VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone

The spectacle of 10 ERAs celebrating 80 years of the revered marque was a highlight of the annual VSCC Spring Start race meeting at Silverstone. Mark Gillies, working as hard as ever at the wheel of R3A, claimed a prestigious victory as new owner Dick Skipworth marked the return of the car he owned a decade ago.

Building on the success of last year’s extended event, the Spring Start was a two-day, 21-race affair and honoured everything that is good about the VSCC as the club enters its 80th year. Sadly, the darker side of vintage racing was also apparent. GN Gnome racer Garry Whyte succumbed to injuries sustained during the weekend and two 500cc F3 drivers were hospitalised.

Gillies shook off any jet-lag from another Atlantic crossing by running third in Saturday’s Patrick Lindsay Memorial race with R3A, heading the pre-war cars by a handy margin. Up front, Tony Wood took the TecMec Maserati to a narrow victory over Marshall Bailey’s Lotus 16 after a spirited contest. Wood later added a pre-61 victory on Sunday.

Sunday’s ERA race allowed Gillies to continue his form as he edged five seconds clear of Nick Topliss (R4A), who had Duncan Ricketts in close company at the wheel of the E-Type.

The HGPCA’s season charged into life with a brace of races for pre-66 cars and both featured a fine contest between Jon Fairley (Brabham BT11) and Miles Griffiths (Cooper T51). They traded the lead many times over the 38 racing laps and Fairley won twice. Griffiths made him work, however.

The front-engined Formula Junior pack began its stand-alone championship with victory for Simon Goodliff (Lola Mk2), but reigning FJ champion Mark Woodhouse ran him close in the Elva he has raced for 16 years.

The intrepid Justin Maeers was great value in the GP Itala and Lanchester Trophies race as he oversteered his GN Parker to victory, but the event was sadly shortened after Whyte crashed while running second. Paul Lawrence