VSCC Prescott Hill-Climb

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Rain came, to dampen the second-half of the annual VSCC Prescott speed hill-climb, on August 12th. The slippery conditions after the lunch break were such that only three drivers improved on their morning times – Vessey in his off-white Lancia two-seater by 0.3 sec., Baller in his smart 1934 Hotchkiss Type-615 tourer by 0.5 sec. – this car had caused some amusement by arriving with three small children in the back compartment, their heads protruding through three holes in the tonneaux-cover – and Shute’s Monza Alfa Romeo, by 1.3 sec., but Crosse’s side-valve JAP-powered “Grannie” was only 0.2 sec. slower on its second ascent. In spite of the later slippery conditions there were no accidents, but in practice Young had had misfortune to overturn his C4 Amilcar at Pardon hairpin, when it ran wide, fracturing an arm.

The Meeting, which had 130 competitors, had a “Classic” overtone, as Martin Chapman’s 1957 Monza Lister Jaguar made FTD, in 43.4 sec., on its only appearance, apart from its ascent d’honour. It was unchallenged in its class. Brian Grey was the next most impressive performer, in the mid-engined Hardy Special, which set a new 1,100 c.c. racing-car class record of 44.6 sec.; which simply meant that it improved on its previous best, in 1976, of 45.54 sec. The best vintage time was done by Ron Footitt in the Cognac AC-GN, in 45.8 sec.

In the up-to-1,100 c.c. sports-car class P. D. Venables in his neat Lester MG Special headed the rest, with a climb in 54.8 sec., D. J. Chester’s 1929 Austin 7 being second and also the best vintage performer in this class, in 56.3 sec. out of a big entry in the 1,100-1,500 c.c. sports-car section Keith Knight’s fierce Riley triumphed, with a run in 51.3 sec., G. Jones being second in his Riley, in 52.0 sec., while Tony Jones in the Frazer Nash “Patience” cleaned up the vintage section and was third overall, in 52.1 sec. The class for 1½-3-litre sports-cars was also well supported. The fastest car here was C. Jones’ Big-Four Riley Special, in 47.7 sec., far and away better than the rest, of whom J. Hulbert’s 12/70 Alvis Special with outside hand-brake and drilled chassis frame, was second, but took 53.7 sec. It was Tom Threlfall’s well-known and much used 3-litre Lancia which was both third and best vintage runner, in 54.0 sec. Of the over 3-litre sports-cars, R. Felton’s 1931 2.6 Alfa Romeo won, in 49.3 sec., from Gauntlett’s blown 4 1/4-litre Bentley Special (49.8 sec.), and Ronnie Symondson’s seemingly-ageless Type 57S Bugatti “gentleman’s fast-tourer” (52.1 sec.). That was all too quick for the vintage 3-litre fraternity, but this sub-section went to Horton’s Type 43 Bugatti, in 52.8 sec., from Nutter’s enormous 8-litre engined Speed Six Bentley, surely the biggest handful up the BOC hill, which took 55.4 sec.

The Edwardians, perhaps the best show of a Prescott event, had the usual class to themselves. Roger Collings’ 1903 Mercedes, recently given a new crankshaft by Gordon Allen of Slough, as the original had developed a crack after 76 years, and new driving chains, managed a lofty 60.1 sec. but the 1908 GP Itala was persuaded upwards by Sam Clutton in 54.6 sec. – compare with times for some of the quicker, far more modern machinery! Even this wasn’t good enough, for Nigel Arnold-Forster’s 1912 chain-drive 5-litre Bugatti clocked 54.4 sec., and the Handicap fell to Harrison’s little 1911 950 c.c. “one-lunger” De Dion Bouton, with a slow change out of bottom gear – 90 sec.

As previously mentioned, Grey dominated the 1,100 c.c. racing-car class and here Freddie Giles cajoled the GN “Salome” up in 49.0 sec., to lead the vintage contingent. Bill Morris with the ERA “Hanuman”, had been put into the 1,100-1,500 c.c. racing-car class, as the conversion to 2-litres which is afflicting several of these formerly 1 ½ -litre cars hadn’t been completed. This gave him first place, in 45.1 sec., with Marks’ beautiful Type 51A GP Bugatti second, in 51.0 sec. Yet again, third place was also first in the vintage category, this falling this time to M. Gibbs in the venerable supercharged Wolseley-engined Becke Powerplus, which revved freely, in 51.8 sec. Second-best vintage car was the awesome BHD (54.1 sec.) and it was amusing to see it arrive at the start trailing long lengths of hose-pipe from its exhausts, these having been adapted as the silencers which are compulsory, up to the start, at post-war Prescotts.

Hamish Moffatt, really burning rubber away from the line, won the 1½-3-litre racing-car class in his 2-litre ERA, in the very good time of 44.8 sec. Not to be entirely outdone, Footitt, in the GN with the Hampton radiator, did 45.8 sec., to head the vintage runners. That left the big over 3-litre, racing cars, where Guy Smith’s Alvis-powered 3 ½ -litre Frazer Nash scored, with 47.2 sec., best vintage time being done by Tim Llewellyn in the 8.3-litre Bentley (47.8 sec.). Johnty Williamson got the 10 ½ -litre V12 Delage up in 51.5 sec., beaten by Ghosh’s Vauxhall Special by 0.1 sec. and, against Smith, Tony Bianchi clocked 48.2 sec. in his Monoposto 3 ½ -litre Alvis Special. FTD by M. Chapman had been in the post-war historics class, in which his Lister Jaguar was the only runner.

Interesting cars include Neve’s TT Humber, with a Ferodo relined clutch (59.8 sec.), Tedham’s lowered Chummy Austin with aero screen (60.1 sec.), Jarvis’ small-radiator, side-valve 1923 Aston Martin with good period-replica body (68.7 sec.), Collis’ twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam (63.8), White’s 16/80 Lagonda (63.6 sec.), Gjertson’s FWD Citroen two-seater, reminder that Tim Carson favoured these cars when he was VSCC Secretary (60.5 sec.), and Waine’s neat new single-seater Riley 9 (59.3 sec.), t give some idea of the variety to be seen at a vintage Prescott meeting. Brooklands was represented, as it were, by Peter Harris in the borrowed Wolseley “Moth I” (62.4 sec.) and by the 200 Mile Race Alvis (57.2 sec.), and sand-racing by the 1922 side-valve Riley Redwing (60.9 sec.). – W.B.

* * *

The “Brakevan” Body

We shall blame a touch of the summer sun on the typewriter for making a nonsense of the article on page 1289 of this issue, relating to special-bodied Rolls-Royce 20s, under the heading “The Brakevan Body”. This should have read “Brakevan”, short for “shooting brake and van”, as should “Breadvan” in the text, an error which will no doubt please Ferrari enthusiasts. – W.B.

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