In contrast to the weather pundits’ prophesies, the VSCC’s traditional April season-opener at Silverstone saw most of the meeting run in dry conditions. predominantly blue skies being broken only by snow flurries as the ’50s Sports Cars took to the circuit.
Richard Pilkington was hopeful of repeating last year’s success in the Fox & Nicholl Trophy with the Totnes Motor Museum’s 1938 Talbot, but he disappeared from second place after one lap when a drive coupling sheared. That left Albert Sparrowhawk (Alvis) with the early lead from Bob Gilbert’s Bentley.
Arriving late an the grid, Rodney Felton was forced to start his Alfa Monza from the back but by the end of lap one he was up to 10th, and four laps later had demoted Sparrowhawk to second. The earlier Sparrowhawk Alvis, driven by David Heimann, displaced Gilbert to take third after half-distance and closed up to challenge for second, but a spirited defence by Sparrowhawk managed to retain the place to the finish. Gilbert finished comfortably ahead of John Guyatt (Talboti and Derek Green in Simon Bull’s Invicta.
Rod Jolley’s Cooper T51 was the only rear-engined representative to make the grid for the Peter Collins Trophy and, with Ludovic Lindsay’s 250F Maserati nonstarting. met with no opposition. The front engined race was initially led by Amschel Rothschild’s Dutch GP-winning BRM P25 from Rick Hall Cedric Brierley Connaught C-Typei and 1993 MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy winner Philip Walker, who was making an impressive debut in his ex-Halford/Mayman Lotus 16.
Hall and Walker became embroiled in a close scrap which outpaced the BRM, the pair swapping places as Walker grew in confidence with his new mount. However, Hall’s experience told when it mattered, and he took seeond place by just over a second. The Sam Clutton Scratch Race for the Itala & Lanchester Trophies proved to be a relatively easy target for Tim Llewellyn’s Bentley, which won the scratch race unchallenged, while Mac Hulbert (Alvis Silver Eagle Special) and Alex Boswell Bequet Delage became locked in a fierce battle for second, from which Hulbert eventually pulled away. All the same. Boswell collected the name trophies. Long the preserve of the Bugatti marque, this year the Itala Trophy failed to muster a single representative to uphold Molsheim honour.
Fastest in practice for the Christie’s Patrick Lindsay Trophy was last year’s winner, Martin Stretton, in Simon Bull’s ex-Furmanik Maserati 4CM. A poor start saw him languishing in third place at the end of the opening lap as Rodney Felton led the field in his P3 Alfa Romeo, closely pursued by Peter Hannen making a rare VSCC appearance in Dan Margulies’ 4CL. Approaching the complex on lap two, Stretton was past Hannen and he subsequently accounted for the leader into Brooklands. One lap later Hannen had followed through to take up pursuit of the new leader.
Unable to make any impression, Peter held station before dropping back, safe in second place. Duncan Ricketts, forsaking his usual ERA RIB for Bill Morris’ ERA R1B, Hanuman II. passed Felton shortly before the latter retired, and finished third. As the grid assembled for the ’50s Sports Car Race, snow began to fall, reducing visibility and soaking the track. Gary Pearson, having a one-off outing in the family Lister-Jaguar as Paul Vestey’s D-Type was unready, exhibited great control to lead the opening laps from a charging Robert Brooks (Jaguar D-Type) until the auctioneer spun at Brooklands on lap four, dropped him to third behind the canny Frank Sytner (Bamford D-Type).
Frank’s visibility was impaired and he was also pre-occupied in keeping Ron Gammons (Devlin) and John Harper Jaguar D-Type at bay. By half distance, Sytner had worked the Jaguar to the front and, briefly, Brooks had moved back onto the tail of the leading duo only to lose it terminally at Copse two laps later. Harper had an indifferent time on an old set of rubber but still managed to take third from Tony Bianchi, who controlled the Farrellac Allard impressively, and Baron Otto Reedtz-Thott, one of the stars of last year’s Goodwood Festival, who was making his VSCC debut in a Lotus 1 I. In the five-lap scratch races, wins went to David Robinson (Riley) and Tim Rides (Riley) while Tony Moy comfortably beat the handicapper to take the first five-lap handicap with his three-litre Bentley.
The final handicap provided one of the best races of the day and proved to be a Caroline Brothers benefit with David heading Gary in an impressive team performance, the pair scything through the slower runners to take the lead with a lap to spare and finishing less than a second apart. In the 30-minute high speed trial, 18 drivers were classified with the Rileys of Terry Watson and Tye Pountney both logging 19 laps and Watson taking fastest lap ASDC
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