Veteran to classic -- VSCC

The Entertainers

Anthony Mayman had his worst day in many at a VSCC race meeting when he won only one race at Donington Park on Whit Monday, and was second in two others. At the same meeting, the first of two planned Donington visits by the VSCC this year, John Harper won twice.

The day started badly when Alastair Pugh overturned his Frazer Nash during practice, and was taken to hospital with multiple injuries.

The opening five-lap scratch race was a relatively easy one for John Freeman in the 2-litre “Spa” Aston Martin which he — and other members of his family — have been racing for 35 years. Whenman’s 1934 4-1/2-litre Lagonda was second while David Taylor took his 1-1/2-litre Aston Martin Le Mans past Hannis’s 3.6-litre Alvis and was right alongside Whenman as they crossed the line. The Lagonda got the nod from the Aston by 0.3-sec.

Two Bugatti 35Bs were in the entry for the John Holland Trophy race for vintage cars, the first of three events on the programme supported by the Pine Cliffs Golf and Country Club (in the Algarve), new sponsors of the VSCC’s Racing Drivers’ Challenge. In one of the Bugattis Julian Majzub set fastest practice time, comfortably clear of Alex Boswell’s Bequet-Delage, with the Morgan three-wheelers of Stuart Harper and Dave Caroline next.

The Bequet got the jump at the start but Majzub’s Bugatti shot past and had a good lead into the first corner. Round the back of the course he lost it and spun, but gathered it all together with the loss of only one place, and set off after the bigger car. But then the blue Bugatti suffered a misfire and retired to the pits after three laps. Boswell’s lead then shrank as the Bequet slowed with an overheating engine, pulling swiftly off the track when the engine suddenly blew all its remaining water out. Caroline was the new leader but all was not well with his car, either. He felt all the symptoms of a big-end tightening, and eased back over the final laps. Closer and closer crept Peter Morley with the towering Bentley-Napier, until he was able to blast past on the straight on the last lap. But Caroline still had enough to slip the nippy Morgan through in the chicane and lead the monster to the line by 0.3sec.

Stuart Harper’s Morgan was third, then Martin Stretton’s Frazer Nash, which had tagged on to the back of the field on the warm-up lap following the completion of transmission repairs, then Randal Stewart (4-1/2-litre Bentley 3-litre). John Horton, winner of the race in 1989, was seventh. He had made a bad start through not having fuel-pressure in his 35B pumped high enough. Then in a crowded first-lap rush for the chicane, he found himself with nowhere to go but the escape road, the red car rejoining dead last. Another five-lap handicap followed, this one going to Thompson’s Lagonda Rapier from Seber’s Wolseley and JT Mason’s 1-1/2-litre Riley.

The field for the Archie Scott Brown Memorial trophy race contained a good mix of ’50s sportscars. In practice Gary Pearson set the fastest time of 1m 27.5 in the ex-Cunningham Costin Lister-Jaguar, in spite of running in the motor after a rebuild. John Harper in the Robert Brooks-entered long-nosed D-type was slightly slower at 1m 27.8, with a gap to the rest. Harper made the best start, but as they filed through the chicane to complete their first lap Pearson was right on his tail. Lapping four seconds faster than anyone else, the two leaders soon pulled out a gap. Pearson appeared poised for a serious bid in the closing stages, but instead spun, and the race was Harper’s.

The Shuttleworth Trophy for pre-war cars (another Pine Cliffs event) was expected to be a cinch for Anthony Mayman in his invincible 2-litre ERA, R4D, the winning combination in this race the previous three years. There was a bit of a surprise therefore when practice times were announced and he was almost three seconds off pole. Peter Hannen, who had run Mayman so close at Silverstone, clocked 1m 27.2 in his 1-1/2-litre 6CM Maserati, against Mayman’s best of 1m 30.1. It transpired that the champion had been taking things easy, as he was worried about low oil pressure, but there were no such worries after a bit of fettling by Jim Fitzgerald and the crew before the race.

Mayman lined up in second spot on the grid, with Paul Jaye’s 2-litre Alta behind, after equalling the ERA’s best lap. On times these three were safely clear of Mayman’s 1-1/2-litre ERA (driven by his cousin Chris) and the similar cars of Tetsuya Takahashi (Tony Merrick), Peter Mann (John Ure) and Sally Marsh (Duncan Ricketts), which were next fastest. Bscher, whose 4CL Maserati was expected to be right up there, managed only one lap of practice before magneto trouble set in, though it was, the crew hoped, repaired for the race. But Chris Mayman had to scratch his entry when gearbox trouble could not be remedied in time. Other non-starters included Felton’s P3 Alfa, due to make its first appearance for some time and Charles Dean’s T51 Bugatti.

