A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
Another one lost.—This 1899 Daimler Phoenix racing car has been bought by Daimler-Benz A.G. for their Stuttgart Museum. Only surviving example of five, its first owner was Count Eliot Zborowski. In 1901, over lunch in his Richmond Hill home according to Mercedes-Benz, he sold it to a Mr. Coventry of Monkton Park, Chippenham. This gentleman ran this fearsome Mercedes until 1912, after which it powered a circular saw on his estate. In 1954 it was disposed of to F. W. Hutton-Stott, who painstakingly restored it to its former glory. Now, alas, it is lost to our historic racing-car events.
V.S.C.C. Silverstone Race Meeting (July 26th)
Held in a heat wave, the second Silverstone Race Meeting of the Vintage S.C.C. produced some excellent racing. There were the usual misfortunes in practice, with Lindsay’s monoposto Alfa Romeo and Black’s Monza Alfa Romeo hors de combat, Marsh changing a broken metric bolt in the differential unit of the ex-Seaman E.R.A., and a rod through the crankcase of Farquhar’s fast ex-Dixon Riley Nine.
The programme opened with the traditional One-Hour High-Speed Trial, from which Cairnes’ Alvis retired after crashing and from which Jones’ Aston Martin, Daniel’s 2-litre Lagonda and Ashton’s Fiat were also eliminated and in which those who failed to make the required number of laps were Wittridge’s 4½-litre Lagonda> Warne’s Riley and Draper’s Salmson.
The first race was a five-lap handicap in which Mrs. Pilkington’s well-known blown 1750 Alfa Romeo led for the first three laps, having moments at Woodcote as she strove to keep ahead of the back-markers. They swept by, Major Bailey just getting home first in his shortened Derby Bentley boy’s racer ahead of Archdale’s plastic-bodied Frazer Nash Special and Collings’ 1928 4½-litre Bentley. Bailey was lucky to win, as his bonnet was lifting; had there been another lap to go he might well have been called in. Denis Jenkinson was a creditable fourth from scratch in Talbot BGH 23.
Another of these five-lappers followed, Buttle’s 1921/4 Austin Twenty Special, with twin S.U.s, fabric body, hydraulic four-wheel brakes and front axle and the traditional disc-shaped brake and clutch pedal plates rather amusingly drilled for lightness, going very smoothly to lead until the last lap, when Adnam’s Alvis-powered Frazer Nash, Thomas’ straight-eight Railton and Mrs. Cherrett’s blown 1½-litre Alfa Romeo, in a new coat of cream, all came by, to occupy the first three places in that order. Ulph’s blown Austin Cambridge Special also passed the big Austin, while Barbet’s 1926/9 Austin Chummy, with small rear wheels and a four-speed gearbox with bottom gear blanked off, had a great dice with Martin’s Austin Nippy, having taken Shoosmith’s straight-eight T.T. Sunbeam, which had jerked away from the line, on the outside at Woodcote. Lewis-Hall drove his 1929 Frazer Nash with its screen up, looking unexpectedly touring, and Alderson’s Riley, a Grebe replica constructed from an Adelphi saloon, was left on the starting line.
These short races acted as curtain-raisers to the 10-lap Boulogne Trophy Race for vintage racing cars. Neil Corner had bought the 1934 4-litre twin-blower V12 Sunbeam which won last year, driven by the Hon. Patrick Lindsay, from Sir Ralph Millais, with the express intention of winning this race. He did so, leading all the way, setting a new vintage racing car lap-record of 79.3 m.p.h., and pulling out an ever-increasing lead from Williamson in the 10½-litre V12 Delage, which has never gone better, doing 2,800 to 2,900 r.p.m., equal to about 120 m.p.h. down the straight and being cornered with matching abandon. So two ex-Land Speed Record holders were first and second in this splendid race. In fact, St. John’s G.P. Bugatti held second place for two laps but then retired with a fluffing engine. The third, fourth and fifth places were occupied throughout, from lap 5, after St. John had gone, respectively by Hines Bentley, Rippon’s G.P. Bugatti and Morley’s Bentley. Kain’s Type 35B Bugatti, using its small Jaguar-disc back wheels, was never in the picture, coming in for a plug change on the second lap, with too much oil in the cambox, and Clamp’s Riley Nine, Densham’s 30/98 Vauxhall and the A.B.C./G.N. retired. Sant finished in the 200-Mile Race Akela G.N., on original-size tyres, and several ex-Brooklands cars were competing, including Philip Mann’s Straker-Squire which, as the only so-called Edwardian, won the Edwardian prize. The other class winners were Clarke’s Ulster Austin, Joseland’s Frazer Nash “Terror II”, Rippon’s Bugatti, and the winning Sunbeam.
