The VSCC at Shelsley Walsh

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In its 90th year, celebrated in August, the VSCC’s Shelsley Walsh hill-climb, in conjunction with the Midland AC, went off extremely well, in something of a heatwave on July 22. Among the smallest sports cars Adam Smith and his Meadows-Frazer Nash was favourite, which he resolved by non-starting, leaving victory to James Baxter’s Frazer Nash Fast Tourer, in both vintage and general categories. As expected, Martin Stretton’s Super Sports ‘Nash was runner-up. Jim Young drove a rare ex-Shuttleworth Aston Martin evolved from team-car LM8. Of the 1500-3000cc sports cars the once-racer “Beetle” with AC poke in an FN chassis was the expected winner of the vintage contingent but Guy Spollon’s Blue Streak Riley was 0.39sec quicker, to take the class overall. Paul Mullins’s MG Magna stopped on run two, and Guyatt’s D6-70 Delage made an obese contrast to the “Beetle” (43.36sec). The over-3000cc sports car class was a win in record time for the larger Blue Streak Riley mit blower, ably conducted by Julian Bronson. The previous class record was Rodney Felton’s, set 14 years ago and the resurfaced course may be a trifle faster now. The Riley broke it by 0.23 sec.

The aero-powered cars had a good day. Roger Collings’s monster Mercedes-Maybach was on fine form, becoming the fastest Edwardian car up Shelsley Walsh, the former 1908 GP Panhard’s time bettered by a rousing (in more ways than one!) 1.28sec. But by a sensible agreement between the AECC and the VSCC, Roger sets an aero-engined class record, and the Panhard’s Edwardian record still stands. On his second run he missed a down-swop at the beginning of the Esses and then hit the bank when back in second. But Maybach acceleration, even with spinning wheels, is not to be denied and Roger was again mightily impressive. The only challenge came from Simon Williamson in the 1908 GP Itala, with commendably consistent ascents, the faster in 50.0sec. Brian Gray then made a good job of winning the 1100cc racing-car section, in the long-campaigned Hardy Special; Fitzmaurice’s twin-rearwheeled A7 s/c single-seater took vintage honours (42.6sec).

Duncan Ricketts in Sally Marsh’s ERA R1B had the 1500cc racing class tied up, with Caroline’s Morgan best vintage vehicle (41.25sec). The 1.5 to 2-litre division was poorly supported; of the four runners, David Morris was much the fastest in ERA R11B, taking the Raymond Mays ERA Trophy. The over 2-litre racing cars and the Historics were merged, and it was left to Guy Smith in the now-hoary Alvis-engined Frazer Nash to make FTD (35.89sec) and go home with the Fray Challenge Trophy. Donald Day’s record is 0.60sec quicker. Vintage winner here was Mark Walker in the Cirrus/Parker-GN. As usual he drove superbly, saying he could not have gone any faster; this personal on-the-limit produced a time of 36.07sec, to break Majzub’s Bugatti record by 0.16sec. He deservedly won the MAC Challenge Trophy.

The Vauxhall-Villiers non-started as has been its historic wont, but interesting runners included Ben Collings in the 8-litre Bentley, vintage winner of his class (39.90sec), Thorp’s quiet Hudson Spikins, now with new cooler (51.84sec), Moore’s Railton (49.41 sec), Jo Moss’s low-chassis Invicta (51.20sec) and Hare’s Newton (59.21sec). Trevor John’s Co Amilcar went well (43.28sec), the Chawner-GN, so appropriate to this venue, managed 45.86sec, and Leigh’s dear old GN Spider, of which one MUST write “ditto”, went up the course it knows so well in 43.22sec, beating its handicap. Boswell was entrusted with the other Spider, in the post-war class because of its 1948 HRG chassis, and clocked 46.59sec. Neil Murray had one climb in the B & M AM (53.34sec), the s/c Norris Special with FWD Alvis power, was up in 53.35sec, the Sunbeam Tigress was timed at 39.12sec, another handicap win, and the Richard Bolster at 39.15sec. Giles was a non-starter in the Cognac, but the GN/AC took Westie Mitchell to the top in 41.77sec before crying “enough”. The Hotchkiss-engined Chevron-Losange did 48.23sec on consistent ascents, but a star turn was that of Robin Baker who spun much rubber off the tyres of his 27-litre Delage-Hispano on a second-gear climb (39.00sec). The ERA Riley was off-form, at 40.65sec on its only attempt, but the Hulbert Alvis was second in class (37.96sec), and the T59/50B Bugatti third overall in class (37.89sec) in spite of Charlie Dean saying its s/c 4.7-litre was fuel-starved. Graham Rankin’s smart Targa Florio-type 1906 Fiat lost revs off the line due to an unsympathetic clutch (86.89sec). I quote these times, because that is what speed hill-climbing is mostly about. W B

Results (R = Record)

Class winners: J Baxter (Frazer Nash), 41.65sec; G Spollon (Riley), 40.14sec; J Bronson (Riley), 37.71sec, R; Vintage, B Collings (Bentley), 39.90sec; R Collings (Mercedes-Maybach), 44.58sec R; B Gray (Hardy Special), 37.77sec: Vintage, G Caroline (Morgan), 41.25sec; D Morris (ERA). 36.07sec; Vintage, W Mitchell (GN/AC), 41.77sec; G Smith (Frazer Nash), 35.89sec, FTD: Vintage, M Walker (Parker-GN), 36.07sec. R.

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