Vintage Postbag, July 1992
Many thanks for the splendid write-up of the Millbrook 1000-mile record attempt.
The final pit stop was indeed in order that HRH Prince Michael of Kent might drive the final lap, but I would like to stress that, throughout the attempt, he took exactly the same spells as his fellow drivers (ie two stints of 125 miles each), returning commendably regular lap times despite a gusting 35 mph wind which made conditions far from easy on one section of the circuit.
We all thought the new driver did very well indeed.
As a student at Loughborough College during roughly the same period as your correspondent Mr Karaosman (Motor Sport, May), I can confirm that Vaughan Skirrow did drive a chain-gang Frazer-Nash and also recall Baker-Courtenay with his MG TC.
The Le Mans Replica FN in question was driven by Richard Utley. I think it belonged to his father, who raced and rallied for the works DKW team. I still have in my possession a copy of the programme for the College Motor Club hillclimb held at the Charnwood Granite Quarry on Sunday March 18 1956, which featured an interesting array of pre- and post-war sports cars and motorcycles.
That day, Norman Dewis, chief test driver at Jaguar, brought along a D-type (OKV 3) by road, to give a couple of demonstration runs. This was an indication of the high regard in which the College, auto engineers in particular, was held by the motor industry in those days.
I was delighted to read on page 760 of March’s issue that Robert Benoist was murdered, not executed. When I wrote the Salmson Story, the publishers insisted he was executed — as I believe Motor Sport previously has.
Incidentally, I came across the results of a hillclimb at Chaigny Nancy in 1935. It was won by M Rees with a San Sebastian Salmson in a time of 49 sec. Benoist, with a Type 53, five-litre, four-wheel drive Bugatti was second on 50.8 sec, whilst the best Type 35 was slower (52.2 sec). I have always felt that Salmsons, Delage, the later Type 53 and 59 Bugattis and Benoist deserve more recognition in motoring history than they have received.
I would be delighted to receive letters from any other believers! What price a Benoist biography?
In response to M Kaltenbach’s question concerning the whereabouts of the 1½-litre Delage team cars (March 1992), I may have information to provide a starting point in the search for the fourth works car.
I visited the Vintage Car Store (I think that was the name) in Nyack, New York, in 1970. Sitting on the showroom floor was a little jewel of a racing car — the Delage 1½-litre, I believe. It was such an aggressive-looking, purposeful automobile that the memory of that day had remained with me through the years. In 1966, Cyril Posthumus stated in Profile Number 18 on the 1½-litre that the Chiron Indianapolis Delage survived in the United States, albeit “inaccurately finished and wearing modern tyres-. My sighting in 1970 would seem to update, at least by four years, its presence here.
Perhaps this may serve as a nudge to other readers’ recollections.
Timothy M Ennor,