THE ULSTER T.T. RACE.
Many Records Broken in Hard-fought Contest. Nine Finishers at over 72 m.p.h. Won by Nuvolari on M.G. Magnette.
WITH an entry list of only 31, which was certain to be decreased by last minute withdrawals, the chances of an interesting contest in Britain’s only road-race seemed rather remote. The distance which the scratch cars had to cover was increased from 30 to 35 laps. or 478 miles, and judging from last year’s results this alone might have been expected to eliminate a good number of limping finishers. Happily the cars on the whole showed surprising stamina and the handicapping was well done, so that the issue was in doubt right up to the end of the race.
The largest cars in the race were the two Invictas driven by Lace and Field, who had taken the place of the Portuguese driver Sameiro. Then caine three 2.3 Alfa Romeos, Noel Rees’s car driven by the Hon. Brian Lewis, Lord Howe in the car which he was to have dri yen at Le Mans, and Rose-Richards who was handling one entered by F. Abecassis, the Portuguese Alfa Romeo agent. This car was the one driven at Le Mans by Chiron and Chinetti. The parts damaged in the crash had been repaired, hut the engine was untouched from the 24 hour race.
In the 1,500 c.c. class there was a front-drive Alvis entered by ” V. Karachi,” but illness prevented him from driving. This left the team of six-cylinder Rileys, driven by Eyston, Whitcroft, Staniland and McClure in possession of the class. The cars differed from last year’s entry in several respects. Four carburetters were used, and a roller bearing replaced the white-metal centre main. The engine was set far back in the chassis, and great pains had been taken to reduce weight. The hack of the body was a huge barrel-shaped petrol tank against which the spare wheel fitted, rather like some of the he Mans Bentleys. A good deal of trouble was experienced with these tanks during the practises, and a complete new set of heavier gauge metal had to be rushed through before the race.
Two 1,100 c.c. Rileys were entered by Cillow and had as rival the redoubtable Freddy Dixon. A last minute surprize was the appearance of the great Nuvolari driving Straight’s Magnette, with Hall as his most dangerous rival. Matiby Colegrave and Yallop were mounted on similar cars while Horton’s absence through indisposition was to be regretted.
In the smallest class were eight supercharged M.( ;. Midgets, the most dangerous being Hamilton’s and Crabtrees entries. Other entrants were Millwood, Fontes, Simister, Attwood, Ford, and Mansell. A Sullivan Special, which was a supercharged Mortis Minor with a self-changing gearbox, completed the list, 24 cars in all.
Fine weather prevailed during the practises, and fast times were put up by the Hon. Brian Lewis, T. E. Rose-Richards and P. W. Dixon. Nuvolari sat in a Magnate for the first time in his life on Wednesday and insisted on a high seat
cushion Lial a high-backed seat to bring him into his characteristic upright driving position. He soon got used to his new mount and started lapping quickly. The surface of Ulster course which is famous for its non-skid qualities seemed to be rather over-done this year, as the tyres of the Magnette were smooth in two laps.
The course was well swept before the race, however, and nearly all the cars got through with one change, a fine tribute to the wearing qualities of Dunlop.
The practises were unfortunately marred by the accident to G. H. S. Balmain, driving an unsupercharged Midget. He took Ballystockart Bridge too fast, the car hit the kerb and turned over. The driver was not injured but the mechanic, W. E. Dunkley, was killed. Rain was falling some hours before the race, but it had stopped by ten o’clock. Half-a-million people were said to have watched the race, hut the efficiency of the traffic arrangements were such that there was no difficulty in reaching the course. The cars were drawn up in front of the pits and drivers and pit managers were discussing last minute plans or arranging with their friendly rivals for the maximum of separation in order to give the members of the various groups a Chance of a good start. Lord Howe shrugs his shoulders
at the mention of tyres, Whitcroft secures a sprig of white heather on his Riley, and Crabtree tries out the aeroplane speaking tube by which his passenger can commun.cate with him. yeThere is a stir at the arrival of the Duke of Abercorn, Governor of Northern Ireland, and Mr. Ramsey McDonald, then
the cars are moved to their starting positions and the engines are stopped. The drivers and mechanics sit in the cars awaiting the starting signal. The first group is the 1,100 c.c. unsupercharged
cars and in front of them Ebby raises his “national flag.” Sharp at eleven o’clock it drops and the 1933 T.T. has begun. Gillow and Baird are first away, and Freddy Dixon afterwards, looking very cheerful. The second group, M.G. Mid
gets, start 13 seconds later led by Crabtree, Forster and Mansell. 1,500 c.c.
