Race Report: VSCC “Spring Start” Meeting Silverstone April 24th
The VSCC have been holding the GP Italia race meeting annually at Silverstone since 1949, a fact that the club is justifiably very proud of.
The meeting kicked off with The Regularity Trial, a half hour enduro, not a race as such, although try telling that to the drivers who looked to be having a high old time. Drivers are required to cover a minimum distance set according to the engine capacity of the vehicle entered. To qualify for an award they have to make a pitstop to ‘change’ a spark plug. This involves removing the hot plug, running to a designated area, returning to the car and refitting it and continuing to the finish. The idea is to introduce novice drivers to racing conditions gently, although any club member is allowed to enter. The entry for this year’s race was a good mix of experience as well as novice male and female drivers. The event has been a regular feature of the meeting and always popular with competitors. 29 cars spread over five classes entered the ‘race’ which was ‘won’ by Sarah Frankel driving an MG PB. Next across the line was Andrew Mitchell with his HRG 1.5 ltr with Luke Roberts driving a Frazer Nash Sports third.
Race 2, the feature race of the day, The GP Italia and Lanchester Trophies Race fielded 25 pre 1930 racing cars, the oldest being a Darracq 200HP of 1905 vintage which has been lovingly restored by Mark Walker over the last three years and given its racing debut in this race. No less than seven Bugatti’s took the start along with five Bentley’s including the twenty four litre (yup 24 litres or 1465 cubic inches) Napier Lion W12 aero engined monster driven by Christopher Williams. This magnificent automobile, which has an estimated output of 500 HP, thundered round the Silverstone national circuit to 6th place, spinning up its rear wheels on the exit of Becketts and generating palls of blue tyre smoke on each of the 10 laps. The race was won by Geraint Owen in his type 35 Bugatti followed by Jo Singer in a 1930 Bentley 3/8, 8 litre, 2 seater special. Third was Anthony Howatt’s 27! litre Hispano/Delage 500CV.
Race 3, was the first of two scratch races held over 5 laps. Alan Chandler driving Robert Lewis’ Lagonda V12 Le Mans Replica won with Richard Brightman’s Riley Nine 12/4 Special, 4 seconds behind. A further 2 seconds behind, Paul Lawrence brought his beautiful little Austin 7 Supersport monoposto home for third.
Race 10 the second scratch race saw two ERA’s in the top three, Paul Mullins R7B first and Terry Crabbs R12C third split by Steven Shoosmith in a Bugatti T51.
Race 4, The Amschel Rothschild and the Patrick Lindsay Trophy Race, Sponsored by V12 Telecom for front engined Grand Prix cars from 1931-1961. An Impressive turn out of 35 cars made the grid for the race which marked the 25th anniversary of the passing of Patrick. I suspect if it wasn’t for the forth coming Monte Carlo historic festival there would have been even more of these iconic racing cars in attendance. That said we were treated to some very rare machinery. American ERA owner Paddins Dowling brought his R10B over for the race before heading off to Monaco, Italian Umberto Rossi Di Montelera’s beautiful Alfa Romeo Tipo 8 B P3 and Stephen Shoosmith fielded his 1931 Bugatti T51 the oldest car on the grid, to mention just a couple of the mouth-watering array that came out to play. It was Mark Steele who put his Connaught C type ‘toothpaste tube’ on pole along side Eddie McGuire’s Cooper Bristol F2 ERA. The second row saw a rare beast indeed, in the shape of Rod Jolley’s Lister Jaguar Monzanapolis, lined up with Hubert Fabri’s fabulous 2.5 litre Aston Martin DBR4.
Steele fudged the start and Jolley stole the advantage taking Fabri’s glorious sounding DBR4 with him, As McGuire faded Fabri drifted the Aston under Jolley’s highly polished Lister at Becketts on the first lap and for a while it looked like that was how it would stay. However the DBR4 pitted on lap 7 allowing Jolley and Steele by to take first and second 28 seconds clear of the battle for third. This was also a close fought thing between McGuire’s Connaught and Robin Longdon in the youngest car in the race, a 1960 Lola Mk2. On the final tour the pair swapped places on more or less every corner, Longdon taking the honours with McGuire just .45 of a second behind at the line. A Great race befitting the Memory of Patrick Lindsay, afterwards the clearly over the moon winner said, “I had to work hard for that”.
Race 5, The Fox and Nicholl Trophy sponsored by TT Workshops featured both standard and modified pre-war sports cars was won by Richard Pilkington driving a Talbot T26 SS, Andrew Mitchell’s HRG15 crossed the line second a mere 1.5 seconds behind after a close fought battle. John Guyatt’s Talbot Lago T150C was 9 seconds adrift for third. Of note was the appearance of the ex Raymond Mays ‘white Riley’ the record breaking Riley Sports Racer of the 30’s, presently owned by American Ian Landy.
Race 6, was a 10 lap affair for 1950’s sports cars, and was won convincingly by the Sadler Mk3 of Julian Majzub with the Lister Knobbly of Crispin Harris second and Chris Keens in a Kurtis 500 S third. Legendary Pink Floyd drummer and car collector Nick Mason brought his Maserati T61 ‘bird cage’ out to play, he finished 10th for the record.
Race 7, was the first of two, 5 lap Handicap races of the day, featuring a wide variety of pre war sports cars. The slowest cars start first with the fastest on the back row each class has a time handicap guaranteeing lots of overtaking. The first race was won by John Earle Marsh in a 3.5 litre Alvis Silver Eagle, with the Bugatti T35B of Michael Hudson second and Richard Martin’s Aston Martin 15/98 Speed third.
Race 11, the final Handicap was won by Mark Elder in an Austin Sports Special, Robert Lewis took the wheel of his Lagonda V12 Le Mans replica and brought it home second, with Rachel Singer taking third in her bright red Bentley 2 seater.
Race 8, the guest event of the day, a Pre- 1966 Grand Prix Cars race organised by the Historic Grand Prix Car Association (HGPCA). Enrico Spaggiari brought his ex Bruce McLaren Cooper T53 over from Italy and is returning with the winner’s laurels after a dominant performance leading from lights to flag. Alan Baillie came home second in his Cooper T71/73 with Mark Piercy in a Lola Mk4 completing the podium.
Race 9, The Silverstone Trophy race was another close race with the podium trio separated by a mere 4.2 seconds. Winner Dudley Sterry with his 1939 HRS 2 seater sports, followed by Justin Hart’s Riley Big Four Special and Adam Singer piloting his 8 litre Bentley 3/8 2 seater Special not far behind for third.
In closing I have to compliment the organisers, marshals, owners and drivers for putting on such a great show which in the truest ‘Brooklands’ style was definitely “the right crowd and not too crowded”. A friendly paddock and glorious spring sunshine made this a memorable event for all who were witnessed the days racing.
Images: Graham Dalley