Following up last year’s “demonstration” at Brighton, when Americans Mickey Thompson and Dante Duce came over to show the potentialities of the high-powered sling-shot dragsters, this year’s Brighton Speed Trial was an even more convincing demonstration of just how far ahead the Americans are with their drag machines. Dante Duce, unable to use the full power of the lightweight dragster, turned up with a 600-plus-b.h.p. 4.7-litre supercharged car based on conventional ideas as far as an enveloping body went, but far different beneath the skin. With this “wolf in sheep’s clothing” Duce made the fastest time of the day in 21.9 sec., an average of 101.91 for the bumpy Brighton .Kilometre. However, despite using a parachute and all the latest styles in face masks, Duce failed to beat the outright car record held by Chris Summers’ Cooper-Chevrolet.
Second fastest time of day went to Pat Coundley’s 2.7-litreLotus 19-Climax in 23.01 sec., with the ex-works, 2.5-litre 4cylinder B.R.M.s of Tony Griffiths and Ken Wilson clocking 23.06 and 23.15 sec., for third and fourth fastest times. Duce, driving a Shelby-entered A.C.-Cobra, also won the over 2,500-c.c. CT category and made fifth fastest time at 24.35 sec., beating John Dawney’s ex-works 215 Aston Martin by 0.10 of a second. Jaguar-engined cars took the next fastest five placings.
In stark comparison with Duce’s Dragster was Douglas Fitzpatrick’s 21-litre Metallurgique, which ran minus two of its three passenger seats in the racing car class, and Nigel Arnold-Forster’s 5-litre Delage and Ron Smith’s Darracq. Although this year the major prize went to a car which was little far from a dragster, the outright record still remains the property of a car that still bears some resemblance to a Grand Prix car and one cannot help feeling that the Brighton Corporation will have to do some drastic resurfacing if they are to attract the really fast dragster exponents. – E.L.W.