Brighton Speed Trials

(September 13th)

It is nice to know that some things do not change, especially when they are good things, and the annual Speed Trials on the Madeira Drive at Brighton is one of those. My first impression of the sea-front Speed Trials at Brighton was in 1936 when S. E. Cummings made fastest time by a car in 22.89 sec., over the half-mile course as it was then. He was driving the supercharged 3-litre Vauxhall Villiers and it climaxed a successful sprint season by Cummings with this famous old car. Erie Fernihough, riding a 996-c.c. supercharged Brough Superior motorcycle went one better and made fastest time of the day with 20 sec. exactly, which constituted a new course. record. Since those days the Brighton course has been extended to the International kilometre and the annual battle of racing car versus racing motorcycle has always been a strong feature of the event. This year was no exception and though the cars won this time, motorcycles were second and fourth overall, but a strong headwind prevented any records being broken by the faster contestants. David Purley drove his 3.4-litre 4-cam Cosworth-Ford V6-powered Chevron to FTD in 19.7 sec., while Tony Weedon rode his supercharged 498-c.c. Triumph-engined drag bike into second place at 20.05 sec.

The existing records for the Brighton kilometre, which were set up last year, stand to the same two competitors: 18.62 sec. for Purley in a F5000 Trojan-Chevrolet and 18.96 see. for Weedon on his Triumph-engined motorcycle.

With financial support from Gilham Motors Ltd. of Brighton and Mazda Cars, and from Messrs. Fribourg and Treyer together with the ever helpful Shell Petrol Company, the Brighton & Hove Motor Club were able to put on this year’s event in the face of rising prices and gave pleasure to well over 200 competitors for there is never any lack of entries for this once-a-year event. At 60p a head, the large crowd of spectators, who look down on the course from the promenade walk, had a good day’s entertainment, slightly spoiled by rain appearing just as the entry completed its first run, so that few were able to improve their times on their second runs.

There is always plenty of interest throughout the entry, divided into 15 classes, from Touring Cars to Grand Prix Cars, but perhaps the most intriguing was the defeat of five Daytona Ferraris by an old J2 Cadillac-Allard, which Jim Tiller, the owner for 17 years, drove down the course in 25.1 sec. to the best Ferrari time of 25.6 sec. That class was won by Bob Oram in a stripped and lightened 3.8-litre Jaguar E-type coupe in 24.1 sec. A truly shattering performance in the Special Saloon category was 23.1 sec. by John Pope In his Vauxhall Magnum Super Saloon Powered by a V8 Aston Martin engine with two exhaust turbo-chargers, and a noteworthy time was the 24.8 sec. by Mike Barker in the D-type Jaguar of Bob Roberts. — D.S.J.