Stop Press Report (Saturday, April 19th.)
FINE WEATHER, 167 entries, and big spectator support ensured the success of the first Vintage SCC race meeting of 1975. Unfortunately, the new pits-complex has destroyed the onlookers’ gallery and the presence of Silverstone’s rally-style Ford firetender lapping with the vintage racers, and passing the Edwardians, was an incongruous sight.
The programme commenced with a High Speed Trial, in which 14 drivers out of 37 entries qualified and Riley in a s/c. 2.3-litre Alfa Romeo treated us to an astonishing display of tyre-scrubbing understeer, Bowles’ abbreviated AlviS to lots of noise, and Gledhill’s Chummy Austin to front-wheel patter. The 15-lap Al’comers’ Scratch Race suffered from non-runners and retirements. Cottam led throughout in the 1952 A-type Connaught, pursued for eight laps by Phillips’ Cooper-Bristol, until it dropped out with debilitated horses. Venables-Llewelyn then occupied, and easily held, second place in his 2-litre ERA, the engine of which was busy lubricating a back tyre. Barber’s 1936 3.6-litre SS Jaguar was credited with fastest lap, at
82.93 m.p.h., but it went out after eleven laps, giving third place to Walton’s Connaught which had closed so closely on Lockhart’s Rover that they collided at MaggOtes, causing a bent-over brake pedal on the “Solihull Special”. So what price the post-war historic racing cars ? Cameron Millar had found water in the cylinders of his 8CTF Maserati in practice and going out to the start in his 250F a piece of wire punctured the n/s rear tyre. The 10-lap Itala and Napier Trophies Scratch Race was much better value! Peter Morley was out again in the 24-litre BentleyNapier, the car unchanged since last season and two victories in this race, except for relined brakes. Its “Lion” engine is now reluctant to start “on the button” but certainly shows no other signs of debilitation! Morley had promised to come in if rain began to fall, because the big special Firestones on the car’s back wheels have worn a bit thin. (It isn’t as fast on the Dunlops—a vintage car with a wet/dry tyre problem!) But it did not rain, and Morley absolutely dominated the race, running completely out of sight of Moffatt in Wall’s 35B 13ugatti, although !famish was doing his utmost, as brilliantly as ever. Morley won at 79.32 m.p.h. and the I3ugatti in its turn ran right away from Footitt’s Cognac Special, the AC engine of which eventually cried “Enough”, although Giles was able to drive the car in a later race. This let N1cWhir’s Frazer Nash single-seater,
with a more standard AC propellant, into third place. The class winners included Barbet’s Austin 7 and the Norris-Special.
Later the Bentley-Napier, in winning a 5-lap Handicap in which it was up against postwar F2 machinery, lapped at 83.41 m.p.h., and Morley was justifiably awarded the “Driver of the Meeting” Trophy—he also leads by 36 points in the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest.
There were many variants of Riley racer running, from unfortunate to downright horrid, with some notable exceptions. Of these, the blown Appleton Special won a 5-lap Handicap and was second in another, behind Cook’s 1935 ex-Hardman Riley with shortened Merlin chassis and home-tuned 1 Hitre engine, and Mrs. Fleming brought her husband’s 1937 1i-litre Riley home first in a 5-lap Scratch Race. Conway Junr. split this Riley dominance in his Type 37 13ugatti in another 5-lap Handicap but Jones’ smart 1938 Riley with Blue Streak engine would have beaten Morley in the fourth 5-lap Handicap had it not jumped the start and been relegated to third position behind Phillips’ Cooper-Bristol. It then won the 5-lap Scratch Race with which the racing concluded, lapping at 75.38 m.p.h., from Rhodes’ 4.3 Alvis and Symondson’s 57S Bugatti, these latter two battling strongly.
So the 1975 VSCC season is off to an excellent start and we look forward to a resumption of this individualistic racing at the shortened Oulton Park circuit in June.—W.B.