Veteran — Edwardian — Vintage
A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
THE V.S.C.C. OULTON PARK RACE MEETING (June 25th)
PERHAPS the best of the Vintage S.C.C. race meetings, this fixture fell on the last Saturday in flaming June, so naturally it poured with rain most of the day. This did not spoil the sport, and some very good racing took place.
Practice produced some unfortunate eliminations. Seddon's Lagonda Rapier collided with a bank and became lozenge-shaped, its driver luckily being thrown clear and uninjured. Cecil Glutton's 10 1/2-litre V12 Delage was not ready in time, nor was Corner's 250F Maserati, which is the ex-Colin Crabbe car. Indeed, there was rather a dearth of fast cars, for Miller's 250F Maserati was absent due to its owner's social commitments, Spero's because its driver had lost his driving licence and with it his competition licence, appeals to the R.A.C. being of no avail, although in these days of "three convictions in three years" loss of one is less pertinent to confiscation of the other than was the case pre-war.
Then the E.R.A. "Remus" had valve seat trouble and Doc Taylor's 3.3 Bugatti was not yet over its gearbox maladies. However, after the Concoura d'Elegance entry had paraded, including a road-equipped Chain Gang Frazer Nash complete with side-screens and two immaculate G.P. Bugattis, the cars came out for the first 4-lap handicap. The handicap, as was the situation in most of these races, was lenient, Berrisford's polished aluminium 12/50 duck's-back Alvis having a walk-over from Jardine's Brescia Bugatti and the "750 Special" Austin 7, endowed with a roll-over bar, of young Lockhart. The new owner of the Abrahams single-seater Singer Junior, R. J. Kimber, wearing full racing apparel, must have been delighted to come home fourth in his first race. A splendid sight at the start had been Berrisford, in his stripped duck's-back Alvis, getting away in company with Glover's beetle-back 12/50, also in polished aluminium (although there are degrees of polish!), both displaying hare mascots on their radiators.
On a slippery track the Frazer Nash/G.N. handicap took place, four laps being just insufficient for the faster cars to come through, so that Boyce's 1928 Meadows-engined 'Nash won from Smith's 1932 Meadows, third place going to Giles' 1931 Meadows-engined car. Arnold-Foster fought some alarming slides and most of the entry were cornering in typical solid-axle, high-geared-steering style.
So to the first of the Richard Seaman Memorial Trophy Races, that for historic racing cars, over 12 laps. Peter Waller was in winning form in his white E.R.A. R9B and ran right away from Kergon in Bill Morris' E.R.A., Mrs. Waller, in striped three-piece rainsuit, signalling him on each lap. These positions, together with Crabbe in third place in his new, very posh ex-Nuvolari preselector-gearbox 1934 2.9 Maserati straight-eight, formerly in the Monza Museum, held throughout, but interest was intense as Hutchings' 328 B.M.W. closed right up on Crabbe, pressing him unmercifully in the last four laps, to finish fourth, sports car 0.8 sec. behind the Grand Prix car! Murray's E.R.A. made fastest lap at 70.49 m.p.h. hut had to stop to borrow a vizor, Readey's Riley T.T. Sprite punctured a front tyre on the last lap and Brewer's E.R.A. was towed in, while Summers' monoposto 2.9 Alfa Romeo and Marsh's E.R.A. also retired, the former unfortunately throwing a rod.
Carmichael's l.h.d. 328 B.M.W. came up on the final lap to take the next handicap race from Schofield's 4 1/2-litre Lagonda, McCall's long-tailed 4 1/2-litre Invicta giving third place to Askew's blown 1750 Alfa Romeo when it spun at Lodge Corner.
The Seaman Trophy Race for vintage racing cars came next and a big field got away on the flooded track for this exciting 10-lap scratch contest. Kain, leader in the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest, was in fine form, his Type 35B Bugatti being unchallenged from start to finish, although an oil-pipe came adrift right at the end, necessitating a quick return to the paddock, so that this cheerful victor had to make his lap d'honneur sitting on the back of a Bentley!
St. John's Type 35B Bugatti finished second, nearly 10 sec. later, but it was left to Hamish Moffat to provide the excitement. He got up to third place by half-distance in his Type 35 Bugatti, which he was driving with his usual concentration and dedication (and still on beaded-edge tyres). In spite of spinning twice, on one occasion, at Lodge, having to leap out to restart his stalled straight-eight on the handle, which let both Footit's A.C.-G.N. and Sowden's enormous 8 1/2-litre Bentley pass him, he contrived to finish third—Bugattis 1, 2, 3. Sowden drove courageously and very fast on the wet course, pipping Footit, who was also going magnificently, on the ninth lap. Kain made fastest lap, 72.13 m.p.h., and was the only driver to be timed at over 100 m.p.h. along the back straight, although the other "placed" Bugattis were not much slower.
