A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
V.S.C.C. Oulton Park Race Meeting (June 21st)
This popular event was as well supported as usual, with 151 entries, and was run off in sunshine and showers on a rather cold June afternoon. Undoubtedly the afternoon was improved by the legendary Mme. Elisabeth Junek all the way from Czechoslovakia, who although she had not driven a Bugatti since about 1930, a make in which she finished 5th in the tough 1928 Targa Florio, made some fast laps in Bernard Kain’s Type 35B, which she drove as if it were her own car, and started races, presented winners’ wreaths, planted kisses on their cheeks and generally entered very fully into the atmosphere of vintage Oulton.
The programme opened with a 4-lap handicap for vintage and p.v.t. cars. Robinson’s shortened Alvis Firefly Special with supercharger came through the field well, winning easily from Fletcher-Jones’ Lagonda Rapier with pointed-tail body and Newton’s well known Meadows H.R.G. which was going great guns from scratch.
This race produced two “new” vintage racers. J. W. Cameron, coming from Bradford and thus inspired by the Brooklands achievements of the late Felix Scriven, had converted a front-braked artillery-wheeled Austin Twenty into a racing two-seater, with flattened underslung back springs, twin S.U.s, and a barrel-tailed two-seater body, although its brass radiator is at present uncowled. Not to be outdone, A. F. Pollard was mounted on a sort of board-track 1923 side-valve six-cylinder 4.7-litre Studebaker with huge polished-copper bolster tank behind the seats (although there was a normal tank at chassis level as well), a short cowl over the radiator, a ribbon-speedometer, contracting back-wheel brakes, Gabriel snubbers, 39 x 4 U.S. Royal tyres, a long central gear lever which shed its knob in the race and a body, if the plate was to be believed, by Virginio Peracia. There were other inscriptions on this car which we do not admit to understanding, and its STP-overalled crew imparted a touch of Zborowski to the proceedings.
Another 4-lap Handicap came next. It was a walk-over for Blishen’s presentable 1936 2.7-litre Alvis, which led all the way from the 70-sec. mark, Chris Winder, who had now got his Riley Nine Special to behave, following the Alvis in second place throughout. McEwen’s 1½-litre Riley came up into third place on lap three, which Balmer’s Le Mans 3-litre Bentley had occupied on lap two, Stephen’s 4.3-litre Alvis, which accomplished fastest lap at 72.76 m.p.h., fourth. Unfortunately Merritt, leading on points in the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest, had a contretemps, being towed in minus its n/s rear wheel. J. A. E. Marsh, in a 1936 2-litre Alvis, which must be the worst example of uncouth special ever permitted to disgrace the V.S.C.C. scene, also required a tow-rope to regain the Paddock.
The Richard Seaman Historic Trophy Race was rather diminished by suffering nine non-starters and when Bernard Kain driving his Type 51 Bugatti with yellow wheels retired from second place with magneto and exhaust pipes adrift after a mere two of the ten laps, it was left to Martin Morris to give a demonstration of impeccable driving in the 2-litre RIIB ERA., which not only ran off with the race but set a new class lap-record of 83.11 m.p.h. Waller pursued Morris at a discreet distance in his white 1½-litre E.R.A. (the V.S.C.C.’s “eternal second”) and the Hon. Patrick Lindsay was a good third in Mudd’s Monza Alfa Romeo, his own monoposto having broken a drive-shaft in practice. Alone in fourth place came Marsh’s ex-Cotton E.R.A. and behind him Blight was driving the stripped Talbot BGH 23 on its understeering limit, keeping it effectively ahead of such noted sports cars as Smith’s 3½-litre Alvis-powered Frazer Nash, Brydson’s 4.3-litre Alvis, McCosh’s 4½-litre Bentley, Readey’s six-cylinder Riley, Caimes’ 4.3-litre Alvis, not to mention racers like Peter Moores’ ex-Clifford Alta, Gahagan’s E.R.A. and the Pacey-Hassan, the Invincible Talbot, doing in 1969 what it used to do as a current production model—read all about it in the forthcoming “Blight Bible”. Absom rolled his Lagonda Rapier without serious damage to himself, interesting but ineffectual entries were the 6CM and 4CM Maseratis of Fielding and Margulies, while the 24-litre Napier-Sunbeam was also, alas, another car in trouble with its preselector gearbox. After some delay while the ambulance went round the course, a huge field of vintage and thoroughbred motorcycles had their 4-lap race, unfortunately as rain began to fall, which put one rider into the Old Hall ditch, but unhurt. Broom’s 1939 Triumph, Cramp’s 1929 Velocette and Luton’s 1939 Velocette dominated the race, in that order, Broom lapping at 75.64 m.p.h.
The 10-lap Richard Seaman Vintage Trophy Race promised excitement. Certainly it opened with Moffatt making a lightning start in Wall’s single-seater Type 35B Bugatti, closely pursued by Corner in his immaculate Grand Prix Type 35B. Both drivers shared fastest lap, at 77.41 m.p.h., but Corner retired with over-heating after two laps, when fractionally in the lead, leaving Moffatt to run away from Kain in his Type 35B which he had prised away from Mme. Junek. The race lost interest as the leaders strung out but the closing laps saw a fine battle for third place between McCosh’s Bentley, Bergel’s Bugatti and Hine’s Bentley, which now has a 4½-litre engine. They finished close up in that order, Bergel hampered by a loose magneto on the Type 35B. Then there was the interesting sight of Barry Clark’s Ulster Austin up the long tail of Farquhar’s ex-Dixon Riley Nine, although the handicap section of the race went to Ward’s 1930 Austin Seven, from Clark.
The 12-lap Allcomers Scratch Race for historic racing cars was fought out in heavy rain, the order among the leaders not varying and the winner, Neil Corner in the 1959 G.P. Aston Martin, lapping at only 2.2 sec. faster than Moffatt in the previous (dry) race. It looked as if Boorer’s Lotus 16 was a comfortable second but he had jumped the start and the serious-minded V.S.C.C. had docked him a minute. So the actual second was Pilkington in a Cooper-Bristol, who came up well to occupy this place after four laps. Brewer’s Aston Martin was behind him until it retired with engine trouble, and then Lord Clydesdale’s 250F Maserati and Cottam’s Connaught raced in close company, Cottam passing on lap 10 to take third place. Behind Clydesdale came Curtis’ Cooper-Bristol, followed by the A.F.M., Waller’s ERA. and Morris’ E.R.A. which had lost time while the driver was equipped with a vizor. The Tec-Mec was in and out of the pits, where signals were given to one driver by a blonde with her umbrella up.
The meeting concluded with three more 4-lap Handicaps, one of which replaced the traditional Frazer Nash/G.N. race (conserving ’em for Bolzano!) in which the A.B.C. G.N. was second, Pam Arnold-Forster’s 1921 G.N. third. There had been an opening parade of the Concours d’Elegance cars headed by Bell’s imposing white Hispano-Suiza with unusual open body, while the 12/50 Alvis Register had a special enclosure to mark their 21st birthday. What fun it all is!—W. B.