At Silverstone on August 11th the 750 M.C. held the 12th National 6-Hour Relay Race, a splendid long-distance contest calling for team strategy and much pit-work – pit-work in this case embracing the furious rebuilding of cars in the Paddock.
This excellent event, matched in duration so far as British circuits are concerned only by the Brands Hatch Saloon Car Race scheduled for October 6th, differs from those Brooklands Relay Races sponsored by the Light Car Club before the war, inasmuch as teams comprise up to six instead of three cars, which go out in any order for any number of laps, whereas at Brooklands each car ran one-third the distance, unless it expired before doing so, and could not thereafter re-appear.
The full 74 teams contested this year’s 750 M.C. Race over the Club circuit, the drivers carrying their team-sashes round as many times as possible between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. The handicapping was by credit laps and so brilliantly contrived by Dennis Loveridge that the result was open to within a quarter of an hour of the finish. This time the cars were all more “professional” than in previous years, muddied “Chummies” and racing vans no longer adding variety to this excellent race. The T.V.R.s nonstarting, the Octagon Stable replaced them.
Soon after the pack had been released on a Le Mans start excitement began. First to make a pit-stop was one of the cars of the Terrier Team but it quickly resumed. Then Leaven’s Scorpion came in unexpectedly and Hextall’s Tornado Talisman spun at Woodcote.
After an hour the Jaguar Drivers’ “B” Team led from their “A” Team, both with their fastest cars setting the pace. Dire trouble soon set in for Hextall, for his Tornado came in with no lining on the centre plate of its clutch, the exhaust system fractured, and a tyre punctured by a piece of piston ring. Where, they wondered, had the piston ring come from. What followed is typical of this unique contest. The Tornado mechanics set about removing the Ford Consul Classic engine and its head, so as to reline the clutch and weld the exhaust system. Having only two other cars in their team they were anxious to get going again, and completed their formidable task in 2 hr. 4 min. Alas, it was a piece of their own piston ring the tyre had picked up, and after a lap this, their last Surviving car, retired in a cloud of smoke!
To return to the more fortunate teams. by 3 p.m. the two Jaguar D.C. teams still held first and second positions, the Morgan 4/4 Club Team third and the luckless Tornados, which circulated very quickly, and the twin-cam M.G.s of the M.G. C.C. S.E. Centre joint fourth.
Spectators, of which there were not very many, are able to follow every move in the Relay Race, which is possible by reason of the clear tones of the Antone p.a. system—as nice a tribute as any to the memory of the late Tony Curtis.
As the cold, dull afternoon wore on incident followed incident. The Fairthorpe Team was caught Momentarily without a driver as one of its number came in, Redgrave’s “Team Beastie” Lotus 17 of the Ecurie Wild Goose Team lost its oil pressure, Dickie Stoop lapped with commendable consistency for a long spell in his Frazer Nash, and in the first two hours the Octagons changed from the first to the second of their two-car team. Incidentally, two drivers who drove in the very first 750 M.G. Relay Race, Schellenberg and Colin Chapman, were competing, the former in a C-type Jaguar, Chapman going very fast in a Lotus.
At half-time the Jaguar 4 “B” Team still led but the Morgans had moved up to second place, the Jaguar “A” Team dropping back when Schellenberg had clutch trouble, although it had four E-types and Coundley’s Lister-Jaguar to make up the running. Jointly third were Etude Wild Goose, but their Lotuses were unreliable, the aforesaid jaguar ” A ” Team and the Tornados, the last-named, as explained, short of cars. The onlookers saw Anita Taylor going well in her noisy Ford Anglia, could watch the two-bites cornering technique of Whitmore’s Cooper-Mini at Woodcote and David Buxton driving the smart new Lotus Elite Super, and enjoy the appeals over the p.a. for a shackle-pin for a Riley 1.5, a valve chest gasket for a Ford 105E and similar mechanical necessities. The pace was hot enough for several drivers to spin and then cars front Ecurie Wild Goose, Team Terrier and the A.C./Frazer Nash Team collided at Copse, one driver being momentarily winded and removed by ambulance, the others o.k. But Woodrolfe’s 3.8 Mk. II Jaguar of the leading team touched them and dented his off-side front wing. He came in, allowing the calm, steady Morgans to Close the gap.
At 5 p.m. there was nothing between these two teams. Erie Brown was going well for the Jaguars in his D-engined XK120 spinning the back wheels out of Woodcote. McCartney gave proper signals to his drivers, but J. F. Brown, the Morgan Team manager, was content with a “thumbs-up,” his drivers quite unruffled. Although Eric Brown was in the lead McCartney was taking no chances and right at the end brought him in and substituted Wrottesley’s Lister-Jaguar which had not used up all its permitted 50 laps. This allowed the Morgans to take the lead, and the Lister had to catch and pass Pickard’s Plus Four to regain the advantage. With 15 minutes to go and the rain just keeping off this was possible, and he did it in the last five minutes of this 6-hour race! The Morgan driver still refused to get ruffled and so this team came home second, after a fine and entertaining race that is a credit to the 750 M.C. The Morgans, in fact, did not quite make it, as had happened to them at Brooklands in 1933 and 1934—only in those days they were tricars.
The sole 750 Formula Team, under Frank Telfa, finished, but with only two of their six cars mobile.—W. B.