A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
THE V.S.C.C. SILVERSTONE RACE MEETING (July 30th)
ON a day during which the weather fluctuated, like the £, from torrential rain to sunny spells, the Vintage S.C.C.’s second Silverstone Meeting Of 1966 witnessed some of the most exciting and tense racing ever, of this kind. Spectators certainly had magnificent value for their ten-bobs.
There had been a few mechanical disasters in practice. Crabbe had hoped to drive his “new” 1953 Mascrati 250F but it broke its back axle, a spare was installed, and this also broke, so that it was a static exhibit in the Paddock. Margulies’ Connaught was another non-starter, with engine derangements, and the Winder/Laxton 1922 i.o.e. G.N., which has been languishing in Blackpool for some years. was seen to have had its o/s cylinder barrel removed so that high spots could be filed off the piston,shortly before the first nice, in which it failed to run, although doing half its warmingup lap.
This race was a 5-lap Handicap, in which 18-year-old Flitcroft, driving a 1934 Riley Lynx 14/6, took the lead on the second lap and won very easily from Slater’s 1929 blown 1750 Alta Romeo, both this car and Skinner in Retter’S 1932 Aston Martin passing Upston in Sheffield’s 1932 D-type M.G. Midget “Nonesuch” on the last lap. Fastest lap was Made by McEwen’s scratch 1937 Riley Sprite, with outside exhaust system and cycle wings, at 64.04 m.p.h. An interesting car was Sutton’s Boyd-Carpenter long-tailed 1929 Austin 7.
A similar Handicap followed, Joseland’s 1926 alloy-bonneted Frazer Nash leading for the first two laps on a wet track, after which Smith’s well-known 1935/7 Fiat Balilla made up its 20-sec. handicap and went into the lead, which it held to the end, Giles’ 1931 Frazer Nash and Dudley’s 1931 Aston Martin also overtaking Joseland on lap four to occupy the places. Frank Lockhart’s 10½-litre chain-drive Fiat was running as badly as it has since James took it over but its exhaust note still contrived to shake the ground. and Deitman’s boat-bodied 1918 type-CO 4½-litre Delage, with twin Zeniths, S.E.V. magneto and Delage plug-terminals, was very sedate, but a welcome competitor nevertheless. Tony Jones’ 30/98 Vauxhall showed promise until its magneto-coupling worked loose, Arnold-Forster was smiling broadly, although pretty wet in his shining Anzani Frazer Nash, “Steady” Barker was wetter still in the exposed driving seat of the 1908 11½-litre Napier, Clutton drove the 12-litre Itala of like antiquity with his usual skill, and Shurmer was undeterred by an off-course excursion at Woodcote in his 1928/37 Riley. Fastest lap, under beastly conditions, was done by Giles, at 58.95 m.p.h.
Yet another 5-lap Handicap came next, a sort of “boy’s racer” benefit. At first Purnell’s 1929 2-litre Lagonda 4-seater, making excellent use of its limit start, looked a likely winner, but on lap three Caimes’ 1935/8 4.3-litre Alvis Special came through strongly, to take the flag front Woolstenholmes’ 1937 4.3-litre Alvis and Lewis-Hall’s 1937 3½-litre Soda Squirt, which had its screen folded flat in the pre-war sportscar tradition. It seems you cannot suppress these special p.v.t. Alvis racers! Indeed, fastest lap, at 66.08 m.p.h., was established by Stephen’s 1933/7 4.3-litre Alvis. Cook’s modem-looking 1935 Riley Special held off Mountford’s much-drilled 21½-cwt. 1928 4½-litre lientley to take fourth place, Brogden’s noisy 1927 4½-litre Bentley being sixth. Wadham’s 1934 Speed 20 Alvis fell back after mowing the grass opposite the pits on lap three.
