jersey pit

Jersey Maserati line up of ; #1 Chiron 4CL, #2 Pagani 4C, #3 Sommer 4CL, #4 Bira 4C…

‘MotorSport’ announced the first British post-war international race at St Helier, Jersey on 8 May in its April 1947 issue…

‘The course embraces 1.5 miles of the St Helier promenade and measures 3.5 miles per lap, the race is a scratch contest over 160 miles, under Formula Rules ie; supercharged 1.5 litre and unsupercharged cars of 4.5 litres. There are no fuel restrictions and lady drivers are barred…Already everyone in the country seems to be booking accommodation…for the Jersey Road race will attract immense crowds of spectators’ MotorSport said.

Saint Helier is the capital of Jersey, the largest of the North Sea Channel Islands which had been liberated from the Germans less than two years before. The race was the first of five held on the island (1947-1950 and 1952), Brooklands having been bomb damaged during the war and there were problems with the authorities using a circuit on the mainland…

jersey ray era workshop

Raymond Mays supervising the preparation of his ERA D Type ‘R4D’ on 1 April 1947. The workshop shot is of interest as is the girder chassis of the car, 6 cylinder supercharged engine awaits installation on the bench (Getty)

Starved of racing opportunities the race was well supported by British entrants and was also the first meeting supported by drivers from the continent; Maserati 4CL’s were entered for Reg Parnell, Louis Chiron and Raymond Sommer, 4C’s for Bira, Ian Connell, Nello Pagani and Robert Ansell.

chiron

Louis Chiron surrounded by his team and well-wishers on race-day. Maser 4CL 2nd but probable winner of the race…(Bert Hardy)

A swag of ERA’s were entered; George Abecassis and Joe Ashmore in A Type’s, B Types for John Bolster, Bob Gerard, Peter Walker, Cuth Harrison and Billy Cotton/Wilkie Wilkinson, a D Type for Raymond Mays and E Type for Peter Whitehead.

Other notable entrants were Pierre Levegh’s Delage D6.70 these cars also entered for Henri Louveau and Jean Achard. Leslie Johnson was entered in a Talbot T150C.

jersey parnell

Victor Reg Parnell’s Maserati 4CL (Bert Hardy)

mays color

Raymond Mays ready to practice his ERA at St Heliers on 4 June 1947 (Getty/Popperfoto)

Bira set the quickest time during practice on the Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 2.6.6 but all three Scuderia Milano Maserati’s; Sommer, Chiron and Pagani were under 2.10.

bira in pits

Bira Maser mirror adjustment in the pits, fastest by some way in practice (Bert Hardy)

Melted pistons in several of the blown cars was a problem causing MotorSport to speculate about the impact of missing fuel company expert technicians. Whitehead ran well until a split fuel tank in the ERA E Type dumped its contents on the road, the tank was repaired for the race, not well as it turned out!

maser mechanics

Maser mechanics fetting (Bert Hardy)

Johnson did a good time of 2.17 in the sports Talbot, the ‘Ecurie Delsac’ Delages of Louveau, Levegh and Achard slower.

The front row comprised Bira on pole from Pagani, Chiron and Sommer with Mays, Gerard and Ansell on row two and Whitehead, Parnell, Walker and Dixon on row three.

parnell grid

Parnells Maser being pushed onto the grid (Bert Hardy)

chiron grid

Chiron’s Maser 4CL being pushed onto the grid (Bert Hardy)

jersey start

’47 Jersey Road race just prior to the start. The front row L>R Sommer, Chiron, Pagani with Bira on pole all in Maserati’s (Jersey Evening Post)

MotorSport reported ‘The start was quite colossal…the entire field hurtled off with a crash. Impressions were difficult to analyse during the first mad rush, with the howl of the engines rising to a scream and the confusion of the blurring colours. Pagani took a slight lead from teammates Chiron and Sommer while Whitehead’s ERA hung slightly on getaway so that the Talbot and two Delages of Johnson, Levegh and Achard closed up like a released rubber band’.

