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Limerick Grand Prix

by

David Tocher

I noticed an item in The Limerick Post about the return of the Limerick Grand Prix to the streets of Limerick on Sunday 1st August 2010. The picture of an Austin Six in a later article didn't auger well but the articles mentioned the Limerick Classic and Vintage Car Club. I looked at their website for more details and historical background of the event. It appears that the races were Formula Libre so anything could race. There were three events and it is claimed that Limerick and Monte Carlo are the only two unchanged street circuits. A quick Google brought up a couple of movie clips Round the Houses and International Grand Prix at Limerick.

It looked interesting so Jan and I got up early on Sunday for once - remember we are retired folk - and went along to see the event at 9:30. We arrived at Pery Square in Limerick which of course isn't a square and were surprised at the number of people and cars present.

One of the first cars that caught our attention was this Riley Special. Jan said it looked like QuickSilver as I've now named my build. Well I suppose it was in unpainted aluminium, has no weather protection, leather bonnet straps and two seats .....

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This Thompson Racing Special looked really great. . . .

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A leaflet gave the following information about the car

Aubrey Thompson's family ran a Ford main dealership in Mallow. He served his appenticeship in the early 1930s with Daimler of Coventry where he was influenced by Robert Instone and Percy Maclure. With these he built some specials, one of which survives today; the GN Martyr. Inspired by the W125 Mercedes seen at the British Grand Prix at Donnington, Aubrey built the T.R.S. in Mallow in 1938. Thompson acquired a works racing Riley 9 engine and ENV preselector gearbox from his friend Percy Maclure (Riley works driver). Chassis front and rear axles were Ford based. The De Dion type rear axle replicated the all conquering Mercedes, whilst the front axle was of the Bellamy split type. Brakes were Girling all round, the best of their time.
According to its builder the T.R.S. achieved 119mph on the Carrigrohane straight in Cork on its first outing.Its most famous victory was the Wakefield Trophy in the Phoenix Park in September 1939, one week after war was declared. This was the last race in Britain or Ireland until hostilities ceased. The car was extensively raced and hillclimbed postwar by Thompson and Arthur O'Leary. The Riley engine disintegrated and was replaced by a Ford 375.
The present owner Kieran White acquired the car in 1981 after lengthy negotiations. The car was rescued from the remains of a collapsed shed. The Riley engine was rebuilt as was the gearbox. The body was copied by Archie Alderdice from Kilkeel, Co. Down. In 1999 the car had its first outing in the Phoenix Park. It is painted silver as it was originally in homage to the mighty Mercedes.
This supercharged Lagonda was superb. Click to enlarge Click to enlarge



Rileys were in abundance. Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge



A couple of Alfas - one took part the races. Click to enlarge Click to enlarge



The Fiat raced in Limerick Click to enlarge Click to enlarge




A Levis and a Rudge Ulster. Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

There were a few other pre war cars such as Bentleys, MG, Lagonda, a collection of Ferraris, Porsches and other modern sports cars and even a well restored Ford Popular - now that brings back memories as it was the first car I ever owned. The batteries went flat in the camera so no pictures of the cars in action.

The pre 1940 vehicles, with Garda escort, lapped the course and then sports and classic cars joined them for another lap. After a static display the cars and drivers and lots of passengers went off for lunch in Adare. They returned for a static display in Pery Square which we did not attend. They planned to have memorabilia of the races at the afternoon display. The plan is to hold a similar event next year.

David


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