A section devoted to old-car matters
V.S.C.C. Oulton Park Race Meeting (July 22nd)
Oulton Park is such a pleasant venue, reminiscent of old Donington, that this is one of the most enjoyable vintage speed fixtures of the year. This time there were no special attractions, apart from the traditional parade of Concours d’Elegance cars and, indeed, there was little time for anything but the racing, the entry of 161 being the largest ever.
Rain held off in spite of threatening weather and the meeting was in every way extremely successful.
The opening race was a 5-lap Handicap for vintage and p.v.t. cars. Harris’ 1930 Austin Ulster, a pleasantly original car originally registered by Austins themselves, so perhaps a demonstrator, to blown specification but unblown, led for two laps, was passed by 19-year-old Makin in his four-Amal fabric-Riley 9 tourer with Vertex magneto and home-made mudguards, which, on the last lap gave best to Joseland’s 1926 Anzani Frazer Nash, also nicely original, with aluminium body, looking very business-like sans front mudguards. It was running non-supercharged, as Joseland’s blown Anzani engine was short of timing chain. He won, nevertheless, at 63.8 m.p.h. from the Riley and Austin.
Another of these races followed, Batho’s fascinating Amilcar-Riley leading for three laps until swamped by the back markers, so that Hine’s 1924 3-litre Bentley 2-seater just beat Barraclough’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley to the line, winning by 0.2 sec., at 66.04 m.p.h., Batho third. Neve ran his 1914 T.T. Humber, a sporting attempt to maintain Edwardian support, which has dwindled sadly. Barr’s 4.3 Alvis was touched on the hub-cap by an Aston Martin at Knicker Brook and sank below the surface of the lake; the driver was unhurt but the car took a long time to salvage. Barton’s much-fancied Frazer Nash was hampered because the dogs tried to remain in their kennels, and Cook’s virtually-scratch p.v.t. Riley retired.
The Vintage Racing Car section of the Seaman Memorial Trophy Race, over 12 laps, was extremely good value, for Arnold Forster had found Delage II on “the boil” in practice and announced that he would have to stop half-way for more water, a pit-stop rendered hazardous on account of the number of threads on the filler cap. He set off in a great hurry but Douglas Hull had advised removing the bonnet sides, the 5.1-litre engine kept cool, the driver didn’t need to come in, and so he scored a popular victory at 72.56 m.p.h.
In spite of very spectacular motoring Ashley in his 1930 Frazer Nash had to be content with second place, Binn’s Riley holding a steady third, ahead of Bergel, the 1962 winner, who started badly but urged his 35T Bugatti on so well that he came up to fourth by lap 10, in spite of a brief pit-stop, making fastest lap at 74.62 m.p.h. in the process. Footit contrived fifth place in the A.C./G.N., comfortably ahead of Williamson’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley, which seemed to lack anchorage. On Handicap the order was: Edwards (1925 Twin-Cam Aston-Martin), Crowley Milling (1923/4 3-litre Alfa Romeo) and Blissett (1930 Riley 9). Apparently the 4-litre V12 Sunbeam had eaten one of its valves and the consequent indigestion caused it to non start.
Alter this there was a breather while some 44 immaculate cars from Alfa Romeo to Sunbeam paraded. In the Concours d’Elegance H. C. Schofield’s 1938 4 1/2-litre Lagonda had earned highest acclaim. This allowed engines to be warmed up for the Historic Racing Car section of the Seaman Memorial Trophy Race. The fastest car entered, the Historica Martini O.S.C.A., wasn’t permitted to run because it was exuding oil, Day’s E.R.A. wasn’t ready, nor was Chapman’s E.R.A., or Pitt’s M.G., but an excellent field lined up, and the question for the next quarter of an hour was, would the E.R.A.s trounce Horton’s 1950 Connaught round Oulton’s twisty 2.76-mile circuit?
Horton got away well and led the opening lap (the race was over 20 laps) from Waller and the Hon. Patrick Lindsay in their E.R.A.s. This held for five laps, when Lindsay, driving “Remus” with his customary skill but no unnecessary fireworks, went by the slightly-smoking Connaught, which had had a brief pit-stop, followed by a determined Waller. The blue and white E.R.A.s proceeded to build up a decent lead, and by the end of lap 9 Brown’s E.R.A. had taken third place from the Connaught.
