The International Prescott Meeting
Raymond Mays' E.R.A. makes F.T.D. in 50.12 sec. and Secures British Hill-Climb Championship. Rain Prevents Record Climbs.
Splendid Runs by Brandon's Cooper 500 and Oliver's G.P. Bugatti.
After magnificent weather for all the sprint meetings held since the end of August, rain came to Prescott to reduce times at the International Meeting on September 14th. Nevertheless, a considerable crowd of spectators arrived on their various dregs of "basic" and the organisation was of the best, if one overlooks a certain Gestapo effort in excluding people from the Paddock (Wharton, for one, having practised, had the utmost difficulty in getting back again to his car after lunch!), and the unpopular action of the R.A.C. Steward in directing certain gentlemen-of-thePress to particular vantage points, instead of letting them use their own discretion as to where it was safe to stand. Practice was enlivened by Bear, recovered from his accident at Craigantlet, harmlessly investigating the undergrowth, and by a magnificent ascent by Brandon, in which the Cooper 500 got up in under 50 seconds, unofficially beating Strang's class-record.
Wandering round the Paddock, we noticed the Stafford-Special with a beautiful cover over its bonnet, Alan Southon wiring up portions of the valve gear on the Becke-Powerplus, a mechanic inserting duplex chain into the rear of the Fane-Nash, and Robin Jackson standing by as Hutchison's Alfa-Romeo was warmed up at a smart tick-over, after which the monoposto was reversed on to the grass and into a special tent which had been erected for it. Shorrock was explaining the blower installation on Pollock's "Shelsley" Frazer-Nash to interested onlookers. The huge Shorrock blower lives at the rear of the engine on the near side and is driven via a long shaft by a triple belt-drive at the front, at approximately engine speed, giving about 12 lb./sq. in. boost. Leonard's M.G. had been rebodied and the Baines brothers had brought their R-type M.G. out of retirement; it has a non-standard radiator cowl and twin-cam Pomeroy head. On the tail of the Becke was that fine model of an i.f.s., shaft-drive chassis with two blown V-twin engines, that comprises the trophy for fastest "special" at Shelsley Walsh. Naturally, all eyes were on Raymond Mays, in the lead for the British Hill-Climb Championship. He lunched in his Mk. VI Bentley, wearing flannels, wind-jacket and cap.
The course was opened by the latest thing in 100-m.p.h., Type 57 Bugatti saloons, and, promptly at 2 p.m., over a wet course, continually damped by showers, the runs commenced.
Donald Pitt, blipping his way up, his M.G.'s front wheels flapping, had matters all his own way (61.22 sec.) in the class for unblown 1 1/2-litre sports cars, until Newton's H.R.G. came up, a thought untidily, to clock a rousing 57.90 sec. Peter Clark drove his "Aerodynamic" H.R.G. neatly, Claridge's Frazer-Nash was in trouble at the top of the hill, and Staddon, driving his Meadows-H.R.G. recently bought from its first owner, a bearded old gentleman who never ran it above 45 m.p.h., just touched the bank on a neat ascent. Mrs. Gerard did a lot of elbow work in the Riley and Fisher's "Ulster" Aston-Martin — one of the team cars — was disappointingly slow. That was before the tea interval, and during the second runs, when the course had dried appreciably, Newton consolidated his victory by clocking 52.51 sec., while Mrs. Gerard secured second place on a fierce run. Claridge made up for his earlier failure with third place, but Staddon over-diced coming out of the Esses and went just over the edge of the road, which entirely ruined a fast run.
Of the blown 1 1/2-litre sports cars, Leonard's M.G., sliding in the wet, was fastest on both its runs, Kennington's M.G. turning the tables on Jacobs' blown TC M.G. on its second run after being troubled by excessive wheelspin in the wet. Pollock, his engine scarcely run-in, was slow, just beating Trowbridge's blown "Ulster" Austin, which, in turn, vanquished Bowles' sister car by the narrow margin of .07 sec. Both Austins were very neatly driven.
In the first half, Oscar Moore's 328 B.M.W., sans radiator grille, did a fine run in 61.28 sec. in the class for 1 1/2-3-litre unblown sports cars, but he couldn't manage better than third place on the drier course after tea. Tyrer, making a careful start in the wet, improved over ten seconds on his second run, in the lightened B.M.W., to win from Crook's 328 B.M.W. Tipper's Healey seemed too softly sprung and its steering low-geared for this course, Wykes' Frazer-Nash toured up, as did Finnemore's 'Nash, and cigarette-smoking Sarginson was slow in his M.G.
