THE B.R.D.C. ” 500 “
JOHN COBB (NAPIER RAILTON) WINS DEVASTATING RACE AT 127.05 m.p.h. RILEYS SECOND AND THIRD, FIFTH AND NINTH. MANY RETIREMENTS
Tug curtailed ” 500 ” of the R.R.D.C.
was a great success. Although people in this country rather scorn outer-circuit races, the crowd behind the pits was dense the whole afternoon, and there was a goodly cluster of spectators on the Hill. At least four marques were entered with a view to publicity as well as prize money. Practice was hampered by very had weather and marred by the sad accident to Mrs. Petre, who, lapping in the s.v. Austin in rain on the Friday, came into collision with Reginald Parnell’s M.G. Magnette, which was passing, on the Byfleet Banking behind the Hawker works. Mrs. Petre was fimmg from her car and picked up unconscious, in which condition she lies in Weybridge Cottage Hospital at the time of writing, the Austin overturning several tinieS, and tearing off every filler-cap, finishing in the ditch. Parnell’s car broke through the railings and was extensively damaged, though Parnell was only slightly hurt. Our sympathy goes out to Major Petre and all Mrs. Petre’s relatives and friends. It is difficult to surmise what happened. The race suffered from the usual nonstarters, numbering the Delahaye team, the Talbot-Darracqs, in spite of their T.T. visitation, the Barnato-Hassan, the Bentley-Jackson, and, naturally, the s.v. Austin and Parnell’s M.G„ leaving a field of twenty. Definitely the race was a success, though had it been over .miles and not kilos. Cobb might have found his tyre problem more desper ate than it was. The Bimotore AlfaRomeo at last showed its form, the old Sunbeam was in great fettle, and ” Delahaye gave a truly impressive show. The Rileys were again outstanding. We humbly suggest that as the public does not seem to share our own enthusiasm for an outer-circuit race, that the B.R.D.C. try to obtain a really early date in the Calendar for future ” 500s.” Then, after a winter’s inactivity, spectators and drivers alike would welcome the event, while the old theory that the 500 ” breaks so many cars that it must be run at the tail-end Of the season now holds less truth than formerly, while many
experimental efforts might enter before. their chassis arrangements were suited to road-circuit racing. So we should like the race in April or May next time. The field lined up in the autumn sunshine very impressively at the Pork, the Napier-Railton by the sheds, then the Sunbeam, Delahaye, Bowler-Hofman, a Riley, and the Alfa-Romeo in time front row. Dixon’s Rileys had fuel tanks beside the drivers, the Sunbeam a big tank under the flap in the tail, its seat back-rest a mere slab of cushion on the tank’s leading edge, while the works
Rileys had their radiators blanked off at the base. The o.h.v. Austins had metal air-scoOps outside the radiator cowls, presumably to direct air onto the baseChambers, and Duller’s Duesenberg bore the nickname ” Helle ” on the radiator. As zero hour approached, the sky overcast and a tricky wind blowing, the Napier, Riley and Bowler-Hofman were push started, the last-named sending out much .smoke. Major Gardner’s Mercedl.As
Benz patrol car moved away, and Sir Malcolm Campbell, leaving his 57S Bu.gatti in the finishing straight, took possession of the starting Union Jack.
There’re off I Cobb led, the Sunbeam behind, followed by the Pacey-Hassan and Delahaye and everyone else in a tight bunch and much smoke and noise, with Dodson’s Riley last. Round they came, Cobb, Brackenbury (Sunbeam), HarveyNoble (M.G.), ” Bira ” (Delahaye), the Pacey-Hassan and the rest, E. W. H. Dobson’s Riley (an unblown 1,100 c.c.), sounding sick. On the next lap Charlie Dodson’s Riley was third, the Pacey fourth, the Duesenberg fifth, Alfa-Romeo sixth, Harvey-Noble’s M.G. seventh, and Bowler-Hofman eighth. Already the pits were busy. Dunham’s Alvis, which had come late to the line, was in on the first lap because the throttle control for the triple S.U.s came loose and, although Alan Hess put On full kit as the car returned to the race, he was not destined to get a drive. E. W. H. Dobson .stopped with engine trouble and Hadley was in in five minutes to change plugs leisurely, rubbing his eyes and nearly losing the cotton-wool from his ears, as mechanics worked on the car. By 3 p.m., Arthur Dobson’s Riley led, with C. Paul (Riley) second, the NapierRailton third, and