Rumblings, June 1956
Los Angeles Race Centre A new multi-million dollar motor-racing centre, to be called the Los…
HIGH SPEEDS AND GOOD RACING AT BROOKLANDS
AFEW years ago the season always opened at Brooklands with the Easter Meeting, held on the Bank Holiday. In recent times, however, an earlier start has been made, but judging by the comparitive attendances, the Easter Meeting is still the real beginning of motor-racing at Weybridge.
Of course, the announcement that Join Cobb was to make an attempt on the coveted lap record was responsible for a fair portion of the large crowd, which thronged the enclosures, but in any event a fine ” supporting ” programme was arranged and good sport was assured. The new stand at the Fork on the Aerodrome side was in operation, but most visitors seemed rather surprised to be charged an extra half-a-crown on top of the 15/admission, for the privilege of seeing the racing at the Fork at all. The
stand itself is a simple all and could not have cost a great deal to erect. If it had tip-up seats, or seats of any description, an extra charge would have been reasonable.
And now for ,the racing. Sixteen cars came to the line for the start of the first race, the only absentee being Stanley Smith’s 11 litre Bugatti. E. L. 11fleeson, one-time famous for his 30/98 Vauxhalls, held his initial lead of lm. 36s. for well over a lap, driving a Hillman Minx. D. L. Briault had bad luck with the supercharged Alta, which misfired wretchedly right from the start. A good dog-fight developed between Jack Robinson (Bugetti), F. Allen (M.G. Midget), D. A. AIdington (Frazer Nash) and W. E.
Munphreys (Axnilcar), but none of them was fast enough to catch A. H. L. Eccles, who took the lead early on lap 2 and held it to the finish. His 1 litre Bugatti won by 75 yards from Robinson’s old ” Brescia” at a speed of 88.76 m.p.h, with F. Allen a good third. Some very fast cars turned out for the “Lightning Short.” P. L. Donkin was limit man with a 1,750 c.c. Alfa Romeo, followed 15 seconds later by A. F. Ashby (Riley), who was making a very welcome re-appearance at the track. Then Fred Dixon (Riley) and L. P. Driscoll, driving the beautiful little Austin which did 122 m.p.h. at Southport, got off the mark together three seconds after Ashby, and were in turn followed by R. T. Horton (M.G. Midget) and H. Widengren
car) after an interval of 4 seconds. Then came a pause of 12 seconds, at the end of which R. R. K. Marker moved off with his Bentley which now carries a body not unlike that of the late Sir Henry Birkin’s famous single seater. T. S. Fothringham was next away, 5 seconds later, 18 seconds ahead of the two scratch men, Kaye Don (Bugatti 4.9) and Oliver Bertram (Pelage).
“thxon was a hot favourite, and had passed Ashby before the Railway Straight was reached, while Widengren had drawn ahead of Horton. On the next lap Dixon was in the lead, followed by Widengren, Donkin, Horton, Driscoll, Ashby, Fothringham, Bertram and Don. Marker had dropped out of the running.
By this time Horton had really got going, and he streaked ahead of Widengren to make a new Class H lap record at a speed of 116.64 m.p.h. Bertram and Don were completely out of the picture, but Fothringham’s 2.3 Bugatti was in fine form and was lying third behind Dixon and Horton as the cars swept round the Members Banking on the last lap. Just before the “bump” Fothringham opened out, passing Horton to take second place In the race. This was a good race, keenly fought out by cars capable of 120 m.p.h. and an example of handicap racing at its best.
Horton’s new lap record is a wonderful performance. His two workmanlike M.G.’s, Magnette and Midget, were a great attraction in the Paddock. Both cars were spotlessly clean, and the whole outfit seemed efficient to the last detail.
In the first ” Mountain ” race there were 13 starters, all ,cars of under 1,500 c.c. capacity. V. S. Gilbert (Austin) made good use of his start as limit man, cornering neatly and fast on the first lap. By the time the Fork was reached T. P. Cholmondeley-Tapper (Bugatti) had passed six cars, while J. Day (M.G.) had dropped a similar number of places. On lap 2 Gilbert’s Austin was still in
the lead, followed by H. 0. Dobbs (Riley), K. W. Marten (M.G. Midget), Cholmondeley-Tapper (Bugatti), A. Corn:lack (Alta), P. 0. Fairfield (Riley), M. P. Simpson (Riley), D. M. Dent (Frazer Nash), R. C. Vickers (Lea-Francis), and G. Casswell (Frazer Nash). C. A. Richardson, driving a very smart Riley, turned completely round at the Fork and went off the course backwards.
