THE INTER VARSITY SPEED TRIALS
COMPETITOR’S CARELESSNESS CAUSES ABANDONMENT
THE first, and we may safely say, the last speed trial ever held at Hexton Hall, Hitchiti, took place on Saturday, February 20th, by kind permission of Sir James Hill. Nominally an Intervarsity event, it was almost entirely composed of Cambridge entries, there being only 7 Oxford car drivers and 4 Oxford motorcyclists out of an entry of about a hundred.
The event was marked by chaotic organisation, which caused considerable delays in starting and no mean confusion in the order of running, but, being used to these events, we arrived an hour or so after the advertised starting time, and had plenty of time to assist in the stripping and. preparation of a friend’s car before the start.
All that is quite normal practice in these events, but what seriously marred the whole proceedings, and will make sure that this estate will never again be lent for a special speed trial, was the damage caused to the very fine box hedge beyond the finish, by one or two competing cars.
The trouble first started when Conan-Doyle (Austro-Daimler), after a mediocre run up the course, continued beyond the finishing line without shutting off, and completed an almost wiique display of lamentable incompetence by failing to negotiate the bend some distance after the finish, and ending up broadside across the road.
Before warning could be conveyed to the start, Rothschild’s 38-250 Mercedes was screaming down the course at terrific speed to make fastest car time of the day. Shooting over the finishing line and through the narrow gateway at the end he was confronted by the other car across his path.
He did his best, and succeeded in skilfully avoiding Conan-Doyle’s car, but to some extent at the expense of the landscape, turning right round in the process. He pointed out afterwards that there was nothing else for it if the other car was to be avoided. Which was perfectly true, and only reminds us what golden opportunities are daily cast aside ! It has now been decided by the Stewards
that the brothers Conan-Doyle are not eligible to compete in C.U.A.C. events, and their entry -will not in future be accepted. The only thing wrong with this decision is the fact that it was not arrived at long before.
To return to the actual progress of the “racing.” As soon as the forgotten portions of the timing apparatus had been collected and assembled, the motorcycle classes commenced, and were run off -without incident, riders in general performing in an unostentatious and businesslike manner, which might with advantage be more generally copied. E. C. Fernihough-250 c.c. Excelsior J.A.P.—was the star performer in this class, while Malcolm Muir went very well indeed on his Norton and Velocette, both now fitted with 4 speeds. As he had been informed by the preliminary regulations that the course was 880 yards instead of the actual 600 yards provided, he had neglected to bring any spare sprockets and was rather overgeared. M. N. Mavrogato once again proved himself an artist with the rather temperamental Scott engine, and gave a very pretty, and
quick, exhibition. M. Leitch quite surprised himself and his friends and. went better than ever before on his Rudge.
The car entries, which incidentally were run off with an intermediate sprinkling of motorcycles, and in no particular order of classes, produced a variety of performances, many being spoilt by indifferent tuning, and those of which most was expected falling considerably short.
The “sports 850’s” were hardly thrilling, but in the racing class R. R. Jackson’s blown Monthlery Midget was well tuned and rapid.
Anderson’s old Akela type G.N. was fitted with a blower, but is not right yet, apparently, being a trifle difficult on this occasion. R. V. C. Bolster had a normal G.N. with the vertical O.H.V. twin engine, which went quite well. He also represented the ” home-made ” brigade with a peculiar device which bore some relation to a G.N., but which wore a twin J.A.P. engine, motorcycle fashion on the near side, driving by chain, via mic gearbox to solid axle. The driver occupied a parallel coffin on the offside.
Owing to incorrect caster or front wheel tracking, or both, the performance of this machine was hair-raising to a degree.
In the 1,500 c.c. sports the most consistent shows were those of the many Frazer-Nashes of varying vintage and appearance, but almost uniformly snappy performance. The fastest car in this class was the T.T. Aston-Martin driven by Hartwell, this car being one of the Ulster team cars of this year. Hu,tching’s was the best sports Frazer-Nash. In the racing class, R. j. G. Nash did not appear, as the Terror is having a new body fitted,. Incidentally its engine is now giving 105 b.h.p. at 4,500 r.p.m., which looks useful for Shelsley. J. A. Robinson’s Brescia Bug was in good form as usual.
The unlimited class produced a very snappy single-seater 2,300 c.c. Bugatti in the hands of Bertram, but after a good getaway he had difficulty in sorting out the ratios, and might have been quicker. Baynes in a really delightful old T.T.
Vauxhall with a most remarkable overhead camshaft machinery showed that enthusiasts still exist. Rothschild’s Mercedes was terrific, as already related, while W. M. Couper, relegated to the racing class by reason of the blower, went very nicely on a very standard and fully equipped 2-litre Lagonda. The proceedings were finally stopped as a result of further contact between some careless competitor and the hedge, as a result of wnich several competitors whose first times had been missed had their day’s trouble for nothing.
Thus ended a not-too-fortunate day, and we must live in hopes that further events of this type will be marked by a little more control over the proceedings.