The V.S.C.C. at Castle Combe

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September 18th
It does not seem all that long ago that Bob Gerard’s E.R.A. used to vanquish the V16 B.R.M. round Castle Combe at normal, as distinct from Vintage S.C.C., meetings. Now the V.S.C.C. has put on its own race meeting at this circuit with similar-aged cars taking part. The 1.84-mile circuit is well suited to vintage cars, difficult enough to be interesting, and quite hard on brakes. There were 11 races, all except one over 5 laps because the idea was a meeting for ordinary members without undue emphasis on the bigger names. A good public attendance saw excellent racing from an entry of 122 diverse cars. The programme went as follows :

Race 1 : Handicap. After three laps Smith’s Fiat Balilla took the lead, to win from House in Baker’s Amilcar which was in second place throughout. Third place was taken by Warne’s touring s.v. 1927 Riley.

Race 2 : Handicap. This was a good spectacle, Densham in Wilson’s 30/98 Vauxhall coming through to win, with Page’s p.v.t. 4.25-litre Bentley 2-seater just taking second place from Sismey’s Alvis. Milner’s 30/98 was right off form.

Race 3 : Scratch. St. John led all the way in his beautiful 2.3 G.P. Bugatti, gaining an easy victory from Hutching’s 328 B.M.W., which finished some eight lengths ahead of Black’s ex-Sommer Monza Alfa Romeo, after a ding-dong tussle.

Race 4 : Handicap. Perhaps it was poetic justice that Cecil Clutton’s Bugatti split up the S.S. victory, for before the war the V.S.C.C. termed these cars Soda Squirts. Peters’ 1938 3.5-litre Soda Squirt won convincingly, and Lewis-Hall’s 1937 2.6 Soda Squirt was third.

Race 5 : 3-lap Liwardian and Other Cars Handicap. The field was depleted by Lockhart’s 1910 Fiat chewing up a chain sprocket in practice and Fitzpatrick’s 20-litre Metallurgique arriving too late from Norfolk, but a much admired newcomer was Plaister’s splendidly-presented 1921 Horstmann, a narrow aluminium sports 2-seater with copper outside exhaust, bulb-horn, cantilever back springs, b.e. tyres and disc wheels, each one held on by three closely-placed studs. It has a Coventry-Simplex engine, was last used in 1923 and has been rebuilt; as it has only run five miles since, it wasn’t fast.

For a couple of laps Marsh’s 1920 4.5-litre Talbot led, but everything changed on the last lap, Barker cornering near the limit to win in Lord Montagu’s. Prince Henry Vauxhall, from Mann’s Straker-Squire and Giron in Lord Montagu’s Coupe de l’Auto Sunbeam. Clutton’s Itala burst a tyre.

Race 6 : Handicap. It looked as if House in the Amilcar might win but on the run home Smith’s Fiat went ahead. A long way behind, second place was even closer, as Dick’s hybrid Riley held off Goodacre’s 1934 M.G. Midget. Winder caused a mild sensation by slip-streaming Stretton’s Frazer Nash so closely he ran into it!

Race 7 : All-Comers Scratch. Driving with commendable calm, young Spero caught Margulies’ Connaught in the first few yards, to lead all the way in his father’s spotlessly-clean 1953 Maserati 250F. If this was the expected result, the places were in doubt, until it was apparent that Salvage (Connaught) was coming up well; he actually made fastest lap and closed up on Spero, to finish second, Brown’s E.R.A. displacing Margulies for third place on the final lap. Gardner’s Connaught was fifth, a long way in front of Wilks (Cooper-Bristol).

Race 8 : Handicap. Hamish Moffatt had pulled out an enormous lead by the third lap in his alloy-wheeled Type 35 Bugatti, running on 710 x 90 tyres. He lapped at 75.62 m.p.h., driving with fine aplomb, like one of the masters of old. It was a Bugatti race, for Eckersley’s 2-litre was second, while Hine’s 3-litre Bentley took Blight’s Talbot GD53 a lap from the finish.

Race 9 : Scratch. Peters’ S.S.100 had it all its own way, leaving Glydon’s 1932 Aston Martin to enliven things by duelling with Askew’s blown 1750 Alfa Romeo, way behind.

Race 10 : Handicap. This race was marred by an accident at Quarry (where Moss’ Cooper 500 once overturned) involving Hutchings’ B.M.W. and Barr’s 4.3-litre Alvis, Hutchings being thrown out and injured when his car rolled, on fire. Salvage’s Connaught deservedly won, from Wilks and Bailey’s 1936 4.25-litre Bentley.

Race 11 : Scratch. The irrepressible Moffatt in his irresistible 1924 Bugatti entirely dominated the race, able to slow to a best lap of 72.47 m.p.h. and still stay ahead of Sir Ralph Millais, Alfa Romeo. Cairnes’ 35-litre Alvis was third, Miss Rose, driving her usual calm fast race in her very presentable 3.5-litre Bentley fourth. This must become an annual V.S.C.C. fixture.—W. B.