Colerne speed trials

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April 23 was a memorable clay at Colerne, where the VSCC assembled all manner of interesting devices, for demos and timed kilometre runs. From conventional bicycles to penny-farthings. fast motorcycles, aero-engined giants, vintage and historic cars… the paddock was so interesting that without the timed runs, which featured a speed trap at the end of the runway course, the visit would still have been well worthwhile.

It was all action and interest. The aero-engined cars included Collings class-winning Mercedes-Maybach, repainted and with four-seater body, looking very Chitty-like and doing ‘the ton’ through the trap, the Merlin R-R Phantom which MOTOR SPORT wrote up last year, Robin Baker’s V12 Hispano-powered hybrid-Delage (hampered a bit by the anticipated slip from its flywheel epicyclic-gear), a superbly finished Griffon-engined monster, Babs (which made innumerable semi-inflammatory runs up-and-down, towed by a Range Rover) and the Bentley-Napier which was actually competing 124.83s/126 mph).

Mark Walker had the Parker-GN, with 6.1-litre Cirrus aeroengine, on which others have toiled for years. going well using an Amal-per-cylinder and ducted air-cooling, and achieving 102 mph through the trap on his only run. There was even a race for five propeller-driven cars, best show by the ABC flat twin-engined Leyat which Roger Smith had just got going four days beforehand after 10 years of toil.

He starts it with an external pull-handle, and steers it with a centre-pivot rear axle, the bark from its stub exhausts rivalling that of Babs. Acceleration builds up slowly, the prop taking time to bite the air. (1 hastily photographed a feeding crow, fearful that, if it took off in the wrong direction, it might never escape the cased-in prop…)

The RAC does not let even accredited cameramen beyond the start at Colerne, so no pictures of the paired runs. Never mind, the paddock was the place to be.

However, I had better summarise the results:

FTD: PN Walker (Lotus 16), 22.88s, new course record 1114 mph);

Colerne Trophy (fastest vintage car): D. Lake (Amilcar-Riley), 27.0s, vintage record (120 mph)

Best lady: Mrs Whenman (Rapier), 29.56s (109 mph).

Other class winners: S Roberts (Frazer Nash); J Coombs (Alfa Romeo) vintage Sir J Briscoe (20/98); P Whenman (Rapier), 29.56s vintage C Delaney (Lea-Francis); R Burrell (Bentley-Royce V12) vintage E Goldsmith (Bentley); M Dowley (MG) vintage F Hernandez (A71; C Dean (4.7 Bugattil vintage J Hulbert (Alvis);

Edwardians: R Collings (Mercedes-Maybach), 33.44s.

Aero-engined cars: F Morley (Bentley-Napier). 24.83s (126 mph).

Sports-racing cars: C Rides (HWM-Jaguar), 27.29s (125 mph).

Other quick cars through the trap were: F Giles (FN-GN), 120 mph; D Baldock (Alta), 141 mph; C Dean (Bugatti), 145 mph; G Still (FN-GNI, 121 mph; Day (ERA R14B), 132 mph; P Body (Douglas m/c), 118 mph.

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