Huge entry for V.S.C.C. event. Some very good times. Abecassis’s Alta is fastest sports car.
The Vintage S.C.C. speed trials at Elstree on Easter Monday over a 1/4-mile of slightly uphill aerodrome runway produced a “Brooklands” entry and attendance. The start was very late, electrical timing had to be abandoned for stop-watch, and the second runs were conducted in a very haphazard manner – one also heard some complaints re the classification of entries. But all this may be excused under the prevailing circumstances, and especial praise must be bestowed on Harry Bowler, as organiser, and on Humphries, of the N.L.E.C.C., the hard-working starting marshal.
Bowles’s Cozette-blown “Ulster” Austin went very well to win its class, and Marcus Chambers’s Marshall-blown, alloy-headed Austin Seven was fastest vintage 750-c.c. car, the class being dominated by the truly beautiful Dowson-Lightweight. Rivers-Fletcher won his class with Weir’s single-seater M.G., with blower driven by four belts, and in the 1 1/2-litre sports class two B.M.W.s dominated everything, while Denyer’s Lea-Francis was fastest vintage, with Hay’s Anzani-Frazer-Nash runner-up. Many novice drivers of racing machinery displayed immense spin on the slippery getaway, Symonds all but set his tyres alight on the R-type M.G., and J. H. Williams spun round twice, for no good reason, a few yards from the line on his Alta.
The larger racing car classes produced some most exciting entries and magnificent runs. A.R. Parnell, with the ex-Seaman Delage having Chula i.f.s., did a rousing 15.8 sec. On the first runs, the 4-cylinder Maserati left the Dixon-Riley, both from Parnell’s stable, Abecassis (Alta) beat Gerard’s E.R.A., and Bolster’s getaway on “Mary” was immense, leaving behind Cowell, who was handling the ex-Lady Mary Grosvenor Alta for the first time, although they tied in the end. Mortimer’s Alta and Hampshire’s 6-cylinder Maserati had a neck-and-neck dice, the former’s near-side rear wheel spinning furiously, but the latter winning, and Price’s V8 Ford Special, on photographic duties, beat both for the first few yards! Peter Monkhouse, on his immaculate Type 51 Bugatti, then gave a grand exhibition and set f.t.d. at 15.2 sec. On a later run his wheelspin was truly rubber-igniting, and he won the match race with the fastest motorcycle. Giron’s single-cam G.P. Bugatti was slower, but equally polished. Canham (bored-out V8 Allard) and Parker (V12 Allard) got away well, but even so, Alan May’s old “30/98” Vauxhall tied with them for a class victory. Ripley went very neatly in the newly-bodied, ex-Couper Talbot, beating Metcalfe’s Graham-Paige, which has four Solex carburetters, a 6,000 r.p.m. counter and outside exhaust, but which misfired. Bear’s imposing “4.9” Bugatti just beat Potter’s Allard in the large super sports car class, Mann’s 3 1/2-litre S.S., with fair passenger, did a very fast run, and Marshall drove the Leyland Eight, now running well, really nicely, although Heal’s 1910 Fiat was only 0.2 sec. slower. Birkett’s 5-litre Bugatti lorry, saved from a Scrapyard, did a rousing 21.6 sec., beating Purnell’s 6 1/2-litre Bentley chassis quite easily.
Vaughan handled the Becke-Powerplus well, but after a good step-off, seemed to momentarily lose a gear, and Heath’s E.R.A. snaked somewhat from the line. Purnell’s Bentley (composed of a cab on a bare chassis) just disposed of Sumner’s Isotta-Fraschini. Bainbridge, with the ex-Allison 4 1/2-litre Bentley, found a 9.5 to 1 compression ratio unsuited to his fuel, and Colborne-Baber’s 3-litre Bentley, running as a stripped chassis yet carrying a passenger, was sedate, as was Purnell’s 1922 G.P. Sunbeam, the latter a nice sight, however. Heal’s 1921 Sunbeam was a non-starter, having stripped a timing pinion, but his 1910 Fiat was 2nd in the Edwardian class (on Formula), Rodney Clark’s Bugatti “Black Bess” just beating it, while Bolster’s Very beautiful 1911 “Silver Ghost” Rolls-Royce tourer was 3rd. Boddy’s “Alphonso” Hispano-Suiza, having towed its broken-down tow-car to the meeting, misbehaved half-way up the course. Altogether it was an excellent meeting, and you can sort out exactly what transpired from the appended times. If some of the cars were a trifle queer, it was nothing to the fashions, ladies’ siren-suits vying with a certain gentleman’s sports coat and Edwardian chaufeur’s hat I
The car with which Monkhouse made f.t.d. was once the Bugatti Owners’ Club car and Peter bought it from them during the war. He ran with light mudguards in place, and was doing about 100 m.p.h. over the line.
Monkhouse also drove the ex-Connell Darracq, which is rather inflammable, and had considerable clutch drag on the line. It was going very fast at the top end of the course, but was beaten by Mann’s S.S.
Lowrey unconcernedly munched a sandwich as he left the line, and Marshall, equally unperturbed, engaged the Leyland’s bottom gear after the “get ready” signals had commenced.
Marcus Chambers’s Austin is very neat, with chain-drive, “cabin”-supercharger and four-branch exhaust manifold. Marens came to the line with crash-hat and visor, but elected to run bare-headed.
One of the most imposing cars was the 4-cylinder, sixteen-valve Maserati, and about the noisiest, Symonds’s R-type M.G.
Morris’s “38/250” Mercédès had a very touring body with large rear trunk, but, even so, managed 20.6 sec.
Lady Mary Grosvenor drove the ex-Hutchison Allard, now black, Potter’s Allard had his name on a large plate on the facia, and Canham in the bored-out V8-engined car showed everyone how to get an Allard off the mark.
Before the event Jenkinson lost his 2nd gear chain, Hay had plug trouble, and Whittet lost his propeller shaft, but both Frazer-Nashes and the Lancia ran well.
Peter Monkhouse and his wife both wore the same buttonhole flower.
Lots of drivers used twin rear wheels, including Hay (4 1/2-litre shortened Bentley). Donald Parker’s Aston-Martin Special has a V8 Ford motor, and is inclined to overheat, being beaten by the Price-Special V8. The 7 1/2-litre Duesenberg was a very normal 2-seater, hut spun one of its wheels furiously, nevertheless.
It was nice to see Bainbridge and Leslie Johnson again. Johnson had entered the “Monaco” Darracq, which Monkhouse drove, as he elected to use his own 328 B.M.W.
The 1899 New Orleans of Lander managed the gradient!
Charles Mortimer used his 1 1/2-litre Alta, which holds the Lewes class record. John Bolster wore a crash hat in “Mary” and pumped up pressure as he motored, and Dudley Froy made a nice, if slightly; snaky, run in Wyer’s 3-litre Maserati, which is the car in which Birkin drove last race at Tripoli.
Alan May truly upheld vintage laurels by equalling the times of two of the better Allards with his 1924 “30/98” Vauxhall, which is only mildly non-standard, with 7 to 1 compression ratio, downdraught Zenith carburetter, and Hispano front axle.