Another Race Abandoned.
So far this year these notes have regularly started with the statement that another big race has had to be abandoned for lack of entries ; and this month is to be no exception. When entries closed on March ist, for the Sporting Commission Cup of the A.C.F., only eight cars appeared on the entry list, consisting of three Salmons, two Aries, two Lombards and a Corre la Licone ; and in view of this meagre number, the A.C.F. has decided to cancel the race altogether. At the same time it will not come as a great surprise that the R.A.C. have applied to the international sporting committee for leave to cancel the European Grand Prix which it was charged with organising this year. In view of this state of affairs, anyone can be excused for thinking that the day of motor racing for anything but standard cars is over. One sees this definitely stated in all quarters, but, while fully prepared to be proved wrong, I am inclined personally to disagree. Few people with any knowledge on the subject will deny that in the past the racing of specialised cars has been the main incentive to progress in design ; but it
is speciously argued at present that the motor car has reached such a state of perfection that further progress
is only possible in comparatively detail improvements. The curious point is, however, that almost exactly the same situation ruled twenty years ago. In 1908 the A.C.F. ran a most successful Grand Prix at Dieppe; the R.A.C. organised the famous 4-inch Tourist Trophy in the Isle of Man ; while in Italy, the Targo Florio seemed as popular as ever. But during that year an agitation began that the racing car had diverged so far from its standard sister that these special machines no longer served any useful purpose, but were in effect merely expensive and dangerous toys. The Grand Prix, the Tourist Trophy, and the Coppa Florio were forthwith abandoned, and the Targa Florio, after being run once more in 1909, suffered the same fate. Three years later, however, manufacturers discovered their mistake, the Grand Prix was revived in 1912, and the Tourist Trophy and the Florio Cup followed suit in 1914; on the eve of the war the racing of specialised cars seemed more vigorous and popular than ever. The years of racing since 1908 have given us engines .which develop the same power as those of twenty years ago, although about one-eighth the size, with a consequent saving in weight, while the speeding up of standard engines from about i,000 to 5,000 r.m.p. has been made possible by the lessons learnt from racing in such matters as lubrication. The period has given us four-wheel brakes as a direct legacy of racing ; it has given us the supercharger, which is becoming daily more important. But in spite of these important developments, it seems as if we are on the verge of yet more radical changes . It has not yet been decided, and it would seem as if special racing cars alone could decide it, whether the engine is going to stay at the front of the chassis and drive the back wheels, whether it will be left there and drive the front wheels, whether it will drive the back ones from the back or whether it will drive all four. The gearbox, that temporary expedient of M. Levassor’s, seems to be on the verge of changing its form or disappearing altogether. Howls of rage, incidentally, on this point from drivers who can use a gearbox are probably misplaced, for a four-speed gearbox must have been found wanting by everyone before now to give exactly the right ratio for some set of conditions. An infinitely variable gearbox allowing an engine to run continually near the peak of its power curve would surely be a joy to use. Besides all this it is probable that wheels must soon be independently
sprung and conventional axles disappear. In face of all this, it seems that races to try out these newer ideas only need the right rules to be of extreme importance.
—and its Successor.
In the meantime, however, the A.C.V. has decided to run a race for le Mans type cars over the Comminges Circuit, which was described in our last issue. This race will be called the Grand Prix of the A.C.F. for sports cars, and will be for 325 miles, cars being handicapped for the second half of the race according to their performance in the first half. The important point of the rules also is that entries will be accepted from amateur
owners and not only from manufacturers as is ordinarily the case wtih A.C.F. races. The method of handicapping, incidentally, looks as if it would be difficult to work satisfactorily, but enthusiasts in France have already expressed themselves as satisfied with the race, including W. G. Williams, Louis Chiron and J. C. d’Ahetze, the first entrant for the Bugatti Grand Prix, all of whom hope to enter.
On the whole, however, the present is a time of little news, for the season of plans is over, and the days of action have not yet arrived.
In the meantime, in London, Coventry, Staines, Paris, Stuttgart, Turin and Milan, manufacturers are busy preparing cars for the great touring races in Italy and Sicily and at le Mans, Newtownards and the Niirburg Ring.