VSCC Oulton Park Race Meeting

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(June 16th)

The Vintage SCC Oulton Park Meeting reminded me a little of those smaller Club days at Brooklands, when everything was very unhurried and you went down as much to be sociable as to take the racing very seriously. Some of the VSCC races had a sparcity of runners, there were delays in marshalling the handicap grids, and during the afternoon I counted only 22 people in the grandstand facing the start and finish lines. But it was nice to be there in the sunshine and meet one’s friends.

The sad thing was that Corner could not bring his W125 Mercedes Benz, to try to reverse the result of his Monaco battle against Martin Morris. Although the Mercedes had been driven since Monaco with great determination, I gather, by Fangio at Donington, it developed a dislike of staying in gear, and although billed originally to appear, it was not even in the VSCC entry list. (The Club informed the Press, but postal delays presumably prevented the news carrying very far.)

On June 16th, after Humphrey Milling’s 30/98 Vauxhall had won the Cheshire Life Trophy in the “Beauty Show”, and Parker’s 1934 2300 Alfa Romeo the Martini Trophy therein, racing commenced with a 5-lap Handicap. Symons’ smart 100 m.p.h. low-chassis Invicta two-seater ran away with this, from P. Newman’s (no, not that Newman) ERA-like 1 1/2-litre Riley Special and Whale’s Interceptor Frazer Nash. Greater speed was promised for the Vintage Seaman Trophy race, all the “big-ones” being run over 16 laps. In his customary style Footitt ran right away from everyone else, in the Cognac, only to suffer anxiety in the closing stages, when the AC Six engine went sick, the No. 4 rocker pedestal having broken. He was well clear, however, winning at 73.2 m.p.h. For six laps Kain, making a welcome reappearance in his Type 35B Bugatti, ran second, but Tim Llewellyn in the 8.3-litre Bentley then got past, equalling Footitt’s fastest lap of 74.8 m.p.h. Moffat, in Wall’s Type 35B Bugatti, had been third for four laps but he then dropped back, and retired on lap seven, having lost third gear, so Kain finished third behind the Bentley. The only other driver to go the full distance was Stuart Harper’s very impressive 1926 two-speed Aero Morgan 3-wheeler, with 998 cc twin carb., twin mag. air-cooled o.h.v. JAP engine, ably upholding “tricycle-honour”. And winning on handicap, too.

The next five-lapper only lasted two laps, to begin with, because it was stopped after the Ulster Austins of Winder and Hutchings had come together at Druids. Out went ambulance and fire -jeep, but the drivers turned out to be only scratched, the bodies of the Ulsters having suffered the greater damage; a pity, especially as one was an original shell, apparently. Bad luck that this shunt should cause a short Club race to be stopped when in the Ards TTs, for instance, all manner of wreckage had to be dragged clear but the races weren’t stopped. . . . When it was re-run Ulph’s Austin Cambridge single-seater won from Harvey’s nicely-original 1935 pre-selector Riley Lynx tourer followed by the locked-in-combat Aston Martin of Edwards and Colmore Frazer Nash of Johnson.

After the hold-up came the Historic Seaman. I would have put my money on Martin Morris, who was on row one of the grid with Lindsay and Bill Morris. But it was “Remus” that ran away and nothing Martin could do in his 2-litre ERA got him to within about five seconds of the smaller ERA. Indeed the Hon. Patrick Lindsay drove one of the best races of his long career, winning unchallenged at 78.12 m.p.h. and breaking the 1977 pre-war lap record, with a circuit at 79.71 m.p.h. – 0.95 m.p.h. quicker than Morris’ old record in a 2-litre ERA! Bill Morris in “Hanuman” had a close-fought battle to keep Peter Mann’s white ERA out of third place, and no-one else ran the distance, Colbourne’s Maserati finishing a lap down, but ahead of Moffat in ERA R3A (which had burst a blower-feed oil pipe in practice). Chris Mann was next, in an interesting P3 Alfa Romeo, with a two-seater-wide body. It is the ex-Shuttleworth car that crashed in S. Africa, rebuilt in this form, and it has been in America for some time. Jack Bartlett is believed to have owned it, also. It finished ahead of Day’s ERA with the enlarged engine. Felton’s 2300 c.c. Alfa Romeo won on handicap.

The next five-lapper took a long time to get going, as the Commentator noticed. When it did, it produced some excitement. Previous winner Symons stopped immediately to look for an elusive gear in the Invicta, before resuming. There was some “grassing” into Old Hall, Harper in that very quick Morgan being baulked, Faitley’s TT Replica Frazer Nash doing some of the “mowing”, and Barker sliding backwards into the bank at Knicker Brook, denting the o/s rear helmet wing of the replica Le Mans V12 Lagonda. Through all this Mawbey in a Brooklands Riley 9 won, from Dunham’s “veteran” (also Brooklands) Alvis, with the marvellous Morgan, which had lapped at 71.05 m.p.h., best in the race, third.

