Veteran to classic: VSCC Silverstone

Mayman benefit

Full grandstands, sunshine and an entry of 222 drivers ensured another successful day’s racing at Silverstone on June 34.

First on the agenda was an aerobatic display by Vic Norman’s Stearman, the rider on the top wing being none other than a very courageous Rob Barker, a former VSCC President now on a new high pedestal –which must have been more exciting than driving his Renault 45 or Lafitte light car . . .

Some of the anticipated cars failed to appear, such as Judy Hogg’s ex-Seaman Delage, the Norm Olsen and Felton’s Alfa Romeo (due to water leaks); nor was Corner running his Dino Ferrari. But the first race was interesting because it was won by Anthony Mayman’s new toy, a replica of disguised Grand Prix 6C Maserati driven by Varzi in the 1935 Mille Miglia, constructed of many spare 6C bits. It won the Phillips Trophy at 77.1 mph, chased home by Sayers’ blown Riley and Spollon’s Alfa Romeo.

Tim Llewellyn then ran right away from the rest of the field to win the Boulogne Trophy for the fifth time in the blue 8.4-litre plastic-bodied Bentley, at 77.28. Peter Morley in the Napier-Bentley (its 24-litre engine smoking profusely) was gradually closing the gap, taking Sir John Venables-Llewellyn’s Bugatti going into the chicane on lap eight, but was still 13 seconds in arrears at the finish.

Last year’s winner Bob Roberts seemed less happy in the irrepressible Sunbeam “Tiger”, hemmed in for a time by others, but was fourth. Cardy’s Bugatti pipped the Barnato-Hassan by 0.8 sec, and Caroline’s Morgan (spinning its back wheel so violently from the line that rubber smoke rose in the cockpit) left Harper’s well behind. Ghosh was out again in the Vauxhall, and Howell’s 16-cylinder Bugatti managed three laps.

A 4½- Invicta took Lacquer to win a 84.64 mph in a five-lap handicap, from a Bugatti and an A7, the 1908 GP Itala taking the Edwardian Trophy.

Then came a lively ten-lap all-Riley race, an entry of 49 strictly seeded to 30 by Barbara Farquhar. It produced a race-long, place-swapping duel between Barrie Gillies in the 2-litre Dixon Riley, Mark Gillies in the 2-litre Treen car and Dunn’s 1½-litre. They finished in that order, 9.2 sec covering all three with the rest nowhere; the winner’s speed was 73.04 mph. The White Riley lost its nearside wheel, which bounced high in the air by the stands – it could have been disastrous, but it wasn’t.

In the following five-lap scratch race Fletcher-Jones’ Lagonda Rapier clung to Pattinson’s Talbot-Lago but lost by 0.7 sec, the big car averaging 70.74 mph. Mrs Hogg’s Aston Martin was a poor third.

Mayman again proved his ability in the Pre-War Allcomers scratch race. He experienced cramp in his left foot on the way out to the start, and left way down the grid in ERA R4D. But after three laps he had chopped through to second place, going on to win by 16.1 sec from the accomplished Ricketts in Sally Marsh’s ERA R1B to take the Christie’s sponsored Hawthorn Spanish GP Trophy.

It was nice to see Jaye bring the 2-litre Alta home in third place. Hannen’s 6C Maserati was fourth, chased by the Giron Alvis, but Colbourne’s Maserati caught fire and was put out, in both senses. Felton had a drive in the Mayman sports Maserati which had won the first race, and Doug Marr finished (last) in the restored 4.7-litre V8 GP Maserati, looking very smart in the blue colour-scheme in which Etancelin used it to win the 1936 Pau Grand Prix as a private entry.

F Venables had no trouble in winning the following five-lap handicap at 71.1 mph in his white blown 1100 MG, after Seber’s Wolseley Hornet had retired from the lead. Hulbert’s blown Alvis Special was second and Watney’s 2-litre Brooke Riley third.

Mayman’s driving in the 15-lap hawthorn Trophy Race was as crisp as the engine note of his Bruce Halford Lotus 16, and he went on to score his third win of the day, and his fourth in this event, beating Chris Mann’s sister car by 6.1 sec, at 88.99 mph. he also set the quickest lap of the afternoon, at 92.13 mph.

The only other car in the hunt was Harper’s P25 BRM, well ahead of the Hon A Rothschild’s P25, which looked less smooth through Woodcote and apparently had a spin. The Connaughts of Chris Mayman and de Cadenet were fifth and sixth, followed by Merrick’s 2½ -litre Dino Ferrari. Ludovic Lindsay drove the difficult two-speed Turtle-Drilling Indy Special to ninth place, but had been lapped by lap nine. 

I believe Mayman got the Driver Of The Day Award, but it would have been fun if this had gone to Foster, who had twice spun his Montlhery MG in clouds of rubber dust without stalling it. At Brooklands he would have been called before the stewards, but the VSCC spectators applauded him!

Two more five-lap races remained, a scratch event and a handicap. The first was won by Chris Mayman (Connaught) at 81.93 mph, in a processional finish from Sayer’s and Watney’s Rileys; the second went to Buglar’s 4¼-litre Lagonda at 64.96mph, in a 0.3 photo-finish from Payne’s Riley and the 41/2-litre Lagondas of Whenman and Morley.

The Bentley which had been keptbusy as a course-car was one of the RC series 41/2-litres built up form spare parts by Nobby Clarke after the old Bentley company had closed down. WB