TOMORROW morning, at 11 o'clock there starts on the Ards Circuit, just outside Belfast, the Ulster Tourist Trophy race, which promises to be the finest event of the year from the interest point of view, and which, for the drivers, is one of the most difficult of all by reason of the nature of the circuit. One of the chief hopes is that it will be fine this year, in any case, has been somewhat gloomy in so far as races affected by rain are concerned, and each of the three previous races over this circuit has suffered from heavy rain at some time or other.
Fifty-one cars representing the chief countries which take part in present-day international racing, are entered, and much more than usual it is extremely difficult to predict what will happen. They are composed of machines of all types and sizes ranging from the smallest with engines of 750 c.c. to a big Mercédès, which is a private entry. To give each car an equal chance on paper a highly developed handicap has to be used, so that it is possible for even the smallest car in the race to win.
This year, as compared with the previous recent T.T.s, there is the important difference that supercharged and unsupercharged cars of the same engine size are handicapped independently, whereas before the addition of a blower involved no penalty. As in 1930 there will not be a massed start, since over a circuit as long as this, the distance round being 13.5 miles, it is not practicable to handicap on an ordinary basis. The method adopted is that the smaller cars are assumed from the commencement to have covered a certain number of laps, whilst they receive also a time allowance, some of the bigger cars receiving no credit laps, but being given a start by time, that period of time representing a portion of a single lap. So the system goes on until one reaches the biggest class in which only the Mercédès is running, this car starting at scratch without allowance.
The actual handicaps are that an unsupercharged 750 c.c. car is credited with five laps as covered, whilst supercharged cars of the same size receive four laps and, in addition, a start of 8 minutes; the 1,100's, unsupercharged and supercharged respectively, receive three laps and 5 minutes and two laps and 8 minutes 48 seconds, the corresponding cars of the 1,500 class getting two laps and 8 minutes 48 seconds, and one lap plus 9 minutes 18 seconds, and so on through the classes until the three litres, unsupercharged, receive a 10 minute start and no credit laps, the class from five to eight litres 2 minutes only if unsupercharged, and nothing at all when a supercharger is fitted, as in the case of the sole Mercédès.
The winner is the car which first covers 33 laps of the circuit, corresponding approximately to 410 miles, including any laps that have been credited to it in advance. The system adopted means that the cars get away from the start in a somewhat curious fashion which robs the commencement of the race of some of its spectacular appeal, but there can be little doubt of the soundness of the method eventually.
As to the cars themselves, it should be understood that they are essentially of production type, modified internally and externally within certain strictly defined limits. Starting with the smallest class, there are no fewer than thirteen Montlhéry Midgets most of them blown, three forming a team entered by the Earl of March and to be driven by Watney, Black, and Parker, three others being Gardner's team, to be driven by Gardner himself, Horton, and R. R. Jackson. The remainder are individual and will be handled by men who have been much In the limelight so far this season with this type of car, for instance, Higgin and Hamilton, the latter having driven the car that came in second in the Double-Twelve, though that was on an unsupercharged model. E. R. Hall's is an interesting individual Midget entry, Hall in the past having driven very fast machines, such as the supercharged 4.5 litre Bentley.
The Opposing 750's Then there is the official Austin team, also consisting of 750 c.c. supercharged cars, and between these and the Midgets there is the greatest possible rivalry. Cushman. Barnes, and Goodacre are the drivers, and it will be remembered that this particular team recently scored an important success by winning the Relay Grand Prix at Brooklands. There are two other Austins, both individual entries.
Then, in the next class above, there is an official team of the latest type of Rileys, the four carburetter model, an exampIe of which recently took some extremely fast class records at Montlhéry in tie hands of Eyston. The team in the T.T. is to be driven by Staniland, Whitcroft and Noble. The weight of this year's racing machines has been materially reduced to approximately 13.5 cwt - the fuel tank capacity is 18 gallons, and the team plans to stop only once for re-fuelling, while the detail work has been so carefully considered that dummy fronts are fitted to the headlamps to help in reducing wind resistance, this being in place of reversing the lamps front to back, as is often done. These cars. stand a good chance of showing up well in the results.
Ashby is running a Riley individually, and he has been successful in the past in preparing his own cars for racing while another Riley is to be handled by Gillow, he being a particularly dashing type of driver who is quite likely to do something surprising, remembering his win in Phoenix Park a year ago. Another interesting car in this class is Widengren's Maserati, which is supercharged, and for which the reserve driver is R. F. Oats. chiefly associated with O.M.s.