The 5-lap Group Handicap was a gift for Kimber’s dark blue ex-Abraham 1928 o.h.c. Singer Junior racer, which led all the way except for a brief challenge by Ashton’s 1935 Balilla Fiat on the second lap. To give hint credit, however, Kimber was using all the width of the course on the corners and the Singer’s crew had cured a tendency for the car to empty its sump-oil over the externals of the engine since the first race. Kimber must have been delighted to win this, his third race in the car, for an outlay of perhaps £100. Father Flitcroft brought the Riley Lynx home second after making fastest lap at 57.2 m.p.h., Glover’s very smart 1927 long-stroke Alvis 12/50 beetle-back with full road equipment was third, Nice’s Ulster Austin 7 fourth. Golder’s “boy’s-dicer” 1936 Riley treated the damp on-lookers to spins culminating in a 360° skid, and young Lockhart to aquaplaning-understeer in an Austin 7 Special which would have looked more at home in the 750 M.C. Six-Hour Relay Race than amongst V.S.C.C. confections.
There was an interlude from racing when a munber of Edwardian cars indulged in a 2-lap parade. It was splendid to see R. G. J. Nash out again, his first appearance since 1939, in the venerable 1912 15-litre Grand Prix Lorraine-Dietrich “Vieux Charles Trois”—he whispered to us afterwards that he got into top gear down the straight, in a chain-driven car which lapped Brooklands Track at nearly 106 m.p.h. Jack Williamson also got top momentarily in the 1908 Itala, now on its normal-size back wheels, which was currying four passengers. Tubbs drove his “Mr. Toad” 1906 opposed-piston Gobron-Brillie; all 7.6-litres Of it, N. A. Ridley had the late Laurence Pomeroy’s “Prince Henry” Vauxhall out, with Mrs. Pomeroy present to watch it. Fitzpatrick drove his fabulous 1907 ex-Eldridge 21-litre Metallurgique-Maybach, Barker his racing Sixty Napier, Barry Clarke his 1913 “Percy Lambert”-type Talbot. while John Rowley had another of these delectable side-valve 25-h.p. Talbots, newly-bodied with a very sporting Edwardian pointed tail and Denman his rare Delage.
That over, the serious business of the afternoon, the 15-lap Mike Hawthorn Trophy Scratch Race for Historic Racing Cars, took place over a patchy wet track. What a race it was! A large field of very fast historic racing cars roared away, only Merrick in Murray’s E.R.A. jibbing on the grid, with rumoured fuel-feed trouble. Cottam led in his Connaught, pursued by Lindsay’s Maserati 250F. Then, on lap three, Lucas’ Maserati 250F took Lindssy, all the leading cars on the limit and sliding like fury—so much so that as Lucas took Lindsay at Woodcote he spun, and so the order became Cottam, Lindsay, Millar’s Maserati 250F, a bit more spaced out by this fourth lap, with Wilks’ Lotus, le Sage’s Lotus and Spero’s Maserati 250F; in a tight bunch behind, followed more discreetly by Brewer’s Aston. Martin and Salvage’s Connaught, the sight and song glorious, if a little frightening, to behold.
After five laps Cottam had lapped Kitchener’s Alta and as the course dried out Lindsay put on the pressure and passed the Connaught on lap eight, although anxious about 3rd gear, which was jumping out of mesh. The ninth lap saw Brewer in the 1959 3-litre Aston Martin and le Sage’s 1958 Lotus vanquish Millar’s Maserati, and a lap later le Sage overtlok Brewer. The real excitement, however, was that Cottam had surged ahead of Lindsay but next time.round, very skilfully holding a nasty slide out of Woodcote, Lindsay was again in the lead. Lucas was doing all he could to wash out the deficiency resulting from his spin, this Maserati, too, sliding wildly. On the 12th lap Lindsay’s gearbox trouble looked serious but he held the lever in and kept his lead, he and Cottam now well clear of le Sage, Brewer and Wilks, who had also pipped Millar. On lap 13 Salvage had a really fearsome slide from Woodcote and appeared about to hit the pits backwards. He earned well-merited applause by tweaking the Connaught sideways at the last moment so that all that made contact was the o/s rear tyre, and he immediately resumed the race, although outplaced by Spero.
It was all exceedingly exciting and worthwhile and a rather tired Lindsay took the chequered flag 9.6 sec. before Cottam, having averaged 79.04 m.p.h., and won this race for the second year in succession. Le Sage was third, Brewer fourth, and the pre-war award went to Waller’s E.R.A., which lapped at 79.3 m.p.h. and averaged .74.51 m.p.h. Fastest overall lap, as compensation for his earlier mistake, was set up by Lucas, at 85.13 m.p.h.
