FAST CLIMBS AND EXCITING INCIDENTS ON COURSE RENDERED DIFFICULT BY RAIN.
EIGHTY names appeared on the programme of the Autumn Hill Climb at Shelsley Walsh, weather conditions varied from dull to very wet indeed, yet interest was well maintained throughout those five rather uncomfortable hours. So much for a first class entry and faultless organisation. The outstanding climbs were made by Mays, who piloted his new two-litre E.R.A. over the difficult thousand yard course in an even 44 seconds, beating Whitney Straight on the Maserati by 1-second, and Staniland, C. E. C. Martin and R. J. G. Nash retained their old form, while E. R. Hall had a field-day with his Bentley and his M.G.’s.
After the almost tropical weather which had favoured the day of pfactise, Saturday morning, with its constant showers and grey sky was most disappointing, and drivers and mechanics slithered alxait the rain-soaked orchard which has been since time immemorial the paddock, and wished they had brought their gum-boots. Most of the cars stood Silent, wrapped up on rugs and blankets, with only Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon crackling the way in and out of the orchard, warming up their attractive-looking pale gfeen E.R.A.s. The most cheerful person there, probably, was Earl Howe, dry and well-protected by his famous blue umbrella, and for once playing the role of a spectator. In spite of the weather there was a good attendance, and from eleven o’clock spectators toiled up the steep paths, now, thanks to Mr. Wilson and the Midland Automobile Club, made up with plenty
of grit and almost devoid of wheel-spin ! There was the usual bustle at the start.
Colonel Loughborough’s traffic-signal starting apparatus was duly tested out. and at one o’clock sharp Driscoll’s white single-seater Austin stood ready on the starting line. Away he went with a little wheelspin, rushed up to the ” S ” bends in fine style, avoided the outside bank at the top by a fraction and streaked up the final straight to record 46f seconds, a perform
ance which was well applauded. E. R. Hall was next, driving the ” Q ” type Midget, which had only been delivered to him the day before. The car roared up strongly with a trail of smoke, but was obviously considerably slower than the
Austin and, in fact, recorded 49f seconds. Turner and Goodacre made good climbs on their blown Austins, though the former suffered from wheel-spin owing to his low axle rp.tio, but Peter Skinner seemed less happy than usual on the supercharged Morris Minor, and Miss Williams was a little pathetic in her Austin, touring up gently with the hood in position. How ever, Miss Barbara Skinner restored the prestige of the ladies with a fine climb in 51 seconds in the white Morris Minor, -f-second faster than her brother, while Summerfield’s blown” P” Midget, Elwes’ tiny blown Austin and Samuel’s blown
Midget, formerly the property of R. R. Jackson also performed well in the 850 c.c. class. Appleton’s Maserati-Riley headed class (2), but after a fast start ” took turf ” at the Kennel Bend and finished slowly on three cylinders. “Bolster Special II,” a composite car, engined with the experimental blown Magna engine which was the precursor of the Magnettes, failed near the line, and Miss Evans’ Magna climbed slowly with misfiring. Cormack made a steady and rapid ascent on his supercharged Alta in 50 seconds, beating Donkin (Magnette) by I-second, and Glegg displayed both bravery and skill
note as be approached the first corner, and the car charged straight up the bank in front of it, and for a moment seemed in danger of turning over backwards and crushing the driver. The throttle had jammed, and taking the bank was Harker’s only course. Happily it stopped before it reached the spectators, and Harker was uninjured. The car was little damaged and was quickly removed by the breakdown van. The equilibrium of the spectators was quickly restored by a fine climb by J
in steering to the top Dorcas II, his unique car with its ” V “twin engine, front wheel drive and double front wheels, in 52f seconds. After the ” specials” there remained two M.G. Magnettes. Horton was driving
the streamlined single-seater which was formerly the property of the late and lamented ” Hammy,” and though the car was fast it bounced a good deal and was hard to hold. Hall followed and, taking the “S” bend with his usual dash and skill, recorded 46.4 seconds, against his rival’s 49.6 seconds. There was now a break in the rain showers, but the course was still very wet. Raymond Mays lost some valuable seconds getting away from the start with his 1,500 c.c. E.R.A., and though it climbed the upper slopes of the hill in fine style, was a second slower than Hall’s, car. Whatcoat’s Bugatti, though adequate, seemed slow in comparison, and then the announcer prepared his audience for another Shelsley “regular,” W. E. Harker, on the V.8 Harker Special. He made a fast start with little wheelspin, and could soon be heard humming to the bends. To everyone’s horror, however, there was no break in the engine Lemon Burton on a 1 flare supercharged Bugatti with twin rear wheels ; he clocked 47 seconds. Barnes made a faultless climb in a lowered two-seater Singer in 51* seconds, keeping his foot down, even on the ” S ” bends. Davis’s Grand Prix Delage was for once running well and roared up with its characteristic hollow exhaust note in 52 seconds. H. J. Aldington followed on a completely equipped Fraser Nash, and made a neat climb in 54 seconds. Roy Eccles was a second slower, and Miss Sedgwick, who took the ” S ” bends with her usual confidence, only managed to clock 54* seconds. Newsome found the Becke Powerplus rather a handful on the bends, but his acceleration elsewhere secured him a time of 50.4 seconds. R. J. G. Nash had his Anzani-Nash in fine fettle, and the exhaust note from the loudspeaker at the end of the exhaust pipe could be heard all the way up the hill. He avoided any wheel-spin coming through the bends, but was within an ace of hitting the bank near the finish when looking down into the cockpit of his machine. Mrs. Holdsworth also had an anxious moment taking her Bugatti through the bends ; her car snaked
wildly and hit the bank, but she held it well and continued.
