A section devoted to old car matters
The VSCC Winds up at Llandow (August 30th)
The Vintage SCC went to Llandow circuit, near Cowbridge, in Welsh Wales, for its final race meeting of 1975, repeating the 1973 pattern. This had the quaint merit of providing a suitably primitive setting, with a taste of “early Bol d’Or” about it, i.e., the one-mile course is bumpy, pot-holed in places, with grass showing above the surface, and the uncovered wooden stands have about them something of the atmosphere of an early French road-race. Because the course is so short credit laps have to be awarded even to some of the less-pedestrian cars, to avoid early starters in handicap races coming round while the back-markers are still on the starting grid, to the confusion of the onlookers. And it is a long way from London and the Midlands. Against this, Llandow lets you camp, there is sea close at hand for hardy bathers and the August VSCC meeting was a pleasantly informal affair. Unfortunately, from our viewpoint, the lack of any Press facilities made reporting in the rain difficult, as Tony Bird had summarily refused us permission to join the concourse of vehicles at the start/finish line, which is out of sight from the Paddock, after we had thoughtfully provided ourselves with an openable mobile Press-box on Dunlop tyres, in the form of a Triumph Spitfire . . .
Racing opened with a 10-lap Scratch Race for vintage and p.v.t. cars, won without apparent effort by Ellison’s aluminium-bodied 1 1/2-litre Riley, which lapped at 69.23 m.p.h., Bond, high-revving the blown engine of his Austin Ulster, being second and Taylor’s Aston Martin third. Already the alarms and excursions had started. After McGrath had so very nearly had his yellow Austin 7 roll over, Philbrick’s Nippy Austin hit another car at Paddock corner and slowly inverted itself; this on the first lap of the first race! The ambulance was required, but injuries were minor.
Next we had the combined Holland, Melville and Geoghegan Trophies Race, to a total of 20 laps, but only 12 counting for the Melville, a cause of some confusion in apportioning points in the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest. But it was a great sight, as Footitt kept the Cognac Special ahead of Kain’s Bugatti. At one time Footitt appeared to be slowing but he opened up again when Kain pressed him to win at over 75 m.p.h. Another intense struggle was taking place behind, with Conway, Junr’s road-equipped Type 37A Bugatti staying ahead of Smith’s hydraulic-anchored Brooklands Riley Nine, but only just ahead, especially at the corners, for the entire distance. It looked unsensational but Smith must have been trying as hard as Conway and they were respectively winners of the Melville and Geoghegan trophies. Conway, like Footitt, was awarded 18 points for his effort. But the Holland contestants had, naturally, lapped the smaller-engined pair. Musselwhite spent much of his time in incipient spins in his smoking MG.
Rain made the third race difficult to report (porridge-like notebook, Tony!) but we can say that in this 10-lap Handicap credit laps were used, so we might not have been much the wiser, anyway. The results gave Gillies in a 1 1/2-litre Riley as the winner, from Macpherson’s Frazer Nash and Daniel’s Hopper Special BMW. While getting soaked in the Paddock stand we thought Ellison was going to score his second win. But he spun off right at the end, leaving victory “On the road” to Tony Jones and “Patience”. There was another small incident, when Taylor’s Aston Martin, now driven by Crellin, tangled with the Hotchkiss.
It was then the turn of the up-to-1,000-c.c. cars to contest the Spero and Voiturette 20-lap race. On a still-wet track Fletcher-Jones did tremendously well, leading all the way in the Lagonda Rapier and being over a lap ahead of the opposition at the finish, having averaged 57.56 m.p.h. and lapped at 59.82 m.p.h. Tieche, leading for the Motor Sport Trophy at the beginning of the meeting, was second, his J4 MG being blown but giving away 340 c.c. to the Rapier. Barbet’s Riley was third, Eyre’s Ulster Austin won the Voiturette part, and Maxwell’s twin-cam fabric-bodied Salmson won an handicap; but there was no doubling up of points this time.
A 25-lap Allcomers’ Scratch Race promised excitement, until we found that the entry of 14 included only three post-war historic racers; all Maseratis, of which all three were non-starters, Summers’ Type 34 consolidating its absenteeism, Margulies’ having destroyed its gearbox in practice, and Felton’s so-called 1938 car doing three laps beforehand, only to go off-song and return to the Paddock. It was left to Freddie Giles in the borrowed Cognac to keep us on our toes, as he so nearly lost it in different types of slides on the wet course/ But he managed nevertheless to keep comfortably ahead of the flying Phillips in his 328 BMW. Black drove nicely to third place in his Alfa Romeo and Selwyn-Smith’s 328 BMW was fourth, in this sadly processional event. Footitt known the AC-GN better than Giles but both are pressers-on. Yet whereas Ron made fastest lap of the afternoon in his race, at 79.30 m.p.h., the best Freddie could do on the now slippery course was to average 61.42 m.p.h. for the 25 laps, against Footitt’s 75.24 m.p.h. for his winning 20 laps when the course was dry.
The sun, alleged to be rare in Wales, returned for the remaining three 10-lap races. By grace of the three credit laps White’s 1921 touring-bodied push-rod-o.h.v. GN was victor of the first handicap at a rousing 40.54 m.p.h., which make us wonder whether any VSCC or BARC race has ever been won at a lower average? He kept dutifully to the right, even when puddles drenched the air-cooled propellant. Adams’ 4-seater Riley 9 was second, Musselwhite’s MG third, with best lap at 62.72 m.p.h. by the J4. Fletcher-Jones then endorsed the effectiveness of himself in the Rapier by winning a rather similar handicap at nearly 71 m.p.h., from Barber and Macpherson. But all eyes were on Kain, now really going, since he had put another gearbox in the 35B Bugatti, having lost third gear in his previous race. He tried very hard, but couldn’t catch Phillips’ BMW to which he has given 25 sec start, in spite of lapping fastest of them all, at 77.92 m.p.h. The final event, a 10-lap Scratch Race, was marred because, a lap from the end, Tieche, making a great bid to regain his lead in the Motor Sport Trophy contest, went onto the grass beyond Paddock corner. The MG went end-over-end, flinging its driver out. He was quickly on his feet but was taken to hospital, so Winifred Boddy wasn’t able to give him his second prize (Conway being first, Kain third) in the Brooklands Memorial Contest. Fortunately, his injuries were such that he was back home by Monday. Simon Phillips had won, with a lap at 75.63 m.p.h., from Collis’ 4.3 Alvis and Selwyn-Smith’s BMW, Simon thus qualifying for the new Bill Phillips Trophy, presented by his mother. It is for standard-bodied p.v.t cars, which is how all cars in the VSCC should be bodied! But one replica Lagonda, and another that is apparently a replica of a replica of a Team Car, had somehow got in.
So ended a rather dicey meeting, with Maxwell sadly contemplating his Salmson, which he had rolled in the sixth race, and Mann repairing damage to his Monza Alfa Romeo sustained on the way to Llandow. W.B