One of the notable drives of the afternoon came in the equivalent blown class. Oliver brought his 35B, aluminium-wheeled "2.3" G.P. Bugatti up in just under 60 sec. in the wet, and then clocked a magnificent 51.66 sec. on his second run. For a 1927 design car this was an amazing performance, and even Abecassis, on Heath's 2-litre class-record Alta, couldn't better it, although he held the car really close in to the kerb entering the Esses and swung it wide through the corner thereafter, as he was to do later in his "3.3" Bugatti. The fact remains that Oliver beat Abecassis by .8 sec. and, incidentally, came within .17 sec. of Clarke's "3.3" G.P. Bugatti. Prosser's Bugatti, the rare ex-Esson-Scott twin-cam, 2-litre car, with non-standard tail and painted radiator, went beautifully and with very little noise, to take third place, while Spindler placed his 1 3/4-litre Alfa-Romeo very nicely for the corners, experiencing a slide on his second run as he left the Esses. Landon's 2 1/2-litre Alfa-Romeo was smoking and Dix experienced considerable wheelspin as he accelerated from the Esses in his 1 1/2-litre Alfa-Romeo.
Leslie Johnson easily won the class for unblown sports cars over 3 litres, and he thoroughly deserved to do so, for he handled the Darracq faultlessly, with none of the snaking and frantic wheel-sawing indulged in by so many of the drivers. He experienced vicious slides into and out of the Esses in the wet but held them in his usual style. Sydney Allard made fastest time to date on his first run in the special sports Allard, displaying real acceleration between Esses and Semi-Circle, but he lost time on his second run, so that his brother's 1946 Mercury-engined Allard, expertly handled, was second to Johnson. Donald Parker's pretty Parker-Martin, which he has painstakingly developed from Aston-Martin and Ford V8 components, was a good third, beating Sydney Allard's second run by .11 sec. Mansell drove his Allard in spirited fashion, exhaust "popply" on the over-run, Price was slow, and Tom Cole's special Jaguar mounted the bank at Pardon Hairpin on its first run, after similar excursions in practice, but was fast nevertheless, and well driven for a newcomer. Dawson's 4 1/2-litre outside-piped Lagonda was driven fast, going through the hedge at the Semi-Circle on its first run, without damage, but Monro was sedate in the seclusion of his Skinner saloon in spite of a bonnet strap. Imhof's white Allard did an immense first run, to beat both Bugattis in the class for supercharged sports cars over 3 litres, although James' "4.9," its front suspension dealt with by Monaco Ltd. fairly snaked away from the Esses, and Clarke's beautiful "3.3" left a business-like aroma behind it. On their second runs Imhof just clipped the inside of the Esses and James brushed the outer bank in entering these corners, and it was left to Rodney Clark to show us a very rapid, nicely-judged run. He clocked 51.49 sec., another of the day's great drives, which beat Imhof by 3.15 sec.
The "500s" opened the racing-car ascents. Brandon, flinging the Cooper exactly where he wanted it, was easily the fastest, his first run taking 55.01 sec., his second run 53.46 sec., the racing cars having a slippery course for both runs. Aikens did a snap change down in the Esses and crackled away in the Aikens 500 to clock second best time, and Cooper, his left hand heavily bandaged as the aftermath of his van catching fire on the way back from Poole, was a brave third. Lones snaked into the corners in the new Tiger Kitten and used plenty of revs, but Collins had the transmission (probably the Austin Seven gearbox) of the old Lones Special fly asunder by the Pardon enclosure on his first run. Strang blipped up in a cloud of smoke from the Strang 500's megaphone and was disappointingly slow.
Dowson was complete master of the 501-1,100-c.c. racing class in the Lightweight, with its hush-hush o.h.c. 748-c.c. engine. Major Vaughan found the Becke misfiring on its first run, but all was well next time and he beat the Appleton-Special for second place, in spite of John Appleton doing all he could and bumping the bank at Orchard Corner on his first run, the car as noisy as ever, but losing a little at the Esses on its second ascent. Kennington held a nasty slide as his M.G. entered the Esses on its second run, Wharton was very fast in the crisp-sounding Wharton, aided by a long, pushon hand brake, and Symonds had the ex-Brettel Austin going very well, its acceleration pleasing to see. Rivers Fletcher seemed to have his shock-absorbers too hard and was slow, his M.G. bouncing appreciably and sliding nastily into and out of the Esses. Richards got away well in his Riley and possessed plenty of acceleration, but was cautious with the throttle, Baines only got four cylinders when his R-type M.G. was given its head, but Protheroe's ex-Chambers Austin Seven seemed happier than when Marcus owned it.
