A Grand Prix Maserati memory

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Maseratis are among the great cars; before the war they were well to the fore in Britain, at Brooklands, Donington and so on. Perhaps the best known were the 2.5-litre 8C GP two-seater raced by Sir Henry Birkin, then by the young Whitney Straight until he got his 3-litre single-seater 8CM. There were others I remember, such as Crampton’s 2.9-litre GP car and the four-seater and 3-litre campaigned at Brooklands by R F Oats. In 1939 I had personal experience of another car of this make, the 2.9-litre GP two-seater of Lt H E R Torin, RN, fitted with minimal road-equipment.

He had entered it for the first 1939 BARC Meeting, but it non-started, and again at Easter, having caught fire in practice. However, on a very wet day beforehand I had gone to the Track for a flip in this very exciting car. The rain and track obstructions hampered timed runs, a pity because the debate as to who owned the fastest road-car was raging. But I timed a s-s ¼-mile at 16.4sec, the ½-mile at 29.3sec. The Maser had no speedo and the unreliable rev counter was out of sight, but a rather vague 0-100mph took 29sec. A full flying lap was impossible but a restricted flying ½-mile was done at 104mph, accelerating only along part of the Members banking, finding going onto the slippery Byfleet banking at some 130mph rather dangerous.

There was nothing to hang onto, so I was flung about a good deal, but it was satisfyingly exhilarating. Twin preferred a 5000rpm limit to the 6000 maximum, but went to 5300 for my stop-watch runs. Thought to be ex-Nuvolari – weren’t most of them? – with which he won the 1933 Belgian GP (But surely this was an 8CM?), Torin used it on the road, but after Easter 1939 he ceased to enter it for BARC races and I never heard of him again. Was he a war casualty?