A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
THE V.S.C.C. SILVERSTONE RACE MEETING (July 25th)
THE sun beating down, a big crowd, an entry of 150 and no serious accidents ensured a V.S.C.C. fixture fully up to the expected standards. The meeting opened with the traditional 6-lap Inter-Team Relay Race, difficult to follow, although it was obvious that the G.N. team, composed of Footit’s very fast and thoroughly effective A.C./G.N., Charlesworth’s neat and noisy G.N.-J.A.P. and the Chawner-G.N. driven by Evans, had won convincingly from a Bentley team and the scratch Bentleys, which included George Burton’s 5.6-litre car, which uses four “pots” from a Speed Six block but has the 4½-litre crankcase and o.h.c. drive.
The first normal race was a 5-lap Handicap incorporating the Vintage Light Car Race. It was a runaway win for Bolton’s 1929 Riley Nine 2-seater, its screen removed to convert it into a racer. A long way behind came Purnell’s 1929 2-litre Lagonda, followed home by Mrs. Sutton’s p.v.t. Riley Nine. Woodburn’s sports Gwynne Eight won the light-car section from Barry Clarke’s Cup Model Austin Seven and Milner’s immaculate A.C.
Another 5-lap Handicap came next. Besley was well placed for the first three laps in the handsome 1925 E.H.P. with body of wooden planks, which Hayes drove at Brooklands in 1927, when it lapped at over 82 m.p.h. Its Brooklands silencer had set the body on fire in practice but now all was well, the current 1750 Alfa Romeo engine under the open-sided bonnet propelling it effectively, although Bishop’s well-known 2-litre Aston Martin, Brogden’s 4½-litre Bentley and Archdale’s “mod. cons.” Frazer Nash swamped the E.H.P. on lap four. It looked as if Archdale had taken the lead on the last lap but apparently Brown’s “limit” Frazer Nash T.T. Replica had kept its lead unnoticed, because it was flagged as the winner. Harry Rose had a difficult drive in his 4½-litre Bentley, a sticking throttle necessitating driving on the ignition switch. One of the nicest M.G.s racing was S. F. Beer’s NE Magnette, looking exactly the same as when Norman Black drove it in the 1934 T.T.
In the third 5-lap Handicap the lead was taken on the third lap by B. Beer’s single-seater blown M.G. J3, possibly the ex-Harvey Noble car, which, sounding very crisp, ran away with the race from Coles’ J4 M.G. 2-seater, which is assisted by Formula Junior brakes. Third place went to Wood’s low-chassis 100-m.p.h. Invicta.
One of the important races of this hot July afternoon was the 12-lap Boulogne Trophy Scratch Race for Vintage Racing Cars. Jonty Williamson led away in his 4½-litre Bentley on an enjoyable opening lap, pursued by St. John’s blown 2.3 G.P. Bugatti, so beautifully rebuilt since the days when it had a Ford V8 engine, and F. P. Morley’s 8-litre Bentley. Then the Bugatti went ahead for three laps and it seemed an unassailable winner until, on lap five, it spun at slippery Becketts Corner and was hit tyre to tyre by Morley, whose Bentley finished the race with the wheelbase some 2 in. shorter one side than the other. The Bugatti, alas, was out. Arnold-Forster’s big Delage was also involved and apparently shifted a valve in one of J. Morley’s 4½-litre Bentley’s tyres. Undaunted, the other Morley led the race, pursued by Williamson, the Delage and Sowden’s lengthy 8-litre Bentley, the gallant Footit A.C./G.N. fifth. A lap later, the sixth, Williamson passed Morley, and on lap seven Arnold-Forster, turning on the pressure, had the Delage in second place. Morley tried to retake the French car on the inside going into Woodcote the next time round but found Goodman’s Alvis-engined Lea-Francis in his path. So they finished, with no more fireworks, except for a momentarily missed change-down at Woodcote by the winning Williamson on lap 10, his Bentley boiling merrily after losing its fan belt. He won by 3.2 sec. Sixth place went to Hine’s steady 100-m.p.h. 3-litre Bentley and the class winners were Charlesworth’s G.N. Special, Kain’s Bugatti, the A.C./G.N. and the victorious Bentley. Schellenberg in the ex-Cooper 8-litre Bentley with non-vintage supercharger had retired on lap three with inadequate retardation.
