Gerard breaks May's record at Prescott
The Course Record and three Class Records broken at highly successful May Meeting
Beautiful weather graced the May Meeting of the B.O.C. at Prescott, and F. R. Gerard, fresh from his Jersey victory, now driving his 2-litre B-type E.R.A., with twin Dunlop 4.75-18 tyres on the rear wheels, at last broke the course record held by Raymond Mays' D-type E.R.A. since July, 1939. The new figure is 45.67 sec., an improvement of 0.57 sec. Poore, in his 3.8-litre Alfa Romeo, was second fastest in 46.41 sec., breaking Wimille's over-2-litre class Bugatti record by 0.18 sec. Sydney Allard made fastest unblown time in the air-cooled Allard, in 47.90 sec. Whincop, his "2.3" Type 51, ex-Shuttleworth Bugatti rigged as a methanol-consuming sports car, made best sports-car time, in 50.55 sec. Lones did splendidly to fend off all opposition with his 496-c.c. Tiger Kitten, establishing a new 500-c.c. Class record in 49.98 sec., beating Strang's former record by 1.01 sec. The third class record which fell was that for blown sports-cars up to 1-1/2 litres, Leonard's 1,408-c.c. M.G. Magnette clocking 50.62 sec., beating Kennington's former M.G. record by 0.71 sec.
Under the direction of Major Dixon-Spain the organisation of the May Prescott Meeting was well-nigh perfect. In spite of cars having to use methanol fuel, a huge entry had been obtained and a very considerable crowd attended. The police, apart from a few enquiries to ensure that methanol fuel was in use, behaved very fairly, and this meeting was known as the "Methanol Prescott" only as a reminder of happier times on the way.
Non-runners were Willis' Frazer Nash, Burton's blown Riley Nine, Hobbs' blown M.G., Phillips, who turned Lester's M.G. over in practice and broke his arm, Watkins' B.M.W., Prosser's 2-litre Bugatti, Oliver's "2.3" Bugatti, Bear's 1-1/2-litre Bugatti, Burgess' blown Allard, Clarke's "3.3" Bugatti, James' "4.9" Bugatti, Longmore's Marwyn, Johnson's E-type E.R.A., Kennington's M.G., Kemp-Roberts' blown Frazer Nash, Mortimer's Maserati, James' 4-litre V12 Sunbeam, and the "specials" of Orlebar, Neale, Bartlett, Smith and Butterworth. Many others failed to report to the line.
A stroll about the picturesque paddock showed Boothby to have brought a very smart J.B.M. on a lorry, its V8 engine exhausting into three flexible pipes and a tubular silencer, and its steering ratio raised to suit Prescott's many bends. Chorlton's 1-1/2-litre Bugatti was surrounded by an interested crowd discussing its modified front end, which incorporates a neat transverse leaf-spring and wishbone i.f.s. layout, the wishbones at first sight appearing to be able to move fore-and-aft instead of up and down; actually, spherical joints look after the latter action, while the former, in conjunction with stays, looks after stresses that wish-bones normally have to withstand. Hydraulic braking is incorporated.
Mrs. Gerard had graduated to the cut-about Riley Nine Special with four Amal carburetters and Scintilla Vertex magneto that Turner drove last year. She turned it round in practice and was rather bothered by the position of the lever for the Riley pre-selector box, which was placed differently to that of her "Sprite."
Appleton's new Allard had a blown Mercury engine, twin horns under a new, rather ugly, nose cowl, the usual i.f.s., a single bucket seat in a sports-shell body, and a petrol tin in the tonneau serving as a sprint tank, two batteries also occupying the tonneau. The rear tyres were 5.50-16 Goodyear. The neat disposal of the four S.U.s and eight stub exhausts on the Triangle-Skinner Special were much admired. T. Moore's Ford V8-engined Vauxford was a typical amateur sprint effort, with a battery sitting beside the driver's seat to feed twin fuel pumps, a crude outside four-branch exhaust system terminating by the scuttle, and an immense inside handle brake. Who was it who went too fast through Oxford with numbers on his car and was caught by a cop?