Rileys and Magnettes are dispatched together led by Eyston and Whitcroft and Nuvolari fourth. Staniland got away rather slowly. As this was happening the loud speakers announce that Pontes is stopped on
Bradshaw’s Brae. He later retired there with big ends gone and con-rods through the crank-case, through over-stressing a cold engine. Of the rest, Brian Lewis had difficulty in starting his Alfa. On the first lap Gillow was still in front of Dixon, and Hamilton and Crabtree had taken the lead of their class. Hall and Nuvolari (Magnettes) had caught up the slower ” 750’s,” and the former actually
signalled on his rival after Quarry corner. The Italian ace was getting into his stride.
Lord Howe still led the Alfas, but Brian Lewis was trying to overtake him, with Rose Richards close behind.
Speeds increased on the second lap, and Hamilton, who was again the third to come round, broke the 750 c.c. lap record with a speed of 73.18 m.p.h. Crabtree’s car on the other hand was already sounding unhealthy. On his third lap Dixon had decided to step on it and had passed Gillow. Nuvolari was
picking up places in splendid style and was close behind Hamilton, Lord Howe had stopped behind the other two Alfas. Cornering was reported very fast all round the course. At Quarry Corner Dixon, Hamilton and Nuvolari were neat, also Lord Howe. Gillow who met his Waterloo there two years ago grazed the grass bank each time, while Brian Lewis and Rose-Richards were exciting during the first few laps. Dixon on Glen Hill had a peculiar style, seeming to be able to stay in the middle of the road on the corners, while Nuvolari took them closely with an equal reluctance to slow down. These two were
also particularly rapid at Ballystockart.
At 11.37 Hamilton again broke the 750 c.c. lap record with a speed of 74.97 m.p.h. and was leading the race on handicap. Crabtree was second and Gillow third, then Dixon and Simister. Nuvolari then increased his pace, beating Dixon’s record lap of last year by no
less than 7 seconds, making his speed 77.69 m.p.h. His speed continued to increase, his lap time dropping by 4 seconds to 10 min. 29 secs. after an hour’s running. By dint of this speed he pulled up into second place behind Hamilton. Dixon was third, then Simister (M.G.) Gillow (Riley) and Brian Lewis. Crabtree after a pit-stop had fallen right back. Newtownards and Comber were constantly reporting hair-raising skids and Gillow shot up onto the footpath at Dun don.ald. The first serious incident was reported from the Moate, a fast bend at the end of the Newtownards straight. Sim ister shot into first one ditch and then the other, his car leapt into the air, landed
on the radiator and finally back onto its wheels then modestly retired into a field. The driver and mechanic were miraculously almost unhurt. Pit stops so far had been few. Sullivan had trouble with his carburation and Whitcroft (Riley) adjusted shock absorb ers. The most serious stop was that of Field (Invicta) whose car had been mis firing almost from the start. He twice changed plugs, checked over carburetters and petrol connections and finally retired with supposed piston trouble. Lace, driving the other Invicta, was driving smoothly and well and had the satisfaction
of beating by 1 second the class record put up by the late Sir Henry Birkin on a Bentley, lapping in 10 min. 41 sec, or 76.72 m.p.h. The four six-cylinder Rileys were running consistently and did not display that unsteadiness on corners which had been observed in practise. Possibly the heavier tanks were keeping their tails
down. Staniland was well ahead of the rest of the team and put up a lap of 11 min. 1 sec. or 74.39 m.p.h. A handicap race is always difficult to follow even for those mathematical wizards who keep a chart of each car as it passes. It was made no simpler by the fact that the laps shown on the score board were actually those which the cars were beginning. For some obscure reason Nuvolari was shown at 12.30 to have
dropped back to sixth place, though since he had at 12.22 accomplished a record lap of 10 minutes 25 seconds,• and a few minutes later one of 10-24, it was difficult to account for. Just before 1 p.m. he got down to 10-14, a speed of 80.09 m.p.h., beating the records for all categories except Birkin’s Alfa Romeo time in 1932.
Crabtree was making valiant efforts to catch up the ground he had lost and lapped in 10-52 and 10-51. He retired later at Comber with a hole in his crankcase. Faulty mixture and misfiring had caused a connecting rod to go.
Handicap order after 2 hours.
