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The Cockfosters Grand Prix


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#1 Vitesse2

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Posted 29 October 2001 - 12:16

In celebration of this being my 1000th post at Atlas, mainly here in TNF, I thought I'd set you all a little poser...

I recently found details of an event which seems to have escaped the attention of our best historians and even the most dogged researchers at TNF: The Cockfosters Grand Prix. Most Britons around here will know that Cockfosters is a suburb in North London, but I'm almost certain none of you will have heard of the Cockfosters Grand Prix ... until very recently, nor had I! Historians like Cimarosti, Rendall, Walkerley and Jenkinson make no mention of this event in their books and it is not even mentioned in Hans Etzrodt's list of Grand Prix winners.

Not giving too much away, the Cockfosters Grand Prix was the thirteenth in a series of fourteen meetings and was reported by at least one of Britain's leading motoring journals, accompanied by pictures by one of the best motor racing photographers of that (or any other) time, who had obtained some colour film. There were over 1000 spectators and several famous drivers appeared, along with lesser lights. Other well-known photographers were also in attendance (one of them also working with colour film) and the event was broadcast on the wireless by the BBC.

Entries ranged from small production cars to ERAs, an Alfa Monza, a Grand Prix Mercedes and a 5-litre straight eight Ballot!

So - inspired by Tony Kaye's recent Gestapo Grand Prix thread: over to you! There are one or two clues to the period above, but I would be interested to read your speculations and/or guesses! And just to add grist to the mill, it is probably still possible to find the course on the ground, in its original form!

Thanks for all the fun!:)

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#2 Darren Galpin

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Posted 29 October 2001 - 12:22

Was there a "Hen"iken GP too? And a Bantamweiser?

#3 Darren Galpin

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Posted 29 October 2001 - 12:30

Was it a round of the British University Motor Club cup? (Vague guess given that Middlesex University is close by...........)

#4 David McKinney

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Posted 29 October 2001 - 15:49

One of the first events in postwar Britain was a sprint around the roads of Cockfosters in 1946 (or maybe even 1945). From memory, entries included all the cars mentioned.
But it was never called the Cockfosters Grand Prix. And I can't figure it being the 13th of any run of 14....

#5 Bumblyari

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Posted 29 October 2001 - 16:37

Could it be the 1946 Cockfosters Speed Trials in which case the photographer with the colour film would probably have been Louis Klemantaski ?

#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 29 October 2001 - 21:26

I had hoped this one would last a bit longer – I reckoned without the combined memories of David and Bumblyari! They have hit the nail fairly well on the head – the event I was looking for was a sprint of sorts, which took place on the road network of an unbuilt housing estate in Cockfosters on July 14th 1945. It was the thirteenth meeting of a group called The Enthusiasts, organised by the late AF Rivers Fletcher and others as a way of keeping the sport alive in the war years, and was reported as the Cockfosters Grand Prix by the Motor i/d July 25th 1945.

Bumblyari was also correct in spotting Louis Klemantaski – the other photographer with colour film was of course that well-known representative of Kodak, George Monkhouse.

Earl Howe opened the course, in a Bugatti T57S after having been driven round it by Rivers Fletcher in Raymond Mays’ 4.5 litre Bentley. The Bugatti was not keen on the ‘Puel Fuel’ and pinked “like a tambourine”. Mrs Bob Gerard drove a Riley Sprite quickly, but apparently without disturbing her hairdo – which was described as “a tonsorial tour de force”! Next up was RG Sutherland in his Aston Martin Atom, followed by Lord Brabazon of Tara, the 1908 Circuit des Ardennes Kaiserpreis victor handling his everyday steed, a rakish 1100cc Fiat coupe, with great aplomb and showing a number of younger drivers the way home. JG Tice followed in his Lagonda and then came a certain Flight Lieutenant TAD Crook in a Frazer-Nash-BMW. Another Nash was run by Gordon Claridge. An off-song Le Mans Peugeot made a run in the hands of Dorothy Patten, followed by VS Biggs in a V8 Allard and H James in a much-admired Mercedes Benz 38/250. Fastest sports car run was down to Louis Giron in a 2.3 litre Bugatti T55.

Then came the first racing cars – Symonds in an MG Midget R-type, Bob Gerard in the ex-Fairfield ERA and Charles (Chas) Mortimer in an Alfa Romeo Monza.

Tea was then taken!

After tea, the next up was Anthony Heal’s 1919 5-ltre straight eight Ballot Indianapolis car, followed by St John Horsfall in his ERA. This car was also driven by APR (Tony) Rolt who “looked delighted at being back in the driving seat after nearly five years as a prisoner of war” in Colditz. Laurence Pomeroy then gave Ariel Clark’s ex-Pilette 1914 GP Mercedes a run, recording a deceptively fast time despite the car being fitted with a Bedford lorry silencer: ‘Pom’ had driven it on public roads to get to Cockfosters!