Louis Giron took Col. Giles up the hill in the Yates' Type 575 Bugatti to open the course.
The following is an account of the event (times in seconds)...
Sports Cars up to 1,500-c.c. Non-supercharged
E. J. Newton had things all his own way in this class with his famous H.R.G., although not able to beat his own record, which in practice he had done unofficially in 50.65 sec. Donald Pitt drove his special "PB" M.G. nicely into second place, the car carrying its owner's name on the bonnet, and a G.B. plaque. Gee's Riley, its tyres protesting, but with not quite enough acceleration, was third. Virr's Type 40 B.M.W. nearly pulled its off-side front tyre off leaving the Esses, but pinked and was slow, and then nothing else outstanding happened in this class, Buckler's Ford Ten Special and Broomhall in the Virr B.M.W. failing to beat 61-1/2 sec.
1st: E. J. Newton (H.R.G.), 52.00;
2nd: D. C. Pitt (M.G.), 53.16;
3rd: G. Gee (Riley), 53.66.
Sports Cars up to 1,500-c.c. Supercharged
Leonard, trying his utmost, tyres smoking as he left the Esses, deserved to win this class, his second run a trifle better than his first, although both ascents broke the former record. In practice he did 50.49 sec. Owen Finch, in one of his Amilcar Sixes described in Motor Sport last month, but now disguised as a sports-car, ran once, but took second place, whilst Kennington, in Marshall's M.G. Magnette, was third, really using his brakes. Mallock drove very nicely, but his Austin Seven had to give away too much in engine capacity, although managing 56.46 sec. Rowe was unkind to his M.G.'s gears and almost paused in the Esses on his second run.
1st: L. Leonard (M.G.), 50.62 (new Class record);
2nd. O. A. F. Finch (Amilcar), 52,60;
3rd: F. W. Kennington (M.G.), 53.16.
Sports Cars, 1,501-3,000-c.c. Non-supercharged
Only two cars contested this class, Crook really throwing his elektron-wheeled "328" B.M.W. through the corners and holding himself in place at the Esses, to easily beat the quiet B.M.W.engined H.R.G. handled first by W. S., then by J. M. Perkins.
1st: T. A. D. Crook (B.M.W.), 51.88;
2nd. W. S. Perkins (H.R.G. Special), 53.67.
Sports Cars, I,501-3,000-c.c. Supercharged
Whincop's Bugatti, persuaded to retain its strip-alloy wings and other adjuncts to road motoring, made two polished runs, in 50.55 and 50.79 sec. No one contested the issue, but Whincop did make best sports-car time of the day.
1st:. A. C. Whincop (Bugatti), 50.65.
Sports Cars over 3,000-c.c. Non-supercharged
Leslie Allard, his special sports Allard now yellow and contrasting delightfully with his own sartorial efforts, in spite of slides at the Esses, did a sensational couple of ascents which were never challenged. Dryden's Jaguar tried its front tyres to the utmost on the corners, and, in spite of clouting the bank and raising a cloud of dust as it left the Esses, was fractionally faster on its first than on its second run and well out ahead of the third fastest car, Baines' normal-looking Allard. Boothby, in 55.67 sec., was faster than Matthews' Jaguar and Sir David Gamble's 4-1/2-litre Invicta tourer.
1st:: T. L. Allard (Allard), 52.97;
2nd: R. M. Dryden (Jaguar), 54.09;
3rd. J. K. W. Baines (Allard), 55.02.
Sports Cars over 3,000-c.c. Supercharged
There were no runners in this class.
Racing Cars up to 500 c.c.
This class attracted 12 entrants, comprised of five Coopers, two Marwyns, the Tiger Kitten, Strang, Buzzie, Lion Cub, and Smith-Special.
