The VSCC was at Brooklands again on January 25 for its driving tests meeting. If you think this unseasonable and unnecessarily chilly, at least it follows tradition. Pre-war, the JCC opened with similar tests in February and before that the BARC had laid out full-scale tests of those that Monte Carlo Rally drivers starting from places like Tallin, Athens, Bucharest and John O’Groats would be subjected to if they got to the finish.
What kind of things did JCC members face? Well, in 1936 they had to do the quick-start bit, then pull up expeditiously while coasting down the one in four Test Hill, reverse up it, after which it was a case of going as fast as a car would go over the half-mile. The JCC used to issue a certificate for this but the VSCC cannot as no straight stretch of track offers itself at desecrated Brooklands. The 130 entrants in 1936 had next to try a timed tight parking manoeuvre, drive through an exact replica of the Monte Carlo wiggle-woggle (left in place for the purpose?) against the clock, concluding with a restart on the Test Hill. The intrepid competitors, who one year met snow, were led by the Duke of Richmond & Gordon in his Lancia Augusta, and best performance of all was made by John Eason-Gibson in an FN-BMW saloon.
This time, with less available space, the VSCC managed 12 tests and a lunch break, calling for skilled marshalling given the entry of 105 cars. Yet again the VSCC, perhaps the President and Secretary in combination, worked the weather magic, with a sunny, spring-like day replacing the ice and snow of the preceding week. The drivers were committed to a timed Test Hill ascent, where I saw none fail (what would a re-start have produced?). There were the usual tos-and-fros and ‘garaging’ manoeuvres, on the Members banking (now, sadly, with a backdrop of houses), at the top of the one-time finishing straight and behind the Paddock. The rather hazardous up-the-banking and-backwards test was not repeated this time.
It was a happy day, very well supported, with a queue into the museum and immaculate vintage cars not engaged on the test providing interest in the historic paddock. There was the mystery as to why Tom Threlfall got two more bonus points than Di when sharing the same BSA – hardly a gracious tribute to femininity and as to whether a suspect differential in Owen’s Morris-JAP would last the day after a very quick Test Hill ascent.
After thinking quite a lot about GNs (see page 264) it was nice to see Hirons and Teague in their 1922 i oe touring versions, even though one of them, by occasional very loud reports, seemed to be trying to eliminate its rivals.
A rare competitor was Lizambard’s 1927 2-litre Donnet-Zedel with neat sports body; a make raced at Brooklands by Sir Alastair Miller in 1926. Burnett’s 12/50 saloon led the Alvis fraternity, and Mr and Mrs Wheeler’s Morrises were parked side by side. Trojan and De Dion Bouton attracted the uninitiated, but I did not see Cario’s De Coucy, which would have puzzled the experts. WB