But only Ansell, Bear, and Monkhouse better 50 seconds. F.t.d. by Ansell’s E.R.A. in 47.86 sec. James’s Alfa-Romeo best sports car.
Prescott hill-climb on July 28th was well supported by entrants and spectators and, as usual, the organisation was first-class. Unfortunately, the sunny weather of the early afternoon turned to heavy rain for the majority of the second runs, and times fell to a very sober level, as the road became thoroughly wet. An innovation was the removal of the competitors’ paddock from the right to the left of the course, leaving a large new park for members’ cars. The times were issued very promptly, but not always accurately, by the p.a. system. The programme, too, contained a number of inaccuracies. Competitors were able to obtain their times from a small board behind the timing box, by merely taking a slip of paper from their particular “peg” — a clever idea. Leslie Wilson was spectating, perhaps picking up some tips. Charles Brackenbury and St. John Horsfall were also present. Ansell made best practice time in just over 47 sec. An unfortunate accident befell Alan Whiddington, who borrowed Instone’s “Martyr” and hit a tree with the throttle wide open. He was taken to hospital with a broken arm and broken ribs.
The practice period offered some interesting spectacles. The new 500-c.c. Cooper-Special — not John Cooper’s work — had its head off as a bent valve had to be replaced. This car is a really fine effort, consisting of a dirt-track J.A.P. engine, driving by chain to a Triumph gearbox, final drive being by another chain to a Fiat 500 front-end adapted to take a drive, via neat little universal joints and splined shafts. The front-end, brakes and wheels are also Fiat 500, and the car carries a proper, well-faired body, a slot in the front conducting cooling air to the cylinder via a long tube. The weight is around 600 lb. Bowles was busy lighting fires beneath the brake shoes of his Austin to burn the oil off. Woodall has rebuilt the ex-Palethorpe “Shelsley” single-seater Frazer-Nash, improving its handling qualities by moving forward the engine and cockpit. Pollock’s blown Frazer-Nash had cylinder-head trouble in practice, O. Bartlett’s blown Riley sheared its blower drive, the E.R.A.engined Brooke-Special was proving, difficult to start, and Oscar Moore’s left-drive 328 B.M.W. is now blue and white. Oliver had a dynamo neatly rigged in the cockpit of his beautiful Type 35B Bitgatti, the cut-out above it, to qualify as a sports car, and Strang sported a huge megaphone exhaust on the Strang 500. Ansell’s E.R.A. was in its Geneva green. Non-starters included Cowell’s Alta, Pool’s Lea-Francis, Leonard’s M.G., Jason-Henry’s Riley, Claridge’s B.M.W., Miller’s Riley, Clarke’s Bugatti, James’s Frazer-Nash, Mortimer’s Alta, Heal’s 2-litre Sunbeam, Watson’s Bugatti, and Norton’s Mephistophelgatti. The last-named boiled over on the line in practice, scalding its driver. Mrs. Gerard was beside it in her Riley, and with great presence of mind whipped out her now-famous umbrella and protected herself from the downpour, raising a hearty laugh. Interesting newcomers to the hill were “The Spider,” Pat Whittet with a Delahaye, Stubberfield’s and Fry’s Bugattis, etc. Davison’s Austin Seven had a coil-ignition engine with Ford downdraught carburetter, 18 mm. plugs, 3-speed gearbox, 4.00-in. by 19-in. tyres, and “Ulster” front axle. Clayton-Wright had the ex-Humphries’s 1 1/2-litre Alta. Donald Parker was alleged to have removed the ears from his Riley’s hubcaps and to have drilled holes in them, to reduce unsprung weight!
