Rumblings, April 1950

It is excellent news that the West Country is to have another club race meeting this year. The Bristol M.C. & L.C.C. will organise another day’s sport at Lulsgate aero-drome on April 15th. Last year this was one of the most enjoyable of the smaller race meetings, so its inclusion in this year’s calendar is very welcome. The meeting will be a closed invitation one, open to the B.A.R.C., Bentley D.C., Bugatti O.C., V.S.C.C., W. Hants & Dorset C.C., and 500 Club. The regulations will mainly follow those of 1949, and only sports, super sports and Formula III 500-c.c. racing cars are eligible. A rather better finishing leg will be provided this time. There will be a car-park charge to defray expenses, and only members of the participating clubs and their friends may spectate—the R.A.C. insists on this for insurance purposes and not, to be “awkward”—and in this respect it occurs to us that the many readers who ring us up a week or so before an event to say they do not know any members of participating clubs and can we get them tickets, would do well to join a club that gets a good proportion of such invitations, solely to gain free admission. Assuming admission for two persons for such meetings (usually more tickets per member are available) and “invites” to Lulsgate and six of the thirteen club Silverstone meetings, admission per head would then work out at about 2s. 6d. per meeting, inclusive of entry fee and annual subscription, if you can think of the “best” club to join! Anyway, good luck to Bristol and its 1950 Lulsgate racing.
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More New Cars
Additional interest is lent to the coming racing season by details of more new cars which are due to run. Gilbert Tyrer’s well-known, lightened “328” B.M.W. now has a lowered chassis, 2 LS brakes, the coveted Hirth close-ratio gearbox, and an all-enveloping light-alloy shell body. Exciting! Then the Spikins-Special has also been altered, having a wider rear track, a close-ratio preselector gearbox, and its Lea-Francis engine, now of 1,725 c.c., and Robert Baird has a new chassis for the Emeryson, of 8 ft. 2 in. wheelbase, i.f.s., a de Dion back axle, and four-carburetter Duesenberg engine. He also has a Miller chassis, also with i.f.s. and de Dion back axle, into which he proposes to pop the original engine, highly blown, a 1,100-c.c. Miller unit or a 1,100-c.c. M.G. engine, as circumstances dictate. Reference is made elsewhere in this issue to the H.W. Alta team for Formula II races. Oscar Moore is busy building himself a Formula II single-seater and is having his B.M.W.-engined O.B.M. converted into a sports car. Sports-car racing will be one of 1950’s high-spots. Under the management of John Wyer, Aston-Martin intend to run at Le Mans, Spa, Silverstone and in the T.T., using their business-like, Continental-looking saloons with 2½-litre, six-cylinder twin-cam Lagonda engines. One car, indeed, may go out to the Mille Miglia. Jowett intends to run one of the new Jupiters, possibly at Spa and Le Mans. Alas, Bristol state that they have officially withdrawn from racing! Count Lurani, who took the 1949 Italian Touring Car Championship for Bristol, plans to have a “Le Mans Replica” Frazer-Nash in all the leading sports-car events this year, to be driven by Cortese and sometimes by Serafini. Two other Italian-owned Frazer-Nashes are likely to run as well, and be seen in the Targa Florio on April 2th, in which race a J-type Allard will be driven by Sidney Allard, and in the Mille Miglia on April 23rd, in both of which races Jaguar and Healey will be represented. In the Targa Florio, stern Alfa-Romeo and Ferrari opposition is expected. Amongst sprint exponents will be Toulmin Motors’ R-type M.G. two-seater—incidentally there is no connection between this Mr. Toulmin and the pre-war M.G. exponent, Maurice Toulmin, who is on the R.A.C. Competitions Committee.
And then—this really is news—Eddie Hall is back in this country from South Africa and Canada, and will enter his 4½-litre Bentley for Le Mans. It will be in 1936 T.T. form, which means a 9-to-1 compression-ratio and nearly 170 b.h.p. at a modest 3,800 r.p.m. As H. S. F. Day’s “Corniche” Bentley saloon, which finished sixth last year, will also run again, Bentley prestige looks like being in the ascendancy at Le Mans. For this race, too, Briggs Cunningham has two Cadillacs and Tom Cole is expected to drive his Cadillac-Allard. Unstable Government not withstanding, in our world things are definitely shaping. . .
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Heigh Ho!
There is a whisper that the Italian Government has handed Alfa-Romeo a bag of gold, or more likely a piece of paper with a generous number of noughts on it, to enable them to race this season. If they do so the drivers will be Farina, Sanesi and Taruffi. And no doubt B.R.M., Ferrari, Milan and Maserati will find such competition stimulating.
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If Only . . .
As the commencement of the 1950 racing season approaches, every British enthusiast has his and her fingers crossed for the B.R.M. Unfortunately, the latest announcement of the British Motor Racing Research Trust is a trifle depressing, although, of course, in reading it cautiously we may be quite wrong and find two cars on the starting line for the G.P. d’Europe after all. But obviously the Trust is in need of funds and, patriotically as individual motorists are responding to various Club appeals to assist Raymond Mays’ great project, in cases like this such help comes more readily to maintain an initial success than to launch an unknown potentiality. Clearly, what is really wanted is Government subsidy of the B.R.M. There is no reason to believe that this will not be granted, although at present the Trust is unable to issue an official statement.
In this connection it is interesting to recall that before the war the German Government granted £41,600 per annum to both Auto-Union and Mercédès-Benz in respect of their Grand Prix programmes. This grant was presumably paid over six seasons, amounting to a total of some £500,000. But both firms found their actual expenditure on racing to amount to about £209,000 per annum. So they had to find about £168,400 every year, less, presumably, some recovery in the form of starting and prize monies. Now the B.R.M. has been in active production for about three years and has cost to date about £150,000. If we assume two cars all but ready to race, the cost per car is £75,000. If we take the (admittedly low) estimate of five cars built by each German team per year, the cost per car becomes £41,800. As subsequent cars cost appreciably less than a prototype, it can be argued that the B.R.M. is not proving unduly costly—prototype expenditure, of course, embraces factory, machine tools, experimental costs, etc., as well as a car. If the British Government could provide £50,000 the Trust would at least be placed on something like parity with the pre-war German teams. So far as subsequent subsidy is concerned, it has been said that if every taxpayer in the country gave a 1d. a year, all would be well at Bourne. We are inclined to think that even a ¼d. a year would do the trick-and would pay dividends to all British subjects in point of National prestige. Certainly at the present time, when our future is dependent on exports, Government backing of the B.R.M. seems only common sense, especially as the Italian Government is said to have released something like £50,000 to Alfa-Romeo to safeguard Italian prestige in this year’s motor-racing.
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Formula III
The B.A.R.C. will include in its Whit-Saturday programme a race which it hopes will become the “blue riband” of Formula III contests. To be known as the 500 International Trophy, this race carries £500 in cash awards, and will be run in two heats and a Final. The Trophy to be won is none other than the famous T. B. Andre Gold Cup, originally awarded to the winner of the 200-Mile Race and a most imposing piece of drinking furniture. Incidentally, ’tis interesting how old trophies re-appear; the present R.A.C. Championship Trophy was surely the Daily Telegraph Brooklands Mountain lap-record trophy pre-war? Details of this latest B.A.R.C. venture from John Morgan, 55, Park Lane, W.1—and go to it, half-litreists! The B.A.R.C. also says it will definitely hold the Jersey race this year, on July 13th, in conjunction with the Jersey M.C. Practice is in the evenings of July 11th and 12th.