertheless made third fastest time, in 54.39 sec. His car has a large screen, faired headrest, wire wheels with small section tyres and appears to employ a Fiat rear-end and Triumph Twin engine behind the seat. The wheelspin was there all right!
The 501-750-c.c. racing class was Dowson's, in 51.49 sec. In crash hat and vizor, he drove beautifully. This fine little car now has hydraulic brakes. It was far faster than its rivals. Hamilton's R-type M.G., tending to "fluff " at the far end of its very extensible rev, range, with the immense rear wheel spin customary to cars of this type, was second, in 52.24 sec.. Third place went to Leathart, driving Hamilton's car. Symonds had a busy time beneath his motor-cycle crash hat in the ex-Brettel Austin, poor Marcus Chambers blew a gasket in his Austin, while Dryden drove his M.G. nicely, the smell of hot rubber accompanying his run. Rowe's Austin gave spectators a big thrill, getting into a series of snakes out of the Esses, but it was held safely. Rightly, Chambers was asked to put away his pipe, before starting.
The 751-1,500-c.c. racing class saw Habershon's fine G.P. Delage — shades of Benoist, Campbell and Seaman — improve its time on its second run sufficiently to win the class, in 51.45 sec., after a steady first ascent. Mrs. Darbishire really got going in Reece's blown 1 1/2-litre Riley, doing 51.92 sec., and Leo Davenport, in Mortimer's 1 1/2-litre Alta, was third, showing grand acceleration and using twin rear tyres. Thomson's Salmson ran out of road early on, but the Finch Amilcar Six was going nicely and Marshall took it up in 54.56 sec. on his second run. . Blomfield was polished in a very nice G.P. wire-wheeled Bugatti, Marguilies was in trouble in his Bugatti, and Rivers Fletcher, working hard at the wheel, showed judgment in handling his smartly turned-out M.G.
The 1 1/2--2-litre racing class was a triumph in every sense of the word for John Bolster. After discussing chaff-cutters in the Paddock he fairly hurled "Bloody Mary" up the hill. The front wheels flapped fiendishly as he vanished round the Semi-Circle, after an ascent which left us breathless and the spectators clapping. John won his class by 2.62 sec. and, more than that, made 5th fastest time of the day, beaten only by the new 3.8-litre Allard, a "3.3 " G.P. Bugatti, a blown "2.3" Type 51 Bugatti and a blown 3-litre monoposto Alfa-Romeo - that on an unblown, 2-litre, 4-cylinder cyclecar! Heath was actually second in the sports Alta, almost sliding into a bank out of the Esses on his first run, and his brakes a bit sticky at the first corner on the next run. Penn, in the Reece Riley, was 3rd, going wide from the Esses, but cornering neatly. Heal's 1924 G.P. Sunbeam coasted silently to rest on its first climb, Anthony taking the blame, but doing 58.56 sec. on its second run, to a nice exhaust crackle. Christie was neat, blipping the A.C.-Nash through the bends, and Pool was using his Bugatti's brakes bard.
