VSCC: Colerne Speed Trials

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The VSCC held another genuine speed-trial meeting at Colerne aerodrome on April 25. Open only to members, it was a happy social occasion as well as a means of comparing the performance of a wide diversity of cars. The variety was not confined to cars, either, because there were also races for bicycles of different heights, invalid carriages (which does not, I hope, indicate that the club is becoming senile), and even rocket-propelled model cars. Motorcycle demonstrations were also included, Henry Body’s Douglas clocking 117 mph through the speed trap in practice, but slowing to 111 mph later on when the following wind shifted to one side.

FTD was set by David Baldock’s ex-Beadle, all-independently sprung two-litre Alta in 24.19 sec, clocking a fine 144 mph at the end of the runway. The Colerne Trophy for quickest vintage car was won by Craig Collings driving the 8.1-litre Bentley Special, his 25.24s beating Llewelln’s class record by 0.15s. Best time in the ladies’ section went to Miss Burrell in the big, but unblown, V12 Bentley hybrid (27.77s). Of the Edwardians, Harold Smith’s mighty 1916 Indy Sunbeam proved fastest in 35.95s on a solo run, beating Nick Ridley’s 1914 TT Sunbeam with which he was paired by 2.73s.

The class winners were: Anabel Jones (Frazer Nash, 35.00s), who beat her dad by 0.58s in the same car; Ben Collings (Bentley, 31.10s); Dunn (Riley, 29.71s), vintage – Beebee (Lea-Francis, 34.63s): Surnmerfield (Avon-Bentley, 25.14s), vintage – Craig Collings (aforesaid); Davison (MG, 31.48s), vintage – Bishop (A7, 32.02s); Walker (MG, 27.03s), vintage – Benfield (Alvis, 34.79s); Baldock’s Alta, vintage – Howell’s 16-cylinder Bugatti, even if its owner maintained that it was still reluctant to break the ton (30.49s).

The wind was kind, hence three records were broken, by Craig Collings, Dunn and Summerfield, and there were some interesting cars to watch. John Howell ran his dignified V12 Hispano Suiza coupe (41.88s) as well as his rare Bugatti. Riddle had the 1.7-litre vee-twin pushrod ohv motor in his GN, which Barry Clarke drove (41.70s). He showed me how smooth and accelerative it is, and how it starts easily two-up in its 4:1 second gear.

Chris Gordon got a second place in the Silver Hawk (39.22s), as did the dirt-track Lovell-Elkhart (31.04s), but Donald Day’s ERA R14B was said to be off-form, and was beaten by both the Alta and the Burrell-Bentley-Royce with eight supercharged litres of poke.

Savage produced a presentable, and accelerative, 1939 Lancia Aprilia (42.33s) and, in the best speed-trial fashion. Venables tried small rear wheels on his Fiat Balilla (41.62s) but didn’t obtain the anticipated rpm. He replaced the usual ones and recorded 40.50s.

Colerne usually produces an oddity. This year it was an Acto two-stroke Junior Safetyfirst Trainer, as sold to wealthy parents for their vintage offspring.

Two biplanes flew in, and an immaculate sports Senechal and a four-pushrod Salmson tourer graced the car park.

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