The clubs at Silverstone

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Maidstone & Mid-Kent MC chose delightful weather for its Silverstone race meeting on May 24th, which started late, but was run off efficiently, over the “long” Club circuit. The seven-lap 1,100-cc sports-car race should have been a gift for Len Gibbs’ Riley, but it was not on form, so C le S Metcalfe won after a steady drive in his Persil-uniform and Balilla Fiat, Gibbs second, Wilson’s “disguised” Riley third. The sports-car race saw Gammon drive his 1,497-cc MG skilfully to victory at nearly 60 mph, holding off Shipside’s 1,350-cc MG, with Sears third after a good drive in his 1,250-cc Cooper-MG. The 500s then had a 10-lap race, an extra big “field” being allowed for the occasion. AJ Nurse kept his Cooper comfortably ahead of the mob to win from Leigh’s Cooper and Allan Moore in the Ecurie Balai JBS. Whitby’s GSW retired on the first lap and there were many other mechanical casualties.

The 21/2-litre sports-car race was a run-away win for Charles Bultner in Ron Willis’ BMW Special ; he got into top gear momentarily once per lap. He was followed home by Kenyon ‘s ex-Oscar Moore BMW Special and Tasker’s Silverstone Healey. Twice in succession did Parkes’ MG dive through the marker tabs, continuing at unabated speed !

The 1,100-cc s/c, 2,000-cc non-s/c racing-car 10-lap race saw Downing’s FII Connaught run right away from the field, to win at 64.92 mph—note how comparatively slow is the “long” little circuit. Kenyon’s Cooper 1,100 fell sick, Clairmonte’s 2-litre Riley dropped oil round the S-bend after a spin. spinning off again at the next corner. and Sir Clive Edwards never got going in his HRG, which merely emitted loud sounds. Wilmer was second in the BMW ahead of Webb’s blown 1,087-cc Turner, which exuded a plume of smoke and won its duel with the Riley before the latter’s retirement. The over 21/2-litre sports-car race saw Scragg in the Alta-Jaguar hotly pursued, but to no avail, by Salvadori’s XK120. Goodhew in the big Lagonda was making corners for himself while wrestling with his steering, but managed to hold-off Greenall’s Bugatti and finish third.

The only handicap was rather dull, AL Evan’s neat, blown 1,098-cc Nimrod winning from Dr Nixon’s XK120 and Birch’s A40 Sports Austin, Hayward removing much rubber from the tyres of his 21/2-litre Riley saloon to no avail. The big race was the 20-lap Formule Libre affair. Oscar Moore’s HWM broke its transmission in practice.and non-started, but the race opened with a duel between Downing’s FII Connaught and Richardson’s Fl RRA. This was cut short when the RRA developed fuel starvation, finally to retire. Sievwright’s beautiful blown 2-litre GP Bugatti took third place, was passed by Booker’s Cooper 1,100, and then retired. The Cooper was the next casualty, after 11 laps, and while Downing piled up an immense lead, Greenall’s GP Bugatti, which looked like a Bugatti but didn’t sound like one (it has a Ford V8 engine) ran second, holding off Murkett’s XK120, although the Connaught had lapped Greenall after seven laps. Murkett after eight. So consistent was Downing’s high-speed demonstration that his average was exactly the same as that at which he won the fifth race. He also set a record lap for this circuit of 69.09 mph.

Eight-Clubs

Eight-Clubs group-Hants & Berks, Harrow, Cemien, Chiltern, 750, Lagonda, Lancia and AC Owners’ held their Silverstone meeting on June 7th. It lived up to its reputation as one of the best-run of such meetings, a credit to hard-working Barclay Inglis and his wife. The racing was characterised by such excellent handicapping by Charles Buttner, assisted by J Willis, that spectators were kept at a high pitch of excitement, as the leaders swept round Woodcote Corner and over the line tightly bunched. The programme, a long one, opened with two one hour High-Speed Trials, each with two compulsory pit-stops. At these two front wheels had to be removed and replaced—handicapping cars with ifs and bolt-on wheels!—and two plugs changed. All events took place over the short (1.6 mile) club circuit, all races being five-laps. Only one accident occurred, when SG Marler’s Austin Seven rolled over at Woodcote ; the driver was unhurt. In the first One-Hour event a high proportion qualified, but Hole’s Austin, the blown Nimrod, Pearce’s MG, the Yeats Special, now with tubular frame to carry its Fiat 500 coupe body and Ford Ten engine, the PSB and Freedman’s Jupiter were too slow. Yates shorted his ignition circuit at the start and lost several laps chasing missing amps.

