Bank Holiday at the Crystal Palace
Keith Hall (Lotus) Has a Day Out
The sinuous 1.39-mile Crystal Palace circuit, in grounds which saw motor shows and competitions in the very early days of automobilism seems guaranteed to produce close racing and many incidents, perhaps because its straights are too short to allow fast cars to gain much ground -- this is a driver's circuit, and a true road circuit to the extent that trees and walls rather than wide open spaces confront those so unfortunate or unskilful as to "lose" their cars.
The B.A.R.C. Race Meeting on August Bank Holiday provided some very close racing, Keith Hall's team Lotus-Climax with FII wheels scoring a hat-trick of firsts and beating the absolute sports-car lap-record -- which was held jointly by Hall himself and Stirling Moss (Cooper-Climax) -- by 0.4 sec., leaving it at 77.7 m.p.h., equal to Lewis-Evans' Cooper F III lap-record. There was a record number of incidents resulting in much damage to the cars, of which ten either left the course, collided or overturned, but happily the drivers escaped serious injury. However, the repair trade must benefit considerably and it does seem time for a Tin-Bashers Trophy to be presented for Crystal Palace racing!
The racing, watched by 17,000 people, commenced with Heat One of the August Trophy Race over 10 laps. Raby's Cooper Climax -- all starters had the 1,100-c.c. Climax engine -- led for two laps, but on practice form Hall's Lotus was faster and sure enough it got past and gained a reasonable lead, winning by 9.6 sec., at 74.87 m.p.h., after making fastest lap at 76.08 m.p.h. Stacey (Lotus) had a grand dice for third place with Bristow (Cooper) whom he disposed of after eight laps, crossing the line 1.8 sec. ahead, his passing being down inside on the downhill sweep at the Glade, Bristow thereafter braking late in an unsuccessful attempt to regain his position. The first incident took place in this race, Lumsden (Lotus) spinning after Ramp Bend, Ellis denting his Lotus as they collided, to retire later.
Heat Two saw Brough's Lotus lead all the way, although late in the race Campbell-Jones' Lotus closed the gap, until it was 1.8 sec., as this pair crossed the line. They had the length of the home straight between them and Payne (Lotus), who was third after a stirring duel with Reg. Parnell's son, who, in his first race, handled his Cooper well, but was finally beaten by Payne and also the imperturbable Marriott whose Lotus scorns aerodynamic assistance. Brough averaged 71.3 m.p.h. and Campbell-Jones made fastest lap, at 73.16 m.p.h. Fisher's Lotus left the course at North Tower and Copeman's Lotus followed suit at New Link.
The seven-lap 500-c.c. race promised a good scrap which was cut short when Don Parker's Cooper touched Cowley's Cooper as these two battled for second and third places. Cowley was in the lead but his car now rolled over twice, Parker stopping when he saw what had happened. Cowley, having extricated himself from the crash, drove off to Brands Hatch for some more racing! Bridger continued, his lead unassailable, his Cooper-Norton winning by 26.2 sec., at 71.87 m.p.h. from Brackenbury's Cooper-Norton and Denley's Cooper-Norton, out of a field of seven, reduced to five finishers in procession. Bridger was credited with fastest lap, at 74.69 m.p.h.
The seven-lap Sports Car Scratch Race had a field of 13, ranging from 1,098-c.c. Lotus and Cooper to Hillwood's Lister-Jaguar and Mitford's disc-braked Lotus-Bristol. However, the big cars were completely outclassed, Hillwood merely touring round, being lapped by the leaders one circuit before the finish! The Revis-Borgward put in a reappearance, in the hands of Dade, but he was wasting his time, because it ran very badly.
Raby's "Puddle Jumper" Cooper led for three laps before the invincible Hall took and held the lead, having galloped past Stacey who held second place for the opening lap. Hewitt (Lotus) held off Digby (Cooper) in fourth place, although the latter appeared to brake later and Bristow, whose Cooper had jibbed at the start, drove with notable abandon to come strongly through the field, finally passing Digby, who was worried by a second gear that refused to stay in engagement. Fitzalan Howard's Lotus retired and, although there were no incidents, he and Sutcliffe (Frazer-Nash) were rumoured to have touched in the melee of the opening lap. Hall won this one at 73.93 m.p.h., by 0.8 sec., but his fastest lap was up to 76.51 m.p.h.
