A BIGGER AND BETTER DONINGTON
Successful First Meeting on Enlarged Course
THE season of racing at Donington Park opened last month, and in spite of a fairly small entry list, some excellent finishes were seen. The weather was showery and the sky was overcast, but the number of spectators, especially at Starkey’s Corner, seemed not far short of the number who witnessed the races last year.
The course has been altered by straightening out almost entirely the S bend at Starkey Hill and the straight stretch beginning there has been extended a further 300 yards from Old to New Starkey Corner. This latter is a rightangle turn, and the road comes back on itself, after a more gradual bend, to rejoin the old course by a second right-angle corner between Old Starkey and Red Gate Lodge. The thousand yard stretch from the S bend to New Starkey gives full scope for passing, and the total length of the course is now 2 miles 1,000 yards.
The programme consisted of seven fivelap scratch races.
The first race was for unsupercharged cars up to 850 c.c., and there were five starters. Everitt (M.G.) was first away, followed by Harrison (Ford). The Ford had been giving forth dense clouds of smoke when waiting on the line, and the next time round had dropped back to last place. Everitt was now closely pursued by Levy on a Montlhdry Midget and Lim, a Japanese driver, on another M.G. Some very unsteady cornering was seen at Hairpin Bend, but Everitt drew ahead without difficulty and won by quarter of a mile. Levy made himself very unpopular by stopping opposite the paddock and reversing across the course to get in. Luckily Lim was a long way behind so there was no danger of a collision.
850 c.c. cars unsupercharged. 5 laps. 1.. W. G. Everitt (M.G.), 14m. 50 1/5s. Speed 51.9 m.p.h. 2. L. Levy (M.G.), 15m. 4 1/5s, 3. P. H. Lim (M.G.), 17m. 12 1/5s. The second race, for 850 c.c. super
charged cars, was well-supported and the cars were run in two heats. In the first of them Parish (Austin) was closely pursued by Hood, and followed by Allen, both on blown M.G.’s.
Hood soon passed Parish, though there was only a few yards in it, while Allen was eliminated through losing his petrol tank just before he reached Starkey’s. The hotly-contested duel lasted throughout the five laps, and Hood won the heat by about 60 yards. The second heat was dominated by R. F. Turner, whose spirited driving on an Austin has become one of the features of Donington. During the practising incidently he had upset in Holly Wood without damaging himself or his car. Anderson on a curious low built Austin, was close behind him on the first lap, but his cornering was rather erratic and Simister passed him when he took to the grass. He was in trouble in other parts of the course too, and his car finished up against a tree at Coppice Corner. The car was badly damaged but the driver was only shaken. Bailey on a supercharged Austin, with the normal Ulster chassis, also took to the grass several times, but stayed the course, while the
leader gradually drew away from Simister. The final placings were as usual decided according to the times put up in each heat. Turner’s fastest lap was 2 mm. 40 3/5 sec.
850 c.c. Cars, supercharged.
1. R. F. Turner (Austin S), 13m. 32 2/5s. Speed 56.9 m.p.h.
2. T. Simister (M.G. S), 13m. 49 4115s.
3. W. E. Hood (M.G. S), 14m. 4s.
The 1,100 c.c. race was also wellsupported, with slower cars on the first heat. Hood on his blown M.G. Midget got into the lead right from the start, but was closely followed by Hodges whose Singer was notably steady on Starkey. Appleton (Riley) was rather wild on his first time round, and Dobson on a Brooklands model made no attempt to slow down, but broadsided his car on to the grass each time. He was also in trouble at other points of the course.
Hood’s superior speed and acceleration were just sufficient to keep him ahead of the Singer, while Appleton, in spite of misfiring retained his third place till the end.
Some fast cars were seen in the second heat, and Rayson’s supercharged Brooklands Riley took the lead on the first lap.
Next came Seaman on the Magnette which Whitney Straight drove last year, but the car was only running ” on four ” and soon withdrew. Simister whose M.G. was noticeable for its piercing exhaust
note made great effort to catch up with Rayson, but seemed to be troubled with a locking front brake, finishing in the end 100 yards behind.
Up to 1,100 ex. supercharged or unsupercharged.
