OXFORD’S FINE COME-BACK WELL-ORGANISED EVENT IN THE CHILTERNS. ONLY TWO CLEAN PERFORMANCES
IN spite of beautiful weather, with a warm sun flooding the Chiltern Hills, the forty competitors in the Oxford University M.D.C.’s recent trial found the course very difficult, and only two finished with a clean sheet. These were R. E. Richards, with a Rover Special, who won the principal Trophy, and E. R. Humphris, driving an M.G. Both were members of the Chiltern. Car Club, which, together With the Cambridge University A.C. and the City and Guilds M.C., had been invited to take part.
It was the first event to be organised by Oxford for some years, and indeed this year the Dark Blues, largely through the strenuous work of E. N. Bunting, the present secretary, have staged a welcome revival. It will be remembered that they lost the recent Inter-‘Varsity Trial to Cambridge by the narrow margin -of one point.
Also it was quite like old times to have a trial run by the ‘Varsities in the Chilterns, recalling many memories of the struggle’s between Oxford and Cambridge at Alms Hill, Calloway, and Crowell. Now, alas, only the third of that formidable trio is available for trials, but on this occasion it was in all its old form.
The chalky surface was not exactly -wet, but was in that sticky condition when wheelspin is very difficult to prevent. Ruts near the foot, followed by -a tricky section with downward banks on either side, culminated in leaf-mould and chalk in the wood at the top. The hill was divided into four sections, and marks were in corresponding value to the section reached.
A telephone had been run out from the slope overlooking the start to the wood at the top, and certainly any means of minimising delay was an advantage, for -failures came thick and fast, after an early and outstanding success for R. E. Richards with the Rover Special, which !simply romped up the hill.
A special test at the foot of Crowell, before the starting line proper, kept things going as the line of waiting cars increased. At present, however, let us take performances on the hill itself. D. Baddeley, -of the City and Guilds, reached the third section with his Austin, and K. N. Smith, of Cambridge, was going so well with his Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. that he seemed -certain of success, till a bump in the leaf-mould in the very last section brought -him to a stop. I. K. Nixon’s old Austin Seven had to be parked in a .side track while tyre repairs were carried out, and R. H. Gordon did extremely well to reach the third section with his ancient bullnosed Morris. Two Wolseleys driven by M. P. Laudet and P. S. Watt, both of the City and Guilds, reached the fourth and third sections respectively, Laudet’s effort
almost bringing him through. Then -G. Kinsey-Morgan of Cambridge, made .a really determined attack with his Frazer-Nash, and as he disappeared into the wood seemed a certain winner. ‘Then he, too, stopped in the leaf-mould. D. H. Tindall, who has won many -successes for Oxford in an Aston-Martin, .appeared now in a smart A.C. drophead
taupe, but he came to rest low down and, attempting to turn round under instructions, slid into a deep rut, from which his car was only extricated by all the available man-power.
At last two successes gladdened the hearts of the tired marshals, when T. H. Lewin and E. R. Humphris, both of the Chiltern club, and thus on home ground, brought their M.f;.s up at speed, and stormed through the difficult top section. In order to help the wheels to grip, A. D. P. Phillips, of Oxford, had his lady passenger mounted on the rear bumper of his M.G., but he ran over a rut, and the jolt shook her off into the mud Another whose passenger was in an unconventional position, crouching inside his Rover’s luggage boot, was
0. W. Williams, of Cambridge, but both he and Phillips stopped in the second section. Lewin, however, had adopted these tactics with success, having his passenger clinging to the spare wheel. S. K. E. Thwaites, of the Chiltern club, came up very nicely with his M.G., only tb fail in the third section, and the same fate befell ‘1’. A. Frazer (Cambridge) with his Riley, and A. J. Kilpatrick
(Cambridge) with his Singer. V. F. Gordon, of the City and Guilds, was another to fail in this section, driving an M.G., after a good show on the lower st retches.
