J.C.C. TWO HUNDRED MILE RACE. Another Successful French Invasion.
ONCE again this extremely sporting club has shown that it can stage a race, which as a spectacle and as a contest was probably superior to any other 1927 classic, with the exception of one or two real road races held on the continent. In attaining this successful result they were no doubt aided by an extremely interesting entry, including many drivers who, although professionals, have always been regarded rather as “sportsmen “—so far as racing is concerned—and several famous amateurs. Among the former class must be mentioned George Duller, Captain Frazer-Nash, Vernon Balls and Captain Campbell, while Harold Purdy and George Eyston represented the latter.
Again, the organisers made full use of the material available and designed a course embracing several different degrees of “corner,” in direct contrast to the course of the British Grand Prix, in which all the corners were ” slow.”
With the stage thus set for a really good race, it was satisfying to note, as the cars lined up, that only one entry had failed to materialise, that of J. H. Obom, who was to have driven a small Talbot ; this left a field of twenty-nine, ranging from 750 c.c. Austins to” straight8 ” Alvises and Bugattis.
On the fall of the semaphore the eye was attracted by the violently spinning front wheels of the two Alvises. In spite of this, however, the two cars beat the field down the finishing straight—George Duller in front (he was driving in place cf the Earl of Cottenham). In an excess of zeal, Duller had a nasty moment turning on to the banking, but he is too old a hand to be caught napping
and was soon hurtling safely down the railway straight.
On the far side of the track, however, it was seen that a Bugatti was going up fast and as the procession slid up to the ” tub ” hairpin on lap 1 the leaders were Campbell (Bugatti), Duller (Alvis) and Harvey (Alvis). Next came the amazing little Amilcar driven by Morel, which thus early gave an indication of the form it was to maintain throughout the race. Harvey’s radiator cap was open and belching steam and water—during the next lap it mysteriously shut itself and Harvey passed Duller ; both Alvises however, were now behind the Amilcar while Eyston had brought his Bugatti into second place behind Campbell. The other Amilcars, driven by Martin and Balls were just behind the Alvises, this marque therefore running 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 1100 c.c. class.
First lap incidents were fairly numerous, Turner (Gwynne) overshot the last sandbank and had to reverse while the Marendaz Special retired with engine trouble.
On lap two Johnstone’s old Bugatti and W. B. Scott’s later model (hurriedly prepared as a substitute for the Thomas Special), both fell out with what sounded like big end trouble. Two laps later C. U. M. Walther upset his Austin at the Tub and retired, without serious injury. On the same lap two Salmsons stopped—G. Newman, to change a jet and Dr. Benjafield to retire with a broken ball race in the supercharger. Turner on the Gwyrme was changing plugs every few laps while some time after the start Gordon Hendy pushed the supercharged Austin home, with a broken crankshaft—having led for two laps.
This catalogue of misfortunes, however, did not de tract attention from the main issue, which, during the early part of the race took the form of a fierce duel between Eyston and Campbell, both on Bugattis. Campbell had the faster model but Eyston, if anything was driving a little ” bluer,” and the two constantly passed and repassed each other. Duller had dropped back with several stops for plugs—a lengthy business on an 8-cylinder car, but Harvey and Purdy were keeping up well. The latter’s car (Thomas) seemed to have colossal acceleration and slid round broadside whenever the driver put his foot down at the fork. The order in the various classes after 20 laps was :
Martin on the third Amilcar had stopped to change plugs and/or wheels three times in all before thirty laps were completed, but thereafter Amilcars monopolised the first three places in the 1100 c.c. class.
The Ratier—Austin’s only rival in the 750 c.c. class was running regularly though somewhat slowly in the hands of F. H. B. Samuelson, but stopped at 24 laps for various adjustments and continued with misfiring.
Brian Lewis and Captain Nash, both on cars of the latter’s make were driving very well but the former had several stops to try to obtain some oil pressure while the latter’s car boiled merrily all the time and eventually “blew up ” on its 30th lap.
