VSCC Oulton Park Race Meeting
The Vintage SCC held its first meeting at the shortened 1.65-mile Oulton Park circuit on June 14th, when many competitors expressed their dislike of the new sharp righthand corner after the Cascades. The concrete kerb on the outside of this corner was also criticised, and it was responsible for Freddie Giles tearing the sump-plug out of the Cognac Special and Peter Morley pulling the n/s rear wheel off its hub when the Bentley-Napier ran wide. Later this great car was badly damaged in an accident at the same corner.
Watched by the Historic Cars Sub-Committee of the FIA, with Count Lurani present, the meeting opened with a 5-lap Scratch Race for vintage and p.v.t. cars of under 1,700 c.c. Eyre, in Miles' Ulster Austin, after practice dramas that involved borrowing another front axle, took the lead two laps from the finish and was followed home by Whale's 1932 Frazer Nash and Burton's ex-Evans Ulster Aston Martin with four-seater body. Batho's Amilcar-Riley won its class. Dawson's rare Vernon-Crossley and Naylor's Rapier proved closely matched.
Next came the 16-lap Richard Seaman Vintage Trophy Race. Morley led away in the 24-litre Bentley-Napier, but was over taken by the Club's President, Bernard Kain, in his Type 35B Bugatti on lap 2 and on lap 3 the bigger car hit the kerb aforementioned and pulled the hub out of its left-hand Firestone-shod rear wheel, the car coming to rest across the course, Morley standing up in the cockpit. This put Giles in the AC-powered Cognac in second place, until he lost oil, as explained above, on lap 8 and retired, a very cross man. Schellenberg in the 8-litre Barnato-Hassan then occupied second position but Kain was in no danger, because the ex-Brooklands car was slowing with clutch slip. So they finished, the Bugatti averaging over 70 m.p.h. Giles had done best lap, at 72.61 m.p.h., before his sump-rubbing excursion. McWhir, changing up on every lap by the Motor bridge, ran in a good third in his AC-engined Frazer Nash, ahead of Warden's Norris-Special.
The first 5-lap Handicap followed, Chilcott winning in a canter in Smith's Frazer Nash from Pollock's 4½-litre Invicta and Askew's blown 1,750 c.c. Alfa Romeo. Elson raced the Humber Nine Special built by the late Dick Caeser. The Spikins Bantam Singer single-seater was off-form.
The Seaman Historic Trophy Race, of 16 laps, was notable because Neil Corner drove the ex-Millais Type-59 3.3 GP Bugatti. Troubled, as ever, by poor brakes, the best it could do was to circulate in 4th place, in spite of the most rubber-consuming start I have ever seen! The race was, however, a grand scrap between the 2-litre ERAs of Martin Morris and John Venables-Llewelyn. Morris kept ahead, both cars sounding a little tired towards the end, the winner lapping at 77.94 m.p.h. and averaging 73.78 m.p.h. In third place throughout, its blower emitting a shrill scream, was the Hon. Patrick Lindsay in his ERA "Remus", which pulled well clear of the 3.3 Bugatti, the latter using a wide line past the pits. Never mind; as Neil said, it looked nice, in supposedly Earl Howe colours. After five laps there had been a flap as Dudley Gahagan waved an arm from his ERA to indicate oil on the course, thought to have come from Mann's Alfa Romeo, but the oil flags were quickly out. Blight drove back into the Paddock after only one lap, the Invincible Talbot BGH 23 refusing to relinquish third gear.