The seven-lap Marque Scratch Race (shades of Goodwood) was sensibly divided into fast and not so fast entrants. In the first the Fitzwilliam team put in two Le Mans disc-braked, alloy-bodied M.G.-As, Bowman drove Rudd's normally-braked A.C. Ace and Foster had Jacobs' drum-braked, steel-bodied M.G.A. We felt anything could happen but we didn't expect North to lead throughout in his white Triumph TR2, which had drum brakes with turbofinning at the rear. Foster was in second place after two laps, but didn't fancy mixing it with North and wisely contented himself with this position. Locker had previously held this place in his four-seater Morgan Plus Four, but he cornered at a speed which defeated even Morgan road-holding and went wide and through the straw bales at Ramp Bend; he did not overturn as the official announcement has it, but he did bend his motor car considerably. What went wrong with the Fitzwilliam's M.G.s may never be known, but for all its Le Mans advantages Carnegie's M.G. couldn't catch Foster's normal M.G. and Fitzwilliam's was way back behind the A.C., McKechnie's Morgan, Hurrell's TR3 and Parkin's TR2, until Parkin crashed at North Tower. Rothman's TR2 pranged at the Glade -- what a day! Hero North averaged 65.18 m.p.h., winning by 0.2 sec., but Foster, chasing him, lapped at 66.72 m.p.h. What tyres do these expert's race on? Well, half the field had Dunlop Racing covers, the other half Michelin "X."
The less-quick half of this Marque Scratch Race, however, saw two on Dunlop "Road Speed," one on Dunlop Racing and nine on Michelin "X," the last-named being on the first six to finish. It was rather a procession, Wood's Triumph TR2 leading McCulloch's TR2 and Allatt's TR3, Huber's Morgan moving up past Tooley's M.G.-A and Ewer's TR2 to fourth place. Wood won by the narrow margin of 0.2 sec., a "photo"-finish which made this another good race, at 64.08 m.p.h. McCulloch set fastest lap, at 65.84 m.p.h. Richmond's M.G.-A and Bowling's Austin-Healey 100M were pathetically slow.
The crowd was treated to a fine dice in the 15-lap August Trophy Final, when Hall needed six laps before he could dispose of Raby, and the Lotus and Cooper drivers indulged in some real Grand Prix cut and thrust before Hall drew away to win by 6.6 sec., at 75.33 m.p.h., having beaten all classes of sports-car lap-record, with a circuit at 77.7 m.p.h. Stacy then closed on Raby, with Bristow ever within striking distance, although, in fact, they finished like that, Stacey third by a mere 0.2 sec. As if this wasn't enough on this hot afternoon, the Lotuses of Brough and Campbell-Jones fought every bit of the way for fifth place on the closing laps, Brough pulling across his opponent and leaving visual evidence in the form of a scar on the near-side of Campbell Jones' Lotus, in his eagerness to keep his lead. Page's and Marriott's Lotuses retired, the latter with a detached oil lead resulting in a fine smoke screen.
This excellent afternoon's racing concluded with a five-lap Invitation Handicap, but starters were depleted because Stacey's Cooper had had enough and Hall decided not to run. The last lap brought the spectators to their toes, as they say, because North in his spectacular Triumph began to come into the picture as Raby, too, got amongst the leaders. In a close finish Raby's Cooper swept down inside the former leader, Allatt's TR3, at New Link, to win at 73.96 m.p.h., after making fastest lap, at 76.28 m.p.h. Hubner's Morgan Plus Four was third because North confirmed Foster's opinion in an earlier race by losing his TR2, hitting Bristow's Cooper and spinning into the trees at the end of the Glade, bending the front of his car. -- W. B.
The racing must have been even more exciting "out in the country," unless commentator McDonald Hobley tends to imagine the iminence of "incidents."
Watson substituted his J.B.S. for his Martin-Norton in the 500-c.c. race, although he had sold the car before the race. It refused to start in spite of a great deal of pushing. We wonder who has bought this one? It was hardly tactful of the commentators to rub it in!
A pity the Paddock loud-speakers drown much of the spectator p.a when they are in use.
The programme contained lots of pictures of cars and drivers which were not competing at the Palace!
Keith Hall is now King of the Crystal Palace. After his victory in the August Trophy Race he kept some of the champagne in the cup for his chief mechanic.
The Crystal Palace is one of those excellent circuits which it is possible to enter and leave in a car while racing is in progress, by means of an over-bridge. Goodwood, Silverstone, Aintree, etc., please copy!
Memo, to the motor repair trade -- don't forget that Tin-Bashers' Trophy !