VSCC Oulton Park

Rain did its best to spoil the Vintage SCC race meeting at Oulton Park on June 11th but did not succeed. It was, however, unhappily damp for those who had readied their prized possessions for the annual Cheshire Life beauty shows, in which D Richardson’s 1931 2300 SC Alfa Romeo triumphed, its owner receiving the cup from my wife, as did Mrs Laycock the Martini Trophy for best restoration, of her 1912 Ninety Mercedes.

Racing opened with a 5-lap handicap, in which M Cann’s well known 15/98 hp Aston Martin came through to win from Richardson’s Brooklands-model Riley, with Gordon’s Trice that is part Morgan, part GN, with a water-cooled, vee-twin ohv JAP engine, third, these two indulging in a photo-finish (0.2 sec between them). The BHD went “n.b.g”, and Jane Arnold-Forster’s Austin 7, made, someone said, of fire-wood, also retired.

This was followed by an 8-lapper for those 500 cc cars, noisy in spite of having but one lung each. J Turner’s Cooper Mk. IX had things all its own way, as in 1982, winning comfortably from old campaigner E Lewis in a Cooper Mk VIII, and Wright’s Cooper Mk V that won in 1981, although for six laps Freddie Giles’ son was well up, in his Cooper Mk IV.

The next race, 16 laps from scratch for the Seaman Vintage Trophy, was another foregone conclusion. Ron Footitt led all the way in the AC/GN, going over the finish -line 36.9 sec ahead of Alain de Cadenet, who was driving Margulies’ 6C Maserati. It must be explained, however, that the Le Mans driver had gone off-course on the first lap and had to work hard through slower traffic to get this second place. Third place went to Stewart’s aluminium 3/41/2 Bentley, but had been the preserve of the inevitably brave Peter Morley in 24-litres of Bentley-Napier until he, also, took an unintended excursion and dropped to fifth, Russell’s attractive 8-litre Bentley finishing well ahead, in fourth position. President Tom Threlfall was going very fast in his lofty McDowell-Ford dirt-tracker, but was pipped for sixth place by AG Smith’s Super Sports Meadows-engined Frazer Nash. John Howell must have been contented with his eighth spot in the complex 16-cylinder Type 45 Bugatti. Williamson’s 101/2-litre Delage disposed of Di Threlfall’s Lancia further down the field and on handicap Mann’s Targa Florio Alfa Romeo beat White’s Brooklands-model Riley and Neve’s 1914 TT Humber.

 The next handicap went to Lees’ long-tailed Riley Snipe, from Kirkpatrick’s 328-BMW-powered Frazer Nash and Ellison’s Riley 12/4. Campbell’s quick Austin-Fiat was fourth which must have stirred regrets in the hearts of those of us who had dreams of putting bigger engines into their A7s, long ago ….

So to the next Seaman 16-lap scratch contest, for Historic racing cars. It was expected to lie between the Hon Patrick Lindsay in the ERA “Remus”,  splendidly rebuilt after its last year’s crash at this venue, and Martin Morris in ERA R11B. And it was so, except that Lindsay made little impression on the flying Morris and then retired on lap 8, with what looked like a return of that smoky scavenge-pump failure which it had at VSCC Silverstone. Thus Martin won with no opposition, from Willie Green in the ex-Mays ERA R4D, the gap being 25.2 sec, Martin’s best lap being at 80.24 mph. A long way back came David Black’s Tipo B monoposro Alfa Romeo, reputed to have gained more power from methanol fuel, followed by Bill Morris’ ERA and Chris Mann’s Alfa Romeo. De Cadenet had retired on lap two and Green had overtaken Lindsay, before the latter’s retirement, on lap five, at Old Hall corner. Patrick Marsh in ERA R1B had Ieft the Paddock late, so did well to place seventh behind Guy Smith’s Alvis-Frazer Nash, and after a bad get-away Mann’s ERA R9B finished ninth, behind Margulies’ 4CL Maserati. Handicap winner was Cockman’s Riley Snipe, from Tomkins’ V8 Riley, Clifford and the Black Alfa Romeo. White’s nice Brooklands-model Riley then red-faced the handicappers by leading all the way to win the next, 5-lapper very easily indeed from Kirkpatrick and Threlfall.

Rain fell to make the Cheshire Building Society 16-lap Allcomers’ Scratch race problematical. Green took the Dino Ferrari in place of Bamford’s Maserati 250F and Martin Morris had generously lent Lindsay his ERA to replace the stricken “Remus”. Willie Green and Rod MacPherson in his Cooper-Bristol made a very exciting battle of it, Green relinquishing his good lead to the Cooper after seven laps, but retaking it following a fine side-by-side dice at times, on lap 13, passing on the inside at Old Hall. Green then won by a second from MacPherson. Away behind Lindsay fully repaid the loan of the ERA by keeping ahead of all the other post-war cars, indeed, he finished third ahead of Halford’s Lotus 16 that had overtaken Cottam’s Connaught on lap 13, and was credited with best race-lap, at 69.96 mph.

Two more 5-lap handicaps rounded-out a good meeting. The first was a victory for the crackling Trice, pursued very closely by the Cann Aston Martin, and by MacKinnon’s Riley 9. The final race was truly worth staying to watch, as MacPherson stormed through from the scratch mark to beat Kirkpatrick, whose Frazer Nash had given the Cooper-Bristol 55 sec to make up. Robinson’s Cooper-Bristol had spun off, losing this second place, and Smith’s AC-engined Frazer Nash was third, while Guy Smith just got fourth place from Roscoe’s big Alvis, the hurrying Footitt and Lockhart (Rover) behind him. Cottam’s Connaught had refused to start.

During the afternoon the beauty-show contestants had paraded among the long cavalcade of fine cars some unusual ones, such as a V8 Autovia saloon, a 11/2-litre Invicta tourer, etc., while there were interesting light cars, like a stubby 1922 Jowett, a 12/22 Lea-Francis, an Albert all-weather, Leyland’s shining high-tailed GN and Peacop’s sedate ohc Wolseley Ten. Also, a Bentley full of Baden-Powell boy-scout helpers, and a 12/50 Alvis driven by a clergyman which recalled the Rev Hall-Yarr competing in minor Brooklands’ events with one, before the war. – WB.