Sand Racing

EVER since I discoursed last March about speed trials and hill-climbs of the vintage period, readers who remember those days have sent in photographs and reminiscences of them. Now Mr. E. Clark of Miniature Military Models Of Southport, has kindly sent us some photographs of racing on Southport sands, Although there is only space to reproduce one of these, I am pleased to have them, because they remind me of something I had forgotten, although I watched sand racing at this Lancashire beach venue before the war—how rough the course was. Motorcycle ‘competitors had to foot round the bends in dirt-track style and there is evidence that some went straight on or fell off. The bravery of the sidecar occupants is to be commended, not all of them, or their riders, wearing crashhelmets.

These pictures, taken in 1925, remind me that pushers-Off were permitted, that J. H. Stevens who won a 20-mile race on the Birkdale sands had the advantage of a front brake, wore masks, goggles and that his solo AJS retained its front number plate of the type now barred on the road as dangerous! Mostly the pictures are of motorcycle races but one car line-up shows true Southport versatility—late-model Brescia Bugatti, sidevalve Riley, a back-braked Clyno Stripped for action and seemingly wearing A racing body, a 12/50 Alvis similarly stripped but retaining its headlamps, and that well-faired Morgan three-wheeler driven by a gentleman who insisted on smoking a cigarette and wearMg a bowler-hat kept in place with a rubber band. If this smacks of the comic element, let us remember that huntsmen wear bowlers to Protect their heads and maybe the Morgan driver from Huddersfield found his less expensive than a crash-hat! Incidentally his youthful passenger is bare-headed but wearing goggles and their competition number is “90”, indicative of the big entry lists Southport attracted. In one race this Morgan is pitted against a Brooklands-model Austin 7, a GN, two Aero Morgans, one of them stripped, and an even-better faired racing Morgan three-wheeler and they are being watched by a big crowd of onlookers, many of them using the dunes as a natural grandstand. However, what I found especially interesting was one picture that depicts a Grand Prix Peugeot about to start in a race that contained a manx-tailed Sunbeam racer and the Joyce AC. What makes this so interesting .1a that when I wrote those articles “Where Have All The Peugeots Gone?” which ap Peared in MOTOR SPORT for June and July 1963 I referred to S. Walters driving the ex-Mrs. Menzies 1912 7.6-litre OP Peugeot once raced by Malcolm Campbell at Southport. This, I think, must be the B. eugeot on that occasion, the driver wear ing a peaked helmet and his bare-headed passenger lying out-of-sight in the cockpit pump ing .up pressure, as described in a letter Published in “Vintage Postbag” in that July 1963 issue of MOTOR SPORT. The Peugeot

has the cowl over the radiator used by Mrs. Menzies at Shelsley Walsh and has a small Brooklands’-type expansion box which may have done duty on the Track or was perhaps fitted because the old car was driven to and

from Southport. I think it Won this race, which may well have been its last appearance. They say if you wait long enough things turn up, which is certainly true of this picture of the last daysof this 1912 Peugeot.

Thinking _about Sand-rating made me reflect on how free and easy it all was in those. now far-off times. liven when drivers as famous as Campbell, Segrave and Parry Thomas were making Land Speed Record bids at Pendine and Southport I doubt whether the crowds that turned up were difficult to manage. A police motorcycle or two patrolling the course; maybe, and perhaps warnings by Megaphone. But no need to rope off the entire place, I think. Yet if Wyn Owen were to be persuaded successfully that he ..ought to put a body on “Babs” and drive the old monster along Pendine Sands I suspect that TV and the other media would stir up so much interest that, apart from any question of being able to legally use the sands, it would be quite impossible to control the crowds. Yet, at all events out-of-season, the place must have been So remote in the 1920s that no such problems arose. I have an idea that my plea for a straightsprint to figure in the VSCC. fixture-list may not have fallen on deaf ears and that next year something of the sort may happen. If

a suitable “stately-home” course that satisfies the RAC cannot be found and if the same applies to a sprint along some seaside promenade, I wonder if any strips of sand are in Council ownership and might be closed for the purpose? Assuming, of course, that 1976 vintage machinery should be subjected to the rigours that sand racing imposed in the prewar days.—W.13.


THE same reader who sent us the Southport pictures also sent the photograph of the racing car which form,s the picture below. He remarks that it was brought to the Vulcan Works in Southport in the early 1930s, where a body was put on it for an American customer. As it does not appear in my “History of Brooklands”, our correspondent asks me to identify it. I confess I am puzzled. There is the feeling that I have seen this picture before and also that there is something slightly bogus about the car. The chassis appears to be vintage but the castalloy Brociklands silencer and plated fish-tail suggest a later period. Then the driver seems to sit abnormally low, and the steering column also brings the steering wheel unusually low

ANOTHER MYSTERY— Continued from page 1261

down. The headrest appears to be an addition, and the press-studs retaining the upholstery to it out of keeping with the original cockpit, which could have had integral upholstery of the vintage period.

Fortunately MOTOR SPORT has some erudite readers with long memories, so I hand the problem to them. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that this is the Lea-Francis with a 2-litre Miller straight-eight engine in which Purdy went for Class-E records at Brookiands in 1928. He covered 100 miles at better than 110 m.p.h. but it was discovered that the British records he thought he had captured were, in fact, held by Kaye Don’s GP Sunbeam. However, Purdy tried again, and in June that year broke the Class-E one-hour record at 110.63 m.p.h. After that this hybrid seems to have vanished. Could it have been found at, or taken to, the Vulcan factory by an American attracted by the Miller engine and rebodied for him to take to the States? The brake gear, fabricated exhaust manifold, and the breatherprotruding beneath the frame provide some clues.—W.B.