THE B.R.D.C.’s “FIVE HUNDRED”
E. R. HALL (M.G. MAGNETTE) WINS BY OVER L. F. WELCH (M.G. MAGNA), CYRIL PAUL AND 7 CARS FINISH OUT OF 31 STARTERS.
20 MINUTES FROM C. E. C. MARTIN AND PHILIP TURNER (RILEY) THIRD. ONLY TRAGIC DEATH OF M. B. WATSON. ALONG-DISTANCE track race for cars, without any restrictions as to body-work or type, has an irresistible appeal for most of us. Years ago it used to be the 200 Miles Race which drew the biggest crowds to Brooklands, and nowadays it is the British Racing Drivers’ Club’s 500 Miles Race,
or, as it is generally called the ” Five Hundred.” The race on September 16th was the fifth of the series, and attracted a varied entry of some 38 cars. Of these, 7 failed to appear on the starting line. Mansell telephoned at the last minute from Birmingham to say that he could not get his Midget ready in time. Freeman, Follett and Hallam all had engine trouble before the race which could not be repaired at short notice. Most people doubted whether the Jamieson F.P. Special would
start, and so it turned out, a chassis not being available for the supercharged 2 stroke engine of which so much is expected. Last of the unfortunates was J. H. Bartlett, who was to share the wheel of Dennis’s Riley with W. M. Couper. On the evening before the race the crankshaft broke while the car was travelling at high speed, the engine completely disintegrated, and odds and ends dug into the concrete, causing the car to gyrate wildly and finish up in the ditch at the foot of the Byfieet banking. Bartlett was lucky to be uninjured. Came the dawn of the day of the race (as the scenario-writer would say). At 11 o’clock the limit man, G. H. S. Balmain (unblown Midget) set off alone and proceeded to lap the track in solitary state at 79 m.p.h.-43 m.p.h. below his scheduled handicap. A big crowd had already assembled, and as the weather was perfect many more could be expected during the day. For 40 minutes Balmain held the stage, and then a rising growl from the Fork betokened the start of the blown 750’s and unblown 1,100’s. This was more like a massed start, 15 cars jockeying for position as they disappeared
from sight round the Home Banking. The Austins were quickest off the mark, but Eyston’s “Magic ” Midget and Dixon’s Riley completed the first lap in the lead, almost locked wheel-to-wheel. Then Eyston began to draw ahead, lapping at 110 m.p.h. and renewing the admiration of the crowd for this miraculous 750 c.c. machine. Third was Charles Brackenbury, driving Horton’s Midget in place of the Birmingham winner of last year’s race, who was indisposed.
A quarter of an hour passed, and then seven blown 1,100’s and unblown 1,500’s joined the fray. Of this group E. R. Hall was leading at the end of the first lap, followed by Yallop, both on Magnettes. Another group got away 10 minutes later, Crowther’s O.M. and Fothringham’s Bugatti. Then Dunham left quietly, all by himself, folldwed 6 minutes afterwards by Frankl (Bugatti), Zanelli (Alfa Romeo) and the two In victas. Finally Kaye Don’s Bugatti stood revving-up on the line, and Union Jack was dropped, and he, too, set off on his long journey.
All was not well with many engines. First man in at the pits was A. G. Von der Becke, whose Riley, owned by Cuthbert, had blown a gasket after 3 minutes running ! The Austins were giving an unusual amount of trouble, Driscoll being the chief sufferer with broken oil and petrol pipes, and then carburation difficulties. George Duller also called at the pits for plugs, as did Kenneth Evans (M.G. Midget). Franteras’s Magnette developed a mysterious misfiring. First actually to retire was Hailwood, who was overdue at his pit for some 10 anxious minutes until it was found that the car had stopped with a seized engine. Then came a blow to the Austins’ hope of winning the team-prize when Barnes had to retire after 1 hour’s running with a seized clutch. Meanwhile Driscoll and Duller were constantly at the pits changing plugs. Quite definitely not the Longbridge factory’s day. Soon after, Driscoll pushed his car off the track with a burnt valve, and the total eclipse was completed by the withdrawal of Duller’s car with persistent but elusive misfiring.
