Practice Period Observations
The practice periods were dry and very high speeds were attained. Reg Parnell early decided to handle his 16-valve Maserati, which was in very good form, and to let Wilkinson drive the E-type E.R.A., the latter now running with single-stage supercharging. On the Saturday Noel Carr broke a driving-shaft on the Alta, but spares were reputed to be on the way.
Monday evening was cold but suited to high speeds, and during the evening Parnell unofficially broke the old lap record, held by Richard Seaman’s wonderful Delage, the Maserati getting round in 3 min. 12 sec.; and then Gerard took his E.R.A. round in 3 min. 10 sec., equal to 73.49 m.p.h., whereas the old 1936 record was at exactly 72 m.p.h. Most of the cars were lapping at around 70 m.p.h., Rolt doing 71.61 m.p.h., or 3 min. 15 sec., in the multi-carburetter Alfa Romeo; Raymond Mays 3 min. 18 sec. in his D-type E.R.A; Brooke, using his E.R.A. in the absence of the Ferrari, 3 min. 21 sec.; Hamilton in the Type 6C Maserati with which Abecassis finished second at Jersey, 3 min. 23 sec., and Paul Emery, in the imposing Emeryson, equalling Hamilton’s speed.
In the early part of the practice period Walker (E.R.A.), Baring (Maserati) and Emery (Emeryson) were amongst those who were in need of plug changes, work was being done to Geoffrey Ansell’s E.R.A., and Parnell was heard to observe that, well as his Maserati was motoring, all his cars had had plug trouble.
The Press was allowed to go wherever it liked on the course and some courage was needed to stalk along the pavements to points of vantage, while the pit-area seemed pretty hair-raising, approached as it was at high speed by cars then called upon to dive downhill on a slight left-hand curve where the road narrowed by reason of the unprotected legs of the huge motor-cycle-T.T. scoreboard on the right and the distinctly-congested pit-area on the opposite side.
At Parkfield Corner, John Bolster, who had inspected the course on a bicycle and thought that experience quite exciting, took Bell’s E.R.A. right down into the near-side gutter on his approach and fought the car round thereafter. Hamilton had wild moments in his Maserati, the friction-clamped front-end visibly asking for Luvax, while a rear wheel tended to lock under braking. Later Hamilton went head-on into the protecting sandbags at Onchan corner and splayed out the front wheels of his car. He consoled himself with beer from a convenient pub. The Emeryson was a bit wild and woolly-sounding, Salvadori was using his brakes hard in the four-cylinder 8-valve Maserati, while the new G.P. Alta looked and sounded very nice, Abecassis looking intently into the cockpit as he left the corner on one round. Later the near-side rear brake drum of this Alta was removed at the pits for inspection. The front cowling of Baring’s 6C Maserati was juddering noticeably.
After a while the course-closing Mk. VI Bentley saloon came round and the entrants for the Castletown Trophy and Manx Cup events came out. E. W. Holt, of Peter Clark’s team, had a neat streamlined, but not all-enveloping, body on his H.R.G., and Peter reported the Pye radio-communication used by his team to be functioning admirably, aided by a 40-ft. aerial above his “Big Six” Bentley broadcasting station, from which Marcus Chambers broadcast orders to the H.R.G. drivers and received appropriate replies. Clark and Scott had “Aerodynamic” cars and Folland Peter’s old Meadows-engined car. “Spike” Rhiando’s Cooper, golden-hued and with a driving mirror bolted to each end of the transverse leaf-spring of its i.f.s. layout, had a 996-c.c. Fernihough-J.A.P. V-twin engine, but was soon in trouble with a split fuel tank, also having a hair-raising skid beyond the pits when the engine seized. Dryden overturned his 496-c.c. Manx-Norton-engined Cooper at Cronk-ny-Mona. Before this a broken carburetter needle was difficult of diagnosis.
