VSCC at Oulton Park

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Wonderful weather enhanced the annual VSCC racing at Oulton Park on June 9th, the extension to the circuit a further attraction. For those who like figures, when the VSCC first went there 28 years ago the lap distance was 2.761 miles. It was then reduced to 1.654 miles in 1975 but is now 2.356 miles, embracing a rather tight hairpin at Island Bend. New lap records thus apply. The surface of the extension up to the smoothly-tarmacked hairpin was found rather rough by some drivers, but the longer distance is well-liked.

The long programme got off with a 4-lap Handicap, which Hornby’s A7 took from Giles in the GN/Morgan very comfortably. Freddie was using his “small” 996 cc vee-twin engine. Baker’s 1½-litre Riley Special was third. Clutton was absent, having lost a tooth — from the transmission of his Frazer Nash.

The mainly-1950s 500 cc racers appeared next, contesting a 5-lap scratch race. Giles’ son looked good, for two laps, running right away until his Norton engine, perhaps undergeared, seized up. Tibenham’s Kieft then took over, to retire likewise, on lap 4. In the end Gamer’s Mk 8 Cooper, back in single-cylinder form, won from Lewis’ ex-Gerard Mk 8 Cooper, which had been last away, by 8½ sec, Wright’s Mk 5 Cooper third. The Kieft lapped fastest, at 75.19 mph.

It was then left to “unstoppable Ron” Footitt to drive a race on his own, as it were, to win the Seaman Vintage Trophy 12-lap scratch event, the AC/GN Cognac soon leaving everyone of the big field, except Tim Llewellyn’s 8.3-litre Bentley, far behind. At half-distance a petrol union came loose on the Bentley and it came in, leaving Ron on his own, with a fastest lap of 81.40 mph. He finished more than 1½ minutes before Horton’s red 35B Bugatti appeared, with Morley’s giant Bentley-Napier fending off Harper’s wonderfully-fast 1926 Morgan 3-wheeler for third place. Stewart’s 3/4½ Bentley was next home, followed by President Threlfall’s McDowell that had held a discreet fourth place behind Horton for four laps until the clutch began to quit grip, and the Napier-engined Bentley, crackling mightily on the over-run, had got past. Stretton, in the Meadows-powered GN-Martyr, won on handicap.

Another 4-lap Handicap came as an interlude before the Historic Seaman race. It was led throughout by Maclean’s 1930 A7 from Mrs Woodrow’s car of the same age and make, Lee’s road-equipped 1927 Salmson Grand Sport third. Sevier’s scratch Speed 20 Sunbeam made best lap, at 64.94 mph, so this was clearly one of the quieter races . . . The second Seaman race of the day was obviously going to be a battle-royal between the Hon Patrick Lindsay in the ERA “Remus” and David Black in his immaculate Tipo-B 3.2-litre Alfa Romeo which has been enlivening this season’s VSCC racing, and so it proved. The ERA led momentarily, then Black went away, but with Lindsay watching for an opening, Spollen’s ex-Earl Howe ERA R8C third. That held for three laps, then Patrick got by, to lead for the next three laps, or to half-distance, when “Remus” made smoke and came in with oil all over the pedals. By this time the contest had been simply between these two, so now the Alfa (still using Ashby special cylinder blocks by the way) was on its own. Black.won easily, after setting fastest lap at 85.33 mph. Spollen was second, Footitt third, the AC/GN having caught the ex-Richards’ Heimann Type 51 Bugatti by lap 7, by which time Margulies’ 4CL Maserati, the meat in the sandwich, had retired (on lap 4). In all, seven retired, with Marsh (ERA) fifth, ahead of St John’s Type 51 Bugatti and five slower finishers. Came the third 4-lap Handicap, the BHD refusing on the grid and Fidler’s 1935 Lagonda Rapier having it all its own way, with D. B. Smith’s Frazer Nash second, Rawson’s A7 third. Very loud noises heralded the proximity of the Cheshire Building Society’s All-comers’ race, 12 laps from scratch, with a field of eleven. Simon Phillips led Chris Mann and Willie Green, all in Lotus 16s, from the front row of the grid, then Mann and Green overtook Phillips but Green went ahead by lap 2. He was never passed, a lap at 92.09 mph taking him to victory in the Bruce Halford Lotus, from Mann. After doing only two laps Phillips had a new part of the near-side rear suspension break up on his Lotus, fortunately on a slow corner. After his retirement Cottam’s 250F Maserati ran in third place to the finish, staying ahead of Charles’ C-type Connaught, Thwaites in Brierley’s ERA R6B, and four others — not a very inspiring race, except for the speed of the Loti. The long, hot day was concluded with two more 4-lap Handicaps, the first taken by Lee’s Salmson from Boswell’s hybrid Fraser Nash and Rawson’s A7, the last one, over five laps, with spectators’ cars beginning to filter away over the single-track exit bridge, by Ivan Dutton in the Heimann Bugatti which he built up for its owner, from the Llewellyn Bentley that had given it 50 sec start, and Sankey’s 250F Maserati. Lapping at 83.73 mph brought Cottam’s scratch Maserati home in fourth place. During the afternoon contestants in the Cheshire Life Beauty Show, won by Parker’s 30/98 Vauxhall Wensum, paraded. So ended a fine day’s sport, with 158 entries, the highlights of which had been Footitt romping away with the Vintage Seaman Trophy, for the fifth time, in spite of his Cognac losing third-speed chain on lap 4, and Black’s Alfa taking the Historic Seaman Trophy, the first “Milanese victory” since 1953 (R. D. Poore, at Silverstone). A lowlight was the Citroën rescue vehicle refusing to start, so that a Ford truck had to be substituted! For us there remained the enjoyable run home, at over 48 mph average in spite of “mimsers” in our path, via Shrewsbury, the Alfa 6 doing 19.1 mpg. Another VSCC Oulton over for this year. . . . — W.B.

Results
Seaman Vintage Trophy Race:
1st G. R. Footitt (AC/GN), 78.57 mph
2nd J. R. Horton (Bugatti)
3rd F. P. Morley (Bentley-Napier)
Seaman Historic Trophy Race:
1st W. D. A. Black (Alfa Romeo), 83.83 mph
2nd B. Spollon (ERA)
3rd G. R. Footitt (AC/GN)
Cheshire BS Allcomers’ Race:
1st M. W. Green (Lotus), 90.37 mph
2nd C. A. Mann (Lotus)
3rd A. Cottam (Maserati)
500 cc Scratch Race: A. Garner (Cooper), 72.58 mph
Five-lap Handicap: I. Dutton (Bugatti), 77.24 mph
First 4-lap Handicap: P. C. Hornby (Austin 7), 70.38 mph
Second 4-lap Handicap: C. MacLean (Austin 7), 56.49 mph
Third 4-lap Handicap: B. H. Fidler (Lagonda Rapier) 66 80 mph
Fourth 4-lap Handicap: D. J. Lee (Salmon), 68.73 mph
Fastest lap of the day: M. W. Green (Lotus 16), 92.09 mph
Leaders to date in the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest: Black (Alfa Romeo), 62 pts, Footitt (AC/GN). 44 pts, Burroughs (Alvis), 39 pts. Next round: Silverstone. July 14