BOC Classic Prescott

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The Bugatti OC holds many excellent Prescott hill-climbs during the season, the next being the Members’ Summer Meeting on July 2nd, while the penultimate round of the RAC Hill-Climb Championship happens on September 2nd/3rd and the V SC C will be there, over the old shorter course, on August 5th/6th. On June 4th the 5th Classic fixture offered something on the nostalgia theme, because many of us who have known the attractive BOC venue since it opened in 1938 were enticed back, for a Cavalcade up the course, on Prescott’s 40th birthday

Those present, too many to list individually, included Cecil Clutton, C B E , who took Guy Griffiths up in the 1908 Itala, which now has a neat new body, with three spare wheels piled behind the seats, A. S. Heal, Peter Habershon who raced Maseratis, Sir Anthony Stamer, David Scott-Moncrieff, who had broken the cylinder block of the 30/98 he intended to run, the Club President Eric Giles, J. Roy Taylor, JP , Sonia Rolt, Peter Hampton, who ascended in the majesty of his magnificent white 36/220 Mercedes-Benz (Motor Sport September, 1975), L. M. Ballamy in a 12/60 Alvis which preferred going forward to reversing, Jack Lemon Burton, Harold Hastings, Ted Eves, Richard Shakespeare, Jack Crowther, Bob Ansell, Rupert Instone, G. H. Symonds, J. M. P. Dowson, J. C. Byrom, George Mackie, Doc. Taylor (who was also competing), Jack Newton, Rivers Fletcher, Ron Barker and the Club President, Eric Giles. This happy Cavalcade of old-timers was opened by Ronnie Symondson, AFC, in a Bugatti, with Elsa Pomeroy as his fair passenger, and Peter Stubberfield was there, to drive his former single-seater 35B Bugatti, now owned by Frank Wall. I was driven up the hill by Peter Gam ier in his immaculately-rebuilt Lancia Aprilia, surely the finest of the pre-war small saloons? This was a reminder of how I made a very good time in one of these cars at the social meeting which preceded the first Prescott hillclimb proper, but only because no-one else had been allowed to see the virgin course beforehand, whereas I had made many ascents of it in the process of reporting on this brave new venue for Motor Sport. At a later meeting I entered an Aprilia but it broke an oil-pipe in practise; someone lent me another at the very last moment, but in the rain, in an unfamiliar car, I prefer to forget the time recorded … I see from the Programme of the June 4th Meeting that, going down to look at Prescott for the first time, I averaged exactly 45 m.p.h. from Hanger Hill, Western Avenue, to Gotherington, in a Fiat Balilla saloon which would not exceed 64 m.p.h. and which had had to negotiate the then-busy towns of Uxbridge and High Wycombe en route, long before the M40 was thought of. So we didn’t drive all that slowly in those days.

Entries at this Classic Meeting included many familiar VSCC cars, such as Arnold-Forster’s 1912 chain-drive 5-litre Bugatti, contesting the Edwardian class with the 12-litre Itala, Llewellyn’s 8-litre Bentley, the Caesar Special, the Monza Lister Jaguar, Williamson’s 10 1/2-litre V12 Delage, etc. There were many Morgan three-wheelers competing, grouped together in the orchard Paddock and, just below Ettore’s field, the Bugatti competitors were similarly grouped, while a big marquee above the permanent restaurant marked the festive occasion. At lunch a signed programme was collected, to send to Raymond Mays, with congratulations on his C B E – recognition of a driver who was so frequently master of Prescott in his black ERA R4B/R4D. – W.B.