An August Assembly

Although it was not the last VSCC race this year, the August meeting at Cadwell Park retained its delightful atmosphere, rare sunshine filtering through the trees of the scenic and hilly circuit where BBC cameras were stationed — but only for the motorcycle event of the Bank Holiday Monday. Unfortunately the major event, the Williams Trophy, was curtailed after an alarming accident stopped what had been a terrific race, though thankfully it was less serious than it looked.

Out of the action before racing started was Dick Summers’ MG KN, with a new 1500cc alloy block which had proved very rapid but then lost compression on one cylinder, denying Martin Stretton his drive.

Eight laps for the Spero and Voiturette Trophies started the proceedings, and Johnathan Giles had the Morgan/GN at all angles to keep tabs on the Legends Rapier of David Fletcher-Jones. But mechanical fate intervened, side-lining Jones on lap three, and handing Giles a healthy lead, and the Spero cup. Behind, Peter Hornby (A7) scooped the Voiturette Trophy away from Wills’ Brooklands Riley.

A vast field of Frazer Nash and chain-driven GNs was promised, but a third of them failed to appear on the grid for the five-lap FN/GN handicap; the mathematics say that Barry Clarke’s hybrid of both makes won, while the stopwatch said that A D Jones’ Frazer Nash Special put up fastest lap at 60 mph dead.

Stuart Harper made a poor start to the first of eight vintage tours, which Randal Stewart made the most of, pushing his wooden-bodied Bentley through the traffic to second petition behind Keith Schellenberg’s 41/2-litre. But it took only a lap for Harper’s Acre Morgan to re-establish a lead which Stewart’s big Bentley could not break. John Howell had the 16-cylinder twin-block Type 47 Bugatti up to third before being black-flagged and diving into the pit-layby briefly to refit the filler-cap, letting Freddie Giles, who had been chopping through the field steadily, collect that place with his AC/GN Beetle. Neither of the Ford A-engined American racers was happy: Threlfall’s MacDowell had a new cam which ended up about 50° out of phase, while Nick Leston struggled with oil washing round his feet from the Lovell-Elkhart’s bell-housing after a spin. Fastest lap fell to Harper at 65.32 mph.

Achieving the same honour in a five-lap handicap did not net first place for David Morris in his father’s ERA, R11B. Instead, it fell to a Riley Special (G Bellenie), but the penalties were beautifully judged, the event ending with less than a second between the first three.

On to the Williams Monaco Trophy, one of the hardest-fought races in the vintage calendar, and what a terrific dice developed at the front. Sir John Venables-Llewelyn, as usual in Lord Raglan’s T51, grabbed an early lead, but missed a gear into the hairpin, letting the pack close up. Ivan Dutton and Martin Morris (T51 Bugattis both) and the Alfa Romeo of Rodney Felton were all squabbling over second place, resolved in Morris’s favour by lap four. He by now was nudging a constantly-sideways Sir John, with Felton, Dutton, and Terry Cardy’s T51 in line astern, when things went wrong. While Sir John streaked past the cottage and down to the barn, Morris, with wheels locked, slid into the tyre barrier; by now moving quite slowly, the blue car tipped onto two wheels and gently toppled over.

Felton and the others were on him before the marshals could move, but all avoided the capsized Bugatti, and after a pause, the driver slid out of his car and stood up. Red flags brought the race to a halt, though several drivers took a long time to notice, and with five laps run, Sir John was declared the winner for the fourth time — with Morris second and Felton third. Quite an achievement for an inverted Bugatti. And Morris, although removed by ambulance, was fit enough to fly off to Spain the next day. However, he subsequently generously relinquished his second place to Felton.

After this excitement, John Brydon’s 4.3-litre Alvis ran off with a five-lapper, before the pre-war racers reassembled for the 10-lap John Scott race for pre-war racing cars. The grid positions told the story: Bill Morris (ERA R12B) and Roger Sweet (MG KN) were determined to do battle, and so they did, narrowly leading Venables-Llewelyn’s ERA most of the way. Sweet lost his lead to Morris, and on the last lap was passed by Sir John, with the Felton Alfa not quite in touch. Further back, an interesting car returned to the track in the hands of Gregor Fisken: the handsome Alvis Charnock Special with a 4.3-litre block in a Speed 20 chassis.

Despite some post-vintage entries, the turn-out for the Melville & Geoghegan Trophy and scratch race was disappointing, but was made up for by the spectacular antics of Harris’ Lagonda Rapide Special, the 41/2-litre round-tailed racer sliding from lock to lock through the Mountain. It was not enough, though, to pull in Hugh Conway, who carried off the Melville Cup in his T35T.

Sparrowhawk’s 1937 Alvis collared yet another win over five laps scratch, which saw Ted Dunn (Riley) score a photo-finish second over John Seber’s Wolseley, while it was the turn of Martin Morris’ second son Miles to drive the ERA in the final handicap, another Alvis victory for Wickham’s 12/50. It was a contented crowd which filed out of the circuit after some gripping racing; it was just a pity that the morrow’s bikers could not have waited until there was some room in the paddock before flooding in and jamming the gates, thereby trapping the VSCC competitors. GC