A Marvellous Race: The Triumphant Darracqs : Morgan’s Ill-Luck: Magnificent Driving by Thomas.
THE Junior Car Club gave us another treat last
month in the fourth 200 Miles Race for Light Cars ; and it is safe to say that this most recent event surpasses all those that have gone before, excellent as they have been, both in its interest and in the performance of those machines which took part. Some of the credit for this is, of course, due to the entrants for their enterprise for putting their cars in for this eminently sporting event, and some of it to the drivers of the cars for the fine performance which they put up. The conception and the organisation was, however, the J.C.C.’s, and to that club the principal credit is due.
Some extracts from the rules under which the race was run were given in our issue for August. There is no need, therefore, for us to refer to them here. Provision was made for three classes. (1) For Cars with engine capacity not exceeding 750 c.c. ; (2) Cars with engine capacity exceeding 750 c.c., but under 1,100 c.c. ; (3) Cars with engine capacity exceeding I,roo c.c., but under 1,500 C.C. The actual distance run was 73 laps of Brooklands Track, totalling 201 miles 1,728 yards.
The Prizes Offered.
There were two principal prizes. The T. B. Andre Annual Gold Challenge Cup, value L000 guineas, to be held for twelve months by the entrant of the car completing the race in the fastest time, irrespective of class. The other is a Cup, value 50 guineas, to be awarded in each class, to the entrant of the car which completes the 73 laps in the shortest time. These Cups are won outright. In addition to these two principal prizes, Gold Medals were awarded in each class to cars in
all classes finishing the 73 laps within thirty minutes of the winner of that class passing the finishing post. This, subject to the condition that the track will in any case be cleared three hours after the start. A special prize was awarded in each class to that car, of those finishing the course, which made the fastest lap.
Fifty Entrants—Thirty-nine Starters.
There were fifty actual entrants ; eleven in the first class, eight in the second, and thirty-one in the third. Of these, eleven were non-starters, and actually thirtynine cars lined up in three rows shortly before three o’clock on the afternoon of Saturday, September 20th, to compete in this event, perhaps the most important of its kind which it is as yet possible to hold in England. Class .1 was composed of eight Austins, all of them, of course, 7 h.p. models. Of the starters in Class 2, three were Salmsons, three Morgans and one Frazer Nash. The 25 cars in the third class were made up as follows : four Horstmans, of which one was fitted with a supercharged Anzani engine, four Bugattis, three Darracqs, which had super-chargers, three Alvis, three AstonMartins, one A.C., one A.C.-Anzani, one Warwick, one Thomas Special, one Eric Campbell, one Frazer Nash, one Marseal.
Darracqs Easy Favourites.
To those in the know, and indeed, to anyone appreciating the advantage accruing from the use of superchargers, the Darracqs are easy favourites. The only problem for backers to decide was as to which of the three would come in first. To fortify this faith in the Darracq fleet there was, in addition to the fact that they were super-charger equipped, and excellent machines
in every way, the knowledge that they were in the hands of experienced and particularly skilful drivers, and that the firm producing them had already shown what they could do in the way of organising a team for victory. Then again, those who were able to find time to go down the track in the week preceding the race, when
, practice was in progress, had the evidence of their own eyes as to the capabilities of these wonderful cars. During that week all three had been lapping at 103 m.p.h.—not, if you please, when going “all out,” but in the course of some experimental running, to determine the most suitable axle ratios for the oversize Rapson tyres that they were so wise as to fit. To appreciate the full significance of this easy 103 m.p.h. running, it should be borne in mind that the previous year’s race had been won at 93.29 m.p.h., nearly 10 m.p.h. slower, and even with this evidence of the capacity for the Darracqs to lap at upwards of 103 miles per hour, it was still not believed that the actual winner’s speed would reach the even time of zoo m.p.h.
After the Darracqs, it seemed to be almost anybody’s race, with Joyce on the A.C., Coe on the super-charged Horstman, Harvey’s Alvis, Cushman’s Bugatti, or Kaye Don’s A.C.-Anzani, all in for a place and the Thomas Special as a “dark horse.”
In the ‘,roc) c.c. class the Salmsons were favourites with, perhaps Zborowski picked as winner and the second awarded to either Wilson Jones or Hawkes. Many thought the Morgans would put up a stiff fight, but on the whole, it was not expected that anyone of them would carry off the honours in view of the competition facing them from the three Salmsons and the Frazer Nash, which in Ringwood’s hands was obviously going to take some beating.
