Convincing victory for Speedwell Austin A35 team in 750 M.C. National 6-hour Relay Race at Silverstone

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76

Morgan Team Second. Victory, too, for Bulmer, as official handicapper

ONE of the best Club races of the season is the Relay Race, outstandingly well organised by the 750 M.C. This year, on August 16th, 21 teams contested the event, which was so miraculously well handicapped by Charles Bulmer that the issue was in doubt until the chequered flag appeared. After an hour, the Lanes & Cheshire C.C., the Jaguar D.C. team, and the Powermasters were all virtually equal, but Tyrer’s C-type Jaguar had tyre trouble and came in, Sargent’s C-type taking over. The pits were busy as cars came in and out, but Martyn’s Lotus of Innes Ireland’s team and Sprinzel’s A35 had been lapping fast for 1 1/2 hours.

By 3 p.m., with the race two hours old, the Jaguars were back in the lead, Healeys and Friends and Speedwell joint second. In the next hour Jenkinson, this year with 1600 Super engine in his Porsche, had hit a drum, done some ploughing and spun at Woodcote in upholding Porsche honour, the Powermasters had lost all their Fords, and the N.W. 750 Formula Team were working on three of their four cars. Moore’s Formula Austin was flinging water at its driver, Sargent’s Jaguar had a valve cover off for inspection and Bengue’s Austin-Healey had ignition bothers.

Four o’clock saw the Speedwell Austins leading, their pit work impeccable and Sprinzel, Hill and Adams driving sensibly and fast, very smart in pullovers, changed as required, to match the colour of their three little saloons. The Morgan Plus Four team, with Peter Morgan going well, were second.

All this followed Relay Race tradition, because in the L.C.C. race at Brooklands the Morgans were apt to be beaten by the Austins; in those days drivers used to sprint in with their sashes, and we saw this at Silverstone when Bloor turned athlete as Harpin’s Lotus was pushed in. Later, Stoop’s Sebring Frazer-Nash broke a stub-axle at Tower Corner on the special 2 1/2-mile circuit used for the Relay Race and took to the corn. Unperturbed, Stoop ran in with his sash, met at the end of the pits by a sprinting Michael Burn.

The last two hours were a contest between the Speedwell Austins and the Morgans, but although Belcher’s Morgan lapped at 2 min. 7 sec. against Adams’ 2 min. 17 sec., time had been lost when Meredith’s Plus Four had twice come in with its bonnet loose, to find the next Morgan driver unready to go out. Lutz Arnstein, who managed the Speedwell team of three Austin A35s, was never caught like that and in the last hour these fast, reliable little Austins clinched their victory.

The Speedwell team cars were virtually identical, but the yellow one had the Stage 2 experimental cylinder head. Each was tuned to Speedwell Conversion standard but with balanced crankshaft and balanced and lightened flywheel, while a compression-ratio of approximately 9 1/2 to 1 was employed in place of 8.7-to-1 compression-ratio of the normal Stage 2 conversion. The standard Speedwell suspension modifications sufficed, and standard ignition coils were fitted. Esso Extra petrol, K.L.G. plugs and Dunlop Gold Seal tyres contributed to a victory which proved conclusively the reliability and effectiveness of Speedwell Conversion.

The Morgans finished second—history repeating itself, for at Brooklands in 1934 an Austin Seven team won the Relay Race from a team of Morgan three-wheelers. The closing laps saw a titanic struggle for third place between Noble’s M.G.-A of the Octagon Stable and Tooley’s M.G.-A of the M.G. C.C. Team, Tooley just snatching the lead on the road before the race finished. The Odds and S.O.D.C. Team had virtually retired from shortage of working cars but gallantly put on Wilson-Spratt’s Austin-Healey Sprite to literally crawl round to finish. The only serious accident befell B. T. Thomas’ R4 Jowett Jupiter, the bonnet of which opened as he approached the hairpin, causing him to lose control and roll the car—surely bonnet straps should be compulsory? Thomas escaped with a bruised leg. The other Jupiters raced gamely, Miss Neale and A. Thomas in R4s, but were insufficiently fast or reliable.—W. B.

The circuit of the Auvergne (July 27th)

