Veteran to classic -- VSCC

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VSCC at Mallory Park

The VSCC had a successful race meeting at Mallory Park on July 7th, the tight little 1.35 mile circuit where spectators can see the racing almost the entire way round with the lake as a picturesque backdrop, well suited to the older cars, on this the VSCC’s first visit. The Paddock is rough surfaced and one has to wait until the track is clear to enter it, as no vehicle bridge is provided, but otherwise a good place to go racing. The cars go by so fast and close to the Press box that it is difficult to read their numbers, and when I went to watch behind the armco at the start-line, with a Track pass, Mr Pownall, the RAC Steward, summarily ejected me; such treatment has not been experienced at other circuits. In retrospect, Mr Pownell’s concern for my safety is very touching, but embarrassing, seeing that he disregarded that of others who soon occupied the same position, watched from the outside of a fast corner protected only by the same arrnco and piles of new looking tyres, or, if they represented famous Studios, were allowed to walk about the circuit unmolested, with no protection at all! What have I done to deserve such touching consideration?

But to the racing! First, a six lap Scratch Race, won by Hannis’ Speed-20 Alvis Special at 70 mph (the official results ignore decimal places), from Robinson in Roberts’ 1.7 Riley Special and Fletcher-Jones’ Lagonda Rapier Special. Then the 12 lap vintage racing cars Scratch Race, which produced the expected furious duel between Boswell’s Bequet-Delage and Caroline’s Morgan — “David v Goliath!” The bigger car won by 3.2 sec, at 78 mph, with Harper’s Morgan upholding Malvern honour 10.7 sec in arrears of the faster Morgan, ahead of Stretton’s tail-out Frazer Nash.

The pre-war sports cars raced next, over ten laps. Summerfield had his Avon-Bentley really wound up, doing fastest lap and holding off Stanley Mann’s Bentley by 6.6 sec, blown 4-1/2-litre beating non-blown 8.2-litres, Bronson’s blown Riley Special lasted the distance, its lead only lost in the closing stages, Spiers’ 4.3 Alvis 0.4 sec. in front in third place, all three credited with an average of 73mph. Sparrowhawk’s 4.3 Alvis retired on the grid. There followed a most exciting 12-lap Scratch Race for the pre-war racing cars, which Anthony Mayman dominated, naturally, in ERA R4D, with Chris Mayman in ERA AJM 1 passing Jaye’s Alta into second place on lap three, to remain there to the flag, losing by 9 sec to “The Master”. Jaye was out after seven laps, Ure in Mann’s ERA R9B taking third place, followed by David Morris (R11B), Stephen (R12C), ERAs in the first five places, spaced out by the end. Rileys (Davie and B Gillies) took the next two places and Bronson’s Riley this time lasted for eight laps. Spollon (ERA R8C) retired from 4th place after seven laps, Ricketts (R11B) after five. The winner’s speed was 81 mph with fastest lap at 86 mph.

This excellent race was followed by a six lap Handicap won by Berens’ A7 at 65 mph, from Monk’s touring Alvis Special and Bellenie’s 3-3 Talbot Special. After that Sir John Venables-Llewelyn was never headed in winning the Williams Trophy Race (10 lap Scratch, for two-seater GP cars) for the 8th time in Lord Raglan’s red T51 Bugatti. Interest was increased because Anthony Mayman was Bugatti-mounted, and this superb driver brought his T51 home second, 6.4 seconds after John had received the chequered flag, after a stirring duel with Julian Majzub’s T35B. The leaders did 80 and 79 mph respectively. Boswell was outclassed but had the big Bequet in 4th place, just 0.6 sec in front of David Heimann’s 35B. Alfa Romeo colours were carried by Paul Grist and his Monza finished 7th, behind Mark Gillies in the White Riley, at 76 mph, ahead of five more Bugattis and the other Gillies’ Riley.

The post-war racing cars next had their 12 lap race, Stretton’s rear-engined Cooper beating Mayman’s Lotus 16, coming within inches of the armco as it swept into the pits straight. The Coopers of Porter and Payne were next home. Mann’s ERA was blackflagged for a trailing oil tank strap. In contrast a big field of Edwardians made interesting circuitry in their race, although a scratch contest with a field varying from the winning 1908 12-litre GP Itala to Walker’s 600cc Le Zebre cannot be taken too seriously. Gould’s 998cc Tamplin expired, leaving the maestros to stream home, in the order Itala, Th Schneider, 1908 Napier, 1903 Mercedes and the Bugatti “Black Bess”. Cohn’s little 1903 Mercedes non-started with a twisted gearbox shaft.

The day ended with two five lappers, Handicap and Scratch, won respectively by Blakeney-Edwards’ Frazer Nash and Caroline’s Morgan. The fastest race was that won by Martin Stretton’s rear-engined Cooper at 89 mph.

We seem to have had a Ford flavour recently and an interesting one in the Mallory Paddock was Holt’s single-seater Model-A with original galvanised-iron body, Rutherford push-rod eight overhead-valve head, fed by twin d/d Winfield carburettors on a four-port manifold, an Overland Whippet radiator, Franklin steering-box and hydraulic front brakes. J Summerfield’s Riley hybrid had an extraordinarily low chassis with tubular front axle on 1/4-elliptic springs and a twin-SU Riley 9 engine. Points to date in the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy contest: Anthony Mayman, 134 pts; Dave Caroline 70 pts; Alex Boswell, 49 pts. Next round: Cadwell Park, August 25th. — WB

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ERA Explanation

Last month we got ERAs that ran at the first VSCC Silverstone Meeting of 1991 a bit tangled. It is RI1B which in the 1950s was shared by A Jeddere-Fisher and Douglas Hull. The ex-Hamish Moffatt ERA is R3A, which he shared with Nigel Arnold Forster. Hamish did not sell it to the present Japanese owner, but to Chris Mann. It was Mann who passed it on to Tetsuya Takahashi, who fortunately gets Tony Merrick to drive it for him in VSCC events. While putting things right, the racing Model-T Ford described last month has its rear shock absorbers mounted transversely, not the front ones, as a photograph confirms.– WB

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The Things They Say …

… “The first ever Grand Prix to be held in Britain was at Donington on Saturday October 5, 1935. .” From a Business Expansion Limited hand-out about the sale by Coys of Kensington of the Tipo B monoposto Alfa Romeo which won the Donington GP that year, signed by Caroline Potts. When will it be remembered that the first race with the title of British Grand Prix was held at Brooklands in 1926 and repeated in 1927, both races won by Delage cars? In fact the lady later capitulated to the extent of saying that the Donington race was the first road-racing Grand Prix to be held in Britain. — WB

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