VSCC at Pembrey

Having lost the use of Oulton Park and Cadwell Park, through no fault of its own, the VSCC went to Pembrey, currently Wales’s only permanent racing facility, for its meeting on June 26. It worked out extremely well. The 1.456-mile circuit is interestingly twisty, enjoyable for racing on with the older cars, offers good viewing opportunities and, although there is no bridge between the working paddock and the outside of the course (go-ahead Brooklands, had both vehicle bridge and tunnel before a race was ever held there), marshals permit crossing between races. Also, paddock access is free. Moreover, the VSCC had control of even the weather, racing taking place in cool but dry conditions . . . And there is very ample parking space, if approached by terribly rough roads, at this BARC circuit.

The intention had been to dedicate the meeting to the memory of JG Parry Thomas, but this rather misfired because Owen Wyn-Owen decided not to bring Babs, which it had been hoped would contribute a 27-litre demo, the proposed Babs Trophy wasn’t ready and Tom Walker’s Hooker-Thomas-engined Young Special (see MOTOR SPORT, February 1994) had burst its clutch, so didn’t run.

That apart, 196 entries contesting 10 races gave the spectators an enjoyable afternoon. In lieu of Babs the onlookers were able to see Johnny Thomas go round on his 1902 Gordon Bennett Napier, with VSCC Secretary David Franklin as the intrepid passenger, and Johnny was also using his vintage Bentley as a course-patrol car. Keith Knight had got his ERA/Riley motoring so well that it ran away with the first race, six laps scratch, beating Seber’s effective Wolseley Special by 6.2s, with Harper’s quick Morgan three-wheeler third. Next came a 7-lap Frazer-Nash/GN scratch race, with Freddie Giles in splendid form, in the AC/GN (or Cognac), which won by 18.1s from the GN/AC driven by W Mitchell. Third was a virtual tie between RJ Smith and SR Stretton in their Frazer Nashes, the former’s s/c car being given the placing in the official results. Jon Giles’ AC/GN lasted but two laps, Tarring’s FN went out after four, and Michel Azema, who had brought his 1921 GN all the way from Toulouse, lost a rocker-pin from its push-rod, vertical-valve, vee-twin engine after only a lap — it had, however, been well-tested in a very long French hillclimb the previous weekend. There was great rejoicing in the ‘Chain Gang’ area of the paddock when the happy garlanded Freddie came in.

TC Rides scored in the six-lap handicap, comfortably ahead of Temple’s Riley. Things then hotted-up, with the 12-lap Shuttleworth & Nuffield Trophies Race. Ricketts drove Bill Morris’s R12B with the same skill he displays when handling Sally Marsh’s R1B, to lead the field home unchallenged, finishing 5.7s in front of Venables-Llewellyn’s R4A. Ricketts took both trophies.

Another six-lap handicap enabled Seber to build up points in the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy contest, with the irrepressible supercharged Wolseley, but he was beaten by Macdonald’s modified Lagonda Rapier, with Beebee’s FN third, in front of Ride’s Riley.

Giles then did it again for the AC/GN in the 12-lap John Holland Race for vintage cars, the ex-Footitt single-seater with Hampton radiator, looking very smart, lapping two, whole seconds quicker than it had in the other race it won, which was too much for Hulbert’s blown 2 1/2-litre Alvis, 3.5s in arrears. Wyn-Owen’s son, usually successful in his JAP-powered Morris, retired a lap from the finish. Mark Walker was unable to run the Parker-GN due to a chewed up bevel-box, so substituted the 8 1/4-litre Curtis/Monarch, which he had been allowed to try out in the FN/GN race. In neither did it make much of a showing; the aero-engined car presumably prefers the hills.

As compensation for recent disappointments when his ERA R14B has not been quite fast enough to catch Ricketts or Spollon, Donald Day not only won the 12-lap race intended for post-war cars, by 14.2s, showing the way home to the Cooper-Bristols of AG Smith and IT Bentall, but he won the final six-lap handicap, from a Riley and a Morgan. The post-war affair encouraged one-time F3 500cc single-lungers, of which a IBS headed a trio of Coopers. Then two Derby Bentley Specials ran 1-2 in the Melville & Geoghegan Trophies Race for road-going sports cars: the Mahany HRG took the former trophy. That left a six-lap scratch race, to complete the programme, with Seber and the Wolseley finishing a successful outing with a win from Spiers’s Alvis and Rides’s Riley.

6-lap Scratch Race: K Knight (ERA/Riley), 68.1mph (best lap = 70.2mph). Frazer Nash/GN Race: FG Giles (AC/GN). 67.3mph (b.l. = 68.6mph). 6-lap Handicap: TC Rides (riley), 61.2mph (b.l. = 65.0mph). 12-lap Pre-War Racing Cars: D. Ricketts (ERA), 72.1mph (b.l. 74.4mph). 6-lap Handicap: JG Macdonald (Lagonda), 58.5mph (b.l. = Seber-Wolseley 71.3mph). 12-lap Vintage Racing Cars: FG Giles (AC/GN), 67.7mph (b.l. = 70.4mph). 12-lap Post-War Racing Cars: DH Day (1937/36 ERA). 69.7mph (b.l. = 72.0mph). 8-lap Pre-War Sports Cars: RM Gilbert (Bentley), 65.3mph (b.l. = 66.8mph). 6-lap Handicap: DH Day (ERA). 70.2mph (b.l. = 73.8mph). 6-lap Scratch Race: Al Seber (Wolseley), 64.0mph (b.l. = 64.9mph). W B