At the opening Silverstone meeting of the Vintage Sports Car Club brilliant spring sunshine brought forth a fine array of some of the choicest vintage cars that the country can offer, together with pretty girls, gay umbrellas and other pleasantries. Could life be better?
Features of the day were the One-Hour High-speed Trial, the G.P. ltala Trophy Race, the Edwardian Car Race, the All-Comers Race, the Vintage Light-Car Race and the Motor Sport Handicap Trophy Race.
The One-Hour Trial began with a Le Mans-type start, with the first of the small cars to come round being the Peter Binns Riley driven by H. Cox. Following him was Thomson’s Austro-Daimler of 1927 vintage in a class by itself (2,000-3,000 c.c.). A whole string of cars then followed, Winder’s Humber Nine chasing Halkyard’s Austin Seven, painted pale blue, which was lapping in 1 min. 57 sec. (49.48 m.p.h.). Stott’s Lea-Francis drove round happily for some laps until it limped into Woodcote at the end of the first quarter of an hour and was forced to retire. McDonald and Pancheri chased each other for many laps but the McDonald Bentley appeared to lack its usual force and Cox in the Riley began to show up rather too near the “Big Boys” for their mutual comfort. L. R. Durdin seemed to encounter difficulties when trying to change gear in the 30/98 Vauxhall, but quite the reverse were O’Connor and Thirlby in their Frazer-Nashes, whom put the levers across the gates with great precision. Soon after half time Cox made a pit stop but reappeared behind Pancheri’s Bentley lapping in 1 min. 36 sec. (60.30 m.p.h.), followed by McDonald, who, although appearing to slow up, was only three seconds behind this rival and gaining fast went into the lead as the race drew to a close. In the course of events the Gibson-Jarvie/Robertson Riley team had great fun changing wheels, drivers and other accessories in their pit before pressing on to better things.
The first five-lap handicap event opened with Sanders’ Alfa-Romeo leading, followed by Richards’ Alvis, W. F. Moss (E.R.A.) and Crowther (Alfa-Romeo Monoposto) having a grand ding-dong battle with T. T. Carson (E.R.A.) and being chased by Lowman (Maserati). Moss soon took over the lead, with Crowther next to him and J. S. Mudd in a supercharged 2.6-litre Alfa-Romeo.
Another identical event followed, in which J. H. Wrigley’s 1923 Talbot Eight, followed by the two Lagonda Rapiers of Cooke and Wilby, was sent away from the line first. An unfortunate calamity happened to the Rapiers, however, when fighting hard for the lead coming into Woodcote Corner the cars collided and ended up in the ditch. Both were severely damaged and the driver of the second car, Dudley Cooke, of Leicester, later died, Another Rapier in the form of a fibreglass-bodied 1934 model with special wheels, was also running. It resembled the A.C. Aceca coupe in appearance. L. S. Michael’s 4½-litre Rapide, one of the 1936 team cars, ran very well and kept up amongst the leaders, but G. N. S. Davis’ f.w.d. supercharged Alvis was slow and failed to lap the little Talbot as did most of the others. Marley’s Bentley picked up a marker-bin at Copse and carried it along under the front wheels most of the way to Woodcote. Winner’s flag here went to P. J. Nunn in his Frazer-Nash at 67.63 m.p.h., with Michael in the Lagonda second and Morley third.
The Itala Trophy Race, the highlight of the day, saw Burton’s Bentley open the proceedings with Tozer in one of the pretty G.P. Amilcars nearly taking the escape-road at Copse before coming round again in time to continue to Woodcote, where he did the same again. On the third lap Eminson (Bugatti) took McDonald and kept the lead. The Razor Blade Aston Martin, driven by Attwood, had difficulty overtaking the vast Itala with Cecil Clutton at the wheel. Melville (Vauxhall 30/98) and McDonald played games at Copse but the Vauxhall came out on top. S. G. Bayliss had to retire with his Bugatti owing to the unpleasant noises and smoke emanating therefrom. Eminson won at 70.86 m.p.h. and Burton’s Bentley was second in this magnificent all-round tussle of cars of all shapes and sizes.
Following this came the 16-lap handicap race. Hollis in the 3-litre Bentley and Crowley-Milling (22/90 Alfa-Romeo) got off to a good start, with Binns closing in on them at every lap. M. R. Hipkins in the Anzani-engined Frazer-Nash found the car tending to slide from under him on some corners but he corrected well and carried on; the Halkyard Austin was another steady motor which cruised along at a workmanlike speed, noticeably little motion being required on the part of the helmsman to produce the most dire results, as is customary on all early Sevens.
