VSCC June Silverstone

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Variety club

Another splendid vintage Silverstone event occupied many of us on the last Saturday in June, when the Hawthorn Meeting took place over the club circuit.

There was sponsorship from Christies, FGF (Aston) and Plessey Microwave (one person wondered if the last-named was just the pep-up his old car needed), but no logos on cars or drivers — yet! A parade of Alfa Romeos, led by the 1927 RLSS 22/90hp James Young tourer acting as the course-car, and an Alfa Romeo race added to the variety which is always an attraction of such racing.

First they raced in a six-lap scratch race, Summerfield’s blown Avon-Bentley winning easily from Sparrowhawk’s big 4.3-litre Alvis, and Grist’s Monza Alfa which took the Bill Philips Trophy. The Bentley-powered Avon Standard lapped at 76.77mph. It was nice that Schellenberg ran his 41/2-litre Bentley, but he jumped the start . . .

Morley in the 24-litre Napier-Bentley appeared to have the ten-lap Boulogne Trophy Race buttoned up from the off, but he too had jumped the start. So Nick Mason’s 35B Bugatti took the flag, having lapped fastest at 78.55 mph. Morley was second ahead of Cardy’s 35B, with Harper’s Aero Morgan a brave fourth.

The following scratch race, this time over five laps, produced much the same result, the Avon-Bentley winning at a slightly slower pace. Sparrowhawk improved his placing in the Motor Sport Brooklands Trophy with second place, with Smith’s Nurburg Frazer Nash third.

The five-lapper for light cars, Edwardians and others was impossible to follow due to the credit-lap system, but was won by Roger Collings’ evergreen 1903 Mercedes, beating Rowe’s Lagonda and Sharpe’s TT Replica (not that sort!) Frazer Nash. The Mercedes lapped at over 60, the ‘Nash at 72.36 mph. The enthusiastic Valentine Lindsay drove the ex-Corner 1914 GP Opel.

The ten-lap Alfa race was great stuff, especially as all agreed to use correct-size tyres. Wessells’ Tipo B lost a crownwheel tooth in practice, so he drove Chris Mann’s Monza; and, as one of the organisers, Felton took his Monza (only to retire) and gave his 3.2-litre monoposto to Mayman. Mayman led for eight laps, but the magneto got tired and Black’s ex-Charles Martin 3.2-litre Tipo B wore him down, to win by 1.9 seconds. Black also recorded the fastest lap. Charles Mann was third in his MultiUnion. He found it difficult to drive, but how nice it was to see it out for the first time since he raced it in California and at Brands! It was 32.4 seconds quicker than de Cadanet’s 2.9-litre P3, and was also followed in by the Monzas of Harper, Grist and Sir Venables-Llewellyn, the latter in Felton’s replica-bodied car.

Felton was back in his monoposto Alfa for the exciting but processional 10-lap Allcomers race; he failed to hold off Mayman in ERA R4D by 10.4 seconds, the ex-Mays car lapping fastest at 87.31 mph. Ludovic Lindsay brought the ERA “Remus” home third, ahead of Black’s Alfa Romeo. The Alfas, now on 16in tyres, had lapped 4.49 mph and 2.43 mph faster than before.

The pre-1961 sports-car race was contested by some fine cars at which the VSCC would once have looked askance. Backer’s 1959 rear-engined Cooper-Monaco (lapping fastest at 82.11 mph) and Nick Mason’s “birdcage” Maserati, cocked a snoot at the Jaguars, Harper’s C-type coming third, ahead of the HWM Jaguar, HWM 1. Nick was lucky to be a runner, as his Maserati had not been improved in the practice shunt — Bob Roberts spun the V12 4-litre Sunbeam “Tiger”, and a king pin was damaged badly enough to eliminate it.

The “big” event was the Hawthorn Memorial Trophy race over 15 laps. Sadly, Mason’s V16 BRM had broken a piston and his substituted 250F Maserati failed to last a lap, breaking a drive-shaft coupling. The Hon A Rothschild dressed opus usual as if for a long struggle, but his P25 BRM failed to repeat its April success.

Neil Corner in the 1960 3-litre Dino Ferrari drove magnificently, running away from the Lotus 16s of Mayman and Mann which could do nothing about it, crisp though they sounded. Harper’s was first pre-war car home, R4D well in front of Charles’ C-type Connaught. Corner lapped at 93.97 mph, but so easy was his victory that this was 2.97 mph (1.4 sec) slower than his class record. Harper took the Ashley Trophy. A five-hip scratch race and a five-lap handicap concluded a busy and enthralling day. WB