Vintage Day At Shelsley Walsh

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VSCC day at Shelsley Walsh, the Midland AC’s 1000-yard hillclimb course near Worcester, which is largely unchanged from how it was in 1905, is an enjoyment not to be missed. Sponsored by Penrite Oil, on July 4, this year it was mainly for pre-war cars, the astonishing moderns (record: R.Brown 3 1/2-litre Pilbeam MP58 Ford DFR — 25.34s) not arriving until the Sunday. The small road-equipped sports car class was won by Dunn’s Riley Falcon Special (40.29s), the vintage division by Robert’s 1927 Frazer Nash Super Sports (45.55s).

In the middle sports car class fastest car was Guy Spollon’s Riley (42.5 1s), vintage honours going to Jon Giles in the AC/FN “Beetle” (42.725). Coming to the big sports cars, Barry Summerfield had the s/c 4 1/2-litre Bentley-powered Avon well and truly wound-up to win the class (38.51s), which was 1.35s better than Rodney Felton’s handsome blown 2.9 Alfa Romeo. Roger Collins had no problems leading the vintage contingent, in the big 8128cc Bentley (41.17s), beating the runner-up, Joe Moss in the S-type Invicta, by 6.8s. Colvin Gunn in his blown MG Q-type replica won the small racing car class (41.65s) from Frank Hernandez in his vintage A7 Special (43.41s), which was running with twin rear wheels. The Riley Sprite Special of Mike Sayers took the middle racing car section (39.26s), with some close placings for second spot, which was achieved by the 1924 200 Mile Race Alvis of Eric Benfield (48.63s), which was a mere 0.01s quicker than Jardine’s T37 Bugatti, of the vintage cars.

It was left to Anthony Mayman with ERA R4D to emulate Raymond Mays and set a new class-course-record, of 34.91s, on his only ascent, his 1991 record being 0.06s slower. (But the course has since been resurfaced by ARC Surfacing North, so presumably none of the old records can now be broken?) Guy Smith’s Alvis failed to beat the ERA by 1.69s. Best big vintage car was Cardy’s T35B Bugatti (40.83s). So Mayman took the Fray Challenge Trophy and the Raymond Mays Shelsley ERA Challenge Trophy. Only one post-war car ran. Clements’s Mk.2 Cooper-Bristol (41.20s).

But there were the Edwardians. Very interesting was Mike Walker’s 1913 Monarch, into which he has installed an 8.2-litre 90hp Curtis OX5 V8 aero-engine, dating from 1910, completing the ensemble with a Napier radiator and a Panhard gearbox. It looked as if it had just emerged from a long spell in some country barn, which is just how such a car should look. Moreover, it was driven to the course on its road sprockets, giving a final-drive ratio of about 11/2 to 1, after which smaller sprockets were fitted, and Walker ascended the hill in top gear, after changing into it somewhere about Kennel Bend. On the line the long exposed rockers, actuated by ingenious inner and outer push-rods, could be seen leisurely prodding the o h valves. Times: 52.08s.

Fastest was the 1908 GP Pan hard of fatherWalker (48.56s), the 1908 ltala of Williamson doing 51.77s. Only the Knox R45 came to rest. The Marion M30 needed 93.12s. Rivers Fletcher, his tiny T13 Bugatti no doubt inspired by its driver’s BRDC racing kit, did a good 80.63s. What’s more, the aero-engined Monarch was then driven to Mallory, and won its race. The Edwardian Handicap was the Panhard’s, Ben Collings on the Mercedes 60 second. The rain that had interrupter Wimbledon tennis, affected the second runs. W B