Raymond Mays (E.R.A.) fastest at Brighton Speed Trials

J2 Cadillac-Allard Smashes Sports-Car Record.

The Brighton Speed Trials were held in beautiful weather on September 2nd and a breeze blowing up the kilometre provided gentle assistance. There is definitely something about this fixture! It recalls the traditional seaside sprints of earlier times, when Archie Nash, Miss Ivy Cummings, J. A. Joyce and a youthful Mays competed one against the other. It remains one of the few events where really high speeds are attained and in which the acceleration/speed capabilities of the competitors can be compared accurately. It may even be said to “improve the breed,” for manufacturers and specialist-firms whose cars show up badly at Brighton are unlikely to be content until such sluggishness in their products is rectified.

This year Raymond Mays brought his hoary old 2-litre Zoller-E.R.A. and clocked 24.4 sec., failing to beat his old record by 0.54 sec., probably because he slid sideways on the line with wheelspin. This year, too, the last 88 yards of the s.s. kilometre were timed, Mays covering this at 139.5 m.p.h., this timing debunked former claims of “I was doing over 160 across the finishing line, old boy!” Perhaps the Brighton and Hove M.C., who organised the meeting, kept these speeds secret for this reason! Norris’ 2-litre Alta was a second slower than Mays and Rolt (Alfa-Romeo) and McAlpine (Maserati) tied for third fastest, although each won one of their paired runs. The fastest unblown car was Lloyd Jones’ 21-litre Rolls Royce “Kestrel” rear-engined, four-wheel-drive Triangle “Flying Saucer,” a deadly weapon even on a straight course. It lost all its oil pressure on its first run, but, in spite of slowing down before the finish, clocked 120.9 m.p.h. over the 100 yards, equal to 2,900 r.p.m. Peter Beel’s 2-litre E.R.A. was fifth.

Sydney Allard’s Cadillac-engined “J2” Allard, running with sprint fuel tank and full-length undershield, literally smashed the absolute sports-car record held by Crook’s supercharged “2.9” Alfa-Romeo, being 1.74 sec. faster, a time of 28 sec. Mrs. Allard, running the same car in the Ladies’ Class, sans front wings, did exactly the same time, a grand show, although not quite fast enough to beat Betty Haig’s Cooper 1,000 on the second run. The Allard spun its off-side rear wheel furiously, in spite of the de Dion rear-end. Of the sports cars, an XK 120 Jaguar was eleventh.

The best blown sports-car was G. D. Parker’s neat Jaguette, in 29.8 sec. Many of the racing cars were running badly. The only startling incident was when Mould’s Bugatti snaked nastily, due to a deflating tyre. It was sufficiently far ahead of its rival to keep out of trouble and was skilfully held. Parker vanquished the Norton-Coopers to break his 500 c.c. record by 1.67 sec., a fine run. Peter Collins’ Cooper with V-twin 749 c.c. J.A.P. engine installed for the occasion won the 750 c.c. racing class, beating Symonds’ very-impressive Austin by 1.6 sec. The Austin has the ex-Lightweight s.v. engine blown at 18 lb. and lost some time as its differential was unlocked. Lafone went nicely in the ex-Doreen Evans’ Q-type M.G. single-seater, but A. J. (“My Heritage is Motor-Racing”) Toulmin’s Q-type M.G. was one of the slowest cars present, being actually 3.6 sec. slower than Abbott’s 1914 T.T. Sunbeam! Richards’ Cooper 1,000 beat Richmond’s Rapier which sported two-stage boost from two cabin blowers and reached 7,500 r.p.m., in the 1,100 cc. racing class. The Farley, whose seat cushion pressurises the tank (!) and the polished aluminium, Amilcar-like blown Gahagan Special both expired. Mays headed the 3-litre racing class, from Norris and Bell aforementioned. The Vauxhall-Villiers was absent because a saloon-car clot had rammed it on the way to Brighton. Most of the cars were unwell, the Autovia-engined Bentley Special emitting a record smokescreen. E. A. Bradley ran the red 2 1/2-litre Maserati two-seater, which he claimed to be the ex-Birkin car bought from “Buddy” Featherstonehaugh in 1938he hadn’t driven it until that day and went quite well considering, its driver even mastering the difficult-looking crankhandle which pre-selected the gears via a bevel drive. Stubberfield tried twin rear wheels for his Bugatti’s second run, gaining 1.8 sec.and the tyres, at 23 lb., didn’t fly off! Sir Clive Edwards’ H.R.G.-Special gave Perkins’ Bugatti a good run. Lycett’s irrepressible 8-litre Bentley, running as a racing car, held off Clutton’s quiet V12 Delage, driven by Southon, in the big racing-car class. The A.J.B. was absent, with a broken crankshaft. The ladies had fun, but couldn’t touch Joan Gerard’s record. Peggy Lambert’s Lester-M.G. sounded a bit hot at the end, and the “manxed” Silverstone Healey looked odd. On her second run Mrs. Stapleton, in the open “Spa” Aston-Martin, just beat glamorous Mrs. Mortimer’s Healey “Silverstone.”

Amongst the sports cars which had transmission or axle trouble on the line were Baker’s blown PB M.G., E. R. Barker’s 3-litre Bentley and Wick’s Allard. As the last-named stripped its bottom gear, Hartridge’s beautiful touring-bodied 6 1/2-litre Bentley roared up the kilometre, surprised to find no Allard behind it. Whereupon its driver, presumably, tried to explain that some cars do have these breakages, a thing the Bentley hadn’t heard of in all its twenty or more years! As a matter of fact the Bentley D.C. had a class to itself and its cars showed up extremely well, witness A. G. Pitts’ 30.6 sec. in his ex-Birkin “blower-4 1/2,” Gerry Grozier’s 30.99 sec. in “The Whale,” Kemp Place’s 32.2 sec. in another “blower-4 1/2” and Sedgwick’s 32.8 sec. in the Hartridge 6 1/2. We give below the class winners, and, after these, the placings of the sports, supercharged sports and racing cars irrespective of class. The latter lists repay careful study, for the Brighton kilometre is revealing, and the times published show which cars did well, which badly, and tell you what to bring if you wish to excel at Brighton next year, besides providing a yardstick by which cars offered for sale as “suitable for racing” may be judged. The meeting ended with a quarter-mile Soap-Box Derby for boy scouts, which shows the state to which we in this country have sunk! Vauxhall Motors gave the prizes for this; do they hope to incorporate points from the competing soap-boxes in future Vauxhall cars?