The VSCC at Cadwell Park

Bernard Kain (Bugatti) wins the Williams Monaco, John Holland and Motor Sport Trophies

As last year, The Vintage SCC went to the delightful Cadwell Park circuit in Lincolnshire for its finale of its 1977 racing season. With perfect weather and the park-like terrain, this was a most enjoyable occasion, even allowing for a large proportion of non-starters, a few practice accidents, and only occasional close racing. Garfitt had the misfortune to roll his BMW and go to hospital, Cox had the classic “dig-in” calamity in his FWD Alvis when cornering fast but was unhurt, and before the practice session ended the Arnold-Forsters had lost both their entries, the GS with problems relating to its overhung-crank and the ERA with bearing failure. Mann’s ERA was also out, with gearbox trouble. Corner was back on the VSCC scene, however, and had elected to drive his immaculate Type 35B Bugatti as his 3.3-litre Type 59GP Bugatti was low on brakes.

Action commenced with a 5-lap Scratch Race in which Higgins’ Alvis stalled on the grid but Wieksteed’s bolster-tank racing Alvis 12/50 led noisily all the way, to win from Poynter’s Lea-Francis by a very big margin indeed, Odell’s 1 1/2-litre Riley taking third place. The winning Alvis lapped at 58.19 m.p.h. There followed the 8-lap John Holland Trophy Scratch Race for vintage racing cars, which the Club’s President Bernard Kain had well tied-up after Ron Footitt had gone off at the Hairpin in the Cognac on the first lap and couldn’t restart. This had been just after he had been passed by Moffatt in Wall’s monoposto Type 35B Bugatti. However, the unfortunate Wall then saw smoke begin to pour from the Bugatti’s exhaust -an oil-gallery had become detached, which did a piston no good, and Hamish Was out after rive laps. (He parked well off the course but offended the Stewards by not getting out of the car.) Kain finished a lap ahead of the field, but it was Moffatt who made fastest lap, at 68.53 m.p.h. The unlucky Julian Ghosh looked to be second, until it was found that, coasting in some places as his 30/98 Vauxhall Special had run a big-end, and stopping for a while before completing his last lap, he had crossed the finish-line more than three rninutes behind Kain, which under some obscure rule entails disqualification in a race of less than 50 miles! So Tom Threlfall’s Lancia was awarded second place and Conway’s Ty, 37A Bugatti was third. There was a fine moment earlier on, when Kain passed Symons’ 1925 Aston Martin on one side, Moffatt on the other side, as the two Bugattis duelled along the Cadwell straight.

Harris’ 1 1/2-litre Riley Special made a good start in the following 4-lap Handicap and took the lead on the third lap, having caught Hewson’s Manx-tailed M-Type MG Midget. But on the run-home Dolton’s 1 1/2-litre Riley Special closed right up on Harris, winning in a “photofinish” by about half-a-length, Harris waving an arm in disgust as he realised he had been beaten. Burton’s 2-litre Aston Martin was third, Venables’ MG, which had made fastest lap at 60.86 m.p.h., finishing fourth. The 12-lap Allcomers’ Scratch Race promised well. But in fact it resulted in a high-speed procession, although the sounds were stimulating! Martin Morris made one of his faultless performances in the 1936 2-litre ERA and led all the way, lapping at 72.84 m.p.h. and finishing comfortably ahead of Bill Morris in the 1935 ERA “Romulus”. Walton’s 1952 Connaught was a poor third, ahead of Absorn’s Lagonda Rapier. Martin Morris won by a very big margin indeed.

The 5-lap Frazer Nash/GN Handicap saw Mark Joseland, on virtual limit-position in the absence of Pam Arnold-Forster’s 1921 GN, lead throughout, in his 51-year-old Frazer Nash, but I was pleased to see Roger Richmond, “the flying-dentist”, come home second, in his healthy-sounding Morgan-GN – no doubt he knows how to keep its dog’s-teeth in good fettle! There was a close dice for third place between the ‘Nashes of Johnson and Hopkins, in favour of the former, and fastest-lap was to the credit of Whale’s 1932 ‘Nash. The BHD retired with engine trouble and Parkinson’s blown ‘Nash boiled on the line and misbehaved when flagged away.

Fletcher-Jones’ fast Lagonda Rapier won the Spero Trophy Race, inspite of a spin in the Hall Bends on the last of the eight laps, from Barbet’s Riley and Farquhar’s Riley, the Lagonda lapping at 64.49 m.p.h. and the Voiturette winner being Pilgrim’s Austin 7, with Hart’s Riley scoring on handicap. We then came to the important Williams Monaco Trophy Race, over 10 laps from scratch, for 2-seater GP cars. Last year Chris Mann in his Monza Alfa Romeo had made a bit of a mickey of this essentially-Bugatti occasion, inspite of stalling at the start, hitting the straw-bales, and stopping to extract a bale from beneath his motor car. So there was speculation this year as to whether he would win again. But the BOC need not have worried! Racing-Solicitor Kain had it tied-up, in his Type 35B Bugatti. Neil Corner banged in his clutch and jumped away, to lead for the first lap. But his immaculate Type 35B Bugatti sounded retarded (apparently the magneto was playing up) and although Moffatt had started it on the handle, whereas Kain used a push-commencement, from lap 2 onwards, Bernard was never caught. Neil Corner made signs to his pit of tyre problems, or wheelspin, or something, and after seven laps was passed by Chris Mann’s Alfa Romeo, which had come up from fifth place behind the two Type 51 twin-cam Bugattis of Martin Dean and Geoffrey St. John on lap 2. The Monza and 8s Alfa Romeos of Black and Felton, and Grant-Peterkin’s 8c Maserati, were less quick and Adrian Liddell’s Straker Squire, the only Edwardian entered, was a dignified last. Thus they ran home, Kain, Mann, Corner, with Dean repassing St. John inspite of a slight stutter from his machine,. However, Mann actually lapped quicker, at 69.05 m.p.h., than all the Bugattis, which included Conway’s Type 35B that was spitting viciously through its blower relief-valve. Mrs. Kain had waved a hankie at her husband to tell him he was on his last lap, and she was allowed to flag him in. ‘The Monaco ‘Trophy was presented to Kain (it has only been awarded three times, since “Williams” won it in 1929) by Tony Rippon’s charming daughter, who then went for a lap in the passenger’s seat of the winning Bugatti.

After two more races, a 4-lap Handicap won by Colbourne’s 1.8-litre Riley from Majzub’s Brooklands-model Riley 9 and Whittaker’s irrepressible Chrysler (which made best lap speed, at 62.79 m.p.h.), and a 5-lap Scratch race won by Clifford’s flat-sounding V8 Riley, which lapped at 64.70 m.p.h., from Crocker’s Lagonda Rapier and Duffy’s 3 1/2-litre Riley-Alvis, the meeting ended with my wife presenting the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy to Kain and the VSCC and its marshals making separate presentations of cheques and presents to Tony Bird, who retires at the end of the year from his so-very-warmly-appreciated post as the VSCC’s Competition Secretary. It was a happy occasion, enhanced by the welcome the VSCC receives from Cadwell Park’s owners and the hospitality they generously lay on.

Hard-luck postscript: Derek Edwards, one of the three drivers who tied for second place in the Motor Sport Trophy Contest, was unable to try to improve in his position at Cadwell Park for the unfortunate reason that he had left his competition licence and other paperwork at his hotel. He wasn’t even permitted to practise, while the missing documents were retrieved. This seemed harsh treatment of such a regular VSCC competitor, but Derek said philosophically that he supposed rules were rules. – W.B.