The annual Bentley D.C. Silverstone Race Meeting this year had the generous support. of W. D. & H. O. Wills Ltd. and was open to a number of other makes, including the hottest Minis. Although at one time the racing ran 0.75-of-an-hour late, due to demonstrations of all the Bentley models from the 3-litres down to the elegant Derby and Crewe-built models between the events, these worthwhile parades having an unfortunately small audience probably due to heavy rain in the morning, this was definitely a meeting worth attending. The course car was a smart Porsche.
Meakin’s Aston Martin DB2/4 led all the way in the Novices’ scratch 5-lapper for Bentley, Aston Martin and Lagonda cars, holding off Miller’s sister car, Barraclough’s 3/4.5 Bentley finishing third. Having, rather surprisingly, overtaken Mitchell’s “modern” Le Mans Frazer Nash on lap 4.
A 5-lap Bentley Handicap saw post-vintage cars finish in the first three places, Russ-Turner’s blown Mk. VI two-seater, economical of road at Woodcote, taking the lead on lap 3 but losing it on the last lap to Bradley’s 4.5-litre Mk. VI Special, which won very easly, after an impressively safe-looking drive. This car started life as a saloon and is very little modified, retaining its original axle-ratio, having a slightly raised cr., but, its owner adds, “with much lightness added.” It was sensibly-bodied and nicely turned out. The handicapping was good, Bailey’s Derby-built 4.25-litre two-seater “special” following Russ-Turner home, with Harry Rose’s blower-4.5, Ann Rose’s 3.5-litre and Sowden’s great 8-litre coming up in a tight bunch behind. An interesting car was John Goddard’s 3-litre with two exhaust-driven turbo superchargers for its 8-litre engine, but it was suffering from fuel starvation in spite of immense S.U.s.
Gibson drove his jaguar E-type very smoothly to win the 10-lap Jaguar Handicap from Kerr’s 3.8 Mk. I saloon and Chamberlain’s scratch 3.8 Cooper-Jaguar. The E-type had “competition” suspension, gears and camshaft. These modern Jaguar’s out-classed a 3-litre Soda Squirt on 16-in. wheels.
The Bentleys then enjoyed another 5-lap Handicap, which Baker’s unusual-looking 6.5-litre two-seater with forward-mounted radiator took command of from lap 3. Winning easily from Mrs. Mountfort’s vintage 4.5-litre, while Pasmore’s 3-litre and Padgett’s 6.5-litre, the latter tending to mis-fire, dead-heated for third place. Padgett’s car had an ambulance body during the war but is now a decent replica of something you could have seen at Brooklands.
The next race, over 10 laps from scratch, was one of the best ever seen at a Club Meeting. Every conceivable sort of car was going round flat-out—Bentleys, Bugattis, M.G.s, Jaguars, Lagondas and Minis! Ham’s Aston Martin DBRI/300 was in the lead, hotly and resoundingly pursued by Chamberlain’s Cooper-Jaguar, although pulling away towards the end. Riley in the Alexander Engineering Mini-Cooper S was hanging on gamely, fighting off Cox’s Mini-Cooper, with Gibson’s Jaguar-E fifth, Leo’s Lagonda DB V12 back in sixth place after a spin at Woodcote, and Symondson driving his Bugatti 57S with consumate ease, and St. John well up in his Type 35 G.P. Bugatti. What a race! Ham averaged 79.74 m.p.h. and Chamberlain lapped fastest, at 81.76 m.p.h.
After this the rest of the rather drawn-out 12-race programme couldn’t stand comparison, although in the 10-lap Scratch Race for B.M.C.-engined Minis Riley and Cox fought a fine race-long duel, Cox taking Riley inside at Woodcote on lap 2 and both taking Woodcote side-by-side on lap 5. Cox was somewhat baulked on lap 7 and had to go wide in pursuit of Riley when Edginton’s Cooper-Minnow spun at Woodcote, after which he carved-up a back-marker with little to spare in making the pits-straight. The two leaders tied for fastest lap, at 79.3 m.p.h. Montague’s Mini-Cooper S was third. Spokes rolled the Aurelli Accessories Mini-Cooper at Copse and altered its shape without injury to himself.
Bradley’s impressive Bentley Mk. VI Special won .another scratch race for Bentleys from Sowden and Barraclough, -and Ham and Corner (Aston Martin DB3S) duelled in the All-Comers’ Handicap, with Riley’s Mini-Cooper S again hanging onto third place. It was a most enjoyable meeting.—W. B.