The VSCC at Oulton Park

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THE pilgrimage of the Vintage SCC to OuIton Park for its annual race meeting was as enjoyable as ever, until a shadow was cast over it by a nasty accident to the Hon. Patrick Lindsay. For this reporter the run from Mid-Wales to Cheshire over an interesting route, taking in some Shropshire back ways, was rendered the mom enjoyable because we used an Alfa Romeo GTV 2.0 to enliven and speed up the outward journey.

Racing began with a 5-lap Handicap, in which R. Dean’s 1933 Alvin Silver Eagle, with 12/50 radiator, got into the lead, two laps from the finish, with second place going to Cotter’s smart blue J2 MG, third position to B. Foster’s 1931 MG Montlhéry Midget, rebuilt from scrapheap condition. Pugh’s Frazer Nash unhappily non-started, having poked a rod into the daylight. Loud cyclecar noises emanated from The Trice, so named because it was built in a hurry. Driven by W. S. Gordon, it is a four-wheeled 1930/34 Morgan 3-wheeler, with twin Amal “gas-works”. Continuing in the cyclecar style, the next event was an 8-lap scratch race for 500 c.c. racing cars. These “one-lungers” were not very reliable even over this brief distance. But after Schroeder (Cooper-Norton) had made a spirited start from the grid, it was Turner’s Mk. 9 Cooper that came through to win, the luckless Schroeder running out of fuel on the last lap but one when in second place — he then took a tin from under his seat, refuelled, and restarted. By then, of course, second place had been filled by Lewis’s M.k. 8 Cooper a very long way in arrears (45.9 sec. in fact) with another, Price’s in third place. Turner set a new class lap-record of 71.22 m.p.h.

It got “warmer”, with the Seaman Vintage Trophy Race. Footitt had had to hastily rebuild the AC engine of his GN Special after a monumental disaster at Shelsley Walsh, a chain reaction being set off by a broken valve, and in practice Moffatt’s 35B GP Bugatti bad punctured a tyre, which ruined the alloy wheel. Keith Schellenberg was making a welcome reappearanm, driving the ex-Hamish Morten 1923/8 41/2 litre Bentley, reduced in avoirdupois to 191/2 cwt., it is said. Giles was using his spare JAP motor in the GN Morgan, following another mechanical disaster and, as so often in the old Brookland’s days, the car one had hoped to see most was absent, in this case Chilcott’s Parker-GN, now powered with tin-litres of 1925 Cirrus aero-engine, a ploy suggested in these pages during the war by Sam Clutton, although not necessarily for GNs! Liddell was rumoured to be wearing striped socks to match the paintwork of the Straker-Squire, as Moir did at Brooklands, but no opportunity afforded itself to check the veracity of this. . .

Footitt led away, but he was quickly passed by Tint Llewellyn in the 8.3-litre Bentley. These two then staged a tense David-v-Goliath duel and ran right away from the rest of the field. Footitt got ahead on laps 4 and 5 but began to drop back from about half-distance (it was a 16-lap race) and that is how they finished, 6.8 sec. apart, Footitt a bit down on power perhaps, although he used all the road as if to make up for this. Tim was delighted to have won his first “Seaman”, after an impeccable drive. Morley, in the 24-litre Bentley-Napier, to the accompaniment of those marvellous sounds from its twelve stub exhaust-pipes, managed well to hold third place, until Schellenberg challenged and got past on lap 14, perhaps as the brakes began to go back on Morley, although he was employing wheel-smoking acceleration out of the corners. In this separate “dice” from the main race Dick Smith’s astonishingly quick Meadows ‘Nash was third, finishing fourth overall. Tim Llewellyn lapped at 75.76 m.p.h. Giles’ crank broke, depriving his son of a later race, although he had run a Mk.5 Cooper in the 500 c.c. event, only to retire. Moffatt (at the some half-distance) also retired as his Bugatti got too hot, when in fourth place.

We then had a 5-lap Scratch Race to cool us down a bit. It produced a “photo-finish” between Seber’s Wolseley Hornet and Hudson’s Ulster Aston Martin, the time-keepers’ unable to separate them on their watches, although giving the race to Seber, and noting that Hudson had lapped 0.1 sec. faster. This pair looked comparatively gentle compared to Campbell, who came through to third place very competitively after an early spin, in his Fiat Balilla-engined Austin 7 (he bought this offset single-seater Seven sans engine).

The serious Seaman business was resumed with the 16-lap Historic Trophy Race. Lots of ERAs ran, although Sir John Venables-Llewelyn’s didn’t, as its owner had ‘flu. At flag-fall Day led from Lindsay, but very soon the latter was in command with “Remus”. After three laps he was unassailable and by another lap was virtually out of sight of Martin Morris, who had overtaken Day. It looked as if nothing, but nothing, could rob Lindsay of his eighth Seaman victory. Then, two laps from home, “Remus” stopped, A tiny piece of wire had broken in the ignition circuit, as a smiling Patrick later showed us. So Morris (R11B) won, followed by Day (R14B), Bill Morris (R12B), Brian Classic (R2A), Rodney Felton (Alfa Romeo), Patrick Marsh (RIB), Ron Footitt, and the back runners. Mann (R9B) lost time having his wheels inspected, after a minor shunt. Willie Green was unhappy in R4D and stopped when odd noises emanated from under it, but Lindsay bettered his 1981 class lap-record before the fire went out, circulating at 81.23 m.p.h. Margulies’ Maserati 4CL shed its tarottle linkage on lap seven.

