Matters of Moment, June 1964
The Sport and the Roads at Whitsun
The wide-flung manifestations of motoring sport were in evidence at Whitsun, when in this country alone there was racing at the Crystal Palace, where an “outsider” beat the champions in the big race, at Mallory Park, at Silverstone (twice), at Aintree, at Rufforth and at Goodwood, where vintage sports cars and historic racing cars were added to the attraction of astonishingly fast saloons and hairy sports and GT cars, not to mention the Scottish Rally started on the Bank Holiday, the once-classic M.C.C. Edinburgh Trial was combined with the Esso “Scoot to Scotland,” as well as hill-climbs, autocross, driving tests, and a slalom!
It is to the credit of the many drivers engaged in these high-speed pursuits that accidents were apparently few and the TV cameras thus frustrated of gory scanning. But if “gates” fall, organisers should not be surprised, for the spectator-count has these days to be divided between a great many venues.
The public roads were more dangerous than the circuits and traffic congestion set in as anticipated, so that the bicycle was quicker than the car through many towns over the holiday—deservedly has Alex Moulton been presented with one of the covetable Council of Industrial Design Awards, for all five models of his revolutionary Moulton bicycle—which no modern family can afford to be without—out of 10,000 different items to reach the finals of this exacting contest.
The Farce of Saloon-Car Racing
Saloon-car racing is in danger of becoming a farce, which is a great pity, because it is so greatly enjoyed by the onlookers. First there were protests and the Great Scrutineering Bothers, which meant that race positions across the finishing line bore little resemblance to the official results when these eventually appeared.
Now there Is the matter of selecting starters for the Brands Hatch Six-Hour Saloon-Car Race on June 6th by qualifying times. This ensures that the faster saloons will run, but rules out the chances of those entrants who rely on reliability rather than sprint-tuning to bring them into the money in a long-distance race—and surely the whole purpose of a duration race is to develop this quality? Homologation. too, needs tightening up. This leads to the question of which should take precedence, so-called “production” saloon-car racing (even if the days of model-A Ford tourers in the T.T. and coupés in the Essex M.C. Six-Hour Race have long since departed!) or such racing with no holds barred, so that we can see in action cars like Doc Merfield’s 4.7-litre V8 Cortina, Cave’s A40 and the hottest minibrics?
Four International Class records have been broken at Monza by a VW 1500S saloon and a VW Variety S, ranging from 12,000 to 10,000 miles at speeds of from 78.1 to 78.5 m.p.h. As we close for press we hear rumours that Ford may be already attacking the new figures. If this spells a resumption in Europe of inter-make rivalry in recordbreaking, we are very much in favour. . .
The sun brought out cars in then swarms, but not the road-test car—costing just over £4,000 in this country—in which the Editor had hoped to rush in relaxed comfort down A 44 for a brief respite. This great machine—to name its make would be personally embarrassing to the Editor and would swell the “best-car” correspondence!—had deposited its oil in a pool beneath it before we had had a chance to drive it and was also bubbling through its gasket. So it was a case of Waterloo and an unwanted train ride before Wales, not in the hope of getting carried on to Crewe and being offered substitute transport(!), but to retrieve a vehicle which, in spite of its model-T ancestry (but winner of the Safari), we felt sure would not let us down—it didn’t, completing 670 warm week-end miles at its customary 31 m.p.g. ½-a-pint of Castrol.
When you are depressed by modern cars, contemplation of the ancients is purifying, so it was nice to discover in a Welsh town a pre-war Midland Red single-decker ‘bus finishing its days in the service of Birmingham Corporation and to come upon a well-preserved 1924 Austin Seven coachbuilt coupé, a 2-speed Scott, and the remains of an old Triumph combination in a near-by garage. Attempts to buy a 1931 Austin Seven and a 1935 Sunbeam were frustrated because the former wouldn’t start and the latter had been sold, but led to examination of a very fine 3-carburetter Speed 25 Alvis, the equal in coachwork and superior in performance, we thought, to a 20/25 Royce, and a rare 1930 Riley Nine coachbuilt 2-seater. There was also the Clayton & Shuttleworth steam-roller still in use at Abemule, where we paused to take on National Benzole, and another, make unchecked, working on road-widening outside Hereford.
At a motorcycle jamboree splendid vintage examples of s.v. Norton with torpedo sidecar, single-cylinder Beardmore Precision with band front brake, and another Scott were encountered, while a garage window in Llanidloes yielded a view of a well preserved Edwardian Studebaker.
Finally, to conclude a motoring Whitsun, we came home for the Goodwood Meeting. Accidents?—we didn’t see so much as a trace of one. . . .
1964 R.A.C. Hill-Climb Championship
The latest Championship event to catch this month’s Press schedule was the third in the series, the West Hants & Dorset C.C.’s Wiscombe Park Hill-Climb on Whit Monday, where Tony Marsh’s 2-litre Marsh-Climax just beat reigning Champion Westbury in the P99 four-wheel-drive Ferguson by 0.01 of a second for the 1,000-yard, 6-bend hill. Marsh clocked 43.06 sec., whilst Westbury recorded 43.07. Westbury, however, set up a new course record in the class runs at 42.53 sec. Third place went to Peter Boshier-Jones’ supercharged 1.3-litre Lotus 22-Climax. As we close for press Westbury leads the Championship with 31 points to Marsh’s 30, whilst Boshier-Jones has 22, Tony Griffiths (2.5 B.R.M.) 21 points, and John Macklin (3.5-litre Cooper-Buick V8) 20 points. The latest Championship positions, including Barbon Manor on May 23rd, will be listed in our July issue.—E. W.
V.S.C.C. Oulton Park on June 20th
Those who enjoy the individuality of vintage racing and like seeing cars and drivers at work should note that this year’s V.S.C.C. Oulton Park Race Meeting starts at 1 p.m. on June 20th. The big excitement is the 20-lap Richard Seaman Memorial Trophy Race for Historic Racing Cars, and the Seaman Vintage Racing Car event, Frazer Nash and G.N. Race, All-Corners’ Race and 5-lap handicaps will also be contested. Entries have closed. The special item is a V.M.C.C. scratch race for vintage motorcycles.
Cling Rubber and Tyre Wear
The Avon Rubber Co. Ltd. have noticed several references recently to cling rubber in which writers have stated categorically that cling rubber tyres do not wear as well as the previous “standard” tyres and that “cling” increases rolling resistance and fuel consumption. If the tyres referred to are made throughout of cling rubber, these statements, say Avon, are probably true. Avon claim that their two-fold construction, which is unique, provides tyres which wear somewhat better than the previous standard, do NOT have increased rolling resistance and do NOT increase fuel consumption. Two-fold construction, the makers state, gives Avon New Safety tyres a super cling tread on a highly resilient undertread and sidewall.
Honda for Spa?
The Japanese Honda works has been developing its V12 Formula One car for some considerable time and according to the R.A.C. of Belgium the team is very interested in entering the Belgian G.P. As we close for press no final decision has been made. The race takes place on Sunday June 14th.