A long series of successful 1954 Club Race Meetings at Silverstone circuit concluded on October 9th with the N. Staffs M.C. meeting.
A long series of handicap and scratch seven and ten-lap events for sports cars and racing cars were contested, the last race finishing in the dusk, with Baxter’s C-type Jaguar’s lamps ablaze.
One accident occurred, when Hiess, driving the ex-Stoneham Special Austin Seven, slid broadside at Woodcote, corrected too briskly as his car ran across the course, causing it to somersault on top of him. His injuries were very minor under the circumstances, but this episode showed up the inefficient flag-signals at this point, which had been evident to experienced observers all the afternoon.
The day’s sport opened with a seven-lap sports-car scratch race, Nurse’s Lotus winning the 750 Formula section at a rousing 65.93 m.p.h., Lewis’ Lotus the 1,172 Formula category at 65.32 m.p.h. and Garfith’s MG, driven by Ladds, the 1,250 c.c. section at 59.82 m.p.h., perhaps an indication that a Formula chassis is a jolly good proposition, making up for smaller, standard engines.
A similar race for 1,250-1,500 c.c. sports cars saw Hacking’s Cooper-MG. win at 70.86 m.p.h., followed home by J. Naylor’s Cooper-M.G. and E. J. Newton’s Killeen-M.G. The 500 c.c. race, over ten laps from scratch, was a victory for Charles Headland’s Martin-Headland, which contrived to average 74.03 m.p.h. in beating Harrison’s Cooper and Anderson’s Staride.
Naylor then wiped-up the 2 ½-litre sports-car seven-lap race from an Alta and the noisy twin-exhaust Clairmonte with Lea-Francis engine, Venn’s Healey Silverstone taking the 2 ½-litre section at 69.79 m.p.h. from Simpson and Taylor in similar Healeys.
The ten-lap Formule Libre race saw Berry’s C-type Jaguar, with air-scoops to its brakes and a metal cockpit-cover over the passenger’s seat, chased with spirit by the Clairmonte, Berry winning at 76.69 m.p.h., with Baxter’s Jaguar in third place. Anderson’s Cooper fell sick, but Jopp pressed on fast, arms in true Farina style, in his Emeryson. The race finished with three separate duels in progress, the two leaders, then Harrison’s Cooper glued, impudence-to-dignity, to Baxter’s Jaguar, then Naylor closely followed by Anderson’s Staride.
The big sports-car scratch race saw Berry win again, this time at 76.8 m.p.h., again chased by Clairmonte. Baxter was again third, but a long way back. Major (Bentley) Dailey was getting his hand in with the ex-Carnegie J2 Allard and a gaggle of Austin-Healeys fought a race of their own, which Scot eventually led from Hichings, Higham and Crutch.
A seven-lap Production Car Handicap found Venn’s Healey Silverstone out in front to win at 69.72 m.p.h. from a similar car handled by Gonn in Simpson’s Healey, in spite of a spin at Woodcote, third place going to Gilly Tyrer in a wire-wheeled XK Jaguar coupé which he drove with verve and exhaust-crackle. Powner’s 1 ½-litre Riley saloon was slow and Hisham’s Austin-Healey found the Woodcote ditch more to its liking than the course. Burton drove Green’s Aston Martin with many outside exhaust pipes.
The ten-lap Vintage Car Handicap was great fun, especially as it produced Keiller’s very-short-chassis Bugatti, once a Full Brescia, but now with single-magneto engine and a curious pointed tail extending from its bolster tank. Thirlby drove the ex-Axle Berg G.N.-J.A.P., but retired, and Melville’s beautiful 30/98 Vauxhall won at 69.29 m.p.h. from McDonald’s well-known 4 ½-litre Bentley, which started 20 sec. later. Harris’ Austin Seven was third. Vaughan drove his delightful 1 ½-seater Anzani Frazer-Nash with very narrow rear -track, Green his Amilcar Six, Winder his “civilised” 9/28-powered Humber and Peter Binns his O.M.
Some excellent E.M.S.* were in evidence, notably the aforesaid G.N. and Frazer-Nash and Cardy’s stark Talbot with vast self-change gearbox and its Road Fund licence neatly surrounded by an eared centre-lock hub-cap. The racing cars had another ten-lap handicap, won by A. E. Marsh, who came through the field well in his Cooper-J.A.P. averaging 78.95 m.p.h., the Clairmonte second and Harrison third. Rees cornered his Austin very fast in the 2 ½-litre sports-car seven-lap handicap, but was beaten by Summers’ Austin, at 61.17 m.p.h., Taylor’s Austin being third. Brackenbury had a huge dice with the wheel of his Austin Seven.
J. B. Naylor’s fast if smoky Cooper-M.G. took the second of these races at 70.6 m.p.h. from N. Naylor’s Riley. Prices’ Lotus-M.G. finished third and Cox drove nicely in Carnt’s ex-Ruddock H.R.G., which did some skilful thrusting at Woodcote.
A third 2 ½-litre sports-car handicap followed, Venn’s Healey averaging 69.74 m.p.h. to win from Simpson’s Healey and Barron’s very quick, all-enveloping Morris Special. The last race was won by Hacking’s smart Cooper-M.G., at 71.87 m.p.h., with McDonald’s thunderous, multi-exhaust-piped Bentley close on its tail, but passed on braking into Woodcote, and Tyrer’s smart Jaguar coupé occupying third place. So ended the 1954 Club Silverstone season, the competing cars going home with reflectors twinkling. — W. B.
* Eariy Morning Specials.