By now everyone was very, very wet, yet the 10-lap All-Comers' Scratch Race promised well. Lucas was expected to go well in the ex-Fangio 250F Maserati and Brewer should have been well up in the 3-litre G.P. Aston Martin. In fact, it was Cowan who led from flag-fall and was never challenged, his Connaught winning at 69.25 m.p.h. Behind, Merrick was driving a notably calm, fast race in Murray's E.R.A., to come home second, 13 sec. behind the post-war car. Moreover, Merrick had disposed of Lindsay's 250F Maserati,. which admittedly was suffering from snatching brakes while Waller brought his E.R.A. in in fourth place, ahead of Balmer's Cooper-Bristol and Lucas' Maserati, the latter drifting his corners in true Fangio style. So, and on a slippery course, the pre-war cars had not been made ridiculous by the post-war machinery. Apparently Merrick found Dunlop R5s to his liking, whereas Waller was less happy on racing Dunlops; his E.R.A. certainly looked a handful, whereas Merrick's was noticeably more controllable.
The start of this All-Comers' Scratch Race was dramatic, because Salvage stalled his Connaught on the grid. His van was rushed out to the pit road to re-start it, Salvage reversed back at high speed and, although the one-minute signal had been displayed, set about getting to his place on the grid. Tim Carson ran across and waved him to the back of the grid, whereupon the flag fell and a savage Salvage shot away, hit McCosh's Bentley, rode up over its rear wheel, broke a half-shaft, and spun into the barrier, miraculously missing, or being missed by, everyone else. Starts are dramatic this year! And what a brief race this driver had.
Two group handicaps and a normal handicap remained. The first was a gift to Jardine's type 22 Bugatti. Barr's 4.3-litre Alvis Special won the handicap from Peters' Soda Squirt, although boiling when it got back: to the Paddock, but Lord Dunleath should have had it in the bag had his 1930 "Craigantlet" Frazer Nash with 328 B.M.W. (or do I mean Bristol?) engine, not lost a chain passing the pits on lap three—it has a nice alloy body with tail shaped like that of the 1924 Anzani-engined sports Crouch. St. John spun at Lodge and hit the bank backwards, without much damage to his Bugatti. Finally, the handicappers were kind again, and allowed Hine to romp home in the last race, his big Lagonda 29 sec. ahead of Wadman's Speed 25 Alvis.
Shouldn't Salvage try his hand at driving tests—he is so good at reversing?
The duty of course-patrol was shared between Glutton's 5-litre Bugatti saloon and Broadhead's very fine 30/98 Vauxhall Wensum.
A. W. Wragg ran a clever home-built copy of the "works" side-valve Austin 7 single-seater, but not, of course, with offset prop-shaft or tubular front axle. It had a magneto ignition engine with twin 45° S.U.s, hydraulic brakes, a transverse-acting gear lever, a good replica of the pre-war filler cap, etc., on a 1928 chassis. Much nicer than most of the supposedly "vintage" Austin 7s!
Are belt-driven cabin-blowers correct on pre-war cars? J. P. Goodacre's 1934 Q-type M.G. single-seater had one driven by a toothed belt. . .
After years of non-starting Anthony Brooke got his ex-David Brown Vauxhall Villiers to go effectively, although it was running so rich that the plugs had to he changed by mechanic Bill Crosland two minines before the start of the Vintage Seaman Trophy Race. Starting from the hack of the grid, the Vauxhall went well, by no means disgracing itself on this rare appearanee.
The timing along the back straight credited the race winners with the following speeds: Berrisford (Alvis), 75 m.p.h.; Boyce (Frazer Nash), 78.6 m.p.h.; Waller (E.R.A.), 106.6 m.p.h.: Carmichael (B.M.W.), 90.5 m.p.h.; Kain (Bugatti), 101 m.p.h.; Gottam (Connaught), 105.9 m.p.h.; Jardine (Bugatti). 73.2 m.p.h.; Barr (Alvis), 99 m.p.h.; Hine (Lagonda), 86.6 m ph. Fastest time was recorded by Lucas' Maserati at 107.9 m.p.h., followed by Cottarn, at 107.1 m.p.h. Slowest seems to have been Footit (A.C.-G.N.) at 41.91 m.p.h. in the second race (but obviously he was in trouble), while Whittaker's Austin 7 clocked 47.06 m.p.h. and Boyd's G.N.-Alvis 47.8 m.p.h. The Singer Junior racer was much better, at 62.05 m.p.h.
The tyre battle was evident even at Oulton Park, because apart from the benefit Dunlop R5s apparently conferred on Merrick's E.R.A., part of the success achieved by the 328 B.M.W.s, and Hutchings' ability to press the G.P. Maseratis so hard, was owed to the excellent grip of their Avon Turbospeed tyres on the wet course.
Oulton Park really is a pleasant place and the V.S.C.C. meeting there is very efficiently conducted.