On an interesting new mountainous circuit near Clermont-Ferrand in the Massif Central of France a three-hour Gran Turismo race was held, followed by a Formula II event. This circuit, 8 kms. in length is like a miniature Nürburgring, with virtually no straights at all having an average speed of nearly 75 m.p.h. The Gran Turismo event was run under ruling which allows pure sports cars such as Lotus X, AC, Ace and works Panhards, etc., to compete against genuine Gran Turismo cars such as Europa Ferraris, Aston Martin coupés, Porsche Carreras and A.C. Acecars, so it was not surprising when Innes Ireland ran away with the three-hour event ahead of a row of Ferraris, especially bearing in mind the twisty nature of the circuit. Naturally, after three hours of racing the course was in a pretty slippery state for the start of the Formula II event, and Trintignant driving Rob Walker’s Cooper had an obvious advantage having just finished in the Gran Turismo event and thus knowing the condition of the course. He made good use of this and drew out a quick lead from such regular Formula II merchants as Bueb, Marsh, Lewis-Evans and Taylor. Just before the end when the order Trintignant, Lewis-Evans and Marsh seemed assured, Bueb came through from behind and nipped smartly into second place with his Lotus. What had been happening was that his Climax engine was running with low oil pressure and high water temperature, so that all the needles were at the wrong ends of the gauges, so Bueb had been running slowly. With only a few laps to go he decided to cross his fingers and have a go in a win-or-bust effort and he caught the two Cooper drivers napping, gaining the lap-record into the bargain.

The Trento-Bondone hill-climb (July 13th)

This 12.9 kilometre hill-climb in the Dolomite mountains was Italy’s contribution to the European Championship and was the usual battle between Porsche and Borgward works cars, with von Trips not only winning but also gaining a commanding lead on points for the title. As the old record stood from when the hill was a purely national affair it was surprising that all the works sports cars improved on it.

The Freiburg Schauinsland hill-climb (July 27th)

After the Italian round of the Championship the scene moved to Germany and the 12 kilometre mountain climb, but the enthusiasm amongst the German contestants was too much for some and von Trips and Barth both crashed their Porsches. As Herrmann was baulked by Barth’s crash on his first run it let Bonnier make f. t.d. and in trying to beat him on the second run Herrmann struck a rock and punctured a tyre, finishing the climb on the rim, so Bonnier was the winner. However, there was some consolation for Herrmann for his third place put him ahead of the unfortunate von Trips on points.

Major Lambton’s cars

Those readers who take an affectionate interest in the older Rolls-Royce cars will be pleased to know that Major Lambton, of Mortimer, Berkshire, has acquired the prototype “Continental” bodied Phantom H, which saw the light of day on August 19th, 1930. This handsome sporting saloon, with trunk and two spare wheels behind, was designed by Mr. Evernden, who is still with the Rolls-Royce Company at Crewe and who has shown great interest in Major Lambton’s acquisition.

The chassis of this historic car was virtually a normal short 40/50, lowered, and with an experimental engine, its number being 26 EX. The body was built by Barker and it was finished by an unique process utilising real fish scales, to give an oyster effect in two shades, offset by blue upholstery.

The car made many test runs on the Continent and took prizes in a number of Concours d’Elegance. If anyone has any data on this period of the “Continental’s” history or any information about how to restore the unusual fish scale finish, Major Lambton would be glad to hear from them. Registered GH 2956, the car was first owned privately by a gentleman in Jersey, who retained it until 1951, storing it in a cellar during the war to prevent discovery by the Germans. It then went to the Midlands and had several owners thereafter, all of whom Major Lambton has traced. He now intends to fully restore this “Continental” and already Rolls-Royce Limited have been very helpful. They retain a large file on the car, some of the information still being regarded as secret! Tests were made on Brooklands Track, confirming the maximum speed as 94 m.p.h.

After inspecting this Rolls-Royce Major Lambton gave the writer a ride in a 1922 model-T Ford one-tonner he has recently bought. This has a proprietory radiator and two-speed auxiliary gate-change gearbox, and a delightful truck body with very narrow cab, so that long poles could be carried, extending forward on each side as far as the front mudguards. Ignition is by magneto but the trembler coils exist and as the original owner, a woodman, carelessly let his wife fall out of the vehicle shortly after buying it, whereupon he was forbidden to drive it, the estimate of its present mileage as under 2,000 is probably correct. Major Lambton intends to put this delightful “period-piece” to work on his farm. His everyday transport consists of a standard but well-equipped M.G.-A coupé, unmodified except for harder brake linings. He also possesses one of three model electric G.P. Dupuis known to exist in this country. This is in good running order, as the writer’s youngest daughter was able to discover round a splendid road circuit in the Major’s extensive grounds.—W .B.

Two Sunbeams

The other Sunday there occurred in a pleasant riverside town a meeting of the kind that enthusiasts sometimes devise. A member of the Sunbeam S.T.D. Register drove down from London in his immaculate 12/16-h.p. Sunbeam to visit a similar car which has been in retirement in the care of its original owner for some years.

This meeting between two Edwardian motor cars of the same make and type not only gave pleasure to such local citizens as saw them together but proved interesting to the cars’ owners. The Sunbeam in retirement is a 1914 12-16 with Sunbeam landaulette body, bought new in Wolverhampton by one formerly associated as driver of such great makes as Panhard, Pipe and Clement-Talbot. The Sunbeam was used for private hire work, its swan song being the S.M.M.T. Cavalcade Runs in 1946. It has run 350,000 miles without a rebore, although bearings, and the rings on the steel pistons, have naturally been replaced. It gave splendid service, returning 17/19 m.p.g. Incidentally, it was run on Vacuum oil, later on Castrol XXL.

