Consistent Cottam Sets a New Course Record in his Connaught
Prescott is a splendid setting for a speed hill-climb—in good weather. It was fine and dry for the annual VSCC fixture and records fell like the proverbial nine-pins. Cottam was in his expected sprint form and broke his own absolute VSCC course-record, in 42.96 sec. and the immaculate 1953 2-litre Connaught was only 0.01 sec. slower on its second run. You can hardly have anything fairer than that! Had he not gone a bit wide at Orchard he could well have gone faster this time, because from start to the bridge his time was better. Not to be outdone, Martin Morris was second in the pre-war ERA (44.33 sec.), third place going to Roberts’ ex-Alan Brown Cooper-Bristol (45.27 sec.), which, on its second try, lapsed for a moment between Orchard and Pardon, piling on an unwanted 1 1/2 sec. Best vintage Car in this 1 1/2-to-3-litre racing class was Kain’s Type 35B Bugatti (45.77 sec.) which vanquished Wall’s monoposto Bugatti. Unfortunately Goddard ran out of road in his very beautiful Type 51 Bugatti and broke an engine bearer.
Another record to go fell in the big racing-cars class, when Smith’s Frazer Nash, propelled by an Alvis Speed-25 engine, clocked 46.20 sec., to beat his 1971 record, the car appearing to be in control of its driver, while a very polished ascent by Hamish Morten in a stripped 4 1/2-litre Bentley tourer broke the vintage class record in 47.15 sec. Then Joseland in the 1928 Anzani Frazer Nash “Terror” broke his 1 1/2-litre vintage class record (47.35 sec.), the class being won by Moffatt with some wild, wide cornering in ERA R3A (95.92 sec.) from Kergon in the ERA “Hanuman” (46.22 sec.) which used astronomical revs. Dealing with the new records first. Knight’s Riley shattered Grice’s long-standing Frazer Nash record in the 1 1/2-litre sports-car category (49.64 sec.), to beat Smith’s Frazer Nash and Elwell-Smith’s Aston Martin, best vintage ascent in the class being done by the last-named (52.34 sec.), and Winder in the fearsome Lea-Francis/SS Special had the audacity to climb quicker than Symondson’s 3.3 Bugatti (48.7 sec.) and Black’s 2.6 Alfa Romeo (48.76 sec.), his meteoric and unstable looking run in 47.85 sec. breaking Black’s 1969 record. In this over 3-litres sports-car class Hine drove Mrs. Shoosmith’s Le Mans 4 1/2 Bentley to a vintage victory (55.18 sec.), Russ-Turner’s Bentley also filling the narrow road.
No records fell in the remaining classes, of which Eyre’s twin-SU Ulster Austin took both general and vintage sections of the up-to-1,100-c.c. sports-car class (52.03 sec.), Shaw’s Balilla Fiat being second on his first run, Ely’s Riley third, second-best vintage time being put up by Gray’s Austin. Nice’s blown Ulster Austin seemingly off-form. Five BMWs were entered in the 1 1/2-to-3-litres sports-car class and Oddie’s 1937 r.h.d. 328 won it (50.56 sec.), Germanic domination being split by Upston’s Frazer Nash driven by chains, which went better than Selwyn-Smith’s very smart white 1939 r.h.d. 328 BMW. Of the 1,100-c.c. racers, the GNAT broke its simple crankshaft in practice and the mysterious Mitchell Special was absent. Morgan’s Lagonda Rapier, back tyres smoking out of Orchard, clocked 48.27 sec. to better the next fastest climbs by Dowson in the Lightweight and Moores in the blown Austin single-seater. In the vintage section Barton-Hall coaxed the splendid Hardy-Special up in 49.71, a time equalled by Sutton’s ex-Machlochlan Austin 7, but as Barton-Hall’s first run was much the faster, he was given the vintage award.
Clutton took Edwardian honours in the 1908 GP Itala, which wasn’t on top form and ran with its mudguards on because Sam had no tools with which to remove them (55.84 sec.), Rowley’s Th. Schneider taking the Special Award for such cars. There were plenty of specials being exercised in the sunshine, Stretton driving the AC-powered bedstead now called an AC/Frazer Nash, Dr. Taylor doing wrist-twitching runs in the AC-engined Caesar Special, the GN Wasp being repeatedly rebuilt during the practice session, to get away hesitantly, but Giles’ GN/HRD was in good health and it was nice to see Vaughan bending tyres, even if the Becke Powerplus was mis-firing. We even had an Austin Nippy posing as a racing car and Perkins’ Bugatti on twin-back wheels. — W. B.