In the Veteran class the record wasn’t even approached, but Peter Clark’s Mercédès, like the Hutton, fresh from the Jubilee Cavalcade, was fastest in 56.6 sec. Marcus Chambers hit the bank at Pardon hairpin and bent the Hutton’s front axle, but Steels of Cheltenham had thoughtfully provided a portable welding plant and other equipment in the paddock, and they set to work with a will, so that later in the afternoon the old car had its second run, loudly clapped, clocking 74.5 sec. Of the sports cars up to 1 1/2 litres unblown, Claridge’s light Frazer-Nash was very steady, his solid rear axle defeating spin through the “S’s.” He clocked 53.45 sec., a new class record, and even Newton’s’ H.R.G. couldn’t better 55.3 sec. Mrs. Gerard (Riley) deserved her 3rd place. Peter Clark’s Le Mans H.R.G., wearing 15-in, wheels to reduce its gear-ratios, was still over-geared, Rivers-Fletcher, who had broken his gear-lever in practice and borrowed one from a spectator, was hampered by the 1,074-c.c. engine of his H.R.G., and Adams’s Anzani-Bugatti left a nice smell behind, but was slow. Donald Parker spent a lot of time motoring along the banks, and left clouds of smoke in the Riley’s wake, and Willis’s Type 45 B.M.W. screamed its tyres and was fluffing slightly.
Hodgson’s very neat blown 847-c.c. M.G., a “special” from M.G. components, using large,section tyres, sounded really healthy and, using lots of r.p.m., won the class for blown sports cars up to 1 1/2 litres, in 57.1 sec. Mansell’s ex-Musketeer T-type M.G. wasn’t a lot slower, getting 2nd place in 57.55 sec., and Kennington’s K3 M.G. was 3rd, after hard work at the “S’s.” Andrews’s twin o.h.c.-engined s.v. Aston-Martin accelerated well from the corners, after proving troublesome to start, but Miss King’s beautiful-looking 1 1/2-litre Alfa-Romeo came to rest in the “S’s ” and never essayed a second run.
In the class for sports cars of 1 1/2-3-litres unblown, Oscar Moore’s 328 B.M.W. looked a bit skittish at the “S’s”, but Crossley handled his very well indeed, only to be beaten by Leslie Johnson’s sister car. Most of the B.M.W.s, and many other cars, spun their inside rear wheel at the “S’s” and Type 51 Bugattis were prone to bounce their inside front wheel well clear of the ground, incidentally. Mackie’s Talbot, the ex-Brian Lewis single-seater, now road-bodied, went well but seemed over-geared, Matthews’s 2litre S.S. was all revs, and over-run, and Harrison’s Riley likewise. This last-named car was easily fastest, but was excluded, at the entrant’s own request, as not complying with the regulations. This made the class a walk-over for the 328 B.M.W.s, Leslie Johnson beating Crossley and Flather.
In the 1 1/2-3-litre blown sports-cars category, James (“2.3” Alfa-Romeo) not only using his excellent brakes but getting real wheelspin out of the bends, clocked 51.6 sec., winning from Oliver’s Bugatti and Gilbey’s sleeker “2.3” Alfa-Romeo. James also broke the class record, which Bagratouni’s “2.6” Alfa-Romeo had held since July, 1939, by .51 sec. Dezsoe’s “2.3” modern Alfa-Romeo was very slow, being easily beaten by Clark’s rather touring-bodied Type 43 Bugatti.
The class for big, but unblown sports cars was the preserve of the Allards. On the first runs the order was Parker (V12), Hutchison (V8), Potter (V8), Hutch’s car being blipped up with steaming water overflow and much wheelspin. Then, in the wet, Parker was again fastest, but Potter was now 1.46 sec. faster than Hutch on a lively ascent, whereas before Hutch beat him by 0.18 sec. The rain affected second-run times as follows Parker’s by 6.84 sec., Hutchison’s by 7.34 sec., Potter’s by 5.7 see. Marechal, his 6 1/2-litre open Bentley emitting a great smoke cloud, and the gears sometimes disliking the driver’s intentions, held a long slide, various S.S.s were unsensational, likewise the Price-Special, and Johnson’s Darracq came up splendidly, only to encounter the hedge before the finish. Typically, Leslie apologised to Eric Giles for the delay he caused. Whittet (Delahaye) tied with Munro’s “Swordfish” Invicta for 4th place, but was considerably faster than Monro on their second runs. Bear’s “4.9” “Le Mans” Bugatti had the big, blown sports class itself, but came up very fast for all that healing the previous fastest (unofficial) class time easily, in 52.3 sec.
