The Colmore Cup Trial.
Observations by a Car Competitor. for the 1926 competitions [The Sutton Coldfield and North Birmingham Club made a very good send-off season by organising the Colmore Cup Trial, which was held over a stiff route in the Cotswold Hills on Saturday, February 3th. Following our usual practice of recording these events, we detailed a member of our staff to enter the competition, his report being given below.—EDIT0R1 1
THE Colmore Cup Trial is certainly a very exciting kind of competition and, unlike some of the bigger classics, is more of a mud-slinging contest than a semi-touring event. On receiving the route card, it became obvious that the machine required for the job would be something light, speedy and with good road holding qualities, and T therefore consider myself fortunate in securing a Grand Sports Salmson from M. Armand Bovier, who handles the concession for this popular little speed model.
As there was no time to prepare the car in any way for the cross-country work, it had to be taken straight from demonstration duties, and on the Friday night previous to the event my passenger and I set off for Stratford-on-Avon, intending to put in a good night’s rest in Shakespeare’s town in preparation for anything the S.C.N.B.C. might have in store.
On the road, however, we encountered the inevitable unfortunate who succeeds in breaking down on the way to the start, and midnight found us struggling to aid a sidecar competitor who had broken his chain and had nothing much in the way of tools.
At i a.m. on Saturday morning we arrived in a deserted town as far as the streets were concerned, but apparently a Colmore Cup competitor slumbered peacefully in every available bed. Our sidecar friends made a reconnaissance to find a room; Jim, my mechanic, rolled up in both seats of the Salmson, whilst I found shelter from the night air on a convenient doorstep, ready to welcome the dawn. Thirteen is supposed to be an unlucky number, but in the early hours of February 13th we routed out Mr. Tom Morris, a keen motorist, who runs a bakery and the Fountain Café, where we turned in for a few hours’ sleep. At 7.30 a.m. we rose and proceeded to excite the Salmson engine into action, but, sad to relate, it had been tuned for speed and we could not jerk the handle over the high compression, plus an excessively advanced mag.
“What about retarding the mag. ? ” asked Jim. We looked at the coupling and saw that there was nothing doing: and, offering up a prayer about those eight seconds in which the start from cold had to be made at Cheltenham, got some assistance to do a racing start by pushing the car.
At the Start.
As usual, Rex Mundey was present at the start in the guise of a ministering angel dispensing K.L.G. plugs, which he extracted from his smart looking Riley Sports, and we were very glad to fit a new set of” Ji’s,” which made the starting a bit easier, and though we arrived at the post very late were able to make up time long before the first check was reached, thanks to the speed of the Salmson. Victor Walsg,rove on his Brooklands Riley was just in front of us and we were followed by the Amilcar team in the hands of F. H. and R. C. Porter and S. E. Ellis, these three drivers keeping well together and putting up an excellent show throughout. The run to Aston Hill was easy, but a considerable delay took place over the acceleration and brake tests at this point. Here, also, some of the competitors were confused by too many helpers, some of whom gesticulated at the wrong time, which resulted in several drivers pulling up before the lines had actually been crossed. The next incident was the visit to the weighbridge at Campden, where we were informed that the Salmson, all on with two passengers weighing Ie. st. 9 lbs. and 14 st. respectively, turned the scale at 14 cwt. 2 qrs. 7 lbs., a veritable featherweight among 1,100 c.c. cars. Leaving the weighbridge we saw several competitors gaily travelling in what appeared to be the wrong
direction and we suffered from a momentary attack of “wind up,” but it was only the others en route for the weighbridge.
Twenty-six miles out we ran into the picturesque town of Broadway, one of the most beautiful places in the country, with its quaint Tudor House and Lygon Arms Hotel, but at the moment we were more concerned with the mechanical science than art, so hurried on after Walsgrove, who desecrated the place with the smell of Castro] ” R.”
At Little Buckland Hill.
In reading various reports since the trial, we could not help being amused at the descriptions of scribes sitting in comfort at various points of ‘vantage. “No trouble,” they say, ” was met with at this or that hill, and as a test it is not serious.” But let them get in a car and have a go at some of the Colmore Trial hills, and I venture to think they would come back with
different views. The hills chosen were, in my humble opinion, nothing short of murder for most of the cars, and the only way to get up them was to start dead slow and then “tread on it ‘s all the time on bottom gear, trusting to the good St. Christopher to keep the car on an even keel in the rutty road.
At any rate, one got quite a few thrills when travelling up the Bucklands with the engine turning over at 4,500 in bottom gear, and the little motor stood up to it too, only once giving that pathetic little cut-out indicating valve spring weakness at abnormally high speeds. Our method of attacking the hills by sheer velocity had one disadvantage, however, for there was no possible chance of passing slower vehicles, and on one occasion the Salmson had to stop—I think it was on Old Stanway —whilst a boiling and protesting touring car was being pushed up. True, we were allowed another go, but the fun of that particular climb suffered by going up at a reduced speed,
A Study in Tyre Pressures.
