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#1 Barry Boor

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 15:43

On June 15th 1946 the grandly-named Gransden Lodge Trophy Race took place. The entry was small but included several drivers who were or would later become, very well known; Parnell, Abecassis, Gerard, Peter Whitehead.

I don't have a clue how many spectators turned up but the above race was programmed to be run over, wait for it, THREE WHOLE LAPS. Hence my thread title.

Even then only four of the eight starters finished so I suppose it was just as well it wasn't a 50 lapper. Nevertheless, it all seems an awful lot of fuss about very little.

Whether the organisers felt that so soon after the end of WW2 they cars wouldn't last very long, I don't know, but I'd be fascinated to know if there were any other reasons why this event was so short.

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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 16:12

Two words, Barry: petrol rationing! Also a lack of racing tyres - I don't think Dunlops had yet resumed production, so any cars on racing rubber would have been wearing 7-year-old boots. I also have a feeling that all you could buy then were remoulds.

Added to which there had been all sorts of reasons advanced why airfield racing wouldn't be viable: in 1945 even Earl Howe had been against it on the grounds that the concrete surface was too abrasive.

#3 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 16:42

A very brave and commendable effort by the organising Cambridge University A.C and VSCC who went ahead with the only UK race meeting of 1946 without the permission of 'the authorities'. From small acorns etc. The following year the clubs organised another meeting at Gransden, with 15,000 spectators turning up to watch a ten race programme. The main event was again, the Gransden trophy run, this time over 20 laps and won by Dennis Poore's 3.8 Alfa from George Abecassis 3.3 Bugatti and Roy Salvadori 2.9 Alfa.. Once again, this was the only race meeting held in England that year. Another heroic effort by those involved. :cool:

#4 Jesper O. Hansen

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 16:48

Was there a particular reason why both the '46 and '47 races at Gransdon Lodge was held on Saturdays?

Recently read that endurance races were also happered by restrictions on tyres available immediately after WW2.

Jesper

#5 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 16:58

Was there a particular reason why both the '46 and '47 races at Gransdon Lodge was held on Saturdays?

Recently read that endurance races were also happered by restrictions on tyres available immediately after WW2.

Jesper

Most British race meetings, in the 1940's and 50's including The Grand Prix were held on saturdays. I recall it being something to do with The Lords Day Observance Society. Brands Hatch managed to introduce sunday meetings by making spectators members of the organising club for the day.

#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 17:27

It was actually due to the provisions of the Sunday Observance Acts of 1625, 1627, 1677 and 1780. Not to mention the Sunday Fairs Act of 1448! It wasn't until 1958 that this legislation started to be dismantled.

There were ways round it, but I think the main requirement was that events should be held on private land (with no right of way?) and also that admission charges could not be levied. Of course, you could always sell "compulsory" programmes, as they did for Sunday cricket in the 60s.

#7 Allan Lupton

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 17:48

I knew slightly one James Obeysekere, a member of the CUAC team that found/organised the first race at Gransden Lodge, but I'd long lost contact with him and he's died now. I think I remember him telling me that George Abecassis tried the course out with his Alta and pronounced it useable (but no more than that).
I think the post-war fuel and tyre situation, as detailed above, is the reason for the short race in '46 - were the other races any longer as they would have included road cars which might have had newer tyres and slightly more fuel.


#8 Tim Murray

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 18:26

Motor racing on Sundays in the UK was discussed in a couple of earlier threads:

British GP race days; from Saturdays to Sundays...

Motor racing on Sundays - banned or just unusual in the past?

The first RAC-sanctioned international event on a Sunday was the Motor Show 200 in 1966, and the first British GP on a Sunday was in 1976.

#9 bradbury west

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 19:09

ISTR that Rivers Fletcher covers the meeting in one of his books. I will check later.
Roger Lund

#10 RogerFrench

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 21:07

A very brave and commendable effort by the organising Cambridge University A.C and VSCC who went ahead with the only UK race meeting of 1946 without the permission of 'the authorities'. From small acorns etc. The following year the clubs organised another meeting at Gransden, with 15,000 spectators turning up to watch a ten race programme. The main event was again, the Gransden trophy run, this time over 20 laps and won by Dennis Poore's 3.8 Alfa from George Abecassis 3.3 Bugatti and Roy Salvadori 2.9 Alfa.. Once again, this was the only race meeting held in England that year. Another heroic effort by those involved. :cool:


Sorry, but back in 1956 my late father wrote to the VSCC Bulletin to point out that despite the VSCC claim, Gransden was not the only race meeting of 1947, but that the YSCC held an event at Tholthorpe that year.
I still have a handsome tray presented to my father from that event.

