THE OUTER CIRCUIT “200s”
THE 1924 RACE (Continued from the September issue.)
SO we come to September 20th, 1924, and the last, and in many ways the greatest, Outer Circuit 200-Mile Race of the J.C.C. A record crowd attended, and when the starting semaphore fell, 39 starters (out of 50 entries) left the line in three rows, in a deafening roar of sound and action. The 11-litre non-starters were a Warwick, the Ceirano, one Thomas, two Bitgattis, an Aston-Martin and a Riley, while amongst the 1,100-c.c. cars only Newton’s Newton defaulted, while the baby class was deficient of SelbyBrigge’s and Samuelson’s Austins and the Vagova. The Alvis driven by Harvey held the lead for 50 yards, when Guhmess went ahead with his Darracq, followed by his team mates. Most of the 14-litre cars got away sluggishly, however, and Peacock (Warwick) stalled his engine, while Kaye Don (A.C.) lost half a lap, stationary. In 100 sec. Guinness had completed his initial lap, followed by Segrave, Duller, Joyce (A.C.), Halford (Alvis), Cushman (Bugatti) and the rest. Lap 2 the Darracqs did at a cool 106 m.p.h., leaving the A.C. fully 300 yards behind the last of the trio. 200 yards behind Joyce, Thomas had come up to 5th place. The 1.4-litre story is fairly soon told. Guinness, Duller and Segrave settled down to perfect formation-lappery at 108 m.p.h., and did so throughout the race. In three laps they were lapping the 750-c.c. cars. The only thing near them after the early stages was Harvey’s Alvis, and that was lapping at a mere 95 m.p.h. Don’s blown A.C. stopped after four laps for a change of plugs, and left still troubled. Thomas experienced temporary misfiring on his 4th lap, which cured itself automatically, and Coe’s blown Horstman, hastily prepared, was in a dire predicament. After 14 rounds the formating Darracqs slowed from a regular lap speed of 106 m.p.h. to an equally consistent 103. Thomas lost his off front tyre coming off the Byfleet, Harvey running over it, and thereafter the Marlborough-Thomas had repeated bootmaladies. On lap 8 Calder lost 5 min. in his pit working on his Horstman, and Densham retired his Bugatti. Blackstock (Bugatti) was going round at 884, and by 22 laps Joyce, a lap behind the Darracqs, was holding over 96. A splendid show was being put up by Eaton, whose standard 3-seater s.v. AstonMartin was only four laps behind the Darracqs at this stage of the contest. Coe had fallen back badly, lapping at under 90, and Purdy, on a sister car, retired on lap 24. Blackstock (Bugatti) changed plugs on its 26th lap, Gillow’s Aston-Martin also stopped, but Joyce had averaged 99 m.p.h. for 100 miles with the unblown A.C. Eaton went steadily round at 81, Katon (Marseal), many laps to the bad, had an elusive carburation bother, and Don and Blackstock were at the pits, the former with chronic plug oiling. Thomas had a narrow escape from ramming Coe when yet another tyre flew off his car as it crossed the Fork. The Darracqs, equally spaced, as healthy as ever, and absolutely consistent, completely dominated the race. On lap 50 they clocked 105 m.p.h., shortly afterwards Harvey had a brief pause at his pit, having pushed the Alvis in. The Eric Campbell was going unexpectedly well, at a lap speed of 86, but Don, Katon, Hall (AstonMartin) and Purdy were out for good. The first three places were assured, but Halford and Joyce were fighting for 4th position, the A.C. stopping to check the fuel, whereas the Alvis was lapping at 93. After 67 intense laps the Darracq team were taking it easier, at 102 m.p.h., and six cars had fallen out. Harvey’s Alvis was doing 90, the Marlborough-Thomas was in danger of losing the top of its scuttle and its exhaust system, and the end came almost before the crowd realised it. The three Darracqs slowed to 94 m.p.h. for their final lap, turned off at the Fork, and closed up to run-in in a row, undisputed victors. There was little cheering at first ; the performance of these wonderful little cars was so un
spectacular as to arouse little appreciation until times came through. Actually, Lee Guinness had taken 10 m. 7.4 s. less time than the previous fastest race winner, completing the course in 1 h. 58 m. 30.2 s., at an average speed of 102.27 m.p.h. Duller came home 1.2 s. later, at 102.25 m.p.h., with Segrave 3rd, 0.8 s. behind Duller, at 102.24 m.p.h. In the course of the race Guinness took the 50, 100 and 1 and 2-hour class records and the 200-Mile World’s record, the ” Hour ” at 101.93 m.p.h. The team went through non-stop to a pre-arranged plan, and the drivers are believed to have drawn lots to settle the finishing order. Magnificent show ! Joyce got away from Harvey and slowed up, doing only 75 m.p.h. on his last lap, the A.C. thus being 4th, while Cushman’s Bugatti was 5th, a