GRAND PRIX CARS AT DONINGTON
MAGNIFICENT RACING AT THE OPENING MEETING—LAP RECORD BEATEN BY ECCLES AND SHUTTLE WORTH— FINE DRIVING BY DOBBS, MARTIN, RAYSON, EVANS AND SEAMAN—GOOD ORGANISATION AND BIG ATTENDANCE
THE Donington season has started with a bang ! If the organisers can maintain the standard of the Opening Meeting on April 13th—and there is no reason why they shouldn’t—no one need complain that we cannot see real road racing in England. With Grand Prix cars like the 3-litre Monoposto Alfa-Romeo and the 3.3-litre Bugatti, hurtling along the winding ” straight ” at 130 m.p.h. or so, there are thrills a plenty for the most hardened race-goer to see at the Derbyshire track.
A wise precaution at Donington is that all entrants have to cover five laps of the course in practice under observation, and accordingly there was plenty to see on the Friday. There was some excitement, too. G. S. Griffiths had entered the old 2-litre G.P. Sunbeam, of 1922 vintage, which the Hon. Jock Leith renovated last season. He came up to Hairpin Corner with Kenneth Evans, on the single-seater Midget, right on his tail. Griffiths cut the corner a shade too fine, and the off-side front wheel just chipped the grass. The car swung right round and rolled down the slope inside the corner, coming up on to its four wheels again. Griffiths was still in the driving seat, and Evans who had pulled up quickly and came running back, expected to find him badly injured, instead, his crash-hat had taken a nasty dent from striking the road, and was rammed rather firmly on to his head. His only other injury was a deep cut on his hand. Lucky man ! The second excitement occurred to “Tim Davies,” who made a good impression at the recent inter-Varsity Speed Trials at Syston Park, with a very fast Q type M.G. Midget. Passing another competitor at the beginning of the Starkey Straight, he lost control of his car through a tyre blowing out. He mowed down the hedge on the left-hand side for some distance and then took to the fields, eventually coming up against a gate, and a ditch. As the car rolled over ” Tim ” ducked into the cockpit and clutched the nearest support—which turned
out to be the extremely hot exhaust-pipe! The consequent burn on his hand was his only real injury, barring a bruised side. Another lucky man, for the little ” Q ” was badly battered, the front wheels losing all sense of their proper direction.
As it happened, “Tim Davies’s ” misfortune was Kenneth Evans’ gain. The latter’s single-seater ” Q ” was in wonderful form, and did a lap in 2 mins. 16 secs.—only 3 seconds outside record. Jubilation was quickly damped, however, by a sheared back-axle, and it was here that the wrecked ” Q ” came in handy. Wilkinson and his Bellevue men worked until 3 a.m. the next morning in transferring the axles, and the car was ready once more.
” Wilky ” was not the only one to put in a spot of heated last-minute work. Flt.-Lt. J. D. Greaves had just fitted his Aston-Martin with a new Zoller blower mounted on top of the head. On the morning of the day, a piston decided to crack up, so work was promptly begun to tit a new one, the job being completed in time for the second 25-mile handicap. In the Bugatti camp, too, there was feverish activity. There were four “2.3’s” entered, by the Hon. Jock Leith, A. Dobson, C. E. C. Martin and C. Brackenbury, respectively. In practice Dobson’s car (which turned out to be Earl Howe’s green veteran) and Brackenbury’s broke their axle shafts, and Martin’s (acquired from Rose-Richards) developed trouble in the clutch-withdrawal mechanism. It was decided to repair Martin’s car with parts from Dobsons, while a telephone call was put through to Brooklan.ds for spares, as a precaution. The work was repaid by getting the car ready in time for the last race, which it won from scratch. The weather was cheerful and bright on Saturday morning, and an encouraging crowd had collected before the first race was due to begin. The starting line has been shifted to Starkey, in between the pits and the fine grandstand. The Paddock, however, remains in its original place, until the necessary arrangements
have been completed for its removal. Next to the grandstand some quarters for the officials have been erected, and a telephone system linking all parts of the course has been installed at considerable expense. The Dortington executive, under the able and energetic leadership of Mr. Fred Craner, is never content to rest on its laurels, and its initiative and enterprise is well appreciated by all who attend the track.
