THE 1961 Mobil Economy Run which finished on April 19th was based very largely on last year’s event and covered 1,000 miles of varied country from Worthing on the South Coast to Stanhope in Durham. The route had to be covered at an average speed of 30 m.p.h. and such were the road conditions that some hard driving-was called for at times to keep within the time limits. As last year, the Press were invited to enter and MOTOR SPORT took along a Mini-Minor hired for the occasion, while other Press men chose Ford Anglia, Wolseley 1500 and Riley T.5
The first day’s route led from the starting point at Worthing through the winding lanes of Sussex, where all the cars were being gingerly edged away from stops in as high a gear as possible and drivers were using their particular pet theories to conserve as much fuel as possible, such as driving in stockinged feet to “feel ” the accelerator pedal as much as possible or pushing the pedal to the floor until 50 m.p.h. is reached and then easing back until speed drops right off, then repeating the process, while others regard an even pressure on the throttle as ideal. The route wound on through Reading, where the cars were weighed in preparation for a possible power/weight formula next year (the Mini weighed 16 cwt. 3 qtr. complete with three passengers and their luggage), and on to Oxford and Coventry for a lunch stop, from where the cavalcade of 44 cars pressed on to Derby and out into the Derbyshire dales. It soon became obvious that the sunny weather had brought out the Sunday-afternoon drivers who were obviously even more intent on economy than the drivers on the Run as queues began to build up and average speeds dropped to under 20 m.p.h. All through Derbyshire the traffic piled up, with hundreds of cars parked at the roadside in the Derwent Valley and near the stately borne of Chatsworth House. The organisers had not bargained for such fine weather and so many cars, with the result that competitors had to press on rather rapidly during the late afternoon and the Mini-Minor descended Snake Hill with the speedometer sitting on 60 m.p.h., its suspension fortunately being fully able to cope with the fast downhill corners. Over Holme Moss, past the T.V. transmitter, cars began to use more throttle than was desirable for economy and navigators began to make mistakes in spite of the comprehensive nature of the route book, so that when the finish of the first day’s run at Harrogate was reached the Chandler/Timmins Ford Consul, the Hemmings/ Jones Vauxhall Victor and the Keys/Mrs. Keys Ford Anglia were all penalised for lateness, the first two eventually retiring.
The second day’s run took competitors on a circular tour from Harrogate through the Lake District into Cumberland and back to Harrogate, a distance of some 270 miles. The accent was once again on economy as the route was easy and drivers were having to concentrate on keeping the speed down without falling asleep from boredom. Apprentices from the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough were acting as Observers with each car to check that all speed limits and road signs were complied with, having the power to stop the car for a minute if any law was transgressed. The observers, each of whom possessed driving licences, also had to observe that the ” no coasting ” rule was complied with to the letter, no doubt causing friction with some competitors, but the general impression was that they had done an excellent job. On this stage the Walters/Harrison Hillman Husky ran out of fuel 15 miles from the refuelling point and would have been automatically excluded but they complained that the car’s small fuel tank did not allow enough margin on the long route and they were allowed to continue after being refuelled from a can—even so he was doing barely 35 m.p.g. so could hardly be called a challenger in the 1,500-c.c. class, the winners of which regularly exceed 45 m.p.g.
The third day’s route led through many dreary Lancashire towns with interminable 30-m.p.h. areas, especially Rawtenstall, which must be the longest, thinnest town in the country, and from Warrington and Chester the route led into Wales and another easy run down to Builth Wells, Abergavenny and finally to Cheltenham for the night stop. A class winner last year, P. A. Tothill was unfortunate when his Morris Minor collided with a Post Office van—the blame fortunately lay with the driver of the van—and a damaged radiator forced him to retire.
The fourth and final day gave drivers an easy 145-mile run to the finish at Worthing; uneventful except for a diversion caused by a collision between a ‘bus and a lorry. With commendable speed results were calculated, showing that it is possible to obtain low fuel consumption figures whilst still maintaining a good average speed. Of the Press entries the MOTOR SPORT Mini-Minor achieved 53.19 m.p.g., the Anglia, crewed by various journalists, did 44.55 m.p.g., and a Wolseley too crewed by M. Glenney of Good Motoring and G. Bishop of Odhams did 37.54 m.p.g., while The Autocar had an official entry of a Rover 3-litre which realised 29.50 m.p.g. and the Motor in a Standard Ten Companion did 44.67 m.p.g.—M. L. T.
Over 2,500 c.c. : H. G. W. Kendrick/J. M. Bloodworth (Austin A99) . . . . 37.24 m.p.g.
1,601 – 2,500 c.c. : C. M. Walker/J. F. Ursell (Standard Ensign o/d.) . . . . 36.02 . .
1,001 – 1,600 c.c. : M. Blysma/Mrs Blysma (Wolseley 1500) . . . . 48.56 . .
500 – 1,000 c.c. : D. H. F. Keen/L. V. Cruttenden (Mini-Minor) . . . . 57.76 . .