The Coopers no longer had things all their own way, for Lones opened with 50.55 sec. in the Tiger Kitten, quite unperturbably holding a prolonged powerslide out of the Esses. Brandon then flung his Cooper at the hill, rear wheels juddering and spinning under power, but he seemed troubled by his gear-change -- 50.63 sec. Cooper himself, in his blue car, experienced gear-change difficulties -- 57.68 sec and his second run terminated at the Esses. Lord Strathcarron came really quickly into the corners in his Marwyn, brakes functioning effectively, the driver using his left hand to steady himself in the seat -- 53.82 sec., but in trouble on its second run. Collins' Lion Cub was slow, under 60 sec., and Buzzie cut out too early before the corners, also failing to better the full minute. Goddard's Cooper was steady but accelerated well -- 64.98 sec. but again made no further run. Moss drove his Cooper really stirringly, clocking 51.01 sec. on his better ascent. Then Colin Strang, making snap changes with his well-drilled gear-lever, but seemingly losing a moment changing up after the Esses, judged things to a nicety and broke his own class record in 50.04 sec., an improvement of 0.95 sec. On his second run Lones did his prodigious run in 49.98 sec., securing the class and its record, while Dryden, in his Cooper, which had slid badly on its first 56.54 sec. ascent, now drove well to clock 51.92 sec.
1st:. H. C. Lones (Tiger Kitten), 49.98 (new Class record);
2nd. C. H. Strang (Strang 500), 50.04
3rd. E. Brandon (Cooper 500), 50.63
Racing Cars, 501-750 c.c.
Disappointingly the Dowson Lightweight got but a few yards from the line, leaving the class to Wharton, who drove his M.G.-engined Special magnificently and without fear, to clock 49.58 sec. and 49.75 sec., respectively. Second was Symonds in the ex-Brettel Austin, taking a middle-of-the-road position through the Esses on its first run and wider tactics on its slower second ascent, the driver urging his little white mount upwards by personal effort. Bowles was third in his neat "Ulster" Austin, a little "popply," snaking a little, but never anything but neat as to handling. Protheroe's re-bodied ex-Chambers Austin, with external S.U. carburetter, did 55.46 sec. on its first run but fell sick thereafter.
1st:. K. Wharton (Wharton), 49.58;
2nd: G. H. Symonds (Austin), 54.61;
3rd: J. V. Bowles (Austin), 54.99.
Racing Cars, 751-1,500 c.c.
Geoffrey Ansell's E.R.A. won this class, but did not seem very impressive and should have been quicker. Leonard's very astonishing M.G. beat everyone else, although slower than when it ran in the sports-car class. Finch, grabbing handfuls of wheel after the Esses and making good use of his gearbox, the engine grandly responsive, was third. Rivers Fletcher had little skids here and there in spite of his car protesting at an incorrect fuel mixture, Thomson did a good 55.06 sec. in his Salmson-Special with transverse front suspension, using lots of lock at the Esses, and Bradnack's "Shelsley" Frazer Nash looked a handful on a 51.81-sec. ascent; G. B. Davis, in this car, thereafter nearly collecting the breakdown truck before crashing in the Semi-Circle. Baring, his Type 6C Maserati now green, had a huge dice, but didn't better 51.76 sec. Chorlton, sitting high up in his modified Bugatti, was cautious and missed a gear, while Tye in the ex-Williams Alta braked too soon and failed beyond the finish on his first run, not to re-appear. Mrs. Gerard, in white crash hat and vizor, used her Riley's brakes to good purpose and really flung the car through the Esses on a very nice run -- 51.44 sec., a grand show in an unblown car. Rowe hit the bank leaving the Esses in his M.G.
1st: . G. E. Ansell (E.R.A.), 50.67;
2nd:. L. Leonard (M.G.), . 51.10;
3rd: O. A. F. Finch (Amilcar), 51.16.
Racing Cars, 1,500-2,000 c.c.
Gerard had this class in his pocket, although not actually taking the record until the team runs. His first ascent was spoilt by a nasty tail-slide at the Esses, but was the fastest since the war, and beat his best practice run of 46.46 sec.; his second run was 0.47 sec. slower. The cheerful Noel Carr was second in the 2-litre Alta now owned by Merrick, and obviously had the later part of the Esses really taped. Merrick himself was third, in spite of sliding at the Esses.
1st:. F. R. Gerard (E.R.A), 46.31;
2nd. N. Carr (Alta), 47.15;
3rd: R.W. Merrick (Alta), 49.09.
