VERS LE BOUT! COLD AND ICE MAKE THE TWELFTH MONTE CARLO RALLY• THE MOST STRENUOUS EVER HELD.
THIS year, as on previous occasions Athens was the most distant, and therefore the most highly marked of the starting places for the Monte Carlo Rally. Fifteen starters presented themselves, but the going was too hard for nearly all of them. The last to give up was Rupert Riley, who had successfully negotiated the shocking roads and mountain passes of the Balkans, only to be held up by snow at Vienna. A very gallant effort this and one which with a little better fortune, would have brought the premier award to Great Britain.
Tallinn was the next most distant starting place, and some account of the run from there to Riga was given in last month’s issue of MOTOR SPORT. By Riga the British contingent had been weakened by the loss of Mrs. Vaughan, whose Standard was ditched near Parnu and Hobbs, whose club carnet had mysteriously disappeared. Lace had visited a ditch without , much damage except the loss of the sump plug and all the oil.
Healey, the first competitor to arrive, reached the control just after noon. The Latvian Automobile Club had made every preparation for the reception of the various crews, most welcome being an excellent lunch. After that everyone tried to get a little,sleep, waking up again at 4.30 to feed again at the Club’s expense and to be grateful for the continental enthusiasm for sporting motorists which was encountered throughout the run. Most of the competitors had gone out from time to time to warm up
their engines and did not have much difficulty in re-starting but the Diesel Bentley crew experienced considerable trouble, as the pinions on the starters had frozen to the threads. The first car left Riga at 5.30, the regulations this year providing that the cars should leave each check in numerical order. The metre of snow which one had been led to expect between Tallinn and Riga had not appeared but there was definite news of a heavy fall in Lithuania. With this in prospect, the Invicta once more did its stuff, and hummed on its way to the frontier which was 47 miles away. Schell and Vasselle who were maintaining a steadier average were soon overtaken. On one of the fast snowcovered stretches the Invicta had been coming up with a slower car, but while it was still far away the lights disappeared, so that it was apparently a local vehicle. In five minutes, however, a small car without lights was sighted, which proved to be the Magna driven by Lacroze and Belgrave. Their lights had failed and they had plunged into a snow drift at the side of the road. Luckily they had a wire rope on board and the Invicta soon had them back onto the harder surface.
BY T. G. MOORE.
Their trouble was nothing worse than a loose battery lead, and they were soon under way again.
Passing on snow-covered roads was very difficult, as the water-vapour in the exhaust gases condenses like the smoke from a heath-fire, and clouds of snow thrown up added to the denseness. At the side of the road there are drifts nearly two feet deep, with ruts underneath.
At the Lithuanian frontier arrangements had been made for dealing promptly with the carnets, and Healey, who has had a great deal of experience at this kind of thing saved much time by keeping the essential papers under his hand, thus getting away before a number of competitors who had arrived before him. • We were now faced with Lithuania, which had been rated as one of the chief danger points as regards depth of snow, but -the authorities had taken a great deal of trouble to clear the roads. Gangs of men and snow ploughs were seen at work, and from the comparative warmth of the Invicta we thanked our stars that we were not at work on a Sunday night at a temperature of -10 or so, or even accompanying Lace who was driving the other In
victa, and disdained the use of weather protection other than aerowindscreens.
There was enough snow left to form a comfortable carpet over the road, and the run to Tilsit was a great improvement over the first part of the journey. Supper,. consisting of 21 Oxo biscuits and some barley sugar, was served en route.