minute ahead of the Alvis, with Miller’s Alvis 7th, Harvey’s Alvis 8th, the Eric Campbell 9th, Montant’s Bugatti 10th, Coe’s Horstman 11th, and Eaton’s semitouring Bamford and Martin’s AstonMartin 12th, the last-named averaging a very creditable 79.55 m.p.h. The Alvis team was the only one to finish intact, apart from Darracq. Amongst the 1,100-c.c. cars, 0. Wilson Jones led his group from the line, followed by Hawkes in another Salmson, Norris (Morgan), Zborowski (Salmson) and Ringwood (V-twin Frazer-Nash). Zborowski and Hawkes were rumoured to fear trouble. Ware’s Morgan proved a difficult starter, and Ringwood did not seem to have his engine warm enough for speed work right away. Jones went right out ahead, lapping much faster than Hawkes, and Zborowski and Norris duelled in the rear. Poor Ware lost much time replacing a broken top-speed dog, while Jones, right out ahead, lapped at nearly 89 m.p.h.—on a 1924 ” 1,100 ” with aeroplane elastic in lieu of shockers ! Ringwood changed plugs, and Ilawkes retired when his magneto coupling broke. The Morgans, after a good start, were dogged by ill-fortune. Ware pushed to his pit, Beart came in on a flat rear tyre,
• and Norris free-wheeled in with a broken top-speed chain. Only three 1,100-c.c. cars were in action at this time, the Frazer-Nash now managing to lap at 82 m.p.h. Excitement ! Just when Jones looked like winning by 20 or 30 miles his mechanic extended an arm, and the Salmson slithered into the pits. In a quick stop water was put into the radiator and the leader resumed, lapping at 86 m.p.h. Zborowski also came in for water, and Beart, having replaced a rear tyre, found that his engine quite refused to re-start. Ware, however, was in the race again, lapping at nearly 90 m.p.h. Came disaster. On his 33rd lap the Morgan’s rear wheel was seen to wobble and Thomas, on a pit-stop, reported smelling burning rubber when he passed this car. On lap 35, as it was crossing the Fork, the car swerved and crashed into the iron fence by the Vickers sheds. Both occupants were flung out and pieces of the car were scattered about the track. Ware sustained a compound fracture in both arms and severe concussion, and Allchin, the mechanic, was seriously hurt. Apparently the low-speed chain had become entangled in the rear wheel. Beart got away again but pulled in after two laps to hack away the wood round the rear wheel, probably a more cautious man after seeing Ware’s accident. After 57 laps the Frazer-Nash stopped with a flat rear tyre, and Zborowski retired when the oil filler cap flew off, shorted two plugs and seized the engine. It looked as if’ three 1,100-c.c. ears would finish, but at the very end Norris had to make another pit stop and could not complete the course within the three hours. Thus 0. Wilson Jones won the class at 85.7 m.p.h., having taken 2 h. 21 in. 24.6 s. This was slower than the 1922 time, but faster than Bueno’s time in 1923. Ringwood was 2nd, 20 min. later, at 74.06 m.p.h. Jones took the 200-Mile and 2Hour records in Class K, at nearly 86 m.p.h. Amongst the 750-c.c. cars, six Austins retired, but Gordon England had a wonderful non-stop run, taking 2 h. 40 m. 15.2 s., an average of 75.61 m.p.h. This was just over 1 m.p.h. slower than his 1923 average. Gordon Trendy was 2nd, only just in time to complete the course. All the other Austins appeared to retire from lubrication shortcomings, and even England’s car was smoking badly from the 69th lap onwards. A nasty noise also developed, but proved to be part of Continued on page 218 THE OUTER CIRCUIT ” 200s ” —continued from page 206
the seat fouling the transmission. England took the 100-Mile and 1-Hour class L records, at nearly 76 m.p.h. R. E. 0. Hall led off, with Waite and Kings behind. Cutler retired on lap 2, Dingle on lap 10, the leaders meanwhile lapping at over 70 m.p.h. Hendy was getting round at 68i m.p.h. Kings went out on lap 21, Hall on lap 63, and Hendy had gone up to 70 m.p.h. Of the fastest race laps, Duller and Segrave achieved 106.55 m.p.h. in the class, Jones 88.78 m.p.h., and
England 80.33 m.p.h. That, then, is the history of the Outer Circuit “200s.” They were the most important long-distance events in England in their day, and the cars constructed for them, as has been seen, were unique in their diversity and constructional interest. Theirs was a very formidable task and they performed astonishingly well ; the following table is a reminder of how these Track light ears went and of how they were developed in the course of four short years. For 192’5, 1926, 1927 and 1928 artificial corners were introduced for this race, and in 1936, 1937 and, at Donington in 1938, very different circuits were used, calling for road-racing-type cars. Which
is entirely another story.