On the next lap Gilbert was also a little too enthusiastic at the Fork, but after a hearty broadside he carried on. Dobbs .found he couldn’t stop, so he drove straight on, making a wide sweep and returning to the fray. This let Cholmondeley-Tapper into the lead, a position he deserved, for he was driving fast and well. The same could be said for the scratch man, Casswell, who had crept up to 7th place.
Gilbert was again in trouble at the Fork on the next lap, but he cleverly dodged a marking-barrel in a slide, regaining the course through the next gap, thereby disqualifying himself. The first man past the post was Chohnondeley-Tapper, but after the race the stewards found that he had been guilty of anticipating the fall of the starter’s flag, and so he was deprived of victory. Dobbs was accordingly declared the winner, with Cormack second and Casswell third. During the extra lap following the finish Fairfield struck one of the barrels at the Fork, which sailed merrily away down the track delicately balanced on a rim.
The field in the next race was an odd mixture of large and small cars. C. T. B. Carr’s ft litre Bentley was the limit car with Straight’s Maserati (driven by R. E. L. Featherstonhaugh) on scratch. The ” middle field,” however, was made up of M.G. Midgets, a Magnette, an Austin Seven, two or three Bugattis and a Riley.
Carr did not hold his lead for long, being passed by E. K: Rayson’s supercharged Riley before the Fork was reached. A surprise alteration on the programme was the appearance of H. C. Hamilton at the wheel of A. H. L. Eccles’ Bugatti, marking his return to racing after his convalescent trip to India. He seemed to lack practice, however, and overshot the Fork hairpin on the first lap.
By the end of lap 3, changes had taken place. Rayson still led, but he was now followed by G. Shapley (Bugatti), G. F. Manby-Colegrave (M.G. .Magnette) and A. N. L. Maclachlan (Austin). Featherstonhaugh was making a fair job of handling Straight’s Maserati, but his driving lacked the confident control of the recordholder. Of the other back markers, Raymond Mays picked up a. few places, but his cornering did not seem to be of the fastest technique.
Shapley managed to overtake Rayson on the last lap, scoring his second” Mountain ” win this season. Rayson was second and Manby-Colegrave third. The next event was the first of the Long Handicaps, and proved to be the most unexciting race of the day. The handicappers vastly under-rated the capabilities of Miss Margaret Allan and her 44. litre Bentley, with the result that she won with the greatest of ease by no less a distance than t mile. The rest of the field, including the Hon. Brian Lewis driving Charles Follett’s Alvis ” Firefly,” were simply
nowhere. A. H. L. Eccles succeeded in taking second place, in spite of being rehandicapped 14 seconds. Miss Allan’s speed was the very creditable one of 91.97 m.p.h.
Now came the long-awaited attempt by John Cobb to break the Brooklands Outer Circuit Lap Record, standing to the credit of the late Sir Henry Birkin at a speed of 137.96 m.p.h. with his 44: litre supercharged Bentley. This record was established on 24th March, 1932, the time being 72.2 secs. Conditions were not ideal for the attempt, a gusty wind causing a good deal of unpleasantness on various parts of the Track. The car looked very impressive as it covered two warming-up laps, being so well turned out that it was awarded the new Appearance Prize. Cobb’s colour scheme of mottled aluminium and green
is a good one, giving the car a look of clean efficiency.
There is something particularly exciting about a lap-record attempt. The fact that there is only one car on the track does not matter, rather does it accentuate the purposefulness of the driver, who is unhampered by the presence of slower cars.
