A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
VSCC SILVERSTONE RACE MEETING (April 11)
ALTHOUGH practice was delayed by fog, rating at this first VSCC Silverstone Meeting of 1970 took place in thin sunshine. Neil Corner was the star driver, winning two races without opposition, in his GP Aston Martin and the famous 4-litre V12 supercharged Sunbeam “Tiger”, while another of his cars, the ex-Crowther/Vessey 2.9-litre Tipp B monoposto Alfa Romeo once owned by Powys Lybbe, driven by P. Waller, won a 5-lap handicap at this pleasant no-accidents afternoon’s sport.
Racing commenced with a 5-lap handicap in which Dowley’s “limit” MG, a neat metal-bodied M-type with original tail, made the most of its 75-sec. start and was never caught. For three laps Portway’s Lea-Francis held second place, but it was eventually passed by the back-markers, Trainer’s 1934 TT Replica Frazer Nash, which had lapped Glover in Philips’ smart and original 1927 Amilcar, taking second place, with Tovell’s Treen Riley Nine third. Mrs. Russell in a blown 1750 Alfa Romeo two-seater contrived to hold fourth place in spite of being overtaken on the inside by Cameron’s Balilla Fiat on lap 4. As was right and proper, Mather’s long-wheelbase Frazer Nash, from the scratch mark, set up fastest lap, at 63:06 m.p.h., but Woodbury’s Frazer Nash went sick
There were 11 non-starters in the next 5-lap handicap, some of the more interesting cars unfortunately being absent from this opening meeting. Brooking, in a white Talbot which was once a team-car with “Double-Twelve” associations but has since been re-engined, again led from the first lap, in spite of emitting smoke. Russ-Turner’s 4 1/2-litre pvt Bentley got into second place on the third lap and stayed there, lapping fastest, at 69.08 m.p.h., with Nutter’s 6 1/2-litre Bentley, which started life as a saloon but is now a most imposing sports car, coming home third. Gunn’s very nice 1935 Q-like MG single-seater with TB cylinder block unhappily retired. In the third 5-lap handicap, which had ten non-runners, Mrs. Russell’s Alfa Romeo was out in front for two laps, until Crocker’s Lagonda Rapier Special caught it and pulled out an increasing lead. Fitt’s Riley Nine also coming up well to take second place, although the lady driver kept ahead of Fleming’s insect-tailed 12/70 Alvis Special. The winner made fastest lap, at 68.26 m.p.h., Tooth’s Riley Nine was being driven with enterprise, Nice ran his Ulster Austin 7 fully road-equipped, and Clark’s Meadows HRG retired before half-distance. Morgan’s Lagonda Rapier Special made the most noise but was slow, its customary blower pressure down from 15 to 10 lb./sq. in.
After this overture came the 10-lap Melville and Geoghegan Trophies Class Handicap, Barry Clark was going very well in his racing Ulster Austin until it expired with a rod out, at Becketts, leaving the race to the 4 1/2-litre Bentleys, in the absence of 30/98 Vauxhall and blown Sunbeam opposition, Densham and Howell being nonstarters. The finishing order was Hine, Collings, Barraclough and Spencer, the winner lapping at 73.09 m.p.h. The big race of the day followed, 15 laps of Allcomers’ Scratch Race, but these days it lacks sufficient entries and interest waned further when the luckless Wilks found the fuel pump of his Lotus 16 to be faulty as he came out to the start and was unsuccessful in replacing it in the 15 minutes that remained. Corner drove splendidly but all alone, ahead of the others in his 3-litre 1959 GP Aston Martin. Crabbe’s 250F Maserati held a discreet second place, out of sight of Pilkington’s 1953 Cooper-Bristol, which retired on lap 8, giving this place to Hutchings’ BMW-powered AFM, which has never run better. The first three finished in that order, the AFM a lap behind the Aston Martin and Maserati. Waller, in spite of appearing to lose his prop coming into Woodcote on lap 10, was fourth, also a lap behind the leaders, in Corner’s 1934 2.9-litre monoposto Alfa Romeo which Corner had made available to him on hearing that Waller’s ERA had broken its crankshaft. Next in was Brewer in his 2-litre ex-Mays ERA R4D, cornering at a crawl, but contriving to keep ahead of Abson’s Lagonda Rapier, which was cornering much quicker. All told, a disappointing race. The Hon. Patrick Lindsay made a welcome reappearance after his accident at Thruxton last year, but his ERA “Remus” retired.
The other important race, the 10-lap 1908 GP Itala Trophy Race for vintage racing cars, would have been another dull one were it not for the fine driving display put up by Corner in the V12 4-litre Sunbeam “Tiger”, as he went on to win this race for the fourth year in succession in a car which won in 1965 and 1966 when driven by George Burton. Corner was “miles” ahead at the finish and lapped at a rousing 79.3 m.p.h. Llewellyn’s blue 8-litre Bentley two-seater with faired-over “gas-works” went well but was no match for the supercharged Sunbeam. A long way behind came Hine’s Bentley and no one else was really in the running, Kain’s 1926 Type 3513 Bugatti not being on form, although it was fourth, ahead of Collings’ Bentley.
