V.S.C.C. Prescott Hill Climb

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(August 10th)

It has been said that the older cars run badly if they are too cool and if they are too hot, being at their best somewhere between these extremes. It was swelteringly hot at Prescott, which may be why only one new record was established, Black improving on his over-3,000 c.c. sports-car figure in the Monza Alfa Romeo by 0.14 sec.; it has taken him four years to do this. Cottam, however, repeated last year’s ability to make f.t.d., although his Connaught AL10 did not beat its owner’s 1966 record, being 0.14 sec. slower. A remarkable coincidence, here. Cottam beat Merrick in the Tec-Mec, perhaps because the Colotti-modified Maserati seemed too powerful for the hill and took it mainly on a trailing throttle. Pilkington’s Cooper-Bristol was third in this over-1,500 c.c. racing class, in which best vintage time was made by Kain’s 35B Bugatti, after nearly setting its tyres on fire from the start line.

Barry Clarke’s very quick Ulster Austin wiped up both vintage and general sections of the small sports-car class (51.58 sec.) as he did last year. Jack French was hoping to defend his old record but ran into his tow car and damaged his Austin too badly to run. The well-supported 1,100- 1,500 c.c. sports car class was won by McEwan’s 1937 Riled (53.57 sec.), best vintage time being made by Skirrow’s Frazer Nash. Sutcliffe’s Lea-Francis Special, by dint of a super-charged Alvis Silver Eagle engine, took outright best time (52.97 sec.) in the 1,500-3,000 c.c. sports car class, the only opposition coming from Rogers’ A.C. Special, still with the same engine as when it won the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy, which even vanquished Mitchell’s 328 BMW. Runners-up to Black in the big sports-car class were Blight’s BGH 23 Talbot, on its 16 x 6.50 tyres and 4.6 axle ration—1.63 sec. slower than the blown Alfa—and Bailey’s Derby Bentley “racer”. There were but two vintage entries in this class, of which Conway’s Type 43 Bugatti easily beat Tony Jones’ 30/98 Vauxhall, but perhaps Tony didn’t have to change eight plugs between runs!

Sam Clutton really hurled the 1908 G.P. Itala about, winning the Edwardian section on time and handicap, aided by oversize Avon “Highroad” back tyres. Barker crashed his Napier very gently on the first run and couldn’t beat Neve’s TT Humber on his second, a case where there was a substitute for litres. Mann’s Straker Squire was second on handicap and the field was expanded as Sir Alec Coryton ran his 1903 Napoleon and Dymond his sporting 1911 De Dion Bouton.

The better sounds and speeds came with the racing cars, Merrick in Murray’s ERA taking the up-to-1,100 c.c. class (48.68 sec.) from the Hardy Special by 1.86 sec. after two very consistent ascents—nice to see a 1,100 c.c. ERA in action. Its o/s rear tyre was welted before the start to try to get some spin to counteract too-high gearing—a touch worthy of Parry Thomas! Waller made a find run, in spite of graunching noises from the rear of his ERA. “Hanuman” by as much as 2.87 sec. (45.86 sec.). Joseland’s Frazer Nash, which appears to have a fuel tank which can be quickly unclipped, was best vintage (51.1 sec). Posner went into the sand at Pardon on his first run, then had an incident at the Semi-Circle on his second, in his Bugatti.

Prescott Postscripts:—Two twin cam Salmsons ran in the 1,100 c.c. sports-car class. Drivers were advised to pull down their sleeves before driving these nasty dangerous racing cars; this posed a problem for the girls, Mrs Pilkington putting on a jacket, but Mrs Arnold-Forster in the G.N. bravely driving with bare arms. What next, in the sacred name of safety? Waller was amply rewarded for having rebuilt his engine overnight, with his class win. Martin Morris couldn’t drive Curtis’ Cooper-Bristol because of drive-shaft breakage. Hill competed in a car calling itself an H-lix. Organ’s Lagonda Rapier has a Whittington and Mitchell body. Rivers Fletcher used too much R-R servo at Orchard, on his first run in his immaculate T.T.-Replica Derby Bentley. Cope drove a Riley Special that was once a metal Merlin saloon but is now a sports job with much-drilled frame. Page was throwing his Speed 25 Alvis about and Kennard had his odd 4.3 Alvis Special “Brutus” with ¼-elliptic and radius-arm rear suspension and Castrol and B.R.S.C.C. decals on its alloy body. Ward’s Ulster Austin is the first production version of the breed. Doc. Taylor, one whitewall tyre on the Caesar Special, did 48.57 sec. but the blown Bugattis were quicker. The V.S.C.C. had pensioned off its Peugeot 403 in favour of a Bedford Workobus. One of the smartest cars competing was Richards’ Type 51 Bugatti (49.97 sec.).—W. B.

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