Perhaps the most exciting car in the race was the ex-Hindle Type 59 Bugatti driven by Symondson. It was ministered to by George Burton and Douglas Hull and should have been able to win the race. In fact, it ran a bad fifth until three laps from the finish, when it moved up a place. Horton continued to fall back and was pipped by Freeman in the ex-Horsfall 2-litre Sports Aston-Martin, going very quickly, but they only covered 19 laps, in company with Bishop’s 2-litre Aston-Martin. The first seven finished in that order, Gibson’s ex-Aitken single-seater Frazer Nash just getting home eighth, after a pit-stop, with 18 laps covered, although it wasn’t enjoying itself and had to be scratched from its next engagement. It had run off its coolant. On Handicap the order was Morris in Blight’s beautiful 1931 Talbot 105 team-car G053, Ellis in the Derby-Maserati and Bishop’s 1936 Aston Martin. Lindsay’s average speed was 79.58 m.p.h., his best lap, 81.87 m.p.h.
The 5-lap G.N./Frazer Nash Handicap had an entry of 27, sure indication of how many Chain-Gangsters have workable machinery these days. Even if only 14 had original power plants. Bromley Johnson had had the audacity to shoe-horn a 1938 4 1/2-litre Bentley engine into his 1932 ‘Nash and was rewarded with retirement, no doubt to the horror of Rolls-Royce Ltd. Fearnley’s 1933 Meadows-engined “limit” car led until the final lap, when it was engulfed, Geoghegan winning with the aid of an Aston-Martin engine, from Spence, who relies on a 3 1/2-litre 1938 Alvis power unit and Barrow, who is properly propelled by one of Mr. Meadows’ products.
After all these chains had ceased whirring and hacksaws had literally cut off the fine exhaust pipes of the Alta Chorlton, which was setting fire to the driver or the body or something, a 5-lap All Corners Scratch Race commenced, which someone explained to his fair companion as a race for any cars that were still in running order! Waller left us in no doubt about the ability of his E.R.A. to run—it ran completely away from the field, to win at 79.49 m.p.h., lapping at 80.5 m.p.h.
Nearly a minute later Smith’s Lago-Darracq came over the line, Arnold-Forster in the big Delage unable to do more than tail it. Charnock’s road-equipped Alvis made fourth place, Doc. Taylor having lost the race by a bad start in his Type 59 Bugatti, which he worked up to fifth position, ahead of Ashley’s Frazer Nash.
The Vintage Sports Cars Scratch Race, sub-divided into classes, was an outright victory for Giddings’ 1928 A.C.-engined Frazer Nash, from Ashley and Morten’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley.
Everything, including the great Napier-Railton, contested another 5-lap Handicap, and it was splendid to see Ellis well out in front on lap two in the Derby-Maserati, driving his f.w.d. machine round the corners very cleanly, arms out-stretched. He has persevered most praiseworthily with this difficult car, which in all its 29 years had never won a race. It now did so convincingly but due to an oversight on the part of the V.S.C.C. can still claim never to have seen the chequered flag! This was waved at Cottam’s E.R.A., which was actually 35.2 sec. behind. The Derby-Maserati even drew away from Salvage’s sports-engined 1951 G.P. Connaught which, from scratch, left nearly a lap later!
Stephen’s 4.3-litre-engined Alvis was scratch, The Napier-Railton failed to repeat its meteoric race of 1962, when, but for spinning (likewise a meteoric feat!) it would have won, and Binns just got home in spite of a broken gearbox on the Riley.
In the final 5-lap Handicap Jones’ nicely turned out slab-tailed J2 M.G., which has a J2 chassis and overbored engine blown at 7 lb./sq. in. with a Centric compressor, won from Abson’s Lagonda Rapier and Kain’s G.P. Bugatti. The field included the old Spikin’s Special Singer, the Parry Thomas-engined Scriven Special with mice-nibbled chassis and front axle, the mice even having had a go at the drums of the enormous contracting front brakes, a 1929 ex-Fronteras rebodied T.T. Alfa Romeo, and Hudson’s Montlhery M.G. Midget.
I hope that as the spectators wended their way out of Oulton Park, many of them in vintage cars, they reflected that at no other Club’s meetings can they see, hear and smell such nostalgic and varied racing. See you at Prescott on August 18th?
Richard Seaman Memorial Trophy Vintage Race:
N. Arnold-Forster (1922 Delage) – 72.56 m.p.h.
Richard Seaman Memorial Trophy Historic Racing Car Race:
The Hon. P. Lindsay (1936 E.R.A.) – 79.58 m.p.h.
Allcomers Scratch Race:
P. Waller (1936 E.R.A.) – 79.49 m.p.h.
Vintage Sports Car Scratch Race:
P. Giddings (1928 Frazer Nash) – 71.69 m.p.h.
Vintage & P.V.T. Handicap:
M.T. Joseland (1926 Frazer Nash) – 63.80 m.p.h.
