Veteran to classic miscellany, November 1991

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Gopsall Park by A7

After investigating the Henry Laird Morgan “Yellow”, owned by CE Allen, BEM, which we reported last month, we went on to photograph the entrance to the Gopsall Park speed-trial venue, where, as outlined in recent issues of Motor Sport such trials took place in the 1920s and 1930s.

To get there we went in “Titch’s” Austin 7 Gould Ulster Replica, which with advancing years he finds more practical than the Morgan. As I have one myself, this was interesting. Allen’s has an aluminium cylinder head with 18mm spark plugs, thought to be from a “Grasshopper” Austin 7, and the usual semi-downdraught SU on post-war Morris Minor manifolding.

“Titch” has the benefit of a four-speed gearbox, but a 4.9 axle ratio makes for high gearing. But this does make gear-changing easier — I find the big gap between first and second and the loss of time engaging top gear on the normal three-speed box on my A7 rather disconcerting. Anyway, it was fun cruising at an indicated 50mph (on the Ford’s speedometer) behind an aeroscreen on this warm day — sad reminder that my Gould Ulster has a full-width screen not made to fold flat! — WB

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To those who know that there is no reason why the older cars should not be used as normal transport it is good to hear of vintage examples that are used regularly or for the same purpose as moderns. So we were glad to hear that Ben Collings used the 1913 Brixia-Zust to pass his driving test on his 17th birthday. — WB

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Nev Churcher’s 1927 Type VAL-3 four-push-rod Salmson ran badly at Prescott due to the butterfly of its Solex carburetter jamming half-open. The car had been a CAPA racer and was discovered in a derelict shed in 1972 and mechanically restored by Mike Tietze, and a new body was made. We hear that since then the Salmson has done 8000 reliable miles in three years, giving 36mpg cruising at 50mph, and used as everyday transport.

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VSCC Donington

The last VSCC race meeting of 1991 was also a first, in that it brought the Seaman Trophies to the appropriate venue of Donington Park.

Malcolm Grist warmed up his father’s Monza by beating the Rileys of Robinson and Watney in the five-lap Brooklands Society Trophy which opened proceedings, before the 50s sportscars appeared for the Duncan Hamilton Jaguar Trophy. And it was Jaguar power all the way, the Listers of Gary Pearson and David Ham being split at the line by John Harper’s D-type. Thomas Bscher’s howling V8 450S Maserati was a rare and welcome fourth.

There was an unexpected upset amongst the Post-War racing cars when Anthony Mayman failed to win; however, the winner, John Harper, was driving another of Mayman’s cars, the 250F Maserati. As usual Mayman (Lotus 16) led from the start, pursued by Rod Jolley’s Cooper, but the Lotus began to overheat after Harper had passed Jolley. Harper then went round the outside of Mayman’s slowing car at Redgate and into the lead. Jolley was second, with Mayman babying the Lotus to third.

To celebrate 60 years of 8-cylinder Alfa Romeos there was a 6-lap scratch race won by a 6-cylinder Maserati. This was Mayman’s fault, as he ran away from the field in his 3.7-litre car. But Paul Grist and James Lindsay restored some Alfa pride with a good second and third pairing in their Monzas.

On to the Richard Seaman Historic Trophy, where Duncan Ricketts (1.5-litre ERA) provided the excitement by spinning and stalling out of second place at the chicane, promoting Chris Mayman’s recently built ERA one place. Ure (ERA) held a safe third, though fourth was contested at times by Spollon (ERA) and Paul Jaye’s rapid Alta, before Hannen’s Maserati grabbed it. Oh, and somewhere up front was Anthony Mayman in R4D . . .

Tim Llewellyn’s 8.4-litre Bentley has not been out much this season, and there is nothing worse for a racing car than inaction. But it made up for its disappointing last appearance by collaring the Vintage version of the Seaman Trophy, the first at Donington. Alex Boswell could have been a threat in the 12-litre Bequet Delage — until one of the two gearboxes broke, giving second to Dave Caroline’s Morgan. But the high point was the tussle between Stuart Harper (Morgan) and Martin Stretton’s Frazer Nash. The six-lap scrap for third finally fell to Sideways Stretton. Fifth was John Howell, racing the 16-cylinder Bugatti.

Three wheels and four legs per entry signalled the Morgan race, in which passengers were allowed under ACU rules. Speeds varied radically, but Bill Tuer and Graeme Bibby threaded their 1100cc mounts through the traffic for first and second. Stuart Harper narrowly beat Thompson’s Lagonda in a five-lap scratch, and Jo Moss took a handicap win in an 4.5-litre Invicta. –GC

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Obituary: Paddy Denton

We regret to report the death, aged 70, of Paddy Denton, one of the driving forces behind Oulton Park’s inauguration as a racing circuit in August 1953.

After fighting with distinction in the second world war, Paddy embarked upon a competition career, contesting many VSCC meetings in an Alta. In 1951, Aston Martin nominated him as a reserve driver at Le Mans, though ultimately he wasn’t called upon to drive.

In addition to his VSCC interests, Paddy maintained a healthy interest in contemporary motorsport. Despite his ill health, he was still a frequent visitor to Oulton in recent months.

Motor Sport extends its sincere condolences to his family and friends.– SA

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