Alan Cottam defies the rain at VSCC Prescott

Heavy rain on August 14th did its best to wash away the Prescott hill-climb course on the occasion of the annual VSCC meeting there. But this did not affect spectator attendance, nor the efficient time-schedule. Cottam, too, whose FTDs are not taken almost for granted, showed he could do this in the wet as expertly as in the dry, his Connaught clocking 50.09 sec. That this was 7.42 sec. slower than his 1976 record indicates how slippery the hill was, this year, Walton’s Connaught was second, although slower than the Cognac, which won the over-1½-litres racing class, in 52.28 sec., one of Footitt’s typically-consistent performances, this first run taking only .01 sec. longer! This vintage time beat that of Moffatt’s ERA (54.10 sec.).

Absom’s Lagonda Rapier took the up-to-1½-litres racing class (55.64 sec.), second place going to Malyan’s vintage Meadows-GN (56.54.). Grey in the Hardy Special cleaned-up both vintage and general categories of the 1,100-c.c. racing class, in 56.04 sec., beating Morgan’s 1935 Lagonda Rapier (56.66 sec.) which went home on a trailer towed by a Land-Rover, of which there now seems quite a cult within the VSCC. The Edwardian class was of great interest, sound and spectacle. Arnold-Forster’s 1912 5-litre Bugatti did a prodigious 58.95 sec. This was fastest time but the class was won, on handicap, by Collings’ stripped 1903 9-litre sixty Mercedes, four spare tyres strapped on behind, which ascended the slippery hill in a stupendous 61.21 sec., faster for instance than Moores’ blown Austin 7 which the commentator again told us was the former Kay Petre racer. The aged Mercedes’ climbs were the best sight of the day, in my opinion. Its time was actually 0.72 sec. quicker than Clutton’s, in the 12-litre 1908 Itala, the Edwardian record-holder.

Of the large sports-car entry, Skinner’s 1924 Austin 7 “wooden wonder” won the vintage 1,100-c.c. division (62.24 sec.), Venables’ 1933 MG the class, in (62.30 sec. From a big 1½-litre entry Stephenson’s Frazer Nash (54.48 sec.) beat Knight’s fierce Riley (54.84) sec.), Uglow’s HRG third, fastest vintage car here being Macpherson’s Frazer Nash (58.55 sec.), from Poynter’s Lea-Francis and Wicksteed’s 1923 12/50 “racing” Alvis. Dods’ AC Special took the 3-litre sports-car class in 55.88 sec. from Jones’ 2½-litre Riley. Parkinson’s 1928 Frazer Nash was third, and first vintage, ahead of Threlfall’s Lancia and Phillips’ Alvis. Of the over-3-litres sports cars, Symondson’s 3.3 Bugatti won, in 55. 29 sec., Black’s Monza Alfa Romeo was next fastest, in 55.65 sec., third place going to Woodley’s 4.3 Alvis (55.70 sec.). Hine pulled off the vintage category in his Bentley (57.90 sec.), followed by Horton’s nicely-normal Type Bugatti (58.00 sec.) and Schott’s 30/98 Vauxhall (60.57 sec.).

Watching the morning runs I saw Conway slide onto the grass at Pardon in his Type 35B Bugatti. This big Delage was a terrible handful, but did 62.75 sec. on its second run, the Vauxhall Villiers non-started as it was dropping oil, Absom tickled the grass at Orchard, Sir John Venables-Llewelyn slid Pardon nicely in his Bugatti but had trouble later, and the Appleton Special very nearly spun there. The Triangle Special had four SUs and twin rear wheels and Hescroff’s Arnott-blown AC ascended with its good up. – W.B.

Shobdon Air Display

There are all kinds of motor sport and air displays can be included, hence our visit to Shobdon on July 17th. Unfortunately, summer had departed with the British GP and rain fell heavily. This did not greatly disrupt the varied proceedings, which added up to one of the most enjoyable modern air displays, at that pleasant Club aerodrome in the lush countryside near Leominster, under the direction of Wing/Comdr. Jimmy James, OBE. Admittedly the Spitfire and Hurricane, having taken off from Coningsby, found the cloud-base too low and aborted their intended fly-past. And neither the Sopwith Camel nor the Fokker Triplane seemed inclined to leave the tarmac while we were there, (both are Leisure Sports’ replicas, with Warner Super Scarab engines, anyway), a very skilfully-flown Tiger Moth doing a traditional display of crazy flying being substituted.

But the Herefordshire Handicap Race was duly contested, over a 5-lap course, with two Turbo-Arrows finishing 1st and 2nd, and the Tipsy Nipper that had led until the last lap, from a yellow Tiger Moth, coming in last, having been in the air for virtually an hour, to average its 90 m.p.h. The exciting 100-h.p. Beta single-seater appeared to throttle back somewhat, maybe with too-hot oil circulating in its R-R Continental engine, or so the commentator thought.

First solo display was by a Cessna Cardinal, a four-seat 300 h.p. 165 m.p.h. light aeroplane with an 800-mile range. Parachute drops form a Cessna and a helicopter followed, in spite of the low cloud, model aeroplanes flew (this local model club has its own aerodrome), and the RAF Red Arrows gave their expected polished, “stole-the-show” performance. Mavrogordato demonstrated his 110 m.p.g., 130-m.p.h. Fournier, a Cessna included a 65 m.p.g. flaps-down fly-past in its repertoire, a Beechcraft Bonanza, picked out by flashing navigational lights, looked distinctly superior, and other executive machines were a Piper PA23 and a King Air. A very fine aerobatic duo was done by Thompson and Edwards, in 200 h.p. Pitts S2A biplanes.

When we left, soaked by the summer rain, there was much more to come, including displays by an RN Sea Fury (2,550 h.p./480 m.p.h.), 150-h.p. Lycoming Rallye 150ST, Gipsy-Stampe SV4, Kramme Zeuthen 8, one of only two built, and Thrush Commander and Piper Pawnee D crop-sprayers etc. A 4,000 h.p. 300-m.p.h. B17G Flying Fortress was also due to fly over. Altogether, one of the better flying displays, at a Club aerodrome which HM The Queen used last year when she visited Hereford. – W.B.

V-E-V Odds & Ends. – The class winners in the Riley Register’s Coventry Rally were: B. H. Ross (1924 s.v. tourer), R. H. Stevens (1933 Lynx), M. B. E. Theobald (1937 Monco), J. Morley (1926 Sprite), and A. L. Southerden (1928 Mk. III Monaco), with R. J. Odell’s 1922 sand-racing s.v. the highest-laced Special Riley. A nice gesture by this essentially pre-war Riley Register was the awarding of a trophy to the bet RM Riley present. A reader in Essex is anxious to trace the history of a 1914/15 Swift he is rebuilding. It has a non-Swift two-seater body devoid of a dickey seat, thought to have been originally painted dark blue with yellow coachlining, and it seems that in 1922 it was fitted with a Type 4PA Dorman four-cylinder engine by the Douglas Motor Garage in Douglas, IoM, a new engine supplied by Dorman & Co. of Stafford. Any help from other readers will be appreciated. The class winners of the veteran-vintage car section at the Clun Show in Shropshire were a 1911 Darracq, a 1934 Riley Imp and an Aero Morgan three-wheeler. The dinner-dance and AGM of the Morgan Three-Wheeler Club takes place at the Abbey Hotel, Malvern on Sept. 24th/25th. A very smart Type 38 Bugatti with sports-touring body had a ride on its trailer to see the VSCC Silverstone races. – W.B.