SCRATCH CAR WINS THE 500 MILE RACE
JOHN COBB AND T. E. ROSE-RICHARDS BRING THROUGH THE NAPIER-RAILTON AT 121.28 M.P.H. LORD HOWE AND BRIAN LEWIS (3.3-LITRE BUGATTI) THIRD, ONLY 8 SECONDS BEHIND VON PER BECKE AND E. McCLURE (2-LITRE RILEY). INCESSANT TYRE TROUBLE CAUSED BY BAD SURFACE AND HIGH SPEEDS THE ORDER OF THE DAY
The Five Hundred Miles race always seems something of a gamble, with the dice usually loaded against the big cars. A shower of rain, for instance, or of late years the very speed that the limit runners have been expected to average has taken its toll of the Bentleys, Cobb’s big cars and the other heavy’ metal which has taken part. This year an entirely new factor crept in, the um!xpected Lyre wear of the smaller cars caused by a damaged track and also, no doubt, by the drivers’ endeavours to keep low on the banking so as to give a clear passage to the heavyweights, and for the first time in five years the biggest and fastest car in the race succeeded in running into first place.
Of the 41 entries seven came from abroad, but Hertzberger’s M.G. Magnette, the Alfas of Chinetti and Raph, and Rovere on the Maserati failed to materialise. Mrs. Stewart had brought over her famous record-breaking Derby and also the road-racing ).-litre car which was to have been driven by Mrs. Wisdom, but this one was scratched owing to damage to the timing gears. A famous car which did appear was the two-litre Hotchkiss with which Eyston and Denly recently took six long’ distance records at Montlhery, including 500 miles at 112.9 m.p.h., and which was fitted with a very cunning off-set singleSeater body. It ran quite well in the race, but the veteran Diva, who had come over from France to drive it complained that he had not had sufficient time to prepare it properly. Lord Howe was another driver of a foreign car who suffered in the same way ; his Bugatti arrived at about six in the evening of the day before the race ! The factory had had a sudden brainwave and instead of sending over the unsupercharged car which ran in the T.T., as had originally been arranged, they removed the blower and block from a Grand Prix
3.3 and put in its place a sports ” 3.3 ” block with a single carburetter.
The rest of the entry comprised .ears well known at Brooklands, such as Cobb’s Napier-Railton, fresh from its record-breaking in America, Wolff Barnato’s Hassan Special with an eight-litre Bentley engine and Marker’s 61,-litre. The Street and Duller Duesenburg had already been seen last year when Whitney Straight tried to beat the Brooklands lap record, and later attempted the Hour Record at Mont1h6rv.
No 500 Milos Race would have been complete w i ()lout Yearns of Rileys entered by Freddy Dixon and the works, while Munday brought back an old-stager in the shape of the Thomas Special. Major Gardner’s single-seater Magnette, formerly owned by Horton was the fastest amongst the 1,100 c.c. cars, while Denis Evans had entered a team of R-type M.G. Midgets just to challenge the big fellows. The cars were sent off in groups according to capacity, the blown 750’s and the unblown 1,100 C.c. cars being
the first to toe the line, and it says something for the efficiency of the modern baby car that they were expected to average no less than 111.9 m.p.h. for the 500 miles, being given a start of 24 minutes from John Cobb’s Napier-Railton on scratch. A shower of rain which fell just then gave some anxiety to the drivers of faster cars who would find their advantage lost on a flooded track, but the threat soon passed, and for the remainder of ‘he (lay there was nothing worse than dull skies and an oppressive heat. The small cars got away without incident led by Miss Doreen Evans, who started off lapping at 107 m.p.h. The
first pit stop came three minutes later, when Billy Cotton, who as a dance band leader was given more advance publicity than Cobb, Bertram or Dixon, brought in his Riley firing on three Cylinders. Mitchell-Thomson (Frazer-Nash) was in with a broken oil-filter joint and several cars were already calling at the pits for plugs. Eight minutes after he started Fairfield was in with one of the works two-litre Rile ys to change a front tyre and within the first half-hour Paul Dixon and McClure had made calls for the
same purpose. The Billy Cotton Riley, incidentally, played its last tulle’ at 12.22 and was retired with a burst exhaust manifold. MeClure’s tyre-burst happened on the home banking and was particularly disturbing to watch. First the tread pulled off and pieces a foot long shot into the air as high as the top of the banking, and then the inner tube disintegrated and sec tions rolled about like giant macaroni at the beginning of the Railway Straight. Quite evidently both the pits and the tyre people were going to have a busy day. At 12.24 John Cobb rumbled off with the Napier-Railton and was soon in his usual position near the top of the banking. The time-keepers then had the unenviable task of deciding who was leading on handicap, and at 12.30 the order was found to be:—