A varied field then lined up for another 5-lap Handicap. Mather's metal-panelled M-type MG led away but it was Whittaker's 1928 4-litre Chrysler Special, now with wire instead of wooden-spoked wheels, that came through to win, at over 60½ m.p.h., followed by Oddie's 328 BMW, that had made best lap at 66.01 m.p.h., and Ridley's Speed-25 Alvis Special. The Alvis beat Firth's 4½-litre Lagonda by a whisker and got so hot in the process that it immediately came into the Paddock, sizzling like a cauldron. Corner then ran away with the 20-lap All-Corners' Scratch Race, in his smoothly-driven Maserati 250F, with no opposition in sight after eight laps. Away behind came Cottam in his 1953 Connaught, sans tail and its nose cowl dented in practice by Footitt, and Lindsay in his 250F Maserati locked, as they say, in combat, Lindsay occupying 2nd place for five out of the first seven laps. After Lindsay had spun on lap 12 and later dropped right back it was Simon Phillips in his Cooper-Bristol who finished third. But in the closing stages the remarkable Martin Morris pressed him very hard in ERA R11B, which was the first pre-war car to finish. Morley had made a strong bid to beat the entire field but, sadly, the Bentley-Napier had crashed on the first lap, apparently snaking first one way, then the other, under braking, going on the grass at the new right-hand corner, then rolling over more than once. Fortunately, Morley was flung out. He was taken to Crewe Infirmary, where two broken ribs formed the early diagnosis. The car was considerably damaged, the radiator being pushed back onto the Napier Lion engine and spokes broken in the o/s rear wheel, now the smaller Dunlop-shod one, following the earlier incident. The front axle had also been torn-off, making it difficult to reload the car into its Thames transporter. It was all most unfortunate, but accidents happen to racing cars big and small and we sincerely hope the Bentley-Napier will be rebuilt, to race again. And maybe the RAC should take a look at that kerb. Corner lapped at 78.97 m.p.h.; his best over the old circuit was 90.52 m.p.h.
It was good to see that the traditional Frazer Nash and GN Handicap (5 laps) had attracted 29 entrants. Pamela Arnold-Forster went off first in her 1921 GN, inasmuch as she had been given a credit lap. But after three laps it had had enough. Some very quick things were circulating by then, however, and Guy Smith in his Alvis-propelled Norris Special shot past the 200 Mile Race GN of Sam, who had Basil Davenport to urge him on. But it was Warden in the other Norris, the one with the reversed FWD o.h.c. Alvis engine, that won, in spite of the unplaced Smith lapping at 70.89 m.p.h. Second place was taken by Stephenson, the correct Meadows motor having replaced his one-time BMW substitute in the TT Replica 'Nash, and Barry Clarke was a fast third, ahead of the flying McWhir, the Clarke GN still "powered-by-Ford" but now more powerful, as it has a push-rod light-alloy Gemsa head on its model-A cylinder block, which Barry found in Washington, although he said he was not entirely happy about the needles in the dirty great twin SUs.
A mixed 5-lap Handicap was a victory for the "modern" element in VSCC racing, Phillips' Cooper-Bristol coming through from scratch to win from Walton's Connaught. But Tieche's J4 MG was going nicely and finished in third place, holding off Cottam in the other, younger Connaught, which, with Phillips, had also started from scratch. Which indicated how fast the Cooper-Bristol, also a 1953 car, had been going—it set a fastest race lap of 78.89 m.p.h. The meeting finished, about 25 minutes behind its admittedly "approximate" timing, with a 5-lap Scratch event, which Woodley's all-silver ex-"Brutus" Speed-25 Alvis Special, with ¼-elliptic back springs, just took by a whisker from Dunn's lowered ex-Michael 4½-litre Lagonda, a car which has not been seen for some 15 years and which was 3rd in the 1936 BRDC 500 Mile Race, driven by Earl Howe and the Hon. Brian Lewis. Brown's 4½-litre Lagonda, a former saloon, shortened 18 in. and bodied as a Le Mans replica, was third.
So ended a good and varied day's sport, which had commenced with the Cheshire Life beauty-show, 49 immaculate entries giving a snub (or an emphasis?) to inflation. Parker's 1924 30/98 Vauxhall won the Concours d'Elegance Trophy and Mrs. Black's 1932 blown 2.3 Alfa Romeo the D'Etat prize.
