Deprived of their Castle Combe circuit by “foot-and-mouth” the go-ahead Bristol M.G. & L.C.C., in conjunction with the Sporting O.D.C. and the Wiltshire School of Flying, Ltd., staged the first car race meeting at Thruxton on Bank Holiday.
The 1.89 mile circuit has been the scene of successful motor-cycle racing, in which the lap-record stands at 82.24 m.p.h. The runways, even when reduced by lines of cans, are amply wide, if bumpy and sprouting grass, and there are some interesting corners, including a fast “S” on the back-leg. It was not the fault of the organisers that half a gale and torrential rain beat about the Thruxton plateau. Considering the conditions the crowd was no mean size.
The first 6-lap race saw Beauman in the ex-Hawthorn Riley Nine snatch the lead (watched by Mike himself, present in his father’s Alfa-Romeo relaxing after his great drive at Boreham) from Watling Greenwood, only to have “an episode” and vanish. So the R.W.G. (which has an overhead inlet 1,090-c.c.Ford engine with remote header tank, light-alloy S.U. fuel pump and ignition distributor, P-type M.G. gearbox and other interesting features and weighs just 9 cwt) won at 57.84 m.p.h., although the Riley had lapped fastest, at 60.4 m.p.h. Tapp’s Buckler, with neatly cowled radiator and twin 1(?) in. S.U. carburetters was second, Stokes’ Riley Nine third. The first heat of the 500-c.c. race was an easy victory for Bueb’s Iota, which lapped at 65.63 m.p.h., from Clarke’s C.B.P. and Fenning’s Cooper. The 6-lap race for blown sports-cars up to 1,200 c.c., unblown ditto up to 1,500 c.c. saw many of the “likelies” spin round, including Davis in the Cooper-M.G. In the end Gammon, who also indulged in rotations on the soaking course, won in his effective TC M.G. Special by 2.4s. from the Cooper-M.G., the Weber Special third. Gammon also did best lap, at 66.03 m.p.h. Coombe’s Cooper took the second 500-c.c. heat, with a lap at 66.3 m.p.h., from Nurse’s Cooper and Moore’s J.B.S.
There followed the 6-lap race for sports-cars up to 2½ litres (or 1½-litre s/c.) in which Salvadori held off Ken Wharton, the Frazer-Nashes of these two fine drivers being separated by no perceptible time-gap as they went over the line! Salvadori was deemed to have won, but Wharton lapped faster, at 70.86 m.p.h. Peacock’s Frazer-Nash was third, Walton’s fourth.
The final for the 500s, over 10 laps, was a procession, led by Coombes, whose Cooper won comfortably from Clarke’s C.B.P., after lapping at 75.13 m.p.h. Moore held third place throughout in the J.B.S. but Fenning (Cooper) swopped fourth place with Richard’s J.B.S. about half-way through, after Issard-Davies’ Cooper-Triumph and the Arengo-J.A.P. had retired.
The 10-lap race for unlimited sports-cars occasioned a surprise, for Walton’s Frazer-Nash led Salvadori’s for 5 laps. At this stage Wharton’s was fourth behind Oscar Moore’s H.W.M.-Jaguar and so determinedly did Walton drive that Wharton was unable to catch him. Salvadori lapped at 76.08 m.p.h. to win by 9.4 sec. from the H.W.M.-Jaguar. As the programme was well on time in spite of the weather an invitation race for the 20 fastest sports-cars was staged, but only five runners elected to compete, so Salvadori pursued his winning habit, coming home 2.2 sec. ahead of the H.W.M.-Jaguar, in spite of Oscar Moore having set a car lap-record of 77.2 m.p.h. on the drying track. Wharton was third. Behind, a J2 Allard demonstrated understeer at the expense of its rubber and Gammon unconcernedly took to the grass now and then as his M.G. left Windy Corner.
Thruxton has great possibilities, especially if the full 2.4 mile perimeter could be used and enthusiasts living near Andover should note that motor-cycles will race there again on October 4th. However, it is asking a lot of the Bristol Club to operate some 80 miles from home, so we hope their National Meeting on their own circuit, also scheduled for October 4th, will be possible.
Club News, September 1988
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