A Section Devoted to Old Car Matters
The V.S.C.C. Silverstone Race Meeting (July 25th)
Good racing, without serious incidents, characterised the second Vintage S.C.C. Silverstone Race Meeting of 1959. A remarkable accident happened in the eighth race, when Hardin braked for Woodcote Corner and shed the front axle of his 30/98 Vauxhall, the car sliding into the ditch, to roll gently on to its off-side. The driver jumped out unhurt and when the car was salvaged it was found to be virtually undamaged except for the severed spring shackles and a crumpled mudguard! Gibbs Pancheri spinning his 4½-litre Bentley caused the incident. Otherwise a day of very fierce and extremely exciting racing passed off without accident, further evidence that old cars do not break up and become mechanically dangerous due to anno domini. In practice McElligott overturned his Chummy Austin Seven when a brake locked, but he was unhurt and this crash proved a blessing in disguise for Lisle, whose Cozette-supercharged Austin Seven had burnt a piston in the first race; another was salvaged from the not-badly-damaged crashed Chummy in time for Lisle’s next appearance.
Racing opened before a not very large crowd with the first of several five-lap handicaps. Routledge’s 1924 Morris-Oxford racer being swamped after leading for three laps as the back-markers came through, Archdale’s Frazer Nash Special snatching victory from Bader’s Riley after the latter had experienced dicey moments on the grass after Woodcote. Kerr in Morin Scott’s 4½-litre Invicta, disguised to resemble a modern “Special,” found the car unstable and retired and Begley’s Frazer Nash chose to motor backwards at Woodcote. Third place was filled by Heap’s Riley.
The annual Vintage Light Car Handicap followed, over five trying laps, and gave heart to impecunious enthusiasts, inasmuch as Jones’ 1929 Austin Seven saloon led all the way at no mean speed (in a race in which the fastest lap, by the scratch Gwynne Eight, was at a mere 54.2 m.p.h.), and, moreover, it was in standard trim, even the lightened flywheel it wore on the “Boxing Night Exeter” having been removed. The race was notable for the appearance of no fewer than half-a-dozen Chummy Austin Sevens, all save the Winder car keeping their vintage three-speed gearboxes, and all looking decently standard. However. Milner’s 1926 A.C. passed them to finish second, but out of sight of the flying perpendicular Austin saloon, with Smith’s Gwynne third. Of the “Austin Seven G.P.,” after Michael’s smart 1923 Lagonda which displaced a push-rod, losing second place, they finished in the order — Chatterton (1930), Jones (1929), de Salis (1935), Winder (1928), Furness (1928) and Rendall (1928), all having started together and 15 seconds after the winning 1929 saloon. Some of these caught Dighton’s 9/20 Humber.
A class-divided five-lap scratch race for vintage sports cars saw Berrisford’s modified duck’s back 12/50 Alvis matched against Simpson in Head’s 1930 12/50, claimed to be the fastest of the Alvis model in existence, while Page produced the ex-Cuthbert supercharged Riley Nine which ran at Brooklands, some of its curious fairings and the forward-placed radiator still in evidence. Bertie Brown caught and beat Quartermaine’s 30/98 Vauxhall in his Frazer Nash, Pancheri’s Bentley third, and Meyhew’s Riley took the 1,100 c.c. class in spite of a singularly fine drive by Barker in the Austin “Simplicity,” which left Clutton’s Bugatti a long way behind, although Clutton was awarded the 3-litre class award.
In the next five-lap Handicap Ashley’s Frazer Nash and Moore’s Talbot 105 appeared, both repaired after their Oulton Park prang. However, the Talbot ate its fan belt which sheared the water-pump drive. Binn’s Riley looked a winner until Spence came up fast in Harrison’s Alvis-powered 3½-litre Frazer Nash, to win easily, with Overy’s 1937 4½-litre Lagonda third. Winder’s ex-Marcus Chambers’ “White Rabbit” single-seater Marshall-blown Austin Seven proved difficult to start and joined in a lap late for a wild run. Ormrod’s big Invicta retired, Ashley indulged in hair-raising slides and Padgett’s 6½-litre Bentley lacked speed, while Freeman went mowing at Woodcote in the scratch 2-litre Aston Martin.
