THE LAND’S END ON “ORDINARIES”
FINE WEATHER AND DRY HILLS; BLUICHILLS MINE CAUSES THE GREATEST NUMBER OF FAILURES
THE weather cleared up just in time for the Land’s End Trial, and 194 car drivers enjoyed a glorious run
to the West country. The hills were all dry, with the exception of Crackington and Hustyn, which have their own sources of moisture, but only sixty-four competitors were in the end credited with premier awards. It was possible to form an interesting comparison with the previous year’s event, also rim in dry conditions, for this was the first Land’s End trial to be run under the ban on competition tyres. The total car entry again showed a slight drop, with 212 entrants against last year’s
figure of 234. In 1937 there were 276 car entrants, and in 1986 the total was 327. Thus in three years the car entry has decreased by over a hundred.
The motor-cycle entry, however, continued an the up grade, so that this year’s grand total of entrants was 459, five more than last year. No fewer than twenty Army teams of motor cyclists had entered.
On results, the ban on competition tyres seems to have made remarkably little difference to the car drivers, a fact due to the type of course which has always been used by the M.C.C., catering for ordinary cars and drivers. In spite of the drop in the car entry, and of the increased difficulty of Crackington, this year, with ordinary tyres, there were only four fewer premiers.
The principal sources of failure were again the two sections of the new Bluehills Mine, the last obstacles in the trial. In all there were ninety-six failures here, forty-five on the first section, which includes an artificial S-bend of great severity and, fifty-one on the section higher up, where cars had to restart on a steep gradient of about 1 in 4. A short concrete stretch had been laid, however, for the restart portion, thus ensuring that the hill, otherwise with a loose and stony surface, would not get cut up for the later numbers. Last year’s total of failures was very In all ninety-seven drivers stopped, thirty-nine on the first section, and fifty-eight on the second. This year twenty-two stopped on both sections, and last year twenty-one ! A further basis of comparison is in the number of drivers who recorded their only failure of the event on one or the other of the Bluehills sections, and thus were cheated of their premier at the last hurdle. Last year there were twenty of these uniortunates, ten on each section, and this year the figure was exactly the same, made up as follows :— No. 1 Seation : S. K. E. Thwaites. C. W. Taylor. C. A. N. May, B. R. King, C. Loder (M.Gs.) ; G. D. Claridge (Frazer-Nash) ; A. ‘,Mason (Wolseley) R. J. 0. Ripley, Viscount Chetwynd (Ford V8s); K. S. Richardson (Alvis); 0. Wood (5.5. jaguar);
H. W. Burman (Lea-Franels); R. F. Peacock (Riley).
No. 2 Section : T. II. Jones (Morgan), C. IL Richardson, R. B. Carter (M.Gs.) ; W. A. V. Davis (Singer) ; W. Brindley (Riley) ; A. H. Langley (Austin Eight); W. M. Airy (Frazer-Nash-B.11(1.W.). C. R. Y. King (Frazer-Nash) and M. H. B. Truscott (Opel) were particularly unfortunate at Bluehills, for they climbed
all the other hills in the trial with complete success, only to fail on both sections at the last obstacle, and thus fall to the bronze medal standard. There was an enormous crowd at Bluehills, and fields all round were full of
parked cars. It was indeed a most exciting spectacle, full of variety. The artificial S-bend, especially constructed by the M.C.C., involves a very acute righthand corner, with a sharp gradient on the ” hump,” where several of the long wheelbase cars grounded amidships. Amongst them was J. F. Wood’s 2-litre Lagonda, which was stuck so firmly that it had to be levered off the ” hump”
with long poles. A similar fate befell
Lieut. Sherley-Price’s Aston-Martin, H. W. Burman’s smart new sports LeaFrancis, and C. V. Affix’s Riley. D. B. Hall and Viscount Chetwynd both stopped on the crest of the corner with their Ford V8’s, but J. McEvoy,
J. Harrison, and J. W. Whalley, with the team of Ford Prefects, all got round in splendid style. The S-bend cuts out the old hairpin, once so famous on the Land’s End, and this corner is now so despised that spectators were ut jug it and the old track as a loop-way to reach the summit of the new M.C.C. hill, cut out of the side of the cliff.
G. E. Abecassis also had to take the old road, for he had started in the event without bottom and reverse gears for his two-seater S.S. Jaguar, and was doing the best he could with second gear. He got no award, it is true, but this was caused by being early at the Perranporth check. T. W. Dargue’s Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. had got round the corner and was accelerating up the hill towards the second section, when an ominous clatter came from the transmission, and he had to reverse and take the escape road.
A. E. S. Curtis, with his new 1,100 c.c. H.R.G., regarded Bluehills as his” bogey” hill, remembering a disaster last year, but this year both he and Guy Robins, with a 1 A-litre H.R.G. got round nicely. K. S. Richardson, on an old ” 12-50″ Alvis, was not so lucky, for he smote sandbanks in the approved Bluehills manner and registered his only failure
in the trial. However, to do so well elsewhere was a fine effort in a car which must be more than ten years old. If the small cars had an advantage on the hairpin, the big machines could use their power at the restart higher up, and here the Ford V8s did well. Two small cars which got away in style were D. B. Payne’s PB M.G. and W. H. Scriven’s supercharged Austin Seven
saloon. Plenty of revs, were necessary, and car after car gave a convulsive jerk away from the chocks provided at the restart, and stopped, while a smell of burnt clutch plates soon began to pervade the air.