A curious incident occurred when R. P. Oates, driving a racing 0.1VL, was flagged to stop after 15 laps owing to the inconvenience caused by his exhaust smoke !
Other unfortunates added to the list, during the first thirty laps were de Mamier (Salmson) with a seized blower on his 13th lap, George Newman (Salmson), on his 11th lap, Densham (Bugatti), on his 27th lap with another ruined big end and the unhappy Harvey on his 25th lap with engine trouble.
The most sensational incident of the race, however, was provided by Turner’s Gwynne, which burst into flames and burnt really well for about ten minutes at the finish of the Byfleet banking, until a second car load of Pyrene quenched the twelve foot flames. The blaze was a most awe-inspiring sight with a background of leaden sky and cars hurtling past a few yards away.
The Eyston-Campbell duel continued unabated, though Campbell, in a brief pit stop reported the loss of 3rd and 1st gears ; Eyston filled up, changed plugs and adjusted his carburettor on his 35th lap and then broke a valve and retired 3 laps later. Purdy had also stopped for fuel and to replace a burst tyre so that at forty laps the orders were :
It was then realised that the wonderful Amilcar was actually leading the whole field, including the 1500 c.c. leader, a position, however, which did not last for long, though the little cars were still running 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the general category.
W. U. Dykes was putting up a really magnificent show on a practically standard sports Alvis—a car which ran throughout without a single stop of any nature whatsoever.
The second front wheel drive Alvis, with G. Duller driving suffered a similar misfortune to Harvey’s and was withdrawn after 52 laps with 2nd place almost within reach. This let Purdy and Dykes up a place each, though the former changed plugs on his 50th lap.
With most of the ” weaklings ” and unfortunates out of the race incidents now became less frequent, but interest was rife as to whether Campbell’s 2-speed Bugatti would be able to stave off the 1100 c.c. challengers, who seemed to be giving away nothing in the way of reliability and very little speed. The orders after 60 laps therefore were :
The Ratier was flagged off at 53 laps when the time .limit expired and was awarded 4th place in its class.
Nothing more of note took place before the finish, Dykes continued with clockwork regularity, Campbell did some very dashing overtaking on the paddock bend and increased speed while Lewis was flogging his Frazer Nash in a furious endeavour to finish in time. His cornering was really magnificent and he is altogether deserving of better luck. He was flagged off after completing 71 laps, when lying 4th.
The final orders and speeds were :—
Morel and Vernon Balls both made “officially non stop runs on their Amilcars. Each, however, was guilty of a slight indiscretion during the race, the former skidded and stopped just short of the railings at the fork (as did Martin last year), while Vernon Balls hit the last sandbank very well when turning into the railway straight. He appeared to turn round 1 times and finished with stationary engine, nose up the banking. After much fruitless winding, he eventually pushed off downhill and restarted. * * * *
The new Frazer-Nash racer (a type which will be marketed) seemed to accelerate in a remarkable manner. It is built very low and cornered extremely well. Both cars put up a very plucky show and all sportsmen will wish them better luck next time. * * * *
It was a change to see Captain Malcolm Campbell a really driving” for once. Last year, in the Grand “rix he restrained himself for the sake of reliability, Pnd in this year’s event he was hampered by faulty brakes. In the ” 200 ” however, everything was O.K. (except the gearbox), he was hard pressed and we were treated to as fine an exhibition of driving as we could wish for. * * * *
H. W. Purdy was in despair on the eve of the race, with the Thomas Special strewn in bits around him. It seemed impossible to get everything right at the same time, and he did not expect to do a lap. All honour to him, therefore, for a remarkable performance after so many trials and anxieties during the preparation for the race.
Hearty congratulations should be extended Mr. Urquhart Dykes, the amateur driver of a standard Alvis sports model. To average 65.9 m.p.h. for 200 miles on a” road” circuit without a single stop reflects great credit on the driver and on the standard products of the Alvis factory.