Vintage racing at Silverstone

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On April 11th the V.S.C.C. held its first race meeting of the season at Silverstone, a fine morning bringing a big crowd but rain falling for the rest of the day. We were driven to Silverstone not in a vintage car but in a Porsche Carrera, which is the next best thing!

Proceedings opened with the usual One-Hour High-Speed Trial, in which thoroughbred cars in each class were required to cover a mere lap more than the vintage cars. The following are the happy qualifiers and luckless ones that were too slow:

Up to 1,100 cc

Qualified:

E.J/Mayhew (Riley), C.A. Tracey (Riley), P.J.E. Binns (Riley), J.F.R. Berting (Riley), H.R. Heap (Riley), W.S. May / M.W. Powell (Humber)

Failed

P. Kennett (Amilcar), I.E. Smith (Gwynne), C.H. Peacock (Gwynne), J. McLellan (Salmson)

1,101 – 2,000 c.c.

Qualified

W.S. Bader (Riley), H.W. Begley / G.P. Begley (Frazer Nash), S.A. Beasley (H.R.G.), D.A. Turner (Aston Martin), J.F. Barber (Frazer Nash), P.C. Peerless (Frazer Nash), W.L.T. Winder (Frazer Nash), N.D. Routledge (Morris Oxford), B.H. Fidler (Aston Martin), M.H. Bowler (Frazer Nash), P. Major (Frazer Nash), S.G. Wilson (Alfa Romeo), D.K. Browne / G.J Davie (Alvis)

Failed

W.G. Hawthorn / P.A. Cattell (Alta)

J. Berrrisford (Alvis), M. Bromley Johnson (Frazer Nash), J. Crabb (Lagonda)

2,001 – 3000 c.c.

Qualified

J.P. Nichol (Alfa Romeo), G.R. Footitt (Alvis), R.W. Husband (Talbot)

Failed

R.I.M. Scott (M.G.), F.A. Collins (Alvis), B.J. Simpson (Alvis), C. Barker (M.G.)

Over 3000 c.c.

Qualified

L.R. Durdin (Vauxhall), G.W. Daniels (Bentley)

A big field Contested the first race, a 5-lap Handicap, which was won by Ashley’s 1930 Frazer Nash, which bravely took Gahagan’s G.P. Bugatti on the inside at Woodcote on the run-in, to win at 60.12 m.p.h., after Gahagan had led throughout from the limit mark which he shared with Batho’s Riley Nine tourer. From a veritable traffic jam, Charnock’s ex-Chevall 4.3 p.v.t. Alvis came up to take third place. Freeman, from scratch, had a dicey ride in the 2-litre Aston Martin, making fastest lap at 65.93 m.p.h.

The Vintage Scratch Race saw McDonald’s well-known 4-1/2-litre Bentley lead all the way (Burton’s de-Dion axled Bentley is now banned from V.S.C.C. events), followed by Brown’s Frazer Nash at an increasing distance, the Bentley averaging 61.19 m.p.h. and setting fastest lap at 63.47 m.p.h. The race was rather a procession but Chaffly’s oddly-bodied 3-litre Bentley overtook Donne’s 1930 1-3/4-litre basically T.T. Alfa Romeo to finish third, and Mayhew’s noisy four-carburetter Riley Nine also beat the Alfa, to win the up to-1,100-c.c. class. Lockhart’s little Peugeot-J.A.P. went better this year, beating several Riley Nines. Lisle drove an ex-works 1929 blown Austin Seven said to have been prepared for record work, but not used, then raced pre-war by Hartwell.

The big race, the Itala Trophy over 10 laps, was won comfortably by Berry’s 1928 blown 2.3 G.P. Bugatti.  It led all the way, to average 64.96 m.p.h., lapping at 66.23 m.p.h.  McDonald went into second place on lap two, followed by R. Clutton’s Amilcar Six and Lawrence’s special-bodied 4-1/2-litre Bentley. Rowley’s V12 Delage was already misfiring and retired after lap five. After seven laps Berry led by 9 sec. from the Bentley, which he soon increased to 11 sec. On the very last lap Lawrence beat the Amilcar to third place but Clinton won the handicap from Tozer’s Amilcar Six. Neve spun his Bugatti.

In spite of driving rain the Edwardians, all nine of them, went well, except that Halkard’s 1912 Ninety Mercedes retired after holding third place in this 5-lap Handicap for two laps. This fast, white, chain-drive car with home-made body was found on a farm at Harwell, where rumour had located for the past twenty years or so!  It is a rare car  —  a model which the Stuttgart Museum hasn’t got. Clarke’s 25-h.p. Talbot led until the last lap, Barker in the Montagu Museum “Prince Henry”  Vauxhall just unable to catch it.  On the last lap, Jack Sears, driving with his customary verve, brought the scratch 1914 T.T. Sunbeam home first at 58.57 m.p.h. after a lap at 60.43 m.p.h. on the wet track, Clarke second, Barker third, Sam Clinton in the Itala, with new gears in its cog-chest, fourth, all in a close finish. Pinkerton’s giant Fiat was not au point  but Heal drove the Montagu Museum Coupe de l’Auto  Sunbeam into fifth place, keeping well out of the way on the straights, after a 3 a.m. season rebuilding the clutch and by-passing a defective water pump with a piece of hose. Denne’s Humber and Stanton’s 1914  4,536-c.c. Renault looked very “early Brooklands,” the latter racing with the front of a touring body in place.

