Monte Carlo Rally impressions

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—by Sydney Allard

My crew consisted of Guy Warburton and Tom Lush, and the crew arrangements were that Guy and I should share the driving and Tom be responsible for navigating and timekeeping. The same crew had done the Rally previously and this arrangement had proved satisfactory.

We selected Glasgow as our starting point, as the alternative starting places in Europe meant too long a time away from the office desk. We found we were the last but one to leave, there being 72 cars in front of us. Mrs Allard and her sisters, in an Allard, were 15 numbers ahead of us, and this order was kept until their unfortunate retirement some 800 miles from Monte Carlo.

The weather conditions between Glasgow and Carlisle were fairly bad, the roads being covered in snow with patches of ice, and these conditions were again met some 50 miles from Llandrindod.

From Wales we headed for Folkestone. The channel crossing was accomplished without trouble and we were soon on our way to the first foreign control at Lille.

From Lille we turned northwards towards Liege and from there northwards again into the flat lands of Holland. We crossed the new Arnhem Bridge in the early hours of the morning and were in Amsterdam in time for a very early breakfast. Here we joined up with competitors from some of the other starting controls and began to see foreign makes of cars bearing the registration plates of most of the European countries. An amusing incident occurred at this control. When we came to get back in our car, we were horrified to see that somebody had painted an enormous greyhound on the side. We were rather annoyed and it was not until we attempted to unlock the car and found our key would not fit that we discovered it was not our car but another Allard of identical colour ; it had started from Norway ! We feel a lot of fun over this coincidence during the rest of the Rally when we watched other people making the same mistake. The weather so far had been dry and cold but nothing had yet occurred which could affect our timekeeping.

From Amsterdam we turned, southward through Antwerp, Brussels and Rheims to Paris. We were escorted through Paris by motor-cycle police who led the cars in convoy to the outskirts of the city. The police entered thoroughly into the spirit of the thing and our average speed for the short distance through the Paris traffic was very high indeed ! Just south of Paris we turned on to the main road, which until now had been used for the entire time, and for the first time made our way over secondary roads towards the mountains which lay ahead.

At Bourges, which lay in the valley, we were told that the roads ahead were deeply snow-bound and that heavy snow was falling in the mountains. We pressed on, travelling as fast as possible, because we knew that the critical part of the Rally now lay ahead. The snow was being blown horizontally against the windscreen and thick patches of fog made visibility extremely poor. The width of the road was considerably reduced by the high snow banks on either side and this made passing a matter of waiting one’s chance at a wider section, or perhaps a bend, and then and there pressing on without hesitation. This was a very interesting procedure as one never quite knew what lay ahead!

We covered all sections without loss of time, although the last one from Le Puy down through the Rhone Valley to Valance, a distance of some 130 miles, was completed with only a minute in hand. This was where most of the other competitors lost marks and we were the only Glasgow starter to get through on time. The rest of the run was uneventful even though the roads were snowbound.

We spent the whole of Saturday, in company with many others, going round the course of the Regularity Test, and at the end of the day I tought we had memorised all the must difficult parts.

We were horrified to find on Sunday morning that it had been snowing hard all night, which meant that most of our landmarks were obliterated ; however, we started the test, together with 51 other competitors, and by lunchtime we had all finished. I spent the afternoon waiting for the results. We were having tea when the news came through that we had won the Rally.

—by Stirling Moss

The car—a Sunbeam-Talbot 90—was magnificent. Its performance is a great tribute both to the designers and to those who were engaged in its construction.

With my co-drivers I have done now well over 1,000 miles in it. No mechanical work has been carried out during that time. The only “incident” has been a nail embedded in a tyre. The car has sustained neither dents nor scratches.

In the Rally we finished with the same shock-absorbers and the same brakes with which we set out, which is more than you can say for some of the other competitors.

Illustrative of its performance I would mention the fect that on many downhill sections the speedometer was fouching 50 m.p.h., and this over ice and snow. For miles the roads were rutted with ice and such was the strain on the back axle that it took a really well-constructed car to stand up to what we gave it.

Again underlining its performance, I would like to mention that we consider it really astounding that the car was capable of passing on the roads of the continent more expensive cars of European make.

Another point of interest—we put no water in the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 during the Rally and very little oil.

It is also worth noting that the car did over 26 mpg even over the worst surfaces, when the average dropped to 22.

More debunking

The “Chitty Bang Bangs” of the late Louis Vorow Zborowski have become iconic legendary motor-cars. Unfortunately many of the legends about them are far from accurate. The latest paper to fall into the trap set by the Chitties for unqualified reporters is the Kentish Express. Although it did not publish such absolute rubbish as did Mileposts some time earlier, it did try to suggest that the car which Peter Harris-Mayes is creditably restoring is the immortal Chitty 1. The Brooklands speeds, engine dimensions and more sensational happenings for that “Chitty” were quoted, but, unfortunately for the Kentish Express reporter, “Chitty 1 has been broken up and the car Harris-Mayes has, and which was illustrated, is “Chitty II” which raced but once at Brooklands, lapping at only 108.27 mph, compared to 113.45 mph by “Chitty 1”.

Even when writing of “Chitty 1” the Kentish Express distorts the facts, stating that the car was built at “Highland Court, Bridge, and originally intended for an attempt on the world speed record,” whereas the “Chitties ” were assembled at Higham. This paper further states that “Chitty” was driven in such breakneck fashion that Police patrols were unable to keep up with the speeding Count—which is rather drole considering that in 1921 the only vehicles used by the police to apprehend mototists were pedal-cycles and that Zborowski’s record from London to Bridge, as quoted in the Kentish Express works out at less than 40 mph, hardly “breakneck” on the deserted roads of those days in a car able to lap Brooklatels at over 118 mph. It is difficult to understand quite how the Kentish Express came to commit so many errors in its short account, for Harris-Mayes has consulted us about his car and we have told him it is Chitty II. Apart from which, had their reporter studied the first volume of “The Story of Brooklands” he would have found the facts set out correctly.

Whether the Kentish Express is right in thinking that “Chitty II” is “what the Americans like to call a hot-rod,” we do not know. What we do like is its concluding statement : “This time the police will be able to share the Kent people’s enthusiasm. Peter intends to drive Chitty most carefully, reserving his all-out efforts for Vintage Sports Car Club rallies.” The italics are ours, and Tim Carson cannot complain that he Itesn’t been warned . . .!

Daily Express Silverstone meeting

The International “Daily Express” Trophy Race Meting organised by the BRDC will take place this year on May 10th at Silverstone. The race will be run for cars conforming to the current Formula II (ie cars with an engine capacity not exceeding 2,000 cc unsupercharged, or 500 cc supercharged). As in previous years the race will be run in two heats each of 85 miles and a final of 105 miles.

The deservedly popular 1-hour race for Production sports cars will once again form a part of the meeting in addition to a race for Production touring cars.. Seats should be booked now, from the “Daily Express” Trophy Office, Fleet Street, EC4.

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