The weather was doing its worst again as the 2-litres started, but Thorpe was undismayed by the conditions and brought up his 6-cylinder Fraser Nash very steadily in 52* seconds. Bolster’s name was next on the list. Flow would his ferocious little car, with its two motorcycle engines and its coffin-like body, behave on the wet surface ? However, Bolster proved himself quite able to cope with conditions and after being pushed to the line by a gang of helpers his unorthodox machine got away smoothly, crackled up to the bends and took them quietly, nevertheless roaring away again and swinging over the finish to record a useful 48 seconds. Then, as a contrast, Blackstone’s immaculate Alfa-Romeo, with full touring equipment, made the ascent, making a rapid climb to within a few yards of the bends, where terrific reports from the blow-off valve proclaimed that a plug had gone, but changing down the driver was able to get ” home” within the fateful 60 seconds.
Noel Carr celebrated his return to Shelsley with a rapid and well-judged climb in 47 seconds, driving the familiar red 2-litre ” Bug,” getting through the bends with the minimum of delay, while Esson Scott on a similar car was heard taking the lower slopes of the bill with tremendous vigour, but slowed right down when negotiating the ” obstacles ” ; time 5I1 seconds. He was, however, a great deal faster than Marendaz on his supercharged Special, which ” lost ” a couple of cylinders before the bends and made the day’s slow record in 99 seconds. Now it was the turn of Britain’s white, amount of time at the start, but once under way he shot round the Kennel Bend in a slide which took the announcer’s breath away and rocketted up to the bends. These were taken steadily with in 55 seconds. Austin Dobson had some difficulty in holding his 26 Grand Prix Alfa, making the climb in 52. Baines brought up his old four-seater 2 .3 Bug” in 57, while Major Gardner, whose red
the usual blips. Then another bout of wheel-spin at the top and the car roared on its way up the final straight to record 45i seconds, the fastest time so far.
or rather pale green hope, the 2-litre E.R.A., with Mays again at the wheel. The smaller car seemed rather too light for its power and had suffered from wheelspin, but its senior sister wquld have more of a chance with its twin rear wheels Even so ” Ray ” lost an appreciable There was an enviable collection of cars in the 3-litre class. It was led off by L. G. Bachelier, who made an effortless climb on his 23 Bugatti, fitted with an attractive two-seater body, in 53 seconds, while Mrs. Petre was a little hectic on a Grand Prix model of the same marque four-seater Alfa was one of the smartest cars seen at Shelsley, found the long wheelbase a handicap on the corners, and could only manage 58 seconds. Staniland was next, driving Mathieson’s 23 Bugatti, and made an excellent climb,
ith foot hard down between the bends, in 45.2 seconds, thus equalling the time of the E.R.A. and Charles Martin on a single camshaft car was only 1–seconds slower. Whitney Straight was at the wheel of his 3-litre Maserati, the same car with which he had raised the record to 40 seconds last June. One wondered how it would shape on the wet surface, but as he started if was evident that he was fully equal to coping with the weather, and getting away with the minimum of wheelspin, arrived at the ” S ” bends even as the announcer had finished speaking, rounded them without a trace of instability and throbbed on his accurate course to the finish in 44i. seconds, iths of a second faster than Mays. The 3-litre class concluded with a neat run by Fotheringham on his 2.3 Bugatti in 48i seconds, while Mrs. Wisdom found that her waterproof got tangled up in the wheel of the Villiers Supercharger on all the corners, which proved disconcerting. Fresh excitement as Hall’s If Bentley took its stand. Sliding a little as he took the Kennel Bend, Hall flashed up through the rain to the ” S ” bends and with another controlled broadside shot away to the top, making the fastest time for an unsupercharged car thus far in 49i seconds. Marsh made the next fastest time in the class on his 4i-litre Invicta, in spite of sliding at the bends, with 52 seconds. Marker’s Railton was silent and steady in, 55 seconds. Horton, driving a smart-looking Jenson-bodied
KS Ford, was positively spectral as he glided up in 55-2 seconds, while the four 30-98’s’ clocked 53/, 54, 55i and 55./ seconds, the drivers being Hughes, Jacot. Warburton and Carson, the latter on the ” inverted ” car described in last month’s MOTOR SPORT. The tea tents were well patronised in the interval, and everybody began to feel quite cheerful again when it was found that the rain had ceased. Proceedings had so far been carried through with a minimum of delay, the times of the cars were shown on the. score-hoards within
two minutes of the cars reaching the top, while the indefatigable ” Vox ” deserved a special word of cOngratulation for his running commentary from the Kennel Bend. Later in the afternoon Shelsley ` went on the air” from Midland Regional. R. F. Turner opened the second runs with a time of 47/ seconds, two seconds
his Very useful first time of 461 seconds, which secured him first place in the 750 c.c. racing category.