1. H. C. Hamilton (746 M.G. Midget) 5, 74.14 m.p.h.
2. F. W. Dixon (1,083 Riley), 75.96 m.p.h.
3. Hon. Brian Lewis (2,336 Alfa Romeo, 5), 81.25 m.p.h.
4. Victor Gillow (1,088 Riley), 75.25 m.p.h.
5. T. Nuvolari (1,087 M.G. Magnate, 5), 77.77 m.p.h.
• 6. T. E. Rose Richards (2,336 Alfa Romeo, S). The Alfas, driven by Lewis and RoseRichards had gone round for many laps in close company, the latter dropping back a hundred yards and then regaining most of the lost ground. About 1 o’clock however, the red car failed to appear,
and it was learnt that Lewis was stopped at Comber with supposed clutch trouble. He worked on the car for some time, but the complaint was found to be back axle and could not be remedied. Gillow, who had been wild several times rounding Quarry Corner, hit the grass bank at the outside, •dropped into
the ditch, and then brought up short against a telegraph post, smashing up the car. The driver and mechanic escaped with cuts.
Nuvolari now came into third position, but Hamilton and i)ixon had increased their speeds and still retained the leading places. It was now getting time to re-fuel and Lace (Invicta) filled with petrol and oil and adjusted brakes and shock absorbers in the good time of 1 min. 15 sees. Lord MOM came in next and with smart handling refuelled and changed four wheels-really heavy ones-in 4 minutes. Nuvolari’s tyres were also showing wear and he changed the wheels and refuelled in 3 minutes 9 seconds.
Hamilton was in shortly afterwards but lost a considerable time through his starter failing to operate. Dixon pulled in a few minutes afterwards and saved some valuable seconds by lifting in turn first each back wheel, and then the front axle onto the jack. The gap between Dixon and Hamilton had widened by nearly a minute in the last half hour, so he needed all he could get to keep within striking distance.
Actually Hamilton had put up two more records 10-45. and 10-44, but on one occasion at Comber hit the kerb at a speed which could not have failed to have (1. maged his car. Just when Dixon needed his utmost speed his exhaust pipe came adrift at Ballysto,ckart and his mechanic lost considerable time securing it. These misfortunes allowed Nuvolari to take the first position followed by Hamilton, RoseRichards and Dixon, the latter now being over 6 minutes behind Nuvolari. The ‘front hub on Lord Howe’s Alfa Romeo collapsed as he rounded Dundonald Hairpin, without causing any damage. Eyston’s. 1,500 c.c. Riley had developed clutch slip and he stopped several times at the pits to dose it with fire extinguisher fluid. Staniland’s car was running splendidly and he did a record lap of 10’ min. 57 sec. or 74.85 m.p.h., and Whitcroft replied with one of 10-54. To everyone’s regret, Lace’s Invicta came in slowly and retired with main bearing trouble:
ilattelicti leaders at 3 p.m.
I. T. Nuvolati (1,087 M.G. Magnette 8), 77.43 m.p.h.
2. H. C. Hamilton (746 M.G. Midget, S)r 72.48 m.p.h.
3. T. E. Rose Richards (2,336 Alfa Romeo, 77.87 m.p.h.
4. F. W. Dixon (1,088 Riley), 72.74 m.p.h.
5. E. R. Hall (1,087 M.G. Magnette, S), m.p.h.
6. C. S. Staniland (1,486 Riley), 73.84 m.p.h.
Records continued to fall, Staniland (Riley) reaching 75.54 m.p.h., while Nuvolari made the apparently impossible speed of 80.48. Hamilton continues to increase his speed and if the amazing little cars can stand the ” caning” they are getting it seems impossible that any of the others can hold them. Hamilton is only a second behind at 3.30, and after an anxious moment at Dundonald at 4 o’clock is only 3 seconds behind the leader. Dixon replaces Rase-Richards, whose petrol pipe has come adrift. Hall hit the bank at the Moate, avoiding the Italian, but only buckled his front wheel. Dixon was still having trouble with his exhaust system.
Nuvolari with a supreme effort lapped in 10-8 and finally in 10-6 or 81.05 m.p.h. and thus had pulled ahead 36 seconds on Hamilton.
His victory was made certain when he passed his rival filling up, with only five laps to go. Hamilton slung in three gallons in 20 seconds and actually caught up three seconds on one lap, but realising that it was hopeless to try to catch Nuvolari, finished steadily 40 seconds behind the Magnette.
Had the course been a mile longer, or if Hamilton had not lost so much time at the pits, the outcome might have been different, for the Magnette cut out 20 yards over the line with a dry petrol tank.
The new Rileys, though not as fast as had been hoped, were reliable, and all four would have finished had not Stain-land cornered too closely at Quarry Corner during the last few laps. He damaged the steering box and was unable to proceed.
Dixon was actually fourth man home, but was disqualified for running with a faulty exhaust system. sir William Morris generously decided that he should still receive the £100 which went with the third place in his class.