The Ulster Races
"Bira" victorious again. Splendid showing of Reg. Parnell's 16-Valve Maserati. Hillis (Talbot "90") wins Handicap Race.
Racing again in Ireland — good news and good racing. The Ulster A.C. staged handicap and 1 1/2-litre scratch races over the Ballyclare circuit and, rightly, immense crowds went to watch. The R.A.C. insisted, wisely, on two heats and a final for the handicap, and these races were exciting tussles between those excellent Irish entries, many of them "specials" which set an example to "special"-builders everywhere. Heat 1 was a grand battle between Montgomery's "Le Mans Replica" Singer Nine and a single-seater Ford Eight, driven by Smyth. The Ford could better its opponent in accelerating away from Ballyrobert but was inferior in sheer speed. In the end, Harrison's ex-Dixon Riley got through to win, from Smyth and Montgomery, the 1 1/2-litre Riley also doing fastest lap, at a rousing 72.03 m.p.h., its exhaust note superb. Parnell's famous Delage fell out with fuel bothers, Weir's M.G. had ignition trouble. Heat 2 became another duel, between Graham's K3 M.G. and Woodall's "Shelsley" Frazer-Nash. Much fun-and-games at Ballyrobert corner resulted in the M.G. sliding once too often, so Woodall went ahead. However, Craig's KN M.G., Hillis's Talbot" 90," a fine car bodied to resemble a G.P. Sunbeam, and Leslie Johnson's "328" B.M.W. came through in the end, to finish in that order, Craig averaging 58.8 m.p.h. Woodall set fastest lap so far, at 72.38 m.p.h. Bear's 3-litre Bugatti lit-up, Dunham's Alvis only lasted four of the six laps.
The final saw Woodall's Frazer-Nash pack up altogether, and two Rileys retire with serious complaints. Hillis, driving well, got the Tabot in first, at 65.57 m.p.h., from Montgomery's singer and Smyth's Ford. Harrison pushed fastest lap up to 74.56 m.p.h. Incidentally, Ashmore's Riley started with five domed-top and one flat-top piston, following emergency repairs before the race.
So to the 12-lap 1 1/2-litre scratch race. The entries were: "Bira's" Zoller-blown "Hanuman" E.R.A., Gerard's E.R.A., Leslie Johnson's normal-suspension Delage, Parnell's 16-valve ex-Wakefield Maserati, Hampshire's six cylinder Maserati and Cowell's ex-Aitken E.R.A., now with "crash" gearbox. The last-named car, tested on an airfield in England, proved to have clutch-slip, and was only just ready in time, being towed to Liverpool behind its owners' Jeep. In practice the rear main bearing flooded the clutch with oil and it had to be hastily relined, for which purpose Gerard sportingly lent Riley linings. Apart from a few flips in Belfast streets, Cowell had not driven the car fast prior to the start. Parnell was also in trouble, as the Maserati lost an oilplug from one of its crankpins in practice and ran a big-end in consequence. A new rod was fitted the night before the race, but Reg. only got in two practice laps, doing his other two in one of his Delage cars. The line-up was in pairs, based on practice times, "Bira" having been fastest, followed by Gerard, Johnson and Parnell. As the flag dropped Gerard used the acceleration of his Jamieson-blown E.R.A. to the full, drawing away from "Bira." He led for a lap, and Parnell followed the two E.R.A.s. Hampshire, Johnson, held back by an oiled plug, and Cowell brought up the rear. In spite of his handicap Johnson picked up a place on Hampshire and on lap 3 "Bira" swept past Gerard into the lead. Eleven seconds separated Gerard's E.R.A. and the Maserati at the end of lap 3. On lap 4 Cowell decided to give Watson, his spare driver, a ride. By lap 5 Parnell was obviously settling down, although rumour has it his oil-pressure vanished from lap 4 onwards. At all events, he closed on Gerard and then passed him at Ballyrobert. At the end of lap 7 Reg. was but 8 1/2 seconds behind "Bira." Prince Chula indicated the position from his perfectly-conducted pit and the Siamese now began to leave his braking noticeably later. Nevertheless, at 3/4-distance Parnell was only 7.8 seconds behind and, at the close of lap10, there was but 3.9 seconds between them. Then, on lap 11, the Maserati closed right up on the leading E.R.A. Downhill they went to Palatine and slowly, surely, Parnell drew just ahead of "Bira," but alongside him. He gave the E.R.A . the corner, and the following twisty sections kept the Maserati behind. But after Ballyclare, on the last lap, Parnell did all he knew. He tried he off side, he went over to the near side, but just couldn't find room. His attempts were supported by Marshall's blue flags, waved at "Bira," they say, twelve times in all. The Maserati nearly made it at a corner, but slid badly, allowing the E.R.A. to slip away. They crossed the line with "Bira" 3 seconds ahead, winner at 78.47 m.p.h. Gerard was 3rd, Hampshire 4th, Cowell 5th, Johnson having retired on lap 8.
Parnell did fastest lap, at 80.17 imp.h., and he gains a great moral victory. His behaviour during the duel with "Bira" ranks him not only as a great driver, but as a sportsman and a sane rival. In motor-racing, given equally skilful drivers, a faster car fails to pass a slower only because (a) the course is unsuited to motor-racing, (b) the driver of the slower car does not know a rival wishes to-pass, or (c) because the slower car cannot or will not give way.
At the prize-giving, Mrs. Haughton presented the awards, and the Governor, His Excellency the Earl Granville, attended. Looking at his trophy for fastest lap, and comparing it with his more imposing trophy for 2nd place, Parnell said: "The fastest lap prize may be the smaller, but it means far more to me." You should have heard the applause then . . .! Prince Chula, conveying the greetings of the R.A.C. of Siam, described the race as a "wonderful show" and said he had "never yet found anything to equal the organisation" — even to those blue flags? Every credit must go to Charles Neill, hon. secretary of the Ulster A.C., for splendidly-run racing.
1. The Ulster Trophy relica and £100 — Prince Chula of Siam, entrant of the E.R.A. car driven by Prince Birbongse.
2. Trophy and £60 — R. Parnell, Derby (Maserati).
3. Trophy and £30 — F. R. Gerard, Leicester (E.R.A.)
4. Trophy and £15 — D. A. Hampshire, Derby (Maserati).
Fastest Lap Trophy — R. Parnell, Derby.
1. Trophy presented by Champion Sparking Plug Company, replica and £50 —N. Hillis, Belfast (Talbot).
2. Trophy and £30 — W. M. D. Montgomery, Ballymena (Singer).
3. Trophy and £20 — F. D. Smyth, Lisburn (M.G. Magnette).
4. Trophy and £10 — R. A. Craig, Jordanstown (M.G. Magnette).
Trophy for car covering the allotted distance at the highest average speed. — L. Johnson, London (B.M.W.)
Trophy for car covering a single lap of the course at highest average speed — T. C. Harrison, Sheffield (Riley).