Dodson’s Riley fourth. Hanson had slowed: on the Railway Straight to bring the little Maserati in for work in the cockpit and a discussion about pit signals. Hadley’s Austin restarted, broke a piston, and retired. Time Maserati followed it, a stone through the fuel-tank. Wilson’s long-tailed M.G., staffed by T. & T.s., came in for plugs and stayed two minutes, the cardboard rad-shield being removed hastily. Geoffrey Daybell on Dixon’s Iflitre Riley came in for a three minute examination and did not continue—oil pressure lost. The Bowler-Hofman sent out clouds of smoke from its bonnet on the Railway Straight and after a long examination retired with a broken piston and Wilkinson brought in Cotton’s M.G. to clean the
petrol filter. Wilson’s M.G. was soon back again for attention to the blower and a new set of plugs, after a T. & T. engineer had listened professionally to the engine note. Dunham stopped the Alvis far from his pit, changed plugs and finally gave up—the field was thinning early. ” Bira ” was engaged in a magnificent duel with the Pacey-Hassan which the Delahaye finally led and there was nothing to choose between Maclure’s Riley and Cyril Paul’s Riley, both in third place, which lapped consistently, with ‘Wilkinson, using a lot of banking
in the M.G., between them. Duller brought the Duesenberg round close in, for it was running slowly, suffering its old malady of a weak clutch. Cobb had done his standing lap at 114 m.p.h., and now held over 130, the Bimotore Alfa, steadier than we expected, was doing about 122, Cobb gaining perhaps 200 yards a lap, while the Sunbeam was as fast as the Alta, the Delahaye whistled round beautifully at 118, Goodacre (Austin) and Maclure (Riley) were at over 110 and Charlie Dodson lapped in Dixon’s remarkable Riley at 120, later to speed up and pass the Sunbeam. So that at 3.30 p.m., Cobb led at 129.4 m.p.h., Dodson was second at 122.3 m.p.h., Brackenbury third at 112.2 M.p.h., and the Sunbeam fourth at 121.9 m.p.h.—on handicap. Meanwhile the pits had been busy. The Bimotore stopped to report slight engine trouble and a loose tank and crawled off in what was later seen to be a characteristic style. The blue-clad Duller got out of the Duesenberg and Pyrene was squirted at the clutch while the driver changed his crash-hat for a soft helmet—there were five big oil guns and special funnel, etc., in this pit. The Pacey passed the Delahaye, which slip-streamed and repassed, the Austin almost holding them. Wilkinson again cleaned the M.G.’s filter, very quickly, and Cyril Paul came in, there were cries
of “No. 1 ” and that plug was changed in two minutes, Paul rubbing his goggles on his overalls and donning them hastily to be pushed off. He reported oil-pressure down to nearly 40 lb. Harvey-Noble then came in to refuel (20 gallons), which was done (water included) in 60 secs. in spite of overshooting, Noble taking a drink and the screen cleaned. Refuelling was done ingeniously from an overhead tank fed by an air cylinder and four men push-started the car. This pit tank could only be refilled from pint cans, however, so his staff worked hard. The M.G.,
indeed, did not restart properly and was pushed back for three fresh plugs, the one-piece bonnet and scuttle facilitating this two minute job, cans of water also being poured over the exhaust. Then Goodacre came in and the Austin was refuelled in sixty seconds with 20 gals., from cans, and oil from a gun, no splash sheet being used. Goodacre, visor splashed, went away yelling ” be all right ! ” to his chief. Exdtement ! The Napier’s off rear tyre had gone. Taylor was out on the Track, holding a strip of tyre-wrapping to mark the pit
TOT John. The big car stopped, Hassan worked calmly on the faulty wheel, the other rear tyre and off front tyre were changed and fuel put in via a big hose from the overhead tank. At “forward, driver ! ” Oliver Bertram took over and in 3 mins. the Napier was racing again. Cyril Paul had two stops, both to change No. 1 plug in the Riley, and the Sunbeam refuelled and had both rear wheels changed very rapidly.
By 4 p.m. the Napier led at 127.4 Maclure was second at 112.4 m.p.h. and Dodson third at 119.1 m.p.h. Bertram was holding the average down to about 126, but Maclure was lapping at 112 and profited by Dodson’s pitstop. But soon Dodson was in second place again as Maclure stopped for tyres. Goodacre also going up to third.
