RACING A L'AMERICAINE

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RACING A L’AMERICAINE

I We asked a friend to supply a review of 1941 American racing—the only motor racing left—and this is what he writes. Next month we intend to deal with this subject editorially, attempting to review the divers midget races of 1941 in detail and to show the vast difference between the racing they get at ” nite ” in the U.S.A. and the scientific fast motoring contests Europe used to know before the war.—Ed.)

ITHINK the Editor of Moron Seoul. is going mad. It’s A pity, for he has done a good job of work keeping the paper going in these difficult times and it’s been nice knowing him, anyway ; but, really, when he starts wanting a review of American midget-car racing, and asks ME to write it. for him, I can draw no other conclusion.

Joking apart, I don’t feel qualified for the job ; there is a popular fallacy to the effeet that we speak the sante language as the Amerieans, but while I may wrestle with French technical literature, and even converse with Polish pilots over the ” intercom ” in what they fondly lielieve is the English language, I find American strains my linguistic inabilities almost to breaking point.

Having thus apologised for wasting precious paper, I had better get on with the job to the best of my ability. If I fall down on translation, remember I haven’t been in America at any time since the war, and nty recent information comes largely from a journal which, despite a superficial resenditance to the Daily Miyroy. is actually known as The National Auto Racing News.

One very prominent feature or American automobik –sorry, motor— racing is that, whereas in Englaud and most or Europe there seems to be an idea that wars and motor racing don’t go together. the Americans are going strong on both ” pastimes.” It may not be so for long. since even if the United States is selfsupporting as regards gasolene (petrol to you—if you can get it), Hwy won’t escape the discovery that rubber comes from Malaya and that machine tools can he used for other jobs than building parts for doodle-bugs.

However, up to the time of writing the great sport of auto-racing has continued almost unaffected by the war, so I will continue my not ulnae:is:int assignment of reviewing last year’s racing. In tile rnitcd States of America racing seems to have licen sidil. up recently into two main classes, the midgets and the big ears. One could really devote a complete article to each branch of the sport, but out of sheer kindness of heart (or laziness) I have decided to spare you this ; instead I shall talk mostly of the popular midgets, with just a few relerermees to the larger ears, such as figure in the :00 Mile Memorial Day classic at Indiana Well, in the March issue of Moron SPORT Mr. II. L. Biggs gave a really

excellent write-up ” FrOnty ” Fords, which were the backbone of American racing in time fairly distant past, and I think I eon safely assume that anyone reading this will have read that article. Nowadays, of course, the ” Frontv ” has gone. Init its spirit still •rentains, current racing machines bearing a far closer relation to it titan the latest production automobiles admit bearing to the automobiles of that period. It is in the chassis, particularly, that the old ” eon ye rted Model ” idea is apparent, for transverse springs and radius rods remain the almost universal form of suspension. There may be sturdier hubs, and perhaps a tubular front axle beam, but the same old chassis layout remains. It is really rather remarkable that, whereas Europe has come to regard this form of susilension as ” lousy, but eheap.” the Anal-lc:in racing drivers stick to it so consist CI mliv. ami one is forced to conclude that it has definite merit for the special conditions (•ncomitered. It is certainly a fact that the use or a transverse spring gives a wide springbase and low unsprung weight, wimilt radius rods prevent the axle doing anything very peculiar in the way or nuivenierit ; but normally the Uncontrolled lateral movement or the car on the .spring shackles has always had rather devastating effects on stability. My own theory is that, under short-lap track conditions, the short straights mind unidirectional corners keep the ears permanently under a side load in the same direction, so that this lateral float never becomes apparent, and, in consequence, one can use the ordinary Ford layout without having to pay Mr. Ballamy to

persuade one’s car to go round ‘corners at. the same time as its axles.

As regards motors, or engines as they are called over here, for time midgets, the ctirrent numerical favourite seetas to be the V8 ” 60 ” ; in other words, the smaller Ford V8, known to us As the 22-11.p. model. The Americans run up against just the same snags as do folks ‘who have raced Ford V8-engined ears in this country. including overheating, due to the water-jacketed exhaust. ports and more oil in the starboard cylinders than in the port, but VS’s still seem to be the favotirites. ‘there arc also a good many Offenhauser engines and a certain proportion of converted motor-cycle or outboard-boat engines. As far as I know, tile usual order of weight for one of these mideret cars is about 8-9 ewt., which, with a V8 motor ” souped-up ” (sorry, tuned ; this American langua,ge is khaki infectious !) to do around 6,000 r.p.m., should give quite it tidy performanee.

Tracks used for racing these midgets vary considerably. The form is standardised more or less at, a slialitly banked oval, but distances vary enormously, from about (flit-filth t 1111 It upwards, and all kinds of surfaces arc used. front einders to asphalt. Lots of the racing is done at ” nite ” (confound this Atnericanese), and apart from numerous tracks holding regular meets a lot of racing is done at annual county fairs throughout the Middle Vest. It is rather difficult to classify drivers. since several rival bodies attempt time functions vaguely executed over here by

the and, needless to say, drivers are not allowed to drive in events Sanetioned by more than One organisation. However, I think pride of place goes to Bex Mays, A.A.A. National Champion for lull ; he was, of course, by far the most outstanding American driver in prewar Vanderbilt Trophy races. The same Organisation lists Bill Holland as Eastern Champion and Duke Natoli as Mid-West Champion. In other spheres among the leading lights were Ray Richards, tRoy Russing, ‘Walt Faulkner, and Ted Horn.