CINDER-SHIFTING AT THE CRYSTAL PALACE
MINIATURE DIRT-TRACK RACING DRAWS A GOOD CROWD VICTOR GILLOW (RILEY) THE MOST SUCCESSFUL COMPETITOR
N Easter Saturday a new form of motor-racing was inaugurated at the Crystal Palace, when a racemeeting was held on the I mile cindertrack which surrounds the football ground.
The first race was due to start at 3.30 p.m. but long before then the sharp roar of open exhausts in the Paddock betokened lively preparations, and so thither we moved to inspect the competing cars.
Most of the ” racers ” were modified B.S.A. 4 wheelers, with front wheel drive and called Palmer Specials. All had 4 cylinders engines except that driven by F. Hagborg, which had a 2 cylinder unit. With a very short wheelbase and a high, tub-like body they looked very different from anything built in accordance with modern racing design.
There were three Rileys, two Brooklands models driven by G. Prevost and T. Raynes, while Victor Gillow’s mount bore a close resemblance to the 12 h.p. racing car he used at Brooklands some years ago. For the rest, Tommy Sulman’s ‘ Special ” was a G.N. chassis, Brescia Bugatti radiator, and two-cylinder engine once raced by R. R. Jackson. Budge Long’s Bitza Special seemed to be derived from ” Bits and Pieces,” and R. J. G. Nash’s ” Spook” was there for a lap record attempt. P. Talbot had an earlytype M.G. Midget. Finally Cyril Mann turned up with his 4 seater Vale Special, complete with mudguards and full equipment. A Triangular Match between Wembley Park, Wimbledon Park and Crystal Palace occupied the first half of the programme, and some confusion must have been caused among the uninitiated spectators by the fact that the cars and
drivers were variously described as orange and-black and red, the first referring to the car and the second colour being that of the driver’s helmet.
There were nine heats of three cars each, and in most cases the winner outdistanced the rest and won fairly easily. Gillow was the star performer, and gave a hint of what might be seen on a larger and faster track. He threw his Riley sideways just before the bends, holding it in a long slide on the throttle.
The Palmer Specials were curious. Their gear ratios had been carefully chosen for the work, and ensured adequate wheelspin on the corners, which appeared to be taken flat out. At first it looked as though the short cars would turn over, but the confident abandon of the drivers contradicted this impression and the cars were found to be merely very safe—providing the front wheels were kept spinning.
P. Talbot handled his Midget extremely well, and he seemed to possess better initial acceleration after the rolling start than the others. The Bitza Special was hardly fast enough to be exciting, and the same could be said for the Vale.
After the interval Gillow made a 2 lap solo lap record in 46.8 secs., at a speed of 39.23 m.p.h. and Lick Nash promptly beat this by taking the ” Spook ” round in 45 secs. dead, at 40.81 m.p.h.
A series of scratch races followed, a feature of which was the performance of the Sulman Special. This machine seemed to round the curves without sliding at all, no doubt a tribute to the driver, Tommy Sulman, who has had considerable experience on larger tracks in Australia.