The VSCC’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in great style and dignity during the week of July 2-8. It was a fantastic vintage occasion, attracting an entry of 642 cars from both home and abroad. Events opened at Shelsley Walsh, itself a most historic speed site, in conjunction with the long-established Midland AC. This time there was more vintage machinery on the Sunday than has been traditional in other years, with special classes for Shelsley Specials and as many ERAs as could be encouraged to grace a hill on which they had achieved so much in the past.
In its Jubilee year, the MAC allowed the VSCC to spread its hill-climbing over two days, whereas usually all this happens on the Saturday. The paddock was especially full of historic cars anyway, because of the appeal to ERA and Shelsley Special owners to bring them out, particularly the older examples. Apart from these, the paddock featured Stuart Saunders’ Liberty-engined MAB, all the way from Australia, a roadgoing aero-engined monster built up before the craze broke out again in Britain. It was patiently waiting its runs on the Sunday, when it did 49.24s, but it failed on its second ascent. Attempts were being made to start the 1905 GB Star, achieved when Ben Collings jumped on the starting handle and its 10,168cc engine awoke in a blaze of fury (70.73s).
Rivers Fletcher opened the course in ERA R12C. He had intended to do so with R1 A but it was not available, so the B-type AIMI was suggested, but this also was likewise indisposed. An ERA parade did not happen as those cars present R2A, R1B, R12C, R1 1 B, R8C and R1 4B – were competing anyway.
The Specials put on a fine show, those doing timed runs including the BHD, Salome, the Cognac, the Chawner-GN, the Martyr and the Alvis-Nash (of the pre-war specimens). The Edwardian class was very well filled and the aero-engined class had six runners.
In other classes Julian Ghosh drove the Vauxhall Villiers, which tried a display of its old temperament in practice, when the throttle rod became unwelded, but it ran well and consistently later on (40.07s). Another exciting car not seen for a long time, was the Sunbeam ‘Tigress’, entered by John Merryfield and driven by John Baker-Courtney, who used its power on a snaky run (40.78s).
Judy Portway was happily giving the 1914 TT Humber an airing, going vastly quicker on her second run (68.22s). Fastest of the pre-war Shelsley Specials was Guy Smith (Alvis Nash (35.21s), very fast indeed and consistent too, only 0.07s separating his two runs. Quickest of all was the 1927 Myers Special (31.96s). Salome took 42.52s and Jon Giles with the AC/GN Cognac 37.99s on his only ascent. The BHD, in memory of the legendary BH Davenport, clocked 50.31s in Robin Parker’s hands and also scored on handicap. Mark Walker in the Curtiss-Monarch took the handicap prize among the Aerocars (46.50s) and the Maybach-powered Mett and Merc of Moore and Collings recorded 55.08s and 51.45s respectively, although Roger had a slipping clutch. The winner, however, was the well-proven Bequet Special, with its 12-litre V8 Hispano-Suiza engine, with which Boswell completed the course in 41.05s, just ahead of Robin Baker’s 27-litre V12 Hispano-Delage (41.38s).
Of the moderns, fastest time of all was that of Graham Hickman (Jordan 193) in 29.03s, 3.69s shy of Brown’s outright course record (set in 1992, in a Pilbeam MP58), but Hickman crashed heavily on his second run, sustaining a fractured skull and shoulder blade. Happily, he is now on the mend. W B
Winners of classes for pre-war cars (12 indicates new record) and main prize winners: Fray Challenge Trophy and Raymond Mays Trophy: Duncan Ricketts (ERA R1B), 35.01s; 34.88s on winners’ run-off. MAC Challenge Trophy: Mac Hulbert (Alvis Special), 38.28s. Class 1: J Mowatt (1036 Morgan 4/4, 40.28s – R) Class 2: G Spollon (1938 Riley Blue Streak, 40.39s). Class 3: S Flack (1926 3/8-litre Bentley, 38.63s). Class 4: B Gray (1922/34 Hardy Special, 38.06s). Class 5: D Ricketts (1935 ERA R1B, 35.01s R). Class 6: D Morris (1936 ERA R1 1B, 36.01s). Class 7: D Day (1937 ERA R14B, 35.29s R). Edwardians: T Walker (1908 GP Panhard-Levassor, 45.87s) Class 13: M Sythes (1930 Morgan Super Aero, 48.22s). Class 14: Amanda Conn (1929 Frazer Nash, 45.99s). Class 15: K Painter (1935 Maserati 4CS, 43.31s). Class 16: M Stretton (1931 Bentley, 44.79s). ERA cars: 1. D Ricketts (R1B) 35.01s; 2. D Day (R14B, 35.29s); 3. D Morris (R1 1B) and B Spollon (R8C, 36.01s). Garvagh Cup: G Smith. Shelsley Special Trophy: R Parker (BHD). Pre-war Shelsley Specials: 1. G Smith (Alvis-Nash, 35.21s); 2. J Giles (AC/GN Cognac, 37.99s). 3. F Giles (GN/Morgan ‘Salome’, 42.52s); 4. P Blakeney-Edwards (GN ‘Martyr’, 46.18s). 5. R Parker (BHD, 50.31s); 6. P Evans (Chawner-GN, 82.14s). Aero-engined cars: 1. A Boswell (Bequet-Delage, 41.05s R); 2. R Baker (Hispano-Delage, 41.38s). 3. M Walker (Monarch Special, 46.50s); 4. S Saunders (Liberty-MAB, 49.24s); 5. R Collings (Mercedes-Maybach, 51.45s); 6. B Moore (Metallurgique-Maybach, 55.08s).