There were three-non-starters in the first race, which was a 5-lap event for cars up to 850 c.c. There was some delay at the start caused by J. P. Almack’s Austin, which refused to fire, but at last ” Ebby ” dropped his flag and the group of four unsupercharged cars roared away. They were all M.G. Midgets, N. J. Else, D. S. Handley and L. Klementaski having 746 c.c. engines and D. Phillips an “850.” A minute and a half later the blown cars were dispatched, J. P. Almack, C. H. Fish and R. F. Turner on Austins, and K. D. Evans with his single-seater ” Q ” type Midget.
Evans made a wonderful getaway, and was clear of the rest by the time he reached the hill past the Paddock. Turner slid on to the loose stuff on the outside, raising a huge cloud of dust, and trying hard to keep up with his faster adversary. The race obviously lay between these two, with the Midget a strong favourite. Evans was driving well, being fast on the corners and reaching something like 120 m.p.h. on the Starkey Straight. He caught the unsupercharged cars on the third lap, with Turner not so very far behind, sliding his car in the inimitable Turner technique. The effort was too much for the gallant little Austin, however, and there was a most unpleasant noise in the engine when he revved up to change gear just before Hairpin Bend. “Broken crank,” said Turner as we strolled over to offer our sympathy. “More hard work ! ” he added with a grin.
Evans went on to win at 63.58 m.p.h. with Else second and Handley third.
Result of Event 1. 5-Lep Handicap Race for Cars up to 850 c.c.
5-Lep Handicap Race for Cars up to 850 c.c.
1. K. D. Evans (M.G. 746 c.c. S.), scratch, 63.58 m.p.h.
2. N. J. Else (M.G. 746 c.c.), 90s.
3. D. S. Handley (M.G. 746 c.c.), 90s.
Also Ran—L. Klementaski (M.G. 746 c.c.), 90s.; D. Phillips (M.G. 847 c.c.), 90s.; .1. P. Almack (Austin 747 c.c. S.), set.; C. H. Fish (Austin, 747 c.c. S.), scr. ; K. F. Turner (Austin 747 c.c. S.), set.
The second race was eagerly awaited, for two pukka Grand Prix cars in Shuttleworth’s 3-litre Alfa-Romeo and Eccles 3.3-litre Bugatti were entered. Eccles had clocked 2 ruins. 10 secs. on his second lap in practice, as compared with Staniland’s record of 2 mins. 13 sees.— so the sparks were going to fly!
There were 13 starters, Dobson, Martin, Degenhardt, Jucker, Davies and Griffiths, being absentees. Four Riley” Nines ” got away first with 80 seconds start, driven by J. R. Grice, H. Hodgson, S. C. Holbrow and C. A. Richardson. Then H. G. Dobbs took off with an offset singleseater 1,500 c.c. Riley, equipped with six Amal Carburetters. His start was 60 secs., and he was accompanied by K. D. Evans (M.G. Midget “Q “). Then came four more, from the 30 secs. mark, namely: A. C. Lace (Alta), R. E. Tongue (M.G. Magnette), E. K. Rayson (Bugatti 4), and Raymond Mays (2-litre E.R.A.). Finally R. 0. Shuttleworth (Alfa-Romeo), A. H. L. Eccles (Bugatti) and the Hon. Jock Leith (2.3 Bugatti). roared off in pursuit from the scratch mark.
The race was a toss-up between Shuttleworth, _Eccles, Mays and Evans, with a certain amount of doubt as to whether the scratch men would be able to work their way through the big field. Evans only lasted a lap, having to pull up on Starkey Hill with trouble which he diagnosed as a broken piston.
