THE V.S.C.C. AT SILVERSTONE (April 24th)
THE first V.S.C.C. Silverstone Race Meeting of the year, which had the expected big entry and double the crowd of keen spectators that were present at a preceding International F.2 race meeting, enjoyed good weather apart from one brief shower, and produced some excellent racing.
The first 5-lap handicap was nearly a victory for Miss Rose in her 1934 3½-litre Bentley but on the last lap, as she ran wide at Woodcote, Russ-Turner had her in his sights and although his 1937 4¼-litre Bentley to which he has added a supercharger sounded very ill, he overtook the smaller, more conventional Derby product, to win by 5.8 sec. Hutchings (1937 328 B.M.W.) from scratch, sawing at his steering wheel, came strongly into third place, after making fastest lap, hotly pursued by Wicks driving Sir Ralph Millais’ beautiful Le Mans Alfa Romeo.
There was a bit of a thing when Abson ” lost ” his racingbodied 1934 Lagonda Rapier at Woodcote on lap three, and Bill Mason’s 4½-litre Bentley was flagged in because its tonneau-cover was trailing.
Another 5-lap handicap followed, in which Stewart’s 1923 3-litre Bentley, from the 5-sec. mark, came into the picture after the third lap and won by 11 sec. from Purnell’s low-chassis 1929 2-litre Lagonda, while Barker’s 1908 Napier, the only Edwardian in the absence of Neve’s 1914 T.T. Humber, was a creditable third from the 10-sec. mark, this heavy handicap alone being a fine tribute to this ex-works sprint Sixty. Barker worked very hard at the steering wheel while treating Woodcote with disdain. The winning Bentley had a neat alloy beetle-back 2-seater body. For two laps Mrs. Hogg led in the side-valve Aston Martin ” N****r ” and Baker was using lots of road at Woodcote in the ex-Lisle CGS Amilcar. Retter’s neat 1932 Aston Martin came in sounding very sick.
A fine field of Ulster Austin Sevens, Riley Nines, Batho’s Amilcar-Riley and Madeley’s 1928 Austin 7 Special with bolster tank lined up for the 10-lap Spero & Voiturette Trophies Race. Harris claimed an original dashboard on his Austin and Peter Moores’ 1930/32 Austin Ulster was allowed, as a p.v.t., to retain a 4-speed gearbox and ” modern ” belt-driven blower. Last year’s winner, Peter Binns’ Riley Nine, was never seriously challenged and won very comfortably, although Moores never gave up trying, cutting close in at Woodcote, changing-up halfway along the pits straight. On the last lap but one he appeared to have run into trouble or to have missed a gear, but may merely have cut-out to avoid colliding with Bough’s Riley Gamecock, which was in his path. A long way behind, in third place, came Ely’s Riley 9, while Barry Clarke’s Ulster Austin, presumably standard and therefore in this category, led the Voiturettes home, ahead of Tiedeman’s Ulster Austin.
After Duff’s 1933 Aston Martin, from 55 sec., had led the third 5-lap handicap for three laps, he was overtaken by Densham in Wilson’s 1922/28 30/98 Vauxhall, but it was Archdale’s modernised Frazer Nash, from scratch, which went through to win, second place a real photo-finish between Duff and Densham.
The 10-lap Merrydown Trophy Race for vintage sports cars promised excitement, with Jonty Williamson in Sowden’s 8-litre Bentley and Morley in his 8-litre Bentley thrusting through purposefully from flag-fall. And sure enough it was the intrepid Williamson, controlling slides, shifting in his seat, going great guns, who won, for Morley packed it in on the first lap. Geoghegan’s Frazer Nash was second, Simpson’s F.N./A.C. third, ahead of Footit’s famous A.C./G.N. These cars were surrounded at times by a fine pack of thundering Bentleys, Rose’s 4+ holding off Quartermaine’s 30/98.
