VSCC Oulton Park

Speed orgy

"The Vintage Sports Car Club again ran a two-day "speed orgy" at Oulton Park road-circuit this year, on the last weekend in July, over the extended (2.769-mile) course, with a chicane to slow the cars before Hill Top approaching Knicker Brook. The entry of 227 contested 14 races, supplemented by bicycle frolics, an 89-car concours d'elegance, a big autojumble, and even a fun-fair — which the JCC had at Brooklands in 1929 to reduce monotony during the "Double-Twelve"!

Saturday

Racing on the first day began with a four-lap Handicap, won so easily by Waistell's rare L-type MG Magna that the handicappers were clearly caught napping by the new circuit. A long way behind ran Hill's AC Ace and MacKinnon's Riley 9, with Drewett's 11/2-litre Riley a "photo-finish" fourth. Another rare runner was Butler's stripped A7 Speedy. Wickham was racing the 12/50 Alvis beetle-back he uses for shopping, and Kniveton showed racing contempt by running his MG PA with its screen up.

Nutter's impressive 8-litre Bentley tourer then cleared the course for the first four-lap scratch race. Summerfield's Avon-Bentley was again in fine form here, winning by 3.6 sec from Fletcher-Jones' shortened Lagonda Rapier. The bigger car was raising dust out of Red Gate corner although its best lap was fractionally slower than the Lagonda's 73.95 mph. Dunham's truly historic Alvis was third, but Threlfall in the dirt-Ford spun at Cascades. The GN-Ford was fourth, Caroline's Morgan three-wheeler next, ahead of Stewart's 3/41/2 Bentley which has a new wooden body.

Next came an eight-lap scratch-race for standard and modified vintage cars which Cardy's ex-Ian Preston 35B Bugatti won very easily and smoothly. Howell's incredible blown twin-cam 3-litre Sunbeam, having apparently had its brakes relined in the paddock, was second, Horton in the red 35B coming up to finish third after an incident which had dropped him from second to fourth behind Farquhar's Dixon Riley 9 on lap four.

Freddie Giles was fifth in the road-equipped single-seater AC Six-powered GN, and Boswell's Super Sports Frazer Nash made the meat in a Shoosmith sandwich, Ann beaten in her 3/41/2 HM Bentley slab-tank by the family's ex-McCosh 3/41/2, both basically 1926 Bentleys. Stretton retired after doing fastest lap at 73.79 mph in his Meadows Frazer Nash, lacking a second-speed chain. Non-starters included Trisha Pilkington's 1750 Alfa, with water in unwanted places.

After Seber's effective Wolseley Hornet had won another scratch four-lap race from the Fletcher-Jones' Rapier and Smith's 4.3 Alvis, one of the more important events came up, namely the Richard Seaman Trophy for pre-war racers, over 10 laps. Rodney Felton's 3.2-litre monoposto Alfa Romeo had this one nicely buttoned-up, leading all the may from Mayman's ERA R4D to cross the line 1.7 sec ahead. Both drivers lapped at 86.31 mph, a pre-war class record for the extended course. Martin Morris was third in ERA R11B when it ran out of fuel on lap nine. This let in Ludovic Lindsay in "Remus", R5B having had a splendid battle with Sir J Venables-Llewellyn's ERA R4A until Brian Classic in R2A separated them on lap nine to come fourth. Black's P3 Alfa faded early and finished behind Sweet's twin-cam MG KN/KB, and Ricketts, who must now be in danger of turning his back on mere Rileys, got Sally Marsh's R1B into eighth place.

Ten laps had proved punishing, eleven cars retiring. There was a bit of a breather for onlookers during another four-lap scratch race. Barber's 11/2-litre Riley Special displaced Upston's similar car after a lap, and third place went to Warne in the Rowley Vauxhall, ahead of Merriot's 12/70 Alvis.

