A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
The V.S.C.C. at Thruxton
Neil Corner (Bugatti) clinches “Motor Sport” Brooklands Memorial Trophy
The Vintage Sports Car Club’s final race meeting of 1969 took place at Thruxton on September 13th. It was the last round in this year’s Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest and, by winning easily the only race for which he had entered a pre-war car, Neil Corner secured this. His immaculate 1930 Type 35B was imported just before the war by Byrom and is through to have been a Williams’ car; whether it ever went to Brooklands is not known. It lapped Thruxton at 80.62 m.p.h., Corner’s only difficult a rather reluctant gear-change. To add a professional touch, let us report that he was using Newton’s methanol fuel, Castrol GP oil and Dunlop tyres. The runner-up was Colin Readey, who won two races during the afternoon in his splendidly restored 1935 works 1.8-litre six-cylinder Riley, which lapped at 79.86 m.p.h. in its first race and was on Dunlop tyres, and Shell fuel and oil. It has the original rod-operated brakes. Adnams’ 1933 T.T. Replica Frazer Nash, now with a 12/70 Alvis engine, with opened-out ports and a c.r. of around 10 to 1, was third, on Dunlop front, Pirelli back tyres, Duckhams oil and Shell fuel. The Trophy was presented by Mrs. Boddy at the conclusion of the meeting.
The first handicap saw three Chummy Austins leave the line in a bunch, in an event which included the Light Car and Edwardian classes, and was complicated by credit laps. In spite of an audible misfire, Martin’s Austin Nippy came through to win, followed by Shoosmith in the 1921 3-litre Sunbeam and Clutton in the 1908 Itala. Mrs. Arnold-Forster’s G.N. gobbled up most of the Chummies but Griffiths’ took the Light Car Award, the Itala the Edwardian prize, in a race which included a Clyno and a Hillman Husky.
A similar handicap followed, uneventful except for Crocker spinning his Lagonda Rapier at the chicane. The winner was Spencer’s very racy Bentley, which is also very fast. It is the ex-John Morley 3-litre with two-seater body, a small slab tank, and a 4½-litre engine; it was in opposite-lock slides at Allard Corner and made fastest lap, at 73 m.p.h. Glover’s 12/50 Alvis was second, ahead of Blishen’s i.f.s. 2.7-litre Alvis tourer, which was hardly touring! This race was followed by the up-to-1,100-c.c. Spero Trophy scratch race, over eight laps. Peter Binns’ threatened invasion of this Riley/Austin territory with a 1939 1100 H.R.G. did not materialise, but these makes still failed to pull it off, Coles’ very fast 1933 blown 750-c.c. J4 M.G. winning for the second year in succession, after a ding-dong with Dodds’ 1930 Riley, which led the M.G. on lap four and pressed it hard thereafter, until loss of oil pressure caused its retirement. This let Farquhar, in Melville-Smith’s Riley, into second place, hotly pursued by Barry Clarke’s Austin Seven, these two having held third and fourth position until the last lap.
Cameron’s r.h.d. Balilla Fiat just kept the lead from a limit start in the handicap which followed, but Spencer’s Bentley again went really quickly, motoring into second place from the back of the field, to a close finish. Mrs. Pilkington got her Alfa Romeo home third.
Corner never had any bother about winning the John Holland Memorial Trophy 8-lap scratch race. Indeed, he led all the way, and as other Bugattis proved temperamental, it was Hine’s 4½-litre Bentley which finished a discreet second, with Kain’s Type 35B Bugatti third. Clarke’s Austin, now driven by Vereker, took the up-to-1,100-c.c. prize. Rippon’s Bugatti indulged in a spin, which dropped it from third to sixth place. Arnold-Forster raced his 5-litre Delage, which had proved very docile on the road when being driven to the meeting; the 10½-litre Delage had most unfortunately ruptured its sump when being persuaded into a transporter that morning and was unfit to run.
The next 4-lap handicap saw Black drive out in his Monza Alfa Romeo but back again before the flag fell, worried by a recent bout of piston trouble. Readey simply ran away with this race in his Riley, and the astonishing Spencer Bentley went so well that it left Russ Turner’s heavier road-equipped ex-Birkin blower-4½ well behind, again finishing second, pursued by Adnams’ Frazer Nash. The 10-lap All-Comers’ Historic Racing Cars scratch race was a sad affair, because the Hon. Patrick Lindsay jumped the start in his 250F Maserati, was passed by Corner’s Aston Martin on lap 2, then went too fast into the chicane and up the escape road on lap 4 after Crabbe had passed him. The car hit the crash barriers backwards and they sprung open, then closed on the car, which was wrecked. Lindsay was trapped in the cockpit for a long time, and suffered a broken ankle, etc. The race became ragged after this, with many people on the course. Indeed Nigel Moores retired his 2-litre-engined Ferrari 625 rather than run them down, Crabbe’s 250F Maserati remained second, a long way behind Corner, followed by Cottam’s Connaught, with Merrick’s Tec-Mec leading the next bunch from Martin Morris’s 2-litre E.R.A. The Tec-Mec had been late starting as the fuel was turned off and it later slowed with clutch trouble. Crabbe’s Maserati went sick on lap 8, so Corner ran away with this miserable race. Cottam was a safe second, Morris third, but with smoke coming from the E.R.A’s bonnet due to piston failure as he crossed the line, although he had clinched the pre-war award, at 82.63 m.p.h. Corner averaged 86.27 m.p.h. Incidentally, whereas advertising on Crabbe’s car had been covered over in deference to V.S.C.C. wishes, Moores’ Ferrari left the Paddock wearing a “Fly with LSD Airlines” slogan on its nose. Marguiles’ A6GCM/250F Maserati retired with tight steering and Pilkington’s Cooper-Bristol and Gahagan’s rough E.R.A. also retired.
In spite of the long delay caused by the accident, the remaining two handicaps started on time. A jubilant Elliott-Pyle won the first in his blown hyper Lea-Francis, Barrett in Winder’s Riley Nine fighting a side-by-side duel with Cole’s s.v. Aston-Martin, which ended in the 1924 car just vanquishing the 1928 o.h.v. special. Finally, not content with winning already, Readey had no bother doing so again, from Morley’s 4½-litre Bentley and Collings’ 4½-litre Bentley, in a race which suffered from nine non-starters, including Venebles-Llewelyn’s and Marsh’s E.R.A.s, the former with run bearings, the later with universal joint trouble. Waller, from scratch, made fastest lap, at 84.48 m.p.h., in spite of having to shut off on the sharper corners until the E.R.A.’s oil pressure restored itself, which had resulted in Lockhart’s Rover Special running away from the blown car in an earlier race. And now it is all over until next year.—W. B.