A Successful Members’ Meeting at Silverstone
W. A. L. Cook (4 1/2-litre Bentley) Makes Fastest Average in One-hour High-speed Trial. Habershon (1 1/2-litre G.P. Delage) Wins the “1908 G.P. Itala” Trophy Race and a 4-l6ap Scratch Race.
The V.S.C.C. Members’ Day at Silverstone, notable for excellent racing, torrid heat and a diversity of intriguing cars, was an unqualified success. Drivers and officials thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and if few spectators gathered to see the racing and have it explained to them via Tubbs’ and Clutton’s commentary, this mattered not at all. Col. Barnes used a modern Vauxhall saloon as a course-patrol car. The R.A.C. seemed needlessly strict in excluding Hampton’s Hispano-Suiza because it was a saloon and in refusing Densham a passenger on the 1908 Hutton for the purpose of actuating the air-pressure pump. The V.S.C.C. was very tolerant when the racing, already running late, was delayed because a manhole cover at Stowe broke up, necessitating alteration of the straw bales. Some confusion arose because the lap-distance for the course was declared by the B.O.C. as 2.4 miles, by the V.S.C.C. as 2.278 miles — but, after all, anything could shrivel in that heat! We understand that the latter is official.
One-Hour High-Speed Trial
This event, in the best J.C.C./M.C.C. tradition, but for vintage cars, attracted 40 entries, divided into capacity classes. To qualify, cars up to 1,100 c.c. had to average 47.84 m.p.h.; cars of 1,100 – 2,000 c.c., 49.49 m.p.h.; cars of 2,001 – 3,000 c.c., 50.97 m.p.h.; and over 3,000 c.c. cars, 56.95 m.p.h. Two compulsory pit-stops, one for a wheel-change, the other for a plug change, were included, and the standard of pit-work was high, most pits displaying proper signals to the drivers. Fourteen cars non-started.
Birkett’s Type 44, twin S.U.-carburetted Bugatti soon established a big lead in the 2 to 3-litre class and Cook’s 4 1/2-litre ex-McKenzie Bentley and Plowman’s OE “30/98” Vauxhall were going great guns in the big-car class. Seal’s Lancia wheel-change was excellent; there was slight difficulty in removing a front wheel from the orange T.T. Austin Seven, a car which ran at Ulster in 1931 and which Birkett had rebuilt in de-blown form specially for this event, appointing Bulmer as driver. So well did Bulmer handle the little car that Birkett himself was hard put to hold him through the corners.
Later the Austin had the misfortune to pick up a large split-pin in its off-side rear 140-40 Michelin. There was no spare in the pit, but Bowles sportingly got there before the car, with one of Heyward’s 700-17-shod wheels, and this real pit-stop was splendidly handled, Bulmer continuing and reaching over 70 m.p.h. along the uphill straight, Heyward’s “Ulster” Austin, with “Ulster” engine, now ahead, however. Hill’s “12/50” Alvis suffered the disadvantage of wheels held on by many nuts, Dancer’s quiet and effective o.h.c. Morris Minor, standard save for an oversize ribbed sump, was quicker by reason of having a ratchet spanner for its wheel nuts, Tooley, in his modern-looking Tooley, was quickly away, but Reece’s Riley Nine had smoking brakes and required water for its radiator. Palmer took a quick glance into the dumb-iron oil-tank of Densham’s Aston-Martin during one of his stops, and carefully adjusted many seat cushions before he resumed, with little loss of time Cuthell’s Alvis, emitting a typical “12/60” metallic exhaust-note, lost time through wheel nuts, and Arnold-Forster’s Frazer-Nash because its screen had to be raised before the bonnet could be opened for the plug change. It, too, needed water. Birkett’s hand-throttle control rod came off, and Drew’s fabric-bodied “Grand Prix” Salmson alternately limped along on the grass on two cylinders or speeded up on three. Both Yarborough Bateson’s and Goodman’s “22/90” Alfa-Romeo tourers were going well, although the latter’s sounded a bit harsh, and the Bentley pit-work was universally good.
The day had not yet become really hot and the anticipated massacre of vintage machinery did not materialise, although Hill’s Alvis was abandoned near Stowe with a broken crankshaft, Tulloch’s Type 35 Bugatti had retired early, and Palmer’s Aston-Martin fell out. Bowles did a really remarkable wheel-change for Heyward’s ” Ulster ” Austin, lifting the car bodily on to a petrol tin; Cook’s Bentley was also quickly dispatched, but Elwell-Smith had to remove a plug tucked away under one of his Aston-Martin’s four carburetters. Plowman was advised to add oil to his Vauxhall but had to continue without doing so, as there was none in his pit.
