Bentleys At Silverstone - (July 31st)

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The Bentley Drivers’ Club held its Silverstone Race Meeting on July 31st, and the inimitable exhaust thunder of long-stroke, sixteen-valve engines rang round Northampton.

The morning session of speed consisted of a High-Speed Trial, in which Nicholson’s imposing 6 1/2-litre Bentley saloon with protuberant luggage container, Oldworth’s 2-litre Aston Martin and Mann’s Lagonda retired and Beasley’s H.R.G. was too slow, leaving G. G. McDonald’s well-known 4 1/2-litre Bentley to win the up-to-5-litre class from Halliday’s Bentley, Morris’ Lagonda and Jeddere-Fisher’s very nice 30/98 Vauxhall, the over-5-litre class being contested by Becker’s 6 1/2-litre Bentley.

After lunch had been “drunk” an ingenious Bentley scratch sweepstake followed, in which various Bentleys circulated very fast in pairs and some nearly visited the Woodcote ditch. It was said that only Stanley Sedgwick knew what all this was about, but J. A. Williamson, who has the arms of a Nuvolari, was declared to have made fastest lap in his imposing 4 1/2-litre tourer, which did everything except tour.

Schellenberg disposed of his opposition (which happened to be Pitts’ blower-4 1/2) by emitting a record smoke-screen from his Barnato-Hassan — which appeared to be overcome by this ingenious performance and which used to go so much better round Brooklands. J. Broad’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley, which was long rather than broad, evidently possessed similar ideas, because it was emitting horizontal jets of steam, but from the wrong, or radiator, end.

There followed lots of races, for Aston Martin, Lagonda, vintage and post-vintage thoroughbred cars as well as for Bentleys. Again and again McDonald, Williamson and Burton duelled a few inches apart in their very rapid 4 1/2-litre Bentleys, Burton and Williamson tying for the honour of making fastest-lap-of-the-day, at 72.36 m.p.h., until Williamson’s car broke a back spring, which he replaced in time to run in the last event.

J. A. Watts, in a pointed-tail 2-seater 3-litre, just toured along, changing gear determinedly with gauntletted hands. McKenzie Junior won the 3-litre scratch race, at 56.03 m.p.h., McDonald the 4 1/2-litre scratch race at 69.85 m.p.h., but there were insufficient entries for the over-4 1/2-litre race to be run, although Nicholson’s and Becker’s closed 6 1/2-litre Bentleys motored to great purpose, the latter’s, which was quite unaffected by the grass verge at Woodcote, winning a five-lap handicap race at 57.96 m.p.h.

M. D. Hollis drove his rare 2-seater-bodied 3-litre. D. Halliday’s Bentley was off form, so that this driver’s Persil-finished overalls availed him nothing.

Of the two handicaps for Lagonda cars, the first was won by Newman’s 3-litre, at 52.6 m.p.h., the second by Smith’s 3 1/2-litre, at 55.42 m.p.h. Bentley honour was upheld in the vintage handicap, R. H. B. Mason, of the Shell Film Unit, driving his very smart, long-chassis open 4 1/2-litre perhaps more sanely than same, to win at 62.99 m.p.h. front Broad’s Bentley (now converted from a steamer to an i.c. car) and Hollington’s 4 1/2-litre Bentley. Michael’s 4 1/2-litre Lagonda thoroughbred won this sort of race, at 60.77 m.p.h., from Easdale’s Alfa-Romeo thoroughbred and Sims’ Aston Martin thoroughbred.

Only four Aston Martins entered for the A-M race, which was won by A. G. Oldworth’s 2-litre, at 63.13 m.p.h..

Mason finally won the 10-lap Any-Bentley Handicap, at 63.89 m.p.h., front McKenzie and McDonald.

Present, but not dicing, were Forrest Lycett’s immortal 8-litre Bentley and Peter Robertson-Roger’s ex-Birkin blower-4 1/2 Brooklands car. And how nice to see a club secretary driving the kind of car his club supports! — the genial Col. Berthon in his very nice old-school Bentley. — W. B.

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