Silverstone, March 3rd
For anyone with a real interest in cars of all ages, a study of the Pomeroy Trophy results can be most rewarding. This year slight adjustments were made to the traditional handicap formula, which it was felt was becoming loaded against the later cars as the years went by, although the essentials remained the same – capacity, year of manufacture and length in inches from pedal pads to the centre line of the rear axle being the main factors, the longer this distance the better from the handicap point of view. Incidentally, “distance from dash to back axle centre” had to be declared by entrants of the cars in the RAC 2,000 Miles Trial as long ago as 1908.
This year a fuel consumption test was reintroduced for “The Pom”, and the whole thing stems to have worked out well, for the new formula did not prevent a pre-war car winning – the 1938 open two-seater 328 BMW of Simon Phillips – yet at the same time one of the best performances was put up by a modern 1979 car of fairly revolutionary design, the five-cylinder Audi 100 5E saloon of Peter Donnelly. His fuel consumption, including tests involving steering, acceleration and braking plus a 40-minute blind round the club circuit, worked out at 18.51 m.p.g. from the 2,144 c.c. engine. This is only a couple or so m.p.g. below the official figures for the car for the urban cycle, and considering all the new buildings which seem to be going up in the paddock at Silverstone at present, perhaps this is not as inappropriate as it sounds. In contrast, Simon Phillips’s fuel consumption on the 1,971 C.C. BMW was down to 14.07 m.p.g., but his car was designed when an urban cycle had pedals.
In the first test, involving negotiating pylons over a distance of ¼ mile, the fastest time of 22.17 sec. was by Robin Rew in his 1968/71 Reliant Scimitar saloon, to which he has added a turbocharger. Next best was Bill Summers in his 1973 Fiat Dino Spider with 22.22 Sec. and an excellent third was the 22.37 sec. of Brian Terry’s 1976 Rover 3500. The only other drivers to get below 23 sec. were David Black with 22.44 sec. in his 1976 V8 Ferrari 308 GTB, and Martin Dawson with 22.62 sec, in his 1976 Triumph TR7. Simon Phillips put up best pre-war time with 23.98 sec. followed by the 24.35 sec. of Chris Mann’s 1933 blown 2.6-litre Monza Alfa Romeo. Top vintage honours went to Hugh R. G. Conway in the four-seater 1928 Type 43 Bugatti with 25.31 sec., who just beat his father, Hugh G. Conway, in his two-seater version, also with the blown 2.3-litre engine, who returned 25.33 sec.
The braking test was made slightly longer this year, and this, combined with the damp track, ensured that no-one got below 6 sec. The timed test consisted of a flying start and the requirement to stop with the front wheels between two lines. Most people seemed over-cautious for fear of overshooting and receiving no marks, and quite a few achieved this through never coming to a complete standstill before driving off again. The Phillips BMW slewed sideways before stopping with a time of 7.7 seconds, and David Duffy’s 1977 Rover 3500 had quite severe rear axle tramp before coming to rest in 7.4 sec. Robin Rew gained no marks and perhaps should have built some reverse thrust into his turbocharging, whilst the 1956 Plus 4 and 1969 Plus 8 Morgans of Dick Smith and Mary Lindsay appeared fast and neat, taking 7.4 and 8.2 sec. respectively. H. R. G. Conway was best vintage with 7.6 sec., but the ace driver in this test was Stanley Mann with 7.2 sec. in a 1973 Mercedes 450SL who just beat the 7.3 sec. of the 1967 E-type Jaguar driven by John Champion. Adrian Liddell’s 11.4 sec. with the two-wheel-braked 1918 Straker-Squire was not the slowest as an AC Cobra recorded 11.9 sec.
The standing and flying start quarter-miles took place the “wrong way” up the club straight, starting from the Woodcote end. The fastest car proved to be the V8 6-litre 1958 Cadillac-Allard based Farrallac Special of Tony Bianchi with times for the standing and flying parts respectively of 14.62 sec. and 8.06 sec., followed by 14.78 sec. and 8.24 sec. by Nick Mason’s V12 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (which had “250 GTO” as its registration number) and 14.81 sec. and 8.25 sec. by Bill Fone’s 1964 AC Cobra. Fastest pre-war cars were Mann’s Monza Alfa (16.65 sec. and 10.20 sec.), Hugh G. Conway’s 1928 Type 43 Bugatti (17.22 sec. and 10.56 sec.) and Phillips’s 328 BMW (17.34 sec. and 10.49 sec.). Over-5-litres of 1936 Mercedes 540K saloon, though with the blower disconnected, driven by Roger Collings achieved 25.21 sec. and 15.33 sec. in contrast to the 25.13 sec. and 15.90 sec. by Lou Wickham’s 1929 1½-litre beetleback 12/50 Alvis, the smallest car in the competition.
It was dampish for the first 40-minute high-speed trial, and very damp for the second. Mann’s Monza Alfa led all the way in the first “blind” followed by Gibson’s TR7, whilst in the second Mike Ridley’s 1969 Aston Martin DBS V8 soon took the lead from the Farallac Special, which ran its bearings some 12 minutes before the end. Latterly the TR7 had some brake bothers. Needham in a slab-tanked 30/98 Vauxhall with the Chassis turned upside down at the back so it looked like a huge J2 MG, spun at Beckett’s as did Champion’s E-type Jaguar, whilst Clive Hamilton-Gould and A. G. Moore (son of a former Editor of Motor Sport, T. G. Moore) also spun their respective 1977 GTV and 1978 Spider 2000 Alfas. Few people achieved their target laps in the second trial, though Robin Rew was one who did, lapping Roland Duce’s racy V12 BRM-engined Gulf Mirage in the process in his sober-looking Reliant saloon.
Fuel consumption was revealing, ranging from 5.92 m.p.g. by the 540K Mercedes and 6.45 m.p.g. by Rusty Russ-Turner’s blower-4½ Bentley to 20.56 m.p.g. by Lionel Stretton’s 1952 Frazer Nash Mille Miglia. This car was only fractionally slower than the winning 328 BMW in the tests, but the latter could only achieve 14.07 m.p.g. with a similar design of engine – perhaps aerodynamics had something to do with it.
This was an excellently organised and enjoyable event for which the results team as well as the marshals deserve a big pat on the back. – P. M. A. H.