In the 1,101-1,500-c.c. racing-car class Leonard's M.G. hit the inside bank as it cornered at the Esses and Blomfield's Bugatti was slow, as was the Stafford-Special. When the course was really wet Spollen's Triangle-Special, swinging neatly through the Esses, Major Vaughan's Fane-Nash, blower whining on a wild ascent, and Newton's amazing H.R.G., now stripped of spare wheel and bonnet sides, actually bettered the time made by Ansell's E.R.A., which experienced a skid near the start The second half altered all that, as the E.R.A., although seeming to slow momentarily while accelerating from the Esses, nevertheless clocked 51.89 sec. Vaughan, placing the long Fane-Nash really neatly for the Esses and controlling a series of slides therefrom, was second, in 52.92 sec., and the irrepressible Newton made third best time in the sports H.R.G., in 58.44 sec., just beating the Triangle-Special, which skidded as it left the Esses. Habershon, in the straight-eight Delage, missed a gear change on his second run and couldn't better 56.12 sec., being beaten by Leonard's M.G., while the Norris-Special was but .7 sec. slower. Baring's Maserati took 56.82 sec. and Foster's Bugatti, in spite of "boot polish" fuel, was a sick car.
Keen anticipation was the prelude to the class for 1,501-2,000-c.c. racing cars, for in this category the 2-litre E.R.A.s of Gerard and Mays were competing. Prosser's Bugatti, wings still in place, opened with a run in 59.66 sec., Crook's B.M.W. being slightly slower, but Fairman's Bugatti a little faster in spite of a bad skid. Gerard then started from the driest patch he could find, on the right-hand side of the road, and got away carefully to avoid wheelspin, clocking 56.74 sec. on his first run. Amid tense excitement Mays placed his E.R.A. on the left-hand side at the start and made a splendid get-away. Obviously, however, the course was too slippery for the car to be properly extended and Britain's greatest sprint exponent had to be content with a time of 55.03 sec. This was slower than Brandon in the 1/2-litre Cooper, and when three cars bettered Mays' time in the next class, we began to wonder what was amiss. May's fans need not have worried. After getting down to 52.47 sec. in the Team event, he came up in a typical ascent on his second run in the class we are discussing, leaning tensely forward, still wearing a cap, the 2-litre displaying acceleration wonderful to behold. Time-50.12 sec., f.t.d. and making the Bourne driver the indisputable holder of the 1947 British Hill-Climb Championship. The spectators loved it.
Passing to the big racing-car class, McAlpine began with a rousing 54.41 sec.. opening up right in the middle of the Esses with no hanging about. On his second run, when the course was in better condition, he managed 52.33 sec. and this is not only extremely creditable for one of McAlpine's short experience of racing, but a grand tribute to Continental Cars Ltd., who assembled and prepared the car. Hutchison drove very neatly but seemed to open-up rather later from the Esses and his Alfa-Romeo couldn't better 52.58 sec., a little time also being lost away from the start. Abecassis was equally polished and very quick through the Esses in the "3.3" Bugatti and was second in the class, it being left to Poore, in the 3.8-litre Alfa-Romeo, which many thought too large for Prescott, to clock 51.36 sec. and beat all his rivals. He used twin rear tyres and the car really accelerated. Incidentally, Poore, like Mays and Gerard, was using Lodge Plugs.
Up to half-time Sydney Allard's Steyr-Allard led the class (54.19 sec.), but a spot of rear-axle judder under the brakes probably spoilt his second run and he needed 51.66 sec., exhaust explosions enlivening the overrun. Lloyd Jones' Triangle Special, on twin rear tyres, was silently impressive (54.45 sec.), Bear fought his Bugatti (52.78 sec.), and Buck tried really hard after a series of slides in the wet, his Bugatti clocking 55.85 sec. Stubberfield's Type 35B Bugatti had trouble on its second run, the driver operating the ignition control without improvement (57.49 sec.). Davenport was good to see in the 2-litre Spider and was right on form, only poor brakes spoiling a really good run (54.78 sec.). Allan Arnold, in his odd-looking Type 51 Bugatti, slid going up to the bridge and blipped his throttle thereafter, his second run taking 54.54 sec.
