VSCC Silverstone Hawthorn meeting

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Brilliant sunshine, a packed grid, and the promise of the biggest field of Bugattis ever assembled for one race brought a huge crowd to Silverstone at the end of June for the annual tribute to Mike Hawthorn. This year the regular trophies were supplemented by some of the trophies won by Hawthorn himself, and these made an impressive display in the Press office beforehand.

A 6-lap scratch race which included the Bill Phillips Trophy started things off, and after a brief challenge from R.J Burrell in the Bentley Royce V12, A. Sparrowhawk surged into an ever-increasing lead with his 4.3-litre Alvis, relaxing a little to keep a couple of seconds in hand over Burrell at the finish. In the absence ot Roger Pilkington and Chris Drake, whose Talbot Lago and Maserati did not start, the Phillips Trophy went to A W Barker’s Lagonda V12, being the first standard bodied PVT car home.

After a 5-lap handicap, won in forceful style by John Sutton in the supercharged 2-litre 1924 Targa Florio-winning Mercedes, it was on to the Boulogne Trophy over 10 laps. With Bob Roberts’ Sunbeam Tiger non-starting, it was the Bentley Napier of Peter Morley and Jonty Williamson’s 10.5-litre LSR Delage which made up the big guns, with Harper’s rapid Morgan 3-wheeler at the other end of the scale also in contention. Nick Mason shared the front row with Morley, was out-dragged at the start by the 24-litre Napier engine. and could not reel Morley in until disaster struck the aero-engined car when an oil line gave way and smoke and oil covered the track. Behind, after Harper and Threlfall in succession had retired from third place. Williamson nearly followed as the Delage hit the oil, but he coped well to take over second, albeit finishing a full minute behind Mason. Only Howell’s Sunbeam was in touch with Williamson at the end.

After Roger Collings had scooped up the Napier Trophy in the next Handicap, with Neil Corner’s son Nigel (TT Sunbeam) making fastest Edwardian lap, there rolled out a truly magnificent field of Bugattis for the 10-lap event sponsored by Trebor. It looked as if the Schlurnf collection was being given an airing as 32 cars assembled in front of packed grandstands more reminiscent of Grand Prix day, sadly two reserves had to be denied their chance, to leave what was indeed, and by a large margin, the biggest all-Bugatti grid ever. Not surprisingly. the line-up and the race were headed by Neil Corner’s beautiful Type 59, followed by the 51s of Venables-Llewelyn and Geoffrey St. John. Nick Mason’s was the fastest of the 35Bs, and after Venables-Llewelyn retired Lord Raglan’s car, and Martin Morris also disappeared, he moved up to a final third, some way behind St. John and the flying Corner.

It was Venables-Llewelyn’s turn to streak Into the lead in the next race, the Pre-War All-comers, this time in his 2-litre E.R.A R4A, only to spin on lap two. This put Bruce Spollon’s E.R.A. ahead, but by lap four Rodney Felton had pushed his Alfa Romeo through to the front and Spollon was being pursued by Bill Morris in E R.A. R12B. This battle became very intense, while all the time Venables-Llewelyn was making up ground with some very dramatic sideways motoring, until Morris finally got through at Copse on lap seven. There was no chance of catching Felton with his 3.2-litre engine, but Morris’s petorrnance was all the more impressive for being in a 1500cc car. Venables-Llewelyn’s bravura got him into fourth place behind Spollon for several laps but at the flag Roger Sweet reclaimed that spot in the MG KN/K3.

One of the most admired cars in an admirable paddock, the lovely 5-litre Chevrolet-engined Scarab of American visitor Don Oresco made mincemeat of everyone in the Pre-61 Sports Car event, thundering into an unassailable lead from flag to flag. In the other race half a minute behind him, David Morris (Jaguar D) fended oft Nick Mason, this time in his Maserati Type 60.

Last of the big races, before the meeting closed with another handicap which went to Fletcher-Jones’ Lagonda, starred that regular pair of protagonists. Chris Mann and Anthony Mayman in their Lotus 16s. Corner’s Dino Ferrari scrapped its clutch on the first lap, so that the order was Mann, Rothschild (BRM P25), Mason (Maserati 250F), and Green (246 Dino). Mayman was back in seventh, but soon began to carve a way through the traffic, finally disposing of Rothschild on lap four and getting down to the chase. It took three laps to get in touch with Mann, and the scrap lasted several more until Mann had to give best to his rival. The fast and impressive BRM held on to third ahead of Green’s Ferrari, while another exciting argument over fifth saw Mason getting more and more sideways trying to stay ahead of Oresco’s twin-nostril 250F. Finally this Maserati feud was settled in favour of the American Bill Morris in E.R.A R12C was first amongst the pre-war cars, and was chosen Driver of the Day. – G.C.

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