Miscellany, October 1998

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I was reminded of an interview I did years ago with Hector Dobbs, who raced, very successfully, a series of Riley specials, notably with lightened chassis, cut-away cockpits and with engines up to a bored-out six of 1986cc with four Amals, by an excellent article by Frank Hole (who ran one of them also very successfully, in Africa) in the July Classic Car – Africa. Two of the Dobbs Rileys went out there but have since disappeared, one of them possibly the Brooklands Nine with which Dobbs is thought to have commenced his racing career; but he also competed at Brooklands with a Gamecock.

* * *

Congratulations to James Diffey for being the first Austin 7 driver to break the 50sec barrier at Prescott, with an ascent in 49.I3sec at this year’s VSCC meeting. He drove a Barry Clarke s/c 1930 special in the class for sportscars up to 1100cc, against PVT A7 specials, the Morris-JAP, and some fast Rileys, etc. But Diffey’s time broke the vintage and general records, formerly held by the Morris-JAP (50.28sec) and R C Rides’ Riley (50.24sec). The nearest anyone came to Diffey’s time was 51.53sec by Doug Bukin’s 803cc 1932 A7 special. So here is a target to aim for, next year…

* * *

Congratulations, also, to Charles Knill-Jones and his co-driver, who completed the John O’Groats-Land’s End Run in a 1929 Austin 7 special at an average speed of 52.38mph fur the 825 miles, running time 13hr 45mins, with stops of 2hr 56min. Charles, race mechanic to Nick Mason, undertook the run in memory of his friend Hugo James, the funds raised totalling over £3500 to date and going to the Institute of Neurology.

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