Mays got into fourth place on the second lap and was leading on the third time round, but his car seemed rather jumpy on the Straight. Then from McLean’s corner came the prolonged shriek of locked wheels, as the E.R.A. shot off the road among the trees. Mays attributed the trouble to a momentarily seized brake. It now remained to see whether Shuttleworth and Eccles could catch Dobbs on the fast single-seater Riley. Shuttleworth had made the neatest
getaway, and led from the start, appearing rather more accustomed to his mount. The Alfa driver looked round as they flashed past—our vantage point at the beginning of Starkey Straight, disappearing in a cloud of dust on the winding undulations of the ” Straight.” Eccles was right on his heels. The monoposto sounded healthy enough, its deep roar being not unlike that of the old 4-litre Delage. The ” three-three,” on the other hand, did not seem too healthy, although its acceleration was
certainly terrific. On the seventh lap both passed Dobbs on the Starkey Straight, the latter keeping well to the right and giving the faster cars plenty of room-an example which might be studied by one_or two people. The next time round Eccles left his braking for Starkey Corner until the last possible moment, and actually passed Shuttleworth on the inside. This manceuvre was only accomplished at the expense of losing his correct position, and
Shuttleworth in his turn was able to nip through on the inside as they came out of the corner, and was away up the short stretch to Red Gate Corner before Eccles could get straight again. Eccles next effort was not so successful. Once more he roared down the slope to the Starkey Corner, making up hand over fist on the leisurely-braking Shuttleworth. This time Eccles misjudged the distance, and ran clean on to the grass in a wide sweep. Shuttleworth carried on quite unperturbed, and held his lead to the
end, at an average speed for the 25 miles of 67.49 m.p.h., with Eccles second and E. K. Rayson (Bugatti), third. The latter drove an excellent race, making use of his lengthy experience of Donington, where he has probably driven more than any other driver. His 8-cylinder Bugatti is the 2-litre job previously owned by Mathieson, reduced to 1,500 c.c. by means of Fothringham’s 4-litre crankshaft. Dobbs was a good fourth, with Reggie Tongue fifth, and Jock Leith sixth.
Afterwards it was found that both Shuttleworth’s and Eccles’ had broken the lap record by clocking 70.25 m.p.h.
Result of Event 2. 25-Mile Handicap Race for Cars up 10 3,500 c.c.
25-Mile Handicap Race for Cars up 10 3,500 c.c.
1. R. 0. Shuttleworth (Alfa-Romeo 2,904 c.c. S.) scr., 67.49 m.p.h.
2. A. H. L. Eccles (Bugatti, 3,255 c.c. S.), scr.
3. E. K. Rayson (Bugatti, 1,494 c.c. S.), 30s.
There was only one man in it in the third race, Dobbs with his special Riley. He started level with a bunch of FrazerNashes, Riley Nines and M.G.’s, and led from the word “Go.” Half a minute later the scratch cars got going, and none of them looked like getting near to the Riley except Rayson, who was handicapped by having a crowded passage. An interesting debutante wasthe supercharged 1i-litre Vale Special, driven by I. F. Connell. A broken pushrod was repaired at the last moment, and the car sounded over-geared for the circuit. It cornered well, however, and will no
doubt be a formidable competitor when
its teething troubles are over. Result of Event 3.
.54.0 Handicap Race for Cars up to 1,500 c.c.
1. H. G. Dobbs (Riley, 1,485 c.c.), 30s., 63.33 m.p.h.
2. J. R. Grice (Riley, 1,087 c.c.), 30s.
3. E. K. Rayson (Bugatti, 1,494 c.c. S.), scr.
Jock Leith was the solitary scratch man conceding 30 seconds start to Casswell and Dobbs. He was handling his new Bugatti (the single camshaft 2.3-litre raced by Martin last year, and now painted red) with plenty of confidence, and impressed everyone as a coming driver. His first road race was not marred by any “incident,” and altogether his was a good show. He caught Ca.sswell on the third lap, but Dobbs was too far ahead and came home first for the second race in succession.
first for the second race in succession. Result of Event 4.
5-Lap Handicap Race for Cars up to 3,500 c.c.
1. H. G. Dobbs (Riley, 1,485 c.c.), 30s., 63.68 m.p.h.
2. Hon. J. Leith (Bugatti, 2,263 c.c. S.), sox.
3. G. Cassvrell (Frazer-Nash, 1,496 c.c.), 30s.
Eight non-starters reduced the field of the fifth race to eight. The issue obviously lay between Dobbs and Rayson, who were in the front row at the start. When the flag fell they both made perfect getaways, Rayson having a good deal more wheelspin than his rival. As far as one could see from the pits, Dobbs reached Red Gate Corner first, followed by Rayson, three Riley Nines, a couple of Altas and a Magnette. A minute or two later and the leaders
shot into view over the crest of Starkey Hill, with Rayson and Dobbs well ahead of the rest. The Riley driver slipped by on Starkey Corner, and they accelerated up to Red Gate with Dobbs in front. In the rear, P. D. Walker, driving P.N. Whitehead’s Alta, was leading Richardson (Riley), Grice (Riley), R. R. Jackson (M.G. Magnette), R. V. C. Bolster (1,100 c.c. Special) and Lace (Alta).
Result of Event b.
5-Lap Scratch Race for Cars up to 1,500 c.c.
