Veteran to classic
The Lakeland Trial
This event is usually memorable as the tough contest that ends the VSCC trialling year, but the dry period of 1995 rather changed things, on November 11 , when 98 drivers of pre-war cars set off to try their luck. Fifteen had penalised themselves 20 points each before even starting, having brought their trials steeds on trailers; Simon Seymour was unlucky here, his A7, its engine nicely fettled with proper new piston rings, etc, displaying clutch withdrawal problems when lowered to the ground.
The trial involved 13 sections, with enchanting names like Prickly, Thirlby’s Folly, Sale Fell, Swinside, Darling Howe, Widown Hause and Buttermere, to remind one that this was Lake District territory. Usually the high-rise and steepness of Drumhouse is the major obstacle but this time 40 drivers managed top marks here.
The problem section was Swinside, topped by only 10 competitors, with 63 cars failing to score a mark between them. In contrast, most of the other sections were fairly easy, everyone getting a maximum 20 points on Spout Force except for J Fort (12), D Oldham (8), L Murray (13), P Mace (3), A Saggerson (5), M Gleeson (8), I Meeks (7) and Ben Collings in the Bentley (9). But some were in trouble very early on, like G Winder, and some, although not classed as non-starters, never appeared, and Rides missed eight sections. When the results were worked out it was seen that the joint winners of the Bridge Trophy for best performance in Class One were Henry Stringer (1933 A7) and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards (1929 Frazer Nash), with 254 points each, and that Robin HarcourtSmith was best in Class Two with his Alvis Silver Eagle, with a score of 208 points, one more than Baxter achieved with his 1928 Chrysler. The Roy Paterson Cup went to Phil Evans (1928 Austin). First-Class Awards: H Stringer (A7), P Blakeney-Edwards (Frazer Nash), I Baxter (A7), S Gordon (A7), P Lonhurst (Riley), B Clarke (A7), I Flann (A7), R Harcourt-Smith (Alvis), S Baxter (Chrysler); Second-Class Awards: K Hill (Crouch-Helix), T Bradley (A7), B Gray (A7-IAP), I Williamson (MG), Jane Tomlinson (A7), I Blackburn (Singer), R Reed (A7), I Percival (Bentley), T Jones (30/98), H Hickling (1917 Dodge), M Telford (Ford), P Tebbett (Riley), A Goding (Morris). Third-Class Awards: M Johnson (Bugatti), S Welsh (A7), L Murray (Frazer Nash), N Plevin (A7), M Joseland (Frazer Nash), R Low (A7), D Saxl (Riley), B Collings (Bentley), J Diffey (30/98). WB
A Riley reunion
Stephen R Southall tells us how he was reacquainted recently with his very first car. He is a well-known VSCC member with his 1920 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost “Wendy”. for which Motor Sport took some acceleration figures at Shobdon Aerodrome many years ago. However, one never forgets one’s first car, in Mr Southall’s case a Riley Nine Gamecock which he bought in 1936 for £45 when he was just 18 years old. As young enthusiasts do, he treated the Riley hard, using it as regular transport and for trials, etc. The compression ratio was raised by fitting special pistons, to around 7.5:1, after which the engine would only function properly on Discol alcohol petrol. On the first run to a North Wales rally, this stopped the Riley when the Discol ate the shellac off the SU petrol pump.
I remember the Riley Gamecock, having suffered many all-night runs to motoring events in the late James Brymer’s example, which he drove in open-necked shirt, hood down, while I snuggled into my leather coat, newspaper on the worn floorboards intended to reduce the wintry draught. . . Brymer, a noted motoring photographer, had driven a Riley Nine Monaco saloon and other cars before this, in MCC trials. He no doubt went over to the Gamecock because the capacious boot was useful for accommodating cameras, etc. But this was a rather unusual model for Riley to introduce, because most customers either wanted a four-seater or at least a dickey-seat on their two-seaters.
To revert to Mr Southall’s car, it was used for many trials, with his brother Chris Southall, later to become a noted 30/98 Vauxhall and veteran De Dion exponent, as his passenger. Many first-class awards were won in events such as SUNBAC, Hagley & DLCC and other competitions and Mr Southall still has the replica of the Riley CC’s George Shepherd Trophy which he won in 1938. So when he heard through a casual conversation with a Riley MC member and a telephone call the next day, that “his” Riley Gamecock is now owned by Ian Lavery in Stockton-on Tees, he was off to Yorkshire from Herefordshire the day after to become reacquainted with it. He found the Riley about to be overhauled, so minus its radiator. But sitting in it once more he was able to relive something of the speed trials, mud trials and club racing for which he had used the car, a great tribute to Victor Riley, says Mr Southall. WB
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