THE Bugatti OC founded the Prescott hill-climb just before the war and the tradition of the Vintage SCC borrowing the course for its annual up-hill speed event also dates to before WW2. On August 1st a record-sized crowd watched a big entry compete under humid, sunny conditions, breaking several local class-records.
The fastest drivers were those using racing cars of 1½-to-3-litres capacity. In this class Ron Footitt had the Cognac Special really wound up tight. Indeed, on his second ascent he broke his 1980 record by 0.75 sec. with a time of 43.94 sec. In the historic, as distinct from vintage, class Donald Day bravely braked very late for Orchard corner and did 43.18 sec. on his first run, breaking Sir John Venables-Llewellyn’s 1973 record by 0.24 sec., with the ex-Wakefield / Gerard ERA R14B, making FTD. Vintage runner-up was Ian Preston, in 44.67 sec., using wide lines round Orchard and Pardon on consistent runs in his 35B Bugatti.
Another record fell when Jones took his 1930 / 36 Riley up in 49.57 sec. in the 1,101-1,500 c.c. sports-car class, this being .07 sec. quicker than Knight did it in 1972. Uglow’s HRG was second, and the vintage section here went to Mitchell’s Falcon Frazer Nash 153.46 sec.). Dods took the 1,501-to-3,000 c.c. sports-car class in his AC Special (49.95 sec.), from Hulbert’s 12/70 Alvis Special, with the vintage division going to Mrs. Di Threlfall, whose 3-litre vee-eight Lancia very creditably beat such things as 3-litre Bentleys and Type 35 Bugattis, with a climb in 54.09 sec. She could hardly be expected to crack the vintage class-record, as this has been held since 1967 by Footitt’s AC/ON, allowed to count as a road motor, as it was then a two-seater equipped with mudguards. She was challenged by Marsh’s Bugatti (55.12 sec.) and Beebee’s Talbot 90 (55.41 sec.). Of the small sports cars, Nice’s Ulster Austin won both vintage and open sections, in 54.96 sec., from Davney’s p.v.t. MG / Riley (55.48 sec.), but was a good deal slower than last year’s Bishop Austin 7.
Of the biggest sports cars, the invincible Rodney Felton’s Monza Alfa Romeo cleaned up this class, with a run in 46.63 sec., not a quick as his record run last year, second place going to Guy Spollon’s 4¼-litre Bentley Special (47.95 see.) and best vintage car here being Briscoe’s hard trying Ford-propelled GN (51.81 sec.) with Garland’s 30/98 Vauxhall Special ahead of the five 30/98s in 52.91 sec.
The Edwardian class had an excellent entry of nine, from the monsters of Barker, Clutton and Walker to Miss Eleanor Clarke’s tiny Singer, which scored on handicap, the steering column juddering in her hands. Neve had his indestructible 1914 TT Humber locking-up its rear brakes and malting the differential think (58.10 sec.) and the evergreen 1908 GP hale was fastest, Clutton doing a rousing 53.66 sec., the back axle juddering slightly under hard 2 w.b. retardation before Orchard. Walker’s 1908 GP Panhard was 3.32 sec. slower, but Threlfall’s 1913 Th. Schneider got within 0.79 sec. of the Italia’s time, showing impressive acceleration. Barker’s 1908 60 h.p. Napier units first time out for many years recorded 58.99 sec. The only competing veteran was the inimitable 1903 Sixty Mercedes of Roger Collings which returned a time of 58.58 sec.
As usual, Brian Gray had the up to 1,100 c.c. racing-car class tied up with the blown vee-twin rear-engined Hardy Special. Again the brakes played their part before Orchard and he drove to such good effect that he broke his own 1979 record by 0.66 sec., doing 43.94 sec. on his second run. This waster much for Freddie Giles and “Salome”, but he took the vintage sub-class in 46.73 sec. almost clipping the Orchard and Pardon banks. Bruce Spollon’s ERA R8C had the 1,100 to 1,500 c.c. racing-car class in the bag, with a climb in 44.43 sec., dining which the car slid alarmingly under braking, Stephens’ R12C being 1.79 sec. slower, with Cardy’s Type 37 Bugatti on b.e. tyres fastest vintage car here, in 54.28 sec. Finally, Guy Smith used his Alvis-Nash to very good effect to win the big racing-car class in 43.71 sec., which bettered his last year’s time by 1.01 sec. and Heath’s 1952 Frazer Nash comfortably. Of the two sprint Delage cars that fought for vintage superiority, a brave Johnny Williamson, the 10½-litre V12 howling its front tyres at Pardon and spinning its rear wheels under acceleration, was 0.46 sec. quicker, in 50.90 sec., than Nigel Arnold-Forster in a rather hesitant “La Torpille”. W.B.
Prescott Poppings. – The spectators were treated to some thrills when McGrath spun his Austin under braking at Orchard but continued without stopping the engine, Majzub locked-up the front wheels of his Bugatti but held the resultant slide with skill and Howell, finding the big Sunbeam a handful, nearly went straight on at Pardon, which Heath did in a big way at Orchard in the ex-Crook / Salvadori Frazer Nash, he, too, recovering his composure without stalling. Moffatt’s Type 35B Bugatti being sick, he shared his wife’s b.e. tyred Type 35, beating Bunty by 1.8 sec. There was a spirited contest for the slowest time of the day, the taker being Hickling, whose Metz 25 tourer clocked 196.97 sec. on its first run, oil causing the friction disc to slip, but later improved this to 109.72 sec. Runner-up was Mather’s 1920 Baughan cyclecar, which stopped units first run with a leaking carburetter float, but after this had been cured with nail varnish supplied by Bunty Moffatt, ascended in 88.03 sec. The Alcyon cyclecar want non-runner, as was ERA R12B with a cracked head. Course car duties were shared by a smart Marendaz Special and a small modem Renault. Philip Mann arrived to spectate in his 4½-litre Lagonda Rapide. The Type 13 Bugattis of David Marsh and David Sewell both sported front-wheel brakes. Hardy was present to see Odell’s sand-racer Riley, which he used to drive, and the Hardy Special in action. And finally, how good it was to are Tony Brooke complete his two runs in the Vauxhall Villiers, his better in 50.68 sec. W.B.