4.30 a.m. on Saturday morning ! But he got to the start.
At 10.26 a.m. the first man, R. Littlewood Clarke, on a workmanlike M.G. Midget, was sent away, to be followed at minute intervals by the rest of the 87 cars, complete with knobbly tyres and a do-ordie expression on the faces of the drivers. The first real hill was Blacker Mill, for Cowdale was too short to bother anyone seriously. A certain inferiority complex
had been inculcated in the competitors by the report that only three cars in a trial the previous week-end. had succeeded in getting up. But then it was wet, now it was dry, and although we watched the cars there for some time, we only saw one failure, W. J. Watson (Austin 7 Chummy). The hill comes up a valley, at the foot of which is an immense quarry, and its diculty lies rather in surface and length than in gradient. The cars leapt about as they traversed the rocky, loose track and both front wheels of the smaller cars were frequently in the air at the same time, presenting a most ludicrous sight to the supercilious onlookers. A little more ground clearance would have been an advantage on some cars, for we heard quite a lot of gruesome noises coming from undershields and exhaust pipes. C. Dracup (Alvis) came up fast, but he was eclipsed by L. A. Cowell’ (Frazer Nash), who skidded fairly liberally. 0. K. Collier’s 1926 Morris-Cowley came up steadily, while the fastest climb we saw was that of H. Laird (McEvoy Hornet Special). A. Powys-Lybbe made light of the climb on his old Talbot racing car, as did R. R. K. Marker on the Le Mans 41-litre Bentley. All the Frazer-Noshes were good, their solid axle assisting them in getting a good grip. By this time the keen wind sweeping up the valley began to penetrate even our layers of thick clothing, so we decided a move to Highcliffe would not be amiss. After a cross country run we reached the hill, to be greeted by the marshal at the foot with the gloomy news that so far only one car had failed, namely, Dracup’S Alvis. We were informed that a fortnight before the Trial the hill was in such a bad state that the organisers doubted whether anyone would get up, so they had taken Fine sunny weather deprives the Derbyshire hills of their ability to check competitors, but Litton Slack takes its toll. the precaution of having two horses in
readiness to drag the cars from the mire. And now this to happen, a fine sunny day, and every car touring up quite easily 1 The marshal shrugged his shoulders hopelessly and once more resumed his anxious scanning of the sky for a hint of a raincloud.
Highcliffe is not very long, has two hair-pin bends, both very narrow, after which probably the worst bit comes, the surface being very rough and rocky, and the gradient steeper. The two new J.2 M.G. Midgets driven by H. M. Avery, and W. H. Haden came up smoothly and with plenty of power in hand. The second hair-pin was the steeper of the two, and owing to its sharp angle could not be taken fast without sliding. At this manceuvre the Frazer-Nashes were outstanding, notably D. G. Hopkins and L. Butler-Henderson. J. J. Kennedy, jun. (Wolseley Hornet) overshot, and his front wheel dropped into a grass-concealed ditch about a foot deep, in which was a large rock. Not good for it. M. Mitchell (Frazer-Nash) nearly did the same thing, but not quite. H. J. Ripley climbed steadily on his well-tuned Riley, while Marker was skilful in getting the Bentley round the bend without reversing.
As Highcliffe seemed to be offering remarkably little resistance, we decided to make for Litton Slack, with the intention of seeing the tail end of the field on its first lap of the course, and the early starters on their second. As we approached the top of the hill we came upon Laird working on his McEvoy Hornet. After a very fast climb of Litton Slack, the engine had unaccountably seized, but fortunately this turned out to be only of a temporary nature. For those who are not acquainted with this famous Derbyshire hill a brief des cription of it would not be out of place. At the foot there is a sharp bend which can be taken fairly fast, after which the road or track leads up a steep grassy
valley, rather like the Devil’s Dyke in Sussex. The hill is long, and at the top there is a right angle bend to the right, when the gradient becomes very steep, probably I in 34, and the steep bit joins a road which runs through a gate, through which competitors have to make a difficult turn.
