Whilst the rest of the car world seemed to be at Goodwood, basking in dressing up and playing at being vintage, in a small corner of the Shropshire countryside the Vintage Sports Car Club put on a truly vintage event.
Goodwood is, of course, highly successful and rightly so, but my heart is in grassroots motorsport and Loton Park is a wonderful example of this. I have blogged about VSCC hillclimbing here and some of the Club’s other activities here but Loton Park always holds a very special place for me.
Firstly, it is one of the most picturesque courses I have been too and secondly, whilst Prescott is ‘the’ event everyone wants to go to and has a wonderful garden party atmosphere, Loton is relaxed, has the clubbie feel and just feels a bit more like events used to be. I’m not one for unnecessary nostalgia (says she who is heavily involved with vintage cars!!) but the old motto of the Club was ‘the right crowd and no crowding’. Everyone at Loton was there for the love of cars, the competitors all muck in to look after each other and the whole thing has a lovely relaxed atmosphere.
Saturday started off wet with a few heavyish downpours for the unlucky early runners but once the grey sky had passed, the drivers were rewarded with a dry track for the rest of the weekend and even some sunshine on occasion. Practice was relatively event free and the time sheet revealed that the fastest pre-war car was some way ahead of his rivals.
Really everyone was waiting for the Saturday night hog roast. Kindly organised by brothers Robin and David Baker who are affectionately known as the Baker Boys, this is a real chance for marshals, competitors and guests to stand round the bar, enjoy some real ale and banter and follow it up with some rather lovey pig rolls. The real highlight of my night was being awarded the annual Baker Boys Trophy, originally awarded for Best Performance in an Aero-Engined Car, it has now grown into a ‘good egg’ trophy. I was absolutely astounded to receive it, especially as there are so many ‘good eggs’ in the Club, as demonstrated by Sunday’s events.
Talking of which, it all started ok, the first car on the hill was an Austin 7 driven by the Club’s new Treasurer and he managed to bag himself a 2nd Handicap award. In fact the day in general went fairly smoothly with people taking a much tidier line around Triangle.
Lunchtime provided an opportunity for competitors to give a cadet a run up the hill as a reward for the cadets undertaking car parking duties.
After lunch, things got a little more difficult. Just out of my sight, Richard Scaldwell had a rather large off in his rather large De Dietrich, however having been checked over by the Doc, he was transferred to hospital in a friend’s camper van so that a cut could be properly cleaned and stitched. Slightly battered and bruised, the biggest dent seems to have been to his wallet for the repairs. A wonderful camaraderie was shown when one competitor towed home the stricken car with another competitor taking home the car of Richard’s wife, who had also been competing. They were by no means the only people to offer to help.
Once the incident had been tidied up, we were back under way, a slightly subdued Mark Walker in his Darraq being the first to tackle the hill, with a class win already in his pocket he had no need to do anything other than drive steady , which he did, even if it didn’t necessarily look like that to the untrained eye. The meeting finished with the very last car (although not vintage) taking Fastest Time of the Day.
Just to prove that the Club is one of equal opportunities, that FTD was by a female driver, Phoebe Rolt, as were a number of other awards, including Jo Blakeney-Edwards (probably more competitive than all the men put together) winning Class 3 and the ever popular Sue Derbyshire (still one of my most respected drivers) taken a 2nd in her class.
Fastest Time of the Day by a Pre-War car was a three way fight and an all-male affair. Favourite before and during the meeting was Julian Grimwade (Frazer Nash Norris Special) who had set the fastest time of the three contenders in practise. Vying to deprive him of the top spot were Tony Lees in his Cognac and Tim Greenhill in his Wolsley. When it came to the final runs, Tony and Tim were in the class before and finished with just 0.2 second difference between them. However they didn’t do quite enough to beat Julian’s morning time of 65.14s, just 0.63s ahead of Phoebe’s morning time. Could he improve and beat the post-war car? He did his bit and improved to 64.85s. As you already know, Phoebe went just that little bit faster to take overall FTD.
Loton Park, as organised by Hagley and District Light Car Club organise a number of events throughout the year, including a round of the British HillClimb Championship. To read more about one of their more modern meetings you can read this piece
So will I be at Loton or Goodwood next year? One has excellent on track action, vintage machinery you can get up close to and is a great day out, the other is in West Sussex . I’ll stick to Loton Park.