British Team Beats American by 1,375 points
The Anglo-American Vintage-Car Rally sponsored by the British Travel and Holidays Association must be written down as an Exceedingly Good Thing; an event greatly enhancing the prestige of the Vintage Sports Car Club, which already stands high its motoring circles. The plot of a tour through some of Scotland’s and England’s better scenery, traversing part of the historic 1,000-mile Trial route, stopping nightly at delectable Trust Houses and embracing a few tests en route, and some more ambitious ones with which to conclude the contest at Goodwood on September 11th, was carried out to such an appreciative audience of kerbside well-wishers as to surprise and encourage even those whose hearts have long been in this vintage-car movement.
The programme was beautifully produced and was truly informative; great praise being due to whoever wrote it. (Could he be “L.T.C.R.” himself?) The police cooperated, the A.A. did some ambitious route-marking, the R.A.C. carried round the enormous silver cup presented by them to the winning team, the B.O.C. lent Prescott Hill, the B.A.R.C. contributed Goodwood, and, generally, every assistance was placed at the disposal of the B.T.H.A. and the VeS.C.C.
If the apt-to-be-overlooked, realist object of this enthralling and pleasant exercise, that of publicising Britain as a touring ground, wasn’t achieved, only Jupiter Pluvius is to blame, for on occasion the Americans got very wet indeed — and many of them, and their fair passengers, were in decidedly spartan motor cars. Yet even this they took in good part and we feel sure we shall have the pleasure of their company on other occasions in the future. On every side we heard warm praise for the pleasant finale at Goodwood, for Tom Rolt’s organisation; Tim Carson’s captaincy of the winning team and the enthusiastic support of vintage and veteran car and motor-cycle owners. The Veteran M.C. of America, captained by H. Austin Clark, Jnr., also deserves the highest praise for fielding such a representative team of Edwardian and vintage American cars in such a very fine state of restoration. This is a fixture which must be repeated. — W. B.
From the start fortuity hardly smiled on our American visitors. The 1906 Stanley steamer of Paul J. Tusek couldn’t find the correct fuel for its burners and blew out its boiler fuse-plug. The 9-litre 1913 Lozier of Rod Blood had its universal joint break up. The 1906 model-K; 40hp. Ford or Elmer Bemis broke its crown-wheel and pinion.
But these early trouble, causing the U.S. team to Iose many marks in the opening stages of the contest, were overcome. The Stanley found some better paraffin and was thereafter the most popular car in the contest, cheered to the echo as it snuffled rapidly along with a vast vapour-cloud in its wake. A Harrogate garage willingly produced its breakdown truck and toiled all night to re-make the Cozier’s universal joint. The Ford Motor Company rose nobly to the assistance of Bemis and had a new crown-wheel and pinion made in lightning time, so that the model-K rejoined the run without, loss of marks. Alas, its brake proved incapable of anticipating the anchorage of a Humber driven by a high-ranking R.A.F. officer, who was caused to pull up when an elderly cIot in a small mobile box stopped for no apparent reason sans warning. Damage was sustained to the Ford’s radiator, near-side dumb-iron (a rather frail tubular affair is any case) and mudguard, but this didn’t stop Bemis from continuing to Chichester. The Humber, however, didn’t continue!
The first test was that of easy starting. Here Roswell Moore’s 1921 Mercer, being blessed with a self-starter, made fastest time in 12 sec., no mean feat from cold. Yet Ron. Barker, cranking Brooke’s 1914 Prince Henry Vauxhall and leaping into his seas, scored the same time for Britain — whatever we did on the playing fields of Eton, Stowe certainly develops the qualities needed for motoring sport!
The slow-fast test saw the U.S. team ahead on points but as the contest developed they fell back, losing marks because the Stanley was not where it should have been on schedule. Denne (1913 12/16 Sunbeam) made a mess of the slow-fast test, which evened things up somewhat, but on the whole, the British team seemed to possess the faster cars and drivers better able to swerve-the-curves.