The next race was also an important one, the 15-lap Hawthorn Trophy for historic and vintage racing cars. Unfortunately it was ruined by a most untoward incident. After a lap Boorer’s Lotus 16-Climax was leading, Millar’s Maserati 250F was second, Pilkington’s Cooper-Bristol third, Corner’s Aston Martin was in fourth place, but its nose-cowl was badly crushed on the n/s, where the Tec-Mec which it was overtaking at Becketts had caught it with a rear wheel. A lap later Corner was second, in pursuit of Boorer. This lasted until Colin Crabbe, whose Maserati had broken a rocker arm in practice, found the repairs completed and, despite the fact that his engine was spilling considerable quantities of oil, rushed off up the Paddock road, narrowly missing spectators, and, ducking under the new Paddock exitgate, was out on the track and in the race before the marshals could stop him. He dropped oil on the road and on lap 8 Corner spun at Woodcote, leaving the Lotus in the lead, Merrick’s Tec-Mec second. Thereafter the Aston-Martin refused to pick up properly: it is possible that overheating from the crushed nose-cowl was causing overheating, although Corner suspected fuel starvation. So Boorer drew right away, the battle over, the Tec-Mec, very fast on the straight, held second place, Corner dropping back in third position, with Lindsay’s Maserati fourth. The oil flags slowed everybody and Millar just allowed Pilkington to pip him for fifth place on the run home. The Lotus deserved its victory, having made fastest lap, at 88.79 m.p.h., in a race which vintage purists may regard as a “modern” demonstration, in the same way as historic cars had demonstrated the week before, at the British Grand Prix!
For Crabbe it was a Stewards’ enquiry, rather like Billy Bunter up before the Beak . . . Never, said Corner, had he known the course more slippery, with oil everywhere; the Crabbe Maserati, with “Antique Automobiles” on its body, had certainly laid a tell-tale trail from paddock to track.
There next came a parade of vintage Bentleys, commencing with Lock’s 1921 3-litre with No.1 engine. The eight-lap Allcomers Scratch Race was won convincingly by Bill Morris in the ERA “Hanuman” (just to confuse Motoring News?) from Smith’s 3½-litre Alvis-engined Frazer Nash Special, while Gahagan, although he had been searching for more compression in the Paddock, got his 2-litre ERA home third. Blight ran all four of his Talbots, BGH 23 driven by Martin Morris, GO 52 by Mitchell, GO 53 by Curtis, and GO 54 by himself.
There remained three more five-lap handicaps, in the first of which Fleming’s smoking Alvis Special with ladybird-tailed body took the lead on lap 3, to secure a comfortable win from Elwell-Smith’s Aston Martin, Melville-Smith’s Brooklands-model Riley Nine which raced at Le Mans third. Sandy Skinner had graduated to four cylinders by borrowing Barry Clarke’s Ulster Austin but on the last rounding of Woodcote, when locked in combat with the Riley, he spun and a perhaps-non-standard rear wheel collapsed.
It was nice to see in the next race Rangeley-Wilson’s side-valve 1924 Martin on the appropriate Dunlop herringbone-tread tyres, and Bolton’s 1928 Fraser Nash—all very J.C.C. But it was the aforesaid Austin Twenty which was in the picture; having out-accelerated Nice’s Ulster Austin Seven at the start, it again ran well and steadily, staying in front for four laps, until Adnam’s Alvis-Fraser-Nash, not rehandicapped after its previous win and again making fastest lap only 0.6 sec. faster than in the earlier race, a model of consistency, came through to its second victory of the day, comfortably ahead of Thomas’ Railton, with Clifton’s Austin Twenty third. Incidentally, the last-named was built by some Alfa Romeo owners who find they cannot afford to race their Italian cars!
Finally, Beer won the last race in the ex-Pitt K3 MG Magnette, in spite of some misfiring, with Bishop’s Aston Martin second and Gahagan, despite a sick-sounding engine, bringing his ERA into third place for the second time that afternoon. As the cars had been getting ready for this race the Salmson-engined Morane Saulnier parasol monoplane, in which Lindsay had arrived upside down that morning, took off and, flown by Sqn-Ldr Kelly, indulged in some very advanced and beautifully executed aerobatics, fully in keeping with the vintage atmosphere. Now for Thruxton on September 13th.—W. B.