VSCC at Brooklands
THE VSCC’s weather luck deserted it on February 3rd for the driving tests meeting at what remains of the historic motor course. Rain fell heavily before lunch, but stopped for the afternoon session. Yet nearly all the entrants turned up, although some reserves were called and an incredible number of onlookers arrived in modern cars, a good augury, I suppose, for the Brooklands Museum when it opens in 1992.
Ten tests had been laid out called after Brooklands’ Vickers-built aeroplanes, the Valiant Attempt, Vimy Shimmy, Valleta Valeta, Wellington Whiffle and Wellesley Wanderings, followed by those named after racing cars Chitty Bang Bang Chase, Softly-Catch-Monkey Puzzle (Lanchester), Sergeant Murphy’s Parade (Austin 20), Toodles Tour (Sunbeam) and Hoieh-Wuyareh-Gointoo (Lanchester), which perhaps sets a lighthearted approach to such events . . .
With the rain sheeting down, accompanied by a fine thunder clap, the intrepid and very wet drivers grappled with these test problems. Bruce Dowell showed impartiality by sheltering beneath a Talbot golf umbrella in his big Sunbeam but Mark Garfitt in his Frazer Nash-BMW had only a child’s umbrella for protection. The majority of vintage hoods were erect and saloon car drivers envied. Tony Jones had wisely come in his hooded A7 Chummy instead of his more spartan Gordon England and one saw the sense of cars like Bennett’s 8/18 Talbot coupe, Hamilton-Gould’s Ford Tudor saloon which was quick up the Test Hill, and the 12/50 Alvis two-door saloon. Test 1 was a climb of the famous 1 in 5/1 in 4 Test Hill, with a stop and restart at the very top, followed by parking in a “garage”. That this 1909 acclivity is still formidable was shown when HunterCraig’s 1922 GN failed high up, as surprisingly the engine of Rawlings’ 14/45 Talbot tourer cut out when it got to the 1 in 4 bit. The GN was light enough to be pushed to the summit by many helpers. Others to give best to this deceptive gradient were Creed-Miles’ A7, Bayne-Powell’s 1931
blown MG Midget and a lady in an A7, whom 1 won’t name. Livesey’s 1927 A7 Chummy needed attention beneath its bonnet at the start but later climbed successfully.
The Presidential 1912 Brixia-Zust had opened proceedings with no fuss whatsoever, although the oldest competing car. It was nice to see Jones’ 1924 Chenard-etWalcker among those now taking part, as was Spiers’ open Bentley, one of the few vintage type 4 32-litres to be assembled by Rolls-Royce Ltd, which was a circuit car at Silverstone last year. Another unusual but welcome competitor was Maxwell’s 1928 Lanchester 23 tourer.
Makes tended to run in groups, Singers and MGs together, and Mark Garfitt’s 1937 FN-BMW preceded by Moore’s 1936 single-hooded two-seater of this make.
The start of the Hill Section with three cars, including G Wright’s 1937 Singer 9, ready to go.
Two unfamiliar cars were Longden’s bolster-tank yellow 1928 Ford two-seater and Howatt’s MG TB-engined 1936 Morgan 4/4, finished only three days beforehand but making light of the restart with spinning back wheels.
Wills’ alloy-wheeled GP Bugatti provided a proper Brooklands’ atmosphere and Ody had his Amilcar, Lincoln his OM, and the Frazer Nashes gave a touch of one-make variety. Hancock brought his Balilla Fiat on a trailer and Lupton represented the Lea-Francis OC with an impressive 1938 1.6-litre “Leaf”. Schumacher’s 20/60 Sunbeam tourer ascended at a stately pace but a very wet Marsh raced up in his Brescia Bugatti. To describe the rest of the tests would have reduced the notebook to porridge and the camera lens got as wet as I did, so I will leave the results to tell the tale. WB
Light Car Award: J Ody (Amilcar) Touring Car Award: B Dowell (Sunbeam) Saloon Car Award: E Sturgess (A7) First Class Awards: A Hill (A7), P Rosoman (A7), R Thomas (MG), D Marsh (Bugatti), G Wright (Singer), M Garfitt (FN-BMW) Second Class Awards: A Jones (A7), R Collings (Zust), P Livesey (A7), R Smith (MG), B Savile (Singer), A Sparrowhawk (Alvis), C Hancock (Fiat) Third Class Awards: C HamiltonGould (Ford), R Leigh (A7), M Bartlett (A7), N Bouger (MG), R Wheatland (Singer), A Moore (FN-BMW), W Mahoney (HRG), D Rolfe (MG)