A wet VSCC Hawthorn Trophy meeting

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Too late to report in last month’s issue, the VSCC Hawthorn Trophy Meeting at Silverstone was well water-logged, torrential rain falling for much of the afternoon. Under the circumstances, it is creditable that no drivers were hurt in the few incidents and that, under Grant Peterkin, the racing ended not too rnuch down on a flexible schedule.

Miserable as conditions were, competitors in the 6-lap Bill Phillips Trophy race got away about half-an-hour later than intended. Nickalls’ Lagonda Rapier leading until the last lap, when Seber’s smart and rapid Wolseley Hornet swept by, having achieved a fastest lap of 63.82 mph. Third place went to Brydon’s Alvis Speed-20 that came round Woodcote sideways on. The trophy was won by Taylor’s Aston Martin, as it was last year. Benfield’s 200-Mile Alvis didn’t like the conditions and was almost overtaken by the fire-fighting Jaguar . . .

Credit laps rendered the first 5-lap Handicap difficult to follow but without this help Wilkinson in Warne’s imitation K3 MG won, frorn Davney’s MG/Riley which was closely pursued over the finish-line by Stretton in the Frazer Nash, which had led laps 2 to 4 but then jumped out of top-cog, apparently. An Austin Swallow Special had a few alarming moments on the wet track, and Loveday’s Alvis Speed-20 made best lap, at 68.10 mph.

That brought the damp spectators (apart from those who only go to Silverstone for the booze) to the Boulogne Trophy Race, over 10 laps from scratch. Hamish Moffatt had no difficulty in winning this, in Wall’s single-seater Type 35B Bugatti, driving very neatly, a fact not overlooked by the observers, for he was later given the Crompton “Driver of the Day” Award. Ron Footitt could not quite get Hamish in his grasp but the Cognac came in a good second. Russell’s 8-litre single-seater Bentley with the 4-litre chassis held onto third place for six laps, when it ran wide and over the grass at Woodcote, a nasty incident which the driver coped with. He then settled for fourth position, perhaps lacking brakes. Morley had the 24-litre Bentley-Napier in third place, a very fine show on the wet track, his skill shown up only by the irrepressible Harper, whose Morgan three-wheeler had overtaken Peter at Woodcote on the first lap and tucked in in front of him. Alas, it didn’t last, as one of the Moggie’s chains came adrift after one more lap, but I hope our photographer got a shot of the 1,100 cc tricycle leading 24-litres of aero-engined monster. . . . Hamish did his fastest lap at 74.22 mph. The Other class winners were Farquhar’s Riley 9, the notably quick Norris Special of Stirling and the Bentley Napier. Schellenberg lost two con-rods out of the Barnato Hassan’s 8-litre Bentley engine and Majzub Snr seemed unhappy in the Pacey-Hassan, which was lapped twice by Liddell’s Straker-Squire, although at Brooklands before the war the fastest laps by the two cars were respectively 129.03 mph and 103.76.

That excitement over, we saw a big field come out for another 5-lap Handicap including, in the absence of the 1908 Itala, two Edwardians, the Straker-Squire and Carter’s 10-litre touring Locomobile, a chain-driven, bolster tank monster with a more Fiat-like radiator than “old No. 7” and its accelerator well divorced from the other two pedals. Liddell had no difficulty in finishing ahead of it and winning the Edwardian Trophy with a lap at 61.52 mph, less than one mph slower than that of the race winner, Davney’s MG/Riley, no mean achievement from a rear-braked car in the rain. Cooksey’s Montlhery MG Midget was second, Stretton third.