Elwes (Austin ” S “) improved his time to 501 seconds. Cutler, on a similar car, slid on the first bends and was *-second slower, and Miss Skinner found difficulty at the same point and slid at the second bend, but continued at speed to finish in 50 .8 seconds.
The improvement in the weather also put some pep into the ” Eleven-Hundreds ” and Appleton climbed well in 53 seconds, the Bolster Magna-cum-G.N. got up in 57, while C.prmack brought up his supercharged Alta very cleanly in 49 seconds, one second better than Donkin’s Magnette. The urge, however, proved too great for Hippisley Cox’s G.N., appropriately named ” Grasshopper.” He took the first of the ” S” bends too closely, the tail of his skeleton machine swung right round until it was broadside across the road, continued to swing until it hit the bank and buckled a wheel. The driver was quite unperturbed, and stayed in his seat to wave cheerfully as his car was hoisted up and towed away by the break-down lorry. Dorcas II was again disturbing, as its wheels flapped on the top section. Instone, on the Martyr, equalled Horton’s time of 524 seconds on the Magnette, while Hall attacked the gradient in determined fashion, just checked the skids on each of the corners and roared to the top for a fine climb in 46 minutes. This performance gave him the sports and racing CURS in this class. The gradient seemed more treacherous now it Was half-dry, and Mays on the small E.R.A. was unable to better Hall’s
better than on his first attempt, and Hall, whose face was plastered with mud, seemed happier with his Midget on his second climb and equalled Turner’s time. Peter Skinner found it difficult to get away from the start, but improved his time to 49 seconds, and Driscoll had the same difficulty and was unable to better time. Barnes’ Singer made a fast climb, this time without hesitation, in 501 seconds. Miss Sedgwick made the fastest Fraser Nash ascent in 53f seconds, Priestley’s Kiley M.P.H. was three seconds slower, with Tongue’s AstonMartin *-second behind. In the racing category Dick Nash repeated 47i seconds,
while Mrs. Houldsworth was unsteady, but faster than before on her unsupercharged Bugatti in 55f seconds.
Two-litres again. The six-cylinder Frazer Nashes were unobtrusively fast, the Bolster was not working well—its clutch plates can only stand one all-out ascent—and Blackstone had fitted some new plugs in his Alfa and made a fast climb in 53 seconds. ” Here is Noel Carr on the line,” said the announcer, ” he’s got away in fine style, going very fast—coming up to you.” Judging by the sound be certainly was, and as he approached the corner it was quite evident that he could not possibly get round at the speed he was going. Thump he went, broadside on the outside of the first bend, just where he crashed two years ago, and again good fortune alone prevented the car turning over. He returned slowly to the bottom of the hill, to make room for Esson Scott, who also approached the corner at speed, but did his usual heavy braking and im
proved his time to 49f seconds.
Raymond Mays had no thought of halfmeasures on his second run, and getting away with considerable wheel-spin kept his foot hard clown all the way to the bends. At the crucial moment he jabbed in a lower gear, came through the ” S” bends cutting in and out as usual, with flames visible at the end of the exhaust pipe, and hurtled up the last hundred yards with the satisfaction of bringing his time down to a level 44 seconds. Straight also opened up on the starting line, but his wheels spun for almost half a second before he got away and, despite making no mistakes higher up, failed by +-second to equal the time of the English combination. Staniland was less successful this time, his car bouncing slightly as though the shock absorbers were too tight, but his time of 45f seconds was very useful under the circumstances. Dobson’s Alfa was again hard to hold, though he improved his time to 51.4 seconds, a figure Bachelier
equalled with his touring ” 2 .3 Bug,” while the only other material improvement in the class was that of Major Gardner’s Alfa which clocked 55 seconds.
Hall’s Bentley was again the principal feature .of the 5-litre class. This time he took the Kennel and the two upper bends without a trace of slide and was rewarded with a time of 48 seconds, which was at once a tribute to the quality of the car and the skill of the driver. The times of the other big cars showed little improvement, but Marker managed his second equally silent run in 53 seconds. Thus ended the September Shelsleya meeting which held one’s attention, in spite of a long entry list and depressing weather conditions. Next year will be the twentieth anniversary of the fixture, and something rather special is promised in the shape of foreign drivers and other excitements. The Midland Automobile Club can be relied upon to produce the goods once more I