So to the Allcomers’, in which race Bruce Halford showed his absolute superiority, in the Lotus 16, only Macpherson’s Cooper-Bristol managing to finish on the same lap. Simpson’s Cooper-Bristol was a lap down on these two at the finish, with Rollason fourth in Day’s 2.2-litre ERA, in which he had passed the few straggling pre-war cars by a determined effort. Halford averaged 81.72 m.p.h. and lapped at 83.28 m.p.h. With only six finishers, Margulies’ 4CL Maserati having stopped with negative oil pressure, this VSCC race for the later historic single-seater racing cars became very tame. Lockhart brought in the Rover Special in ahead of Walton in the Connaught, which had broken its de Dion tube in practise.

The Melville Trophy Handicap had only eight runners, Horton’s Type 43 Bugatti non-starting due to a lifting cylinder block. Intended for road-equipped sports cars. Llewellyn’s big Bentley was permitted to run with only one lamp and Elwell-Smith’s Aston Martin with none, and one driver whose car had two headlamps had omitted to tape them over. Then Elwell-Smith jumped the flag and was penalised, so the results are a bit obscure. Anyway, Farquhar’s Riley 9 took it, from the Bentley, Elwell-Smith being moved down to third, on the paper-finish. A patient wait for the last 5-lap handicap and we saw Felton’s Alfa Romeo pull it off, from the odd P3 Alfa Romeo of Chris Mann and the Riley TT Sprite of Colin Readey.

The Oulton Park Press service was efficient, even if we hard-working journalists no longer qualify for free sandwiches, and it was fun to follow Warburton’s healthy-sounding 1923 20/70 Crossley two-seater over the exit-bridge. Hero of the day? – Lindsay, who not only won the Historic Seaman in such style, but held second place in his pre-war ERA for the first two laps the Allcomers’, until the engine had had enough, presumably with the habitual magneto malady. — W.B.

Results:

Seaman Vintage Trophy Race:

1st. G. R. Footitt (Cognac Special). 73.2 m.p.h.

2nd. T. C. Llewellyn (Bentley)

3rd. B. B. D. Kant (Bugatti)

Seaman Historic Trophy Race:

1st Hon. P. Lindsay (ERA), 78.12 m.p.h.

2nd M. H. Morris (ERA)

3rd. W. R. G. Morris (ERA)

Allcomers’ Race:

1st B. H. Halford (Lotus), 81.72 m.p.h.

2nd. R. J. S. Macpherson (Cooper-Bristol)

3rd. B. J. Simpson (Cooper-Bristol)

Melville Trophy Race:

A N Farquhar (Riley), 63.96 m.p.h.

First 5-lap Handicap:

W. H. Symons (Invicta), 63.60 m.p.h.

Second 5-lap Handicap:

D. K. Ulph (Austin), 61.60 m.p.h.

Third 5-lap Handicap:

N. Mawbey (Riley), 58.17 m.p.h.

Fourth 5-lap Handicap:

R. Felton (Alfa Romeo), 60.62 m.p.h.

Fastest Lap of the Day:

Halford (Lotus), 83.28 m.p.h.

Positions to date in the 1979 Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest:

D. R. Hine (Lagonda), 44 points: W. R. G. Morris (ERA), 42 points: A. D. Dolton (MG), 36 points: A. I. Stirling (Norris Special) and the Hon. P. Lindsay (ERA) 31 points each. Next round: VSCC Silverstone. July 28th.

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Obituaries

Russell Brockbank

We are sorry to record the death of a man whose talent has afforded so much amusement to so many, the cartoonist Russell Brockbank, who succumbed to a long illness in hospital on May 14th at the age of sixty-six. Motoring enthusiasts will remember Russell Brockbank particularly for his hilarious Major Upset cartoons in The Motor and Motor for very many years. A man with a good technical knowledge of motoring machinery and an eye for humorous interpretations of ordinary motoring experiences, Brockbank was happiest when drawing vintage cars, which he achieved with accuracy. He was a perceptive student of human character, too, exemplified by the hirsute Major Upset. But Brockbank’s talents were not restricted to the motor car and its operators: as Art Editor of Punch from 1949 to 1960 he made a major contribution to English political and social commentary through his mockingly critical cartoonist’s hand.

* * *

Capt. G. E. T. Eyston, OBE, MC, etc.

We deeply regret to learn of the death of Capt. George Eyston, sportsman, gentleman, and about the most versatile racing-driver and record-breaker of all time; appreciation next month.

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