Racing Cars over 2,000 c.c.
Poore richly deserved his success in this class, doing 46.9 and 46.41 sec. in the big Alfa Romeo, needing lots of road and making his rear axle judder and his twin rear tyres smoke under the immense acceleration. McAlpine, if not as neat as he used to be in his old Maserati, got the ex-"Bira" car up in 47.86 and 47.41 sec. Sydney Allard, after much overnight work on the Allard to stop valves hitting pistons, etc., made two consistent runs, his first 0.09 sec. slower than his second, the whole car weaving under the effort, an especially good show as he cut his arm badly in the Paddock and had to receive medical attention before his second ascent. Stubberfield nearly fell out trying to keep his Bugatti on the road, but his off-side twin rear wheels fouled the bank coming out of the Esses and he motored precariously along the opposite bank before regaining control. His time was 49.26 sec., but he improved to 48.75 thereafter. Hutchison was not yet used to his new Type 150 Wilson box and his Alfa Romeo took 50.67 and 48.37 sec., respectively, the driver dicing a bit at the wheel between Esses and Semi-Circle on the slower run. Bear was neat and consistent in the very nicely turned-out "3.3" Bugatti, but didn't better 50.26 sec. Appleton nearly lost his Allard at the Semi-Circle, but held the slide (52.20 sec.), and Lloyd-Jones held a skid well, the Triangle clocking 48.79 sec. Duncan Hamilton, in a very nice "2.3" Bugatti, went right into the outer bank after the Esses on his first 52.73-sec. run, and after odd antics at the wheel at the same spot on run two, got himself tied into knots at the Semi-Circle, bending the off-side stub-axle. In contrast, Tyrer, driving the ex-Bear Type 51 Bugatti for the first time, was very good indeed, if close to the bank on one occasion -- 49.31 and 48.61 sec.
1st: R. D. Poore (Alfa Romeo), 46.41 (new Class record);
2nd: K. McAlpine (Maserati), 47.41;
3rd: S. H. Allard (Allard), 47.90
Former times counted for this class, the handicap ranging up to 9.3 sec., awarded to Protheroe, Tyrer being on scratch.
1st: O. A. F. Finch (Amilcar);
2nd: E. Protheroe (Austin);
3rd: J. V. Bowles (Austin).
It was in this category that Bob Gerard wrested the Course Record from Raymond Mays. He experienced no slide at the Esses this time and actually looked quite slow, an indication of the correctness of his driving. Lucas ignition, Lodge plugs and Dunlop tyres share the triumph. Cooper got down to 54.11 sec. and Dryden to 51.78 sec. in their Cooper 500s, and Protheroe to 55.21 sec., but otherwise times here were slower than those in the classes.
1st: Team No. 2 (Hutchison, Poore, Gerard), 140.92 sec.;
2nd: Team No. 1 (Dryden, Brandon, Cooper), 158.01 sec.;
3rd: Team No. 6 (Protheroe, Bowles, Symonds), 165.75 sec.
Thus ended a most satisfactory afternoon's sport. The next fixture is a Club Meeting on June 13th, followed by the Open Summer Meeting on July 18th. It will be most intriguing to see whether Mays can regain his lost record and whether Gerard can pull any more out of the bag. Let us pray for our respective favourites -- and for fine weather. -- W. B.
The Under-50 sec. Drivers at Prescott:
F.R. Gerard (E.R.A.) -- 45.67 (Record for the Hill)
R.D. Poore (Alfa Romeo) -- 46.41
N. Carr (Alta) -- 47.15
K. McAlpine (Maserati) -- 47.41
S.H. Allard (Allard) -- 47.90
K.N. Hutchison (Alfa Romeo) -- 48.37
G. Tyrer (Bugatti) -- 48.61
P.J. Stubberfield (Bugatti) -- 48.75
E. Lloyd-Jones (Triangle) -- 48.79
R.W. Merrick (Alta) -- 49.09
K. Wharton (Wharton) -- 49.58
H.C. Lones (Tiger Kitten) -- 49.98.