Motor SportJune 1932
IN Staging a 100 mile scratch race for cars of unlimited capacity on Brooklands, the British Racing Drivers Club showed great enterprise but perhaps not sufficient foresight. As a thrilling spectacle the event was a great success. As a race in which the leading cars were called to give their utmost speed, and as an event intended to provide a decisive result, it was a failure. Nor could it possibly have been anything else.
Eyston's Panhard and John Cobb's Delage, which thundered round for lap after lap at over 130 m.p,h. are both too fast for Brooklands. That is, they are too fast to race concurrently on the track, as if both cars keep going as fast as is safe, passing is impossible. Which all goes to show that Brooklauds is definitely unsuitable for such a contest.
However, to return to the event in question. This was run off in 50 mile heats for the various classes, with the first four in each heat (should so many finish) being eligible for the final.
George Eyston (Panhard) holding the lead.
The event was a scratch race, which was one of its most desirable features, and in the final Cobb, on the
famous old Delage, finished a few yards in front of the Panhard.
This was due to his appreciation of the tactics of such a race, and he had the foresight to take an early opportunity of slipping into the lead when Eyston eased down to save his tyres. From then he kept ahead, and Eyston was unable to get by. This seemed to be no fault of
Cobb's, as short of shutting off and slowing right down, it would have been impossible to let the other car pass, and drivers who are leading in a race do not as a rule deliberately give the race to someone else. After the finish Eyston was quite willing to leave the result as it stood, and it was only after being urged by his friends that he consented to lodge a formal protest. After long deliberation by the stewards, in this case Sir Algernon Guinness, S. C. H. Davis, and Lionel Martin, it was announced that the protest was upheld, and that first place was awarded to Eyston and the second to John Cobb.
The first three heats, owing to the small entry, were run off together, these being for the 750 c.c. 1,100 c.c. and 1,500 c.c. classes The latter class, although there were six entries, only saw Earl Howe, in his G. P. Delage, and H. Widengren, on the 8-cyl. O.M. on the line. Fotheringham's Bugatti had recently "blown up "and Jack Dunfee's Sunbeam, Field's Talbot, and Scott's Delage were non-starters for various reasons. The
fact that the Delage is now the property of Mr. J. C. Davis, accounted for the latter entrant.
In the 1,100 c.c. class, Vernon Ball's three Crossleys were down to do battle with Ashby's Riley and Humphrey's Amilcar. There had been a great rush to get the Crossleys ready, but only two came to the line, and these suffered from their hurried preparation and were unable to give of their best. It is only natural, however, that a model new to racing should experience teething troubles, and it is not a matter for anyone to worry about if these cars continue to behave "experimentally" for some time yet.
The 750 c.c. starters eventually boiled down to Major Gardner's Midget and the Earl of March's Austin, both last year's cars and well tried out.
When the flag fell, Earl Howe's Delage shot to the front and led throughout the race, steadily increasing his lead on the O.M.; third of the bunch and, of course, first of the 1,100 c.c. class came Ashby's Riley, very closely followed by the Amilcar. This scrap went on for six laps, when the Amilcar
took the lead and Ashby retired with a broken tappet, a trouble which he had encountered in practice, and which was due to some very light experimental tappets which he was trying out.
Humphreys was going beautifully and held his position throughout.
The changing leadership: John Cobb in the Delage leading Eyston's Panhard.
Fifth in the whole lot on the first lap, was the Austin, going beautifully, all leading the M.G. which shortly retired. The trouble was announced as a blown
gasket. On Ashby's retirement, the Earl of March moved up to 4th place, and so they finished.
The average speeds for the three classes were respectively 103.34 m.p.h., 92.68 m.p.h. and 92.51 m.p.h, in order of size.
The next heat, which of course included all the big cars, saw Sir Henry Birkin's Bentley, John Cobb's Delage, George Eyston's Panhard, Jack Dunfee's 6½-litre Bentley, Brian Lewis on the single seater "105" Talbot, and R. S. Hebeler on a "90" Talbot.
Cobb took advantage of his car's terrific acceleration to lead off the mark and led for the first lap, but was then passed by the Panhard. Birkin's Bentley was third on the second lap and the 6-cyl. Bentley, winner of the last 500 miles race, fourth.
On the third lap Birkin passed Cobb and took second place, and the order for the first nine laps was then Eyston, Birkin, Cobb, Dunfee, followed by Brian Lewis on the Talbot.
On the tenth lap Cobb dropped back to fourth place, and three laps later Birkin flung a tyre tread from his off front wheel and came into the pits for a quick wheel change. Dunfee was now second to Eyston followed by Cobb and Birkin, and they finished in that order, Eyston's speed on the Panhard being 126.21 m.p.h.
