VSCC Thruxton Final

Llewellyn-Motor Sport Champion

The 1972 “Motor Sport” Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest was decided at this final VSCC race meeting of 1972. David Llewellyn was in an unassailable position beforehand and to show it was no fluke gained further points, ending with the record score of 103. Calvin Gunn (MG) had been in second position with 44 points but did not score again, and as Randel Stewart, who started with 34 points, won a further 13, he moved up ahead of Gunn. Then, in the last race of the day, Bernard Kain finished third, which increased his score to tie with Stewart’s, so the money prizes for 2nd and 3rd places were added together and the total divided, no third place being declared. Mrs. Winifred Boddy presented the Trophy and £75 first prize to Llewellyn, whose Bentley has a 1930 8-litre engine enlarged to 8.3-litres by the expedient of removing the cylinder liners, in a 1926 3-litre chassis. It breathes through SU carburetters, burning any cheap petrol, is lubricated with Mobiloil Delvac, and its owner puts in Lodge plugs “when I can get them”. The front wheels were shod with 6.00 x 18, the back ones with 7.00 x 19 Dunlop racing tyres, and the axle ratio is 3.0 to 1. R. M. de Stewart’s Bentley has a 1922 3-litre chassis in which he has installed a 1928 4 1/2-litre engine, the car having an aluminium body with a tail rather like that of a beetle-back Alvis. It is not fussy over fuel or plugs but is run on Duckhams oil and had RS5s on its back wheels, Avon Turbospeeds on the front. Kain’s well-known Type 35B Bugatti had the 15:54 axle in conjunction with 670-16 RS5 rear tyres on non-Bugatti wheels and ran on Newton’s Methanol, Newton-R oil and Champion plugs.

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Racing opened in cold but dry weather with a 4-lap handicap which had seventeen Austin 7 entries in honour of the Jubilee of these cars; there was also a special car park for them, as there was for Hispano-Suizas, of which three turned up—something to do with so many babies the VSCC thought there had better be some storks around! Fittingly, Cooper’s replica 1923 racing Austin, sounding very crisp and going faster surely than the cars it is a copy of, came through to win, from Mrs. Golder’s Riley Lynx and Mrs. Cherrett’s blown 1 1/2-litre Alfa Romeo. Cooper took both Light Car and Austin 7 Awards. An interesting runner was Gillham’s 1928 Austin with alloy head, coil ignition engine and Taylor fabric two-seater body.

Mike Eyre’s Ulster Austin looked for a time like winning the 6-lap Melville & Geoghegan Trophies Race but Llewellyn polished him off in the stupendously fast Bentley. Stewart’s Bentley followed the bigger car over the line. In the next 4-lap handicap C. A. Mann had an easy win in the ex-Mudd Monza Alfa Romeo which Chiron drove in the 1934 Mille Miglia, Blight taking second place in Talbot BGH 23. Morley had undertaken to drive Llewellyn’s 24-litre Bentley Napier which he did with great spirit and considerable bravery, coming up to pass Blight on the inside at the close of the first lap, before lifting off for Allard Corner with a crackle from the exhaust stubs. The engine now hits on all twelve, causing the big car to snake on getaway, while the handling is by no means sorted out. The Lion was taken up to 2,400 r.p.m., with something in hand, and as the axle ratio is 2.4 to 1 and the back tyres were 9.50 x 20s, those readers who can do sums or have slide rules can form a good idea of the terminal velocity, because Morley could surely only have looked at the tachometer on the straights . . . I believe the Napier-Railton developed maximum power at about 2,200 r.p.m., so Morley was well wound up. Mann, however, lapped faster, at 77.25 m.p.h.

After the pleasure of seeing an aero-engined car placed in a VSCC race we had the smaller stuff contesting the 8-lap Spero & Voiturette Trophies Race. G. V. Coles, in that very nice J4 MG which has won the Spero three times, looked all set to do so again but after three laps he stopped at the chicane enveloped in smoke, a rocker-box gasket being said to have developed a leak. This let Fletcher-Jones’ Lagonda Rapier into the lead but with a couple of laps to go he was overtaken by Farquhar’s Dixon Riley and Barbet’s Riley. However, Barber failed to complete another lap, so the pointed-tail Rapier took second place and third place was occupied by Tieche’s J4 MG, some way behind. On handicap Mrs. Drake’s Amilcar was first, Cooper’s Austin second, Smith’s Riley third.

The 10-lapper for Historic Racing Cars suffered from non-runners. Only eleven got away, Hanuman badly. Corner was absent on business and Lindsay had failed to aviate in. The race was still worth watching, because a fine ding-dong developed between Wilks’ Lotus and Cottam’s Connaught. The latter led laps 4 and 5, otherwise it was Wilks’ race, with Cottam closing the gap at the end, to lose by about three lengths. Keeping station behind were Moffatt’s ERA and Bergel’s Mascrati, pre-war car leading the bigger post-war job, to give Hamish the Pre-War Award; he lapped at 83.48 m.p.h. to Wilks’ best of 88.53 m.p.h. Up to this point there had been a good deal of mayhem, Giles poking a rod out of the AC/GN. Stirling having clutch failure in the Frazer Nash “Patience” and Moores (Austin) stopping when water ran down his legs.

The handicappers made Tomlin work for his win in the following 4-lap handicap, as he had to make fastest lap to do it, Still’s Frazer Nash taking second place, ahead of Cann’s 2-litre Aston Martin. The John Holland 8-lap race for Vintage Racing Cars was perhaps a foregone conclusion, especially as Llewellyn had removed his Bentley’s mudguards! He won most impressively, being 3.29 m.p.h. faster than in his previous race. Kain, who had put new valve guides in his engine for the occasion, managed second place in this scratch event, the Bugatti emitting ominous puffs of smoke, and Morley again got the Bentley-Napier home in third position. It was a race with a flavour of Brooklands, Le Mans and the 1922 and 1928 TTs, and with a bit of fun as the Straker-Squire, the TT Sunbeam and Delage 11 contested the Half-Century Prize, which the Delage had no difficulty in claiming.

That left two more handicaps, in the first of which for Coventry-built cars, Barbet’s Riley, recovered front its Spero mishap, won from Smith’s Riley and the blown Lea-Francis of Elliott-Pyle, which was going very well. The last race went to Llewellyn, who now drove the Bentley-Napier himself and disposed of Mann’s Alfa Romeo from the same mark, a grand victory, at an average fractionally quicker than his 8.3-litre Bentley had managed when road-equipped, although Mann was credited with a faster lap. From further back Kain came through to third place, Blight being fourth. Thus ended the VSCC Thruxton era, as next year they move to Llandow. — W. B.