The 1,500 c.c. section has three unsupercharged Aston Martins forming a team, the first of which is to be driven by Harvey, who has previously raced with Alvis cars a great deal. The second car of the team is to be driven by Cook, and be third by Bertelli, the reserve being Bezzant. The Aston-Martins should do well in their class; the engines for the T.T. are developing as much as 70 h.p., an increase having been produced by various modifications since the Double-Twelve and Le Mans. Then there is the single Lea-Francis, which is supercharged, and a team of three Frazer Nashes, one in the hands of H. J. Aldington, who is responsible for the production of the car, another by Penn-Hughes and D. A Aldington - both these are overhead-valve machines - and the third by Moore and Braidwood, the latter car' being the side-valve type which ran with a supercharger in the Double Twelve, but is unknown for Ulster.
Then we come to the three-litre class, which, chief of all contains the very formidable straight eight 2,300c.c. Alfa-Romeos, this being the new car which has been extraordinarily successful in the important races on the Continent this year, as well às in the second days race at Dublin, in the hands of Sir Henry Birkin. The official team of Alfas is to be driven by Nuvolari, who won the T.T. last year on a two-litre car of the same make, by Borzacchini, the well known Italian driver, and the veteran Campari, who was second in the race last year. Next, there are two separate Alfas of the same type, one to be driven by Birkin and the other by Earl Howe. Rash as it is to attempt to forecast the result, it is beyond question that the Alfa-Romeos will be well up in the running from the very commencement, and it will be surprising if they do not finish high up or even win the race.
Then there is a team of three Talbots, the new three-litre machines, to be driven by Rose-Richards, Hindmarsh, and Lewis, who. have had a great deal of experience with this make. So far this year the latest Talbots have suffered from minor troubles not mechanical in the ordinary sense, due to their increased speeds but if by this time those responsible for them have succeeded in making the detail work stand up, they may well spring a surprise, and almost certainly will be notable for quiet consistent runs. The team of slightly smaller cars which ran last year, in fact, went though the race non-stop. There is one other Talbot, the older type with a smaller engine, to be driven by Esplen, who has raced principally on Southport sands.
In this class also come two of the very fast supercharged Maseratis, one of which wzll be driven bv Eyston, with Ramponi as spare driver, these cars probably being capable of giving the fastest machines in the race a good run if only they can maintain their reliability. Last of all in this class there are three Arrol-Asters, a particularly sporting entry since it is without direct works support, these cars having beef built for last year's race.
In the class from three to five litres was entered a works team of five Bugattis to be driven by men of international renown, but unfortunately the entry was withdrawn, with out explanation. at the beginning of the week. With the Alfa-Romeos these should have been the fastest cars in the race. Also in this section are two lnvictas, the low-built 4.5 litre cars, one to be driven by Froy the other by Field, these two having run well in the Double-Twelve earlier in the year, when, with great persistence they overcame mechanical trouble and kept going until the end. For the T.T. the cars are green, with yellow wheels, and Froy's machine has a streamlined tail. Finally, there is the big Mercédès in the hands of B. O. Davis who drove very well indeed in a similar car in the Phoenix Park race.
Thus it will be seen that there is justification for saying that the race holds out extremely good prospects of being a first-class show, and it may well be that this year's event will be won at record speed; that is if the weather remains favourable.
Last year's race, won by a two-litre Alfa-Romeo, was at an average 70.88 m.p.h., whilst in 1929 Caraciola won with a big Mercédès at an Average of 72.82 over wet roads practically the whole way. ' In the first race of the new. series of T.T.s, a Lea-Francis. driven by Kaye Don was successful.
The course itself, placed conveniently as it is in relation to Belfast offers opportunities for huge crowds to witness the race, and practically every difficult curve and turn of the large number which makes up the circuit form a kind of natural grandstand for masses of people. Of the many vantage points, among the best are the hairpin at Dundonald, which is the part of the circuit nearest Belfast. Mill Corner, which is just beyond the pits, the fast run down the section known as Bradshaw's Brae, which is one of the fastest parts of the circuit, a point in the town of Newtownards where the cars have to make a right-angle turn between buildings. and the wiggly section on the return ''leg'' from Comber to Dundonald. Few circuits, apart from examples of unusual difficulty like the Targa Florio, are so full of nature hazards as the Ards, and it is a course which test not only the cars but driving ability to the utmost.
