Shelsley Walsh Hill-Climb

The Shelsley Walsh Hill-Climb on September 23rd was full of interest, yet attracted the smallest crowd we have ever seen there—which suggests that circuit-racing is stealing the sprint thunder. Before the war the customers wanted both but it cost them less to get there in those days.

A fine morning changed to the traditional Shelsley rain after the first runs. so f.t.d. was decided during the first half. Dennis Poore deservedly secured this, his Alfa-Romeo clocking 37.74 sec., in spite of clouting the bank as it power-slid from the start. Sydney Allard drove magnificently both in the dry and in the rain, making second best time in the Steyr-Allard, in 38.05 sec., a new record for unsupercharged cars, beating Moss’ Cooper record by .14 sec. Ken Wharton proved himself at the top rank of sprint exponents. Not content with breaking the 1,100-c.c. record in his Cooper 1,000 in 40.54 sec., he really turned on the power in the wet, and he got Bell’s 2-litre E.R.A. up in 38.83 sec. to win the 3-litre class, beating Raymond Mays’ Zoller-blown E.R.A. by 0.17 sec. Just to show it was no fluke, Ken then went up 2.53 sec. faster than Ray in the rain. Even Ray’s “fans” have to admit that that he should know the way up Shelsley much better than Ken. [Great credit, too, to Bolster, who in 1948 got this car up to 38.16 sec.].

Peter Collins made a brilliant ascent in his 1,260-c.c. Cooper-J.A.P. to win the 1 1/2-litre class class, in which the only opposition came from Poore’s rough-riding Cromard and Mrs. Moncrief’s gentle Bugatti.

The 500-c.c. class was a very close thing between Lones’ new Tiger Kitten in 43.13 sec. and John Cooper’s Cooper, which knocked .01 off this time. Collins was third fastest, in his Cooper. Heath’s Cooper 1,100 and Christie’s Kieft 1,100 followed Wharton’s Cooper 1,000 home in the 1,100-c.c. class and it was in this category that Joy Cooke followed Ken Wharton up the hill in Christie’s Kieft to clock 43.16 sec. That was a good show, beating Joan Gerard’s 2-litre E.R.A. record by .02 sec. But in the rain Joy didn’t take risks and was slowest in the class, wresting this “honour” from Southon, who seemed to find the Becke Powerplus a handful, even in the dry. Instone’s neat “Djinn” (still a bit “G.N.”, you see!) did a useful 41.56 sec. but was a real terror in the rain.

Before Wharton and Mays had secured first and second places in the 3-litre class Peter Stubberfield had staked his claim to third, getting his Bugatti up with a fine display of bravery in 41.10 sec. He was also very good in the wet. Basil Davenport captured the crowd’s collective heart by poking the V-twin 2-litre G.N. “Spider” up in 41.55 sec., and by losing less time than most later in the afternoon! Even Peter Mould’s noisy Bugatti couldn’t quite better this. Stapleton’s “Spa” Aston-Martin displayed improved form. Butterworth had crashed the A.J.B. in practice, so Poore had a walk-over in the big class, harried a little by Allard but not by Lloyd-Jones in his “small” Triangle Special.

An interesting innovation was the classes for Production cars. The H.R.G.s were impressive in the 1 1/2-litre category and Miss H. M. Holden won the approval of the spectators by beating J. V. S. Brown’s times in the same car, winning the class on her first attempt at racing. She beat her boy-friend by 0.45 sec. in the dry and by 0.33 sec. in the wet. Now we want to see her do some circuit racing. Brown, Hitchings and Gott consolidated the H.R.G. success in this class, Lund’s T.T. M.G. “TD” stopping on its first ascent and being much slower than the H.R.G.s in the rain and Osborn’s Javelin being no match. Incidentally, in sports car racing, as in 500-c.c. racing, no one car or man is continually victorious, so interest is well maintained. The “Le Mans” Frazer-Nash definitely had the legs of the DB II Aston-Martin saloons in the 1 1/2-3-litre class. Pitt was quickest, in Baring’s car, followed by Tony Crook and Newton, the latter’s car still a bit “off-colour”—like many of the passengers in the “Ulster Prince” after the T.T. The order remained the same in the rain. Pitt’s was fastest sports car run, in 43.91 sec., only 0.15 under Connell’s record with a Darracq of twice the size. Abecassis showed Parnell and Brackenbury (deputising for Macklin) the way amongst the Aston-Martin team and when the hill became slippery “Brack” got closer to George’s time and beat Reg’s. Nice work Abecassis—wet or dry you really try.

