THE SPRINT RETURNS TO BERKSHIRE
S. Lewis-Evans Breaks Great Auclum Hill-Climb Record in blown Cooper 1,100. Class Records Topple.
SPRINTS tend to be overshadowed by races these days, but there was no denying the enjoyment derived by competitors and spectators alike at the Great Auclum Speed Hill-Climb. organised by the Hants & Berks M.C. on August 8th. The event was run off in perfect summer weather, which made the +-mile course with its banked bottom corner a truly picturesque venue-the banked corner was put in by Neil W. Gardiner, who loans his private road for the event, to remind him of his Brooklands days, and he motors his Bentley round it to no mean purpose.
The meeting went off very slickly, with three runs for each competitor, for -which A. H. S. Fountain, Morin Ness, D. C. E. Johns, Barclay Inglis and P. J. Bateman deserve credit, along with the other officials. Times were announced with commendable promptitude by J. Lowrey.
In the class for unsupercharged sports cars up to 1,300 c.c., G. P. Taylor, in a neat, special-bodied M.G., broke his own class record in winning from Harry Arklay, whose Arklay relies on a Riley Nine engine with two Ford Ten carburetters, Standard Eight i.f.s. and an Austin-base chassis. Third place was taken by Geoff Tapp’s blue Buckler. Tapp and G. A. Naylor in a special Lagonda Rapier were amongst the few drivers, at all event of the slower cars, to really use Mr. Gardiner’s banking. Tapp was particularly ambitious on all his runs, holding a high line right round the corner, so that the Buckler’s rear suspension worked hard as the car regained a level keel. H. Sutcliffe drove a 1,286-e.c. Porsche coup6 which managed to beat two Bucklers and the high-geared Vernon-Balls Crossley, of Ards and Brooklands memory, driven by V. C. Freedman.
The class for unblown sports cars of 1,301-1,800 c.c., and supercharged sports cars of up to 1,300 c.c. (sprints can gain a lot in interest by intelligent sub-division) looked like going to Gerry Ruddock’s neat but noisy Lester-M.G. until, in a spirited last run, Geoff Tapp, driving Buckler’s own supercharged Buckler, beat the M.G. by 0.12 sec, He was, incidentally, 0.33 sec. faster than the car’s constructor, with whom he shared this well-known car, and beat Ron Willis’ old B.M.W. class record by a rousing 1.12 sec. The vintage Frazer-Nashes of P. J. Lovell and R. W. Ashley were over-geared for the Great Auclum course, and R. W. Christmas’ blown PB M.G. Midget wasn’t quick enough, third place going to Buckler himself.
The 1,801 to 3,000-c.c unsupercharged and 1,301 to 1,800-c.c. supercharged sports-car class went fair and square to F. B. Copeland’s Le Mans Replica Frazer-Nash, in 23.5 sec. W. S. Perkins beat the vintage Bentleys in his B.M.W.-powered H.R.G. which was appreciably quicker than M. P. Moore’s blown M.G. Betty Haig was slow in an Austin-Healey 100, troubled by vapour-lock in the fuel lines, in spite of removing the lid of the bonnet-hatch. Her modern mount was beaten by a vintage 4i-1itre Bentley which filled the hill, an aged Alfa-Romeo and an early Connaught.
The class for the big sports machinery saw Gordon Parker spin the wheels of his Jaguara almost all the way up to clock 23.27 sec. on his last ascent, a new record by 0.4 sec., from Crook’s Frazer-Nash of 1951-foot and mouth disease spelt a miss at Great Auclum last year. The Jaguara has an X.K120 Jaguar engine with twin superchargers, a Jaguar back axle on coil springs, and modified Vauxhall LE& W. Coleman was next fastest in Parker’s now outmoded Jaguette, also blown, but with a 2i-litre Jaguar engine, which was 1.49 sec. slower. This took second place, and third position was occupied by J. Berry’s Bugatti 2.3. Four old Invictas performed, of which J. A. Shutler’s low-chassis 4k-litre saloon was by far the most impressive, as well as being decidedly the quickest, its chassis and exhaust pipe scraping along the banking.
The racing-car classes promised fireworks but not a single car came to grief during the meeting, which, at a venue once fraught with incident, suggests a high standard of conductorship. S. Lewis-Evans broke his own class record by 0.83 sec. in winning the 500-c.c. class in his Cooper-Norton from Ken Gregory’s J.B.S., which was 0.5 sec. slower. On a determined run W. C. Cuff in the” Hell’s Hammers V” Special, its small over-engine fuel tank venting visibly, took third spot. The V-twin 1,100s made up for the dreamy summer thought during the interval that this course should suit the G.N.s ! Indeed, sharing the same Cooper 1,100 with blown J.A.P. engine, S. Lewis-Evans and Ken Gregory fought a stirring duel. Gregory opened with 22.07 sec.,
to which Lewis-Evans replied with 22.05 sec. Gregory replied with 21.7 sec., and Evans was slower, taking 22.24 see. Possibly this made Ken let up a bit. At all events, he seemed to use one cog too high on his last run, the engine fluffed, and his time fell to 27.81 sec. We waited breathlessly to see whether the J.A.P. really was sick. getting well behind the biggest trees meanwhile ! Then LewisEvans got away obviously to a healthy start, swung round the banking, clipped through the series of tight upper corners with the precision of a ballet dancer and-returned f.t.d., 21.47 sec. This cracked the old record, held by Eric Brandon’s Cooper-J.A.P. 1,000. by 0.73 sec. This record run was noticeably tidy and Lewis-Evans’ success well deserved.
Nor were these the only Cooper V-twins to perform. F. B. Lowrey in a Cooper 1,000 clocked 22.47 sec. but spun at the final corner on his second run. D. C. T. Bennett’s Cooper 1,000, braked hard for the first bend on a brave run, did 22.9 sec., and D. G. Walker in an unblown Cooper 1,100 was steadier and took 25.32 sec.
The 1,101 to 2,000-c.c. racing-car class was tame in comparison. Copeland’s sports Frazer-Nash was adequate to win it, in 23.7 sec., 0.1 see, too slow to beat the Norris Special’s class record of 1950. W. A. Taylor in that delightful sprint car, the Caesar Special, with A.C. Six engine, Frazer-Nash transmission and transverse spring i.f.a., was second, and Tapp brought the blown Buckler, now prone to misfiring, into third place, the car’s owner taking 0.36 see. longerdoes age tell ? C. J. Hamilton’s E.R.A. never got going on this course, and the A.C.-engined Semmence Special did not go at all.
The final class, for racing cars over 2 litres, was notable for the delightful exhaust notes of the several GP. Bugattis which contested it. Of these, the single-seater 2.3 of J. Berry, with twin rear tyres, i.f.s. and a preselector gearbox, was fastest and again the class record, formerly the property of Butterworth’s big A.J.B., fell by 0.6 sec. C. S. Henderson, using all the banking and most of the road as well, flung his beautiful 2.3 G.P. Bugatti, also with twin rear wheels, up the hill to net a courageous second place, beating the Jaguara. J. M. Perkins’ 2.3 G.P. Bugatti was a shade slower, but took the V.S.C.C. Award.
Mrs. Eric Giles presented the £25 prize for f.t.d. to S. Lewis-Evans and peace descended on the rural slopes of the Great Auclum estateuntil 1954. ROSUitt t
Over 225 cars are expected to compete in the London M.C.’s London Rally on September llth/12th. They include a team of works Sunbeam Alpines.