The VSCC at Shelsley Walsh

Moffatt (ERA) makes FTD

The 73-year-old speed-hill-climb venue was invaded by the VSCC, in the nicest possible way, on July 8th. In practice Bill Summers rolled his 6C Maserati at the esses, fortunately without too much damage to man or machine. The ambulance was required again when someone was run over in the Paddock by the Connaught—what an honour, compared to being knocked down in an ordinary accident! One supposes, though, that this may cause “transfer to Paddock” admission to be reviewed—for the throngs do rather mill therein, and always have done—see Pictures of old Brooklands. (The Motoring Dog says she would be safer on a close leash than kids running free, but was told to stop yapping.) After a certain time anyone was able to walk unchallenged into the Shelsley Paddock…

Rain made something of a mockery of the racing cars’ second runs, those who improved their times doing so either by reason of virtuosity, like Martin Morris (ERA), Ian Preston (Bugatti) and Freddie Giles (GN SaIome). or because they made poor first runs, like Balmer (Bentley) and Mrs. Black (Monza Alfa Romeo). Doc. Taylor knocked a bit off in the damp, however, and Ron Footitt did exactly the same time on both his runs in the Cognac. Between times, Basil Davenport, one of Shelsley’s best-loved heroes, was driven up in his one-time BHD by Robin Parker, to a champagne presentation.

Nickalls and his wife dominated the Small Sports Car class, the Lagonda Rapier being Placed first and third (Mr. = 46.1 sec.; Mrs. = 48.0 sec.). Bayne-Powell’s K3 MG was second. Tarring took the handicap in his alloy-bodied, very nonchalant vintage Frazer Nash, which has a speedometer specially for the passenger’s eyes.

In the category for Bigger Sports Cars Jones drove with great verve in his Riley Very Special, based on the 2 1/2-litre Blue Streak, to win in 41.3 sec., from Roscoe’s purposeful, slab-tank, i.f.s., 4.3 Alvis Special (44.6 sec.) and Woodley’s Alvis Firefly Special (45.3 sec.). Threlfull’s vintage V8 Lancia, demoted In the programme to Lambda extraction, did a quiet, multi-cylinder ascent, its driver looking over its half-screen, to take the Handi-cap, but quickest vintage car was Monro’s GN/Ford, in spite of a clanky take-off and proverbially shedding a chain (48.0 sec.— equalling its handicap).

The exciting Hardy Special had the 1 1/2-litre Racing Car class tied up on a first run by Gray in 42.76 sec., which was also fastest vintage time. Gunn in his Montlhery MG was second (43.4 sec) and must also have taken the noise record, and third place went to Giles in Salome. Richmond secured a Handicap win in his Morgan/GN Salote. Here I should remark that the tradition of the Shelsley Special was upheld by this car, the Djinn, and Crosse’s curious s.v.-JAP-powered Grannie, the last-named complete with bulb horn and big vintage household tumbler ignition-switch.

The over-1 1/2-litre Racing Car class warmed things up, although no records were broken. Hamish Moffatt in ERA R3A picked his position carefully on the start-line, got away with a smoking off-side buck wheel, and put up FTD, in 38.8 sec. His second run took 39.2 sec., but before Stuart Saunders took the car up it had turned temperamental and blown a sparking-plug out. If you make FTD at Shelsley you cannot win the class, so it actually went to Guy Smith’s Frazer Nash/ Alvis (40.4 sec.), giving a determined Ian Preston second place in this Type 35B Bugaiti (40.5 sec.), third place going to Footitt (Cognac) in 40.6 sec.—twice! Preston had scored for the vintage cars, and Mrs. Black in the Monza Alfa Romeo was fastest lady (46.4 see.). Martin Dean in his road-equipped Type 51 Bugatti was best on Handicap and Martin Morris in R11IB took the ERA Trophy, although 0.1 sec. slower than Moffatt. Black did not run his 8CM Maserati, in deference to a protesting engine.

The “Back-Brake” class was well supported but was apparently decided on Handicap, as although he made best time and equalled his 1977 class-record. Arnold-Forster was unplaced. Benfield was lust, in the beautiful 1924 200-Mile Race Alvis, Liddell next in his Straker Squire, Arnold-Forster, third. As the pre-1915 monsters were such at feature of the pre-war VSCC scene at this and similar venues I am prompted to list all their times:

N. Arnold-Ponta (1912 5-litre Bugatti; 47.3 sec.

C. Glutton (1908 12-litre GP Itala) 53.5 sec.

R collings (1903 9.2-litre Mercedes) 54.4 sec.

J. Williamson (1908 12-litre GP Itala 54.8 sec.

M. Mavrogordato (1914 4.4-litre GP Opel) 57.7 sec.

The splendid showing of the stripped 1903 Sixty Mercedes will be noted, although the BHD, Wicksteed’s Alvis, Benfield’s Alvis, the Straker Squire and Sewell’s Type 13 Bugatti were faster than the Itala, but beaten by the o.h.c. chain-drive Bugatti. Incidentally, the Itala was running with a machined-down valve from a diesel engine, to replace one that had broken (4 in. diameter, 1 1/2 lb.). But note that most of these Edwardians trounced Rowley’s E-type 30/98 Vauxhall and the Riley sand-racer.

Noel Mavrogordato caused a bit of a stir in the immaculate white GP Opel, which he had driven up from Hampshire, by continuing past the finish-line at speed, on his first run. The old car shot into a field but fortunately showed excellent stability, so no harm resulted.

The Post-War Historic Racing Car class had but four contestants. It was won by Chapman’s Monza Lister-Jaguar (39.17 sec.), although in the rain this car only clocked 47.01 sec., to Moffatt’s second run in 39.2 sec. Walton’s Connaught did 41.18 sec. So pre-war prowess was endorsed handsomely. Then it was all over for another year, although the aged venue will be used for the RAC Hill-Climb Championship on August 13th, and an MAC Meeting on October 1st.

On July 8th, the Lancia MC had a special enclosure, to which Motor Sport contributed a road-test Gamma saloon. Several Lambdas, Aprilias and Betas assembled but the overall display was disappointing. But the previous weekend there was a very large gathering of these cars at Donnington to celebrate Lancia Motor Club and Lancia motor company atmiversaries.—W.B.