The big racing-car class, saw f.t.d. established by the new hush-hush Allard, with its 3.8-litre air-cooled V8 Steyr engine, which was brought down in a huge van. So quiet it was up to us almost before we realised it, Sydney Allard clocked 47.25 sec. for a run which started none too well. The exhaust note sounded rather ragged. Later on, this will be, we are sure, an even faster car. As it was, it got f.t.d. on its first run, first time out. It is a stark-looking job, but fitted with a decent single-seater body and bonnet side panels, streamline fairings covering the valve gear, while only a Ford speedometer and fuel-level gauge grace the facia and the wide-spaced pedals are liberally drilled. A gallon of fuel was used in the 3-gallon tank, twin rear wheels naturally, and they say the engine survived a 20-min. full-bore bench test, after expensive teething troubles. Alas, on his second run Sydney overdid things at Pardon Hairpin and hit a new Nuffield Riley parked beside the road. That annoyed Allard considerably, especially as his off-side twin rear wheels were wedged beneath the Riley's front wing. The car was got clear and returned down the course, damaged wheels flapping. By the bridge the axle turned in its anchorages and locked, so the new Allard spent the remainder of the meeting on the grass-verge. Then it was hauled into its van and Tom Lush and the mechanics anticipated a busy time ahead of them, for they were leaving for Bo'ness on the following Wednesday. This is the sprint car of the year and Allard himself has done much of the work on it after business hours. Abecassis, in his "3.3" Bugatti, a big car for Prescott, ran 2nd to Allard, in 47.42 sec. and Peter Monkhouse, using twin wire rear wheels on his Type 51 Bugatti, and driving consistently, was 3rd. Abecassis did a masterly quick twirl of the wheel, correcting a slide out of the Esses and obviously his brakes were very effective. Monkhouse was really trying, all but smiting the outer bank at the Esses on his first ascent. Stubberfield raised the sand at Orchard Corner in his Bugatti, and Arnold drove his roadequipped Type 51 nicely. Bear gave his usual polished exhibition in the Type 51, changing down just before Orchard Corner, while McAlpine was somewhat worried in the blue "2.9" Maserati, but changed nicely for the first corner. Leslie Allard again drove the Allard well. Lady Mary Grosvenor showed immense improvement over her style last year, having forsaken her Allard for the ex-Darbishire Bugatti. Rippon's long-wheelbase P.B.N. (Yankee-engined Frazer-Nash Special) showed itself to have powerful brakes and was well handled. It has a neat Frazer-Nash radiator and three exhaust stubs protruding from each side of the engine. Ken Hutchison, watched by Robin Jackson, who prepared his car, gave the ex-Ashby Alfa-Romeo all it had got between the bends and was obviously trying hard. The car sounded very healthy, but wasn't quite fast enough.
The Team contest suffered from non-starters, only four teams running and Sir D. Gamble running out of road (R.O.R. in B.O.C. parlance!) and spoiling the Invicta team's chances. The Clarke, Whincop, Oliver Bugatti team won from the Edwardian team.
That concluded a grand day's sport in one hundred per cent, weather conditions. The organisation was beyond reproach, as we have come to expect at Prescott. By grouping all runs by racing cars in the middle of the programme spectators and competitors alike benefit.
In the Paddock we noted how valve cover, air intake and a Bowden control protrude from "Tiger Kitten's" bonnet, the neat front and rear flaired wings on Bowles' Austin Seven, and the six exhaust stubs and forward-mounted radiator of the A.C.-Nash, which had 6.50 by 16 in. Dunlop Racing rear tyres and 4.50 by 17 in. Firestone front tyres. Very interesting was the new Emeryson Special, not sufficiently completed to run. It has a standard blown Rapier twin-o.h.c. engine, which may have twin-blowers later. The chassis has tubular members, Gordon Armstrong (Singer) coil-spring, trailng-arm i.f.s., Riley brakes and two G.N. steering boxes united as one. Behind the engine is a 3-speed gearbox used to give a low and high top, and a neutral for towing, in conjunction with the Rapier-Wilson self-change box. There are thus 8 speeds in all. Rear suspension is independent, on Alta-like lines, using torsion bars, and there is a "home-made" self-locking differential.
Rivers Fletcher fitted a bonnet cover to his M.G. and hitched it to a Standard saloon, the Whincops prepared their Bugatti for the drive home, Dr. Ewen left in the Itala followed by Clutton's Bugatti saloon, and Hutchison's Alfa-Romeo was put into an immense glass-windowed Ford V8 six-wheel van. McAlpine took his Maserati away in an immense two-wheel Jeep-towed trailer and Chambers had his little Austin in a trailer towed cheerfully enough by the 1908 Hutton. The Paddock was emptying. Another really grand Prescott had come and gone. We look forward now to the Open Summer Meeting on July 20th.