This was great value for the spectators who filled, the pits grandstand. The only unfortunate episode happened on lap seven, when Kerr’s 1948 4.3-litre Alvis Special came sideways across the course out of Wocdcote and hit the pile of tyres which act as a barrier at the pit-road wall. Kerr was flung out onto these tyres, to be supported by none other than Clerk-of-the-Course Tim Carson until the doctor arrived and Kerr was able to walk dazedly away. The barriers proved their worth, for the Alvis wasn’t badly damaged.
After the “phews” and “ooh-errs” had died away a 5-lap Group Handicap was contested, in which Peter Moores’ super charged side-valve Austin 7 Replica single-seater, now with a different radiator so that it doesn’t require artificial cooling on the starting grid, led from the second lap to the finish, blower squealing audibly and its corners taken very fast and determinedly. This was a fine run-away victory, about which Carmichael’s 328 B.M.W. and Woolstenholme’s Alvis could do nothing at all. Symondson drove his usual impeccable race, a sort of quiet afternoon drive, in his 3.3 Bugatti sports car, but found the traffic rather heavy, although he finished fourth, from the scratch group, tying for fastest lap, at 72.0 m.p.h., with Stephen’s Alvis.
The next most important race after the Hawthorn Trophy was the 10-lap Boulogne Trophy Scratch Race for vintage racing cars. Bernard Kain’s 1926 Type 35B Bugatti which had run so well at Rouen looked all set to walk away with it, but after leading the Molsheim contingent for eight laps he slowed with alleged fuel-feed trouble and St. John’s 1929 Type 35B Bugatti took the lead, to win by 17.6 sec. at 73.84 m.p.h. from Barraclough in Sowden’s massive 1930 8½-litre Bentley and Kain, who was still comfortably ahead of McCosh’s 1926/30 4½-litre Bentley, which Moffat’s slim-tyred Bugatti chased home, ahead of Morley’s 8-litre Bentley, Kain also made fastest lap, at 76.98 m.p.h. Neil Corner, in the 1930 rebuilt Jim Berry Type 35B Bugatti, had held third place until lap four, but went wide onto the grass opposite the pits (he sensibly let his car run straight), allowing St. John to go into second position. Corner had to come into the pits the next time round, due to loss of water, thus destroying a 1, 2, 3 Bugatti finish. This was another excellent race, especially as Cecil Glutton drove the rebuilt 1923 10½-litre V12 Delage on its first British appearance (it had run at Rouen) since it caught fire under him in 1952). Most unfortunately Brooke’s Vauxhall Villiers was leaking oil from its cam-gear and had to he scratched after taking its place on the starting grid.
The class winners in the Boulogne Trophy Race were Lord Strathcarron (Riley), J. Smart (Norris Special), St. John (Bugatti) and Barraclough (Bentley).
Even now the drama wasn’t over, because a short, sharp 5-lap All-Comers’ Scratch Race was on the card. On a now-dry course Lucas led all the way in his 1957 Maserati 250F, recalling the great days of Fangio. He beat Wilks’ Lotus by 9.0 sec. and his race average speed was 83.56 m.p.h., his best, lap at 85.38 m.p.h., making this quite the fastest event of the afternorm. Cottam had been second at the end of the first lap, but was passed by Wilks, only to press the Lotus very hard thereafter, the Connaught finishing only 0.4 of a second behind it, with Bergel in the Maserati 250F he shared with Lindsay fourther, Millar fifth, Waller sixth, Lindsay’s effort in the “Remus” of taking Morris’ E.R.A. on the inside at Woodcote on lap four failing to prevent Balmer’s Cooper-Bristol from finishing between these two E.R.A.s. Great stuff! Crabbe drove his 1934 2.9-litre Maserati as his 250F was hors de combat, depriving Corner of a drive. It looked a handful, but. finished 11th nevertheless, in spite of a grass-excursion, ahead of Gahagan’s 2-litre E.R.A. the latter beating a sports Bentley, Moores’ little Austin and Sir Ralph Millais, out for the first time in his recently-assembled Monza Alfa Romeo.
