Nixon’s Riley Wins the Manx Cup Race, K. W. Bear Walks Away with the Castletown Trophy
Tuesday morning in the Island was wet, very wet, and one wondered how Gerard and company must have felt when they saw the roads being sanded for the benefit of the horse-drawn trains! However, by the afternoon the sun was out and the course had dried before the multi-coloured cars in the Manx Cup and Castletown Trophy races lined up on that historic road with the pits and packed grandstands beside it, a grassy cemetery on the hill behind it, and the motor-cycle-T.T. scoreboards flanking the scene.
The Murray-Dudley M.G. did not report; Gill’s R-type M.G. steering failed to pass the scrutineers; Kennington’s M.G. had developed supercharger trouble; Burton had been involved in a crash at home and was insufficiently recovered to bring his Riley over; Dryden had crashed his Cooper 500 and Oscar Moore’s O.B.M. wasn’t ready. That was the entire list of non-starters. The cars lined up in the following order, reading from front to back rows:
Harrison (Riley), Carr (Alta), Poore (Alfa Romeo).
Bear (Bugatti), Salvadori (Alfa Romeo).
Tyrer (B.M.W.), Johnson (Alvis), Penn (Riley).
Fairman (Bugatti), Rhiando (Cooper-J.A.P.).
Rowley (Aston-Martin), Nixon (Riley), Appleton (Appleton-Special).
Lund (Lund-Special), Monnier (Monnier-Special).
Phillips (M.G.), Folland (H.R.G.), Holt (M.G.).
de Mattos (M.G.), Marshall (M.G.), Kyle (M.G.).
Scott (H.R.G.), Clark (H.R.G.).
Matthias (Riley), Wilcocks (M.G.), Watkins (B.M.W.).
Buckler (Buckler Special), Nichols (M.G.).
Salvadori’s Alfa-Romeo was on the boil before the start.
As the Lucas starting signal, operated by Lady Bromet, wife of H.E. The Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Man, released the pack, Lund jockeyed his way up, but Emery started jerkily and Matthias was last away, the big chaps already roaring down to Parkfield Corner, where so much excitement was to happen during the afternoon. After a lap Carr’s Alta was out ahead of Bear’s Bugatti, and behind came Penn’s Riley, Salvadori’s Alfa Romeo, Leslie Johnson in Dunham’s Alvis, the Appleton-Special, Nixon’s Riley, Rowley’s blue Aston-Martin, Phillips’ M.G., Rhiando, then Poore’s big Alfa Romeo and the stragglers. Poore, Penn and Harrison had all struck sandbags at Parkfield on this initial lap, but continued after varying delays. Folland’s H.R.G. made an early visit to its pit, as did Poore, and Wilcocks lost much time when his M.G. spun and stopped at Parkfield. The Monnier-Special then retired after its front axle had broken at Willaston, but Poore, intent on making up lost ground, lapped at 70.88 m.p.h. After 5 laps the Manx Cup position was:
1st: Harrison (Riley), 62.9 m.p.h.
2nd: Johnson (Alvis), 60.35 m.p.h., 47 sec. behind the leader.
3rd: Rowley (Aston-Martin), 59.98 m.p.h., 54 sec, behind the leader.
Nixon was 4th, Phillips 5th and Lund 6th, and Harrison had done his best lap at 67.13 m.p.h.
The Castletown Trophy position was:
1st: Poore (Alfa Romeo), 64.35 m.p.h.
2nd: Bear (Bugatti), 63.65 m.p.h., 12 sec. behind the leader.
Fairfield, who only had hopes of doing one lap with his jury-rigged engine, was clapped by the knowledgeable as he came to his pit — and he soon went, on, the Bugatti sounding very fit. Salvadori came to his pit too, with the first of many stops for plug-changing.
At 2.21 p.m. Nichols’ M.G. stopped at Parkfield with gearbox trouble, and very shortly afterwards Nixon hit the sandbags at the same place.
Came a stir, for Harrison, in the lead, went into the same receptive sandbags and damaged his Riley too badly to continue, putting Johnson into the lead. After 10 laps the Manx Cup order was :
1st: Johnson (Alvis), 60.70 m.p.h.
2nd : Rowley (Aston Martin), 60.32 m.p.h., 18 sec. behind the leader.
3rd : Nixon (Riley), 60.01 m.p.h., 30 sec. behind the leader.
Tyrer’s B.M.W., nicely driven, was now 4th, Phillips’ M.G. 5th, and Peter Clark’s radio-controlled H.R.G. 6th. In the Castletown Trophy, Poore still led Bear.
Matthias now motored off and on to the course again at Willaston, Nichols finally limped into the race again, and Folland’s H.R.G. broke an oil pipe and retired. Parkfield was certainly the spectators’ spot., for Kyle now spun round there, managing, however, to restart his M.G., which was more than Poore could do for three minutes, when the Alfa suffered brake snatch and also stopped on this corner. This let Bear into the lead in the Castletown Trophy race, 35 sec. ahead. Poore eventually got going, and stopped at his pit with a loud protest from the brakes, his engine very woolly by reason of a half-retarded magneto. Fairman was cracking gamely along, but Bear had such a safe lead that he was signalled to slow. Johnson kept ahead of Rowley, both driving remarkably consistently. Fairman came in, tightened the cylinder block as best he could, and continued, but at 3.9 p.m. he was obliged to push in. Even then he got going again. The Appleton-Special was also out with gearbox trouble, Penn was troubled by his Riley’s throttle pedal sticking open, and Noel Carr’s nice run ended with engine trouble. After 15 of the 18 laps of the tricky 3.87-mile course had been run the Manx Cup order was :
1st: Johnson (Alvis), 60.77 m.p.h.
