7 months ago

Motoring Miscellany part 1 - Pages 1 to 7

Motoring Miscellany My first vivid childhood motoring memory is 1948 when both the Singer and Citroen disappeared and a brand new Vauxhall Velox - black of course, appeared on the drive at home. As a family we soon piled into the car, and an early event was the Prescott Hill Climb - so I can say I have been going to Prescott for some 70 years! The Velox was a large car but this did not stop Pop quickly deciding it was sufficiently powerful and exciting to enter motoring events! An early occasion was the 1949 BOC (Bugatti Owners’ Club) Silverstone race, competitor number 25 racing hard whilst trying to keep up with my uncle Jack Newton in his Bristol 401– a lovely car! Sadly Pop’s race was short lived due to fuel starvation, found subsequently to have been caused by “kids” at his place of work putting paper into the fuel tank from the unlocked fuel filler – definitely not me!! My motoring memories for the period 1948 to the mid 1950s abound and certainly influenced my enthusiasm, if not obsession, of motor racing. One of Pop’s friends was a John (J V S) Brown who had a green HRG 1500, HOP 279, with which they competed in prestige events in the 3 years 1948 to 1951, Pop as navigator. Successes included Sporting Trials, and in 1951 2 nd overall and team award on the Daily Express Rally … I certainly remember seeing Pop off in the dark early hours to those events, which were 2 to 3 days virtually nonstop on public roads, many closed by the police to allow competing Rally Cars to have preference – happy days! … and 6 th overall and 1 st in class on the RAC Rally, pipping well known rally specialist Nancy Mitchell by 0.04 points!

Motoring Miscellany My uncle, Jack Newton, Pop’s brother in law, successfully campaigned HRGs including Prescott and Shelsley Walsh and had a succession of eclectic cars. To have rides in the Frazer Nash as a 6 to 7 year old was exhilarating, my brother Chris remembering it was the first time he had travelled at 100 mph! Above and below – E J (Jack) Newton at Prescott in his HRG. The Frazer Nash was sold in 1952 and was replaced by Jack commissioning a Killeen MG K1. Tom Killeen designed one of the first monocoque constructed cars, before Colin Chapman’s early Lotuses. However, despite the Killeen being raced for three years or so, it did not enjoy the same success and rides were not as exciting as the Frazer Nash! Both cars still exist, TMX 543 owned and raced today by Nick Mason and I saw the Killeen, by now in Australia, for sale some years ago in a VSCC advert. In the 1950s my parents went to several British Grand Prix and other International and National events and amongst my memorabilia is a 1950 programme of the Grand Prix d’Europe, incorporating the British Grand Prix, signed by luminaries including Juan Manuel Fangio, Reg Parnell and Giuseppe Farina. An advert for Notwen (Newton spelled backwards) oils, promoting Jack Newton’s successes in the HRG. Early memories includes family North Cornish summer holidays riding in his white Jaguar XK 120 but the most exciting car was a 1949 Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica, TMX 543. That car was displayed at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show and raced successfully by Jack in International events, including Silverstone Production Sports Cars and the 1950 and 1951 Dundrod TT. Reverting to the Kettel cars! The Vauxhall was replaced by, what I thought, was a mundane Ford Prefect, although it did get “thrashed” up Prescott on a number of occasions! The car stable was enlarged as Mother now had a Ford Popular, the “sit up and beg” variety. Both cars had a pretty hard life! In the late 1950s and 1960s Pop was an RAC Timekeeper mainly at Prescott and together with two uncles, Jack Newton and Bill Bancroft, being directors of the BOC, we had a close connections with many competitors and officials. My main function at those early Prescott meetings was a programme seller badgering the public to buy at least one copy and even achieving in 1954 the accolade of best programme seller. I still have a hand written thank you letter for achieving the grand total of 352 programmes! A highlight would be to meet my parents’ friends and acquaintances and many of the star drivers of that hill climb generation, some of whom were sponsored by the family business, Newton Oils. The cars were also a magnet of my interest and I was very excited to be able to sit in some exotic Bugattis, including Lemon Burton’s Bugatti Royale, Ronnie Symondson’s Bugatti Type 57S and Peter Stubberfield’s Bugatti Type 35B!

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