Another 5-lap Handicap saw Rogers’ smart yellow-wheeled Austin Ulster lead from a “limit” start for three laps before Morehen in Bishop’s Aston Martin came through to win from Marsh’s low-chassis 100-m.p.h. Invicta and Barrow’s 1930 Frazer Nash.
So to the very intense and exciting 12-lap All-Comers’ Scratch Race. . . . Margulies’ Connaught and Wilks’ Cooper-Bristol were away well from the front row of the grid, pursued by Lindsay’s E.R.A. The order after the standing lap was Wilks, Lindsay, Ashley (H.W.M.), Margulies, Brown (E.R.A.), misfiring slightly, and Spence (Frazer Nash). On lap three, Ashley, going powerfully, took the lead, Wilks second, Lindsay third. This order held to the end, all three driving fast but becoming equally spaced out after lap six, the H.W.M. winning by 12.8 sec.; Brown held fourth place ahead of Morris in the E.R.A. “Hanuman”, Gahagan’s 2-litre E.R.A. sixth, after Waller’s E.R.A. had spun at Woodcote, until Gahagan pulled in with suspected piston trouble. Margulies lasted only four laps, before the Connaught retired from fourth place to the Paddock with internal maladies.
Towards the end Ashley was seen to be pointing at the H.W.M.’s bonnet, but he won convincingly, at 81.19 m.p.h., after a lap at 83.17 m.p.h. So now Connaught, Cooper-Bristol and H.W.M. have vanquished the pre-war Historic Racing Cars, and in future the V.S.C.C. intends to recognise separate classes for such cars, pre- and post-war, letting in more recent examples of the latter.
Next the Edwardians had a gentle 3-lapper. It was nice to see “Steady” Barker win easily in the splendid 1908 11½-litre Napier, looking very “Brooklands”, which he has so painstakingly rebuilt since discovering it derelict, from a note in MOTOR SPORT, in a shed in a remote Hampshire village. Stable cornering assisted it, but the big engine was pretty hot at the finish. There was a better Edwardian field this time, Neve’s 1914 T.T. Humber whistling into second place (the whistle, which at Brooklands these cars shared with a Berliet called “Whistling Rufus”, is caused by air passing through the radiator and comes in at about 85 m.p.h.), ahead of Fitzpatrick’s enormous 21-litre 1907 Metallurgique. It was rather surprising to find Mann’s blue 6-cylinder ex-Kensington Moir Brooklands Straker-Squire in this race, until one remembered that Edwardians date to 1918 and certain rear-braked cars come into this V.S.C.C. category (but surely not the Napier-Railton or an Anzani Frazer Nash?). Mann was worried about a split in the radiator but on the last lap took Williamson in the 1908 Itala going into Woodcote. The crowd derisively clapped Crabbe’s low 1914 4½-litre Renault but true enthusiasts appreciated his gesture in running this elegant stripped touring car. Neve took the prize for fastest car.
In the 5-lap All-Comers’ Scratch Race Lindsay and Schellenberg crept the start, Lindsay laughing happily, and leading lap one, although the big Bentley beat him on initial acceleration. It was between Lindsay and Waller, and that is how they finished, Brown third, ahead of Hutchings’ hybrid Bugatti, Lindsay’s best lap at 80.4 m.p.h., compared with the H.W.M.’s 83.17 m.p.h. in the 12-lap race.
As usual, the racing concluded with more 5-lap Handicaps. The first of these was interesting for the manner in which Taylor’s “un-Bristolised” r.h.d. 1939 328 B.M.W. came through the field from virtual scratch to win from Hudson’s 1931 M.G. Midget and Brown’s Frazer Nash.
