A Review of Napier Racing Cars, 1900-1908

A. S. HEAL Coittigned from the Jane issue FIVE Napiers. three kVolseleys (designed by Herbert Austin) and three Darracqs (built. under lieenee in Glasg(w) were cut e-red for IIle 141in-dilating Trials held by the A.C.G.B.L. to select the British. team for the 1904 Gordon Bennett Cup raee. Mayltew's new " 100-lap. " Napier bent its front Axle in a crash near Ramsey two days before the 'r'Ite axle was removed, straightened and inadvertently replayed the wrong way round which made the car difficult to handle. Other troubles also beset. him : the floor board I woke and allowed oil to be thrown by the flywheel on to the coil-tremblers ; the brakes gave trouble and he finally had to retire with a broken spring. This was a sorry end to a creditable effort by a private owner. Many had expeeted Mayhew to give Edge's 80-1t.p. racer (the fastest of the Napier entries) a run for its money. Even with its uncertain steering the new car proved to be the second fastest of the Acton-built Inaellilleti over the living half-mile. (25 6 see.). Edge put up the best performanee in the Elintinating Trials by a considerable margin, thereby earning his place in the British G.B. team. Ire covered the tinted half-mile at 73 m.p.h. and averaged 60.1 m.p.h.. over the three-mile stretch. Ire also made the best time in both the hill-climb an4,4* flying kilometre. The second best time over the half-mile went to the credit of Girling's 72-h.p. Wolseley *4.0)5.6 m.p.h.), but he was closely pressed r John Hargreaves (55-11.p. Napier) who recorded a speed of 64.6 m.p.h. 'he 'M.F.Ir. drove with considerable enthusiasm during the five-lap trial on the roadir-vireilit, for according to some unofficial times published by the "'Moral he' covered his third circuit in 1 hail'. 20 min. 30 see., which compares favourably with Edge's best lap (1 hour 21 min.) when it, is borne in mind that. Hargreaves' engine was little attire than half the capacity of Edge's. These times, of course, were not, the net running times as I licy made no allowance for stops in the four controls around the circuit, The

" clutch seents to have given smite trim:lite not. only to Hargreaves but also to Clifford Earp. They are both recorded as Imving " tightened up clutch spring " in the controls. The works tester showed himself well worthy of his place in the Napier team. his •• pit work " was quiek and lie ran second to Edge in the hill-Mind) and in the flying kilometre speed trial. Ire might well have been selected for the Gordon Bennett team had it not been for an unfortunate accident that occurred after the latter event. Four ears were returning down lite Promenade course after their second runs. Earp, who was evidently fon:Most, left his braking until rather late. When he applied his hand brake, the rear wheels locked and, owing to the ratchet jamming, he was unable to release the lever. In consequence, the run skidded into a stone wall, breaking its front wheels and its wooden chassis fraine. The driver in id the ineelianie were thrown out, but were not very seriously injured. The same evening, the A.C.G.B.I. published a notice to the effect that Edge (Napier), Girling ('Wolseley) and Jarrott (Wolseley) had been selected to represent. Britain its the race for the Gordon Bennett Cup. I largreaves (Napier) and Stocks (Napier) were to act as reserves. Rather rashly the Club added a footnote to the effect that, but for his accident., Earp would have been chosen as second in the team. Needless

to say, this decishin arimsed the tiereeSI COIL!' rOVerSy. There were those t ha said it was absurd to penalise a competitor because of art accident. that

oceurred after the Trials were Over. Mier,: Said it was obviously impossibly to selyyt ti in Ha' team a car that was

smashed and IL driver who was ihSured. S. F. Edge wrote I liree letters of I irotest to Ilte A.C.G.II.I. saying that the damaged car would be on the ii 'tot again in perfect. eondithati in a few days and that " Great Britain will have quite hard enough battle to light without. its second best competitor being eliminated through what appears to be a panic decision." The Rave Cortunittee were Adamant Wilt rentsed to alter their deeision. Mark Mayhew returned to the attack at the next meeting of the Club's Executive Committee, moving that " the decision to omit, Mr. Earp front ammig the drivers in that Gordon Bennett race be referred back to the Races Committee." After Major Lloyd ( ViciA•hairman of the Races Committee) laid put their side of the arguIELCIlt and other members had had their say, no seconder was f01111(1 for MitylICW'S 1110t i011 and so the selection was eontirnwd. Edge then wrote to the Races Committee saying, "I would prefer your Committee would relieve me of the honour of representing the English Club in the International Gordon Bennett_ Race." The Committee replied saying that they did not propose to amend their selection nor to accede to Edge's request to be relieved of his place in the team. They asked to be informed by return of post whether he refused to drive as one of the selected team, to which Edge replied that he accepted the ruling and would fake his place in the team. 'The 1904 Gordon Bennett Race was run by the German Automobile Club over four laps of an 87-mile circuit in the 'ratunts mountains near Homburg on June 17th. Edge's 80-h.p. Napier broke its crankshaft duringpractice lint a new 011e was lilted and mar started in the raee. At the end of the first laji the English teant'S chances looked pretty promising. Ihhind. 'rliery (Richard Brasier) and Jenat4y (00-h.p. Mercedes), Edge, Girling and. Jarrott lay third, fourth and fifth On the second lap Wolseley lay third and itarrott's sixth. Edge liad fallen to 15th due to tyre trouble and the distributor driving chain jumping off. The Napier showed its true form again by covering its third lap in I hour 37 min. 41.4 see., a time only improved upon by the winner. Thery. Rougier's 100-h.p. Tureat-Mery and de ('titer's 90-h.p. MereedOs, but on the last lap an oil dipper came off one of II a

1 and got jammed in the timing gear, doing irreparable damage, so Edge leid to retire. Both the Wolseleys suffered various troubles but both coinpleted the race ; Girling finishing ninth and Jarrot twelfth. Who can say what the resultmight have Imen had the ratchet of Earp's laind brake not jammed ? (To be Continued as space permits.)