There followed a 6-lap handicap. At first it looked as if Campbell in the swift Austin-Fiat had won. But this overlooked Walker’s credit lap, so his Alvis Speed-20 was first, and Quartermaine third in the 10/98 Vauxhall, from Dick Smith’s remarkable ‘Nash, which did best lap, at 69.16 m.p.h.

The most exciting race should have been the Cheshire Building Society Allcomers, over 16 laps from scratch. One expected that Bruce Halford might lead Lindsay home, in the usual battle of post-war Lotus 16 and pre-war ERA R5B “Remus”. Halford got away first but Lindsay was right with him and the ERA then took the lead on lap 7. It held this for the next four laps, about four lengths between Lindsay and Halford at first, then they were virtually side-by-side, Halford looking for a chance to pass at the comers but Lindsay legitimately “shutting-the-door”. Taking a slightly better line at Druid’s on lap 10, the Lotus got ahead again and began to draw away. Lindsay went in hot pursuit, however, but as Guy Smith moved his Frazer Nash-Alvis over to give Halford room, Lindsay hit it. The ERA rode up over a wheel of the ‘Nash and was catapulted off the road, Lindsay being flung out. He was conscious and saying he was all right when taken to the ambulance, and is now reported to have suffered little more than heavy bruising and minor burns. Hatford went on to win, after making fastest lap at 83.51 m.p.h., and Lindsay had again bettered his old lap-record, in 1 min. 12.6 sec. (an improvement of 1.1 sec.) before his accident. “Remus” was not in very good shape afterwards; a nice gesture was it being covered-over before being brought back to the Paddock, to stop the “vultures” from seeing the extent of the damage. Roddie MacPherson (Cooper-Bristol) held second place all through, finishing 15.1 sec. after Halford and Donald Day tried as hard as he always does, so that R14B upheld pre-war honours with third place, 1.9 sec. behind the Cooper-Bristol and in front of the Hon. A. Rothschild’s 250F Maserati and Cottam in a Mk. 1 Cooper-Bristol, Willie Green being sixth in Mann’s R9B, ahead of five more post-war cars. Chris Mann’s Lago-Talbot retired when a rear spring broke. The crash obviously slowed the race, as the results indicate.

There was not much heart left after this, but the remaining two 5-lap Handicaps wear contested, the first going to Walker’s Austen, from Smith’s PB MG and Densham’s Austin 7, the last to Hudson’s Aston Martin, which was chased home by a trio of Cooper-Bristols, in the order Cottam, MacPherson and Vine. Day was deprived of his race when the throttle-linkage of the ERA broke on the start line. 864

As usual, the Cheshire Life “Concours d’Elegance” was a welcome feature of the meeting. It was won by B. J. Green’s 1934 Lagonda LG45, the Martini Trophy going to R. C. Wickharn’s Frazer Nash-BMW 326. There was time for the 73 entrants to do three parade laps, during which we noted with interest Craven’s 1921 Albert all-weather, Leyland’s aluminium GN, Peacop’s pedestrian o.h.c. Wolseley Ten four-seater, and Hill’s number-plate-less Type NN Renault. A good day — but commiserations to Lindsay, and to the ERA Club. The run home in the effortless old Rover V8 3500 rounded it off nicely for us. — W.B.

RESULTS

Vintage Seaman: 1, T. C. Llewellym (Bentley), 74.34 m.p.h. 2, G. R. Footitt (AC/GN); 3. K. Schellenberg (Bentley).
Historic Seaman: 1, M. H. Morriss (ERA), 79.06 m.p.h.; 2, D.H. Day (ERA); 3, W. R. G. Morriss (ERA).
Allcomers: 1, B, Halford (Lotus), 77.23 m.p.h.; 2, R. J. S. MacPherson (Cooper-Bristol); 3, D. H. Day (ERA).
500 c.c. Race: 1, J. Turner (Cooper), 68.84 m.p.h.
First 5-lap Handicap: R. I. Dean (Alvis), 57.52 m.p.h.
Second 5-lap Handicap: G. Walker (Austin 7), 56.98 m.p.h.
Third 5-lap Handicap: C. Hudson (Aston Martin), 67.88 m.p.h.
5-lap Handicap: J. Seber (Wolseley Hornet), 64.55 m.p.h.
6-lap Handicap: H. S. T. Walker (Alvis), 57.71 m.p.h.
Fastest Lap of the day: B. Halford (Lotus 16), 83.51 m.p.h.
MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest: Donald Day leads with 60 points, followed by John Seber (44) and Chris Hudson (39). Four driver share fourth place with 36 points – Patrick Linsay, Dick Smith, D. Rawson and R. L. Sweet. Two meeting remain, Silverstone on July 10th and Cadwell Park on August 29th.