The big race of the day was the 12-lap (50 kilo.) All Corners’ Scratch Race, for the Boulogne Trophy presented by D. B. Tubbs. This proved to be a splendid spectacle, and nothing remotely like the effort put in by the drivers in their diverse cars is seen at other Silverstone meetings, while the sounds are also a V.S.C.C. monopoly! It really was a stirring race, with Douglas Hull leading all the way in the 2-litre E.R.A., pursued by Chapman’s 1½-litre E.R.A. until the latter seemed to lose braking power and, on lap six Peter Waller, in space helmet, went by into second place, his power slides as he put his foot down with the white E.R.A. still sideways-on being magnificent to behold. Even more courageous was the manner in which Schellenberg put the Barnato-Hassan-Bentley round, its 8-litre engine used to be full, so that the big car, quite unsuitable to this circuit, leant on its tyres and took all the road at Woodcote. This brave drive gave Schellenberg fourth pace until lap nine, when S. I. Day’s E.R.A. got past. Moreover, Goodhew’s E.R.A.-Delage was trying hard to catch the Track Bentley, so it says much for Schellenberg that he was still ahead of this powerful road-racing car. On lap 14 Goodhew did get by, the Delage smoking, Schellenberg going wide to wave the smaller car by, then pressing on, regardless of the fact that the Bentley’s front wheels were bouncing off the road. Chapman’s E.R.A., still third, began to run badly, and lap 16 saw McDonald’s 4½-litre Bentley go very sick, whereas Rowley’s V12 Delage recovered its form for a few laps and began to motor fast. A lap to go and the Hassan-Bentley, boiling, crawled past the pits, a fuel pipe having collapsed — rotten luck. Hull won easily, at 74.07 m.p.h., making fastest lap of the meeting at 77.81 m.p.h., from the smaller-engined E.R.A.s of Waller, Chapman and S. I. Day. McDonald managed to keep going to win the Vintage class at 70.1 m.p.h. from Rowley and Ainsworth’s Invicta, his Bentley lapping at 73.09 m.p.h. The Alvis-Frazer Nash suffered from transmission bother and Neve’s ill-fated G.P. Bugatti retired in a big cloud of smoke — fortunately it has a handsome Rolls-Royce to tow it home on a trailer. The Bugatti Special, Type 51 engine in H.W.M. chassis, was never in the picture.
After this stirring battle we had a five-lap Handicap in which Butcher’s non-vintage i.f.s. four-speed, hydraulic-braked Austin Seven Special beat Halkyard’s 1912 Mercedes Ninety; Winder’s Austin racer just got home in third place, coasting over the line with a broken supercharger chain. Butlin drove a four-cylinder Amilcar with authentic Eldridge cowl. Crabtree’s 1931 12/60 Alvis with home-made alloy body and modern strut shock-absorbers non-started.
A fine bunch roared over the line at the conclusion of the All-Comers’ five-lap Scratch Race, Hull winning again and this time lapping at 77.18 m.p.h., from E.R.A. pilots Waller, D. H. Day, S.I. Day and Chapman, Goodhew and Schellenberg again indulging in a ferocious duel which necessitated passing either side of Steer’s Talbot on the fourth lap — and only on the last lap did the Delage beat the great Bentley. Nowhere but at a V.S.C.C. meeting do you see racing of this calibre!
There were three more five-lap Handicaps to conclude the meeting. In the first of these Binns’ Riley retired after leading the first lap, and in the closing stages Murray’s scratch E.R.A. came through to win from Brown’s Frazer Nash, with Michael’s ex-Goodhew 4½-litre Lagonda third, Mrs. Morton, who had put up a fine show in her husband’s B.M.W.-engined Frazer Nash being displaced by the back markers to fourth place. Mason’s Bentley retired and some delay was occasioned by the astonishing accident to Durdin’s Vauxhall, the axle of which was wheeled in by three marshals. Another spectacle which only the V.S.C.C. could produce was witnessed in the following race, when Whowell’s coupe de ville Rolls-Royce Twenty led for two laps, the race going finally to Donne in Nicol’s smoking 1930 blown 1,750.c.c. scratch Alfa-Romeo, from Jack French’s Austin Special and Berrisford’s shining 12/50 pre-selector Alvis. Hull was handicapped out of the last race, which Michael’s blue, lowered Lagonda won in a bunched finish, ahead of Wall’s blown 2.3 ex-Varzi G.P. Bugatti with pre-selector gearbox and D. H. Day’s E.R.A. The winners were:—
5-lap Handicap: A. Archdale (1932 Frazer Nash Special) 65.93 m.p.h.
Light Car Handicap: G. H. Jones (1929 Austin Seven saloon) 45.58 m.p.h.
Vintage Sports Cars 5-lap Scratch Race: B. E. Brown (1930 Frazer Nash) 64.64 m.p.h.
5-lap Handicap: H. Spence (1936 Alvis Frazer Nash) 69.11 m.p.h.
Boulogne Trophy 50-mile Scratch Race: D. H. C. Hull (1936 2-litre E.R.A.) 74.07 m.p.h.
5-lap Handicap: A. Butcher (1929 Austin Seven Special) 59.18 m.p.h.
5-lap Scratch Race: D. H. C. Hull (1936 2-litre E.R.A.) 75.45 m.p.h.
5-lap Handicap: A. G. Murray (1934 1½-litre E.R.A.) 70.77 m.p.h.
5-lap Handicap: C. H. Donne (1930 1,750-c.c. s/c Alfa Romeo) 64.84 m.p.h.
5-lap Handicap: L. S. Michael (1936 4½-litre Lagonda) 68.00 m.p.h.
Fastest lap of the day: Douglas Hull (E.R.A.) 77.81 m.p.h.