V.S.C.C. Silverstone meeting (July 22nd)

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Early printing schedules having prevented a report of this Mike Hawthorn Trophy Meeting going into the August issue, the following is a review rather than a lap-by-lap account of this extremely enjoyable occasion, for which the weather behaved splendidly, the crowd was large, and there was exciting racing and no serious calamities.

The Hawthorn Trophy Race over 15 laps of the Club circuit was contested by 17 racing cars, mostly post-War, but with a couple of E.R.A.s representing the pre-war brigade, Gahagan’s E.R.A. having been banished from the starting grid because of suspected oil leaks. Lindsay led the first lap in his black Maserati but Le Sage thereafter dominated the race in his 1958 2-litre Lotus, pursued, but at a distance, by Lucas in his 250F Maserati. It looked as if the new conception of historic racing car would win easily, but on lap to Le Sage was seen to be troubled by a locking front brake going into Woodcote, which allowed Lucas, who was using much opposite lock to control typical Maserati tail-slides on the slippery track, to close right up. At Becketts Le Sage went off and was shunted by the Maserati, which, undamaged, went on to win by a big margin (56.6 sec.) from Lindsay, whose Maserati does not handle as well as his earlier one and lacked braking power, Brewer’s G.P. Aston Martin was third and Bergel was fourth in the Maserati 250F he shares with Lord Clydesdale. Le Sage had the consolation of setting a new historic-car lap record, at 88.24 m.p.h. The Lotus’s day will come—but some advocates of Historic Car racing hope not too soon:

The other important race was the to-lap Boulogne Trophy Race for vintage racing cars. It produced one of the most exciting battles in V.S.C.C. history, so it was a dreadful pity that the officials messed it up by flagging-in the competitors one lap too soon. George Burton in Sir Ralph Millais’ 1925 (with later mods.) V12 4-litre supercharged Sunbeam “Tiger” (which, to reverse the famous slogan, must surely run on Esso?) was the favourite, but proved unable to hold off the redoubtable Bernard Kahl in his wire-wheeled 1926 Type 35B G.P. Bugatti-2½-litres supercharged beating 4-litres supercharged. These two ran away from the rest of the field from the start, and the Sunbeam looked able to run away from the Bugatti until lap 6 when Kain was on Burton’s tail. On the next lap he got past and into the lead on the very inside at Woodcote; on lap 8 he repeated these tactics, although the Sunbeam was quicker on the straights and in acceleration. On lap 9 Kain took the bigger car just before the corner, again on the inside, Burton having made no attempt to change his line to cut off Kain’s dodgy but useful route. It was then that the chequered-flag was waved, Burton driving into the Paddock before completing his 10th lap but Kain coming round to cross the finishing line again. A Stewards’ meeting was hastily called, and the positions after nine laps allowed to stand. This seems absolutely the right decision, because Kain had proved conclusively that, although the Sunbeam washed out the Bugatti’s initial advantage of having started from the front row of the grid, thereafter it could not keep pace with the French car. Kain’s driving was superb and he clinched his lead in the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Contest, which he richly deserved to do. But we shall never know whether Burton could have made that last-minute dash to the line needed to beat the Bugatti and it was a thousand pities the lap-scorers did not count up to ten…

As for the rest of the race, far behind came St. John in third place in his Type 35B Bugatti, troubled by overheating, with Williamson’s Bentley in fourth place. Corner’s Type 35B Bugatti broke a half-shaft, the Semmence Special shed its throttle-linkage. Kahl won by 0.2 sec. in a car which might well have run at Boulogne, and he and Burton both lapped at 79.03 m.p.h. Kain proved that his Bugatti was in good fettle by racing again, after attention to the o/s rear brake, but the Sunbeam went home. What a race! It was nice to see Panks in the Brabham-rebuilt Rootes’ Sunbeam “Cub” win his class, another class-winner being D. J. Brown’s Frazer Nash.

The other long race was the 8-lapper for pre-war All-Corners. This was again a terrific scratch. The Hon. Patrick Lindsay in his E.R.A. ” Remus ” led for most of the distance but two laps from the finish he, and Bertie Brown in his E.R.A., came round Woodcote side by side, but with enough room for them to pass one each side of Fuller’s pseudo-racer 4½-litre Bentley! Then on the run home Brown snatched a popular victory from Lindsay, by a matter of two seconds; ” Remus ” had lapped quicker, making fastest lap at 81.3 m.p.h. Apart from this battle, the remarkable Kain was in third place amongst the E.R.A.s, until lap 7 that is, when Sid Day got by, to lead the Bugatti over the line by 0.2 sec. Sandy Murray indulged in spins in his E.R.A. after stalling at the start.