Riley mechanics now rushed along to the retired cars to remove the rear wheels from Daybell’s car in readiness for Madure’s stop. The Napier, not easy to hold in the wind, now lapped Wilson’s M.G. almost every round, HarveyNoble’s M.G. sounded ” bubbly ” and the Sunbeam snaked onto the Home Banking. ” Bira ” now made his only stop, three wheels being changed, and fuel allowed to overpour badly during the refill. 4` Bira’s ” left arm was badly burned by acid from the battery and he complained, too, of his face, medical attention being necessary afterwards. The Delahaye’s screen was very dirty. Two mins. elapsed as Dodson replenished and re-tyred (not retired !), Freddie Dixon himself on the cans, after the pit position had been indicated by the holding aloft of a fuel funnel. Dodson left the seat ; water was added. Yells of ” pressure ” greeted the push-start. Paul’s Riley was still bothered by No. 1 plug and the jets were changed to try to ease matters-a 7 Mill. delay. The Due,senberg came in, Mrs. Hawke., relieved a quizzical Duller -and fuel was put in the tank and Pyrene in. the clutch. A very fine pit-effort was the 60 secs. stop of Cotton’s M.G., during which 13 gallons of fuel, water and oil were added and the screen cleaned. The Alfa now refuelled and changed tyres and Staniland took over, to push its lappery up to 129 m.p.h. or so. Harvey-Noble was in once more to take on 5 gallons of fuel, change rear wheels, add water, and put in three new plugs—the latter his undoing that -day. The M.G. failed to get away cleanly and plug trouble persisted. Wilkinson -now found a petrol leak in Cotton’s M.G. and worked hard, wiring on the fan-tail, etc., to McConnell’s intense interest, but Cotton slowly took off his racing attire and the car was pushed away. Paul, too, was again in distress, the Riley’s plugs and fuel lines being inspected -without trace of the real trouble—a
14 mins. stop. The Duesenberg was brought in for clutch adjustment, Duller -resuming and the Napier had all four wheels changed, Cobb replacing Bertram and going faster to make up the 14 mins.
delay. Madure’s stop for tyres, water and 10 gallons of fuel had taken 2 mins. Once again Noble came in for ” candles,” now undoing the rear bonnet strap as he approached his pit. Wilson had 15 gallons put in, also water, in 2 mins., snatching a gulp of real lemonade (vide -official B R. D.C. Bulletin !). Goodacre was now scuttling the little Austin up and down the banking to pass, -going splendidly, when the off rear tyre showed the breaker and it was changed,
15 gallons of fuel and oil from a gun also, all in 2 mins. Still Noble battled with plugs, and Maclure was given the ‘• faster” signal. Wilson had one very rapid stop, amid great excitement, mechanics locking the steering wheel over themselves to get him away. At 4.30 p.m. Cobb led at 125.7 m.p.h., behind handicap but now going round at about 135 m.p.h. Dodson’s Riley was -second at 119.8 m.p.h., Dobson (Riley) third and Goodacre (Austin) fourth. The Tacey-Hassan, slowly breaking up it seemed, had water added to its radiator, steam shooting up as it went in and fuel was added dining a rapid stop, Pacey being given a drink and instructed only to gargle it. He went off without goggles, to Mrs. Pacey’s concern, oil-smoke streaming from the cockpit and fuel slopping all over the tail. The closing laps were stimulating. Goodticre, going all he knew, felt funny things happening as the Austin went onto the Home Banking on lap 102. He slowed carefully and abandoned the
car with the track-rod broken. Then, try as he might, Powys-Lybbe, driving splendidly, could not prevent Maclure passing the Sunbeam. Now the NapierRailton’s off rear cover was in shreds ! With most of the public we expected vast excitement as we were not aware that Cobb had been flagged. Actually he had just managed to win, dramatically enough, for he could hardly have motored another fast lap without a change. Lord Howe presented the drivers with their plaques in the finishing straight, McConnell handed out much needed refreshment, and they were left to the movie-men. 2 mins. 59.6 secs. later a quite calm Charlie Dodson came in second in Dixon’s famous silver Riley, met by Fred himself, and 2 mins. after that a very serious Maclure got his Riley in third—he had been partnered for a while by Jean Trevoux. The gallant old 12-cylinder 4-litre Sunbeam came in fourth with a
rear cover ready to subside, having averaged second fastest speed. Arthur Dobson got his works Riley home fifth and Chris Stanilan.d’s fast laps and Austin Dobson’s tough work gave the Bimotore Alfa-Romeo sixth place. Cobb did a closing lap at 136.45 m.p.h.—fastest that day.
Twelve cars retired, two with broken pistons, one with lubrication trouble, one with run big-ends, three with engine trouble generally, one with clutch trouble, one with a broken track rod, two with broken fuel tanks, and one with fuel feed trouble—thus 500 kilos. of Brooklands. The race was a triumph for the 24-litre track-racing Napier-Railton, assisted by Dunlop covers and T. & T. pit work. The Rileys which ran unblown and seem equally at home on toad and track deserve even more praise than is usually accorded to place-men. Dodson and Maclure both had the honour of beating the works cars. The Napier took the ” all-British ” prize ; Rileys the team prize.