Eyston’s progress was simply terrific. The sleek little green Midget was piling up a comfortable increase over its handi cap speed, and was quite a match for Zanelli’s 2-3 litre Alfa Romeo, clinging to its tail for lap after lap. At this rate everyone prophecied an easy victory for Eyston—if the Midget could hold its astounding pace. Dixon was also doing well, 13 seconds in the rear at 12.30, followed by Brackenbury and Don. Just when Eyston looked really set for a long run there was an explosive noise as the car passed the score-board. Anxious eyes
saw the Midget slow, and gradually coast to a standstill in the Railway Straight. The magneto had completely fallen to bits, so Eyston went to the Aero Club for lunch ! There were always one or two cars in the pits. Field came in with a fire in the carburetter of his Invicta. Dunham’s Alvis stopped beyond the pit area with seized brakes, and no sooner had this been remedied than engine trouble and a loose gearbox combined to put the car
out of its agony. Evans was having constant stoppages with his Midget for a trouble which was either piston rings or valves—bad luck, for the car had been lapping at 105 m.p.h. in practice. The three ” L ” Magnas were lapping quietly at 90 m.p.h. in close company with Aldington’s Frazer Nash, all four being absolutely reliable. Von der Becke, on the other hand, blew a second gasket on his Riley, and decided to call it a day. Frankl and Zanelli, the only two Continental drivers in the race, were both rather slow. Frank’ was the faster of the two, but made a good many pit-stops for water. Zanelli did not seem too happy on the track, cutting out considerably all round the Members Banking, and on one occasion nearly getting into difficulties through passing the O.M. on the
inside at the Fork. Just Lefore 2 o’clock Frank! retired with a seized piston, as did Manby-Colegrave with gearbcx trouble and Lace’s Invicta with a blown gasket. Fothriugham’s exhaust pipe fell off on the Byfleet Banking and had to be refixed at the pits.
Jack Field took over Don’s 4.9 Bugatti when the car was refuelled, and re-tyred, but soon came into the pits complaining that the car was difficult to hold on the banking. On one occasion he seemed to come off the Byfleet a little too early, and had a most unpleasant moment damping out a skid. As the tyres were showing signs of wear Don took over again after 50 minutes. Brackenbury followed Eyston’s retirement as a dwindling of the Midget’s hope of success when he pulled into his pit at 1.45. No reason was given for his retirement. After several pit-stops Rose-Richards refuelled the Magnette driven by Nuvolari at Ulster and handed over to Whitney Straight. At 2 o’clock, just before Brackenbury’s retirement, and when Dixon had completed 92 laps or rather more than halfdistance, the order was :
1. F. W. Dixon (Riley), 109.10 m.p.h. (5m. 37s. ahead of schedule). 2. C. Brackenbury (M.G. Midget), 108.7 m.p h (5m. 9s. ahead of schedule)
3. E. R. Hall (M.G. Magnette), 108.62 m.p.h. (2m. 16s. behind schedule).
4. K. Don (Bugatti), 111.54 m.p.h. (8m. 17s. behind schedule).
Very few cars were having a completely trouble free run. Martin’s Magna and Hall’s Magnette were, in fact, the only two to have gone so far with pit stops confined to refuelling. Evans, Paul, Cuthbert, Straight, Zanelli, and Hess were all constantly in the pits, but kept on trying for in a race of this sort you can never tell what chance you may have of a place. At this point occurred the tragedy which was to mar the race and cast a deep
shadow over spectators and competitors alike for the rest of the proceedings. M. B. Watson had just taken over the blown Midget driven by J. C. Elwes and bad completed two laps when he crashed between the Byfleet Banking and the Fork. Whether the car skidded and then took fire in turning over, or whether the fire broke out first and caused the driver to brake heavily will never be known. After turning over several times, a mass of flames, and throwing the driver onto the track, the car landed upside down and was immediately enveloped in a tremendous. pall of flames and black smoke, rendering its identification impossible until the competitors had been checked off. Poor Watson was removed to hospital suffering from burns and head injuries, and passed away during the evening without recovering consciousness. Winner of the Canada Trophy this year, a fine driver and charming fellow, Watson will be mourned by all followers of motor racing. To his widow we offer our deepest sympathy. The race went on. The Pyrene truck quickly extinguished the fire and the wreckage was pushed to the side of the
track. At 3 o’clock Dixon still led, now 3m. 54s. ahead of Hall, with Don gm. 31s. behind, and Martin 8m. 16s. further back in 4th place. The field had thinned considerably, and soon after 4 o’cloCk a crop of retirements brought the number of cars on the track still lower. Cuthbert was the first to go, his blown Riley breaking a con-rod. Alan Hess was the next man out of it, his leaking radiator destroying all hope of the Magnas winning the team prize. Dobbs had already dropped out with engine trouble on his Riley. The greatest surprise came, however, when Dixon’s Riley had to retire at 5.17 with a blown gasket. This was the worst possible luck, for at the time he had a clear lead, and was not being pressed by anyone.
