On August 18th, the Bristol M.C. and L.C.C. held the first post-war speed hillclimb, at Naish House, Clapton-in-Gordano. Organised primarily for the benefit of competitors, with spectators tolerated rather than encouraged, the event gave some hundreds of people their most enjoyable afternoon for a very long time.
The course used is a very promising one, winding up a steep hillside which is open except for a few scattered trees. It is virtually W-shaped, with three wide radius hairpin bends linking four almost straight legs, climbing some 200 feet in just under half a mile. The present. surface is hard earth and grass, just adequate for a small number of fast cars in dry weather, but re-surfacing and perhaps some easing of the first and third bends would produce a really first-class course.
The entry, numbering about 30 cars and 20 motor-cycles, was mixed but very representative. Cars ranged from mass-produced saloons (in the “war-time hack” class), through vintage and modern sports cars to “specials” and pukka racing cars.
The war-time hack classes produced some very mixed times. For a while it seemed that honours would go to Maunsell’s B.M.W.-powered Shelsley Frazer-Nash, but late entrant Raymond Way eventually bettered his time with a fruity sounding B.M.W. coupé.
The sports car classes brought faster times, though many drivers wasted time in their quests for the appropriate gears for the slow corners. Parker, with chains on his 3 1/2-litre Jaguar 100, slung earth in all directions. Bickerton was steady but effective in the Blackburne Frazer-Nash. Gerard, with four Amals on his Riley “Sprite,” made a quick climb. But Baillie Hill, resplendent in white overalls, fastest sports car, the 1 1/2-litre H.R.G. pinking slightly up the straights.
The most impressive thing in the racing classes was undoubtedly the driving of Walter Watkins. During the war, his special has changed from a Watkins-G.N. to a Watkins-Nash, and having been introduced to an alcoholic diet, it is going as never before. The new-found power, and enterprising use of the bank on the outside of the sunken left-hand bend, produced an impressive series of climbs.
Salome, basically a 2-speed Morgan, disliked alcohol fuel but seemed hectic rather than fast on petrol. Taylor’s ambitious A.M.A.C. special, an Aston Martin with Gordon Armstrong i.f.s. and a blown A.C. engine, did one steady climb, but died on its second run. Poore brought the twin o.h.c. “R” type M.G., which Briault and Clive Edwardes have owned, but suffered from lack of urge at low r.p.m. McCormack, with aircraft type “spectacles” in place of a steering wheel on Stromboli, was only just able to better 60 sec. Northway had just acquired the well-known Anzani-Nash, and was beset by misfiring during most of the afternoon.
Gerard’s E.R.A., the ex-Wilson car, now a 1 1/2-litre with a plain gearbox, was playing tricks most of the afternoon. Very late in the evening, however, Gerard made a run on soft plugs, and despite a slow start, put up a fine run to make fastest time of the day.
With the promise of motor-cycle runs at Shelsley soon, the contrast between motor-cycle and car times at Naish House is particularly interesting. The fastest motor cyclist was P. Falconer, who rode extremely well on a speed twin Triumph, extremely healthy sounding, but said to be fairly standard apart from its telescopic forks, his time being 1 sec. better than that of the E.R.A.
Fastest Times. — F. R. Gerard (1,488-c.c. E.R.A. (S) ), 49 sec.; W. 0. Watkins (1,000-c.c. Watkins-Nash), 51 3/5 sec.; K. V. Baillie Hill (1,497-c.c. H.R.G.), 53 sec.
Fastest Motor Cyclist. — P. Falconer (498-c.c. Triumph), 48 sec.