Here we may digress to remark on the strong team of official cars. Forrest Lycett, scorning the rain hatless in his immortal 8-litre Bentley, acted as whipper-in of stragglers — and what better car for this task than this acccelerative 8-litre! Laurence Pomeroy drove about in his 1914 “Prince Henry” Vauxhall to the tune of 48-m.p.h. averages, Kent Karslake was present when wanted by grace of his 1919 6 1/2-litre Hispano-Suiza. Tom Rolt, organiser of the whole show, trusted in his 1924 “dusck’s back” 12/50 Alvis, and John Morley assisted him in a 1931 12/60 Alvis with hydraulic brakes — very rapid this not-quite-vintage car, but we don’t believe the official programme when it claims for it bigger ports than Rolt has in his big-port 12/50! Cecil Clutton also assisted, but unfortunately his famous 1908 G.P. Itala ran its big-ends, had them replaced, and ran them again, so that Sam was reduced to the comfort of his Citroën Six when not sitting at the left elbow of Pomeroy in the “Prince Henry.” Even the ltala was patched up, however, and on the last day of the road-section was seen ascending South Harting, albeit firing on only two of its great cylinders. Arthur Jeddere-Fisher marshalled Goodwood, aided by his 30/98 Vauxhall and his wife’s Edwardian Lancia Theta, and various scribes flashed amongst the competing cars, such as Bunty Scott-Moncrieff in his wife’s Lotus-Ford. Bunny Tubbs in his Citroën light Fifteen, and your Editor in the convenience of a Citroën 2 c.v.
The Prescott speed hill-climb was a highlight of the contest, because the weather, although threatening, behaved, and Prescott looked indeed beautiful in the fitful September sunshine. The times achieved by the individual ascenders are given hereafter. “Steady” Barker drove Anthony Brooke’s ” “Prince Henry” as if a speed event really was being essayed, changing down into second very neatly at the Esses, the old Vauxhall’s exhaust bellow a feature of this and the other special tests. As the car had only been assembled ten days before leaving Edinburgh the car’s performance possesses s even greater merit and must have made up fully for Barker’s disappointment that the Hutton wasn’t ready in time.
Jimmy Skinner’s beautiful 1910 Rolls-Royce took off with a squeal from the clutch and thereafter climbed quietly without setting a wheel wrong anywhere. Hutton-Stott’, 1913 Lanchester was, if anything, even quieter, rolling, of course, at every corner.
T. P. Breen cared for the ignition setting of his very lovely 1928 4 1/2-litre Bentley leaving the Esses. Denne brought his 1913 12/16 Sunbeam up beautifully, swinging it through the Esses, and Pugh’s 1928 Anzani Frazer-Nash, front wheels flapping in response to high-geared steering, was neat, if rather over-geared for the hill. Edward Hansen’s 1918 Duesenherg-engined Biddle Speedway Special was very throaty as to exhaust but seemed over-geared. Douglas FitzPatrick carefully pushed forward the long, upright ignition-lever of the Wolseley-Siddeley as he started his runs.
Rod Blood’s vast 1913 Lozier Toy Tonneau was misfiring a little out of the Esses and Austin Clark made a grab, then thought better of it, for the hand-brake of his big 1916 Pierce-Arrow Raceabout as he thundered up to the start of the Esses. Tim Carson, in Clutton’s crab-tracked 1920 E-type 30/98 Vauxhall, was cautious but showed fine acceleration. A. S. Heal made the tyres or his 1926 twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam protest, and A. J. Clarke made a spirited ascent, changing down smartly when required in his four-seater 1925 12/50 Alvis. Roswell Moore’s 1921 Mercer, with telescopic luggage rack on the near-side running-board, came up extremely neatly, its driver blipping the throttle at the Esses.
In the Orchard Paddock the truly immaculate state of the cars of the U.S. team was appreciated, from the spotless finish of Tony Koveleski’s yellow Stutz Bearcat, which was spare car to the U.S. team, to little details like the round windscreen of Ralph Buckley’s Mercer Raceabout, the spare-tyre drum on the tail of Henry Austin Clark’s 1916 13-litre Pierce-Arrow Raceabout, which had a little outrigged seat, for a footman on the near side, the matching hood and spare-wheels cover of Clarence Kay’s 1919 sports-touring Stutz, the chain-drive of Sam Bailey’s 1914 Simplex with its 9 3/4-litre T-head motor, and the long rockers operating horizontal valves in the Duesenberg engine og the Biddle.
We have appended some data after the time of each car’s faster climb which we think may give food for thought. America had the handicap of age but advantage in engine size with its team.
Escorted by a police Riley, the cars drove rapidly to Cheltenham, through the now-customary throngs of well-wishers to the Queen’s Hotel. Nigel Arnold-Forster, reserve driver to the British team, proudly drove in the”f.t.d.” Vauxhall while Barker sampled yet another means of conveyance.
The final day of road motoring brought, heavy rain lashed by a gale-force wind, yet still the crowds lined the route in the towns and gathered in little knots along the country roads. A hitch in the police escort into Winchester delayed matters somewhat, so Rolt scrubbed the final time-check at Chichester.
