Throwback Thursday: 1950 Lulsgate Race Meeting

On this day in 1950, we ran a race meeting at Lulsgate Airport, or Bristol International Airport as it’s known today.  With the inaugural Formula 1 World Championship kicking off in just four weeks time at Silverstone Circuit, this was an ideal time for Joe Fry to flex his muscles before becoming an F1 driver.  Here’s how it was reported in our May journal in 1950….

Lulsgate Aerodrome at 9 0’clock on a very wintry spring morning was just about the coldest spot in Somerset. The chill wind certainly produced a good variety of arctic clothing and even better variety of ears also trying to keep warm. I was torn between loaning my raincoat to my Riley, but decided my need was greater.

The paddock soon began to fill up. G. W. Best appeared in a D. Midget, if one can still call it a Midget, and I noticed J. G. Fry had a
“For Sale” notice on his 2.3 blown Bugatti. The Bugatti of Little looked very much like a racing car. I thought it was a racing car before I noticed the light trials type mudguards. Amongst the immaculate Were two Connaughts, one with the short throw 1.1 litre Lea Francis engine, and the very beautiful Healeys of Freed and Watkins. The new Frazer Nashs of Lady Mary Grosvenor, Newton and Pitt, looked very neat. and could certainly motor. True to amateur type, H. E. Baker said he had worked all night on his A.C. engined Amilcar and still was not ready. The streamlined H.R.G. Of Peter Clark looked well prepared and the flash of B.A.R.C. badges on White Overalls Was quite common in this area.

The 500 Brigade were quite well represented despite the counter attraction of the Brands Hatch circuit. The Two Arengo aroused a lot of interest, particularly the sliding block type suspension.

I thought it would be tactful to be polite to the scrutineers as I had entered myself, but found these gentry almost genial in their approach. Whether or not I should have been moved up into the next class if I had won I would not like to say, but happily the situation did not arise. What is a standard sports car anyway?

We went off to practice in batches of 25 or so, all branded on the grid irrespective of fame or engine size. When the flag dropped there was a mighty roar and heaven help anyone who stalled his engine. The dust came down at once, and I hung on to the one in front as best I could, hoping he knew the way.  This seemed a sound policy as there were no incidents apart from Barnes’ Austin 7 whose wheels collapsed at the hairpin.

Class A. Sports Car up to 1100cc. Sparrows got well away at the start, from a good position on the grid, closely followed by W. A. Cleave driving his 10hp engined Morris 8, and Moffat with the M.G. Several duels were fought out amongst the back members, but the leaders were never really challenged. Average speed: 54.93.

Class B. Sports Cars , 1101-1500cc. The field soon became strung out in this class and one had the impression that the larger cars could not really get going.  The performance of the new T.D. Midget must have disappointed quite a few.

Class C. Sports Cars 1501-2000cc. This race was enlivened by a quite impressive duel between Newton and Gee. Gee made vigorous overtaking signals along the north side of the course where he appeared to be faster, but could not quite get his nose in front before Dundry Corner.

Class D. Sports Cars Over 2,000cc. Owing to the large number of entries, this race was held in two heats. W. C. Cuff in his blown Mercury-engined special led from the line in a colossal getaway. and it
was some three laps before Matthews took the lead. Cuff was boiling furiously but hung on and finished second. The second heat was remarkable for the driving of D. C. H. Hull (1,750 Alfa Romeo S. Coupe). It must have shaken a few of the near racing ears being passed by a sedate looking coupé. It almost looked as though Hull was going into the lead on the North Side, but Oscar opened out his B..M.VV. and won.

Class E. 5-lap Race for B.M.C. & L.C.C. Members. This also was run in two heats. In the first Bickerton. Frazer-Nash chain gang with a lot Of Amal carburettors, led away a cracking pace. but retired to the
pits. Newton, Frazer-Nash and Mrs. Nancy Binns, Riley, forged ahead into the lead and finished in that order. In the second half Buckler got away, well followed by Pearson in a blown series E engined Morris 8. Buckler went well, but not quite up to his form of last year.

Class F. 10-lap Race for Racing Cars. The sun decided to come out and warm up spectators for this race, which was remarkable for the classic victory of J. G. Fry. He led from the start and his car held the track beautifully. Headland in the Golden Cooper turned round once on Dundry Corner but continued to chase the Arengo into second place.

Class G. Sports Cars, all capacities. An entry Of 48 for this class resulted in a real ” Derby Day.” There were numerous Bentleys. very vintage Delage and Alvis, to say nothing of the odd special with a capacity like the National Debt! R. Williams (Bentley) had the misfortune to lose the top of one of his pistons and another Bentley driver threw a rod on the track. This was picked up by a spectator, but soon dropped again. Perhaps it was a hot-rod! Little got down to some serious motoring in the blown Bugatti, but had a biggish handicap to wipe up. J. Lyons, in the larger Connaught, seemed to be going well, as did Sparrowe (Morgan).  The times were amalgamated from the heats, making Lyons the winner of the Berkley Cup.

The event has aroused considerable enthusiasm in the West Country, and judging by the crowd present, the meeting was an unqualified success.  For those of us who were able to compete, the experience has been invaluable.  Let us hope we can improve the cars and ourselves by next time.


PS: I have never before been passed by two cars on each side of me at the same time!