The Club Silverstone season was opened on May 1st by the V.S.C.C., when a record attendance was achieved. In the One-Hour High-Speed Trial a good field, divided into classes, circulated with varying degrees of speed and reliability. Most of the cars qualified. The vintage Aston Martins of Edwards and Mennell were driven well, the former leaning out on corners. A. E. Griffin’s 1929 12/50 Alvis “beetleback” seemed to suffer a little at the bump approaching Woodcote Corner, Arnold-Foster hurried in his usual fashion in the old Anzani-Frazer-Nash, for once to no avail, while P. N. Miller’s massive 1927 Darracq went very well. The O.M.s of Peter Binns and Cox circulated in company and the Frazer-Nashes of Brown and Vaughan possessed the classic straight front axle.
Racing commenced promptly after the High-Speed Trial, with a 5-lap handicap for thoroughbred and vintage cars. Ross-Skinner drove a noisy blown 750 M.G. single-seater, C. K. W. Schellenberg the Barnato-Hassan 8-litre Bentley “Whale,” but the limit men had it all to themselves. H J. Chalcroft’s 1933 Frazer-Nash pulled out a bigger and bigger lead, until it won at. 63.7 m.p.h., out of sight of Fowler’s Aston Martin of the same year, with “the vintage” upheld by Kellow’s 1926 G.P. Bugatti. The Barnato-H.-B. did the most rapid lap, at 71.29 m.p.h.
The next 5-lap handicap was confined to vintage cars and the limit man led all the way, motoring extremely well. It was a 1929 Austin Seven driven by M. J. Harris. It must be a vintage model with which we are not conversant, as it had a four-speed gearbox, twin Amal carburetters and Bowdenex brakes. R. C. R. March’s Alvis, the type of which we will not venture to quote, was second, T. Goodman’s 1925 22/90 Alfa-Romeo two-seater — imposing machine — third. Miller’s Darracq seemed to run out of fuel, Sims Riley Nine looked anything but vintage, ditto Heap’s Riley Nine, While Pratt’s 1927 G.P. Bugatti, which was on scratch, went very nicely, although it looked somewhat down at heel due to very small back wheels. Cuthell’s early Alvis tourer had a hood which threatened to act as a parachute brake.
The big race of the afternoon was the 10-lap G.P. Itala Trophy Race for vintage racing cars. This year it suffered from an absence of former stars and some disappointing non-starters such as Sir Ralph Millais’ V12 4-litre Sunbeam, Byrom’s 2.3 G.P. Bugatti (twice victor in previous years), and the Vauxhall Villiers. It was unfortunate, too, that the 1908 G.P. Itala, driven by J. Williamson, retired early with gearbox trouble. A. F. Eminson’s supercharged 1 1/2-litre 1927 Bugatti was driven impeccably and gained a very secure lead, compensation for arriving too late for the first race. Eminson was handicapped at 66.5 m.p.h. and won at 66.43 m.p.h., truly a triumph for the handicappers, H. P. Bowler and J. B. Sidford. J. C. Tozer, in Narramore’s very nicely turned out ex-Brian Twist/Humphries 1927 Amilcar Six, held second place from an unusual-looking 1930 4 1/2-litre Bentley driven by J. W. Broad. Behind, Sears handled the 1914 T.T. Sunbeam brilliantly but just couldn’t catch Miller in Melville’s 1927 30/98 Vauxhall. Green ran the ex-Widengren single-seater Amilcar Six with cowled radiator and Fisher the ex-Hern Amilcar Six, which retired with back-axle trouble. We are not quite clear how some of the cars which competed qualified as vintage racing cars.
Next, a 16-lap race for vintage Le Mans-bodied cars; a good idea, although some of the runners, such as a 30/98 Vauxhall, a Riley Nine two-seater, an Anzani-Frazer-Nash and Isherwood’s rebodied 1929 Mathis, did not suggest Le Mans to us. In the end Nurse’s Riley Nine won at 62.91 m.p.h. from Crowther’s Frazer-Nash and Williamson’s famous 4 1/2-litre Bentley, which engaged in a fine duel with Burton’s sister car, making fastest lap at over 70 m.p.h., although it exuded a lot of smoke and seemed to become feverish in the process. Scott was far steadier than last year in the big white Hispano-Suiza, and Powell’s Mercédès-Benz was pathetically pedestrian, in spite of emitting the authentic blower-howl and holding third gear for some 200 yards beyond Beckett’s, where Hipkins also swapped to a higher speed in his 1927 Frazer-Nash. King-Smith’s Brescia Bugatti both looked and motored well. Quartermaine’s steering columns juddered excitingly on the lowered 30/98 Vauxhall.
An all-comers’ 5-lap handicap which followed saw Williamson’s Bentley win at 68.54 m.p.h., again making fastest lap into the bargain, this time at 70.6 m.p.h. Vessey drove his Eighth Series Lancia Lambda determinedly into second place, ahead of Cox’s O.M. Hollington’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley massacred a tub at Beckett’s.