The next hill was Radnage City, a new hill seldom used before in car trials. It had a deep rut running up the centre, and it was a moot point whether it was better to allow the wheels to run in this rut, or, having slid into it inadvertently, to try and regain the level surface. Certainly those who adopted the latter tactics nearly all came to grief. Here the hill was divided into two sections, and only seven drivers surmounted both, while three more got
through the first part, but failed higher up. The seven successful ones were : R. E. Richards (Rover Special), A. F. Scroggs (Trojan), K. N. Smith (Frazer-NashB.M.W.), M. P. Laudet (Wolseley), G. Kinsey-Morgan (Frazer-Nash), E. R. Humphris (M.G.) and T. H. Lewin (M.G.).
Richards charged the hedge, but fortunately was able to recover and keep going, and it is interesting to note the name of A. P. Scroggs in the above list, with his famous Trojan, a pair once well known in trials. Chorley Farm, the last hill before lunch, was easier, for only one complete failure resulted, while five more stopped in the upper section. Delays on Crowell, though kept to a minimum by the excellent organisation, caused the lunch
stop to be rather hurried, and competitors proceeded to Hale Wood, near Wendover, another little-known hill, but one of great difficulty with standard tyres.
A sharp left-hand bend on slippery mud reduced speed just where it was most wanted, to surmount the steep section which followed. No one succeeded in climbing the whole hill, and accordingly a clean performance was allowed to Lewin and Humphris, with the M.G.s, Richards with the Rover, and Smith with the B.M.W., since these four climbed considerably higher than the rest. R. E. Tongue, the racing driver, was acting as a marshal on this hill, and the word went about that if one got past Tongue, 811ccOis was granted.Humphrey Cook, a steward of the event, was
also observed here. Lewin made such a determined effort that, if he had not come into conflict with a sapling, he might well have earned a bonus for climbing the whole hill. S. K. E. Thwaites also came up at speed with his M.G., but skidded right round on the slippery corner and proceeded down the hill:agaiu ! Rignal and Rutty Lane caused little difficulty, and there was only the Little Bois acceleration test before the finish at Thame. In this test Richard’s Rover was easily the best, with a time of 10* secs. A remarkable effort was that of P. S. Watt, who made second best time
with his Wolseley in 13* secs. Lewin (M.G.) took 14 secs., and Smith (B.M.W.) 14* secs.
When the results of the Crowell test, held earlier, became known, it was found that ill luck had befallen Lewin, who had done so well in the rest of the event. The test involved accelerating, reversing and accelerating again between various lines, and Lewin had the misfortune to stop sideways across one line, wasting so much time that he could only record 26* secs., which incurred a penalty, and lost him his first-class award. Best time was again that of Richards with the Rover (20 secs.), while Smith took 201 secs., and T. A. Pra:cer (Riley) and A. Stainer (M.G.) both recorded 22* secs.
Oxford did well in the organisation of so pleasant an event, and now one looks forward to the Inter–Varsity Speed Trials, to be held at Syston Park, near Grantham, on March 18th, with Cambridge as the organisers.
Oxford Trophy (best performance) : R. E. Richards (Rover Special).
Johnson Trophy (beat student) : M. P. Laudet (Wolseley).
Oxford Resident Trophy : M. Rennie (M.G.). First-Class Award : E. R. Humphria (M.G.).
Second-Class Awards : T. H. Lewin (M.G.), K. N.
Smith (Fra ).
Third-Class Awards : G. Kinsey-Morgan (FrazerNash), II. L. Riseicy (Hillman), A. J. Kilpatrick (Singer), A. F. Scroggs (Trojan), P. Baddeley (Austin), P. S. Watt (Wolseley), T. A. Frazer (Riley), V. F. Gordon (.14.G.). Team Prize : R. E. Richards. (Rover Special), K. N. Smith (Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.), S. K. E. Thwaites