‘After about 90 seconds of silence the leaders dived out of the Bayview Hotel corner, brakes on and slowed for the pedestrian like hairpin, Sommer in the lead from Bira 2 seconds back then Pagani and Parnell. There was an appreciable gap…to Mays, Ansell and Whitehead’ the latter retired the ERA E Type with a recurrence of the split aluminium fuel tank.

jersey bira

Bira correcting a slide in his Maser 4CL on the harbour front road (Klemantaski)

Bira got in front of Sommer before lap 5 but the Frenchman got the lead back but couldn’t hold it, Bira pitted on lap 10 to change a wheel having boofed a kerb.

bira racing

Bira Maser 4C from Sommer Maser 4CL early in the race at Bel Royal corner (Jersey Evening Post)

The Thai Prince lost only around 24 seconds but Derby’s Reg Parnell was in front by 45 seconds, a lead he never lost.

Sommer set a lap record of 2.6.2, 91.28mph on this road circuit before retiring with a ‘worn engine’.

chiron

Chiron’s Maserati 4CL Klemantaski)

There was considerable confusion about race positions the scoreboard and broadcast announcer at odds ‘It was not until 3 laps from the end that Parnell was shown as the leader with Chiron 2nd …Certainly (Parnell) was driving as if he thought he was 2nd, unlike Chiron who was driving as if he was sure he was 1st’.

jersey spectators

Spectators as confused about race positions as the drivers and their crews? The scoreboard says its #7 Parnell from #4 Bira and #18 Gerard on Lap 15 (Bert Hardy)

jersey chiron pitstop

Chiron pistop for fuel (Bert Hardy)

Further back ‘Mays drove as he has seldom before, climbing ruthlessly up the ruck to 3rd place once he got the car running on all six’.

gilby

Sam Gilby in his Maserati 6CM ‘Went well indeed but he should remember that in his first race, style, driving manners and a complete lack of baulking are are more important than dicing hard. Style and correctness are still the first things to learn’ MotorSport noted! (Klemantaski)

‘Johnson, playing a waiting game behind Louveau’s Delage…lost top gear, just when his pit signalled him to take Loueveau during the last third of the race’.

parnell race

Parnell (Bert Hardy)

‘Final placings after all the protests and shouting had died down were’;

Parnell Maser 4CL from Louis Chiron Maser 4CL, Mays 3rd in ERA D Type then Ashmore’s ERA A Type, Henri Louveau Delage D6.70 and Leslie Johnson Talbot T150C.

Picture Post…

jersey pic post

For the winner the spoils; Reg Parnell on the ‘Picture Post’ 24 May 1947 cover (Bert Hardy)

The inspiration for this article is the amazing work of Bert Hardy who was the principal photographer for the ‘Picture Post’, Britains most influential news-pictorial magazine, who took many of the shots used in this piece.

The magazine’s life spans around 30 years from 1938 to 1957, very quickly achieving sales of 1.7 million copies per month. What took my breath away is the sheer breadth of coverage of Hardy’s work, pretty much the progress, daily lives, sport, politics, contemporary culture and all of the conflicts in which the UK became enmeshed is shown in the archive. If you are a Brit take the time to have a look at the work. The disadvantage of the Getty Images (who now own the archive) format is that the low res scans don’t have the details of each shot unless you click on them and it ‘kicks you out’ after every 5 0r 6 clicks but its worth persevering.

Here is a link to the images;

http://www.gettyimages.com.au/photos/bert-hardy?sort=mostpopular&excludenudity=true&mediatype=photography&phrase=bert%20hardy

And here is a long but very interesting article about Bert Hardy, as an Aussie i have never heard of the man but he was truly an amazing photo-journalist;

http://www.photohistories.com/Photo-Histories/50/the-life-and-times-of-albert-hardy-1913-1995

Etcetera…

bira gridding

Bira preparing for the off , Maser 4C (Bert Hardy)

jersey gay ray

The top shot is Parnell’s Maserati 4CL being refuelled, the lower one Ray May’s, preoccupied but looking after the autograph needs of young fans (Bert Hardy)

crowd

Car #15 the Leslie Brooke ERA B Type passes the pits DNF engine failure (Bert Hardy)

Bibliography…

Motorsport April and June 1947

Photo Credits…

Bert Hardy, Louis Klemantaski, Jersey Evening Post, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Ray Mays ERA D Type independent  front suspension detail…

ray smiling

22 April 1947

Finito…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s