Rumblings, April 1946



Certainly there is plenty to discuss in respect of 1946, even if, in the end, nothing much happens. The J.C.C. view the Jersey course with favour; there is the matter of a 500-c.c. race over the motorcycle T.T. course race over in the Isle of Man, and there is talk of a circuit between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Over and above which, the Crystal Palace design competition has been extended to April 5th and may decide the future of London’s road circuit. As these new projects come up for discussion, Trafford Park, Bangor and Long Kesh die a possible natural death. The Jersey circuit is wide, has a 1 1/2-mile straight leg and a 1 1/2-litre car should lap it, they say, at 80-85 m.p.h. The Isle of Man course, 37 3/4 miles to the lap, with the 1,600-ft. climb up Snaefell, would be a teaser for the half-litres, while the proposed Scottish course is approximately 2 1/2 miles a lap, includes a half mile straight, and is over 30 ft. wide. The Scottish Racing Drivers’ Club hope to run a race of 40 or so laps, speed trials and motorcycle events at the last-named venue in May and September. Anyway, whatever materialises, the A.I.A.C.R., now active again, has been asked by the R.A.C. for the following dates in the International Fixture List: — April 20-23rd: Circuit of Ireland Trial; May 11th: J.C.C. Race; June 1st: Shelsley Walsh; June 15th: Ulster A.C. Ulster Trophy Race; Sept. 7th: B.R.D.C. Race; Sept. 22nd: Prescott; Sept. 28th: J.C.C. Race; Oct. 6th : Donington G.P. Personally, we shall not be surprised to see only Shelsley Walsh and Prescott occur—with, of course, lesser sprints at Bristol, Dancer’s End and possibly at Bo’ness and Jersey. Motorcycles are due to compete at Shelsley and 500-c.c. cars at Prescott. The R.A.C. Competitions Committee now includes Lt.-Col. Stanley Barnes and J. M. Toulmin, who should watch trials-drivers’ interests very adequately. Finally, a circuit has been suggested in King’s Park, Edinburgh.

Sports Cars On The Farm

The farmer has every excuse for owning just those old cars you and I covet. Tom Gibson showed us a goodly array at his farm at Pickering, Yorkshire. Apart from a Singer van, a Singer “Bantam” saloon and an old Ford lorry, there was another Ford, with Chevrolet back axle and home-brewed body, which has done some remarkable work, and a venerable Jowett, also with home-brewed lorry body. Much more to the point, however, is the use Gibson makes of Bentleys, for which he is a great enthusiast. A 3-litre with one of the open bodies which Cooper’s Motor Bodies of Putney made for this chassis, is in regular service, and although hard used, it gives an excellent fuel consumption and is very reliable. It has La Salle axles, with large-section tyres on split rims. To provide closed transport suitable to farm requirements, Gibson is building his own “utility” or shooting-brake body on a 4 1/2-litre Bentley chassis. It is a really neat job of work, with no overhang at all, and a curve to the rear door which offsets the square lines of a body of this sort. To provide spares there are a 3-litre and a 4 1/2-litre chassis, the latter having carried an open 2-seater body and said to have had its engine attended to by McKenzie. Gibson hopes one day to rebuild this car and put another open body on it. He will be pleased, incidentally, to help fellow Bentley owners in the matter of spares, if he has duplicates of any parts they need. His father started motoring in the early 1900s, with Minerva and Humber motorcycles, and by 1911 was doing really ambitious tours with a belt-drive Douglas. His first car was a Mitchell, before the 1914-18 war, and he still enjoys fast runs in the Bentley, sagely remarking that it isn’t speed, as such, which is the cause of road casualties. Incidentally, he has a splendid old 680-c.c. J.A.P.-engined Zenith “Gradua” solo, for which he wouldn’t mind finding a home, Is anyone interested?