Then came the racing machinery. Lones’s 500-c.c. car went very nicely through the “S’s,” but Strang made best time in the class and beat his own record by 5.35 sec., clocking 53.7 sec. Naturally, Dowson’s Light weight won the next class, lssigonis bringing it up again to take 2nd place. The Wharton-Special was 3rd. Bowles going well, but cutting out too early before the corners, in his “Ulster” Austin. Symonds left the course early on in the ex-Brettell Austin Seven, but fought the car back again.
The 1 1/2-litre racing class saw Ansell clock 47.86 sec., f.t.d., on his first ascent and 54.95 sec. in the rain. Hampshire, after warming the Maserati Six up at a steady engine speed, was 2nd fastest, with 50.07 sec. – he didn’t run again. He wasn’t absolutely polished but held his skids well. Roy Parnell was 3rd, in 51.56 sec., also taking only one run in the “built-from-Bira-bits” i.f.s. Delage. Wilkes never reached the finish with the Wilkes-Special, appearing for the first time since pre-war days, and Parnell took 4th place with his blown 1 1/2-litre Riley. Noel Carr’s Alta left a scent of methanol. Davenport gave us a real thrill with the resurrected “Spider.” He sorted brake from gear-lever in a flurry at the “S’s,” crackled off again, and then shot straight through the hedge at the semi-circle, only to motor calmly down the steep field back to the paddock! He was able to run again, and did a rousing 58.37 sec. The Brooke-Special also struck the hedge.
In the 1 1/2-2-litre racing class Carr, on Booth’s Alta, came up cautiously, but won from Baird’s Type 35C Bugatti. Rather, screens removed, tried his 328 B.M.W. as a racer. This left only the big racing-car class, and here Bear’s twin-rear-tyred Type 51 Bugatti was magnificent. clocking 49.26 sec. on its only ascent. Monkhouse, who had turned round in practice at the semi-circle, was runner-up, his best run being to the tune of 49.89 sec. He, too, used twin rear wheels, which he dislikes. Of the other Type 51s, Fry clocked 52.9 sec., Whincop, all elbows and white overalls, 53.0 sec., and newcomer Stubberfield, missing a gear-change, 56.34 sec. In the wet these drivers were slower, as follows: Monkhouse by 6.93 sec., Fry by 5.71 sec., Whincop by 8.29 sec., and Stubberfield by 4.74 sec. Johnson was excellent, and 3rd, in the Darracq, Yates was careful with the big Maserati, Lloyd-Jones had an anxious moment going wide at the “S’s” in the Morris-Hudson Triangle, and Northway turned round entering the “S’s”on his first run in the Mercury-Special “Spook.” The Handicap class was won by Leonard Potter’s Allard, from Harrison’s Riley and Baird’s Bugatti.
As we have said, the rain spoilt the second half; only Heal (Fiat), Maltby (Riley), Rivers-Fletcher (H.R.G.), Peter Clark ( H.R.G. ), Newton ( H.R. G. ), Adams (Bugatti), and Richards (Riley) improved on their first-run times, and then the road was still dry. Many were the slides and corrections, but only Wharton hit a bank and that momentarily at the “S’s.” So it finished. In the muddy paddock Woodall’s Frazer-Nash’s trailer was hitched to a 4 1/2-litre Bentley saloon, Whincop fixed cloth wings to his Bugatti and towed it away behind his Hillman Minx-engined Wolseley “Hornet,” and the “Spider,” two spare wheels lashed to it, its engine sheeted up and wooden wings fixed, went off on tow behind Davenport’s Rover saloon. Incidentally, it had 5.00 in. by 16 in. rear tyres and 3.75 in. by 26 in. tyres on the front. Johnson drove away in his Darracq, with Tommy Doman following in his B.M.W. Another Prescott was over.
We now eagerly await the International Meeting on September 22nd-and hope for fine weather.