As the clock hand crept on Arnold-Forster brought his Frazer-Nash in for transmission attention, and Varley’s Lancia “Lambda” came in boiling, eventually to resume with a spare can of water on the running board, its clutch slipping.
Generally, however, the pre-1931 cars came through their ordeal very well and next year the V.S.C.C. must certainly repeat, preferably extend, this excellent event; one for which the majority of clubmen had been waiting patiently since 1938! Those who qualified were: —
Up to 1,100 c.c.:
C. W. Heyward (“Ulster” Austin), 21 laps In 51 min. 50 sec. (55.38 m.p.h.).
C. H. Bulmer (“T.T.” Austin), 21 laps in 54 min. 47 sec. (52.40 m.p.h.).
P. B. Reece (1930 Riley Nine), 21 laps in 58 min. 31 sec. (49.06 m.p.h.).
1,101 to 2,000 c.c.
D. Elwell Smith (1928 “team” Aston-Martin), 21 Laps in 55 min. 36 sec. (51.63 m.p.h.).
C. P. Tooley (1 1/2-litre Tooley), 21 laps in 57 min. 10 sec. (50.35 m.p.h.).
2,001 to 3,000 c.c.:
H. Birkett (Type 44 Bugattl), 22 laps in 51 min. 18 sec. (57.63 m.p.h.).
R. Briggs (5th Lancia “Lambda “), 22 laps in 57 min. 7 sec. (52.64 m.p.h.).
E. F. S. Seal (5th/6th Lancia “Lambda”), 22 laps in 57 min. 8 sec. (52.63 m.p.h.).
J. B. Ashton (1928 Bentley), 22 laps in 57 min. 24 sec. (52.38 m.p.h.).
Over 3,000 c.c.: W. A. L. Cook (4 1/2-litre Bentley), 25 laps in 58 min. 45 sec. (60.20 m.p.h.).
T. H. Plowman (“30/98” Vauxhall), 25 laps in 58 min. 4 sec, (58,84 m.p.h.).
W. G. Halliday (4 1/2-litre Bentley), 25 laps in 59 min. 55 sec. (57.03 m.p.h.).
Fastest speed. — Cook (Bentley), 25 laps at 60.2 m.p.h.
Also ran: Dancer (Morris Minor), Bridcut (G.P. Salmson), Richards (1926 “12/50” Alvis), Forster (Frazer-Nash), Hill (1927 “12/50” Alvis), Cuthell (1926 “12/50” Alvis), Stanton (1929 2-litre Lagonda), Palmer (Aston-Martin), Slater (1930 Bentley). Tulloch (1926 G.P. Bugatti), Varley (Lancia), Bateson (“22/90” Alfa-Romeo), Goodman (“22/90” Alfa-Romeo), Axel-Berg (3-litre Bentley)
Four-Lap Scratch Race for Supercharged Sports Cars
Six non-starters left a field of fourteen. As the flag fell Jesty’s Allard gained momentarily on Symondson’s Type 57S Bugatti, then Dryden’s 3 1/2-litre Jaguar went out ahead.
At Stowe Corner Symondson led, but Newton’s 1949 “Competition” Frazer-Nash was in hard pursuit and closed with the Bugatti on braking, only to fall back on acceleration out of Stowe. Willis’ modern-bodied, drastically-lightened 1 1/2-litre B.M.W. held third place, followed by Tyrer’s “328” B.M.W., Dryden’s Jaguar, Ruddock’s pointed-tail Meadows-H.R.G., Jesty’s Allard, Henry’s 4 1/2-litre Lagonda, Meisl’s H.R.G., Perkin’s B.M.W.-engined H.R.G., Croysdill’s Riley Nine-engined W.R.C., and Morgan’s Riley. Without a hope, Loftus’ Austin Seven “Nippy” and Watson’s Austin Seven with S.S.II radiator, brought up the rear.
Another lap and Symondson had consolidated his lead, although the Frazer-Nash again braked far later at Stowe. Morgan had picked up a place and Henry was indulging in his usual tail-slides. Tubbs now reported the W.R.C. as “smoking like a bloater,” and on lap three Newton made a great effort to pass the Bugatti at Stowe, without avail, while here, Tyrer spun round in his B.M.W., but continued. Perkins was coming up well and Dryden had shaken off Ruddock. Then the Bugatti pulled away, to its third victory on this circuit (two at the B.O.C. meeting), with Newton very close behind it.
