An excellent vintage Oulton Park meeting

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The VSCC Race Meeting at Oulton Park on June 13th had a big attendance (paying spectators 4,000 they said), and there was some excellent racing, run (would you believe?) in sunshine. It opened with a confusing 5/6-lap Handicap in which the winner, who appeared to be Howell’s venerable blown 3-litre Sunbeam, wasn’t given the flag and which the official results now tell us was Rawson’s Austin 7, from Cotter’s J2 MG and Howell. Howard’s 37A Bugatti was among the four non-starters, with water in the works. That race was followed by the Frazer Nash Handicap, over six laps, which was won by ChiIcott’s Alvis-powered car, repaired after its Donington Park disaster, from Stretton’s Meadows Super Sports (the driver is Lionel’s nephew), and the Alvis-engined Norris Special.

Next came the experiment, at the 500 OA’s request, of a 10-lap Scratch Race for 500 c.c. racing cars. It should have been a handicap, to sort out the varied engines and ages of these once closely-matched “one-lungers,” of which eight had JAP engines, four Triumphs and three were Norton-powered. As it was, seven retired, and only five ran the full 16 1/2 miles! It was a very spaced-out race, too, with Weight’s Mk. 5 Cooper-Triumph winning from Lewis’ ex-Bob Gerard Mk. 8 Cooper, with the only excitement that of seeing Giles’ Mk. 5 Cooper take third place after starting late from the pit-road.

This being the Richard Seaman Memorial Trophies Meeting, so to the 16-lap Vintage race. Moffatt ran right away with this in Wall’s 35B Bugatti, his only opponent Tim Llewellyn in the big 8.3-litre Bentley, which was lucky to coast in, still in second place, after its clutch shaft had broken a long way from the finish. The real excitement was seeing Morley really getting to grips with his 24-litre Bentley-Napier. He drove it really hard on this unsuitable course, leaving black lines from back-spinning Dunlops on the road, and sliding the monster out of Oulton’s corners. Footitt did his best about this, leading up to lap 4, being passed on the straight, but getting in front again on lap 8; but they were side-by-side into Old Hall on lap 13 and then Morley drew away from the AC/GN. Exciting! Morley and his aero-engined motor car were truly the heroes of the afternoon. . . Hamish Moffatt chalked up his fifth victory in this race.

Willie Green had broken the back axle of the Bamford 1927 GP Delage leaving the start, Harper’s Morgan 3-wheeler was fifth when the big-end seized solid, Week’s Morgan broke an exhaust rocker-arm that temporarily set its carburetter on fire, and, Chilcott’s Frazer Nash stopped with presumed transmission maladies, but Howell’s irrepressible blown Sunbeam vanquished the Norris Special, for 5th place at the finish. There was lots of peering into mirrors and looking over shoulders by the slower drivers, as the four leaders thundered round!

After a 5-lap Handicap had been won by Walker’s Alvis Speed 20 by 0.2 sec. from Bellenie’s Riley, Fantom’s surprisingly quick 14/40 Humber Special third, in spite of road equipment, we came to the Historic Seaman. The Hon. Patrick Lindsay ran right away with this as Moffatt had the Vintage race. The ERA R5B “Remus,” now in 2-litre form, led from the start and had left everyone else out of sight from lap 2! Day led the “other race” in his ERA R14B from Martin Morris in R11B until the latter’s magneto rotor burnt out on lap 8, letting Bill Morris and his ERA R12B into 3rd place. That lasted for five laps, when R12B retired, to let Brian Classic, driving nicely, in R2A up one, followed by Peter Mann’s R9B. That is how they finished, Lindsay winning this race for the seventh time. Colbourne’s Maserati 6CM had been going well until its oil-pressure vanished. Green, in Bamford’s ex-Bagratouni 8C Alfa Romeo non-started.

The Concours d’Elegance parade was interesting, as it included a “new” GN, Leyland’s 1921 sports model, Mrs. Hartley’s Martin Morris-rebuilt C-type Connaught sandwiched between two Austin 7 Chummies, Dearden-Briggs’ CGS Amilcar, hood neatly bagged, being duly admired, and the sole remaining sleeve-valve 25/70S Vauxhall appearing again. The overall winner was K.W. Pressley’s 1939 4 1/4-litre Bentley.

A 6-lap Scratch Race proved processional, Duffy’s 3 1/2-litre Riley-Alvis taking it from Dods’ AC Special and Chant’s 4.3 Alvis. The Cheshire Building society had sponsored the 16-lap Allcomers Race, in which Bruce Halford held off Willie Green in Bamford’s Maserati 250F until, just as it was getting exciting, the Lotus 16 stopped on lap 11 on the Avenue, with no drive from the clutch. This allowed Green, who seemed to be finding the Maserati a bit of a brute, to secure a runaway win. However, Lindsay always has a great try and in spite of being in his pre-war ERA, here he was in 3rd place. He was holding off even Macpherson’s Cooper-Bristol, which anyway retired on lap 5, I believe with ignition trouble. Alas, Lindsay spun “Remus” on lap 8. He kept the engine running and quickly resumed, now behind Margulies’ Maserati 250F, one of Miller’s cobblers’ jobs, driven for some unfathomable reason by Richard Bond, who had lost the tip of the car’s tail. Lindsay closed the gap a little each lap and came home a splendid third, ahead of Cottam’s Connaught, Pilkinton’s Talbot Lago and the rest of the 11 finishers. Again Martin Morris’ ERA retired.

The day closed with another confusing 5/6-lap Handicap, the big field reduced as 12 non-started, including Howell’s Sunbeam, sent from the grid as oil was leaking onto a brake. Cottam, who made fastest lap in the AL10 Connaught, thought he had won, and no-one flagged-in Roscoe, in his 4.3-litre Alvis, as the true winner, Felton (Alfa Romeo) being placed third, behind the Connaught. So ended an enjoyable, sunny VSCC Oulton. Llewellyn increased his lead in the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest to 62 points and Day came up to 44, but we intend to give the positions in more detail before the next round, which is at Cadwell Park on August 30th. — W.B.

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