The 10-lap All-Comers’ Scratch Race brought out some fast historic racing cars. Lindsay’s E.R.A. “Remus” failed to start, D. Day’s ex-Gerard R14B E.R.A. stalled on the line, but Chapman drove his ex-Embiricos/Parnell E.R.A. with Technauto i.f.s. intelligently, to lead all the way, winning at 66.75 m.p.h. He was pursued closely by Goodhew’s E.R.A.-Delage and S. Day’s ex-Benjafield / Gerard E.R.A., while behind this group raced another bunch comprising Cottam’s ex-Seaman R4B E.R.A., Clutton’s little Amilcar and Tozer’s Amilcar, with Mudd’s Alfa Romeo and Sibbald’s 37A Bugatti with big blower a discreet distance behind. Chapman drew away from Goodhew on the straights, Clutton passed Cottam after four laps, Tozer retired a lap later, and then, two laps from the finish, the E.R.A.-Delage, which had begun to smoke, coasted to its pit. So Chapman won from S. Day, with Clutton now far behind, but third. Mudd fourth. Goodhew had tied with Chapman for fastest lap (69.24 m.p.h.) and Clutton’s Amilcar took the vintage award. Non-starters included the Stafford Special, the cylinder head of its Meadows 4ED engine being removed in the Paddock for internal investigations, Waller’s ex-Carson E.R.A., Little’s 1938 coil-spring Alta, the f.w.d. Derby-Maserati, and Murray’s original E.R.A. with back-axle trouble. Kitchener drove his slow F.W.D. Alvis, which was frightened into a ditch at Woodcote on lap three, but clawed itself back onto the course, to be flagged off.

The next 5-lap Handicap was notable for a close-fought battle between Butlin’s Amilcar Grand Sport with modern wheels (very small ones at the back), Clarke’s Edwardian Talbot and Starke’s 12/50 two-seater Alvis which flirted with the Woodcote ditch on every lap. In the end, Peter Moores’ single-carburetter 1931 Talbot 105 four-seater came through to win from the 12-sec. mark at 56.53 m.p.h. from Bader’s scratch Riley Nine, the Amilcar third, ahead of the Peugeot-J.A.P., which beat Turner’s Aston Martin, to which it gave 21-sec. start. Then, after Starke’s artillery-wheeled Alvis had led the next 5-lap Handicap for four laps, Moores’ Talbot came through to win again, now at 57.17 m.p.h., having given the Alvis 1 min. 27 sec. start. On the last lap others also “swamped” the Alvis, Durdin’s ex-Binns’ 30/98 Vauxhall just beating Winder’s 1926 Anzani Frazer Nash to second place, Bradley’s scratch 4-1/2-litre Bentley fourth, doing fastest lap, at 62.25 m.p.h.

In miserable conditions the meeting went on, running to time, another 5-lap Handicap being enlivened because D. Day spun twice in his E.R.A. at Woodcote. Gahagan’s Bugatti led away but was misfiring, and Sims’ steady 1934 Aston Martin won at 55.51 m.p.h. from Charnock’s big silver Alvis and Lockhart, who had the time of his life taming S. Day’s E.R.A. — he managed a snaky, fastest lap, at 64.81 m.p.h.

Most of the spectators had crawled away before the last race, a Motor Sport  Trophy Qualifying Handicap, was contested by 18 competitors, for torrential rain was now being driven horizontally by the rising wind. Dardin’s outside-piped 30/98 Vauxhall took first place after two laps and built up a big lead, winning comfortably, at 58.33 m.p.h., from Hardman’s 1935/6 special-bodied 1-1/2-litre Riley and Moores’ remarkably effective Talbot, the latter third in spite of tired plugs. Others to qualify were Charnock’s Alvis, Sims’ Aston Martin and Turner’s  Aston Martin. — W. B.

***

RACE WINNERS

5-lap Handicap: R. W. Ashley (1930 Frazer Nash) — 60.12 m.p.h.

Vintage Sports Cars Scratch Race: G. G. McDonald (1927/30 Bentley) — 61.19 m.p.h.

1908 G.P. ltala Trophy Race: J. Berry (1928 Bugatti) — 64.96 m.p.h.

Edwardian Handicap: J. G. Sears (1914 Sunbeam) — 58.57 m.p.h.

All-Corners’ 10-lap Scratch Race: G. Chapman (1934 E.R.A.) — 66.75 m.p.h

5-lap Handicap: P. C. L. Moores (1931 Talbot) — 56.53 m.p.h.

5-lap Handicap: P. C. L. Moores (1931 Talbot) — 57.17 m.p.h.

5-lap Handicap: P. M. Sims (1934 Aston Martin) — 55.51 m.p.h.

Motor Sport  Trophy Qualifying Handicap: L. R. Durdin (1925 Vauxhall) — 58.33 m.p.h.

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