Afterthoughts on the excellent Junior Car Club Road Race of April 29th, won by F. R. Gerard
A stop-press report of the Jersey race was published in Motor Sport last month and this is in the nature of an afterthought on that altogether excellent and enjoyable event.
It is now a matter of history how Gerard won in his old E.R.A. from the Maseratis of Abecassis, Parnell and “Bira.” Gerard’s car ran non-stop throughout, took the lead on lap 24 (the full distance was 55 laps) and finished with plenty of fuel in hand, in spite of having used it at the rate of rather less than 6 m.p.g.
Abecassis got his second place in a comparatively slow and certainly uncomfortable Type 6C Maserati by his good driving and a snappy refuel, his tyres giving no trouble. Parnell’s 16-valve Maserati was not on form, and was delayed by a tyre change. “Bira,” nicely in the lead, experienced bitter luck when a rear tyre tread flew off, clouting the side of his 16-valve Maserati with sufficient force to damage it. Thereafter a stop for fuel and several for oil, together with oil on his goggles, hampered the little Siamese and put him out of the picture.
Villoresi, who should have won on form, experienced oil-pump trouble in practice and consequently his gearbox trouble was only discovered as he came to the line. He and his mechanic, aided by two Italian waiters from his hotel, worked on the two-stage 16-valve Maserati in a frenzy, disregarding the National Anthem, to get things right, but to no avail. Different rear wheels were put on in an endeavour to drive flat-out and make up time, but very soon the old trouble returned and Villoresi was out — perhaps next year the Scuderia Ambrosiana will send over a team of cars.
After five laps “Bira” led Parnell by 11 sec., at 87.8 m.p.h., at 10 laps he was 12.8 sec. ahead, at 15 laps 22.8 sec., and by 20 laps as much as 30.4 sec. to the good, having averaged 88.06 m.p.h. By this time Villoresi was, of course, out. Incidentally, one report said he was quite calm while work was done to his car, another report pictured him as almost gibbering with suppressed agitation, his whole body shaking. He was certainly a very disappointed man.
Other retirements had involved Mays, after four laps, his E.R.A.’s blower oil-pipe broken; Baird’s Duesenberg-engined Emeryson, the Type 75 Wilson box of which objected to the power developed, as it had done during the training, J. Ashmore’s old E.R.A. with engine bothers, Hampshire’s re-bodied Delage, very Seaman-like, with a duff magneto, and Heath’s new Formula II Alta, which was using the race as an experimental run and broke a timing chain.
The non-starters had been Woodall’s Delage, which unfortunately poked a rod out in practice, Rolt’s eight-carburetter Alfa Romeo, suffering from cracked valve-seats, together with Sommer’s C.T.A., Johnson’s E-type E.R.A., Chorlton’s Bugatti, Brooke’s Ferrari and Connell’s Darracq.
At 20 laps came “Bira’s” fatal tyre stop. Some thought the pit-work poor, as “Bira” left the car and some fuel was added to the tank, others that the jobs were well tackled under the circumstances. A wheel change took 14 sec., the entire job 1 min. 35 sec., and the whole character of the race changed, Parnell leading until Gerard went by; the order at 25 laps being Gerard 4 sec. ahead, at 87.02 m.p.h., with Abecassis third, the last-named being described as driving with his head, which was rather a relief after so many people have been impressing us with the fact that you control a racing car with your bottom.
By 30 laps Gerard was 10.2 sec. ahead, at 87.22 m.p.h., and he was speeding up as his big tank emptied. In practice he had lapped at 2 min. 8.6 sec., compared with “Bira’s” astounding 2 min. 1.4 sec. and Villoresi’s 2 min. 2 sec., and his best race lap was at 2 min. 7.4 sec., or 90.42 m.p.h. After 82 laps Abecassis refuelled in 38 sec. and Parnell had a stop which cost him 1 min. 7 sec. It was on account of tyre trouble, for he carried a huge outboard auxiliary fuel tank on the off-side of the car and had hoped not to refuel, although now ten gallons were added for good measure. “Bira” needed more fuel and lost another 36 sec.
So, at 35 laps, Gerard led Abecassis by 1 min. 55.4 sec., and Parnell was third, ahead of “Bira.” Gerard’s pit was calmness personified, Mrs. Gerard working at the chart, but what we did not know was that as the leading E.R.A. had come to the line all its oil-pressure had vanished, and for two laps Gerard had had a miserable drive, until the gauge-needle swung up to its proper position and a pit-stop was unnecessary. He was absolutely banking on a non-stop run, and even then Parnell might have beaten him had the Maserati been on form.
But by 40 laps Gerard would have had time for a stop and still need not have lost his lead. But no stop was needed and they ran on, the four leading positions never changing.