A feeling of tension amongst the spectators and splendid noises from the Paddock proclaimed the approach of the 10-lap Allcorners’ Scratch Race, in which Bergel drove the Hon. Patrick Lindsay’s 1956/7 Maserati 250F, John Spero drove his father’s ex-Horace Gould 1953 Maserati 250F, Colin Crabbe his 1956 Maserati 250F, Margulies his A-type Connaught, Wilkes and Brown Cooper-Bristols, Lindsay his E.R.A. ” Remus,” backed up by more E.R.A.s, Morin Scott’s 6C Maserati, Corner in the beautiful ex-Powys Lybbe/Crowther 2.9 monoposto Alfa Romeo, and other pre-war racing cars.
It was a really tremendous race, Bergel leading the 1951 A-type Connaughts of Margulies and Allart for the first two laps, and Allart setting fastest lap at 82.93 m.p.h. and passing Margulies, his entrant, before blowing up his engine. Lindsay, by taking the inside line at Woodcote, got the old E.R.A. momentarily in front, with Margulies and Bergel right up with him, a splendid effort, because the two Connaughts had been by no means easy to overtake. Then Margulies led in the blue Connaught, winding on enormous handfuls of lock on the corners and turning the power on before the car was straight. ” Remus ” retired with piston trouble, and the order at the end of the sixth lap, became : Margulies, Bergel, Cottam, with Brown and Brewer (E.R.A.s) scrapping behind. Margulies appeared to have the race all nicely if dicily sewn up, when, on the last lap, he ran wide at Becketts and Cottam, in his long-chassis Connaught AL 10, saw his opportunity and took it, leading wild Dan over the line by a clear second, Bergel third—a great race ! Cottam came in with a congratulatory Lindsay sitting on the Connaught’s tail. Brewer’s E.R.A. was fourth, just ahead of J. Brown, and it had been a highly exciting, hard-fought race from start to finish— we look forward to similar entertainment at Oulton Park this month. Spero’s initial promise faded, but he was sixth at the finish in his very first motor race, ahead of Wilks and B. Brown, who were in close company. Margulies’ off-side rear tyre was considerably scrubbed by his wheelspinning acceleration out of the corners. Crabbe drove sensibly in his ex-Stan Jones 1956 Maserati 250F, brought back from Australia and making its first appearance in Europe since the war.
The next event was a 5-lap scratch race, which gave Abson’s Lagonda Rapier a run-away victory, 15.6 sec. ahead of Cairnes’ 3½-litre Alvis Special, which had got away from Pilkington’s Alfa Romeo which, before the end, gave best to Zeuner’s Type 37 Bugatti.
The big race of the afternoon, the 10-lap 1908 G.P. Itala Trophy Race for vintage racing cars, was another very good event, for George Burton led all the way in Sir Ralph Millais’ 4-litre V12 Sunbeam ” Tiger,” the big car quite a handful, yet pulling out such a lead that after three laps there was the length of the straight between the Sunbeam and the F.N./A.C., which had swung in front of Sowden’s great 8-litre Bentley out of Woodcote to take second place. Burton was never in danger, and won at 75.93 m.p.h., a clear 42.6 sec. ahead of the Bentley, which regained second place on lap nine, when the F.N./A.C. began to fail, to coast home in third place, again ahead of the A.C./G.N. Williamson’s 4½-litre Bentley and Gilbert’s Type 37 Bugatti retired. Burton’s best lap was at 77.39 m.p.h., and it was splendid to see the Millais’ entry successful at last—Sir Ralph is having a good vintage year, having won the Pomeroy Trophy with his Alfa Romeo.
Two more 5-lap handicaps and a 5-lap scratch race concluded a packed afternoon’s sport. In the first Lindsay drove his Maserati. From 15th position after a lap, he came steadily through the field, in which he started from scratch in company with Spero’s Maserati, both cars immaculately turned out, to 10th by lap two, fifth after three laps, to second place behind Archdale’s Frazer Nash with one to go. He won his first race in the car by six seconds from Archdale’s un-Nash-like ‘Nash, Wilks’ 1952 Cooper-Bristol third, Spero fourth, the 328 B.M.W. fifth and Brown’s Cooper-Bristol sixth.