In the second One-Hour run fewer cars qualified, none at all in the over 3-litre class, and only Easdales blown Alfa-Romeo, Range’s 4-seater Morgan Plus Four, Rogers’ famous Riley saloon and Burke’s Silverstone Healey, well controlled from its pit, in the 4-3-litre Class. Miss Logsdon in the BMW-Bristol looked like making ftd, but at her pit-stop she trod so hard on the gear change pedal that it broke off and her run was at an end—a pity. G Reete’s Lancia Lambda burnt its clutch. The 750 Formula Race had an excellent field of 19. “Bookseller” Stephens led for three laps in the neat Stoneham 750, after which the Lotus, driven by its now owner, JB Davidson, took its rightful place in the lead, winning at 53.63 mph, after a lap at 56.34 mph. West’s Austin was third. Everyone tried hard, Grimsley grimly holding second place for three laps and cutting later for the corners than Stephens, only to drop back, while Wiseman and Tiedeman had a close-company duel and Michelson and Buckingham collided like dodgem-cars at Woodcote. This racing is by no means dull to watch if you watch it sufficiently closely and the participants enjoy it enormously, at no great expense. Birkett likened it to the effect of someone kicking over an ant-heap, but he was watching from the lofty-eminence of the Antone box, we in close proximity to “dicers,” who certainly gave no quarter . . .

Rourke’s MG then ran away with a scratch race which was marred by Six non-starters. He won at 55.04 mph, but was hotly pursued by FB Taylor’s quite astonishing Ford Eight-engined “Nippy” Austin, which was cornered extremely near the limit. Only on the last lap was it overtaken by Nightingale’s AC, which lapped at 56.87 mph. The next handicap produced a battle-royal between Gott and Nancy Mitchell (from the 5.5 sec mark) on their HRGs, 0.2 sec separating them at the finish, Gott victor At 61.41 mph. Frost’s Alfa-Romeo took third place. Taylor’s astonishingly effective Austin came into its own in the following handicap, winning at 54.86 mph, 0.4 sec in front of Jean Bode in Gilling’s 1,098-cc HRG, Friend’s HRG third. Tapp spun in his Buckler.

