The Donington VSCC Meeting



IN showery weather the annual Vintage SCC race-meeting took place at the well-constituted Donington Park circuit on May 23rd, although the entry was depleted by historic-car activity at Monaco. Donington contrived to off-set this by electronic race-result announcements from the bridge over the course, driver-interviews by Peter Hull over the p.a. system, and local TV coverage for release on the following Monday evening.

The action commenced with the 8-lap Handicap for the Melville and Geoghegan trophies. No one caught R. J. B. Smith’s Meadows’ Frazer Nash, which was discreetly followed home by Horton’s Type 43 Bugatti, President Tom Threlfall bringing his Lancia in third, having started, with the Bugatti, ten seconds after the bulk of the field. Parkinson’s Brooklands-model Riley was wearing a full-size windscreen. A well-supported 4-lap Handicap came next, in which Rawson’s Austin 7 Special got the better of Smith’s PB MG, McGrath’s Austin 7 Special being third.

The John Holland Trophy Race over eight laps promised more lively action but after a mere couple of circuits, when he was running away with it, the drive failed on Footitt’s AC/GN, leaving Peter Morley in the lead with the impressive 24-litre Bentley-Napier, heading a processional foray in which Russell’s slim 8-litre Bentley Special was second (taking the BDC Trophy) and Howell’s incredibly endurable supercharged twin-cam 3-here Sunbeam third. Majzub spun off in the Pacey-Hassan but was able to continue, and although his son was rumoured to be appearing in the ex-Wall single-seater Type 35B Bugatti, he actually turned out in a two-seater GP Bugatti. The Bentley-Napier lapped fastest, at 63.54 m.p.h., in a race that suffered from non-starters, including Chilcott, who was held up by an air-strike (civilian) and so could not race his Frazer Nash. Hutchings drove a rather non-vintage-looking Riley Gillow Special.

As a touch of variety, the next race was a 5-lap Handicap. Rawson again drove very competently, holding off Threlfall’s Lancia, with Gilbert occupying third place at the finish in his alloy-bodied Alvis Firefly, with mudguards in situ. A quickest lap of 68.41 m.p.h. availed Burrell’s Bentley-Royce only of 14th place. Majzub’s 3-litre Bentley was late in starting, and it finished last, Gahagan was having an outing in Smith’s K3 MG, and Sweet’s MG KN Special, once saloon-bodied, retired. Further variety was then introduced, in the form of a 4-lap Scratch race. It was won by Lees in Cockman’s 1 ½-litre Riley Snipe, which also made fastest lap, at 66.79 m.p.h., Hudson’s Ulster Aston Martin was second, the owner driving because Cliffe was ill-in-bed, and Sevier’s fast Wolseley Hornet third, although it had damaged its tail and ran “Manxed” in a later race. Brydon spun at Park curve on the first lap and retired his Speed-20 Alvis and Rouses Alvin Speed 25-engined Silver Eagle was likewise in trouble, finishing last. Campbell drove a 1926 Austin 7 with later Fiat Balilla power, and it was good to see Sam Glutton racing again, in something smaller than the Itala, his AC-engined TT Replica Frazer Nash.

The main contest was the Shuttleworth & Nuffield Trophies Race, over 12 laps from scratch. It suffered the most from the Monaco-magnet and was further depleted after Sankey’s 250F Maserari shed oil going round to the starting-grid and was not allowed to race Mann’s Lotus 16 was not there to challenge Simon Phillips (Lotus 16), who had an unhampered drive to victory, as 77.87 m.p.h., and the afternoon’s fastest lap, at 82.61 m.p.h. Donald Day in his 1937/8 2-litre ERA was not to be denied, though. He was a good second, 1.24 m.p.h. slower than the 1958 Lotus, his best lap being 4.66 m.p.h., or 5.1 sec-, below that of the post-war car. Duly held third position in the 250F Maserati, ahead of Colbourne’s 1 ½-litre Maserati that took the Nuffield Trophy. In another processional conflict the only excitement had been provided by Vine who, having spun off at McLean’s Corner on the first lap, drove very quickly to overtake Walton’s Connaught by lap 7, only to be re-passed by Walton. By the start of lap 11 the Cooper-Bristol had again got by the Connaught and it came home in fifth place, largely on the grass, in a wild slide out of Coppice Corner.

The racing was concluded with two 5-lap Handicaps. The first went to McGrath’s well-driven Austin 7, from Symons’ Alvin Speed-25 and Walker’s Chummy Austin 7 (shades of George Chaplin’s “Mrs. Frequently”, of before the war). The final race was won by Seber’s Wolseley Hornet, now very visibly a two-seater, from Day, who got the ERA through from the scratch mark, ahead of Guy Smith’s fonnidible Alvin-Wash. Points were scored towards the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy, with Donald Day consolidating his position and Rawson taking home 36 points, but the position will have altered after the VSCC Oulton Park racing. During the afternoon Anthony Heal had demonstrated Shoosmith’s 1921 3-litre straight-eight, bolster-tank Sunbeam, to commemorate the STD victory in the IoM TT of 60 years back and Tim Llewellyn later raced it from a rather heavy handicap-mark, reporting that it is beautifully balanced and would take fourth-speed all the way round Donington.

As for Donington, there are still some 16 fixtures to come this season, including the Historic Car Championships on July 31st / August 1st and the big International F1 Championship Meeting on August 15th. — W.B.


Shuttleworth & Nuffield Trophy: 1, S. F. Phillips (Lotus), 77.87 m.p.h., 2, D. H. Day (ERA); 3, K. R. Duly (Maserati),
Melville & Geoghean Trophies Race: R. J. B. Smith (Frazer Nash), 65.09 m.p.h.
John Holland Trophy Race: F. P. Morley (Bentley-Napier), 61.43 m.p.h.
4-lap Handicap: D. Rawson (Austin 7), 66.68 m.p.h.
4-lap Scratch Race: N. H. S. Less (Riley), 64.99 m.p.h.
First 5-lap Handicap: D. Rawson (Austin 7), 61.02 m.p.h. m.p.h.
Second 5-lap Handicap: T. McGrath (Austin 7), 61.02 m.p.h.
Third 5-lap Handicap: J. A. Seber (Wolseley Hornet), 62.75 m.p.h.
Fastest Lap of the afternoon: S. F. Phillips (Lotus 16), 82.61 m.p.h.