One of the Best
With sunshine, large crowds spectating at both practice and the climbs, and a record entry of 230, the VSCC’s annual speed hillclimb on August 4th at the delightful Bugatti OC’s Prescott course was one of the best-ever. Anthony Mayman made best time in his ERA R4D, just below his record, with a truly smooth ascent (41.34 s). Best vintage time was made by a determined Julian Majzub in his T35B Bugatti (43.06s), beating Footitt’s class record by 0.88s, for which he received the Peter Hampton Memorial Award for quickest Bugatti. Out of a substantial Edwardian entry the Th Schneider triumphed (54.57s), taking the glass goblet in memory of Sam Clutton. The class was won on handicap by young Ben Collings in the Zust. It was a close-run contest, the 1908 GP Panhard tying with the Schneider on the second ascents and being only 0.20s slower overall.
The enormous entry was so expeditiously handled by the marshalls, to whom all praise on this hot day, that the programme was completed in just over six hours, including the lunch break complete with jazz band. Wisely, more than one car was allowed on the hill at once, as in Continental climbs, which caused some drivers to claim baulks — the FWD Douglas-powered Allt’cok and Brewster’s racing A7 Chummy seemed to be going up and down indefinitely. . . .
There were few incidents, apart from Roger Collings actually spinning the 1903 Mercedes on his first run, before clocking 57.19s and Caroline, having tried to set his single back tyre alight before starting his second run, not apparently having cooked it enough, as he hit the bank, without personal injury (first run in 45.89s), beating Harper’s Morgan despite this one leaving a single line of rubber from start to the bridge (48.15s).
Then Burrell’s Bentley-Royce went straight on at Pardon, hit the bank, reversed out and continued, to applause from the crowd.
Rides’s Riley took the small sports-cars class (50.24s), best vintage car Leith’s Ulster A7 (53.59s). Interesting runners were Churcher’s “four-push-rod” Salmson and Cox’s smart Vale; when the VSCC was very young it smiled behind its hand at Vale Specials. Dunn’s Riley dominated the 1-1/2-litre class with best time by a non-supercharged sports-car (46.02s) and Mrs Walker’s low-hung Frazer Nash Special set a new vintage class-record (48.41s). Roger’s vintage Frazer Nash easily took both categories of the up-to-3000cc sports-car class (49.84s) and Guy Spollon had the big sports car class buttoned up, the Alfa Romeo doing 44.9s, to beat Felton’s record.
Two 1914 TT Sunbeams, a Coupe de L’Auto Sunbeam and Harold Smith’s 1916 Indy Sunbeam added tone to the Edwardian class, in which Bendall’s 1903 Renault got up in 130.48s to what I think was the “plop-plop” of automatic inlet valves. Judy Neve drove the 1914 TT Humber, somewhat troubled by clutch slip. Grey in the Hardy Special was on form in the 1100cc racing car class, aided by quick shifts on the motorcycle type gearbox (45.85s); best vintage car was the Amilcar-Riley (48.62s). Chris Mayman in ERA AJM1 took the 1-1/2-litre class (43.68s) in which Caroline’s Morgan, rejoicing in the Moggy camp, broke Freddie Giles’s vintage Morgan GN record. The 3-litre class has been described above — Mayman and Majzub.
The Giron-Alvis was master of the big racing car class (43.97s), the Lovell-Elkhart took the vintage slot, and the only post-war car was Bianchi’s Lago-Talbot, which the lenient VSCC allowed another stab after the engine had been stalled. It then went off in seemingly too high-geared style (50.71s). Space precludes reference to all winners on handicap, of which Wyn Owen’s son in his vee-twin Morris Special was the first. Chris Gordon surged away well in the Silver Hawk (57.13s) and Mrs Gordon tamed “Grannie” to a climb in 56.75s. The Halford Special was also in fine form (52.52s) and another whiff of old Brooklands was provided by the 200-Mile Race Miller-Wolseley replica. Of the other ERAs, R9B did 44.5s, R12C 44.3s, 42.49s, R11B 42.76s and R14B 46.75s. What a splendid sprint! — WB