VSCC Oulton Park

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Ron Footitt (Cognac), Martin Morris (ERA) and Willie Green (Maserati) Win The Big Ones

In dull but dry weather the Vintage SCC held another successful race meeting at the OuIton Park road circuit in Cheshire on June 18th. The important events at this Richard Seaman Memorial Trophies Meeting are the two 16-lap Scratch races for vintage and historic cars. In the vintage race Willie Green’s 1927 GP Delage was among the non-runners and on the grid Hamish Moffatt was excluded from driving Wall’s monoposto 35B Bugatti because its sump was dripping a little oil. The race was a rather stirring procession, Footitt in the AC-powered Cognac Special running right away from Bernard Rain’s Type 3513 Bugatti, and these two drawing well away from McWhir’s Frazer Nash and Hine’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley, the Bentley overtaking the Frazer Nash on lap four. The only other car in the running was Warden’s Norris Special, with FWD Alvis o.h.c. engine, a single-seater which is taxed for road use. It held 5th place until the oil-pressure dropped, causing its retirement and letting Chawner in the Chawner-GN up one. Kain’s Bugatti may have been off-form, as it non-started in a subsequent race; certainly it could do nothing about the Cognac, which lapped at 73.69 M.p.h. and averaged 71.01 m.p.h., crossing the finishing-line with Kain out of sight.

The Historic Race was more interesting. Martin Morris had won it six times since 1969, four times in succession. Would the wet-sump 2-litre ERA R11B manage it again? There were only four cars really racing, of which ERA R3A conducted by Moffatt led from Morris, Merrick in the veteran ERA1A, and Chris Mann in the white ex-Waller ERA R9B. On lap four Mann, who looked to be in winning form, spun and was out. Two laps later and Morris was challenging Moffatt. When an oil-pipe broke and Moffatt spun on his own oil, the 2-litre ERA moved into first place. The leaders were by now spaced out, Merrick behind Morris, the Hon. Patrick Lindsay third in the ERA “Remus” and Bill Morris next, in the ERA “Romulus”, until he stopped on lap eight, letting Pat Marsh in ERA R1B up a place. Morris’ leading ERA left the outcome wide open when it went onto five cylinders, hotly pursued by Lindsay, who was driving superbly and who took Merrick when the latter made a grassmowing mistake on lap 14. Martin held off Lindsay, to win his seventh Seaman, Merrick third, Marsh fourth. But it was the irrepressible Mann who had lapped fastest, at 77.73 m.p.h. The Handicap in the Vintage Seaman went to Liddell’s Straker-Squire; in this Historic Seaman the Handicap Section was won by Dunham’s Alvis – both ex-Brooklands cars.

The 20-lap Allcomers’ Scratch Race was dominated by Willie Green in Anthony Bamford’s 1958 Maserati 250F, car no. 2534, once driven by Masten Gregory, and rescued from the Turin Museum. In a race full of Cooper-Bristols and Mann’s 250F, Green was in complete command. In fact, on lap two he came into his pit pretending that a hub-cap was loose,just to show his contempt for the opposition. By doing this he dropped front 1st to 8th place. He was back in 5th place by lap four, was 4th on lap five, 3rd on lap six. and in the lead again by lap nine. I do not approve of such self-imposed pit-stops, especially so early in she race. But it proved how very fast the Bamford 250F is – it had won at VSCC Silverstone and although Green slowed to give Macpherson, who had led to lap eight in the exWharton Copper-Bristol (once said to have been Holden-powered), a race, even letting him lead again on lap 16, the Maserati averaged 77.97 m.p.h. and did its best lap at 82.02 m.p.h. Afterwards Green admitted that Simon Phillips was a strong adversary. This driver led from lap two until lap seven in his ex-Gerard Cooper-Bristol (rumoured to have once been Jaguar-engined) but then went off the course, damaging the car’s rear-end. (Had a camera been handy, the sight of him being brought back to the Paddock facing rearwards, suspended from the crane of a tow-truck, would have made a nice “Tailpiece”!) Macpherson finished and, the splendid ERA of Martin Morris 3rd, the latter netting the Pre-War Award, with lap at 78.76 m.p.h. – faster than he went in winning the Historic Seaman and breaking his own Pre-War cars lap-record.