Jaye made a great start, the light green Alta spearing between the two black cars on the front row. But by the end of the opening lap Mayman was clear, and Hannen was in second place ahead of Jaye, Merrick, Ricketts and Ure. Ricketts was soon past Merrick, and by the fourth lap had Jaye too. Bscher’s troubles continued, the Maser stopping with a repetition of its magneto trouble.

With the race half run Mayman was well clear of Hannen, who was having trouble with his brakes, the department in which the Maserati usually shines. Merrick had fallen back with a smoking motor but was still sixth. Also smoking was Robin Lodge’s 6CM Maser, which stopped at the pits about this time.

It was Ure who provided the only remaining bit of excitement as, closing on Jaye as the end approached, he spun the cream-coloured ERA at the chicane.

At the end Mayman had 13-1/2 seconds in hand over Hannen, who in turn was 10 seconds up on Ricketts. There were bigger gaps to Jaye, Ure and Merrick, with Mark Gillies in the Treen Riley and Guy Smith’s single-seater Frazer Nash the only other unlapped runners.

That Hannen had been trying is shown by his best lap time, 1m 26.7, but Mayman was three-tenths faster. Palmer’s rare 1-1/2-litre Squire sportscar won the next five-lap handicap, from Freddie Giels (Frazer Nash) and the fastest car in the race, Fidler’s Lagonda. Then the postwar cars came out for the third Pine Cliffs race of the day. This would be between Harper and Mayman, Harper representing the new wave with his rear-engined Cooper T53 and Mayman for the old school in his front-engined Lotus 16. Both cars are, of course, powered by the four-cylinder 2.5litre Coventry Climax engine.

In practice Harper got down to 1m 22.1, Mayman to 1m 22.6. This didn’t prove anything, as both drivers are sufficiently experienced and sufficiently wily to keep something in hand. The second Lotus 16, Chris Drake’s red car, was a non-starter after breaking a universal joint in practice, while Stretton’s new T51 Cooper was not quite ready, and Hannen, who had given Mayman such a run for his money at Silverstone, did not enter his T51. Leventon’s Lotus 18, surely the entry with the most potential, was another scratching, having encountered mechanical difficulties at Montlhéry the previous day.

This was, to a certain extent, a repeat of the sportscar race, with the two leaders running nose to tail and quickly opening up a gap on the rest. This time, though, it was Harper doing the chasing, for Mayman always seemed in control.

But Harper never let the Lotus get more than inches ahead, and going into Redgate for the seventh time was even closer to the Lotus’ tail, if that was possible. Down the back straight he took his chance. As the leaders came up to lap a bunch of tail-enders the Cooper dived through taking the lead and putting a couple of slower cars between himself and Mayman. And that was that. Harper carried on to win while Mayman, worried now about a transmission noise, let a gap of 1.8 seconds grow over the remaining three laps.

Roddy MacPherson had his Cooper-Bristol sliding beautifully on Donington’s tums to put the drivers of many newer and more powerful cars to shame as he quickly got the better of the rear-engined 2-litre Cooper-Climaxes of Rod Jolley (T51) and Gerry Porter (T43). This trio was almost a minute behind the first two at the end, with Beasley, thinking he should have bought new tyres for his Cooper-Bristol after all, having kept them in sight throughout.

Lodge in the only 250F Maserati in the race ran to lonely seventh place, a lap back, while Bob Burrell went better than ever in his A-type Connaught, and got the best of a battle for the next place, ahead of Lockhart’s wonderful old Rover, Graham Burrows in another Cooper-Bristol, Mark Gillies (Riley Treen), Peter Mann (ERA) and Barrie Gillies (Dixon Riley). Positions had changed almost every lap in this bunch, which enjoyed a great scrap.

Fastest lap had gone to Mayman in Im 23.0, a tenth faster than Harper’s best. Nobody else came within five seconds of either. Now that Mayman’s Lotus has finally been beaten, the question everyone is asking is will he continue to champion the front-engined cause, or will he bring out a rear-engined car? Mayman got straight into his 6C-34 Mille Miglia Maserati replica, running stripped of lights and wings, for the Goddard Trophy race, which was supported by Cape Boards Ltd. Jaye made another lightning start in the Alta, with Barry Summerfield’s supercharged 4.6-litre Avon-Bentley rocketing up to a brief second, before Mayman passed. Towards the end the red Maser appeared to close slightly on the Alta, but Jaye was still 1.8 seconds ahead at the chequered flag. Young Matt Grist (Monza Alfa) passed the Avon-Bentley for third before the end, this pair finishing well clear of Boswell’s Bequet-Delage and the rest of the field.

During the early part of this race Adrian Watney (Brooke Special) and R C Browning (Alvis) had a coming-together, but neither was seriously damaged.