After these exciting Bulmer-handicaps a scratch race seemed quite tame ! But another close finish resulted, Blakeley, who had spun round in his Le Mans HRG in an earlier race, now making no mistakes, after braking heavily in gentlemanly fashion to follow Mrs Gibbs’ similar car through Beckett’s, he just pipped her on the line, winning at 63.56 mph and lapping at 65.35 mph. Morton’s Morgan Plus Four took third place. Frost’s Alfa-Romeo slid broadside at Beckett’s, Blakely deciding to go behind, then, at the last moment, in front of it and enjoying a near miss ! A closed-car handicap saw Rogers in his 21/2-litre Riley and Nightingale’s drop-head 31/2-litre Bentley tied together, until superior speed allowed the Bentley to win by a bare second, at 58.78 mph, also making best lap, at 60.53 mph. The AC was third. Brooks’ Dyna-Panhard out-cornered most of the runners, but was not fast enough on the straights. Jackson’s J2 Allard came up strongly from the 10 sec mark to win the ninth race, another handicap, by 2 sec from Gammon’s very fast 1.4-litre MG with Gibbs third in the HRG, his Riley having blown-up earlier on. The average was 65.45 mph, Gammon making fastest lap at 68.44 mph. Another good finish ! By reason of a generous start Hamshar’s rebodied, rather nice-looking Vernon Crossley was never caught in the next handicap. It won at 52.52 mph. The Stoneham 750 (now using a Wipac vertical magneto to good effect) was second, Rayner’s Buckler third. Fastest lap at 60.69 mph, went to the Porteous Special. Burley’s Austin retired. but Swale drove his vintage Amilcar “Grand Sport” with real verve and Godfrey deflected the front suspension of his Buckler under vigorous cornering. The broken gear-pedal welded. Willis proceeded to lead the last-but-one of the scratch races in the BMW-Bristol, setting a fastest lap of 71.99 mph. Alas, the engine now went unwell, allowing Douglas Hull, never very far away in his “warm XK120, to win, in spite of a locking back brake, at 69.11 mph. Gammon was a well-deserved third. Jackson, “over pressed” spinning twice. Gott and Nancy Mitchell resumed their HRG duel in the final scratch race, both driving splendidly. Gott getting. home 3 sec ahead, to win at 61.67 mph, with a lap at 63.34 mph. Rayner’s wide-bodied Buckler was third, winning the included “1,172” race at 60.33 mph, with a lap of 62.25 mph, from Tapp’s smart Buckler and Scarf’s Buckler—customers beating manufacturer, for Derek Buckler finished sixth. The event was enlivened by a collision between the Yates coupe and Gahagan’s GP Bugatti, the former bending a wing, the latter losing a mudguard (subtle difference !). Gahagan pursuing Yates as if to take his number, after he had swung the Bugatti’s engine into renewed indignant life.

There remained only the Motor Sport Handicap. This was hotly contested and produced another close finish. Friend’s HRG coming over the line to win at 55.44 mph, with Rayner’s Buckler 0.8 sec behind, Taylor’s Ford-Austin third, and Sears’ “chain-gang” Frazer-Nash, Nancy Mitchell’s HRG and Rogers’ Riley saloon (Nightingale’s Bentley fastened on to it) coming next over the line in companionable fashion. These six qualified to run in the equivalent race at the MMEC Meeting on June 28th, and the score to the Eight Cubs’ Meeting for the Motor Sport Clubs Challenge Trophy was : L Gibbs (Riley) and AS Friend (HRG) 6 points each. RHB Mason (Bentley), CM Sears (Frazer-Nash) and RR Rayner (Buckler) 5 points each. HJ Wilmshurst (Bentley) and FB Taylor (Austin) 4 points each. Major JH Bailey (Bentley) 3 points, Mrs N Mitchell (HRG) 2 points, and WF Moss (Alfa-Romeo) 1 point.

Bugatti Owners’ Club

On June 14th Oscar Moore’s HWM-Jaguar had a “field day”,winning the Formule Libre racing-car event and, driven by his young son Terence, the unlimited sports-car race. Oscar setting a new lap record for the “short” Club circuit of 74.62 mph, and being placed second in company with N Johnson’a Cooper 1,100 in the one-lap sprints. Willis’ BMW-Bristol was 0.6 sec faster in the sprint, Moore having a higher axle ratio than was altogether desirable.

The Bugatti Handicap was won by Blomfield’s Type 37 from Rivers Fletcher’s Type 35, although in the one-lap sprints the latter had beaten Blomfield by 9.2 sec. It was only fitting that the all Bugatti team should win the One-Hour Relay Race. In this McDonald’s old Bentley was faster than an Allard and Jackson very quick in handing the sash to Nancy Mitchell. The 500-cc race was a runaway victory for Headland’s Kieft (69.08 mph), which he steered with one hand and one finger, while others used two hands, supported themselves with one hand or conducted with eyebrows and teeth, depending on the temperament of themselves and their cars. Shale damaged his Kieft on the marker-bins, Boshier-Jones’ Kieft shed chains, and Ebdon’s Iota threw its con-rod. Moore beat the racing cars in his sports HWM-Jaguar at 72.58 mph in the Formule Libre race, James stalling his 4CLT Maserati on the line, CJ Hamilton indulging in gillhoolies in his ERA, and Christies’ Cooper 1,00 finishing second, on one pot. Tyrer’s Frazer-Nash third. Tyrer then won the 2-litre sports-car race at 70.15 mph from Potter’s Mille Miglia Frazer-Nash and Sparrowe’s game Morgan 4/4. Moore winning the last race at 71.19 mph after a great duel with Scragg-‘s Alta-Jaguar. which closed up on the corners but was just out-accelerated by the HWM-Jaguar in spite of its high axle ratio. Bead’s Jaguar was third.

Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (May 30th)

Of the four 41/2-litre Ferraris, only Ascari’s “works” entry qualified. In the race he was eliminated when a wheel collapsed after a spin when 12th. Bill Vukovich led until a mere eight laps from the end at record speed in the Fuel-Injection Special. Then he crashed and the Agajanian Special won at record speed.

Albi Formula I GP (June 1st)

Sixteen started —Rosier and Landi (41/2-litre 1951 Ferraris), Behra (2-litre Gordini Six), Bira and Schell (s/c 11/2-litre Gordinis), Whitehead and Comotti (s/c 11/2-litre Ferraris), Fischer (FII Ferrari), several Lago-Talbots and Fangio and Gonzalez in BRMs. Fangio lapped fastest in practice, at 116.65 mph, beating his 1950 C CLT Maserati lap record by 7 mph. His BRM then blew up and a new cylinder block had to be flown out for it. Gonzalez did 108.7 mph and shared the front row of the grid with Rosier and Fangio. Fangio led away at flag-fall, and Gonzalez started badly, but drove very fast, setting a race lap-record of 107.05 mph, to take second place after three laps. The BRMs looked like running away with the race but after five laps Gonzalez retired, with a porous cylinder block –after only 27.6 miles ! Fangio was told to slow and after 10 laps had averaged 101.2 mph. This lasted for 16 laps, or 881/2 miles, when Fangie’s BRM stopped so long at its pit that Rosier’s two year-old unblown Ferrari took the lead. Fangio did one more lap and retired with mingled fluids in the BRM’s cylinders, a total run of 94 miles, Whitehead, in his old Ferrari, did his best for England, driving splendidly, but losing fourth place by running out of fuel. The race distance was just over 108 miles.

GP de Monaco Sports-Car Race (June 2nd)

Marizon’s 2-litre four-cylinder Gordini went as well in the Prix de Monaco as his Gordini Six goes in Formula II races, battling with Moss’ Frazer-Nash for the lead and eventually securing it, after an exciting tussle. Moss retired later with a loose near-side back wheel. Bordoni’s 1.3-litre Osca led for much of the distance, but after Manzon had disposed of Moss he went after the Osca in a big way, set the lap-record for the arduous Monte Carlo circuit to just under 60 mph and finished 3.4 sec ahead. Our Tony Crook won third place for Frazer-Nash, beating Valenzano’s Lancia Aurelia after another furious tussle, by 2.1 sec. Clarke’s Frazer-Nash was fourth with lowering oil pressime. From the result of the Monaco GP it would seem that the 2.7 Ferraris dominated the race. Certainly these cars finished in the first five placea, followed gamely by Tommy Wisdom’s C-type Jaguar and Peter Collins in a DB3 Aston-Martin. But an unhappy multiple altered the complexion of the entire race. Moss led from the start in the works Type C Jaguar pursued by two Ferraris and Manzon’s 2.3 six-cylinder Gordini. The DB3 Aston-Martins disliked the slow circuit and had to stop for water. Stirling was doing his damnedest, but the Gordini was resolutely closing on the XK120C to pass after 24 laps. Maybe the Gordini would have won, but most unfortunately it, Moss and Hume’s Chrysler-Allard were involved, with others, in a prang when Parnell’s DB3 blew-up and crashed at a corner. Moss went on in crippled state, but was eventually disqualified because two spectators had assisted him to restart—hard lines. After the crash the race lay between the Ferraris.  Stagnoli, in any case made fastest lap, at 97.2 kph, which comperes with Manzoni’s fastest of 95.5 kph in the small-car race.