Edited by RogerFrench, 13 June 2012 - 21:09.


#11 David McKinney

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 21:24

I still have a handsome tray presented to my father from that event.

That would have been for his win in the 1100cc race at the wheel of a supercharged Austin 7 lent by the camp commandant, Capt Mallock...


#12 Tim Murray

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 21:31

Here's the earlier thread on Gransden Lodge:

TNF Guide to former premises: Gransden Lodge circuit

Post 19 from RAP indicates that all races at the 1946 meeting were run over three laps, except for the invitation race at the end of the meeting which was run over five laps.

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 22:34

Ahh... to ponder over events almost 66 years ago!

Three laps does seem a bit short. Nobody mentions how long the course was, but I'm guessing it wasn't of 'Madonie' proportions. That it was the only race held on the day is the part that really gets to me.

Bearing in mind the usual stuff, that the first of the 'baby boomers' were only a few days old, that the rationing was stiff, that some people would still have been returning from the Pacific Theatre, in fact (particularly POWs who had needed medical care and recovery time...), it can easily be seen that making it all expansive might have actually prevented many from being there at all.

Race meetings were slow to get going everywhere. While the first race in Australia after the war, the Victory Grand Prix over twenty laps at Caversham on April 7, 1946, was a tremendous success, when the Australian Grand Prix was scheduled to be held in Queensland in 1949 there were doubts that it would happen at all due to petrol rationing. That the rationing actually ended a week or two before the event was a lucky break for the organisers, but certainly something they hadn't been able to count on. And this was, again, three years later.

Is it possible that the organisers were trying to prove a point? That they were showing that it could be done?

#14 Tim Murray

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 23:35

Three laps does seem a bit short. Nobody mentions how long the course was, but I'm guessing it wasn't of 'Madonie' proportions. That it was the only race held on the day is the part that really gets to me.

Ray, please check out the earlier thread I linked to above. The course length in 1946 was around 2.15 miles, and there were 12 races on the day, 11 over 3 laps and one over 5 laps.

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 23:53

Sorry, I missed that Tim...

It's still of interest that the races were only over three laps, however. Do my theories still apply?

On reflection, of course, it's not any different to the multitude of 5-lappers that used to be held at Amaroo Park.

Edited by Ray Bell, 13 June 2012 - 23:54.


#16 Stephen W

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 09:03

Was there a particular reason why both the '46 and '47 races at Gransdon Lodge was held on Saturdays?


Most British race meetings, in the 1940's and 50's including The Grand Prix were held on saturdays. I recall it being something to do with The Lords Day Observance Society. Brands Hatch managed to introduce sunday meetings by making spectators members of the organising club for the day.


Motor racing on Sundays in the UK was discussed in a couple of earlier threads:

British GP race days; from Saturdays to Sundays...

Motor racing on Sundays - banned or just unusual in the past?

The first RAC-sanctioned international event on a Sunday was the Motor Show 200 in 1966, and the first British GP on a Sunday was in 1976.


So 1966 was the first Sunday International event - although there were events on Bank Holiday week-ends even practice wasn't permitted on a Sunday.

#17 rbm

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 13:59

for the 1947:

Posted Image

from the 500 OA website page on the event, which is worth a read.

#18 RogerFrench

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 15:51

The last paragraph is wrong. Not "first" and not "only"!

#19 David McKinney

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 17:18

First, surely? Wasn't Tholthorpe in September?

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#20 Tim Murray

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 17:47

The 'first' refers to the Elstree speed trial, which was not the first post-war event.