This let that steady, consistent driver, E. R. Hall, into 1st place, and the race was as good as over. This stage of a race is always full of anxiety for people who have kept going, in spite of minor troubles, and who hope to get a place at all costs. But engiaes are tired after many hours hard work, and last minute retirements are inevitable. One of these was Laird and McEvoy on the McEvoy Special. These two had put up a really fine show, and they had everyone’s sympathy when they had to retire at 4,40 with. a broken cam-shaft drive. Don was another victim of this sort of thing. After driving the difficult 4.9 Bugatti for practically-the whole 500 miles the car stopped at 4.45 with back axle trouble. A repetition of his bad luck in the International Trophy race. Evans and Letts went out next, with a broken blower-drive, after a run dogged by trouble. Then a man walked out onto the track with a checkered flag. A green car hove in sight round the Fork. Yes, that’s the winner, E. R. Hall on No. 22 M.G. Magnette, a magnificent victory on the part of both car and driver at 106.53 m.p.h. In the general confusion of repeated pitstops, and change of drivers, E. R. Hall’s single-handed, trouble-free run deserved. the honours of the day. He got them, and
we congratulate him and his gallant Magnette: But the race was sadly lacking in excitement at the end. Nearly half an hour passed before the second car crossed the line, the ‘L’ type M.G. Magna driven in
turn by C. E. C. Martin and L. F. Welch. Their car, too, had had a trouble-free run, and these two M.G.’s were the only cars in the race to have this distinction. Cyril Paul, Fothringham, Yallop„ Zanelli and D. A. Aldington, partnered by the Hon. P. Mitchell-Thompson continued to lap the now almost deserted track, all of them deserving praise for keeping going in rather depressing circumstances. Even-tually they finished in that order.
1. E. R. Hall (1,087 c.c. M.G. Magnette, S.). Race time, bh. 38m. 23$., net time, 4h. 42m. 3$., 108.53 m.p.h.
2. C. E. C. Martin and L. F. Welch (1,087 c.c.
M.G. Magna). Race time Oh. 4m. 57s., net time Sh. 26m. 44s., 92.24 m.p.h.
3. Cyril Paul and Philip Turner (1,089 c.c. Riley). Race time ehr. 17m. 198.. net time 8h. 38m. Os., 88.87 m.p.h.
4.T. S. Fothringham (1,493 c.c. Bugatti, S.). Race time 6h. 21m. 25s., net time 5h. 18m. 4s., 95.50 m.p.h.
5. R. A. Yallop and E. Fronteras (1,087 c.c. M.G. Magnette, S.).. Race time 6h. 24m. 21s., net time 5h. 30m. 3s., 91.05 m.p.h.
6. Juan Zanelli (2,336 c.c. Alta-Romeo, S.). Race time 6h. 31m. 24s., net time 5h. 15m. 59s., 95.14 m.p.h.
7. Hon. P. Mitchell-Thompson and D. A. Aldington (1,496 c.c. Frazer Nash). Race time 6h. 32m. 17s., net time 5b. 37m. 59s., 88.88 m.p.h.
G. W. J. H. ‘Wright and the Earl of March (1,087 c.c. M.G. Magna) failed by 35s. to finish within time allowed. Thus there was no team to qualify for the team prize.
THE CLASS WINNERS.
D (over 2,000 c.c. and under 3,000 c.c.)-JtiaTh Zanelli, 2,336 c.c. Alfa Romeo, S.
F over (1,100 c.c. and under 1,500 c.c.).-T. S. Fothringham, 1,493 c.c. Bugatti, S.
G (over 750 c.c.. and under 1,100 c.c.).-E. R. Hall, 1,087 c.c. M.G. Magnette, 8.
The 1st three Vishers all used Dunlop tyres.
More Lewes Speeds Trials.
Successful Meeting in fine weather. R. G. J. Nash makes fastest time.
IN spite of the fact that the M.C.C. High Speed Trials at Brooklands Aclashed with the speed trials held by the sent & Sussex L.C.C. at Lewes, a very good entry was received for the latter event. Among the successful class winners were F. W. Bontor (Corsica Hornet Special), J. H. Freeman (M.G. Midget),. 4.. R, Jackson (M.G. Magnette), J. Lemon Burton (Bugatti) and R. G. J. Nash (A.nzani-Nash Special). A :threequarter head wind prevented Nash from getting nearer to his own record time for the course of 20 Secs. than a time of 21 secs. Burton did well to record 22 secs., but his car unfortunately developed trouble after winning its first class. R. R. Jackson, with an M.G. Magnette, made third fastest time in 23.4 secs.
Full results will be found under the heading “Club News.”