Vanwall Makes a Reappearance
THE Vintage SCC achieved yet another breakthrough with its first Silverstone race meeting of 1985, proving that you can run such an event on the 13th of the month without untoward happenings. A record entry, plenty of spectators, and some of the most exciting racing I can remember at a vintage meeting, marked the occasion, which started with the Lanchester Register’s Parade of these exclusive cars from 1903 to 1930, and then the customary High Speed Trial with compulsory pit-stops. A high wind kept away the rain.
Half the field qualified in the High Speed Trial, after which racing started with the eight-lap Fox & Nicholl Trophy Handicap for road-equipped sports-cars, although suprisingly, none was competing for the new Ford Trophy for vintage cars used on the road. In the closing stages Weeks’ 1937 41/4 Bentley Special pipped Fox’s modified Delahaye 135 to the flag, with Erhardt’s hybrid V12 Lagonda third. Next came the Itala and Lanchester Trophies 10-lap Scratch Race, in which it was good to see Bob Roberts out again in the rebuilt Sunbeam “Tiger” (MOTOR SPORT, October 1984, pp 1241 / 42). What is more, it was in the lead by lap six but, going onto the grass at Woodcote, a tyre picked up a nail, and that was that. However, it was a fine performance, especially as Bob had a bad start due to gear selection problems and had passed Mason’s 35B Bugatti, from which Kain’s 35B had pulled out a big lead until mechanical trouble set in. Arnold-Forster was going great guns in the 12-litre V8 Bequet-Delage, finishing 1.6 sec behind de Cadenet who had the Maserati Tipo 26 really motoring, although Mason’s smart Bugatti was the winner by 1.9 sec, a stirring finish, especially as Arnold-Forster had stormed past Horton’s 35B a lap from home. Behind these four Threlfall kept the much improved McDowell-Ford ahead of Harper’s ever exciting Morgan 3-wheeler and Daniels was out in the ex-Russ-Turner Birkin blower 41/2 Bentley single-seater. Roberts set fastest lap, at 79.96 mph, Stretton gave a display of fast driving in his Frazer Nash which I think might have alarmed the Brooklands’ Stewards in less enlightened days and Arnold-Forster took the Lanchester Trophy. There followed a five-lap Handicap for Alvis and Alvis-powered cars, which Baddiley’s Speed-25 led throughout, winning by a very comfortable margin from Sparrowhawk’s road-equipped 4.3-litre and Merriott’s 12/70, the latter just kept Clinkard’s Speed-20 at bay. Benfleld’s glittering 200 Mile Race car was 10th behind more modern Alvi, with Dunham’s 12/70 Special finishing a place lower, having, as they used to say. in the early days of Brooklands, been “making ground” all the way
Another exciting race was the 10-lap Allcomers. The Hon Patrick Lindsay, with
sprained wrist, said beforehand that he didn’t expect to be able to cope with Black’s effective monoposto P3 Alfa Romeo. In the event, Black seemed safely in the lead until Lindsay closed up in the 2-litre ERA “Remus” to within half-a-length on lap three and was in front by lap four. However, put off course by a back-marker who didn’t seem certain which path to take to let “Remus” by, at Woodcote on the next round, Lindsay braked hard, locked up the wheels, and took to the grass, and the imperturbable Black sailed past. He went on to win by 1.3 sec with an average speed of 85.70 mph but Lindsay had lapped fastest, at 87.31 mph.
Behind, another interesting race was being fought out, with Colbourne’s 6CM Maserati challenged hard by Sir John Venables-Llewelyn’s ERA R4A until, right at the last corner, Spollon in ERA R8C charged through into fourth place, which he secured by 0.1 of a second. Venables-Llewelyn was a mere 0.3 sec behind Spollon. Nick Mason was next home, this time in ERA R10B proving his great enthusiasm by driving this car, his Bugatti aforementioned, and later his Maserati 250F. Further down the field Morley entertained the crowd as usual in the 24-litre Bentley-Napier, driving it on the limit, with a best, lap of 80.18 mph to hold off Tim Llewellyn’s 8-litre Bentley by 2.6 sec, and Harper’s crackling Morgan had come in 2.7 sec behind Burrell’s 8-litre V12 Bentley-Royce. Willie Green should have conducted Mann’s ERA but the race was late in starting so he was obliged instead to leave for a journalistic appointment in Italy.
Then, after Gray’s Riley had won another 5-lap Handicap at 61.54 mph, from Spollon’s Riley and Moore’s Riley (respectively of 1,496, 2 1/4-litres, and 1,496 cc), with Spollon lapping fastest at 74.03 mph we came to the post-war Allcomers’ race, in which a Vanwall was making a first appearance since 1961. Built up from parts by two ex-Vanwall mechanics John Collins and Norman Burkinshaw, this is not a GKN Vandervell product, although the company assisted with it and it has their blessing, being a very fine replica of VWII. (GKN Vandervell still supply bearings for many racing projects, of course.) Tony Merrick, who was entrusted with it, was up against Neil Corner in his genuine Maserati 250F and Bruce Halford’s 1959 Lotus 16, but unfortunately the Hon Amschel Rothschild’s BRM P25 had a broken tooth in its crown-wheel and couldn’t start. Another non-runner was Felton’s 2.9-litre singleseater Alfa Romeo Special.
It was four laps, in very close company, before Halford could get away from Corner, after which the lighter car drew away, to win by four seconds, after a best lap of 91.45 mph. Needless to say, no-one else was in sight, but there was a close battle for third place, Bell’s Maserati 250F eventually taking this by 0.2 sec from Mason’s 250F, but note how much quicker Corner’s “proper” 250F was. The Vanwall had started quite far back on the grid, so did very well to finish fifth on its first outing, 20.2 sec separating it from the winning Lotus. Next up was the irrepressible Lindsay.
Two more 5-lap Handicaps concluded an incident-packed day and you can see much the same again at Donington Park on April 28th. The first of these concluding Silverstone races was won by Dolton’s MG Magnette, from Merriott’s Alvis and Bugler’s Lagonda LG45, Cecil Clutton’s Frazer-Nash fourth and the last one was a victory for Summerfield’s blown 41/4-litre Avon Bentley Special, from Ann Shoosmith’s 3/41/2-litre Bentley and Rickett’s 12/4 Riley Special.
Fox & Nicholl Handicap: 1. F. Weeks, Bentley, 70.22 mph: 2. W. D. Fox Delahaye; 3, P. G. Erhardt Lagonda,
Itala Trophy Race: 1. N. Mason , 76.95 mph; 2. A de Cadenet Maserati; 3, N. Amold-Forster Brequet.Delage,
Pre-War Allcomers Race: 1. W D. A Black Alfa Romeo, 85.70 mph; 2. Hon P Lindsay ERA; 3, P. Colbourne Maserati.
Fastest Lap of the day: B. Halford (Lotus 16), 91.45 mph
MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest. This trophy and cash prices totalling £325 will again be awarded at VSCC meetings this year which ran, or could have at Brooklands Track before the war. The leader after the first meeting is L.J.J. Merriott (Alvis 12/70) with 21 points