Bassett’s Healey roadster was slower than two of the H.R.G.s had been. Peter Walker kept the XK 120 Jaguar colours flying in the over-3-litre class, with 44.61 sec., but his time was beaten by all the Frazer-Nashes. Sydney Allard’s J2 Allard was next best and fastest of all sports cars in the rain, as his Steyr Allard was in the racing classes. The Jaguar slid badly at the first corner of the “S.” S. C. Clarke got third place in his Allard and he, too, was fast in the wet, while Wilde and Curtis ran him quite close in their Allards. Curiously, Warburton and Watkins in the T.T. Allards were slower. The saloon Bugattis of Battersby (3.3-litre) and Stubberfield (5.4-litre) were fun, but outclassed by Hay’s aerodynamic Rolls-Bentley saloon and Porter’s very nicely-handled 1936 4 1/2-litre Rolls-Bentley saloon. However, Battersby did beat Wharton’s yellow rally Ford “Pilot” by a small margin. Crook’s team of 2-litre Frazer-Nash cars neatly won the Production Car Team event from David Brown’s Aston-Martins.

A notable feature of this Shelsley Walsh meeting was the absence of heartstopping incidents. Only one car, an Allard, removed any appreciable quantity of earth from the bank at the “S” and only D. A. Clarke’s Cooper spun round at this point, in the rain, to return to the foot of the hill without stopping.

The hill was opened by Ian Appleyard in the Alpine-Rally-triumphant XK 120 Jaguar, with his charming wife as passenger—did Shelsley’s banks, when the car slid out of the “S,” seem more reassuring than the drop at the side of an Alp, Pat? Before racing commenced the presentation Austin mobile workshop was handed over by Lt.-Col. “Goldie” Gardner to D. G. Flather, Chairman of the B.M.R.R.T., on behalf fo the B.R.M. Trust. Without its letterings, we thought it looked a bit like a piece of undertaker’s equipment. In a short speech, Flather said the B.R.M. is still being developed and is in “phase IV” of its experimental stage. It was entered for Goodwood as part of the experimenting and not for publicity purposes. He jokingly said he hoped the workshop would never be needed!—W. B.


Racing Cars

1st: R. D. Poore (3.8-litre s.c. Alfa-Romeo), 37.74 sec. (-8.31) F.T.D.
2nd: S. H. Allard (3.7-litre Steyr-Allard), 38.05 sec. (-7.02).
3rd: K. Wharton (2-litre s.c. E.R.A.), 38.83 sec. (-6.99).
4th: R. Mays (2-litre s.c. E.R.A.), 39.00 sec. (-9.35).
5th: P. Collins (1,260-cc. Cooper), 39.47 sec. (-10.47).

Sports Cars—

1st: D. Pitt (2-litre “Le Mans” Frazer-Nash), 43.91 sec. (-6.34). Fastest Production Car.
2nd: T. A. D. Crook (2-litre “Le Mans” Frazer-Nash), 44.10 sec. (-7.37).
3rd: E. J. Newton (2-litre “Le Mans” Frazer-Nash), 44.46 sec, (-7.10).
4th: P. Walker (3 1/2-litre XK 120 Jaguar), 44.61 sec. (-6:58).
5th: S. H. Allard (4.3-litre Allard), 44.65 sec. (-4.37).