1st: R. C. Symondson (3,257-c.c. Bugatti)… 71.32 m.p.h.
2nd: E. J. Newton (1,971-c.c. Frazer Nash) … 71.16 m.p.h.
3rd: R.. C. Willis (1,490-c.c. B.M.W.)… 66.01 m.p.h.
Fastest lap: Symondson (Bugatti), Newton (Frazer-Nash) … 73.22 m.p.h.
Four-Lap Scratch Race for Vintage Super-Sports and Racing Cars
An unfortunate non-starter was Clutton’s 10 1/2-litre V12 Delage, the scavenge oil pump of which had failed in practice. With four other non-runners, a field of fifteen remained. Habershon’s beautifully-turned out Seaman/i.f.s. 1 1/2-litre 1926 G.P. Delage was never challenged, although driven sufficiently rapidly to call for considerable tiller-twirling when leaving Stowe Corner. Byrom’s blown 1930 “2.3” G.P. Bugatti, making a healthy crackle, held second place, a respectful distance behind, for nearly three laps, when immense clouds of smoke suddenly poured from the cockpit and it pulled in with a holed piston.
This let James, in the highly-impressive 4-litre V12 Sunbeam, into second place, the car obviously having immense potentialities but tending to misfire, and the blow-off valves setting up a fine how-de-do. Trying really hard, Perkins was third, in his 1927 supercharged 2-litre Bugatti. Of the others, Stores “38/250” Mercédès-Benz fell very sick on the first lap, Roll’s “30/220” Mercédès-Benz used spirited bursts of blower but crawled home, and Blomfield’s 1 1/2-litre Bugatti never ran properly, while Parker, cornering his blown 1 3/4-litre Alfa-Romeo four-seater really well, never got into the picture. Hern’s Amilcar Six had a tussle with Pitt’s “blower 4 1/2” Bentley which it eventually won. Kemp-Place (Bentley) tried very hard, setting his rear tyres alight on acceleration.
1st: B.. Habershon (1,496-c.c. s/c Delage) … 75.24 m.p.h.
2nd: J. M. James (3,976-c.c. s/c Sun beam)… 70.17 m.p.h.
3rd: J. M. Perkins (1,990-c.c. s/c Bugatti)… 70.04 m.p.h.
Fastest lap: Habershon (Delage) … 78.10 m.p.h.
Four-Lap Scratch Race for Racing Cars
One of the four non-starters was Leslie Johnson, for unfortunately the third-gear pinion of Lycett’s 8-litre Bentley had picked-up on its shaft and the construction of the 8-litre box precluded roadside repairs. Sixteen runners were left, Jacobs’ blown M.G. sounding very fit indeed.
Winterbottom made a poor start in his Cooper-H.R.D. and it was Butterworth in his fierce four-wheel-drive, Steyr-engined, air-cooled, 4 1/2-litre A.J.B. who led lap one, from Cooper’s Cooper 1,000 and King in Wilks’ ever-astonishing 2-litre monoplace Rover, the last-named having had a faulty rear axle changed beforehand.
A lap later the Rover was second, its stability and cornering something to marvel at, but Butterworth had a big lead. Alas, another circuit and ominous black smoke plumed from the sump as the A.J.B., after making fastest lap of the day, accelerated away from Stowe-a balance-weight had emerged from its oily prison into the July sunshine. The Cooper also retired. That left the Rover in an unassailable position and it deservedly won by a small margin from Norris’ supercharged 2-litre Alta, with Dutt third in an old “2.9” G.P. Maserati embellished with his names on the cockpit and having a nickname “May” on its dumbiron apron. Ayrton, in the special-bodied Monaco Type 51 Bugatti spoilt his chances by spinning off the road at Beckett’s Corner on the opening lap. Note that the Rover beat the supercharged racing cars!
1st: C. S. King (1,996-c.c. Rover) … 74.91 m.p.h.
2nd: J. B. Norris (1,970-c.c. s/c Alta) … 74.18 m.p.h.
3rd: R. Dutt (2,992-c.c. s/c Maserati) … 73.04 m.p.h.
Fastest lap: Dutt (Maserati) … 80.87 m.p.h.
