I said last month that only mad-dogs and Englishmen would endure some of the things the VSCC enjoys, but which would be quite unacceptable to non-enthusiasts. The all-night Measham Rally falls within this category. To follow it I decided to use a Reliant Kitten, as small enough to park easily in the lanes during this fine thrash round the lesser-known parts of Shropshire and Wales and not get mowed down by thundering 30/98s. At the last moment I noticed that its rear lamps had ceased to function (later discovered to be merely rust, at the bulb contacts), so the Rover 3500, Car of the Year, or in view of the new accolade of the Porsche 928, the Car of Last Year, was substituted.
Thus in bulk but comfort we set off for the start at the Sandford Hotel, Church Stretton, where the drop in entries was being speculated on, 35, against so last year and 44 in 1976. It was a quality entry however and the night was fine until the fog came up. The route had been cut at RAC discretion from 2oo miles to about 186 miles and a later start was accordingly decreed. The first competitor was due at the halfway Control, at the Border BP Garage near Welshpool, at 2.28 a.m. on the Sunday morning. First in were Binns’ Riley, navigated by Filsell, and Donnelly’s Alvis beetle-back, navigated by B. Luscott-Evans. There was little to report, except that Binns had been impeded by what appeared to be a mild accident among some modern cars, and Spillen’s 4 1/2-litre Lagonda tourer had fallen into a ditch not far from Welshpool it was quickly pulled out by the official Range Rover and arrived still looking like a new car.
Arnold-Forster’s aluminium Anzani Frazer Nash was on time, but was steaming very slightly and one of its modern spotlamps needed adjustment. Navigator Weeks had an improvised side-shield to help his slumbers. Ghosh came in next, a minute down, in the Royce/98, its new tyres splattering those behind with mud a sort of smoke-screen tactic? Rooney’s Chummy Austin was taking no nocturnal chances, being equipped with four batteries it had used only two gallons of petrol, in contrast to Pack’s 3-litre Bentley, which needed “lots”, and the toolbox of which had tried to fall off the running-board. Laxton’s Chummy Austin had been delayed with a blocked jet in its Zenith carburetter, but was followed in by Parker’s Austin 7 fabric saloon. Price’s Austin Nippy was going satisfactorily and Hirst’s 12/50 Alvis, its normally side-mounted spare wheel now safely stowed in the sternsheets, had shed a little oil from its breather. Tony Jones in the 30/98 was 14 minutes late, four of them due to turning the wrong way at a T-junction, a mistake navigator Jim Whymen doesn’t usually make, the rest of the lost time spent in unseizing the hydraulic front anchors. Cameron Millar’s Lea-Francis tourer was on form, apart from its usual battery change, and Turner’s unshortened, well-hooded 7th-Series Lancia Lambda came in as if on tour.
Mrs Janet Giles, navigated by Joseland, now arrived in the Frazer Nash (the entry-list had eliminated any difficulties over the “Thirlby-hyphen” by spelling this make as one word), minus a headlamp that had turned round to illuminate her, there being plenty of other lamps to ensure legality, but as the contest was resumed there was no sign of that powerful combination, Footitt navigated by Freddie Giles in the pvt Frazer Nash. Billy May had the main screen folded flat on his Frazer Nash and his anxiety about a loose front mudguard was unfounded, but Bullett’s otherwise-immaculate 30/98 Vauxhall, navigated by the other Luscott-Evans, had had a moment at a road— junction, of which the o/s front mudguard bore evidence. As Pack attacked his Bentley with a hammer, in the nicest possible manner, Arman came in, navigated by Hancock, with Diffey in attendance, in the stately luxury of his blue vee-windscreen 14/40 Humber motor-carriage. Small children were enjoying the ride in Fenner’s Riley Nine, Burnell’s Alvis had an intrepid person protruding from a hole in the tail, and the fog was coming up. The Measham was running to form. —W.B.