The welcome 3-lap Edwardian race suffered from non-starters, the Itala being hors de combat; Hill’s Alfonso Hispano-Suiza absent, and Heal’s Fiat suffering from a tired magneto. Sir Francis Samuelson scored a long overdue victory in his 1914 T.T. Sunbeam, at 58.2 m.p.h. Sears, starting 30 sec. later, chased him hard in his 1914 T.T. Sunbeam, which is curiously faster, and which lapped at well over 65 m.p.h. to be rewarded with second place, while Neve’s 1914 T.T. Humber was a very close third — a pleasingly balanced finishing order.
Two more 5-lap handicaps saw March’s Alvis, from the 1 min. 21 sec. mark, win the first at 59.46 m.p.h. from Hipkins’ Frazer-Nash and Burton’s scratch Bentley. The second race went to Harris’ limit Austin, which averaged 55.64 m.p.h. to beat Chalcroft’s 1933 Frazer-Nash and Eminson’s Bugatti which came through the field very nicely indeed. In the first of these handicaps Brewer’s G.P. Bugatti and Leo’s Lagonda retired, while in the second Hipkins’ early Frazer-Nash succumbed to transmission trouble. West’s 1928 4 1/2-litre Invicta had a rather nice bolster fuel tank.
A 3-lap race on handicap for vintage light cars produced a good field, from which the fantastic little Peugeots led the first two laps and even on the last lap A. Nash in Ron Barker’s voiturette was ahead until Winder’s 8/18 Humber with 9/20 engine swept by on the outside round Woodcote, to snatch a last-minute victory, at 49.59 m.p.h., after a lap at over 51/ m.p.h. It went home on a trailer. Third place was taken by Wheeler’s “hotted-up” 1922 Talbot 8/18.
The meeting concluded with the 5-lap Motor Sport Handicap, run off before schedule, so competently was the V.S.C.C. in command of operations. Although an ambulance man was grumbling that there had been “no fun,” a commentator said of this winners’ handicap: “This is thrilling.” Nurse’s Riley caught the limit men on the last lap, winning from March’s Alvis, with Burton’s Bentley hard on his heels and using the grass as well as the road at Woodcote, the remaining marked-places going to Veasey’s Lancia, Goodman’s Alfa-Romeo and Harris’ Austin Seven. The next V.S.C.C. Silverstone Meeting, when the Seaman Trophies Race will be run off, will be held on June 19th. — W. B.
V.S.C.C. Light Car Trial
This hardy annual was held on May 2nd, on a day when the 1953 rainfall record was seriously threatened. Splendidly organised by A. JeddereFisher, the event attracted a varied entry of 28 and was based on the J.C.C. High Efficiency Trial of 1923. Cecil Clutton was in charge of an audiometer to measure the noise made by the elderly economy cars as they ascended a steep hill and suspension was tested by making the intrepid drivers go over a 2-in, plank with their near-side wheels. Brakes, steering, low-speed pulling in top gear, easy starting from cold, acceleration on the level as well as uphill, and trials hill-climbing were also tested, and passengers were given some fine navigational exercises based on grid references as well as route-card directions.
Bonus marks based on age were awarded, and cars were judged for condition and originality and their water and petrol consumption measured over a total distance of 89 miles.
Amongst the runners were Routledge’s healthy Morris-Cowley, unhappily sans hood, Wrigley’s 1923 8/18 Talbot, Lockhart’s baby Peugeot, Wood’s snug Riley Eleven coupé, a Riley Nine saloon, Wheeler’s twin-carburetter 1922 8/18 Talbot, Boddy’s 1922 8h.p. Talbot-Darracq in a new coat of royal blue VaIspar, a former mysterious ignition malady cured by replacing the original Delco coil with a Delco Remy oil-coil, a 10/23 Talbot with wide four-seater body, Smith’s yellow 1919 Stelite, a Hampton, Collins’ very nice Clyno tourer, an air-cooled flat-twin Rover Eight, a cautious OM., Axford’s Axford’s 9/20 Humber, a 1923 Singer Ten, etc. Non-starters included a Jowett with porous cylinder and a Horstman which sheared an axle key in the Light Car Race the day before.
During the wet afternoon Hooson’s A.C. and the 10/23 Talbot were seen with bonnets raised. The optional trials hill was ascended by Routledge, Wrigley and, extremely creditably by Lockhart’s 668-c.c. Peugeot. Boddy made a hash of the steering test through not seeing a marker and fairly galloped in the slow-running test because the hand throttle was badly adjusted for this purpose, and the Stellite was naturally slow up the numerous gradients.
1st: R. Barker (1922 660.c.c. Peugeot).
2nd: L. P. Sawyers (Lea-Francis).
3rd: Routledge (Morris-Cowley).
4th: F. S. Lockhart (Peugeot).