Seaside Speed Trials

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Weather-wise, as in other ways, the VSCC is truly wonderful! On October 6th, the day before its speed-trials along the front at Weston-Super-Mare, rain lashed down and a gale blew trucks over on the Severn Bridge, and the modern cars couldn’t run (existing course record: Lane-Pilbeam MP58 — 10.9 sec). The next day the sun shone and it couldn’t have been nicer, for the older cars, at this free and easy combined meeting of the Burnham-on-Sea MC, the VSCC, and Woodspring District Council.

Again the VSCC had triumphed and all was set for an efficient sprint over the ss half-kilo course, after Bruce Dowell had opened it by driving the Mayor along it in his stately Sunbeam landaulette. On the two previous occasions when the Club has followed tradition by holding these seaside speed trials, FTD had been made by Anthony Mayman (ERA R4D) in 14.70 sec. and Rod Jolly (Giron-Alvis) in 15.54 sec. This year Mayman brought his 1959 Lotus 16 and made FTD in 14.33 sec, a new class course record. There was little opposition, apart from Payne’s 1952 Cooper-Bristol, which recorded no times, and the 1949 s/c 1100cc Djinn driven by Roberts, with its creator, Rupert Instone, there to see it run. Incidentally, post-vintage entries outnumbered vintage by 59 to 44, backed up by four post-war Historic cars and five from the veteran and Edwardian eras.

The ‘star’ runner was in the last named class, in the form of the ex-Douglas Fitzpatrick Métallurgique with its 21-litre 6-cylinder T-head Series AZ 160 x 170mm Maybach aviation engine, now with new bolts to secure flywheel to crankshaft, and in the hands of its new owner, Brian Moore. It had been driven down from Cambridge on the Saturday and an intrigued crowd gathered to watch its great engine being turned over with a crowbar, “Chitty” fashion, and started on the trembler coil switch. Alas, it was a non-runner, as water was found in No 3 cylinder. (The 1914 TT Humber was an absentee, as Neve was unwell). As compensation for Moore’s disappointment Nick Ridley generously let him compete in his purple 1914 TT Sunbeam and Brian was quicker than Nick, by 0.66 sec (25.08 sec). Fastest here, however, was Williamson on the 1908 GP Itala (21.70 sec), a new Edwardian course record, with Collings’ 1903 Mercedes winning on handicap in 23.06 secs.

Fastest vintage car time was set by V MaIlya, the new owner of the celebrated Sunbeam “Tiger”, who drove it calmly to a time of 15.92 sec on this, his first appearance with the car. Joy Rainey vanquished all the other ladies, in the well-known sports s/c 2.3 Alfa Romeo, with a time of 18.74 sec, which beat her father’s time by just 0.06 sec in the same car. Of the class winners, Judy Hogg in the Aston Martin (19.99 sec) beat the best vintage time, set by Champion’s quick Meadows Frazer Nash (20.41 sec). Keith Hill, instead of his Coach-Helix, drove a Wolsely Special with a 1934 1257cc engine of this make, possessed of a McEvoy head, in a 1937 Fiat Topolino tubular chassis with ifs, the whole endowed with a smart blue sports body and disc wheels (23.83 sec). The next class up was a victory for Spiers’ 1936 4.3 Alvis, in a new class record time of 18.47 sec, best vintage being Conway’s Bugatti (20.94 sec). Of the special and supercharged 1500cc sportscars, Rides’ Riley Special was best, with a new general class record, (20.01 sec), and it was good to see Tom Delaney demolish the vintage class record with his TT Lea-Francis (21.68 sec). The category for the bigger sports cars was exciting, as Craig Collings in his 8128cc Bentley beat Stanley Mann’s 8200cc Bentley record-car by 0.90 sec, in putting the vintage class record to 16.48 sec and Burrell’s 8-litre Bentley-Royce (the non-blown one) was second in class (16.89 sec).

Of the racing cars, all in the 1000cc class were post-vintage, Foster’s blown 750 MG winning in 18.10 sec from Keeling’s blown PB MG (18.55 sec). Caroline’s wonderful Morgan 3-wheeler took the “middle class”, in 18.70 sec and was only .01 sec slower on its second run, a new vintage class record. Gray in the Morgan did not approach these times closely but was second, and it was good to see the Amilcar Six of T John fill third place. MaIlya then made his excellent bid for the big racing car division, but the post-vintage cars of Bruce Spollon in ERA R8C and Guy Spollon in the same ERA, led the class overall, with a Presidential win in 15.28 sec, although this did not beat Mayman’s old ERA record. Noble’s A7 was in trouble, it was said with a puncture, nor was Bronson’s 2500cc Riley Special with the big blower fit for its second run. But the aged vee-twin ex-Davenport BHD, in the tradition of such speed trials, did a 21.92 sec run at J Parker’s bidding and the temperamental Djinn 16.65 sec on its only appearance before it broke a con-rod. Very entertaining, and no time for buckets and spades. WB

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