If the big races lacked excitement, this was retrieved in the next 5-lap handicap, in which Crocker’s Lagonda Rapier and Saunders’ Type 35A Bugatti dead-heated, the first time, I think, that this has happened in a VSCC race. They had started ten seconds apart but the Lagonda caught up, having made fastest lap, at 67.94 m.p.h., to the Bugatti’s best of 64.78 m.p.h., a triumph for the handicappers, Messrs. Ridley, Bowler and Teague. Winder’s spidery Lea-Francis Special was third. Race 8, another 5-lapper, suffered from no fewer than 17 non-runners and was a victory for Waller, who seemed well suited to Corner’s Alfa Romeo. He made it lap at 80.4 m.p.h., headed off the AFM, and caught Knight’s fast 1 1/2-litre Riley Special. Wood’s Maserati was absent, having damaged its, clutch, and Readey’s TT Riley Sprite had, alas, broken its crankshaft.
So to the last race, the usual 5-lap handicap, which saw Reddaway’s 1926 Fraser Nash catch Portway’s Lea-Francis after three laps and go on to win from Edwards’ Ulster Aston Martin and Cann’s Aston Martin, although Posner’s Bugatti made best lap, at 64.9 m.p.h.
The whole thing was as much fun as ever, with an inimitable “atmosphere”, but more entries and some “new” cars are needed to sustain spectator interest. Incidentally, not a single Edwardian racer was entered for this meeting; these are a major attraction and one hopes one will not for long have to ask—where are the giants of yesteryear ?—W. B.
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An inspiring sight—Russ-Turner using the outside hand-brake of ins ex-Birkin blower-4 1/2 Bentley on the approach to Woodcote corner in the Itala Trophy Race.
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Rippon startled everyone with his bright yellow Bugatti, painted thus after he had been captivated by the charm of Mme. Junek, who used to race Bugattis of this hue. It apparently startled the Bugatti, too, for it retired from one race and failed to start in another!
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Present at the racing were Charles Lytle from America and A. Whale, who raced a single-seater Calthorpe, ultimately with 4ED Meadows engine, at Brooklands, in the. 1920s
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V-E-V Miscellany.—A 1930 Buick hearse in very good order is reported to be languishing behind a Surrey garage. Bradford’s Telegraph and Argus published a piece recently about Hepolite Scar, the freak hill up which Jowett cars and Scott motorcycles, amongst others, used to perform. In Blackwood’s Magazine for March there is an extract from a forthcoming book about Lionel Rothschild’s early motoring, from which we learn that he had a 10/12 Orleans during his last year at Cambridge and that in 1903 he undertook a tour to Monte Carlo and Rome in his 40-h.p. Mercedes, purchased from J. E. Hutton of Shaftesbury Avenue. Mr. Deeprose, who used to travel all over the country, from 1906 to 1914, in a Panhard-Levassor van containing a lathe, forge, etc., servicing cars of this make for the British Concessionaires, died recently in Teddington, at the age of 90. The new Hon. Sec. of the Austin Ten Drivers’ Club is P. D. Martin, The Lees, Highlands Road, Seer Green, Beaconsfield, Bucks. It caters for 10-28-h.p. 1930-39 Austins:
It is rumoured that a Minerva is in retirement somewhere in Buckinghamshire and in the same county a 1931 Essex with truck body and spare engine is looking for a new owner. Is it coincidence that the franking stamp on Brighton and Hove envelopes depicts the outline of a veteran car ? The Alvis OC/12-50 Alvis Register 50th Anniversary Tour of Britain, from May 31st-June 7th, has BP sponsorship and is expected to attract some 150 Alvis cars of all ages. It will conclude with a reception at Alvis Ltd., Coventry. Prior to this, the well-established National Alvis Day takes place at the Crystal Palace, London, on May 3rd.
Apart from the Panhard-Levassors referred to elsewhere in this issue, there is apparently another being offered in the Monaco auction sale, which we believe to be a 14/20 saloon. A 1924 14/40 DI-Delage tourer, imported to England from Australia, has been sold to a collector in Italy. One of the 11.9 Lagonda light cars once owned by A. Jeddere-Fisher has, turned up and is to be restored. Incidentally, Jeddere-Fisher is back in this country and motoring in his E-type 30/98 Vauxhall. The next VSCC fixture is the Curborough Speed Trial, near Lichfield, on May 10th, and vintage and historic cars are due to race at the Aston Martin OC St. John Horsfall Race Meeting at Silverstone on May 2nd, which starts at 1.30 p.m. Those interested in three and four-wheeler Morgans will find plenty of them (100 are hoped for) at Prescott hill-climb, near Cheltenham, on June 6th-7th, taking part in a cavalcade to mark this make’s 60th anniversary. Morgans will race at the aforesaid AMOC meeting. Abroad, the Coupes de l’Age d’Or happens Montlhéry Track on May 2nd-3rd and the replica Paris-Nice Trial from May 7th-10th, a number of drivers from this country, including a girl driver of a 1932 3-litre Lagonda, haying entered for the latter.