Tilsit is the frontier station for East Prussia and the Invicta reached there at 11.15 p.m. After warming ourselves at the Lithuania post we drove across the bridge into German territory and there realised that we had picked up an hour owing to the difference in time. The East Prussfau roads, which are tree-lined and for the most part dead straight, allowed a good speed to be maintained, and the exhaust heater did its stuff most pleasantly. By taking an alternate route supplied by the A.V.D. on the journey north. through Berlin, no more passing had to be done and we arrived at Konigsberg at 12.20 a.m., averaging nearly 40 m.p.h. for the whole 390 km. from Riga. Once more there was time in hand, so the crew betook itself to bed for four hours. The KOnigsberg Motor Club had arranged “lunch,” i.e., a hot meal, at 4 a.m., and with a feeling rather like the condemned man eating his. last breakfast on earth, the ” concurrents ” did themselves full justice and set their teeth in anticipation of the snow-covered wildernesses of Poland. Most people had managed to carry on so far, but the Huntley Walkers did not seem at all cheerful and the Alvis was
spluttering in an unhappy way. The usual overtaking tactics were pursued, and the excellent A.A. routes enabled Healey to pass through several places where foreigners not so well provided were circling round doubtful of the proper route to follow. Dawn broke about seven o’clock and with the growing light, sledges appeared on the road. Healey tried to overtake one of these vehicles, but prevented by the plunging horses from seeing an acute bend, he crashed into a tree at the side of the road and damaged his radiator so much that all the water was lost. The car crawled slowly into 13ischofstein and the only mechanic in the place, a repairer of agricultural implements, was roused and set to work. He made a fine job of the repair, at a cost of 8 marks, but the job took so long that in order to reach Warsaw in time it would have been necessary to average 45 m.p.h. over the snow, an impossible task. Healey therefore decided to retire and this disposed of Great Britain’s most formidable car. The corner had another shot at holding back the English invaders, for Miss Riddell got stuck in a deep drift and had great
difficulty in extricating the car. She struggled on to Berlin and retired there, and with her went our hope of winning the Coupe des Dames.
The Huntley Walkers did not get beyond Warsaw and Lace, who had been delayed by a damaged water pump, plunged into a ditch just over the Polish frontier. By the time he had got the car out he was almost numb with cold and furthermore found that the roads were impassable with freshly fallen snow. Those who maintained their schedule however had a comparatively easy time when they reached Poland, for troops and snowploughs had cleared a one-car passage through all the drifts, which otherwise would have been impassable. The Polish Auto Club excelled itself in looking after the creature comforts of the competitors, and even gave each of them a hamper containing vodka, cigarettes and other things of which more elsewhere. Police were on duty all over Warsaw and to direct the on-coming cars the authorities had even arranged for motor-cycle police to guide the strangers to the exit of the city.
There was a good deal of snow between Warsaw and Berlin but nothing worse than had been already encountered. Cold was the most unpleasant feature of the run, and Lacroze and Belgrave, who were driving an M.G. Magna, had to be lifted from their car at Berlin. Nothing upset these two enthusiasts, not even when they ditched their car in Essen through feeling too tired to take another sweep across the street.
Lord de Clifford and the Gardner Bentley, the only other British car left out of those which started from Tallinn, enjoyed a fairly uneventful journey. In Poland the only fuel they could get was something resembling creosote, and dur ing a short stop for adjusting shock absorbers, the fuel froze up and choked the pipes. After great difficulty and drawing of lamps they were able to purchase
paraffin at a village (the inhabitants thought they knew better and insisted on offering petrol). Another unpleasant incident was when the radiators, which were heated from the cooling system, froze up and then burst, allowing nearly all the water to escape. Fortunately this was detected and the main radiator replenished before damage was done. De
Clifford himself was not so lucky and was troubled with frost bitten feet most of his stay in Monte Carlo. Apart from these incidents the car ran
perfectly throughout the run and averaged 29 m.p.g. in spite of being driven hard all the time.
None of the Bucharest competitors reached Poland. ly,everett (Riley), was unable to leave Bucharest, and Symons (Sunbeam) who had despaired of starting from, the Capital and tried Jassy, fared no better. The snow defeated them too.
At Brussels the Tallinn competitors were joined by those from Stavanger and umea. The famous Tronaaren pass which on other occasions had been so coated with ice that a 40 km. average was quite impossible, was this year less severe, and four cars came through without loss of marks. Whalley (V8 Ford) was the only British competitor, but an Austin 10, driven by Per Bergan was also successful. Mrs. Petre and Miss Richmond driving a 9 h.p. Riley had to leave the road to avoid a ” spark ” or push chair on runners, and striking a hidden drain pipe damaged the front axle. They struggled to effect repairs but did not continue to the finish. Hutchens (Wolseley Hornet) bent a front dumb-iron in a crash and was late at Oslo. He also had to give up. Selby’s crew in the other V8 Ford comprised two men recovering from ‘flu, and one with a bad tooth who could not bear to look over precipices. The front axle was all out of truth as a result of a crash which had occurred before Selby took it over, and altogether it required fairly good determination to reach Monte Carlo, even a day late. Umea registered 380 of frost when the Rallyites set forth and there was 60 miles of ice between the first two controls and 100 miles of it between the second two. Mrs. Gough was forced into a ditch by a local bus, but got out by laying bushes on the ground. A V8 Ford mistook the
railway for the road and turned over about three times,. completely writing off the whole outfit, but the passengers were not badly hurt.
