Shelsley Walsh Hill-Climb
Raymond Mays nearly equals his record for the Hill. Outstanding Climbs by Gerard's E.R.A., Hutchison's and Poore's Alfa-Romeos. Bolster's E.R.A. and Johnson's Darracq. Fastest unblown time by "Bloody Mary"
Those who did not attend Shelsley Walsh on September 27th missed an excellent meeting. Practice times gave great promise of high speeds if the course remained dry on the morrow — which it did. On the Saturday morning, Davenport was methodically rebuilding "Spider's" engine, which, incidentally, now has the camshaft driving chains at the front, and Pry had fitted new pistons in the Freikaiserwagen. Rupert Instone's G.N. "Martyr" was unrecognisable as a G.N., with i.f.s., new body and disc wheels, but it still has a Zoller-blown J.A.P. engine and chain drive. The Carlmark's side-members were liberally drilled and Moor's "Wasp" had Morgan-type i.f.s., with the cross-tubes made from Ford prop.-shafts, a James steering box, 3-in, tubular cross-members, and a box-member bracing the chassis, 5 in. deep side-members, Rudge front wheels, and a Hardy Spicer propeller shaft — as used on a Leyland lorry. The engine is almost entirely special, with forged crankshaft, Norton heads, hairpin valve springs, two magnetos and duplex chain drive behind the barrels to each camshaft. Mays' E.R.A. made an honorary climb, a cine-camera on its tail, to open the course.
As usual, Brandon proved absolute master of his Cooper, throwing it where-ever he wanted it, to win the 500-c.c. class in 44.11 sec. Cooper, very steady, clocked 44.48 sec., to take second place, and Strang, taking no chances on two steady ascents, was third. Martin's Marwyn, with transverse front suspension, suffered appalling front-wheel inclination and tyre flexion as it entered the S-bend, but clocked 48.84 sec., then missed a gear-change on run two. Aikens did 49.61 sec. in spite of hitting the inner bank of the "S," rear axle juddering as he changed down and accelerated away. He returned down the hill tied to the Marvvyn and apparently had lost his brakes, as he did not run again. "Buzzie" was steady and consistent (50.09 sec.), and "Stromboli" sat down very well (49.98 sec.). Bacon was neat, but the F.H.B.'s wheels shuddered and lifted (52.51 sec.). The tiny Bond 500 almost hit the bank and, bouncing from the drain in the road on its unsprung front wheels, shot clean across to the other bank, mounted it, and rolled over. Bond suffered facial injuries but walked to the ambulance and spent the rest of the day in the Paddock. Several marshalls carried the slightly-damaged car bodily off the course-it is undoubtedly more suited to Lea Bridge than to Shelsley Walsh. The Tiger Kitten did a fine 46.49 sec.
The 1,100-c.c. class was most interesting. David Fry slowed appreciably from high speed for the "S" on his first run and had two attempts at selecting a ratio, but, even so, clocked 43.18 sec. His second run was faster, although he cut momentarily leaving the "S." He clocked 40.61 sec., winning the class and the Newsome Trophy (that fine model) for being fastest "Shelsley Special." This beat his previous "Shelsley Special" best time by .91 sec. So fast was Wharton through the "S" that he had to ease up, but he was second, in 43.67 sec. Dowson's Lightweight was very fast through the "S" (44.15 sec.), but the new o.h.c. Nuffield engine went very sick on the second run, and Appleton's noisy Appleton-Special was faster, clocking 43.78 sec. on its first run, although fluffing somewhat and it, too, went sick on its second ascent. The new "Martyr" lifted its inside rear wheel leaving the "S" and at the same time lost a chain, but roared on to the finish, clocking 46.57 sec. Carlmark was quicker, in 45.91 sec., displaying care, excellent acceleration and small-section twin rear tyres. Weir's M.G. missed a gear and paused 100 yards or so from the start, but, on its next run, made no mistakes (44.34 sec.), while Vaughan, sliding slightly at the "S" and leaving methanol fumes in his wake, couldn't better 47.98 sec. in the Becke. Rivers Fletcher's M.G. had a broken valve spring (52.33 sec.), and the "Wasp" was very sick on its first run and expired on its second.
