WHEN ME WERE MEN

Caption to top picture:—"F.W.Dixon and his riding mechanic Len Ainsley appear remarkably calm as their Riley Special flies off the road and crashes through a hedge at the Quarry Corner during the 1932 Ulster TT held at the Ards Circuit in Belfast."

When I first got interested in Motor Racing in my late teens I read every motor racing book I could lay my hands on, most being about pre-war racing. I was particularly taken by the sports car races in Ulster, run, not on special tracks, but over ordinary Irish roads. Among the ‘posh boys’ taking part was a rough,tough working class engine tuning genius by the name of Freddie Dixon. He was from the North East and as tough as old boots. His exploits you’ll have to read up yourself but the thing I remember best about him was the picture at the top of this post.

Master Li and I went to the Vintage Speed Hillclimb at Harewood on Saturday. Prowling round the paddock I came across a Long Tailed Brooklands Riley that had Freddie Dixon’s name written on it. (See above.) I asked the owner about it and he told me all about it including that it WAS THE VERY ONE THAT FLEW THROUGH THE HEDGE !!. I never thought all those years ago that one day not only would I see the famous car but get to touch it. I should add that Keith Pointing, the driver, put up a performance on the hill that Freddie would have been proud of.

This post sprang fully formed into my mind ——

when I saw this picture in the series the Motor Racing one below came from.

Jude and I have had a number of discussion on carburettors, particularly SU carburettors. When I saw this Riley picture it made me think of the greatest Riley racer Freddie Dixon. He was a genius with carburettors and to avoid all the losses incurred with inlet manifolds he fitted SIX SU carburettors to his six cylinder Riley and had great success. The Genius bit comes in tuning them all to give the same mixture to each cylinder.
The SU is a Constant Depression carburettors, and the thought occurs are you allowed to use the word Depression nowadays. You are not allowed to use the word Handicapped now but have to say disabled, the BBC was reproved on this very point only last week . The organisers of the Doncaster November Handicap have had to change the name of this famous Horse Race to The Doncaster November Disabled.
I wonder what is the Politically Correct name for a Constant Depression Carburettor.
Anyway I have included a link for you Jude for a page telling you how the SU works, once you have mastered that we can go onto the Zenith, Amal, Stromberg and Weber’s and may even discuss the delightfully named Binks ‘Ratrap’ of the early years. What we will not touch is the Claudel-Hobson, which despite months of studying the handbook I never got my head round.

Freddie Dixon ‘flying’ round Brooklands in his Riley

Health and Safety 1930’s style. Pouring petrol out of a churn through a funnel into the car. I’m surprised he’s not smoking

Now Jude, just look at that, Six SU’s in a row

More Pictures HERE

More on Freddie Dixon HERE

SU Carburetters HERE

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