VSCC driving tests at Donington (Feb. 9th)

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As the last pre-war car meeting at Donington Park was run by the VSCC it was appropriate that their February Driving Tests took place at the venue so ably revived by Tom Wheatcroft. Even if only mad English “vintagents” would enjoy such a water-logged occasion and might have been better off inside the Museum, which I find more impressive every time I visit it.

It says much for the health of the VSCC that 66 cars were entered, forming nearly as fine a cavalcade of pre-war types as the Museum is representative of post-war roadracing history. Of these, best performance was put up by Farquhar’s ex-Dixon Riley Nine. All the well-known competitors seemed to be present, Winder and Knight bringing their dicing machinery, Austin and Riley respectively, on trailers. M-Type MGs were well represented, Cooper’s sporting an outside exhaust, Hewson’s a non-standard tail. They were challenged by Ulster Austins and Flockhart’s badge-carrying yellow Nippy. The Jowetts of Clifton and Buttle arrived in formation, two-seater and short fourseater, the two years between (1927 and 1929) them marking a difference in radiator styles; they bravely dropped their hoods to do the tests. The rain was relentless and it wasn’t only the ex-Hill Alvis that needed a push-start. Knight went ploughing in a big way in the wiggle-woggle, held on the downgrade to the old Melbourne hairpin, in which test Odell’s Lagonda, still wearing a Sahara badge to commemorate Hamish Moffatt’s epic drive, wanted to go forward when its driver wanted to go backward. Woolstenholmes had made a smart “boyracer” out of a lot of 4.3 Alvis bits, although I doubt whether it had originally seen tubeless 7.00 x 16 back tyres. Marsh’s Sports Morris also had on its big back dicing boots, but as usual Payne’s Amilcar disdained such aids to grip. Peacop’s o.h.c. Morris Minor tourer had a very clean engine and its plastic fuel pipe lagged with silver paper, Sevier drove well in a front-braked Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost town-carriage, North kept dry inside a smart Lancia Aprilia, Whittaker had an equally smart and very sprightly Chrysler, the Hewitt/Jenkinson 4.1/2-litre TT Lagonda treated us to the astonishing sight of a hood meant only for Scrutineer’s eyes, but Frazer Nashes predominated. The only casualties seem to have been Conway’s Type 43 Bugatti, which broke a radius-arm and Rushton’s MG Midget, which broke its differential. I hope they are now all dry again!—W.B.

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