Veteran to classic: VSCC Donington

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Mayman reigns!

In “VSCC weather” the 1989 racing finale of that club, the Shuttleworth and Nuffield Trophies Meeting, was efficiently run off on September 23. With 143 entries, practice unfortunates like Margulies’ Bolster Special sans ignition, Brewster’s A7 with a broken con-rod, Thompson’s Rapier with a faulty distributor, Bradford’s Riley 9 with gearbox maladies, the clutch failure of Bronson’s Riley, fuel-pump failure on MacPherson’s Cooper-Bristol and engine problems for Davidson’s MG and Porter’s Connaught were easily covered.

Racing commenced with the Brooklands Society Trophy 5-lap scratch race, led all the way by Grist’s Monza hybrid Alfa Romeo, appropriately, as it ran both at Brooklands and at Donington before the war. It was chased home by the Rileys of Warrington and Dunn. Heimann’s 4.3 Alvis lasted but a lap, but recovered to race again. A similar scratch race followed, in which Jolley, driving the very effective Giron-Alvis with blown 31/2-litre engine, like Grist, led all the way, leaving the rest far behind. Indeed, it was more than half a minute before Dunn’s Riley took second place, ahead of Heimann, sometimes the maligned handicap races are more exciting than scratch processions… Howell appeared to be training for a future grass track meeting in his venerable blown 3-litre twin-cam Sunbeam, but fuel starvation out of the chicane was a more likely reason for using the grass verge.

The John Holland Memorial 10-lap scratch race saw yet another winner lead all the way, Horton’s red 35B Bugatti finishing 5.1 seconds ahead of Caroline, his scarf flying in the wind, in the 1928 Morgan three-wheeler, with no-one else really in it. Stretton’s Frazer Nash was third, its duel with Jon Giles in the AC/GN ending on lap 7, when the latter retired. Bugler’s 41/2-litre Lagonda, once a saloon, then took a 5-lap handicap from Leslie’s A7, Morley’s 41/2litre Lagonda, also formerly with closed bodywork, third. Wickham ran his daily use, all events 12/50 Alvis, Elliot-Pyle a Lea-Francis with rare twin-cam Vulcan engine, bored out from 2 to 21/2 litres, and said to have had some influence on Jaguar XK120 design. Cobb had a British Salmson engine in his Frazer Nash.

The 10-lap scratch race, for pre-war racing cars, produced the first win of the afternoon for Anthony Mayman, whose famous ERA R4D had survived a burst supercharger at Cadwell Park (nasty, as it is between the driver’s legs!) and now a spot of gearbox bother in practice. It had no real opposition, lapping at 83.59 mph (a new record), only 2.13 mph slower than the best lap Mayman was to do later in the afternoon in his 1959 Lotus 16. The ERA led Hannen’s notably reliable 6C Maserati over the line with an 11.1 seconds margin, Hannen getting the Nuffield Trophy. Lindsay’s R5B ERA stopped after three laps for no apparent reason, Chapman’s ERA GP2 failed to leave the start, and Ricketts’ ERA R1B returned to the Paddock on a lorry. Jolley’s Giron-Alvis was third, Jaye in the ex-Beadle all-independently sprung Alta fourth, and Harper’s ERA fifth. Willie Green in Mann’s ERA R9B was black-flagged for oil drips but allowed to resume. Mare had his rare 41/2-litre V8 Maserati with Garrett blower out again but it sounded rougher as the race wore on.

After this, Fletcher-Jones’ Lagonda Rapier took a 5-lap scratch race very easily from Barbet (Riley) and Hooper (A7), before a field of ten contested the 12-lap Allcomers Race. This the irrepressible Mayman was able to win, in spite of a visit to the pit-lane on lap 5 to sort out a gear selection problem (not, as some thought, to make the race more exciting, as Willie Green once did with an equally dominant Maserati!). Behind the flying Lotus, the Hon. A. Rothschild and Chris Mayman had been equally matched in their P25 BRMs, until the latter began to go off song. Anthony Mayman, restarting, was able to dive between them to keep his lead, taking the flag by five seconds. Hannen’s Maserati was again going well, in fourth place, holding off Morris’ 250F Maserati, and Green was having a good race in the Indy Norm Olsen, which snaked out of the chicane, until he began to cut-out very early for Red gate corner. Lindsay’s ERA again retired after three laps.

Having been given the winner’s laurel wreath by Judy Collings, Mayman substituted ERA for Lotus and ran away with the 5-lap John Goddard scratch race by 151/2, seconds, from the equally irrepressible Frank Lockhart in the venerable Rover Special, the Heimann Alvis third. This time a best lap at 79.44 mph sufficed to keep R4D in front. Two 5-lap handicaps remained, the first won by Stanley Mann in his Le Mans-like 1929 hybrid 41/2-litre Bentley, from Bugler’s Lagonda and Drewitt’s 11/2-litre Riley, the concluding race going to Grist, the Alfa Romeo’s second win of the day, from the 11/2-litre Rileys of Payne and Rides.

The Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy had been keenly contested all season, but the absence from Donington of Boswell and the calamity that eliminated Thompson’s Lagonda Rapier did not help these drivers’ placings, although Boswell retained his third place. It would all have ended happily had not Ted Dunn stuffed his Riley into the bank in the last race and been flung out; he had been lapping at over 72 mph in earlier races. As Winifred Boddy, the Editor’s wife, was presenting the Trophy and cheque to Anthony Mayman, who had a commanding lead with 126 points, Dunn was away having a damaged arm attended to; but he was second, with 82 points. A satisfactory result, because ERA R4D was a very prominent Brooklands car when driven by Raymond Mays and both the Dunn Riley and the Bequet Delage are Brooklands-type cars. Incidentally, next year the Motor Sport prize money of £325 is to be increased to a first prize of £500 and others down to fourth place. WB

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