VSCC Silverstone Meeting (April 14th)

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The Vintage SCC has started its Jubilee Year well, in the racing sense, with what is thought to have been a record entry of 194 cars, although Edwardians were not supportive of this Hewgate 1908 GP Itala Meeting, the only one, Howard’s 1914 GP Mercedes, being conspicuous by its absence. Clear skies with a cool breeze played their part, and there was a big spectator attendance. There were also rather too many non-starters, practice bringing its problems. For instance, the Hon Patrick Lindsay, having flown into Gatwick that morning from Rio, taken the helicopter-shuttle to Heathrow, and driven to Silverstone, so as to keep faith with the VSCC, found he was allowed only restricted practice and was then made to start from the back of the grid in both his races, a harsh rendering of the RAC rules. He elected to use his ERA “Remus”, because the pedal positions of the ERA-Delage, in which he had practised, are not yet to his liking. Martin Dean’s Type 59 / 50 Bugatti hybrid wasn’t ready, Guy Smith’s Frazer Nash caught fire and was extinguished in more senses than one, but Felton, having had the inlet manifold of his 4CL Maserati burst, dispatched his girl-friend to London in a Range Rover, and was rebuilding the engine with new parts on the grid for the fourth race, in which he finished 18th. Tony Merrick, driving Margulies’ ex-Whitney Straight 8CM Maserati, had a rod come out. “New” cars included Heimann’s Type 51 Bugatti and Swedish Gunnar Elmgren’s ex-Aitken Maserati 6C. The s/c Riley-engined Amilcar was out again and it was nice to see the son of the late J. H. T. Smith driving the single-seater K3 MG. After the 40 min High Speed Trial with compulsory pit-stops, in which Llewellyn’s Bentley, Baddiley’s Bentley, F. Smith’s Frazer Nash, Stapleton’s Alvis, Nestor’s Singer and Tebbett’s Riley failed to qualify and A. P. Smith’s Frazer Nash and the Newton / Kettel Frazer Nash retired, racing started with a five-lap handicap, led from lap two by Seber’s neat Wolseley Hornet Special, which won from the Burrell V12 Bentley-Royce and Woodley’s 4.3 Alvis Special. So to the Itala Trophy 10-lap Scratch Race. It proved a win for Nick Mason’s Type 35B Bugatti, chased at an increasing gap by Horton’s Bugatti of the same type. For three laps Howell’s 16-cylinder Bugatti held third place but after it had retired Hines 3 / 4 1/2 Bentley held that position to the end, emitting odd noises as it circulated. Nice to watch, but not very exciting. . . . Very commendable, however, was to see Bob Roberts recover quickly after spinning his Midland Motor Museum Type 43 Bugatti at Woodcote on lap seven, although this gave Mrs Pilkington her chance and she finished ahead of Bob in 1 3/4-litre Alfa Romeo (although Stretton’s tail-sliding Frazer Nash was very much in front of both of them).

A six-lap scratch race was included next, by way of an interlude, led all the way by Burroughs’ Alvis Speed-20, which, lapping at 71.64 mph, won by over 10 sec from Wolseley and Nev Farquhar’s long-tailed Riley 9, the last-named disposing of Bellanie’s Riley and Malyan’s 328 F-N / BMW a lap from the finish. That made it time for the Hewgate Pre-War All-Comers’ 10-lap scratch race, in which David Black drove his ex-Charlie Martin 3.2 Alfa Romeo Tipo B monoposto with most commendable consistency, holding off the ERAs of Spollon, Mason and Sir Venables-Llewelyn, to take the chequered flag by a margin of 10.1 sec, after making fastest lap at 86.01 mph. Afterwards there was much rejoicing, as this is believed to be the first time an Alfa Romeo has beaten an ERA in a VSCC scratch race, and David was duly awarded the Crompton “Driver-of-the-Day” Award. Lindsay, as explained, left from the back of the grid but his ERA was 10th after a lap, seventh by lap two, when its gear lever handle came off and Pat retired. A repair with a box spanner by the “White Mouse” stable readied it for its next race, however . . . At the end of the race there were only the leading three in it, with seven retirements and St John’s Bugatti tailing the fourth placed ERA, followed by Margulies’ 4CL Maserati, the ERAs of Marsh, Mann, and Stephens, and then the rest. The Giron-Alvis, now with a single blower, turned left instead of right at Woodcote when Jolley found its anchors anything but . . . Russell’s 8-litre Bentley won the vintage section at 75.25 mph, with a lap at 77.28 mph, from the Ford “dirt racer”. Martin Morris was to have driven Marks’ Type 51 Bugatti but it locked solid on the way to the start.

