The National Race Meeting at Thruxton
THRUXTON, under the aegis of the Bristol M.C. & L.C.C. and the Wiltshire School of Flying, saw a National Race Meeting held in glorious weather on Bank Holiday, the afternoon’s racing being notable for the number of sun-top specials, new lap records and the polished performance of Tony Reit in Rob Walker’s smart blue Connaught.
The new Thrtuctort airfield circuit has seine interesting slow and fast bends, is noticeably bumpy and has the merit that it is longer than most of our club circuits, measuring 2.76 miles to a lap. Before the meeting Ian Stewart held the lap record at 83.14 m.p.h. in an Ecurie Ecosse Type C Jaguar; after the Bank Holiday racing was over Bolt went home with it in his pocket (83,84 m.p.h.), besides £120 in prize money.
The first race was a combined sports-car affair for cars of up to 1,200 c.c. and 1,201-1,500 c.c. It was 15 laps, or 41t miles in length. Very soon the three leading exponents of 1-litre club racing were battling in a close procession—Cliff Davis in the Cooper-M.G. Joy 500, Peter Gammon in his lightweight M.G., and Beaurnan in the exHawthorn T.T. Riley with 9 to 1 compression ratio, the latter watched keenly by ” Pa ” Hawthorn. Davis led for a considerable distance but his Cooper-M.G. lost speed and the Riley took the lead. Gammon was second, then third, and would have finished in that place if he had not spun on lap nine at Apex Corner, letting C. M. Sears go by in his Tojeiro-M.G. Colin Chapman led the 1,200-0.e. class—which would no doubt have been better supported had the 1,172 boys been informed—in his neat, and neatly conducted, Lotus. Gould drove well in his Cooper-M.G., one damaged front wing flapping in the air for the latter part of the race. I. D. L. Lewis, in the .Anzac Motors’ Riley Nine, was the second I ,200-e.e. class car home, beating the former lap record by 0.3 m.p.h. (70.9 m.p.h.), and Beauman broke the 11-litre lap record by 0.34 m.p.h., leaving it at 74.36 m.p.h. J. Riseley-Pritchard in his beautiful replica of an Alfa-Romeo Disco Volume, using a Cooper chassis with ex-Hawthorn li-litre Riley engine, first had a contretemps resulting in a dented Disco and then the car, which in practice had been laying a smoke screen, caught fire. The driver jumped out after steering off the course, and was removed to hospital.
The big sports cars had a race over the same distance, which resulted in a runaway victory for James Stewart in the Ecurie Ecosse Type C Jaguar at 77.07 m.p.h. Currie’s Frazer-Nash was second, J. Lawrence in the other blue and white Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar third. The winner lapped at 79.29 m.p.h. but this left Sydney Allard’s class lap record untouched. G. P. Shea-Simmons’ Ardun-Allard, running on too-soft plugs and apt to boil, retired with a split radiator, many drivers ran out of road, and Bolton, in Walton’s fast Frazer-Nash with de Dion rear end, went head-on into the straw at Club Corner. A sports car in the Continental tradition was Walton’s Cooper-Bristol, very stark, with metal fairing over the passenger’s seat.
The Formula II cars next had a 20-lap, 55-mile race which was won very comfortably by Rolt in the Connaught. He averaged 80.21 m.p.h., lapping at 82.72 m.p.h. For a lap Gould was ahead in a green Cooper-Bristol and he drove with fire for the remainder of the race to finish a creditable second, not so very far behind Bolt. Walton’s Cooper-Bristol, converted into a Formula H car since the previous race, was third. The race was not very well supported and Mares Connaught spun oft’ at Kimpton Bend on the very first lap, staying in the rough until mechanics had sprinted from the Paddock to re-energise it.
The 500-c.c. cars now performed in a 55-mile race, which was less hair-raising than we had expected, although the mechanical death. roll was high. H. J. Coombs in his Staride-Norton led throughout from lap three, to win at 76.24 m.p.h., after a lap, well below the record, at 77,79 m.p.h. The lap-one leader had been T. J. Clarke’s C.B.2 but it became very weary, its driver looking in concern over his shoulder at the J.A.P. engine. Thereafter, Westcott’s KieftNorton moved up behind Coombs, to fall sick in its turn, so that the final order was Coombs, Don Truman’s blue Cooper-Norton and W. Nicholson’s Kieft-B.S.A. twin. The last race of the day—this National Meeting featured few but long events—was the 30-lap, 84-mile, Forinule Libre race. Holt never placed a wheel wrong—or did he raise the dust at the Apex once or twice ?—and he won at 82.07 m.p.h., raising the lap record by 0.7 m.p.h. in the process. Behind, his friend Peter Walker had a most stirring drive, taking the left-hand Apex Corner every lap on right-hand lock, the rear wheel of the ste. Cooper-E.R.A. spinning
and frequently sending up clouds of earth from the grass verge. But, try as he might, Walker never really got in sight of the impeccably-driven Rob Walker Connaught, which snaked viciously after the bumps; Jimes Stewart was third in the Ecurie Ecoase Type C Jaguar, and the remaining three places, sports cars mixed with old racing cars’ was typical of an English Formule Libre race. We append a chart of how these first six fared, below. Fairman retired in the under-steering Lea-Francis-engined Turner, Richardson got only as far as the first corner in the R.R.A., where he ” took straw,” Ecelestone’s Cooper-Bristol made a pit-stop and, after chasing Rolt for nine laps, Cliff Davis, in the ex-Straight, ex-Bira, Boyce a/c. 34itxe Maserati, suffered a minor fire when the exhaust system came adrift. Marr in his Formula II Connaught just failed to catch the Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar. The big Bugatti-engined B.H.W. driven by Whiteaway snaked away from the corners but sent out more and more oil-smoke and was about five laps behind as Bolt was flagged in. Bolton’s Frazer-Nash Le Mans Replica ran with front wings in place. As Tony drove into the Paddock his wife had a cigarette ready for him and mechanics opened a useful bottle as a very happy Peter Walker joined him. Bolt, hie tasks completed, then drove home in his drophead Jaguar XK120.—W. B.
A team of students from the College of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering, Chelsea, S.W.3, has entered for the 750 Motor Club’s six-hour relay race at Silverstone on August 29th.
The team comprises three M.G.s, two TD and one TA types, a Dellow and a Healey Silverstone. The drivers axe John Bik, Alan Oliver, David Samson, Peter Posner and Guy Dixon. Team manager is another student, R. N. Eason Gibson, son of John Eason Gibson, the well-known motoring writer and commentator.
The students, all enthusiasts, are using College facilities to prepare their cars, each of which will carry the College crests on its bonnet.