One has come to expect M.C.C.’s events to be efficiently run and their fifth Silverstone race meeting was no exception. It commenced with the customary one-hour high-speed trials for cars and motor-cycles, four in all. Before the war the M.C.C. used to hold these classic events on the outer circuit at Brooklands and the J.C.C. ran a similar one-hour high-speed trial, but over a course with artificial corners. Since the war the M.C.C. has kept up the tradition over the Silverstone Club Circuit, but so far the B.A.R.C. has not re-introduced this aspect of J.C.C. days at Goodwood.
These M.C.C. “hour-blinds” are about the only speed events in which intrepid passengers are not only allowed, but are essential. Tony Crook, claiming not to realise this, circulated for the first hour alone in his Type 404 Bristol, then did it properly for the next session with Betty Stapleton beside him.
The required average speeds to net an award ranged from 33.77 m.p.h. for a third-class award on a 125-c.c. motor-bicycle to 59.5 m.p.h. for a first-class award in a car exceeding 2,600 c.c.
Rain made conditions difficult and in the second one-hour event for cars B. T. Thomas spun alarmingly out of Woodcote in his Jupiter, and many other drivers ended up sideways-on with stalled engines. We thought the girl in W. G. Gibson’s TF M.G. was particularly nonchalant until we realised this was a l.h.d. car! G. H. Williamson carried his passenger sidecar fashion in the back of the Riley-engined Morris Minor tourer, which, as usual, was cornered on all but two wheels until it “felt funny” and came into the Paddock to gently shed a front wheel! A ball thrust race had collapsed, but a replacement was duly rushed to Williamson from Brackiey. John Gott’s passenger in the H.R.G. appeared to be wearing a gold-hued space-helmet.
The first race was a five-lap scratch event, which was a Jaguar benefit. J. D. Blackburn’s XK120 followed Head’s Type C until it spun at Woodcote, a quick restart bringing applause from the spectators. Thereafter it ran fourth, the finishing order of the placemen being Head (66.9 m.p.h. and fastest lap at 69.07 m.p.h.), Baxter (C-type) and Keeling (C-type).
The first five-lap handicap for cars was a “limit” victory, at 52.18 m.p.h., for A. Baker’s astonishing Land Rover, which cornered as if on rails and was master of every situation, its driver sitting high up like the Captain on the bridge of a ship, before a dashboard equipped for rally-driving, his person held steady by straps each side of his seat. J. R. Waller’s M.G. Special, with four 450 d.d. Amal carburetters having ram-intakes, was second, showing fastest lap of 61.71 m.p.h. with A. Thomas’ metal-bodied R4 Jupiter, while R. H. Vivian’s ordinary Jupiter finished third. W. A. Liddell’s Ford Ten-engined Buckler 90 retired after the all-enveloping front of the body had blown up and smote him sufficiently hard on the crash-hat to dent the cowling(!) and G. L. Power spun at Woodcote in his Austin-Healey. Decidedly nice to see in the old-world style was D. R. Piper’s supercharged 746-c.c J4 M.G. Midget, soon to be endowed with a cylinder head from the Magic Midget.
Another five-lap handicap saw K. P. Tomei more daring than skilful at Woodcote in his TC M.G., D. McKenzie’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley pull in with fewer functioning cylinders than when it started and F. J. C. Chapman’s deflector-head Meadows-Frazer-Nash go disappointingly slow, so that J. Kenyon’s Ford Zephyr won at 56.91 m.p.h. from J. D. Blackburn’s XK120 Jaguar, J. Venn’s Healey Silverstone third. Fastest lap, at 69.23 m.p.h., was recorded by the scratch car, Baxter’s Type C Jaguar, after its driver had stowed his umbrella which accompanied him to the start. P. Norgard rotated his Morgan Plus Four at Woodcote.
The next of the five-lappers on handicap was won by Sir Thomas Bevor’s very quick and well-driven Laystall/Lucas-tuned TC M.G. with alloy bonnet, which averaged 62.86 m.p.h. from the 75-sec. mark to win from P. J. Simpson’s Healey. There was a fine procession struggling to break file and take third place, which task J. Fiander’s Tojeiro accomplished. G. H. Williamson treated us to some more quite fantastic cornering in his Riley/Morris Minor, now with four wheels again — twin S. U. carburetters were used for the one-hour event, but the crew had with them four Amals for the racing! Head again lapped faster than anyone, in his Union-Jack-bearing Type C Jaguar, this time at 73.84 m.p.h.
Len Gibbs then beat his wife (well, you know what I mean! — Ed.) in a two-wheeler handicap. Both were Norton-mounted and Len averaged 60.35 m.p.h. The team handicap lacked entries, being contested between only three teams. A plug had to be removed from one car and another inserted in the waiting car at each pit stop, resulting in the usual burns and profanity so amusing to spectators. By reason of a very slick final plug-swop C team won, consisting of the Hon. P. T. Cunliffe-Lister’s Ford Zephyr, H. Judd’s Ford Zephyr and A. Coakley’s Austin-Healey (time = 40 min. 43.6 sec.) from a team of 2 1/2-litre Riley saloons.
The Motor Sport Handicap concluded a fine day’s sport and started on time, with 19 contestants. A. J. Nurse had run a big-end on his Riley Nine which he should have driven, so started in his new ex-Hill Empire Lotus with blown 750-c.c. M.G. engine. He corners at incredible speed in both cars, but was impeded somewhat in this race through touching a Ford Zephyr as he tried to go through on the inside at Woodcote on lap four. He finished just behind Venn’s Healey Silverstone, which won at 65.87 m.p.h., followed by Fiander, T. W. Darque’s smart 1 1/2-litre M.G., G. Gelberg’s Riley saloon and A. P. O. Rogers’ Riley saloon, the massed finish an awe-inspiring tribute to Charles Bulmer’s excellent handicapping. Head again enjoyed fastest lap, at 74.79 m.p.h.