Apart from these the leading cars in their classes were Gibson (2.3-litre AlfaReined, Dixon (1986 c.c. Riley) ” Tim Davies ” (Frazer-Nash) and Miss Evans ( a.I.(; • M idget). Bertram was handling the Hassan in fine style, and in response to signals from his. pits was lapping at ever-increasing speed, his average an hour after the start working out at 126.57 m.p.h. The breaker strip was beginning to show on one of the tyres, however, and just after one o’clock he stopped and ‘changed three of them. This brought Cobb, whose speed was 125.9 m.p.h., into the lead. Everitt lost two minutes with the usual tyre change, and Lord Howe moved into third place, and Mrs. Stewart whose lightly-built Derby seemed to escape the prevailing malady was fourth at 114.1 Dixon’s usually prolific supply of horses had -again made him favourite for the race, but increasing his speed from 120 m.p.h. to close on 130 merely resulted in bringing him twice into the pits to change tyres in half an hour irStead of once. His team mate Paul made one stop, likewise Fairfield and McClure on the works cars. So prevalent did this tyre changing become, in fact, that an official bulletin was issued on the subject and accounted for the numerous failures
by the fact that the tyres had been underinflated in anticipation of a wet track. No doubt this was something to do with it, but another factor was that part of the Home Banking had started to crumble away with the pounding it received from the heavy cars, leaving deep sharp ruts whose effect on thin track tyres were plain to see.
The ” Five Hundred” was living up to is reputation as a car-breaker. Dobbs was in at the pits with his single-seater Riley with the cylinder head off, counting the pistons, and was apparently dissatisfied with what he saw and retired. Briault was having continued trouble with his M.G. Midget, first changing plugs and then transferring his attention to the carburetter, and Miss Evans changed plugs for the seventh thne. “Tim Davies ” was another plug-changer and retired at 1.10 with a broken timing chain, while Parnell gave up with strange noises coming from his timing wheels. Connell ,withdrew the Vale in less than an hour with a cracked cylinder head, while the Thomas Special, driven by Munday, averaged 90 m.p.h. for half an hour and went out with engine trouble.
Amongst the bigger cars, Dudley Froy’s 4.9 litre Bugatti was delayed with a broken petrol pipe, while Marker, whose Bentley had been lapping at just under 120 m.p.h., came in to have the oil pressure raised. Then the Derby was seen to slow down and Mrs. Stewart pulled in. Work proceeded on the front end of the car for some time, then the trouble was traced to the gear-box. Twenty minutes was lost on this stop, which put the Derby definitely out of the first flight. Mrs. Petre, who was driving Dr. Benjafield’s 2.6 litre Alfa-Romeo was at the pits with
plug trouble. The third of the ladies wl-to was driving, Miss Evans, retired with valve trouble, while Denis Evans and T. H. Wisdom the other members of the Evans’ team made constant and unsuccessful visits to their depot. From all this it might be thought that there were no fast cars still running, but this was far from being the case. At 1.30 Cobb was in the lead with a speed of 126.89 m.p.h., Bertram was just under two minutes behind on handicap with a speed of 122 m.p.h., and Lord Howe a
steady third at 118.6 m.p.h. Paul on a Dixon-tuned 1,808 c.c. Riley had so far triumphed over the tyre-problem by the sheer speed of the car and lay fourth. The Hamilton-Gibson Alfa-Romeo still led the 3-litres, Fontes on the Squire was, according to the scoreboard, first in the L500 c.c. class, though by this time it had retired with a split petrol
tank, Everitt was keeping the single-seater Magnetic moving at about 112 m.p.h., while Wisdom and Alan Phipps were /eliding the enfeebled ” 750’s.” In anticipation of his pit-stop, Bertram whipped up the horses of the Barnato Hassan so that he was actually lapping at over 130 m.p.h., while Cobb maintained 127, a figure which was also put up by Seaman on the Duesenburg, though the latter did not look to be having a very comfortable ride. • Cobb -was the first of the leading men
to come in. The 50-gallon petrol tank was replenished by means of hoses and rotary pumps, while the four enormous tyres were changed at the same time. This operation took over ten minutes, and despite a stop by Bertram of eleven minutes, much of which was spent in inspecting the petrol tank, the Hassan led Cobb by ten seconds at 2 o’clock. No sooner were the figures announced, however, than the Hassan was back at the pits; to join the other unfortunates in the dead car park with a split petrol tank. Hard luck indeed.
