The VSCC at Prescott
FTD by Guy Smith (Frazer Nash Special)
Whereas at Shelsley Walsh the paddock is comparatively small and seems subservient to the famous hill, at Prescott it is rather the reverse, with the orchard paddock a fine picnic area. Never has this been more apparent than at the Vintage SCC hillclimb in the sunshine of August 7th, and judging by the traffic the attendance must have been a record. The Alvis 12/50 Register had a special car-park, and including competing Alvises, had 87 cars present.
There was but one incident out of some 300 runs, when Creed-Miles’ 1923 HE ran amok at the Esses and removed some barriers, which meant finding straw-bales to replace them. The Edwardians are always a feature of VSCC Prescott and eight made ascents. It was nice to see DR. Harrison on the 1907 7.4-litre Renault 35/45, out again for about the first time since before the war. I remember going from London to Shelsley Walsh and back on it, driven by its then-owner, Marcus Chambers, sharing the running costs, so that I was dismayed to find it cost more in oil than petrol! It was later owned by Mills, and then by Dunn, and is presumably one of the half-capacity 1906 Grand Prix replicas made by the factory. The new owner was still learning how to cope with the difficult quadrant gear change (113.64 sec). Sam Clutton took the 1908 GP Itala up much faster (55.94 sec) but Threlfall beat him, in the Presidential Schneider (53.36 sec), which also won on handicap from JM. Wooley’s truly ghostly 1912 40/50 hp Rolls-Royce (71.03 sec).
Watching the first runs from Orchard, I noted that Tony Brooke went wide, in the splendid Vauxhall Villiers (51.33 sec), saw Kenneth Cundy run up the outside bank but continue unconcernedly in his Type 37 Bugatti, and Giles use much opposite lock to tame ‘Salome’. Spollen in ERA R8C (43.56 sec) seemed to make a fractionally better getaway than Willie Green in R4D (44.30 sec) but just clipped a bank, Smithson’s Riley 9 was all exhaust, in size and sound, and the Becke Powerplus was going well (49.81 sec). Roger Collings had opened proceedings in his 1903 Mercedes (59.03 sec), wearing, he said, his “tails” under his overalls, as he proposed to depart to keep a wedding invitation at Sandhurst in the Sixty Mercedes of course. Oliver Grey having jury-rigged a new magneto on the 1908 GP Panhard, it clocked 57.44 sec. Bob Chamberlain’s Napier “Samson” recreation was not there, as Bob has left the country and has put his car in the care of Tom Wheatcroft, where it can be seen in the Donington Park Racing Car Museum. Templeton was running his TT Vauxhall recreation (53.53 sec), as the “New Racer”, not with any intention of making a point, but because this is how Vauxhall Motors Limited registered the first of their team cars, back in 1922.
Coming to the class results, Bull’s J2 MG took the small sports-car category from Nice’s nicely original blown Ulster Austin, the latter winning the vintage section, their respective times being 55.15 sec and 54.69 sec. AG. Smith’s Frazer Nash was fast enough (48.97 sec, a new class record) to take both the outright and vintage 11/2-litre sports-car categories, his Allen-crank Meadows engine going to 7,000 rpm, rumour hinted. In the up-to-3-litres class Dods’ AC Special won, from Rogers’ 1928 Frazer Nash, 48.46 sec against 49.52 sec. Of the big sports-cars, Guy Spollen’s 41/2-litre Derby Bentley contrived to be 1.04 sec quicker than Don Parker’s fearsome Bentley Special with supercharged R-R P3 engine, with a time of 46.73 sec. From a bevy of 30/98s, including a yellow OE with original Morgan two-seater coachwork and Grey’s example on b/e tyres which he had substituted for the sick Hardy Special, Julian Ghosh won through (52.70 sec), taking the vintage section from Briscoe’s Ford powered GN (53.92 sec).
Colin Gunn’s Q-type MG Replica 42.22 see) took the small racing cars class from McGrath’s ex-Moores sv Austin, its blower whining (0.22 sec slower) and Roger Richmond’s Morgan-GN was best vintage (52.33 sec). Freddy Giles then took both 11/2-litre racing categories in Salome (47.29 sec) from the Becke (49.81 sec) and Ellison’s 11 cwt Riley Special with 12/4 engine and MG back-axle was third (49.89 sec). It was left to Guy Smith in the 31/2-litre Alvis-Nash to win the class for big racing-cars, in 42.78 sec which, in a run off for the 10 fastest drivers, he reduced to a FTD of 42.41 sec. Next in this class was B Spollen’s ERA R8C (43.56 sec) which he reduced to 42.79 sec, second-FTD, in the run-off. Lord Raglan’s T51 Bugatti was third (43.96 sec) and the vintage class winner was Ron Footitt’s AC-GN (44.13 sec) which he got down to 44.02 sec competing in the “best 10”. Only half these “top-tenners’ reduced their previous times perhaps, if the idea is tried again, it should be downhill?
The two hillclimb Delages were there, Arnold Forster doing 51.94 sec in “La Torpille” and Williamson 50.56 sec in the 101/2-litre V12 with twice the engine capacity it now calls itself the “LSR” Delage although it only held this honour for a few days, running over the Arpajon road in 1924. ERA R14B was anon-runner, due to a return of its cylinder-head trouble. There was plenty of variety, from many odd looking specials to original-looking cars such as the 2-litre Lagondas of Woolard and Seabrook, Weld’s Crossley, and the 32 MG of Linwood, but Clarke’s “Grotty Chummy” A7 caused both unfavourable and amused comment. Walker drove a 1930 air-cooled V-twin Super Sports Morgan 3-wheeler (55.62 sec). Conway had driven his 35T Bugatti down from London to compete (52.08 sec) but McCall trailed his long-tailed, high-chassis 41/2-litre Invicta, which had a dull body built for none other than Henry Meadows himself, until it was replaced by the present Brooklands-style two-seater (57.99 sec). William Boddy