Veteran to classic: VSCC Weston

Seaside vintage

On the beautiful day of October 2, the VSCC again held speed-trials along the front at Weston-Super-Mare, furthering a tradition which started in 1913. Weston’s earliest sprints were over a mile on the beach, later becoming a half-mile along the Marine Parade with paired runs, and are now run as a half-kilometre event with single runs.

In practice this year LJ Smith proved that even in a simple speed-trial it is possible to have a considerable accident; he failed to see the finish, spun his Derby-Bentley into a lamp-post, and was removed to hospital with broken ribs, the car having been chopped virtually in half! But they have done almost as much at Brighton, without getting far from the start. . .

Otherwise things began well, with Selwyn-Smith setting new vintage and general class-records (21.43 seconds) with his 1930 Interceptor Frazer Nash in the 1500cc sports-car category, beating Golder’s 1936 Riley Sprite. In the over-11/2-litre class Matthews’ Delahaye 135 set a new general class-record, (19.70 sec), just beating Craig Collings, who won the vintage section in the 41/2-litre Bentley (20.11 sec).

Records fell again in the class for special and supercharged 11/2-litre sports-cars, won by Mrs Ricketts’ Riley Special (19.28 sec) from the Riley “Wagtail” and Keens’ neatly supercharged 1.3-litre Lagonda Rapier, whilst Gordon’s Riley Special took vintage honours (25.15 sec). All except two of the big special sports-cars were post-vintage, the Royce-Bentley (displaying BARC and BRDC badges) winning in 17.52 sec after an excithig take-off. Bruce Spollon’s 41/4 Bentley and Roscoe’s 4.3 Alvis filled the places.

Of the little racers, Brian Gray scored in the Hardy (17.76 sec), from the Gunns in the MG Q-type replica, Colin the quicker by 0.27 sec. The Allt’cok went limp and retired, and Hernandez’ A7 finished its run at 54 mph (the Bentley-Royce had done 94) but was best vintage car. Purnell’s monoposto A7 (with “knees-op” cockpit and single SU gasworks), needs development, and like the real racers Keeling’s PB MG was started with a battery-trolley.

The 11/2-litre racing-car class went to Sayers in his Motor Sport Brooklands Trophy winning Riley (16.82 sec), 0.61 seconds quicker than ERA R12C, with Danaher’s 4CM Maserati third. It was very good to see the Halford Special win the vintage section with a class-record 20.30 sec, which was too much for a T37 Bugatti and the BHD in this poorly-supported category. The Vernon-Crossley appeared to have a radiator-shell made of gold , which would put it in the Royale valuation bracket!

The merged big-racers and historics class saw Mayman continue his very successful season with FTD (14.70 sec, another record) in ERA R4D, which went over the line at 122mph, eclipsing Felton’s Alfa Romeo (15.00 sec) and Jolley in the jolly-long shining-silver Giron-Alvis (15.46 sec). By dint of blowing a Speed-20 engine Hulbert’s Silver Eagle Alvis, although not placed, pulverised the vintage class record of Ghosh in the TT Vauxhall and was fastest vintage car (16.94 sec). The pre-war sprint flavour was endorsed by the Djinn, attended by Rupert Instone, although this in 1949 form.

The veterans and Edwardians produced. two newcomers: Harold Smith’s 1916 Indy 4.9-litre Sunbeam, out for the first time since 1936 and wisely keeping to about 2800 rpm, which nevertheless won the class in the record time of 21.87 sec, and Brown in the 1914 3.4-litre SAVA (with overhead exhaust, side inlet-valves and a replica TT body) brought back from Australia in 1985 (28.14 sec).

In fact Roger Collings’ 1903 Mercedes was a worthy second (23.47 sec) from Valentine Lindsay’s 1914 GP Opel (24.47 sec) which his girlfriend Miss Whittome also courageously drove on this her first competition appearance, to a most commendable 25.85 sec. Nick Ridley drove his mauve 1914 TT Sunbeam, imported from New Zealand two years ago.

So ended a most enjoyable day by the sea, with the handicap awards to add to the enchantment. WB