F.T.D. by Raymond Mays. Two Class Records Fall. Very Fine Drive in the Rain by John Bolster
A large crowd attended the International Prescott and the B.O.C. deserved better weather – it was fine for the first runs, but wet for most of the second half. And the starting area was very slippery throughout. Conditions were better for practice and “Bira” made best time with the 3-litre Maserati in 47.11 sec., against 47.23 sec. by Mays in the black 2-litre E.R.A. Sydney Allard, in the sprint-Allard, bettered his sports car record, unofficially, by .02 sec. Bear’s road-equipped twin-o.h.c., straight-8 1 1/2-litre G.P. Bugatti, with motor-cycle dynamo and battery, bulb horn and de Ramm front and Telecontrol rear shock-absorbers, was greatly admired. The Lones family had a busy time when the 500-c.c. engine in “Tiger Kitten” twisted off its flywheel and the 1,100-c.c. engine had to be installed to convert the car into. “Tiger Cat.” Jason-Henry was one of those in trouble, his ex-Dobbs 2-litre Riley, now with three S.U.s, misfiring badly. Lemon-Burton’s arrival in a Bugatti “Royale” saloon was one of the sensations of the Saturday afternoon.
Sunday’s racing opened with the unblown 1 1/2-litre sports class, in which Newton’s H.R.G. was an easy first from Donald Parker’s smoking Riley Nine and Peter Clark’s recently overhauled 85-b.h.p. “Le Mans” H.R.G. Unfortunately, Newton, running in the racing class, experienced a nasty front-wheel slide between Pardon Hairpin and the “Esses” and his front wheels folded up. In the blown 1 1/2-litre sports class Henning got the little 8-valve, four-cylinder Maserati going really well, doing 54.11 sec. on his second run, whereas Bear’s Bugatti couldn’t better 55.65 sec. Leonard’s M.G. was 3rd.
Harrison’s Riley went beautifully, to win the class for unblown sports cars up to 3 litres from St. John Horsfall’s T.T. 2-litre Aston-Martin and Crook’s “328” B.M.W. Harrison set a new class record of 52.49 sec., beating the old figure held by Leslie Johnson’s “328” B.M.W., by 2.03 sec. Horsfall also beat the old time.
Heath’s famous Alta took the equivalent blown class in 53.61 sec., from Oliver’s Type 35B Bugatti. Hartwell’s Alta was a very close 3rd, and record-holder James could not better 55.88 sec. in his “2.3” Alfa-Romeo. Abecassis drove the magnificent ex-Bagratouni “2.6” Alfa-Romeo, with padlocked external oil filler and Siata Telecontrols, but needed 56.14 sec.
The large unblown sports class saw Allard do a gallant run in 53.42 sec., the slippery starting area making a new record out of the question. Even Leslie Johnson, trying really hard with the Darracq, took 53.46 sec., and Len Parker’s “V12” Allard 55.12 sec. Hutchison broke his gearbox and lever on getting away, but later drove Imhof’s 1946 white 2-seater Allard up in 65.97 sec. in the wet, against the owner’s 56.2 sec. in the dry and 62.89 sec. in the rain.
Bear’s “4.9” Bugatti proved more than a match (55.47 sec.) for the “3.8” G.P. road-decked Bugatti in the big blown sports car class, Clarke doing 57.11 sec. and Potter 58.04 sec. in the latter car. The only runner in the 500-c.c. class was the beautifully-prepared and driven Strang “500,” with which Strang clocked 52.98 sec. on his first run, beating his own class record, by .72 sec. The exhaust megaphone gives him eight additional b.h.p.
Lones, now back with his V-twin engine, easily won the 501-1,100-c.c. racing class from the Wharton-Special, Nickols, in the ex-Parnell twin-o.h.c. M.G. “Magnette,” being 3rd.
A brace of E.R.A.s dominated the 1,101-1,500-c.c. racing class. Ansell finally put it across Whitehead’s very noisy car and Connell’s single-rearwheeled, ex-Rolt job, the times being 48.28, 49.14 and 49.92 sec., respectively, while Gerard’s E.R.A. took 50.24 sec. In the wet, however, the order was: Whitehead, Gerard, Ansell and Connell, the first-named doing a rousing and commendable 58.21 sec.
The Triangle span round before the “Esses” on its first ascent and the “Spider” ran once, braked only by a 60-ton-steel handbrake, to clock 58.46 sec.
Much praiseworthy work was seen in the up-to-2-litres racing category. Mays, going beautifully, hurled the E.R.A. up in 47.92 sec., delayed, obviously, at the now very greasy starting area. Then John Bolster put in his show for the owner-builders, with a simply staggering 50.1 sec. Harrison, on the unblown Riley, responded with 51.64 sec., Abecassis, on the green Alta, with 51.82 sec. Heath’s Alta did 52.83 sec., Rowley’s Type 35C Bugatti was good (54.09 sec.), and Wyer, deputising for Heal in the fine old 1924 G.P. Sunbeam, after a distressing practice period, clocked 55.53 sec. The rain completely spoilt the second ascents, Mays (scorning crash-hat) taking 56.08 sec. on a very polished, well-judged run; Heath 57.08 sec., Abecassis 57.35 sec. and Rowley 62.94 sec. Note then that Bolster, finding time amongst fighting one continual battle with his famous car, to pump up pressure at the “Esses,” clocked 54.41 sec. in a teeming downpour! Proceedings concluded with the big racing class and naturally “Bira” had things all his own way, in spite of touching the wood fencing on the inside of the “Esses” with his nearside rear wheels, which sent the Maserati into a double slide on its 49.5 sec. run. In practice “Bira” had tried single 6.00 x 18 rear tyres, then smaller twin rears, and ran with the latter on both his ascents. In the wet he took 58.34 sec. Norton’s Lincoln V12-engined Type 30 Bugatti somehow managed to get 2nd place to “Bira” with a time of 50.4 sec., but in the wet, looking as fast and maintaining air pressure with a hand-operated foot-type pump, took 64.02 sec. We still cannot believe it. Kenneth Evans, who towed the “2.9” Monoposto Alfa-Romeo to the hill behind a Wolseley saloon and was attended by Wilkinson, did a very fine first run, with much spin, in 50.9 sec., and in the wet heat “Bira,” but was himself beaten by Northway’s very quiet, steady Mercury-Nash, Allard, Bear’s Type 51 Bugatti, which got 4th place, and the Triangle.
So concluded an excellent meeting.
Paddock fIashes. – Abecassis’s Alta had a steering damper and used twin Goodyear rear tyres. Mays used 4.75 x 18 twin rear tyres. Pollock now had a single-belt-driven Marshall blower on his Frazer-Nash Six but it was a sick car. Turner’s Riley exuded a smell of “dope.” The ” Mephistophelgatti” now had a dural cowl behind its sloping Bugatti radiator but it still boiled over. Nickols smoked a cigar, Thomson a cigarette during their runs. Allard used a scuttle fuel tank to feed his four downdraught carburetters. Heath’s Alta sported a new exhaust system. As usual, Curtis’s broadcasting was first-class – but never again attempt to give the different Bugatti models their type numbers, Tony!