Whilst waiting for the route to clear at one of the hills some comedian suggested it would be a good plan to lower the pressure of the rear tyres and—” no names, no pack drill “—one well-known competition driver fell to it. The same driver was seen to be changing his tyres later because they would not hold up to fast going with less than their proper amount of air pressure. The ruts alone were sufficient to tear any under-inflated tyre from its rim, and over and over again I blessed the good Armand Bovier for sending me out with security bolts, even though I cursed his tuners later for something else. Between the principal hills lay tracks of country more suitable for caterpillar tractors than wheeled vehicles, and every chassis was distorted in a way that would have given its designers forty fits and then a few odd nightmares. One speaks glibly at times of” momentary flexion of the frame,” but when one is travelling with
two wheels in a rut from 10 in. to 12 in. deep and the two on the other side riding that much higher, the thing becomes a reality. Theoretically speaking, every car in the event ought to have broken its back at least four times, but still the majority kept on, and, what is more, came back for another helping after lunch.
Gypsy Lane found all the competitors delayed once more and many of the car drivers had difficulties with wheel spin, some not giving their cars a chance of taking up the drive by too violent acceleration before the wheels began to move. The Salmson caused no anxiety whatever on the outward journey, and we eventually checked in at Cheltenham with nothing more serious amiss than a loose wing and a few loose body bolts, which allowed the tail to bump against the right-hand brake drum. As everyone was very late at the Plough Inn a proper lunch was out of the question, but we discovered a little oyster shop presided over by a genial Irishman named
Pat, who served up a couple of dozen of the best, which went down well with the conventional brown bread and stout.
Gold Medal or Broken Wrist.
Thus fortified we hastened back to the Plough and as Jim said, it was a case of ” swing or bust,” as we knew the high compression engine to be a beast to start from previous experience. It was a case of a ” gold ” or a broken wrist, and as the marshal counted out the fatal seconds we saw our hopes fade away. You see, the engine was tuned too fine for touring conditions and the combination of a weak mixture, ultra-high compression, early ignition plus an inadequate starting handle spoilt all chances of a quick start; thus we were utterly” done in.” But what does it matter ? We had a thoroughly good day’s sport, even if we did not figure amongst the gilded ones.
The Return Journey.
Four and a half miles out of Cheltenham the notorious Gambles Lane was reached, which, according to one report, “proved of no consequence as far as ability to climb was concerned.” In point of fact, though we reached the top without stopping, the rear wheels were spinning violently, far more so than on any of the other hills, and I am sure that all competitors will agree that Gambles Lane was a positive teaser, and as far as general conditions were concerned put all the others in the shade. The stop and restart on Bushcombe called for plenty of power and most careful manipulation of the brakes, clutch and accelerator, whilst the second ascent of Stanway and Buckland hills was rendered more difficult than before owing to the additional churning of the foot deep mud made by the passage of all the competing machines. Eventually we pulled into Stratford, handed in our delay cards and signed off after a thoroughly enjoyable day. The whole route was admirably marked and except for a little crowding on some of the hills the spectators gave the riders plenty of chance. The motor cycle contingent certainly deserved “golds” for complet
ing the course at all, and I think special awards should go to the manufacturers of successful cars and motor cycles for building such machines as are capable of standing up to the rigours of a Colmore Cup Trial.
THE LONDON-LAND’S END TRIAL.
The Motor Cycling Club will hold its 14th LondonLand’s End Trial at Easter, commencing from Slough at io p.m. on Good Friday night and finishing at the same place on Saturday evening. Very minor alterations have been included in the route, the test hills being as before and comprise Porlock, Lynmouth, Beggar’s Roost and Bluehill’s Mine. In this year’s trial definite averages must be maintained up Porlock Hill, and cars in the 750 c.c. and ‘,zoo c.c. classes will be required to average 13 m.p.h. from a standing start from the first bend to a distance of half a mile up the hill. The 1,500 c.c. and 1,750 c.c. classes will be required to travel over the same distance at an average speed of 144 m.p.h., and the two litre class at an average speed of 16 m.p.h.
The 1,750 c.c. class is a new category introduced into this event by the committee of the M.C.C. to permit members with vehicles of this capacity to compete with some chance of success. Entries close on March 8th and should be made to F. T. Bidlake, 86, North End Road, London, N.W.I r.
At the Monte Carlo Rally the six-cylinder A-C car driven by the Hon. V. A. Bruce and Mr. W. J. Brunell from John o’ Groats, a distance of 1,528 miles, won the first prize of 25,000 francs on a formula in which distance covered, engine size, number of passengers and regularity of running were taken into consideration. Forty-five cars starting from 18 different positions competed. The same car won the first prize in the Cote du Mont des Mules Hill Climb, using Castro! ” XL ” throughout.