On his third circuit Cobb unleashed the mighty power of the 500 h.p. Napier engine, and all eyes followed his progress round the track. We were standing at a point where the Byfleet Banking flattens out and the unbanked curve past the Vickers Sheds begins. On the Byfleet the Napier-Railton seemed to be in a steady slide, the tail a little higher on the banking than the front. The Fork presented difficulties, and the car gave a most unpleasant lurch away from, and then towards the corrugated-iron fence, raising a cloud, of dust. A moment later came a deep rumble as the driver opened out once more. As a whole the car looked beautifully
steady, a tribute both to designer and driver, and the steep Members Banking was taken very fast. The ” bump ‘ sent the car flying in the air before it swept down into the Railway Straight, along which Cobb reached a speed of 160 m.p.h. Never before have we seen a car go on to the Byfleet Banking at such a colossal speed as the Napier-Railton did on Easter Monday. The car seemed to start fairly low, and then rise to the top of the banking in a terrific upward swoop. Cobb received a splendid ovation when he returned to the Paddock. His new record of 71.3 seconds, or 139.71 m.p.h. is a wonderful feat, on which eveiyone will congratulate him. Some indication of the strength and skill required for such a speed at Brooklands can be judged by the fact that Cobb’s arms had to be massaged after the attempt and his fingers
gently relaxed from their grip of the steering wheel.
The next race was the Senior Long, for which 11 cars left the Paddock-stalls and congregated at the Pond Starting Line, Once again E. L. Meeson was limit man, with a start of nearly 2 minutes, and he held his lead for a long time from the next man, the Hon. Brian Lewis (Alvis). Two M.G.’s followed, driven by A. Ashton Rigby and H. L. Maddick, then Humphrey’s Amilcar, W. L. Thompson’s Austin, Douldn’s Alfa Romeo, Dobbs’s white Riley, Manby-Colegrave’s Magnette, and Fred Dixon’s Riley rehandicapped to virtual scratch on the “owes 6 seconds” mark.
In spite of his re-handicap of 10 seconds, Dixon proved to be the winner—his second of the day. He easily overhauled the whole field, and won by 150 yards from Maddick’s M.G. at a speed of 107.94 m.p.h. The Lightning Long Handicap gave us another chance of seeing the Napier
Railton in action. This is how the field started : 1 min. 20 secs., C. G. H. Dunham (Alvis) ; 1 min. 2 secs., L. P. Driscoll (Austin) ; 59 secs., G. F. Manby-Colegrave (M.G. Magnette) ; 56 secs., H. Widengren (Amilcar) ; 47 secs., Fred Dixon (Riley) 44 secs., R. R.. K. Marker (Bentley) and R. T. Horton (M.G. Magnette) ; scratch, John Cobb (Napier Railton). Dunham held his lead for a lap, at the end of which he was being pursued by Widengren, Driscoll, Manby-Colegrave, Dixon, Horton and Cobb. Marker came in slowly with his Bentley and re
tired. Widengren continued to make good .progress, with Dunham sticking to his guns in second place. Iiixon had now moved up to third position, ahead of
Manby-Colegrave, Horton and Cobb. On the last lap it was clear that Widengren’s Amilcar would be the winner, but he was being threatened by Dixon and Horton, the latter coming into the picture with a rush. Widengren’s speed was 107.81 m.p.h.
So far the scratch men had not been among the winners (with the exception of Dixon in the 6th race), but the 3rd Mountain Race resulted in the first three places being filled by the back markers.
On the first lap the only material change of position was made by D. A. Aldington (Frazer Nash) who picked up a couple of places. Manby-Colegrave was a little rough in his cornering with the Magnette, but was fast nevertheless. By the third lap Aldington had got into the lead, ahead of Rayson (Riley) and Manby-Colegrave, but the back markers were bearing down on the struggling leaders, and the ultimate result of the race was a very open one. Featherstonhaugh was driving well with the difficult Maserati, and a great duel was
being waged between this driver, Raymond Mays (Riley) and A. H. L. Eccles (Bugatti). Featherstonhaugh had started from scratch, giving Mays 12 and Eccles 17 seconds. On the third lap the order, after Dobbs, was as follows : G. Casswell (Frazer Nash), M. P. Simpson (Riley), C. T. Baker-Carr (Bentley), F. Allen (M.G.), P. 0. Fairfield (Riley), C. M. Lewin (Austin), and A. Cormack (Alta). Casswell was driving superbly, rounding the Fork hairpin faster than anyone we have seen this year. He adopts almost dirt track methods, throwing the car sideways just before the corner and taking it in a long
slide, controlled by the throttle. In the end he just failed to catch Dobbs by 50 yards.