Hutchings’ blown 3.3 Bugatti came through to win the last race from Knight’s R.R.A. and Symondson’s type 57S Bugatti, Elliot-Pyle causing consternation by stopping on the apex of Woodcote to shut the boot of his Lea-Francis and then stalling his engine. But this is a proper Hyper T.T. car with vertical Cozette blower, so one hopes to see it again. A well-supported meeting, and great fun!—W. B.
Boulogne Trophy Race:
1st : J. Williamson (1926 4½-litre Bentley) 71.84 m.p.h.
2nd: N. Arnold-Forster (1922 5.1 Delage)
3rd: F. P. Morley (1930 8.0 Bentley)
12-lap All-Comers’ Scratch Race:
1st : R.W. Ashley (1951 2½ H.W.M.) 81.19 m.p.h.
2nd: W. E. Wilks (1952 2.0 Cooper-Bristol)
3rd: The Hon. P. Lindsay (1936 1½ s/c E.R.A.)
6-lap Inter-Team Relay Race: 1st: The G.N. Team 66.46 m.p.h.
First 5-lap Handicap: 1st: J.R. Bolton (1929 1.0 Riley) 61.19 m.p.h.
Second 5-lap Handicap: 1st: D. J. Brown (1930 1½ Frazer Nash) 60.58 m.p.h.
Third 5-lap Handicap: 1st: B. Beer (1932 0.75 s/c M.G.) 64.15 m.p.h.
Fourth 5-lap Handicap: 1st: A. J. Morehen (1932 2.0 Aston Martin) 64.69 m.p.h.
3-lap Edwardian Handicap: 1st: R. Barker (1908 11.5 Napier) 56.35 m.p.h.
5-lap All-Comers’ Scratch Race: 1st: The Hon. P. Lindsay (1936 1½ s/c E.R.A.) 78.02 m.p.h.
Sixth 5-lap Handicap: 1st: R.C. Taylor (1939 2.0 B.M.W.) 63.50 m.p.h.
Seventh 5-lap Handicap: 1st: R. A. Hutchings (1934 3.3.s/c Bugatti) 72.40 m.p.h.
Although racing cars of the ‘fifties now, naturally, vanquish the E.R.A.s and their contemporaries in Historic Car Races, there was some consolation to those who prefer the latter, that at Silverstone the Cooper-Bristol was entered for only one race, Margulies’ Connaught “blew up” and Michelsen deemed it imprudent for Ashley to drive the H.W.M. in its second race, whereas Lindsay’s E.R.A. went strongly through both its engagements.
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Another entry amongst post-war racing cars was Crump’s 1951 Cromard Special. Waller was driving with more than customary fire but a spin delayed his E.R.A.
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One of the nicest Salmsons seen racing for some time was Vincent’s blue 1928 car.
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Sam Clutton allowed Bergel, whose G.P. Bugatti was badly damaged at Rouen, to conduct his Type 43 Bugatti.
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The course-patrol car was a mighty vintage Bentley, and by way of contrast there was a modern Honda sports car, with Oriental occupants, in the Paddock.
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The girls are supporting vintage racing in growing numbers— this time we saw Mrs. Missen in her hip-bath Gwynne, Miss Rose in her father’s big Bentley, Mrs. Cherrett in sleeveless summer frock and a Alfa Romeo, Mrs. Sutton controlling a Riley, Mrs. Glydon in another Riley, and Mrs. Hogg driving a s.v. Aston Martin.
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“Steady” Barker’s great Napier, which won the Edwardian race on its first public appearance since its meticulous rebuild, invariably commences “on the switch” and has a period Lodge lighting set complete with plate quoting contemporary lighting-up times, which involves so many controls that a passenger is essential to operate them all if the car is used at night.
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Light relief was provided by Roger Paxton’s 1923 flat-twin A.B.C., which sounded like a battery of Gatling guns in its first race but went better in its second, after attention to its magneto. It has a skeleton home-brewed body, a prominent fixed starting handle which must be the envy of many modern car owners, and wire front, artillery back wheels. Other, smarter, polished alloy-bodied cars were Joseland’s 1926 Frazer Nash and Absom’s 1935 Lagonda Rapier.