Four-Lap Scratch Race for Non-supercharged Vintage Cars
Five non-starters left fifteen runners. Quartermaine’s 1925 “30/98” Vauxhall beat a bevy of 4 1/2-litre Bentleys away from the line and the race became most exciting, as Halliday’s very sedate-looking 1929 two-seater McKenzie prepared 4 1/2-litre Bentley, its furled hood flapping, just pipped the Vauxhall for the lead as they braked for Stowe, with Breen’s 1929 four-seater 4 1/2-litre Bentley close behind. Already Gibbs’ Riley Nine was out and Bulmer coasted in with the orange T.T. Austin, its S.U. petrol pump inoperative. Thereafter the lead never changed, Halliday, Quartermaine and Breen all cornering great guns, taking Stowe wide and Halliday raising a plume of dust. Kellow’s “19/100” Austro-Daimler flexed its chassis and was slow.
1st: D. Halliday (4,398-c.c. Bentley) … 61.98 m.p.h.
2nd: M. L. Quartermaine (4,300-c.c. Vauxhall) … 61.60 m.p.h.
3rd: T. P. Breen (4,398-c.c. Bentley) … 60.50 m.p.h.
Fastest lap: Quartermaine (Vauxhall) … 64.07 m.p.h.
Four-Lap Handicap for Edwardian Cars
The handicapping ruined this race, for Abbott’s well-known and beautifully turned-out 1904 Mercédès was given 4 min. 56 sec. lead from Heal’s scratch F.I.A.T. and had completed more than a lap before Neve’s T.T. Humber, Samuelson’s T.T. Sunbeam or the vast 1914 Peugeot “40/50” tourer had been released. So Abbott couldn’t fail to win, but Heal went magnificently from scratch, lapping at nearly 64 m.p.h. with no brakes to speak of, and Neve caught and passed the T.T. Sunbeam. Even Hutchinson’s quietly-impressive 1918 3-litre Darracq tourer, a “new ” Edwardian, had done a lap before Heal was allowed to go motoring. Fairman drove a fast, if scruffy, 1914 “12/16” Sunbeam tourer. There was only one retirement, Densham’s 1908 5-litre Hutton, which had refused to run on four cylinders in practice, and Hill richly deserved his second place after a steady run in his 1912 “Alphonso” Hispano-Suiza. Nine ran. The only non-starter was Peter Clark’s 1914 G.P. Mercédès, sold to America-oh, Peter!
1st: C. R. Abbott (1904 4,084-c.c. Mercédès), 4 min. 56 sec. … 45.54 m.p.h.
2nd: W. A. Hill (1912 3,622-c.c. Hispano-Suiza), 3 min. 4 sec. … 48.98 m.p.h.
3rd: K. Neve (1914 3,295-c.c. Humber), 0 min. 30 sec. … 61.03 m.p.h.
Fastest lap: Heal (F.I.A.T.) … 63.76 m.p.h.
Eight-Lap “1908 G.P. Itala” Trophy Scratch Race for Vintage Cars
Unfortunately nine cars failed to come out for this the big race of the day, including this, Delage, Plowman’s Vauxhall, the Bugattis of Perkins, Byrom and Birrell, and the A.C.-Nash. That left nine runners.
Habershon again held the lead unchallenged, driving the little Delage beautifully, to win by 40 sec. from James, whose Sunbeam was still misfiring, but its wheels spinning from the corners nevertheless. Pitts’ imposing “blower 4 1/2” Bentley two-seater, bouncing over the bumps at Stowe, was a gallant third. Hernn stalled his Amilcar’s engine and started late, having a rough ride thereafter, while Finch’s Amilcar lost its throttle-control rod, luckily when the throttle was shut going into Stowe, when in eighth place on lap two. Butterworth’s open, ex-saloon, 4 1/2-litre Bentley went nicely but was outclassed, and Kemp-Place again used much rubber.
1st: R. Habershon (1,496-c.c. s/c Delage) … 75.19 m.p.h.
2nd: J. M. James (3,976-c.c. s/c Sun beam) … 71.94 m.p.h.
3rd: A. G. Pitts (4,390-c.c. sic Bentley) … 69.95 m.p.h.
Fastest lap: Habershon (Delage) … 77.81 m.p.h.
Four-Lap Handicap for Frazer-Nash Cars
This produced an exciting race with the positions changing frequently amongst the field of twelve. On the third lap Crowther took the lead from Geoghegan going into Stowe, but his engine faltered, allowing the back-markers to get the lead on the last lap.
1st; C. M. Sears (1933 1,496-c.c. Frazer-Nash), 1 min. 0 sec. … 61.97 m.p.h.
2nd: W. H. Arklay (1929 1,991-c.c. A.C. Six-Frazer-Nash), 0 min. 36 sec. … 64.61 m.p.h.
