VSCC Donington Park

THE Vintage SCC held its final race-meeting of the year at Tom Wheatcroft’s Donington Park circuit on September 14th. There had been VSCC racing at Donington in 1939 and the Club returned there last year, the circuit having in the meantime been made into the finest in this country, as we were reminded on this occasion, enjoying the many well-contrived permanent facilities, including the electric scoreboard across the course that conveys results and congratulatory messages to winning drivers very promptly after each race. You can still see racing at Donington this year, at the National Motorcycle Championships on October 5th and the TV Rallysprint and Motor Show racing on October 25/26th.

Here we are concerned with the Shuttleworth & Nuffield Trophies Vintage Race meeting. It began with a 5-lap Scratch race which Dods in his 1936 AC Special absolutely ran away with, to a win at 64.46 m.p.h. A long way behind the somewhat smoky six-cylinder from Thames Ditton came VSCC President James Crocker in his Lagonda Rapier, which overtook Lees’ 1 1/2-litre Riley Snipe, a car rebuilt since its Cadwell shunt, on the last lap. Dods had lapped at 67.88 m.p.h. On lap two Whittaker’s Chrysler had departed backwards at the hairpin, a predicament from which it was later removed with some difficulty and delay. The remarkably effective back-braked Straker Squire of Adrian Liddell motored round ahead of the closely-matched Frazer Nashes of Whale and Hopkins.

The Melville and Geoghegan Trophies Handicap then ran for eight laps, R. J. B. Smith’s twin-port Meadows Super Sports Frazer Nash taking both cups, after an easy victory at 63.12 m.p.h., lapping at 64.06 m.p.h. Tony Jones’ Frazer Nash “Patience” and Farquhar’s Riley 9 followed Smith home, the latter having lost time by an off-course excursion. Craig Collings was next in, but had almost run out of petrol in his father’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley, Vessey’s Lancia Lambda non-started due to run-bearings, and Weeks, having had the flywheel detach itself from the Morgan three-wheeler’s JAP engine, ran with an Anzani power unit. It was hoped that Schellenberg would have run his 3/4 1/2 Bentley but it was reported that he was Eigg-bound — by the weather!

Having got over that, we had a 5-lap Handicap to relax us, but tension was provided by seeing whether Rodney Felton in his Monza-like 2.6-litre Alfa Romeo could score more points towards the MOTOR SPORT Brooklands Memorial Trophy contest, in which he was tying with Moffatt and Black. He could and did, for although on scratch, he stormed through the field to cross the line in second place, seemingly level with Newman’s 1 1/2-litre Riley that had gone off 60 sec. earlier. The winner was Brydon’s big 1935 Alvis, at 63.25 m.p.h., but Felton had lapped 11.3s. faster, and it was a “photofinish” with Newman. In the end the Judges gave Felton second place. So to the 8-lap John Holland the field right behind, the Cognac winning at 69.11 m.p.h. Stirling’s Norris Special was second, Roger Howard’s partially-blue Type 37A Bugatti keeping its third place ahead of Fuad Majub’s Pacey-Hassan which qualified for the Birkin Trophy of the BDC.. Derrick Edwards then took the next race, a 4-lap Scratch race, in his well-known blue Ulster Aston Martin, at 60.86 m.p.h., from Zeuner’s Type 37 Bugatti, which lapped at the identical speed, and Bellenie’s 1 1/2-litre Riley Sports Special.

The real business of the afternoon came with the 12-lap Shuttleworth & Nuffield Trophies Scratch race. The Hon. Patrick Lindsay and Martin Morris had been racing their later historic possessions at the TT Meeting at Silverstone but had arrived post-haste to race some more at Donington, Martin driving there in his C-type Jaguar. These two began to make the running, in their 2-litre ERAs, until Lindsay spun off at Redgates on lap five, rotating twice! That left R11B right out in front, with Bill Morris in the ERA “Hanuman” holding second place, to take the 1,500 c.c. Nuffield Trophy, pursued by Chris Mann in the Henry Wessells’ Tipo B Alfa Romeo with which Shuttleworth won the very first Donington Grand Prix in 1935. Alas, a needle-valve stuck up and by lap nine it was out, due to losing all its fuel. R11B is said to have gained more power in its “continuous history” including 1980 cylinder-head mods. Lindsay had restarted, to no avail, so Footitt brought the Cognac home in third place, although it sounded off-song, ahead of Margulies’ 4CL Maserati. The race would have been better had some of the cars closely associated with its title appeared. “Hanuman” averaged 70.67 m.p.h.

Next came a 4-lap Handicap, which Davney’s P-type MG powered by a Riley 9 engine won at 52.17 m.p.h. from Pugh’s 1928 Frazer Nash and Walker’s flying Austin 7 Chummy. The 12-lap Scratch dice for Historic Racing Cars promised interest and provided it when Alain de Cadenet’s 1959/60 3-litre GP Aston Martin proved that it was very definitely more than a match for Neil Corner’s same-age and capacity Dino Ferrari. Not that Neil wasn’t trying. He was, as the angles of his motor-car out of the hairpin indicated. But he lost by 10.2 sec., de Cadenet winning in masterly fashion, at 79.14 m.p.h., having lapped in 1 min. 27.1 sec. or 0.3 sec, quicker than the Ferrari. Discreetly behind, in third place, ran Martyn Chapman’s 3.8-litre Monza Lister Jaguar, which finished 17.8 sec. after Corner. Making up for his previous spin, the undefeatable Lindsay had “Remus”. ahead of all the other post-war cars, and he kept it that way, placing fourth ahead of Macpherson’s 1953 Cooper-Bristol that had only displaced Vine’s sister car on the last but one lap, when that car went sick. Derrick Edwards was having a drive in Mason’s A-type Connaught and Sankey and Kergon, conducting 250F Maseratis with somewhat discontinuous histories, distinguished themselves by finishing last. The Meeting was by now running late. It concluded with a 4-lap Fast Handicap, perhaps called this because Vic Norman in Corner’s Ferrari was required to do an extra lap. This odd handicap proved an impossibility, in spite of a lap equal to de Cadenet’s fastest in the big race. Simon Phillips’ Lotus 16 won at 74.92 m.p.h. from Lees’ Riley Snipe and Pilgrim in Nickalls’ Lagonda Rapier, Dods AC fourth.

All that remained was for Winifred Boddy to present to Rodney Felton the MOTOR SPORT Trophy (with which goes £150 prize). Having blown up his Bugatti at Cadwell Park, Moffatt, tying second with Richard Black, wasn’t present (they will each receive the divided 2nd and 3rd prizes, representing £87.50) but the former’s splendid 1922 white two-seater 3-litre Bentley rumbled up to see the cup presented.