Kennington’s Arnott-blown and John Marshall’s Marshall-blown M.G.s stood side-by-side in the field that served as a paddock, where Buckler was making last-minute adjustments to his tubular-chassis Ford Ten-engined Buckler Special, the radiator of which is behind the power-plot. This car had had a slight incident with a kerb going into Nursery Corner during Saturday’s practice, damaging its steering. Nixon’s Riley — alias the Brooke-Special — had a new body where before scarcely any body had existed.
As the cars took the course Poore was seen to be going remarkably fast and to be driving splendidly in the “3.8” Alfa Romeo, doing a lap in 3 min. 17 sec., or 70.88 m.p.h.; fastest of the Castletown Trophy entries. At Governor’s Bridge his rear suspension was working overtime, yet glueing the car to the road, and the normally generous ground-clearance beneath the tail was reduced to an inch or less, so much was the suspension working.
Gill’s R-type M.G. sounded healthy but tended to snake; Wilcocks seemed rather unkind to his M.G.’s gearbox on one approach to Onchan; Tyrer’s B.M.W. was heralded by pistol-shot reports from its exhaust and much tyre-scream; Holt indulged in a tail-slide; Harrison appeared troubled by locking brakes on his Riley; Carr turned out again, his Alta devoid of its streamline tail, and Appleton put in a very late appearance, only to have his Appleton-Special die on him round the Onchan corner.
The acceleration away from Onchan on the part of Poore and Salvadori was indeed good to watch, and here Bear took a very nice line in his “3.3” ex-Abecassis Bugatti. On one occasion Poore snaked up to this very difficult corner, the Alfa’s brakes snatching unpleasantly. Fairman’s Bugatti was motoring particularly well it seemed, until the block parted company with the crankcase. A wonderful jury-rig repair was subsequently effected. Back at the pits we met Leslie Johnson, very happy to have got his Zoller-blown E-type E.R.A. to a race at last and to be permitted to run although he had not practised. He was sharing Dunham’s 1.8-litre Alvis — shades of Brooklands — in the Manx Cup race, and that car had been going very quickly and sounded very fit during the evening.
The Monnier-Special, with a Bristol engine with triple down-draught carburetters in a tubular chassis with swing-axle i.f.s., was receiving attention to its engine, and poor Sheila Darbishire, having run big-ends in Poore’s E.R.A. on Saturday, had been supplied with new ones by Leslie Brooke and was running the car in. Harrison made best practice time of the Manx Cup entrants in 3 min. 27 sec., equal to 67.45 m.p.h.
Practice Times — Top Five (mins-secs / m.p.h)
Saturday — Manx Cup
F.N. Penn — 3-33 / 65.56 (fastest)
T.C. Harrison — 3-38 / 64.06
L.G. Johnson — 3-43 / 62.62
R.J.W. Appleton — 3-49 / 60.93
G. Nixon — ” “
Saturday — Castleton Trophy
R.D. Poore — 3-21 / 69.47 (fastest)
R.F. Salvadori — 3-33 / 65.56
Noel Carr — 3-38 / 64.06
K.W. Bear — 3-40 / 63.47
J.E.G. Fairman — 3-48 / 61.25
Saturday — British Empire Trophy
F.R. Gerard — 3-20 / 69.82
A. P.R. Rolt — ” “
R.Parnell — 3-21 / 69.47
H.L. Brooke — 3-24 / 68.48
R.E. Ansell — ” “
Monday — Manx Cup
T.C. Harrison — 3-27 / 67.45 (fastest)
L.G. Johnson — 3-39 / 63.76
C. Dunham — ” “
G. Tyrer — 3-40 / 63.47
Spike Rhiando — 3-44 / 62.34
Monday — Castleton Trophy
R.D. Poore — 3-17 / 70.88
N. Carr — 3-23 / 68.78
R.F. Salvadori — 3-28 / 67.13
K.W. Bear — ” “
J.E.G. Fairman — 3-53 / 59.93
Monday — British Empire Trophy
F.R. Gerard — 3-10 / 73.49 (fastest)
R. Parnell — 3-12 / 72.73
A.P.R. Rolt — 3-15 / 71.61
R.E. Ansell — 3-16 / 71.24
R. Mays — 3-18 / 70.53