3rd: K. H. Miles (1935 3,622-c.c. V8 Fraser-Nash), 0 min. 12 sec. … 67.77 m.p.h.
Fastest lap: Miles (V8-Frazer-Nash) … 71.44 m.p.h.
Four-Lap Handicap for Vintage Cars
Leo’s stripped 1930 four-seater blown 2-litre Lagonda worked up from sixth place after a lap, to fourth place after two laps, and second place after three laps, to win comfortably from Marsh’s 1924 four-seater Lancia “Lambda.” Bremner’s blown 1 3/4-litre Alfa-Romeo four-seater came up strongly to finish third, and J. Rohll’s 1930 “2.3” Alfa-Romeo had an impossible handicap, but finished fifth. H. E. Roll’s ex-Gardner “36/220” Mercédès-Benz was on scratch, but was painfully slow, although it all but pipped King’s Type 40 Bugatti at the finish, but only because the latter had spent some of the race pushing weighty straw bales out of its way when it left the course at Stowe. There were three non-starters, leaving 17 runners, but Goodall’s early “Grand Sport” Amilcar, with inclined radiator, soon retired.
1st: M. Leo (1,954-c.c. s/c Lagonda), 1 min. 1 sec. … 60.45 m.p.h.
2nd: J. A. E. Marsh (2,120-c.c. Lancia), 1 min. 48 sec. … 56.23 m.p.h.
3rd: J. I. Bremner (1,750-c.c. Alfa-Romeo), 0 min. 24 sec. … 64.61 m.p.h.
Four-Lap Handicap for Vintage Cars
The start gave us spectacle of Preece’s 1929 high-chassis 4 1/2-litre Invicta beating Mason’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley, and Birkett’s Type 44 Bugatti holding Plowman’s “30/98” Vauxhall. The Vauxhall eventually drew away from the Bugatti, but at Beckett’s Birkett passed it, and thereafter a great duel occupied these two, the Vauxhall faster up the straight, the Bugatti, taken up to 4,700 r.p.m., gaining on the twisty back-stretch.
Ching’s scratch 1 1/2-litre Alfa-Romeo neatly overtook Jeddere-Fisher’s 2-litre Lagonda at Stowe Corner and the pace and the heat were telling, for this Lagonda was very unwell and Joy Ching’s old 1 1/2-litre G.P. Bugatti tended to misfire. A lap later and both Black’s Aston-Martin and Ching’s Alfa-Romeo were boiling. Plowman braked later for Stowe than Birkett, whose Bugatti was inclined to suffer front-axle tramp, and up the straight the Vauxhall went ahead, to take a spirited second place behind Elwell-Smith’s 1928 “team” Aston-Martin, which also experienced axle-judder and screamed its tyres on the corners. Fourteen ran.
1st: D. Elwell-Smith (1,495-c.c. Aston-Martin), 0 min. 52 sec. … 58.61 m.p.h.
2nd: T. H. Plowman (4,300-c.c. Vauxhall) … 63.84 m.p.h.
3rd: H. Birkett (2,992-c..c. Bugatti) … 63.78 m.p.h.
Fastest lap: Plowman (Vauxhall) … 66.67 m.p.h.
Four-Lap Handicap for Non-Vintage Cars
The “moderns” now had their turn and Jack French led throughout from the limit position in Mallock’s Ford Ten-engined Austin Seven Special, which borrowed the Michelin rear wheels and tyres from the T.T. Austin. Gradually, Chevell’s neatly-bodied racing Alvis “Speed Twenty,” with normal gearbox and suspension, worked its way up, but Mrs. Binns’ Riley “Sprite” just held it off in a “photo-finish” for second place.
There was one incident, when Shattock slid outwards in his Brook-engined Atalanta in attempting to go past Waring’s Alvis “Speed Twenty” on the outside at Stowe, just as the Alvis suffered a similar slide in the opposite direction! Both this Atalanta and Moody’s Frazer-Nash were off form, but White’s oddly-bodied Invicta won a duel with Tulloch’s now de-blown Hudson, the latter slow from scratch.
1st: J. S. French (1,172-c.c. Austin Special), 2 min. 8 sec. … 57.63 m.p.h.
2nd: Mrs. N. Binns (1,495-c.c. Riley), 1 min. 0 sec. … 63.26 m.p.h.
3rd: B. Chevell (2,511-c.c. Alvis), 0 min. 44 sec. … 65.22 m.p.h.
Fastest lap: Matthews (Jaguar) … 70.34 m.p.h.