A section devoted to old-car matters
THE V.S.C.C. SILVERSTONE MEETING (April 22nd)
While the Americans were busy scratching the surface of the moon the Vintage S.C.C. was holding its opening race meeting of 1967, on a dull, cold day, which didn’t daunt a very large crowd from attending. Moreover, rain held off until the racing was over and a programme of nine races and a one-hour High Speed Trial passed off without any accidents.
By far the best G.P. Itala Trophy Race for some years was seen as the vintage racing cars fought it out over 10 laps of the Club circuit – and this is saying something, because this is usually a splendid race. This time it lay between St. John and Corner in their Type 35 s/c. straight-eight Bugattis. St. John would take Corner on the inside at Woodcote but after this had happened on laps 2, 3 and 4 Corner got clear and held the lead to the finish, in his beautiful car with wirelaced undertray and alloy-spoke wheels. He led St. John over the line by 1.6 sec., with Kain’s scruffy Type 35 Bugatti third, ahead of McCosh’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley, a mere 0.6 sec. separating these two. Moffatt, whose Bugatti has a new set of Dunlop 710 x 90 tyres this year, tried every trick to get through, sliding his corners, taking Kain on the outside, then coming through the traffic into third place on lap 4; he stayed there until McCosh and Kain got by on lap 8. It was a truly stirring race, Corner refusing to be ruffled by St. John, and averaging 75.97 m.p.h., with a fastest lap of 77.39 m.p.h. A great race! Corner also won on handicap, from Barry Clarke’s little Austin 7.
By contrast the 15-lap All-Comers’ Handicap was rather dull, and Cottam’s Connaught was a non-starter, with a sticking valve. Lucas never had any bother and led throughout in the 1957 Maserati, but it was interesting to see how well Lord Clydesdale drove the Bergel 1953 Maserati. He held second place all the way, always in sight of Lucas. The first five places scarcely changed, Spero completing the Maserati 250F 1, 2, 3, in third place, but Brewer’s Aston Martin overtook Le Sage’s Lotus on lap 4, but in the end Le Sage got back into fourth position when the Aston Martin lost 3rd gear. Lucas averaged 85.5 m.p.h. and shared fastest lap with His Lordship, both doing 86.6 m.p.h. Best E.R.A. was “Hanuman” driven by Bill Morris, which finished sixth. But this race lacked the-in-fighting that made the Itala Trophy so exciting.
The other important race was the Melville & Geoghegan Trophies contest for vintage sports cars, on a class handicap basis. For four laps Barry Clarke’s very fast and steady 1929 Ulster-type Austin 7 led, but Jonty Williamson, who retired from the Itala Trophy, couldn’t be denied, for he was flinging his 4 1/2-litre Bentley about like mad, the car sliding about, its tyres screaming. At half-distance (five laps) he was in the lead, pursued by Sowden’s 8 1/2-litre 4-seater Bentley, which was second a lap later. Clarke kept third place until one lap from the end, when Boyce’s 1928 Fraser Nash took him, as did Stewart’s 3-litre Bentley on the final lap. But Clarke won his class, the other class winners being Boyce, Stewart and Williamson. Lord Strathcarron’s Riley was absent, having thrown a rod in practice.
The first 5-lap Handicap was a walk-over for Barbet’s Riley Special, which started life as a 1937 Monaco saloon but now has four Amals (Webers last year), a c.r. of under 7 to 1, a home-built two-seater body, strut-type dampers, a pre-selector gearbox and 5.50 x 15 Dunlops. Mrs. Freeman in the famous 2-litre Spa Aston Martin suffered the honour of being on scratch behind all the men, giving Barbet 85 sec. start, so she did exceedingly well to come home second, even if the Riley was then well out of sight. Robarts’ 4 1/2-litre Lagonda with sketchy two-seater body was third.
In the next of the 5-lap Handicaps Baylis’ 1750 blown Alfa Romeo with beetle-back two-seater body, in spite of smoking rather heavily, took the lead on lap 2 and, although its mudguards hadn’t been removed, it won comfortably from Mrs. Hoggs’ Aston Martin. Cole’s immaculate ex-Coram twin-cam 1924 200-Mile Aston Martin was just beaten for third place by Mrs. Cherrett, whose smart 1750 blown Alfa Romeo four-seater took it on the inside on the run home.
