A close-fought 750 MC relay race

Tornado Team Wins from Fairthorpes

All BMC Mini-Cars “Black-Flagged”

That ever-entertaining “race which is different,” invented by Holland Birkett, the 750 MC 6-hour relay, was closely fought at Silverstone on August 13th, Charles Bulmer’s handi­capping being superb. This year 24 teams raced over the Club circuit, each attempting to get its sash round the course as many times as possible. These teams ranged from the enthusiastic Ulster Austins, fighting the 750 Formula team for the LMB Shield (which they won, in spite of Dixon’s car crashing at Woodcote) to the mixed Climax team on scratch, which started in bad fettle, the camshafts being out of two of their cars just before zero hour.

As usual the race was of absorbing interest and as the spectators had a running commentary throughout which told them the positions every half-hour, who was corning in, who had stopped and why cars retired, they got excellent value for money, not that very many attended.

Some interesting cars were running, such as Ewer’s Lola-Climax delivered at 5 am that morning, the ex-G Hill Lotus 7, Gibson’s ex-Protheroe XK120 Jaguar with C-type mods, lots of Twin-Cam MGs, a TR-engined Tempest, and the very quick Equip Mount Green Morris Minor 1000 which had four 11/2-in SUs, cross-flow head and much fibre-glass in the body. Redman’s Mini-Minor had an oil-cooler in lieu of its radiator grille.

The Downton minis looked to have a good chance but they were not allowed to run Harry Rose in their Mini-van as a reserve and met with various troubles, while eventually all the BMC mini-cars were stopped by the Clerk of the Course because three of them lost road-wheels, two within the first hour of the race. In one case a ­wheel shot high into the air and landed on another competing car, while the front suspension collapsed on the near side of Whitmore’s Austin Se7en. The cornering powers of the BMC Minis are excep­tional; what a pity the wheels, which BMC buy from Rubery Owen and Dunlop, would not cope. Marcus Chambers and the Richmonds were in conference with Birkett after the order that these cars were dangerous and must be stopped had gone out.

Apart from this sensation, the Relay Race was simply full of incident. Cars spun, Dixon’s Lotus-Ford taking a marker-drum into the pits with it after such a gyration, Smith’s Morgan Plus Four coupe slid backwards into the pits, his only thought as he crashed being to hand over the team’s sash, a Lotus had a considerable fire, its fibreglass bonnet burning furiously, a TVR spun twice at Becketts and plunged into the ditch, yet not a single driver suffered any sort of injury.

At 2 pm, after the first hour, the Jaguar DC team led from the BMC-A-types with the N Herts 1172s and Mogadors equal third. By 3 pm the Mogador Mixtures were second, the Octagon Stable of Austin Healey 3000s equal third with the Healey DC team.

It is impossible to list all the many incidents but as this ingenious race unfolded there was the usual feverish activity behind the pits and calls for spares to help rebuild stricken cars. A Terrier had a complete engine change, Sprinzel’s Sprite broke a half-shaft, which was replaced beside the course.

Boston’s Lotus Eleven ran a big-end, a Scorpion 1172 threw a rod, the ex-Hill Lotus came in with a cracked head, and Rumble’s Lotus 7 lost a front wing. One of the London 1172s had valve trouble, Lyle’s Austin ran a big-end, Meredith’s 1,991-cc Morgan suffered rocker trouble, while Gaston’s A40 was in trouble. Sim’s Yimkin broke a clutch finger, leaving Simon Hill to carry the Mogador sash, which he did to good effect in o/d second and top gears, third gear having failed, in this condition the Peerless was lapping at some 71 mph.

