Veteran- Edwardian- Vintage
A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
The April V.S.C.C. Silverstone Meeting
There was much of interest at the first V.S.C.C. Race Meeting of 1966, held at Silverstone on April 23rd, which passed off entirely without accident, in spite of the entry being no less than 188 and some of the races being run in rain and hail showers—which shows how safe the older cars are!
For instance, how would the rebuilt 250F Maseratis of the Hon. Patrick Lindsay, C. Lucas and A.C.M. Millar perform, and how would Peter Moores' Austin 7 run, the latter a meticulously-built replica of the Kay Petre side-valve supercharged car, the Austin Motor Co. having lent Moores their own car, which regrettably they never race, to copy, while the engine is thought to be out of the car involved in the Parnell/Mrs. Petre crash at Brooklands, its Murray Jamieson blower never dismantled, yet in such good order that it still blows at 26 lb./sq. in. Moores mixes his own alcohol/water fuel and as the engine boils after running for 30 seconds on the line, he uses a portable electric fan standing on the track in front or the car to extend this to about a minute, while waiting for the starting flag!
After the .customary One-Hour High-Speed Trial, in which the anticipated duel between the Anzani Frazer Nashes of Patrica Arnold-Forster and Charmian May didn't materialise because Mrs. Arnold-Forster's engine had unfortunately thrown a rod en route, racing commenced with a 5-lap Semi-Scratch Race (which implies three handicap groups), won comfortably by Readey's ex-Gerard/Harrison Riley from Bowler in Blight's Talbot 105 G052 and Masters' ex-Lund Marshall-blown PB M.G. This time, Bowler, under orders from the car's owner, carried only ten gallons of fuel and had removed the back seat, to save perhaps a cwt. over Pomeroy Trophy trim!
The first 5-lap Handicap was won by Hope in Madeley's bolster-tank vintage Austin 7 Special, Wadham's Speed 20 Alvis second, Neve's 1914 T.T. Humber third, with Harwood Matthews' rebodied 12/50 duck's-back Alvis and Glover's 12/50 beetle-back Alvis locked in combat behind.
The big event was the 10-lap 1908 G.P. Itala Trophy Race, very competently won by George Burton in the 1925 V12 Sunbeam "Tiger" so ably rebuilt on behalf of its enthusiastic owner, Sir Ralph Millais. St. John's Bugatti being hors de combat, there was no-one to come anywhere near the Sunbeam, which lapped at 77.6 m.p.h., but Kain was firmly in second place in his Type 35B Bugatti and Barraclough third in Sowden's enormous 8 1/2-litre Bentley. Cecil Cautton seemed to be going really fast in the 12-litre Itala from which the race takes its title, its back tyres having swollen since last season, but Sam's umbrella still poking coyly from the tonneau.
The T.T. Humber looked well placed to win the next Semi Scratch 5-lapper but it oiled-up on the line and came in, allowing Boyce's 1928 Frazer Nash to take a slow race from Skipper's aluminium blown Lagonda Rapier and Jardine's Brescia Bugatti, which just scraped home ahead of Wadham's big Alvis. The 10-lap All-Corners' Scratch Race promised fireworks, although Spero's previously faultless 250F Maserati was a non-starter due to leaking water-pump glands after having been drained for its winter hibernation, and Lucas' car wasn't ready. Much was expected of the Ecurie Millar and Pat Lindsay Maseratis but the former had a twitchy moment at Woodcote on lap two and Bergel drove the latter with circumspection, which doesn't win these races. Cottam in his A-type 2-litre Connaught had already taken the lead, which he retained throughout, driving extremely neatly, Salvage's earlier 2-litre Connaught taking Millar on lap eight, the order being Cottarn, Salvage, Millar, Bergel, the winning Connaught averaging 80.29 m.p.h. and Salvage making fastest lap, at 82.7 m.p.h. Walter's E.R.A. headed the pre-war contingent, at 75.75 m.p.h., holding off Brown's E.R.A.
The "heavy-metal," in the order "Jonty" Williamson (5.7-litre Bentley) and Sowden (Bentley), came through in the Merrydown Trophy Class Handicap for vintage sports cars but Lord Strathcarron was third in the ex-Merrick Riley 9.
The programme, watched by a good crowd of spectators shivering in the open-backed grandstand, those stands closer to Woodcote for some reason denied to them, concluded with four more 5-lap races. In the first or these Moores performed his starting ritual at the "1-min." signal but drove sensibly on the now slippery track, the Austin unplaced behind Carmichael's l.h.d B.M.W. 328, Abason's Lagonda Rapier and Weir's 4 1/2-litre Lagonda.
