VETERAN TO CLASSIC - VSCC CROIX-EN-TERNOIS
Having lost the use of Oulton Park and Cadwell Park from its regular calendar of race meetings, the VSCC has sought to fill the voids and maintain its programme of six race events by using Pembrey and, for the first time, travelling to the continent in the tracks of the HSCC and 750 Motor Club, hosting a meeting at the twisty, 1.19-mile circuit at Coix-en-Ternois, close to Arras in north-eastern France.
Being late-season, entries for some of the races were a little unrepresentative with many regular front-runners notable by their absence. Sadly, an incident towards the end of practise claimed the life of Howard Bevan, who suffered a heart attack while at the wheel of his Bugatti 35B, casting a shadow over the rest of the meeting. As a result of the ensuing delay, all races were shortened.
The opening scratch race was reduced to five laps in which Donald Day was penalised for a jump-start although he led home on the road. In his wake, Duncan Ricketts had spun Sally Marsh’s ERA R1B on the first laps and spent the rest of the race trying manfully to make amends, finally taking Jost WIldbotz’s ERA R9B on the line the take the win in a virtual dead-head. Day retained third from John Seber’s Wolseley.
Six starters were mustered for the vintage race in which Tim Llewellyn led from start to finish with his familiar 3/8 Bentley while main interest centred on the spirited battle for second. After a tardy start, Martin Stretton had hauled his Frazer Nash up to third by lap two and set about harrying Mac Hulbert’s Silver Eagle Alvis, briefly taking second on the penultimate lap before the Alvis’ power told on the straight. The Nash twice retook the place on the last but, once again, the Alvis’s grunt told where it mattered to pip the new European Historic F2 champion. Randall Stewart followed home, some way back, with his 4.4 Bentley.
The race for Pre-1941 Sports Cars (a somewhat unusual category, this) resulted in a flag-to-flag win for Bob Gilbert’s 4¼ Bentley although Simon Bulling offered an early challenge in the early laps with his 3.6 Bentley before dropping back slightly. Stretton, swapping his Nash for Simon Bull’s Invicta, had a lonely run to third well clear of Bob Spiers’ Alvis. Man-of-the-Moment Duncan Ricketts had an easier time than in the opening event in taking an unchallenged victory in the race for Pre-War Racing Cars with ERA R1B. Paul Jaye briefly held second place with the Alta, before spinning, but was finding the circuit very heavy on brakes and was unable to maintain his early form. The runner-up spot was taken over by Donald Day (ERA R14B) although a closing Jost WIldboltz narrowly failed to wrest the place on the run to the line. Bruce Spollon managed to get the ERA-Delage to the finish in fourth just ahead of Mark Gillies (Brooke Special).
Lap times were slowing considerably as the day progressed as more and more oil was laid down and in the race for Two-Seat Racing Cars Sir John Venables-Llewelyn lapped some 6s slower that in practise in taking the win with Lord Raglan’s Bugatti T51, after disposing of Tim Llewellyn’s Bentley which remained safe in second for the duration. Ricketts, taking a turn in Hulbert’s ALbis, displaced Simon Bulling’s Bentley to consolidate third, while Phillip Venebles (MG Special) and Amanda Cohn (Stretton Nash) completed the top six.
Another slim field contested the Post-War Racing Cars event and was lacking the odd 250F, Lotus 16 or Connaught C-Type to add some variety. Donald Day, running the only pre-war car in the race, ERA R14B, led into the first corner where he had to give best to Paul Alexander’s Cooper Bristol, and as far as the race went, that was it, the order staying unchanged to the flag. Roger Friend took his second third place of the year with the Lotus 12, albeit sounding distinctly under par in the closing stages with ‘Spike’ Milligan’s A-Type Connaught in fourth, well clear of Ian Bentall’s Cooper Bristol.
Practise for the Fifties Sports Cars was limited to three laps of familiarisation, so drivers still had some learning to do come the race. The Lotus 11 of Roger Biss took the early lead but had been passed by Tony Bianchi in the Farrellac Allard before the end of lap one. Bianchi was controlling the big Farrelac very stylishly on the slippery surface, although Biss slipped past monetarily before being demoted to third by David Ham (Lister Jaguar). Having worked his way through the field, Ham took the lead from Bianchi and half-distance and maintained it to the finish. John Pearson worked his Cooper Jaguar up to third, at the expense of Biss.
In the remaining five-lap scratch races wins were taken by Anthony Seber (Wolseley), Freddie Williams (Lagonda Rapier) and Tim Rides (Riley). ASD