Conserving the c. c.
Racing cars of 500 c.c. are in the news. Apart from the Isle of Man T.T. suggestion, C.A.P.A. look like having events for such the Bristol events for such cars, the Bristol sprints will almost certainly include classes for them, and Prescott — where the first meeting happens on May 19th – certainly will. Some people have suggested that half-litre cars will not be sufficiently fast to interest drivers and spectators. It remains to be seen what the 1946 editions will pull out. But going fast on few c.c. is no new thing — neither has it been all that slow, in the past. You may not know it, but in motorcycle circles there have long been recognised records for “motorassisted bicycles” of up to 75, 100 and 125 c.c., and for motorcycles boasting of but 175 c.c. Now, as long ago as 1926 the 75-c.c. flying mile record stood at 47.56 m.p.h., to the credit of M. Jonin’s Train, which was actually of 73 1/2-c.c. In the 100-c.c. category, not only had Liaudois motor-bicycled himself over the mile at 60.27 m.p.h. on a Train, but J. J. Hall’s Francis-Barnett (with 98.6-c.c. J.A.P. engine) held numerous long-distance and duration world’s records, the Hour at 33.8 m.p.h., and the Three Hours at 34.98 m.p.h. In the 125-c.c. division, Druz on a Dollar (lovely names) had covered a flying kilo. at 64.59 m.p.h., Meeten on a 121-c.c. Villiers-Francis-Barnet had the Hour in his pocket with 51.25 miles and Hall’s J.A.P.-engined motorcycle (not actually a “motor-assisted bicycle”) held the Six Hour record at 33.66 m.p.h. The big chaps, i.e., of 175 c.c., did 77.04 m.p.h. over the kilo. (Lemasson’s Alcyon), the Hour at 61.82 (Johnson’s Francis-Barnett) and Three Hours at 57.18 (Worters on a Cotton-Blackburn). So what we are worrying about in 1946 — all the foregoing happened twenty years ago – I do not know. Moreover, 500-c.c. cars are no New Thing. In 1926 Class I appeared on the books and by the close of the season Doré’s “Sima-Violet” with 497-c.c. flat-twin engine had done 68.8 m.p.h. and Kaye Don with the Avon-J.A.P. single had the Hour and Three Hours in the bag at 62.2 and 61.96 m.p.h. respectively. There was also the 350-c.c. Class J, in which Walter’s beautiful little Jappic, which had run at B.A.R.C. meetings, held records up to ten miles, the f.s. kilo. at 70.46 m.p.h. The 3-wheelers also did their share, a 350-c.c. Villard recording 55 1/2 m.p.h., Jackson’s V-twin Morgan-Blackburn of but 496 c.c. doing 72.44, while Fernihough actually motored for five miles at 73.12 in his single-cylinder 494-c.e. J.A.P. Morgan. The last-named and Tottey’s Omega-J.A.P. shared records up to six hours at speeds around 60 m.p.h.

Reverting to 4-wheelers, in 1927 De Rovin’s 487-c.c. single-pot De Rovin sent the mile record in Class I up to 82.54 m.p.h. and managed an Hour at 74.44,, while Douglas Hawkes and the H.S. took intermediate records in the seventies. Using a 346-c.c. engine in the H.S., Hawkes also mopped up the longer spells in Class J, getting nearly 74 1/2 m.p.h. for five miles and keeping going for 60 minutes at over 65 m.p.h. average. During 1928 Class I was stagnant, but in Class J the H.S. went at 76.49 for ten miles and set the Hour at almost 71. So even if you use an eighteen-summers’-old engine, there is no excuse for lack of performance from 500 c.c. Admittedly acceleration is harder to attain than speed, so let us examine the standing start figures at the close of 1927. No one had attempted short-distance s.s. records in Class I, but in Class J the Jappic’s kilo. was at 52.92 m.p.h., occupying 42.27 see., and the mile from rest was at 58.12, or 61.84 sec. By 1938, the 500-c.c. standing mile was Nibbio’s, at 76.09. And we are all tired of hearing of Nibbio’s flying 120 m.p.h. All of which should give the 500-c.c. exponents food for thought and encouragement.

Topical Thought

At the present time the impecunious amateur is in a rather happier position than the wealthy owner of a racing stable who has nowhere to race his cars. Whereas, at one time we envied

those huge bags of gold …!