2nd: Nixon (Riley), 60.70 m.p.h., 4 sec. behind the leader.
3rd: Tyrer (B.M.W.), 60.36 m.p.h., 23 see. behind the leader.
Rowley had fallen back to 4th place, ahead of Phillips and Clark. Johnson was now seen to be getting slower, while Nixon was trying all he could, in spite of the exhaust pipe shield becoming loose and falling off the Riley. Two laps from the end Nixon passed Johnson to lead by 10 sec., and Tyrer was closing rapidly on the now-unwell Alvis. Scott overshot Cronk-ny-Mona hairpin, letting teammate Clark momentarily lead him — these chaps were having a useful pre-Spa drive. Poore had averaged 42 m.p.h. in spite of all his bothers when suddenly his car returned to its old form. He drove fast into 2nd place, but Bear was a comfortable four miles or so to the good. Nixon built up a bigger and bigger lead, in his race, and Tyrer also caught the Alvis comfortably before the end. So ended one good and one ragged race.
The final placings were:
1st : G. Nixon (Riley, 1,749 c.c.), 61.07 m.p.h.
2nd: G. Tyrer (B.M.W., 1,971 c.c.), 60.80 m.p.h., 18 sec. behind the leader.
3rd: L. Johnson (Alvis, 1,844 c.c.), 60.53 m.p.h., 36 sec. behind the leader.
4th: Rowley (Aston-Martin, 1,950 c.c.), 59.84 m.p.h., 84 sec. behind the leader.
5th: G. Phillips (M.G, 1,250 c.c.), 59.70 m.p.h., 94 sec. behind the leader.
6th: E. W. Holt (H.R.G., 1,496 c.c.), 56.64 m.p.h., 17 laps.
7th: P. Clark (H.R.G., 1,496 c.c.), 56.27 m.p.h., 17 laps.
8th: K. Watkins (B.M.W., 1,971 c.c.), 56.13 m.p.h., 17 laps.
9th: J. T. Scott (H.R.G., 1,496 c.c.), 56.11 m.p.h., 17 laps.
10th: J. Marshall (M.G., 1,087 c.c. sec), 56.04 m.p.h., 17 laps.
11th: M. B. Matthias (Riley, 1,490 c.c.), 51.62 m.p.h., 17 laps.
12th: C. D. F. Buckler (Buckler-Special, 1,228 c.c.), 50.74 m.p.h., 17 laps.
Retired: Harrison (Riley), crashed; Monnier (Monnier-Special), broken front axle; Folland (H.R.G.), broken oil pipe; Appleton (Appleton-Special), gearbox trouble; Wilcocks (M.G.), plug trouble ; Lund (Lund-Special) ; Emery (M.G.); Kyle (M.G.) out of fuel; Nichols (M.G.), gearbox trouble; Rhiando (Cooper-J.A.P.), and Penn (Riley).
Fastest Lap: T. C. Harrison (Riley), 67.13 m.p.h.
Team Prize: Johnson-Rowley-Tyrer.
lst : K. W. Bear (Bugatti, 3,255 c.c., S/C), 62.90 m.p.h.
2nd : R. D. Poore (Alfa Romeo, 3,800 c.c., S/C), 42.11 m.p h., 13 laps.
3rd : J. Fairman (Bugatti, 1,956 c.c., S/C), 32.83 m.p.h., 10 laps.
Retired: Salvadori (Alfa Romeo), broken valve springs, Carr (Alta), engine trouble.
Fastest Lap: Poore (Alfa Romeo), 70.88 m.p.h.
The Manx Cup Race was a triumph for the unblown cars.
The average speeds of the second and third place men in the Castletown Trophy must be a record low, and this race rather fizzled out, due to Poore’s trouble and Carr’s retirement. And it should have attracted many more entries.
Fairman must have been as surprised as we were that he was placed — how willing is this long-suffering Bugatti!
This was probably the first race in which radio contact was established between cars and pit, but we dispute the statement that Clark is the first racing driver to use such radio apparatus. It was tried some twenty-six years ago.
Of the kit worn by different drivers, Nixon wore white crash hat and overalls, Phillips a white cloth helmet, Bear his leather-covered helmet and blue overalls, Wilcocks a white cloth helmet, Holt drove bare-headed, Appleton in silver crash hat, vizor and blue overalls, Clark and Scott in flying helmets, mit headphones, Matthias in a cap worn back to front, Buckler an unpainted crash-hat and white overalls, Rowley a cloth helmet, Johnson white overalls and cloth helmet, Watkins a crash-hat and vizor, and Kyle a white crash-hat.