80 years of Shelsley Walsh
Eighty years of the Midland AC’s Shelsley Walsh hill-climb were commemorated at this famous venue during the British Hill Climb Championship there on August 11th, at a course where the record has gone from 77.6 sec in 1905 (Instone’s Daimler) to 26.08 sec. in 1983 (Douglas-Osborn’s Pilbeam). Apart from the potent modern cars striving for FTD over a wet course in the morning and a dry one after lunch, many well-known past Shelsley celebrities were present, and historic cars drove up the hill as fast as they could. Club officials greeted their guests at lunch but there were no speeches.
The speedy cavalcade included the impressive 4WD Bugatti handled well by Geoffrey St John, Sewell’s Brescia Bugatti, Joseland in the supercharged Frazer Nash “Terror”, the 1908 Napier, Bob Roberts in the Sunbeam “Tiger” and Ghosh in the Vauxhall-Villiers, the last-named going fast enough to clip the bank in the wet – 49.6 sec and 69 mph through the traps. Later histories included Fyle’s Cooper-JAP 1100, Peskett’s Cooper-Daimler, Richards’ HWM-Jaguar and Tony Marsh who had lost none of his skill since he last drove the 4 WD Marsh-BRM in anger in 1967. There was also a handicap class for historic Shelsley cars which gave us a taste of the BHD, the GN “Salome”, Footitt’s AC/GN that clocked 44. 72 sec in the wet, Spollon’s ERA R8C that earlier this year went faster here than any other pre-war car, doing 45.26 sec and going through the trap at 74 mph in the wet, and runs against the clock by some of the demonstration cars.
In addition it was marvellous to have as static exhibits the immortal Bolster Special “Bloody Mary” from the National Motor Museum and the 35 hp 1905 Daimler from the Coventry Motor Museum, but where was the GN “Spider” with which Basil Davenport made FTD on seven consecutive occasions, breaking the record four times, between 1926 and 1929? To commemorate the fact that motorcycles ran at Shelsley there were suitable two-wheeler runs, D.S.J. riding his 650 cc Tribsa. Altogether a memorable day, which the heavy rain in the morning failed to dampen. W.B.