Richard Seaman Memorial Vintage Trophy Race:
1st : B. B. D. Kain (Bugatti), 70.09 mph.
2nd : C. K. W. Schellenberg (Barnato-Hassan).
3rd : 13. 14, McWhir (Fraser Nash).
Richard Seaman Memorial Historic Trophy Race:
1st : M. H. Morris (ERA), 73.78 m.p.h.
2nd: J. Venables-Llewelyn (ERA).
3rd : Hon. P. Lindsay (ERA).
All-Corners' Scratch pace:
1st : E. N. Corner (Maserati 250F), 76.78 m.p.h.
2nd : A. S. Cottam (Connaught).
3rd : S. F. Phillips (Cooper-Bristol).
5-lap Scratch Race, Vintage and PVT cars under 1,700 c.c.: M. F. Eyre (Austin 7). 58.81 m.p.h.
5-lap Handicap, Vintage and PVT cars: C. J. Chilcott (Frazer Nash), 60.64 m.p.h.
5-lap Handicap, Vintage and PVT cars: T. Whittaker (Chrysler), 60.59 m.p.h.
5-lap Handicap, Frazer Nash and GN cars: J. T. Warden (Norris Special), 66.16 m.p.h.
5-lap Handicap, Vintage, PVT and Historic cars: S. F. Phillips (Cooper-Bristol), 74.73 m.p.h.
5-lap Scratch Race, Vintage and PVT cars: P. D. Woodley (Alvis Special). 64.19 m.p.h.
Fastest lap of the day: Neil Corner (Maserati 250F). 78.97 m.p.h.
Edwards' Ulster Aston Martin circulated ahead of its usual smokescreen. It is the car raced by Count Lurani, who was there to watch it, in the 1935 Targa Abrozzo race at Pescara.
It was interesting to see the ex-Alan May 30/98 Vauxhall out again, driven by Ghosh. A 1925 car, with a close-coupled four-seater body, it has a boxed chassis with many Rolls-Royce 20 parts, including R-R gearbox and steering gear, and a f.w.b. Hispano-Suiza front axle. It had not been used since 1950.
Another "new" car was Maxwell's twin-cam Salmson, a chassis found in Scotland and endowed with a nice, fabric "1¼-seater" body. Guyall had the odd ex-Husband 3-litre 1931 Talbot, now unsupercharged and painted blue instead of black.
Felton's ex-Baird 1½-litre Maserati, a converted 4CL, caused interest but steamed back into the Paddock after a couple of laps. Liddell's old Brooklands Straker-Squire indulged in some frollics at Lodge corner. Geoffrey St. John had a black Type 35B Bugatti with twin-cam Type-51 engine, ex-Esson-Scott. It was St. John who lent oil-pump gears to Wall, to enable his 35B single-seater to run in its second race, its own gears having sheared before its first engagement. Dean also drove a Type 51 Bugatti in the same race.
There was a nasty happening in practice when the 1924 engine in Glover's 12/50 beetle-back Alvis burst its flywheel as he was standing beside the car. Flying fragments severed an artery in one of Glover's legs but fortunately a doctor was close by. The Scott-Moncrieffs were racing, Bunty in a blown ex-Oats Phoenix Park OM, Avril in her ex-Bear, ex-Whincop Type-57 Bugatti with four SUs and replica TT body. Members had come from Belfast, America and Australia to race. Hodges ran his 1938 Atlanta, powered by a 2-litre BMW engine with enormous blower. Tieche's J4 MG is the car Hamilton drove in the TT and it was David Piper's first competition mount.—W.B.
MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest: The stricken John Morley still leads, with the Bentley-Napier's 36 points scored in two Silverstone wins. Second to date is John Venables-Llewelyn (ERA), with 31 points, followed by C. D. Jones (Riley Special), with 26 points. Next round: Silverstone, July 26th.