A Wet Colerne

The VSCC's requests to the weather-gods met with a bleak reception on April 21, when the Colerne speedtrials were run off. Rain bucketed down for the practice runs and a cold wind added to the unpleasantness. But a great many onlookers came, and although the motorcycle demonstrations were cancelled for safety reasons, pedal-power was deemed less risky, and the bicycle races took place.

This year the Aero-Engined CC decided not to monopolise the menu, with this litreage business, but the spectators pressed round the Mercedes-Maybach, and Nic Harley's R-R Merlin-engined Continental Phantom, while in the backgrond the Leyat made its prop-propelled way about the paddock. Rain ruins records at such an event, but it did ease up for the timed runs, after Donald Day had spun his ERA R148 in mid-course getting ready for them. Out of an entry of 162, in 11 classes, White's twin-cam Salmson was No 1, President Barry Clarke ran a 1929 Austin 20 modified into a smart sports-model lookalike except for bolt-on wire wheels, to which he modesly drew my attention (40.63sec), and a "new" car was Irwin's Chevron Lasagne, so-called because it has a B2 Citroen chassis and a 2½-litre Hotchkiss engine, its radiator neatly disguised and a fairing over its front axle (41.22sec on the faster of two very consistent runs).

The rain took its toll — no ¼-mile times, no terminal velocity speeds; comparisons would have been interesting, because a wet track calls for getaway skills but need not have affected the top speeds very much... As it was, FTD went to Tony Bianchi (1958 6.4-litre Farrallac Allard) in 25.13sec, plus a class record, but he was naturally 2.25sec slower than the course-record. Going on hastily to the fast vintage cars, which is surely more what the VSCC should be about, this was achieved by Flack's 1930 8-litre Bentley, in 26.87sec, 1.63sec below the vintage class-record, deservedly winning the Colerne Trophy.

Of the class winners, Anabel James in the Frazer Nash "Patience" was best in both the outright and vintage 1500cc sports cars categories (37.57sec), from Goodkan's Riley 9 and her Dad in the same FN. Of the over 1500s, Reynolds' 4½ Bentley also wiped up both categories (33.16sec), from Sparrowhawk's 4.3 Alvis (35.67sec). Of the more specialised 11/2-litre sports cars in the vintage category, Mrs Walker maintained the family reputation with 40.66sec in their Frazer Nash, Wakeley's Rapier Special scoring in the pvt division (32.92sec). Flack obviously had the big sports-car class sewn up, beating Bullings's blown Derby 3.6 Bentley by 3.40sec.

Against a girl in an non-s/c A7, Baxter could hardly help scoring in the 1000cc racing car class (36.13sec) and only one blown A7 ran in the pvt section (39.81sec). Of the 1500cc racers, Rides's Riley was quite the quickest (33.73sec), with the Gillow Special taking the pre-I931 section (40.60sec). Freddie Giles led the over-1½-litre vintage class in the FN/GN with only 0.10sec between his two runs, the faster in 28.62sec, compared to Tidball's 25.14sec in ERA R14B, its owner second, in 25.65sec); moreover, Tidball was only 0.03sec slower on his second run. Results were hardly representative, the ratio of runners to nonstarters being 75/65, and neither of the cyclecars, AV and Bedelia, managing to complete the kilometre course.

Only a lone Historic racing car appeared, Gilbert's Cooper-Bristol (32.32sec) but the Edwardian and Aero-Engined class attracted its full complement of eight, of which Mark Walker's 6.1-litre Cirrus aero-powered Parker-GN was by far the most impressive, confirming, though there is absolutely no need, Mark's driving prowess. He clocked 29.I7sec, compared to Ben Collings's best of 34.60sec in the 19-litre Mercedes-Maybach, its gear ratios not perhaps best-suited to a s s kilometer. But Ben won on handicap, from Lemon's 1913 Vauxhall, which lost to Ridley's 1914 TT Sunbeam on time by 0.44sec on its only run.

In all this spray and misery the fast lady proved to be Mrs Wigg (blown 1933 1½-litre MG, 34.64sec). It was all pretty miserable, but Colerne is still Colerne.