ERA claimed an expected victory at the Vintage Sports Car Club’s Autumn Sprint at Goodwood last Saturday, but in something of a surprise result Ben Fidler set Fastest Time of Day while guest-driving Nick Topliss’ R4A, topping the car’s owner who was competing in the much-fancied R4D, which is owned by Ben’s father, Brian Fidler.
The day marked only the second competitive outing for the younger Fidler in the ex-Pat Fairfield and Bob Gerard voiturette following his debut at the same event last year and, having set the pace during morning practice, led the way in the afternoon’s timed runs. His best clocking of 98.35 seconds was good enough to claim the Colerne Trophy — featuring a model of a Spitfire in keeping with the venue’s aeronautical heritage — for a second time, following his success in 2012 in ERA AJM1.
It was also a historic day for two of the Club’s “Young Guns,” who enjoyed memorable outings for the Bourne-based ERA marque, with Nick Topliss’ 20-year-old son James sharing R4A with Fidler, while James Crabb shared the sister R12C with father, Terry, who set a new class record for 1.5-liter racing machinery.
Record-breaking performances also came from experienced Frazer Nash exponent Patrick Blakeney-Edwards, who dominated the Sports Cars classes with a time of 105.39 seconds — also the fastest Pre-1931 Vintage mark on the day — and fellow “Chain Gang” representative, David Wylie, setting both Class and Vintage records to best perennial Class 10 leader Dudley Sterry in his AC-engined Nash.
A closely fought contest among the day’s Pre-1918 Edwardian machinery saw Hudson Super Six pilot, James Collins take top honors, less than a second ahead of Peter Wilson’s aero-engined Brasier Voiture de Course.
Elsewhere, there were class wins for a number of other VSCC frontrunners, including Joe Tisdall’s Austin 7 Ulster, John Guyatt in his Talbot-Lago, David Pryke’s Morgan/Riley and Julian Grimwade in the Frazer Nash Norris Special.
It proved a fitting finale to the Club’s Speed Season and inaugural Speed Championship, as the Paddock bustled with a fantastic crowd of enthusiasts, many arriving in their own Pre-war cars to form a wonderful gathering on a stunning autumnal day in West Sussex.