Early in March, the VSCC trialists assembled at that most useful venue The Verzons, near Ledbury, for the Herefordshire Trial. Entries were down this year, from 105 in 1992 to a nonetheless respectable 87, and were divided into two classes: short and longer wheelbase.
As an additional post-birthday treat I was allowed to ride as ‘navigator’ to Seymour Price in his son’s Austin 7 Ulster. As Seymour proved to be an adept map-reader, and had an electric pump to adjust tyre pressures after each section, I had an easy afternoon. I had plenty of time to enjoy some of the more remote parts of still-rural England almost as though ensconced in a comfortable, though nippy, bath chair.
The trial’s organisation was excellent. Spare a few thanks for all the marshals required to run it. On this particular day, there wasn’t much for them to do, as they had the disappointment of a succession of cars clearing each section. Many of these were ascents of grass hillsides which would have been difficult had it rained before the trial. As it was, only one of the 14 hills stopped our A7, although the driver did find that the driving technique differs from that he uses in his regular A7 Chummy. The red Ulster had a 5.625 axle, 4.00 x 19 Avon tyres, a three-speed gearbox with gate change, a standard cylinder head and a semi-downdraught SU carburettor. On the steepest gradients, it was perhaps a trifle too high-geared, but our only failure was at Zag’s Gnash, where a deep, muddy hollow stranded us at marker seven. This became the decisive hill, where the irrepressible Low reached marker 18 (only two from the end) in his 1929 Taylor-bodied A7, and Blakeney-Edwards’ Frazer Nash all the way to 16, others to 15, but P Stringer (1926/33 A7) got right to the top. However, he lost 11 points at Ginger Wood and Low dropped only the aforementioned two.
To liven up the dry sections, there were trees to circle at Moffatt’s Meander, where Lister’s FN-BMW unwisely followed Goding’s noisy Morris, which had taken a wrong route and was not allowed the requested second try.
At Bearwood One, long-wheelbase cars had difficulty rounding another tree, although Ben Collings reached marker 17 in the fully-crewed 41/2-litre Bentley, and grabbing front brakes appeared to be responsible for Lister straying off-course. But these were three good sections up long, wooded tracks, with a fearsome final corner. There was a stop/start hazard on mud at Orge’s Corner, whereas Frith Wood was short and sharp and Ward Hill ended in a steep rise. The same was true of Herbert’s Hump, which we just managed, as did Tony Jones’s 30/98. Zieder Way was rough-surfaced, long and grassy, and cars continued on a grassy track into the woods at Ginger Wine.
Most got back to The Verzons, although Hickling had changed a head gasket and rewired his Dodge, while S Hirst was sorting out gearbox problems with his Riley Special. All in all, a good show by organisers Rodney Felton and Hamish Moffatt (who used their Bugattis) and all the other patient officials.
Ron Low’s 278 points naturally earned him the Hereford Trophy, for best overall performance. In Class 1, First Class Awards were presented to Low. P Blakeney-Edwards (Frazer Nash), J Diffey (A7) and P Evans (A7), Second Class Awards to B Clarke (GN-A7), T Pipkin (A7) and T Wheelock (A7) and Third Class Awards to M Joseland (Frazer Nash), H Stringer (A7), S Price (A7), P Bullett (A7) and R Odell (Riley). In Class 2, First Class Awards went to B Collings (Bentley) and D Hescroft (AC), Second Class Awards to M Hirst (Alvis) and A Goding (Morris) and Third Class Awards to W Urry (Riley), T Jones (30/98), D Bond (Morris) and E Goldsmith (Lea-Francis). There were eight non-starters and two retirements, Miss P Thorpe (A7) and S Hirst (Riley).