1. E. K. Rayson (Bugatti, 1,494 c.c. S.), 64.79 m.p.b.
2. H. G. Dobbs (Riley, 1,485 c.c.).
3. P. D. Walker (Alta, 1,074 c.c. S.). The last event on the programme was split into two heats, the final placings being judged by time. 13 cars lined up for the first heat, with the following handicaps : Grice (Riley), Miss Evans (M.G.) and Goodson (Austin) 150 seconds ; Hughes (Frazer-Nash) 140 seconds ; MacClure (Riley) 130 seconds ; Whitehead (Alta) and Briault (Alta) 120 seconds ;
Jackson (M.G.) 110 seconds ; Greaves (Aston Martin) and Connell (Vale) 105 seconds ; Rayson (Bugatti) 40 seconds ; Leith (Bugatti) 35 seconds ; Shuttleworth (Alfa-Romeo) 5 seconds and Eccles (Bugatti) on scratch.
Grice and MacClure were having a good battle in the lead, the former getting clear when MacClure drove his car into the Dead Car Park on lap six. By this time Shuttleworth had worked his way through the field and was lying second. Eccles was in danger of being hemmed in by some of the slower cars, but fierce acceleration past the pits enabled him to hang on to Shuttleworth’s tail. On the eighth lap Shuttleworth passed Grice on the outside of Red Gate Corner, with Eccles only a few yards astern. The prospect of a really close finish was in sight when Eccles appeared over the brow of Starkey Hill alone, finishing as he liked in first place, with Grice second, Rayson third, and Leith fourth.
When all was over Shuttleworth toured in, complaining of a slight humming in the rear axle, which was later traced to a cracked ball-race. Being under the impression that he had several more cars to overhaul, and several more laps to cover, he had pulled in at Coppice Corner and let the field go by. If he had only known ! In this race Eccles beat the lap record
once more, doing a lap in 2m. 9.4 seconds or 71.446 m.p.h. a figure which stood until the end of the meeting. Miss Evans fell out with back-axle trouble, and Greaves had a broken valve spring.
a Result of Event 6 (Heat 1). Race
25-Mile Handicap Race for Cars up to 3,500 c.c.
1. A. H. L. Eccles (Bugatti, 3,255 c.c. S.), scr. 67.45 m.p.h.
2. J. R. Grice (Riley, 1,087 c.c.), 150s. 3. E. K. Rayson (Bugatti, 1,494 c.c. S.), 40s. For some reason or other many people
thought that this was the last race of the day, and went home without more ado. Martin was giving Seaman 15 seconds start, and it was all he could do to wipe out this handicap: Seaman handled the E.R.A. in a refreshingly confident manner, being particularly good on the tricky downhill stretch past the Paddock. By this time the rain, which had been threatening for several hours, began to fall, and the corners soon became greasy. Nearer and nearer crept Martin, driving in his usual masterly fashion, always
under perfect control and getting the absolute maximum out of his car. On the last lap the two cars approached Hairpin Bend tail to head, with Lace’s Alta holding them both up. One of the E.R.A. brakes locked momentarily, but Seaman was well up to the situation and checked an incipient broadside. All round the course they scrapped, past McLean’s and Coppice Corner and out on to the Straight.
The E.R.A. was still ahead when they reached the corner, when Seaman appeared to relax his efforts, apparently under the impression that he was an easy winner. Martin needed no further encouragement and slipped past to win by 15 yards from the astonished Seaman.
The final handicap placings showed Martin a deserving winner from Eccles and Seaman, who were only 1 second slower.
Assisted by the greatly enlarged exits the big crowd got away smoothly, all thoroughly satisfied with a really fine day’s sport.
Result of Event 6 (Heat 2).
I. C. E. C. Martin (Bugatti, 2,263 c.c. S.), 20s., 67.45 m.p.h.
2. R. J. 13. Seaman (E.R.A. 1,488 c.c. S.), 358.
3. H. H. P. Hargreaves (Frazer-Nash, 1,496 c.c.), 140s.
Final Placinp of Event 6.
25-Mile Handicap Race for Cars up to 3,500 c.c.
I. C. E. C. Martin (Bugatti, 2,263 c.c. S.), 20s., 67.45 m.p.h.
2. R. J. B. Seaman (E.R.A., 1,488 c.c. S.), 35s., and A. H. L. Eccles (Bugatti, 3,255 c.c. S.), scratch.
3. J. R. Grim (Riley, 1,087 c.c.).