Veteran to classic -- speed trials

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Brighton Speed Trials

A dull grey morning with a calm sea and a trace of dampness in the air gave splendid conditions for fast times on Madeira Drive for the 86th Brighton National Speed Trials on September 14th. A crowd approaching 20,000 filled the paddock, were four deep along Madeira Terrace overlooking the start, and occupied every vantage point to the finish line. They were treated to a new course record (see Diary).

An excellent entry for the Vintage and Historic classes included five Grand Prix cars, an Indianapolis car, and a good variety of VSCC sports cars. Practice was enlivened by a fierce duel: Anthony Mayman in R4D, the ERA with seven previous FTDs at Brighton driven by Raymond Mays and Ken Wharton, posted a fast 19.56sec, while the Class record holder David Beckett made 19.99sec in his Lister Chevrolet Costin.

Bruce Spollon (ERA R8C, the ex-Earl Howe car) was also under the class record with a fine practice time of 20.11sec. David Duffy’s Connaught B-type, painted in the Rob Walker colours of blue and white, was not far behind with 21.53, and looking to improve.

The duel between Mayman and Beckett continued on the first timed runs with the ERA doing 19.82 and the Lister 19.84. Spollon’s first run was 20.33. His second run ended when the throttle linkage came undone and the ERA was out. David Duffy improved to 21.27sec but was unable to better this on his second run.

The beautiful 4-1/2-litre Talbot Lago which ran in the 1949 British Grand Prix was much admired; Tony Bianchi did very well with an impressive 22.93sec in this heavy long-distance Grand Prix car. Bob Burrell, longtime exponent of large Bentleys and a frequent competitor at Brighton, thought a touch of sea air might be beneficial to his latest V12 blown 8-litre Bentley. A time of 23.49 sec is a good start for the new car. Neither the Indianapolis Sunbeam nor the Lea Francis were running well, disappointing for Tom Delaney who first raced at Brighton in 1934. David Biggins was consistent with the Vauxhall Rowley and won the VSCC handicap.

The final runs produced a superb win for Anthony Mayman with 18.91sec, crossing the finish line at 139mph — a new class record for this fine old racing car and its sporting driver. — NG

***

VSCC at the seaside

From early times the seaside resorts of Britain have seen speed-trials on their beaches and promenades. Weston-Super-Mare has been well endowed in this respect, and the VSCC returned there again on October 6th, fielding their typically sunny weather.

Anthony Mayman with ERA R4D, which arrived in a big Fiat transporter, made FTD. and set a new class-course-record of 4.34s. Martin Morris in R11B, displaying a Chester MC badge, did 15.52s. Donald Day in R11B clocked 15.65s but Bruce Spollon’s R8C broke its back axle and had to be towed back. In this class Hulbert’s blown SE Alvis took vintage honours (17.45s). In the 1-1/2-litre racing-car class Chris Mayman also set a new record (15.99s) in ERA AJM1. Chris Gordon in the Silver Hawk beat a later, larger Bugatti to win the vintage division (24.84s). Keeling’s blown PB MG won the 1100 cc racing-car class (17.98s), in which the best vintage run was by the Amilcar-Riley (18.95s another class record). The post-war historic cars had all funked it…

Nickall’s Lagonda Rapier scored in the small sports-car class (21.05s) and was but 0.06s. slower on his second run. Tony Jones was fastest vintage runner in his famous Frazer Nash (22.03s), beating his daughter by 0.10s. Blackeney-Edwards in Miss Collings’ 4-1/2-litre Bentley had both sections of the over 1-1/2-litre sports cars’ class sewn-up (20.08s), Drewitt’s Riley Special took the hybrid class (19.41s), in which Beddow’s Lea-Francis led for the vintage contingent (24.30s), and of the bigger sports cars Craig Collings and the 8128cc Bentley had the distinction of setting best vintage time (16.57s) on a single onslaught on the half-kilo course. The quickest lady was Miss Burrell, who drove the formidable 8-litre Bentley-Royce, displaying a JCC badge, to a fine 18.42s, 1.09s slower than her dad in his supercharged edition, and with the spur of BRDC and BARC badges. Harold Smith’s Indy Sunbeam led the Edwardians (21.88s) and Nick Ridley was rewarded by a Handicap-win in the purple 1914 TT Sunbeam he had driven down from Suffolk, clocking 25.81s, although young Ben Collings on the veteran Mercedes was quicker. The motorcycles demonstrated, a Douglas going through the speed-trap at 100mph, compared to R4D’s 124mph. Nice to see some old-time seaside speed. –WB

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