John Whiteman reports on the VSCC’s quirky annual contest
There is perhaps no other event that captures the essence of the Vintage Sports-Car Club like the legendary ‘Pomeroy Trophy’, the annual event in which cars from the Edwardian era compete with the latest cars, and just about everything in between, in an attempt to discover the best touring car. It is a unique event in which the speed, agility and braking ability of cars of all ages are measured against each other through a complicated handicapping system.
The Vintage Sports-Car Clubs annual Pomeroy Trophy took place at a very cold but mercifully dry and sunny Silverstone over the full Grand Prix course on Saturday, 24 February. As the club’s only competition to admit modern cars a wide variety is always guaranteed, this year ranging from Andrew Howe-Davies’ 1911 SCAT racer to 2017 hot hatches.
Cars are no longer penalised for not arriving under their own power but still incur a penalty if they cannot accommodate two Le Mans regulation suitcases in order to prove the cars’ touring capability. Having passed all checks the field of nearly 140 was split into three groups for the morning’s four tests, which are taken one after the other at various points round the circuit including timed slalom, acceleration and braking elements for a possible 350 points, with a further 100 points available for the afternoon’s 40-minute ‘High Speed Trial’ in which each competitor is allocated a certain number of laps to complete within the time.
The pre-war group awaiting the start of the afternoon’s high speed trial Photo Eric Sawyer
The first group comprised cars more normally associated with the VSCC and indeed it was regular runner James Baxter driving the 1934 Riley/ERA Maclure Special that he intends to campaign this year who made the running. The car has its origins with Riley driver of the ‘30s Percy Maclure, but has been re-engineered over the years, being known as the RRA (Richardson Racing Automobile) post-war until Keith Knight rebuilt it again in the mid-1980s. Baxter led the way in the first session and easily completed his allocated laps in the time. Also notable in this group were three pre-war Alfa-Romeos, Roger Buxton’s 1930 6C 1750 Zagato and Martin Halusa and Dan Ghose in 8C 2300s plus the usual gaggle of Frazer Nashes of various models, which can never be discounted from victory. The second group was led initially by the Renault Clio team of Alex and Andrew Ames before Ross Keeling’s 2006 Mini Cooper spoilt their fun and got into the lead by half distance. Also in this group was Martin Halusa’s stunning 1952 Ferrari 212 driven by Margaret Diffey. The third group was for generally more modern vehicles including VSCC regulars in unfamiliar cars. Geraint Owen, once associated with Bugatti, drove his BMW M3 E36, Patrick Blakeney-Edwards forsaking his ‘Nash for an Austin Healey 3000, and Nick Leston in a Volkswagen Golf to mention but three successful combinations.
Often won by pre-war cars, this year’s overall winner was Simon Smith in his 1964 Lotus Elan Photo Eric Sawyer
After all the calculations had been completed the winner of the Pomeroy Trophy for 2018 was the 1964 Lotus Elan of Simon Smith with 424.16 points, a mere 6.5 points ahead of Michael Steele in his 1965 Lotus Cortina on 417.56, who in turn was just ahead of Ross Keeling’s 2006 Mini Cooper S on 415.19. The Densham Trophy for best pre-war car went to Simon Blakeney-Edwards’ 1929 Frazer Nash Super Sports on 404.01 with The Edwardian Trophy going to Andrew Howe-Davies in his 1911 SCAT racer.
It was altogether a good mixture of old and not so old, which must prove that the formula originally devised all those years ago by Laurence Pomeroy to find the ‘best touring car’ is still valid. No doubt many competitors will be back in
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