An innovation was having the 7-lap Handicap for the Melville and Geoghegan Trophies in three capacity classes. Farquhar’s well-known Riley 9 won, taking the Melville Trophy. Llewellyn in Hine’s Bentley was a fast second, and Conway, Junr’s Type 37A Bugatti third. Supporting races included a 6-lap Handicap won by Edwards’ UIster Aston Martin from S. Mann’s replica Alpine Trial Talbot (lapping at 61.77 m.p.h.), and Garfitt’s Type 55 BMW. Then in a 5-lap handicap Johnson’s Meadows Frazer Nash came through on the final lap to win very easily from Rushton’s M-type MG and Colbourne’s 1.8-litre Riley, Whittaker’s 1928 Chrysler, its wooden body now fabric-covered, and with bigger twin carburetters, making fastest lap at 63.48 m.p.h.; but was boiling furiously after its next race. Marsh’s 1922 Sports Morris non-started, having de-spoked a wheel in practice.

Another 5-lap Handicap was won by Duffy’s pointed-tail Riley Special with Alvis Speed-25 engine and had the delightful result that a couple of vee-twin-engined cars came home 2nd and 3rd. The first was Robin Richmond’s new “Chain Gang” racer, consisting of a 1926 push-rod o.h.v. Blackburne-powered Morgan 3-wheeler made into a 2-speed four-wheeler by the addition of a GN back-axle which accelerated like no-one’s business and seemed safely stable, but which shed the top of its carburettor float-chamber in the excitement. The other was that hard-trier, the 1925/30 Chawner ON-JAP, which crackled to a best lap of 65.72 m.p.h.

Another 6-lap Scratch Race was a victory for Campbell, who ambitiously took most of those ahead of his 328 BMW on the outside of Foster’s bend, Lees-Milne’s Leaf-SS and Dods’ AC chased the German car home, displaying fine sets of external exhaust piping, the AC doing fastest lap, at 67.97 m.p.h. A final 5-lap Handicap saw the luckless Macpherson very heavily penalised but well up after lapping at 78.97 m.p.h., leaders coming over the line in a tight bunch, Barbet’s Riley 9 Special just in from of’ Dunham’s Alvis and Dunn’s 4 Lagonda.

A meeting up to standard, at which Bill Summers at last got his six-cylinder Type 34 Maserati going quite well. Margulies’ 4CL Maserati did only about 200 yards before retiring and Ray Fielding made a bad start and was having mis-firing problems in the Earl of Moray’s a 2 1/2-litre 8C Maserati. Parker’s ex-Davenport BHD Special went very well in its first race but the Monza Lister Jaguar non-started. We noticed that Howard had promoted himself from Amilcar to rype 40 Bugatti, in a car dismantled for spares in 1936, which had remained unassembled for 40 years. – W.B.

* * *

The third VSCC race meeting of 1977 will take place at Silverstone on July 30th. It includes the Boulogne Trophy Race for vintage racing cars, a 15-lap race for historic racing cars, a handicap for sports cars over 3-litres, etc. Entries close first post on July 7th and the first race will start at approximately 13.15 hours. This meeting counts for points in the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest, the latest score in which is shown above. – W. B.

* * *

Apologies to The Transport Trust, for it was they who organised the Historic Silver Jubilee Tribute at Ascot on May 8th, not “The Historic Vehicle Trust”, to whom we wrongly attributed the achievement in the June issue. In fact The Transport Trust were actively involved in both the Windsor and Ascot events over that spectacular weekend. Trust Council member John Schroder was Chairman of the main committee and Trust Vice-Chairman Paul Sutherland was Chairman of the committee responsible for the Ascot Show. Both were presented to Her Majesty the Queen prior to the Rolls-Royce Cavalcade at Windsor.

The Transport Trust, under the patronage of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and registered under the Charities Act, is described as the national trust for the preservation of Britain’s transport heritage and has its HQ at 18 Ramillies Place, London W1V 2BA (01-734 .3590).

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