V.S.C.C. Prescott Hill-Climb (August 16th)
Hot weather prevailed but times were slow. Arnold-Forster, having cancelled his entry because he thought his Delage engine had seized, found all was well, so opened the course, in a time of 52.32 sec. Fastest time of the day was made by Wilks (Cooper-Bristol) in 46.22 sec., reward for perseverance, because he had the head off and missed the morning runs, due to water leaks, making both his ascents in the afternoon. Thus the new era of post-war historic racing continues, although Wilks’ time was far slower than Douglas Hull’s vintage record of 44.17 sec. in the E.R.A.
The 1,100-c.c. sports-car class was won by Rolt’s modified Ulster Austin, from Ely’s p.v.t. Riley and Jones’ preselector p.v.t. Riley.
Vintagery prevailed in the 1,101-1,500-c.c. sports-car class, Geoghegan’s Frazer Nash winning both vintage and p.v.t. sections, Poynter ‘s Lea-Francis and Joseland’s alloy-bodied Frazer Nash being vintage runners-up, but slower than the p.v.t. entries of Johns (Frazer Nash) and Burke’s Boulogne Lea-Francis-engined Frazer Nash.
Footit made a splendid ascent, vanquishing the entire 1,501-3,000-c.c. sports-car class in his A.C./G.N., Hutchings’ 328 B.M.W. second, Hine’s 3-litre Bentley 2-seater third. There were four 328 B.M.W.s in this class, Taylor, whose own car had half-shaft trouble, borrowing Hutchings’, to make second-best time among them. Leo’s blown 2-litre Lagonda was all noise, but third in the vintage section.
Nothing could match Jonty Williamson’s ascent in his 4½-litre Bentley in the big sports-car class, his 49.39 sec. breaking Morton’s record, also in a Bentley, last year, of 51.57 sec. Burton tried hard to better this, in his 5.6-litre “de Dion Bouton,” and clocked 49.65 sec., taking to the grass at Orchard. Symondson drove very neatly into third place in his Type 57S Bugatti. Second-fastest vintage car was Marsh’s ex-works 4½-litre Invicta, which indulged in a real tail-slide on Orchard corner. The ex-Martin Morris 6½-litre Bentley, Curtis in control, made third-best vintage time.
The Edwardian class produced Bendall’s Austrian-Daimler, which hit the bank at the semi-circle, damaging its n/s. stub-axle, Rumsey in a Crossley, Giron, the Montagu Motor Museum’s new Chief Engineer, in the Coupe de l’Auto Sunbeam, Gurney in a 1912 52/16 Sunbeam tourer which won on handicap, and Barker’s fine 1908 Napier, which made best time, in 59.71 sec.
The first (1,100-c.c.) racing-car class went to Dowson in the Lightweight, Issigonis in attendance, which got away with rear wheels at improbable cambers, to record 51.1 sec. Evans tried very hard in the crab-tracked Chawner-G.N.—it has the J.A.P. engine out of the Brough Superior motorcycle “Leaping Leana,” now unblown—, getting second place, but crashing on its second run. Bruce-White was third, in the f.w.d. Douglas-engined H.M.-Special.
Peter Waller, really hanging out the E.R.A.’s tail on the corners, dominated the 1½-litre racing-car class, being nearly 9½ sec. faster than Kain’s Type 37 Bugatti, which was second. The next two classes were merged, Wilks making f.t.d., Cottam in the Horton Connaught being second, Martin Morris, whose 2-litre ex-Hull E.R.A. was on twin 5.25 x 18 rear wheels, third, on his only official run, trouble setting in early on his first.
Unfortunately, Morris elected to do another run for the benefit of B.B.C. TV, the throttle stuck open, causing him to brake hard going into Orchard, and the E.R.A. left the road on the inside of the corner, the driver sustaining a broken leg and chest injuries. Doc Taylor, although troubled by clutch slip at the start, made best vintage time in the Caesar Special.
1,100-c.c. Sports Cars : S. P. Rolt (Austin) ………………………………54.42 sec.
1,101-1,500-c.c. Sports Cars : M. S. Geoghegan (Frazer Nash) …… 53.08 sec.
1,501-3,000-c.c. Sports Cars : G. R. Footit (A.C./G.N.) ………………..50.46 sec.
Over 3,000-c.c. Sports Cars : J. T. Williamson (Bentley) ……………..*49.39 sec.
Edwardians : W. Gurney (Sunbeam) (on handicap).
1,100-c.c. Racing Cars : J. M. Dowson (Lightweight Special)…………. 52.10 sec.
Racing Cars : P. Waller (E.R.A.)………………………………………………46.46 sec.
Unlimited Racing Cars: W. E. Wilks (Cooper-Bristol)…………………..46.22 sec.
F.T.D. : Wilke (Cooper-Bristol), 46.22 sec. Fastest Vintage : W. A. Taylor (Caesar Special). 47.88 sec.
* New V.S.C.C. class record. .
The B.B.C. should buy Martin Morris a new E.R.A.! . And it would be common decency not to show the film of his crash. Incidentally, this has been an unlucky car, both St. John Horsfall and John Bolster crashing in it.
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Two competitors were excluded for unruly driving on the road in the vicinity of the hill—but who acts as Gestapo on these occasions?
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A slight delay was occasioned when a modern Jensen, ascending the hill, dropped some oil!
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Rumsey’s Crossley, in the Edwardian class, is surely the scruffiest car to have competed at Prescott? It is thought to have been a 1917 Army Staff car and was found in Ireland. But it has a high flat-fronted radiator, quite unlike the 1914/18 R.F.C. Crossleys, reminiscent, in fact, of an inflated version of that used on vintage Crossley 14s. Apparently two more such Crossleys are in existence, one newly discovered, the other a breakdown truck which had lent its rear wheels to Rumsey’s for the Prescott appearance. Rumsey made s.t.d. in 89.1 sec.
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Hennings’ smart 1933 Riley was the Index of Performance winner at Le Mans in 1934. It now weighs around 14 cwt., some 2 cwt. more than it did in those days.
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Philip Mann was running his Type 37 Bugatti as a sports car, tonneau cover over the passenger’s seat.
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Apparently both Buckle’s and Mrs. Ure’s Lancia Lambdas have been to Venice—where even vintage cars cannot be used!
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Hutchings made a slight error at Orchard on his first run, hitting the safety barrier with his n/s. wing, but going on undaunted.
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Samson’s 1919 30/98 Vauxhall is said to have been the 10th car built in the first batch of these cars, while Summers’ 2.3 Alfa Romeo, converted to 2.6-litres, is rumoured to have run only 300 miles in twelve years when found by its present owner.
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Blight drove his ex-Couper Talbot, BGH 23, using small wheels to lower the gear ratios, clocking 53.43 sec., Miss Rose was very neat and quiet in her 1934 3½-litre Bentley tourer, believed to have non-standard S.U.s (58.8 sec.), Skipp’s ex-Macklin 9-foot Invicta did 57.95 sec., Butt’s ex-Donald Munro Invicta 55.62 sec. Rose’s unblown 4½-litre team Bentley took 56.75 sec., Quartermaine’s 30/98 Vauxhall clocked 56.99 sec.
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There was the usual interesting assembly of old cars in the car parks. The Rolls-Royces had an enclosure to themselves, overlooked disdainfully by a couple of nice Hispano-Suizas.