The smallest class was just a family affair of Austin v. Austin. The only other car entered, a French production, named the Vagova, had not put in an appearance during the week, so that it was quite expected that it would be scratched, as eventually proved to be the case.
Typical J.C.C. Weather.
The morning loomed dark and threatening—the J.C.C. are proverbially unlucky with the weather—and when we set out for Brooklands from town at about one o’clock, a slight drizzle had set in and kept us company throughout the journey. It appeared, if the state of the Portsmouth road was anything to go by, that at the very least we should see some fun during the afternoon, even if it did not prove advisable to abandon the event. However, everything turned out most fortunately. The rain ceased at about 2 o’clock, and the track, by three, looked as dry as a bone. By that time the sky had cleared, and the sun actually came out, and stayed out, with occasional cloudy intervals, until 6 o’clock, when the course was flagged to be cleared, and then the rain came down in torrents.
A Cup-Tie Crowd at Brooklands.
The most astonishing thing about this event was the crowd that turned up to witness it. One would have thought that a Cup Tie was in progress to note the procession of cars and spectators on foot, all making their way towards the track. Many of the former, to judge by their index plates, had brought passengers from far afield. There was real testimony in the crowded state of the paddock to thr… interest which the
public really take in motor car racing, provided it is organised with some consideration for their point of view, and, in this respect, the decision of the J.C.C. to run all three Classes off at once, so that the race could be started at 3 o’clock, giving the public reasonable opportunity to lunch before coming down to the course, has justified itself, notwithstanding the fact that it undoubtedly involved a certain amount of confusion during the race, difficulty in discriminating between one class and another, and in following the course of events throughout the afternoon.
Not until the 39 cars were seen lined up on the track, did one begin really to appreciate the magnitude of the event, and when they all—all that is with the exception of a couple who were strangely dilatory in their getaway—started off with one simultaneous, full throated roar and dashed past the grand stand, it seemed impossible, so closely were they packed, for even a lap to be covered without at least one disastrous collision. Nothing of the sort, however, occurred, thanks to some most skilful driving, especially during the first half of the first lap, before the cars had strung out, and whilst entering and leaving the short banking. Before the start it was freely rumoured that Lee Guinness, Duller and Segrave, the Darracq drivers, had drawn lots as to who should have the first, second and third places. That this should be true would imply the possession of confidence a little more than merely supreme, and the truth probably is that these three experts drew lots so that they could agree upon the order of their going as a team, while at the same time hoping, and most certainly trying, for the best. At any rate, the rumour caused tremendous fluctuations in the odds, and the rapidity of some of the calculations Which the bookmakers were immediately seen to be making prior to altering their prices, was surely as good as anything we were likely to see during the race
itself. The start was made prompt to time, and, with the bigger and speedier cars in the front rank, and the
smaller machines in the rear, the stringing out of the competitors was soon effected. Harvey’s Alvis took the lead, with Lee Guinness, Blackstock on a Bugatti, and Joyce on his A.C. in close pursuit. After the bulk of the cars had gone by in a cloud and smother of smoke and dust, the odd stragglers became evident, and it was then seen that Coe, on the super-charged Horstman, was already at the pits with plug trouble. One of the Bugattis was stuttering and Peacock’s Warwick was in difficulties, caused, as it afterwards transpired, by the clutch, which had seized up.
Darracqs Win from the First Lap.
There was, however, very little time to devote to making notes about stragglers, and Coe, as a matter of
fact, had not got going before a curious high-sounding whine heralded the approach of the first Darracq, the second Darracq, and the third Darracq, arranged as agreed, and running in ” stations ” formation. Those who were a little further round the track could tell us that for the first half lap the order was Lee Guinness, Segrave and Duller. By the time we saw them that had altered to Lee Guinness, Duller, Segrave, and so it remained until the race was run. The Darracqs left the rest of the field behind in the first lap and were never caught throughout the 73. A most amazing performance. After the Darracqs had flashed by, Joyce hove in sight in company with Harvey’s Alvis and a couple of Bugattis, one of the Horstmans, and Parry Thomas on the Thomas Special. By this time the inadequacy of the new scoring board, an ambitious and praiseworthy effort enough in itself, was evident. The figuring was so small that only those just opposite, or those a short distance away who were provided with field glasses, could make it out, while, in addition, the work of keeping it up to time so that it could be regarded as a sure guide to the progress of the race at any Minute, proved to be utterly beyond the capacity of the three