Oscar Moore (HWM-Jaguar) leads second round of “Motor Sport” Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest
It was certainly Glorious Goodwood on May 17, for the second BARC Members’ Meeting (sports cars only) of 1952. Wives and girl friends were there in force, the sort of day when you heard remarks like “then add two ounces of flour” as often as “special pistons, old boy, and 50/50 fuel.”
Exciting object in the Paddock was B Lister’s Tojeiro-JAP, the sort of thing we have all wanted to build at some time or other, a V-twin air-cooled JAP engine with hairpin valve springs, twin Amal carburetters and twin BTH magnetos set GN-wise in a Cooper-base chassis. Alas, it did not circulate. Indeed, nonstarters robbed the meeting of much glamour. The unlucky Cuff-Miller broke the crankshaft of his Riley and had water inside as well as outside the cylinders of his Jupiter. McCown Scott’s Wade-blown Delay blew its gasket. Helyer’s Riley had magneto trouble. There were many more unfortunates.
First we had four five-lap scratch races. Gibbs came up well to win the first at 66.55 mph, a mere 0.2 sec ahead of Watling Greenwood’s smart RWG, which proved a strong adversary. Sparrowe’s Coventry-Climax Morgan 4/4 was third, Treen’s Riley losing ground by spinning round. Gibbs lapped at 68.46 mph. The next race was a procession, led by Davis’ Cooper-MG, which won at 72.85 mph, hard-pressed by Gerry Ruddock’s Lester-MG, which was only 0.2 sec behind, with Gammon’s 11/2-litre MG third. Moreover, Ruddock made fastest lap, at 74.74 mph. Willis led the third race in his BMW-Bristol until the last lap, pulling away from the pursuing Le Mans Frazer-Nashes on speed, but losing on braking. Then the engine went sick and Roy Salvadori swept by to win at 76.59 mph, followed by Mitchell 1.2 sec in arrears. Peacock was third, Crook fourth—-Frazer-Nash 1, 2, 3, 4. Salvadori lapped at 78.98 mph. Oscar Moore’s purposeful HWM with oversize (3,814 cc) XK120 engine led throughout the last scratch race, to win at 74.61 mph, 1.8 sec ahead of Hemsworth’s well-driven, white XK120, Scragg third, after making fastest lap at 76.32 mph in his interesting Alta-Jaguar. Symondson’s beautiful 3.3 Bugatti was fourth, ahead of a gaggle of Allards and an XK120! Goodhew lost a gear-lever key, and thereby all speeds, on the Lagonda.
The crowd warmly applauded APO Rogers for keeping his 21/2 Riley saloon in front in the first of the five-lap handicaps. He averaged 62.88 mph, skilfully holding some ambitious tail slides. Mrs Gibbs’ HRG was second, passing Hillwood’s MG on the right, leaving the Chicane as Coles’ MG passed on the left, for, in spite of a faired headrest, Hillwood was circulating at bicycle speed and the Riley lapped him in four rounds ! Gibbs was second and Collinson’s Aston-Martin, making fastest lap at 68.03 mph, was fourth. But Coles (MG) would have been third had he not entered the Chicane too fast and spun coming out. The second of the handicaps was notable for a stirring duel between Lusty’s TD MG and Stutchbury’s TC MG, the latter closing on corners but never quite able to pass. The race was won at 64.4 mph, but again it was the fourth car, Goodhew’s Lagonda which made fastest lap at 72.97 mph. Sears drove very neatly into third place in his Cooper-MG, passing Desoutter’s MG on the right between Woodcote and the notorious Chicane, no mean feat. Greig’s MG enlarged its bearings. Brooks’ Silverstone Healey led all the way in the next race, but Hemsworth was going well in the XK120 and Oscar Moore was coming up fast from scratch, passing Goodhew on the short bit between Woodcote and the Chicane. The finishing order was Brooks, Hemsworth, Moore, the Healey averaging 69.85 mph, Moore lapping at 79.85 mph, fastest of the day. Alas, Mitchell’s Frazer-Nash non-started in the fourth handicap, but Salvadori set out to catch Peacock’s Frazer-Nash which had 4 sec start. This he did, lapping at 78.83 mph, and passing on the outside of Woodcote on lap four, only to spin at the next fast corner. letting Peacock win at 76.66 mph hotly pursued by Crook’s Frazer-Nash. Gammon’s MG was third. On the first lap Pritchard’s Aston-Martin did what so many had just failed to do before—removed