VSCC Oulton Park

The annual Vintage SCC race meeting at OuIton Park on June 14th was delayed by three factors, the rain, an accident, and loss of telephonic communication with the marshals’ posts. But by reducing the length of the longer races the meeting was eventually successfully completed. An innovation at this Richard Seaman Memorial Trophies Meeting was the inclusion of two Lloyds & Scottish Historic Car Races, thus bringing in professional drivers like Stirling Moss and Willie Green; does one now smell a trace of sponsorship, so far unassociated with VSCC racing?

The programme opened with a Scratch Race over six laps, in which Cliffe in Hudson’s Ulster Aston Martin ran right away from everyone else, although Brydon’s Alvis Speed-20 did later cross the line in second place, followed by third place man Cobb in his British-Salmson-engined Frazer Nash. The timekeepers seem to have been so surprised that no speed was quoted. . .

The 16-lap Seaman Vintage Scratch Race, for pre-1931 racing cars, came next. Footitt led Moffatt away but the Bugatti soon got past the Cognac. Alas, on lap four Brian Weeks, who had been throwing his vintage Morgan Super Aero three-wheeler at the corners on the very wet course, lost it at Druids and the car rolled over and over, causing the race to be red-flagged to a halt. Weeks was miraculously unhurt. He ascribed his spectacular prang to better grip from the two front tyres than from the solitary rear one. The race was restarted in the lap four order, now to be run over 12 laps. This time Moffatt in Wall’s single-seater Type 35B Bugatti kept Footitt at bay from the commencement and ran away with it, Ron game, but unable to keep pace with Hamish’s best lap of 68.52 mph. To show that three-wheelers are not really unstable, Syd Harper kept his astonishing 1926 Morgan in third place for a while, but dropped out, allowing Tim Llewellyn in the 8.3-litre Bentley two-seater to adopt this place, in a separate race behind the two leaders. However, Willie Green, in Anthony Bamford’s beautifully restored 1927 11/2-litre GP Delage — a very appropriate car at this Seaman Meeting — just got past the Bentley before the finish, on a very good drive on the Delage’s first competition appearance in a VSCC event. The vee-twin engines of “Salome” and the BHD GN didn’t like the weather but Symons’ 1925 GP Aston Martin and Martin Eyre’s Ulster Austin 7 beat Moffatt on handicap.

A five-lap handicap came next and was a victory for Sober’s neat 1932 Wolseley Hornet Special with the later 1935 1.6-litre overhead camshaft engine. He won easily from Hermandez’ Austin 7 and Davney’s 1936 MG that elected to gain speed from a 1929 Riley 9 engine. Mrs Pilkington upheld the “equal sex” with a fine run in her covetable 1929 blown 1750 Alfa Romeo team car, setting fastest lap on the wet course at 57.75 rnph, and Sevier managed fourth place first time out in his Sunbeam Speed 20.

Reduced to ten from 16 laps the Seaman Historic Scratch Race, for pre-1941 racing cars, ran again in very wet conditions, was convincing proof of the competitiveness and great driving ability of that enthusiastic exponent of historic racing, the Hon Patrick Lindsay. He was never overtaken in the ERA R5B “Remus”, now in 2-litre form. Although Martin Morris equalled “Remus” fastest lap, at 71.14 mph, he could not get past the flying Lindsay, his ERA R11B, finishing 1.3 sec in arrears. Moreover, this was an ERA procession, because Bill Morris, making a welcome reappearance at the wheel of Narita Chakrabomgse’s ex-“Bira” 11/2-litre R2B “Romulus”, was third, although 24.8 sec behind Martin Morris at the finish. Footitt in the Cognac managed fourth, in his unblown six-cylinder racer. On handicap it was Roscoe (Alvis), Whale (Frazer Nash) and Newman (Riley), in that order. Colbome’s Maserati retired, Ben Morris spun ERA R12B “Hanurnan”, and later Peter Mann got ERA R9B off the course.

Perhaps the handicappers were too damp to care, but Seber had a very easy win in the second of the two five-lap Handicaps, in his Wolseley Hornet, and Brydon’s Alvis was again second, ahead of Eyrc’s Ulster Austin,the FWD-like Alvis confection lapping fastest, at 60.33 mph. Kukla coped with front-wheel tramp in his high-tailed Sunbeam Speed-20.