While the cars for the final were making their preparations, we were treated to a really marvellous display of high speed flying and stunting by Flight-Lieut. C. S. Stanilaud on a Fairey "Firefly" II M., with Rolls-Royce Kestrel II engine. After a highly polished display of rolls, upward spins and climbing with the machine inverted, the machine modestly sank once more into the aerodrome, and spectators "uncricked" their necks and paid attention once more to the track itself.
The finalists were nominally the first four in each heat, but there was no point in the smallest cars starting in the final, as their race had already been run, so that besides the first four of the big cars there was only Lord Howe in the Delage and Widengren in the O.M.
The Panhard with all wheels clear of the ground on the banking.
Cobb led for the first three laps followed first by Eyston and then by Birkin, who took second place on the second lap. It was obvious from the first that this race was going to surpass all previous efforts at the fourth lap; the leaders were very close and as they came off the members banking Sir Henry's red Bentley took the lead, which he was to bold for half the race. Eyston and Cobb were already starting their duel, and the former after lying third for 5 laps out of the first 6, overtook Cobb on the 7th lap. From then until the 18th lap, which was exactly half distance, the order of the whole race was unchanged, being Birkin, Eyston, Cobb, Dunfee, Lord Howe. Widengren had been 6th and running well up to 13 laps, but then he had trouble, and after a visit to the pits for plugs and one more slow lap, he was forced to retire.
At 50 miles the whole aspect of the race was changed by Birkin's retirement. Those round the track thought a tyre must have gone, as it had in the heat, but when he appeared again the engine was missing and spluttering. He had pulled into the pits for water, as the car was boiling, and a lap later he retired with a cylinder block which is not likely to see service again.
The drivers had had a little speed in hand in the early part of the race in order to save their tyres, but now the speed went up considerably and Eyston remained in the lead till the 26th lap, on which Cobb took an opportunity to slip by and take the lead. It was this grasp of the situation which enabled him to finish first, as although the Panhard was slightly faster it was not sufficiently so to get past on the Railway Straight, which was the only chance.
Lord March in the Austin won the up to 750 c.c. class.
The excitement became intense as the two huge cars thundered round a few feet apart, with Eyston doing his utmost to pass, but in vain. Lap after lap he wrenched his car down off the Byfieet banking and tried to overtake on the near side at the Vickers Sheds, and each time he drew level and then had to fall back as the cars shot onto the members' banking.
From the enclosures, the speed of the cars was evident, but it is only at close quarters that the real meaning of 130 m.p.h. is realised. Watching from a niche on the top of the members' banking, where the public are very rightly not allowed, we were within a few feet of the passing cars, and as they crashed past a gale of wind laden with concrete dust and chippings swept the edge of the track, and for a few seconds we were in some inferno. As it died down we looked up to see the two leaders already a mile away, and still in the same order.
So the race went on and so it finished, and just afterwards the Panhard appeared with a flapping tyre tread beating the track. Dunfee's Bentley burst a rear tyre and skidded down the Byfleet banking, to be directed to the pits a lap too soon,
so losing his place to Earl Howe's marvellous little Delage, which had averaged no less than 116.537 m.p.h. for the 100 miles, and had run faultlessly throughout and gone faster at the end than at the beginning.
The results were as follows :.—
1. Panhard-Levassor, 7,940 c.c., G. E. T. Eyston, 126.35 m.p.h., British Empire Trophy and £100.
2. Delage, 10,688 c.c., J. Cobb, 126.36, £50.
3. Delage, 1,486 c.c., Lord Howe, 116.53.
Austin, 747 c.c., Lord March, 92.51 m.p.h, South Africa Trophy and £20.
1, Amilcar, 1,098 c.c., W. E. Humphreys, 92.68 m.p.h, India Trophy and £40.
1, Delage, 1,486 c.c., Lord Howe, 105.64 m.p.h., Canada Trophy and £40.
2, O.M., 1,491 c.c., H. Widengren, 103,34 m.p.h.
1, Panhard-Levassor, 7,940 c.c., G. E. T. Eyston, 126.21 m.p.h., Australia Trophy and £40.
2, Bentley, 6,597 c.c., J. Dunfee, 121.17 m.p.h., £20.
Delage, 10,688 c.c., J. Cobb, 119.11 m.p.h.
Bentley, 4,442 c.c., Sir H. Birkin, 116.95.
Talbot, 2,969 c.c., B. Lewis, 111.38.
Talbot, 2,276 c.c., R. S. S. Hebeler, 95.72.