[“You know the atmosphere here is just like it was in pre-war motor racing.” So said the well-known pre-war driver “Taso” Mathieson at the Vintage Sports-Car Club’s Oulton Park meeting last June, where he was acting as a pit-marshal.
It is probably the pure amateurism of V.S.C.C. racing which leads to this relaxed atmosphere, and amateurism was the keynote of most pre-war motor racing in this country. Few V.S.C.C. members have ambitions to be Formula One drivers, though undoubtedly one or two active racing members could afford to enter the higher echelons of modern motor racing where one can safely say they would not be entirely outclassed. Many G.P. drivers of the past have been V.S.C.C. members (and a few still are), due to the fact that the V.S.C.C. was in the vanguard of early post-war race organisation, yet only one current G.P. driver started motor racing with the V.S.C.C. and is still a member — John Miles. It is of interest that two V.S.C.C. racing drivers have been the pioneers in driving 4-wheel-drive cars in Grande Epreuves, Jack Fairman in the Ferguson P99 in the 1961 British G.P at Aintree and John Miles in the Lotus 63 in the 1969 French G.P. at Clermont Ferrand. When the Motoring News caption writer mistook Bill Morris for Martin Morris and the E.R.A. “Hanuman” for R11B we thought it time to sort things out. Peter Hull, Assistant Secretary and Press Officer of the V.S.C.C., has written the following notes about competitors who are typical of those who race with the V.S.C.C. today; all are expected to be seen at Thruxton on September 13th when the final round of the 1969 contest for the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy will be held.—Ed.]
William Roger Giles Morris has three things in common with the late Lord Nuffield, the same name, an interest in cars and a home in Oxfordshire—but that is probably all. Bill and his friend David Kergon have done a magnificent restoration job on the E.R.A. “Hanuman” and both have had several successes with it. Bill always says he works for the Crisps Firm, but the firm of Smiths which employs him actually makes indigestible things like instruments, sparking plugs and anti-freeze.
Martin Morris also drives an E.R.A., in his case the powerful 2-litre R11B. (There are also two Days in the V.S.C.C. who drive E.R.A.s, just to make life even more difficult.) Martin lives in Devon, and in business life is associated with a large food firm (digestible type). He does his own tuning, and has also demonstrated that he is a very fine driver at the wheel of his own Speed Six Bentley and Anthony Blight’s Roesch Talbots. Martin holds the Oulton Park lap record for Pre-War Historic racing cars with the E.R.A., and has a wife called Sue who makes the Speed Six look even bigger than it really is. His motorcycle is a Vincent Comet.
Angela Cherrett, from Dorset, is another decorative lady Alfa Romeo driver, generally with blown and unblown 1500s, and at present is neck and neck with Trisha Pilkington for the annual aggregate Ladies’ Award for speed events. Angela and her husband Allen (who also prepares and races their Alfa Romeos) are joint Secretaries of the V.S.C.C. Alfa Romeo Section, and Angela is very well known in Italian vintage circles. In fact when Alfa Romeo S.p.A. have organised events for vintage Alfas in Italy, Angela has been their Right Hand Girl.
Richard Pilkington did very well for several years in driving tests and races with a supercharged 1931 1750 Alfa Romeo, and on acquiring a 1953 Cooper-Bristol he soon became one of the fastest and neatest of the V.S.C.C. Historic racing car drivers. He prepares his cars himself, and when he owned a garage in the Devon town of Brixham, he used to travel to work every day in an Amphicar, taking a delight in rushing down the slope to the River Dart ferry a split second after it had left and plunging into the water—much to the consternation of unsuspecting onlookers who were unaware that Richard was amphibious.
Trisha Pilkington, Richard’s wife, only started racing their supercharged 1750 Alfa Romeo a couple of seasons ago, but soon showed she was capable of putting up fastest lap in a handicap race against male opposition. She also drove the Cooper-Bristol very well in a speed trial this year, and, in addition to adding a decorative touch to the vintage scene, she also has the distinction of being a mother of twins.
Tony Merrick is in the motor business in Leicestershire and has proved himself an extremely fast driver at the wheel of Sandy Murray’s 1934 E.R.A. R1A, and Mr. Wheatcroft’s 1959 Tec-Mec. This year, in R1A, he broke Sandy’s seven year-old Silverstone Club Circuit Pre-War Historic lap record of 1 min. 9.8 sec. by 1.6 sec. If nothing else, this proved that Sundays’ record, achieved with the same car, was genuine, which some people had doubted because it was so fast! Tony also has experience of racing modern M.G.s.
