Veteran to classic: VSCC Shelsley Walsh

The VSCC had its day on Shelsley’s age-old hill on July 1, with the weather holding up and a better entry than last year.

Competition was keen for a new vintage course record. Bruce Spollon with the ex-Earl Howe ERA had set it at 35.32sec in 1985 but on his first run, scorning removal of the silencer form R8C’s exhaust pipe, reduced it to 35.11 sec. Anthony Mayman in the very appropriate ex-Raymond Mays ERA R4D could only make 35.61 sec. On their second runs, however, the order was reversed, Mayman clocking 35.06 sec. and a Spollon 35.57 sec., so the honour rests with R4D. Guy Smith in the very potent Alvis-Frazer Nash turned in a second run in 36.60 sec, but was beaten by Rod Jolley who made 36.32 sec in the long-wheelbase Giron-Alvis. 

Shelsley Specials are getting thin on the Worcestershire hill, but Gallie brought out Kenneth Neve’s one-time GN-Ariel KN Special with two Square-Four-1000 motor-cycle engines in-line, driving by chains to a Burman gearbox and the back axle, the frame being mostly GN. After getting the second engine to function and much push-starting, the KN made a good ascent. 

Meanwhile Neve’s daughter Judy had got her hands on the 1914 TT Humber for the first time since her father bought it 50 years ago, as he was indisposed, and made a good showing with it. President Collings’ Sixty Mercedes beat Tony Jones’ Napier Sixty and Smith ran the 1916 Indy Sunbeam, a reminder that Bird broke the hill-record in 1921 in 52.2 sec. with a similar, but single-seater, Sunbeam. 

Leyland ran his sports GN with push-rods prodding two overhead valves per cylinder. Ann Shoosmith was quick enough to have a few moments at the Esses in her immaculate HM Bentley-bodied 3-4½ litre. Ghosh was back in full form in Craig Collings’ new 8.1 litre Bentley. Konig ran a 36/220 Mercedes-Benz with brassed radiator and Miss Moss an S-type Invicta. 

Donnan’s Frazer Nash, from Australia for the Bolzano raid, did some opposite-lock motoring, which reminds us that the event was graced by a large parade of Frazer Nashes after JH Roberts, the Midland AC Chairman, and Tony Matthews had opened the course in a couple off smart Austin Healeys. Don Parker’s Bentley had slight rear axle tramp at take-off in deference to its Rolls-Royce Phantom III engine, Jackson’s Frazer Nash-BMW hit the bank in a cloud of dust and Scaldwell’s Riley Special had a Bean radiator. 

The only failures were King’s Talbot 105, which stopped at the Crossing, and Bronson’s 2.6-litre Riley Special, which overheated at the start and whose big frontal blower was too much for the engine’s internals beyond the finish.