At half-distance the Jaguars were three laps ahead of the Mogadors by reason of fast opening laps by Sargent’s 3-litre D-type and fast driving by test-pilot Aston in a 3.4, etc. The Jaguar team with a lap speed of just under 74.2 mph. were 1/2-sec-a-lap outside their handicap but pit-stops allowed the Tornados to lead half-an-hour later and when the D-type came in and Gibson’s XK120 had to take over, the Tornados consolidated their position. At 6 pm the Fairthorpes were third and with Gibson appearing unhappy about oil at Woodcote, this team took second place in the last half-hour. When Gibson came limping in Jaguar hopes faded and Golding’s Fairthorpe was gaining on Bunce’s Typhoon, which had taken over from Woodhouse’s Tempest but was losing 3 sec a lap, the Fair­thorpe gaining 1 sec per lap.

As the 10th National Relay Race ran to a very close finish incidents continued to occur. The Terrier seized up at Woodcote, dropping the aforesaid trail of oil ; Stelfox’s TR3 spun and was calmly avoided by Aubrey’s Lotus 7, which earned applause. The Relay was living up to its name. It was won in the end by the Tornado coupes, they always say the best car wins. The Fairthorpes were a close second. Both these teams had 46 credit laps. Third place went to the Octagon Healeys, with 29 credit laps. Curiously, only one Lotus Elite was present, the course patrol car.-WB.


Maidenhead on October 9th

Maidenhead’s River Festival Motorama on October 9th is to include, we are informed, a 22-hour rally finishing at 4 pm on the Sunday, a Concours d’Elegance for vintage, veteran and modern cars, including racing cars (the Montagu Motor Museum is lending some of these), club driving tests, a soap-box derby, go-karting, military motorised unit demonstrations, and, which sounds especially intriguing, a sprint event along Oaken Grove tarmac road in which, they promise, a BRM will compete. Details from DH Parsons, The Porthole Club, River Road, Taplow, Maidenhead, Berks. (Tel.: Maidenhead 3129).

Honouring Charlie Rolls

Last July the Monmouth Festival Society organised a meeting of Rolls-Royce cars, which ranged from a Stanley Sears’ 1905 TT model to a 1939 Park Ward saloon, in honour of the 50th anniversary of the death in a flying accident of CS Rolls. In addition, exhibits of R-R interest were assembled and a memorial service held at the church where Rolls is buried; those present included the Hon Lady Shelley-Rolls. The Mayoress of Monmouth presented prizes to the owners, those for the most desirable cars going to DW Neale (1910 Silver Ghost limousine) and MH Vivian (1930 tourer), while WF Watson’s tourer which James Radley drove in the 1913 Alpine Trial, from Bognor, and ML Clark’s Rolls-Royce, from Leeds, took the distance awards.

Miniatures news

Playcraft Toys introduced for August good, sprung miniatures of the Ford Zephyr police patrol cars used on the M1, which, although only 37/8 in long, include seats, steering wheel, interior trim, police bell, loud-speaker and aerial, a model all boys, young and old, who know Britain’s Motorway will crave. It costs 4s 6d.-ask for Corgi No. 419.

Dinky have a 3.4 Jaguar saloon and a reader has sent us a very tiny but accurate Cooper racing car mini-miniature, these selling in Germany for DM.50.

On losing a Sprite

The Assistant Editor’s Sprite (colour-leaf green, registration number-981 NEV) has been stolen. This is not too disturbing as it was insured, but the subsequent negotiations with the police showed that if the car was recovered it would be more by good fortune than anything else. The task of the police is made all the more difficult by lack of staff and the incredibly large number of cars stolen. Around 80% of stolen cars are taken for joy rides, abandoned within a day or so and quickly returned to the owner, but of the rest only a small proportion are recovered, this usually occurring when the thief is stopped for some traffic offence.

The registration numbers of stolen cars are only circulated in the immediate area of the theft so that if a car is taken 50 miles away the local police have no idea that it has been stolen. Cars are unfortu­nately too easy to steal. Apart from professional thieves who can break into and start cars with a bent pin, it is so easy to read the number on the ignition switch and purchase a key from any garage. It seems that some legislation should be brought in to forbid the stamping of ignition key numbers in too accessible places or, alter­natively, restricting the sale of keys to people who can provide proof of ownership.