All timings were unofficial, but the fastest time was recorded by John Bolster in Bloody Mary while another swift Shelsley car was also present: the famous Lightweight Special, handled by Alec Issigonis himself. Still to come were Dick Wright’s Leyland, Squadron Leader Boothby’s Railton, Dunham’s 12/70 Alvis and finally LM Ballamy’s blown 10hp trials car which “sat down remarkably in the corners”.

Commentary was by ‘Pom’ and DB Tubbs, while, as I mentioned, the BBC were also present to record the event on the “wireless” – I wonder if the recording still exists?

#7 Marcor

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Posted 30 October 2001 - 00:10

There's 5 lines about this event in "100 ans de sport automobile belge" by JP Delsaux and when I translates it was only 3 !

" The second stage of the resumption was on July 14th (1945) at Cockfosters where some racing cars did a demonstration gallop and where the "fanatics" regained the atmosphere of the paddocks".

JP Delsaux also said that the first motorsport event (since 1939) in England was on June 15th and it was the M.C.C. Rally at Barnet in the Wrotham Park and precisely in the property of Earl Strafford. M.C.C. meant Motor Cycling Club.

#8 Vitesse2

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Posted 30 October 2001 - 00:29

Thanks for that Marc - I also have a report on the first RAC-sanctioned event of 1945. This was a hill-climb at Naish House, Clapton-in-Gordano on August 18th. FTD went to Bob Gerard's ERA in 49secs, but he was actually beaten by the fastest bike, P Falconer's 500cc Triumph, which managed 48 secs. (Motor Sport Sep 1945)

Gerard also set FTD in a sprint at Filton on October 28th, again in the ERA.

#9 Marcor

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Posted 30 October 2001 - 08:30

When you read the results of the prewar hillclimb, you often saw that the car section was beaten by the motorbike, especially in Belgium...


And don't believe me but the next 10 lines of the JP Delsaux text was about the Naish House Hill climb at Clapton-in-Gordano (called here Naish Hill). He said that it was won by W.O Watkins (Watkins-Nash with a 996 cc JAP engine) and that the real triumphant victor was the biker P.S. Falconer. After the text spoke about the 9th September event at Paris...

#10 Vitesse2

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Posted 30 October 2001 - 11:26

According to Motor Sport Watkins was fastest until very late in the day, with a time of 51.6 secs, when "Gerard made a run on soft plugs, and despite a slow start, put up a fine run to make fastest time of the day."

Perhaps Delsaux' source left early ...:)

#11 David McKinney

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Posted 30 October 2001 - 14:14

I think there might have been two Naish House hillclimbs in 1945 - I'll cehck when I get home

#12 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 31 October 2001 - 01:02

Vitesse 2,
Was I right not to include The Cockfosters Grand Prix in my list?;)

#13 David McKinney

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Posted 31 October 2001 - 07:06

A check of my records shows that there was only one Naish House hillclimb in 1945; the other event I was thinking of was a sprint, also in the Bristol area, and also won by Gerard.
It is difficult to know how Cockfosters should be regarded, Hans. It was officially described as a “rally” - in the broadest sense of the word, ie. a “gathering”. It was not really a competition at all - no official times were taken.

#14 Vitesse2

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Posted 31 October 2001 - 11:24

The sprint would be the one I mentioned above, at Filton, which was held on one of the runways of Filton Aerodrome.

#15 Darren Galpin

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Posted 01 November 2001 - 08:06

Filton

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4 miles north of Bristol city centre on the A38 main Bristol Gloucester road.
Filton Airfield was created in 1911 and was the home of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. Overs the years planes such as the WW I Bristol Fighter, the WW2 Blenheim & Beaufighter, the Britannia airliner, and Concorde, have been built at the factories on the airfield site (today known as BAe Systems and Rolls-Royce).

During WW II it also housed an RAF squadron, and tarmac runways were constructed. In October 1945 the Bristol Aeroplane Company Motor Sports Club (club membership being restricted to company employees) ran a 0.5 mile sprint on the taxiways at the north-eastern end of the airfield. The course included one fast right hand bend between the control tower and some hangars. This was only the second competitive speed event to held in the UK under an RAC permit following the end of WWII, and the first on a sealed surface. No spectators were admitted, but 100 cars and motorcycles were entered. Fastest time of the day was set by Bob Gerard, ERA (68.5 mph), & fastest motorcycle was St John Horsfall, 998 Vincent. No other motor sport events have since been held on the airfield.

#16 Kvadrat

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 08:45

The only picture from this meeting I've ever seen is this one taken from the book British Racing Green:

Posted Image

Caption reads: "The first event for racing cars after the war. An 'R' type M.G. on the line at Cockfosters".

