The VSCC "Second Silverstone"

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J Stuart (ERA) and GG McDonald (Bentley) the outstanding drivers. Dunham’s Alvis wins twice.

The Vintage Sports-Car Club was lucky on June 28th, on the occasion of its Silverstone Race Meeting, for the rain which rendered the track very non-adhesive for the first two races soon ceased and there were no accidents, providence working overtime, perhaps, during the Relay Race.

There can be no doubt about the continued popularity of racing in vintage cars, because not only was this the VSCC’s second Silverstone meeting this year, but they also held a successful OuIton Park race meeting, as reported in our last issue.

In the first of the many 5-lap Handicaps, Lisle’s neat 4-cylinder, side-valve, Amilcar led for much of the distance but Lazarus, driving the ex-Mackworth 1933/4 Talbot 105, came through the field strongly to win on the last lap at 59.12 mph. Bradley’s 1930 41/2-litre Bentley also passed Lisle’s very stable Amilcar, these cars being, respectively, 2nd and 3rd. Peter Binns, in the scratch Riley 9, made fastest lap, at 61.98 mph, to finish 4th.

Fast stuff came out for the next 5-lap Handicap, a foretaste of the All-Corners Dice to come, and the work which Stuart had to do to keep, his ex-Gerard ERA on the track was marvellous to behold—someone called it playing Badminton with the steering wheel. He slid across the immediately-post-Woodcote finishing line to take second place behind Dunham’s excellent Brooklands-lean Alvis, which won at 64.34 mph. Stuart did a deserving fastest lap at 72.36 mph, and Quartermaine’s nice 30/98 Vauxhall, with cooling scoops for its front brakes, was third, ahead of Williamson in the Wilkinson ERA. Sowman, in Spero’s ex-Bira 3-litre Maserati, now for some reason with BARDAHL painted in white capitals behind “Maserati” on its bonnet, lasted but a lap, the Ecurie TNC Clinton Amilcar Six was off-colour for once, and Freeman’s Aston Martin had an excursion across the Woodcote grass, while Shively, leading for two laps from the “limit” position, was using the blower of his white 36/220 Mercedes-Benz out of the corners. Alack, Burton’s Bentley dropped a valve.

What should have been a 5-lap Frazer-Nash and GN “Chain Gang” Handicap became a Frazer-Nash-only race when the scrutineers took a dislike to the back hubs of the fascinating AC-GN. Pugh’s Frazer-Nash was absent, having melted its centre main bearing. The field, however, was a credit to the F-N Section of the VSCC and included the Anzani cars of Thirlby and Barber, the latter’s with a long tail. The diversity of body shapes was reminiscent of Brighton beach ! Thirlby led for two laps, was passed by Day’s fast 1932 car, then did a very spectacular slide at Woodcote, stopping the marshals’ pulses as it rolled backwards across the road and dropping to 9th place. Afterwards David happily took photographs of his skid marks. Le Clair’s smoking 1933 car now became 3rd, but on the last lap Skirrow’s 1930 machine beat it into second place. Davy’s car, single headlamp turned sideways, averaged 57.18 mph. Fastest lap was made by Geoghegan at 62.38 mph. Chivers in Ashley’s car retired. Col Archdale made a first appearance in something rather un-Nash-like, as its radiator was way out in front, of the tubular axle, which was sprung on a transverse leaf spring, with strut-type shock-absorbers.

The fourth race was the 10-lap All-Corners’ Scratch Race and excellent fare it was. Stuart got off well and upheld his Oulton Park promise by leading all the way, his ERA averaging 73.11 mph, after more hard wheel-twirling. The tank appeared to be losing fuel but all was well. Vessey drove his usually stylish race in the splendid monoposto Alfa-Romeo, holding second position but seeming to misfire a little, with Alex Pitts in Broad’s ERA “Remus” closing on him, in spite of the ERA having gone straight on at Becketts on the second lap. The faster cars in the field were well bunched and Spero got the Maserati through well, from eighth on lap one to fifth at the finish, doing fastest lap of the day at 77.39 mph. McDonald came in with loss of oil-pressure, a bit puzzled because a bird had hit the Bentley’s radiator and the cloud of feathers looked like smoke, while Schellenberg’s ex-Whale 8-litre Bentley eased up to spare a stiff engine while in eighth place.

The fifth race, again a 5-lap Handicap, was a brisk affair, with Davies’ fwd Alvis swamped after four laps by the back-markers. Fastick’s 2-seater 1930 41/2-litre Bentley, lamps ablaze, winning at 64.96 mph in a rousing finale from Le Clair’s 1933 Frazer-Nash and the Alvis, Bradley’s long 2-seater 1930 41/2-litre Bentley, with large fuel tank behind its dickey, experiencing simply furious front axle putter into Woodcote and fourth place. Quickest lap was accomplished by Walker’s scratch 1929 41/2-1itre Bentley, to the tune of 67.47 mph.

