Veteran Edwardian Vintage, September 1960

A section devoted to old-car matters

The VSCC Silverstone meeting (July 23rd)

The second VSCC Silverstone Race Meeting of 1960 was held in fine weather before a crowd noticeably smaller than for the first meeting, holidays probably take a toll. Proof that some members arrive in the right sort of cars was evident by the 65 such cars which Boddy and his wife had directed into a special park between 8.30 am and noon.

Racing commenced with a confusing 12-lap Team Relay Race which had nine one-make teams, an Edwardian team, and a mixed team to sustain interest. Mobbs’ Lea-Francis having thrown a rod, Sawers sportingly substituted his 12/22 model and in the end the Austin Seven team won from the two Frazer Nash teams.

A 5-lap Handicap came next and included a 1922/8, 30/98 with imitation TT Vauxhall scuttle cowls and a C-type MG Midget. Butlin’s nice sv Amilcar looked like winning until it lost time gyrating, whereupon Batho’s Riley Nine tourer took the lead, to be passed on the last lap by Knight’s Riley Special, which just led over the line. This was a Riley benefit, for Jones’ 1936 Nine was third. Lockhart’s Peugeot was absent, its JAP engine having broken its crank.

The amusing Light Car Handicap followed and was notable for no fewer than nine vintage Austin Sevens, one of them a coach-built 1927 saloon, and these days VSCC  Austin Sevens seem more genuinely vintage than was once the case. The vintage Austin Seven is in a way the irritant of the Light Car Section, being so essentially practical that it is less fun than more exotic vintage small cars yet obviously a more sensible proposition for most purposes. This was demonstrated when, swapping places at different parts of the circuit, these little “Chummies” dominated the race, finishing in the order Furness (1927), Wallis (1928), Marsh (1925), the winner averaging 47.12 mph. Routledge made his customary fastest lap in the 1924 Morris-Cowley at 52.25 mph. Woodburn’s genuine sports Gwynne Eight, which had languished for years in a factory near London, went very well, plenty of revs making up for a slow three-speed gearbox, and Abrahams had made a neat sports model out of a 1928 Singer Junior. Turner’s Riley Nine saloon, which some thought didn’t qualify as a vintage light car, retired anyway.

The next 5-lapper was for fiercer stuff, Charnock’s “silver” 4.3 Alvis coming through well from “25 sec.”, to win at 69.38 mph from two Frazer Nashes, the Alvis lapping at 71.12 mph. Free­man’s Aston Martin threw its No 4 piston through the sump and the ex-Vaughan single-seater Shelsley Frazer Nash was in trouble.

Michael Bowler won the next 5-lap Handicap comfortably in his 1925 Frazer Nash, taking Duerden’s MG on the inside at Copse corner on the second lap, a feat emulated by Cook’s remarkably fast Ulster Austin in getting past Starke’s 12/50 Alvis two-seater. Sut­cliffe’s really fast, if understeering, FWD Alvis was second, ahead of the little Austin. A feature of the race was the duel between Routledge’s Morris-Cowley and Fone’s odd-bodied open Rolls-Royce, the less expensive outfit pulling away.

There was a break while Sir Francis and Lady Samuelson circulated in their 1914 TT Sunbeam, which still runs with its proper, but too-small, Claudel-Hobson carburetter. They were given a presentation to mark Sir Francis’ fifty years of active motor racing, a nice gesture on the part of the VSCC.

An impressive field now lined up for the 50-kilometres Boulogne Trophy Race. The Hon Peter Lindsay in ERA R5B “Remus” had no difficulty in winning, at 78.23 mph. Chapman’s ERA held second place for 13 of the 19 laps and on its retirement Schellen­berg in the enormous and enormously impressive Hassan 8-litre Bentley came up into second place, which he held even when in difficulties with the D-type gearbox. Most of the onlookers and the commentators, thought Day’s R6B ERA to be second but not so. Waller had got past Schellenberg in his R9B ERA on lap 14, but was behind again by lap 16. So these three finished, the great Bentley, which is a feature of modern VSCC meetings, taking the Vintage Section at 74.59 mph from Burton, who drove Cooper’s blown 8-litre Bentley because his own 41/2-litre had broken its rotor-arm, and Grice’s Bugatti. Lindsay and Day shared fastest lap at a creditable 80.18 mph.

Incidentally, it is interesting. that no fewer than eight ERAs started, including Gahagan making his first racing appearance with his ex-Arthur Dobson R7B with Hutchinson’s 2-litre engine conversion, he ran out of road. All but two of the original 17 ERSs are still active the two missing being “Romulus,” which Prince Chula has in Cornwall, and another crashed in France before the war. These cars contribute very materially to the sight and sound of historic racing-car events.

Clutton had a popular and easy win in the next 5-lap Handicap, the 1908 GP Itala averaging 57.86 mph. Sutcliffe’s FWD Alvis gained another second place, McArdle’s “Brooklands” Riley third. Bradley’s smoking 41/2-litre Bentley four-seater then ran away with the Vintage Sports Car Scratch Race at 69.86 mph, ahead of Cooper’s blown 8-litre Bentley and Ashley’s fast 1930 Frazer Nash. Dixon’s Ulster Austin caused amusement by passing Padgett’s 61/2-litre Bentley cheekily on the corners. Bradley managed a lap at 71.64 mph.

The fastest cars came out again for the All-Comers’ Scratch Race, Lindsay winning again in “Remus” at 79.0 mph, from Day, Waller and Schellenberg, Day recording fastest lap, at 80.62 mph. Schellenberg again won the Vintage Award.

A very close finish characterised the following 5-lap Handicap, Bill Mason’s 41/2-litre Bentley four-seater just leading from Cooper’s Bentley out of Woodcote for the last time, Meyhew’s Riley just failing to get second place. Mason averaged 64.78 mph and FP Morley’s scratch 8-litre Bentley lapped at 70.08 mph.

This interesting meeting ended with a final 5-lap Handicap which Murray, working hard in ERA R1A, the original ERA, ran away with it at 76.4 mph, lapping at 81.08 mph, fastest lap of the day. Behind came Charnock’s Alvis and Waller’s ERA, in second and third places. Sir Ralph Millais’ beautiful 1930 blown 2.3 Alfa-­Romeo had a good handicap but was not on form, while Morin Scott’s rare V12 Lagonda streamlined saloon was very slow and got in the path of Bradley and Waller, who were forced to pass on the right at Copse.-WB.