1. R. K. Rayson (1,089 Riley S), 13m. 13 2/5s. Speed 58.6 m.p.h.
2. T. Simister (746 M.G. S), 13m. 45 2/5s.
3. W. E. Hood (746 M.G. 8), 14m. 3/5s.
In the next race Greaves (Frazer Nash) took the lead in the first lap followed by Dobson on his Riley. The latter carried out his usual broadside at Starkey’s and soon afterwards finished up by skidding off the road at Hairpin Corner. Meanwhile Appleton’s Riley had found its form, and he finished 400 yards ahead of Greaves. Gulls (Aston Martin), who was driving steadily gained third place. Then followed a fine duel between Laird, driving a bored-out McEvoy Hornet, and G. Casswell (Frazer Nash). The first time
round Laird was in. the lead with Thorpe and Casswell close behind, but when next they appeared Casswell was right on the tail of the McEvoy. Seen on the fourth round at the old S Bend, Casswell was faster and steadier round the fast bend w,hich remains and with a great effort drew level with Laird and then passed him. A hectic corner at Starkey however put him on the grass, while the other two swept round, and he was unable to catch them in the run down to the Finish. Lairds fastest lap, incklently, was
2 min. 38 4/5 sec. or 58.2 m.p.h.
Up to 1,500 ex., unsupercharged. 1. H. Laird (1,454 McEvoy Special),
13m. 23 4/5s. Speed, 57.5 m.p.h.
2. ‘1’. A. W. Thorpe (1,496 Frazer Nash), 13m. 25s.
3. G. Casswell (1,496 Frazer Nash), 13m. 32 4/5s.
In the fifth race there was a fine battle between Simister, Rayson and Turner. In the first lap they came round with 50 yards covering all three, then Rayson started to gain on Simister. The latter made a tremendous effort to keep ahead, flames seeming to come from his car at one time, while Rayson found it difficult to pass since his rival kept in the middle of the road. Finally by taking to the grass Rayson succeeded in passing, only to slide off the road again at Starkey’s, but on the last lap he made no mistake and finished up 30 yards ahead of his rival.
1,500 ex. supercharged or unsupercharged.
1. E. K. Rayson (1,089 Riley S), 13m. 26 4/5s. Speed 57.3 m.p.h.
2. T. Simister (746 M.G. S), 13m. 28s.
3. R’ F. Turner (747 Austin S), 13m. There were only four cars in the Three Litre Race, but a keen struggle had been anticipated between A. H. Eccles and Shuttleworth on 2.3 Bugattis. It was, however, the latter’s first public appearance since his accident in the Mannin Moar race last year so he drove rather carefully, contenting himself with keeping comfortably in second place. Eccles
incidently found that he was reaching 100 m.p.h. at the end on the “straight” and the surface which was not yet fully bedded down made the car quite difficult to hold. Rayson and Simister once again fought out their private battle and Simister was again flagged for not keeping to his own side at Starkey’s.
Up to three litre supercharged or unsupercharged.
1. A. H. Eccles (2,263 Bugatti S), 13m. Os. Speed 59.27 m.p.h.
2. R. 0. Shuttleworth (2,296 Bugatti 8), 13m. 18s.
3. E. K. Rayson (1,089 Riley 5), 13m. 20 1/5s.
Record lap for new course.
A. H. Eccles, 2m. 31s. (61.23 m.p.h.). The last race attracted a varied field led by Casswell (Frazer Nash), followed by those spirited duettists, Rayson and Simister. Casswell was not long in the lead, and Simister succeeded in passing Rayson. Flames could be seen coming from the M.G. each time it took Starkey’s corner, apparently through over-revving, and finally there was a great burst of fire and the car came to rest hurriedly. Seaman on the Magnette retired, while Cormack (Alta) skidded round at Hairpin
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Corner and slid off the road down the bank. In the end only Rays= and Vickers remained still running.
Up to 1,500 ex. supercharged and 2,500 ex. unstipercharged.
1. E. K. Rayson (1,089 Riley S), 13m. 29 1/5s. Speed 57 m.p.h.
2. R. C. Vickers (1,496 Lea Francis S), 14m. 10 3/5s. Making allowance for a certain amount of moisture on the corners and the fact that drivers have not yet had time to
become fully acquainted with the new course, one would expect an average speed at later meetings similar or higher than last year’s figures. The extra length of straight road gives the fast cars a chance to pass one another, and Eccles found that the Bugatti reached 100 m.p.h. before lie had to cut out. With the new twin camshaft car he expects something not far short of 120 m.p.h. By having a right angle turn at New Starkey’s instead of the tast bend as was formerly the case, the possibly only unfair
hazard on the course has been removed. Incidently a small grandstand is being erected overlooking New Starkey. The only other alteration which may be effected is to enclose the road round the Hairpin corner with sandbags, which would prevent the dangerous tail swinging which has several times involved a dive down the bank on the opposite side.
The improved course will certainly add to the interest of drivers and spectators, and the first big meeting, on May 12th, will be eagerly awaited.