At one point, just before Comber for instance, a level crossing set on a curve has to be taken at speed; there are at least four railway bridges over the road, several of them on awkward fast corners, quite apart from difficulties in the streets of Newtownards and Comber. The Newtownards - Comber and Comber-Dundonald ''legs'' of the course have been specially treated this year with a preparation of tar and chippings to make the road as skid-proof as possible, but, even so, if it rains there is bound to be excitement.
The main grandstand, which is opposite the long line of replenishment pits, provides an excellent view of the start and finish, and of the work going on from time to time on the cars as they call at their pits; the grandstand has a roof and. a great deal of trouble has been taken by the R.A.C to ensure that by means of loud speakers and special scoreboards spectators are acquainted with what is going on, and with the positions of cars in terms of improvement on handicap.
A special map has been prepared showing the means of getting to the course, certain approach roads being open only as one-ways, while special regulations govern the. return of spectators vehicles. after the race.
The Editor of The Autocar will broadcast a running commentary on the race from a vantage point on the circuit.
Notes from the course where official practising took place on Wednesday and Thursday, appear on the opposite page.
CARS AND DRIVERS ENTERED IN THE TOURIST TROPHY RACE
Reserve Driver in brackets
(S.) denotes supercharged
CLASS B (5,001 to 8,000 c.c)
Mercerdès-Benz, B. O. Davis, (A. C. Taylor.)
CLASS C (2,001 to 3,000 c.c)
Invicta, D. Froy
Invicta, G. Field (F. H. Cairnes)
Bugatti (S.), A. Varzi - Withdrawn
Bugatti (S.), A. Divo - Withdrawn
Bugatti (S.), L. Chiron - Withdrawn
CLASS D (2,001 to 3,000 c.c)
Arrol-Aster, R. Ormonde (N. Garrad)
Arrol-Aster, W. P. Lockwood (C. Southwell Piper)
Maserati, E. Fronteras
Maserati, G. E. T. Eyston (G. Ramponi)
Talbot, T. E. Rose-Richards
Talbot, J. S. Hindmarsh
Talbot, B. E. Lewis
Talbot, W. Esplen
Alfa-Romeo (S.), T. Nuvolari
Alfa-Romeo (S.), B.Borzacchini
Alfa-Romeo (S.), Cav. G. Campari
Alfa-Romeo (S.), Sir Henry Birkin, Bt.
Alfa-Romeo (S.), The Earl Howe
CLASS F (1,101 to 1,500 c.c)
Lea-Francis (S.), T. G. Clarke
Aston-Martin, M. Harvey
Aston-Martin, H. Cook (J. Bezzant)
Aston-Martin, A. C. Bertelli (J. Bezzant)
Frazer Nash, T. G. Moore (W. S. Braidwood)
Frazer Nash, C. Penn-Hughes (D. A. Aldington)
Frazer Nash, H. J. Aldington
CLASS G (751 to 1,100 c.c)
Maserati (S.), H. Widengren (R. F. Oats)
Riley, A. F. Ashby (R. Pauling)
Riley, W. P. Noble (D. C. MacLachlan)
Riley, C. Staniland (D. C. MacLachlan)
Riley, C. R. Whitecroft (D. C. MacLachlan)
Riley, V. Gillow
CLASS H (501 to 750 c.c)
M.G. Midget (S.), D. Higgin
M.G. Midget (S.), H. C. Halmilton (G. K. Cox)
M.G. Midget, F. M. Montgomery
M.G. Midget (S.), F. S. Barnes
M.G. Midget (S.), E. R. Hall (H. A. Smith)
M.G. Midget, (S.) W. B. Hailwood
M.G. Midget (S.), R. R. Jackson
M.G. Midget (S.), R. T. Horton
M.G. Midget (S.), A. T. G. Gardner
M.G. Midget (S.), R. Watney *
M.G. Midget (S.), N. Black *
M.G. Midget (S.), H. D. Parker *
M.G. Midget (S.), S. A. Crabtree *
*Reserve drivers G. K. Cox and The Earl of March
Austin, H. Kayley
Austin (S.), G. V. B. Cooke (H. I. Robinson)
Austin (S.), L. Cushman
Austin (S.), C. Goodacre
Austin (S.), D. Barnes