The 8-lap Pre-War Allcomers’ race should have been won by Lindsay, form suggested, but as he left the start “Remus” broke a tooth on the crown-wheel and trying to decide what the noise was, Pat let Donald Day’s ERA go by and he was obliged to stop at the end of the lap. Bill Morris in “Romulus” got past Day by lap two and led to the finish, with Day giving him a good race, the blue-and-yellow “Bira” car lapping at 74.98 mph. Some way back Sir John Venables-Llewelyn was holding a slidy third place in his ERA, keeping ahead of Black’s 8CM Maserati and Marsh’s ERA, with Margulies’ 4CL Maserati, Cameron Millar’s 8CTF Maserati (now with its magneto trouble cured) and Ben Morris in the ERA “Hanuman” in a tight bunch behind. Incidentally, whereas “Romulus” arrived snugly in a van, “Hanuman” came on Roger Richmond’s Rolls-Royce Phantom II truck, which was once a landaulette, then a hearse, and now has a body which its owner describes as “by a chicker-farmer in Aylesbury”. Merrick had a back brake lock-on in the ERA on lap two and he motored off the course to the left at Woodcote, past the ambulance, but turned round without stalling his engine and resumed, only to retire on the next lap. Martin Dean held a high-speed slide at Woodcote in his Type 51 Bugatti.

The rain had stopped for the “Fox & Nicholl” Trophy race, for road-equipped large sports cars in the VSCC tradition. With no Lagonda support the race lost some of the “Kingston By-Pass” tradition and it was made complex by the awarding of one and two credit laps for some of the competitors. In fact, with two laps less than the full eight, Black’s 1922 3-litre Bentley two-seater managed to beat them all, although averaging only 53.56 mph. A single credit lap saw Walker’s nice 1924 3-litre Bentley finish second, ahead of Duly’s Alfa Romeo, it being left to Felton to make fastest lap, in his Alfa Romeo, at 70.68 mph. Burrell spun the Bentley-Royce and Parker’s pvt 7.3-litre Bentley Special had been excluded after shedding oil in practice.

So to the Hawthorn Race, reduced to 10 laps. Halford led all the way, his Lotus 16 doing a lap at 80.29 mph. His 1979 best lap was at 91.59 mph (before he retired), which shows how slippery it was this year, for Chapman in the Lister-Jaguar appeared to give him little chance to back off, although I gather that Halford had the race well in his grasp, with plenty in hand. For six laps Macpherson (who won the Ashley Memorial Trophy) had his Cooper-Bristol in third position but John Harper, who had brought the 1954 “Toothpaste Tube” B-type Connaught out of retirement — it has the Tasman 3.4-litre Jaguar engine — got past, a good show on this first outing. The two Talbot-Lagos fought a race-long duel with Pilkinton’s in front, and Day’s ERA R14B was the first pre-war car home. Chris Mann cornered very securely in Wessel’s’ P3 Alfa Romeo. Lindsay had entered his ERA-Delage in case “Remus” should default, as it had, but gear selection problems caused him to spectate instead of drive.

Black was in limit position for the next race, a five-lap Handicap and the old Bentley won it from a tight packed bunch in the order: Hudson (Ulster Aston Martin), Stapleton (Alvin Speed-20), Taylor (Aston Martin) and Walker (1924 Bentley). Then, as a nice finale on this dismal July day, John Howells in that incredible supercharged 3-litre twin-cam Sunbeam of his, driving splendidly, lost everyone, from the five second mark, to win the last race, a further 5-lap Handicap. A lot later Felton’s Alfa Romeo, finished, followed by Woodley’s Alvis Special consisting of a Firefly chassis containing a Speed-25 engine. A lap at 76.27 mph availed nothing better than 19th place, and unfortunately a suddenly locked differential caused Paul Grist to put the Talbot-Lago head-on into the bank at Woodcote, which did it no good but he escaped injury.

Of course, the sun came out to shine in our eyes on the run back to Wales, which the Rover 3500 did very quickly indeed, after it had followed a big vintage Humber tourer at 30 mph and 25 mph up hills, from Brackley almost to Banbury. Which makes me think that perhaps old light-cars aren’t so pedestrian after all.  WB

 

V-E-V miscellany

 A reader recalls a rare Austin fabric-bodied 1930 saloon the official type-name of which was the Watford — but not many people, even those authorities in British Leyland or at museums, seem to remember this. Do any Austin Watfords still exist, or indeed, is this all a leg-pull?