Ansell's blue E.R.A. was master of the 1 1/2-litre class. Spinning his wheels from the line, Ansell roared up to the "S," cornered so fast that the inner front wheel left the ground, and fairly hurled his car out of the last bend into the finishing straight-a rousing 39.60 sec. Vaughan obviously had immense power at his command in the long Fane-Nash, and, after a slight "incident" leaving the "S" on his first run, made probably the best time to the Kennel bend on his second ascent and really got moving to the finish, although seeming to "fluff" very slightly. Time, 40.11 sec., second in the class, a fine show on a car Vaughan is scarcely acquainted with yet. John Bolster, very neat and very determined, certainly deserved third place (40.44 sec.) in Bell's E.R.A. "Remus." Mortimer's Maserati was next best (40.92 sec.), tyres howling under brute-force cornering, and Crossley's off-set single-seater Alta was both very fast and commendably consistent (41.73 sec.). Leo Davenport's Alta blipped through the "S" but, fast along the straight, did 42.75 sec., and Spollen's Triangle-Special, on single rear tyres, front wheels flapping, clocked 44.06 sec., although its driver cut momentarily while accelerating out of the "S." Most praiseworthy was the 44.27 sec. of Newton's H.R.G., three stub exhausts on the rear side, huge rear tyres, and rear mudguards in place. It was .01 sec. faster than Williams, who smote the outside bank almost before he had thought of taking the "S," in Cowell's Alta, and who didn't run again. The Norris-Special managed 44.94 sec. on a nice, middle-of-the-road run, and Woodall actually made two climbs in the "Shelsley" Frazer-Nash single-seater, one in 45.32 sec., the next, in a very sick car, in 70.37 sec.
So we came to the 1 1/2-3-litre class. Raymond Mays has left us nothing fresh to say of his impeccable and always good-to-watch ascents of Shelsley. He made one of the finest starts ever, clocking 38.39 sec. on his first appearance and then pulled something extra out of the bag, to clock 37.69 sec., a time only .32 sec. below his existing course record. This magnificent run was 1.88 sec. faster than Mays' best ascent at any previous postwar meeting, and he isn't getting any younger. We wondered, seeing you positively swamped by autograph hunters afterwards, was it worth it, Ray? Gerard, getting off well and using his brakes heavily as he sped towards the "S," clocked 38.55 sec., being rather slower on his second run, but with second place intact in the class, as was richly merited. Hutchison, after an exceedingly good start, came steadily through the "S," displaying the fine accelerative powers of his ex-Ashby Alfa-Romeo. His second run was an even braver effort, a nasty high-speed drift towards the inside of the "S" meeting with no lessening of speed — time 39.10 sec., third in the class. "Bira's" Maserati suffered from a slight tail slide going into the "S" on its first run, bounced a lot, and touched the bank by Kennel bend on its second run, so that the Siamese driver couldn't better 37.69 sce. Rolt, his Alfa-Romeo coming tremendously fast into the "S," experienced brake snatch (39.10 sec.), and Salvadori, his radiator filler cap open on the first run, which may have slowed him, approached the "S" really fast on next ascent but was rather untidy (40.26 sec.). Taylor's Alta was neat (40.57 sec.) and Bolster did a simply tremendous ascent in "Mary," slowed by a tail slide at the "S " but looking quite safe and making fastest unsupercharged time of the day in 41.26 sec. Peter Monkhouse came up with smoke issuing from his Riley's cockpit and slid at the "S," but things went better, bar a nasty bump as the off-side twin rear tyres hit the drain, next time. Peter was really trying, tyres protesting, and his 42.55 sec. was very good indeed. Of the Bugattis. Bear did 44.19 sec, in his Type 51, Hamilton a fine 42.77 sec. in his "2.3," Fairman a creditable 43.88 sec, in his 2-litre, and Stubberfield's 2-litre, 44.28 sec., while Prosser's quiet 2-litre, rumoured to have a "2.8" crank and linered block, clocked 47.10 sec. Most of the Bugattis lifted their inner front wheel at the "S." Hamilton, incidentally, hit the outside of the "S" a nasty clout and became badly placed for the second half, but, keeping his wheels spinning furiously, just got round. Heath's 2-litre sports Alta deserves emphasis, with a time of 43.72 sec., on a very neat run. The "Spider" did 44.21 sec. on a steady, excellent and much-appreciated first ascent, but its front wheel grazed the bank leaving the "S" on its second run, which took .45 sec. longer. Carr's Alta recorded a surprising 45.73 sec. considering that it was a very unwell car.
