THE FASCINATION OF SHELSLY WALSH
THE FASCINATION OF SHELSLEY WALSH
ANY sporting motorist could find Shelsley Walsh for you on an upto-date map of Worcestershire, for since 1905 Shelsley, as the centre of one of the most popular events in the motoring ca:endar, has been very Much on the map indeed.
The same sporting motorist, however, would probably be surprised to know that he could also find She’sley Walsh On a medieval map Of Worcestershire. The famous hill is, in fact, as old as the Domesday Book, and its name, with many variations of spelling, crops up from time to time in the history of Worcestershire and of England, with such dramatic associations as the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey and the arrest of the Gunpowder Plotters ! And now, twice each summer—the next event takes place on September 11th —Shelsley is the scene of Mock battles fought on the most modern and scientific lines, with all possible resources of mechan
ical and technical skill. This has been going on tor thirty-two years, only the War years interrupting the series.
It is not difficult to account for the popularity of the Shelsley hill climb ; from all points of view it is a satisfying contest and a thrilling spectacle. Many famous names in motoring history occur in the annals of the event beginning in 1905 with Louis Coatalen (Sunbeam), E. M. C. Instone (Daimler), G. H. Lanchester (Lanchester), T. C. Fabler (Humber) and F. S. Bennett (Cadillac). Instone’s Daimler made the fastest time —77.6 secs.—at that first meeting. In the year before the War the time had been reduced to 55.2 seconds, by J. Higginson (Vauxhall), and in 1921 a Sunbeam driven by C. A. Bird bettered this record by three seconds. The name of Raymond Mays first appeared in 1923, against an unofficial record, made with a Brescia-Bugatti, of 51.9 seconds. Two years later another great name was in the lists, the late Sir Henry Segrave making fastest time with a 2-litre Sunbeam. The following year saw the first of the strictly amateur hill climbs, and also the first Septembzr meeting, bad weather necessitating the postponement of the open event from the original date in July. Fastest time of the day was made by B. H. Davenport, and this was the frst stage of his hat-trick, for he repeated the success with FrazerNashes in ’27 and ’28. Raymond Mays broke the record for the hill in 1929 with a Vauxhall Villiers supercharged Special, and in the same year Earl Howe made the record for sports-cars with a climb in 47.6 seconds, his car being the MercedesBenz which won the 1929 Ulster T.T, • A delightfully free and easy series of speed events with some very unique features has been arranged for September 18th, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., it is hoped as an open fixture. A course comprising road and grass sections, with eight corners and a quarter of a mile straight, with a length of about a mile, has been laid out in the grounds of Hatherop Park, nine
The Shelsley Open Climb became a recognised International fixture in 1930, being the British. event for the Hill Climb Championship of Europe. Hans Stuck and Rudolf Caracciola were among the competitors, the former putting the record for the climb at 42.4 Seconds, with an Austro-Daimler. This was the first time the honour had gone abroad, and three years elapsed before it was recaptured. In ’33, however, it was won back in no uncertain fashion by Raymond Mays and Whitney Straight, who took turns at reducing Stuek’s time by fifths of a second until Straight, on his second run, clocked 411 seconds. Since 1934 it has been Mays and his E.R.A.s who have monopolised the honours. At the May meeting of 1935
he put up .a time of 391 seconds, which remained unbeaten until the June meeting of the present year, when he clocked 39.09 seconds under the new timing arrangement. By this means, instead of Starting, as before, at the fall of the flag, the cars automatically time themselves by breaking rays of light at the start and finish, the apparatus not only registering the result to one-hundredth of a second, but printing the time on a card ! It should be noted, however, that this method, by cutting out the inevitable time-lag between the fall of the flag and the full start, does not give a true comparison with times registered under the old procedure. Year by year Shelsley Walsh has attracted better entries, more interest and larger crowds of spectators, and the promoters of the event have kept pace with this increasing popularity by Con
EAST COTSWOLD M.C.
miles N.E. of Cirencester. Entries Cost 2/6 per class, touring and saloon cars are catered for, and cash and cups provided as awards. There will also be a Concours d’Elegance for old cars, and motor-cycle classes. Organised by young enthusiasts, this meeting should provide some sound fun if the R.A.C. permits the full pro gramme to be carried out. A unique
stantly improving the organisation, both from the competitors’ and the onlookers’ point of view. One of the chief assets of Shelsley for the visitor is that wherever he chooses to take up his position he has practically a complete view of the course. Moreover he can wander from point to point exactly as he pleases, and this atmosphere of freedom is matched by a friendliness and informality which is equalled in few other motor-sporting events. Shelsley Walsh, indeed, might well be called the Goodwood of Motoring, as the Car T.T. may be thought of as the Derby, and the Brooklands 200 as the Ascot, of the motor world. As Goodwood appeals to all classes of racegoers, so does Shelsley to all followers of the other great sport.
The short but infinitely exciting course, the opportunity of seeing some of the world’s finest drivers at close quarters, of comparing their tactics and admiring their skill—these are some of the points which appeal to the Shelsley enthusiast. Tlien again the lovely surroundings in which the hill is situated would make it a pleasant enough venue even if it were not, as it is, one of the trickiest little climbs in the world ; while the amazing variety of cars which compete, ranging from the big Maseratis, Mercedes, Bentleys, etc., down to the odd little home-made contrivances that often do so extraordinarily well, gives all classes of enthusiasts the keenest possible interest in the event. For the true devotee of motor sport there is only one thing better than to go and watch the Shelsley hill climb—and that is to go and take part in it !
aspect is that practising takes place all the preceding week on application to Hatherop Park and particularly in the evenings. On September 18th cars may be parked for 1/each and programmes bought for ad. each. Particulars from the Secretary, C. M. Cadogan, Quenington, Fairford, Glos.