There is a delightful story of how, in 1930, it was pressed into service for some Army manoeuvres at High Wycombe, when a local garage could not supply sufficient hire cars to transport officers from their headquarters. The Sunbeam’s passenger was H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester, who expressed great approval of the old car and was pleased to learn that its owner had no intention of parting with it. The Sunbeam tourer left the factory in November 1913 but comparison with the landaulette showed that it has all the 1914 features, which include a strut at the base of the steering column and the large brake drums. Petrol feed is still by air pump, whereas that on the landaulette has been converted to Autovac. There was seen to be a difference of 270 in the numbers of the two cars and the tourer had a non-original water off-take and black paint on its cylinder block, whereas the landaulette had pale blue paint here, which its owner insists is correct. The tourer, which has run some 110,000 miles, has a round honeycomb, the landaulette a square honeycomb in the radiator. The former car presented the experts who were present with two problems. Its cylinder block bears W.D. stamps, yet the car was supplied pre-1914 (perhaps the block is a replacement), and there is a plug on the top of the water pump, the object of which is obscure. And although “Motoring Entente” quotes the 1914 12/16 as having no fan, both these Sunbeams possess cooling fans. The landaulette also has a belt-driven dynamo. All present were able to appreciate the extreme accessibility of the 12/16 Sunbeam engine, from which the alloy valve chest is instantly removable after releasing two spring-loaded knobs and from which a valve can be removed in a matter of moments should there be ten minutes to spare for grinding one in, while the tappet guides, clamped to the crankcase, are almost equally quickly withdrawn.—W. B.

What Fords can do

A Ford Zodiac estate car was driven recently by W. Brampton, T. Fleetwood and A. White from John o’ Groats, round the coast roads of this island, back to the starting point, a distance of 3,358 miles. This occupied 981 hours, the Ford averaging 34.18 m.p.h.

Another Ford feat was that of one who took a new Popular from Hyde Park Coiner to Glasgow Central Station single-handed, at an average of 35.9 m.p.h. After a rest of 21 hours the same driver returned in a 15 months’ old Popular that had done 47,000 miles and averaged 35.6 m.p.h., hampered by using sidelamps only to conserve the battery. This driver was away from 1 a.m. until 5.30 a.m. the following day, inclusive of rest. The best hour’s motoring was 44 miles, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on the outward run, which disposes of the idea that the A 1 road is “impossible” throughout the summer months.—W. B.

Peter Collins

We take this, the first opportunity, of expressing our deep sympathy to the wife, parents and countless friends of the late Peter Collins, in the irreparable loss sustained by the death of this popular racing driver after his Ferrari had left the road during the German Grand Prix.

Words alone are inadequate for expressing our feelings on hearing of Peter’s fatal accident. This young man, his infectious sense of fun and humour covering a serious interest in his chosen profession of Grand Prix racing driver, represented, perhaps better than anyone, the popular idea of what such a man should be. He had the flair, the mannerisms and a flashing smile to endear him to admirers, yet he was an unobtrusive public figure, carrying success with dignity.

Collins took motor-racing seriously, going to live near the Ferrari works in Italy after being appointed to drive in their team and striving hard to master the language, a conscientiousness that endeared him alike to Enzo Ferrari and the racing mechanics. He was an adaptable driver, graduating from Formula III cars to H.W.M., and thence through sports Aston Martins, the big Thinwall Special, the difficult V16 B.R.M. and, after sharing a 300SLR Mercedes-Benz with Moss in a Targa Florio, to his high place in the Ferrari team. With Ferrari Peter Collins won the 1956 French and Belgian G.P.s, and shared the wheel of the cars which finished first at Monaco, Silverstone and Monza. He was second that year to Fangio in the World’s Championship, after so sportingly handing over his car to the Argentinian in the Italian G.P. The year 1957 saw Collins’ prodigious drive in a wet Mille Miglia; this year he won at Buenos Aires and Sebring with Phil Hill, and, in G.P. cars, the Daily Express Silverstone race and the British G.P. Clearly, Peter was again driving at the top of his form, until tragedy struck while he was attempting to regain the lead at Nürburg.

To put futile questions to Moss after that race, was the province of the B.B.C. Would Moss go On racing? You might as well ask whether trans-Atlantic air-lines will be abandoned because a K.L.M. Constellation was lost at sea recently, writing off, not one, but 99 lives.

Peter died gallantly, driving a fine car to its limit of speed, and beyond. Musso died likewise. These accidents enhance the stature of the racing driver, who faces danger fearlessly, with open eyes. To use them as a weapon with which to bludgeon a clean and healthy sport is futile indeed.—W. B.

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