After the interval, and before the second runs, the Team Contest was run off. The Mays-Gerard-Ansell-E.R.A.s won by less than a second on aggregate time from the Hutchison-Bear-Abecassis team. As already mentioned, Mays did 52.47 sec., in spite of a power slide from the Esses. Sydney Allard's run in the sports Allard, flames appearing at the exhaust stubs, a slight tendency to go straight on at the Esses instantly corrected, was also worth the money, and occupied 53.55 sec.
So ended a most successful season of Prescott hill climbs and, as the big crowd wended its divers ways home, everyone must have hoped that next year's meetings will be unaffected by the National Distress. Weare happy to say that Eric Giles is most optimistic.
Unsupercharged Sports Cars up to 1,500 c.c. - 1st, E. Newton (H.R.G), 52.51 sec.; 2nd, Mrs. Gerard (Riley), 54.66 Sec.; 3rd, G. Claridge (Frazer-Nash), 56.80 sec.
Supercharged Sports Cars up to 1,500 c.c. - 1st, L. Leonard (M.G.), 53.79 sec.; 2nd, F. Kennington (M.G.), 56.62 sec.; 3rd, R. Jacobs (M.G.), 57.54 sec.
Unsupercharged Sports Cars, 1,501-3,000 c.c. - 1st, G. Tyrer (B.M.W.), 53.41 sec.; 2nd, T. Crook 54.14 sec.; 3rd, G. Moore (B.M.W.), 55.35 sec.
Supercharged Sports Cars, 1,501-3,000 c.c. - 1st, R. Oliver (Bugatti), 51.66 sec.; 2nd, G. Abecassis (Alta), 52.46 sec.; 3rd, D. Prosser (Bugatti), 52.76 sec.
Unsupercharged Sports Cars Over 3,000 c.c. - 1st, L. Johnson (Darracq), 52.18 sec.; 2nd, L. Allard (Allard), 53.27 sec.; 3rd, D. Parker (Parker-Martin), 54.43 sec.
Supercharged Sports Cars Over 3,000 c.c. - 1st, R. Clarke (Bugatti), 51.49 sec.; 2nd, G. Imhof. (Allard), 54.64 sec.; 3rd, J. James (Bugatti), 57.66 sec.
Racing Cars up to 500 c.c. - 1st, E. Brandon (Cooper 500), 53.46 sec.; 2nd, F. Aikens (Aikens 500), 54.71 sec.; 3rd, J. Cooper (Cooper 500) 55.75 sec.
Racing Cars, 501-1,100 c.c. - 1st, J. Dowson (Lightweight-Special), 52.94 sec. 2nd, A. Issigonis (Lightweight), 54.79 sec. 3rd, Major Vaughan (Becke-Powerplus), 55.18 sec.;
Racing Cars, 1,101-1,500 c.c. - 1st, R. Ansell (E.R.A.), 51.89 sec.; 2nd, Major Vaughan (Fane-Nash), 52.92 sec.; 3rd, E. Newton (H.R.G.), 53.44 sec.
Racing Cars, 1,501-2,000 c.c. - 1st, R. Mays (E.R.A.), 50.12 sec.; 2nd, F. Gerard (E.R.A.), 51.13 sec.; 3rd, D. Prosser (Bugatti), 54.24 sec.
Racing Cars Over 2,000 c.c. - 1st, R. Poore (Alfa-Romeo), 51.36 sec.; 2nd, G. Abecassis (Bugatti), 51.58 sec.; 3rd, S. Allard (Steyr-Allard). 51.66 sec.
Team Event. - 1st, Mays, Gerard and Ansell (E.R.A team), 161.47 sec.; 2nd., Hutchison, Bear and Abecassis (Alfa-Romeo, Bugatti, Bugatti), 162.16 sec.; 3rd, Allard team 165.90 sec.
The Twelve Fastest Times:
R. Mays (E.R.A.), 50.12 sec. (£100 and silver cup, f.t.d.).
F. Gerard (E.R.A.), 51.13 sec. (£30 and silver cup, 2nd f.t.d.).
R. Poore (Alfa-Romeo), 51.36 sec. (£20, 3rd f.t.d.).
R. Clarke (Bugatti), 51.49 sec. (£15, fastest sports car).
G. Abecassis (Bugatti), 51.58 sec.
S. Allard (Steyr-Allard), 51.66 sec. (£10, fastest unblown car).
R. Oliver (Bugatti), 51.66 sec.
R. Ansell (E.R.A.), 51.89 sec.
L. Johnson (Darracq), 52.18 sec.
K. McAlpine (Maserati), 52.33 sec.
G. Abecassis (Alta), 52.46 sec.
E. Newton (H.R.G.), 52.51 sec.