It was not until the very last lap that these three got through to the front, and in a fine finish Eccles kept ahead to win at 70.4 m.p.h. by 75 yards. Featherstonh.augh and Mays crossed the line almost together, the Maserati just gaining second place by half a length.
The last race of the day was another ” Mountain ” affair, and brought 9 cars to the starting line. H. G. Dobbs started first with his black 4 seater Riley, and from beginning to end was never headed. C. A. Richardson (Riley) set off at great speed but repeated his skidding at the Fork in the 3rd race, turning right round in a wild swerve.
RESULTS. Ripley Junior Short Handicap (61 miles).
DI. S. 1. A. H. L. Eccles (Bugatti, 1,496 c.c.) 54 2. I .J.,.n . .R. Robinson(B.,171 (Bugatti, 7 e.) t t,c1,496 c.c.) 48 3 Q 48
Won at 88.7 m.p.h. by 1 2/5s. ; 2 1/5s. between second and third.
Ripley Lightning Short Handicap miles). 1. F. W. Dixon 35
1. F. W. Dixon (Riley, 1,089 c.c.) 35 2. T. S. Eothringham (13ugatti, ‘2,263 c.c.) 18
3. R. ‘1’. Horton (M.G. 747 c.c.) 31 Won at 104.93 m.p.h. by 2 4/5s. ; 5 2/5s. between second and third.
Ripley Mountain Handicap (6 miles).
1. II. G. Dobbs (Riley, 1,039 c.c.) 13 2. A. Cormack (Alta, 1,074 c.c.) 6
3. 0. Casswell (Frazer Nash, 1,496 c.c.) Set. Won at 60 m.p.h. by 1/5s. ; 5 1/5s. between second and third.
and third. Second Ripley Mountain Handicap (6 miles). 40
1. G. Shapley (Bugatti, 2,263 c.c.) 40 2. H. R. Rayson (Riley, 1,089 c.c.) 52 3. G. F. A. Maltby Colegrave (M.G., 1,087
c.c.) 45 Won at 67.29 m.p.h. by 2/5s. ; 1 4/5s. between second and third.
second Ripley ‘Junior Long Handicap (9 miles).
1. Miss M. Allan (Bentley, 4,398 c.c.) 34 2. A. H. L. Eccles (Bugatti, 1,496 c.c.) 20
3. A. Ashton-Rigby (M.G., 1,087 c.c.) 34 Won at 91.97 m.p.h. by 2$ 4/5s. ; 26 1/5s. between second and third.
Ripley Senior Long Handicap (9 miles). 6s.
1. F. W. Dixon (Riley, 1,089 c.c.) 2. H. L. Maddick (M.G., 1,087 c.c.)
3. H. G. Dobbs (Riley, 1,089 c.c.) Owed 6s. Won at 107.94 m.p.h. by 3s. ; 15s. between second and third.
second and third. Ripley Lightning Long Handicap (9 miles). 1. H. 56
1. H. Widengren (.kmilcar, 1,093 c.c.) 56 2. F. W. Dixon (Riley, 1,089 c.c.) 47
3. R. T. Horton (M.G., 1,087 c.c.) 44 Won at 107.81 m.p.h. by 6 4/5s. ; 9 4/5s. between second and third.
second and third. Third Ripley Mountain Handicap (6 miles). 1. Eccles 17
1. A. B. L. Eccles (Bugatti, 2,263 c.c.) 17 2. R. E. L. Featherstonhaugh (Maserati, 2,494 cc.) c.c.) 3. R. Mays (Riley, 1,486 c.c.) 12 Won at 70.4 m.p.h. by 2s. ; 2 1/5s. between second and third.
second and third.
Fourth Ripley Mountain Handicap (5 miles). 1. H. G. Dobbs (Riley, 1,089 c.c.) 20 2. 0. Casswell (Frazer Nash, 1,496 c.c.) 12
3. C. T. ‘Baker-Carr (Bentley, 4,487 c.c.) 18 Won at 61.94 m.p.h. by 1 1/5s. ; 11 1/5s. between second and third.
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