In a real heatwave on August 6, the VSCC coped admirably with an entry of 238, and although the start of its annual hill-climb at the BOC’s Prescott course had been put forward to 10 am, from that early hour the car parks were filling up and spectators were already making use of free Paddock admission in considerable numbers. This ambitious event went off without incident and ended at a civilised hour.
The star-turn, the Type 53 4WD Bugatti, which Ben Collings was privileged to drive, was hampered by a slipping clutch that objected to transmitting 4.9-litre-power through four wheels. But the “Edwardians”, which always please the onlookers, numbered a remarkable entry of 22, from Johnnie Thomas’s 1902 GB Napier to Roger Collings’s Mercedes with 19-litres of Maybach aero-power, which was in fine fettle and fully lived up to its “Chitty-Bang-Bang” connotations, from the awe it created among the crowd as it accelerated up to the start, to its “1 1/10ths” class-record time. But nothing stops Mark Walker’s Parker-GN and its 6.1-litre Cirrus aero-engine, this combination of power-to-weight ratio and expert driving resulting in FTD, ahead of ERA, post-war Connaught, Cooper-Bristol and 27 litres of Delage Hispano opposition.
The Paddock was full of interest as usual, but large and crowded, so taking time to encompass. The Miller was there but difficult to find, as it is no longer in Zborowski white, with polished radiator cowl. The “Shelsley Specials”, if slightly away from their original terrain, never fail to fascinate. The Chawner-GN with 1AP-power was out again, as was the original GN “Spider”, which got away wonderfully fast but appeared to me to have slightly smaller back wheels than Basil Davenport used, to lower the chain-ratios for this twisty hill. Ingenious was Pittaway’s Hornet, with two Harley-Davidson air-cooled engines side-by-side to form a vee-four, a minimal firewall, a perforated floor as on the Indy Sunbeams, and not much else, its over engine black-and-yellow striped tank suggesting that this car might have been the product of a nightmare on the part of the one-time GN “Wasp”.
The enthusiastic Walker family were there en masse. Tom in the Caesar Special, Mark in the Parker-GN, Juliet in the 1912 Alfonso Hispano Suiza, Sally with the sports Frazer Nash.
Father was prevented from running the 1908 GP Panhard Levassor because its crankcase had cracked, or so I heard. Dr Gray had the s/c Hardy 1AP as a class-winning contender. Two racing A7s had twin rear wheels. There was lots of variety: several 328 BMWs, Roesch Talbots, Bentleys, including Donald Parker’s 1911 Derby sports-special, and 30/98s. Also the Morgans. Milligan’s 1980cc 1952 Connaught made a circumspect start. Murray ran a nice little 1921 Bugatti, and Hare’s Newton was out again. Some drivers vied with the sun in trying to warm their tyres before the start, but there is less room to do this than at Shelsley Walsh. But for sheer rubber consumption from the start the 27-litre Delage-Hisso took the biscuit or the retreading or something, on a smooth getaway. Reynolds 1929 4 1/2 Bentley puffed smoke defiantly from a side exhaust outlet. It should have been a day for new records, because many of the holders were absent. The programme contained some good Murray Hardy historic pictures. Of “Edwardians”, which the spectators love. Rankin’s Fiat got away better than at Shelsley, but Lemon’s 1914 30/98 leapt away. Barnett pumped up fuel tank pressure for his 1911 Knox with a tyre pump, and Biggles had the 30/98 V8 Hisso seize beforehand, so was confined to his normal 30/98 Special. W B
1916 Mercedes-Maybach: 49.40s, 1908 Itala: 55.13s. 1914 Vauxhall: 56.11s. 1913 Th-Schneider: 56.17s. 1914 Sunbeam: 58.61s. 1911 Knox: 58.72s. 1912 Abbott-Detroit: 61.02s. 1918 MAB: 61.31s. 1912 Hispano-Suiza: 62.13s. 1912 CGV: 64.335. 1902 Napier: 67.99s. 1913 Singer: 69.58s. No others under these times. Handicap: Itala.
Class winners: (R = Record)
1: G Owen (Morris/IAP), 50.28s, R; Vintage, ditto.
2: I Baxter (Frazer Nash), 47.94s; Vintage. ditto.
3: I Giles (AC/FN), 46.26s; Vintage. ditto
4: I Bronson (Riley), 43.90s; Vintage, M McCann (Bentley), 49.49s.
5: R Collings (M-M), 49.40s, Aero R.
6: Dr Gray (Hardy Spl), 43.55s, R; Vintage, F Giles (Salome). 46.48s, R.
7: A Stephens (ERA R12B), 42.43s; Vintage. I Maeers (Morgan), 47.43s.
8: K Knight (ERA/Riley), 43.82s; Vintage. I Hulbert (Alvis), 44.86s.
9: M Walker (Parker-GN), 41.84s, FTD & R: Vintage. ditto.
10: M Milligan (Connaught), 44.11s.