So to the next big race, the 12-lap Cheshire Building Society Allcomers. No practice times were issued to the Press, but rumour said Tony Mayman's Bruce Halford Lotus 16 had been quicker than Neil Corner's Tasman race V12 3-litre Ferrari Dino. At flag-fall Mayman certainly out-accelerated the Ferrari, to lead on the first lap, but by lap two Corner was ahead. There he stayed until — drama! — he spun on the fast run down to the difficult Island bend, no doubt aware that Mayman was closing on him. He recovered quickly, but was now some 71/2 seconds in arrears, and that is how these two crossed the line, Corner having lapped 0.32 mph quicker, at 89.56 mph.

Harper in the P25 BRM, who made a forging start, was third, 3.2 seconds faster than the Hon A Rothschild in the other P25, with which Felton's Alfa (first pre-war car home) couldn't quite cope. Crabbe spun his Talbot Lago early and retired, and Lindsay made a brief pit-call in "Remus" before he also stopped on lap ten. It had been stirring stuff, Corner using noticeably more of the track out of Deer Leap curve than Mayman.

Saturday's sport ended with a four-lap Handicap, in which the handicappers were again caught out, Tony Armstrong's stripped Le Mans Aston Martin taking a galloping victory from Baddiley's Speed-25 Alvis and Bentall's 41/4 Derby Bentley. WB

Sunday

While soggy spectators might have moaned about Sunday's change of weather, the extra spice it lent to the racing was almost compensation enough. Things were dry for the morning's bicycle races and for a 4-lap handicap won by Drewitt's Riley Special, but almost everyone took a turn on the grass in the next 4-lap scratch race. A terrific struggle between Smith's Alvis 4.3 and the Railton LST in Fry's hands fell to the latter on the last lap, but one more tour might have put Watney (RN MG) on top.

It looked as though Terry Cardy (Bugatti 35B) would take the Seaman Memorial Trophy, but by five laps, Harper's tiny Morgan Aero had edged past and gradually Pulled out a healthy and final lead, while Jonathan Giles, out for the first time in Ron Footit's AC/GN Cognac Special succumbed to Hine's 3/41/2-litre Bentley briefly, before re-inheriting third when the latter retired on lap 9. Tom Threlfall had a disappointing race: his McDowell Dirt Racer blew its head gasket in the morning, and although he substituted another, that lasted only one lap of the paddock, so Di Threlfall sportingly gave up her Lancia Lambda to him for the race, and that too played up.

The slippery surface led to a complete reversal of the leaders (and of many cars) in the 12-lap Allcomers race: Anthony Mayman in Halford's Lotus 16 started from pole and settled into his accustomed place at the front, with Felton (Alfa Romeo) and Ludovic Lindsay (ERA R5B) in pursuit, and Venables-Llewellyn (ERA R4A) lying fourth. But Lindsay was flying, squeezing the Alfa hard until on lap 10 Felton got out of shape and both ERAs went past.

Suddenly Mayman lost it at Old Hall, and Lindsay and Venables-Llewellyn got to the front with Felton close behind. The Lotus rejoined quickly, but fearing a cracked exhaust, Mayman toured to the finish. So Lindsay achieved a dramatic but deserved victory.

Enticknap's Morgan collected the final handicap award, and Barry Summerfield took the last short scratch event to increase the Avon-Bentley's lead in the Motor Sport Brooklands table.

Uncomfortable as it was, the rain had provided some memorable sights: Rod Jolley wrestling amid plumes of spray with the Giron Alvis which was determined to go straight on at Old Hall, and Colin Crabbe's equally lengthy Talbot-Lago executing a pirouette-and-a-half at the same point. On the whole the now-established two-day format works well, offering multiple racing for those whose machinery is up to it. But there were voices at Oulton criticising the club for basing Sunday's grids entirely on practice, with no adjustment for Saturday's race results, leading to some fast entries starting near the back. On the other hand, the VSCC has acted promptly in response to a recent practice accident: next year, sessions will be divided into faster and slower cars, with drivers separating themselves voluntarily. GC