The next 5-lapper was for gentler stuff. Hawksby’s very smart 1926 12/25 Humber 2-seater-with-dickey, which had had its back axle oil warmed up professionally by running it jacked up beforehand, received 2 min 38 sec start but was soon swamped, Lisle’s Amilcar looking a likely winner until Harris’ very fast and well-driven Austin 7 went by. Harris-won at 59.68 mph in a car which looks more 1934 than 1929 and has twin Amal carburetters, Bowdenex brakes, 5.00-15 back boots, and a remote-control gearbox. The 1927 Amilcar and Day’s Frazer-Nash were, respectively, second and third. Harris also did fastest lap, at 60.81 mph, in a field which included a twin-cam Salmson, Bentleys, Rileys, including Batho’s 4-seater Nine, Beavis’ Nine with smart but non-original tail, and an odd-bodied Brooklands chassis Riley 9. Liston Young sportingly ran his Fiat 509 tourer and Lockhart made the usual fascinating noises with his Peugeot-JAP, which, however, disliked some new high-octane fuel which had been fed to it, Haig’s Riley retired. Hanlon drove a rare 1929 Riley Nine 2-seater.

The 10-lap Vintage Sports-Car Scratch Race was stern stuff, McDonald (Bentley) braking late and leading all the way from Walker in the “Bluebelle” Bentley and Lawrence in his special 2-seater 1928 Bentley, until the last-named came in after six laps, to give third place to Ainsworth’s 1930 41/2-litre Invicta, pursued at close quarters by Quartermaine’s 30/98 Vauxhall which, in spite of needing firm applications of its outside hand-brake, took the younger car on the outside of Woodcote on the run-in. McDonald averaged 68.95 mph, and did a lap at 70.52 mph. The class winners were: 1,100 cc—Le Gras (Treen Riley) : 1,500 cc—Brown (Frazer-Nash); Over 1,500 cc —McDonald. Halkyard again drove his very sporting 1929 Austin 7 Chummy, which, sans screen and going up to astronomical revs, is delightfully Standard and vintage, even to a short-lever, gated 3-speed gearbox, but is steadied by strut-type front shock-absorbers.

Dunham’s Alvis, braked late, scored its second win in the eighth race, this time at 69.91 mph, from Freeman’s understeering 2-litre Aston Martin and Tozer’s Amilcar Six. Mason’s Bentley used water and finished behind Durdin in the ex-Binns 30/98 Vauxhall. The Aston Martin gave its driver “moments”—but then he was lapping fastest of the field, at 71.29 mph. A splendid sight was Dr Pinkerton in the ex-Heal 1910 chain-drive 10-litre Fiat, but a 1 min 25 sec start only enabled him to lead for three of the five laps.

Walker came up well to win the last 5-lap Handicap at 66.57 mph (best lap too, at 67.78 mph) from scratch in his Bentley, coming sideways over the line. Bradley’s Bentley came into Woodcote level with Newman’s 3-litre Lagonda on lap four but, braking later, took second place ahead of Richards’ Alvis Speed 20, Noble’s Alvis Silver Eagle also passing the Lagonda. Barlow’s 1925 3-litre cycle-winged Bentley insisted on squealing its tyres at Woodcote, Harris drove very fast, but Norton’s Riley, the Talbot 105 and Keeling’s Riley retired, the last-named, a 1929 racing Nine with vertical Powerplus-blower, had made very nasty noises all afternoon.

During the interval while the Relay Race was being marshalled. Fitzpatrick gave a demonstration run in his 1908/12 Metallurgique-Maybach and so fantastic was its pick-up that we hope one day Douglas will be able to send us some acceleration figures.

During the Relay Race we imagine Tim Carson took the RAC Steward off for a beer—at all events it would have been prudent to do so, although no actual collisions occurred. As Neves 1914 TT Humber had run a big-end as a result of fracturing an oil-pipe at Oulton Park. Hawksby’s 12/25 took its place in the Humber team. This team and the 14/40 Vauxhalls were on limit—nice to see three 14/40s, of which Brooke’s was an alloy-bonnet tourer, May’s a very nicely original 2-seater, and Powell’s a tourer endowed with cycle front wings aud short running boards. By the speed of Winder’s Humber racer and Goodman in Winder’s 9/28 powered 8/18 Humber Chummy the Humber team kept ahead until it was the 12/25’s turn, when this vintage small car proved no match at all for May’s Vauxhall. The Frazer-Nash D team (Brown, Archdale, Le Clair) caught the other Frazer-Nash team, which had had 25 sec start, to win at 60.87 mph, and the Invicta team, starting with the FND team, came in third.

An excellent dose of vintagery—but, alas, the only Edwardian car competing was Dr Pinkerton ‘s Fiat.—WB.

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