#17 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 11:23

Rivers Fletcher's book 'More Motor Racing, The Post War Years' (Haynes 1991) has several pages devoted to what the programme described as 'The Cockfosters Rally' to be held on the new roads of The Bevan Park Housing Estate on Saturday July 14th 1945. The many photographs include shots of Tony Rolt and Bob Gerard in their ERA's. Some excitement was caused by the appearance of Louis Giron with a Bugatti type 55 which led to some specators assuming him to be Chiron!. The meeting was favourably mentioned on the BBC news that evening. All proceeds (ten shillings admission and programmes) were donated to The Victoria Hospital in Barnet. Historians might be interested to learn that the first (and only) 'real' Cockfosters Grand Prix was run in 1955 over 25 laps of the Bevan Road Estate roundabout. The race was run under Formula Libre regulations for bicycles, there were five starters and the winner was me!.

#18 Kvadrat

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 01:46

Eric, do you have circuit map for that race?

#19 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 14:48

Eric, do you have circuit map for that race?



Sorry Kvadrat, I'm afraid not. it was just a very large circular concrete road linking two other roads on the new housing estate and just one of the many layouts that we raced our bikes around. Luckily there werent too many cars around in those days!.

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#20 Kvadrat

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 04:44

It is possible to see every bit of Earth surface with various satellite map services. Can you find that Bevan Road Estate on satellite map and point the place out?

#21 LittleChris

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 22:29

Vladimir,

Hopefully this will work.

http://www.multimap....e...land, EN4 0

If not, go into multimap and specify Cockfosters as the destination within the UK. Bevan Road is immediately to the west of the tube station .

Cheers

Chris

#22 Vitesse2

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 01:01

Vladimir, if you enter "EN4 9DD" into Google Maps, that will take you to the exact spot! The large roundabout, named as Mount Pleasant, was the centre of the "track".

Zoom in a bit and you will see that there's a "perimeter" road to the south which goes from Mount Pleasant to Edgeworth Road: the area inside this was the spectator enclosure.

The start/finish line was at the point where Edgeworth Road meets the roundabout. Cars proceeded anti-clockwise and then turned right into Mount Pleasant to where the "perimeter road" meets it. At that point, they did a 180-degree turn and returned to the roundabout. This time, they turned left and went round it clockwise, passing the start/finish line and then doing a complete circle of the roundabout before once more reaching the start/finish line. As the paddock was in Edgeworth Road, they presumably did another slowing-down lap of the roundabout before pulling off the "track". This would have give spectators in the enclosure four views of the cars.

#23 eldougo

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 04:33

The title of this Thread reminds me when you travel on the train from Heathrow into London the lady voice says some like.

" Your on the Piccadilly line and the last stop is Cockfosters".
Always made me smile when i heard that name. :D

#24 Kvadrat

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 04:49

Richard, Eric was there but you wasn't. How do you know all the details if this circuit was used only once and you wasn't there? :)

#25 Vitesse2

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 11:13

Sorry - should have made clear that I was describing the original circuit from 1945!

#26 Bakeryman

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 12:42

The title of this Thread reminds me when you travel on the train from Heathrow into London the lady voice says some like.

" Your on the Piccadilly line and the last stop is Cockfosters".
Always made me smile when i heard that name. :D


Reminds me of the old joke about the jam packed tube train near the end of the aforementioned line with every standing passenger pressed hard against their neighbours. Young lady : "Is this Cockfosters?" Male reply : "No, it's mine."

#27 Barry Boor

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 19:52

An interesting aside - when Vitesse started this thread it was to celebrate his 1,000th post. I see he is now approaching 15,000. Richard, you should get out more!

#28 Paul Taylor

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 14:58

Vladimir, if you enter "EN4 9DD" into Google Maps, that will take you to the exact spot! The large roundabout, named as Mount Pleasant, was the centre of the "track".

Zoom in a bit and you will see that there's a "perimeter" road to the south which goes from Mount Pleasant to Edgeworth Road: the area inside this was the spectator enclosure.

The start/finish line was at the point where Edgeworth Road meets the roundabout. Cars proceeded anti-clockwise and then turned right into Mount Pleasant to where the "perimeter road" meets it. At that point, they did a 180-degree turn and returned to the roundabout. This time, they turned left and went round it clockwise, passing the start/finish line and then doing a complete circle of the roundabout before once more reaching the start/finish line. As the paddock was in Edgeworth Road, they presumably did another slowing-down lap of the roundabout before pulling off the "track". This would have give spectators in the enclosure four views of the cars.


Thread bump. Aerial photo taken sometime between 1945 and 1950 can be found here:
http://www.ukaerialp...X...net&county=



#29 garyfrogeye

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 16:05

My parents used to live on the edge of that square at the corner of Herons Rise and Park Road. Who knew!