Photo Gallery: VSCC ‘Spring Start’ The GP Italia and Lancester Trophies Meeting
I always look forward to this event, as for me it heralds the start of the historic motorsport season in the UK. As usual the VSCC ‘Spring Start’ didn’t disappoint, with some close racing on track, a welcoming paddock and a gathering of some beautiful vintage automobiles, great stuff indeed.
I like to have a good look round for a hidden gem, this year’s find was a very rare beast indeed. A silver eagle radiator cap mascot caught my eye as did the immaculate brightwork it was perched on. The car, a 1934 Alvis Speed 20 SC with Vandenplas coachwork one of only seventeen produced, of which just two are known to survive, the other one is in bits! With all aluminium bodywork full width sun roof, suicide doors, built in jacking system, suspension adjustable from the dashboard and as world’s first car to feature an all syncro four speed gearbox fitted as standard, the car was way ahead of its time. What a great find.
The actual 1908 GP Italia car which lends its name to the trophy was present and in fine fettle. Owned by the late George Daniels, the legendary watchmaker and classic car collector, the car along with the rest of the Daniels Collection of vintage cars is to be auctioned on the 29th of June 2012 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed by Bonhams auctioneers. Another of the collection the 1929 ‘Bentley Blower No1’ single seater, was also on display at the Bonhams marquee in the paddock.
The racing started as always with a thirty minute regularity trial for pre war sports cars followed by the lunch break. Although not a race as such, there is a fair amount of kudos up for grabs. Holly Mason-Franchitti topped the results with a total of 19 laps completed in her Aston Martin Ulster LM17. Her sister Chloe was next up with 18 laps completed in the sister Aston martin Ulster LM18, Robert Beebee in a Frazer Nash TT rep was next and the man with the fastest lap was, as last year, Andrew Mitchell in his 1 ½ litre HRG.
Race 2, The Silverstone Trophy for special pre-war sports cars (VSCC set4) & Fox Nicholl Trophy for large capacity standard & modified pre-war sports cars to give its full title, started at 1:15PM in a shower of rain which thankfully only lasted for a lap or so. John Guyatt had put his Talbot Lago T150C on pole and led past my perch at Becketts on lap one with the rest of the field slithering through behind. The man on the move however, was Neil Twyman in his 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C Monza who took over the lead on lap two but was not allowed to get away from the squabble for the other podium places which was a closely fought affair between Richard Illife’s Riley Kestrel, Brian Maile’s Alvis Speed 25 sports and David Pryke’s Riley 12/4 TT sprite replica who crossed the stripe in that order with just over a second covering them after 8 frenetic laps.
Race 3, Patrick Lindsay memorial & Amschel Rothschild trophies race for pre 1961 front engined racing cars (VSCC set 2) Is always a crowd pleaser, this year’s race was no exception. With last year’s winner Mark Gillies in his magnificently turned out ERA R3A, Tony Smith and the ex-Phil Hill Ferrari 246, the polished monster, Lister Jaguar Monzanopolis of Rod Jolley and Eddie McGuire’s Lotus 16, Phillip Walker also in a Lotus 16 and Malcolm Ricketts ERA E Type all at the front of the grid it looked set for a good one. The lights went out and the roar of 33 Grand Prix cars filled the air, poleman Walker bogged down and ended the lap fifth, Gillies got a good start and stole the lead, Jolley and smith went side by side into maggotts, Jolley took an unconventional line round the outside at Becketts to slot into second. Second time round and 1st to 5th were nose to tail, taking a tight line round Becketts, Phillip Walker, Lotus 16 set himself up for a draught down the straight from McGuire’s similar car, making the pass at Brooklands for fourth. Next victims to the nimble little Lotus were the Lister of Jolley and Gillies ERA, who had both been passed by Tony Smith for the lead. Walker set about closing the scarlet machine down and by Becketts on lap three, while Smith took the wider exit onto the Wellington Straight, Walker took tighter line putting the Lotus almost alongside the Ferrari making it stick by the by the end of the lap. Once clear of the melee, Walker stuck in the fastest lap of the race on lap 4 and was never headed winning by 2.83 seconds from Smith’s Ferrari and Jolley a further 6 seconds down the road after getting tangled up with back markers.
