I read with interest your article about the Isle of Man races (Motor Sport, August 1988). There is rather a dramatic story behind Raymond Mays’ (ERA R2) retirement in the 1935 Beg “with an oil leak”. A contemporary report states that Mays led the race for six laps, at the end of which an oil leak occurred in the supercharger oil-pump, which flooded the driver’s cockpit with hot oil. He came into the pits, not to retire, but to collect a visor.
Mays battled on. Time after time he would wipe his visor with his gloved hands but it would immediately become blurred by a fresh spray of oil blown up from the fractured pump. He was eventually forced to retire, as his hands and the steering wheel had become dangerously slippery.
Mays was using a new experimental 1100cc engine designed to accept a large Zoller Vane-type supercharger driven from a gear train at the rear of the engine instead of the front like the normal Murray Jamieson supercharger. The Zoller encroached on the already-cramped cockpit; protruding between the driver’s knees were whirling vanes and a rotor — a potentially eye-watering location!
I think a modern Grand Prix driver would ask for danger money on top of his £2-million; Mays drove for the glory of England, plus a small amount of prize-money.