For the record, the results of the STD’s annual Wolverhampton Rally of last June were that the Pride of Ownership award went to Martin Scott’s 1919 Sunbeam Sixteen, the Rootes Trophy for age/distance to Major Collings’ 1929 Sunbeam Twenty that came from Germany via Southampton, the D’Arcy Clarke Trophy for best underbonnet condition to Bill Barrott’s 1930 Sunbeam Sixteen, and the Walter Coombes Trophy for the best service to the STD Register was awarded to Bob and Margaret Frost.

A reader is anxious to know what became of the big sleeve-valve Daimler, once owned by Lady Fitch but damaged by bombs at her Wandsworth home during the war, a dismantled Carrow light car, two late-1920s Stars, a Morris Eight and a rusty Austin 7 that he saw at Cold Norton Garage in Essex in 1959. He went there in his Bond Minicar but, returning in a Bristol 401 in the mid-1960s, all had changed and the cars had apparently vanished. . . .

A reader has sent on some pages from The Bystander of 1906, which contain the “Automobile Topics” edited by Douglas Mille, Pride of place goes to the Renault that had won the “Motor Grand Prix”. There was a piece about Lord Montagu of Beaulieu opening the new Argyll factory at Alexandria, where they were cagy about intended weekly output but had assembled 111 of the “blue bonneted” cars for the visitors to see. There was also an interesting story about how Lord Montagu of Beaulieu (the present Lord Montagu’s father) had lent his grounds at Dittos for a fête in aid of Police charities and how he had been caught in a speed trap two days later outside his lodge gates, by men concealed on his own lawn. On receiving a speeding summons His Lordship responded by a Notice of Action to the Police for trespassing.

Brooklands has at last achieved mortality — it was referred to in a Flock cartoon in the Daily Mail recently, Trog making one of his characters say “Takes me back to pre-war days at Brooklands!”

In a vintage run in Zimbabwe Rhodesia last June, that attracted 26 runners, one of the cars was a 1927 Brocklebank owned and driven by Gordon Brocklebank, son of the car’s creator. An old German U-boat engine was found in the same area, driving plant at a tea-estate. Reverting to the Run, the entries included no fewer than eight Model-A Fords, a Frazer Nash, two Rolls-Royces, two Bentleys and a Willys Whippet. Returning to England, can anyone tell us what car or cars were involved in an accident between Stanford Bridge, near Shelsley Walsh. and Great Whitley, on February 19th, 1906, as commemorated, as a warning, by a sign at the roadside?

Prices of pre-war cars, like those applying to so many other things, seem to be taking a tumble — for instance. we saw a 1934 Standard Little Nine, said to have been used regularly until nine years ago and stored since then in a dry garage, and 100% complete, priced at £375 last June.

The Royal Automobile Club of Queensland celebrated its 75th anniversary last June, with the State’s oldest car, a 1904 single-cylinder 8 hp Rambler, being driven over part of Queensland’s first official car rally, from the Club’s headquarters to the City Plaza.

The old Horstman factory in Bath was demolished not long ago. It is appropriate, in view of the article on car mascots elsewhere in this issue, that a note has been received relating to a similar collection in a public house in Zimbabwe. Associated with our recent comments about early motoring in Wales the Llandrindod Wells Museum has been displaying a framed photographic display of cars available for hire from Tom Norton Ltd. (The Automobile Palace) in Llandrindod Wells, in the 1920’s, featuring a 15.9 hp Arrol Johnston tourer, an English-bodied black-radiator Model-T Ford saloon, a Buick Six tourer and an Oakland Six landaulette. The advertisement announced that the “Golf car” (a Chevrolet char-a-banc I believe) would leave the Automobile Palace for the Golf Links every half-hour, commencing at 9.15 am. Another photograph in this museum shows a Mr Lewis Wilding looking through the golf course periscope to see whether it was safe to drive off(!) with Mr Tom Norton in attendance and a fine brass-radiator Model-T Ford two-seater with furled hood and side-curtains in the foreground. the picture being dated 1915, while another photograph, too far back in its display case to be seen easily, shows Mr Norton with an even earlier car probably a Panhard-Levassor. WB

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