The racing pedigree of the Sunbeam marque is often associated with renowned racers, Sir Malcolm Campbell and Sir Henry Segrave, but from 1927 to 1934 the marque was driven to great success at Southport by their contemporary, George Jackson.
Jackson’s name may not be revered today, but he is immortalised in these photographs from the Club archive. Related to Sunbeam agents in Blackpool, Lancashire, George often drove in local events like the one kilometre standing start at Blackpool Speed Trials and was a frequent racer on the sand at Southport.
In 1924 George Jackson acquired one of the 1922 three litre, eight cylinder Tourist Trophy Sunbeams which he raced on the sand at Southport. The car became known as Sunbeam VII and on 21st March 1925 it won its first 10 Mile Race on the Birkdale Sands. It also won the One Mile Speed Trial and the 20 Mile Race, which marked the beginning of a racing career that would last for ten years.
In the early days of racing the Sunbeam, the car skidded substantially on the corners of each two mile circuit, but subsequent modifications by Jackson improved both speed and handling. Inspired by Louis Coatalen, he added an oil pipe that zig-zagged between the engine and gauges that measured oil flow and return. Jackson believed that better oil flow and cooling was crucial to the car’s performance.
In March 1926 Jackson acquired a new car from Malcolm Campbell, that had raced at Brooklands. Sunbeam IX had a pointed, Grand Prix style tail, which greatly improved cornering.
By the end of the 1926 season at Southport, George had won the 20, 25 and 10 Mile Races, however the 1927 season was dogged by mechanical issues. The timing gears were stripped during the August meeting and in September 1927, the axle and steering gear was badly damaged. Triumphing against adversity, modifications to the car’s output by adding a Cozette supercharger, new camshafts and new carburetters, saw Sunbeam IX come back even stronger. In 1929 Sunbeam IX won the One Mile Race for three litre class vehicles.
The original speed of the Sunbeam IX had been increased from 4000rpm to over 5000rpm and on 1st July 1933 George Jackson won all five events he entered at Southport. In September that year, the car covered the flying kilometre at 110.74 mph.
From 1932 onwards other marques like Bugatti and David Brown’s Vauxhall-Villiers, were becoming increasingly competitive and by 1934 it was clear that Sunbeam IX’s glory days had passed. The car competed in its last season in 1934, celebrating its retirement by achieving the fastest time over the One Mile distance at Southport.