Vintage & P.V.T. Handicap:
H.P. Hine (1924 Bentley) – 66.04 m.p.h.
G.N./Frazer Nash Handicap:
M. S. Geoghegan (1928 Frazer Nash/Aston Martin) – 67.52 m.p.h.
Vintage, P.V.T. and Historic Racing Car Handicap:
A.O. Ellis (1934 Derby-Maserati) – 72.25 m.p.h.
Vintage & P.V.T. Handicap:
M. H. Jones (1933 M.G.) – 68.85 m.p.h.
Congratulations to that unassuming driver, the Hon. Patrick Lindsay, on his hat-trick in the Seaman Trophy Race. His E.R.A. won in 1961 and 1962. This year the boost had been increased from about 12. to 20 lb./sq. in.
Out of ten excellent races, four were won by supercharged cars—and how often does that happen amongst modern racing cars?
Race meetings attract a fine variety of transporters but surely none more unusual than the 1929/30 rigid six-wheel Chevrolet caravan that tows the trailer bringing Gibson’s Frazer Nash to V.S.C.C. races, It should compete itself—in H.C.V.C. events!
What did the Historica Martini achieve this time? Non-starts with lnvicta and O.S.C.A. and last-to-finish with the Maserati. They really should cut down on Martini and try running on petrol…
Doc. Taylor’s ex-Hindle Type 59 Bugatti is a truly beautiful car. It runs on pump Cleveland Discol, starts easily with a flick of the side starting handle, and is altogether, according to George Burton, a tractable car which it is a joy to work on. It should win something before the V.S.C.C. season is over.
Outstanding entries were J. A. Blight’s two team Talbot 105s, in commendably original condition. GO52, entrusted to Peter Moores, has two huge close-together, dust-covered headlamps, and a plaque telling of its race placings in the hands of Cobb, Rose-Richards, etc. Martin Morris drove GO53 very fast, using lots of lock, but Moores’ car was slower. Did the big lamps hold you back, Peter?
H. G. Monk had two-stage Roots blowers on his modified, all-independently-sprung 1934 M.G. Midget and a pre-selector gearbox from a Q-type. The boost is 24 lb./sq. in., with approx. 6.8 to 1 c.r. The engine came from the ex-Samuel car. Monk hopes to run an original, but unblown, Q-type 2-seater M.G. in future V.S.C.C. events.
Carmichael’s ex-Sibbald Type 37A Bugatti has a vertical Centric supercharger. Kitchener was again using small 6.00 x 17 Avon racing tyres on the front wheels of the f.w.d. Alvis. Rowley had 1 1/2-litre blocks on the “2-litre” V12 Delage. Vincent’s Salmson was a virtually standard 1928 G.P. model. Moores’ 1930 Ulster Austin, with modern belt-drive Judson blower, broke a valve and non-started. D. K. Brown’s 1936 Riley has been improved to look much more “H. G. Dobbs,” the body sides being dictated by present-day scrutineers! Giddings’ Frazer Nash-A.C. was once the R.G.J. Nash Union-Special; now with 2-seater body. But Nash didn’t run it on castors.
Millar was looking forward to meeting Balmer’s Bentley in the second race. Alas, his 3-litre Twin Cain Sunbeam made horrid noises a few miles from Oulton on the way up, and had to be abandoned, and the Bentley holed a piston on its journey. Expensive!
John Teague drove his B.M.W.-engined Frazer Nash in the “Chain-Gang” dice, thus proving that the Hon. Editor of the Chain-Gang Gazette is also a racing motorist. When not engaged in the racing he was distributing this duplicated publication, which not only keeps Frazer Nash owners au fait with news items and the history of the marque but provides plenty of hints and useful information. The Spring issue contained an appreciation of the G.N. by E. Riddle—and he should know, being the only remaining regular user of a 2-cylinder G.N. Moreover, two further G.N. articles are promised in forthcoming issues.
Although the V.S.C.C. framed rules last January that stipulate that an Historic Racing Car is one of “a type raced” before 1953, the Seaman Trophies Races contained a G.N. Special built during 1953, a production-type Ulster Austin with belt-driven modern supercharger, a Frazer Nash with a sports engine more than twice the capacity of the original power unit, an M.G. with recent all-round independent suspension, pre-selector gearbox and 2-stage supercharging and a Talbot 105 built up since the war from the remains of a saloon and endowed with a war-time supercharger of a kind surely never seen on any racing Talbot before 1953! And is it really necessary to permit sports cars to run as historic racing cars?—there were at least a dozen in this year’s Seaman Trophies races.