The next Handicap saw Lockhart's 1946 Rover come out in front, Cottam's Connaught second, Blight's Talbot 110 third, Waller's E.R.A. home next, while Lindsay in the Maserati caught Millar, who had 15 sec. start, and equalled Cottam's earlier fastest lap, on a slippery track. Moores' Austin was out again in the following race, and, whining round snakily, finished third, It failed to catch the winner, Kain's Bugatti, which made up 20sec. on the Austin, or Blight's Talbot from its own group. The Talbot vanquished both Rose's 4-litre Bentley, a car which looked decidedly "Le Mans," hood erect, and Mrs. Shoosmith's open post-war 3 1/2-litre Bentley, to which it had conceded 15 sec.
Masters' M.G., lucky to be in, for the V.S.C.C. normally shuns PBs, won the final Handicap by 4 sec. from Barton's 1932 Frazer Nash and Schofield in Hine's big Lagonda.
The fastest cars in historic-car racing did not shine, and now we must wait until Oulton Park to see how they go. With two 250F Maseratis absent and the others hardly on form, being beaten by the smaller Connaughts and with Peter Wilks' 1959 Lotus 16 remaining on the grid with a leaking oil cooler and cylinder head, the 2 1/2-litre cars were disappointing, while Moores' blown Austin was beaten by 12.2 sec. by a 1926 Bugatti, which gave it a good start, and by 9 sec. by a sports Talbot, so was not yet up to its 1934 form. Nor was Lindsay's E.R.A. "Remus" on form, coming in momentarily while leading the other E.R.A.s when its oil pressure fell.—W.B.
A minor tragedy of the day concerned Dudley Gahagan, who had specially commissioned Granville Grenfell to make a traditional Brooklands silencer for his 2-litre E.R.A.—it burst it's seams in practice and had to be replaced by a straight pipe!
The Course Car was a 4 1/2-litre Bentley fabric saloon.
An entry not seen for some time was Clinkard's 1937/53 blown 4.3 Alvis with the body from Peter Walker's E-type E.R.A. and now with de Dion back axle.
Rare Riley—the Flitcrofts' 1934 Lynx with 14/6 engine, once used by a parson.
Warne's side-valve Riley has acquired an outside exhaust pipe and external hand-brake during the winter months.
Hamish Moffat towed his splendid 1924 Type 35 Bugatti, which is still on b.e. tyres, to Silverstone on a trailer behind a delightfully "Emmett" like 1928 Rolls-Royce Twenty saloon.
We wonder what Langdon spends on keeping his understeering 4 1/2-litre Invicta in front tyres ?
Wragg somehow got his single-seater Austin 7 into the High-Speed Trial, which is supposed to be for sports cars, so that it was like seeing a V16 B.R.M. at Le Mans.
Lockhart's sons prefer their 1930 Austin 750 Special to their father's offer of his old Peugeot-J.A.P.—odd fellows!
Two absolutely standard cars (we are assured) were Spencer's TK beetle-back 12/50 Alvis and Moore's straight-eight Railton, the latter even retaining the drum-like remote air-cleaner to its single carburetter.
Lord Montagu was present, busily photographing the races, but he let Louis Giron drive his entry, a supercharged 1 1/2-litre Alfa Romeo.
Below are appended the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy points scored on April 23rd—next round, Oulton Park on June 25th.
10 lap G.P. Itala Trophy Race: G. Burton (Sir R. Millais 1925 4-litre s/c. Sunbeam) ... 75.81 m.p.h.
10-lap All-Comers' Scratch Race : A.S. Cottam (1953 2-litre A-type Connaught) ... 80.29 m.p.h.
10-lap Merrydown Trophy Race for vintage sports cars : J.T. Williamson (1927 5.7-litre Bentley) ... 72.49 m.p.h.
First 5-lap Semi-Scratch Race : C. Readey (1935 1.7-litre Riley) ... 64.93 m.p.h.
Second. 5-lap Semi-Scratch Race : T.D. Boyce (1928 1 1/2-litre Frazer Nash) ... 62.08 m.p.h.
Third 5-lap Semi-Scratch Race : B.B.D. Rain (1926 2.3-litre s/c. Bugatti) ... 69.14 m.p.h.
First 5-lap Handicap : M. Hope (G. Madeley's 1928 Austin 7) ... 56.38 m.p.h.
Second 5-lap Handicap : P.E.L. Carmichael (1939 328 B.M.W.) ... 63.31 m.p.h.
Third 5-lap Handicap : F.S. Lockhart (1946 2.6-litre Rover) ... 73.42 m.p.h.
Fourth 5-lap Handicap : I. Masters (1936 939-cc. s/c. MG PB) ... 59.68 m.p.h.