Another 5-lap Group Handicap was won by Gue’s low-chassis 4½-litre Invicta from Smith’s Balilla Fiat and Ann Shoesmith’s 1934 3½-litre Bentley, and in the last race, a 5-lap normal Handicap, Potter’s 1951 2-litre Alta sprang a surprise by leading after the second lap, to win unchallenged by 16.4 sec., very encouraging to other Alta owners, from Kain’s Bugatti and Lockhart, whose 1948 Rover Special is going very well these days. “Jonty” Williamaon now drove the big Delage, with sensible circumspection, as befits such an historic one-off car. Fastest laps in these races were made by Mrs. Shoesmith (65.34 m.p.h.) and Kain (77.18 m.p.h.).
Mike Hawthorn Trophy Race: The Hon. Patrick Lindsay (Maserati) 79.04 m.p.h.
Boulogne Trophy Race: G. S. St. John (Bugatti) 73.84 m.p.h.
All-Comers’ Scratch Race: C. Lucas (Maserati) 83.56 m.p.h.
First 5-lap Handicap: J. E. Flitcroft (Riley) 57.27 m.p.h.
Second 5-lap Handicap: G. Smith (Fiat) 56.51 m.p.h.
Third 5-lap Handicap: E. M. H. Cairnes (Alvis) 61.45 m.p.h.
Fourth 5-lap Handicap: R. W. Potter (Alta) 73.16 m.p.h.
First 5-lap Group Handicap: R. J. Kimber (Singer) 52.72 m.p.h.
Second 5-lap Group Handicap: P. Moores (Austin) 67.52 m.p.h.
Third 5-lap Group Handicap: H. L. Gue (Invicta) 61.79 m.p.h.
The course patrol cars consisted of Berrisford’s all-aluminium 12/50 Alvis duck’s-back and a very nice 37.2-h.p. Hispano-Suiza saloon imported from France some years ago.
Cecil Clutton is very brave to drive again the Delage which nearly incinerated him at this venue 14 years ago. Moreover, he didn’t hang about, and spun the big car during the eighth race. It arrived at Silverstone towed on a trailer behind a VW van. This ex-Land Speed Record Delage which Cobb, Bertram and Kay Petre drove at Brooklands is owned jointly by Jack Williamson and Cecil Chalon.
A very enjoyable party was held in its garage on the evening after the meeting, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1908 Itala, also jointly owned by Clutton and Williamson, winning its first vintage award, at the V.S.C.C. Bramshill Speed Trials. As this party was given by the Itata and not by its owners it would he invidious to refer to the humans who were present, but it should go on record that the motor cars which attended, to pay homage, included its stable companion, the aforesaid V12 Delage, Tubbs’ Gobron-Brillie. Fitzpatrick’s Metallurgique-Maybach, Barker’s 11½-litre Napier of its own age, Ridley’s “Prince Henry” Vauxhall, Arnold-Forster’s Frazer Nash, a Bentley, a Lancia Lambda, and the almost juvenile Jenkinson/Boddy Sunbeam Sixteen, etc. May the Itala and its drivers function as well for another 30 years. . . .
St. John thoroughly deserved his win in the Boulogne Trophy Race because he had spent most of the previous night machining a set of eight new pistons from bare castings. Zenner also spent a lot of his afternoon rebuilding the clutch of his Type 37 Bugatti.
Potter’s Alta performance in the last race should provide encouragement for other owners of these notoriously temperamental cars, although Ellerton’s two-stage-blown Chorhon-Alta started badly and Roberts’ 1948 Alta non-started.
Some reports gave fastest lap in the seventh race to Edwards’ big Lagonda. Don’t believe them!
Lord Strathcarron’s Riley 9 which won the up-to-1,100.c.c. class of the Boulogne Trophy Race is the ex-Mayhew car with Mk. I Treen chassis and a Merlin cylinder block and crankshaft, which sounds a bit p.v.t. for this race. But then Peter Binns used to compete in it with a so-called 1929 “Brooklands” Riley 9 with a 1933 engine, chassis and radiator, although we gather its sump and back axle were vintage! Kain looks as if he has the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest well buttoned up, with 70 points.
The final round is at Castle Combe on September 17th—if you enjoyed the fierce V.S.C.C. racing at Silverstone, this is a date of which to make a very firm note!