The supporting races were the traditional 5-lap handicaps. The first caught the handicappers napping and allowed Mumby’s Austin 7 Special from the limit mark, a car presumably on its way to a 750 M.C. meeting which had come to Silverstone in error, to run away from Dick’s non-standard-looking imitation-” Brooklands ” Riley 9 and Cherrett’s Alfa Romeo. The winner averaged just under 58 m.p.h., aided by twin S.U.s, hydraulic brakes, remote gear-lever, abbreviated exhaust pipe and Dunlop CR48 5.00 15 rear tyres.

Kerr’s ex-Powys-Lybbe 12/50 Alvis just snatched the next handicap from Jardine’s Brescia Bugatti, with Rogers’ cut-about 16/80 A.C. Special third. In the next race Slater’s blown 1750 Alfa Romeo, scorning to remove its mudguards, led for four laps but failed to hold off Densham in the ex-Carson Special Vauxhall, which won from Fuller’s p.v.t. Bentley Special. There must have been rejoicing in the beer-tents over this 30/98 victory. Much the same happened in the next race, in which Delves-Broughtons very covetable Bamford & Martin s.v. Aston-Martin led for four laps but had to be content with fourth place behind Lipson’s scratch Frazer Nash, Dick’s Riley, and Tony Jones’ 30/98, in that order, when it came to crossing the finishing-line. Mather’s long-tailed A.C.-engined Frazer Nash enlivened things by spinning at Woodcote and Walton’s bolster-tank Austin 7 Special did likewise at Becketts, while Heath’s 1216o Alvis and Walker’s Fiat Balilla toured round at the back of the field.

During the afternoon there were two Parades, one for Edwardian cars, to revive interest in this section of the V.S.C.C., and another for Delage cars. The latter was of great variety, with cars of this famous French make, ranging from a 1906 single-cylinder brought over from the Clem Museum at the instigation of Arnold-Forster, to a couple of Delahayes (Types 135MS and 175) which were the last link with Delage. The aim had been not to put in every Delage this Section of the V.S.C.C. could lay hands on, but to have one of each available model. Thus CO, DI, DIS, DISS, DMS, D8, D6 and other representative Delage models were seen, from boat-decked tourers to stately saloons with big luggage trunks up behind, while more Delages stayed in the car parks, one of which, too remote from the Paddock, attracted the better vintage and p.v.t. spectators’ cars. Moreover, there was a racing section in this Delage Parade, led by Sir John Briscoe’s 1911 Coupe de l’Auto 3-litre, which brought out Rob Walker’s beautifully-restored straight-eight Seaman-type 1½-litre G.P. car, Rowley’s 1924 V12 G.P. Delage and Arnold-Forster’s 1922 Delage 11 “La Torpille.” Oliver Bertram was unable to get there to drive the ex-Land Speed Record V12 10½-litre Delage, which was just as well, because it caught fire on the Friday and now resolutely refused to run, due to clutch trouble, in spite of persuasion from the 1908 G.P. Itala. Bradley’s straight-eight G.P. car was another absentee, because it had experienced burnt pistons On the Friday caused by using too-soft plugs in its reassembled and therefore not very oily engine. This idea of a one-make Parade might well become a feature of V.S.C.C. Silverstone Meetings. All one-make organisations which cater only for pre-war cars should perhaps be formed into sections of the V.S.C.C.?

A very enjoyable day’s sport in the Brooklands tradition concluded with yet two more handicap races. The first of these produced a fine bunched finish, with Marsh’s low-chassis 4-litre Invicta, from scratch, just pipping Upson’s Frazer Nash to the flag, after conceding the chain-drive car 5 sec. start, while Rogers’ A.C. and Jardine’s Bugatti were well up with them. Black’s Monza Alfa Romeo came through from the 35-sec. mark to take the last race from Hine in Schofield’s Lagonda and Mrs. Freeman in the very fast 1936 Spa Aston Martin. And this enjoyable meeting finshed about 15 minutes ahead of schedule…—W.B.

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