VSCC Prescott

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One of the better vintage occasions of the year is the VSCC’s speed hillclimb at the Bugatti OC’s Prescott course. It was certainly near to ideal on August 8, with the weather good, a striking entry of 244 pre-war cars, not materially reduced as there were only 23 non-starters, and an above average crowd, all contained within about 6 1/2 hours, including an hour for those picnic luncheons, enlivened by the vintage Eureka jazz band. (This entails more than one car on the hill at one time, controlled by prodigious work on the part of the officials.) And all day Alvis cars of all kinds, some 160 of them, could be seen making for their special car-park, in celebration of C M Harvey’s victory in the 1923 JCC 200-mile Race. Distinctly one of the better vintage days. . .

The course was opened by Graham Rankin’s recently revived 1906/7 Targa Floriotype Fiat, a most exciting and respectable motor-car, which, judging by this appearance, has great competition potential (see p1034). Another highlight was Mark Walker at last breaking the Edwardian class record which had stood to the credit of Nigel Arnold-Forster’s 5-litre chain-drive Bugatti since 1980. With his nifty Curtiss aeropowered Monarch he clocked 50.87s (an improvement oil. I 7s) on his first run, but a slightly hesitant get-away (gearchange?) reduced that to 52.71s on his next appearance — no matter, the record had fallen!

There were 20 of these pre-1919 cars running, although Mallya did not run the newly vanquished Bugatti, nor John Walker the GP Panhard, while the Super cyclecar refused to leave the safely of the paddock. Next fastest to the Monarch came Adnams in the Talbot (54.86s), notably beating the giant ltala (55.92s). Lemon produced a “new” 1913 Vauxhall, a handsome if lofty car, rather like an inflated 30/98, and made up apparently from parts of a very early example, which won the class on handicap. Bill Lake’s 1914 IT Sunbeam won its duel with Nick Ridley’s sister car (57.30s on its only ascent, against 60.045). Slowest time in the class was 83.16s by Johnnie Thomas’ 1902 GB Napier — but then it is the oldest surviving British racing car. Turning to faster stuff, Bruce Spollon had ERA R8C well “on song”, to set FTD in 41.41s, just 0.30s outside Mayman’s record. Too much for Donald Day — 43.32s before trouble struck on his second run. In fact, second-best time was put up by Duncan Ricketts in Sally Marsh’s RIB (42.20s), the 11/2-litre ERA bettering Bill Morris’s class record. The quickest vintage motor was Jon Giles’ AC/GN (44.49s), the fastest non-s/c sports-car S Smith’s Chain-Gang Frazer Nash (46.09s) on its only ascent.

The Peter Hampton tankard for best Bugatti went to Cautley’s 1925 2.3 (48.43s). It was good to see the E-type ERA going well in Bill Morris’s hands (44.45s), as were Leeson’s 1100cc V8 Harker Special (52.78s), the Halford Special (54.39s) and the 200-mile Race Alvis (53.24s), but we were denied the opportunity of checking the identities of Neil Murray’s B & M Special (but an easy guess?) or the Unicorn. Later Tim Walker did 46.35s in the Caesar Special, second best vintage car in his class. Miss Winder started but failed on both runs in Jane Arnold-Forger’s yellow-peril A7, as did Mrs Harcourt-Smith in the Alvis — unlucky girls! Having won his class on his first appearance (46.42s), Bob Burrell had trouble on the start-line and parked the blown 8-litre Bentley-Royce. The vintage section here went to Ben Collings in the 4 1/2-litre Bentley (50.54s) who made a very rapid up-change to aid an impressive start. Having professionally warmed his tyres, Guy Smith went on to win the sparsely supported class for big racing cars with the Alvis-Frazer Nash (42.46s). W B