some of the Chicane. Not many drivers like it, anyway; it spoils the chance of a close, fast finish and the surface there was terribly loose. The last race was a runaway victory for Merritt in Collinson’s 2-litre Ulster Aston-Martin, at 67.47 mph, from Metcalfe’s well-known Fiat and Rogers’ remarkable Riley saloon. To show it was no fluke, Symondson’s Bugatti again held the moderns and returned fastest lap into the bargain, at 72.97 mph. JA Hawkes was wild, driving one-handed through the Chicane on Brunner’s Jaguar 100. Congratulations to Basil Tye and others who gave much attention to washing off racing numbers before leaving Goodwood ! The leading plaeings for the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest (of which the final round will be played on July 26th) are :- O Moors (HWM-Jaguar) 12 points; FC Davis (Cooper-MG) 11 points; HA Mitchell (Frazer-Nash) 9 points; LCC Harewood, L Gibbs, 7 each; AD Tanker, APO Rogers, RF Peacock, JK Hemswortb, 6 each.
West Essex CC race meeting. Boreham (May 17th)
Mike Hawthorn again dominated the scene, winning the Formule Libre race in his Cooper-Bristol, in the course of which he set a new lap-record of 92.02 mph.
On the eve of Le Mans. . . !
We are indebted to a reader, R Whitworth of Long Eaton, for the following concentrated dose of Tom McCahill, writing in Mechanix Illustrated about why Cunningham did not win last year’s Le Mans race. As Jaguar and Cunningham will battle again at the Sarthe circuit on June 14/15th, we feel this McCahillism should be dedicated to history :-
“Briggs Cunningham introduced his new Cunningham sports cars in June at the Le Mans 24-hour race in France. All three of his entries were powered by Chrysler V8s fitted with Cadillac pistons and rods. Two of the Cunninghams spun off the course in a heavy rain, leaving only one to finish. This car, driven by Phil Walters and John Fitch, undoubtedly would have finished second and might have won except for what appears on the surface to be a slight double-cross by the race committee.
“The Cunningham team had been informed that the official fuel they would be given on the day of the race would be 80 octane unleaded. Actually, the fuel was 70 or 72 octane fuel at most, leaded up to 80. The difference between unleaded and leaded fuel has considerable bearing on combustion temperatures and as the Cunninghams were running with 8.7 compression ratio, this leaded fuel caused extreme detonation (spark knock) and overheating.
“If Cunningham and his crew had been told In advance about the fuel they could have dropped the compression ratio to 7.5 and would have made out all right. What happened was this :-
“At the start of the race it was raining and cold and all through the night the temperature never got above 50. Through really cagey driving, Walters and Fitch kept the detonation down as much as possible when accelerating out of turns—while the weather was cool—and they had the car in second place after 20 hours of the 24-hour race had been run. But when the temperature went up in the morning by more than 30 degrees, it was impossible to keep the engine cool and the bearings started to go, forcing them to drop back to 18th place at the finish.”
McCahill goes on to say :-
“Across the big pond, the large surprise was a factory hot-rod Jaguar XK120C which ran away with the biggest automobile race in the world, the Le Mans 24-hour grind. The winning Jag was reworked in every possible way, including postage-stamp-thin foam-rubber seats and strictly race-car cockpit. The engine was hopped up to better than 200 horsepower and the result, a loose facsimile of a standard sports car, was a true wild cat. It broke all course records and time and time again was clocked at 155 mph in the straightways. It out-accelerated the much heavier Cunninghams which are true sports cars down to and including the fully upholstered empty passenger seat, and out-ran them at speed.
“The Cunninghams frequently hit 150 mph on the stretches and one reached 153 mph—but the Jag had that extra two miles available all the time. (In 1952 when the Cunninghams have completed their rigid reducing diet and weigh several hundred pounds loss they are my favourites to win).”