Two interesting speed hill-climbs
With the Continental racing season being late in starting, and the Editor covering the British National racing events, I took the opportunity to visit two out-of-the-way hill climbs during the month of March. Both are very well known in club circles, but have not warranted an official visit in preference to larger events, so always believing in combining business with pleasure I entered the Porsche for both events and went as both a competitor and a reporter.
The first was at the far end of South Wales, near Tenby, and was the Lydstep Hill Climb, run by the Pembrokeshire Motor Club on March 21st, open to saloon, sports and racing cars and held in the grounds of Lydstep House by the kindness of Mr. H. V. Thomas. Lydstep is a tiny village some four miles west of Tenby and on the edge of the coast, overlooking a delightful little bay, and the hill starts from the very edge of the beach. It is 880 yards long and climbs continuously, not unlike Shelsley Walsh, and after a fast take-off up an 80 m.p.h. straight the hill winds in a series of fast bends that call for some pretty skilled driving in a fast car; most decidedly a driver’s hill. The timing is done by a “hockey stick” at the start and a rubber tube across the finishing line, which is just after a fast right-hand bend. Road-equipped cars then continue on up the drive, out through the front gate, turn left and return to the paddock by way of the main street through the village, turning left again just past the Post Office and down the back drive of Lydstep House, aided and abetted by the local police who appear to enjoy directing the “dicers.” Racing cars naturally have to return by way of the actual hill, for though this was South Wales, it is still part of Great Britain!
This was the first serious hill climb of the British season and it was enlivened by the presence of the 1958 Hill Climb Champion, D. Boshier-Jones who was running his immaculate Cooper-J.A.P. twin, and A. E. Marsh with a similar car, and from the very beginning of practice these two had a needle-match for f.t.d. While the saloons and sports cars had two runs in each class, the Porsche being accepted in the closed class and the sports class, the racing cars had only one class, so in consequence they were allowed three runs. This was typical of the atmosphere of the meeting, which was to make the journey to the far end of Wales as worthwhile as possible. In the sports car classes, local man P. H. G. Cottrell with his Lotus-Bristol NOY 1 did some spirited drives winning three classes and setting up three new class records, while in the 1,500-c.c. class the record was broken twice, first by Burke (Porsche Carrera) and then by Banbury, driving his brother’s Elva-Climax. Among the closed cars there developed a G.T. competition between Porsches, Alfa Romeo and Jaguar, the Carrera coming out on top. The Gran Turismo cars rather overshadowed the more normal saloons, in particular the A35 of Boshier-Jones, which not only tows his trailer, but competed and broke the class record, until beaten by a Giulietta S.V., and R. M. Stephens with a Riley 1.5-litre that made the very creditable time of 40.70 sec, in comparison with the G.T. cars.
The question of whether a Gran Turismo car such as a Porsche, Alfa, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Elite, etc., should run as a sports car or a saloon car is still a thorny problem and could easily be solved by introducing a G.T. class irrespective of engine size until there are sufficient entries to warrant division. Prescott tried this last year with great success, and the Pembroke Motor Club might well follow suit. Naturally fastest time of the day lay between Boshier-Jones and Marsh, with A. T. Norton (Cooper-J.A.P. s/c.), D. Haigh (Cooper-Norton-J.A.P.) and Cottrell (Cooper-J.A.P.) all big twins, providing the supporting cast. On the first runs Marsh led by 0.27 sec., on the second runs Boshier-Jones took the lead by 0.02 sec. and finally Marsh went back into the lead by a resounding 0.57 sec., and just failed to beat the record for the hill, held by the late Ken Wharton, at 29.31 sec.
The whole meeting was over well before dark, thanks to some good paddock marshalling and the local Navy who ran the timing equipment, and to round off the day an informal prize-giving was held in the clubroom of Lydstep Haven Guest House that evening.
The following weekend another trip was made westwards, this time almost to the end of Cornwall, for the hill climb at Trengwainton, just beyond Penzance, this venue being by the kindness of Lt.-Col. Sir Edward Bolitho, C.B., D.S.O. Held on Easter Monday, in dry but windy weather a remarkably large crowd attended and the West Cornwall Motor Club who ran the event were more than repaid for their efforts. The contest was open to sports cars and racing cars, and also to motor-cycles, and it was in fact a motor-cycle that put up f.t.d.. a local rider R. Opie doing some very pretty riding on a competition Ariel 500. The entry attracted only two racing cars, both 500-c.c. Coopers, but neither were impressive and it was left to the sports cars to battle for f.t.d. among the four-wheelers, and the outcome was extremely close right up to the last run of the day. The hill is 400 yards long and competitors are kept extremely busy with a right-hand curve after the start, a sharp and fast left-hander, followed in quick succession by two hairpin bends that would do credit to a Swiss mountain pass, and then there is a ” just-flat-out” right-hander over the finishing line, and timing is done by photo-electric cell at the start and finish. As with the Welsh hill, this Cornish one started life many years ago as a loose gravel driveway which the local lads used for informal dicing and from this sporting beginning developed into quite large restricted events, and with the passage of time the hill was surfaced. Lydstep was given a tarmac surface, while Trengwainton was given one of concrete, the opportunity being taken to build up the outside of the bends with a slight banking like a true mountain pass. Whereas Lydstep called for a fast car and some very skilled driving, Trengwainton, being much slower, called for lots of acceleration and much bravado, though on the day the times were down due to wet weather the day before making the paddock very muddy, much of which was transferred to the starting line, and in spite of hard work by officials with brooms it was not possible to make a really searing getaway. After everyone had completed their two runs in their capacity classes f.t.d. was a tie between Burke (Porsche Carrera) and Randles (Lister-Bristol) with 26.5 sec, followed by a gaggle of A.C. Bristols, Cleave’s incredible Morris Special, Skinner’s Dellow and Hatton’s TR2. While the Lister-Bristol was obviously quicker on acceleration the Carrera was keeping up by being able to do the whole hill in first gear with 7,000 r.p.m. thus saving previous fractions of seconds on gear changing. Three motor-cyclists were faster than the cars, and Opie did his last, run in a resounding 24.9 sec., really laying the Ariel down on its ear round the fast bends.
