VSCC at Loton Park

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Loton Park hill-climb has much in its favour. The course is 1478 yards long, with six interesting bends joined by long straights, one of which is downhill. The venue is Sir Michael Leighton’s estate near Shrewsbury, the grass Paddock and carparks redolent of the carefree speed trials of pre-war times. The preserve of the Hagley & D L C C, the Vintage SCC is now very much at home there. Their meeting on June 6 started late and was interrupted by practice runs and deer (not beer) on the course, news of which may well make the RAC/MSA have — does, if not kittens. . .

But no matter! The sun shone, new class records were set, and it was a very enjoyable day.

After the course had been opened by President Barry Clarke in his Ruby-engined FN-GN, the 1100cc sports-car class took off. G W Owen, son of “Babs” owner, broke the vintage class-record in 81.33s with his Morris-JAP, which was too much for Gunn’s blown Ulster A7 in spite of it sliding the corners nicely 181.62s). Although misfiring, Temple took the handicap event in a Brooklands Riley said to be a car built by T & Ts. Outright winner here was Reg Nice’s s/c Ulster A7 (80.18s). In the well-supported 1101-1500cc sports-car class Selwyn-Smith scored for the vintage brigade, in his Meadows Frazer Nash, which had been in Australia for 58 years but returned here two years ago (77.08s). Even Mrs Sophie Walker in the Frazer Nash “Martyr” was vanquished (79.40s).

Outside the vintage category J Mowall excelled in his very quick Rileypowered Morgan 4/4, reputed to weigh only 11 1/2 cwt, with a new class-record of 69.05s. Second place went to R Drewett’s Riley Special, a 1933/35 cocktail and the first to squeal its tyres (72.02s), with very consistent ascents. When the 1501-3000cc sports machinery was unleashed Guy Spollon improved on his own record, with the 2 1/2-litre Riley Special with the Big-Four engine, with a fine and only run in 71.36s. Guyatt’s Talbot, which Georges Roesch might not have recognised, was second (72.10s) and the vintage best here was by Paterson’s ex-Follett dry-sump Alvis (85.65s), from Livesey’s blown FWD Alvis (85.89s), another extremely consistent driver. Britcher’s big-port 12/50 Alvis was slow and failed on one run, Lister, driving Mrs Heath’s BMW, was very pedestrian, but Goodacre in the first 328 BMW to be sold in this country was much quicker, and even faster, by a big margin, was MacMaster in the 328 he has owned for many years; indeed, he clocked 72.36s on both runs and you cannot be more accurate than that! Miller (Lagondal lost it at Loggerheads. After a spare dynamo had been found for his 12/70 Alvis Special Protherat, from France, did 96.90s.

In the over 3000cc sports cars category, Roger Collings had scratched his Zust in the Edwardian class in favour of the family 41/2-litre Bentley, with which he won the vintage division (77.44s). Pollack’s 4 1/2-litre Invicta was second (79.79s). The winner absolute here was S Bull, driving the 1936 4 1/2 lnvicta (69.95s) which Martin Stretton campaigns on the circuits, from Black’s beautiful 2.3 Alfa Romeo (71.60s) and Gilbert’s Derby Bentley Special (71.64s). Eight Edwardians turned out and Johnty Williamson took the 1908 GP Itala up in 86.27s but stopped at the triangle on his second run. Firth’s Th Schneider had the better of Clutton’s old car when he clocked 84.92s on his second run. But no-one could get near Mark Walker’s splendid ascents in the Curtiss aero-engined Monarch. He went straight on at Fallow on his first appearance but still bettered the class record, by no less than 5.05s. Then, making no mistakes, he got this down to 74.18s shattering the Th Schneider’s record. An aero-engine must be light, and Mark has 8.2-litres of it, and the Monarch chassis is also not very heavy. But that is not all; young Walker drives on the limit, with great skill, as I noted after seeing him accelerating out of the Triangle on his second record ascent. After lunch, the racing cars. From a large entry of 1100cc cars L Keeling’s s/c PB MG Special beat ’em all (70.47s) and didn’t bother to try again. His challengers were Dowley’s similar MG (71.26s) and Gunn’s well-known 850cc MG, which spun on run one, then clocked 72.18s. Lake’s AmilcarRiley was on fine form and broke the vintage class record (72.50s) by a goodly margin, with Julian Majzub taking a purer Amilcar to second place (78.99s), before trouble spoiled his next run.

Only four post-vintage 1 1/2-litre racing cars contested Class 7, won in record time (67.36s) by Dunn’s Riley, which was faster by 1.15s than Stephens’s ERA R12C. Lone runner, Benfield in his historic 1924 Alvis, had to take the vintage section (80.05s), beating his own record. The 3000cc racing cars produced excitement, both Bruce Spollon and Donald Day using the escape road at Fallow, the latter in clouds of dust. But both continued, and on his next run Day got it right (63.93s), bettering his 1992 record, in ERA R14B, with Spollon’s ERA R8C second (64.15s). Another to improve on his own record was Cardy, in the Bugatti, (67.76s), in the vintage class, where the only other performer, T Walker in the Hooker-Thomas Young Special, took 78.71s — but nice to see this car going well. Records were now falling like drunken pedestrians. There was a bit of a tussle among the post-war historic racers until Nuthall’s Cooper-Bristol pulled out a creditable 65.60s, beating the record by 2.50s. Felton’s Alfa Romeo vanquished the rest of such opposition (66.97s), before retiring. The big pre-war racers numbered only two, of which Leston’s Lovell-Elkhart took Biggins’s former record with the Vauxhall by a clean 6.52s (69.63s). Guy Smith, who made FTD in 1992, preferred Shelsley Walsh practice this time. No 500cc folk were there either, but two classes remained, one for Morgan 3-wheelers (First, B Wildsmith, 87.75s), the other for 1950s sports racing cars, won by Hescroff’s AC (74.30s). W B

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