Race 4 Standard & Modified Pre war Sports cars (VSCC set 3) Saw a lights to flag victory for Andrew Mitchell and his HRG 1 ½ litre. However he had to work for it, Frederic Wakeman in a Frazer Nash Supersports and William Mahany in an HRG Le Mans, initially embroiled in their own tussle for second and third reeled Mitchell in towards the end of the eight lapper, Wakeman posting the fastest lap of the race on lap five as he and Mahany chased down the leader. With a lap to go the trio were within a second of each other, Mitchell hung on and took the flag 0.86 of a second ahead of Wakeman with Mahany’s HRG in the Frazer Nash’s wheel tracks.
Race 5 GP Italia and Lanchester Trophies for Vintage racing cars (VSCC set 1) Geraint Owen and his mighty T35B Bugatti was unbeatable comfortably winning for the fourth time in the last five years. Tony Lees was delighted with second place in his AC/GN Cognac, starting 6th, was 4th by lap two, 3rd by lap 4 and locked into a battle with eventually 3rd placed Gary Caroline in the deceptively quick Morgan Super Aero. Christopher Williams delighted the crowd with his mighty Napier Bentley’s tyre shredding antics particularly on the run down the Wellington straight where the prodigious power of its 24 litre Napier Sea Lion W12 engine spun up the rear tyres shrouding those pursuing it in pungent tyre smoke.
Race 6 and 9 Short Handicap races for pre-war cars (VSCC set 6). Race 6 was won by Malcolm Underwood in his beautiful Delahaye 135, from Ron Turner in a Wolsley Hornet Special and Norman Pemberton Talbot 95/105 Sports Special. Race 9 saw John Reeve bring his Riley 12/4 home first followed by Alistair Pugh’s Frazer Nash/BMW 328 and Trevor Smete’s Invicta S Type.
Race 7 and 11 Short Scratch race for pre-war cars (VSCC set 5) Two 5 lap sprints saw an eclectic mix of pre war machinery take to the track. Race 7 honours going to Mark Gillies ERA R3A who finished an impressive fifteen seconds ahead of second placed Paul Mullins ERA R7B, Pete Candy rounding out the top three in his Riley Super Rat. Race 8, was a much closer affair, won by the Fiat AC of Andrew Kellock, second taken by Douglas Munro driving a Frazer Nash Super Sports who got by Trevor Smete’s Invicta S Type and Alistair Pugh’s Frazer Nash/BMW on the final lap.
Race 8, VSCC 1950’s sports racing cars race. A three way fight was the story of this race, Julian Mazjub, Sadler MkIII, Greame Dodd, Cooper Monaco and Tony Bianchi, Farrellac Allard Sports Racing, followed each other round for the ten laps finishing in that order, twenty two seconds ahead of fourth placed man Paul Woolley, Cooper Monaco.
Race 10, HGPCA race for pre 1966 Grand Prix cars. The opening round of the HGPCA season saw a field of 23 cars take the start. The pole sitter Peter Horsman took his ex Tony Shelly Tasman Lotus 18/21 into a lead which was never challenged. John Harper’s Brabham BT4 and fought tooth and nail with Mark Piercy’s howling Lola Mk4, Harper hustled by on lap 9 and gapped the Lola but could do nothing about Peter Horsman who drove a faultless race finishing 5 seconds ahead by the twelfth and final lap.
And so closed another ‘spring start’ meeting, I genuinely think this meeting is a hidden jewel in the Silverstone season; a great, well organised and supported meeting with some beautiful cars both on and off track. This year’s offering ran like a well oiled machine and with no serious hold ups to remove wayward cars it finished well ahead of the published schedule, which probably wasn’t a bad thing as the ever present threat of a downpour happened just as I left the circuit to wend my way home. My congratulations to all at the VSCC, for another top notch day of automotive entertainment.
By Graham Dalley
All the photographs featured in the gallery can be purchased from Graham’s website at www.gdphotographic.com. Please note that the postage prices quoted are for the UK only for international purchases the postage will be slightly more expensive, POA.