The next 5-lapper looked as if it would be another Alfa Romeo victory, Pilkington’s 1750 blown car leading for the first three laps. But on lap 4 Barr’s 4.3 Alvis Special got by and the handicapping resolved itself on the last lap, Archdale’s odd-bod Fraser Nash being second, Stephen’s “proper” 4.3 Alvis third, while Clinkard’s 4.3 blown Alvis single-seater also passed the luckless Pilkington. It was the Race of the Pseudo Racers. Less expert handicapping marked the next 5-lap race, for Shoosmith’s nice 6 1/2-litre Speed Six Bentley took the lead on lap 2, pulling away farther and farther from Richardson in Mrs. Hogg’s Aston Martin, although on the final lap Edwards’ Ulster Aston Martin and Fuller’s scratch 1937 4 1/2-litre Bentley Special came up to fill second and third places. Alfa Romeos were very well represented at the meeting even if they didn’t know this in Milan. Baylis’ 1750 blown car smoked on r.h. corners in this race, in which Young’s 3.6-litre Lagonda demonstrated the meaning of understeer, and you could say Bell was drifting his 1924 aluminium duck’s-back 12/50 Alvis. Glover drove a very smart 1927 beetle-back Alvis, with a “power scoop” on its bonnet – it rode home on a trailer, as did one of the Derby Bentley Specials.
The next Handicap was rendered interesting by the presence of five E.R.A.s but a 20-sec. start enabled Clinkard’s 1953 blown 4.3 Alvis, pretending to be a Ferrari or something, to win fairly easily from Merrick’s 1 1/2-litre E.R.A., Kain, last year’s Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy winner, bringing his Bugatti into third place. Gahagan’s E.R.A. got 5 sec. start from the others, as did Marsh’s 1 1/2-litre ex-Seaman E.R.A. and Marsh beat Gahagan, which is all wrong for a 2-litre, the bigger car not being in the pink – in fact, it is red, whereas historically it should be white!
The last race was Pilkington’s, his Alfa Romeo leading home Boyces Fraser Nash and Stewart’s Bentley.
The course-opening car was R. A. Parker’s very fine 4.3-litre short-chassis Alvis tourer, even the wheels of which are coloured to match the two-tone colour scheme – but what happens when you have a puncture and have to fit the spare?
The only Edwardian racing was the 1910 Fiat, Barker’s Napier and Neve’s T.T. Humber being non-starters. The G.N.s also rather fizzled, for Stretton’s G.N. J.A.P., the old Rupert Instone Martyr, had its carburetter off in the Paddock and didn’t run, and Skinner’s delightful 2-speed J.A.P.-engined G.N. Phoenix lasted only two laps – but what fun these cars are. And the Chawner-G.N. was making its usual splendid noises.
One Ulster Austin 7, although fully road-equipped, went home in a transporter, which isn’t nice!
On the starting-grid Sutton nonchalantly cranked up his Boyd Carpenter Austin 7 and in another race Quartermaine-dipped the tank of his 30/98 Vauxhall and hastily sent someone for more petrol.
Sam Clutton drove the 10 1/2-litre V12 Delage in the Italy Trophy Race but couldn’t catch Nigel Arnold-Forster’s Delage II, of half the cylinders and less than half the capacity. Another duel was fought by Kerr’s ex-Powys-Lybbe 1930 12/50 Alvis, in holding at bay Warden’s 1930 Frazer Nash.
A pleasing car in the Paddock was a 1927 Delage DM fabric saloon in apparently almost original condition. Rumsey ran a rare but slow 1934 sports 6-cylinder Singer two-seater, with slab tank.
One hour is a long way in the High Speed Trial but the only retirements were a 4 1/2-litre Lagonda and a Frazer Nash, and the only cars which did not qualify were a 3.6 Lagonda, a Delage, the Singer Six, a 2-litre Lagonda, an O.M., and an Austin 7, although a Railton and a Riley had no laps in hand.
Points to date in the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest: Boyce (Frazer Nash), 21 pt.; Barbet (Riley), Baylis (Alfa Romeo), Corner (Bugatti). Barr (Alvis). Williamson (Bentley), Shoosmith (Bentley), Pilkington (Alfa Romeo), 18 pts. each; Kain (Bugatti, 16 pts.; Merrick (E.R.A.), Mrs. Freeman (Aston Martin), Mrs. Hogg (Aston Martin). St. John (Bugatti), Archdale (Frazer Nash), Sowden (Bentley), Edwards (Aston Martin), 13 pts. each; Robarts (Lagonda). Mrs. Cherrett (Alfa Romeo), Stephen (Alvis) Fuller (Bentley), Stewart (Bentley) 8 pts. each. Next round: Oulton Park, June 17th.
