V.S.C.C. Seaman Trophies meeting at Oulton Park – June 17th
The heat brought marshals in shorts, girls in sun-tops and mini-skirts, babies in prams, and one little doggy to this always enjoyable day's sport at the picturesque setting of the Cheshire circuit. This feast of vintagery was marred, however, by the fatal accident in practice to M. Johnson (whose real name was Mike Chipperfield). His ex-Gardner Connaught hit a tree at Old Hall corner and was badly damaged; he died soon afterwards in Chester Infirmary, with a broken skull.
On the Friday night a new small-size oil-pump was fitted by Douglas Hull to the E.R.A. "Remus" to cure its habit of suddenly blowing out oil after four laps, and Corner worked late fitting a new drive-shaft to his Bugatti's gearbox, only to have the rods come out of the engine in a big way the next morning; it is said while another driver was sampling the car. Panks had brought the straight-8 T.T. Sunbeam, although its gear ratios are unsuited to the circuit, because the G.P. Sunbeam "Cub," recently overhauled, was getting oil in its blower, and Colin Crabbe was a non-starter in the vintage motorcycle race, explaining that his Model 90 Sunbeam cost him £2 but the essential leathers would have set him back £30! Much interest centred on Sir Ralph Millais' Type 59 3.3-litre Bugatti which the Hon. Patrick Lindsay was to drive. Lindsay, racing a Bugatti for the first time, found the car very heavy and tiring to control and was not used to changing gear, so did so only once per lap. The magneto played up but Summers lent them a spare one, which was fitted on the Friday evening.
The meeting commenced with a big parade of Concours d'Elegance cars, which included the Semmence and the E.R.A. "Hanuman"; the winner was J. Broadhead's 30/98 Vauxhall Wensum, which afterwards appeared as a Course-patrol car, with Etchell's Aston Martin and Parker's open James Young-bodied Alfa Romeo the runners-up. The Concours d'Etat went to Middleton's Riley, from the E.R.A. and Hughes' Austin 12/4. This made the first race about half-an-hour late.
The big event of the day was the Richard Seaman Memorial Trophies Race. It was run in two parts, over 12 laps for pre-war historic racing cars, and over 10 laps for pre-1931 vintage racing cars. In the first Lindsay made a poor start but by lap 2 was ahead of Sid Days E.R.A. and Waller in the E.R.A. "Remus." At half-distance he led Day by 23 sec., the ex-Lord Howe Bugatti snaking alarmingly into the corners, as Lindsay was having to lift the accelerator with his foot because the throttle was sticking, but accelerating so well out of them that the back tyres smoked. He lapped at 81.8 m.p.h., going through the timetrap at 103 1/2 m.p.h. But three laps from the finish the Bugatti began to mis-fire and on lap 11 Day had it in his sights. The E.R.A. went by to win, and Waller also apologetically passed "Remus'" owner. Lindsay, very tired, coasted in after taking third place. Day's was the fastest car in the race on top speed (110 1/2 m.p.h.). Donald Day's E.R.A. was fourth and the handicap went to Blight's Talbot 105, from Masters' mainly-O-Type M.G. and Hinchcliffe's 1.8 Riley.
The vintage Seaman Race saw Bernard Kain's Type 35B Bugatti lead from start to finish, hotly pursued by St. John's similar car, which, however, could not keep the flying Bernard in sight. For two laps it was Bugattis 1, 2, 3. Then Moffatt's Type 35 went out with mysterious valve-gear trouble and Williamson's 4 1/2 Bentley ran out on its own in third place. Behind came a group comprising McCosh's 4 1/2 Bentley, Sowden's 8 1/2 Bentley and Delage II, these first to sixth positions rernaining for the entire race. Kain made fastest lap, at 77.65 m.p.h., and both the leading Bugattis were timed at 100 m.p.h., Williamson's Bentley at 104.1 m.p.h. Worth's A.C. took the handicap section, from Bentley's 4 1/2 Bentley and Stewart's 3-litre Bentley. Zeuner's Type 37 Bugatti shed a rod.
