I was sorry to learn from the Riley Register that A. F. Ashby has died, in Australia, where he had lived for many years. Frank Ashby was a great enthusiast, a dedicated racing motorist. He developed a racing-bodied side-valve 1 1/2-litre Riley, with inclined radiator, into a notably successful outer-circuit Brooklands tar in the mid-1920s, before turning to the new Brooklands-model Riley Nine. He applied his tuning methods to this and it, too, became a race-winner. Ashby then produced his “flat-iron” Riley Nine, based on Parry Thomas’ cars of that build. Using astronomical compression-ratios, up to 20 to 1 with alcohol fuel, it is said, a bronze-lined head; and four carburetters, this lapped at 112 m.p.h.
Ashby had associations with the Glacier Metal Company, I believe, and later he began to produce special parts racing Alfa Romeos. at Ins works at Vembley. He had his own 2.9-litre. Dubonnet-front-suspension monoposto, Alfa Romeo, which he largely rebuilt using his own conception of rods, pistons, inlet and (twin-pipe) exhaust systems, his own steel cylinder blocks which seems to have lifted the revs from 5,500 to 6,500 and Ashby/Lockheed brakes. This car was acquired by Ken Hutchison and later went to New Zealand. Ashby also made cast-iron cylinder blocks for another P3 Alfa Romeo. For a time he held the Class C Campbell circuit lap record at 66.89 m.p.h. He won a road-circuit handicap at Brooklands in his red P3 in 1938, at 69.16 m.p.h. A stocky man in grubby white overalls with his right foot in a surgical boot, Ashby was a driver in the hest old-school Brooklands tradition. I harbour a happy memory of his Alfa Romeo out-accelerating the rest of the field down the Railway straight, aided perhaps by that heavy boot, before Frank braked hard for the turn onto the Campbell circuit.—W.B.