VSCC Oulton Park race meeting

The Vintage Sports Car Club’s enjoyable Seaman Trophies Meeting was held under ideal weather conditions on June 17th. The races from which it takes its title are the Richard Seaman Vintage and Historic Trophy events, each over 16 laps of the 1.654 mile road circuit.

The first of these was very good value, because we saw an intrepid Freddie Giles keep Ron Footitt’s AC-powered GN Cognac Special well out in front of Harvey Hine in David Llewellyn’s 8-litre Bentley 2-seater, for seven laps. Then the “heavy metal” got by and stormed away to win, but Freddy always had the Bentley in sight and even closed up on it on lap 13. Hine averaged 73.85 m.p.h. but Giles lapped faster, at 75.85 m.p.h., a new vintage lap-record, beating his previous best by 1.42 m.p.h. Third place went to Kain’s Type 35B Bugatti, which sounded a bit “flat” , and in a separate race behind him McWhir’s AC-Frazer Nash held off the smart Type 35B Bugatti of Nick Mason, a car assembled from a load of bits, but lacking a crankshaft, so that a new one had to be cobbled up, they say at a cost of £2,000, making this 5th place all the more creditable. Balmer’s long-tailed 4 1/2-litre Bentley won the handicap but Russell’s 8-litre Bentley only lasted for two laps. Mrs. Ford, wife of the Chairman of Cheshire CC, presented the laurel-wreath, after which Hine took Giles with him on his lap of honour.

The Historic Seaman race was notable because the Hon. Patrick Lindsay had virtually risen from his hospital bed to drive his ERA “Remus” . Rival Chris Mann, who was driving the ex-Waller ERA, had lent a magneto for “Remus” , jokingly remarking that it had been specially prepared to last only 15 laps! Lindsay drove splendidly, gaining a big lead inspite of a slight misfire when, sure enough, the magneto did pack up, after 14 laps, when no-one was in sight of the blue and yellow ERA. Lindsay had lapped Gahagan’s 2-litre ERA by 11 laps and his best lap was at 77.84 m.p.h. a grand performance. Now Mann went on to win, at 74.78 m.p.h., from Marsh’s ex-Seaman ERA and Fielding’s 6C Maserati. Martin Morris was absent, as his ERA R 11B needs new con-rods, and Summers’ Type 34 Maserati alas lasted only one lap. Back in the field Brian Classic, using the grass, had his ERA ahead of Margulies’ 4CL Maserati but could not catch Footitt in the Cognac. Cranage (MG) won the handicap.

Fitting another magneto, Lindsay came out for the 20-lap Allcomers’ Race, and again he drove the ERA “Remus” splendidly, the only driver, in his pre-war car to keep in sight of a flying Ronnie Macpherson in his 1953 Cooper-Bristol. Bruce Halford, whose Lotus 16 many people thought would show the VSCC chaps how to do it, had gone straight on at the first corner in practise and the car was too badly damaged to start. Retirements made this race some five laps too long to hold our interest, and there were really two races, Lindsay chasing the Cooper-Bristol, until the ERA’s engine tightened up after a gallant 11 laps, and behind Pilkington’s Talbot-Lago keeping Simpson’s Mk.1 Cooper-Bristol, and Vine’s Mk.1 Cooper-Bristol, at bay, the latter able to stop and restart out on the circuit without being caught by the Monza Lister Jaguar. Langton’s Cooper-Bristol broke a driveshaft and came in with a rear wheel almost detached, and Merritt’s HW Alta tailed the field. The winning Cooper-Bristol lapped at 78.14 m.p.h. and averaged 76.70 m.p.h. and although in and out of the pits, Peter Mann in ERA R9B had a healthy car between times (fuel pressure problems?) and took the Pre-War award.

Of the supporting races, the first 6-lap Scratch Race saw “ Veteran” Elwell-Smith come through to win in his International Aston Martin from Threlfall’s V8 Lancia that had been tipped to do this, third place going to Dolton’s blown 939 c.c. MG. On the final lap of the 5-lap Handicap that followed Smith’s Anzani Frazer Nash passed McGrath’s Austin Nippy, with Winder’s Ulsterbodied Austin third. Gordon drove an orange Chummy Austin 7 with two aero-screens, shades of the George Chaplin days of long ago. . . The next Handicap was won by Burton’s 2-litre Aston Martin, which has the engine from Dick Seaman’s “ Red Dragon” . He led all the way but it was a very close finish, Whittaker’s neat 4-litre 1928 Chrysler, which has recently had its ports cleaned up and which displays twin bunched exhaust manifolds, being half-a-length behind as they crossed the line, the American car having all but made up its 30 sec. handicap penalty. There was also quite a bunch closely contesting third place, which was taken by Duffy’s Alvis-Riley Special. Walker, in McGrath’s Austin, looked like winning the third Handicap, but was swamped a lap from home. Burton won again, from Rushton’s M-type MG, and Liddell’s backbraked Straker Squire, passing more modern vehicles anywhere it could, was a magnificent third. Orttewell’s 1930 James Young 1750 Alfa Romeo coupe, which had won the Cheshire Life Concours D ’Elegance Award, its hood now “Remus” flying in Lindsay’s hands. furled, was beaten in the bunched finish but how nice to see a “ beauty-prize” car also being raced. The Martini Trophy on the Concours de Maintenance was won by Green’s 1934 4 1/2-litre Lagonda and Attock was given a special award for having competed every year since 1953, with his 1929 Alvis, which is in regular use.

Back to the racing, Hine showed that his previous win was no fluke, by cleaning up the 7- lap Class Handicap and the Melville Trophy with the big blue Bentley, from Farquhar’s T T Riley 9 and Eyre’s Ulster-bodied Austin, the other classwinners being Tony Jones’ Frazer Nash and Threlfall’s Lancia, the Geoghegan Trophy going to Farquhar. The final Handicap was a victory for Chris Mann’s Monza Alfa Romeo in an exciting scrap, the Talbot-Lago second, and Macpherson, who lapped at 78.35 m.p.h., fastest of the day, third from scratch. It was a good ending to a fine afternoon’s racing, at the circuit ably managed by Rex Foster. – W.B.