The bad weather was especially unfortunate, because on a fine day the Sussex countryside as seen from the wide, well-surfaced A 272 from Winchester to Petersfield, with its easy bends, is seen to advantage. But it was in torrential rain that the cars came to the historic hill out of South Harting, one-time speed hill-climb venue, where Archie Frazer-Nash in the G.N. “Kim” and J. A. Joyce in the single-seater 16-valve A.C. thrilled the crowds. Even so, crowds were present here, sitting in parked modern saloons or huddled under umbrellas to watch the cavalcade take the gradient. Forrest Lycett, bare-headed in his mighty Bentley, went up early, as advance guard, and the R.A.C. van and trailer went up carrying the imposing R.A.C. Trophy.
After a little confusion Rolt arranged a restart (untimed) at the top of the hill. No one failed this test but observations were of interest. Thus, Skinner’s Rolls-Royce found it child’s play, as did the Frazer-Nash. The Kissel used plenty of power but got off safely, the Stutz Bulldog tourer was jerky, the Lanchester was steaming, as usual, and juddered its back axle, but Buckley’s beautiful Mercer Race-about found it easy. The Biddle was slow but absolutely sure, the Lozier came up slowly and needed three attempts at restarting, just succeeding, whereas Denne’s Sunbeam was very sure of itself. Carson’s 30/98 Vauxhall fairly lifted itself away, the 1906 Wolseley-Siddeley actually spun its back wheels where a following modern Morris made far heavier weather of restarting — and Barker was very fast indeed getting away. The model-K Ford, receiving a warm ovation because it had survived the crash earlier on, was slow but sure, but the most appreciated climb was that by the Stanley steamer.
Cheerful police on silent Velocette motor-cycles marshalled the crowds, but a police Riley seemed something of a menace rushing up and down so that we were relieved when it fell into a ditch.
So to Goodwood, for that altogether memorable day on September 11th. From early morning vintage, Edwardian and veteran cars and motor-cycles invaded the circuit — and what a cheerful and good-natured invasion it was! Every known make of car seemed to be present.
The cars of the 12/50 Alvis Register filled a complete park, the Twenty Ghost Club, Bentley Drivers’ Club, Sunbeam Register, Bugatti O.C., Humber Register, Aston Martin O.C. and other one-make organisations had special parks, an imposing row of 30/98 Vauxhalls with a 14/40 amongst them occupied another corner of the Paddock, and we saw an air-cooled Rover Eight parked beside a 14/45 Rover saloon. Pre-and post-war B.S.A.s, a vast Th. Schneider with Salmons drophead body, two A.B.C.s, one of them de Jough’s Super Sports, a rare 1922 pointed-tail, aluminium-bodied sports A.C. Anzani, Stanley Sears’ quite exotic 40/50 Rolls-Royce with coupe de ville body in the period of Louis XIV, built to the order of a director Woolworth’s, “Tich” Allen’s Brooklands lap-record blown Brough Superior and sidecar, a Trojan, a Leyland Eight, a vintage Moris Six with sports body, a sports wire-wheeled Austin Twenty helping a recalcitrant Excelsior two-seater, bull-nose Morris, Clyno, 1925 Austin Twelve … but why go on. Two days would have been needed to do justice to the vintagery present and in almost every case clean and often immaculate, but it was the competing cars we had come to see.
Proceedings commenced with a garaging test, incorporating acceleration, braking and reversing manoeuvres. We were sorry to learn that the Stanley had to be replaced by the Stutz, as a cylinder joint had blown out half a mile from Goodwood, a happening which the B.B.C. and the popular Press recorded as the “engine blowing out”! It was towed in, appropriately behind a vintage Packard breakdown truck and later did two hesitant laps of the circuit.
The big Ford took the test well, sliding a little under the brakes. Its fine multi-tube exhaust horn was a notable fitting. FitzPatrick handled the Wolseley-Siddeley very ably indeed, stopping it gently without a slide and “holing in one.” Arnold-Forster had a little axle judder reversing the Vauxhall, the Stutz Bearcat, reverse crunched-in, went steadily into the “garage” and showed fine acceleration, and Rod Blood handled the big Lozier very neatly indeed.