Dennison and Mrs. Gough on Rileys and Norman I3lack on a Terraplane got through without loss of marks, but Major Douglas-Morris was not so lucky with his Invicta. Near Paris it started misfiring, and on reaching the high ground near Saulieu, the car refused to climb at all. The owner and his companion, Mr. Fred Salmons, then had to set to work to remove the head, thinking the gasket had gone, but could find no reason for the trouble. Completely exhausted by their exertions in the biting wind they crawled back into the car and went to sleep till morning. The trouble eventually turned out to be nothing worse than a bent valve.
Weather conditions in Great Britain made the journey much more severe than of latter years and there was a good deal of ice on the roads from John o’Groats. In the neighbourhood of Aberdeen late arrivals speeding round a corner suddenly came on a whole group of cars stuck on a hill, while their owners were trying to fit chains. Under those circumstances it’s a wise man who has thought of fitting four-wheel jacks, but some of the proud owners of these accessories found that they had a nasty habit of turning round the axles if not fitted properly, in which position they were remarkably useless. The Royal Scottish Automobile Club displayed their usual hospitality at Glasgow, and at the Grand Hotel, Harrogate, competitors were able to get a little wel
come rest in comfortable surroundings. The London check was at the Royal Automobile Club, and breakfast was available there, though the number of waiters seemed a little inadequate to deal with the hungry band. All the compe titors except Wright (M.G. Magnette) reached the coast on time and embarked on board the S.S. Autocarrier which had been specially chartered for the occasion, Wright had the misfortune to lose his passports and other papers, but as they were found soon afterwards and had evidently been ransacked it appeared that
someone had migtaken one of the famous R.A.C. black wallets for a note-case. Once in France, the optimists thought, our chains can be put away, but that was where they were mistaken. Round about Rouen the roads were ” ver glas ” to use a Swedish expression. The driver of Jacques’ Rolls did not appear to care about the surface and was holding a board meeting about the situation when the S.S. appeared round the corner and had some difficulty in avoiding it, a sudden application of brakes putting the car in the ditch, and a later arrival nearly collected the first two. Aldington, who seemed quite irrepressible here and in Scotland shot past with foot hard down. Miss Labouchere and Miss Coles spent
most of their time in ditches reaching Monte Carlo a day late with a bag of four.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, who, of course, organise the Le Mans race, had prepared a fine welcome for the British competitors many of whom were half frozen and worn out for lack of food. The three ladies in the Hillman Wizard had had a very strenuous time, as the weight of equipment had brought the body down to the exhaust pipe and the underside of the back seat took fire, and Mrs. Martin was overcome by the fumes from the fire extinguisher. They reached Le Mans with 2 minutes to spare. Frank Longman, the well-known motor-cyclist, who was driving the experimental Andre, an unconventional car with a 6 h.p. V twin Jap engine, was in trouble with broken valve springs. Mrs. Montague-Johnson had the same trouble later on and was so exhausted with the work of removing the the head and working on the engine that she went to sleep when nearing Bordeaux and her car shot into the ditch and turned over, narrowly missing the stone wall of a barn. Undaunted by this, she got the car out again, minus hood and screen, but quickly fixed up a temporary one in Bordeaux and carried on to Monte Carlo, getting there with 2 minutes to spare, only to be disqualified for having no hood. Hard luck indeed! Stott’s Daimler was held up a long time with mysterious overheating trouble, and after Vic Horsman, who was one of the crew, had dismantled the cooling system twice, it was found that in some mysterious way the water pump had frozen up. It would have been a pity if the Daimler had not arrived for in it travelled H. B. Browning, the secretary of the British Competitors Club, lately recovered from appendicitis and already weighed down with calculations of hotel
accommodation, dinner arrangements and so forth, which none but he could unravel. His peace of mind was not helped by losing the wallet containing nearly all his money.
