VSCC Curborough Sprint

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IT WAS a pleasure to drive from Wales to Bridgnorth and through part of the English Midlands, sun-roof open on the 500SEC — for it is well known that Mercedes-Benz make the best travel-machines — to Curborough in the cloudless sunshine of May 9th, for the Vintage SCC speed-trials at this friendly venue. The course calls for a combination of driving-skill and car-performance but it is a pity that penalties are enforced for hitting any of the marker-cones — in speed-trials proper clipping a bank is no detriment to the ultimate time recorded, if the car keeps going. Paddock gossip elicited that Briscoe (GN) was absent, having hurt himself, likewise Malyan (FN / BMW) because a virus had hurt him, that Sudjic’s Bugatti and Craig Collings’ 6 1/2-litre Bentley were non-runners, although the latter car was present, a bearing having started to “tick” on the previous day’s Buxton Rally, that Nigel Arnold-Forster’s Delage II has changed its colour, and that Roger Howard was having his last competition fling in his Type 37A Bugatti, having advanced to a Type 35C, which may be why he cut the engine as he finished his run. . . .

Ron Footitt in the AC / GN made f.t.d. in 38.5 sec., looking to be on the limit and bettering his 1980 vintage-class course-record by 0.1 sec., equalling it on his second run. Guy Smith, pvt-ed because of the Alvis Speed-25 engine in his Frazer Nash, did 39.9 sec., then 39.8 sec., and in the previous (up to 1 1/2-litres racing-car class Spollon’s ERA was fastest, in 39.4 sec. and in the vintage division Benfield, having spun his 200 Mile Race Alvin on its first run, then clocked 45.4 sec. — how does he keep the aluminium body so shiny? — which Glover beat in the same car (44.6 sec.). Of the smaller racing-cars, Gray in the Hardy Special was, as expected quickest, in 40.8 sec. It was good to see Candy in his smart Type 37 Bugatti, on 710 x 90 tyres, do 46.7 sec. Julian Maizub, deputising for his father, clocked 42.5 sec. in the Type 35C Bugatti, after it had mis-fired on the first run and 42.9 sec. on both his runs in the Bentley-engined Pacey-Hassan. The veteran Mercedes Sixty of Collings, father and son, and two Edwardians, Elsom in Rowley’s “lightweight” 25 / 50 h.p. Talbot and Walker’s 1908 GP Panhard, contested Class 9, Neve’s 1914 TT Humber being absent due to a punctured tyre on its Rolls-Royce Phantom tow-car. The stub exhausts on the 1903 Mercedes did “gattling-gun” sounds and Craig beat Roger (50.6 sec.), the 12.8-litre Panhard clocked a commendable 48.9 sec. in spite of having arrived on its trailer to preserve a suspect timing-pinion, but the Rowley Talbot unfortunately shed bits of the shaft which couples engine to gearbox on the first and only run (50.6 sec.). After which the Mercedes exhaust manifold was refitted and Craig drove off home to Somerset. . . .

Grant-Peterkin conducted his 3 / 4 1/2 Bentley, Newton and Miss Rockey drove Ghosh’s ex-Alan May 30 / 98 “Blue Nick”, Tony Jones shared the Frazer Nash “Patience” with Mark Joseland, Costigan aired the Riley Nine-powered Vernon-Derby, and Mather courageously ran the 1920 Baughan cyclecar, sans mudguards but with brass lamps adorning its scuttle and finned cooler-cones over the valves of its s.v. JAP vee-twin engine. Summerfield’s Avon-Bentley and Burrell’s Bentley-Royce were out, it being a close-run thing between Burrell and the Alfa Romeo of Rodney Felton, except that the 8-litre V12 Bentley collected two markers on its first run. Light relief was provided by Densham, whose 1930 Aston Martin broke a piston en route, so elected to run as a three-cylinder model, then spun going into the first corner and threw a rod, remaining on the grass for the rest of the afternoon, a two-cylinder AM, a case perhaps for a SPCC (cars)? Pam Arnold-Forster drove the “wooden-wonder” Austin 7, Di Threlfall shared the President’s Lancia S1 V8, R. J. B. Smith was very quick in his Frazer Nash, but Freddie Giles was among those to suffer for touching the markers. (Results were not available at the time of writing.) — W.B.