A Section Devoted To Old Car Matters
Thruxton being unavailable, the VSCC went to Llandow circuit in S. Wales for its final race meeting of 1973. There was the attraction of no Armco and a spacious Paddock. But the experiment was not altogether a success. Some drivers liked the one-mile oval track but there were many complaints about the bumps, which were damaging to vintage suspension and fuel tanks, and there was a good deal of tyre trouble. Moreover, several of the competitors in the running for the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy did not attend this distant circuit in another country, although the journey does not involve customs-posts and Passports. Spectator attendance was also poor, on this hot Saturday afternoon, so whether the VSCC will go to Llandow again is open to conjecture. It might do so if a long Welsh week-end could be organised, taking in both this race meeting and a vintage speed hillclimb at near-by Penrice.
However, whatever the Llandow shortcomings, from a vintage viewpoint, the racing, which on this occasion was confined to pre-1941 motor-cars, was extremely exciting and was obviously enjoyed by those who spectated. The finale of this year’s Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy contest was also endowed with much drama. Up to this meeting the leader had been lain Macdonald, with Lindsay and Moffatt tying for second place. Lindsay was not racing at Llandow and Moffatt had to scratch Wall’s Bugatti with magneto trouble. The wily Hamish, not to lose points, took over Arnold-Forster’s ERA which he shares with the ex-President and after an outstanding drive in it, won the All-Comers’ Scratch Race. This put him in the lead. Macdonald, however, was down to compete in three races with the Lagonda. In the race Moffatt won he was unplaced. It was now that the drama began. Moffatt only just won the All-Corners’, crossing the line in clouds of smoke with a burned-out piston. Obviously he couldn’t run again! In the next race, a 10-lap scratch affair, Macdonald stalled on the grid, got away, was passed by Crannage’s MG when he knocked the Lagonda’s gear-lever into neutral with his leg, re-passed, had the MG come up alongside him later, but went away, to win fairly easily. So he retained his lead, gaining 72 points to Moffatt’s 57 (and Hamish had used two cars previously to net his points). Coles was well-placed for points but when his MG failed to win the Spero Trophies race his bolt was shot and a neat victory in the John Holland Memorial Trophy Race by Ron Footitt in the Cognac Special gave him third place, with 44 points. The Trophy was presented by Winifred Boddy, together with £75 for Macdonald, £50 for Moffatt and £25 for Footitt. The winner also received a magnum of Cordon Rouge and the others had a bottle apiece.
The first race was a 10-lap scratch contest for vintage and pvt cars, of up to 1,500 c.c. Fletcher-Jones had no difficulty in making it a Lagonda Rapier victory. He was followed home by Stretton’s Meadows-engined GN Martyr, which made fastest lap at 72.87 mph, and Giles in the GN Salome, so called, we were told, after the girl who danced naked in front of Harrods. The 750 c.c class winner was Hare, in Nice’s Ulster Austin. Mrs. Hogg failed to get to the start in Edwards’ Ulster Aston Martin because the magneto drive-shaft sheared. The starters for the Melville and Geoghegan Trophies 12-lap race were quickly brought out and Saunders’ Type 35C roller-bearing Bugatti was soon leading on the road, until a burst tyre caused it to spin off at the last corner, on lap ten, after it had made fastest lap, at 73.17 mph. Johnstone’s blown Hyper Lea-Francis went into an apparent lead to the end, but the handicap gave the Melville part of the race to Dodds’ Brooklands Riley, from Eyre’s Austin 7 and Smith’s Frazer Nash, and the Geoghegan Trophy to Eyre.
The third race was even more difficult to follow, on account of credit laps, so we contented ourselves with observing how well the Clyno, Clarke’s 1913 Singer Ten driven by Chairman Skinner, and Pam Arnold-Forster’s GN circulated, this being an outing for sprightly vintage light-cars, and how well Ellison’s Riley recovered from a spin at “Saunders” corner. Giliham’s Taylor-bodied Austin 7 and Rushton’s M-type MG indulged in a duel and the winner proved to be Sant’s Clyno. Second place went to Black’s Amilcar, third place to the Taylor Austin, which tied for a 63.16 mph fastest-lap with the Riley. Sant took the Light Car Award. As has been said, Footitt in the AC/GN walked right away with the 20-lap Holland Trophy scratch race. At first he was hotly pursued by Johnstone and Arnold-Forster. But the Lea-Francis expired on lap nine with probable gasket trouble and the 1922 Delage lost its n/s front beaded-edge tyre on lap 12, luckily without further incident. Dean’s 37A Bugatti had been pressing it hard and now went into second place, but was overtaken by Howell’s quite remarkable blown 3-litre twin-cam Sunbeam on lap 16. The Sunbeam then pulled clear of this very close in-fighting. It is said that the supercharger actually helps to keep this notoriously delicate engine in one piece and I bet John enjoyed his drive! Footitt lapped fastest, at 74.38 mph, and Dean won the 1,500 c.c class.