It was dark before the last cars got through, for there had been many delays earlier in the event The early cars were held up for about an hour at their first observed section, Station Hill ; Lynton., for the motor-cyclists had been failing in droves, The surface was covered in loose stones, laid for the occasion by locals in order to increase the holiday fun, but no fewer than ninety of the 183 solo motor-cyclists cannot have appreciated the joke, while in all, With the sidecars and three-wheelers, Station Hill caused ninety-eight failures in this class. Havoc had already been wrought amongst the motor-cyclists by the inclusion of Doverhay, which caused some
forty-seven failures. The car entry, however, did not have to tackle this hill. As a gradient it should not have been impossible for them, but the approach road is steep and narrow, leading right out of the middle of the village of Porlock, and the difficulties of clearing a large entry have prevented its use for cars on the Land’s End. Station Hill caused only a dozen failures among the cars, which were able to bite through the loose stones to the
firm surface underneath. Then came Beggar’s Roost, also carpeted in loose stones, which helped to add to the enjoyment of the crowds of spectators, and presented no more than fair difficulty for the cars. The Roost has never been a hill where ” comps” were really necessary—indeed, its history as a trials hill goes back well beyond the days when ” comps ” were first brought out. This year there were thirty-two failures, compared with thirty-nine in 1938, not counting those who subsequently retired. Fortunately, the times are past when spectators used to crowd the surface of the hill, opening out only at the last moment to allow a narrow lane for a car. A fence has been erected on each side to keep the crowds back. The team of supercharged T-series M.G.s driven by W. J. Green, J. A. Bastock, and A. B. Langley came up at terrific speeed, scattering stones behind them, and H. C. Hunter with his Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. was able to use second gear with great effect. In contrast, A. P. Scroggs in his veteran Trojan demonstrated as usual, that a
very slow climb could be successful. It is curious that Beggar’s Roost, in spite of its respectable haul of failures, did not stop a single driver who maintained a clean sheet through the rest of the
trial. In other words, everyone who stopped on the Roost failed on at least one other hill. As a matter of fact, W. R. Cottee’s Talbot Ten was the only car with only one additional failure to the Roost (he failed to get away at the Bluehills restart), and even more striking is the fact that there were only four others with the Roost and two additional failures ! All the rest must be relegated to the “lame dog” class, who stopped on at least four hills. So the conclusion is that Beggar’s Roost, even in its stony Easter condition, is easy meat for the determined driver, even with ordinary tyres. At Barton Steep there was a restart test, drivers having to stop astride a line, and clear it within 3 secs., and also a timed section to decide the team award. With the dry surface the restart proved easy for most, but a disaster occurred to J. E. S. Jones, the well known M.G. driver, who broke an axle-shaft on the restart line. This unfortunate failure put the Crackers team—in the Land’s End composed of J. M. Toulmin with his T-series M.G., H. K. Crawford with a S.S. Jaguar, and Jones with a M.G.—out of the running for the team prize. This coveted award went in the end to Green, Bastock, and Langley, whose times as a trio at Barton Steep were
unsurpassed. Green took 10.6 secs., Bastock 9.8 secs., and Langley 10 secs., giving an aggregate of 30.4 secs. No other team could do better than 32.4 secs., and this aggregate, made by the Nibelungs team of Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.s, was only reached through the prowess of L. G. Johnson, who recorded just 9 secs. At Darracott there was another restart test, with the line placed just below the first left hand corner. It was by no means easy to get away, for the gradient at this point is steep, and the surface tricky, though dry. Thirty-three failures in the test were recorded, and six more stopped
on the hill Last year the result was different, for the test caused only fourteen failures, while twenty-two stopped on the hill, with its sharp, loose corners. The surprise packet of the trial came at Crackington, with another restart, on a gradient this time on a surface of smooth rocky slabs which rapidly became slippery through water being carried up by the wheels from a shallow
splash at the foot. A considerable delay was caused as car after car failed to get away, and in all forty-three lost marks.
B. E. Fielding (SS. 100), L. Hyland (Morgan), H. E. Bradley (Ford V8), T. V. Howson (M.G.) and S. W. Cottee (M.G.) all registered their only failure in the trial, and others who were unlucky were A. S. Whiddington, whose only other failure with his Jensen was on Hustyn, and J. McEvoy and J. Harrison with the Ford Prefects. J. W. Whalley, however, with the third car in the team, got away well.
New Mill, introduced for the first time last year, was dry and easy, and caused only three failures (ten last year), and Hustyn., too, was not as formidable as usual, causing thirty failures compared with forty-seven last year. Hustyn also has a watersplash at the foot, and though cars are halted before beginning the climb water is carried up. There is in addition a hidden spring half way up the hill, which first burst out under the passage of wheels in the Land’s End some years ago, and keeps the surface wet in the driest weather.
Hustyn was responsible for relegating J. R. Holdsworth, with a supercharged M.G., and C. G. Gibbs, with a T-series M.G., to the silver medal class, for both these drivers were clean elsewhere. The blown M.G.s of Green, Bastock, and Langley delighted the crowd, amongst which many had, as usual, found vantage points in the trees bordering the hill. One of these years a spectator is going to fall out of a tree at Hustyn, for the boughs were bending beneath the unaccustomed weight. C. G. Pitt, wearing a deer-stalker hat, which caused cries of “There goes Sherlock Holmes! ” made an exceptionally fast climb with his Frazer-Nash-B.M.W., and A. E. Frost, with a similar model, was also fast. G. C. Price, in a Standard Eight, and A. H. Langley, in an Austin Eight, both earned cheers, and there was much laughter when the exhaust pipe swung loose on R. A, Barnwell’s Frazer-Nash, and was clutched by the passenger as the car proceeded on its
way. F. Allott’s Allard-Special was also good, and D. G. Silcock in a twelvecylinder Allard made light of it.
The tale of Bluehills, last and most difficult hill of all, has already been told, and so out of 194 starters, 163 came to the finish at Land’s End.