Shortly before Bertram’s misfortune Seaman had felt vibration from the tailcum-petrol-tank of the Duesenburg and stopped to investigate. In this case it was a tank-stay which had snapped, bringing about the retirement of one of the fastest cars left in the race. Fray’s 4.9-litre Bugatti, which had never got moving according to plan, was also retired at this stage with ” lack of power,” and yet another failure was the officiallyentered Riley driven by Fairfield and Pat McClure, owing to lack of oil pressure. Except for the Napier-Railton, the only car over 5 litres still running was Marker’s Bentley, which was now lapping at about 110 m.p.h. One of the few cars which had so far given no trouble was the 3.3-litre Bugatti driven by Lord Howe and Brian Lewis, rind which was now lying second behind Cobb, with a speed of 118.4 m.p.h. At 2.15 Howe swung into the pits for refuelling, and the car was at once pounced on by Thomas and other mechanics, swung up in a flash on to the racing jacks, four wheels changed and 20 gallons of fuel taken aboard. As the wheels touched the ground Lewis was in the driving seat and the car was away
again in 1 min. 40 sees., one of the smartest performances in the race.
Rose-Richards had been at the wheel of the Napier-Railton since the last pit-stop, and had made such progress in Spite of the damaged track that his position seemed unassailable.
Hamilton and Gibson still led the three litre class, Vickers (2.3-litre Bugatti) was still going, though much delayed when the undershield et–tine adrift, and Dunham and Oats had averaged 104 m.p.h. on their Speed Twenty Alvis, which was fitted with a light two-seater body. Mitchell-Thomson was the sole survivor of the 11-litre class, while Everitt and Major Gardner still led the 1,100 class.
There was a mild sensation when Lewis made two brief stops at the pits, but the car got away again with quite a healthy sound. McClure had lost his place to Paul as a result of a pit-stop, when he handed over to von der Becke, and RoseRichards brought in the scratch car once more and relinquished the wheel to John Cobb.
The exploits of the 2-litre Rileys had rather overshadowed the Hotchkiss which was in about the same time. Divo was at the wheel, and had been having what looked a comfortable run lapping steadily ac 110 m.p.h. Now he stopped for petrol and water but did not have to change his tyres and was off again in one minute. For some reason the Rileys no longer destroyed their front tyres, but transferred their attentions to the back ones, Dixon and von der Becke coming in within the next half-hour. Denis Evans and Briault withdrew their R-type Midgets almost simultanebusly after three hours running, in One case with one cylinder not functioning, and in th other held up by fuel starve tion. Marker’s Bentley came in misfiring and he lost se% en minutes changing plugs, lubricating the water pump chain, and filling up with water. Dr. Benjafield spent a quarter of an hour pushing the 2.6 Alfa imp and down in front of the pits and finally had to give up with a damaged
gasket, while Mrs. Stewart’s Derby fell time wayside with a orol«el piston. There were so many pit-stops among the first dozen cars that it was difficult En follow the order, but at three o’clock Cobb, who was averaging 122.75 m.p.h. was 41 minutes ahead of Lewis on the Bugatti, Everitt had made a startling move into third place, though a badly organised pit-stop just after this must
have lost him considerable ground. Paul on the Dixon-Riley dropped back to fourth place. Then there was a renewal of the mysterious misfiring on the Bugatti, and four precious minutes were lost in changing the plugs and diagnosing the fault. What had happened was that the petrol pressure had started to mount,
Causing the carburetter to flood and soot the plugs. Lewis had only seen the car for the first time the night before, and had not had a chance to discover how to release the pressure, and the delay occasioned by changing the plugs caused them to drop back to a position two minutes behind McClure and von der Becke. Cyril Paul meanwhile had lost five minutes at the pits changing plugs and refilling with oil, and another 11 minutes later on, and a newcomer appeared on the board, the Alfa-Romeo driven by Hamilton and Gibson.