Thrills and trouble were present, nevertheless. “Bira” came in twice more, yet held fourth position, more fuel being added while he changed his goggles. Baring’s Maserati broke the hose connection of its supercharger inlet pipe, but continued for a while. Gilbey fell out of his Maserati at Marquand’s hairpin, he and his crash-hat, which had fallen off, being narrowly missed by Bolster, who was following, the driverless car then running badly amok, writing-off one of Klemantaski’s expensive cameras and nearly Klem himself, and finishing up against a Vauxhall saloon parked in a garage yard — this might have been a really nasty incident.
The E-type E.R.A. had retired after 24 laps and lots of stops, with odd steering and, it was said, no fuel feed; Brooke’s E.R.A. had a retarded magneto which burnt out a valve after 41 laps. As the victorious Gerard crossed the line the race was deemed to be over. Average speeds for the laps covered were computed for eleven cars and Baring’s Maserati and Harrison’s E.R.A. were flagged-in, the latter also suffering from a retarded magneto. The results are shown below.
Cowell’s big V12 re-bodied Lagonda, unkindly described by a wit as “the travelling chicane,” nevertheless finished ahead of Benett’s Selsdon Talbot, which, not stopping to restore a lost top gear, revved so heartily that gasket trouble set in, while Richardson’s E.R.A.-Riley had piston-ring blow-by that resulted in oil mist upsetting its clutch.
1. F.R. Gerard (E.R.A.). 55 laps, (176 miles) at 87.33 m.p.h.
2. G.E. Abecassis (Maserati), 54 laps at 85.62 m.p.h.
3. R. Parnell (Maserati), 54 laps at 85.39 m.p.h.
4. “B. Bira” (Maserati), 54 laps at 83.31 m.p.h.
5. R.E. Ansell (Maserati), 53 laps
6. J. Bolster (E.R.A.), 53 laps
7. G.E. Ansell (E.R.A.), 51 laps
8. R.F. Salvadori (Maserati), 51 laps
9. R.M. Cowell (Lagonda), 48 laps
10. C.G. Benett (Talbot), 44 laps
11. G.N. Richardson (E.R.A.-Riley), 43 laps.
The race was won on Dunlop tyres, a Lucas magneto, Lodge plugs and Ferodo brake linings. These items of equipment were also used by the place-men.
Bolster drove very well in Bell’s B-type E.R.A., the chassis of which has been lowered 4-1/2 in. and the radiator cowl modified, but was virtually running-in a recently assembled engine at the start. He was also delayed near the end of the race by his tyre treads lifting, as was Harrison.
Cowell’s Lagonda was one of the V12 cars, fitted just before the race with a new off-set monoplace body at the Egham coachbuilders owned by G. M. Watson.
Ansell’s Maserati used a ZF differential, while brother Ansell had a B-type E.R.A., as had Gerard, Bolster and Harrison, while J. Ashmore had an A-type, its engine rebuilt by “Wilky,” the body lines improved and the radiator lowered 2 in. Bolster’s car had a detuned engine with Zoller internals, and Gerard also used a Jamieson-blown Zoller-type engine. Mays’ D-type E.R.A., flown over to the island per Dakota, had new coil-spring dampers for its front suspension. We believe that Mays also intended to use Lockheed airstruts at the rear in place of the usual i-elliptic leaf-springs but that this new layout had to be abandoned.
After retiring, Mays indulged in a sort of shampoo at his pit.
Hampshire’s Delage had a non-vintage Wilson box and 2 L.S. brakes.
Esson-Scott, one-time Bugatti driver, was helping in “Bira’s” pit.
When Heath pushed in from the hairpin two mechanics ran to meet him but were ordered back to prepare the pit, and the same happened when Brooke drove slowly in, in his very-ill E.R.A.
Heath’s chaps got rather mixed between the new timing chain they wanted to fit and the old one lying beside it as a pattern!
The order after one lap given in our stop-press report was not entirely correct. Actually, it was: Parnell, ” Bira,” Abecassis, Gerard, Mays, Salvadori, Brooke, Bolster, Gilbey, Baird, Benett, Heath, Baring, Cowell, F. Ashmore, Harrison, J. Ashmore, Hampshire, Richardson, R. Ansell, Villoresi, and G. Ansell, the last-named having stalled at flag-drop.
William Robert Baird, the 87-year-old Irish driver, was married to a Jersey nurse soon after the race. Congratulations!
Richardson slid round at West Park hairpin but let his car roll back out of the way of those behind it, did not stall his engine, and recovered neatly.
It seems that the tyre trouble which cost “Bira” the race and hampered Parnell, Bolster and Harrison was due to the treads of a new “high-speed-type” tyre lifting at speed. Older “sprint” tyres appeared to be happier on the Jersey course.
Please, Mr. Morgan, do it again, early in 1949!
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