Veteran Cars: 1st, P Clark (1914 Mercédès), 54.71 sec.*; 2nd, L. Gibbs (1910 Fiat), 56,51 sec.; 3rd, Ewen (1908 Itala), 56.80 sec.
Sports Cars up to 1,500 c.c. Unsupercharged: 1st., E. Newton (H.R.G.), 51.29 sec.*; 2nd, G. Claridge (Frazer-Nash), 53.98 sec.; 3rd, Mrs. J. Gerard ( Riley), 55.22 Sec.
Sports Cars, 1,501-3,000 c.c. Unsupercharged: 1st. G. Jason Henry (Riley), 52.72 sec.; 2nd, Tyrer (B.M.W.), 53.81 sec.; 3rd, C. Miller (Riley), 54.56 sec.
Sports Cars, 1,501-3,000 c.c. Supercharged: 1st, J. Heath (Alta), 50.82 sec.*; 2nd, A. Whincop (Bugatti), 52.41 sec.
Sports Cars over 3,000 c.c. Unsupercharged: 1st, L. Potter (Allard), 53.34 sec.; 2nd, L. Allard (Allard), 53.89 sec.; 3rd, R. Dryden (Jaguar), 54.18 sec.
Sports Cars over 3,000 c.c.. Supercharged: 1st, R. Clarke (Bugatti), 51.23 sec.*; 2nd, K. Bear (Bugatti), 51.92 sec.; 3rd, A. Imhof (Allard), 53.80 sec.
Racing Cars up to 500 c.c.: 1st, C. Strang (Strang "500''), 52.49 sec.*; 2nd, H. Lones ("Tiger Kitten"), 53.00 sec.; 3rd, F. Aikens (Aikens "500"), 54.39 sec.
Racing Cars, 501-750 c.c.: 1st, J. Dowson (Lightweight Special), 51.49 sec.; 2nd, J. Hamilton (M.G.), 52.24 sec.; 3rd, J. Leathart (M.G.), 53.52 sec.
Racing Cars, 751-1,501 c.c.: 1st. R. Habershon (Delage), 51.45 sec.; 2nd . Mrs. S. Darbishire (Riley), 51.92 sec.; 3rd, L. Davenport (Riley), 52.32 sec.
Racing Cars, 1,501-2,000 c.c.: 1st, J. Bolster ( "Bloody Mary"), 48,61 sec.; 2nd, J. Heath (Alta ), 51.23 sec.; 3rd, F. Penn (Riley), 51.43 sec.
Racing Cars over 2,000 c.c.: 1st, S. Allard (Allard), 47.25 sec.; 2nd, G. Abecassis (Bugatti), 47.42 sec.; 3rd, P. Monkhousc (Bugatti), 47.78 sec.
Handicap Class: 1st, G. Jason Henry (Riley); 2nd. C Miller ( Riley); 3rd, M. Finnemore (Frazer-Nash).
Team Prize: 1st, Team No. 4. Whincop, Clarke, Oliver (Bugattis); 2nd, Team No. 3, Clutton, Heal, Clark ( Edwardians).
The Best Dozen: S. Allard (Allard), 47.25 sec. (£50 and Silver Cup); G Abecassis (Bugatti), 47.42 sec. (£10 and Silver Cup); P. Monkhouse (Bugatti), 47.78 sec;. K. Hutchinson (Alfa-Romeo), 48.49 sec.; J. Bolster ("Bloody Mary"), 48.61 sec.; K. Bear (Bugatti), 48.98 sec.; A. Arnold (Bugatti), 49.15 sec.; J. Heath (Alta), 50.82 sec. (Fastest Sports Car, £10 and Silver Cup); R. Clarke (Bugatti), 51.23 sec.; B. Newton (H.R.G.), 51.29 sec.; R. Habershon (Delage), 51.45 sec.; J. Dowson (Lightweight), 51.49 sec.
Fastest Lady Driver: Mrs. S. Darbishire (Riley), 51.92 sec. (£5 and Silver Cup).
* New Class Record
Mays and Ashmore used Lucas Ignition Equipment.