Coles in his slab-tank J4 MG seemed to have the Spero and Voiturettes Race of 20 laps well in hand, having won it in 1968, 1969 and 1971. But after gaining an apparently unassailable lead, the MG slowed and allowed Fletcher-Jones’ Lagonda to win, and Tieche’s slab-tank J4 MG to snatch second place in a photo-finish. Hard luck, Coles! Thus a new make has won the Spero. Dodds’ Riley made best lap, at 74.07 mph, in spite of a spinning incident in close company with the winner, on lap four. The Voiturettes section was won by Nice’s Austin, after Jack French, who has been trying to win a VSCC race for 40 years, had the dynamo fall of his Austin.
The 25-lap Pre-War All-Comers’ Scratch Race provided much excitement. Marguilies’ Maserati non-started, having been in collision in the Paddock with a Bugatti. For a dozen rounds Venables-Llewellyn in his 2-litre ERA led, going very fast. But Moffatt, in the 1.5-litre ERA, was whittling down his lead. On lap 13 they were very close, passing Barker’s SS-Jaguar one on each side, and on the next lap, to cries from the crowd, Hamish took the bigger-engined car on the inside of the home corner. By this time the 2-litre ERA had boiled away most of its cooling water, so it toured home second. A good distance back, Patrick Marsh brought his 1.5-litre ERA in to third place. Moffatt set best lap, at 83.72 mph, but within sight of the finish a new piston fitted recently gave up – a close run thing indeed!
The meeting concluded with three more 10-lap races, two of them handicaps. In the scratch race Macdonald led most of the way, to regain his lead in the Brooklands Trophy contest, Cranages’ MG NE Magnette which challenged him lapping faster, at 75.31 mph, to win its class. The Lagonda was devised from a crashed 4.5-litre saloon and is now a stark special with one bucket seat, twin exhaust pipes ending by the cockpit, twin 2-in SUs, a cr of just over 7.0 to 1, outboard 16-in wheels shod with Dunlop green-spot racing tyres, a Sanction-3 head and a “Macdonald” camshaft. The wheelbase has been shortened by some 15 in. Incidentally, the winner of the Motor Sport Trophy has been reading us for some -40 years.
Thus ended an interesting but somewhat fraught meeting. It was a pity that a burst tyre should have caused Clarke’s nice little Singer to overturn and damage itself in the Spero rate, in which Barry drove it instead of Mrs. Skinner — he escaped with shock and abrasions. It wasn’t his day, for his GN-powered-by-Ford caught tire on the grid, in an earlier race.— W.B.
Pre-War All-Comers Scratch Race : H. Moffatt (ERA), 80.10 mph.
Spero and Voiturette Trophy Race : D. F. Fletcher-Jones (Lagonda), 70.56 mph.
John Holland Memorial Trophy Race : G. R. Footitt (Cognac Special), 71.24 mph.
Melville and Geoghegan Trophies Race : P. Dodds (Riley), 69.41 mph.
First 10-lap Scratch Race : D. F. Fletcher-Jones (Lagonda), 70.01 mph.
First 10-lap Handicap : W. R. Sant (Clyno) 47.37 mph.
Second 10-lap Handicap : S. F. Phillips (328 BMW), 73.20 mph.
Third 10-lap Handicap : T. S. J. Cooper (MG) 56.78 mph.
1973 MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest : 1st. I. Macdonald (Lagonda), 72 points; 2nd. H. Moffatt (Bugatti and ERA), 57 points; 3rd. G.R. Footitt (Cognac Special), 44 points.
Edwards’ Ulster Aston Martin again broke Its magneto drive, in its second race.
All three of the Brooklands Trophy winners were clearly racers, because they went away on trailers, Macdonald’s towed by a 3.8 Jaguar, Footitt’s by an M.G.-B.
More taste was shown by the Cuthbert Riley, a car which finished 4th in the 1932 BRDC 500-Mile Race, for its trailer was towed by a smart modern BMW!
At one time we thought a wreath rather than the Trophy would be required for Macdonald, because he spun the big Lagonda twice, in his third race! — W.B.