Eight-Clubs at Silverstone (June 4th)

Author

W.B.

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The annual Eight-Clubs race meeting at Silverstone opened with two high-speed trials, racing commencing after lunch. The 750 Formula race saw Rees’ car pass Stanley’s inside at Woodcote in spite of furious front-wheel patter, to snatch a narrow-margin victory, Taylor’s Austin also being only just in front of Harris’ for fourth place.

Brackenbury’s Formula Austin then just beat Morley’s 3-litre Bentley to victory in a five-lap handicap, the vintage car so dwarfing the 750, and Morley’s rearward vision reduced because the dickey-seat lid was up, that the Austin driver was heroic to pass the larger car at Woodcote. Mear’s Austin and Lord Ebury’s low-chassis Invicta completed a line-abreast finish, grand testimony to Bulmer’s accurate handicapping. Lord Ebury then transferred to his elegant 4 1/4 T.T. Bentley and ran away with a similar race, Bluebelle Gibbs’ H.R.G. holding off Webbs’ well-driven 1 ½-litre TF M.G.

The 1,172 Formula race was a victory for MacDowell’s polished aluminium aerodynamic Lotus, after it had caught Whitehouse’s Arden. Richards well-driven normal Lotus was third, ahead of Lambert’s Elva-like Lotus. Interesting was the Clare 90 with two united Fiat 500 chassis to provide all-independent suspension, Morris Eight brakes, and a weight of 8 cwt. Leech drove his Austin-Ford too slowly to blow out his Birkin-style scarf and Shankland’s Buckler was even slower. The A.C. handicap saw Sturges’ 1922 yellow Six two-seater, spoilt by modern wheels, lead impressively, even when a bonnet-side fell off, until swamped by faster stuff, of which de Mattos’ original Ace spun and Standbridge’s Ace won from the 5 sec. mark. The commentator thought Ferrari was running-in his Ace, Hurlock non-started, Nightingale’s 1936 tourer suffered alarming front-wheel patter and McCusker’s 1921 sports model was visibly spilling water.

A five-lap scratch race saw Nancy Mitchell’s rally Daimler saloon run right away from a Jupiter and an A.C., the car rolling but remaining remarkably stable on the corners. Leo’s Lagonda was last.

The Lagonda handicap was a triumph for the Rapiers, Lane’s 1935 coupé winning, with Hill-Smith’s 4 ½-litre second and Cocker’s 1935 Rapier third. Newman’s 3-litre did two laps barrelling a marker- tub. Lewis won a scratch race in the Ecurie Westover aerodynamic Lotus, beating Stacey’s normal Lotus and Dennis’ Austin-Healey which led for the early laps, Lewis receiving a kiss from a charmer for a fine drive. Cocker’s TA M.G. won another handicap, in which Hiam’s Morgan Plus Four skilfully took Brierley’s Jupiter on the inside at Woodcote, Scott’s Arkley being exceedingly slow, and in the next race Moore’s Morgan Plus Four became a three-wheeler after it won, shedding a back wheel at Woodcote, but was out again two races later. Hollingsworth drove a smart Jensen miniature 541 with Austin engine (now an A50) which Jensens once tried to tell us just doesn’t exist(!) McMillan ran away with the 13th race in his Bristol Barb, which is the ex-Alan Brown F2 Cooper-Bristol with chassis widened and a Rochdale glass-fibre two-seater body, the weight given as 11 ½ cwt. Some sports car! Stacey’s Lotus was second, Watson’s battered Alvis third. An A.C. Ace won a scratch race, in which A. Bradley’s Doretti indulged in dangerous spins, beating the Morgan and a TR2. W. Bradley’s Frazer-Nash won a handicap and, finally, the impressive Bristol Barb held off Wick’s larger-engined Cooper-jaguar and Burn in the R.G.S.-Atalanta in a scratch contest. A good meeting, with few casualties, although Grant-Norton’s A.C. Ace became bent in a High Speed Trial incident.

* * *

We made the journey up in a Hillman Minx California, which exhibited excellent liveliness for its size, although it was one of the last of the s.v.-engined examples. It possessed a tricky steering- column gear-shift due to vanishing synchromesh although only 7,000 miles’ “old” and a bad rattle from the rear off-side corner of the body, which was commendably spacious, although the bonnet juddered as if anxious to fly upwards. The return was accomplished in a Healey Elliot saloon, a car of vintage appointments and demeanour, with a nice remote-control gear-lever, good performance, and a prow reminiscent of a speed-boat. Both Hillman and Healey possessed a large area of glass to combat claustrophobic sensations. — W. B.