With another hour to go Cobb pulled in for a final tyre change. During the last few laps Ile had received a nasty cut on the cheek from a lump of concrete thrown up by a car he was overtaking and was glad to hand over to RoseRichards. The stop only took 14 minutes which was creditable considering the weight of the immense tyres, and Tim set off again keeping quite law on the banking to polish off the fifty-odd laps that remained. The car was nothing like extended now, and barring accidents it was a certain Winner. Most of the cars which were due to give trouble had long since been cleared away, but Oats began a spot of lastminute bother with the cooling system of the Alvis. Rayson, who had so far had a trouble-free run on Dixon’s 1,100 c.c. Riley came in first for fuel and then for a _plug and finally for a general investiga tion which lasted nearly twenty minutes the trouble being apparently a choked filter. Brackenbury who had taken Paul’s place and was driving without goggles in an open-necked shirt, was Still going strong, even more so Handley, who was relaying Dixon. Driving as is his wont with foot hard down, he succeeded in (Continued on page 56o) bringing the Riley into fourth place, the two between them having averaged, in spite of nearly a dozen stops, 111.35 m.p.h. At one time Dixon was lapping at nearly 130 m.p.h. or faster than Cobb, so if the tyres had stood up to his driving there is little doubt that he would have .succeeded in winning the race for the second year in succession. As it was, H-anclley’s furious driving was to much for the long-suffering car, and passing the pits a few minutes before Rose-Richards was due to finish, there was a cloud of smoke from the engine and Handley coasted in with a large hole in the crankcase. To complete the misfortunes of the Dixon ‘camp, 13rackenbury came in a few minutes later. The undershield, which also forms the support for the driver’s
At 4.28 Rose-Richards came into sight round the Vickers Sheds for the last time and crossed, the line to win in the record time of 4 hours 28 minutes 52 seconds, which is equivalent to a speed of 121.28 m.p.h. Second place was bound to be a close thing. for Lord Howe was less than a minute behind McClure at four o’clock, and there was less than 200 yards between them now. However the Riley pit had hung out the ” full-speed ” signal in good time, and McClure’s final spurt carried him over the line with just 8 seconds to spare.
cushion, had broken away, and Brackenbury was in some danger of falling through the bottom and scraping along the track.
Hamilton and Gibson won back their fourth place, and the Marquis de Belleroche who had driven Manby-Colegrave’s Magnette single handed was a popular fifth. Divo brought home the Hotchkiss just within the allotted time, and Major Gardner failed by two minutes to make the distance, after lapping at 115 m.p.h. for the last few laps.
1. John Cobb—T. E. Rose-Richards (23.988 C.C.
Napier-Rallton), 4h. 28m. 529. 121.28 m.p.h.
2. Edgar McClure—A. von der Becke (LON c.c.
3. The Earl Howe—Hon. Brian Lewis (3,255 C.C. Bugatti).
4. A. P. Hamilton—R. Gibson (2,330 c.c. AlfaBorneo S.).
5. Marquis de Ficlieroche (1,087 c.c. M.G. illagnette S.).
6. A. Divo—Harry Rose (1,090 ex. H.otchkiss).