Bentleys at Silverstone (August
THE Bentley Drivers’ Club annual Silverstone meeting on August let was a success in every way. The weather changed from beastly to glorious just in time. The programme was completed exactly to schedule, and although the entry list was comparatively small, the same cars appearing several times, the better Bentleys were fast enough to hold the interest of the Bentley.. minded onlookers.
Almost every club finds that out of its total membership only a very small proportion is interested in active participation in competition events. The B.D.C. is no exception, for out of over 1,000 members only 40 produced Bentleys at Silverstone. However, these included very potent modified cars and some beautifullypreserved cars in original trim, all old-school models. The entry was increased to 53 by members of the V.S.C.C., for whom there were two separate races, handicapped by their club.
The B.D.C. handicapping was skilfully done by Harry Bowler and Stanley Sedgwick from data supplied by Harry Kramer. Sedgwick, the Club’s President, as Clerk of the Course, circulated in a ” Continental ” Bentley, and Rowley wielded the chequered flag in a huge check cap sent for the occasion by Briggs Cunningham.
Proceedings opened with a High-Speed Reliability Trial with few entries and fewer finishers.
The proud old 3-litres then had a five-lap scratch race. D. McKenzie had a tremendous battle with J. A. Williamson, the latter leaving his braking later, but lacking the two-seater’s acceleration, so that Mac. won by 0.8 sec., at 57.18 m.p.h., these two tying for fastest lap at 59.67 m.p.h.
The 44-litres now had their five-lap scratch race, which was run at almost 10 m.p.h. higher speed. G. G. McDonald’s multi-exhaustpiped car pulled out a lap at 68.6 m.p.h. to beat Adcock’s special two-seater comfortably, although the latter was hard pressed by Lawrence’s low-tailed car, Adcock, slapping the side of his car and waving both arms in the air, finishing a mere 0.6 sec. ahead. His car has the chassis shortened by 2 ft., an alloy body, the latest-type twin S.U. carburetters with neat copper air-intakes a in Benjafield’s Brooklands 3-litre, and, like McDonald’s car, a twist-grip on the gear-lever to assist in changing down, the lever in this case protruding through the scuttle. Major Bailey retired from this race with a broken front wing stay, foretaste of worse to come ! T. D. Bleakley drove well in a nice 41. coupe.
Various Bentleys then lined up for a five-lap handicap. The largest was Kramer’s 64-litre with ex-Lycett bulbous-tail twoseater body, its broken petrol pipe sustained in the high speed trial now repaired. Incidentally, Kramer’s brother, who was driving a eine-camera on this occasion, now owns the Bentley-Jackson conversion. D. G. McClure had the only blown 4i. in the race. On lap four G. T. Walker worked his 44-litre into the lead from the 70 sec. mark, to win at 59.29 m.p.h. Kelly’s 44-litre from the same mark was 5.2 sec. behind and McDonald thundered into a most creditable third place from scratch, after a lap at 70.08 m.p.h. Major Bailey met his Waterloo at Copse, as it were, when his engine literally blew up. The entire block fell over sideways, the radiator fell forward and a small fire added to the spectacle. Bailey extinguished the fire himself and created the greatest Paddock interest of the afternoon on his return ! Shades of certain Fiat and Bugatti episodes at Brooklands !
A similar five-lap Bentley handicap followed, Williamson, whose 44 had had trouble in the high speed trial, making no mistake in his 3-litre four-seater. He won at 60.64 m.p.h. from MacIver’s 3-litre and Hollis’ two-seater 3-litre, the last-named tail-sliding Woodcote Corner on his last lap. Mrs. Mountford and Mrs. Armitage drove nicely their massive machinery. Adcock made fastest lap, at 68.09 m.p.h.
Five post-vintage thoroughbreds now had a handicap, but this rather went astray. C. le S. Metcalf’s well-known black Balilla Fiat running away from the 43 sec. mark to win by 33.4 sec., at 63.01 m.p.h. after a lap at 64.32 m.p.h. Easdale had a race-long dual with Richards’ early Speed 20 Alvis, only beating the English car towards the finish and then nearly losing to it on the run-in. H. R. Heap in a Riley Nine Special led all the way at no mean speed to win the first of the five-lap vintage car handicaps at 57.5 m.p.h., Smith’s 44-litre Bentley two-seater with rare tapered radiator coming home second, 16 sec. behind, having made up 53 sec. of its handicap. Williamson’s Bentley, having a busy day, was third, after starting with two 44s, and Burton’s 44 made fastest lap at 66.52 m.p.h. Quartermaine did his best to uphold
30/98 prestige in a battle with Hollington’s 44 Bentley. Morin Scott had trouble with his big Hispano-Suiza.