#21 David McKinney

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 19:13

Sorry, I misread it

I knew about Naish Hill and the Filton sprint in 1945 :)



#22 Doug Nye

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 20:10

Wonderful stuff, isn't it? One of the mindsets still afflicting these immediately postwar British races was a hangover from what pre-war had been standard Brooklands practise, in which three-lap sprint races were perfectly normal. These reflected the horse-racing standards which Brooklands had applied from its inception. Such very short distance races happened by coincidence to match the constraints of petrol rationing. They endured into Goodwood's early years, this being the circuit naturally most steeped in Brooklands ARC habits. Both Gransden Lodge meetings were a true triumph for youthful enterprise and enthusiast endeavour. The Men from the Ministry were the enemy, especially those damned civilian bureaucrats from the Ministry of Works. The military and military-influenced types at the Air Ministry were more inclined to bend rules. In Donington Park's case those brownjobs at the War Department proved an inflexible pain in the....

Our country 1945-1950 makes a fascinating study. Winning a war exacted an almost unbearable cost in liberties that today we take for granted.

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#23 GMACKIE

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 21:37

Wonderful stuff, indeed. All done without the aid of email, fax, mobile phone, etc. It certainly "makes yer fink, don't it?"

#24 Allan Lupton

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 08:32

Wonderful stuff, indeed. All done without the aid of email, fax, mobile phone, etc. It certainly "makes yer fink, don't it?"

Yes and even normal telephones were not as universal as they became, and no answering machines so if the person couldn't answer you got nowhere.
Not forgetting that the chase round the landowners which had to be done by real people finding other people was done somehow, despite fuel rationing.

#25 RTH

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 09:45

Such a shame so many of these wonderful venues have been lost to us. There is plenty of pent up desire amongst would be motor sport competitors today at real grass roots clubman level for competely basic events which are genuinely affordable for the vast majority on average pay levels, which is now denied to them at circuits who have priced themselves out of this market.

Debden near Saffron Waldon Essex held races on a full circuit 1950s/early 60s is still an operational military base today with well maintained runways. Herts Auto and Aero Club still hold 2 sprint meetings each year with a delightful relaxed atmosphere aimed at the impecunious, but it sadly is not true racing as it once was.
Davidstow in Cornwall also springs to mind as an airfield used by coastal command during WW2 which had a few years as a race circuit in the early 1950s. Doubtless between us we could name dozens of airfields where motor racing took place in post war years, must have been a great time to go club racing.

#26 Barry Boor

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 10:33

Funnily enough, if you look at Debden on Google Earth, there is something resembling a go-kart circuit at the north end of the north-south runway.

#27 Geoff E

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 10:51

Obviously, motorcycles don't count but Cadwell Park had a race meeting in August 1946. I was there, but it was some months before I was to see the light of day.

Edited by Geoff E, 15 June 2012 - 10:52.


#28 Allan Lupton

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 11:21

Funnily enough, if you look at Debden on Google Earth, there is something resembling a go-kart circuit at the north end of the north-south runway.

Yes and to run the HCA&AeC Sprint a lot of tyre barriers have to be moved to allow a clear run through the go-cart circuit - well we did when I was last involved.

On which subject there's another Debden in Essex and it has a station on the Central Line of the London UndergrounD, and I think there were stories of marshals turning up there instead of the one where the race was being held.


#29 RTH

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 11:25

Here is 6 mins of the film I shot at Debden last October for the autumn sprint.





#30 DogEarred

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 12:25

Funnily enough, if you look at Debden on Google Earth, there is something resembling a go-kart circuit at the north end of the north-south runway.


I did a kart race at Debden in 1974ish. There was no permanent kart track then. I arrived in the early morning & helped lay out the hundreds of orange cones up & down the runway & taxiway, to make the track. Very fast circuit - many engines seized up, including my own.

OMG! - I was in Essex....

#31 BRG

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 16:47

Here is 6 mins of the film I shot at Debden last October for the autumn sprint.

A good entry, by the look of it. Is that a real Alpine A110 or one of Tim Duffee's replicas?

#32 RTH

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 19:04

Afraid I cannot answer that.

#33 h4887

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 19:47

That's Bob Gibson's genuine A110, and very quick it is, too. I once did a few laps of Croix in it, and the contrast with the handling of my roadgoing A110 was, well, startling... :(

Is there more than one A110/Darrian hybrid?