To conclude the event there was an Open Championship class in which nearly everyone competed for two more runs and both Randles and Burke were closer on their first climbs than their earlier runs, Randles showing remarkable consistency by recording 27.2 sec. on both occasions in the Open Class. The Carrera was fortunate in that the timing apparatus made one of its rare errors and did not record the second climb, so a re-run was allowed and Burke took full advantage of this and using all the road and some of the grass banks recorded 26.1 sec. on the last run of the day, to make f.t.d. and to win the Open Class. As at Lydstep the day was rounded off very nicely by an informal prize-giving, held in the paddock under the trees, and particularly appreciated by the winners were the prizes which consisted of most useful gifts, such as sets of dessert spoons, tea services, clocks, cruets, etc., instead of the monotonous “same old tankards and ashtrays.” The major awards were annual trophies belonging to the Club, but other Clubs might like to copy the West Cornwall Motor Club in being original with their first and second class awards. They might well ponder on the entry fee per class which was a mere 10s. as against most clubs that seem incapable of running the most mild sprint meeting at less than one or two guineas.
As a result of competing at these two events in the remoter parts of the west I came back to the London area very satisfied in the knowledge that “dicing for the sheer fun of it” is still possible and is most enjoyable — D. S. J.
LYDSTEP HILL CLIMB — South Wales, March 21st, 880 yards.
Results (times in seconds):
Fastest Time of Day: A.E. Marsh (Cooper-J.A.P. 1,100) — 29.75
Fastest Sports Car: P.H.G Cottrell (Lotus-Bristol) — 33.90
Fastest Closed Car: J. Burke (Porsche Carrera) — 36.09
Sports Cars 1,000 c.c.: R.A. Jameson (Berkeley) — 39.40
Sports Cars 1,500 c.c.: 1st, J.B. Banbury (Elva) — 34.90; 2nd, J. Burke (Porsche) — 35.00; 3rd, P. Banbury (Elva) — 35.86
Sports Cars 2,000 c.c.: 1st, P.H.G. Cottrell (Lotus) — 34.06; 2nd, T. Cunane (A.C. Bristol) — 35.64; 3rd, D. Jenkinson (Porsche) — 36.01
Sports Cars 3,000 c.c.: P.H.G Cottrell (Lotus) — 33.92
Sports Cars Unlimited: 1st, P.H.G. Cottrell (Lotus) — 33.90; 2nd, D.F. Evans (Austin-Healey) — 34.36; 3rd, R. Williams (Allard J2) — 34.40
Saloons 1,300 c.c.: 1st, E. Foden (Alfa Romeo) — 37.59; 2nd, D. Boshier-Jones (Austin) — 41.92; 3rd, O.H. Davies (Morris Minor) — 42.56
Saloons 1,600 c.c.: 1st, J. Burke (Porsche) — 36.09; 2nd, D. Jenkinson (Porsche) — 36.38; 3rd, E. Foden (Alfa Romeo) — 37.22
Saloons Unlimited: A.T. Norton (Jaguar XK 150) — 36.48
Racing Cars 500 c.c.: J.B. Welton (Cooper-Norton) — 34.08
Racing Cars 1,100 c.c.: 1st, A.E. Marsh (Cooper-J.A.P.) — 29.75; 2nd, D. Boshier-Jones (Cooper-J.A.P) — 30.32; 3rd, A.T. Norton (Cooper-J.A.P.) — 33.11
TRENGWAINTON HILL CLIMB — Cornwall — March 30th — 400 yards
Results (times in seconds):
Fastest Time of Day: R. Opie (Ariel 500) — 24.90
Fastest Car of Day: J. Burke (Porsche Carrera) — 26.10
Fastest Racing Car: W. Cuff (Cooper-Norton) — 31.60
Sports Cars 1,000 c.c.: W.A. Alderton (A/H Sprite) — 30.60
Sports Cars 1,300 c.c.: A. Cleave (Morris Special) — 27.30
Sports Cars 2,000 c.c.: J. Burke and J. Randles (Lister) — 26.50
Sports Cars Unlimited: R. Brock (Austin-Healey) — 29.20
Open Championship: J. Burke (Porsche) — 26.10