Between these two races the V.M.C.C. had put on a splendid 4-lap scratch race for their members, with a run-and-bump start. The sight and sound was a fine supplement to the cars, the riding-skill outstanding. C. J. Williams' 1926 Scott-Special ran right away from Rhodes' KTT Velocette and Collett's Scott/Norton, lapping at 74.29 m.p.h. and being timed at 96.
Still in torrid heat, the historic racing cars came out for their 10-lap scratch race. Brewer's G.P. Aston Martin established a good lead from Crabbe's Maserati 250F for the first two laps. Then Wilks' Lotus 16 went past them both. He pulled comfortably away and the Aston Martin opposition withdrew on lap 4, probably with a return of the gear-selector bothers that had beset Brewer in practice. Charles Lucas now came right up in his Maserati 250F, to third place, but Wilks was 10 sec. ahead of Crabbe. On lap 7, however, he had fallen to third, having made a nonsense somewhere out in the country, so Crabbe led from Lucas. Lucas put on pressure and Crabbe, as he has done before, sensibly refrained from over-cooking things, allowing Lucas, who outdrove him, to win by 2.6 sec. at 85.64 m.p.h., fastest race of the day. This Maserati was certainly the most potent car present, making fastest lap of the afternoon, at 86.88 m.p.h., and going down the straight at 121 m.p.h. Wilks stayed in third place, ahead of Lord Clydesdale's Maserati.
The programme had opened with a 4-lap vintage/p.v.t. handicap, dominated by three Rileys, in which Nice overturned his nice Ulster Austin. Then we had the Frazer Nash/G.N. handicap, which Mrs. Charmian May led to half-distance, after which the back-markers came through, Lord Dunleath's B.M.W.-engined, Crouch-bodied 'Nash winning from Brown's Meadows-'Nash and Boyce's earlier version of this model. The afternoon merged into early evening with three more vintage/p.v.t. handicaps. Warden's 1930 Meadows Frazer Nash dominated the first, Master's blown PB M.G. came through to win the second, and the last race went to Bentley's Bentley, which took the lead on the second lap. – W. B.
Oulton Park pickings
Colin Crabbe arrived in a big vintage Hispano-Suiza tourer with extra speedometer and clock for the benefit of those riding in its tonneau. It is said to be ex-Zborowski.
Amongst some very odd "pseudo-racer" specials of Riley, Alvis and Austin 7 origins, the Whittaker/Stott Ulster Austin looked reasonably original, with Alta head and Solex carburetter.
Much was made by the Fleet Street Press of Ann Shoosmith's baby, but motherhood has not affected her determined way of dealing With race "traffic" in her 3 1/2-litre Derby-built Bentley! She passed slower cars like a dose of vintage Enos. The V12 Delage had a bad fit of mis-firing but Clutton got it home eighth in the Seaman and it ran much better for Jonty Williamson in a later handicap race. A car not seen for many years was the Gray/Stirling 1933 Fraser Nash Nurburg.
Gahagan's 2-litre E.R.A. was feeling the heat or its age and was last in both its races.
Cairnes kept his 4.3 Alvia Special, with wings on, ahead of Blight's Talbot in the Historic Seaman but the latter chalked-up another success by winning on handicap. The Alvis was towed to Oulton Park on a trailer behind a very wilting £32 Alvis TA21 saloorn. Cairnes also raced a 12/70 Alvis tourer, with its screen erect. Gue's low chassis 4 1/2 Invicta had two outside exhaust pipes but retained another exhaust pipe, presumably to use with an inside system when it isn't racing. A post-war Armstrong Siddeley was boiling its way about the Paddock.
Slowest through the time-trap seems to have been Arnold-Forster's Anzani Frazer Nash, at 57.2 m.p.h, It was in and out of the pits, in a 4-lap race! Fast limes were those of Brewer's Aston Martin (111.1 m.p.h), Crabbe's Maserati (116.1), Wilks' Lotus (119.2), Clydesdale's Maserati (118.5), Boorer's Lotus (111.1) and Lindsay in "Remus" (110.4).