THK B.R.D.C. 500-MILES RACE.
THE British Racing Drivers Club are to be congratulated on the success of their first event. Not only was it the first really long distance purely track race for cars held in this country for many years, but it was also the fastest race of its kind the world has yet seen. Those who prophesied a dull race were disappointed, for the interest was maintained to the end and we were not treated to that most annoying state of affairs when all the fast men break up and the race goes to some unexpected tortoise, who on paper never had a chance.
Jack Barclay and F. C. Clement brought their unsupercharged 4 /-litre Bentley into first place at the remarkable speed of 107.32 m.p.h. while the highest speed of the day was achieved by S. C. H. Davis and Clive Dunfee in the Speed Six Bentley who, starting from scratch, came through to second place at 109.4 m.p.h. with Cyril Paul and John Cobb third at 102.48 m.p.h. on the 12 cylinci: Sunbeam. Surely a day to satisfy the veriest glutton for speed. At 10 a.m. the 1100 c.c. class, of which only the Riley and Vernon Ball’s Amilcar came up to the class limit, the rest of the class being composed of Austins, departed on their long journey. From the start it was evident that Vernon Balls meant busineSs. Lapping at 95 m.p.h. he Soon established a very useful lead
and it began to look as if the bigger cars which were conceding him an hour and 8 minutes would have their work cut out to catch him if he kept going. Later, with 30 minutes start from the scratch men the 1500 c.c. class were off and W. B. Scott on one of the famous Delages forged ahead from the start, with Prazer-Nash hot on his heels. By the time the whole field was under way it was seen that the fastest car on the track was Birkins’ 41-litre Bentley which was lapping at over 121 m.p.h. and a great scrap ensued between him and Kaye lion on the Sunbeam. However Birkins’ great speed did not last, for although the motor was still going well it commenced to spray an ever increasing quantity of oil over the car, the driver and the surrounding landscape with the result that Birkin could no longer see where he was going. As 2 miles a minute motoring without this facility is inclined to be a strain on the nerves, Birkin was forced
Winning Bentley Averages 107.32 m.p.h. AUSTIN SEVEN’S FINE EFFORT.
to waste many valuable minutes at the pits cleaning goggles, windscreen and the slippery steering wheel, and the big 64litre Bentley took up the tale, and lap after lap, duels such as are seldom if ever seen in any short distance races in a B.A.R.C. meeting continued with unabated vigour.
At 72 laps Vernon Balls was still leading, with the remainder of the places filled by Austin Sevens, and the Riley fourth, but the big cars were fast catching up and at 90 laps the 2-litre Sunbeam, the “Cub,” was in second place and had taken the lead at 108 laps. About this time Jack Barclay gave another of his celebrated imitations of a high speed roundabout by coming off the Members Banking backwards at about 120 m.p.h.
1. 3 ack Barclay and F. C. Clement, 4,938 c.c. Bentley, 107.32 m.p.h. (Winner of 5,000 c.c, class.) 2. S. C. IL Davis and Clive Dunfee, 6,600 c.c. Bentley, 109.4 m.p.h. (Winner of unlimited c.c. class.)
3. Cyril Paul and John Cobb, 3,974 c.c. Sunbeam (S), 102.48 m.p.h. 4. L. Headlam and. L. G. Callingham, 1,752 c.c. Alfa-Romeo (S), 96.74 m.p.h. (Winner of 3,000 c.c. class.)
5. C. Piennes and T. E. Rose-Richards, 4,398 c.c. Bentley, 98.80 m.p.h. 6. S. V. Holbrook and E. Poppe, 749 c.c. Austin (S), 80.25 m.p.h. (Winner of 1,100 c.c. class.) 7. R. N. B. Pellew and — Margets, 1,496 c.c. Lea-Francis (S), 89.19 m.p.h. (Winner of 1,500 c.c. class.)
8. E. .N1 ariin and J. L. Stapleford, 1,089 c.c. Riley, 80.12 m.p.h.
9. Earl Howe and Sir Ronald Gunter, 1,496 c.c. Lea-Francis (S).
(S) denotes supercharged. . The following did not complete the course but were still running at the ex
piration of the race E. Caldicutt, 749 c.c. Austin (S), 155 laps ; 0. A. Saunders-Davies, 1,496 c.c. Bugatti, 168 laps ; John Pole, 16,200 c.c. Mercedes, 178 laps.
Barclay seems to make a point of this particular evolution, as he achieved a similar feat the last time he appeared at the track. However he appears to bear a charmed life and the episode did not worry him as he continued quite unruffled after changing a tyre. Later he touched the outer edge of the track and nearly” came unstuck,” but again he came unscathed out of a sickening skid, and although his consumption of tyres was rather above normal this did not prevent him from getting very decidedly into the lead, and after Kaye Don’s retirement it became evident that, barring accidents, he was a certain winner.
Vernon Balls had by this time been forced to retire with a broken valve, but he had at least the consolation of having broken the 200 miles record for his class. As was bound to be the case with such a fast race there were a goodly number of retirements for various reasons, and these included Scott’s very fast Delage, which he and Brian Lewis had been driving in turn but which developed consistent boiling. Trouble in the water circulating department was also experienced by Wilkinson’s O.M. after a promising start, and the Frazer-Nash had to retire with a broken piston due to having fitted a new one at the last minute before the race and not having an opportunity of running it in.
The retirement of ” Tigress” was due to a broken rear spring and thereafter Kaye Don joined the Sunbeam signalling depot, and assisted in keeping the sister car informed of its position. Birkin’s Bentley had a considerable number of pit stops, which unfortunately failed to cure his trouble and the car eventually took matters into its own hands and settled things by catching fire. The terrific speed of the big cars rather overshadowed some very remarkable performances among the slower classes, Headlam’s performance in winning the 3-litre class on a 1,752 c.c. Alfa-Romeo at 96.74 m.p.h. being a notable example, while the fact that the winning Austin in its class averaged 80.25 m.p.h. for the 500 miles is something for its makers to be very pleased with.
Let us hope that the B.R.D.C. will give us some more of this sort of thing next year.