So to the Lloyds & Scottish Single-Seater Championship Race, for cars up to 1960, a race down from the intended 16 to ten laps, as there had been a further delay finding a replacement fuse for the circuit telephones! (Someone asked what they did about telephones in the Mille Migla!) Moss was to drive the Anthony Bamford Ferrari Dino 246 and Green Bamford’s Maserati 250F, and in practice Stirling had lapped 0.5 sec quicker than Willie. So the patient and very damp spectators were anticipating a good scrap, when Moss emerged from his VW-Audi hospitality caravan. It wasn’t to happen. Green got away splendidly, whereas Moss made a poor start. This brought him into the congestion at the first comer and the Ferrari was shunted by Bond’s Marsh Plant Hire Aston Martin DBR4, which burst a tyre. The Ferrari suffered a slight dent to its nose but Moss went on. However, the Maserati was now out of Stirling’s sight (and ability to catch), beautifully driven, Willie braking hard, on the slippery road, before turning into Old Hall corner. He was followed by Macpherson’s Cooper-Bristol and, great indeed, by Lindsay’s pre-war ERA! After the first lap Moss was eighth, with these cars and also Pilkington’s fast Talbot-Lago, Martin Morris’ ERA, Chapman’s Monza Lister-Jaguar and Bruce Halford’s Lotus16 ahead of him. Another lap and Stirling was fourth, and next time round on the still-wet track he was in second place. But he was never to get to grips with Green, who finished 21.6 sec ahead, even after easing off. The Maserati had lapped at 76.05 mph. To my mind quite the best thing about this “pirate” race was Lindsay in the 1936 ERA finishing in third place, ahead of the Cooper/Bristol, Morris’ ERA, the Monza Lister and the Lotus 16. The Talbot-Lago and Mann’s Alfa Romeo Tips B were in ninth and tenth places, ahead of Rothschild’s Maserati 250F. Proof that the pre-war and 1950s cars can still hold their own. . . .

The Lloyds & Scottish Sports Car Championship Race that came next was entirely processional, Gerry Marshall’s Marsh Plant Hire 1959 Lister-Jaguar, headlamps ablaze, leading throughout from David Ham’s 1958 ListerJaguar, with Michael Bowler’s Pace Petroleum Classic Car Team 1959 Lister-Jaguar third, followed by two more of these cars, Barry Simpson’s tubular-space-frame car job finishing fourth. Chris Drake in the ex-Scragg HWM-Jaguar was sixth. Moss was a non-runner, having been unable to select the right gear when he wanted it in practice, in his own Cooper-Monaco. Spectacular, but dull!

There remained a final six-lap Handicap, won by Roanoe’s big Alvis, from Guy Smith’s Alvis-Frazer Nash. Freddie Giles, deputising unnoticed by the officials for Janet Giles, was leading in “Salome”, which now specs a mysterious box on the front, but got into the mud at Old Hall on the last lap, which dropped him to third, ahead of Sir John Venable-Llewelyn’s ERA R4A. Macpherson tried hard in the ex-Wharton Cooper-Bristol, doing best lap, at 71.48 mph.

The delayed meeting ended with a presentation of a cheque to Jim Whyman, of contributions from over 700 VSCC members all over the World, on his retirement from the position of the Club’s Competition Secretary since 1978; his successor is Martin Grant Peterkin. The course-car, by the way, had been a vintage Bentley and the traditional Cheshire Life Concours d’Elegance in which 36 beautiful motor cars took part, from a 1914 Swift to 1936 AC and Aston Martin, had as the winner B Green’s Lagonda LG45 (Elegance), with Cattell’s Riley 14/6 Lynx taking the Martini Trophy (Maintenance). We did not have the pleasure of seeing these cars parading round Oulton Park this time, however. All I had to do was to go home, which I did from this vintage happening in a very modem car, a Talbot Solara SX, the computer in which informed me that I had averaged 35.9 mph overall, at 27.6 mpg — more about this next month. — WB.

Oulton Shorts.—

Besides Ben Morris, Bill also drove the ERA “Hanuman”. Morley bravely drove the 24-litre Bentley-Napier, finishing well up in the Vintage Seaman race, Smalls’ 1937 11/2-litre Riley started life as a Falcon saloon and to indicate that it is a Special he painted the starter red and renamed it a Redstart! Fantom must have the only racing 14/40 Humber ever — its picture appeared in Motor Sport last year. Good to see Whittaker’s Chrysler 75 out again. Bamford’s 1927 GP Delage has an SU carburetter. Two 9/15 Renaults took part in the Beauty Show. Keeling’s MG P-type is in regular road use. Nine ERAs were entered for the Historic Seaman. Two Edwardians, Liddell’s Straker Squire and Neve’s 1914 TT Humber, were racing, the latter wisely wearing an o/s front mudguard. — WB.