Toulouse was reached without much further excitement, though the cold had not yet abated. The last lap, in which the northern competitors see their southern rivals for the first time, is often quite exciting, with ice near Aix and on the Estorel, but this year no one except Welch (Lagonda) who got involved in a spectacular mix-up with a laundry van, fell out on this stage. A number of sleepy navigators led their drivers over wrong roads and so forth, but after the usual last minute blinds, the survivors of the Twelfth Monte Carlo Rally entered the town, greeted this year by bright sunshine. A wash and some breakfast prepared the early arrivals for the final tests, and a number of cars were waiting when the final Control opened at 10 a.m.
The finish was as on other years on the Quai de Plaisance, alongside the harbour, and here grimed and weary ” concurrents” met again in many cases for the first time since leaving England. At the appropriate time each driver handed in his road-book, and took the car to various officials who verified the seals, weighed the ballast and checked dimensions. The car was then ready for the final test, the acceleration test on the Boulevard Albert I, which forms part of the Grand Prix course in April. As no Athens competitor had succeeded in getting through, the winner was certain to come from those who had started from Tallinn, the deciding factor being the marks gained in the final test. It proved to be the genial Vasselle, who in his Hotchkiss saloon thus carried off the Premier Award for the second year in succession. Second in the test was James Wright on the Magnette, who tied for best acceleration with Norman Black (Essex Terraplane) with 8.3 seconds, but who was slightly down on the Hotchkiss by reason of his greater stopping distance. Third was Guyot driving a large Renault saloon, which was not quite as fast as the first two but had superlative brakes, this performance bringing it into second place in the General Classification. Lionel Martin was fifth on the Humber Sn, pe, aided by good brakes, and altogether British vehicles finished well up in the
final test. H. 3. Aldington on the Nash with its high bottom gear, did well to record 8.9 seconds but rather misjudged the braking, and Lord De Clifford equalled this figure on the Gardner Bentley, but the brakes of the seven year old car were not up to present day standards. The braking problem of course was complicated by the presence of a second
formula for calculating performance which was provided to penalise cars which braked before the line in an endeavour to improve the braking distance. Unfortunately some of the small cars with heavy bodies suffered considerably, since in many cases they had only moderate acceleration but extremely efficient brakes. The Si formula was on the other hand amply justified in the case of such competitors as Miss Richardson (Ford) who obviously braked several yards before the line.
Concours de Confort.
The Premier Award in the Confort Competition, which is given on the strength
of the accommodation, fittings, tool space. and the provision of various fittings for helping driver or passengers of Rally cars. was won by W. T. Townend with a Talbot ” 105,” which also carried off first prize in the unlimited closed cars class. The car, which was beautifully finished inside and out in the famous Talbot green was particularly noticable for the suitcases,
at the back, the tools in a recessed tray at the rear and an unusual car heater which warmed air by passing it over the silencer, thence into the interior of the car, without any danger of fumes. An engine-driven tyre pump and a spare’ coil wired ready to change over were also noticeable. The French Talbot, which of course would be called a Darracq in this country and which was second in the closed class. made very thorough provisions for the passenger’s comfort, the front seat letting down to form a bed. The container at the rear of the car contained every kind of spare and the lower part, which was. (Continued on page 226)
used for boots and similar articles, could be reached from the inside. The tools and spare equipment were not required however, as the bonnet of the car was never lifted. Bainbridge’s 25 h.p. Rolls Royce, a magnificent car finished in dark blue with
dozens of badges in front, had a very special windscreen wiper, which was supplied with water by an electric pump from a container on the dash. The supply lasts 3 hours and the wiper dealt successfully with mud, rain or ice. A fine looking 2 litre Lagonda won the
large car class for open vehicles, while a special Salmons body with Tickford head which could be completely opened, even to the extent of folding forward the windscreen, was fitted to Major Douglas Morris’s, 1,500 c.c. Invicta and caused much favourable comment.