The next handicap was won by Balmer’s 1924 3-litre Bentley, a very original open 4-seater with Le Mans wings, after the gaps in its equally-vintage plugs had been correctly set. Besley had the Alfa Romeo-engined E.H.P. going nicely, to run home second, ahead of Purnell’s Lagonda. Nutter drove an original-looking Speed Six Bentley with 4-seater body and long outside hand-brake but it was anything but speedy. Duff’s Aston Martin won the last race from Stewart’s Bentley and the Wilson 30/98 driven by Densham.—W. B.
The Rootes Group’s 1921 3-litre straight-8 ex-Heal Sunbeam, driven by Panks, was a centre of interest. Shod with 32 x 4½ Dunlop S Cord tyres, it has two Firestone spares strapped on behind, the words ” Non-Skid ” forming their tread-pattern, and carries a 1964 New York World’s Fair plaque. The dashboard lists the car’s racing career, including a 1921 250-Mile Brooklands Race allegedly won by Segrave at 94.64 m.p.h., vLhich is odd, because there was no such race!
It was bound to happen! Both Colin Crabbe and A. C. M. Millar claim that their 250F Maseratis, of which Millar’s was an absentee, won the 1959 Australian G.P.! In fact, it appears that Crabbe’s car, which he went out to Australia to buy, is the ex-Stan Jones’ car, which was second in the 1958 Australian G.P. and won the 1959 race. It seemed to have very supple rear suspension; but then Crabbe is a big man! This, and Lindsay’s Maserati, have the fuel pump belt-driven from the prop.-shaft.
We predicted that sorting out these 250Fs would be a problem. It seems that Spero’s is the car first driven by Musso at Monza in 1954 and that Lindsay’s first appeared at Monza in 1956, driven by Behra.
It was nice to see the 30/98 Vauxhalls of Dames-Longworth and Rowley in use as course-patrol cars.
Frank Lockhart’s 1946 Rover Special is now giving 83 b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m. from its triple-S.U. Rover 75 engine, thanks to raised c.r., etc.
R. J. Nice’s 1930 Ulster Austin was splendidly original, even to the correct mudguards and running-boards, and was beautifully turned out.
W. R. Warne produced a 1926 Riley Redwing tourer with a Riley/Lea-Francis 1,760-c.c. o.h.v. engine in place of the original side-valve power unit. R. P. Cook’s Riley was a Merlin Special. Eckersley’s Type 35 Bugatti won the Handicap Section of the G.P. Itala Trophy Race. Pollard bought his 1935/6 A.C. for £15.
E. N. Corner’s beautiful monoposto 2.9-litre Alfa Romeo, after some 36 laps in practice, had to go and snap off its gearlever down inside the “tunnel,” in the All-Corners’ Scratch Race. . . .
Jill Turner, whose father’s Gwynne was burned out during the 1927 J.C.C. 200-Mile Race, was seen in the Paddock enthusiastically regarding A. J. B. Missen’s 1924 Gwynne 8.
Where are the Edwardian racers ? The only one running at this meeting was Barker’s Napier, which fully justified its presence, if one regards Mann’s prototype No. 2 1918 ex-Brooklands Straker-Squire, which had its radiator blanked off, as more vintage than pre-war. And we hope that Doc Taylor’s G.P. Bugatti, the Napier-Railton and the Barnato-Hassan will be in action at Oulton Park.
” Remus’ ” piston trouble was not unexpected, as last season’s pistons were being used, no British firm being interested in making a new set. Lindsay has ordered some from the wellknown German firm of Mahle.
J. Minnis’ 1933 Alvis Speed 20 Mayfair d.h. coupe was tuned for racing by the simple expedient of removing its fan. As this didn’t make it go any faster, the fan was then replaced. I. S. Kerr’s ex-Powys-Lybbe 12/50 Alvis still sports some fantastic exhaust bends, and J. Venables-Llewelyn’s Alvis had a Speed 25 engine in a Silver Eagle chassis. Besides his F.W.D. T.T. Alvis D. W. Kitchener ran a 1934 Speed 25 Special, which Mrs. Russell drove in one race.
Nigel Arnold-Forster was driving his all-aluminium Anzani Frazer Nash, rumour saying that he is resting the Delar this season. Very disappointing—F. G. Giles had to withdraw his 1932 Frazer Nash OR the line, because of oil leaks from a, full-flow filter system.
Vintage Postbag, July 1978
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