British 24 hour record
I enjoyed your very interesting article on endurance records, but I am afraid that the information on the British Outright 24 Hour record is a little out of date. I believe that this now stands to a Porsche and was set in the last four years at Snetterton at 75 m.p.h.
I also think that S. F. Edge’s magnificent achievement was probably a demonstration run rather than an official record. Pace cars were used and I think he used a flying start. While this would have made little difference it may explain why his record does not seem to have been recognised officially. In 1977 the Pre-War Austin 7 Club set some long distance records with an Austin 7 special, including the British outright 24 Hour record. This was queried with the RAC as the team knew of Edge’s run and thought that they were not entitled to it. The RAC wrote that they were well aware of Edge’s run too, but could find no trace of it in the official records. Therefore the Austin was the first car to hold the record officially. Although the RAC made a thorough search, there is still the lingering doubt that Edge’s run may have been official and records lost. I wonder if you or your readers can offer any proof either way.
In 1978 a diesel engined Ford Granada raised the Austin’s 54 m.p.h. record to 57 m.p.h. which was still less than Edge’s 66 m.p.h. Only the Porsche can really claim credit for beating Edge. The Porsche would have been a much faster car than the Napier, which shows how unsuitable the modem road circuits are for achieving high average speed. Unfortunately no saucer type tracks are available for record attempts in Britain. As far as I know only Goodwood and Snetterton are available for runs of over 12 hours’ duration. However, this type of track is more comparable with normal roads and tests roadholding, steering, brakes and acceleration as well as reliability. With modern road conditions and the ridiculous 70 m.p.h. speed limit, these are of more interest than a high cruising speed when comparing road vehicles. Therefore breaking long distance records on these circuits would be an ideal method for manufacturers to demonstrate the worth of their cars.
C. S. W. Gould