The Nuffield Trophy was run at Donington in the 1930s as a voiturette race and was revived by the VSCC as a part of the Shuttleworth Trophy. This year the Club listened to the pleas of the 1500 cc drivers and ran the race separately. In both its manifestations the Nuffield had largely been an ERA/Maserati duel, and the 1991 race was seen as a re-run. But things did not look too good for the ERA side before the race, as the fastest cars, those of Chris Mayman and Tony Merrick, non-started. This left Ure and Ricketts looking a little outclassed, as their best practice times had been in the 1m 32 bracket, and pole man Hannen had recorded 1m 27.2 for the Maserati team. True, Ricketts had improved to 1m 28.1 in the Shuttleworth, but Harmen’s time in that race had been 1m 26.7.

On the other hand, the Maserati driver was still not confident about his brakes, or about his engine, as the supercharger had been sucking in oil during the earlier race.

Four ERAs started the race, Ure (in Peter Mann’s R9B) and Ricketts (R1B) being joined by Pattinson (R6B) and Tony Stephens (R12C). Hannen was backed by Bscher, Lodge, Dan Margulies, Richard Bond and Sean Danaher in other Maseratis. Three Rileys and a pair of Lagonda Rapiers made up the field. The Maser team lost one car on the warm-up lap when Bscher’s 4CL cut out, its magneto still not right. It was Bond who led at the start, thrusting his 4CM Maser (which was entered by Margulies) into a short-lived lead ahead of Ricketts and Hannen. But Hannen was through to the front by the first corner, and before the standing lap was completed had a good lead over Ricketts, Bond, Ure, Margulies, Pattinson, Stephens and Danaher. The rival makes were mixing it well, with the Rileys of PC Roberts (driven by DM Robinson) and Ted Dunn keeping up too. But another blow to Maserati hopes came when Lodge motored his 6CM into the pits, completed another lap after adjustments, and then wheeled it away. And the whole Maserati attack collapsed after just one more lap. Hannen, the race apparently in the bag, eased up, allowing Ricketts to edge a little closer. But then the black Maser peeled off into the pits, and was retired with engine maladies.

This left Ricketts unchallenged, building his lead to six seconds by half-distance and almost 14 by the end. Ure remained comfortably in second place, while Pattinson found a way past the Margulies 4CL and then Bond. This made for an ERA 1-2-3, and ensured that the ERA team won the Coy’s Challenge (presented after the race by Coy’s of Kensington managing director Pattinson). Maserati rebuild specialist Danaher, at the wheel of Pattinson’s 6CM, finished fifth, while Margulies, Stephens, Robinson and Dunn completed the list of cars to go the whole distance. Bond’s enthusiastic start had earned him a 10 second penalty, but this did not affect his fourth placing; a similar award to Margulies, however, dropped the veteran Maserati driver to seventh.

Ian Rowe (Riley special) just held off Seber’s fast-closing Wolseley to win the last handicap of the day, with the Hannis Alvis third. Mason’s Riley was fourth, but set fastest lap. Matthew Grist took a good win in the five-lap scratch race which closed the 11-race programme, chased to the line by Dunn’s Riley. Caroline brought his repaired Morgan home third, with a gap to Stephen Davie’s Dobbs Riley and the Thompson and Fletcher-Jones Lagonda Rapiers. John Giles (AC/GN) finished between these two on the road, but behind them after the application of a 10-second penalty. — KHRC

VSCC Vintage Race Meeting, May 27, 1991

John Holland Trophy Race: 1. DD Caroline (Morgan) 69 mph; 2. FP Morley (Napier-Bentley); 3. S Harper (Morgan).

Scott Brown Race: 1. J Harper (Jaguar) 78 mph; 2. G Pearson (Lister-Jaguar); 3. DJ Ham (Lister-Jaguar).

Shuttleworth Trophy Race: 1. AJS Mayman (ERA) 80 mph; 2. PML Hannen (Maserati); 3. D Ricketts (ERA).

Allcomers’ Race: I. J Harper (Cooper) 83 mph; 2. AJS Mayman (Lotus); 3. R MacPherson (Cooper).

Nuffield Trophy: 1. D Ricketts, 76 mph; 2. JW Ure (ERA); 3. JR Pattinson (ERA).

First 5-lap Scratch Race: 1. J Freeman (Aston Martin) 64 mph.

Second 5-lap Scratch Race (John Goddard Trophy): 1. PL Jaye (Alta) 74 mph; 2. AJS Mayman (Maserati); 3. M Grist (Alfa Romeo).

Third 5-lap Scratch Race: 1. M Grist (Alfa Romeo), 71 mph.

First 5-lap Handicap: 1. LA Thompson (Lagonda) 60 mph.

Second 5-lap Handicap: 1. RA Palmer (Squire) 54 mph.

Third 5-lap Handicap: 1. IA Rowe (Riley) 56 mph.

Fastest lap of the Day: Mayman (Lotus) 83.0 sec.

Leaders to date in the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Contest (Pre-war cars): Mayman, 67 points; Grist, 44 points; Morley, 31 points; Hannen, Jaye, Caroline, Ricketts and JT Mason, 26 points each.