The over-3-litre class saw Poore do a rather odd first ascent in the "3.8" Alfa-Romeo, on which he touched the bank by Kennel bend, went wide into the "S" with front wheels suffering, and looked down at his gear-lever between the corners. Even so, he clocked 39.73 sec., and his next run fulfilled this promise — winning the class in 39.07 sec. McAlpine, who has improved at almost every meeting since he began driving, was second in his Maserati (40.58 sec.), really working, and Leslie Johnson' road-equipped Darracq went very, very fast through the "S," just touching the outside bank, to clock 42.21 sec. We do not know if this qualifies officially, but it betters Connell's sports-car record with the same car, by 1.55 sec. The Steyr-Allard got off well, scrubbed the Kennels bank, but seemed to slow in the middle of the "S" (42.72 sec.). Newsome, careful after a bank-episode in practice, took 43.14 sec. in his very special 3 1/2-litre Jaguar that is said to do 6,000 r.p.m., and the odd and dangerous-looking Meph Gatti (Lincoln-Bugatti), a rear wheel locking-on going into the "S" each time, clocked 49.58 sec.
That concluded a most enjoyable meeting, if one overlooks a rather organised control of the Press and gross rudeness by a farm labourer with no armband or other credentials, who claimed to be in charge of the Paddock gate. Eric Findon did the commentary, prompted by Rodney Walkerley. No one seemed to miss the sports-car classes. We should like to see next year's meetings run to a time-table as is Prescott, and space given in the programme in which to write down the times. A strong protest against the cancellation of "basic" was broadcast during the interval, to a crowd that, unfortunately, was well below average size. Have you signed the R.A.C.-A.A. petition at your garage? Incidentally, the organisers cannot blame the daily and provincial Press for errors when their own "hand-out" of results quotes "Huthison," "Masarati," "Poor." "Gerrard" and "Freikaiserwagagon!
500-c.c. Class: 1st, K. Brandon (Cooper), 44.11 sec.; 2nd, J. Cooper (Cooper), 44.48 sec.; 3rd, C Strang (Strang), 46.25 sec.
501-1,100-c.c. Class: 1st, J. Fry (Freikaiserwagen), 40.61 sec.: 2nd, K Wharton (Wharton-Special), 43.67 sec.; 3rd, J. Appleton (Appleton-Special). 43.78 sec.
1,101-1,500-c.c. Class: 1st, R. Ansell (E.R.A.). 39.60 sec.; 2nd, Major Vaughan (Frazer-Nash), 40.11 sec.; 3rd, S. Bolster ( E.R.A.). 40.44 sec.
1501-3,000-c.c. Class 1st, R. Mays (E..R.A.), 37.69 sec.; 2nd, F. Gerard ( E.R.A.), 38.55 sec.; 3rd, K. Hutchison (Alfa-Romeo), 39.10 sec.
Over 3,000-c.c. Class: 1st, R. Poore (Alfa-Romeo), 39.07 sec.; 2nd, K. McAlpine (Maserati), 40.58 sec.; 3rd, L. Johnson (Darracq), 42.21 sec.
[N.B.—To obviate duplication of awards, the official results make Rolt and Salvadori 1st and 2nd in the 1 1/2-3-litre class and McAlpine and Johnson 1st and 2nd in the over-3-litre class.]