Sam Cutton has what must be the unique distinction of having regularly taken part in V.S.C.C. speed events since 1936, driving the 1908 G.P. Itala both pre- and post-war, and Delage and Bugatti cars over the last 20 years. A former Seaman winner, he has only suffered one accident, and that was not his fault, when the 1923 10½-litre Delage’s engine blew up and caught fire at Silverstone in 1952 whilst the car was at full speed on the Club straight. Sam is a chartered surveyor by profession and an acknowledged expert on antique organs, watches and clocks, as well as on vintage cars. He flies with the Tiger Club, his motorcycle is a 1924 Brough, and at Thruxton he will be driving both the 12-litre Itala and the 10½-litre Delage.
Bernard Kain is a Bath solicitor, a Committee Member of the V.S.C.C. and a Council Member of the Bugatti Owner’s Club. To offset these heavy responsibilities, at some time in his life he was injected with a large dose of Molsheim Madness, which he works off in the garage and on the race track, and even on trials hills, at the wheel of (currently) a 35B, 51A, or 43A Bugatti. Already a Seaman Vintage Trophy winner, his ambition is to beat the E.R.A.s in the Seaman History Trophy race, and it is not impossible he will achieve this with the 51A. His entry this year of his 35B in the Vintage Seaman race and the 51A in the Historic Seaman race on the same afternoon inspired him to describe himself as “A Man of All Seamans”.
Neil Corner came into prominence in V.S.C.C. racing some three or four years ago and has chiefly been successful with vintage racing cars, his Type 35B Bugatti and recently acquired Sunbeam “Tiger”, and post-war historic racing cars, particularly his 1959 DBR4/250 G.P. Aston Martin. He also races modern cars, but can only spare a limited amount of time for racing away from his business interests in Co. Durham. He has a reputation for being very sparing of his cars, achieving maximum effect with minimum of stress on them. Always accompanied at race meetings by his wife, Freda, he achieves surprising averages between Co. Durham and the South in cars like his GTO Ferrari, despite the fact that it is now anti-socialist to exceed 70 m.p.h. with such a car even on deserted stretches of motorway (“You know it makes sense!”). Neil holds the Silverstone Club Circuit lap record for both Vintage and Post-War Historic racing cars.
Peter Glover is typical of the drivers who form the backbone of V.S.C.C. racing, which means handicaps for Vintage and P.V.T. sports cars. Peter is from Stanmore, fairly recently qualified as a chartered surveyor, and for many seasons has been campaigning a 1927 beetleback 12/50 Alvis, which has been known to beat Invictas and Vauxhalls of three times its capacity, partly because Peter hardly slows down at all for corners. The same car is used for trials, driving tests, rallies and every other conceivable form of V.S.C.C. competition—even Concours! Peter now has a share in a vintage racing car in the form of an Amilcar Six, so even more excitement is promised for the future.
Peter Waller has been a regular V.S.C.C. competitor for 11 years, always at the wheel of his white ERA R9B, which he prepares himself. His father, Ivan, raced an Alvis at Brooklands and elsewhere pre-war, and in his very first race meeting, in 1958 at Silverstone in the ERA, Peter picked up two places and has been carrying on the tradition ever since. In 1966 he won both the Seaman Historic Trophy race at Oulton Park and the Coupe de l’Age d’Or race at Rouen. Currently he holds the Pre-War Historic lap records for the Silverstone G.P. circuit and for Thruxton. He flew Vampires in the R.A.F. when he did his National Service, and is now an engineer with B.E.A., being an expert on automatic landing systems. He has an enthusiastic wife, Jane, and a baby daughter, whilst his motorcycle is a Vincent Rapide which he has brought up to Shadow specification.
The Hon. Patrick Lindsay has now been a regular V.S.C.C. competitor for 10 years, driving his favourite and most successful car, the E.R.A. “Remus”, plus Monza and P3 Alfa Romeos, 250F Maseratis, a Type 59 Bugatti, the Sunbeam “Tiger” and his stupendous 24-litre Napier-Railton. Richard Attwood once raced against him when they were both driving 250F Maseratis and said afterwards, “He never put a wheel wrong, and could live in any company”. Patrick learned to fly in the Oxford University Air Squadron and owns a near vintage Salmson radial-engined Morane Saulnier 230 monoplane which it is hoped will give an aerobatic display at Thruxton. His motorcycle is a 1926 T.T. Triumph, and by profession he is an art expert and a director of Christie’s.