VSCC Cadwell

(August 29th)

The Vintage SCC’s decision to hold its final 1976 race meeting at the 2 1/4-mile Cadwell Park road circuit, the oldest established race course in this country, turned out very well. This is a splendid undulating circuit of decent length, reminiscent of a pre-war Continental roadcourse. It is run efficiently, is in a most presentable country setting, is fun to drive round, and the proprietors are extremely hospitable. In the August sunshine it was an ideal circuit for vintage racing.

The meeting was enhanced by a new race, for the Williams Trophy. This is the big cup presented to William Grover-Williams after he had won the first Monaco GP in 1929, which Mrs. Williams generously gave to the Bugatti OC, Williams having been a noted Bugatti driver. The BOC have passed it to the VSCC, as more suitable to a circuit race than a Prescott hill-climb. A special 10-lap race for two-seater GP cars was therefore arranged at Cadwell, which it seemed a Bugatti must win. Type 35Bs like Williams’ were entered by Corner, Kain and Preston, Type 51-engined cars by St. John and Dean, a Type 35 by Thomson and a Type 37A by Posner. With only C. Mann’s Monza Alfa Romeo to oppose them we sat back to see the Williams Cup won by an appropriate car. Corner was absent and Smith’s 1-litre Nurburg Frazer Nash was a non-starter, so the only other runners were the back-braked Straker Squire and Symons’ 1925 twin-cam Aston-Martin. When Mann had trouble getting the Alfa Romeo started and only left the grid when the field was well out of sight, and after reversing across the course to face the right way, it seemed certain this scratch race would be a Bugatti walk-over.

However, Kain, in the fury of his start, broke a pinion-shaft in the back-axle and coasted round Coppice corner. He stopped out of sight, so the commentators did not know what had happened to him. While this was being worried-about, St. John, who had led away from the line, and Dean also dropped out. It seems that St. John applied his brakes so hard before the Hairpin that he bent the front axle (over to Hugh Conway for technical probabilities!) and Dean had his track-rod break. with the three fastest Bugattis out and Ian Prestons’s Type 35B trailing smoke and obviously off-form as it had been in an earlier race, there was more confusion. In fact Preston was in the lead, with Thomson and posner going well. But Mann was carving through the field, until he took first place, only to hit a straw-bale. This became jammed under the alfa and he had to get out to remove it, allowing several cars to pass him. However, he re-passed them to finnish the surprise winner of the Williams Cup, after a delay at the start, and the further delay which seemed to make this quite impossible. He had averaged 60.29 m.p.h. and lapped at 66.61 m.p.h. Preston was second and Liddell in the Straker Squire third.With all this drama Tony Jones went almost unnoticed in winning the concurrent 1 1/2-litre scratch race in his Frazer Nash “Patience”, at 57.24 m.p.h. The result of this first Williams’ Trophy race may not have been quite as intended but it recalled the great Bugatti/Alfa Romeo duels of the past, notably at Monaco in 1933. There was more amusement when Mann, having had the cup presented to him by Mrs. Kain, wife of the vscc President, hoisted it high in the air in a gesture of victory, whereupon the lid flew off and clattered along the track…

The 12-lap Allcorners’ Scratch Race was also interesting. Corner’s 1959 GP Aston Martin was regrettably absent, like his Bugatti had been, and seven more non-Starters left Simon Phillips opposed mainly by two 250F Maseratis and the 3-litre Rover. The Cooper Bristol never faltered and Phillips led all the way, making fastest lap. of the day at 71.18 m.p.h., to win unchallenged at 68.87 m.p.h. But Bill Morris had the ERA “Romulus” really on-song and the elastic fully wound, as if he were pursuing a bearded you-know-who. Indeed, he held second place in his pre-war 1 1/2-litre automobile against all the post-war racers until the grass-cutting Lockhart got ahead after trying hard for nine laps, Bill having thought it prudent to give the Rover ample berth. But the ERA was not to be denied and it was back in front two laps later. The only others in the race were David Llewellyn and Cameron Millar, in their 1956 Maseratis, in that order, until Cameron spun on lap 4 and dropped to the rear of the field. So the finishing order was Phillips, Morris, Lockhart, Llewellyn, with Morris to be congratulated on a splendid drive for Miss Chakrabongse, consolation for seeing his brother Ben retire “Hanuman”.

Kain’s retirement from the Williams Trophy race put him back in the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest, which was won by the man-of-the-meeting (unofficial title), Christopher Mann, with 57 points amassed during the season, from Bill Morris, who had netted 52, third place going jointly to Kain and Ghosh (49 points each) by reason of the latter having won the final Cadwell race, a 4-lap handicap, in his ex-Alan May 30/98 Vauxhall, hotly pursued by Harvey Hine’s 41E-litre Bentley. Winifred Boddy presented the cheques and the Trophy, and a replica to last season’s winner, Conway, Junr., and was rewarded, at her request, with a lap of the course in the Monza Alfa Romeo. The other races are reported in the vintage pages.—W.B.