Skinner’s Rolls-Royce, emitting much black smoke, was silent as to gears as well as exhaust, the Mercer Raceabout was most ably driven by Ralph Buckley, the car sliding to a halt and reversing fast. Denne got a true r.w.b. slide, failed for a moment to find the opening and then set the old Sunbeam leaping on its springs to the finish. Austin Clark was brilliant in his long Pierce-Arrow, and Bailey drove the chain-drive Simplex very nicely. Carson really used his brakes, checked his backward run with the outside hand-brake, and sent the Vauxhall tail-sliding to the finish. Hutton-Stott defaulted for Britain when the Lanchester slid well beyond the stop-line. The Biddle sent little puffs of steam from its back tyres as it pulled up, and blew its horn, the 1919 Stutz Bulldog was sedate, and the crowd appreciated the drive of Clarke, even if his Alvis’ clutch did protest as he swapped cogs, and reverse gear jumped out. Perhaps neatest of all the Englishmen was Anthony Heal in his 3-litre Sunbeam, tying with the Pierce-Arrow. The Kissel whistled as it braked, the Frazer-Nash was all slides, over-corrections and swerves, on a good run, Breen’s Bentley was thunderous, axle juddering. Pugh’s Frazer-Nash was fastest, in 26.6 sec., Arnold-Forster second fastest in 27.4 sec., and the Pierce-Arrow and Heal’s Sunbeam both took 29.0 sec.
A very instructive “bending-test” followed, having nothing to do with the competitors ridding themselves of rheumatic joints but being a high-speed swerving exercise, ably laid out, we believe under the jurisdiction of Arthur Jeddere-Fisher. The times tell the story of good steering and low-speed pick-up better than words, and are appended. The “Prince Henry” Vauxhall leapt off to a fine run, the Stutz Bearcat was outstanding, Deane puffed his pipe, the Mercer Raceabout was truly rapid, the Lanchester delighted the spectators by rolling round on an excellent caper, Heal, the Sunbeam faltering a trifle at low speed, had his rear wheels sliding, the L-head Mercer, Moore in his white cap and overalls, was excellent, and Pugh got into a higher dog at the finishing line. The times :
The afternoon session opened with a perfectly joyous parade of veteran cars, from the early perpendiculars to a very fast Mercédès driven by Cook, pursued by a determined Renault. Later in the afternoon came an equally enthralling demonstration by vintage and Edwardian cars, flying in formation, as one-make clusters, at first, followed by two laps all out; credit to the V.S.C.C. for letting chaps, and cars, have their head. These parades were seen at their best in the Goodwood September sunshine and the parade at the opening of Brooklands must have looked much the same. The vintage motorcycles had a similar show, Allen raising ghosts as his blown Brough-Superior combination cracked a rousing war-song — and accelerated with real gusto. But perhaps happiest of all was the veteran parade, whole families occupying the bigger cars, with mother solemnly doing the knitting, while early Benz Ideals staggered along under a weight of happy humanity, bells rang, steam swirled and a Sunbeam-Mabley was still circulating, along with a Benz, when the Americans came out on their parade, allowing Clark to turn lazily in the driving seat of his Pierce-Arrow to take a close-up photograph. Yet it was all as dignified as the V.C.C. would have required, yet far more intimate than a Brighton Run can be.
The next contest was a 40-minute Stamina Test, in which both teams had to cover an aggregate of 150 laps to avoid penalty. This was really interesting, although it can be fairly said, we think, that the American cars generally were disappointing in respect of speed claims. The 12 3/4 -litre Pierce-Arrow drew away along the straights but otherwise was equalled by the 1 1/2-litre side-valve Frazer-Nash. The model-K Ford was not fast, the Lozier’s brakes began to catch fire, and it seized its engine, and the yellow Bearcat Stutz misfired and finally retired when the throttle became detached. The L-head Mercer, Moore in a close-fitting white helmet and with “Mercer” on the back of his overalls, seemed a handful at the corners, rear axle juddering, but the Mercer Raceabout, Buckley shielded behind its circular windscreen, right foot braced in an out-rigger rest, ran beautifully and sounded in fine fettle. The British cars ran rings round their rivals, Breen’s Bentley leading with Heal in hot pursuit, until the Bentley broke a piston and went on to three cylinders and the Sunbeam had to stop to refurl its hood. For a while Hutton-Stott’s Lanchester led Skinner’s Rolls-Royce, then positions were reversed, later to alter again. Clarke’s Alvis went splendidly for a 12/50 tourer and Barker really went motor racing in the Vauxhall, taking his corners in a fashion fine to behold. Incidentally, it was rather naughty of the organisers not to insist on crash-hats, especially as these were compulsory at Prescott. Some drove bareheaded, one American in a wonderful helmet with chin-pad, Skinner in a polo helmet and Hutton-Stott in a beautifully-tailored crash-hat.
There remained only the Concours d’Elegance before His Grace the Duke of Richmond and Gordon was driven in the original Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce to the dais, to present the R.A.C. Trophy to Tim Carson on behalf of the British team. A very full and thoroughly happy day concluded with the dispersal of the hundreds of old cars on their homeward journeys. Bravo, V.S.C.C.! — W. B.