THE B.M.C.R.C. GRAND PRIX RACES. Impressions of an interesting event–by a Competitor.
WHEN it was first announced that the B.M.C.R.0 were intending to run an ” artificial road race” for motor cycles on the lines of the recent car Grand Prix and 200 mile race, there were many people who maintained that it could never be made a success, and that enough entries could never be obtained.
When the particulars of the course were given out, there were more complaints that the course was too short and without sufficient corners to make it exciting. However, all these critics were confounded when the Saturday for the event arrived.
The practising during the week roused the enthusiasm of all concerned, and quite a crowd was present on Friday afternoon to watch and comment on it. Fierce arguments arose as to the best method of taking the fork hairpin, and also as to the speed at which the S bend in the straight could be taken. Frank Longman opined that it could really be taken all out, if one made up one’s mind to do it, but that he was not worrying to do so till Saturday !
We found that this was perfectly correct, at any rate in the case of our not ultra-quick 500 c.c. motor, though we did not appreciate the fact till the race itself.
Saturday started wet and thoroughly bleak, but halfway through the morning things brightened up, and by the time we arrived at the track the weather was perfect and the concrete dry.
By some miracle, we have managed to get our machine completely ready with time to spare, always a fatal sign, so there is nothing to do but fill up with Duscol, procure some spare K.L.G.’s, in case careless driving on a corner oils one up, and go to lunch.
The comic sports,” so termed by some one who hadn’t entered, and is now wishing he had, are due to start at 2 p.m., but our turn doesn’t occur till 3 p.m., so we secure a good position on the paddock grandstand, from which we can see the whole of the finishing straight with its two S bends.
The little red flag drops, and the 350 and 250 classes get away well with few exceptions, and rush for the first bend. Longman’s A.7.S. for once refuses to start, and he gets temporarily left, in company with one or two of the brigade who always endeavour to start in a race with their crank cases full of oil, with the usual results.
The beginning of the race sees Handley establishing a useful lead over Dixon’s Douglas and Hicks’ Velocette. Handley’s effortless cornering at the first S bend makes some of the others look very slow in comparison. However, Freddie and Hicks, indulging in a fine scrap on their own for second place, are not giving away any points on this score, and Longman, forging his way through the field, is not wasting any time, though a deflated rear tyre later puts him out of the running, luckily without personal injury.
At the same time a good race is going on among the 250s, though they are apt to be overshadowed by their larger and faster brethren. However, ” Paddy” Johnstone, having faded away, it is left to E. C. Fernihough, the 3-wheeler exponent, but now riding a Zenith J.A.P. of S. M. Greenings, to finish first in his class and second in the general category. This performance is all the more creditable as the machine was possessed of a purely nominal front brake, being meant to go a long way in a straight line, and not round corners of varying speeds.
However, the end of the 350 c.c. race is in sight, but Handley has vanished, (trouble not specified), and Hicks is in the lead, which lead is increased and secured when Freddie tours in on with only 175 c.c. of his Douglas working.
C. A. C. Birkin is now threatening to secure second place, but is unfortunate enough to have to stop for a shot ” tinker” near the end, which puts him a few seconds behind Fernihough, though still second in his class. We now go off to collect our own machine and observe Hicks rushing off to don a different coloured jersey,
which is about all he has time for before starting off his wonderful little Velocette in the 500 c.c. race.
Alec Bennett, we hear, is a non-starter. This is disappointing, for the crowd, but not so very for us ! Again the flag falls ; the motor obligingly fires at once, and so round the first bend and onto the banking. This, however, is too good to last and we have not gone far round the banking before Freddie buzzes past, this time using his full 500 c.c. of Douglas to advantage. Bullus, on his smart looking new Hudson, is another who proceeds to give us an excellent rear view early in the proceedings. By now we are thoroughly enjoying the performance and proceed to have a friendly argument with Quinn’s Triumph and Hicks’ Velocette. Both say goodbye each lap down the straight, but better brakes enable us usually to get ahead round the fork and up the straight, till Hicks tires of the game and goes ahead.
Staniland tries to spoil the fun by coming past fairly easily after a bad start, but is later injudicious enough to part company with his Norton going onto the member’s banking, luckily without serious damage. His example is shortly after followed by Quinn, who elects to ” come a good one” just in front of us at the Fork corner, necessitating a detour to avoid complications. The next incident is when we come across Freddie at the fork, the only possible explanation being that his Douglas has again decided that it would do better in a smaller class, which of course is stupid, when it is leading in own class ! Shortly after this our own motor gives signs of having had enough (one of its chief faults has always been that it is too easily satisfied with its work), and so we are compelled to tour back to the paddock and watch Bullus lead Hicks home by a small margin, though we suspect he had something up his sleeve if required. Bravo Hicks ! It seems there is at least one motor which doesn’t mind work !
The three sidecar races were run together and provided few thrills. George Patchett (McEvoy) and Freddie Dixon went ahead and led their respective classes with ease, only a few yards separating them (see front cover).
Patchett kept ahead, the pair maintaining a high speed for many laps. No one else was in the running at all, but Parker (Douglas) and Mathers (Norton) were having a little race on their own in the 600 c.c. class, while Humphreys (Brough) and Longman (Harley Davidson) were running consistently in the 1,000 c.c. race. After a few laps only one competitor was running in the 350 c.c. sidecar class, i.e., J. S. Holroyd, and he eventually won his race.
Patchett lost a lap or so, due to an oiled plug, and then set out in a terrifying manner to catch Dixon. This he failed to do, finishing 3 seconds behind the Douglas. Dixon, however, was not entered in the 1,000 c.c. class, so Patchett earned first place, being followed by Humphreys and Longman.
Parker and Mathews followed Dixon in the 600 c.c. class at a respectful distance. A very interesting meeting. May we have more of the same type next year.