A similar race followed, in which Bill Mason of the Shell Film Unit drove his nice 44-litre into first place from the 50 sec. mark at 61.98 m.p.h., Walker starting 15 sec. later, but making up all but 2.4 sec., was placed second ahead of Lawrence. The day’s sport closed with two 10-lap Bentley handicaps and the notable lack of non-starters, which resulted from a small entry, continued. J. A. Walker’s 44 won the first race from Kramer’s 64 and Mason’s 44 at 64.86 m.p.h., McDonald, although unplaced, again improving on his lap speed, now up to 70.59 m.p.h., and Williamson throwing his 3-litre into Woodcote with Nuvolari arm-actions. Wright’s very nice tourer, which could have stepped straight out of a 3-litre catalogue, used all the road and much grass at Woodcote.
The last race saw Hollis’ very nice two-seater 3-litre keep off the faster stuff, to win at 57.02 m.p.h. in an exciting finish, Smith’s 44 not far off and Yarwood’s 44 in close company with OrrEwing’s 44 four-seater just behind. Orr-Ewing did some really fine driving with his long car, aided by Alfin brake drums all round and A90 rear brakes. Indeed, he made fastest lap, at 65.93 m.p.h. Most of the 44-litre Bentleys watered the course liberally with their radiator overflow pipes.
This was an enjoyable, accident-free day’s sport. Times of many of the cars were taken by Gregory with beam-apparatus over a furlong of the straight, several Bentleys exceeding 80 m.p.h. here.— W. 13.
FILM REVIEW • •
• • • “Last Meeting.” (A Lux Film, distributed by Archway Film Distributors, Ltd. Approx. 90 min. Cert. “X.” Screenplay from the play by Marco Prags. Produced by Ponti-de-Laurentiis.)
You must see this Italian film with its English sub-titles, because Nino Farina, Manuel Fangio, Consalvo Sanesi and Felice Bonetto make” personal (if brief) appearances “in it. They appear as drivers of 159 Alfa-Romeos at the Monza circuit during test runs, in the era before white linen helmets gave way to crash-hats. With the scenes inside the Alfa-Romeo factory and on the track we have only one grumble ; but it is a serious one for director Gianni Franciolini, for in Italy, where motor racing is a national sport, it will surely be noticed by every member of the audience and in England by most motor-racing enthusiasts. It is that when Michele, played by Jean Pierre Aumont, crashes in a 159 AlfaRomeo, the snaking on the wet track which leads to disaster causes this famous Italian road-racing car to turn into a flaming Indianapolis speedster which has been seen in this role in the lead-in to numerous newsreels and in many motor-racing screen dramas. We do not suggest that a 159 Alfa-Romeo should be sacrificed in a real accident, but surely Franciolini has heard of using models in this capacity ? Anyway, let’s hope the widow of the unfortunate American driver gets royalties every time this crash, God-send of film producers since the ‘thirties, is inserted I
There is actually not much motor-racing in “Last Meeting,” although a quip about the B.R.M. menace and the rain at Silverstone, close-ups of 159 Alfa-Romeos stationary and in action, and the “appearances” of the aforesaid famous drivers hold one’s interest. The core of the film is a sordid, drawn-out drama of a wife trying to be loyal, whose ” reward ” includes injury in a ‘bus accident, blackmail, prostitution and being fatally shot by her husband in a house of ill-repute. It leaves its effect on an audience as only Continental films can, the more so because Line, the unhappy wife, is played by dark-bobbed AJida Valli who is seen as a beautiful young woman rather than an accepted Continental film star, so that she and her husband Piero (Amedo Nazzari) perform admirably, as is the film’s intention, as simple people leading comfortable lives into which tragedy intrudes.
Piero is chief test engineer of the Alfa-Romeo racing department and we only hope the real-life engineer in this capacity does not have so much on his hands ! The blackmailer wants to be a racing motorist, which may sound a warning for those young men in this country who are possessed by the same desire! But” Last Meeting” is no comedy. If you lose your heart to Alida Valli (she appeared in “The Third Man “) in the opening scenes, this film is going to make you suffer.—W. B.
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