In the Edwardian Handicap Race Sir Francis Samuelson in the 1914 T.T. Sunbeam led the Itala driven by J. A. Williamson, but distances between them lessened as the race progressed, K. Neve in the 1914 T.T. Humber motoring along very happily indeed. At the finish the Rolls-Royce Ghost of 1913 vintage, still being rebuilt, owned by S. J. Skinner, and the T.T. Sunbeam came in neck and neck, but the official results confirmed that the Rolls had won at 49.80 m.p.h.
In the 10-lap scratch race Spero’s Maserati was away first, but Tozer’s Amilcar was left on the line and required some pushing before coming to life. Vessey in the Monoposto Alfa gained first position on the first lap, with Carson’s E.R.A. right behind, but his colleague Stuart in a similar car was seen to retire to the Paddock amidst a certain amount of smoke. Another fight went on between Wilkinson’s E.R.A. and McDonald’s Bentley but again the E.R.A. retired in smoke, final placings being Carson, Vessey, and Spero third, a somewhat disappointing position in view of the apparent potency of his machine.
The next five-lap handicap event produced a pleasant entry of Frazer-Nashes, with a sprinkling of Astons, Rileys and Bentleys. L. L. Beavis in a Riley and D. G. Le Clair in a Frazer-Nash held the first positions until the Bentleys of Hollis and Bradley worked off their handicap and took first and second places, respectively, with Le Clair third.
A similar event again followed, in which R. C. R. March in the curious-looking Nash-A.C. Special lost some of his exhaust apparatus on the first lap but stopped to fix it up before returning to the battle. M. W. Macquaker’s Talbot kept first place to the end, with Hopton’s fine Alfa and Burton’s Bentley, later to take second place, coming along behind. The Aston Martin of P. M. Sims appeared to blow out clouds of exhaust smoke during gear-changes.
Another of the highlights of the V.S.C.C. Silverstone meetings is the Light Car Handicap. A variety of Austins and Humbers appeared with J. E. D. Cochrane’s sprightly Talbot Eight in original trim except for sealed-beam headlamp units. D. E. Shaw Stewart drove a beautiful original 1927 Austin Chummy and D. C. Webb in a blue Trojan received applause from the large crowd of spectators when he cruised in to the finishing line way behind the others. A lovely collection of A.C.s was entered, all were in excellent condition even to the Klaxon on M. W. R. Hooson’s 1925 model, which was sounded when “Mimsers” such as the Trojan got in the way. G. L. Young’s 1928 Fiat took the honours at 50.7 m.p.h.
Finally came the Motor Sport Race. This handicap event saw Bradley’s Bentley and Le Clair’s Frazer-Nash start almost simultaneously with Macquaker’s Talbot, the Monza Alfa (Mudd) and the Riley (Binns) next. On the second lap the order was Le Clair, Bradley, Macquaker, Mudd and Binns. On the third lap Mudd took Macquaker after Woodcote and on the final lap the order was Binns, just coming over the line at the last moment, followed by Mudd’s Alfa, Bradley’s Bentley, Macquaker’s Talbot and Le Clair in the Frazer-Nash last, so concluding this excellent meeting, at which a tour of the Paddock can make even the most ordinary motorist feel quite envious of the possessions of others. — I. G.
One-Hour High-Speed Trial:
Class A (Up to 1,100 c.c.): P. J. E. Binns (Riley);
Class B (Up to 2,000 c.c.): A. M. O’Connor (Frazer-Nash)
Class D (Over 3,000 c.c.): G. G. McDonald (Bentley)
Five-lap Handicap: W. F. Moss (E.R.A.)
Five-lap Handicap (Event 3): P. J. Nunn (Frazer-Nash)
Grand Prix Itala Trophy Race:t A. F. Eminson (Bugatti)
16-lap Handicap (Event 5): P. J. E. Binns (Riley)
Three-lap Handicap for Edwardian Cars (Event 6): S. J. Skinner (Rolls-Royce)
10-lap Scratch Race (Event 7):, T. T. Carson (E.R.A.)
Five-lap Handicap (Event 8):, M. D. Hollis (Bentley)
Five-lap Handicap (Event 8a): M. Macquaker (Talbot)
Five-lap Light-Car Handicap (Event 9): G. L. Young (Fiat)
Five-lap Handicap, “Motor Sport“Trophy (Event 10): P. J. E. Binns (Riley)