Here the marshals and officials were in better spirits than those at Blacker Mill and Highcliffe, for they told us that about 50 per cent. of the cars had failed. For
tunately there is an escape road half way up, and the cars were therefore easily removed from the hill. All except C. I. Robinson (Wolseley Hornet saloon), who got out of control when reversing, and turned over without injury.
By this time the motor cyclists had lapped many of the cars, who had become rather strung out through so many failures. H. Hillcoat made a smooth climb on a V.8 Ford saloon, stopping half on the 1 in 34 section to enquire whether he was meant to go through the gate, and restarting with ease. We were told that many competitors who had failed on their first lap were getting up quite easily the second time, and while we watched, the majority of drivers climbed successfully. L. Maxwell was never in doubt about it on his green Hornet Special, while equally good ascents were made by A. L. Marshall (Talbot “90 “), K. M. Roberts (FrazerNash), H. M. Avery (M.G. Midget), R. Littlewood Clarke (M.G. Midget), R. M. Mere (M.G. Magna), and W. E. Holland, on an old 12/50 Lea Francis. Marker’s Bentley looked very impressive as it rumbled quickly up the hill.
The general cause of failure seemed to be simply a lack of power, the engine note gradually dying away as the cars ascended, many of them coming to a standstill half way up.
On the first lap, H. J. Aldington (Frazer-Nash ” blown ” T.T. Replica) was easily the fastest, treating the event almost as though it were a speed hillclimb, and we looked forward to seeing a repetition of this on the second circuit. At last he appeared, climbing fast, and then he changed up into second, but when everything pointed to a clean climb he had the misfortune to oil a plug. Disdaining the use of the slip-road, Aldington stayed where he was, changed the offending plug, restarted, and shot up to the summit. What bad luck I
Nothing untoward happened on the remainder of the climbs, and the cars gradually checked in at Hargate Hall.
Then back to Buxton, and a most enjoyable dinner and dance at the Palace Hotel.
Premier Awards (up to 1,500 c.c.) : L. H. Creed (Morgan), R. Littlewood-Clarke (M.G. Midget), L. Maxwell (Wolscley Hornet), W. E. Holland (LaiFrancis), S. H. Roe (Riley), T. Twentyman (FrazerNash), R. M. Mere (M.G. Magna), H. J. 0. Ripley (Riley), A. G. Wincott (Riley), W. Waddicor (Riley), J. J. Kennedy, Juttr. (Wtilseley Hornet), D. G. Hopkins (Frazer-Nash), W. R. Nimmo (FrazerNash), A. H. 1,angley (M.G. Midget),
Silver Medals (up to 1,500 c.c.) : G. B. Brand (Morgan), 11. J. Hooper (Morgan), J. R. I-T. Baker (1).1.G. Magna), P. Broomfield (Riley), G. Tonstall IM.(;. Midget), L. A. Cowcill (Frazer-Nash), V. W. j. Bolton (Morris Minor), G. E. Taylor (M.G. Midget), J. M. Toulmin (Morris Arrow Special), H. C. Allott (Austin), W. H. Haden (M.G. Midget), L. ButlerHenderson (Frazer-Nash), P. B. Robinson (FrazerNash), H. J. Aklington (Frazer-Nash), B. H. Tanner (M.(;. Midget), H. Laird (Wolseley Hornet McEvoy), D. M. Fisher (Jarvis M.G. Midget), N. C. Sharp (M.G. Midget), M. Mitchell, Junr. (Frazer-Nash), C. I. Robinson (WolseIey Hornet), C. W. Maxwell-Reekie (Standard), H. M. Avery (M.G. Midget), B. P. W. Twist (Standard Avon).
Bronze Medals (up to 1,500 c.c.) : W. J. Watson (Austin), N. A. Prince (Austin), P. B. C. King (FraserNash).