After Booty’s Brooklands Riley 9 had beaten Heelis’ aluminium-bodied Riley 9 in the next five-lap handicap, with Hancock’s Fiat Balilla third, the fastest cars lined up for the 10-lap allcomers’ scratch race. It was a not very inspiring race, except for the manner in which Simon Phillips ran away from the field of 13 in his 1959 Lotus 16. Lindsay was his usual very fast self, finishing second, from the back of the grid, in the ERA “Remus”, Black this time in third place in the P3 Alfa Romeo, ahead of Alan Cottam’s built-up-from-parts 250F Maserati, which was penalised 10 sec for a jumped start. There was really no-one else in it. Phillips lapped at 87.44 mph, and Lindsay at 86.14 mph to win the pre-war section, the ERA’s lap speed equalled by Black. Sir Venables-Llewelyn was third in this pre-war class, Pilkington’s GP Talbot-Lago third in the other one, but fifth “on the road”. Non-starters included the Maseratis of Willie Green and Felton, and Mason retired. Two five-lap handicaps concluded the meeting. Upson’s 11/2-litre Riley took the first from Hancock’s Fiat on the run in with Baker’s Riley 9/12 Special in third place, while the last race was won by St John’s Bugatti, which overtook Heimann’s similar Bugatti, and Frank Lockhart’s venerable 2.6-litre Rover Special, which were second and third. Morley had the biggest engined car at the meeting, the 24-litre Bentley-Napier, which he had dusted down for the occasion, also changing four of its plugs. He came home seventh behind the Bentley-Royce, Attenborough Special and Cottam’s Connaught, but ahead of President Threlfall’s McDowell-Ford dirt-racer, which was all very much in the spirit of the VSCC . . . It was nice to see Frank Wall out again, but his 35B Bugatti retired.

Other aspects of the afternoon had been Julian Majzub crashing his Bugatti into the catch-fencing on his warming-up lap, thus holding up the Itala Trophy Race for half-an-hour, so perpetuating an old motor-racing joke, but the thing wouldn’t have happened if this silly rule were not in being — the corners are unlikely to change direction or otherwise alter their character so soon after the drivers have practised, so this extra lappery might well be left to the race organisers’ discretion, and similarly, as he obviously knows the course, Lindsay need not then have been relegated to the back of the starting-grid. . . . — W.B.

RESULTS

GP Itala Trophy Race:

1, N. B. Mason (Bugatti), 77.05 mph;

2, J. R. Horton (Bugatti);

3, H. P. Hine (Bentley),

Pre-War AlIcomers Race:

1, W. D. A. Black (Alfa Romeo), 84.68 mph;

2, B. Spollon (ERA),

3, N B. Mason (ERA),

Allcomers Race:

1, S. Phillips (Lotus), 85.01 mph;

2, The Hon P. Lindsay (ERA);

3, W. D. A. Black (Alfa Romeo,

Six Lap Scratch Race: G.P. Burrows (Alvis), 70.25mph.

First 5-Lap Handicap: T. Seber (Wolseley Hornet), 66.89 mph.

Second 5-lap Handicap: J. Booty (Riley), 63.68 mph.

Third 5-lap Handicap: R. N. Upston (Riley), 65.66 mph.

Fourth 5-lap Handicap, G. St John (Bugatti), 78.50 mph.

Positions to date in the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest: T. Seber (Wolseley Hornet), 31 points; N. Mason (Bugatti and ERA), and David Black (Alfa Romeo), 26pts each; C. J. Hancock (Fiat), 21 points. Next round: Donington Park on May 7th.,

Apart from the racing, there was a display of Lagonda cars in the Paddock to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rapier Register, a parade of Rapiers preceded the racing, from a splendid entry of 56 of these 1933 to 1938 twin-cam Lagonda and post-Lagonda cars, including a 1951 Derrington special, and the course-car was a Le Mans 4 1/2-litre Lagonda. — W.B.

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