Tony Brooks, who was commentating for TV, did some fast laps before the racing started in “Johnson’s” ex-Gardner Alta-engined B-type Connaught said, erroneously apparently, to be the actual car in which he gained his famous victory at Syracuse in 1955. But all this was for the benefit of TV and ordinary reporters and photographers did not get much chance to ask Brooks how it felt to drive again in a Connaught or to take pictures of the occasion.
The Kodak Trophy historic car race
After a dull Formula One race at the 19th B.R.D.C. International Trophy Meeting at Silverstone on April 29th, watched by a crowd officially said to number 80,000 but in our estimation more like 30,000 or less, it was left to the historic racing cars to provide an exciting final race of the afternoon. Racing over 12 laps, Peter Brewer in the 2 1/2-litre G.P. Aston Martin and Colin Crabbe in his Maserati 250F fought a race-long duel, with Crabbe sometimes ahead, only to be re-passed by Brewer. They were level on the last lap but the Aston Martin just scraped home first, by such a narrow margin that both drivers were credited with identical times, their average speed 94.9 m.p.h. Crabbe’s car won the Australian G.P. in 1959 but the Aston Martin presumably never won a race until this one, although Salvadori drove it into second place in the International Trophy race that year. So Brewer is to be congratulated on getting it right – rather like the 1914 T.T. Humbers which never won a race until Wallbank did so at Brooklands in 1929 with one of them!
Charles Lucas was expected to win but his Maserati 250F broke a drive shaft in practice. The Speros sportingly helped him rebuild it overnight and, from the back of the grid, he was in third place after two laps, only to have the prop.-shaft give way. But he made fastest lap, at 98.48 m.p.h., before this happened. So the Hon. Patrick Lindsay went into, and held, this position, in the Maserati 250F which Ken Kavanagh crashed at Goodwood many years ago and for which Lindsay has made a new chassis. The car looked most un-Ferrari-like in its black paintwork.
Bergel followed Lindsay home in the Maserati 250F which he crashed in 1965 and which he and Lindsay used to share, and Le Sage’s Lotus was fifth, ahead of Salvage’s Connaught. Of the pre-war cars, Bill Morris had the E.R.A. “Hanuman” comfortably ahead of Kergan in E.R.A. R6B, these two holding off a Cooper-Bristol driven by Williamson, which had apparently been used for dirt-track racing in Australia. Gahagan’s 2-litre E.R.A. was beaten by all the 1 1/2-litre cars and toured round with dirt in the carburetter.
It was a really splendid race, with the old sights of plug-changing on the grid and the smell of methanol in the air. Alas, on the very last lap Eckersley’s long-nosed ex-Anthony Brook Lotus swerved into Moffatt’s Bugatti on the approach to Copse Corner, removing its n/s beaded-edge alloy wheel, Clifford’s Connaught also being involved. Lt.-Comdr. Clinkard overturned his blown 4.3 Alvis Special in the ditch at another corner and was apparently taken to hospital but we do not know if he has the distinction of being the first customer for the International G.P. Medical Service in the Ford D1000 mobile hospital.
These historic car races are becoming quite popular. There was another at the Martini International Meeting at Silverstone on May 20th but our early printing schedules prevent me from reporting on it this month. – W. B.
V.S.C.C. Oulton Park racing on June 17th
The Vintage S.C.C’s most important fixture of the season is due on June 17th, at the Oulton Park circuit. The races will include the Seaman race for vintage racing cars, the Seaman race for pre-war historic racing cars and an All-Comers’ handicap which will include post-war racing cars down to 1952, of the calibre of Maserati 250F, Lotus and G.P. Aston Martin, etc. There will be the usual supporting short races and this year’s special attraction is a race for solo vintage motorcycles by the V.M.C.C. The setting at Oulton Park is ideal for vintage cars, which find the course very sporting and this is a meeting not to be missed. Apart from the racing there will be the traditional parade of vintage and p.v.t. cars entered for the Concours d’Elegance, enabling the spectators to see some of the best cars of the types the Club encourages.
Amongst the entries will be the 1924 G.P. Sunbeam “Cub” which Panks will drive. Admission costs 12.s. 6d. per adult, the proceeds going to the circuit owners, but accompanied children in school uniform will be admitted free and there is no car park charge. Most of the races count towards the 1967 Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy, for which Boyce and his 1928 Frazer Nash are in the lead.